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Enter MEGADORUS, at a distance.
to himself . I've communicated to many friends my design about this proposal; they speak in high terms of the daughter of Euclio. They say that it was discreetly done, and with great prudence. But, in my opinion, indeed, if the other richer men were to do the same, so as to take home as their wives, without dower, the daughters of the poorer persons, both the state would become much more united, and we should meet with less ill feeling than we now meet with; both, they, the wives, would stand in fear of punishment more than they do stand in fear of it, and we husbands should be at less expense than we now are. In the greater part of the people this is a most just way of thinking; in the smaller portion there is an objection among the avaricious, whose avaricious minds and insatiate dispositions there is neither law nor magistrate to be able to put a check upon. But a person may say this; "How are these rich women with portions to marry, if this law is laid down for the poor?" Let them marry whom they please, so long as the dowry isn't their companion. If this were so done, the women would acquire for themselves better manners for them to bring, in place of dowry, than they now bring. I'd make mules, which exceed horses in price, to become cheaper than Gallic geldings1. EUCLIO
aside . So may the Gods favour me, I listen to him with delight; very shrewdly has he discoursed on the side of economy. MEGADORUS
to himself . No wife should then be saying: "Indeed, I brought you a marriage-portion far greater than was your own wealth; why, it really is fair that purple and gold should be found for me, maid-servants, mules, muleteers, and lacqueys2, pages to carry3 compliments, vehicles in which I may be carried." EUCLIO
aside . How thoroughly he does understand the doings of the wives! I wish he were made Prefect of the manners of the women. MEGADORUS
to himself . Now, go where you will, you may see more carriages4 among the houses than in the country when you go to a farm-house. But this is even light, in comparison with when they ask for their allowance; there stands the scourer5, the embroiderer, the goldsmith, the woollen-manufacturer, retail dealers in figured skirts6, dealers in women's under-clothing7, dyers in flame-colour, dyers in violet, dyers in wax- colour8, or else sleeve-makers9, or perfumers10; wholesale linendrapers, shoemakers, squatting cobblers, slipper-makers; sandasmakers stand there; stainers in mallow colour stand there; hairdressers11make their demands, botchers their demands; boddice-makers12 stand there; makers of kirtles13 take their stand. Now you would think them got rid of; these make way, others make their demands; three hundred duns14 are standing in your hall; weavers, lace-makers15, cabinet-makers16, are introduced; the money's paid them. You would think them got rid of by this; when dyers in saffroncolours come sneaking along; or else there's always some horrid plague or other which is demanding something. EUCLIO
aside . I would accost him, if I didn't fear that he would cease to descant upon the ways of women; for the present I'll leave him as he is. MEGADORUS
When the money has been paid to all the nicknackmongers, for these saffron-coloured garments and stomachers, your wife's expenses, then at the last comes the tax-gatherer17 and asks for money. You go, your account is being made up with your banker18; the tax-gatherer waits, half-starved, and thinks the money will be paid. When the account has been made up with the banker, even already is the husband himself in debt to the banker, and the hopes of the tax-gatlherer are postponed to another day. These, and many others, are the inconveniences and intolerable expenses of great portions; but she who is without portion is in the power of her husband; the portioned ones overwhelm their husbands with loss and ruin. But see; here's my connexion by marriage before the house! How do you do, Euclio?
1 Than Gallic geldings: Mules were much coveted by the haughty names of Rome for the purpose of drawing their carriages. He says that if he had his way, such extravagance should not be encouraged, and mules should not be a bit more valuable than humble Gallic geldings.
2 And lacqueys: "Pedissequos." The "pedissequi" were a particular class of slaves whose duty it was to follow their master when he went out of doors. They were of the lowest rank in the slave family.
3 Pages to carry: The "salutigeruli pueri" were boys whose business it was to run on errands, and carry messages and compliments from one house to another. Hildyard suggests the rather refined translation of "boys to carry visiting-cards."
