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Enter DEMIPHO and CHREMES, from DEMIPHO'S house.

DEMIPHO
I do give and return hearty thanks to the Gods, and with reason, brother, inasmuch as these matters have turned out for us so fortunately. We must now meet with Phormio as soon as possible, before he squanders our thirty minae, so that we may get them from him. Enter PHORMIO, coming forward, and speaking aloud, as though not seeing them.

PHORMIO
I'll go see if Demipho's at home; that as to what1----

DEMIPHO
accosting him. Why, Phormio, we were coming to you.

PHORMIO
Perhaps about the very same affair. DEMIPHO nods assent. I' faith, I thought so. What were you coming to my house for? Ridiculous; are you afraid that I sha'n't do what I have once undertaken? Hark you, whatever is my poverty, still, of this one thing I have taken due care, not to forfeit my word.

CHREMES
to DEMIPHO. Is she not genteel-looking,2 just as I told you?

DEMIPHO
Very much so.

PHORMIO
And this is what I'm come to tell you, Demipho, that I'm quite ready; whenever you please, give me my wife. For I postponed all my other business, as was fit I should, when I understood that you were so very desirous to have it so.

DEMIPHO
pointing to CHREMES. But he has dissuaded me from giving her to you. "For what," says he, "will be the talk among people if you do this? Formerly, when she might have been handsomely disposed of, then she wasn't given; now it's a disgrace for her to be turned out of doors, a repudiated woman;" pretty nearly, in fact, all the reasons which you yourself, some little time since, were urging to me.

PHORMIO
Upon my faith, you are treating me in a very insulting manner.

DEMIPHO
How so?

PHORMIO
Do you ask me? Because I shall not be able to marry the other person I mentioned; for with what face shall I return to her whom I've slighted?

CHREMES
Then besides, I see that Antipho is unwilling to part with her. Aside, prompting DEMIPHO. Say so.

DEMIPHO
Then besides, I see that my son is very unwilling to part with the damsel. But have the goodness to step over to the Forum, and order this money to be transferred to my account,3 Phormio.

PHORMIO
What, when I've paid it over to the persons to whom I was indebted?

DEMIPHO
What's to be done, then?

PHORMIO
If you will let me have her for a wife, as you promised, I'll take her; but if you prefer that she should stay with you, the portion must stay with me, Demipho. For it isn't fair that I should be misled for you, as it was for your own sakes that I broke off with the other woman, who was to have brought me a portion just as large.

DEMIPHO
Away with you to utter perdition, with this swaggering, you vagabond. What, then, do you fancy we don't know you, or your doings?

PHORMIO
You are provoking me.

DEMIPHO
Would you have married her, if she had been given to you?

PHORMIO
Try the experiment.

DEMIPHO
That my son might cohabit with her at your house, that was your design.

PHORMIO
Pray, what is that you say?

DEMIPHO
Then do you give me my money?

PHORMIO
Nay, but do you give me my wife?

DEMIPHO
Come before a magistrate. Going to seize hold of him.

PHORMIO
Why, really, if you persist in being troublesome--

DEMIPHO
What will you do?

PHORMIO
What, I? You fancy, perhaps, just now, that I am the protector of the portionless; for the well portioned,4 I'm in the habit of being so as well.

CHREMES
What's that to us?

PHORMIO
with a careless air. Nothing at all. I know a certain lady here pointing at CHREMES'S house whose husband had----

CHREMES
starting. Ha!

DEMIPHO
What's the matter?

PHORMIO
Another wife at Lemnos----

CHREMES
aside. I'm ruined!

PHORMIO
By whom he had a daughter; and her he is secretly bringing up.

CHREMES
aside. I'm dead and buried!

PHORMIO
This I shall assuredly now inform her of. Walks toward the house.

CHREMES
running and catching hold of him. I beg of you, don't do so.

PHORMIO
with a careless air. Oh, were you the person?

DEMIPHO
What a jest he's making of us.

CHREMES
to PHORMIO. We'll let you off.

PHORMIO
Nonsense.

CHREMES
What would you have? We'll forgive you the money you've got,

PHORMIO
I hear you. Why the plague, then, do you two trifle with me in this way, you silly men, with your childish speeches--"I won't, and I will; I will, and I won't," over again: "keep it, give it me back; what has been said, is unsaid; what had been just a bargain, is now no bargain."

CHREMES
aside, to DEMIPHO. In what manner, or from whom has he come to know of this?

