A monologue from the play by Gil Vicente

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Four Plays of Gil Vicente. Trans. Aubrey F.G. Bell. Cambridge: University Press, 1920.
  • ACHILLES: When Jupiter in all his might
    Was seated on his throne
    And in his strength ordered aright
    By his right hand alone
    The courses of the day and night;
    And warrior Mars to Earth had lent
    His bolts of victory
    And parted with his armament;
    When Saturn still slept peacefully
    With all his firmament;
    When the Sun shone with clearer light
    And an intenser ray
    And the Moon's beams illumed the night,
    More brightly than noonday,
    And Venus sang her loveliest lay;
    When wisdom, that he now doth keep,
    Was given by Mercury,
    And mirth flashed o'er the heaven's steep
    And the winds were gently hushed asleep
    And a calm lay on the sea;
    When joy and fame together checked
    The hands of destiny
    And glory's flags the poles bedecked
    And the heavens, by no clouds beflecked,
    Gleamed in their radiancy;
    When every heart with unfeigned cheer
    Was merry upon Earth,
    In that day and month and year,
    When all these portents did appear,
    Your Highnesses had birth.
    Now I, Achilles, in my youth
    Lived here for many days
    And happy am I in good sooth
    To see the kingdom's splendid growth
    Honoured in countless ways.
    Its noble sons these honours reap,
    But let no careless strain
    Prevent you what you win to keep;
    Ye prelates, 'tis no time for sleep!
    Ye priests, do not complain!
    When mighty Rome was in full sail
    Conquering all the Earth
    The girls and matrons without fail,
    That so the soldiers should prevail,
    Gave all their jewels' worth.
    Then O ye shepherds of the Church
    Down, down with Mahomet's creed!
    Leave not the fighters in the lurch!
    For if to scourge yourselves you speed
    Then Rome may spare the birch.
    You should sell your chalices,
    Yes and pawn your breviaries,
    Turn your gourds into flasks, and e'er
    Of bread and parsnips make your fare,
    To vanquish thus your enemies.