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Enter LESBONICUS and STASIMUS.
'Tis less than fifteen days since you received from Callicles forty minæ for this house; is it not as I say, Stasimus? STASIMUS
When I consider, I think I remember that it was so. LESBONICUS
What has been done with it? STASIMUS
It has been eaten and drunk up--spent away in unguents, washed away in baths1. The fishmonger and the baker have carried it off: butchers, too, and cooks, green-grocers, perfumers, and poulterers; 'twas quickly consumed. I' faith! that money was made away with not less speedily than if you were to throw a poppy among the ants. LESBONICUS
By my troth, less has been spent on those items than six minæ? STASIMUS
Besides, what have you given to your mistresses? LESBONICUS
That I am including as well in it. STASIMUS
Besides, what have I pilfered of it? LESBONICUS
Aye, that item is a very heavy one. STASIMUS
That cannot so appear to you, if you make all due deductions2, unless you think that your money is everlasting. Aside. Too late and unwisely,--a caution that should have been used before,--after he has devoured his substance, he reckons up the account too late. LESBONICUS
The account, however, of this money is by no means clear. STASIMUS
I' faith, the account is very clear: the money's gone3. Did you not receive forty minæ from Callicles, and did he not receive from you the house in possession? LESBONICUS
Very good. PHILTO
aside . Troth, I think our neighbour has sold his house4. When his father shall come from abroad, his place is in the beggar's gate5, unless, perchance, he should creep into his son's stomach6. STASIMUS
There were a thousand Olympic drachmæ7 paid to the banker8, which you were owing upon account. LESBONICUS
Those, I suppose, that I was security for9? STASIMUS
Say, rather10, "Those that I paid down"--for that young man whom you used to say11 was so rich. LESBONICUS
It was so done. STASIMUS
Yes, just to be squandered away. LESBONICUS
That was done as well. But I saw him in a pitiable state, and I did have pity on him. STASIMUS
You have pity on others, and you have neither pity nor shame for yourself. PHILTO
aside . 'Tis time to accost him. LESBONICUS
Is this Philto that is coming here? Troth, 'tis he himself. STASIMUS
I' faith, I could wish he was my slave, together with his savings12. PHILTO
Philto right heartily wishes health to both master and servant, Lesbonicus and Stasimus. LESBONICUS
May the Gods give you, Philto, whatever you may wish for. How is your son? PHILTO
He wishes well to you. LESBONICUS
In good sooth, he does for me what I do for him in return! STASIMUS
aside . That phrase, "He wishes well," is worthless, unless a person does well too. I, too, "wish" to be a free man; I wish in vain. He, perhaps, might wish to become frugal; he would wish to no purpose. PHILTO
My son has sent me to you to propose an alliance and bond of friendship between himself and your family. He wishes to take your sister for his wife; and I have the same feelings, and I desire it. LESBONICUS
I really don't understand your ways; amid your prosperity you are laughing at my adversity. PHILTO
I am a man13: you are a man. So may Jupiter love me, I have neither come to laugh at you, nor do I think you deserving of it! But as to what I said, my son begged me to ask for your sister as his wife. LESBONICUS
It is right that I should know the state of my own circumstances. My position is not on an equal footing with yours; seek some other alliance for yourselves. STASIMUS
to LESBONICUS . Are you really sound in mind or intellect to refuse this proposal? For I perceive that he has been found for you a very friend in need14. LESBONICUS
Get away hence, and go hang yourself15. STASIMUS
Faith, if I should commence to go, you would be forbidding me16. LESBONICUS
Unless you want me, Philto, for anything else, I have given you my answer. PHILTO
I trust, Lesbonicus, that you will one day be more obliging to me than I now find you to be. For both to act17 unwisely and to talk unwisely, Lesbonicus, are sometimes neither of them profitable. STASIMUS
Troth, he says what's true. LESBONICUS
I will tear out your eye if you add one word. STASIMUS
Troth, but I will talk; for if I may not be allowed to do so as I am, then I will submit to be called the one-eyed man18. PHILTO
Do you now say this, that your position and means are not on an equal footing with ours? LESBONICUS
I do say so. PHILTO
Well, suppose, now, you were to come to a building to a public banquet, and a wealthy man by chance were to come there as your neighbour19. The banquet is set on table, one that they style a public one20. Suppose that dainties were heaped up before him by his dependents, and suppose any-thing pleased you that was so heaped up before him, would you eat, or would you keep your place next to this wealthy man, going without your dinner? LESBONICUS
