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Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa

Friedrich Schiller

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Act Two

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1Antechamber in Fiesco’s palace

Scene 1

2Leonora. Arabella.

3ARABELLA. No, I say. You’re mistaken. Your jealousy sees everything in the worst light.

4LEONORA. It was the living Julia. Don’t try to fool me. My silhouette was on a sky-blue ribbon. This one was fiery red and of watered silk. My fate is sealed.

Scene 2

5As above. Julia.

  • 29 my chocolate: An anachronism; chocolate was introduced to Europe in the early seventeenth century.

6JULIA (enters affectedly). The Count offered me his palace to watch the procession to Town Hall. I shall find it tedious enough. While my chocolate29 is being prepared, amuse me, Madame. (Bella goes out, returns immediately.)

7LEONORA. Do you bid me invite company?

8JULIA. Tasteless. As if I had to come here to find company. You will divert me, Madame. (Walking up and down, admiring herself.) If you can, Madame--for I oughtn’t to miss anything.

9ARABELLA (maliciously). Therefore this costly moiré, Signora? How cruel of you, just think, to deprive the opera glasses of the young dandies of such a prize! Ah! And the light playing on these pearls, it’s blinding. --Why, you’ve plundered all the seas.

10JULIA (before a mirror). This is a rarity for you, Mamsell? Now, tell me, Mamsell, have you also hired out your tongue to your mistress? Charming, Madame, how you let your domestics pay compliments to your guests.

11LEONORA. It is my misfortune, Signora, that an indisposition diminishes my pleasure in your presence.

12JULIA. An ugly incivility that makes you slow-witted and silly. Quick, now. Lively and witty. That’s no way to captivate your husband.

13LEONORA. I know but one way, Countess. May yours always be an appealing means.

14JULIA (choosing to ignore her). And how you present yourself, Madame! Tut, tut! Make a greater effort also with your body. Resort to art where Nature has been stingy with you. A bit of gloss for these cheeks, which sickly suffering has discoloured. Poor creature! Like that, your little face will never find a buyer.

15LEONORA (cheerfully to Bella). Congratulate me, my girl: Either I have not lost my Fiesco or in him I have lost nothing. (A Servant brings in chocolate; Bella pours.)

16JULIA. You murmured something about losing? But, heavens! What led you ever to take Fiesco?--And to seek this social level, my child, where you’ll necessarily be seen? And compared. --Upon my honour, my dear, it was either a fool or a villain who joined you to Fiesco in the first place. (Taking her hand with pity.) Dear creature, a man who is received in elevated circles could never be a proper match for you. (She takes a cup of chocolate.)

17LEONORA (smiling to Arabella). Or he would not want to be received in the houses of these elevated circles.

18JULIA. The Count has presence--worldliness--taste. It was his good fortune to make acquaintances of rank. The Count has spirit, fire. He tears himself away from the choicest company, comes home, and the wife welcomes him with workaday tenderness, douses his fires with a cold, damp kiss, portions out her caresses as at a boarding house table. The poor husband! There a radiant ideal smiles upon him--here a morose over-sensitivity revolts him. For heaven’s sake, Signora. Won’t he lose his reason? Or what will he choose?

19LEONORA (brings her a cup of chocolate). You, Madame--when he has lost his reason.

20JULIA. Fine. That barb into your own heart. Tremble for this mockery, but before you tremble, blush with shame!

21LEONORA. That, too, you are acquainted with, Signora? But of course. It’s done with powder and paint.

22JULIA. Well look at that! One must stir up the little caterpillar to get one spark of mother wit from her. Enough for now. It was only in fun, Madame. Give me your hand in reconciliation.

23LEONORA (offers her hand with a meaningful look). Imperiali--where I am angry, you are calm.

24JULIA. Magnanimous, in any case. And should I not be, Countess? (Slowly and captiously.) When I wear someone’s silhouette, does it not follow that I cherish the original? Or what do you think?

25LEONORA (reddening and confused). I beg your pardon? This conclusion is hasty, I hope.

26JULIA. My opinion, too. One’s heart has no need to call upon the senses. True feeling never takes cover behind mere trinketry.

27LEONORA. Dear God! What brought you to such a truth?

28JULIA. Compassion. Pure compassion. --For, you see, the opposite is also true. --And you still have your Fiesco. (She gives Leonora her silhouette with a malevolent burst of laughter.)

29LEONORA (with indignant bitterness). My silhouette? In your possession? (Throws herself into a chair, hurt.) That unspeakable man.

30JULIA (triumphant). Have I gotten even? Have I? No further pinpricks at the ready, Madame? (Calls into the wings.) My carriage to the door! My business is finished. (To Leonora, stroking her chin.) Be consoled, my child. He gave me the silhouette in a fit of madness. (Exit.)

Scene 3

31Calcagno enters.

32CALCAGNO. Imperiali went out all in a pet. And you in a state, Madonna?

33LEONORA (deeply wounded). Unheard of! Unheard of!

34CALCAGNO. Good heavens! You’re not crying?

35LEONORA. You friend of a monster--Out of my sight!

36CALCAGNO. Of what monster? You frighten me.

37LEONORA. Of my husband. --Not so! Of Fiesco.

38CALCAGNO. What must I hear?

39LEONORA. Oh, just a prank. The usual for you men.

40CALCAGNO (clasps her hand fervently). My Lady, my heart responds to injured innocence.

41LEONORA (gravely). You are a man. --It’s not for me.

42CALCAGNO. Wholly for you--full of you. --If only you knew how much--how very much--

43LEONORA. Man, you’re lying. --You’re giving assurances before you act.

44CALCAGNO. I swear to you--

45LEONORA. A perjury. Stop it. You’ll wear out the stylus of God, who records your lies. Men! Men! If your oaths should turn into as many devils, they could storm the heavens and take away the angels of light as their prisoners.

46CALCAGNO. You’re not yourself, Countess. Your bitterness makes you unjust. Should the entire race be held to account for the misdeeds of a single individual?

47LEONORA (gazes at him steadily). Look! I worshipped that race in the person of an individual; should I not detest it in him, too?

48CALCAGNO. Consider, Countess--You entrusted your heart wrongly the first time. --I could tell you where it would be in safekeeping.

49LEONORA. Your kind could lie the Creator clear out of his world. --I don‘ t want to hear another word from you.

50CALCAGNO. This sentence of condemnation--you’ll revoke it in my arms before the day is out.

51LEONORA (attentively). Go on. In your-

52CALCAGNO. In my arms, which open to receive a woman abandoned and to indemnify her for lost love.

53LEONORA (examines him narrowly). Love?

54CALCAGNO (kneeling before her, with ardour). Yes! I have pronounced it. Love, Madonna. You dispose over life and death. If my passion is a sin, may the two ends of virtue and vice flow into one another and Heaven and Hell congeal into a single damnation.

