David Bruce: John Webster’s THE WHITE DEVIL: A Retelling — Act 5, Scene 3

— 5.3 —

People fought at barriers. First one man fought against another man, and then a team of three men fought against another team of three men.

Brachiano, Flamineo, Vittoria, young Giovanni, the disguised Francisco de Medici, the six ambassadors, guards, and attendants were present.

Suddenly ill, Brachiano called, “An armorer! By God’s death, an armorer!”

“Armorer!” Flamineo shouted. “Where’s the armorer?”

Brachiano ordered, “Tear off my beaver.”

“Are you hurt, my lord?” Flamineo asked.

“Oh, my brain’s on fire!” Brachiano answered.

Thearmorer arrived.

“The helmet is poisoned,” Brachiano said.

The armorer began to plead, “My lord, upon my soul —”

Brachiano ordered, “Take him away to be tortured.”

The guard led the armorer away.

Brachiano continued, “There are some great ones — some powerful men — who have a hand in this, and they are close around me.”

Vittoria said, “Oh, my loved lord! Poisoned!”

Flamineo ordered, “Remove the barriers.”

He added, “Here’s unfortunate revels!”

Then he ordered, “Call the physicians.”

Two physicians arrived.

“A plague upon you!” Flamineo cursed. “We have too much of your cunning here already: I fear the ambassadors are likewise poisoned.”

“Oh, I am gone already!” Brachiano said. “The infection flies to my brain and heart. Oh, thou strong heart! There’s such a covenant between the world and it — they’re loath to break it.”

“Oh, my most loved father!” young Giovanni, Brachiano’s son, said.

“Take the boy away,” Brachiano ordered.

He did not want his son to see him die.

Another guard led away young Giovanni.

Brachiano asked about his newly wedded wife, Vittoria, “Where’s this good woman?”

Seeing her, he said, “Had I infinite worlds, they would be too little for thee. Must I leave thee?”

He asked the physicians, “What do you say, screech-owls? Is the venom mortal?”

Screech-owls were birds of ill omen.

A physician said, “It is most deadly.”

Brachiano replied, “Most corrupted politic hangman, you kill without book; but your art to save fails you as often as great men’s needy friends.”

Physicians have no problem when it comes to killing people: they don’t need to consult a medical book to do that. Where physicians have a problem is healing people.

A great man’s needy friends are talented at asking for help; they lack talent when it comes to giving help.

Brachiano continued, “I who have given life to offending slaves and wretched murderers, haven’t I the power to lengthen my own life a twelvemonth?”

He said to Vittoria, “Do not kiss me, for the kiss shall poison thee. The poison that shall kill me shall also then kill you. This unction has been sent from the great Duke of Florence.”

“Unction” can mean extreme unction: the last rites that are given to someone who is expected to die.

“Unction” can also mean rubbing with oil. His beaver had been rubbed with poison.

Brachiano knew who must be behind his death.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Sir, be of comfort.”

Brachiano said, “Oh, thou soft natural death, which is joint-twin to sweetest slumber!”

A proverb stated, “Sleep is the brother of death.”

He continued, “No rough-bearded — long-tailed — comet stares on thy mild departure; the dull owl beats not against thy casement; the hoarse wolf scents not thy carrion: pity waits on and wraps thy corpse in a shroud, while horror waits on princes’ corpses.”

Princes often die violently; not being a prince increases one’s chances of dying a natural death.

Mourning, Vittoria said, “I am lost forever.”

Brachiano said, “How miserable a thing it is to die among women howling!”

Lodovico and Gasparo, disguised as Capuchins, arrived.

Brachiano asked, “Who are those men?”

Flamineo replied, “Franciscans. They have brought the extreme unction.”

The Capuchins were an offshoot of the Franciscans. In addition,Lodovico and Gasparo were Franciscans in the sense of being in the faction of Francisco de Medici.

Brachiano ordered, “On pain of death, let no man name death to me: It is a word infinitely terrible.

“Withdraw into our private apartment.”

Everyone except the disguised Francisco de Medici and Flamineo exited.

Flamineo said, “To see what solitariness surrounds dying princes!

“As heretofore they have unpeopled towns, divorced friends, and made great houses inhospitable, so now — oh, justice! — where are their flatterers now? Flatterers are only the shadows of princes’ bodies; the least thick cloud makes them invisible.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “There’s great moan made for him.”

