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Enter CURCULIO, at a distance, walking fast.
to himself . Known or unknown, make way for me, while here I execute my commission; fly all of you, be off, and get out of the way, lest I should hurt any person in my speed with my head, or elbow, or breast, or with my knee. So suddenly now am I charged with a business of quickness and despatch. And be there no person ever so opulent to stop me in my way, neither general1, nor any tyrant2, nor market-officer3, nor demarch4 nor comarch5, with their honors so great, but that down he goes, and tumbles head first from the footpath into the carriage-road. And then those Grecians with their cloaks, who walk about with covered heads, who go loaded beneath their cloaks with books, and with baskets6, they loiter together, and engage in gossipping among themselves, the gad-abouts7; you may always see them enjoying themselves in the hot liquor-shops8; when they have scraped up some trifle, with their covered pates they are drinking mulled wine, sad and maudlin they depart: if I stumble upon them here, from every single one of them I'll squeeze out a belch from their pearled-barley diet9. And then those servants of your dainty townsmen10, who are playing at catch-ball in the road, both throwers and catchers, all of them I'll pitch under foot. Would they avoid a mishap, why then, let them keep at home. PHÆD.
apart . He points out aright, he only requires that he should speak with authority; for such manners are in vogue in the present day, such at present are the slaves; really, control cannot be held over them. CURCULIO
to himself . Is there any one, I wonder, who can point out to me Phædromus, my good Genius? The matter is of such pressing nature, I really must meet with the man this instant. PALINURUS
apart . He's looking for you. PHÆD. apart . What if we accost him? Aloud. Hallo! Curculio, I want you. CURCULIO
looking round . Who's calling me? Who's mentioning my name? PHÆD.
One who wishes to meet with you. CURCULIO
seeing him . You don't wish more for me than I wish for you. PHÆD.
O my own ready occasion, Curculio, much longed-for, greetings to you. CURCULIO
Greetings to you. PHÆD.
I'm glad that you have arrived safe; give me your right hand. How stand my hopes? Troth now, prithee, do speak out. CURCULIO
To you, troth now, prithee, do speak out, how stand my own. Makes curious gestures. PHÆD.
What's the matter with you? CURCULIO
A dimness is beginning to come, my knees are failing through fasting. PHÆD.
I' faith, through lassitude, I think. CURCULIO
staggering . Support me, prithee, do support me. PHÆD.
See how pale he has turned; will you give him a seat, for him to be seated at once, and an ewer with some water? Will you make haste, this very instant? CURCULIO
I'm faint. PHÆD.
Would you like some water? CURCULIO
If it's full of bits11 of meat, prithee, give it me to swallow down, i' faith. PHÆD.
Woe be to that head of yours. CURCULIO
Troth now, prithee do give me cause to rejoice at my arrival12. PHÆD.
begins to fan him . By all means. CURCULIO
Prithee, what's this you're about. PHÆD.
Some air. CURCULIO
Really, for my part, I don't want a breath to be raised. PHÆD.
What then? CURCULIO
To eat, that I may rejoice on my arrival. PHÆD.
May Jupiter and the Deities confound you. CURCULIO
I'm quite undone; I can hardly see; my mouth is bitter; my teeth, I find, are blunted13; my jaws are clammy through fasting; with my entrails thus lank with abstinence from food am I come. PHÆD.
You shall eat something just now. CURCULIO
I' faith, I don't want "something;" I'd rather have what's fixed for certain, than your "something." PHÆD.
Aye, but if you only knew what has been put by for you. CURCULIO
I'd very much like to know where it is; for really it's necessary for it and my teeth to make acquaintance. PHÆD.
A gammon of bacon, a sow's stomach, some udder and kernels of the throat. CURCULIO
What, all this do you say? Perhaps you mean that they are in the flesh-market? PHÆD.
In the dishes, I mean; they've been got ready for you, since we knew that you were about to arrive. CURCULIO
Take care you don't be fooling me. PHÆD.
So may the fair one love me whom I love, I don't say what's false. But as to what I sent you upon I'm none the wiser yet. CURCULIO
I've brought back nothing. PHÆD.
You've undone me. CURCULIO
I can find something, if you'll give me your attention. After, at your request, I had set out, I arrived in Caria; I saw your friend; I asked him to make me a loan of some money. In answer, you were to know that he was willing to oblige you; he didn't wish to disappoint you, as it is only proper that a person who is a friend should be ready, and should assist his friend. In a few words he answered me, and quite in confidence, that he also was in the same extreme want of money as yourself. PHÆD.
By your words you ensure my undoing. CURCULIO
Why no; I'm saving you, and wish you to be saved. After this answer was given me, I went away from him to the Forum, in sorrow that I had applied to him in vain. By accident I espied a military officer; this person I accosted, and as I approached I saluted him. "Save you," said he to me, took my right hand, drew me aside, and asked me why I had come to Caria. I said that I had come there for the sake of amusement. Upon this he asked me whether I knew a certain Lyco, a banker of Epidaurus. I said I knew him. "Well, and the Procurer Cappadox?" I answered yes, that I had seen him. "But what do you want of him?" said I. "Because," said he, "I bought of him a girl for thirty minæ, her clothes and golden jewels too; and for these last ten minæ more are added." "Have you paid the money?" said I. "No," said he; "it is lodged with this Lyco the banker, whom I was mentioning, and I've instructed him that the person who should bring a letter sealed with my own ring, to him he was to give his services, that he might receive the damsel, with her jewels of gold and her clothes, from the Procurer." After he told me this, I was going away from him. At once he called me back, invited me to dinner; it was a point of conscience, I was unwilling to refuse him. "What if we go off home, and take our places at table?" said he. The suggestion pleased me; it is neither proper to lengthen out the day, nor to curtail the night. Everything was prepared, and we, for whom it was prepared, were at our places. After we had dined and well drunk, he asked for the dice to be fetched him. He challenged me to play with him a game of hazard. I staked my cloak, he staked his ring against it; he called on the name14 of Planesium. PHÆD.
