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Enter PHILUMENA and PAMPHILA.1
Sister, I think that Penelope was wretched from her very soul, who was so long deprived of her husband; for from our own fortunes, whose husbands are absent from us, we judge of her feelings; for whose affairs, still, in their absence, both night and day, sister, as is becoming, we are ever anxious. PAMPHILA
'Tis right that we should do our duty; and we do not that any further than affection bids us. PHILUMENA
But, sister, step this way a moment; I want to speak about the affairs of my husband. PAMPHILA
Ain't they prospering, pray? PHILUMENA
I hope and wish so, indeed. But, sister, at this am I vexed, that your and my father, one who is esteemed as especially honorable among all his fellow-citizens, should be now acting the part of a dishonorable man; who is undeservedly doing so great an injustice to our absent husbands, and is wishing to separate us from them. These things, sister, render me tired of existence; these things are a care and a vexation to me. She sheds tears. PAMPHILA
Weep not, sister, nor do that to your feelings which your father is threatening to do. 'Tis to be hoped2 that he will act more righteously. I know him well; he says these things in jest; and he would not earn for himself the mountains of the Persians, which are said to be of gold3, to do that of which you are in dread. Still, if he does do it, it befits you by no means to be angry; nor will it happen without some reason. For this is the third year since our husbands have been away from home. PHILUMENA
'Tis as you say; while, in the meantime, they may be living, and may be well4, they do not make us acquainted where they are, what they are doing, whether they are doing well, neither do they return. PAMPHILA
And do you, sister, regret this, that they do not observe their duty, whereas you do yours? PHILUMENA
Troth, I do. PAMPHILA
Hold your peace, if you please; take care, please, that I hear not that same thing from you in future. PHILUMENA
And why, pray? PAMPHILA
Because, i' faith, in my opinion, 'tis proper for all prudent people to observe and to do their duty. For that reason, sister, although you are the older, I advise you to remember your duty; and if they are unjust and act otherwise to us than is right, then, i' faith, in exactly the same degree, that there may be no further mischief, it befits us studiously to remember our duty by all means in our power. PHILUMENA
'Tis good; I'm silenced. PAMPHILA
But do take care and remember it. PHILUMENA
I do not wish, sister, to be thought to be unmindful of my husband; nor has he thrown away the distinction that he conferred upon me. For, by my troth, his kindness is pleasing and delightful to me; and, really, this choice of mine is not now irksome to me, nor is there any reason why I should wish to abandon this match. But, in fine, 'tis placed in our father's power5; that must be done by us which our relatives enjoin. PAMPHILA
I know it, and in thinking of it I am overwhelmed with grief; for already has he almost disclosed his sentiments. PHILUMENA
Let us consider, then, what is necessary for us to do.
1 Title Stichus: Plautus has named this Play "Stichus," from the servant, who is one of the characters in it, though not the principal one as Gelasimus, the Parasite, certainly occupies that place.
2 'Tis to be hoped: "Spes est." Literally, "there is a hope."
4 May be well: After "valeant" in this line, a comma, and not colon, seems more reconcileable to the meaning of the passage.
5 In our father's power: By the law of the Twelve Tables at Rome, females were never "sui juris," but under a perpetual guardianship; and even marriage did not entirely exempt them from parental authority, unless they had been emancipated from it before. Among the Greeks also, parents exercised great authority in disposing of their daughters in marriage.
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