Poet Laureate and imperial secretary to Frederick III. of the Holy Roman Empire, apostolic secretary to two popes and an anti-pope, Bishop of Trieste and of Siena, Cardinal-Presbyter of S. Sabina, and at last Pope Pius II.; Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini was marked out from birth for something extraordinary, and he fulfilled his destiny. In his Commentaries he tells of miraculous escapes from death in childhood, and from shipwreck in early manhood, and of Frederick’s prophecy before Rome:
I seem to see you as a Cardinal, nor will your good fortune stop there. A higher lot awaits youthe Chair of St. Peter. See that you despise me not, when you have attained that honour; to which Aeneas replied: I do not ask to be Pope nor yet Cardinal. But I, broke in the Emperor, see that it will be so.
Aeneas tells us that he took these words as a joke, though by that time (1452) he may in truth have shared the Emperor’s prophetic vision. But had anyone told him, thirty years before, when he rode to Basel with Cardinal Capranica, penniless and without a jot of influence behind him, that the day would come when all the problems of the Church of Rome would lie heavy on his shoulders, he might well have laughed. For this future Pope avoided holy orders till he was over forty, dreading the mere responsibility of continentia, a virtue which, as he wrote to his friend Piero da Noceto, ‘it is easier to talk about than to observe, and one better suited to philosophers than poets.’
Aeneas was less of a poet than he liked to imagine, but that he was, in youth, a man most unfitted for the priesthood, there can be no doubt. In 1435 he visited Scotland, and left behind him a pignus amoris which fortunately died; and in 1443, a year before he wrote the Tale of Two Lovers, he had loved an English woman, by name Elizabeth, and had by her a son, whom he asked his father to look after for him, ‘till he is a little older (he was not born then) and can come to me and be educated by me.’ And when we read his sententious remarks to Marianus about old age and the unseemliness of Marianus’s request for a tale of love from him, ‘who am past the noonday of life, and going on towards evening,’ it is well to remember that he wrote that very year to Piero da Noceto, who had just married, asking if he could not find a wife for him, ‘si quid inveneris meae opinioni conveniens.’
Born in 1405 at Corsignano, near Siena, he studied at Siena and at Florence, under Filelfo the Greek scholar. He made his name first at the Council of Basel as an orator, and as one of the bitterest and most persuasive of the enemies of Pope Eugenius IV., but soon betook himself to the Court of the Emperor Frederick III. and was reconciled with the Roman Curia: thereafter he devoted his energies to bringing Germany over to the Pope, thus dealing the deathblow to the Council that had trained him and the anti-pope he had served.
He was a prolific writer upon many subjects, always in Latin, and prided himself especially on his verse, for which Frederick crowned him Poet Laureate. At Vienna, where Gaspar Schlick, the Chancellor, played pandar to the Emperor’s imperially extravagant desires, Aeneas found his amatory vein highly appreciated, and by far his most popular work was this romance, the De Duobus Amantibus, written at the request of Mariano de’ Sozzini, a Sienese of considerable learning and dissolute habits, but dedicated to Gaspar Schlick. For Gaspar was the Euryalus of Aeneas’ tale; he had visited Italy with the Emperor Sigismund, and was with him when the Sienese kept him in their city, ‘shut up like a beast in a cage’; and the author was not thinking of literary criticismof which, indeed, the Chancellor was not capablewhen he asked Gaspar in his dedication to ‘see if I have told it aright.’ The story ran through many editions. Years later, the Pope would have suppressed this indiscretion of his youth, and failed: it was a best seller.
This was, however, about the last indiscretion that Aeneas permitted himself. Already the tone of his letters was changing, and in 1449 he wrote to a friend that he had received a benefice, and would soon be ordained. He could see, by this time, that his career pointed to the Church, and the part he played in the Diet of Frankfurt settled it. He was now a man of some importance in Europe, but he had gained his position as a defender of the Church; it was as a churchman he must maintain it. Besides, other changes had been taking place. The poverty and hardship of his youth, as well as his ineradicable habit of burning the candle at both ends, had told upon his health. At forty, he was bald and old beyond his years. Writing to a friend in 1444 (the very years of Gaspar’s story), he had said: ‘You, my dear John, are going on towards evening with me: for you nor me, no good can come from women: we are a fable and a mockery.’ Two years later his tone had become definitely severe.
‘I know what you will say: why, how strait-laced Aeneas is; now he writes to me of chastity from Vienna, but in Neustadt be spoke otherwise. I don't deny it, dearest John, but time slips away, day by day; we are older, the day of our death draws near, and now we must consider not how to live, but how to die... For me, John, I have sinned enough, and too much. Now I know myself, and may it not be too late. For now I am forty, and the day of salvation, the time for repentance is at hand...’
Yet Aeneas’ words have never carried conviction. When he was Pope, he still must mourn that people would not forget Aeneas for Pius. The young man had made too deep an impression for the old one to erase it, and even now the metamorphosis must be explained as either hypocrisy or senile decay. Voigt, the virtuous German, calls Aeneas’ conversion a Bordell-Comödie. For those that have passed their life in piety and lived safely do not like to think that the adventurer and the libertine may also, at the end, know the spiritual joys for which they have sacrificed all the rest. While those who admire the young and dashing Aeneas, the sceptical author of the Tale of Two Lovers, despise him for his betrayal of himself, seeing in his belated piety the signs of a weakening mind. Old age, they say, and failing strength brought out the mediaeval strain latent in his youth, and certainly Aeneas was, in some measure, mediaeval. The two ages met in him, and he reminds us at times rather of a highly successful wandering scholar than a man of the Renaissance. The Lucretia of his love-story is a perfect product of the new attitude towards life. ‘Who is there could stop loving, just when he has learned the prudence and the wisdom of his mistress?... For my part, while I read, I loved you the more, perceiving that to your great beauty and honesty was added learning.’ Thus Euryalus wrote to her, and his words rank him with the men who loved Isotta degli Atti, Vittoria Colonna, and la belle Lionnoise. But, as Aeneas aged, the older element rose to the surface; ‘Woman is an imperfect creature... without faith, without fear, without constancy, without piety!’ and ‘When you see a woman, think that you see a devil.’
But to be mediaeval is, in itself, no stigma, and he did, at least, live a very natural life. In youth he loved and adventured, studied and made a name; delighting in his wits and in his body, denying neither. In the middle years, he turned his thoughts to his future, in this world and the next. And at the end he filled his high position as nobly as he knew how. There is a certain quality in making every part of life harmonious, and Aeneas had a supreme contempt for ‘old age pursuing love, but lacking strength.’ And, after all, whether his conversion was due to worldly ambition, feebler powers, or a very natural desire for something permanent after the long, blind, mad adventure of his youth, will matter little to readers of this tale. Its author was Aeneas Sylvius, the layman. The bishop, the Cardinal, and the Pope, enemy incarnate of the Infidel, have nothing to do with Lucretia and Euryalus. Pius II. denied them.
AENEAS SYLVIUS OF SIENA, poet laureate and man of renown, to Gaspar Schlick, knight, that he may read it, thus felicitously begins his tale of the two lovers.
To the eminent and gracious knight, the lord Gaspar Schlick, lord of Neuburg, imperial chancellor, and captain of the lands of Egra and Cubitus; to his especial master, Aeneas Sylvius, poet and imperial secretary, offers many greetings and commends himself. Marianus Sozinus of Siena, my fellow-countryman, a man of character as kindly as his learning is wide, whose like, moreover, I maintain I’ll never see, has asked me of late to tell him about two lovers, and has said he does not mind whether I tell what is true, or I imagine it, in poet’s fashion.
Do you know the kind of man he is? You will be surprised when I describe him. For nature has grudged him nothing, except beauty. He is a dwarf. He should have belonged to my family, that has the name of little men. The fellow is eloquent and skilled in either kind of law; knows all the histories; has practised poetry. He can write a song in Latin or Italian; knows as much about philosopby as Plato; in geometry a very Boethius; in arithmetic another Macrobius; there is not a musical instrument be cannot play; he understands agriculture with Virgil and has studied every branch of politics. While his body was still young and strong, he was a second Entellus, a master-wrestler. In running, leaping, or boxing, be could not be surpassed. Sometimes the elements of small bodies are the more precious, as gems and jewels testify. And it would not be amiss to quote of him what Statius writes of Tydeus:
‘A greater spirit ruled that little body.’
Had but the Gods given to this man beauty and immortality, he too had been a god. But, among mortals, none has drawn every lot. I have not yet known anyone who lacked less than he. Why, he has studied even the most trifling things. He paints like Apelles; nothing could be more faultless or clearer than the codices written by his hand; in sculpture a second Praxiteles, and no mean physician. Add to that moral virtues, ruling and directing the rest.
I have, in my time, known many that studied literature and were also rich in pupils, but they lacked the civic qualities, and knew nothing about managing affairs, public or domestic. Paglarensis gaped, and accused his steward of theft who told him that one ass travailed for a single foal, while his sow had a litter of eleven. Bonitius of Milan thought he was with child and long went in fear of a delivery, because his wife had mounted him. Yet these men were considered the chief light of the law.
In others too, you will find arrogance or greed: my friend is all generosity. His house is ever full of honest company. He is no man’s enemy, but protects his pupils, comforts the sick, helps the poor, consoles the widow, nor ever fails the needy. His face is rather socratic, and always the same. In adversity, he maintains a brave heart, and no good fortune can puff him up. He has some experience of guile, not in practising but in shunning it. Dear to his townsfolk, beloved of travellers; none hate him, none resent him.
Now, why a man of such great virtue should ask so frivolous a thing, I know not. But this I know; for me to refuse him anything were wrong. For while I lived in Siena, I loved him strangely; nor has my love grown less, although he is far away. And he, who was endowed by nature with many other gifts, chiefly excelled in this, that he let no man’s love for him go unrequited. And so I felt I might not spurn his requests, and I have written the adventure of two lovers: nor have I invented it. For this thing took place in Siena, when the Emperor Sigismund was living there. You too were there and, if my ears have heard aright, made work for love. It is the city of Venus. And men who knew you tell how fiercely you burned, and that none was more passionate than you. As they think, no amatory adventure there befell, but you knew of it.
Wherefore, I pray you, read this history, and see if I have told it aright. And do not be ashamed to recollect, if ever anything of this kind happened to you; for you too were a man. He who has never truly felt the flames of love is but a stone, or a beast. It is no secret that into the very marrow-bones of the Gods has crept the fiery particle. Farewell.
AENEAS SYLVIUS, poet and imperial secretary, brings many greetings to Marianus Sozinus, expert in either kind of law, and his fellow-citizen.
You ask a thing ill-suited to my years, to yours both offensive and disgusting. For how can it become me, who am near forty, to write of love, or you, that are in your fifties, to read of it That is a subject which delights young minds, and demands a tender heart. Old men are as fitted to tales of love as young men are to tales of prudence. Nor is there anything uglier than old age pursuing love, but lacking strength. Certainly you will sometimes find old men in love,loved again, never; matrons and girls alike despise old age. No man’s love will hold a woman, but his whom she has seen in the flower of his youth. And if you hear aught to the contrary, there’s a lie behind it. Indeed I know, to write of love does not beseem me, who have already passed the noonday of life and am carried on towards evening; but it dishonours you who ask no less than me who write. I must give way to you; do you consider, then, what you ask. For as you are the elder, so should you the more honestly observe the laws of friendship. And if you are right, in not being afraid of breaking them by your request, I’ll not be so foolish as to fear transgression, when I obey. So many are the favours I owe to you, I can deny you nothing, not even when it involves some measure of disgrace.
Therefore I will grant your request, now some ten times repeated, nor longer refuse what you demand so uproariously. But I’ll not invent, as you insist, nor use the poet’s reed, while I may tell what is true. For who is there so worthless as would lie, when he can shelter himself behind the truth?
Because you have been many times in love, nor yet lack fire, you wish me to weave for you the story of two lovers. It is an evil that will not let you grow old. But I’ll indulge your desire; I’ll make the grey hairs of your sickly lust to itch. Nor shall I imagine, who have such a store of truth.
For what, in all the world, is more common than love? What state, what little town, what family lacks examples? Who, that has reached his thirtieth year, has not endured some villainy for love’s sake? I conjecture from myself whom love has sent into a thousand perils, and I thank the Gods above that I have a thousand times escaped the ambushes prepared for me; more fortunate in my star than Mars whom Vulcan took with Venus, and caught them in an iron net, and displayed them, as a laughing-stock, to the other Gods.