What, my mistress? CURCULIO
Be silent a while. He threw a most losing cast15. I took up the dice, and invoked Hercules as my genial patron16; I threw a first-rate cast17, and pledged him in a bumping cup; in return he drank it off, reclined his head, and fell fast asleep. I slily took away from him the ring, and took my legs quietly from off the couch, so that the Captain mightn't perceive it. The servants enquired whither I was going; I said that I was going whither persons when full are wont to go. When I beheld the door, at once on the instant I betook myself away from the place. PHÆD.
I commend you. CURCULIO
Commend me when I've brought this thing about which you desire. Now let's go indoors, that we may seal the letter. PHÆD.
Do I delay you? CURCULIO
But let's cram down something first, the gammon, the udder, and the kernels; these are the foundations for the stomach, with bread and roast beef, a good-sized cup and a capacious pot, that counsel enough may be forthcoming. Do you, yourself, seal the letter; he'll do the honors pointing to PALINURUS while I am eating. I'll dictate after what fashion you're to write. Follow me this way, in-doors. PHÆD.
I follow. They go into the house of PHÆDROMUS.
1 General: Though the Scene is at Epidaurus, he no doubt alludes to the ten "Strategi" of Athens, who, after the remodelling of the constitution by Cleisthenes, discharged the duties which had been formerly performed either by the King or the Archon Polemarchus. They were elected by the suffrages of the people, and exercised the supreme power in peace and war. See an able article on this subject in Dr. Smith's "Dictionary of Antiquities."
2 Tyrant: By the use of the word "tyrannus" he perhaps refers to the "Basileus Archon," or "King Archon." of Athens, who was the representative of the ancient kings, in their capacity of high priest. It was his duty to preside at the Lenæa, or older Dionysia, to superintend mysteries and certain games, and to offer prayers and sacrifices in the Eleusinium, both at Athens and Eleusis. The word may, however, be only intended as a general name, like our term "potentate."
3 Market-officer: "Agoranomus," the "market-officer" of the Greeks, has been referred to in a Note to the Miles Gloriosus.
4 Denmarch: The "Demarchi" were the chief officers of the "demi," "townships" or "hundreds," in Attica. It was their duty to convene the "demus," and take the votes; to register the landed estates, to collect the public rents, and to furnish to the authorities a list of the members of the townships who were fit to serve in war.
5 Comarch: The "Comarchi" were the prefects, or head officers of each village or framlet in Attica.
6 With baskets: In the "sportule," or "baskets," the poor, and the parasitical dependants on the rich, carried away the scraps that were given to them after an entertainment was concluded.
7 The gad-abouts: Drapetæ. From the Greek δρέμω, "to run." He probably alludes to the propensities of the Athenians for gossipping and running about from place to place. Probably, at the time of Plautus, they had begun in considerable numbers to resort to Rome. By his reference to the books, he is, perhaps, more particularly alluding to their Philosophers. The Romans considered it effeminate in civil life to go with the head covered.
8 Hot liquor-shops-- The "thermopolia" have been alluded to in a Note to the Trinummus, l. 1013.
9 Their pearled-barley diet: This passage is necessarily somewhat modified in the translation. The Philosophers, especially the Stoics, who prided themselves on their abstinence, lived principally upon pearled barley.
10 Of your dainty townsmen: He alludes to those opulent townsmen who, to make a show, are keeping more servants than they want; in consequence whereof, these servants have nothing to do but play at ball in the streets, much to the annoyance of the passers-by.
11 Full of bits: He will like the water very well, if it is in the shape of a rich soup, with plenty of meat in it.
12 At my arrival: Ventum. This word gives occasion to a pun here, as, according to the context, it may either meal "that I am arrived," or "wind." The Parasite says, "Give me reason (by providing some victuals) to rejoice that I have arrived." Phædromus chooses to understand him as saving, "Give me some wind, that I may rejoice," and says "By all means," and begins to fan him. The other asks what he is doing, or making; to which he replies, "Making some air."
13 Are blunted: It is hard to say what "plenos" means when applied to the teeth--if indeed, that word is the correct reading here.
14 Called on the name: On the custom of invoking their mistresses, when playing at dice, see a Note to the Captivi, Act I., Sc. 1. We are, perhaps, to suppose that the Captain takes off his ring for the purpose of staking it, which would enable Curculio to steal it the more easily.
15 Most losing cast: When playing with the "tali," or "knucklebone dice," with only four marked sides, they used sets of four. "Volturii quatuor" (literally, "the four vultures") was the most unlucky throw of all, and is supposed to have been four aces.
16 My genial patron: "Nutricem;" literally, "nurse." It has been suggested that the Parasite intended to compliment his entertainer, the Captain, under the name of Hercules, whom he invokes for luck. The Delphin Commentator says that Parasites invoked Hercules because the tenths of entertainments were offered to him, and these were distributed among the needy, in the number of whom they ranked.
17 A first-rate cast: The best throw with the "tali" was called "Venus" or "Venereus jactus," when the dice turned up 2, 3, 4, and 5. As it war by this throw that the Romans chose the King of the Feast, it received the name of "Basilicus," "the king's throw." See the last Scene in the Asinaria.
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