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THE PROLOGUEThe Prologue: This Prologue appears to have been written many years after the death of the author, and indeed bears internal marks of having been composed at a period nearer to the Augustan age than the time of Plautus. Judging, however, from the fourteenth line, there were, at the time when it was written, some persons still surviving who had been present at the original representation of the Play.
I bid you, most worthy Spectators, welcome; who most highly esteem the Goddess Faith2, and Faith esteems you. If I have said the truth, then give me loud applause, that even now, from the very beginning forward, I may know that you are favourably disposed towards me. Those who make use of aged wine, I deem to be wise; and those as well, who, through choice, are the spectators of ancient Plays. Since antique works and words are pleasing to you, 'tis just that ancient Plays should in preference please you; for the new Comedies which come out now-a-days are much more worthless than the new-coined money3. We, since we have heard the report in public, that you ardently wish for the Plays of Plautus, have brought forward this ancient Comedy of his, which you, who are among the older ones, have formerly approved. But I am aware that those who are among the younger ones are not acquainted with it; still, that they may make acquaintance with it, we will carefully use our best endeavours. When this was first represented, it surpassed all other Plays. In those days there was the very £elite of the poets, who have now departed hence to the place common to all. But though departed, yet do they prove of advantage to those who are still existing. All of you, with the greatest earnestness, I would have entreated that you'll kindly lend attention to this our company. Dismiss from your thoughts cares and monies due; let no man stand in dread of his duns. 'Tis a holiday this--to the bankers a holiday has been given. 'Tis now a calm; about the Forum these are Halcyon days4. Reasonably do they act: during the games5 they ask no man for money; but during the games to no one do they pay. If your ears are disengaged, give me your attention; I wish to mention to you the name of the Play. "Clerumenæ6" this Comedy is called in Greek; in Latin, "Sortientes." Diphilus wrote it in Greek, and after that, over again, Plautus with the barking name7 in Latin afresh. Pointing to the house of STALINO. An old married man is living here; he has a son; he, with his father, is dwelling in this house. He has a certain slave, who with disease is confined--aye, faith, to his bed, he really is, that I may tell no lie. But sixteen years ago, it happened that on a time this servant, at early dawn, beheld a female child being exposed. He went at once to the woman who was exposing it, and begged her to give it to himself. He gained his request: he took it away, and carried it straight home. He gave it to his mistress, and entreated her to take care of it, and bring it up. His mistress did so; with great care she brought it up, as though it had been her own daughter, not much different. Since then she has grown up to that age to be able to prove an attraction to the men; but this old gentleman loves this girl distractedly, and, on the other hand, so does his son as well. Each of them now, on either side, is preparing his legions, both father and son, each unknown to the other. The father has deputed his bailiff to ask her as his wife; he hopes that, if she's given to him, an attraction out of doors will be, unknown to his wife, provided for him. But the son has deputed his armour-bearer to ask her for himself as a wife. He knows that if he gains that request, there will be an object for him to love, within his abode. The wife of the old gentleman has found out that he is gratifying his amorousness; for that reason, she is making common cause together with her son. But this father, when he found out that his son was in love with this same woman, and was a hindrance to him, sent the young man hence upon business abroad. His mother, understanding this, still lends him, though absent, her assistance. Don't you expect it; he will not, in this Play, to-day, return to the city. Plautus did not choose it: he broke down the bridge that lay before him in the way. There are some here, who, I fancy, are now saying among themselves, "Prithee, what means this, i' faith?--the marriage of a slave8 Are slaves to be marrying wives, or asking them for themselves? They've introduced something new--a thing that's done nowhere in the world." But I affirm that this is done in Greece9, and at Carthage, and here in our own country, and in the Apulian country; and that the marriages of slaves are wont to be solemnized there with more fuss than even those of free persons. If this is not the fact, if any one pleases, let him bet with me a stake towards a jug of honied wine10, so long as a Carthaginian is the umpire in my cause, or a Greek in fact, or an Apulian. A pause. What now? You don't take it? No one's thirsty, I find. I'll return to that foundling girl, whom the two slaves are, with all their might, contending for as a wife. She'll be found to be both chaste and free, of freeborn parents, an Athenian girl, and assuredly of no immodesty at all will she be guilty11 in this Comedy at least. But i' faith, for sure, directly afterwards, when the Play is over, if any one offers the money, as I guess, she'll readily enter into matrimony with him, and not wait for good omens. Thus much I have to say. Farewell; be prosperous in your affairs, and conquer by true valour, as hitherto you've done12.
1 The Prologue: This Prologue appears to have been written many years after the death of the author, and indeed bears internal marks of having been composed at a period nearer to the Augustan age than the time of Plautus. Judging, however, from the fourteenth line, there were, at the time when it was written, some persons still surviving who had been present at the original representation of the Play.
2 Faith: She was worshipped under the name of Fides. Further reference is made to her in the Aulularia, where her Temple is represented.
3 The new-coined money: He seems to refer to the circulation of some coin of a base or alloyed character, probably much to the annoyance of the public.
4 Halcyon days: "Alcedonia," "days of calm." This figure is derived from the circumstance that by the ancients the sea was supposed to be always calm when the female kingfisher (alcedo) was sitting; and the saying became proverbial. Ovid, in the Metamorphoses, B. 11, speaking of Ceyx and Halcyon, who were changed into kingfishers, says, 1. 744 et seq., "Nor, when now birds, is the conjugal tie dissolved; they couple and they become parents; and for seven calm days, in the winter-time, does Halcyone brood upon her nest, floating on the sea. Then the passage of the deep is safe; Æolus keeps the winds in, and restrains them from sallying forth, and secures a smooth sea for his descendants."
7 With the barking name: It is not fully ascertained whether the 'barking name" alludes to that of Plautus or of Casina; the former is, most probably, the case. Indeed, Festus tells us that "plautus" actually was the name of a species of dog with long, loose ears, which hung down. Some Commentators reject this explanation, and think that the "au" in "Plautus" suggested the notion, from its resemblance to the baying of a dog. This is, however, very problematical.
8 Marriage of a slave: The ingenious Rost suggests this explanation of the passage: The slaves at Rome were not allowed to contract marriages petween themselves, or what was in legal terms called "matrimonium." They were, however, permitted to live together in "contubernium," or what was in common parlance called "quasi matrimonium." This he supposes to have in time come to be styled, in common parlance, "matrimonium" by the lower classes, and consequently to have given great offence to some martinets, who insisted on giving, on all occasions, the strict legal term to the unions of slaves. He therefore excuses this shock to their feelings, by pleading the example of the Greeks, Carthaginians, and Apulians.
9 Done in Greece: Rost remarks, that in reality, "matrimonium," or "marriage," in the strict legal sense, was no more permitted by the Greeks to their slaves than it was by the Romans. He is of opinion, however. that Plautus here refers to the superior humanity and kindliness of the Greeks, who did not object to call the union of slaves by the name of marriage, in common parlance, although those unfortunate persons were denied all the immunities of married people. As to the usage among the Carthaginians and Apulians, with relation to the intermarriages of slaves, no account has come down to us.
10 Jug of honied wine: As he only ventures to wager a jug of "mulsum" on his correctness, it is not improbable that the speaker of the Prologue is not very careful in what he asserts as to the customs of other nations.
12 Hitherto you've done: The conclusion of this Play is similar to that of the Cistellaria.
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