Ben Jonson

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Volpone: Act 3, Scene 8 Summary & Analysis

Mosca enters the room where Volpone has just tried to rape Celia. Volpone notes that Mosca is bleeding, and Mosca says that he has been wounded by Bonario. Volpone tells Mosca that Mosca has made him miserable, and Mosca says that he is miserable, too. Mosca didn’t think that Bonario would eavesdrop. Mosca says that if his heart could fix the situation, he’d pluck it out, and he asks if Volpone would like to hang him or slice his throat. Mosca says they should die like Romans since they lived like Greeks, and then someone knocks. Volpone suspects it’s officers come to arrest them, and Mosca tells him to go back to bed and resume pretending that he has a disease. He says that guilty men always dread what they deserve, but when he opens the door, he finds it’s Corbaccio.
“Dying like Romans” refers to committing suicide, as Romans were famous for killing themselves after failure. “Living like Greeks” refers to their life of leisure and pleasure. That the guilty suspect and dread the punishment they deserve reinforces the play’s notion that avariciousness sows the seeds for its own downfall and punishment.
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