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Enter DEMÆNETUS and LIBANUS, from the house of the former.
As you desire your own only son to survive your own existence, prosperous, and living on; so by your lengthened years, and by that wife of yours of whom you stand in awe, do I conjure you, that if this day you have said anything that's false against myself, your wife may then survive your own existence, and that, she living, you, still alive, may come to utter destruction1. DEMAENETUS
By the Gods above2 as to what you seek to know, I see that I must, perforce, speak out, whatever you question me upon, being thus conjured; so determinedly have you accosted me, that I really do not dare otherwise than to disclose everything to you making all these enquiries. Say then at once what it is that you desire so much to know; as I myself shall know, so will I let you know. LIBANUS
Troth now, prithee answer me seriously what I ask you; take care that you tell me no falsehood. DEMAENETUS
Why, then, don't you ask? LIBANUS
Will you, then, be sending me there, where stone grinds stone3? DEMAENETUS
What place is that? Or where in the world is that place? LIBANUS
Where worthless men are weeping, who breakfast upon pearled barley4. DEMAENETUS
What that place is, or where it is, I cannot understand, where worthless men are weeping, who breakfast upon pearled barley. LIBANUS
Why, in the islands of club-land and rattle- chains5, where dead oxen attack living men. DEMAENETUS
I' faith, I now understand, Libanus, what place it is; that perhaps you mean, where the pearled barley is prepared. LIBANUS
O dear: I'm not speaking of that, i' faith, nor do I wish to speak of it. Troth now, prithee, do spit out6 the words that you have spoken. DEMAENETUS
Be it so; you shall be indulged. He coughs and spits. LIBANUS
Come, come--hawk away. DEMAENETUS
What, still more? Spits on. LIBANUS
Troth now; prithee, do go on--still more. DEMAENETUS
What-from the very bottom of my throat? Spits. LIBANUS
Even more still. DEMAENETUS
Why, how long? Spits. LIBANUS
I want you, even to the death---- DEMAENETUS
Take you care of a woful mishap, if you please. LIBANUS
Of your wife, I mean, not of yourself. DEMAENETUS
For that speech, I give you leave to be free from apprehension. LIBANUS
May the Gods grant you whatever you desire. DEMAENETUS
In return, give me your attention. Why should I ask this of you? Or why should I threaten you, because you have not made me acquainted with it? Or why, in fine, should I censure my son as other fathers do? LIBANUS
What new affair is this? Aside. I wonder much what it is, and I'm in dread what the upshot of it may be. DEMAENETUS
In fact, I'm now aware that my son's in love with that Courtesan Philenium, that lives close by. Is not this as I say, Libanus? LIBANUS
You are upon the right track; such is the fact. But a dreadful malady has overtaken him. DEMAENETUS
What is the malady? LIBANUS
Why, that his presents don't equal his promises. DEMAENETUS
Are you, then, one who assists my son in his amours? LIBANUS
I really am, and our Leonida is another. DEMAENETUS
I' faith, you do kindly, and you gain thanks from me. But this wife of mine, Libanus, don't you know what sort of a person she is? LIBANUS
You are the first to experience it, but we give a guess beforehand. DEMAENETUS
I confess that she is troublesome and not to be pleased. LIBANUS
You say that later than I believed you in it. DEMAENETUS
All parents, Libanus, who listen to me, will show indulgence to their children, inasmuch as they will find their sons more kindly disposed and more affectionate; and that do I desire to do myself. I wish to be loved by mine; I wish myself to be like my father, who, for my sake, himself in the disguise of a ship-master, carried off from a procurer a female with whom I was in love; nor was he ashamed, at that time of life, to devise stratagems, and to purchase with good turns me, his son, for himself. These ways of my father have I resolved to imitate. For to-day my son Argyrippus has entreated me to give him a supply of money for his amours; and I very much wish in that to oblige my son. I wish to forward his amours; I wish him to be fond of myself, his father. Although his mother keeps him strictly, and with a tight rein, as fathers have been in the habit of doing, all that I dismiss. Especially as he has deemed me deserving, for him to entrust it to ire, I ought to pay all due regard to his feelings. Inasmuch as he has applied to me, as it is right that a respectful son should do, I wish him to have some money for him to give to his mistress * * * * * LIBANUS
You are desiring that which I find you are do siring to no purpose. Your wife brought her servant Saurea with her on her marriage7, who has more in his control trol than you have. DEMAENETUS
I received money with her, and for the portion I sold my authority. Now I'll compress into a few words what I want of you; my son is now in need of twenty silver minæ: do you manage that it may be forthwith found for him. LIBANUS
From what place in the world? DEMAENETUS
Cheat me of them. LIBANUS
You are talking downright nonsense. You are bidding me take the clothes from off a naked man. I, cheat you?--come now, fly you without wings, please. What, am I to cheat you who have nothing in your power for your own self? Unless you have first cheated your wife out of something. DEMAENETUS
Impose upon or rob myself in any way you can, my wife in any way, my servant Saurea in any way. I promise you that it shall not prove to your detriment, if you effect it to-day. LIBANUS
On the same principle you might bid me to fish in the air, and to hunt with a javelin in the midst of the sea. DEMAENETUS
Take Leonida as your coadjutor8; devise some plan or other, think of some expedient: bring it about that my son this day gets some money to give his mistress. LIBANUS
What say you, Demænetus * * * * * if the foe should intercept me, will you ransom me? DEMAENETUS
I will ransom you. LIBANUS
Then do you attend to something else, whatever you please. DEMAENETUS
I'm off to the Forum, unless you wish for anything. LIBANUS
Be of--why are you not walking9? DEMAENETUS
And do you hear, too----? LIBANUS
Well now. DEMAENETUS
If I want you for anything, where will you be? LIBANUS
Wherever it shall be agreable to my feelings. Really, there's not a person that I shall stand in dread of from this time forward, for fear he might be able to do me an injury, since in your discourse you have disclosed to me all your sentiments. Why, your own self even I don't stand much in awe of, if I carry this out. I'll go where I intended, and there I'll commune upon my plans. DEMAENETUS
Do you hear me? I shall be with Archibulus, the banker. LIBANUS
In the Forum, you mean? DEM. There, if there shall be any occasion for me10. LIBANUS
I'll remember it. (Exit.) DEMAENETUS
to himself Not any servant can there be more artful than this fellow, nor yet more crafty, nor one that it is more difficult for you to be on your guard against. If you want anything well managed, entrust it to this same fellow; he'd rather he should die in wretchedness, than not have that quite completed which he has promised. For I know that this money is as surely forthcoming for my son, as that I look upon this same walking-stick. But why am I delaying to go to the Forum where I had intended ... (Exit.)
Enter ARGYRIPPUS, from the house of CLEÆRETA, addressing her within.
Is't thus it is,--me to be shut out of doors? Is this the reward that's given to me who deserve so highly of you? To him who deserves well you are unkind, to him who deserves ill you are indulgent. But to your own misfortune, for now from this spot will I go to the Triumvirs11, and there I'll take care your names shall be. I'll punish capitally yourself and your daughter, you enticers, pests, and destruction of young men! For, compared with you, the sea is not the sea; you are a most dangerous sea. For on the sea did I find it, here have I been cleaned out of my wealth. What I have given, and what kindnesses I have done, I find them all valueless for good, and thrown away. But from hence-forth, whatever harm I shall be able to do you, I will do it, and do it at your deserts. I' faith, I'll reduce you to the verge of poverty, that state from which you have risen. By my troth, I'll make you to know what you now are, and what you once were; what you were before I visited that daughter of yours, and, in my passion, bestowed upon her my affection; on coarse bread12 you were enjoying your life, in rags, and in want. And if these you had, especial thanks did you return to all the Divinities. Now, bad woman, you the same person, when 'tis better with you, don't know me through whose means it is so. From a wild beast, I'll make you tame through hunger, only trust me for that13. But I have no reason to blame your daughter herself; she does not deserve it in the least. She acts by your command; she obeys your bidding; you are her mother, you too her mistress. I'll revenge myself on you; I'll ruin you; as you are deserving, and as you merit at my hands. But look now, the hag, how she really doesn't think me worthy for her to come to and address and deprecate my resentment. But, see, the enticer's coming out at last, I think. Here. before the door, I'll address her in my own fashion, as I please, since I'm not allowed to do so within.
