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Oh,--opportunely met; you are the very man I was looking for.1 MICIO
Why are you out of spirits? DEMEA
Do you ask me, when we have such a son as Aeschinus,2 why I'm out of spirits? MICIO
aside. Did I not say it would be so? To DEMEA. What has he been doing? DEMEA
What has he been doing? He, who is ashamed of nothing, and fears no one, nor thinks that any law can control him. But I pass by what has been previously done: what a thing he has just perpetrated! MICIO
Why, what is it? DEMEA
He has broken open a door,3 and forced his way into another person's house, beaten to death the master himself, and all the household, and carried off a wench whom he had a fancy for. All people are exclaiming that it was a most disgraceful proceeding. How many, Micio, told me of this as I was coming here? It is in everybody's mouth. In fine, if an example must be cited, does he not see his brother giving his attention to business, and living frugally and soberly in the country? No action of his is like this. When I say this to him, Micio, I say it to you. You allow him to be corrupted. MICIO
Never is there any thing more unreasonable than a man who wants experience, who thinks nothing right except what he himself has done. DEMEA
What is the meaning of that? MICIO
Because, Demea, you misjudge these matters. It is no heinous crime, believe me, for a young man to intrigue or to drink; it is not; nor yet for him to break open a door. If neither I nor you did so, it was poverty that did not allow us to do so. Do you now claim that as a merit to yourself which you then did from necessity? That is unfair; for if we had had the means to do so, we should have done the same. And, if you were a man, you would now suffer that other son of yours to act thus now, while his age will excuse it, rather than, when he has got you, after long wishing it, out of the way, he should still do so, at a future day, and at an age more unsuited. DEMEA
O Jupiter! You, sir, are driving me to distraction. Is it not a heinous thing for a young man to do these things? MICIO
Oh! do listen to me, and do not everlastingly din me upon this subject. You gave me your son to adopt; he became mine; if he offends in any thing, Demea, he offends against me: in that case I shall bear the greater part of the inconvenience. Does he feast,4 does he drink, does he smell of perfumes,5--it is at my cost. Does he intrigue, money shall be found by me, so long as it suits me; when it shall be no longer convenient, probably he'll be shut out of doors.6 Has he broken open a door--it shall be replaced; has he torn any one's clothes--they shall be mended. Thanks to the Gods, I both have means for doing this, and these things are not as yet an annoyance. In fine, either desist, or else find some arbitrator between us: I will show that in this matter you are the most to blame. DEMEA
Ah me! Learn to be a father from those who are really so. MICIO
You are his father by nature, I by my anxiety. DEMEA
You, feel any anxiety? MICIO
Oh dear,--if you persist, I'll leave you. DEMEA
Is it thus you act? MICIO
Am I so often to hear about the same thing? DEMEA
I have some concern for my son. MICIO
I have some concern for him too; but, Demea, let us each be concerned for his own share--you for the one, and I for the other. For, to concern yourself about both is almost the same thing as to demand him back again, whom you intrusted to me. DEMEA
Alas, Micio! MICIO
So it seems to me. DEMEA
What am I to say to this? If it pleases you, henceforth--let him spend, squander, and destroy; it's nothing to me. If I say one word after this---- MICIO
Again angry, Demea? DEMEA
Won't you believe me? Do I demand him back whom I have intrusted? I am concerned for him; I am not a stranger in blood; if I do interpose----well, well, I have done. You desire me to concern myself for one of them,--do concern myself; and I give thanks to the Gods, he is just as I would have him; that fellow of yours will find it out at a future day : I don't wish to say any thing more harsh against him. (Exit.) MICIO
These things are7 not nothing at all, nor yet all just as he says; still they do give me some uneasiness; but I was unwilling to show him that I took them amiss, for he is such a man; when I would pacify him, I steadily oppose and resist him; and in spite of it he hardly puts up with it like other men; but if I were to inflame, or even to humor his anger, I should certainly be as mad as himself. And yet Aesclhinus has done me some injustice in this affair. What courtesan has he not intrigued with? Or to which of them has he not made some present? At last, he recently told me that he wished to take a wife,8 I suppose he was just then tired of them all. I was in hopes that the warmth of youth had now subsided; I was delighted. But look now, he is at it again; however, I am determined to know it, whatever it is, and to go meet the fellow, if he is at the Forum. (Exit.)
1 I was looking for: Donatus observes that the Poet has in this place improved upon Menander, in representing Demea as more ready to wrangle with his brother than to return his compliments.
2 Such a son as Aeschinus: The passage pretty clearly means by "ubi nobis Aeschinus sit," "when I've got such a son as Aeschinus." Madame Dacier, however, would translate it: "Ask me--you, in whose house Aeschinus is?" thus accusing him of harboring Aeschinus; a very forced construction, however.
3 Broken open a door: The works of Ovid and Plautus show that it was no uncommon thing for riotous young men to break open doors; Ovid even suggests to the lover the expediency of getting into the house through the windows.
4 Does he feast: Colman has the following observation here: "The mild character of Micio is contrasted by Cicero to that of a furious, savage, severe father, as drawn by the famous Comic Poet, Caecilius. Both writers are quoted in the Oration for Caelius, in the composition of which it is plain that the orator kept his eye pretty closely on our Poet. The passages from Caecilius contain all that vehemence and severity which, as Horace tells us, was accounted the common character of the style of that author."
6 Will be shut out of doors: No doubt by his mistress, when she has drained him of his money, and not by Micio himself, as Colman says he was once led to imagine.
7 These things are: Donatus observes here, that Terence seems inclined to favor the part of mild fathers. He represents Micio as appalled at his adopted son's irregularities, lest if he should appear wholly unmoved, he should seem to be corrupting him, rather than to be treating him with only a proper degree of indulgence.
8 Wished to take a wife: Donatus remarks here, that the art of Terence in preparing his incidents is wonderful. He contrives that even ignorant persons shall open the plot, as in the present instance, where we understand that Aeschinus has mentioned to Micio his intention of taking a wife, though he has not entered into particulars. This naturally leads us to the ensuing parts of the Play, without forestalling any of the circumstances.
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