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Enter STROBIOUS, ANTHRAX, and CONGRIO, with MUSIC GIRLS and PERSONS carrying provisions.
After my master had bought the provisions, and hired the cooks1 and these music- girls in the market-place, he ordered me to divide these provisions into two parts. LYCONIDES
By my troth, but you really shan't be dividing me2, I tell you plainly. If you wish me to go anywhere whole, I'll do my best. ANTHRAX
A very pretty and modest fellow, indeed3. As if, when you are a conger by name, you wouldn't like to be cut into pieces. LYCONIDES
But, Anthrax, I said that in another sense, and not in the one which you are pretending. STROBILUS
Now my master's going to be married to-day. ANTHRAX
Whose daughter is he to marry? STROBILUS
The daughter of this Euclio, his near neighbour here. For that reason he has ordered half of these provisions here to be presented to him--one cook, and one music-girl likewise. ANTHRAX
That is, you take one half to him, the other half home? STROBILUS
'Tis just as you say. ANTHRAX
How's that? Couldn't this old fellow provide from his own resources for the wedding of his daughter. STROBILUS
What's the matter? STROBILUS
What's the matter, do you ask? A pumice stone isn't so dry as is this old fellow. ANTHRAX
Do you really say that it is as you affirm? STROBILUS
Do be judge yourself. Why, he's for ever crying out for aid from Gods and men, that his property has gone, and that he is ruined root and branch, if the smoke by chance escapes out of doors through the rafters of his house. Why, when he goes to sleep, he ties a bag4 beneath his gullet. ANTHRAX
Why so? STROBILUS
That when he sleeps, he may lose no breath. ANTHRAX
And does he stop up the lower part of his windpipe5 as well, lest, perchance, he should lose any breath as he sleeps? STROBILUS
In that 'tis as fair that you should credit me, as it is for me to credit you. ANTHRAX
Why really, I do believe you. STROBILUS
But, further, do you know how it is? I' faith, he grieves to throw away the water when he washes. ANTHRAX
Do you think a great talent6 might be begged of this old fellow for him to give us, through which we might become free? STROBILUS
By my troth, if you were to ask it, he would never let you have the loan of hunger. Why, the other day, the barber had cut his nails7; he collected all the parings, and carried them off. ANTHRAX
I' faith, you do describe a miserably stingy wretch. LYCONIDES
But do you think that he does live so very stingily and wretchedly? STROBILUS
A kite, the other day, carried off his morsel of food; the fellow went crying to the Prætor8; there, weeping and lamenting, he began to request that he might be allowed to compel the kite to give bail. There are innumerable other things that I could mention, if I had the leisure. But which of you two is the sharper? Tell me. LYCONIDES
I--as being much the better one. STROBILUS
A cook I ask for, not a thief9. LYCONIDES
As a cook, I mean. STROBILUS
to ANTHRAX . What do you say? ANTHRAX
I'm just as you see me. LYCONIDES
He's a nine-day cook10; every ninth day he's in the habit of going out to cook. ANTHRAX
You, you three-lettered fellow11; do you abuse me, you thief? LYCONIDES
To be sure I do, you trebly-distilled thief of thieves12.
1 Hired the cooks: Allusion has been made, in the Notes to the Pseudolus, to the custom of hiring cooks in the markets on any special occasion. These were frequently slaves; and in such case, the greater portion of their earnings would go into the pockets of their masters. From the remark made in l. 265, we find that Congrio and Anthrax are slaves.
2 You really shan't be dividing me: He alludes to his own name, "Congrio," "a conger eel," which was cut up before it was cooked; and he means to say, that spite of his name, he will not stand being divided by Strobilus.
3 Modest fellow, indeed: Anthrax gives a very indelicate turn to the remark of Congrio; and the liberty has been taken of giving a more harmless form to the gross witticism of Anthrax. It may be here remarked, that he takes his name from the Greek word, signifying "a coal," a commodity, of course much in request with cooks.