I should eat, unless he were to forbid me doing so. STASIMUS
But I, by my faith, even if he were to forbid me, would eat and cram with both cheeks stuffed out; and what pleased him, that, in especial, would I lay hold of beforehand; nor would I yield to him one jot of my very existence. At table it befits no one to be bashful; for there the decision21 is about things both divine and human. PHILTO
You say what is the fact. STASIMUS
I will tell you without any subterfuge: I would make place for him on the highway, on the footpath, in the canvass for public honors; but as to what concerns the stomach--by my troth, not this much shows the breadth of his finger-nail , unless he should first have thrashed me with his fists. With provisions at the present prices, a feast is a fortune without incumbrances22. PHILTO
Always, Lesbonicus, do you take care and think this, that that is the best, according as you yourself are the most deserving: if that you cannot attain to, at least be as near as possible to the most deserving. And now, Lesbonicus, I wish you to grant and accept these terms which I propose, and which I ask of you. The Gods are rich; wealth and station befit the Gods: but we poor mortal beings are, as it were, the salt-cellar23 for the salt of life. The moment that we have breathed forth this, the beggar is held of equal value at Acheron24 with the most wealthy man when dead. STASIMUS
aside . It will be a wonder if you don't carry your riches there with you. When you are dead, you may, perhaps, be as good as your name imports25. PHILTO
Now, that you may understand that position and means have no place here, and that we do not undervalue your alliance; I ask for your sister without a marriage-portion. May the matter turn out happily. Do I understand her to be promised? Why are you silent? STASIMUS
O immortal Gods, what a proposal! PHILTO
Why don't you say, "May the Gods prosper it, I agree26?" STASIMUS
aside . Alas! when there was no advantage in the expression, he used to say, "I agree;" now, when there is advantage in it, he is not able to say so. LESBONICUS
Since you think me, Philto, worthy of an alliance with you, I return you many thanks. But though this fortune of mine has sadly diminished through my folly, I have, Philto, a piece of land near the city here; that I will give as a portion to my sister: for, after all my follies, that alone, besides my existence, is left me. PHILTO
Really I care nothing at all about a portion. LESBONICUS
I am determined to give her one. STASIMUS
whispers to LESBONICUS . And are you ready, master, to sever that nurse from us which is supporting us? Take care how you do it. What are we ourselves to eat in future? LESBONICUS
to STASIMUS . Once more, will you hold your tongue? Am I to be rendered accountable to you? STASIMUS
aside . We are evidently done for, unless I devise something or other. Philto, I want you. He remeoves to a distance, and beckons to PHILTO. PHILTO
If you wish aught, Stasimus. STASIMUS
Step a little this way. PHILTO
By all means. STASIMUS
I tell you this in secrecy, that neither he nor any one else may learn it of you. PHILTO
Trust me boldly with anything you please. STASIMUS
By Gods and men I warn you, not to allow that piece of land ever to become yours or your son's. I'll tell you my reasons for this matter. PHILTO
Troth, I should like to hear them. STASIMUS
First of all then, when at any time the ground is being ploughed, in every fifth furrow the oxen die. PHILTO
Preserve me from it. STASIMUS
The gate of Acheron is in that land of ours. Then the grapes, before they are ripe, hang in a putrid state. LESBONICUS
in a low voice . He is persuading the man to something, I think. Although he is a rogue, still he is not unfaithful to me. STASIMUS
Hear the rest. Besides that, when elsewhere the harvest of wheat is most abundant, there it comes up less by one-fourth than what you have sowed. PHILTO
Ah! bad habits ought to be sown on that spot, if in the sowing they can be killed. STASIMUS
And never is there any person to whom that piece of land belongs, but that his affairs turn out most unfortunate. Of those to whom it has belonged, some have gone away in banishment; some are dead outright; some, again, have hanged themselves. See this man, now, to whom it belongs, how he has been brought to a regular backgammoned state27. PHILTO
Preserve me from this piece of land. STASIMUS
"Preserve me from it," you would say still more, if you were to hear everything from me. For there every other tree has been blasted with lightning; the hogs die28 there most shockingly of inflammation in the throat; the sheep are scabby, as bare of all wool, see, as is this hand of mine. And then, besides, there is not one of the Syrian natives29, a race which is the most hardy of men, who could exist there for six months; so surely do all die there of the solstitial fever30. PHILTO
