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Enter BLEPHARO and SOSIA, at a distance.
What's this, Sosia? Great marvels are these that you are telling of. Do you say that you found another Sosia at home exactly like yourself? SOSIA
I do say so--but, hark you, since I have produced a Sosia, Amphitryon an Amphitryon, how do you know whether you, perchance, may not be producing another Blepharo? O that the Gods would grant that you as well, belaboured with fists, and with your teeth knocked out, going without your breakfast, might credit this. ForI, that other Sosia, that is to say, who am yonder, has mauled me in a dreadful manner. BLEPHARO
Really, it is wonderful; but it's as well to mend our pace; for, as I perceive, Amphitryon is waiting for us, and my empty stomach is grumbling. AMPH.
apart .----And why do I mention foreign legends? More wondrous things they relate to have happened among our Theban race1 in former days; that mighty searcher for Europa, attacking the monster sprung from Mars, suddenly produced his enemies from the serpent-seed; and in that battle fought, brother pressed on brother with lance and helm; the Epirote land, too, beheld the author of our race, together with the daughter of Venus2, gliding as serpents. From on high supreme Jove thus willed it; thus destiny directs. All the noblest of our country, in return for their bright achievements, are pursued with direful woes. This fatality is pressing hard on me--still I could endure disasters so great, and submit to woes hardly to be endured---- SOSIA
What's the matter? SOSIA
I don't know; I suspect something wrong. BLEPHARO
Look, please, our master, like an humble courtier3, is walking before the door bolted fast. BLEPHARO
It's nothing; walking to and fro, he's looking for an appetite4. SOSIA
After a singular fashion, indeed; for he has shut the door, that it mayn't escape out of the house. BLEPHARO
You do go yelping on. SOSIA
I go neither yelping on nor barking on; if you listen to me, observe him. I don't know why he's by himself alone; he's making some calculation, I suppose. I can hear from this spot what he says-- don't be in a hurry. AMPH.
apart . How much I fear lest the Gods should blot out the glory I have acquired in the conquest of the foe. In wondrous manner do I see the whole of my household in commotion. And then my wife, so full of viciousness, incontinence, and dishonor, kills me outright. But about the goblet, it is a singular thing; yet the seal was properly affixed. And what besides? She recounted to me the battles I had fought; Pterelas, too, besieged and bravely slain by my own hand, Aye, aye--now I know the trick; this was done by Sosia's contrivance, who as well has disgracefully presumed to-day to get before me on my arrival. SOSIA
to BLEPHARO . He's talking about me, and in terms that I had rather not. Prithee, don't let's accost this man until he has disclosed his wrath. BLEPHARO
Just as you please. AMPH.
apart . If it is granted me this day to lay hold of that whip-scoundrel, I'll show him what it is to deceive his master, and to assail me with threats and tricks. SOSIA
Do you hear him? BLEPHARO
I hear him. SOSIA
That implement pointing to AMPHITRYON'S walkingstick is a burden for my shoulder-blades. Let's accost the man, if you please. Do you know what is in the habit of being commonly said? BLEPHARO
What you are going to say, I don't know; what you'll have to endure I pretty well guess. SOSIA
It's an old adage--"Hunger and delay summon anger to the nostrils5." BLEPHARO
Aye, and well suited to the occasion. Let's address him directly--Amphitryon! AMPH.
looking round . Is it Blepharo I hear? It's strange why he's come to me. Still, he presents himself opportunely, for me to prove the guilty conduct of my wife. Why have you come here to me, Blepharo? BLEPHARO
Have you so soon forgotten how early in the morning you sent Sosia to the ship, that I might take a repast with you to-day? AMPH.
Never in this world was it done. But where is that scoundrel? BELPH.
See, there he is. Points at him. AMPH.
looking about . Where? BLEPH. Before your eyes; don't you see him? AMPH.
I can hardly see for anger, so distracted has that fellow made me this day. You shall never escape my making a sacrifice of you. Offers to strike SOSIA, on which BLEPHARO prevents him. Do let me, Blepharo. BLEPHARO
Listen, I pray. AMPH.
