The one doth call her his, the other his, Yet neither may possess the claim they lay. The father says 'She's mine.' 'O, mine she is,' Replies her husband: 'do not take away My sorrow's interest; let no mourner say He weeps for her, for she was only mine, And only must be wail'd by Collatine.'

'O,' quoth Lucretius, 'I did give that life Which she too early and too late hath spill'd.' 'Woe, woe,' quoth Collatine, 'she was my wife, I owed her, and 'tis mine that she hath kill'd.' 'My daughter' and 'my wife' with clamours fill'd The dispersed air, who, holding Lucrece' life, Answer'd their cries, 'my daughter' and 'my wife.'

Brutus, who pluck'd the knife from Lucrece' side, Seeing such emulation in their woe, Began to clothe his wit in state and pride, Burying in Lucrece' wound his folly's show. He with the Romans was esteemed so As silly-jeering idiots are with kings, For sportive words and uttering foolish things:

But now he throws that shallow habit by, Wherein deep policy did him disguise; And arm'd his long-hid wits advisedly, To check the tears in Collatinus' eyes. 'Thou wronged lord of Rome,' quoth he, 'arise: Let my unsounded self, supposed a fool, Now set thy long-experienced wit to school.

'Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe? Do wounds help wounds, or grief help grievous deeds? Is it revenge to give thyself a blow For his foul act by whom thy fair wife bleeds? Such childish humour from weak minds proceeds: Thy wretched wife mistook the matter so, To slay herself, that should have slain her foe.

'Courageous Roman, do not steep thy heart In such relenting dew of lamentations; But kneel with me and help to bear thy part, To rouse our Roman gods with invocations, That they will suffer these abominations, Since Rome herself in them doth stand disgraced, By our strong arms from forth her fair streets chased.

'Now, by the Capitol that we adore, And by this chaste blood so unjustly stain'd, By heaven's fair sun that breeds the fat earth's store, By all our country rights in Rome maintain'd, And by chaste Lucrece' soul that late complain'd Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife, We will revenge the death of this true wife.'

This said, he struck his hand upon his breast, And kiss'd the fatal knife, to end his vow; And to his protestation urged the rest, Who, wondering at him, did his words allow: Then jointly to the ground their knees they bow; And that deep vow, which Brutus made before, He doth again repeat, and that they swore.

When they had sworn to this advised doom, They did conclude to bear dead Lucrece thence; To show her bleeding body thorough Rome, And so to publish Tarquin's foul offence: Which being done with speedy diligence, The Romans plausibly did give consent To Tarquin's everlasting banishment.

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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