Enter CLEÆRETA, from her house.
If any purchaser should come, he could not carry him away from me each single word of those for gold Philippean pieces. What you say wrongfully against us is good gold and silver. Your heart is locked up here with us, at the helm of Cupid. With oars and with sails make haste and fly as fast as you can; the further you betake yourself to sea, the more the tide will bring you back to harbour. ARGYRIPPUS
I faith, I'll be depriving this custom-house officer14 of his dues. From henceforth I'll persist in treating you as you have deserved of me and mine, since you have treated me not as I deserve, in excluding me from your house. CLEAERETA
I know that that is rather said with the tongue, than that it will happen in deed. ARGYRIPPUS
I alone have brought you from obscurity and from want; if I alone patronize you, you can never return sufficient thanks. CLEAERETA
Do you still be the only one to patronize me, if you alone will always give me what I ask. Do you always keep what has been promised you, on this condition, that you surpass others in your presents. ARGYRIPPUS
What limit is there to be to giving? For really you can never be satisfied; the moment that you've received something, not very long after, you are devising something for you to be asking for. CLEAERETA
What limit is there to be to your enjoying yourself, and to your indulging your amour? Can you never be satisfied? The moment that you have sent her home, that instant, you are directly asking me to send her back to you. ARGYRIPPUS
In fact, I have given whatever you have demanded of me. CLEAERETA
And I have sent the damsel to you. A requital has been given, like for like; a return for the money. ARGYRIPPUS
You treat me badly. CLEAERETA
Why do you blame me if I do my duty? For nowhere is it either feigned in story or represented in pictures or written in poems, where a procuress, who wishes to thrive, treats any lover well. ARGYRIPPUS
Still, 'twere right for you to show favour to me at least, that I might last the longer for you. CLEAERETA
Don't you know, the woman that shows favour to a lover, that same woman shows little favour to herself? Just like a fish, so is a lover to a procuress; he's good for nothing if ne isn't fresh. Then it has juice, then it has sweetness; in any fashion you like you may season it, either stewed or roasted; ill any way you will, you may turn it. So the lover; he's ready to give, he longs for something to be asked of him, for there it's taken from a full stock, nor does he know what he's giving, or what mischief he's doing. Of this matter does the new lover think; he wishes himself to please his mistress, he wishes to please me, he wishes to please her lady's maid15, he wishes to please the men-servants, he wishes to please the maid-servants as well, and even my dog does he caress, that when it sees him, it may be delighted. I tell the truth; it shows cleverness for every person to be fair-dealing for his own advantage. ARGYRIPPUS
I've thoroughly learned that this is true, to my own great misfortune. CLEAERETA
I' faith, if you now had anything to give, you'd be uttering different remarks; now, since you've got nothing, you expect to be having her by means of harsh language. ARGYRIPPUS
'Tis not my way. CLEAERETA
Nor yet mine, indeed, i' faith, to be sending her to you for nothing; but this shall be done out of regard for your youthful age and your own sake, since you have rather been the cause of profit to us than of reputation to yourself. If two talents of silver16 are paid me down, reckoned in my hand, this night will I grant you for nothing, as a present, by reason of my respect for you. ARGYRIPPUS
What if I haven't it? CLEAERETA
I'll believe that you haven't it--still, she shall go to another. ARGYRIPPUS
Where is that which I have given you already? CLEAERETA
Spent; for if it was remaining to me, the damsel should be sent to you, and I should never ask for anything. Daylight, water, the sun, the moon, the night, these things I purchase not with money; the rest, whatever we wish to enjoy, we purchase on Grecian trust17. When we ask bread of the baker, wine from the wineshop--if they receive the money, they give their wares; the same principle do I go upon. My hands always have eyes in them; they believe what they see. There's an old saying, "trusting is good for nought18;" you know whose it is--I say no more. ARGYRIPPUS
