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Enter DAVUS,1 with a bag of money in his hand.
Geta, my very good friend and fellow-townsman, came to me yesterday. There had been for some time a trifling balance of money of his in my hands upon a small account; he asked me to make it up. I have done so, and am carrying it to him. But I hear that his master's son has taken a wife; this, I suppose, is scraped together as a present for her. How unfair a custom!--that those who have the least should always be giving something to the more wealthy! That which the poor wretch has with difficulty spared, ounce by ounce, out of his allowance,2 defrauding himself of every indulgence, the whole of it will she carry of, without thinking with how much labor it has been acquired. And then besides, Geta will be struck3 for another present4 when his mistress is brought to bed; and then again for another present, when the child's birthday comes; when they initiate him,5 too: all this the mother will carry off; the child will only be the pretext for the present. But don't I see Geta there?
1 Davus is a protatic character, only introduced for the purpose of opening the story.
2 Out of his allowance: Donatus tells us that the slaves received four "modii," or measures of corn, each month, which was called their "demensum."
3 Will be struck: "Ferietur." "To strike" a person for a present was said when it was extorted from him reluctantly. So in the Trinummuns of Plautus, 1. 247, "Ibi illa pendentem ferit." "Then does she strike while he is wavering."
4 For another present: Presents were usually made to persons on.their birthday, on the day of their marriage, and on the birth of their children.
5 Initiate him: It is not known what initiation is here referred to. Madame Dacier thinks it was an initiation into the great mysteries of Ceres, which was commonly performed while children were yet very young; others suggest that it means the period of weaning the child, and initiating it into the use of another kind of diet. Donatus says, that Varro speaks of children being initiated into the mysteries of the Deities Edulia, Potica, and Cuba, the Divinities of Eating, Drinking, and Sleeping.
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