I believe, Stasimus31, that it is so; but the Campanian32 race much outdoes that of the Syrians in hardiness. But, really, that piece of land, as I have heard you describe it, is one to which it were proper for all wicked men to be sent for the public good. Just as they tell of the Islands of the Blest, where all meet together who have passed their lives uprightly: on the other hand, it seems proper that all evildoers should be packed off there, since it is a place of such a character. STASIMUS
'Tis a very receptacle of calamity. What need is there of many words? Look for any bad thing whatsoever, there you may find it. PHILTO
But, i' faith, you may find it there and elsewhere too. STASIMUS
Please, take care not to say that I told you of this. PHILTO
You have told it me in perfect secrecy. STASIMUS
For he, indeed pointing at LESBONICUS , wishes it to be got rid of from himself, if he can find any one to impose upon33 about it. PHILTO
I' faith, this land shall never become my property. STASIMUS
Aye, if you keep in your senses. Aside. I' faith, I have cleverly frightened34 the old fellow away from this land; for, if my master had parted with it, there is nothing for us to live upon. PHILTO
Lesbonicus, I now return to you. LESBONICUS
Tell me, if you please, what has he been saying to you? PHILTO
What do you suppose? He is a man35; he wishes to become a free man, but he has not the money to give. LESBONICUS
And I wish to be rich, but all in vain. STASIMUS
aside . You might have been, if you had chosen; now, since you have nothing, you cannot be. LESBONICUS
What are you talking about to yourself, Stasimus? STASIMUS
About that which you were saying just now: if you had chosen formerly, you might have been rich; now you are wishing too late. PHILTO
No terms can be come to with me about the marriage-portion; whatever pleases you, do you transact it yourself with my son. Now, I ask for your sister for my son; and may the matter turn out well. What now? are you still considering? LESBONICUS
What--about that matter? Since you will have it so--may the Gods prosper it--I promise her. PHILTO
Never, by my troth, was a son born so ardently longed for by any one, as was that expression "I promise her," when born for me. STASIMUS
The Gods will prosper all your plans. PHILTO
So I wish. Come this way with me, Lesbonicus, that a day may be agreed on for the nuptials, in the presence of Lysiteles: this agreement we will ratify on that same day. (Exit PHILTO.) LESBONICUS
Now, Stasimus, go you there points to the house which he has sold to CALLICLES to the house of Callicles, to my sister; tell her how this matter has been arranged. STASIMUS
I will go. LESBONICUS
And congratulate my sister. STASIMUS
Very well. LESBONICUS
Tell Callicles to meet me---- STASIMUS
But rather do you go now---- LESBONICUS
That he may see what is necessary to be done about the portion. STASIMUS
Do go now. LESBONICUS
For I have determined not to give her without a portion. STASIMUS
But rather do you go now. LESBONICUS
And I will never allow it to be a detriment to her by reason of---- STASIMUS
Do be off now. LESBONICUS
My recklessness---- STASIMUS
Do go now36. LESBONICUS
It seems by no means just, but that, since I have done wrong---- STASIMUS
Do go now. LESBONICUS
It should be chiefly a detriment to myself. STASIMUS
Do go now. LESBONICUS
O my father! and shall I ever see you again? STASIMUS
Do go now. Go--go now. LESBONICUS
I am going. Do you take care of that which I have asked you. I shall be here directly. (Exit LESBONICUS.) STASIMUS
At length I have prevailed on him to go. In the name of the immortal Gods, i' faith, 'tis a matter well managed by wrongful means of performance, inasmuch as our piece of land is safe; although even now 'tis still a very doubtful matter what may be the result of this affair. But, if the land is parted with, 'tis all over37 with my neck; I must carry a buckler in foreign lands, a helmet too, and my baggage. He will be running away from the city when the nuptials have been celebrated; he will be going hence to extreme and utter ruin, somewhere or other, to serve as a soldier, either to Asia or to Cilicia38. I will go there looking at the door of the house bouight by CALLICLES , where he has ordered me to go, although I detest this house ever since he has driven us out of our abode. (Exit into the house of CHARMIDES.)
1 Washed away in baths: This will probably refer, not to the money paid for mere bathing at the public baths, which was a quadrans, the smallest Roman coin, but to the expense of erecting private baths, which generally formed a portion of the luxuries of a Roman house. The public baths, however, may have possibly been the scene of much profligacy, and have afforded to the reckless and dissipated ample opportunities for squandering their money. That this may have been the fact, is rendered the more likely when we consider the equivocal signification of the word bagnio.
