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Enter LYSITELES and LESBONICUS.
Stay, this moment; don't turn away, and don't hide yourself from me. He catches hold of his cloak. LESBONICUS
(shaking him off) Can't you allow me to go whither I was proceeding? LYSITELES
If, Lesbonicus, it seems to be to your interest, either for your glory or for your honour, I will let you go. LESBONICUS
You are doing a thing that it is very easy to do. LYSITELES
What is that? LESBONICUS
An injury to a friend. LYSITELES
It is no way of mine, and I have not learned so to do. LESBONICUS
Untaught as you are, how cleverly you do it. What would you have done, if any one had taught you to be thus annoying to me? You, who, when you pretend to be acting kindly to me, use me ill, and are intending evil. LYSITELES
How do I use you ill? LESBONICUS
Inasmuch as you do that which I do not wish. LYSITELES
I wish to consult your advantage. LESBONICUS
Are you kinder to me than I am to myself? I have sense enough; I see sufficiently well those things that are for my own advantage. LYSITELES
And is it having sense enough to refuse a kindness from a well-wisher? LESBONICUS
I reckon it to be no kindness, when it does not please him on whom you are conferring it. I know, and I understand myself what I am doing, and my mind forsakes not its duty; nor will I be driven by your speeches from paying due regard to my own character. LYSITELES
What do you say? For now I cannot be restrained from saying to you the things which you deserve. Have your forefathers, I pray, so handed down this reputation to you, that you, by your excesses, might lose what before was gained by their merit, and that you might become a bar to the honour of your own posterity? Your father and your grandfather made an easy and a level path for you to attain to honour; whereas you have made it to become a difficult one, by your extreme recklessness and sloth, and your besotted ways. You have made your election, to prefer your passions to virtue. Now, do you suppose that you can cover over your faults by these means? Alas! 'tis impossible. Welcome virtue to your mind, if you please, and expel slothfulness from your heart. Give your attention to your he-friends in the Courts of justice1, and not to the couch of your she-friend, as you are wont to do. And earnestly do I now wish this piece of land to be left to you for this reason, that you may have wherewithal to reform yourself; so that those citizens, whom you have for enemies, may not be able altogether to throw your poverty in your teeth. LESBONICUS
All these things which you have been saying, I know--could even set my seal2 to them: how I have spoiled my patrimonial estate and the fair fame of my forefathers. I knew how it became me to live; to my misfortune I was not able to act accordingly. Thus, overpowered by the force of passion, inclined to ease, I fell into the snare; and now to you, quite as you deserve, I do return most hearty thanks. LYSITELES
Still, I cannot suffer my labour to be thus lost, and yourself to despise these words; at the same time, it grieves me that you have so little shame. And, in fine, unless you listen to me, and do this that I mention, you yourself will easily lie concealed behind your own self, so that honour cannot find you; when you will wish yourself to be especially distinguished, you will be lying in obscurity. I know right well, for my part, Lesbonicus, your highly ingenuous disposition; I know that of your own accord you have not done wrong, but that it is Love that has blinded your heart; and I myself comprehend all the ways of Love. As the charge of the balista3 is hurled, so is Love; nothing is there so swift, or that so swiftly flies; he, too, makes the manners of men both foolish and froward4. That which is the most commended pleases him the least5; that from which he is dissuaded pleases him. When there is a scarcity, then you long for a thing; when there is an abundance of it, then you don't care for it. The person that warns him off from a thing, the same invites him; he that persuades him to it interdicts him. 'Tis a misfortune of insanity for you to fly to Cupid for refuge. But I advise you again and again to think of this, how you should seek to act. If you attempt to do according as you are now showing signs6, you will cause the conflagration of your family; and then, in consequence, you will have a desire for water with which to quench this conflagration of your family. And if you should obtain it, just as lovers are subtle in their devices, you will not leave even one spark with which your family may brighten up. LESBONICUS
'Tis easy to be found: fire is granted, even though you should ask it of a foe. But you, by your reproof, are urging me from my faults to a viler course. You are persuading me to give you my sister without a portion. But it does not become me, who have misused so great a patrimony, to be still in affluent circumstances, and to be possessing land, but her to be in want, so as with good reason to detest me. Never will he be respected by others who makes himself despised by his own relatives. As I said, I will do; I do not wish you to be in doubt any longer. LYSITELES
And is it so much preferable that for your sister's sake you should incur poverty, and that I should possess that piece of land rather than yourself, who ought to be upholding your own walls? LESBONICUS
I do not wish you so much to have regard to myself, in order that you may relieve my poverty, as that in my neediness I may not become disgraced: that people may not spread about this report of me, that I gave my own sister without a portion to you, rather in concubinage7 than in marriage. Who would be said to be more dishonorable than I? The spreading of this report might do credit to you, but it would defile me, if you were to marry her without a portion. For you it would be a gain of reputation, for me it would be something for people to throw in my teeth. LYSITELES
Why so? Do you suppose8 that you will become Dictator if I accept the land of you? LESBONICUS
I neither wish, nor require, nor do I think so; but still, to be mindful of his duty, is true honour to an upright man. LYSITELES
For my part, I know you, how you are disposed in mind; I see it, I discover it, I apprehend. You are doing this, that when you have formed an alliance between us, and when you have given up this piece of land, and have nothing here with which to support life, in beggary you may fly from the city, in exile you may desert your country, your kindred, your connexions, your friends,--the nuptials once over. People would suppose that you were frightened hence by my means, and through my cupidity. Do not fancy in your mind that I will act so as to allow that to happen. STASIMUS
