From the Plays of Roswitha:
Scenes XII, XIII, XIV
Death of Irena:
Sisinnius: Irena, take warning from the fate of your
sisters, and tremble, for if you follow their example you will
Irena: I long to follow their example, and to die,
that I may share their eternal joy.
Sisinnius: Yield, Yield!
Irena: I will yield to no man who persuades me to
Sisinnius: If you persist in your refusal, I shall
not grant you a swift death. I shall eke it out, and every day I
shall increase and renew your torments.
Irena: The greater my pain, the greater my glory!
Sisinnius: You are not afraid of being tortured, I
know, but I can use other means that will be abhorrent to you.
Irena: By Christ’s help I shall escape from all you
can devise against me.
Sisinnius: I can send you to a house of ill-fame,
where your body will be abominably defiled.
Irena: Far better than my body should suffer outrage
than my soul.
Sisinnius: When you are dishonored and forced to
live among harlots, you can no longer be numbered among the virgins.
Irena: The wage of sin is death; the wage of
suffering a crown. If the soul does not consent, there is no guilt.
Sisinnius: In vain I try to spare her, and show pity
to her youth.
Soldiers: We could have told you as much. She is not
to be frightened, and nothing can make her worship the gods.
Sisinnius: I will show her no more mercy.
Soldiers: That is the only way to deal with her.
Sisinnius: Have no pity. Be rough with her, and drag
her to the lowest brothel you and find.
Irena: They will never take me there.
Sisinnius: Indeed! What can prevent them?
Irena: The power that rules the world.
Sisinnius: We shall see.
Irena: Yes! Sooner than you would like!
Sisinnius: Soldiers, do not let the absurd
prophecies of this woman interfere with your duty.
Soldiers: We are not likely to be frightened by a
slip of a girl! We will carry out your orders at once.
Sisinnius: Who are these men hurrying towards us?
They cannot be the soldiers who took away Irena. Yet they resemble
them. Yes, these are the men. Why have you returned so suddenly? Why
are you panting for breath?
Soldiers: We ran back to find you.
Sisinnius: Where is the girl?
Soldiers: On the crest of the mountain.
Sisinnius: What mountain?
Soldiers: The mountain yonder, nearest this place.
Sisinnius: O fools, madmen! Have you lost your
Soldiers: What’s the matter? Why do you look at us
so threateningly, and speak with such anger?
Sisinnius: May the gods crush you with their
Soldiers: What have we done? How have we offended?
We have only obeyed your orders.
Sisinnius: Fools! Did I not tell you to take this
rebellious girls to a brothel?
Soldiers: That is so, but while we were on the way
up came two young strangers and told us you had sent them to take
Irena to the summit of the mountain.
Sisinnius: I learn this for the first time from you.
Soldiers: So we see.
Sisinnius: What were these strangers like?
Soldiers: They were gorgeously dressed and looked
like people of rank.
Sisinnius: Did you follow them?
Soldiers: Yes, we followed them.
Sisinnius: What did they do?
Soldiers: They placed themselves one on each side of
Irena, and told us to hasten and tell you what we had seen.
Sisinnius: Then there is nothing to do but for me to
mount my horse and ride to the mountain to discover who has dared to
play us this trick.
Soldiers: We will come too.
Sisinnius: What has happened to me? These Christians
have bewitched me. I wander blindly round this hill, and when I
stumble on a path I can neither follow it nor return upon my steps.
Soldiers: We are all the sport of some strange
enchantment. We are exhausted. If you let this madwoman live an hour
longer it will be the death of us all.
Sisinnius: Take a bow one of you, bend it as far as
you can, and loose a shaft that shall pierce this devilish witch.
Soldiers: That’s the way!
Irena: You wretched Sisinnius! Do you not blush for
your shameful defeat? Are you not ashamed that you could not
overcome the resolution of a little child without resorting to force
Sisinnius: I accept the shame gladly, since now I am
sure of your death.
Irena: To me my death means joy, but to you calamity. For your
cruelty you will be damned in Tartarus. But I shall receive the
martyr’s palm, and adorned with the crown of virginity, I shall
enter the azure palace of the Eternal King, to Whom be glory and
honour forever and ever!