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THESEUS, Duke of Athens.
EGEUS, Father to Hermia.
LYSANDER, in love with Hermia.
PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Revels to Theseus.
Other Fairies attending their King and Queen.
SCENE, Athens, and a Wood not far from it.
SCENE I. Athens.
A Room in the Palace of THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE,
The. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour Draws on apace; four happy days bring in Another moon: but O! methinks, how slow This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires, Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Hip. Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
[Exit PHILOSTRATE Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.
Enter EGEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS.
Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!' The. Thanks, good Egeus: What's the news with thee?
Ege. Full of vexation come I, with complaint Against my child, my daughter Hermia.Stand forth, Demetrius : My noble lord, This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander; and, my gracious duke, This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child :
'Steevens set this down as "a misapplication of a modern title." If it be such, Shakespeare is not responsible for it, as Theseus is repeatedly called duk in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, to which the Poet was evidently indebted for some of the material of this play. But indeed this application of duke to the heroes of antiquity was quite common; the word being from the Latin dux, which means a chief or leader of any sort. Thus in 1 Chronicles, i. 51, we have a list of "the dukes of Edom." We will subjoin the opening of The Knight's Tale, as illustrating both the matter in hand and the general scope of the Poet's obligations in that quarter:
"Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
Ther was a duk that highte Theseus.
And eke hire yonge suster Emelie.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given hei rhymes,
To stubborn harshness: — And, my gracious duke,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens;
The. What say you, Hermia? be advis'd, fair
To you your father should be as a god;
One that compos'd your beauties; yea, and one
In himself he is:
Her. I would my father look'd but with my eyes! The. Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
Her. I do entreat your grace to pardon me. I know not by what power I am made bold;
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
In such a presence here, to plead my thoughts:
The worst that may befall me in this case,
The. Either to die the death, or to abjure
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
The. Take time to pause: and, by the next new
The sealing-day betwixt my love and me
2 This reading was first proposed by Capell, that of the old copies being earthlier happy. As in the ancient spelling the pos itive would be earthlie happie, it is easy to see how the r may have been transposed; such being in fact a very common error of the press.
3 Lordship was anciently used for authority, rule. Thus Wickliffe's New Testament has lordship where the received version has dominion. The folio of 1632 inserted to before whose unwished yoke, which reading Mr. Collier adopts on the ground that to is necessary to the sense, forgetting, apparenuy, how common it is for give to be followed by two objectives