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Enter MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus, from his house.
MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
speaking at the door to his WIFE within . Unless you were worthless, unless you were foolish, unless you were stark wild and an idiot, that which you see is disagreable to your husband, you would deem to be so to yourself as well. Moreover, if after this day you do any such thing to me, I'll force you, a divorced woman, turned out of my doors to go visit your father. For as often as I wish to go out of the house, you are detaining me, calling me back, asking me questions; whither I am going, what matter I am about, what business I am transacting, what I am wanting, what I am bringing, what I have been doing out of doors? I've surely brought home a custom-house officer1 as my wife; so much am I obliged to disclose all my business, whatever I have done and am doing. I've had you hitherto indulged too much. Now, therefore, I'll tell you how I am about to act. Since I find you handsomely in maids, provisions, wool, gold trinkets, garments, and purple, and you are wanting in nought, you'll beware of a mischief if you're wise; you'll leave off watching your husband. In a lower voice. And therefore, that you mayn't be watching me in vain, for your pains I shall find me a mistress to-day, and invite her to dinner somewhere out of doors. PENICULUS
apart . This fellow pretends that he's upbraiding his wife, but he's addressing myself; for if he does dine out of doors, he really is punishing me, not his wife. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
to himself . Hurra! I' troth, by my taunts I've driven my wife from the door at last. Where now are your intriguing husbands? Why do they hesitate, all returning thanks, to bring presents to me who have fought so gallantly? This mantle2 of my wife's taking it from under his cloak I've just now stolen from in-doors, and I'm taking it to my mistress. This way it's proper for a clever trick to be played this knowing husband-watcher. This is a becoming action, this is right, this is skilful, this is done in workman-like style; inasmuch as at my own risk I've taken this from my plague, this same shall be carried off to destruction3. With the safety of my allies4 I've gained a booty from the foe. PENICULUS
aloud, at a distance . Harkye! young man; pray what share have I5 in that booty? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I'm undone; I've fallen into an ambuscade. PENICULUS
Say a safeguard rather. Don't be afraid. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What person's this? PENICULUS
'Tis I. Coming up to him. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
O my convenient friend--O my ready occasion, save you. PENICULUS
And save you. they shake hands. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What are you about? PENICULUS
Holding my good Genius in my right hand. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You couldn't have come to me more à propos than you have come. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I'm in the habit of doing so; I understand all the points of ready occasion. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Would you like to be witness of a brilliant exploit? PENICULUS
What cook has cooked it? I shall know at once if he has made any mistake, when I see the remnants.6. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Tell me--did you ever see a picture painted on a wall, where the eagle is carrying off Ganymede7, or Venus Adonis? PENICULUS
Many a time. But what are these pictures to me? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Come, look at me8. Do I at all bear any resemblance to them? PENICULUS
What's this garb of yours? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Pronounce me to be a very clever fellow. PENICULUS
Where are we to feed? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Only do you say that which I requested you. PENICULUS
Well, I do say so; very clever fellow. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
And don't you venture to add anything of your own to it? PENICULUS
-- And very pleasant fellow. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Go on. PENICULUS
I' faith, I really can't go on, unless I know for what reason. You've had a fall-out with your wife; on that ground am I the more strongly on my guards9 against you. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
While you are interrupting me, you are delaying yourself. PENICULUS
Knock out my only eye10, Menaechmus, if I speak one word but what you bid me. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
... where, unknown to my wife, we will erect the funeral pile ... and let us consume this day11 upon it. PENICULUS
Well, come then, since you request what's fair, how soon am I to set fire to the pile? Why really, the day's half dead already down to its navel12. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Come this way from the door. PENICULUS
Be it so. Moves from the door. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Come still more this way. PENICULUS
Very well. Moves. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus
Even still, step aside boldly from the lioness's den. PENICULUS