But I shall touch on other loves than mine, lest as I rake the ashes of some old fire, I find a spark still burning. So I’ll tell of a wonderful love, almost incredible, with which two fondnot to say dotinglovers burned for one another. Nor shall I make use of old forgotten types, but I’ll bring forth torches that burned in our own days. You will not hear the loves of Troy or Babylon, but of our own city; though, of the lovers, one was born under a northern sky.
Perhaps, even from this, some profit may be drawn. For, while the lady that comes into this tale, lost her lover, and, amid lamentations, breathed out her sad, indignant spirit; he too, from that time, never had any part in true happiness: and this will be a kind of warning to the young, to shun such trifles. So let all maidens attend and, profiting by this adventure, see to it that the loves of young men send them not to their perdition.
And this story teaches youths not to arm themselves for the warfare of love, which is more bitter than sweet; but, putting away passion, which drives men mad, to pursue the study of virtue, for she alone can make her possessor happy. While, if there is anyone that does not know from other sources how many evils love conceals, he may learn from this.
For you, farewell, and listen closely to the tale you compel me to write.
Here begins the Tale of the Two Lovers
THE city of Siena, your native town and mine, did great honour to the Emperor Sigismund on his arrival, as is now well known; and a palace was made ready for him by the church of Saint Martha, on the road that leads to the narrow gate of sandstone. As Sigismund came hither, after the ceremonies, he met four married ladies, for birth and beauty, age and ornament, almost equal. All thought them goddesses rather than mortal women, and had they been only three, they might have seemed those whom Paris, we are told, saw in a dream. Now Sigismund, though advanced in years, was quick to passion; he took great pleasure in the company of women, and loved feminine caresses. Indeed he liked nothing better than the presence of great ladies. So when he saw these, he leaped from his horse, and they received him with outstretched hands. Then, turning to his companions, he said: ‘Have you ever seen women like these: For my part, I cannot say whether their faces are human or angelic. Surely they are from heaven.’
They cast down their eyes, and their modesty made them lovelier. For, as the blushes spread over their cheeks, their faces took the colour of Indian ivory stained with scarlet, or white lilies mixed with crimson roses. And chief among them all, shone the beauty of Lucretia. A young girl, barely twenty years of age, she came of the house of the Camilli, and was wife to Menelaus, a wealthy man, but quite unworthy that such a treasure should look after his home; deserving rather that his wife should deceive him or, as we say, give him horns.
This lady was taller than the others. Her hair was long, the colour of beaten gold, and she wore it not hanging down her back, as maidens do, but bound up with gold and precious stones. Her lofty forehead, of good proportions, was without a wrinkle, and her arched eyebrows were dark and slender, with a due space between. Such was the splendour of her eyes that, like the sun, they dazzled all who looked on them; with such eyes she could kill whom she chose and, when she would, restore the dead to life. Her nose was straight in contour, evenly dividing her rosy cheeks, while nothing could be sweeter, nothing more pleasant to see than those cheeks which, when she laughed, broke in a little dimple on either side. And all who saw those dimples longed to kiss them. A small and well-shaped mouth, coral lips made to be bitten, straight little teeth, that shone like crystal, and between them, running to and fro, a tremulous tongue that uttered not speech, but sweetest harmonies. And how can I describe the beauty of her mind, the whiteness of her breast?
Nothing in that body but was praiseworthy, for her exterior witnessed to her inner beauty. Everyone that saw her envied her husband. Besides her mouth was full of wit; she talked as we are told Cornelia did, the mother of the Gracchi, or Hortensius’ daughter, and nothing could be pleasanter or purer than her discourse. She did not, like so many, display her virtue in a sour face, but, with joyful countenance, her honesty. Neither fearful nor bold, she bore within her woman’s heart, tempered by modesty, the spirit of a man.
Her dress was elaborate: necklaces and brooches, girdles and bracelets, all were there, and marvellous fillets about her head, while on her fingers and in her hair were many pearls and diamonds. I think Helen was not more fair on that day when Menelaus received Paris at his feast, nor Andromache more richly adorned, when joined in holy wedlock with Hector.
Now among them (I mean, the four ladies) was also Catherine Petrusia, who died a few days later; and the Emperor was present at her funeral, and knighted her son before her tomb, though he was still a child. She too was eminent for her great beauty, and yet she did not surpass Lucretia. Everyone was talking of Lucretia: the Emperor, and all the others, stared at her and commended her. Wherever she turned, all eyes followed her, and just as Orpheus is said to have drawn forests and rocks after him, to the sound of his lute, so she, with her glance, drew men whither she would.
But one among them all was especially drawn to her, Euryalus the Frank, who in beauty as in wealth was well fitted for love. He was thirty-two years old, not tall but of gay and graceful carriage, with bright eyes, cheeks of a pleasant ruddiness and, for his other limbs, enjoying a certain majesty in proportion to his stature. While the rest of the courtiers were all penniless from the long campaign, he, whose home was rich, and who, as the Emperor’s friend, received valuable gifts, became in the world’s eyes every day more magnificent. A long train of servants followed him, and his clothes were now stamped with gold, now dyed with the Tyrian murex, now woven of the thread that is spun in farthest China. And his horses were like those that Memnon, in the story, brought from Troy.
He had everything needed to arouse that sweet warmth of the spirit and great vigour of the mind by men called love, excepting leisure. But youth and splendour conquered, two pleasant gifts of fortune on which love thrives. Euryalus was no longer master of himself, when he had seen Lucretia; he began to burn for her and, gazing at her face, felt he would never have seen enough. Nor did he love alone. How strange love is! Many handsome youths were there, and even more women with beautiful bodies; yet Lucretia wanted only Euryalus, and he only Lucretia. But she did not know, that day, of Euryalus’ love, nor he of hers: they both imagined that they loved in vain. So, when the services for the Emperor’s sacred person were over, there was an end, and she went home to dream only of Euryalus, he of Lucretia.
And who will now admire the story of Thisbe and Pyramus, between whom proximity founded acquaintance and the first steps towards more, and (as their homes adjoined) in time created love? But these had never seen each other before, nor known each other by repute. He a Frank, she of Tuscany, they had no words together, but their eyes did everything; for each pleased the other.
And so Lucretia, wounded by this grave sorrow, burnt by a secret flame, completely forgets that she is a wife. She hates her husband, and cherishes love’s wound, keeping Euryalus’ face stamped on her heart, nor gives her body any rest. She says to herself:
‘I do not know what is the matter, that I can no longer love my husband. His caresses do not please me, his kisses give me no delight, and his words weary me. Always before my eyes is the image of that stranger who, to-day, was nearest to the Emperor. Cast out these flames from your chaste breast, if you can, poor wretch. But if I could, I’d not be sick, and sick I am. Some power that is new to me drives me on against my will; my wishes urge me one way, my thoughts another, and knowing what is best, I pursue the worst. Oh, great and noble daughter of this city, what have you to do with a foreigner? Why burn for a stranger, and contemplate marriage into an alien world? Though you are tired of your husband, surely this land can produce one you could love. But, woe is me, what a face he has! Who would not be moved by his beauty, his youth, his rank, and nobleness: Truly, he moved my heart, and unless he helps me, I shall die. God grant a kinder fate!
‘But shame! shall I betray my wedded purity, give myself to a chance-comerI know not whomwho, when he’s abused me, will go away, marry someone else, and leave me to my sorrow? But his face is not like that; his spirit seemed too noble, his beauty too charming for me to fear betrayal or short memory of our love; and if first he’ll pledge himself to me, I am safe and need not fear. So I’ll make ready, and hesitate no longer. For I am fair enough for him to want me just as much as I do him. He’ll be for ever mine, when once he has received my kisses. Many are the suitors that surround me wherever I go, many the rivals that throng my doors. I’ll make work for love; and either he’ll stay here or take me with him, when he goes.
‘Shall I then forsake my mother, my husband, and my native land? But my mother is hard with me, always against my pleasures. For my husband, I’d rather his room than his company, and one’s country is there where one’s life is happy. But my good name? What is the talk of men to me, when I’ll not hear it? She dares nothing, who thinks too much of reputation, and many have done this before me. Helen wanted to be raped; not against her will did Paris carry her off. And then there’s Ariadne, and Medea. None can prove her wrong, who errs with so many.’
Thus Lucretia pondered; and Euryalus cherished no less passion in his breast.
LUCRETIA’S house stood mid way between the Emperor’s court and Euryalus’ lodging; and every time he went to the palace, he could see her displaying herself at an upper window. But Lucretia always blushed, when she saw Euryalus, and from this the Emperor guessed that she was in love. For, riding about the town in all directions, as was his custom, he often passed her and noticed how she was affected by the presence of Euryalus, who was always with the Emperor, like Maecenas with Octavian. So, turning to him, the Emperor said:
‘See how you inflame the women, Euryalus. That lady loves you.’
But once, as though jealous of the lover, when they reached Lucretia’s house, he covered Euryalus’ eyes with his hat, saying:
‘That you may not see the object of your love. That pleasure will be mine.’
Whereupon the other replied: ‘What does Caesar mean She is nothing to me, and your behaviour is indiscreet. You’ll make all the onlookers suspicious.’
Now Euryalus rode a chestnut horse, with arching neck and narrow head. Short-bellied and broad-backed, high-spirited and rippling with muscles, it was well worth looking at; and when the trumpet sounded, it could not keep still, but twitched its ears and trembled, snorting fire down its nostrils. Its thick mane lay tossing on its right shoulder, and its strong hooves pawed the ground, till they rang heavily. And when Euryalus saw Lucretia, he became as nervous as his horse. While she, however much she had resolved, in solitude, to give her love no outlet, as soon as she saw him, lost all control over her passion and herself Just as a dry field burns up at the first touch of fire and, if the wind blows, blazes the higher, so burned poor Lucretia.
And this, I suppose, is how it will appear to wiseacres. Chastity dwells only in lowly cottages, and poverty alone enjoys a pure affection, that confines itself within the limits of the home. Rich houses know not honour, and he that is swollen by prosperity wallows in wantonness, always pursuing the exotic. Fine homes and noble families are the haunt of Fortune’s dire companion, Lust.
Seeing Euryalus, then, every time that he passed, Lucretia could not contain herself. For a long time she wondered whom she should take into her confidence, for to love in silence only feeds the flame. Now, among her husband’s servants, there was one called Sosias, an old man and a German, devoted to his master, whom he had served long and freely. So the loving woman approached him, trusting less in the man himself than in the German. The Emperor was just going out, with a long company of nobles, and they were already passing Lucretia’s door. And, when she saw Euryalus approach, she said:
‘Come here, Sosias, I want you a moment. Look down from this window. Where in the world will you find young men like these? Look how well curled they are, how upright and broad-shouldered. See how their locks are crimped and twisted into soft ringlets. What lovely faces! All their necks are white, and with what an air they carry themselves, with what stout hearts! This is a very different race of men from what my country produces. These are the sons of Gods, children sent down from heaven. I wish fate had given me one of them for a husband. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, and you had talked of it, I’d never have believed you, even though it were common report that the Germans surpass all races. I think their country will lie near the arctic regions, and borrow whiteness from the extreme cold. But do you know any of them?’
‘Almost all,’ said Sosias.
‘Do you know Euryalus, the Frank?’
‘Like myself. Why do you ask?’
‘I'll tell you. I know it will go no further; I hope that of your goodness. Of all the Emperor’s companions, none pleases me more than Euryalus. My heart is drawn towards him, and I am consumed by I know not what passion. But I cannot forget him, nor have any rest myself, until I make myself known to him. Go, I implore you, Sosias, find Euryalus, and tell him that I love him. That is all I ask of you, nor will you lose by taking my message.’
‘What do I hear?’ cried Sosias. ‘Is it right, Lady, for me to perform, or even contemplate, such an outrage? Shall I betray my master, and in my old age take to double-dealing, which in my youth I abominated? No, illustrious daughter of this city, rather do you cast out such impious flames from your pure breast. Do not pursue so dire a hope; put out that fire. Love is not hard to subdue, if you oppose its first attacks; but welcome with caresses that sweet evil, and you give yourself into the power of a cruel and insolent master, whose yoke, when you would cast it off, you cannot. What if your husband were to hear of this? Alas, how he would punish you. No love can be concealed for long.’
‘Be quiet,’ said Lucretia. ‘There is no need for panic. Who’s not afraid of death fears nothing, and I’ll endure whatever this adventure may bring forth.’
‘Where are you going, unhappy woman?’ Sosias replied. ‘You will bring disgrace upon your house, and be the one adulteress of your line. Do you think to sin in safety? A hundred eyes surround you. Your mother will not allow your crime to be concealed, nor your husband, nor your kin, nor even your hand-maidens. And though your servants be silent, your horses will speak; the dogs, the door-posts, these marble halls will accuse you. And though you were to hide it from all, you cannot hide it from Him who sees all, you cannot hide it from God. Learn what it is to have an ever-present sorrow, the terror of a guilty mind, and a soul full of shame, afraid even of itself. Security is forbidden to great wrongs. Suppress, I implore you, the flames of an unholy love, drive out this horrid evil from your chaste mind. Do not, for fear, bring to your married bed a stranger’s embraces.’
