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Enter MENAECHMUS SOSICLES and MESSENIO.
There's no greater pleasure to voyagers, in my notion, Messenio, than at the moment when from sea they espy the land afar. MESSENIO
There is a greater, I'll say it without subterfuge,--if on your arrival you see the land that is your own. But, prithee, why are we now come to Epidamnus? Why, like the sea, are we going round all the islands? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
To seek for my own twin-brother born? MESSENIO
Why, what end is there to be of searching for him? This is the sixth year that we've devoted our attention to this business. We have been already carried round the Istrians1, the Hispanians, the Massilians, the Illyrians, all the Upper Adriatic Sea, and foreign Greece2, and all the shores of Italy, wherever the sea reaches them. If you had been searching for a needle, I do believe you would, long ere this, have found the needle, if it were visible. Among the living are we seeking a person that's dead; for long ago should we have found him if he had been alive. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
For that reason I am looking for a person to give me that information for certain, who can say that he knows that he really is dead; after that I shall never take any trouble in seeking further. But otherwise I shall never, while I'm alive, desist; I know how dear he is to my heart. MESSENIO
You are seeking a knot in a bulrush3. Why don't we return homeward hence, unless we are to write a history4? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Have done with your witty sayings, and be on your guard against a mischief. Don't you be troublesome; this matter shan't be done at your bidding. MESSENIO
aside . Aye, aye; by that same expression do I rest assured that I'm a slave; he couldn't in a few words have said more in a plain-spoken way. But still I can't restrain myself from speaking. Aloud. Do you hear, Menaechmus? When I look in the purse, I find, i' faith, we're only equipped for our journey like summer travellers5. By my troth, I guess, if you don't be returning home, while you're seeking your twin-brother, you'll surely be groaning6, when you have nothing left. For such is this race of people; among the men of Epidamnus there are debauchees and very great drinkers; swindlers besides, and many wheedlers are living in this city; then the women in the harlot line are said nowhere in the world to be more captivating. The name of Epidamnus was given to this city for the very reason, because hardly any person sojourns here without some damnable mishaps7. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I'll guard against that. Just give me the purse this way. MESSENIO
What do you want with it? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I'm apprehensive then about yourself, from your expressions. MESSENIO
Why are you apprehensive? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Lest you should cause me some damnable mishap in Epidamnus. You are a great admirer of the women, Messenio, and I'm a passionate man, of an unmanageable disposition; of both these things will I have a care, when I've got the money, that you shall not commit a fault, and that I shall not be in a passion with you. MESSENIO
giving him the purse . Take and keep it; with all my heart you may do so.
1 The Istrians: The Istrians were a people of the north of Italy, near the Adriatic Sea, and adjoining to Illyricum. The Illyrians inhabited the countries now called Dalmatia and Sclavonia. The Massilians were the natives of the city of Massilia, now called Marseilles, in the south of France, where Pontius Pilate ended his days in banishment. The Hispani were the inhabitants of Hispania, now Spain.
2 And foreign Greece: The "Graecia exotica," or "foreign Greece," here mentioned, was the southern part of Italy, which was also called "Magna Graecia," in consequence of the great number of Grecian settlements there. The Greeks were in the habit of calling the Sicilians and Calabrians Ἕλληνας ἐξωτικούς, "barbarian" or "foreign Greeks."
4 To write a history: A narrative or history of their travels. Boxhorn thinks that the remark alludes to the voyage of Ulysses, a counterpart of which voyage could not be written without great personal observation, and an extensive knowledge of geography.
5 Like summer travellers: Of course lighter garments and a less weight of luggage would be carried by travellers in the heat of summer
7 Some damnable mishap: "Sine damno," Literally, "without mischief" or "mishap." He puns on the resemblance of "damnum" to "Epidamnum." An attempt has been made in the translation to preserve the resemblance in some degree.
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