Serse (Xerxes), the king, is in love with Romilda, Romilda loves Serse's brother, Arsamenes, who loves her back. Romilda's sister Atalanta also loves Arsamenes, so wants Serse to marry her sister, freeing up Arsamenes to marry her. Meanwhile, Serse is betrothed to Amastris, who is disguised as a soldier to keep tabs on him. Much confusion ensues, and despite Serse's best efforts, Romilda and Arsamenes have married, so Serse vents his frustration in this virtuoso aria. He calls on the Furies from Hades - his anger should cause earthquakes and an eclipse of the sun.