55LEONORA (taking a step backward, displeased and grand). So that’s where your sympathy was tending, you sneak?--On one bended knee you betray both friendship and love? Out of my sight! Detestable sex! Until now I thought you deceived only women. I never knew that you would turn traitor to your own kind.

56CALCAGNO (stands up, disconcerted). My Lady--

57LEONORA. It was not enough to break the sacred seal of trust. This hypocrite also had to fog the bright mirror of virtue and undertake to instruct my innocence in the fine art of oath breaking.

58CALCAGNO (quickly). It’s not oath breaking on your part, Madonna.

59LEONORA. I understand. And my sensitivity was supposed to prejudice my feelings in your favour? This you didn’t know: (very grand) that precisely the exalted misfortune of breaking for Fiesco ennobles a woman’s heart. Go! Fiesco’s disgrace elevates no Calcagno in my eyes. It degrades mankind. (Rapid exit.)

60CALCAGNO (stares after her dumbly, then strikes his forehead). Idiot!

Scene 4

61The Moor. Fiesco.

62FIESCO. Who was it that just went out?

63MOOR. Marquis Calcagno.

64FIESCO. This handkerchief was left behind on the sofa. My wife has been here.

65MOOR. She just went past me, very upset.

  • 30 The handkerchief is damp: Cf. Shakespeare Othello Act III, Scene 4.

66FIESCO. The handkerchief is damp.30 (Puts it into his pocket.) Calcagno present here? Leonora upset? (After a moment’s thought, to the Moor.) I’ll want to know from you this evening what it was that happened here.

67MOOR. Mamsell Bella likes to be told that she is blond. Will try and get an answer for you.

68FIESCO. Thirty hours have elapsed. Have you discharged my commission?

69MOOR. To a “T,” Lord and Master.

70FIESCO (seats himself). Then tell me what they’re whistling about Doria and our current government?

71MOOR. The most atrocious little ditties. They shudder at the very sound of “Doria.” They hate Gianettino mortally. Everybody’s grumbling. They say the French were Genoa’s rats, that tom cat Doria ate them up and is now content with the company of mice.

72FIESCO. That may be true enough. --And do they know of a dog to set upon the cat?

73MOOR (teasing). The town whispers far and wide about a certain--a certain--Huh! Could I possibly have forgotten the name?

74FIESCO (stands up). Idiot! That name is as easy to remember as it was hard to acquire. Is there more than one such in Genoa?

75MOOR. As unlikely as two Counts of Lavagna.

76FIESCO (seating himself again). Now that’s a little something. And what are they whispering about my high living?

77MOOR (measures him carefully). Listen, Count Lavagna. Genoa must have quite an opinion of you. They can’t abide that the scion of their foremost house--full of talent and good sense--at the height of his powers and his influence--who disposes over four million pounds--the blood of princes in his veins--that a cavalier like Fiesco, whom every heart would gather round at the first signal--

78FIESCO (turns away in disgust). To have to hear all this from a rogue--

79MOOR. That Genoa’s great man has gone missing at Genoa’s great moment. Many regret it. Very many ridicule it. Most of them condemn you. All mourn the State that has lost you. A Jesuit claims to have caught wind of a fox in this dressing gown.

80FIESCO. One fox can sniff out another. --What are they saying about my adventure with the Countess Imperiali?

81MOOR. I’ll choose to refrain from repeating that.

82FIESCO. Out with it. The more insolent, the better. What are they muttering?

  • 31 coffee houses: An anachronism; coffee houses appeared for the first time in Europe outside the Otto (...)

83MOOR. They’re not muttering anything. In the coffee houses,31 at the billiard tables, in the inns, on the promenades--in the market--at the stock exchange, they cry aloud--

84FIESCO. What? I order you--

85MOOR (stepping back). That you’re a fool.

  • 32 Hanswurst: The coarse and cunning figure of German comedies, particularly popular in the sixteenth (...)

86FIESCO. Good. Here, take the sequins for this news. I’ve put on a fool’s cap to make the Genoese laugh at me; I’ll soon have myself shaved bald, and they’ll see me play Hanswurst.32 How did the silk merchants respond to my gifts?

87MOOR (droll). Fool, they made like the condemned--

88FIESCO. Fool? Are you out of your mind, fellow?

89MOOR. Oh, sorry. I’d like to have more sequins.

90FIESCO (laughs, gives him one). Now, like the condemned--

91MOOR. Who are lying on the block and then hear themselves pardoned. They are yours, body and soul.

92FIESCO. Excellent. They’ll determine what the common man does.

93MOOR. What a scene that was! The devil take me if I wasn’t about to acquire a taste for open-handedness. They threw their arms around me like madmen, the girls seemed about to lose their heads over my father’s colouring, so taken were they with my dark-of-the-moon. Almighty gold, I thought. It can even bleach a Moor.

94FIESCO. A thought that’s better than what hatched it. --The words you’ve carried back to me are good. Do they imply deeds?

95MOOR. The way that rumbling skies imply a breaking storm. They’re putting their heads together, forming packs, clearing their throats noisily when a stranger drifts past. A leaden atmosphere broods over all Genoa. --This discontent hangs over the Republic like heavy weather. --One blast of wind and we’ll have hailstones and thunderbolts.

96FIESCO. Quiet! Listen! What’s that strange rumbling?

97MOOR (rushes to the window). It’s the shouting of a crowd that’s coming down from Town Hall.

98FIESCO. They’re electing Procurators today. My cariole to the door! The session can’t possibly be over yet. I’ll go up there. It can’t possibly have adjourned in good order. My sword and cloak. Where’s my medal?

99MOOR. My Lord, I stole it and pawned it.

100FIESCO. Delightful.

101MOOR. Well? Is my reward coming soon?

102FIESCO. Because you didn’t also take my cloak?

103MOOR. Because I’ve turned up the thief for you.

104FIESCO. The commotion’s moving this way. Listen--That’s not approval, that’s no celebration. (Suddenly.) Quick, unbar the gates to the courtyard. Something tells me--Doria is foolhardy. The State is balancing on a knife edge. I’ll bet the Signoria has erupted.

  • 33 .Via Balbi: One of the main streets of Genoa.

105MOOR (at the window, shouts). What the--? They’re coming down the Via Balbi33--a pack of thousands--halberds flashing--swords--Aha! Senators--rushing this way--

106FIESCO. It’s a rising. Go out and join them. Mention my name. See to it that they come this way. (Moor rushes downstairs.) What reason, that busy ant, drags together laboriously an accidental gust can heap up in an instant.

Scene 5

107Fiesco. Centurione, Cibo, Asserato burst into the room.

108CIBO. Count, ascribe it to our anger that we enter unannounced.

