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to himself . The old and ancient calling of my forefathers do I follow, and hold, and cultivate with great care. For never was there any one of my forefathers, but that by acting the parasite they filled their bellies: my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, his father, and his grandfather, just like mice, always fed on the victuals of others, and in love of good eating no one could excel them. Hard Heads1 was their surname. From them have I derived this calling, and the station of my forefathers; nor do I wish myself to turn informer2, nor indeed does it become me, without risk of my own, to go seize upon the goods of other people; nor do those persons please who do so; I'm speaking out. For whoever does this, more for the sake of the public than of his own benefit, my mind can be induced to believe that he is a citizen both faithful and deserving; but if he should not prosecute to conviction the breaker of the laws, let him pay one half of the intended penalty to the public. And let this, too, be written in that law; when an informer has prosecuted any one, let the other in his turn3 sue him for just as much, and upon equal terms let them come before the Triumvirs4. If that were done, assuredly I'd make those nowhere to be seen, who here with their whitened nets5 lay siege to the property of others. But am I not a simpleton, to be taking care of the public interests when there are the magistrates, whose duty it is to take care of them? Now I'll in-doors here; I'll go look after the scraps from yesterday, whether they have rested well or not; whether they have had a fever6; whether they've been well covered up or not, so that no one could creep up to them. But the door is opening; I must pause in my steps.
1 Hard Heads: "Duris capitonibus." Literally, "hard large heads." He probably alludes to the necessity which there was for Parasites to have particularly hard heads, in order to be proof against the ill-usage to which they were subjected. The expression would be more likely to catch a laugh from a Roman Audience, as there was a noble family at Rome of the surname of Capito.
2 To turn informer: "Quadruplari." He seems to think that he is reduced to the alternative of getting a living either by being a Parasite or an informer, and prefers the first. Informers were called "quadruplatores" at Rome, because they received the fourth part of the fines paid by the persons against whom they informed.
3 Let the other in his turn: In case of his not obtaining a conviction. It is not improbable that the practices of informers were an especial annoyance at the time when this Play was written.
4 The Triumvirs: For an account of the magistrates called "Tresviri," or "Triumviri," see the Notes to the Aulularia and the Amphitryon.
5 Whitened nets: By the use of the word "albo," "white," Gronovius is led to think that the passage refers to the white book or paper upon which the rules and ordinances of the Prætor were written, and that the allusion is to the habit of informers hampering people, by repeated accusations of infringing the Prætor's rules. It seems, however, not improbable that he likens the accusations of the informers (who of course pretended that they were only actuated by a desire for the public good) to whitened nets, by reason of their speciousness, and the difficulty of avoiding the meshes which they spread in every direction.
6 Had a fever: By this expression he probably means, "whether they have been warmed up again
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