It’s a few days later, and Camillo is now dead. At the court, Monticelso and Francisco try to figure out how they can connect Vittoria to his death—they are certain she is at fault, but they only have circumstantial evidence. Monticelso brings in various ambassadors and a lawyer to hear her case. The lawyer advises that if they can prove Vittoria and Brachiano “have but kissed one another,” they can prove that Vittoria is guilty of her husband’s murder.
The hypocrisy of Renaissance gender roles becomes especially clear here: though Vittoria and Brachiano are partners—and Brachiano is more responsible for the murders than his lover—Vittoria will take the fall because she is a woman. Indeed, the play suggests that lust is akin to murder.
Before the ambassadors show up, Marcello and Flamineo engage in a heated brotherly debate. Marcello is loyal to Francisco, and he does not support his sister’s relationship with Brachiano. By contrast, Flamineo again emphasizes that he will do anything for material gain. Marcello reveals that he knows Francisco was involved in Camillo’s death, though he himself abstained from the plot.
Money and power prove stronger than even familial bonds, as Marcello and Flamineo are now split along the same lines as the wealthy men they serve. Marcello also shows himself to be more virtuous and straightforward than his dishonest brother.
Ambassadors from France, Spain and England arrive, and the lawyer flatters all of them. In as aside to the audience, Flamineo reveals all of the lawyer’s flattery to be bogus and instead makes fun of each ambassador.
Flattery, Flamineo suggests, is its own form of deception: to raise his own status, the lawyer gives out phony compliments galore (in what is meant to be a highly comic moment).