109CENTURIONE. I have been insulted, mortally insulted, by the Duke’s nephew before the entire Signoria.

110ASSERATO. Doria has defiled the Golden Book, where every Genoese nobleman is entered on a page.

111CENTURIONE. That’s why we’re here. In me the entire nobility has been affronted. The entire nobility must have a part in my revenge. To avenge my personal honour I would have scant need of assistance.

112CIBO. In him the entire nobility has been called out. The entire nobility must breathe fire and brimstone.

113ASSERATO. The rights of the nation have been reduced to ruins. Our republican freedom has taken a deathblow.

114FIESCO. You have my full attention.

115CIBO. He was the twenty-ninth among the Electors, had already picked up a golden ball to vote for Procurator. Twenty-eight ballots had been collected. Fourteen were for me, as many for Lomellino. Doria’s and his were still outstanding.

116CENTURIONE (quickly picks up the thread). Were still outstanding. I voted for Cibo. Doria--conceive the wound to my honour—Doria-

117ASSERATO (also breaks in). The likes of which we’ve never seen, for as long as waves have washed Genoa-

118CENTURIONE (ever more heatedly). Doria drew his sword, which he had carried concealed under his scarlet cloak, impaled my ballot, and cried into the assembly-

119CIBO. “Senators! Invalid! It’s perforated! Lomellino is Procurator.”

120CENTURIONE. “Lomellino is Procurator,” and threw his sword on the table.

121ASSERATO. Cried, “Invalid!” And threw his sword on the table.

122FIESCO (after a silence). What measures will you take?

123CENTURIONE. A blow to the heart of the Republic. What measures we’ll take?

124FIESCO. Centurione, reeds will bend in a puff of air. Oaks require a storm. I asked your measures--

125CIBO. I should have thought one would ask what measures Genoa would take.

126FIESCO. Genoa? Genoa? No more of that! It’s crumbling, falls to pieces wherever you grasp it. You’re counting on the patricians? Perhaps because they make faces, shrug their shoulders at the mention of affairs of state? No more of them! Their heroic ardour is bound up in bales of Levantine merchandise, their souls hover anxiously over their East Indian fleet.

127CENTURIONE. You should form a better opinion of our patricians. No sooner had Doria delivered his provocation than several hundred of them went flying out to the market, tearing their garments. The whole Signoria flew apart.

128FIESCO (scoffing). The way doves fly apart when a buzzard strikes the dovecote?

129CENTURIONE (storming). No. Like powder kegs when a fuse falls into them.

130CIBO. The people, too, are all in a rage. And what can’t a wild boar do when it’s been shot at!

  • 34 the boy Octavius: Julius Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, later called Augustus, whose accession ma (...)

131FIESCO (laughing). That blind, clumsy colossus that first raises a great racket with its stubby legs, threatens to gobble up everything, high and low, near and far, with gaping jaws--and then, in the end, falls over a tripwire? It’s no use, Genoese. Our day as rulers of the sea is over. Genoa has fallen below its reputation. Genoa has reached that point where invincible Rome threw itself like a shuttlecock into the racket of the boy Octavius.34 Genoa is no longer capable of freedom. Genoa needs a monarch to keep it warm. Genoa needs a sovereign, so bend a knee to the addle-brained Gianettino.

132CENTURIONE (flaring up). When the raging elements make peace with one another and the North Pole goes leaping after the South Pole. Come, comrades!

133FIESCO. Stay! Stay! What are you brooding about, Cibo?

134CIBO. Either over nothing, or over a farce that’s to be called “The Earthquake.”

135FIESCO (leads them to a statue). Look at this figure.

  • 35 Florentine Venus: The Venus de’Medici, a life-size Hellenistic marble sculpture depicting the Greek (...)

136CENTURIONE. It’s the Florentine Venus.35 What does she have to do with anything?

137FIESCO. But you find her pleasing?

138CIBO. I should think so, or we’re no Italians. Why would you ask just now?

139FIESCO. Now, then, travel to the ends of the earth and among all the living impressions of the mould of woman single out the most successful, in which all the charms of this imagined Venus are met.

140CIBO. And gain what for our trouble?

141FIESCO. Then you will have put imagination at the mercy of the market-crier--

142CENTURIONE (impatient). And gained what?

143FIESCO. You’ll have won Nature’s age-old legal action against artists.

144CENTURIONE (irritated). And then?

145FIESCO. Then? Then? (Begins to laugh.) Then you’ll have forgotten to notice that Genoa’s freedom is going to rack and ruin.

Scene 6

146Fiesco. The unrest around the palace grows louder.

147FIESCO. What luck! What luck! The straw of the Republic has caught, and the flame has leaped over onto houses and towers. Right on! Right on! Let there be a general conflagration, and the gleeful wind whistle among the ruins.

Scene 7

148Moor in haste. Fiesco.

149MOOR. Pack after pack!

150FIESCO. Throw open the gates. Admit everything that walks.

151MOOR. Republicans! Republicans! Hauling their freedom by a yoke, panting like loaded oxen under the weight of their aristocratic splendour.

152FIESCO. Fools, to believe that Fiesco di Lavagna would finish what Fiesco di Lavagna did not begin. The rising comes like a godsend. But the conspiracy must be my work. They’re storming up the steps.

153MOOR (into the stairwell). Holla! Holla! Everyone kindly come in at the door. (The people come storming in. The door reduced to rubble.)

Scene 8

154Fiesco. Twelve Artisans.

155ALL. Revenge on Doria! Revenge on Gianettino!

156FIESCO. Easy, easy, my compatriots. That you wait upon me this way testifies to your pure hearts. But my ears are more delicate.

157ALL (more agitated). Down with the Dorias! With uncle and nephew alike!

158FIESCO (smiling, counting them). Twelve are an eminent army--

159SOME. These Dorias must go. The State must take a different form.

160FIRST ARTISAN. To throw our magistrates down the stairs--our magistrates down the stairs!

161SECOND ARTISAN. Think of it, Lavagna, down the stairs, when they contradicted him about the election.

162ALL. Not to be tolerated! Cannot be tolerated!

163A THIRD ARTISAN. To bring a sword into Council--

164FIRST ARTISAN. A sword! The sign of war! In the hall of peace!

165SECOND ARTISAN. To come into the Senate wearing scarlet! Not black, like the other councillors!

166FIRST ARTISAN. To drive eight stallions straight through the middle of our capital.

167ALL. A tyrant! A traitor to the country and to the government!

168SECOND ARTISAN. To buy two hundred German soldiers from the Emperor for his bodyguard--

169FIRST ARTISAN. Foreigners against the children of the fatherland! Germans against Italians! Soldiers, in addition to the laws!

170ALL. High treason! Mutiny! The end of Genoa!