2 Make all due deductions: "Si sumas." Literally, "if you subtract."
3 The money's gone: Instead of a Latin word, the Greek οἴχεται is introduced, which means "is gone," or "has vanished." Greek terms were current. at Rome, just as French words and sentences are imported into our language; indeed, the fashions of Rome were very generally set by the Greeks.
4 Has sold his house: He feels satisfied now that Lysiteles has been correctly informed, and that Lesbonicus really is in difficulties.
5 The beggar's gate: He probably alludes to the "Porta Trigemina" at Rome, which was upon the road to Ostia. It received its name from the three twin-born brothers, the Horatii, who passed beneath it when going to fight the Curiatii. This, being one of the largest and most frequented roads in Rome, was especially the resort of mendicants; among whom, in the opinion of Philto, the father of Lesbonicus will have to take his place. Some Commentators would read "ponte" instead of "portâ," and they think that the allusion is to the Sublician bridge at Rome, where we learn from Seneca and Juvenal that the beggars used to sit and ask alms.
6 His son's stomach: He satirically alludes to the reckless conduct of Lesbonicus, who has spent everything to satisfy his love for eating, drinking, and debauchery.
7 Olympic drachmæ: As already mentioned, the "drachma" was about ninepence three-farthings in value. As one hundred made a "mina," one fourth of the price received for the house would go to satisfy the banker's claim.
8 To the banker: The "Trapezitæ" were the same as the "Argentarii" at Rome, who were bankers and money-changers on their own account, while the "Mensarii" transacted business on behalf of the state. Their shops, or offices, were situate around the Forum, and were public property. Their principal business was the exchange of Roman for foreign coin, and the keeping of sums of money for other persons, which were deposited with or without interest, according to agreement. They acted as agents for the sale of estates, and a part of their duty was to test the genuineness of coin, and, in later times, to circulate it from the mint among the people. Lending money at a profit was also part of their business. It is supposed that among the Romans there was a higher and a lower class of "argentarii." The more respectable of them probably held the position of the banker of modern times; while those who did business on a paltry scale, or degraded themselves by usury, were not held in any esteem. Their shops, being public property, were built under the inspection of the Censors, and by them were let to the "argentarii." "Trapezitæ," as they are here called, was properly the Greek name for these persons, who were so styled from the τραπεσα, or "table," at which they sat. All will remember the "tables of the money-changers" mentioned in the New Testament. The "mensarii" were employed to lend out the public money to borrowers at interest.
9 I was security for: "Spondeo," "I promise," was a term used on many occasions among the Romans, derived from the Greek σπενδόμαι, "pour out a libation;" the usual mode of ratifying a treaty. Among others, it was pronounced by a person when he became security that another should repay money, as Lesbonicus, to his misfortune, had done in the present instance.
10 Say, rather: Stasimus will not allow his master to mince the matter in the slightest degree. "Don't say 'I was security for it,' but 'I paid it down.'"
11 You used to say: He probably alludes to some former occasion, on which his master, having been duped into the belief, was telling him of the extraordinary wealth of his new acquaintance.
12 With his savings: "Peculium" was the property amassed by a slave out of his savings, which he was permitted to keep as his own. According to the strictness of the law, the "peculium" was the property of the master. Sometimes it was agreed that the slave should purchase his freedom with his "peculium" when it amounted to a certain sum.
14 Friend in need: "Ferentarius," The "ferentarii" were the light-armed troops, who, being unencumbered with heavy armour, were ready to come immediately and opportunely to the assistance of those who were in danger of being overpowered by the army. The word is here used figuratively, to signify "a friend in need."
15 And go hang yourself: The word 'dierecte" is supposed to come from an obsolete verb, "dierigo," "to extend out on both sides," and to allude to a punishment inflicted upon slaves, when they were fastened to a stake in the ground, with the arms and legs extended. Applied to a slave, it would be an opprobrious expression, equivalent to "go and be hanged."
16 Be forbidding me: He means, that if he should take his master at his word and go away, he would be the first to stop him.
18 The one-eyed man: He means that he is determined to speak out at all risks, even if his master should be as good as his word, and tear his eye out.
19 As your neighbour: "Par" here means a close neighbour, as reclining next to him on the same "triclinium," or "couch," at the entertainment.
