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Enter MENEDEMUS from his house.
to himself. I am quite aware that I am not so overwise, or so very quick-sighted; but this assistant, prompter, and director1 of mine, Chremes, outdoes me in that. Any one of those epithets which are applied to a fool is suited to myself, such as dolt, post, ass,2 lump of lead; to him not one can apply; his stupidity surpasses them all. Enter CHREMES, speaking to SOSTRATA within. CHREMES
Hold now, do, wife, leave off dinning the Gods with thanksgivings that your daughter has been discovered; unless you judge of them by your own disposition, and think that they understand nothing, unless the same thing has been told them a hundred times. But, in the mean time, why does my son linger there so long with Syrus? MENEDEMUS
What persons do you say are lingering? CHREMES
Ha! Menedemus, you have come opportunely. Tell me, have you told Clinia what I said? MENEDEMUS
Every thing. CHREMES
What did he say? MENEDEMUS
He began to rejoice, just like people do who wish to be married. CHREMES
laughing. Ha! ha! ha! MENEDEMUS
Why are you laughing? CHREMES
The sly tricks of my servant, Syrus, just came into my mind. MENEDEMUS
Did they? CHREMES
The rogue can even mould the countenances of people.3 MENEDEMUS
That my son is pretending that he is overjoyed, is it that you mean? CHREMES
Just so. Laughing. MENEDEMUS
The very same thing came into my mind. CHREMES
A crafty knave! MENEDEMUS
Still more would you think such to be the fact, if you knew more. CHREMES
Do you say so? MENEDEMUS
Do you give attention then? CHREMES
Just stop--first I want to know this, what money you have squandered; for when you told your son that she was promised, of course Dromo would at once throw in a word that golden jewels, clothes, and attendants would be needed for the bride, in order that you might give the money. MENEDEMUS
How, no? MENEDEMUS
No, I tell you. CHREMES
Nor yet your son himself? MENEDEMUS
Not in the slightest, Chremes. He was only the more pressing on this one point, that the match might be concluded to-day. CHREMES
You say what's surprising. What did my servant Syrus do? Didn't even he say any thing? MENEDEMUS
Nothing at all. CHREMES
For what reason, I don't know. MENEDEMUS
For my part, I wonder at that, when you know other things so well. But this same Syrus has moulded your son,4 too, to such perfection, that there could not be even the slightest suspicion that she is Clinia's mistress! CHREMES
What do you say? MENEDEMUS
Not to mention, then, their kissing and embracing; that I count nothing. CHREMES
What more could be done to carry on the cheat? MENEDEMUS
What do you mean? MENEDEMUS
Only listen. In the inner part of my house there is a certain room at the back; into this a bed was brought, and was made up with bed-clothes. CHREMES
What took place after this? MENEDEMUS
No sooner said than done, thither went Clitipho. CHREMES
I'm alarmed. MENEDEMUS
Bacchis followed directly. CHREMES
I'm undone! MENEDEMUS
When they had gone into the room, they shut the door. CHREMES
Well--did Clinia see all this going on? MENEDEMUS
How shouldn't he? He was with me. CHREMES
Bacchis is my son's mistress, Menedemus I'm undone. MENEDEMUS
Why so? CHREMES
I have hardly substance to suffice for ten days.5 MENEDEMUS
What! are you alarmed at it, because he is paying attention to his friend? CHREMES
His "she-friend" rather.6 MENEDEMUS
If he really is paying it. CHREMES
Is it a matter of doubt to you? Do you suppose that there is any person of so accommodating and tame a spirit as to suffer his own mistress, himself looking on, to---- MENEDEMUS
chuckling and speaking ironically. Why not? That I may be imposed upon the more easily. CHREMES
Do you laugh at me? You have good reason. How angry I now am with myself! How many things gave proof, whereby, had I not been a stone, I might have been fully sensible of this? What was it I saw? Alas! wretch that I am! But assuredly they shall not escape my vengeance if I live; for this instant---- MENEDEMUS
Can you not contain yourself? Have you no respect for yourself? Am I not a sufficient example to you? CHREMES
For very anger, Menedemus, I am not myself. MENEDEMUS
For you to talk in that manner! Is it not a shame for you to be giving advice to others, to show wisdom abroad and yet be able to do nothing for yourself? CHREMES
What shall I do? MENEDEMUS
That which you said I failed to do: make him sensible that you are his father; make him venture to intrust every thing to you, to seek and to ask of you; so that he may look for no other resources and forsake you.7 CHREMES