171FIRST ARTISAN. To carry the blazon of the Republic on his carriage--

172SECOND ARTISAN. And the statue of Andrea in the very middle of the courtyard of the Signoria!

173ALL. Smash him to pieces--the stone Andrea and the living one.

174FIESCO. Genoese, why bring all this to me?

175FIRST ARTISAN. You shouldn’t stand for it. You should hold your thumbs on his eyes.

176SECOND ARTISAN. You’re a smart man and shouldn’t stand for it and ought to sympathize with us.

177FIRST ARTISAN. And a better nobleman and should put it to him, and you ought not stand for it.

178FIESCO. I’m flattered by your confidence in me. Can I deserve it by deeds?

179ALL (noisily). Strike! Throw down! Set free!

180FIESCO. You’ll hear a word of caution?

181SOME. Tell us, Lavagna.

  • 36 Unrest once broke out among the citizens of the Animal Kingdom: Schiller’s play abounds with animal (...)

182FIESCO (seating himself). Genoese--Unrest once broke out among the citizens of the Animal Kingdom.36 One side went to war against the other and a butcher’s dog seized the throne. It was his custom to drive the animals to slaughter, so he lived like a dog in his kingdom, barked, bit, and gnawed at the bones of his people. The nation grumbled; the boldest ones came together and strangled their princely bulldog. They convened a council of state to decide a great question: what the best form of government would be. Opinion was divided three ways. Genoese, what form would you have chosen?

183FIRST CITIZEN. By the people, by the people.

184FIESCO. The people won. The government became democratic. Every citizen cast a vote. The majority prevailed. After a few weeks, Man declared war on the fresh-baked free state. The state held a convention. The Horse, Lion, Tiger, Bear, Elephant, and Rhinoceros came forward and bellowed: To arms! Then it was the turn of the others. The Lamb, Hare, Stag, Donkey, the entire world of insects, the whole shy army of birds and fishes--all intervened and wailed: Peace! Behold, Genoese: The cowardly were more numerous than the battle-ready, the stupid more numerous than the smart ones. --The majority prevailed. The Animal Kingdom laid down its arms, and Man plundered its territory. So this system was abandoned. What would have been your preference now, Genoese?

185FIRST AND SECOND CITIZENS. The committee! Yes, of course, the committee!

186FIESCO. That found favour. The affairs of state were divided into several chambers. Wolves saw to finance, foxes became their secretaries. Doves took charge of criminal justice, tigers of pleas and settlements, billy goats heard domestic disputes. The hares became soldiers, lions and elephant guarded the baggage train, the Donkey was the state ambassador, and the Mole oversaw the administration of the departments. Genoese, what hopes have you of this wise division? What the Wolf didn’t tear apart, the Fox did in. What escaped the Fox, the Donkey knocked over. Tigers throttled the innocent, the Dove pardoned thieves and murderers, and in the end, when all had laid down their offices, the Mole found them to have been lawfully exercised. --The animals rebelled. Let us choose a monarch, they cried unanimously, who has claws and a brain and only one belly. --And they all declared allegiance to one lord--one, Genoese. --But (going among them majestically) it was the Lion.

187ALL (clap, toss their caps into the air). Bravo! Bravo! That was clever.

188FIRST CITIZEN. And Genoa should do the same and already has its man.

189FIESCO. I don’t want to know who. Go home now and think about the Lion. (The Citizens go tumbling out.) Just what I wanted. People and Senate against Doria. People and Senate for Fiesco. --Hassan! Hassan!--I must catch this breeze. --Hassan! Hassan!--I must fan this hate, keep this interest alive. --Show yourself, Hassan! Whoreson of Hell! Hassan! Hassan!

Scene 9

190Moor enters. Fiesco.

191MOOR (wild). My feet are on fire. What now?

192FIESCO. What I command.

193MOOR (smoothly). Where would you have me run first, where last?

  • 37 criminal Rota: The highest appeals court for all judicial trials in the Catholic Church. The court (...)

194FIESCO. You can spare yourself the running this time. You’re going to be dragged. Steel yourself. I’m going to trumpet your attempted murder abroad and turn you over, bound, to the criminal Rota.37

195MOOR (six steps backward). My Lord?--That’s contrary to our agreement!

196FIESCO. Keep calm. It’s pure farce. At the moment everything depends on making Gianettino’s attempt on my life a public scandal. You’ll be questioned under torture.

197MOOR. Do I confess or deny?

198FIESCO. Deny. They’ll put you on the rack. You’ll withstand the first turn of the screw. That bit of edification you can mark up to your assassination attempt. On the second turn, you confess.

199MOOR (shakes his head, dubious). The Devil is a knave. The gentlemen could detain me for further edification and dismember me for their amusement.

200FIESCO. You’ll get away whole. I give you my word as a nobleman. I’ll request the satisfaction of punishing you myself and then pardon you before the whole Republic.

201MOOR. Fine. I’ll do it. They’ll disjoint me. That’ll limber me up.

202FIESCO. Then take your dagger and cut a quick stripe in my arm until you draw blood. I’ll pretend I’ve just caught you in the act. --Good! (Shrieking.) Murder! Murder! Murder! Block the passages! Bar the gates! (He drags the Moor out by the throat. Servants rush over the set.)

Scene 10

203Leonora, Rosa run in, frightened.

204LEONORA. Murder, they cried, murder! It came from here.

205ROSA. Some pointless uproar, like every day in Genoa.

206LEONORA. They cried murder, and I clearly heard the people saying “Fiesco.” Wretched deceivers. They tried to keep me from seeing, but my heart outwitted them. Quick, go after them. Look and see, then come tell me where they’re taking him.

207ROSA. Calm yourself. Bella has gone.

208LEONORA. Bella will receive his dying glance. Happy Bella! Wretched woman that I am, his assassin! If Fiesco had been able to love me, he would never have thrown himself into the world, never have thrown himself onto the daggers of envy. --Bella’s coming! Oh, go away! Don’t tell me anything, Bella!

Scene 11

209As above. Bella

210BELLA. The Count is alive and unhurt. I saw him galloping through town. I never saw our Gracious Master more handsome. His black stallion bore him magnificently, its haughty hooves frightened the pressing crowd back away from its princely rider. He caught sight of me as he flew past, smiled graciously, gestured this way, and tossed back three kisses. (With malice.) What shall I do with them, Signora?

211LEONORA (enchanted). You silly chatterbox! Bring them back to him.

212ROSA. There, you see? You’re blushing again to the eyebrows.

213LEONORA. He throws away his heart on strumpets, and I chase after a single glance?--Oh, women! Women!

214(All leave the scene.)

Scene 12

215The palace of Andrea Doria. Gianettino, Lomellino enter hastily.

