The Avocatori, the Notario, Bonario, Celia, Corbaccio, Corvino, and Commandatori all enter the courtroom. They note that Voltore is missing, but he soon enters with Volpone. While Volpone, Corbaccio, and Corvino all make confused asides to themselves, Voltore apologizes to the court and to the innocents (Bonario and Celia), saying that he lied before. Celia praises the justice of heaven, and Volpone says he has been caught in his own noose.
Voltore begins to reveal (what he thinks is) the truth, thereby restoring faith in the court system as a legitimate means of finding truth instead of another stage where reality is obscured. Volpone’s claim that he has been caught in his own noose (i.e., ruined by his own ruse) echoes his line early in the play: “What a rare punishment is avarice to itself!”
Voltore continues confessing, saying that his conscience is making him tell the truth. He then says that Mosca was behind everything. Volpone, still disguised, offers to go bring Mosca to court. Corvino says that Voltore is confused and distraught from not being named Volpone’s heir. Corvino says that Volpone is dead, and the Avocatori start to believe it, as the suitors place the blame entirely on Mosca.
It’s difficult to say if it’s conscience that makes Voltore confess, frustration with his loss of the fortune, or a desire for vengeance. Corvino doesn’t want the truth to come out, because he’s so embarrassed that he tried to whore his wife for the fortune.
At the same time, the Avocatori realize that if Mosca is truly the heir, then he is now a person of wealth and status. They request his presence in the court. Voltore continues trying to tell the truth, and he provides a written statement to the Avocatori. Corvino and Corbaccio know that their reputations are on the line, so they both say that Voltore is lying, and Corvino even says that Voltore is possessed.
Simply inheriting the fortune would completely change Mosca’s social status. While gold might not have all the magical medicinal effects described in the play, it does instantly increase social ranking. It’s interesting that this passage moves from a focus on spoken to written language, since written language is less improvisational, and in this case, it’s also more secretive. Usually the audience participates in dramatic irony because it knows all of the information, but here the audience does not get to see what Voltore has written.