Antonio enters with another nobleman and Hippolito. Antonio’s wife has committed suicide by poison after her rape at the hands of Junior Brother. Antonio, distraught, reasons that she must have killed herself because of shame—he found her with her hand in a book over the words “Melius virtute mori, quam per dedecus vivere.”
Junior Brother’s actions reveal tragic consequences. The Latin translates to “it is better to die in virtue than live in disgrace.” Antonio’s wife felt she would never be able to move on from the rape and that death was the only option—and, in a way, her only expression of power. Her suicide makes his earlier defense of his actions as natural all the more incomprehensible.
Hippolito gives Antonio his heartfelt condolences, which Antonio accepts gratefully. Antonio explains the circumstances of the rape. It was during recent “revels”; Junior Brother pushed Antonio’s wife into “a throng of panders” and “fed the ravenous vulture of his lust.”
Here, lust is linked to hedonism. Antonio’s description emphasizes the animalistic behavior of Junior Brother and the devaluation of his wife—amidst the “revels,” she was nothing more than prey for predators.
Antonio vows to avenge his wife’s death, and asks the other men present to commit to this cause as well. They offer their support in his desire for revenge. Antonio praises the chastity of his wife, and all exit.
Interestingly this is the last the audience hears about Antonio’s desire to avenge his wife’s death—Junior Brother meets his end in a different way. It does, however, highlight the lack of faith in the judicial system and heighten the dramatic pressure of the play more generally.