‘I know that what you say is right,’ Lucretia answered, ‘but madness compels me to pursue what’s wrong. My spirit knows the abyss that threatens it, and knowing, hurls itself on. Conquering passion rules me: the all-powerful master of my thoughts is love, and that must follow which love’s empire commands. Vainly, alas too vainly, have I struggled. If you pity me, take my message.’
At this, Sosias groaned and said:
‘By these white hairs of age, by this breast worn with troubles, and by the loyal service I have done your family, I do beseech you on my knees: cease from this madness, bring help to yourself. It is a part of health, to wish for it.’
Then said Lucretia, ‘All shame has not left my heart, and I’ll obey you, Sosias. I’ll subdue a love that will not be hidden. But from this evil there is only one escape, to avert the crime by death.’
But he, terrified at these words, exclaimed, ‘Lady, restrain the violence of your unbridled thoughts; control yourself. Now are you worthy to live, because you think yourself deserving death.’
‘It is said that I must die. When she had confessed her crime, the wife of Collatinus avenged it with the sword. But I, more honourably, will prevent my wrong by death. I seek a kind of happiness. With rope and dagger, precipice and poison, we are allowed to vindicate our chastity. This way only will I go.’
‘I'll not allow it!’ cried Sosias. But she replied, ‘When one’s resolved to die, it
cannot be prevented. Upon the death of Brutus, they took the sword from Portia, Cato’s daughter, but she ate burning coals.’
‘If such a violent madness weighs upon your mind,’ said he, ‘it is your life we must consider, not your reputation. For reputation is often wrong, and a bad name is sometimes given to the good man, a good name to the bad. So let us try this Euryalus, and make work for love. That will be my task, and if I’m not mistaken, I’ll soon make all ready for you.’
With these words he filled her burning heart with love, and brought hope to her wavering mind. But he had no intention of doing as he said. He only hoped to postpone the lady’s resolve and lessen her fever, for time often puts out passion, and from day to day lessens the distemper. Thus Sosias thought to keep her going on false hopes, till either the Emperor went away, or her own mind was changed, for he feared lest, if he refused, she might find another messenger, or use violence on herself. So he pretended to be going always to and fro, and that Euryalus rejoiced in her love, but awaited some convenient time, when they might meet. Sometimes he said he had not been able to talk to him, and at others he got himself sent out of town, and on his return, filled her with joy. In this manner, for a long time, he sustained her fevered heart, and only once, that there might be some truth in his story, went to Euryalus and said:
‘Oh, how you are loved in this city, if you only knew it.’ But when the other
asked him what this meant, he would say no more.
NOW Euryalus, wounded by love’s unerring dart, could get no rest for his limbs; a secret fire ran in his veins, devouring the very marrow of his bones. But he did not know who Sosias was, or guess that he was sent by Lucretia. And (as we all have more to wish for than to hope) when he perceived that he was in love he marvelled for a long time at his own discretion, and often reproached himself:
‘What, Euryalus, you knew love’s empire: long pursuit, short laughter, few joys, many fears, always dying, never deadthat’s the lover. Why must you, yet again, involve yourself in these trifles?’
But when he saw that he resisted in vain, ‘Why, then’cried he‘should I, poor wretch, strive uselessly against love? May I not do as Julius did, and Alexander, and Hannibal? But why speak of warriors? Look at the poets. Virgil, tied to a rope, hung half-way up a tower, while he hoped to enjoy the caresses of his mistress. But some may excuse the poet, who leads a rather disorderly life. How about the philosophers, the masters of discipline and preachers how to live? Aristotle, like a horse, was mounted by a woman; he obeyed the reins and felt the spurs.
‘The power of Emperors is equal to the Gods, and that’s not true, that is so often repeated: majesty and love are ill companions and cannot share a throne. For who’s a greater lover than our Caesar? How often has he kept love busy? They say that Hercules, strongest of men and true son of the Gods, cast away his quiver and his lion’s skin, bent his neck, and suffered emeralds to be fitted on his fingers and his rough hair tamed, while with the hand that had grasped the club he guided the thread on the whirling spindle. It is a very natural passion.
‘The birds of the air know those flames; for the black dove is always loved by the green bird, and white pigeons often mate with parti-coloured ones, if I remember aright what Sappho wrote to Phaon of Sicily. And what about the four-footed animals. The horse makes war for its mate; the timid deer seek battle and, by their cries, reveal the fever that possesses them. Hircanian tigers burn, and the boar sharpens its death-dealing tusks. Roused by love, the tawny lions lash their tails, and the wild whales burn in the sea. Nothing is safe from love, and it’s denied to nothing: even hatred dies at love’s command. Love rouses the fierce flames of youth, restores to weary age its burnt-out ardours, and strikes the breasts of maidens with a strange fire. And why should I oppose nature’s law? Love conquers all: Let us give way to love.’
Having come to this decision, he looked around for a procuress to whom he might entrust his letters for the lady, and he had in Nisus a true companion, who knew all about these matters. So he undertook this business, and brought a little woman, who took a letter composed after this manner:
‘My letter would bring you health, Lucretia, had I any health to offer you; but everything, my safety and my very hope of life, depends on you. I love you more than myself, and I think the passion in my wounded breast has not escaped you. For you must have read it in my face, so often wet with tears, and in the sighs I uttered when I saw you. Forgive me, I pray, that I open my heart to you. Your beauty has conquered me, and the extreme grace of your loveliness, by which you surpass all, has made me captive. What love was, till now I knew not; but you have brought me under Cupid’s power. I resisted long, I confess it, that I might escape so cruel a master, but your splendour made my efforts vain. I was subdued by the glances of your eyes, which make you more powerful than the sun. I am your prisoner, and belong to myself no more. You have taken from me all power to sleep or eat or drink. Day and night, I love you, I want you, call on you, await you, think of you, hope for you, rejoice in you; my heart is yours, with you I am complete. You only can save me, you only can destroy. So choose which you will do, and write me your intention. But be no crueller to me with your words than you have been with your eyes, with which you bound me to you.’
When he had sealed this with a jewel, the procuress took it, and went with all speed to Lucretia. Finding her alone, she said:
‘This letter is sent you by the noblest and most powerful lover at the Emperor’s court, who with many prayers asks you to pity him.’
Now this woman was notorious for a bawd, and Lucretia knew it, and took it ill that a woman of such repute should be sent to her. So, turning upon her, she said:
‘What shameful audacity brings you into this house? What madness to come before me? How dare you enter the homes of nobles, tempt powerful ladies, and violate honourable marriages? I can scarce restrain myself from tearing out your hair. You bring me letters? You address me? Did I not care more for my own dignity than your deserts, I’d see to it to-day that never again would you carry love-letters about. Go, go quickly, you poisonous creature, and take your letter with you. No, give it to me, that I may tear it up and throw it in the fire.’
And, snatching the paper, she tore it in many pieces, stamped it underfoot, and cast it on the ashes.
‘And that’s how you should be punished, you bawd. It’s burning you want, not a drink. But go away, immediately, before my husband finds you and gives you the punishment I have spared you. And take care you never come before my eyes again.’
The woman had expected worse than this, but she knew the ways of married ladies, and said to herself, ‘Yes, now you want him most, because you pretend to be most unwilling;’ and then to Lucretia, ‘Pardon, Lady, I thought I was doing you a service, and that you would be pleased. If I am wrong, forgive my indiscretion, and if you don’t want me to come back, I’ll obey you. But do you look, what a lover you are rejecting.’
Saying this, she went away, and returned to Euryalus and said: ‘Breathe, happy suitor, the lady loves more than her lover, but had not, at the moment, time to reply. I found Lucretia in tears, but when I said your name and gave her your letter, her face grew joyful and she kissed the paper a thousand times. Fear not, she’ll soon send a reply.’
And off she went, and took care that he never found her again, in case he repaid her lies with blows.
But Lucretia, when the old hag was gone, collected the fragments of the letter, and put each in its proper place, and fitted the torn words together till she could read it. When she had done so a thousand times, and kissed it as often, at last she wrapt it in a piece of muslin, and laid it among her most precious jewels. Then, recalling now this word, now that, she drank every hour deeper of love, and resolved to write to Euryalus, and composed a letter on these lines:
‘Cease from hoping for what cannot be obtained, Euryalus. Do not pester me with your letters and your messengers, nor put me in the ranks of those who sell themselves for a price. I am not what you think; I am not the kind of woman to whom you should send a bawd. Find another concubine, for no love can reach me that is impure. Do as you like with others, but of me ask nothing that is unworthy yourself and me. Farewell.’
Although this letter seemed to Euryalus somewhat cold, and not in keeping with the old bawd’s words, at least it showed him by what means their correspondence might be continued. For he did not hesitate to trust where Lucretia had shown her confidence. But it grieved him that he did not know the Italian language. He desired so ardently to learn it, and love made him so persistent, that in a short time he had mastered it, and could compose his letters alone. For till now he had entrusted to others anything that required to be written in Tuscan. So he replied to Lucretia:
That he was not to blame, if he had sent a woman of ill-repute, for he was a stranger and knew no better; nor had he any other messenger he could employ: the reason of his message was a love which desired of her nothing dishonourable; for he believed that she was pure, most chaste, and for that reason the more worthy of his love: extravagant women, careless of their honour, not only had he never yet loved, but hated exceedingly; for when modesty was gone, nothing remained to commend a woman: beauty was a pleasant quality, but frail, transitory, and of no value without honour: that she was endowed with both, he knew, and for that reason he loved her, and asked of her nothing licentious, nothing that would soil her reputation: he only wished to speak with her, and to tell her, in words, all his thoughts, more fully than he could do in writing.
And, with this letter, he sent gifts, less valuable in themselves than for their workmanship: And Lucretia answered:
‘I received your letter, and will say no more about the bawd. That you love me does not surprise me, for you are not the first, nor the only one, that my beauty has led astray. Many besides you have loved me, and still do; but you, as well as they, are wasting your time. To speak with you is impossible, even if I would; you had need to be a swallow to find me alone. My house is high, and all its gates are well guarded. I will keep your gifts, because I like their workmanship, but that I may not take anything from you, and lest this should seem a pledge of love, I send in return a little ring, which her husband gave to my mother, and you must accept it as the price of the jewels you have sold to me. For this gem is worth as much as your gift. Farewell.’
And thus Euryalus wrote:
‘Your letter gave me much pleasure, since it closed our quarrel about the bawd. And yet it grieved me, for you make so little of my love. For, although many love you, none of their fires is to be compared with mine. But this you will not believe, because I cannot talk with you; if only that were granted, you would no longer despise me.
‘I wish I could become a swallow, but I would even more willingly become a flea, in case you shut your window on me. But what grieves me is not that you cannot, but that you will not; for what am I, if I may not look upon my life? Oh, my Lucretia, why did you say you would not? Can it be that, even if it were possible, you would not talk with me, who am all yours? I, who desire nothing more than to do your will, who, if you bade me walk through fire would obey you in less time than it took to command. Take back that word, I implore you. Though the means be denied us, let your will, at least, be favourable, nor kill me with your words, who give me life with your eyes. And alter that decision, that made you say that I would waste my time. Cease from such cruelty; be gentler with your lover.
‘For, if you persist in talking like that, you’ll become a murderess, you may be sure of that. It would be easier for you to kill me with your words, than for
anyone else with the sword. I will ask nothing more, only I demand that you return my love. Here is nothing that you can object to; no one can forbid you that. Say that you love me, and I am happy. As for my poor gifts, I am glad that you have them, on whatever grounds; for they will remind you sometimes of my love. But they were small, and these I send now are smaller. Still, don’t despise them, for your lover sends them; and in a few days better things should reach me from my country; when they come, you’ll have them. And your ring will never leave my finger, where I make it wet with many kisses, instead of you. Farewell, my joy, and send me what solace you can.’
To this, after long reflection, Lucretia at last replied:
‘Gladly, Euryalus, would I yield to you, and, as you request, admit you to my love. For your noble character deserves it, and your behaviour merits that you should not love in vain. I will not say how much your beauty pleases me, and the kindness of your face. But it is not for my happiness, that I should love you. I know myself; if I begin to love, there will be no bounds to it, no limits. You cannot remain here for long, and when once we have enjoyed each other, I’ll not be able to do without you. You would not want to take me hence, nor I to stay behind.
