Viriathus: Scenes 3-4

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SCENE 3 – The Roman Senate

The trial of Galba

Magistrate
Good morning senators, the day’s order
Begins with Galba & his recent wars
Fought in Iberia, & the murder
Of nigh nine thousand Lusitanians
Beneath the banner of a Roman peace,
The raiser of this matter, take the floor.

Lucius
Members of the Senate, my thanks are due
In advance, when you to listen to my pleas
For justice at this most scandalous trial,
I am Lucius Libro, plebeian
Tribune, elected to speak, most dismay’d
The good name of the Romans sacrosanct
Our honour more important than is fame,
Yet this, this perfidious Praetor
This ‘Galba’ brings shame upon the Senate,
For when abroad a general of Rome
Must represent our statutory claims
Of fairness wrought from order & from law
Cato! Would you be so kind as to speak,
Inform the senators in more detail
Whom, I feel assur’d, with keenest intent
Will listen well & with a deep respect
For you, truly the wisest among us,
Who steer’d our ship of state so many storms,
What are your thoughts upon this dark affair!

Cato
So many things discourag’d me this day
From coming forward to this hoary shrine
Where my old feet have stood five thousand times –
My years, my time of life, my voice, my strength,
I felt, nevertheless, when reflecting
On such crucial matters, I had to act,
Forsooth, the roots of these desperate wars
Lie with ourselves, not thirty years ago
Iberia was a hive of honey,
Our governors bears pawing at its gold,
Extortions, epidemics, proportion’d
Exploitation grating, so to account
Call’d I Publius Furios Philus
Personally, timely castigation
That did not go unnoticed in the West –
The Lex Calpurnia was introduced
& the whole peninsular bath’d in peace,
Until Galba’s pitiless ambition
Breaking treaties slaughter’d signatories
Of what our Senate deem’d a sacred text,
So he could swim in fallible plunder,
This he distributed to his soldiers
Not very much at all I hear them say,
His friends receiv’d a little & the rest
kept for his guts; Senators, sheer murder
Was done in Lusitania, for gold
Not punishing such criminality
Will send out a devastating message
That the Roman concord mere illusion
& massacres the only terms we deal

Magistrate
Praetor Galba, the floor if you please

Galba
Fellow senators, friends & foes alike,
Whether cherishing, opposing, my deeds
Lusitania primitive remains,
Makes strange pictures to a cool spectator,
They way they live their lives like high treason
To the virtues & values of our times,
We cannot simply allow them islands
Of impish liberty, while to the north
& south & east we press Hispania
Into our satin folds, we must never
Allow their independance poet sung
Else rebellions will sprout up like weeds
In an old man’s garden, his limbs too stiff
To root them out with tools & brutal strength –
Are not till’d plots superior to scrub?
Are fruits not improv’d by cultivation?
I plotted there for progress a glory,
Safe in our sturdy shields we stow the seeds,
The ploughshares of our swords have stirr’d the soil,
& we shall grow a province from the dirt!

Magistrate
How do you plead

Galba’s brother, Gaius, brings out two boys & a girl

Galba
I refuse to answer
I’ll make instead appeals elemental
To the good faith of the people, see these
Three Children; the two youngest share my blood,
The taller boy he is the grieving son
Of Sulpcius Galus, whose dying words,
A Lusitanian spear piercing chest,
Did gurgle to me, ‘look after my boy,’
{to Cassis}
Cassius, come to me, I embrace you
As my son,
{they embrace}
If today I am exiled
Or death-condemn’d, I tearfully bestow
Upon my brother, Gaius, both my sires,
Send to his care Cassius, son of Galus,
& beg him to forever oversee
Their fatherless estates, their future tears!

Cato
Wretched Galba! I shame to hear him speak!
By such sick pretences be not disturb’d,
Exciting pity has no place in law,
Even murderers share family homes

The Senate bursts into uproar

Magistrate
Silence, in the Senate, clear, clear the floor
We shall proceed in common to the vote
Balls, if you please, black guilty, white no fault.

The senators vote by placing a ball in a bag, either white or black

Magistrate
What is the count

Magistrate’s Assistant
Galba by twenty-five

Lucius
This is law debauched, maul’d by bribery

Magistrate
Silence, Lucius, else be in contempt
& find yourself on trial at your turn,
The Senate has spoken, Galba acquitted
You are free, Praetor, take your children,
To superpraise their moral upbringing
While raising them good citizens of Rome,
With that the matter closes, let us stray
Into the streets this Feast of Saturn day!