Many were mourning Brachiano’s poisoning.

Flamineo said, “Indeed, for some few hours salt-water tears will run most plentifully in every office of the court; but, believe it, most of them weep over their stepmothers’ graves.”

The stereotype of stepmothers in this society was that they were cruel to their stepchildren, and so tears shed by their stepchildren over the stepmother’s grave would be hypocritical.

The disguised Francisco de Medici asked, “What do you mean?”

Flamineo said, “Why, they dissemble; as some men do who live within the compass of the verge.”

The verge was the area within twelve miles of a royal court. People living that close would be sure to maintain an appearance of mourning whether or not they truly mourned.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Come, you have thrived well under him.”

Flamineo said, “Indeed, like a wolf in a woman’s breast, I have been fed with poultry.”

A wolf was an ulcer — a cancer — that devoured the ill person’s flesh. In this society, physicians would daily place chicken or other meat over the ulcer, supposing that the ulcer would feed on the chicken or other meat rather than the ill person’s flesh.

When saying “poultry,” Flamineo may have been punning on the word “paltry.”

He continued, “But as for money, understand me, I had as good a will to cheat him as ever an officer of them all, but I lacked enough cunning to do it.”

“What did thou think of him?” the disguised Francisco de Medici asked. “Indeed, speak freely.”

Flamineo replied, “He was a kind of statesman, of the kind who would sooner have reckoned how many cannon-bullets he had discharged against a town in order to count his expense that way, rather than think how many of his valiant and deserving subjects he had lost before the town.”

“Oh, speak well of the duke!” the disguised Francisco de Medici said.

Most likely, he had done the same thing that Flamineo had accused Brachiano of doing.

Flamineo said, “I have finished.”

Lodovico, still disguised as a Capuchin, entered the scene.

He asked, “Will thou hear some of my court-wisdom? To reprehend princes is dangerous, and to over-commend some of them is palpable lying.”

“How is it with the duke?” the disguised Francisco de Medici asked.

“He is most deadly ill,” the disguised Lodovico said. “He’s fallen into a strange distraction: He talks of battles and monopolies, the levying of taxes; and from that descends to the most brainsick language. His mind fastens on twenty several objects, which confound deep sense with folly.

“Such a fearful end may teach some men who bear too lofty a crest that although they live the happiest of lives yet they don’t die the best death.

“He has conferred the whole state of the dukedom upon your sister, Vittoria, until the prince Giovanni arrives at the age of maturity.”

Flamineo said, “There’s some good luck in that yet.”

As they talked, they walked over to Brachiano’s private apartment.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Look, he is in sight.”

Brachiano was in a bed, surrounded by Vittoria and others.

As they walked over to him, the disguised Francisco de Medici said quietly to Flamineo and the disguised Lodovico, “There’s death in his face already.”

Vittoria said, “Oh, my good lord!”

Brachiano was ill, and he jumped from topic to topic and sometimes imagined he was talking to people who were not present.

First, he imagined that he was talking to a disgraced steward.

Brachiano said, “Go away, you have abused me. You have conveyed money from out of our territories, bought and sold offices, oppressed the poor, and I never dreamt that would happen. Make up your accounts. From now on I’ll be my own steward.”

In this society, taking money out of the country was a serious offence.

Flamineo said, “Sir, have patience.”

Brachiano then felt that he was guilty, too:

“Indeed, I am to blame and too blameworthy. For did you ever hear the dusky raven chide blackness? Or was it ever known for the devil to rail against cloven creatures?”

Brachiano had not complained against or taken action to stop the actions of the steward and so he shared the steward’s guilt.

Vittoria said, “Oh, my lord!”

Brachiano then imagined that he was going to have a meal.

He said, “Let me have some quails to supper.”

“Sir, you shall,” Flamineo said.

Brachiano changed his mind: “No, some fried dog-fish; your quails feed on poison.”

Quails were a delicacy; this society wrongly believed that they fed on poison. Dog-fish were not a delicacy.

Prostitutes were sometimes called quails; calling someone a dog-fish was a grave insult.

Brachiano said, “That old dog-fox, that politician, the Duke of Florence! I’ll forswear hunting, and turn dog-killer.”