4 More carriages: "Plaustra" generally mean "carts" or "waggons," and perhaps, from his reference to the country, may have that signification here; though he has just been speaking of the luxury of the ladies, with their "vehicla," or "carriages."
5 The scourer: The "fullo" was a washer and cleaner of linen and woollen clothing with fuller's earth. As woollen dresses were chiefly worn by the Romans, they would, by reason of the perspiration produced by so hot a climate, require frequent purification. As the ancients, probably, were not acquainted with the use of ordinary washing soap, various alkalis were used in its place for the purpose of cleansing garments. It is not known whether the fuller's earth of the Romans resembled that used at the present day.
6 Dealers in figured skirts: "Patagiarii." These were persons who sold the "patagium," which was a broad band or hem on the tunics of the women, answering to the "clavus," or "broad stripe," on the clothes of the men. It may possibly have been the same as the "instita," or broad flounce, which distinguished the Roman matrons of reputable character.
7 Dealers in women's under-clothing: Indusiarii, "makers" or "sellers" of the "indusium," which is by some thought to have been the upper tunic worn by the Roman women; while others suppose the under tunic, worn next the skin, to have been so called, from "intus," "innermost."
8 Dyers in wax-colour: "Carinarii." Ovid, in the Art of Love, B. 3, l. 184, has the line, "Sua velleribus nomina cera dedit." "The wax has given its own name to the wool." The yellow colour resembling that of wax was much esteemed by the Romans.
9 Sleeve-makers: "Manulearii," "makers of the manulea." This was a long sleeve fitted on to the tunics of the Roman ladies, and was probably made to take on and off, for the purpose of keeping the arms and hands warm.
10 Perfumers: "Murobrecharii." One reading here is "murrobathrarii," "persons who give an agreable smell to women's shoes, by scenting them with myrrh." "Murobrecharii," which is adopted above, means "perfumers," or "persons who scented the clothes," from the Greek μνρὸν, "ointment," and βρέχω, "to moisten." Myrrh or nard was much used for this purpose. The unguents or ointments used by the ancients were very numerous. Among those used for the skin or the hair were "mendesium," "megalesium," "metoplum," "amaracinum," "Cyprinum," "susinum," "nardinum," "spicatuin," "jasminum," "rosaceum," and crocus oil, which last was considered the most costly. Powders were also used as perfumes; they were called "diapasmata." The Greeks used expensive perfumes from early times, and both Greeks and Romans were in the habit of carrying them about in small boxes of elegant workmanship. In the luxurious city of Capua, there was one great street, called the "Seplasia," which consisted entirely of shops in which ointments and perfumes were sold.
11 Hairdressers: "Ciniflones." The "ciniflones" were those persons whose duty it was to heat the "calamistrum," or "curling-iron," in woodashes (cinis), from which they took their name. In the time of Cicero, the youths of Rome generally had their hair curled, whence they were termed "calamistrati."
12 Boddice-makers: "Strophiarii." These were makers of the band or stomacher which was worn by the women, to correct excessive protuberance of the breast and stomach.
13 Makers of kirtles: "Semizonarii." These were makers or sellers of "semicinctia," which were little "aprons" or "kirtles" extending half way down the body.
14 Three hundred duns: "Phylacistæ," from the Greek φνλακιστης, "a keeper of a prison." He calls "duns" or importunate creditors by this name, from their keeping as close a watch on the front of a debtor's house as if they were gaolers.
15 Lace-makers: "Limbuarii." The makers of "limbus," "lace" or "fringes" for women's dresses.
16 Cabinet-makers: "Arcularil," makers of "arcuiæ," "caskets" or cabinets" for jewels and nicknacks.
17 The tax-gatherer: "Miles." Literally, "the soldier." This is explained as meaning that the soldier comes to receive the military tribute levied by the Tribunes, which was called "æs military." The word may, however possibly mean simply the officer of the magistrate by whom the tribute was levied, as "miles" has sometimes, though very rarely, that signification.
18 With your banker: The "argentarii" acted as bankers of deposit upon whom the depositors drew checks as with us.
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