still moving . Well done; by my troth, as I fancy, you really would bean excellent charioteers13. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Why so? PENICULUS
That your wife mayn't follow you, you are looking back ever and anon. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
But what say you? PENICULUS
What, I? Why, whatever you choose, that same do I say, and that same do I deny. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Could you make any conjecture at all from the smell, if perchance you were to take a smell at something? PENICULUS
Were the college of Augurs summoned ... MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
holds out the skirt of the mantle . Come then, take a sniff at this mantle that I'm holding. What does it smell of? Do you decline? PENICULUS
It's as well to smell the top of a woman's garment; for at this other place the nose is offended with an odour that can't be washed out. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
holding another part . Take a smell here then, Peniculus, as you are so daintily nice. PENICULUS
Very well. He smells it. MENAECHMUS
How now? What does it smell of? Answer me. PENICULUS
Theft, a mistress, and a breakfast. To you ... MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You have spoken out ... now it shall be taken to this mistress of mine, the Courtesan Erotium. I'll order a breakfast at once to be got ready, for me, you, and her; then will we booze away even to the morrow's morning star. PENICULUS
Capital. You've spoken out distinctly. Am I to knock at the door then? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Knock--or hold, rather. PENICULUS
You've removed14 the goblet a full mile by that. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Knock gently. PENICULUS
You're afraid, I think, that the doors are made of Samian crockery. Goes to knock. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Hold, prithee, hold, i' faith; see, she's coming out herself. The door of EROTIUM'S house is opened. Ha you behold the sun, is it not quite darkened in comparison with the bright rays of her person.
1 A custom-house officer: The "portitores" examined those who landed or embarked at any port, to see that they had no merchandize about them which had not paid duty. They also made the necessary enquiries who the parties were, and what was their destination. He compares his wife to one of these inquisitive persons
2 This mantle: The "palla," a kind of "mantle" or "cloak," was worn indifferently by both sexes among the Greeks and Romans. This will account for the circumstance of Menaechmus Sosicles wearing, as we shall see in the sequel, the "palla" of a female, without expecting to attract the notice of passers-by. The "palla," which by the prose writers is also called "pallium," was used for many other purposes than that of a garment. See Dr. Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
4 Of my allies: By these he means the Courtesan Erotium and the Parasite Peniculus, who have run no risk by helping him to filch away the mantle.
6 When I see the remnants: He thinks that Menaechmus is alluding to something in the eating way, and says that he can tell whether the cook has done his duty well or not, by only looking at the scraps of the entertainment.
7 Ganymede: He is mentioned in the text under another name of a gross nature. Ganymede was the son of Tros, King of Troy. Jupiter was said, in the form of an eagle, to have carried him off, and made him cupbearer to the Gods, in the place of Hebe, the Goddess of youth.
8 Come, look at me: Saying this, he probably takes the "palla" from behind him, and putting it on, stalks about with it upon him. This he could do without the risk of being seen by his wife, as on the Roman stage a number of streets and lanes were seen to terminate, up which the actor would go a little way to escape observation from a house situate just at the end of another street. He means to ask the Parasite if he does not quite equal Ganymede or Adonis, as represented in the pictures, by reason of his tasteful attire.
9 On my guard: As Menaechmus has fallen out with his wife, the Parasite thinks there is no chance of a "cena" at his house. He is the more careful then to make enquiries, lest Menaechmus should contrive to baulk him of his banquet altogether.
10 My only eye: By this it appears that Peniculus has but one eye. In the Curculio, the Parasite of that name is also represented as having but one eye.
11 Let consume this day: He supposes the day to be dead so far as business is concerned; the "cena," which generally commenced about three o'clock in the afternoon (and sometimes, perhaps, the "prandium" as well), was followed by "potatio" or "drinking," which by such characters as Menaechmus and the Parasite would be prolonged to midnight, when they would see the day dead, and celebrate its funeral in their orgies.
13 An excellent charioteer: The drivers of the chariots at the Circensian games were called "agitatores." Of course they would look back every now, and then to see how near their opponents were, that they might keep the lead.
14 You've removed: Peniculus now loses patience, and reflects that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.
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