Exit Senators


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SCENE 4 – A Valley in Lusitania

Surviving chieftans & warriors of the Lusitani meet in counsel.
With them is Arco the soothsayer

Arantonio
We cannot stay much longer in this vale

Minurus
Famine gnawing bellies no way to die

Camalo
But sallying from safety must ensure
Murderous encounters with legionairres

Audax
Over our lives hovers the flag of death
Let us send Vetilius messengers
With olive branches, apologizing
For foraging without the seal of law
& plead a dwelling, promise to obey
Rome in all things

Pisiri
It must be done

Arantonio
What else
Can we do

Camalo
We must submit

Enter Viriathus

Viriathus
We must fight,
The bad faith of the Romans never goes
They pride themselves in violating oaths

Arco
Tell us who he is who speaks so boldly

Viriathus
I am Viriathus, some may know me,
Most will not, I survived the massacre
& warrant not your petty, scowling looks
Whatever pass’d by destiny, mischance,
I am come among you, soldiers, recieve
My presence, while intimating futures
Long mused upon, of murdering Romans,
Vibrant plans of action, Vertilius
No Galba is, his soldiers can be beat.

Camalo
Tho’ words up-bubble with inspiring springs,
We are too weak to fight them, all the same

Viriathus
I disagree, I have studied that swamp
Of whinging invaders, poor imposters,
Each thuggish snout I solemnly defy
There is not a veteran among them,
Valour is difficult in a desert,
While we are nourish’d from that single pool
That urgency of liberty becomes,
Fresh spirit of our precious land distill’d,
Sup from it when misfortune approaches,
Taste the universal Lusitani,
For when all focuss’d under common stars,
Mountains amass from bursts of willpower,
Off whose steep slops torrential troubles pour,
Together we are mountains, let me lead
Whomever here would die for liberty!

Minurus
I am with you Viriathus

Audax
& I

The rest cheer

Arantonio
Your patriotic fever may bright burn
But there remains a dagger at our throats
One false step…

Arco
Let the ancestors decide

Ditalco
Bring out the prisoner

A Roman prisoner is brought on stage – Arco chops off his right hand & raises it to the sky

Arco
Holy Cariocecus – take this hand
& guide his entrails, weave them into truth

The prisoner is covered with coarse cloaks, then a knife plunged into his vitals. He drops to the floor. The soothsayer studies the fall of the cloaks

Arco
From fall of cloaks auspicious auguries,
From trailing entrails unsuspicious truth,
From draining veins futurity pulses,
Our sacred Gods choose you, Viriathus

Arantonio, Camalo, Minurus, Audax, Ditalco
Viriathus!

Camalo
What of those plans you spoke?

Viriathus
Come gather close about me, listen well,
For detail is important – every man
Shall have his job to do, some more than one;
The Romans march like an elephant mare,
Slow, clumsy, ponderous – from armour’s weight
From ignorance of our ancyent trackways,
& from horses’ inferiority –
Why fight a tusker risking ivory,
Better pepper spears from safest vantage
& spring our clever ambushes from rocks
Thro’ rows of rushing tridents, incursions
Made in the dead of night, in heat of day,
Deluding with illusions & with snares,
Corner to corner striking, make them cry,
‘There is no haven in Iberia!’
The very mercy of the law screams out,
‘Iberia rejects its conquerors!’
Carpetania, Bastitania
Rome’s allies now, let us ravage them first
Who’ll join us promptly afterwards, the rest
Will follow soon, protecting precious crops,
While in the north the Numantines should rise
When noticing our spirit has revived
With such conviction, they will not abide
The Roman yoke no longer, out of pride.

Ditalco
Hail Viriathius

Arantonio, Camalo, Minurus, Audax
Hail Viriathius

Camalo
In you Cariocecus is reborn

Minurus
Cariocecus

Arantonio, Camalo, Audax, Ditalco
Cariocecus!

With great noise and barbaric clamor, the warriors surround Viriathus dancing, beating drims & singing “Cario-Cario-Cariocecus”- shaking their long hair, waving weapons & breaking out into ritualised mock combat


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Posted on February 16, 2020, in Conchordia, Viriathus. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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