216GIANETTINO. They may bawl after their freedom the way the lioness bawls after her young. I’m not budging.

217LOMELLINO. But, my Gracious Lord--

218GIANETTINO. Go to the devil with your But, you Procurator of three hours’duration. Not one inch. Genoa’s towers may shake their heads and the wild sea roar No in among them. I’m not afraid of that pack.

219LOMELLINO. The mob is the tinder, of course, but the nobility is wind on the flames. The whole Republic is in uproar--the people and the patricians.

  • 38 Nero: According to Suetonius, Nero set Rome alight, and while observing it sang a poem on the ruin (...)

220GIANETTINO. Then I, like Nero,38 will stand on a hilltop and watch this farcical blaze—

221LOMELLINO. Until the whole mass of the insurrection throws itself behind a partisan ambitious enough to reap in the destruction.

222GIANETTINO. Antics! Antics! I know only one man whom one might possibly fear and he’s taken care of.

223LOMELLINO. His Grace! (Andrea enters. Gianettino and Lomellino bow deeply.)

224ANDREA. Signor Lomellino. My niece wishes to drive out.

225LOMELLINO. It will be my privilege to accompany her. (Exit.)

Scene 13

226Andrea. Gianettino.

227ANDREA. Hear me, Nephew. I am ill-content with you.

228GIANETTINO. Uncle--May Your Grace grant me a hearing.

229ANDREA. Granted to the most ragged beggar in Genoa, if he’s worth something. Never to a knave, and were he my nephew. It’s grace enough that I come before you as your uncle; it’s the Duke you’ve deserved to hear from, and his Signoria.

230GIANETTINO. Just one word, most Gracious Lord--

231ANDREA. You hear what you have done and then answer for it. --You have ripped down an edifice that I constructed painstakingly over the course of half a century--your uncle’s mausoleum, his one pyramid: the love of the Genoese. That bit of foolishness Andrea forgives you.

232GIANETTINO. My uncle and Duke--

233ANDREA. Don’t interrupt me. You have damaged the finest work of art of my rule, that I personally fetched from Heaven for the Genoese, that cost me so many sleepless nights, so much danger and so much blood. Before all Genoa you have defiled my princely honour, by showing no respect for my institution. Who will find it sacred if my own blood despises it?--This stupidity your uncle forgives you.

234GIANETTINO (insulted). Most Gracious Lord, you brought me up to be Genoa’s Duke.

235ANDREA. Silence!--You’ve committed high treason and struck at the heart of the State. Take note, boy. The watchword is: Submission!--Just because the shepherd has stepped back in the evening of his day’s work, did you think the flock had been abandoned? Because Andrea’s hair had turned icy grey, you could trample on the laws like a street urchin?

236GIANETTINO (defiant). Come now, Duke. Even in my veins Andrea’s blood runs hot--Andrea, before whom France trembled.

237ANDREA. Silence! I give orders here. --I’m accustomed to the sea falling silent when I speak. --You spat upon the majesty of Justice in her very temple. Do you know the penalty for that, you rebel?--Answer me!

238(Gianettino stares silently at the floor.)

239ANDREA. Unhappy Andrea! In your own bosom you have hatched the worm that will devour your achievement. I built the Genoese a house that I intended to scorn the passage of time--and I throw the first torch into it: this one here. You vandal, you may thank my grey head, which wishes to be laid in the grave by family hands--thank my godless love, that I don’t toss the insulted State the head of this insurrectionist from the blood-soaked boards of the scaffold. (Exit at speed.)

Scene 14

240Lomellino, breathless, frightened. Gianettino glowers after the Duke, speechless.

241LOMELLINO. What I’ve seen! What I’ve heard! Flee, Prince, this very minute. All is lost.

242GIANETTINO (furious). What was there to lose?

243LOMELLINO. Genoa, Prince. I’ve just come from the market. The people were thronging around a Moor who was being dragged along on cords--Count Lavagna and over three hundred noblemen after him into the law courts, where criminals are tortured. The Moor had been caught in an assassination attempt on Fiesco.

244GIANETTINO (stamps his foot). What? Has all Hell broken loose today?

245LOMELLINO. He was put under sharp interrogation, wouldn’t confess who had hired him. They put him to the first torture. He wouldn’t confess. They put him to the second. He confessed--he confessed--My Gracious Lord, whatever were you thinking when you staked your honour on a good-for-nothing?

246GIANETTINO (snorts at him). Don’t question me!

247LOMELLINO. Then hear the rest. No sooner had the word “Doria” been pronounced--I would rather have seen my name on the Devil’s roll than heard yours there--than Fiesco showed himself to the crowd. You know him: the man who, giving orders, seems to be appealing, who exploits the feelings of the mob. The whole assembled company, standing breathless and frozen in menacing groups, leaned toward him, listening. He spoke only briefly, then uncovered his bleeding arm, and the people fought over the falling drops as over relics. The Moor was released into his custody, and Fiesco--a fatal blow for us--Fiesco pardoned him. The silent crowd broke into a roar, every breath drawn destroyed a Doria, and Fiesco was carried home by thousands cheering in chorus.

  • 39 the Emperor Charles: The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was in Heilbronn at this time. Schiller has p (...)

248GIANETTINO (with stifled laughter). Let the clamour swell to the level of my throat!--Emperor Charles:39 with this one syllable I’ll flatten them, and no bell will ever toll again in Genoa.

249LOMELLINO. Bohemia lies far from Italy. --If Charles hurries, he’ll be here in time for your funeral banquet.

250GIANETTINO (produces a letter with a large seal). A good thing he is already here!--Lomellino is surprised? Did he think me foolhardy enough to tease raging Republicans if they had not already been sold out and betrayed?

251LOMELLINO (startled). I don’t know what I think.

252GIANETTINO. I think something that you don’t know. The decision is made. Day after tomorrow, twelve Senators will die. Doria will become monarch and Emperor Charles will protect him. --You step back?

253LOMELLINO. Twelve Senators? My heart isn’t ample enough to grasp a twelvefold bloodguilt.

254GIANETTINO. You dunce, they’ll be undone at the throne. Look, with Charles’s ministers I considered that France still has strong partisans in Genoa, who could play it into French hands again if they’re not destroyed root and branch. That worried old Charles. He subscribed to my plot. --And you are going to write what I dictate.

255LOMELLINO. I don’t yet know--

256GIANETTINO. Sit down. Write.

257LOMELLINO. What am I to write? (Sits down.)

258GIANETTINO. The names of our twelve candidates. --Francesco Centurione.

259LOMELLINO (writes). As thanks for his vote, he gets to lead the funeral procession.

260GIANETTINO. Cornelio Calva.

261LOMELLINO. Calva.

262GIANETTINO. Michele Cibo.

263LOMELLINO. That’ll cool off the Procuratoria.