DEMIPHO
aside. I don't, know; but that I've told it to no one, I know for certain.

CHREMES
aside. So may the Gods bless me, 'tis as good as a miracle.

PHORMIO
aside, to himself. I've graveled them.

DEMIPHO
apart, to CHREMES. Well now, is he to be carrying off5 from us such a sum of money as this, and so palpably to impose upon us? By heavens, I'd sooner die. Manage to show yourself of resolute and ready wit. You see that this slip of yours has got abroad, and that you can not now possibly conceal it from your wife; it is then more conducive to our quiet, Chremes, ourselves to disclose what she will be hearing from others; and then, in our own fashion, we shall be able to take vengeance upon this dirty fellow.

PHORMIO
aside, to himself. Good lack-a-day, now's the sticking-point, if I don't look out for myself. They are making toward me with a gladiatorial air.

CHREMES
apart, to DEMIPHO. But I doubt whether it's possible for her to be appeased.

DEMIPHO
apart, to CHREMES. Be of good courage; I'll effect a reconciliation between you; remembering this, Chremes, that she is dead and gone6 by whom you had this girl.

PHORMIO
in a loud voice. Is this the way you are going to deal with me? Very cleverly done. Come on with you. By heavens, Demipho, you have provoked me, not to his advantage pointing at CHREMES . How say you? addressing CHREMES . When you've been doing abroad just as you pleased, and have had no regard for this excellent lady here, but on the contrary, have been injuring her in an unheard-of manner, would you be coming to me with prayers to wash away your offenses? On telling her of this, I'll make her so incensed with you, that you sha'n't quench her, though you should melt away into tears.

DEMIPHO
aside. A plague may all the Gods and Goddesses send upon him. That any fellow should be possessed of so much impudence! Does not this villain deserve to be transported hence to some desolate land at the public charge?

CHREMES
aside. I am brought to such a pass, that I really don't know what to do in it.

DEMIPHO
I know; let's go into court.

PHORMIO
Into court? Here in preference pointing to CHREMES'S house , if it suits you in any way. Moves toward the house.

DEMIPHO
to CHREMES. Follow him, and hold him back, till I call out the servants.

CHREMES
trying to seize PHORMIO. But I can't by myself; run and help me.

PHORMIO
to DEMIPHO, who seizes hold of him. There's one action of damages against you.

CHREMES
Sue him at law, then.

PHORMIO
And another with you, Chremes.

DEMIPHO
Lay hold of him. They both drag him.

PHORMIO
Is it thus you do? Why then I must exert my voice: Nausistrata, come out calling aloud .

CHREMES
to DEMIPHO. Stop his mouth.

DEMIPHO
See how strong the rascal is.

PHORMIO
calling aloud. Nausistrata, I say.

CHREMES
Will you not hold your tongue?

PHORMIO
Hold my tongue?

DEMIPHO
to CHREMES, as they drag him along. If he won't follow, plant your fists in his stomach.

PHORMIO
Or e'en gouge out an eye. The time's coming when I shall have a full revenge on you.

1 That as to what: Lemaire suggests that he is about to say: "that as to what was agreed upon between us, I may take home this young woman, and make her my wife."

2 Is she not genteel-looking: Patrick has the following note here: "One can not conceive any thing more happy or just than these words of Chremes. Demipho's thoughts are wholly taken up how to recover the money, and Phormio is equally solicitous to retain it; but Chremes, who had just left his daughter, is regardless of their discourse, and fresh from the impressions which she had made on him, longs to know if his brother's sentiments of her were equally favorable, and naturally puts this paternal question to him."

3 Transferred to my account: "Rescribere argentum," or "nummos," meant "to transfer," or "set down money to the account of another person in one's banker's books." A passage in the Asinaria of Plautus, l. 445, seems to have the same meaning.

4 For the well portioned: Though Colman thinks otherwise, it is pretty clear that he alludes to Nausistrata in these words.

5 To be carrying off: Patrick has the following note here: "The different characters of the two brothers are admirably preserved throughout this Scene. Chremes stands greatly in awe of his wife, and will submit to any thing rather than the story should come to her ears; but Demipho can not brook the thoughts of losing so much money, and encourages his brother to behave with spirit and resolution, promising to make up matters between him and his wife."

6 Dlead and gone: "E medio excedere," was an Euphemism signifying "to die," which it was deemed of ill omen to mention.

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  • Commentary references to this page (4):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 14
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 33
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 5
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
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