In this society, people were hired to kill dangerous stray dogs and rabid dogs.

Brachiano continued, “Splendid! I’ll be friends with him; for, listen carefully, sir, one dog always sets another a-barking. Peace, peace!”

He then imagined he was seeing a visitor.

He said, “Yonder’s a fine slave come in now.”

“Where?” Flamineo asked.

“Why, there,” Brachiano said. “In a blue cap, and a pair of breeches with a large codpiece: Ha! Ha! Ha! Look, his codpiece is stuck full of pins, with pearls on the head of them.”

A codpiece was a pouch that covered a man’s genitals. They could be decorated with pins.

Brachiano asked, “Don’t you know who he is?”

“No, my lord,” Flamineo replied.

Brachiano said, “Why, it’s the devil. I know him by a great rose he wears on his shoe, to hide his cloven foot.”

A fashion of the time was to wear large rosettes on one’s shoes.

Brachiano continued, “I’ll debate with him; he’s a rare linguist.”

The devil was skilled at rhetoric; the devil also knew every language.

Vittoria said, “My lord, here’s nothing.”

Brachiano said, “Nothing! Rare! Nothing! When I want money, our treasury is empty, there is nothing. I’ll not be treated this way.”

Vittoria said, “Oh, lie still, my lord!”

Brachiano said, “Look! Look! Flamineo, who killed his brother, is dancing on the tightropes there, and he carries a moneybag in each hand to keep him even, for fear of breaking his neck.

“And there’s a lawyer in a garment trimmed with velvet, who stares with an open mouth as he watches for when the money will fall.

“How the rogue Brachiano cuts capers! The rogue and rope should have been in a halter.”

A halter is a noose.

Brachiano then said, “There! Who’s she?”

“Vittoria, my lord,” Flamineo said.

Brachiano said, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Her hair is sprinkled with iris-root powder, which makes her look as if she had sinned in the pastry.”

In preparation for her wedding, Vittoria’s hair had been sprinkled with perfumed iris-root powder, which lightened its color. Brachiano was saying that the iris-root powder looked like flour, which Vittoria could have gotten in her hair if she had been having sex in the pantry.

Brachiano then asked, “Who’s he?”

Flamineo replied, “A divine, my lord.”

Lodovico and Gasparo, wearing the clothing of Capuchins, were both present.

Brachiano said, “He will be drunk; avoid him. The argument is fearful, when churchmen stagger in it.”

“Argument” can mean 1) defense (based on logic and reason) of a position in a debate, 2) the topic of a debate, and/or 3) the debate itself.

Churchmen can stagger because 1) they are drunk, or 2) someone has struck them hard.

Brachiano then said, “Look, six grey rats that have lost their tails crawl upon the pillow; send for a rat-catcher.”

Witches were supposed to be able to take the shape of an animal, but the witch-animals would be tail-less.

He then said, “I’ll do a miracle — I’ll free the court from all foul vermin.”

He may have been thinking of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Brachiano then asked, “Where’s Flamineo?”

Flamineo said, “I do not like that he names me so often, especially on his deathbed; it is a sign I shall not live long. See, he’s near his end.”

Lodovico and Gasparo brought a crucifix and hallowed — consecrated — candle to his bed.

The disguised Lodovico said, “Please, give us permission to do what needs to be done.”

He then said in Latin, “Attende, domine Brachiane.”

[“Listen, Lord Brachiano.”]

Flamineo said, “See how firmly he fixes his eye upon the crucifix.”

Vittoria said, “Oh, hold it steady! It settles his wild spirits, and so his eyes melt into tears.”

The disguised Lodovico and the disguised Gasparo spoke to the dying Brachiano in Latin.

Holding the crucifix, the disguised Lodovico said, “Domine Brachiane, solebas in bello tutus esse tuo clypeo; nunc hunc clypeum hosti tuo opponas infernali.”

[“Lord Brachiano, you used to be guarded in battle by your shield; now you will use this shield — the crucifix — to oppose your infernal enemy.”]

Holding the consecrated candle, the disguised Gasparo said, “Olim hastâ valuisti in bello; nunc hanc sacram hastam vibrabis contra hostem animarum.”

[“In former times you prevailed with a spear in the battle; now you will use this sacred spear — the consecrated candle — against the enemy of souls.”]