264GIANETTINO. Tommaso Asserato and three brothers. (Lomellino hesitates.)

265GIANETTINO (with emphasis). And three brothers.

266LOMELLINO (writing). Go on.

267GIANETTINO. Fiesco di Lavagna.

  • 40 black slate: Fiesco’s name creates a double entendre: Ital. lavagna = slate.

268LOMELLINO. Watch out! Watch out! You’ll break your neck yet on this black slate.40

269GIANETTINO. Scipio Bourgognino.

270LOMELLINO. Let him celebrate his wedding elsewhere.

271GIANETTINO. Where I shall lead in the bride. Raffaele Sacco.

272LOMELLINO. I ought to procure an amnesty for him until he’s paid back my five thousand scudi. (Writes.) Death cancels all debts.

273GIANETTINO. Vinzenco Calcagno.

274LOMELLINO. Calcagno. --I’ll write the twelfth at my own risk, or we’ve forgotten our mortal enemy.

275GIANETTINO. All’s well that ends well. Giovanni Verrina.

276LOMELLINO. That’s the dragon’s head. (Stands up, strews sand, scans the list, hands it to the Prince.) Death is holding a great gala day after tomorrow and has invited twelve Genoese princes.

277GIANETTINO (steps to the table, signs). It is done. --Two days from now we elect a Doge. When the Signoria has assembled, the twelve will be cut down by a single sudden volley at the signal of a handkerchief; simultaneously, my two hundred Germans will take Town Hall by storm. Once that’s done, Gianettino Doria enters the hall and receives their obeisance. (Rings.)

278LOMELLINO. And Andrea?

279GIANETTINO (contemptuously). Is an old, old man. (A Servant.) If the Duke asks, I am at Mass. (Servant leaves.) The devil in me requires a saint’s mask to keep his incognito.

280LOMELLINO. And the list, Prince?

  • 41 Levant: An area on the coast to the West of Genoa.
  • 42 Spinola: A member of a prominent noble family of Genoa mentioned in Schiller’s sources; his role in (...)

281GIANETTINO. Is for you to take and circulate among our partisans. This letter is to go by express to Levanto.41 It informs Spinola42 of everything and summons him to enter the capital at eight in the morning. (About to leave.)

282LOMELLINO. There’s a leak in the keg, Prince. Fiesco no longer appears in the Senate.

283GIANETTINO (over his shoulder). There’ll still be one assassin abroad in Genoa?--I ’ll take care of that. (Exit to one side, Lomellino to the other.)

Scene 15

284Antechamber in Fiesco’s palace. Fiesco with letters and bills of exchange. Moor.

285FIESCO. Four galleys in port, then.

  • 43 Darsena: Part of the inner harbour of Genoa.

286MOOR. Lying safely before anchor in the Darsena.43

287FIESCO. Just when they’re wanted. The express letters are from where?

  • 44 Four galleys… Rome, Piacenza and France: Fiesco bought four galleys from the Pope and was in corres (...)

288MOOR. Rome, Piacenza, and France.44

289FIESCO (breaks the seals, reads rapidly). Welcome, welcome to Genoa. (Very content.) Princely accommodation for the couriers.

290MOOR. Hm! (About to go.)

291FIESCO. Wait! Wait! Here’s plenty of work for you.

292MOOR. What’re your orders? The nose of a tracking dog? The sting of a scorpion?

  • 45 Loretto: The town of Loreto, a famous place of pilgrimage, inland from the Adriatic coast in the Ma (...)

293FIESCO. For the moment, the sound of a bird lure. Tomorrow morning two thousand men will slip into the city under cover to take service with me. Station your henchmen around the gates with orders to keep a keen eye on travellers entering. Some will come as a company of pilgrims to Loretto,45 others as friars or Savoyards or travelling players, still others as merchants or as a troupe of musicians, most of them as discharged soldiers who want to eat Genoese bread. Every stranger is to be asked where he is put up. If he answers: At the sign of the Golden Snake, he is to be welcomed and shown the way to my home. Listen, fellow, I’m counting on your cleverness.

294MOOR. As on my wickedness, Master. If one lock of hair escapes me, you should load my two eyes into an air musket and shoot sparrows with them. (About to leave.)

295FIESCO. Stop! Another job. The galleys are going to attract the attention of the whole nation. Make note of what is said about them. If you’re asked, then you heard a distant rumour that your master is going to chase Turks with them. You understand?

  • 46 beards of the circumcised: The circumcised are the Muslims, that is, the Turks, against whom Fiesco (...)

296MOOR. Understood. The beards of the circumcised46 are lying on top--what’s in the basket the devil only knows. (Again about to leave.)

297FIESCO. Not so fast. One more precaution. Gianettino has new grounds for hating me and laying traps. Observe your comrades for any sign of an assassination in the making. Doria visits doubtful houses. Keep company with the ladies of the night. The secrets of the privy council like to conceal themselves in the folds of women’s skirts. Promise them customers who spit gold, promise them your master. Nothing is so sacred that you shouldn’t plunge it into this morass until you hit firm bottom.

298MOOR. Wait! Aha! I’m received by a certain Diana Bononi and have been supplying her for five quarters now. Day before yesterday I saw Procurator Lomellino coming out of her house.

  • 47 Endymion, chaste Luna: The shepherd prince Endymion, son of Zeus, was loved by the moon-goddess Sel (...)

299FIESCO. Just what we need. Precisely this Lomellino is the master key to all Doria’s wild schemes. You must go there early tomorrow. He may be playing Endymion to that chaste Luna47 this very night.

300MOOR. One circumstance, my Lord. When the Genoese ask--and the devil take me, they will--when they ask: What does Fiesco think on the subject of Genoa?--Are you going to wear your mask a while longer, or what should I answer?

301FIESCO. Answer? Wait! The fruit is surely ready. And pangs announce the birth. You should answer: Genoa is lying on the block and your master’s name is Gian Luigi Fiesco.

302MOOR (stretches himself contentedly). Which I intend to impart to excellent effect, by my honour as a scoundrel. --But now, look sharp, friend Hassan. First, into a tavern. My feet have their hands full--I must stroke my belly, so that it puts in a good word with my legs. (Hurries out, and comes back immediately.) By the way, I almost forgot. You wanted to know what happened between your wife and Calcagno?--He got the gate, that’s what he got. (Runs off.)

Scene 16

303Fiesco alone.

304FIESCO. My regrets, Calcagno. --Did you think I would have exposed so sensitive an article as my marriage bed, had my wife’s virtue and my own worth not been warranty enough for me? Nevertheless, welcome into the family. You’re a good soldier, and that should secure me your arm in destroying Doria. (Pacing with long strides.) Now, Doria, with me onto the battlefield! All the machinery for this great exploit is in motion. All instruments tuned for a shuddering concert. All I need do now is rip off the mask and show the Genoese patriots Fiesco. (Sound of approaching footsteps.) Company! Who comes now?

