The Story of 'Castor and Pollux'
ACT ONE: In Sparta's royal palace, the princess Phoebe and her companion Cleone are gossiping about the impending marriage of Pollux and the young woman Telaira. It's a dicey situation, because Pollux's half-brother Castor is also in love with Telaira. But Pollux's feelings take precedence because he's the son of the god Jupiter, while Castor's father was a mortal. To make things more complicated, Phoebe is also in love with Castor. Cleone thinks the upcoming wedding will end all the romantic intrigue, but Phoebe has other plans. She wants to enlist a friend of hers, Lyncaeus, to kidnap Telaira.
In the second scene, Telaira is alone, frustrated with her troublesome love life. Before long, she's joined by both Castor and Pollux. Despite his love for Telaira, Castor is willing to stand aside so she can marry his brother. Castor is also preparing to leave the city altogether. That way, Pollux can marry Telaira without any scandalous rumors. But Pollux defers to Castor, saying he'd rather see Castor and Telaira married than lose his brother altogether.
Still, all this good will goes to waste. As people are celebrating the union of Castor and Telaira, word comes that Lyncaeus and his men are on their way to abduct Telaira. The Spartan men take up arms to protect her. In the conflict, Castor is killed.
ACT TWO: Alone in a garden near Castor's mausoleum, Telaira is in mourning when she's joined by Phoebe, who has a proposition. Phoebe thinks she can parlay her royal position into a favor from the gods, and persuade them to bring Castor back to life. But she has one condition. If Castor is returned from the underworld, Telaira must renounce her love for him, leaving Phoebe free to have Castor for herself. Telaira makes the deal.
Word comes that Pollux has finally triumphed in the battle with Lyncaeus — much to Phoebe's dismay. When Pollux arrives, Telaira takes him aside and tells him about Phoebe's offer. He says he can do Phoebe one better. Because Pollux is one of Jupiter's sons, he can appeal directly to Jupiter for Castor's life. When Phoebe hears this, she actually likes the plan. Her scheme had counted on Pollux being out of the picture. Now that he's back, he might not approve.
Pollux, confident that his brother will soon be back among the living, orders a lavish celebration.
ACT THREE: In a grand scene at the Temple of Jupiter, Pollux makes an offering on behalf of his dead brother. Before long, the High Priest of Jupiter emerges with his minions, telling the assembled Spartans to prepare for the god's arrival.
Jupiter appears, and Pollux makes his appeal — saying that without his brother, his own life means nothing. Jupiter refuses to break the laws of Hades. Pollux, as the son of a god, is immortal. But Castor is the son of two humans, and his death cannot be reversed. Pollux declares that if that's the case, he'll just have to go into the underworld himself to find Castor. Jupiter says that's fine with him, but if Castor is released, Pollux must give up his immortality and remain in Hades.
When Pollux actually agrees to this, Jupiter decides to show him what he'll be leaving behind, and calls on all the Celestial Pleasures to provide some entertainment. But Pollux is determined to go through with his rescue plan, and save his brother.
ACT FOUR: At the gates of Hades, we again meet Phoebe, who is still plotting to claim Castor for herself. As she appeals to the spirits of the underworld, she's interrupted by the god Mercury, who is accompanying Pollux. Mercury says Pollux is now the only one who can rescue Castor. With Mercury's help, and Phoebe's encouragement, Pollux defies the demons of Hades and enters the underworld.
The scene changes to the Elysian fields, where the blessed spirits are welcoming Castor. Pollux arrives, and the brothers are reunited. At first Castor is joyful, but then Pollux tells him about the bargain he made: If Castor is released, Pollux must stay behind. And it turns out there's more to the deal. If Castor refuses the arrangement, Telaira will also die. Reluctantly, Castor agrees to leave the underworld, allowing his brother to stay behind. He says goodbye to Pollux, but vows to return for him.
ACT FIVE: In Sparta, Telaira is overjoyed to have Castor back again — until he tells her the reunion is only temporary. They've had their chance to be together, and now he's going back to Hades to exchange himself for Pollux, who also loves her.
Suddenly there's a clap of thunder, Jupiter appears, and Telaira faints in terror. Jupiter frees Castor from his vow to rescue Pollux, and grants Castor immortality. Before long, Pollux also appears. The only one who will die is Phoebe, who has been condemned for her amorous scheming. Jupiter praises the two, loving brothers, and the sky opens. The sun appears in his chariot, and Castor and Pollux take their symbolic places in Jupiter's heavenly palace.
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