And lords and ladies in their lives
Have read it for restoratives:
The purpose is to make men glorious;
Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
If you, born in these latter times,
When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
And that to hear an old man sing,
May to your wishes pleasure bring,
I life would wish, and that I might
Waste it for you, like taper-light.
This Antioch, then: Antiochus the great
Built up this city for his chiefest seat,
The fairest in all Syria;
I tell you what my authors say:
This king unto him took a feere,
Who died and left a female heir,
So buxom, blithe, and full of face,
As heaven had lent her all his grace;
With whom the father liking took,
And her to incest did provoke.
Bad child, worse father, to entice his own
To evil, should be done by none.
By custom what they did begin
Was with long use account no sin.
The beauty of this sinful dame
Made many princes thither frame,
To seek her as a bed-fellow,
In marriage pleasures play-fellow:
Which to prevent he made a law,
To keep her still and men in awe,
That whoso ask'd her for his wife,
His riddle told not, lost his life:
So, for her many a wight did die,
As yond' grim looks do testify.
What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify.