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Enter ALCMENA, from the house.
I cannot remain in the house. That I should be thus accused by my husband of dishonor, incontinence, and disgrace! he cries aloud that things which have been done, have really not been done; and of things which have not been done, and of which I have not been guilty, he accuses me, and supposes that I shall treat it with indifference. By heavens, I will not do so, nor will I allow myself to be falsely charged with dishonor; but rather I'll either leave him, or make him give satisfaction and swear as well1 that he wishes unsaid the things which he has alleged against me in my innocence. JUPITER
apart . This must be done by me, which she requires to be done, if I wish for her to receive me into her company as loving her: since that which I have done, that same conduct has proved to the detriment of Amphitryon, and since my love has already created trouble for him who is really guiltless, why now his wrath and his resentment towards her shall fall on me that am not accused. ALCMENA
And lo! I see him, who just now was accusing wretched me of incontinence and dishonor. JUPITER
advancing . Wife, I would discourse with you. She turns from him. Why turn yourself away? ALCMENA
Such is my disposition; I always hate to look upon my enemies. JUPITER
Heyday! enemies indeed2! ALCMENA
It is so, I speak the truth; unless you are going to allege that this is falsely said as well. JUPITER
offering to embrace her . You are too angry. ALCMENA
repulsing him . Can't you keep your hands off? For surely if you were wise, or quite in your senses, with her, whom you deem and pronounce to be unchaste, you would neither hold discourse, in mirth or in seriousness, unless, indeed, you are more foolish than the most foolish. JUPITER
If I did say so, not a bit the more are you so, nor do I think you so, and therefore have I returned hither that I might excuse myself to you. For never has anything proved more grievous to my feelings than when I heard that you were angry with me. "Why did you charge me?" you will say. I'll tell you; by my troth, not that I deemed you to be unchaste; but I was trying your feelings, what you would do, and in what manner you would bring yourself to bear it. Really, I said these things to you just now in jest, for the sake of the joke. Do but ask Sosia this. ALCMENA
But why don't you bring here my kinsman, Naucrates, whom you said just now that you would bring as a witness that you had not come here? JUPITER
If anything was said in joke, it isn't right for you to take it in earnest. ALCMENA
I know how much this has pained me at heart. JUPITER
Prithee, Alcmena taking her hand , by your right hand I do entreat you, grant me pardon; forgive me, don't be angry. ALCMENA
By my virtue have I rendered these accusations vain. Since then I eschew conduct that's unchaste, I would wish to avoid imputations of unchastity. Fare you well, keep your own3 property to yourself, return me mine. Do you order any maids to be my attendants? JUPITER
Are you in your senses? ALCMENA
If you don't order them, let me go alone; chastity shall I take as my attendant. Going. JUPITER
Stay--at your desire, I'll give my oath that I believe my wife4 to be chaste. If in that I deceive you, then, thee, supreme Jupiter, do I entreat that thou wilt ever be angered against5 Amphitryon. ALCMENA
Oh! rather may he prove propitious. JUPITER
I trust that it will be so; for before you have I taken a truthful oath. Now then, you are not angry? ALCMENA
I am not. JUPITER
You act properly. For in the life of mortals many things of this nature come to pass; and now they take their pleasures, again they meet with hardships. Quarrels intervene, again do they become reconciled. But it perchance any quarrels of this nature happen between them, when again they have become reconciled, twofold more loving are they between themselves than they were before. ALCMENA
At the first you ought to have been careful not to say so; but if you excuse yourself to me for the same, it must be put up with. JUPITER
But bid the sacred vessels to be got ready for me, that I may fulfil all those vows which I made when with the army, in case I should return safe home. ALCMENA
I'll take care of that. JUPITER
To a SERVANT . Call out Sosia hither. Let him fetch Blepharo, the pilot that was on board my ship, to breakfast with us. Aside. He shall be fooled this day6 so as to go without his breakfast, while I shall drag Amphitryon hence by the throat. ALCMENA
aside . It's surprising what he can be arranging alone in secrecy with himself. But the door opens; Sosia's coming out.
1 Swear as well: It was considered a sufficient atonement, if the accuser took an oath that his accusation was wrongful; and his oath was considered to wipe off the injury.
2 Enemies indeed: "Inimicos." Gronovius tells us that "izimicus" was term in law by which the husband was denoted after divorce if so, the expression might be supposed to strike with peculiar harshness on a husband's ear.
3 Keep your own: This was the formula used on separation by mutual consent, when the wife's portion was returned to her, as a matter of course.
4 Believe my wife: Madame Dacier suggests that Jupiter is hem equivocating, and that he is covertly resorting to a salvo, by alluding to the chastity of Juno, his heavenly consort. He is so full of quibbles and subterfuges, that it is not unlikely to be intentional, although Dacier has been ridiculed by Gueudeville and Thornton for the notion.
5 Ever be angered against: This oath is similar in its absurdity to that of Mercury, in l. 392. Jupiter, personating Amphitryon, says, that if he himself breaks his oath, then may he himself always prove hostile to Amphitryon.
6 Be fooled this day: Jupiter save this for the information of the Audience and to raise their expectations of the fun that is to follow
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