Now I'm clean stripped, you tell me another tale; a very different one, I say, you give me now from formerly, when I was making presents; a different one from formerly, when with kindness and good words you used to entice me to your house. Then did your house even smile upon me, when I used to come to you. You used to say that I alone of all loved you and her. When I had given anything, just like the young ones of a pigeon were you both upon my lips; and all your likings were according to my own liking. You always kept close to me; whatever I requested, whatever I wished, you used to do; what I didn't wish and forbade, that, with carefulness, you used to avoid, nor did you first venture to attempt to do it. Now, you jades, you don't much care either what I do wish or what I don't wish. CLEAERETA
Don't you know? This calling of ours is very like that of the fowler. The fowler, when he has prepared the spot, sprinkles the food about. The birds are accustomed to the spot. 'Tis necessary for him19 to make an outlay, who seeks for gain. They eat often; if they are caught once, they reimburse the fowler. So in like manner here with us. Our house is the spot, I am the fowler, the courtesan is the food, the couch is the decoy, the lovers the birds. By kindly welcoming them, by addressing them courteously, by dallying, and by chattering over the wine, and amusing conversation, they are won. If one of them has touched her bosom, that is not without advantage to the fowler. If he has taken a kiss, him you may take without a net. That you should be forgetful of these things, you who have been schooled so long! ARGYRIPPUS
That's your own fault, in turning away from you a scholar half instructed. CLEAERETA
Come back again without hesitation, if you've got the pay; for the present, be off. Pretends to go. ARGYRIPPUS
Stay, stay; don't you hear me? Say what you think it fair that I should give you for her, that for this year she may be with no one else. CLEAERETA
What, you? Twenty minæ. And on this condition: if any other person shall bring them first to me, to you--good-bye. ARGYRIPPUS
But I---- There's still something that I wish to say to you before you go. CLEAERETA
Say what you please. ARGYRIPPUS
I'm not entirely ruined yet; there's still something more left for me to come to ruin. I have wherewithal to give you what you ask; but I'll give it you on my own terms, that you may be enabled to understand that throughout all this year she is to be at my service, and that, in the meantime, she is to admit no other man whatever to her, besides myself. CLEAERETA
Why, if you choose, the male-servants that are at home, I'll make eunuchs of. In fine, take you care and bring articles of agreement that we will be as you wish. Impose conditions upon us as you wish, and as you shall choose. Do you only bring the money with you, I'll readily put up with the rest. The doors of procurers are very like those of a custom-house officer; if you bring anything, then they are opened; if there is nothing for you to give, then the doors are not opened. Goes into her house. ARGYRIPPUS
to himself . I'm undone, if I don't procure these twenty minæ. And really, unless I make away with this much money, I must come to destruction. Now I'll go to the Forum, and make trial with my resources, with all my endeavours. I'll beg, I'll earnestly entreat each friend as I see him; both good and bad am I determined to apply to, and make trial of. But if I can't borrow it, I'll take it up at interest, I'm resolved. (Goes into the house of DEMÆNETUS.)
1 Come to utter destruction: "Pestem obpetas." Literally, "meet with a plague." This expression held a somewhat similar rank with our uncourteous invitation, "Go to the devil."
2 By the Gods above: "Per Deum Fidium." Literally, "by the God Fidius." This God had a Temple in the Capitol at Rome. He was represented as having Honor on his right hand, and Truth on the left. He is mentioned by Ovid, in the Sixth Book of the Fasti, as having the names also of Sancus and Semo. He was also called Sangus and Sanctus, and is generally supposed to have been the Sabine Hercules. Saint Augustine says that he was a king of the Sabines, whom they had deified.
3 Stone grinds stone: He alludes to the "pistrinum," or hand-mill, where refractory slaves were often sent and set to grind the corn, which was a very laborious employment.