‘It is the example of many women, who loved strangers and were deserted, that persuades me not to return your love. Jason forsook Medea, who helped him to slay the guardian-dragon and carry off the golden fleece. Theseus would have been sacrificed as a prey to the Minotaur, but he took Ariadne’s advice, and so escaped; and yet he deserted her, and left her on an island. And what of poor Dido, who gave refuge to Aeneas? Was not her foreign love the cause of her death?
‘I know how perilous it is to receive a stranger’s love, and will not expose myself to such disasters. You men have stronger hearts, and can more readily subdue your passions. But when a woman gives way to that insanity, there’s no escape but death. Women do not love, they go mad; and there is nothing more terrible than a woman in love, whose love is not returned. When once we have received that flame, we care not for reputation nor for life. There’s but one remedy, possession of the beloved. For the more we lack, the more we want; we fear no danger, if we can but satisfy our desires.
‘Now I am a married woman, noble, rich, and it is best that I should shun love, and more especially yours, which cannot last. I do not wish to be called a Phillis of Rhodope, or a second Sappho. So I beseech you, ask no more for my love, and gradually suppress your own, and so destroy it. For that’s much easier for a man to do than for a woman. And, if you love me, as you say you do, you should not ask of me what must be my destruction. In return for your gifts, I am sending a golden cross, set with pearls: it is small, but not without value. Farewell.’
Euryalus did not leave this unanswered, but, as though inflamed by what she now wrote, he seized his pen, and composed a reply after this manner:
‘Hail, my soul, my Lucretia, who save me with your words, even when you mix a little poison with them. But that, I hope, when you have heard me, you will withdraw. Your letter has reached my hands, closed and sealed with your jewel. I have read it often, and kissed it oftener, but its effect on me is different from what, it appears, was your intention.
‘You ask me to stop loving you, because it is no good your fostering a stranger’s love, and you give examples of women who have been deceived. But you write all this so beautifully and so elegantly that I can only admire and love your intelligence, not forget it. Who could stop loving, just when he has learned the prudence and the wisdom of his mistress? If you wanted to destroy my love, you should not have displayed your erudition. For that is not to put out the fire, but to blow the tiny sparks into a mighty blaze.
‘For my part, while I read, I loved you the more, perceiving that to your great
beauty and honour was added learning. Those are but words, with which you ask me to stop loving you. Ask the hills to flatten themselves out, or the rivers to flow back to their springs. It is as impossible for me not to love you, as for Phoebus to leave his course. When the mountains of Scythia can lose their snows, the oceans their fishes, and the woods their wild beasts, then only will Euryalus be able to forget you.
‘It's not so easy as you think, Lucretia, for men to kill their desires, and many have said of your sex what you ascribe to mine. But I’ve no wish to start that quarrel now. I must reply to the arguments you bring against me. For you give as the reason why you will not return my love, that foreign loves have ruined many women, and you quote examples. Well, I too might tell of many whom women have deserted. For Troilus, as you know, the son of Priam, was betrayed by Cressida; Helen deceived Deiphobus; and Circe all her lovers, turning them with her physics into pigs and other wild beasts. But it is not right to judge all humanity from the experience of a few. If we go on like that, then, for two or three or even ten men that are bad, you will condemn and abominate them all; and, for as many women, must I hate the sex? Rather let us consider other examples, such love as was between Antony and Cleopatra, and many others that a letter is too short to tell of.
‘But you have read Ovid, and you have seen there that, after the sack of Troy, many of the Achaeans met, on their wanderings, foreign loves, and never returned home. For they clung to their mistresses, and preferred to forego their kin, their home, power, and all the rest that’s dearest in one’s country, rather than leave their sweethearts.
‘And so I ask you, my Lucretia, consider these examples, and not those that are adverse to our love and that befell only a few. For in this I think like you, that I must love you for ever, and be for ever yours. And don’t call me a foreigner, for I am more a citizen than any born in this town; for chance assigned to them what I have chosen. I have no country, except where you are, and though, some day, it may happen that I shall go away, my return will be swift. I’ll never go back to Germany, unless it be so to settle and arrange my affairs, that I may be with you as long as possible. I’ll easily find an excuse for staying with you. The Emperor has much business in these parts, and I’ll see to it that he entrusts all that to me. Sometimes I’ll undertake an embassy, sometimes discharge an office. Caesar should have a vicar in Tuscany, and I’ll obtain that post.
‘And do not fear, Lucretia, my joy, my heart, my hope, that I could live without my heart, or ever leave you. Come nowat lasttake pity on your lover, who is fading away like snow in the sun. Think of all my troubles, and put an end to my martyrdom at length. Why torture me so long? I wonder that I have endured so many torments, so many sleepless nights, so many fasts. See how thin and pale I am. Only a little thing holds my body and soul together.
‘If I had killed your parents or your sons, you could not punish me more than you do. If you treat me thus, who love you, how will you use one who has offended you or hurt you? Oh, my Lucretia, my lady, my salvation, and my refuge, receive me into your grace, write to me at last, that I am dear to you. I only want to be allowed to say, I serve Lucretia. Even kings and emperors love their servants, when they know them to be faithful. Nor do the Gods scorn to love again those who love them. Farewell, my hope, my fear.’
As a tower, that is destroyed within, looks outwardly impregnable, but when the battering- ram is turned against it, straightway collapses, so Lucretia fell to Euryalus’ words. For when she fully recognized her lover’s devotion, she too confessed the love she had dissembled, and opened her heart to him in this letter:
‘I can oppose you no longer, Euryalus, nor any longer deny you my love. You have conquered, and now I am yours. Alas, that ever I received your letters! Too many dangers must surround me, unless your loyalty and your prudence protect me. See that you observe what you have written. I come now to receive your love and, if you fail me, you are cruel, and false, and the worst of men. It is easy to betray a woman, but the easier the more shameful. So far, all’s well. If you think you will desert me, say so, before my love burns higher. Let us not begin what later we’ll repent of. In all things, we should look to the end. I, who am a woman, see too little, but you are a man and must take thought for us both. For now I give myself to you, and pledge my faith. But I’ll not begin to be yours, unless I am to be for ever yours. Farewell, my bulwark, guide of my life.’
AFTER this, many letters passed between them, and Euryalus did not write any more passionately than Lucretia replied. For each had now only one desire, to be together; but this seemed difficult, almost impossible, for all eyes observed Lucretia. She never went out alone, was never without a gaoler. Argus did not more diligently guard Juno’s bull than Lucretia was watched, by Menelaus’ commands.
Now this is a vice common among the Italians, where every man shuts up his wife as if she were a treasure, and, in my opinion, quite uselessly. For almost all women are of such a nature that they most desire whatever they are most strictly forbidden: what you want, they don’t want, and what you refuse, they desire exceedingly. Give them a free rein, and they are less likely to transgress. Hence it is about as easy to guard an unwilling woman as to watch a flock of fleas in the broiling sun. Unless his wife is naturally chaste, it is in vain that a husband strives to bolt her in. Compel her? but who will watch the watchmen? For a wife is cunning, and begins with them. Woman is an ungovernable animal, whom no reins can control.
NOW Lucretia had a bastard brother, to whom she had often entrusted her letters for Euryalus; for she had told him of their love. So it was arranged with him that he should bring Euryalus secretly to his home, as he lived with his step-mother, Lucretia’s mother, and Lucretia went often to see her, and oftener received her visits, and they lived quite near each other.
This was their plan: Euryalus was to be locked up in one of the rooms, and Lucretia, as soon as her mother had gone to church, would arrive, as though to pay her a visit, and, not finding her at home, would await her return. But during that time she would really be with Euryalus. The meeting was fixed for two days later, and these days seemed to the lovers as long as years. For time, that flies for the fearful, crawls for those that are full of hope.
But fortune did not favour their desires. Her mother guessed that some plot was brewing and, when the day came, left the house, but locked her stepson out, who quickly brought the sad news to Euryalus. Lucretia was no less grieved than he, but realising that their trick had been discovered, she said, ‘We have failed this way, but we’ll find another. It is not my mother can stand between me and my pleasures.’
Lucretia’s husband had a cousin, Pandalus, to whom Lucretia had already confided her secret; for her burning heart could not keep quiet. So she sent word to Euryalus to talk with this man, saying he was loyal, and could find a way to bring them together. But Euryalus did not dare trust one whom he saw always with Menelaus, and feared some trickery. And while they were hesitating thus, Euryalus was ordered to Rome, to arrange with the Pope about the coronation. This was a great blow to him and to his mistress, but he had to obey the Emperor. So this journey delayed them for two months. And all that time, Lucretia stayed at home, with her windows shut, wearing sad clothes, and would never go out. Everyone began to wonder, none could guess the reason. Siena herself seemed widowed, and, as though the sun had failed, all felt they were walking in darkness. Her servants, seeing her lie on her bed and never smile, thought she was ill, and made enquiries what remedy they should use. But she would never laugh or leave her room, till she heard that Euryalus was on his way back, and that the Emperor had gone to meet him. Then, as though waking from a deep sleep, she took off her mourning, put on the ornaments she had worn before, opened the windows, and joyfully awaited him. And when the Emperor saw her, he said:
‘Deny it no longer, Euryalus, all is clear. For no one, all the time you were away, could see Lucretia; but now, because you are back again, we perceive the dawn. What limits are there to love? Love can be concealed as little as a cough can be disguised.’
‘You are laughing at me, Caesar, as usual, and making fun of me,’ Euryalus replied. ‘I do not know what all this means. Perhaps the neighing of the horses woke her, or the uproar of your long train of attendants.’
And, saying this, he glanced up furtively at Lucretia, and looked her full in the eyes. And that was their first consolation after his return.
A FEW days later Nisus, Euryalus’ true companion, eager to forward his friend’s cause, explored a tavern which stood behind Menelaus’ house overlooking the back of Lucretia’s apartments. He made friends with the innkeeper and, when he had examined the whole place, brought Euryalus and said to him:
‘Here you can talk with Lucretia from her window.’
Now, half-way between the two houses there was a culvert, concealed from men and from the sun, and only three ells distant from Lucretia’s window, and here the lover sat for a long time, waiting till some chance should bring her. Nor was he disappointed, for Lucretia came at last; and as she looked this way and that,
‘What are you doing?’ said Euryalus, ‘Mistress of my life. What are you looking at, my heart? Here, turn your eyes here, my bulwark, for your Euryalus is here. Looklookit is Ilook at me.’
‘You here?’ cried Lucretia. ‘Oh, my Euryalus! Now at last I can speak to you. Oh, that I had the strength to embrace you.’
To which he replied, ‘That’s easily managed. I’ll bring a ladder. Lock your door. We have postponed too long the enjoyment of our love.’
‘Take care, Euryalus, if you value my safety. There is a window here on the right, and my worst neighbour. And you must not trust the innkeeper; for a little money he’d lose us both. But we’ll find another way. It is enough if we can talk to each other from here.’
‘But for me,’ he said, ‘to see you thus is death, unless I can also kiss you and hold you in my arms.’
For a long time they spoke together from this place, and sent each other presents on a rod. And Lucretia was just as generous with her gifts as Euryalus.
But Sosias discovered their secret, and, said he to himself, ‘It is no use my opposing a lover’s will. Unless I am careful, my lady will be lost and my lord disgraced, and of the two evils I had better avert one. Let my lady love; it will do no harm, provided it is not found out. But she is blind with love, and does not take sufficient care of her actions. Since her honour cannot be protected, at least I can prevent a scandal, so that the house is not disgraced or murder committed. I’ll go and offer my help. I have tried all I could not to do what is wrong. Since that is impossible, I’ll see to it that the worst is done in secret (to do nothing won’t help) and so arrange it that no one knows. Lust is a common evil; no man is not worried by that pest, but he is considered least disgraceful who is most cautious.’
While he was thinking thus, he saw Lucretia come out of her room, and going up to her he said:
‘Why do you not confide your love-affair to me? You love Euryalus as much as ever, and, since you love him in secret, you should be careful whom you trust. The first step in wisdom is not to love at all. But the second is, if you love, to keep it quiet. You cannot do this alone, without some intermediary. How loyal I am to you, you long ago found out. If you wish me to do anything, command me. My chief anxiety is that this love of yours should not be discovered, and you pay the penalty while your husband is disgraced.’
And Lucretia answered:
‘It is as you say, Sosias, I have great faith in you. But you seemedI don't know whycareless and opposed to my desires. However, now that you offer your help freely, I’ll accept it, and shall have no fear of being betrayed by you. You know how much I love; I cannot endure this passion any longer. Help me, by bringing us together. Euryalus is faint with love, and I am dying of it. Nothing could be worse, than to oppose our desires. If once we have known each other, we’ll love less ardently, and our affection will be kept secret. Go then, tell Euryalus this is the only way to get to me.
