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The young men have given me the name of Peniculus1, for this reason, because when I eat, I wipe the tables clean. ... The persons who bind captives with chains, and who put fetters upon runaway slaves, act very foolishly, in my opinion at least. For if bad usage is added to his misfortune for a wretched man, the greater is his inclination to run away and to do amiss. For by some means or other do they release themselves from the chains; while thus fettered, they either wear away a link with a file, or else with a stone they knock out the nail; 'tis a mere trifle this. He whom you wish to keep securely that he may not run away, with meat and with drink ought he to be chained; do you bind down the mouth of a man to a full table. So long as you give him what to eat and what to drink at his own pleasure in abundance every day, i' faith he'll never run away, even if he has committed an offence that's capital; easily will you secure him so long as you shall bind him with such chains. So very supple are these chains of food, the more you stretch them so much the more tightly do they bind. But now I'm going directly to Menaechmus; whither for this long time I have been sentenced, thither of my own accord I am going, that he may enchain me. For, by my troth, this man does not nourish persons, but he quite rears and reinvigorates them; no one administers medicine more agreably. Such is this young man; himself with a very well-stocked larder, he gives dinners fit for Ceres2; so does he heap the tables up, and piles so vast of dishes does he arrange, you must stand on your couch if you wish for anything at the top. But I have now had an interval these many days, while I've been lording it at home all along together with my dear ones3;--for nothing do I eat or purchase but what it is most dear. But inasmuch as dear ones, when they are provided, are in the habit of forsaking us, I am now paying him a visit. But his door is opening; and see, 1 perceive Menaechmus himself; he is coming out of doors.
1 Name of Peniculus: This word means "a sponge" which was fastened to a stick, and was used for the purpose of cleansing tables. He says that the youths so called him from his own propensity for clearing the tables of their provisions. The tails of foxes and of oxen were also used as "peniculi." Colman and Warner, in their translations of Terence and Plautus, render the word "dishclout."
3 With my dear ones: "Cum caris meis." When he says this, it might be supposed that he is meaning his family by these words of endearment. The next line shows that such is not the case. He has had a supply of victuals, purchased at his own cost; he has been consuming these victuals, and right dear (carissimum) has he found them. He is now coming out to look for Menaechmus, and to make up for lost time.
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