advanccing . Well, I cannot but exclaim, "Well done, well done, Lysiteles, encore9." Easily do you win the victory; the other is conquered: your performance is superior. This one pointing to LYSITELES acts better in character, and composes better lines10. By reason of your folly do you still dispute it? Stand in awe of the fine. LESBONICUS
What means this interruption of yours, or your intrusion here upon our conversation? STASIMUS
The same way that I came here I'll get me gone. LESBONICUS
Step this way home with me, Lysiteles; there we will talk at length about these matters. LYSITELES
I am not in the habit of doing anything in secret. Just as my feelings are I will speak out. If your sister, as I think it right, is thus given to me in marriage without a portion, and if you are not about to go away hence, that which shall be mine, the same shall be yours. But if you are minded otherwise, may that which you do turn out for you for the best. I will never be your friend on any other terms; such is my determination. (Exit LESBONICUS, followed by LYSITELES.) STASIMUS
Faith, he's off. D'ye hear--Lysiteles? I want you. He's off as well. Stasimus, you remain alone. What am I now to do, but to buckle up my baggage and sling my buckler on my back11, and order soles to be fastened12 beneath my shoes? There is no staying now. I see that no long time hence I shall be a soldier's drudge. And when my master has thrown himself into the pay13 of some potentate, I guess that among the greatest warriors he will prove a brave14--hand at running away, and that there he will capture the spoil, who-shall come to attack my master. I myself, the moment that I shall have assumed my bow and quiver and arrows, and the helmet on my head, shall-go to sleep very quietly in my tent. I'll be off to the Forum; I'll ask that talent15 back of the person to whom I lent it six days since, that I may have some provision for the journey to carry with me. (Exit.)
1 In the Courts of justice: It was the custom of the young men of the Patrician class among the Romans to plead gratuitously for their friends and clients, in the Forum or Court of justice.
2 Set my seal: Affixing the seal to an instrument was then, as now the most solemn way of ratifying it.
3 Charge of the balista: The word "balista" here signifies the charge of the military engine known as the "balista." It was used by the ancients for the purpose of discharging stones against the higher part of the walls of besieged places, while the "catapulta" was directed against the lower. The charge of the "balista" varied from two pounds to three hundred-weight.
6 Are now showing signs: The meaning of this passage is extremely obscure. Perhaps, however, it is this, "If you persist in your extravagance, and are resolved to part with this land, the very last of your possessions, you will prove the conflagration and ruin of your family. Then you will be seeking a remedy--water with which to quench it. When you have got this remedy, as you cleverly suppose, in going abroad to fight and earn glory, you will ply it with such zeal, that you will overdo it, and, in getting killed yourself, will thereby quench the last spark on which the very existence of your house depended." Or this Lesbonicus says, though not carrying on the metaphor in the same sense, "I will find means, even amid the enemy, to render my name illustrious, for there the fire may be found which is to keep my family from becoming extinguished."
7 Rather in concubinage: His pride is hurt at the idea of his sister being married without a portion, and thereby losing one of the distinctive marks between a wife and a mistress. It was considered a disgraceful thing for a remain to be given in marriage without a portion, however small.
8 Do you suppose: Lysiteles says, satirically, and rather unkindly, it would seem, "What, do you suppose that, if I accept this piece of land of you, you will attain the Dictatorship as the reward of your high spirit?' The Dictatorshiip was the highest honour in the Roman Republic.
9 Encore: Παλὶν. This Greek word was no doubt used by the Romans just as we employ the French word "encore." In a similar manner it was probably used in the theatres, the usage of which is here figuratively referred to.
10 Composes better lines: In the line before, he alludes to the contest of the Comic poets for the prize of Comedy, to be decided according to the merits of their respective plays. As the poets were often the actors of their plays, he addresses them in this line in the latter capacity. Then, in the next line, he refers to the custom of the Romans in early times of training slaves as actors, where, if they did not please the spectators, they were taken off the stage and fined or beaten for their carelessness.
11 On my back: When marching, the "clypeus," or "shield," was slung on the back of the soldier. The "sarcina," or "baggage," probably resembled our knapsack.
12 Soles to be fastened: The "soccus" was a slipper or low shoe, which did not fit closely, and was not fastened by a tie. These were worn both by men and women, and especially by Comic actors. His meaning probably is, that he will be obliged to have high heels and thick soles put to his shoes, so as to turn them into "caligæ," the heavy kind of shoes worn by the Roman soldiers.
13 Into the pay: "In saginam," means "for his food;" as what we technically call "the mess" was provided for the soldier by those who hired him The term "sagina" is found especially applied to the victuals of the gladiators, who were trained up and dieted on all kinds of nourishing food for the purpose of adding to their strength, and thereby heightening interest attendant on their combats.
14 Prove a brave: In this line and the next he is witty upon the sorry figure which he fancies Lesbonicus will make in the field of battle.
15 Ask that talent: Many a truth is said in jest, and perhaps part of this talent is the fruit of the theft which he seems in joke only to admit in l. 414; as some Commentators have remarked, where was Stasimus, a slave, to get so much money as a talent, more than 200 £? As, however, in other respects, he seems to have been a faithful servant, let us in charity suppose that he cams honestly by his talent, and that it was his fairly acquired "peculium"
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