Nay, I had much rather he would go any where in the world, than by his debaucheries here reduce his father to beggary! For if I go on supplying his extravagance, Menedemus, in that case my circumstances will undoubtedly be soon reduced to the level of your rake. MENEDEMUS
What evils you will bring upon yourself in this affair, if you don't act with caution! You'll show yourself severe, and still pardon him at last; that too with an ill grace. CHREMES
Ah! you don't know how vexed I am. MENEDEMUS
Just as you please. What about that which I desire--that she may be married to my son? Unless there is any other step that you would prefer. CHREMES
On the contrary, both the son-in-law and the connection are to my taste. MENEDEMUS
What portion shall I say that you have named for your daughter? Why are you silent? CHREMES
I say so. CHREMES
Chremes, don't be at all afraid to speak, if it is but a small one. The portion is no consideration at all with us. CHREMES
I did think that two talents were sufficient, according to my means. But if you wish me to be saved, and my estate and my son, you must say to this effect, that I have settled all my property on her as her portion. MENEDEMUS
What scheme are you upon? CHREMES
Pretend that you wonder at this, and at the same time ask him the reason why I do so. MENEDEMUS
Why, really, I can't conceive the reason for your doing so. CHREMES
Why do I do so? To check his feelings, which are now hurried away by luxury and wantonness, and to bring him down so as not to know which way to turn himself. MENEDEMUS
What is your design? CHREMES
Let me alone, and give me leave to have my own way in this matter. MENEDEMUS
I do give you leave: is this your desire CHREMES
It is so. MENEDEMUS
Then be it so. CHREMES
And now let your son prepare to fetch the bride. The other one shall be schooled in such language as befits children. But Syrus---- MENEDEMUS
What of him? CHREMES
What? If I live, I will have him so handsomely dressed, so well combed out, that he shall always remember me as long as he lives; to imagine that I'm to be a laughing-stock and a plaything for him! So may the Gods bless me! he would not have dared to do to a widow-woman the things which he has done to me.8 They go into their respective houses.
1 Assistant, prompter, and director: The three terms here used are borrowed from the stage. "Adjutor" was the person who assisted the performers either by voice or gesture; "monitor" was the prompter; and "praemonstrator" was the person who in the rehearsal trained the actor in his part.
2 Dolt post, ass: There is a similar passage in the Bacchides of Plautus, 1. 1087. "Whoever there are in any place whatsoever, whoever have been, and whoever shall be in time to come, fools, blockheads, idiots, dolts, sots, oafs, lubbers, I singly by far exceed them all in folly and absurd ways."
3 Mould the countenances of people--Ver. 887. He means that Syrus not only lays his plots well, but teaches the performers to put on countenances suitable to the several parts they are to act.
4 Has moulded your son: "Mire finxit." He sarcastically uses the same word, "fingo," which Chremes himself employed in 1. 887.
5 Substance to suffice for ten days: "Familia" here means "property," as producing sustenance. Colman, however, has translated the passage: "Mine is scarce a ten-days' family."
6 His she-friend rather: Menedemus speaks of "amico," a male friend, which Chremes plays upon by saying amicae," which literally meant a she-friend, and was the usual name by which decent people called a mistress.
7 And forsake you: Madame Dacier observes here, that one of the great beauties of this Scene consists in Chremes retorting on Menedemus the very advice given by himself at the beginning of the Play.
8 Which he has done to me: Colman has the following Note: "The departure of Menedemus here is very abrupt, seeming to be in the midst of a conversation; and his re-entrance with Clitipho, already supposed to be apprised of what has passed between the two old gentlemen, is equally precipitate. Menage imagines that some verses are lost here. Madame Dacier strains hard to defend the Poet, and fills up the void of time by her old expedient of making the Audience wait to see Chremes walk impatiently to and fro, till a sufficient time is elapsed for Menedemus to have given Clitipho a summary account of the cause of his father's anger. The truth is, that a too strict observance of the unity of place will necessarily produce such absurdities; and there are several other instances of the like nature in Terence."
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