mounted on his Ass.
'Tis a wonder if the spectators on the benches this day don't hiss, and cough, and make a snorting noise at this ridiculous sight, furrow their brows, and, with cries with one consent2, shout all aloud, and mutter imprecations. Hardly in their youth can beardless actors, or mimics with their beards plucked out, find room upon the stage. Why comes forth this aged and lethargic go-between, who is borne upon the ass's back? Listen, I pray, and give me your attention, while I tell you the name of this quiet Comedy3. 'Tis proper for you to make silence for a Divinity. It befits not those to use the resources of the voice, who come here not to exclaim, but to be spectators. Give me attentive ears; but not into my hands I mean; I wish my voice4, as it flies, to strike these vacant ears. What do you fear? Are those blows more hurtful which open what is shut5, or which close what is open? You're very kind; the inhabitants of heaven do love you deservedly. There is profound silence--even the children are still--and now, attend to a new-come messenger, on a new errand. Who I am--why I am come to you--I'll tell you in a few words; at the same time, I'll disclose to you the name of this Comedy. Now, behold, I shall tell you what you wish to know; do you then give me your attention. I am a God of Nature6, the foster-father of most mighty Bromius7, him who, with a female army8, gained a kingdom. Whatever about him renowned nations relate, some part, at least, has been accomplished by my advice. That which pleases me is never displeasing to him. 'Tis right if one father9 another father does obey. Ass-borne do the Ionian multitudes10 style me, because I am borne on an ass11 for my conveyance. Who I am, you understand: if you understand, allow me now to tell the name of this quiet play; at the same time, you may learn why I have come to you. Philemon12 formerly produced a play in Greek; this, those who speak the Greek language call "Evantides13;" Plautus, who speaks the Latin, calls it "Bacchides." 'Tis not to be wondered, then, if hither I have come. Bacchus sends to you the Bacchides--the Bacchanalian Bacchanals. I am bringing them unto you. What! Have I told a lie? It don't become a God to tell a lie; but the truth I tell--I bring not them; but the salacious ass, wearied with its journey, is bringing to you three, if I remember right. One you behold; see now, what on my lips I bring--to wit, two Samian sisters14, Bacchanalians, merry Courtesans, born of the same parents, at one time, at a twin-birth; not less alike than milk to milk, if you compare it, or water to water; were you to see them you would think them halved15; so much would you confuse your sight, that you would not be able to distinguish which was which. What remains you long to hear. Now give attention: the story of this Play I will disclose. What country Samos is, is known to all; for seas, lands, mountains, and islands, have your legions16 made easy of access. There, Sostrata bore to her husband, Pyrgoteles Pyrocles17, twin daughters at one birth; and it pleased them, being initiated at the triennial festival18 of Bacchus, to call after his name the damsels of which they were the parents. The parents, as often happens, gave a turn to19 their future fortunes. A Captain carried one of them with him to Crete. The other of the twins sailed for Athens20. As soon as Mnesilochus, the son of Nicobulus, beheld her, he began to love her, and frequently paid her visits. Meantime, his father sent the youth to Ephesus, to bring back thence some gold, which he himself, some time before, had deposited with Archidemides, an ancient friend of his, an aged Phœnician. When, for two years he had stayed at Ephesus, he received the sad news that Bacchis was gone from Athens, for some sailors of his acquaintance sent him word that she had set sail. On this, he writes a letter to Pistoclerus, his only friend, the son of Philoxenus, entreating him to seek the fugitive with care and earnestness. While Pistoclerus is devoting his services to his friend, the twin-sisters, who have just returned to Athens, arouse a passion in the seeker. The one wins Pistoclerus for herself; the other longs for the coming of Mnesilochus. What wonder if two bewitching, merry, pretty Bacchantes, should attract to themselves two unfledged Bacchanalians, and if they should ensnare their decrepit, most aged fathers, fit subjects for the undertaker21, bowed down by the weight of their years? But, see, here's Pistoclerus, who is returning to the Bacchides so lately found, and in his simplicity22 is blowing in himself the sparks of passion so lately kindled. Now I'm off--do you attend. (Exit.)