‘Four days from now, when the farmhands are bringing in the grain, he must dress up as a carrier, conceal his face under a sack and bring the wheat up the stairs and into the granary. You know that my room has a door opening on the stairs, and you must tell Euryalus everything. I’ll stay there till day and, while I can, shall be alone in my chamber. He must, when he is alone, open the door and come to me.’
It was a heavy burden, but Sosias feared worse disasters, and undertook it. So he found Euryalus, and told him everything in order, while he made light of it and joyfully accepted, promising to obey her commands, and only wishing he had not so long to wait.
OH, mad heart of a lover! Blind thoughts, rash heart, and fearless spirit! Nothing is so impenetrable, but you see a way through; nothing so hard, but you think it easy; nothing so close-shut, but for you it’s open. You make light of every danger, and admit no hardships. All a husband’s precautions are useless against you. No laws bind you; no fear, no shame can move you. Work for you is but a game, nothing ever hinders you.
Oh, Love that subdues all things! Here is a man among the first of men, an Emperor’s dearest friend, wealthy, mature in years, well-read, famed for his judgment, and you can make him throw away his purple, put on a sack, and, from being a master, become a servant; though reared in luxury, train his shoulder to carry burdens, and hire himself out as a common porter.
Wonderful! Almost incredible! to see this man, in all else so grave a counsellor, now in the ranks of carriers and choosing for his companions the sweepings and the dregs of mankind. What greater transformation could one ask? This is a Metamorphosis such as Ovid means, when he tells of men that have become beasts, or stones, or plants. And this is what the greatest of poets, Virgil, knew, when he sang of Circe’s lovers turned into wild animals. For this is how love’s flame alters the heart of man, so that he scarce differs from the brutes.
AURORA had left Tithonus’ yellow couch and was alread scattering the hoped-for day, and soon Apollo, bringing back to all things their colours, brought life to Euryalus, who was awaiting him, and now thought himself most happy and most fortunate, when he saw himself mingling with common slaves, and recognized by none.
So off he went, and, entering Lucretia’s house, took up his load of corn. When he had placed the wheat in the granary, he was the last to descend, and saw, as he had been told, the closed door of the marriage-chamber half-way down the stairs. He pushed it open and let himself in, and, as he shut the doors, beheld Lucretia busied on a piece of silk. And coming up to her, he
‘Good morning, my heart, good morning, my hope, sole guardian of my life! At last I have found you alone. At last, as I have so often dreamed, I may embrace you unobserved. No wall, no distance impedes my kisses.’
Now although it was Lucretia herself had laid the plan, yet at his first approach she stood aghast, and thought she saw not Euryalus but some ghost; as though she could not believe that such a man would face so many perils for her sake. But when, amid his kisses and embraces, she knew her Euryalus, then she spoke fearlessly:
‘Is this you, my darling? Is this indeed Euryalus?’ And, with blushing cheeks, she held him closer, and kissed him full on the forehead. And soon she spoke again:
‘Alas, what risks you have run! What more can I say? For now I know how dear I am to you. Now I have tried the mettle of your love; but you will find the same spirit in me. Only may the Gods favour us, and give our love a fortunate issue. While life runs in these veins, none but you will have power over Lucretia, not even my husband, if I can truly call him that who was given me against my will, and whom my heart has never accepted. But come, my joy, my delight; throw away this sack, show yourself as you are. Take off this carrier’s garb, get rid of these ropes, and let me see Euryalus.’
He had just removed his rags and appeared all glorious in purple and gold, ready for love’s business, when Sosias knocked at the door. ‘Look out, you lovers,’ said he. ‘Here comes Menelaus in a hurry, looking for I don’t know what. Hide your treachery, deceive your man. There is no way you can hope to escape.’
Then Lucretia said:
‘There is a little safe under the bed, where our valuables are kept. You know what I said in my letter would happen, were my husband to find you with me. Go in thereyou’ll be safe there in the dark. And do not move or make a sound.’
Euryalus, at a loss what to do, obeyed the lady, and she, opening the doors, returned to her silk. Then in came Menelaus with a man. called Bertus, looking for some documents that related to the state. And, when he could not find them in any of his portfolios,‘Perhaps they are in our safe,’ said Menelaus. ‘Go, bring a light, Lucretia, we must look in there.’
Terrified at this, Euryalus felt faint, and promptly began to hate Lucretia, saying to himself:
‘Dolt that I am! What brought me to this pass but my own folly? Now I am done for, now I’ll be made a laughing-stock, and lose the Emperor’s friendship. His friendship? I’ll be lucky if I keep my life. Who can save me from this? I’m bound to die.
‘Oh emptiest and stupidest of all stupid mortals! By my own wish have I got into this coil. What are the joys of Jove, if they are bought so dear? Its pleasure is short, and very long its sorrow. Oh, that we would endure as much for the Kingdom of Heaven! Wondrous stupidity of man. We’ll not put up with the briefest labour for ever-lasting joy, but for love, whose happiness may be compared to smoke, we’ll throw ourselves into endless difficulties.
‘Look at myself! Now I’ll be an example and a story for all men, and I can see no way out. Oh, if some God were to get me out of this, never again would I be trapped by love. Oh, God, save me, spare my youth! Condemn me not for my ignorance! Preserve me, that I may repent these crimes!
‘Lucretia never loved me, but wished to catch me, like a stag, in her toils. Look, my hour has come. No one can help me, but only thou, my God! Often had I heard of the wiles of women, and knew not how to avoid them. But if this time I escape, no woman’s tricks shall ever deceive me.’
But Lucretia was no less troubled than he, fearing, as she did, not only for her
own life, but for her lover’s as well. Yet, as in times of sudden danger women have quicker wits than men, she thought of this remedy.
‘Look, my dear,’ said she. ‘There is a little chest there, under the window, where I remember you have hidden several documents. Let us see if the papers are in there.’
And going quickly over as though to open the chest, she cunningly pushed it out of the window, as if it had fallen by accident.
‘Heavens, my dear,’ cried she, ‘come quickly, or we may suffer for it. The chest has fallen out of the window. Oh hurry, both of you! Why do you, stand there? I’ll watch from here, in case someone tries to steal it.’
See the shamelessness of woman! Go now and trust the sex. No one has eyes so sharp that he cannot be cheated. Only he is safe, whose wife has not tried to deceive him. If we are fortunate, it is by good luck rather than good management.
Menelaus and Bertus were disturbed by this accident, and both immediately rushed into the street. The house, as is usual in Italy, was rather high, and they had a long way to go down, so that Euryalus had time to change his hiding-place and, directed by Lucretia, he placed himself in another refuge. The others meanwhile had collected the jewels and papers, and as the documents they required were not there, they turned their attention to the portfolios among which Euryalus had been concealed. Then, having found what they wanted, they saluted Lucretia and went away.
And she, after bolting the doors, said: ‘Come out, Euryalus, my heart. Come,
my chief delight, fountain of my pleasures, my spring of happiness, my honeycomb. Come, my incomparable darling. For all is safe now; now the field is free for our conversation, now there is room for our embraces. Fate tried to oppose our kisses, but the Gods look kindly on our love, and would not fail two such true lovers. Come at last to my arms. There is nothing you need fear any longer, my lily, my crown of roses. Why do you hesitatewhat are you afraid of? I am here, your Lucretia. Why so slow to embrace your Lucretia?’
Euryalus had barely recovered from his panic, but he pulled himself together, and took her in his arms:
‘Never have I been so frightened, but for your sake even that was worth enduring. Your kisses and your so sweet embraces should not be enjoyed by anyone for nothing. And, to speak the truth, I have not yet paid enough for so much bliss. If after death I could live again and possess you, I would die a thousand times, were that the price of your embraces. Oh my joy! my great good fortune! Do I really see youis it true: Do I hold you, or am I deluded by empty dreams? No, indeed, you are here, and you are mine.’
LUCRETIA was wearing a light robe which clung to her body without a wrinkle, concealing neither her breasts nor her hips, and displayed her limbs exactly as they were. Her throat was snowy white, her eyes shone with the radiance of the sun; her glance was happy, her face animated, and her cheeks like lilies mixed with crimson roses. Laughter that was sweet and modest filled her mouth. She was deep-bosomed, and her breasts swelled out on either side like two pomegranates, so that one longed to touch them.
Euryalus could contain himself no longer, but forgot his fear and cast aside all modesty. Coming close to her, he said: ‘At last let us enjoy our love,’ and he matched his actions to his words. But she resisted and pleaded her honour and her reputation, saying their love demanded no more than words and kisses.
At this, Euryalus smiled, 'Is it known that I have come here, or is it not? If it is, there is no one will not suspect the worst, and it is stupid to lose one’s reputation for nothing. If indeed no one knows, then no one will know this either. This is the pledge of love, and I’ll die sooner than go without it.’
‘Oh, but it’s wrong,’ cried she, and he replied:
‘It is wrong not to use the good things we have got, and shall I let slip the opportunity accorded me, that I have sought so long, desired so ardently?’
He seized her dress, and while she resisted with no desire to win, he easily got the better of her.
Nor did their love bring satiety, as when Tamar gave herself to Amon, but roused in them a greater thirst for more. Yet they remembered their peril and, after they had eaten and drunk a little, Euryalus departed, much against Lucretia’s will. And no one suspected anything, for they thought he was one of the day-labourers.
EURYALUS wondered at himself as he went away, and thought:
‘If the Emperor were to meet me now and recognise me, what suspicions this dress would arouse in him, how he would laugh at me. I would be a fable for everyone and a laughing-stock for him. He would never let me go till he knew everything. He would ask what meant this yokel’s garb, but I should lie; I would say it was not this woman but another I had been with. For he too loves her, and it is not my custom to tell him of my love-affairs. Never shall I betray Lucretia, who has helped and preserved me.’
While he pondered thus he saw Nisus and Achates and Palinurus, and followed them. But they did not recognise him till they were in his house, when, taking off his sack-cloth, he put on his own attire and told them how things had gone. And, while he recalled for them the terror and the joy he had met with, he mimicked now one in fear, now one full of happiness. But as he spoke of his fear,
‘Alas,’ cried he, ‘fool that I am, I have put my fate into a woman’s hands. This is not what my father advised, when he taught me never to put faith in any woman. He used to say, woman is an unmanageable animal, false, fickle, and cruel, the slave of a thousand passions. And now, forgetful of my father’s precepts, I have given my life to a mere woman. What if someone had recognized me carrying corn? What disgrace, what infamy for me and my posterity! The Emperor would have dismissed me, and punished me for my levity and madness. I might have cursed such doings.
‘Or again, suppose her husband had found me in the safe, whilst he was looking through his portfolios. The Julian law for adulterers is harsh, but a husband’s grief demands crueller penalties than any law permits. For the law slays with the sword, a husband with bloody stripes; some adulterers have even been put upon the rack. But say he had spared my life, would he have flung me into prison or taken me in disgrace to Caesar? Or let’s suppose I had escaped his hands, for he was unarmed while my good sword hung at my side. But he had companions with him, and arms were hanging on the walls within easy reach, and in his house there is a goodly array of servants. The out-cry would soon have rendered me powerless, and all the doors would have been locked; and then I should have paid the penalty.
‘Indeed I am demented! It was not foresight freed me from this dilemma, but chance. What chance? Why, the ready wit of Lucretia. Oh, loyal woman and wise mistress! Oh, glorious and most noble love! Why do I not trust you?why not pledge my faith to you? Had I a thousand heads, I’d entrust them all to you. For you are true and cautious; you know how to love and how to protect your lover.
‘Who could have devised a way to distract those that sought me as quickly as you devised it? You it was preserved this life of mine, and to you I devote it. That yet I breathe is not my doing but yours, nor will it be hard for me to lose for your sake what I hold from you. You have a right to my life, and can command my death.
‘White breast, sweet tongue, kind eyes and ready wit! You marble limbs, full of vigour, when shall I see you again? When again shall I bite those coral lips, or feel again that tremulous tongue murmuring in my mouth, or ever handle those breasts.
‘Why, Achates, you have scarcely seen this woman. Where she is most feminine, there she is most lovely. I wish you could be me! Not the beautiful wife of Candaules, King of Lydia, was more beautiful than she. I cannot wonder that he wished to show his wife naked to his friend, to give him the greater pleasure. I would do the same myself. If it were possible, I’d show you Lucretia naked, for otherwise I cannot describe to you how beautiful she is, nor can you imagine how full and substantial was my pleasure. But rejoice with me, because my delight was greater than words can tell.’
Thus Euryalus to Achates, and Lucretia said just as much to herself; but her joy was the less, because it was more silent. There was no one else to whom she could confide this matter, and to Sosias, for shame, she could not tell everything.
