All in the Family - A Pastoral Romance

Written by Crispin Sexi and drastically revised by Joan Sutton

See also the performance notes.

Jupiter (disguised as a shepherd)
Mercury (disguised as a messenger)
Venus (disguised as a shepherdess)
Mars (disguised as a shepherd)
Juno (disguised as a shepherdess)


Narrator: The king of gods, the mighty Jupiter,
t'was oft his wont unto us to descend
from up on high, that great Olympian mount,
to tread the soil of lesser mortal lands.
Once here, be sure that epic deeds were wrought
by he, who dealt no minor happenstance.
Be it a torturous quest he will bestow?
Or vengeance for some slight he has incurred?
Nay, Jove's attending Earth must surely mean
his eye'd been captured by a comely maid.

Jupiter: It is a treat to stride the realms of men,
again more so, for here I dally may
with one Phyllis, a certain shepherdess
I know and mean to know her all the more.
But best I go disguised; for Juno's wrath
be my reward were she to somehow twig
my dalliance while she was at her temple,
attending her devoted flock this day.
Methinks I'll go in humble shepherd's guise;
My Juno will not think of that.

[Exit. Enter Mercury, disguised.]

Mercury: Pray, why should I convey this amorous note
from one poor lovesick wretch unto her love.
This trivial task befits me not at all.
I must not be at Cupid's beck and call.
Fie! I'll hand this page to the nearest man
I see, and spoil that rotten Cupid's plans.
Ah, look what comes!

[Enter Jupiter, disguised]

Hie, shepherd! Yea, I hail thee!
I was sent to find the shepherd here,
Urged to make haste, to deliver this mail,
from a maid to her love.
I think that you must be the one I seek.

Jupiter: Aye, I am a shepherd, and your eyes
do not fail you, that I am in these lands.
But this maid of whom you speak..?

Mercury: A shepherdess.

Jupiter: This shepherdess..?

Mercury: Of great beauty.

Jupiter: Of great beauty..?

Mercury: Flowing locks, and palest skin,
A rose of innocence blushes on her cheeks.
Her bosom...

Jupiter: Yes, that one. You'd best show me this letter.

[Mercury hands over a letter, Jupiter reads it aloud while Mercury gives him some privacy.]

"Unto sweet Galeo, who fills my heart
with dreams and longing, with joy and song,
I Margaret send you warmest greetings.
We met but fleetingly and yet
I cannot put you from my thoughts.
Please write that we might speak, and soon,
lest my poor heart break in twain
and burst my breast in anguish dire and pain."

It strikes my thoughts in reading this maid's pain,
A shepherd loves she, shepherd now am I.
Though not my intended amaryllis,
Let her not pine for wanting of a shepherd.

[Aloud] Yes, Galeo, and I am he! I prithy,
good messenger, if thou wilt return a reply,
and with such good speed as you found me,
deftly find my Margaret and deliver it to her hand?

Mercury: My lord could give no greater pleasure.

Jupiter: Then wait but a moment, as I pen my thoughts.

[Writes a letter]

Without delay, I think it best we meet
in Sholland's woods this very eve.
She'll know the place; A rude hut marks it.

[Hands over letter]

And here a token as befits the task.

Mercury: Thy token meet is to thy station.
I shall be fleet of foot and waste no time.

[Exeunt both in different directions]


[Enter Venus, disguised]

Venus: This longest day, this tiresome wait.
Where is that boy with news of my letter?
But here, who comes?

[Enter Mercury]

Mercury: Tasked by a boy, with delivering thy note,
and now I come with one such in return.

[Hands over letter]

Venus: I thank thee for thy speed. That vexing lad!
I warrant he is at the butts again!


Such prose writes he, my Galeo, and begs to meet tonight.
No time to waste, make haste to meet my glee.

[Exit Venus. Enter Mars, disguised]

Mars: Hie my dear fellow, saw you a shepherdess hereabouts?

Mercury: Aye, she went yonder just now,
What is she to thee?

Mars: She is my Margaret, and I her Galeo,
Or so I hope, for we have met but once.

Mercury: Ah. Your Margaret and her Galeo.

Mars: Nay, I who am Galeo. Margaret is she.
This way then, I must go to meet my glee.