Brachiano had now lost the power of speech, and so the “Capuchin monks” began to ask him to move his head to indicate his assent to what they were asking him to approve.

The disguised Lodovico said, “Attende, Domine Brachiane, si nunc quoque probes ea, quae acta sunt inter nos, flecte caput in dextrum.”

[“Listen, Lord Brachiano, if now you also approve of the things that were done between us, turn your head to the right.”]

The disguised Gasparo said, “Esto securus, Domine Brachiane; cogita, quantum habeas meritorum; denique memineris mean animam pro tuâ oppignoratum si quid esset periculi.”

[“Be assured, Lord Brachiano; think about how many good deeds you have done; lastly, remember that my soul is pledged to yours, if there is any danger.”]

The disguised Lodovico said, “Si nunc quoque probas ea, quae acta sunt inter nos, flecte caput in loevum.”

[“If now you also approve of the things that were done between us, turn your head to the left.”]

The disguised Lodovico said, “He is departing. Please, everyone stand outside, and let us only whisper in his ears some private meditations, which our order does not permit you to hear.”

Everyone except the dying Brachiano and the disguised Lodovico and the disguised Gasparo exited.

Lodovico and Gasparo briefly removed enough of their disguises to reveal toBrachiano who they were, and then they disguised themselves again.

“Brachiano,” Gasparo said.

“Devil Brachiano, thou are damned,” Lodovico said.

“Perpetually,” Gasparo said.

“A slave condemned and given up to the gallows is thy great lord and master,” Lodovico said.

“True; for thou are given up to the devil,” Gasparo said.

In the book of Esther, the evil Haman built a gallows to hang the good Mordecai, but Haman ended up swinging from the gallows. Sometimes, God allows an evil being to appear to be victorious but then God suddenly achieves victory.

Or possibly, Lodovico meant that Brachiano was a follower of the bad thief who did not repent when he was crucified alongside Jesus. In this society, a gallows can be a cross.

Or possibly, Lodovico and Gasparo were using “gallows” to mean punishment in general — and in particular the punishment suffered by the devil in hell.

“Oh, you slave!” Lodovico said. “You who were held to be the famous politician, whose art was poison —”

Gasparo said, “— and whose conscience was murder —”

Lodovico said, “— who would have broken your wife’s neck by throwing her down the stairs, before she was poisoned —”

Gasparo said, “— who had your villainous salads —”

Salads can be poisoned.

Lodovico said, “— and fine decorated bottles, and perfumes, equally deadly to a winter plague.”

Perfumes in fine decorated bottles can be poisonous.

The plague tended to be most virulent during the summer and died out during the winter, so a winter’s plague was especially virulent.

Gasparo and Lodovico began to name poisons.

Gasparo said, “Now there’s mercury —”

Lodovico said, “— and copperas —”

Gasparo said, “— and quicksilver —”

Lodovico said, “— with other devilish apothecary stuff, a-melting in your politic — maliciously cunning — brains. Do thou hear?”

Pointing to Lodovico, Gasparo said, “This is Count Lodovico.”

Pointing to Gasparo, Lodovico said, “And this is Gasparo.”

He then said, “And thou shall die like a poor rogue —”

Gasparo said, “— and stink like a dead fly-blown dog —”

Lodovico said, “— and be forgotten before the funeral sermon.”

Recovering his voice, Brachiano shouted, “Vittoria! Vittoria!”

Lodovico said, “Oh, the cursed devil comes to himself again! We are ruined.”

Gasparo said, “Strangle him in private.”

He went to the door and met Vittoria and the attendants as they tried to enter the room.

Lodovico, his body hiding what he was doing from the others, was strangling Brachiano and preventing him from calling out.

Brachiano was too weak to fight back.

Gasparo said to Vittoria and the attendants, “What? Will you call him again to live in treble torments? For charity, for Christian charity, leave the chamber.”

Vittoria and the attendants exited.

Lodovico said quietly to Brachiano, “You would prate, sir? This is a true-love knot sent from the Duke of Florence.”

He strangled Brachiano with a rosary made of chain.

Gasparo asked quietly, “Is it done?”

“The snuff is out,” Lodovico said quietly. “No woman-keeper — nurse — in the world, even if she had practiced for seven years at the pestilence-hospital, could have done it more skillfully.”