MEANWHILE Pacorus, a knight of Pannonia, and nobly born, who was in the Emperor’s train, began to love Lucretia, and, being handsome, he was quite sure she returned his love and that only her woman’s modesty stood in his way. While she, as is the custom of our ladies, looked on all men with a kindly eye. It is an art, or rather an artifice, whereby the real love is disguised. Pacorus was off his head, and nothing would console him but to know Lucretia’s mind.
Now the ladies of Siena are wont to pay frequent visits to the chapel of the Blessed Mary, called of Bethlehem, at the first milestone from the town. Hither Lucretia was walking one day with two girls and an old woman, and Pacorus followed her, carrying in his hand a violet with gilded petals, and in its stalk he had concealed a love-letter, written on the finest parchment.
Don’t be surprised for Cicero tells us he was shown the whole of the Iliad so finely written that it was kept in a nutshell.
Pacorus offers the violet to Lucretia and commends himself. She rejects his gift. The Pannonian insists with many prayers. Then says the old woman: ‘Come, Lady, take the flower that is offered to you. Why be fearful where there is no danger? It’s a little thing, and will give pleasure to this soldier.’
Lucretia was persuaded by the old woman and took the flower. When they had walked a little way, she gave it to one of the maids. Soon they met a couple of students who, without much ado, persuaded the young girl to give them the flower. Whereupon, they opened the stalk and found the love-poem.
Now young men of this class had been very popular with our ladies, but after the Emperor brought his court to Siena, they began to be laughed at, scorned, and disliked; for the clatter of arms pleased our women more than the elegance of learning. Hence arose much malice and great rivalry, and the gown did all it could to damage the sword. So when the trick of the violet was discovered, they went straight to Menelaus and bade him read the letter. He was grieved and went home, where he scolded his wife and filled all the house with his uproar. But she denied her guilt and told him what had happened, bringing the old woman as a witness. So he went to the Emperor and complained, and Pacorus was sent for, who confessed his fault and asked pardon, swearing he would pester Lucretia no more. For he knew well that Jove does not condemn, but rather approves a lover’s perjury; so he fostered his barren flame the more diligently, the more it was opposed.
WINTER had come; the south wind was felt no more, only the north wind blew. Snow fell from the skies, the whole town was given over to mirth, and the ladies threw snow-balls out into the streets, while the youths threw them in at the windows. And thus Pacorus found his opportunity, for he wrapt another letter in wax and rolled the wax in snow and bound it fast, making a ball of it, and threw it into Lucretia’s window.
Who will say that all things are not governed by chance? Who is there does
not hope for its favourable breath? For one hour of good luck is worth more than if you had a letter from Venus commending you to Mars. Some say, chance has no power over wisdom, and I admit it of those that are wise enough to take pleasure only in virtue, who whether poor or sick or shut up in the bull of Phalaris, can believe their life is happy. But I have never met anyone like that, and I don’t think they exist.
The common lot of man needs fortune’s favour. Whom she will she raises up, and whom she will, brings low. Who was it destroyed Pacorus, if not Fortune? Could he have been more cautious than he was, enclosing his note in the stem of a violet, and now again sending a letter with the help of the snow Some will say he could have been more cautious. But, had fortune favoured his plan, then he would have been considered both cautious and as prudent as could be. But fate opposed him, making the ball drop from Lucretia’s hand and roll towards the fire, where the snow melted in the heat, the wax liquified, and the letter was disclosed. And the old women sitting there warming themselves, and Menelaus too, who happened to be present, all read it; and new quarrels were started, and Pacorus escaped not by asking pardon but by flight.
This love-affair was favourable to Euryalus, for while Lucretia’s husband watched Pacorus’ every step and every action, he left room for Euryalus’ schemes; and it is very true, what people say, that it is not easy to guard what many people love or strive for. And the lovers, now they had once been to bed together, were eager for a second encounter.
Now the lane that separated Lucretia’s house from her neighbour was very narrow, and by putting a foot on either wall it was quite easy to reach Lucretia’s window; but it was only possible to climb up after dark. However, Menelaus had to go to the country on business and meant to spend the night there, and the lovers were looking forward to this day as to a holiday. The time for his departure came. Euryalus changed his clothes and made for the lane. Here Menelaus had a stable, which Euryalus entered, by Sosias’ instructions, and there awaited the night, concealed in the hay.
And then, look! Dromo, Menelaus’ second servant, he that looked after the horses, came to fill the manger, and began to remove the hay from beside Euryalus. And he was just coming to fetch some more, and his fork would have struck Euryalus, when Sosias arrived and, perceiving the danger, said:
‘Let me do that, good friend, I’ll feed the horses. Do you, in the meantime, go and see if our supper is ready. Let us enjoy ourselves while our master is away. Our lady treats us far better than he does. She is cheerful and very generous, but he is ill-natured, turbulent, miserly, and hard to please. Nothing goes well for us, while he is here. Have you not noticed how he ill-treats our stomachs with his unfair measure, always stuffing himself and starving us; it’s not enough for him that we must eat mouldy crusts of black bread, but yesterday’s mince is served up at his table, the salt fish and eels of one meal are carried over to the next, and he counts the sprigs of chives and marks them and locks them up, in case we get anything. Fool, who seeks to grow rich through such torments! For what could be stupider than to live like a pauper that you may die a Croesus. How different is our lady, who not only feeds us on veal and young kids, but even gives us chickens and trout, and any amount of the best wine. Go on, Dromo, see that the food is plentiful.’
‘I'll see to that,’ said Dromo, ‘I’d sooner rub a table than a horse. I took our lord down to the country to-day, bad cess to him, and never a word did he say to me, except in the evening when he sent me back with the horses, and bade me tell my mistress he would not be back to-night. I am glad, Sosias, to see you are learning to hate our master’s ways. I’d have changed service long ago, but our lady kept me with her little tit-bits of a morning. We’ll not sleep all this night. Let us eat and drink till day comes. Our lord will not eat as much in a month as we’ll get rid of at a single supper.’
All this Euryalus heard with joy, although he knew the ways of servants and had no doubt but his own said just the same when he was away from home. And after they had talked like this for some time and Dromo had gone off, Euryalus arose and said:
‘Oh what a happy night I am going to owe you, Sosias, who brought me here and so loyally prevented my discovery. You are a good fellow, and I love you as you deserve, and will not prove ungrateful.’
THE appointed hour had come, and Euryalus, full of joy despite the two perils he had encountered, scaled the wall and entered by the open window. He found Lucretia sitting by the hearth, with refreshments ready, awaiting him. And she rose, when she saw it was her lover, and kissed him full on the mouth. Embraces followed, kisses were exchanged, and they spread their sails for Cythara; and when Venus wearied of the journey, Ceres refreshed her, and Bacchus.
But alas, how short are pleasures, sorrows how long! Euryalus had barely enjoyed himself an hour, when here comes Sosias announcing Menelaus’ return, and puts an end to their happiness. Euryalus in a panic wonders how to escape, while Lucretia, having concealed the tables, goes to meet her husband, welcomes him on his return, and says:
‘Oh, my dear, how glad I am you have come back, for I was imagining you entangled in your country affairs. What did you find to do for so long down there? Take care, lest I smell something out. Why cannot you stay at home? Why seek ever to depress me by your absence? All the time you are away, I fear for you; sometimes I am afraid you have fallen in love with someone else, for husbands are often unfaithful to their wives. So if you wish to show me such a fear is absurd, don’t ever sleep away from home; I can never enjoy a night without you. But here is supper, then let us go to bed.’
They were at that moment in the hall where the household dined, and Lucretia was trying to detain her husband there, until Euryalus should have had time to get away, which he could not do without a little delay. But Menelaus had dined out, and was in a hurry to go to bed. So Lucretia remarked:
‘You cannot love me much, or you would have supped at home with me. Because you were not there I have not eaten anything all day, nor drunk anything either. But the farmers came from Rosalia, bringing some wine or other; they said it was the very best Trebbian wine. I could not touch it, I was so sad, but now that you are here, let us go down into the cellar, will you and taste it, to see if it is as good as they said.’
And she seized a lantern in one hand, her husband with the other, and went down into the depths; and for a long time, now here, now there, they broached casks and tasted wine, till she thought Euryalus would have got away. And so, at long last, she went to her unwelcome couch with her husband, while Euryalus made for home at dead of night.
Next day, whether because it improved the arch of the roof or because of some base suspicion, Menelaus walled up the window. But, as our fellow-citizens are quick at putting two and two together and full of suspicions, I think Menelaus distrusted the convenient nature of the place and, not relying on his wife’s fidelity, wished to remove all opportunities. For though he had discovered nothing, he was well aware of the fact that his wife was pestered and tempted every day by the prayers of many lovers, and he knew the variable nature of women, that they have as many desires as a tree has leaves. For the female sex is eager for novelty, and seldom loves a man whom she can freely possess. In this he followed the beaten track of husbands, who believe that misfortune can be warded off by careful guardians.
And thus they had lost all means of meeting, and could not even exchange letters; for Menelaus persuaded the magistrates to expel the inn-keeper who kept the tavern behind Lucretia’s house, whence Euryalus had been wont to talk with her and send letters on a rod. Only the exchange of glances remained, and only by their nods could the lovers console each other. And even that, the last bond of love, was not easily enjoyed. Each was filled with a great sorrow and tortured well-nigh to death, for they could not forget their love any more than they could pursue it.
WHILE Euryalus was thus perplexed and wondering what to do, he remembered the advice Lucretia had sent him concerning Pandalus, the cousin of Menelaus. So he followed the example of skilled physicians who, in dealing with dangerous illnesses, are wont to try an uncertain cure and risk everything, rather than not prescribe for the disease at all. He resolved to approach Pandalus, and try the remedy he had rejected before. Accordingly, he sent for him and brought him into the most private part of his house, and then spoke as follows:
‘Sit down, my friend. I am going to talk to you on an important matter, one requiring those qualities which, I know, you alone possess, diligence, loyalty, and silence. For a long time I have wished to speak to you about this, but I did not know you well enough. Now I do know you, and love and respect you for your approved loyalty. Why, even if I knew no more, it were enough that your fellow-citizens unite to praise you, as also do my companions with whom you have made friends, and who have told me what kind of man you are, and how reliable. I have also heard from them that you desired my friendship, which I now fully offer you, for you are worthy of it no less than I am worthy of yours. And now, as between friends, I will tell you shortly what I want.
‘You know the race of man, how prone it is to love, whether for good or ill. It is a widespread calamity, and there is not a heart made of flesh but feels, at one time or another, the pricks of love. You know that it is so, since neither the most holy David, nor the most wise Solomon, nor Samson, who was so strong, escaped that passion.
‘Moreover, it is the nature of a breast inflamed and drunk with love, to burn the more, the more it is opposed. Nothing cures that plague so well as a surfeit of what it desires. There have been many men and women, within our memories and in the times of our ancestors, for whom opposition has been the cause of' a cruel death. While, on the other hand, we know that many, after they have obtained full intercourse and union, have soon out-grown their passion.
‘Once love is in your bones, the most sensible thing is to yield to its fury. For if you strive against the storm, you often meet with shipwreck, while he who gives way to the hurricane, escapes. And since I am talking to you as to a part of my own heart, I may as well say that this matter will be to your advantage.
‘I love Lucretia. And it is not, dear Pandalus, my fault that I do so, but fortune’s, for our lot here on earth lies in her hands. I did not know the ways of you Italians nor the habits of this town. I thought that what your women expressed with their eyes, they also felt in their hearts. But your married ladies don’t love men; they devour them. And so I was cheated. Because I believed Lucretia loved me, for she looked on me with kind eyes, I too began to love her. Indeed, I thought so elegant a lady did not deserve that her love should go unrequited.
‘I did not know you then, nor your family. I loved, thinking I was loved, for who is there so stony or so iron, that would not love, when he is loved? But when I saw my mistake, when I realised that I was caught in a snare, then I did strive with all my force to inflame her, that my love might not be barren, but like be repaid with like.
‘To be on fire and yet burn nothing, that was at once a disgrace and a mental anguish which, day and night, tormented me beyond belief; and I was so immersed in it that I simply had not the strength to get out. So it has come to this, that through my unfailing efforts, each of us is equally in love. She is on fire, I burn; we both of us perish. And we can see no remedy, that will prolong our lives, unless you will help us.
‘She is watched by a husband and his brother. The golden fleece was not more jealously guarded by its dragon, nor the approach to Hell by Cerberus, than she is closely imprisoned. I know your family, and that you are among the leading nobles of this city, that you are rich and powerful and popular. I wish I had never known this woman. But who is there can resist his destiny? I did not choose to love: Fate compelled me.
