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[107] “I believe I am a man of some reputation, and they have chosen me for this duty, and begged me to make it up between them and their old friends. I suppose you do not imagine that these young men have fallen into the snare by chance, when the first care of every one who goes a voyage is to find a trustworthy person to depend on. So unbend the sternness which has been softened by revenge, and let the men go free without hindrance to their destination. Even a harsh and unforgiving master reins in his cruelty if his runaways are at last led back by penitence, and we all spare an enemy who surrenders. What do you want or wish for more? These free and respectable young men lie prostrate before your eyes, and what is more important, they were once bound to you by close friendship I take my oath that if they had embezzled your money, or hurt you by betraying your confidence, you[p. 219] might still be satisfied with the punishment you have seen inflicted. Look, you see slavery on their foreheads, and their free faces branded under a selfimposed sentence of punishment.” Lichas interrupted this plea for mercy, saying, “Do not go confusing the issue, but let each single point have its place. And first of all, if they came of their own accord, why have they stripped all the hair off their heads? A man who disguises himself wants to play a trick, not to make amends. Again, if they were contriving some act of grace through a mediator, why did you do everything in your power to hide your protégés away? All this makes it clear that the ruffians fell into the net by accident, and that you hunted for some device to avoid the force of our displeasure. When you try to prejudice us by calling them free and respectable, mind you do not spoil your case by impudence. What should an injured party do, when the guilty run into punishment? Oh! you say, they were once our friends! Then they deserve the harsher treatment. A person who injures a stranger is called a robber, but a man who hurts his friends is practically a parricide.” Eumolpus put an end to this unfair harangue by saying,“I know that nothing is more against the poor young men than their cutting their hair at night. This looks like a proof that they came by chance upon the ship and did not come on purpose. Now I want the plain truth to come to your ears just as simply as it happened. They wanted to relieve their heads of the troublesome and useless weight before they came aboard, but the wind got up and postponed their scheme of treatment. They never thought that it made any difference where they began what they had decided to do; they were quite ignorant of sailors' omens and sea-law.” “But[p. 221] why should they shave themselves to excite pity?” said Lichas, Unless of course bald people are naturally more pitiable. But what is the use of trying to discover the truth through a third person? Now speak up, you ruffian! Who was the salamander that singed off your eyebrows? What God had the promise of your hair? Answer me, gallows-bird!"

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load focus Introduction (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
load focus Latin (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
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