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Enter GETA, on the other side of the stage.

GETA
to himself. Now such is our condition, that if all were to combine all their counsels, and to seek a remedy for this mischief that has befallen myself, my mistress, and her daughter, they could find no relief. Oh wretched me! so many calamities beset us on a sudden, we can not possibly extricate ourselves. Violence, poverty, oppression, desertion, infamy! What an age is this! O shocking villainy! O accursed race! O impious man!----

SOSTRATA
Unhappy me! How is it that I see Geta hurrying along thus terrified?

GETA
continuing. Whom neither promises, nor oaths, nor compassion could move or soften; nor yet the fact that the delivery was nigh at hand of the unfortunate woman on whom he had so shamefully committed violence.

SOSTRATA
apart to CANTHARA. I don't well understand what he is talking about.

CANTHARA
Pray, let us go nearer to him, Sostrata.

GETA
continuing. Ah wretched me! I am scarcely master of my senses, I am so inflamed with anger. There is nothing that 1 would like better than for all that family to be thrown in my way, that I might give vent to all my wrath upon them while this wound is still fresh. 1 could be content with any punishment, so I might only wreak my vengeance on them. First, I would stop the breath of the old fellow himself who gave being to this monster; then as for his prompter, Syrus, out upon him! How I would tear him piecemeal! I would snatch him by the middle up aloft, and dash him head downward upon the earth, so that with his brains he would bestrew the road: I would pull out the eyes of the young fellow himself, and afterward hurl him headlong over some precipice. The others I would rush upon, drive, drag, crush, and trample them under foot. But why do I delay at once to acquaint my mistress with this calamity? Moves as if going.

SOSTRATA
to CANTHARA. Let us call him Lack. Geta----

GETA
Well--leave me alone, 1 whoever you are.

SOSTRATA
'Tis I,--Sostrata.

GETA
turning round. Why, where are you? You are the very person I am looking for. I was in quest of you; it's very fortunate you have met me.

SOSTRATA
What's the matter? Why are you trembling?

GETA
Alas! alas!

SOSTRATA
My dear Geta, why in such haste? Do take breath.

GETA
Quite----pauses.

SOSTRATA
Why, what means this "quite"?

GETA
Undone--It's all over with us.

SOSTRATA
Say, then, I entreat you, what is the matter.

GETA
Now----

SOSTRATA
What "now," Geta?

GETA
Aeschinus----

SOSTRATA
What about him?

GETA
Has abandoned our family.

SOSTRATA
Then I am undone! Why so?

GETA
He has attached himself to another woman.

SOSTRATA
Woe unto wretched me!

GETA
And he makes no secret of it; he himself has carried her off openly from a procurer.

SOSTRATA
Are you quite sure of this?

GETA
Quite sure; I saw it myself, Sostrata, with these same eyes.

SOSTRATA
Ah wretched me! What is one now to believe, or whom believe? Our own Aeschinus, the very life of us all, in whom all our hopes and comforts were centred! Who used to swear he could never live a single day without her! Who used to say, that he would place the infant on his father's knees, 2 and thus entreat that he might be allowed to make her his wife!

GETA
Dear mistress, forbear weeping, and rather consider what must be done for the future in this matter. Shall we submit to it, or shall we tell it to any person?

CANTHARA
Pooh, pooh! Are you in your senses, my good man? Does this seem to you a business to be made known to any one?

GETA
I, indeed, have no wish for it. In the first place, then, that his feelings are estranged from us, the thing itself declares. Now, if we make this known, he'll deny it, I'm quite sure; your reputation and your daughter's character will then be in danger. On the other hand, if he were fully to confess it, as he is in love with another woman, it would not be to her advantage to be given to him. Therefore, under either circumstance, there is need of silence.

SOSTRATA
Oh! by no means in the world! I'll not do it.

GETA
What is it you say?

SOSTRATA
I'll make it known.

GETA
Ha, my dear Sostrata, take care what you do!

SOSTRATA
The matter can not possibly be in a worse position than it is at present. In the first place, she has no portion; then, besides, that which was as good as a portion, her honor, is lost: she can not be given in marriage as a virgin. This resource is left; if he should deny it, I have a ring which he lost as evidence of the truth. In fine, Geta, as I am fully conscious that no blame attaches to me, and that neither interest nor any consideration unworthy of her or of myself has had a share in this matter, I will make trial----

GETA
What am I to say to this? I agree, as you speak for the best.

SOSTRATA
You be off as fast as possible, and relate all the matter just as it has happened to her kinsman Hegio; for he was the best friend of our lamented Simulus, and has shown especial regard for us.

GETA
aside. Aye, faith, because nobody else takes any notice of us.

SOSTRATA
Do you, my dear Canthara, run with all haste, and fetch the midwife, so that, when she is wanted, we may not have to wait for her. SOSTRATA goes into the house, and exit GETA and CANTHARA.

1 Leave me alone: Quoting from Madame Dacier, Colman has this remark here: "Geta's reply is founded on a frolicsome but ill-natured custom which prevailed in Greece--to stop the slaves in the streets, and designedly keep them in chat, so that they might be lashed when they came home for staying out so long."

2 On his father's knees: It was a prevalent custom with the Greeks to place the newly-born child upon the knee of its grandfather.

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