‘That is how the matter stands. Till now, our love is secret, but unless things are well managed, it will producewhich God forbida great misfortune. I might perhaps restrain myself, if I were to go away; and I would do so, although to my own deepest sorrow, for the sake of your family, did I think it would be of any avail. But I know her passion. Either she would follow me or, if she were compelled to stay behind, she’d kill herself, and that would be a perpetual disgrace upon your house.
‘What I want, then, what I implore of you (and it will be in your own interests) is to prevent such a calamity. And there is only one way, which is for you to be the charioteer of our love, and see to it that our passion be well concealed and never discovered. I put myself in your hands, I give myselfI devote myself to you. Assist this frenzy of ours, for if it is opposed, it will only grow worse. Arrange for us to be together once, for after that our love will soon diminish, and will be more easily endured. You know the way into her house, you know when her husband is not there, and you know how best to get me in.
‘Her brother-in-law must be watched, for he is all too cunning in these matters, and guards Lucretia most carefullyas though he were her own brotherexamining closely every ambiguous word, every turn of her head, every groan and clearing of the throat, every time she coughs or laughs. We are determined to elude him, and we cannot do that without you. So you must stay there, and whenever her husband is away, let me know; and if his brother stays behind, you must get rid of him, so that he will not remain on guard beside Lucretia, or appoint other guards. He will trust you and perhapsplease Godeven entrust this duty to you. If he does, and you are willing to help meas I hope you areall will be smooth-sailing. For you can let me in secretly, while the others are asleep, and cool my burning passion.
‘The advantages arising from all this will, I think, be obvious to your own good sense. In the first place, you will be protecting the honour of your family, when you conceal a love that could not be made public without disgrace to you all. Then you are saving the life of your kinswoman, and preserving his wife for Menelaus; for one night given to me, and none the wiser, is not so serious a calamity as if he were to lose her, and all the town to know that she had followed me. Hippia, the Roman senator’s wife, followed her play- actor to Pharos, to the Nile, and to the storied walls of Lagos. But suppose Lucretia resolved to go with me, who am of high rank and powerful, what ignominy for all your race, what laughter for the people! That would bring shame not only on yourselves, but on your city. Some might say that a woman who would do that should rather be slain on the sword, or destroyed by poison. But woe to him that pollutes his hands with human blood, and avenges a lesser crime with a greater! One should not augment ills but diminish them; and we know that of two goods we ought to choose the greatest, of an evil and a good, the good, but of two ills, that which seems least.
‘Every way is dangerous, but the one I point out is the least perilous, for you will not only be serving the interests of your kin but helping me too, and I am almost mad when I see Lucretia tortured on my account. I’d rather she hated me than ask this of you. But there we are! Things have come to this, that unless your skill, your care, your intelligence and solicitude can save the ship, there is no hope left.
‘So help both her and me; save your house from notoriety. And don’t imagine I will be ungrateful. You know the favour I enjoy with Caesarwhatever you ask, I’ll obtain it for you, and this, first of all, I promise you and give you my word for it, that you will be a Count Palatine, and all your posterity will enjoy that title. Into your hands I put and I entrust Lucretia and myself, our love, our reputation, and the honour of your race. You are our judge, everything lies with you. Decide what you must do, for you have the power to save or to lose her.’
Pandalus smiled at this, and said:
‘I knew all this, Euryalus, and I wish it had not happened. But, as you say, things have come to such a pass that I must do as you command, unless I want my house to be afflicted with contumely and a great scandal to arise. The lady is inflamed, even as you have said, and has lost all control. If I don’t help, she will die upon the sword or throw herself from a window. She cares neither for her life nor her honour.
‘She herself has told me of her passion. I opposed it; I implored her, tried to calm her down, but all in vain. She makes light of everything but you; she cares for nothing but you. You are always in her thoughts. She seeks you, longs for you, thinks of you alone. Often when she has been talking to me, she has said“Listen, please, Euryalus.” Why, she is so changed by love, you would not think her the same person. Alas for piety, alas for grief! No one, until this happened, in all the city was chaster than she, no one more modest. It is indeed amazing that nature has given to love so much power over men’s thoughts. We must cure her sickness, and there is no remedy but that you have pointed out. I will bestir myself and make common cause with you, while yet there is time. And I don’t want your rewards, for it is not the part of an honest man to ask for favours, when he has done nothing to deserve them. I am doing this to prevent the scandal that threatens my family. If it happens to benefit you, that is no reason why I should be rewarded.’
‘But, anyway,’ said Euryalus, ‘I feel this much gratitude towards you, that I will have you made Count Palatine, as I said. You won’t refuse that honour at my hands.’
‘I won't,’ replied Pandalus, ‘but I do not want to owe it to this matter. If it is to come, let it come freely. I am doing nothing upon conditions. For if I had been able to bring you to Lucretia, without your knowing it was I that did it, I’d have been all the better pleased. Farewell.’
‘And you, farewell,’ said Euryalus. ‘When you have thought it over, get busy, invent something, discover a way, help us to be together.’
‘You'll admire me yet,’ retorted Pandalus, and went off full of joy that he had won the favour of such a great man. Partly also because he now hoped to be a Count, since he wanted that dignity all the more, the less he seemed to desire it. For there are some men who, like women, are most eager when they profess to be most unwilling. He had obtained the reward of procuration; his posterity would display the coat of arms of a Count, and the golden ball of nobility.
THERE are many ways to a title, my Marianus, and sure, it is my opinion that, were you to trace the history of any of them, you would find that none were noble, or very few, but owed it to some crime. For while we see those called noble that are very rich, when certainly wealth and virtue seldom go together, who will deny that the origin of nobility is ignoble? This man has grown rich on usury, that on spoils, another on treachery. Poison has filled this fellow’s pocket, and flattery that. Some acquire it through their wives, some through their children. Murder helps many. It is rarely we find anyone who has won his riches honestly. You’ll never fill your sack, unless you reap every blade of grass. Men pile up riches, and do not ask whence they come, but how much comes. This is a saying that applies to allHow you got it, nobody will enquire, but you must have it. And when your coffer is full, you claim a title which, won like that, is no better than the reward of iniquity.
My ancestors were considered noble, but I have no wish to flatter myself. I do not claim that my forbears were any better than others, who are justified only by antiquity, since their crimes have been forgotten. In my opinion, no one is noble unless he loves virtue. I am not dazzled by golden garments, horses, dogs, a tribe of servants, sumptuous tables, marble halls, country- seats, estates and fisheries, power, or deer-forests. Any of these a fool can obtain; and if you call him noble, you are a fool yourself. Procuration made our Pandalus noble.
NOT many days later a quarrel broke out, down in the country, among Menelaus’ farm-hands, and some were killed who had drunk rather too much. So Menelaus had to go down and settle the affair. And Lucretia said to him:
‘My dear husband, you are a heavy man and none too strong; the movement of your horse tires you. Why not borrow a nag from someone?’
And, as Menelaus was hesitating and wondering where he would find one, Pandalus spoke:
‘If I am not mistaken, Euryalus has an excellent nag, and he would willingly lend it, if you would let me ask him.’
‘Do so,’ said Menelaus.
When this request was made to him, Euryalus ordered his horse to be brought
round immediately, and took it as a signal for rejoicing. And, said he to himself, ‘You will mount my horse, Menelaus, but I will mount your wife.’ So it was agreed that, at the fifth hour of the night, Euryalus should be in the lane, and should hope for the best if he heard Pandalus singing.
Menelaus was gone, and night had already fallen. The lady stayed in her room
till the appointed time, and Euryalus was outside the gates, awaiting the signal. But he heard no song, not even the clearing of a throat. The hour was well past, and Achates tried to persuade him to come away, saying he had been cheated. But the lover was loth to go, and made one excuse after another for remaining.
Now Pandalus was not singing, because Menelaus’ brother had stayed at home, and was examining all the doors in case of a plot, and would not go to sleep. So Pandalus asked him:
‘Are we never going to bed to-night? It is past midnight, and I am heavy with sleep. I cannot understand that you, who are young, should have the nature of old men, whose dryness robs them of sleep so that they never slumber, except a little towards morning, when the wain of the northern constellation is rolling in its course, and it is already time to get up. But do let us go to bed at last. What do you want with all this vigilance?’
‘Let us go, then,’ said Agamemnon, ‘since you wish it. But first we must examine the gates and see that they are properly fastened, and will not open for any thieves.’
And going to the gate-way, he tried now this lock, now that, and shot another bolt. Now there was a huge iron bolt, which two men could only just lift, and
sometimes the gate was fastened with this. So, when Agamemnon found he
could not move it, he cried,
‘Come and help me, Pandalus; let us put this bolt against the gate, that no burglars may break in. Then we can sleep in comfort upon both ears.
When Euryalus heard this, ‘I am done for,’ thought he, ‘if they shoot that bolt
as well.’ But Pandalus said:
‘What are you doing, Agamemnon? You would reinforce that door as though the house were besieged. Are we not safe in our own town? We all enjoy the same freedom here and the same peace, for the only enemies we are at war with, the Florentines, are far away. If it is burglars you are afraid of we have locked up safe enough, and if it is an enemy, nothing in all this house can protect you. I at any rate will not raise that weight to-night, for I have got pains in my shoulders and am quite broken down; I am not fit to lift heavy weights. Lift it yourself or else leave it alone.’
‘Oh, it will do,’ said Agamemnon, and went off to bed. Then said Euryalus:
‘I will stay here another hour, in case somebody comes and opens.’
Achates was getting tired of wasting his time, and he cursed Euryalus under his breath, for keeping him out of bed so late. But they had not waited long, when, through a chink, they saw Lucretia carrying a little lamp. Then Euryalus leaned towards her and said:
‘Good evening, Lucretia, my soul!’ But she was terrified, and would at first have run away. Then she asked, 'What man are you?’
‘I am your Euryalus,’ said he. ‘Open, my darling, I have been hiding here for you quite half the night.’
She recognized his voice but feared some trick, so did not dare open till she had seen the secret tokens, known only to themselves. Then, with much difficulty, she turned the keys, but the gates were fastened by many bolts that no woman’s hands could possibly lift. Still, she managed to open the gates about half a foot.
‘That won't hinder me,’ said Euryalus, and, flattening out his body, he pushed himself in, right side first, and took the lady in his arms. Achates remained outside to keep watch.
Then Lucretia, fainting with too much fear or too much joy, collapsed in Euryalus’ arms. She grew pale, her voice failed her, and her eyes closed; she looked like death, but for a little warmth that remained and the faint beating of her pulse. He was terrified at such a sudden disaster, and did not know what to do. He said to himself:
‘If I go away now, I deserve to die, leaving a woman in such a plight. But if I stay, Agamemnon will turn up, or some other member of her household, and I’ll be killed. Oh unhappy love, more cruel than you are kind! Absinth is not so bitter as you. How many deaths have you brought upon my head? How many perils have you prepared for me? Only this remained, that you should make my lady faint in my arms. Why did you not kill me firstthrow me to the lions? Alas, how much more gladly had I died on her breast, than have her die on mine!’
But love got the upper hand. Casting aside all thought for his own safety, he stayed with her, and lifting up her speechless body and kissing it and raining tears, he cried:
‘Alas, Lucretia, where in all the world have you gone? Where are now your ears? Why don't you answer me? Smile at me, as you are wont to. For I, your Euryalus, am here, your lover embraces you. My darling, why not kiss me in return? My heart, are you dead, or asleep? Where shall I look for you? And if you wished to die, why not tell me, that I might kill myself with you? Unless you listen to me, see, my sword will even now pierce my side, and the same death will take us both. Oh my life, my sweet, my darling, my only hope and true repose, must I lose you like this, Lucretia? Raise your eyes, lift up your head. You are not dead yet. I can see you are still warm, still breathing. Why don’t you speak to me? Is this how you welcome me? Call me to these pleasures? Give me a night like this? Arise, I implore you, my joy. Look at your lover. For I, your Euryalus, am here.’
And, as he spoke, his tears flowed in a stream over her brow and temples, till refreshed by them, as by rosewater, she moved, sat up, as though awakening from a deep sleep, and seeing her lover, cried:
‘Alas, Euryalus, where was I? Why did you not rather let me die? For I’d have died happy in your arms. Would I might depart like that, before you leave this city!’
SPEAKING together thus, they went into her room, where they passed such a night as, I imagine, the two lovers spent, when Paris had carried off Helen in his tall ship; so sweet a night that both said Mars and Venus could not have been better together.
‘You are my Ganymede, my Hippolytus, my Diomedes,’ said Lucretia.
