Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE I

Dramatis Personae

  • OTHO THE GREAT, Emperor of Germany
  • LUDOLPH, his Son
  • CONRAD, Duke of Franconia
  • ALBERT, a Knight, favoured by Otho
  • SIGIFRED, an Officer, friend of Ludolph
  • THEODORE, and GONFRID, Officers
  • ETHELBERT, an Abbot
  • GERSA, Prince of Hungary
  • An Hungarian Captain
  • Physician
  • Page
  • Nobles, Knights, Attendants, and Soldiers
  • ERMINIA, Niece of Otho
  • AURANTHE, Conrad’s Sister
  • Ladies and Attendants
  • SCENE. The Castle of Friedburg, its vicinity,
  • and the Hungarian Camp

TIME, One Day.

ACT 1.

SCENE 1. An Apartment in the Castle.

  • Enter CONRAD.
  • Conrad So, I am safe emerged from these broils!
  • Amid the wreck of thousands I am whole;
  • For every crime I have a laurel-wreath,
  • For every lie a lordship. Nor yet has
  • My ship of fortune furl’d her silken sails, —
  • Let her glide on! This danger’d neck is saved,
  • By dexterous policy, from the rebel’s axe;
  • And of my ducal palace not one stone
  • Is bruised by the Hungarian petards.
  • Toil hard, ye slaves, and from the miser-earth
  • Bring forth once more my bullion, treasured deep,
  • With all my jewell’d salvers, silver and gold,
  • And precious goblets that make rich the wine.
  • But why do I stand babbling to myself?
  • Where is Auranthe? I have news for her
  • Shall—
  • Enter AURANTHE.
  • Auranthe. Conrad! what tidings? Good, if I may guess
  • From your alert eyes and high-lifted brows.
  • What tidings of the battle? Albert? Ludolph?
  • Otho?
  • Conrad. You guess aright. And, sister, slurring o’er
  • Our by-gone quarrels, I confess my heart
  • Is beating with a child’s anxiety,
  • To make our golden fortune known to you.
  • Auranthe. So serious?
  • Conrad. Yes, so serious but before
  • I utter even the shadow of a hint
  • Concerning what will make that sin-worn cheek
  • Blush joyous blood through every lineament,
  • You must make here a solemn vow to me.
  • Auranthe. I pr’ythee, Conrad, do not overact
  • The hypocrite. What vow would you impose?
  • Conrad. Trust me for once. That you may be assured
  • ’Tis not confiding in a broken reed,
  • A poor court-bankrupt, outwitted and lost,
  • Revolve these facts in your acutest mood,
  • In such a mood as now you listen to me:
  • A few days since, I was an open rebel,—
  • Against the Emperor had suborn’d his son,—
  • Drawn off his nobles to revolt,— and shown
  • Contented fools causes for discontent,
  • Fresh hatch’d in my ambition’s eagle-nest;
  • So thrived I as a rebel,— and, behold!
  • Now I am Otho’s favorite, his dear friend,
  • His right hand, his brave Conrad!
  • Auranthe. I confess
  • You have intrigued with these unsteady times
  • To admiration. But to be a favorite—
  • Conrad. I saw my moment. The Hungarians,
  • Collected silently in holes and corners,
  • Appear’d, a sudden host, in the open day.
  • I should have perish’d in our empire’s wreck;
  • But, calling interest loyalty, swore faith
  • To most believing Otho; and so help’d
  • His blood-stain’d ensigns to the victory
  • In yesterday’s hard fight, that it has turn’d
  • The edge of his sharp wrath to eager kindness.
  • Auranthe. So far yourself. But what is this to me
  • More than that I am glad? I gratulate you.
  • . Yes, sister, but it does regard you greatly,
  • Nearly, momentously,— aye, painfully!
  • Make me this vow—
  • Auranthe. Concerning whom or what?
  • Conrad. Albert!
  • Auranthe. I would enquire somewhat of him:
  • You had a letter from me touching him?
  • No treason ’gainst his head in deed or word!
  • Surely you spared him at my earnest prayer?
  • Give me the letter— it should not exist!
  • Conrad. At one pernicious charge of the enemy,
  • I, for a moment-whiles, was prisoner ta’en
  • And rifled,—stuff! the horses’ hoofs have minced it!
  • Auranthe. He is alive?
  • Conrad. He is! but here make oath
  • To alienate him from your scheming brain,
  • Divorce him from your solitary thoughts,
  • And cloud him in such utter banishment,
  • That when his person meets again your eye,
  • Your vision shall quite lose its memory,
  • And wander past him as through vacancy.
  • Auranthe. I’ll not be perjured.
  • Conrad. No, nor great, nor mighty;
  • You would not wear a crown, or rule a kingdom,
  • To you it is indifferent.
  • Auranthe. What means this?