Nurses were sometimes accused of killing their patients.

The disguised Lodovico went to the door and said, “My lords, he’s dead.”

Vittoria and the attendants entered, along with the disguised Francisco de Medici and Flamineo.

All said, “Rest to his soul!”

Vittoria said, “Oh, me! This place is hell.”

Everyone exited except the disguised Francisco de Medici, Flamineo, and the disguised Lodovico.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “How heavily she takes it!”

“Oh, yes, yes,” Flamineo said. “If women had navigable rivers in their eyes, they would dispend all their water as tears. Surely, I wonder why we should wish more rivers to come to the city, when women sell water so good cheap.

“I’ll tell thee that these are only Moorish shades of griefs or fears. There’s nothing sooner dry than women’s tears.

“Why, here’s an end of all my harvest; Brachiano has given me nothing. Court promises! Let wise men count themselves accursed, for while you live, he who scores best, pays worst.”

In other words: He who runs up the largest debt ends up paying the least for it.

Sometimes, people skip on the debt. Sometimes, people avoid paying the debt because they die.

According to Flamineo,Brachiano had promised him much but delivered on none of the promises.

The disguised Francisco de Medici — the Duke of Florence — said, “Surely, this was the Duke of Florence’s doing.”

“Very likely,” Flamineo said. “Those are found to be weighty strokes that come from the hand, but those are killing strokes that come from the head.”

Francisco de Medici used his head to punish his enemies.

Flamineo continued, “Oh, the splendid tricks of a Machiavellian! He does not come like a gross plodding slave and beat you to death; no, my ingenious knave, he tickles you to death and makes you die laughing, as if you had swallowed down a pound of saffron.”

This culture believed that a little saffron would make a man merry, but too much saffron would make a man dead.

Flamineo continued:

“You see the feat; it is practiced in a trice.

“To teach court honesty that it jumps on ice.”

In other words: Honest men at court are on slippery ice — in danger — because of the schemers around them.

Or perhaps Flamineo said, “To teach ‘court honesty’ that it jumps on ice.”

In other words: Dishonest men at court are on slippery ice — in danger — because of the schemers around them.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Now the people have liberty to talk about and comment on his vices.”

Flamineo said, “Misery of princes, who must necessarily be censured by their inferiors! They are not only blamed for doing things that are ill, but for not doing all that all men want them to do. One would be better off being a thresher.

“By God’s death! I would like to speak with this duke yet.”

Which duke? The Duke of Brachiano? Or the Duke of Florence?

The disguised Francisco de Medici asked, “Now he’s dead?”

Flamineo said, “I cannot conjure and bring him here; but if prayers or oaths will get to the speech of him, then even though forty devils attend on him in his livery of flames, I’ll speak to him, and shake him by the hand, although I be blasted.”

In this society, the word “speech” can mean “conversation.”

If he was talking about the Duke of Brachiano, he might want to shake his hand to see if there was a way he might gain something from him.

If he was talking about the Duke of Florence, he might want to shake his hand because he had killed Brachiano.

Due to having committed murder, the Duke of Florence might have a metaphorical livery of flames now and a literal livery of flames later.

Flamineo exited.

Francisco de Medici said, “Excellent Lodovico! Did you terrify him at the last gasp?”

“Yes,” Lodovico said, “and so idly that the duke almost terrified us.”

They had easily terrified Brachiano, and the Duke of Brachiano was so terrified that they were almost terrified by his terror.

Francisco de Medici asked, “How?”

Zanche, Vittoria’s Moorish maid, entered the room.

Seeing her, Lodovico said, “You shall hear that hereafter.

“Look, yonder’s the infernal spirit of darkness, who would have some fun.

“Now to the revelation of that secret she promised when she fell in love with you.”

Francisco de Medici, who was disguised as a Moor, said to Zanche, who was a Moor, “You’re passionately met in this sad world.”

“I would have you look up, sir,” Zanche said. “These court tears don’t claim your tribute to them. You have no reason to pretend to mourn. Let those who guiltily partake in the sad cause weep.

“I knew last night, by a sad dream I had, that some mischief would ensue, yet, to say the truth, my dream mostly concerned you.”

The disguised Lodovico whispered to Francisco de Medici, “Shall we fall to dreaming?”

