One day duke Perotheus, a friend both to Theseus and Arcite, petitions for Arcite’s freedom. Theseus agrees, on the condition that Arcite is banished permanently from Athens. If he were to return he would be killed.
Arcite returns to Thebes, miserable and jealous of Palamon who can still see Emelye every day from the tower. Palamon also grows more miserable than ever; he believes that Arcite will lay siege to Athens and take Emelye by force.
Some Time Later...
A winged messenger to the gods, Mercury, appears to Arcite in a dream and urges him to return to Athens. After all this time he has grown gaunt and frail from lovesickness. He realizes he could go to Athens in disguised and not be recognized.
He does so and takes on a job as a page in Emelye’s chamber under the pseudonym Philostrate. He gets close to her but it's not close enough.
One day in the woods, Arcite fashions garlands of leaves and mutters about the conflict in his heart.
Palamon, who had just escaped, hears his monologue while sneaking through the woods.