  • Conrad. You’ll not be perjured! Go to Albert then,
  • That camp-mushroom, dishonour of our house;
  • Go, page his dusty heels upon a march,
  • Furbish his jingling baldric while he sleeps,
  • And share his mouldy ratio in a siege.
  • Yet stay,—perhaps a charm may call you back,
  • And make the widening circlets of your eyes
  • Sparkle with healthy fevers,— the Emperor
  • Hath given consent that you should marry Ludolph!
  • Auranthe. Can it be, brother? For a golden crown
  • With a queen’s awful lips I doubly thank you!
  • This is to wake in Paradise! farewell,
  • Thou clod of yesterday— ’twas not myself!
  • Not till this moment did I ever feel
  • My spirit’s faculties! I’ll flatter you
  • For this, and be you ever proud of it;
  • Thou, Jove-like, struck’dst thy forehead,
  • And from the teeming marrow of thy brain
  • I spring complete Minerva! But the Prince—
  • His Highness Ludolph—where is he?
  • Conrad. I know not:
  • When, lackeying my counsel at a beck,
  • The rebel-lords, on bended knees, received
  • The Emperor’s pardon, Ludolph kept aloof,
  • Sole,—in a stiff, fool-hardy, sulky pride:
  • Yet, for all this, I never saw a father
  • In such a sickly longing for his son.
  • We shall soon see him,—for the Emperor,
  • He will be here this morning.
  • Auranthe. That I heard
  • Among the midnight rumours from the camp.
  • Conrad. You give up Albert to me?
  • Auranthe. Harm him not!
  • E’en for his Highness Ludolph’s sceptry hand,
  • I would not Albert suffer any wrong.
  • Conrad. Have I not labour’d, plotted—?
  • Auranthe. See you spare him:
  • Nor be pathetic, my kind benefactor,
  • On all the many bounties of your hand,—
  • ’Twas for yourself you labour’d — not for me!
  • Do you not count, when I am queen, to take
  • Advantage of your chance discoveries
  • Of my poor secrets, and so hold a rod
  • Over my life?
  • Conrad. Let not this slave— this villain—
  • Be cause of feud between us. See! he comes!
  • Look, woman, look, your Albert is quite safe!
  • In haste it seems. Now shall I be in the way,
  • And wish’d with silent curses in my grave,
  • Or side by side with whelmed mariners.
  • Enter ALBERT.
  • Albert. Fair on your Graces fall this early morrow!
  • So it is like to do, without my prayers,
  • For your right noble names, like favorite tunes.
  • Have fallen full frequent from our Emperor’s lips,
  • High commented with smiles.
  • Auranthe. Noble Albert!
  • Conrad (aside) Noble!
  • Auranthe. Such salutation argues a glad heart
  • In our prosperity. We thank you, sir.
  • Albert. Lady! O would to heaven your poor servant
  • Could do you better service than mere words!
  • But I have other greeting than mine own
  • From no less man than Otho, who has sent
  • This ring as pledge of dearest amity;
  • ’Tis chosen I hear from Hymen’s jewelry,
  • And you will prize it, lady. I doubt not,
  • Beyond all pleasures past, and all to come:
  • To you, great Duke—
  • Conrad. To me! What of me, ha?
  • Albert.What pleas’d your Grace to say?
  • Conrad. Your message, sir!
  • Albert. You mean not this to me?
  • Conrad. Sister, this way;
  • For there shall be no “gentle Alberts” now, (Aside.)
  • No “sweet Auranthes”! (Exeunt CONRAD and AURANTHE.
  • Albert (solus). The Duke is out of temper; if he knows
  • More than a brother of a sister ought,
  • I should not quarrel with his peevishness,
  • Auranthe— heaven preserve her always fair!—
  • Is in the heady, proud, ambitious vein;
  • I bicker not with her,— bid her farewell!
  • She has taken flight from me, then let her soar,—
  • He is a fool who stands at pining gaze!
  • But for poor Ludolph, he is food for sorrow;
  • No leveling bluster of my licensed thoughts,
  • No military swagger of my mind,
  • Can smother from myself the wrong I’ve done him,—
  • Without design indeed,— yet it is so,—
  • And opiate for the conscience have I none!
  • Exit.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE I.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.3 , University of Victoria, 5 September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_i_scene_i.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE I,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_i_scene_i.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE I.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_i_scene_i.html.