[Exit Mars]

Mercury: What slip, when guarded best I should have been.
One minuscule mistake by me and my
Undoing Cupid's plan will be undone.
They go for gleeful meeting; thereto go I.



[Enter Jupiter and Juno, both disguised]

Jupiter: My Phyllis, mine own sweet amaryllis.

Juno: My Marcus, I adore thee.

Jupiter: And yet I feel such sorrow in my heart,
for I must leave thee be and tend my flock.

Juno: So sweet this time and yet so brief?

Jupiter: Know you this season's not an idle one,
and you have your own duties to attend.

Juno: Ah yes, my sheep. Tis true, tis true.

Jupiter: But I shall come again, and soon.

Juno: I live for then.

[Exit Jupiter]

He goes. Oh what pursuit shall keep me now?
I need not hurry to my flock.

[Enter Mars]

Mars: I have not found my Margaret thus far.
I think perhaps that fellow spake me false.

[Sees Juno]

Dear lady, hast thou seen another pass?

Juno: No man has passed me all the livelong day.

Mars: Tis a shepherdess I seek.

Juno: Tis a shepherdess I am, seek you me?

Mars: You are most fair, and kindly to mine eye,
And yet I do not think it you I seek.

Juno: Have you sheep in need of tender care?

Mars: None could give such care as your good self.
But I must own to having lost my sheep.

Juno: Then you and I together now could seek,
Mayhap we will encounter hidden beasts.

Mars: I think they might be hid in yonder wood.
Therein perchance are many secret glades.



[Enter Venus]

Venus: How sweet, this doubtless be the place described
and Galeo must soon attend me here.

[Enter Jupiter]

Jupiter: My Margaret, is't you?

Venus: Galeo? You seem changed...

Jupiter: How so? Perhaps my stance is otherwise,
no doubt it is your love supports me so.
My visage may be cleaner than it was,
for cleanliness is next to godliness.
The letter you received, for here you are.
Let that be the proof that you require.
Were I other than your shepherd Galeo,
I could not have writ the letter nor be here.

Venus: Your letter rhymed requited love,
And so affected by it, here I came.

Jupiter: Then let us cast aside our worldly woes
And straightway enter into an embrace.

Venus: So masterful! You cannot be denied.

[Enter Juno and Mars]

Mars: I fear this wood conceals no sheep at all.
My shepherdess I give up all pretence,
I have already found that which I seek.
Come hither; let us hold each other.

[Mercury enters]

Mercury: Galeo come back!

Juno: Galeo, methinks you lost no sheep,
and -
[Juno sees Jupiter]

Mars: Marcus?

Jupiter: Phyllis!

Venus: Marcus? And what of Galeo?

Mars: Margaret!

Venus: Galeo!

Mars: By Jove!

Jupiter: Durst thou invoke me? This hapless now?

Juno: Jupiter?
My Marcus is my spouse?
And here I find you with a woman bold?

Venus: No woman I, but goddess of desire;
Olympians know Venus is my name.

Mars: Juno? Mum? And I had all but...
Oh, it sickens me to think!

Jupiter: Mars? Is that you lad?
And Juno said she tended to her flock;
I never guessed you meant as shepherdess!
Gadzooks, is anyone here mortal?

Mercury: Mercury am I. When all is said,
I thought that I was spoiling Cupid's plan.
"Ooh I only do arrows" quoth he,
And gave to me that letter to convey.

Venus: That churlish boy!

Mars: My own mother!

Juno: Tis of no consequence, for we are gods.
You know that Jove is brother too to me.

Mars: Ergh.

Jupiter: Now thinking on it, I recall the one
who pointed fairest “Phyllis” out to me.
Whilst gazing down by merry chance
From up on high, our heavenly mount.
Our Cupid has a wicked sense of fun.
Yet he will suffer when I find him. Come!


Narrator: And so resolved, these mighty gods depart
our realm and gleeful pastimes of the heart.
Mercury eschewing games of lust,
Juno and Venus to settle their distrust,
Mars to war in climates strange and wild,
And Jove to sorely smite the archer child.
Well known it is, that gods are seldom friends;
And now 'tis here our humble tale ends.


Copyright Jaysen Ollerenshaw 2009. Free use within the SCA.

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