4 He ties a bag: He probably intends to hint here that Euclio sleeps with his purse (which consisted of a "follis," or "leathern bag") tied round his throat, but implies that he not only wishes thereby to save his money, but his breath as well, by having the mouth of the bag so near to his own. Although Thornton thinks that the suggestion of Lambinus that "follem obstringit" means, "he ties up the nozzle of the bellows," is forced and far-fetched, it is far from improbable that that is the meaning of the passage. It may possibly mean that he ties the bellows to his throat.
5 Part of his windpipe: An indelicate remark is here made, which has been obviated in the translation.
6 A great talent: As the ancients weighed silver on paying a talent, the word "talentum" denoted both a sum of money and a weight. The great talent here mentioned, was the Attic talent of sixty minæ, or six thousand drachmæ.
7 Had cut his nails: From this passage we learn that barbers were in the habit of paring the nails of their customers; in the Epistles of Horace, B. 1, Ep. 7, l. 50, we are informed that idlers pared their nails in the shops to Rome.
8 To the Prœtor: The "Prætor" was a magistrate at Rome, who administered justice, and ranked next to the Consuls. There were eight Prætors in the time of Cicero. Two of them were employed in adjudicating "in causis privatis," "disputes concerning private property." One of these was called "Prætor urbanus," or "the city Prætor," who administered justice when the parties were "cives," or possessed the rights of Roman citizenship. The other was called "Prætor peregrinus," or "the foreigners' Prætor," who administered justice when both the litigating parties, or only one of them, were "peregrini," or "foreigners," and had not the right of Roman citizenship. The other six Prætors had jurisdiction in criminal cases, such as murder, adultery, and violence. The Prætors committed the examination of causes to subordinate judges, who were called "judices selecti," and they published the sentences of the judges so appointed by them. The Prætors wore the "toga prætexta," or "magisterial robe," sat on the "sella curulis," and were preceded by six lictors. Their duties lasted for a year, after which they went as governors to such provinces as had no army, which were assigned to them by lot. There they administered justice in the same way as they had done as Prætors at Rome, and were called by the name of "Proprætores;" though, as such governors, they were also sometimes called "Prætores." The office of Prætor was first instituted at Rome A.U.C. 388, partly because the Consuls, on account of the many wars in which the Romans were engaged, could no longer administer justice; partly that the Patricians might thereby have a compensation for admitting the Plebeians to a share in the Consulate. At first there was only one Prætor; Sylla made their number six; Julius Cæsar eight; and Augustus increased them to sixteen. It will not escape observation, that Plautus, as usual, mentions a Roman officer in a Play, the scene of which is supposed to be Athens.
9 Not a thief: Because "celer," "sharp" or "nimble," would especially apply to the requisite qualifications for an expert thief.
10 A nine-day cook: Congrio probably means to say that Anthrax is a cook who only gets employment on the "Nundinæ," when the influx of country-people into the city called the services of even the worst cooks into requisition, and the eaters were not of the most fastidious description. The "Nundinæ" (so called from "nonæ," "ninth," and "dies," "day") returned every eighth day, according to our mode of reckoning; but according to the Romans, who, in counting, reckoned both extreme, every ninth day, whence the name. On this day the country-people came into the city to sell their wares, make their purchases, hear the new laws read, and learn the news. By the Hortensian law, the "Nundinæ," which before were only "feriæ," or "holidays," were made "fasti," or "court-days," that the country-people then in town might have their lawsuits determined. Lipsius thinks that reference is here made to the feast called "novendiale," which was sometimes given to the poorer classes on the ninth day after the funeral of a person of affluence. Probably, the cooking of these banquets was not of the highest order; but the former seems the more probable explanation of the passage.
11 Three-lettered fellow: "Trium literarum homo;" literally, "man of three letters"--"F U R," "thief."
12 Thief of thieves: "Funtrifurcifer." Strictly speaking, the latter word signifies "thief three times over."
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