Scene 17

305Enter Verrina, Romano with a picture, Sacco, Bourgognino, Calcagno. All bow.

306FIESCO (coming to meet them, in high spirits). Welcome, my worthy friends. What important matter brings you to me in such numbers?--You here, too, valued Verrina? I would no longer know you, were you not more present in my thoughts than before my eyes. Have I not lived in want of my Verrina since the last ball?

307VERRINA. Don’t hold him to account, Fiesco. Heavy burdens have bent his grey head in the meantime. But enough of that.

308FIESCO. Not enough for inquiring love. You’ll have to tell me more when we’re alone. (To Bourgognino.) Welcome, my young hero. Our acquaintanceship is yet green, but my friendship is fully ripe. Have you raised your estimation of me?

309BOURGOGNINO. I’ve well begun to.

310FIESCO. Verrina, they tell me this young knight is to become your son-inlaw. I applaud your choice. Though I’ve spoken with him only once, I would be proud to have him as my own.

311VERRINA. This judgment makes me vain about my daughter.

312FIESCO (to the others). Sacco? Calcagno?--Such rare presences in my halls! Almost enough to make me ashamed of my wish to be useful, if Genoa’s noblest ornaments do not call upon it. --And here I welcome a fifth guest, unknown to me, yet commended enough by this worthy circle.

  • 48 Brutus: The reference may be to Marcus Junius Brutus, the assassin of Julius Caesar or to his ances (...)

313ROMANO. It is a mere painter, my Gracious Lord, Romano by name, who supports himself by stealing from Nature, carries no coat of arms but his brush, and now comes before you (with a deep bow) in search of the great line for a portrait of Brutus.48

314FIESCO. Give me your hand, Romano. Your mistress is a kinswoman of my house. I love her as a brother. Art is the right hand of Nature. She has made only creatures, art has made men. What do you paint, Romano?

315ROMANO. Scenes from sinewy Antiquity. My Dying Hercules is in Florence, my Cleopatra in Venice, my Mad Ajax in Rome, where the heroes of the ancient world--are being resurrected in the Vatican.

316FIESCO. And how is your brush now engaged?

317ROMANO. I have thrown it away, my Gracious Lord. The lamp of genius was receiving less oil than the lamp of life. Beyond a certain point, only the candle’s paper collar burns. This is my final work.

318FIESCO (expansive). It could not have come at a better moment. I am in unusually good spirits today, all my being marks and observes a certain heroic tranquillity, wholly receptive to the beauties of Nature. Set up your picture. I shall make a feast of it. Gather round, friends. We want to give ourselves over to the artist entirely. Set up your picture.

319VERRINA (signals the others). Now take note, Genoese.

  • 49 Virginia and Appius Claudius: See above, Act I, ‘what did that old Roman do.’

320ROMANO (sets the picture to rights). The light must come from this side. Raise the drapery over there, here let it fall. Good. (He steps aside.) It is the story of Virginia, and of Appius Claudius.49

321(Long, expressive pause as all observe the picture.)

322VERRINA (in transports). Strike, you ice-grey father. --Are you twitching, tyrant?--How ghastly pale you stand there, Roman blockheads. --Follow him, Romans. --His slaughtering knife is flashing. --Follow me, Genoese blockheads. --Down with Doria! Down! Down! (He strikes at the picture.)

323FIESCO (smiling at the Painter). Do you require a greater tribute? Your art has made a beardless dreamer of this old man.

324VERRINA (exhausted). Where am I? What’s become of them? Vanished, like soap bubbles? You here, Fiesco? Is the tyrant still alive, Fiesco?

325FIESCO. Can you see? Lost in looking, you’ve forgotten your eyes. You find this head of a Roman admirable? Not a bit of it. Look here at the girl. Her expression, how soft, how womanly! How much loveliness slips away through these fading lips! What ecstasy in her eyes’dying light!--Inimitable! God-like, Romano!--And this dazzling white bosom, how deliciously it swells on the last surge of breath! More such nymphs, Romano, and I shall kneel before your fantasies and send Nature a bill of divorce.

326BOURGOGNINO. Is that the effect you hoped for, Verrina?

327VERRINA. Take courage, Son. God has rejected Fiesco’s arm; he must be counting on ours.

328FIESCO (to the Painter). Yes, Romano, it’s your last work. Your best powers are exhausted. You’ll never touch another paintbrush. But in my admiration for the artist I forget to devour the work. I could stand here gaping and not even hear an earthquake. Take your picture away. To pay for this portrait of Virginia I would have to mortgage all Genoa. Take it away.

329ROMANO. Honour is the painter’s compensation. I present it to you as a gift. (He moves to leave.)

330FIESCO. Just a moment, Romano. (He paces the room majestically and seems to be reflecting on something of magnitude. He glances occasionally at the others, fleetingly and attentively; finally he takes the Painter by the hand and leads him before the picture.) Step here, painter. (Very proud and dignified.) You stand here so boldly because you simulate life on dead canvas and memorialize great deeds at small cost. You claim fame with such heat as poets muster, with fantasy’s marrowless puppet play, without heart, without the power to create warm-blooded deeds. You bring down tyrants on canvas--and are yourself a miserable slave? You liberate republics with a paintbrush--and cannot break your own chains? (Full-throated and commanding.) Go!--Your work is sleight of hand. --Let appearances yield to deeds. (Grandly, tossing over the picture.) I have done what you--only painted. (All are shaken. Romano carries off his picture, deeply startled.)

Scene 18

331Fiesco. Verrina. Bourgognino. Sacco. Calcagno.

332FIESCO (breaks a stunned silence). Did you think the lion was asleep just because he wasn’t roaring? Were you conceited enough to persuade yourselves that you alone felt Genoa’s chains? That you alone wanted to break them? Before you even heard them rattling in the distance, Fiesco had shattered them. (He opens the casket, removes a packet of letters that he spreads over the table top.) Here, soldiers from Parma--here, French money--here, four galleys from the Pope. What more is needed to flush a tyrant off his nest? What more can you think to add? (Frozen silence. He steps away from the table; with self-assurance.) Republicans! You’re more adroit at cursing tyrants than at blowing them up. (All except Verrina throw themselves, speechless, at Fiesco’s feet.)

333VERRINA. Fiesco!--I bend my spirit before yours. --But not my knee. You are a great man--but--Stand up, Genoese.

334FIESCO. All Genoa raged about that weakling Fiesco. All Genoa swore over the philandering cad Fiesco. Genoese! My philandering deceived that cunning despot, my madness concealed my dangerous good wits from your inquisitiveness. The stupendous work of the conspiracy lay swaddled in the wrappings of wantonness. Enough! In you Genoa knows me for who I am. My most monstrous desire has been satisfied.

