Vindice and Hippolito enter, with Vindice disguised as “Piato” the pander. Both are impressed with the convincing quality of Vindice’s disguise. Lussurioso enters, and Hippolito introduces him to Piato. He thanks Hippolito with some money before asking to be left alone with the pander.
Vindice finds it easy to play the role of another man because there is little of his own identity left—his only aim in life is revenge. By pretending to be a pimp, he can exploit Lussurioso’s lust as a weakness.
Vindice (as Piato) boasts of his achievements as a pander, telling Lussurioso he has been “witness to the surrenders of a thousand virgins.” Lussurioso is impressed by his knowledge of “strange lust.” Lussurioso explains that he has a task for Vindice, which, if carried out well, will be handsomely rewarded.
Lussurioso is whipped into a kind of climax, recognizing Piato’s tales of lusty accomplishment as evidence of a kindred spirit. It’s clear that Lussurioso wishes to use power and wealth to satisfy his sexual obsessions.
Lussurioso tells Vindice he is “past my depth in lust, And I must swim or drown.” He wants Vindice to procure for him a virgin “not far from court” who has so far rejected all of his advances (including offers of jewels). He hopes that Vindice can finally persuade her to agree to his sexual advances.
Underneath Lussurioso’s language is a subtle gesture towards sexual fluids. His specific request for a virgin implies that it’s not just sex he wants—he wishes to be the one who corrupts women for the first time, both as a demonstration of his power and heightening of his sexual interest. Not once does he consider whether women reciprocate his lust for them.
Vindice is eager to help Lussurioso and asks after the identity of the virgin. Much to his shock, it turns out to be his sister, Castiza. Lussurioso tells Vindice that if she continues to reject him Vindice should try to bribe her mother (Gratiana). Vindice vows to carry out the task well, and Lussurioso exits. Vindice rages about what he has to do. He restates his determination to kill Lussurioso, but also use his disguise to “try the faith” of his sister and mother. He exits.
Vindice’s efforts for revenge are already putting him in complicated ethical positions. If he refuses to persuade his sister to accept Lussurioso’s advances, he gives the game away and undermines his disguise; on the other hand, he risks corrupting his sister and making her lose the one thing she has—her chastity. Lussurioso’s task for Vindice now makes him a prime target for Vindice’s quest for revenge.