This text is part of:
The PROLOGUE, spoken by CHARINUS.
Two things have I now resolved to do at the same time; both the subject and my own amours will I disclose. I am not doing like as I have seen other lovers do in Comedies, who relate their woes either to the night or to the day, or to the Sun or to the Moon; who, faith, I don't suppose pay much regard to the complaints of mortals, either what they wish or what they don't wish. To yourselves in preference will I now relate my woes. In the Greek this Play is called the Emporos1 of Philemon; the same in the Latin is the Mercator of Marcus Accius. My father sent me hence to trade at Rhodes. Two years have now passed since I left home. There I began to love a fair one of remarkable beauty. But how I was captivated by her, I'll tell you, if you'll lend ear, and if you'll have the kindness to give your attention to this. And yet in this, but little have I followed the method of our forefathers in my own person, and on the spot as a tell- tale2 of my own amours am I represented before you. But all these failings are wont to attend on love--care, trouble, and refinement overmuch. Not only him who loves, but every one to whom this latter fault extends, him with a great and weighty evil does it affect; nor by my troth, in fact, does any one aim at refinement, beyond what his means allow of, without heavy disaster. But to love as well are these evils incident, which I have not as yet recounted--sleeplessness, a troubled mind, confusion, terror, and apprehension, trifling, and folly even, rashness too, thoughtlessness, foolhardy impudence, wantonness, lust, and malevolence; covetousness is inherent as well, idleness, injustice, want, contumely and wastefulness, talkativeness or moody silence. This latter is the fact, because things which relate not to the purpose, nor are of utility, the same does the lover give utterance to full oft at an unseasonable moment; and yet again, this moody silence for this reason do I commend, because no lover is ever so skilled in eloquence, as to be enabled to give utterance to that which is for his own interest. You, then, must not be offended with myself for my babbling; Venus bestowed it upon me on that same day on which this passion. To that point am I resolved to return, that what I commenced upon I may disclose. In the first place, when in life I had passed from my boyish days, and my disposition was weaned from childish pursuits, I began distractedly to love a Courtesan in this place. Forthwith, unknown to my father, my means went to be wasted upon her; an exacting Procurer, the owner of this damsel, by every method that he could, grasped everything into his own possession3. Night and day my father censured me for this; represented the perfidy, the wickedness of Procurers; how that his own property was being forcibly rent in pieces, while that of this Procurer was increasing; this too in the loudest tones; sometimes muttering to himself; refusing to speak to me; even denying that I was his child; crying aloud through all the city and proclaiming that all should withhold from trusting me when desiring to borrow; that love had allured many a one to ruin; that I, passing all bounds, regardless of decency, and acting wrongfully, laid hands upon and tore whatever I could from him at home; that 'twas a most vile system that those choice possessions which he, by enduring every hardship, had acquired, should all be squandered away and parted with through the violence of my desire. That now for so many years he had supported myself, a reproach to him; that were I not ashamed, I ought not to desire to live. That he himself, at the very moment after he had passed his boyish days, did not, like me, devote his attention to love or indolence in slothfulness, nor, indeed, had he the control of himself, so very strictly by his father was he held in check; that in the various sordid pursuits of the country he was employed, and that only every fifth year even was he then enabled to visit the city, and that immediately after he had had a sight of the Festival4, back again instantly into the country was he wont to be driven by his father. That there by far the most of all the household did he toil, while thus his father would say to him: "For yourself you are ploughing, for yourself you harrow, for yourself you sow, for your own self too do you reap; for yourself, in fine, will this labour be productive of happiness." That after life had left his father's body, he had sold the farm, and with that money had bought for himself a bark of fifteen tons5, and with the same had transported merchandize to every quarter, even until he had acquired the property which he then possessed. That I ought to do the same, if I would be as it behoved me to be. I, when I found that I was disliked by my father and was an object of hate to him whom I was bound to please, distracted and in love as I was, resolutely made up my mind. I said that I would go to traffic, if he pleased; that I would renounce my amour, so as to be obedient to him. He gave me thanks, and praised my good feeling, but failed not to exact my promise; he built a merchant-ship6, and purchased merchandize; the ship ready, he placed it on board; besides, to myself with his own hand he paid down a talent of silver; with me he sent a servant, who formerly had been my tutor from the time when I was a little child, to be as though a guardian to me. These things completed, we set sail; we came to Rhodes, where the merchandize which I had brought I sold to my mind according as I wished; I made great profits, beyond the estimate of the merchandize which my father had given me; and so I made a large sum. But while in the harbour I was walking there, a certain stranger recognized me, and invited me to dinner. I went, and took my place at table, being merrily and handsomely entertained. When at night we went to rest, behold, a female came to me, than whom not another female is there more charming. That night, by order of my entertainer, did she pass with me; consider your own selves, how very much he gratified me. Next day, I went to my host; I begged him to sell her to me; I said that for his kindnesses I should ever be grateful and obliged. What need is there of talking? I bought her, and yesterday I brought her hither. I don't wish my father to come to know I've brought her. For the present, I've left her and a servant in the harbour on board the ship. But why do I see my servant running hither from the harbour, whom I forbade to leave the ship? I dread what the reason may be. Stands aside.
2 As a tell-tale: He apologizes for his apparent boldness in breaking in upon them, and commencing to relate his amours, without first asking their leave.
4 Had had a sight of the Festival: "Spectavisset peplum." Literally, "had seen the show of the garment." At the great Panathenæa, or Festival of Minerva, which was celebrated every fifth year, the "peplum" of Minerva was exposed to public view. A procession was afterwards formed, to carry it to the Temple of Minerva, or Athene Polias. The "peplum" was a garment of crocus colour, woven by virgins. On it were represented the conquest of Enceladus and the Giants by Minerva. The garment was not carried by hands, but on the mast of a ship; and this ship, which was usually kept near the Areiopagus, was moved along by machinery.
5 Of fifteen tons: "Metretas trecentas." Literally, "three hundred metretæ." The "metreta" was properly a Greek liquid measure of about nine gallons. If, as some of the books inform us, in weight it was equal to one hundred-weight, three hundred of them would make fifteen tons. It is, however, not improbable that the word really signifies a weight nearer in capacity to a ton than to a hundred-weight.
6 A merchant-ship: "Cercurum." The merchant-ships, which were called "cercuri," are said to have been so called from the island of Corcyra, or Cercyra, so famous for its traffic, where they were said to have been first built. Some writers suppose them to have originally been peculiar to the inhabitants of the Isle of Cyprus.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.