335BOURGOGNINO (throws himself crossly into a chair). Do I count for nothing anymore?

336FIESCO. But let us move quickly from thoughts to deeds. All the machinery is in place. I can storm the city from land and sea. Rome, France, and Parma are giving me cover. The nobility is angry. I have the heart of the common man. I have lulled the tyrants to sleep. The Republic is ripe to be recast. We are done with mere luck. Nothing is lacking--But Verrina is lost in thought?

337BOURGOGNINO. One moment. I have a quick word that will rouse him faster than the trumpets of the Last Judgment. (He approaches Verrina and calls significantly.) Father, wake up! Your Berta is despairing!

338VERRINA. Who said that!--To work, Genoese!

339FIESCO. Consider now how we shall accomplish all this. Night has overtaken our first consultation. All Genoa lies sleeping. The tyrant falls into bed, exhausted by the day’s bad deeds. Wake and watch for both.

340BOURGOGNINO. Before we separate, let us consecrate our heroic alliance by an embrace. (They link arms and form a circle.) Genoa’s five greatest hearts here become one to decide Genoa’s greatest lot. (They press closer.) When the universal order falls apart and the pronouncement of the Last Judgment cuts the bonds of blood and love, this heroic five-fold blade will remain entire! (They separate.)

341VERRINA. When do we meet again?

342FIESCO. Tomorrow at noon I’ll hear your opinions.

343VERRINA. Tomorrow noon, then. Good night, Fiesco. Come, Bourgognino. I have something strange to tell you. (Both depart.)

344FIESCO (to the others). Go out by the rear gates, so that Doria’s spies don’t notice anything. (All depart.)

Scene 19

345Fiesco, pacing thoughtfully.

  • 50 Eternal Liar: The Devil; Jn 8, 44.

346FIESCO. What a commotion in my breast!---What a secret flight of thoughts. Like suspect brothers setting out on some black deed, who walk on tiptoe and fearfully turn their burning gaze to the ground--thus do wanton phantoms flit past my inner eye. --Stop! Stop! Let me hold a light up to your face. --A good thought steels a man’s heart and shows itself heroically in broad daylight. --Aha! I know you!--That’s the livery of the Eternal Liar.50--Be gone! (Pause, then more animated.) Republican Fiesco? Duke Fiesco?--Careful. --This is the steep precipice that closes off the borderland of virtue, where Heaven and Hell take separate ways. --Just here heroes have foundered and heroes have sunk, and the world besets their name with curses. --Here, too, heroes have hesitated, heroes have halted and then gone on to become demigods--(Gathering speed.) That they should be mine, the hearts of Genoa? That terrible Genoa should let itself be twitched first here, then there by lead strings in my hands?--Oh, the sly sin that conceals every devil behind an angel. --Disastrous ambition! Ancient enticement! In your embrace angels kissed away Heaven, and Death sprang from your labouring loins. (Shakes himself, shuddering.) You snared angels with your siren song of eternity. You fish for men with lures of gold, women, and crowns! (After a thoughtful pause, firmly.) To capture a diadem is great. To toss one aside is god-like. (Resolutely.) Perish, Tyrant! Be free, Genoa, and I (with devotion) your happiest citizen!


29 my chocolate: An anachronism; chocolate was introduced to Europe in the early seventeenth century.

30 The handkerchief is damp: Cf. Shakespeare Othello Act III, Scene 4.

31 coffee houses: An anachronism; coffee houses appeared for the first time in Europe outside the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century.

32 Hanswurst: The coarse and cunning figure of German comedies, particularly popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Gottsched notoriously attempted to banish him from the German stage in the 1730s. By the time Schiller wrote Fiesco the figure was no longer in evidence. His characteristic mark was a bald head. Here, Fiesco is threatening to go from harmless foolery (the fool’s cap) to truly dangerous mischief. The threat and the theatrical vocabulary anticipate his dramatic revelation of his purposes in Act II, Scene 18. It is an instance of the metaphorics of masking and unmasking, pretense and ostensible revelation, of playacting that pervades Fiesco.

33 .Via Balbi: One of the main streets of Genoa.

34 the boy Octavius: Julius Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, later called Augustus, whose accession marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Empire.

35 Florentine Venus: The Venus de’Medici, a life-size Hellenistic marble sculpture depicting the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. Garve thinks this is an anachronism, since it was first mentioned in 1584 (see Garve, 44). Schiller saw a copy of this statue in Mannheim.

36 Unrest once broke out among the citizens of the Animal Kingdom: Schiller’s play abounds with animal imagery. Fiesco’s address to the artisans, an Aesopian fable in which he easily convinces them of the pitfalls of democracy and the necessity of choosing a leader, is clearly inspired by Shakespeare’s use of the body politic metaphor, for example in Coriolanus (Act I, Scene 1), where Menenius calms the people with his Fable of the Belly.

37 criminal Rota: The highest appeals court for all judicial trials in the Catholic Church. The court was named Rota (after Ital. ruota, wheel) because the judges originally met in a round room to hear cases.

38 Nero: According to Suetonius, Nero set Rome alight, and while observing it sang a poem on the ruin of Troy in the tragic dress he used on the stage.

39 the Emperor Charles: The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was in Heilbronn at this time. Schiller has possibly used Bohemia to indicate that he was far away from Genoa.

40 black slate: Fiesco’s name creates a double entendre: Ital. lavagna = slate.

41 Levant: An area on the coast to the West of Genoa.

42 Spinola: A member of a prominent noble family of Genoa mentioned in Schiller’s sources; his role in Gianettino’s plans in Schiller’s play is unclear.

43 Darsena: Part of the inner harbour of Genoa.

44 Four galleys… Rome, Piacenza and France: Fiesco bought four galleys from the Pope and was in correspondence with the French ambassador in Rome. He also had the support of the Duke of Piacenza, the son of Pope Paolo III.

45 Loretto: The town of Loreto, a famous place of pilgrimage, inland from the Adriatic coast in the Marches region of central Italy.

46 beards of the circumcised: The circumcised are the Muslims, that is, the Turks, against whom Fiesco is supposedly fighting.

47 Endymion, chaste Luna: The shepherd prince Endymion, son of Zeus, was loved by the moon-goddess Selena (Luna) who descended nightly from heaven to consort with him.

48 Brutus: The reference may be to Marcus Junius Brutus, the assassin of Julius Caesar or to his ancestor, the founder of the Roman Republic, Lucius Junius Brutus.

49 Virginia and Appius Claudius: See above, Act I, ‘what did that old Roman do.’

50 Eternal Liar: The Devil; Jn 8, 44.


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