‘And you my Polyxena,’ he replied, ‘my Aemilia, Venus herself.’ And now he
praised her mouth, now her cheeks, and now her eyes. And sometimes, raising the blanket, he gazed at those secret parts he had not seen before, and cried:
‘I find more than I had expected. Thus must Diana have appeared to Actaeon, when she bathed in the spring. Could anything be lovelier or whiter than your body? Now I am rewarded for all perils. What would I not suffer for your sake? Oh lovely bosom, most glorious breasts! Can it be that I touch you, possess you, hold you in my hands? Smooth limbs, sweet-scented body, are you really mine? Now it were well to die, with such a joy still fresh, before any misfortune could befall.
‘My darling, do I hold you, or is it a dream? Is all this pleasure true, or am I mad to think so? No, it is no dream, it is the very truth. Dear kisses, soft embraces, bites sweet as honey! No one was ever happier than I, no one more fortunate!
‘But woe is me! how swift the hours. Jealous night, why do you fly? Stay, Apollo, tarry a little longer among the dead. Why in such a hurry to yoke your steeds? Let them still graze. Give me such a night as you gave Alcmenus. And you, Aurora, why in such haste to leave Tithonus’ bed? If you were half as dear to him as Lucretia is to me, he’d never let you rise so early. Never have I known a night so short as this, although I have been in Britain and the land of the Dacians.’
Thus Euryalus, and Lucretia echoed him. She returned him kiss for kiss, and word for word. They clasped each other close; nor were they wearied by their love, but as Antaeus rose stronger from the earth, so they gained strength and energy from their strife.
When the night was over, and Aurora was lifting her tresses out of the sea, they ceased; nor could they begin again for many days, for every hour Lucretia was more closely guarded. But love conquered all, and at last they found a way to meet, as lovers will.
MEANWHILE the Emperor had been reconciled with Eugenius, and was resolved to go to Rome. Lucretia knew of this, for what does love not know? Who can deceive a lover? So she wrote as follows to Euryalus:
‘If I could find it in my heart to be angry with you, I should be furious now,
because you hid it from me that you are going away. But my heart loves you more than myself, and cannot for any reason be turned against you. Alas, my love, why did you not tell me that the Emperor was leaving? He is preparing for his journey, nor will you stay behind; I know that. What, I implore you, will become of me? What shall I do, unhappy that I am Where can I find peace? If you leave me, I’ll not live two days. So by this letter, wet with my tears, by your right hand and the promise you gave me, if I have deserved any kindness from you, or if you have known any happiness with me, take pity, I pray you, upon a wretched lover.
‘I do not ask you to stay, only to take me with you. This evening I will pretend that I want to go to Bethlehem, and I will take with me one old woman. Arrange for two or three of your men to be there to carry me off. It is not hard to abduct where there is no resistance. And do not fear disgrace to yourself. Did not the son of Priam win his wife by rape?
‘You will not be doing my husband any injuryhe will lose me any way. For if you don’t take me from him, death will. But do not be so cruel, do not leave me here to die, who have always loved you better than myself.’
To which Euryalus made this reply:
‘I concealed my departure till now, my Lucretia, lest you should be too deeply grieved, before it was necessary. I know your ways: I know, for you always torment yourself too much. Caesar is not going away never to return. When we come back from the Holy City, this will be our way home. And even if Caesar does go another way, you may count on seeing me again, if I am alive. May the Gods forbid me my native land, condemn me, like Ulysses, to a life of wandering if I do not return. So breathe again, my life; be brave. Do no harm to yourself; live, rather, and be happy.
‘As for what you say about carrying you off, that would I do most willingly, most joyfully. Nothing could please me better than to possess you always, and have you in my power. But we must consider your honour, not my wishes. For the vow by which you bound me to you enjoined upon me to take loyal thought for you, and for your interests.
‘You know you are well-born, and married into a great family. You are reputed to be the most modest, as well as the loveliest, of women, and your fame is not confined to Italy: Germany, Pannonia, Bohemia, and all the peoples of the north have heard of you. Whereas, if I carry you off, I destroy my own honourthat, for your sake, would be nothing; but what disgrace you will inflict upon your family! With what grief will you wound your mother! What will people say of you, what tale will be spread abroad? “See Lucretia, who they said was more pure than Brutus’ wife, truer than Penelope; now she is off with her seducer, abandoning her home, her kinsmen, and her country. She is no Lucretia, but Hippia, or Medea with her Jason.” Alas, what grief that would be for me, to know such things were being said of you!
‘For now our love’s a secret and all men praise you. But rape would change all that, and the vituperations flung at you would far out-weigh your former praises. But, apart from your reputation, are we strong enough to maintain our love? I am the Emperor’s servant, and he has made me powerful and rich. To leave him would be my ruin, and if I did so, I should not be able to keep you fittingly. While, if I follow the court, you will have no peace. Here to-day, there to-morrow: Caesar has never stayed anywhere so long as he has in Siena; and that was due to the emergencies of war. And, if I were to carry you off and keep you like a common harlot in the camp, think how honourable that would be for both of us!
‘For all these reasons, I implore you, my Lucretia, put such ideas out of your head, take thought for your good name. Do not indulge your passion more than you would yourself. Another lover might, perhaps, use other arguments and even urge you to fly, that he might enjoy you as long as possible, heedless of the future so he could pander to his present weakness. But that would be no true lover, who cared more for his own lust than your repute.
‘For my part, dear Lucretia, I advise what is right. Stay here, I do implore you, and doubt not but I’ll come back to you. Whatever business Caesar has in Tuscany, I’ll undertake it. I will do what I can to enjoy you, without harming you.
‘Farewell! live and love me; and do not imagine that my flame is any less than yours, or that I am not most unwilling to go. Again farewell, my sweet, my soul’s nourishment.’
The lady yielded to these arguments, and wrote that she would obey his commands.
A FEW days later, Euryalus set off for Rome with the Emperor, and he had not been there many days when he fell ill. This was a grave misfortune; for to the fires of love was added a burning fever and, as passion had already well-nigh destroyed his health, when the sufferings of disease were added, he barely escaped alive. Only the physicians’ remedies kept life within him which, otherwise, had departed. Every day the Emperor came and comforted him, as he would his own son, and bade the doctors try all the cures known to Apollo. But no medicine did him so much good as Lucretia’s letter, which told him that she was safe and sound. This knowledge slightly lessened the fever, and Euryalus was able to get up and to be present at the Emperor’s coronation, when he was made a knight and received the golden spurs.
After that, while the Emperor went to Perugia, Euryalus stayed in Rome, for he was not yet completely restored, and thence returned to Siena, though still weak and very thin in the face. But, though he saw Lucretia, he could not talk with her. Several letters passed between them, and again they spoke of flight. Euryalus stayed there three days, but at last, when he saw that all means of approach had been taken from him, he announced his departure to his mistress. And never had their intercourse been so sweet as now their separation was bitter.
Lucretia was standing at her window, when Euryalus rode down the street. With streaming eyes, they gazed at one another. Each of them was in tears; each was suffering torments, and felt as though their hearts were being torn violently out of their breasts.
If there is anyone that does not know the agony of death, let him consider the parting of these two lovers, although this sorrow is much sharper, this torture far more cruel. For in death the spirit grieves to quit the body that it loves; but the body, when the spirit is gone, nor grieves nor feels anything. But when two are bound together by love and have become one spirit, then is their separation the more painful, the more intensely either loved one feels it. And here, indeed, were not two spirits but, as Aristotle believed it to be among friends, two bodies made from one soul. So that one spirit was not taking leave of another; but a single spirit was being cut in two, a single heart divided. Part of one mind was going, part remaining; and every sense in turn was being broken up, and bewailed the separation.
Not a drop of blood was left in the lovers’ faces: but for their tears and sighs, they were like the dead. And who could tell, who could describe or even contemplate their mental agony, unless he had himself known madness?
WHEN Protesilaus left Laodomia, to go to the sacred Trojan war, she fainted away; and, when she heard of her husband’s end, could live no longer. Phoenician Dido killed herself, after the fateful death of Aeneas; nor would Portia live, when Brutus had been slain.
. . . . . . .
And thus our lady, when Euryalus had passed from her sight, fell fainting to the ground, and was taken up by her servants and laid upon her bed, till she should recover her strength. And when at last she came to herself, she put away her robes of purple and gold and all the adornments of her joy, and wore dark clothes. Never from that moment was she heard to sing, far less was she seen to laugh: no jokes nor gaiety nor any jests could recall her to happiness. And after she had survived for some time in this humour, she fell ill, and because her heart had been taken from her, her mind could discover no consolation. In the arms of her mother weeping bitterly, and amid her mourning relatives, who vainly tried to comfort her, she breathed out her indignant spirit.
Euryalus, when he had passed out of sight of those eyes he was never to see more, spoke to no one all the way, but filled his thoughts with Lucretia, and wondered if he would ever return; and so at last he reached the Emperor, who was still at Perugia, and then followed him to Ferrara, Mantua, Trient, Constance, and Basel; and so at last to Hungary and Bohemia. But, as he followed Caesar, so Lucretia followed him in his dreams, and gave him never a night’s repose; so that her true lover knew her to be dead. Shattered by this great sorrow, he put on mourning and would not be consoled, until the Emperor wedded him to a maiden of ducal rank, most beautiful, and chaste, and virtuous.
And now, my dearest Marianus, you have heard the out-come of this love, a true story and an unhappy one: And may all who read it take a lesson from others that will be useful to themselves: let them beware to drink the cup of love, that holds far more of bitter than of sweet. Farewell.
. . . . . . .
Vienna, the third of July, in the year of Our Lord, fourteen hundred and forty- four.
Here ends Aeneas Sylvius’ little tale of the two lovers.
The De Duobus Amantibus was finished in 1444, and by 1500 thirty-five editions had appeared. A good many manuscripts exist in Austria and Hungary, of which the following were consulted by M. Dévay of Budapesth, when making his critical text:
Codex Vindobonum 3148. At the Imperial Library, Vienna.
Codex Vindobonum 3205. At the Imperial Library, Vienna.
Codex Béldianus (incomplete). Archbishop’s Library, Agram.
Codex Bambergensis B. III. 41. Bamberg.
Codex Gervasii, at Budapesth, and written ‘by Gyarphas at Mantua, at the time of the Diet summoned by our Pope Pius II against the Turks. . . in the year of our Lord 1460.’
Thirty-one editions are catalogued at the British Museum as having appeared between 1468 and 1566. The following are of interest, though very corrupt as to text:
Enee Silvij poete Senēsis de duob’ amātibus Euriali & Lucresia. Ulrich Zel. Cologne. 1468?
Enee Silvij Senesis, (sic) de duobus amātibus Euriali & Lucresia, etc. Ulrich Zel. Cologne. 1470.
Silvii Aeneae Poetae qui postea sūmi Pontificatus gradū adeptus Pius ē appellatus. Historia de duobus amātibus etc. Bartholomaeus Cremonensis. Venice. 1473?
Hystoria Pii Pape de duobus amantibus, etc. Jo. Baptistam Sena. Venetiis. 1504.
The following is the only critical edition catalogued, and on it the present translation has been founded:
Aeneae Sylvii Piccolominei. De Duobus Amantibus Historia. recensuit, illustravit, emendavit, Josephus I. Dévay, etc. Heisler. Budapesth. 1904.
The Goodli History of the most noble and beautiful Ladye Lucres of Scene in Tuskan and of her lover Euryalus verye pleasaunt and delectable unto the reader. 1560. (Other English translations are by W. Braunche, 1596: C. Allen, 1639: and one bound up with the Memoirs of Hippolite Count of Douglas, 1708.)
Ein Lieblich und Warhafftige History von Zweien Liebhabenden Menschen, Euriolo und Lucretia. Darinnen alle Eigenschafft der Liebe. . . hoflich angezeigt und begriffen ist. . . dutch den hochgelerten Nicolaum von Weil Stadtschreiber zu Esslingen verteutscht worden, etc. With woodcuts. Weygand Han. Franckfurt-am-Main. 1560? (Consulted by Dévay for his critical text.)
Traicte tresrecreatif et plaisant de lamour indicible de eurialus et de lucresse compose par le pape pie avāt la papaute nōme enee silvye et translate de latin en francois. Antoine Verard. Paris. 1493? (This translation, in which Aeneas’ Tale is stretched almost to the dimensions of an epic, is attributed to Octavien de St. Gelais, grand rhétoriqueur. The very beautiful copy in the B.M. is from the library of Prince Henry: in gothic lettering with numerous coloured cuts.)
Storia de due amanti di Enea Silvio Piccolimini in seguito Papa Pio secundo col testo latino e la traduzione libera di Alessandro Braccio. Capolago tipographia elvetica. 1832. (Consulted by Dévay for his critical text.)