The empress

The empress
The empress

The empress breaks the overall rule that the participants alternate between clergy and laity. But the empress should rather be seen as a duplicate of her husband. She represents all married women, sorrowing over her husband, like the maid represents all unmarried women.

Ludewig SuhlThomas Nugent

    der Tod
Reicht ohngewegert her der Hände zartes Paar,
Und wandert fort mit mir zu jener grossen Schaar,
Doch spart die Thränenfluth des bittern Scheidens wegen
Man wird euch dem Gemahl bald an die Seite legen.

    VI. Death to the Empress.
Cease, cease, those pearly tears, me fair;
I'll ease your heart, and soothe your care.
See yonder multitude appear,
Behold with them thy lord, thy dear:
You soon must join him hand-in-hand,
And life resign at my command.


    die Kayserin
Ist Zeit und Stunde da, so schick ich mich darein,
Und will auch sterbend dir, mein Kayser aehnlich seyn
Kanst du dem Reiche dich nicht stets als Sonne zeigen
So muß mich auch der Tod zum Untergange neigen

    VII. The Empress's answer.
Welcome, thou messenger of peace,
Since that's the news, my joys increase.
Vain world, what is thy greatest splendor,
Now I have lost my life's defender?
Then mount, my soul, consider this;
You'll meet your love in realms of bliss.

The empress' speech addresses her husband. Suhl, Jacob von Melle and Nathanael Schlott write: »Kanst du dem Reiche dich nicht stets als Sonne zeigen« (can you not always show yourself to the kingdom as the sun?). The more recent sources (like Mantels) have another version, and this is the one that was written on the painting: »Du kontest dich der Welt nicht stets alß Sonne zeigen« (You couldn't always show yourself to the world as the sun).

In the next line Suhl makes the empress say, that she too must be bended by Death towards destruction (like Death just did unto her husband): »So muß mich auch der Tod zum Untergange neigen«, but everybody else agrees that it is the moon that should take a bow: »So muß sich auch der Mond zum Untergange neigen«.