4 Pearled barley: "Polenta." This was barley-meal, dried before the fire, soaked in water for a night, and then baked.
5 Club-land and rattle-chain: "Fustitudinas, ferricrepinas." These are words coined by the author for the occasion. In the next line he alludes to flogging with thongs of hide.
6 Do spit out: The ancients signified extreme disgust by spitting. Libanus is so frightened at the bare "idea" of the "pistrinum," or "mill," that he deems the attempt to mention it as of bad omen, and begs that his master will spit away from him the very notion of it.
7 With her on her marriage: "Dotalem." The husband was master of the other slaves in the household; but the "dotalis" was under the sole control of the mistress. Aulus Gellius, in his Seventeenth Book, calls him "servus recepticius," probably, either because it was his business to receive whatever was due to his mistress, or from his being received into the house in preference to all other slaves.
8 Your coadjutor: "Optio" was originally the name of the lientenant, or adjutant, who was chosen by the centurion in the Roman armies to assist him in the discharge of his duties.
9 Why are you not walking: "Etiamne ambulas." Thornton, quoting from Limiers, says, in reference to this passage, "This is a banter of the slave's, who is rallying his master on the pain he is in, in walking supported by his crutch-stick. There is a distinction made between 'ire,' which, the grammarians tell us, is used to express walking fast, and 'ambulare,' 'to walk slowly,' or 'step by step.'"
10 Any occasion for me: "Si quid opus fuerit." This expression equivalent to ours, "if I am wanted," was made use of by the Romans when they had the intention of engaging in some occupation of importance.
11 To the Triumvirs: The "Tresviri," or "Triumviri," were in duty bound to receive informations relative to public morals, and were empowered to inflict summary punishment on persons of the rank and occupation of Cleæreta. They have been more fully referred to in a previous Note. It will not be forgotten that, though the scene is in Athens, Plautus is making reference to Roman customs.
12 On coarse bread: "Sordido--pane." According to the Commentators, this means brown bread with the bran in it. Terence, in his Eunuchus, calls it "panis ater," "black bread" Juvenal calls it "dog's bread."
13 Trust me for that: "Me specta modo."Literally, "only look to me."
14 This custom-house officer: "Istum portitorem privabo portitorio." Cleæreta has just mentioned "portus," "the harbour," meaning her own house, to which, despite of himself, Argyrippus will, by his own passion, be brought back at last. He takes up the metaphor, and says that she, the landing-waiter (portitor), or custom-house officer, shall not, however, get her dues; meaning, that he is determined not to let her have any more of his money.
15 Her lady's maid: "Pedissequa" seems to have been the name of the female-servant, whose duty it was to be constantly in attendance on her mistress; and who probably followed her in the street, whence her name.
16 Two talents of silver: The Attic silver, or Solonian talent, contained 73-100th parts of the old Attic talent. It will be observed that the hag is here adding just one hundred "minæ" to her demand; but it is clear that she is only doing so to provoke Argyrippus, and to amuse herself with his mistress.
17 On Grecian trust: The Greeks were so noted for their want of punctuality in their payments, that it became the general rule among them not to give credit. Consequently, "Grecian trust" became a proverbial saying for "ready money."
18 Trusting is good for nought: "Nihili cocio est." The meaning of this passage is obvious, that "trusting is bad;" but the signification of the word "cocio" has puzzled the Commentators. Gronovius, with some probability, suggests that it is the old form of the word "cautio;" meaning "one who goes upon trust." It may either mean that, or "trusting," or "giving tick," as we familiarly term it; indeed, it is not improbable that the word "cocio" may have been a cant name for "credit." From the remark of Cleæreta, we may conclude that this was a proverbial expression, which had originated in being used by some famous person, or in some celebrated play of that day, all remembrance of which has now perished.
19 'Tis necessary for him: "Necesse est facere sumptum, qui quærit merum." Louis the Twelfth, the King of France, was always quoting this proverb; but it has been remarked, that he failed to make it his rule of conduct.
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