Author's Note: A follow up to The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (original ed.) by Sir Philip Sidney. I found Philanax's behavior in the trial of Pyrocles and Musidorus very upsetting and wanted him to get more of a punishment than Sidney gave (which was none at all). I also thought that, although the book indicates that the status quo is reinstituted at the end, Pamela and Philoclea (and to some extent Musidorus and Pyrocles as well) would be reluctant to give up the freedoms to which they had become accustomed. Even though Pyrocles and Philoclea have to wait for Euarchus to kick off before they get any power, Musidorus and Pamela go from the end of the book right into ruling their own country--which, given the characterization of each as equally stubborn, smart, and high-minded, I assume they do as partners. So even if they put on a good show for the old people, I see no reason why they shouldn't behave exactly as they please once they're in charge. The children are, no doubt, off being raised by their nannies.
(The 'Lex Talionis' Remix)
When old Basilius died for the second time, all of Arcadia mourned. The funeral was as lavish as a man of Basilius's rank and stature called for - and, what with the elephants, a bit more besides. Nobility from miles around came to honor the prosperous Duke of Arcadia - most notably the Duke's old friend King Euarchus of Macedon, whose son and heir Pyrocles had married the duke's youngest daughter, the fair Philoclea. And of course Philoclea's elder sister Pamela and her husband, Pyrocles's cousin, Prince Musidorus of Thessalia. The four young people stood together as Basilius was interred to his final rest, outshining all others in both their royal bearing and devoted sorrow.
Just off from the royal pavilion was Philanax, long the duke's trusted advisor, who had held the regency of Arcadia during that time as has been recorded elsewhere. Philanax, for many years the duke's right hand, was of late the greatest power in Arcadia, for after his wife's death Basilius has shown little interest in rule and his heirs were busy already in their own country, Thessalia that was Prince Musidorus's ancient home. This loyal servant found no pleasure in the increase of power, granted as it was only by the decline into death of the lord who he loved so much. Now he grieved most piously for the loss suffered both to himself and to the Country of Arcadia; and so enrapt was he that he scarcely noted the elaboracies of the funeral, rich as they were, except to assure himself that everything was in full order and properly conceived.
When all ceremonies were over and the crowds of mourners began to depart, Philanax was like to join them and return home to make his lamentations in private, but he was stayed by a royal messenger.
"Sir Philanax," said he, "My lord and lady request your presence."
He found them outside the mausoleum, whose entrance gaped open awaiting the command to close. The princess Pamela wore heavy skirts of Tyrian purple and her amber hair was caught back with a net of finest gold - yet the hair put the accompaniment to shame. Philoclea was dressed all in indigo trimmed with silver as radiant as the moon. Indeed, it was as tho' they were the sun and moon together, put aside their different spaces of sky and time to honor the duke their father. Their lords, Musidorus and Pyrocles that were, were no less radiant for they had dressed to match and stood to side. All together they were as the gods themselves come down in mortal form.
Philanax bowed handsomely. "My lords," he said. "My ladies. I offer my lamentations and prayers to you."
"Well met sir Philanax," said Pamela. "And are you assured that my lord father had died a natural death?"
Philanax replied, "My lady, I do not know to what you refer. Your blessed father lived a long and prosperous life - and I would he were among us still, but no man, only god, determines the span of any life on this earth."
"A jest, good Philanax," said Musidorus. "Basilius goes this time to the grave in peace."
Philanax replied, "Forgive me my lord; I do not understand my lady's humors. My heart bursts with sorrow on this most solemn day."
"Forgiven and forgotten," said Pamela. "You have been my father's most loyal of advisors, his most trusted and respected friend. I would not keep you longer from your heartache, excepting a question to which I must know the answer. Many years you have spent in deathless loyalty to my father; upon the sad fact of his death I wonder to whom your loyalty now belongs?"
Philanax bowed again. "My lady, a friend's loyalty may remain fixed even beyond the grave; an advisor's loyalty is turned to prayers; and a vassal's loyalty I may afford him still, in the form of his appointed heir, our new duke, Lord Musidorus."
"I am not Basilius's child," Musidorus said.
Said Philanax, "Are you not a son of Arcadia by the alliance of marriage? Are you not made heir by the treble will of lord, land, and god?"
"You are as well spoken and full of wit as I have ever known you," said Musidorus. "But it is to be regretted that you maintain constancy even in the face of insurmountable change."
Philanax said, "I do not understand your meaning, my lord. For constancy and loyalty are of a pair, and both are pillars of the law, order, and peace that this land has maintained for so long."
"Like the oak tree, a pillar may break in the gale-wind of change," said Musidorus, "and even the strongest stones are worn away by time. But the reed, tho' it bends before the wind remains loyal to the bank wherein its roots grow, and renews itself year upon year without perturbation."
Philanax said, "A reed, my lord, cannot support the house of state, nor can ten reeds do so. But ten pillars, tho' one may be broken, will still stand erect and bear the load of the broken one among them. And the honor of all ten remain."
"A thousand reeds under the hand of a good architect serve better than ten columns in the hand of a poor one," said Pamela gravely. "And however honorable, law and justice are not served by ruined monuments, as is well known in Egypt. You forget, Philanax, that we four know you of old and have old scores to settle. The constancy and obedience which served you so well under my father's guiding hand once led you to a miscarriage of justice: in your love and loyalty you falsely accused these princes on the flimsiest of excuses and contrived to shed their innocent blood; moreover, you failed to obey the laws of rule which should have told you I was your princess and instead locked me and my innocent sister away and refused our testimony in support of our husbands - denied even the existence of our words in the arena over which we were destined by blood to rule. No, Philanax, do not implore to my lord Musidorus - I am your Princess and my father's heir. Only by my blood does my husband become Duke of Arcadia, just as by his I am duchess in Thessaly.
"You stand here accused by we four of crimes against your natural sovereign and of showing in ensuing years no sign of growth or repentance; you are accused and found guilty. Here is you punishment: your wife and daughter shall be seized and taken to the service of vestal nuns, where they shall remain prisoner all the rest of their natural lives. Of your two sons (for you have a convenient number of family), the eldest shall be beheaded and the younger thrown from a sea tower onto the rocks below. Should he survive, our magnanimity shall allow him to continue alive, in deference to the whims of fate. For yourself, dear Philanax, you may comfort yourself two-fold: first, that you will not have to live long after your family's destruction, and second, with the knowledge that you will spend your last moment with he whom you loved so dearly that you were willing to destroy his line in revenge. -- But it seems you have taught us something after all."
Philanax was astonished. "My lord Musidorus, surely this is another jest!"
"I would not interfere if I desired to," said Musidorus. "These are my Lady's kingdoms and you her vassal - she is the first treasure of Arcadia, tho' you have always looked upon her as if she were a common stone. But as it stands I do not even wish to interfere - not only for my lady's sake or even my own, but for my dear friend Pyrocles, whose life I value above my own. Your machinations not only nearly caused his innocent death, but you would have placed his blood on the hands of his own father, my uncle - you would have bound Euarchus by honor of law to commit a most grevious sin, one which would have tainted that family for generations. Two countries, then, nearly destroyed through loyalty and your love of order."
Philanax saw then that there was no hope--even the soft, sad eyes of Philoclea reflected only forbearance. At Pamela's imperious hand the guards seized him and threw him into Basilius's unclosed tomb. The last things he saw before the stone door sealed him into darkness were the sanguine backs of the Duke and Duchess of Arcadia, going to their thrones.
"Lex Talionis" means "eye for an eye" in Latin.