Say on, I'm listening-- gives a blow to SOSIA you take that. SOSIA
For what reason? Am I not in good time? I couldn't have gone quicker, if I had betaken myself on the oar-like wings6 of Dædalus. AMPHITRYON tries to strike him again. BLEPHARO
Prithee, do leave him alone; we couldn't quicken our pace any further. AMPH.
Whether it was the pace of a man on stilts or that of the tortoise, I'm determined to be the death of this villain. Striking him at each sentence. Take that for the roof; that for the tiles; that for closing the door; that for making fun of your master; that for your abusive language. BLEPHARO
What injury has he been doing to you? AMPH.
Do you ask? Shut out of doors, from that housetop pointing to it he has driven me away from my house. SOSIA
What, I? AMPH.
What did you threaten that you would do if I knocked at that door? Do you deny it, you scoundrel? SOSIA
Why shouldn't I deny it? See, he's sufficiently a witness with whom I have just now come; I was sent on purpose that by your invitation I might bring him to your house. AMPH.
Who sent you, villain? SOSIA
He who asks me the question. AMPH.
When, of all things? SOSIA
Some little time since-not long since--just now. When you were reconciled at home to your wife. AMPH.
Bacchus must have demented you. SOSIA
May I not be paying my respects to Bacchus this day, nor yet to Ceres7. You ordered the vessels to be made clean, that you might perform a sacrifice, and you sent me to fetch him pointing to BLEPHARO , that he might breakfast with you. AMPH.
Blepharo, may I perish outright if I have either been in the house, or if I have sent him. To SOSIA. Tell me--where did you leave me? SOSIA
At home, with your wife Alcmena. Leaving you, I flew towards the harbour, and invited him in your name. We are come, and I've not seen you since till now. AMPH.
Villanous fellow! With my wife, say you? You shall never go away without getting a beating. Gives him a blow. SOSIA
crying out . Blepharo! BLEPH. Amphitryon, do let him alone, for my sake, and listen to me. AMPH.
Well then, I'll let him alone. What do you want? Say on. BLEPHARO
He has just now been telling me most extraordi nary marvels. A juggler, or a sorcerer, perhaps, has enchanted all this household of yours. Do enquire in other quarters, and examine how it is. And don't cause this poor fellow to be tortured, before you understand the matter. AMPH.
You give good advice; let's go in, I want you also to be my advocate against my wife. Knocks at the door.
1 Our Theban race: He alludes to the story of Cadmus being sent by Agenor in search of Europa, and sowing the Dragon's teeth, from which arose a crop of armed men. See the Metamorphoses of Ovid, B. 3, l. 32.
2 With the daughter of Venus: He alludes to the tradition which stated that Cadmus and his wife Hermione retired to Illyria, and were there changed into serpents. See the Metamorphoses B. 4, l. 574.
3 An humble courtier: "Salutator." The "salutatores" were a class of men who in the later times of the Roman Republic obtained a living by visiting the houses of the wealthy in the morning, and hanging about the door to pay their respects, and to accompany the master when he went abroad. Many persons thus supported themselves, and thereby enacted a part not much unlike the Parasites among the Greeks.
4 Looking for an appetite: Cicero relates that Socrates used to walk very briskly in the evening, and when asked why he did so, replied that he was going to market for an appetite.
5 To the nostrils: From their expanding when a person is enraged, the nostrils were said to be peculiarly the seat of anger.
6 Oar-like wings: "Remigiis." Virgil, and Ovid also, with considerable propriety, call the wings of Dædalus "remigia," "tiers of oars," from the resemblance which the main feathers of the wing bear to a row of oars. The story of Dædalus and Icarus is beautifully told by Ovid, in the Art of Love Book 2, and in the Metamorphoses, Book 8.
7 Nor yet to Ceres: He wishes to see neither of these Deities, it being a common notion that those to whom they appeared became mad.
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