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Enter the GOD OF HELP1, who speaks the PROLOGUE.
THE GOD OF HELP
To the AUDIENCE. This old woman is both a much-talker and a much-tippler. Isn't it the fact that she has hardly left room to a Divinity for him to speak, so much has she forestalled him in talking about the substitution of this girl? But if she had held her tongue, still I was about to mention it--a God, who could do it better; for my name is Help. Now to the AUDIENCE lend your attention, that I may clearly explain this plot to you. Some time since, at Sicyon,: there was the Festival of Bacchus; a merchant of Lemnos2 came hither to the games, and he, an ungovernable young man, ravished a maiden3 in the dark, in the street, at the dead of night. He, as he knew that he was deserving of a heavy punishment, at once found shelter with his heels, and made off for Lemnos, where he then lived. She whom he had ravished, the ninth ensuing month completed, brought forth a daughter here4. Since she did not know the person guilty of this deed, who he was, she made the servant5 of her father partaker of her counsels, and gave to that servant the child to be exposed to death. He exposed it; this woman took up the child; that servant, who had exposed it, secretly took note whither or to what house she carried away the child. As you have heard her own self confess, she gave this child to the Courtesan Melænis; and she brought her up as being her own daughter, honestly and virtuously. But then, this Lemnian married a neighbour there, his relation, for his wife. She departed this life; there she was compliant to her husband. After he had performed the due obsequies to his wife, at once he removed hither; here he married for his wife that same woman6 whom formerly,when a maid, he ravished. When he understood that it was she whom he had ravished, she told him that, in consequence of the violation, she had brought forth a daughter, and had at once given her to a servant to be exposed. He forthwith ordered this same servant to make enquiries, if anyhow he could discover who had taken it up. Now to that task is the servant always assiduously devoting his attention, if he can find out that Courtesan, whom formerly, when he himself exposed her, he from his hidingplace had seen take her up. Now, what remains unpaid, I wish to discharge, that my name may be struck out, so that I mayn't remain a debtor. A young man7 is here at Sicyon, his father is alive; with affection he distractedly dotes upon this exposed girl, who just now went hence in tears unto her mother; and she loves him in return, which is the most delightful love of all. As human matters go, nothing is granted for everlasting: the father is wishful to give the young man a wife. When the mother8 came to know of this, she ordered her to be sent for home. Thus have these matters come to pass. Kindly fare you well, and conquer by inborn valour, as you have done before; defend your allies, both ancient ones and new; increase resources by your righteous laws; destroy your foes; laud and laurels gather; that, conquered by you, the Pœni9 may suffer the penalty. (Exit.)
1 God of Help: For the purposes of the Prologue, which is here introduced, "help," or "assistance," is personified as a Divinity, under the name of "Auxilium," who is to assist Silenium in the discovery of her parents.
3 A maiden: Phanostrata.
4 A daughter here: Silenium.
5 The servant: Lampadiscus.
6 That same woman: An exactly similar circumstance forms the groundwork of the plot in the Hecyra of Terence.
7 A young man: Alcesimarchus.
8 When the mother: Melænis.
9 The Pœni: This Play was probably written towards the end of the second Punic war
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