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Enter DIABOLUS and a PARASITE, with a scroll in his hand.
Come now, show me this agreement that you've written out between myself and the procuress. Read over the conditions; for you are a quite unique composer1 in such matters. A PARASITE
I'll make the procuress be terrified when she hears the conditions. DIABOLUS
Troth now, prithee, proceed and read them over to me. A PARASITE
Are you attending? DIABOLUS
I'm all attention. A PARASITE
reads the agreement . "Diabolus, the son of Glaucus, has made a present to Cleæreta, the procuress, of twenty silver minæ, that Philenium may be with him night and day for this whole year." DIABOLUS
Yes, and not with any other person. A PARASITE
Am I to add that? DIABOLUS
Add it, and take care and write it plainly and distinctly. A PARASITE
writes it down, and then reads . "And not admit any other man whatever, because either her friend or her patron, she may choose to call him----" DIABOLUS
Not any one! A PARASITE
"Or because she may say that he is the lover of a female friend of hers. The door must be closed to all men except to yourself. On the door she must write that she is engaged. Or, because she may affirm that the letter has been brought from abroad, there is not to be even any letter in the house, nor so much as a waxed tablet; and if there is any useless picture2, let her sell it; if she does not part with it, within four days from the time when she has received the money of you, let it be considered as your own; you to burn it if you like; so that she may have no wax, with which she may be able to make a letter. She is to invite no guest; you are to invite them. On no one of them is she to cast her eyes: if she looks upon any other person, she must be blind forthwith3. Then she is to drink cup by cup equally with yourself. She is to receive it from you; she is to hand it to you for you to drink. She is not to have a relish for less or for more than yourself." DIABOLUS
That's quite to my taste. A PARASITE
reading . "She is to remove all causes of suspicion from her, nor is she to tread on any man's foot4 with her foot; when she rises she is neither to step upon the next couch, nor when she gets down from the couch is she thence to extend her hand to any one; she is not to give to nor ask of any one a ring for her to look at; she is not to present dice to any man whatever except to yourself; when she throws5 them, she is not to say, You I call upon,' she is to mention your name. She may call on any Goddess that she pleases as propitious to her, but on no God: if she should chance to be very full of devotion, she is to tell you, and you are to pray to him that he may be propitious. She is neither to nod at any man, wink, or make a sign. In fine, if the lamp goes out, she is not to move a single joint of herself in the dark." DIABOLUS
That's very good; so, in fact, she must do: but expunge that about the chamber; for my part, I prefer that she should move. I don't wish her to have an excuse, and to say that it is forbidden her by her vow. A PARASITE
I understand, you fear some quibble. DIABOLUS
Just so. A PARASITE
Then as you bid me, I'll strike it out. Erases it. DIABOLUS
And why not? A PARASITE
Hear the rest. DIABOLUS
Say on, I'm listening. A PARASITE
goes on reading . "And she is not to use any shuffling words, nor is she to know how to speak in any tongue but the Attic. If perchance she should begin to cough, she is not to cough so as to expose her tongue to any one in coughing. But if she should pretend as though she had a running at the nose6, even then she is not to do so; you yourself must wipe her lips rather than that she should open her mouth before another person. And her mother, the procuress, is not to come in in the middle of the wine, nor is she to utter a word of abuse to any one; if she does so speak, let this be her fine, to go for twenty days without wine." DIABOLUS
You have written it nicely; a clever agreement. A PARASITE
"Then, if she bids her maid-servant carry chaplets, garlands, or unguents, to Venus or to Cupid, your servant is to watch whether she gives them to Venus or to a man. If perchance she should say she wishes to keep herself in purity7, let her account for as many nights as she has kept herself in purity. These are no trifles; for they are no funeral dirge8." DIABOLUS
The conditions please me entirely; follow me indoors. A PARASITE
I follow. (They go into the house of CLEÆRETA.) ...
2 Any useless picture: Some of the Commentators have supposed that indecent or immodest pictures are here meant. Such is not the fact. Portraits were taken among the Romans in profile, in wax, which was laid on a plane surface; and probably other pictures were similarly constructed. In his jealousy, Diabolus will not allow Philenium to keep any useless or valueless picture, for fear lest she may melt it, to use the wax for tablets, as a medium of correspondence with a paramour. To a portrait of this kind, Laodamia probably refers in her Epistle to Protesilaüs, in the Heroides of Ovid, l. 133: "But while as a warrior thou shalt be wielding arms in a distant region, I have a waxen figure which represents thy features."
3 Must be blind forthwith: This is probably a polite way of saying, "Let her leave the room forthwith."
4 Tread on any man's foot: From passages in Ovid's Amours and Art of Love, we learn that this was a favourite method of communication by intriguing parties.
5 When she throws: When throwing the dice, it was the custom to invoke some favourite object, which was thought to bring good luck to the thrower. See the Notes to the Captivi, Act I., Sc. 1. She is not to say, "You I invoke," lest, by the ambiguity, it should be intended to apply to another man and not to her protector
6 A running at the nose: The meaning seems to be, that if her nose runs by reason of a catarrh, she is not to open her mouth to put her tongue out, but that Diabolus is, in common parlance, to wipe her nose for her.
7 Keep herself in purity: He probably alludes to the festival of Isis or Ceres, on which occasion it was usual for the female votaries rigidly to separate themselves from the society of men. The translation of the next line is somewhat modified.
8 No funeral dirge: "Mortualia" were the songs which hired female mourners sang at funerals; and which, as being especially worthless, were pre-eminently called "nugæ," or "trifles."
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