20 Style a public one: It is not certain what kind of public banquets are here referred to. Public entertainments were given to the people on the occasion of any public rejoicing: such, for instance, as a triumph, as we learn from Suetonius in his life of Julius Cæsar. They were also given when the tenths were paid to Hercules. The clients, also, of the Patricians were in the habit of giving entertainments to their patrons on festival days, when each client contributed his share in kind; and numerous invitations were given, abundance and hospitality being the order of the day. Sometimes these feasts were held in a temple, and perhaps they are here referred to. There were also frequent entertainments in the "Curiæ," or "Court-houses" of Rome, at which the "curiales," or men of the "curia," or "ward," met together.
21 There the decision: Scaliger supposes that Stasimus is making a parody on the transaction of business by the Senate, who were said "to give their decisions on matters sacred and human;" and that he means to say that the feast is his Senate-house, and the food are the things sacred and human which he is bound to discuss, without respect for anybody.
22 Without incumbrances: Every Roman family of consequence was bound to perform particular sacrifices, which were not only ordained by the pontifical laws, but the obligation was also rendered hereditary by the civil law, and ordered to be observed by the law of the Twelve Tables: "Sacra privata perpetua manento," "Let private sacrifices remain perpetual." This law is quoted and commented upon by Cicero in his Second Book on the Laws. He there tells us that "heirs are obliged to continue their sacrifices, be they ever so expensive; and for this reason, as by the above law these sacrifices were to be maintained, no one was presumed to be better able to supply the place of the deceased person than his heir." A property exempt from this necessity, might be truly said to be one without incumbrances.
23 The salt-cellar: By this expression, Plautus seems to mean that life is to the body as salt is to flesh; it preserves it from corruption.
24 At Acheron: Acheron was a river of the Brutii in Campania. There was another river of this name in Epirus. The word usually denotes one of the rivers of Hell; here it means the Infernal regions themselves.
25 As your name imports: The meaning of Stasimus is--"Perhaps when you are dead, in leaving your property to another, you may really prove yourself the amiable man your name would bespeak you to be;" Philto being derived from the Greek θιλέω, "to love."
26 I agree: "Spondeo" was a word in general use to denote that the person entered into a promise or engagement. Being the nearest male relation of the damsel, Philto wishes Lesbonicus to close the matter by saying "spondeo," "I agree to betroth her," which he hesitates to do; on which, Stasimus, alluding to his having been the security for the thousand drachmæ, tells him that he had been ready enough to say "spondeo" when it was not to his advantage; namely, at the time when he aid "spondeo," "I promise," and became the security to the banker for his friend. See Note 1 in page 24.
27 Backgammoned state: "Ad incitas redactus, "brought to a standstill," was a term borrowed from the game of "Duodecim Scripta," or "twelve points," and was applied when one of the parties got all his men on the twelfth point, and, being able to move no further, lost the game in consequence. Probably the game partook of the nature of both backgammon and chess.
28 The hogs die: From Pliny the Elder we learn that "angina," or swelling of the throat, was a common distemper among hogs.
29 The Syrian natives: He makes mention of the Syrians, because living in a hot climate, they would be most likely to be able to endure extreme heat.
30 The solstitial fever: He seems to mean, that if a person went to live there at the beginning of the year, he could not possibly live there beyond six months, being sure to die of fever at the time of the Solstice, or Midsummer.
31 I believe, Stasimus: Philto only says so for peace sake, as no man in his senses was likely to believe a word of it. As he does not want the piece of land for his son, he wishes to make no words about it.
32 But the Campanian: He just makes this remark casually, probably to show Stasimus that he knows about things in general as well as he does. Some think, however, that he intends to correct Stasimus, and to tell him that even the Campanians, who were considered an effeminate race, could boast of more hardihood than the Syrians.
33 To impose upon: "Os quoi sublinat"--literally, "can besmear his face." This expression alludes to the practical joke of making a fool of a person by painting his face while he is asleep.
34 I have cleverly frightened: As before remarked, he is probably much mistaken in thinking so.
35 He is a man: His meaning seems to be, "he is a man, with feelings like ourselves, and naturally wishes for his freedom,"
36 Do go now: Stasimus is continually urging him to follow Philto, and bring the matter to a conclusion, as he fears that so good an opportunity may be lost through his master's habitual carelessness especially as Philto has agreed not to receive the land as a marriage-portion.
37 'Tis all over: He means that he will no longer have any support from his master, and that he will have to turn soldier, and so earn his livelihood.
38 Atia or to Cilicia: , Alluding, probably to the wars which were continually occurring between the Greeks and the Persian monarchs, or else to the custom of hiring themselves out as mercenary soldiers, as Xenophon and the ten thousand did to the younger Cyrus.
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