The disguised Francisco de Medici whispered back, “Yes, and for the sake of appearances I’ll dream with her.”

Zanche said, “I thought, sir, that you came stealing to my bed.”

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Will thou believe me, sweetheart? By this light, I swear that I was dreaming about thee, too, for I thought I saw thee naked.”

Zanche said, “For shame, sir! As I told you, I thought you lay down by me.”

Francisco de Medici said, “So dreamt I, and lest thou should take cold, I covered thee with this Irish mantle.”

Poor rural Irish often wore a mantle — a kind of blanket — as their only garment; underneath it they were naked.

Zanche said, “Truly I did dream that you were somewhat bold with me: but to come to it —”

The disguised Lodovico said, “What! What! I hope you will not go to it here.”

“Go to it” can mean “have sex.”

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Nay, you must hear my dream out.”

“Well, sir, continue relating your dream,” Zanche said.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “When I threw the mantle over thee, you laughed exceedingly, I thought.”

“Laugh!” Zanche said.

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “And you cried out that the hair tickled thee.”

Pubic hair could sexually tickle her.

“There was a dream indeed!” Zanche said.

The disguised Lodovico whispered to Francisco de Medici, “Listen to her, I beg thee. She simpers like the suds a collier has been washed in.”

In this society, the word “simper” had the meaning “simmer” as well as its usual meaning.

Using its usual meaning, Zanche was simpering with delight at hearing the disguised Francisco de Medici’s bawdy talk.

Using the meaning of “simmer,” Zanche was heating up with sexual desire at hearing the disguised Francisco de Medici’s bawdy talk.

A collier is a seller of coal; as such, he would be dirty, and the suds he bathed in would become dirty — black, like Zanche.

Simmering liquids can form suds.

Zanche said to the disguised Francisco de Medici, “Come, sir; good fortune attends you. I did tell you that I would reveal a secret.

“Isabella, the Duke of Florence’s sister, was poisoned by a perfumed picture, and Camillo’s neck was broken by damned Flamineo — the blame for Camillo’s ‘accident’ was laid on a vaulting-horse.”

“Most strange!” the disguised Francisco de Medici said.

“Most true,” Zanche said.

The disguised Lodovico said, “The bed of snakes is broken.”

These days, we would say “the nest of snakes.”

Zanche said, “I sadly confess that I had a hand in the black deed.”

The disguised Francisco de Medici guessed, “Thou kept their counsel secret.”

She had not told anyone about the plot.

“Right,” Zanche said. “For which, urged by contrition, I intend to rob Vittoria this night.”

The disguised Lodovico said, “Excellent penitence! Usurers dream about it while they sleep out sermons.”

The usurers were Jews who were required to attend Christian sermons. According to Lodovico, they slept during the sermons.

Zanche said, “To further our escape, I have entreated permission to retire until the funeral to a friend in the country. That excuse will further our escape. In coin and jewels, I shall at least make good for your use a hundred thousand crowns.”

“Oh, noble wench!” the disguised Francisco de Medici said.

Lodovico thought, Those crowns we’ll share.

Zanche said, “It is a dowry, I think, that should make that sun-burnt proverb false, and wash the Ethiopian white.”

Jeremiah 13:23 states, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (King James Version).

“It shall,” the disguised Francisco de Medici said. “Go and do what needs to be done.”

Zanche said, “Be ready for our flight.”

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “An hour before day.”

Zanche exited.

He said to Lodovico, “Oh, strange discovery! Why, until now we didn’t know the circumstances of the deaths of Isabella and Camillo: my sister and Vittoria’s husband.”

Zanche returned and asked the disguised Francisco de Medici, “You’ll wait about midnight in the chapel?”

The disguised Francisco de Medici said, “Yes, I will wait there.”

Zanche exited.

Lodovico said, “Why, now our action’s justified.”

They had reasons to justify the murder of Brachiano and the theft of valuables from Vittoria.

Francisco de Medici said, “Tush for justice! Who cares about justice? What justice harms what we want to do?

“We now, like the partridge, purge the disease with laurel; for the fame shall crown the enterprise, and acquit the shame.”

Partridges were thought to eat laurel as a purgative.

The laurel wreath is a symbol of victory, and Francisco de Medici was saying that the victory they would achieve would overpower the taint of the shameful means they used to achieve the victory.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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