Lussurioso and Hippolito enter, with the former praising the latter’s judgment in finding him a good pander. Vindice enters, and Hippolito leaves the two of them alone on Lussurioso’s instruction.
Lussurioso is lusty, but he is also dim-witted, falling for every part of Vindice and Hippolito’s increasingly convoluted plan.
Lussurioso desperately requests news about whether Vindice has broken Castiza’s resolve: “Hast thou beguiled her of salvation, / And rubbed hell o’er with honey? Is she a woman?” Vindice explains that Castiza is still resistant, but that Gratiana may be able to persuade her otherwise—and that Gratiana has said she would be happy to receive Lussurioso at their house.
Another unedifying image that mixes suggestively sexual imagery (honey) with biblical content (hell), contributing further to the sense of moral destabilization and the absence of religious authority. Lussurioso himself links the idea of salvation with chastity, backing up the idea that a woman’s honor is the most significant virtue/power that she holds.
Lussurioso goes to leave, and Vindice wonders whether he should kill him there and then. He decides he’d rather “pierce him to his face” when Lussurioso’s “veins are swelled with lust.” Vindice deplores his mother but vows to “guard” his sister’s “honour.”
Vindice, alone with Lussurioso, has the perfect opportunity to kill him—but this wouldn’t be the poetic and poignant revenge that he seeks (and also might disrupt his plans for his main target, the Duke). “Pierce” and “swollen” pile further sexual imagery on what has come before. Vindice sees his sister’s honor as his to guard, reinforcing the sense of male dominance in the play’s world.
Hippolito comes back with news—he has heard about the affair between Spurio and the Duchess. Spurio enters with his servants; Vindice and Hippolito hide in order to eavesdrop. Spurio learns from his servant that Lussurioso is about to travel to have his way with Castiza, and vows to kill Lussurioso in the act.
Word gets around quickly at the court, especially when there’s an illicit affair involved. Spurio adds another revenge motive to the mix. Like Vindice, Spurio has a particular way he wants to kill Lussurioso: while the latter is having sex. This is one of numerous instances in which lust and death are closely linked together.
Spurio and his servants exit. Vindice relishes the thought of the Duke being made a “cuckold.” Lussurioso comes back, requesting Piato’s (Vindice’s fake identity) presence on his trip to Castiza. Vindice and Hippolito toy with the idea of killing Lussurioso immediately, but instead inform him of Spurio and the Duchess’s sexual relationship.
A cuckold is a man whose wife has had an affair, considered an especially embarrassing status in 16th/17th centuries. Here is also another example of the deferring of revenge. This time it’s because Hippolito and Vindice hope that, in informing Lussurioso of the Duchess and Spurio’s affair, they will further destabilize the power structure of the court. It also distracts Lussurioso from visiting Castiza. There is an anarchic streak in their actions, born of Vindice’s sole purpose in life—revenge.