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LEST it should be a matter of surprise to any one of you, why the Poet has assigned to an old man1 a part that belongs to the young, that I will first explain to you;2 and then, the reason for my coming I will disclose. An entire Play from an entire Greek one,3 the Heautontimorumenos, I am to-day about to represent, which from a two-fold plot4 has been made but one. I have shown that it is new, and what it is: next I would mention who it was that wrote it, and whose in Greek it is, if I did not think that the greater part of you are aware. Now, for what reason I have learned this part, in a few words I will explain. The Poet intended me to be a Pleader,5 not the Speaker of a Prologue; your decision he asks, and has appointed me the advocate; if this advocate can avail as much by his oral powers as he has excelled in inventing happily, who composed this speech which I am about to recite. For as to malevolent rumors spreading abroad that he has mixed together many Greek Plays while writing a few Latin ones, he does not deny that this is the case, and that he does not repent of so doing; and he affirms that he will do so again. He has the example of good Poets; after which example he thinks it is allowable for him to do what they have done. Then, as to a malevolent old Poet6 saying that he has suddenly applied himself to dramatic pursuits, relying on the genius of his friends,7 and not his own natural abilities; on that your judgment your your opinion, will prevail. Wherefore I do entreat you all, that the suggestions of our antagonists may not avail more than those of our favorers. Do. you be favorable; grant the means of prospering to those who afford you the means of being spectators of new Plays; those, I mean, without faults: that he may not suppose this said in his behalf who lately made the public give way to a slave as he ran along in the street;8 why should he take a madman's part? About his faults he will say more when he brings out some other new ones, unless he puts an end to his caviling. Attend with favorable feelings; grant me the opportunity that I may be allowed to act a quiet Play9 in silence; that the servant everlastingly running about, the angry old man, the gluttonous parasite, the impudent sharper, and the greedy procurer, may not have always to be performed by me with the utmost expense of voice, and the greatest exertion. For my sake come to the conclusion that this request is fair, that so some portion of my labor may be abridged. For nowadays, those who write new Plays do not spare an aged man. If there is any piece requiring exertion, they come running to me; but if it is a light one, it is taken to another Company. In the present one the style is pure. Do you make proof, what, in each character,10 my ability can effect. If I have never greedily set a high price upon my skill, and have come to the conclusion that this is my greatest gain, as far as possible to be subservient to your convenience, establish in me a precedent, that the young may be anxious rather to please you than themselves.
1 Assigned to an old man: He refers to the fact that the Prologue was in general spoken by young men, whereas it is here spoken by L. Ambivius Turpio, the leader of the Company, a man stricken in years. The Prologue was generally not recited by a person who performed a character in the opening Scene.
2 That I will first explain to you: His meaning seems to be, that he will first tell them the reason why he, who is to take a part in the opening Scene, speaks the Prologue, which is usually spoken by a young man who does not take part in that Scene; and that he will then proceed to speak in character (eloquor), as Chremes, in the first Scene. His reason for being chosen to speak the Prologue, is that he may be a pleader (orator) for the Poet, a task which would be likely to be better performed by him than by a younger man.
3 From an entire Greek one: In contradistinction to such Plays as the Andria, as to which it was a subject of complaint that it had been formed out of a mixture contaminantus) of the Andrian and Perinthian of Menander.
4 Which from a two-fold plot: Vollbehr suggests that the meaning of this line is, that though it is but one Play, it has a two-fold plot--the intrigues of two young men with two mistresses, and the follies of two old men. As this Play is supposed to represent the events of two successive days, the night intervening, it has been suggested that the reading is "duplex--ex argumento--simplici;" the Play is "two-fold, with but one plot," as extending to two successive days. The Play derives its name from the Greek words, ἑαυτὸν, "himself," and τιμωρουμενὸς, "tormenting."
5 To be a Pleader: He is to be the pleader and advocate of the Poet, to influence the Audience in his favor, and against his adversaries; and not to explain the plot of the Play. Colman has the following observation: "It is impossible not to regret that there are not above ten lines of the Self-Tormentor preserved among the Fragments of Menander. We are so deeply interested by what we see of that character in Terence, that one can not but be curious to inquire in what manner the Greek Poet sustained it through five Acts. The Roman author, though he has adopted the title of the Greek Play, has so altered the fable, that Menedemus is soon thrown into the background, and Chremes is brought forward as the principal object; or, to vary: the allusion a little, the Menedemus of Terence seems to be a drawing in miniature copied from a full length, as large as the life, by Menander."
6 A malevolent old Poet: He alludes to his old enemy, Luscus Lavinius, referred to in the preceding Prologue.
7 The genius of his friends: He alludes to a report which had been spread, that his friends Laelius and Scipio had published their own compositions under his name. Servilius is also mentioned by Eugraphius as another of his patrons respecting whom similar stories were circulated.
8 As he ran along in the street: He probably does not intend to censure this practice entirely in Comedy, but to remind the Audience that in some recent Play of Luscus Lavinius this had been the sole stirring incident introduced. Plautus introduces Mercury running in the guise of Sosia, in the fourth Scene of the Amphitryon, 1. 987, and exclaiming, "For surely, why, faith, should I, a God, be any less allowed to threaten the public, if it doesn't get out of my way, than a slave in the Comedies?" This practice can not, however, be intended to be here censured by Plautus, as he is guilty of it in three other instances. In the Mercator, Acanthio runs to his master Charinus, to tell him that his mistress Pasicompsa has been seen in the ship by his father Demipho; in the Stichus, Pinacium, a slave, runs to inform his mistress Philumena that her husband has arrived in port, on his return from Asia; and in the Mostellaria, Tranio, in haste, brings information of the unexpected arrival of Theuropides. The "currens servus" is also mentioned in the Prologue to the Andria, 1. 36. See the soliloquy of Stasimus, in the Trinummus of Plautus, 1. 1007.
9 A quiet Play: "Statariam." See thie spurious Prologue to the Bacchides of Plautus, l. 10, and the Note to the passage in Bohn's Translation. The Comedy of the Romans was either "stataria," "motoria," or "mixta." "Stataria" was a Comedy which was calm and peaceable, such as the Cistellaria of Plautus; "motoria" was one full of action and disturbance, like his Amphitryon; while the "Comoedia mixta" was a mixture of both, such as the Eunuchus of Terence.
10 What in each character: "In utramque partem ingenium quid possit meum." This line is entirely omitted in Vollbehr's edition; but it appears to be merely a typographical error.
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