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Enter EROTIUM from her house.
speacking to her SERVANTS within . Leave the door ajar1 thus; begone. I don't want it shut: prepare, attend, and provide within; what is requisite, let it be done. Lay down the couches, burn the perfumes; neatness, that is the charm for the minds of lovers. Our agreableness is for the lover's loss, for our own gain. To herself. But where is he whom the Cook said was in front of the house? O, I see him there--one who is of service to me, and who profits me very much. And right willingly is such usage shown to him, as he deserves to be of especial importance in my house. Now I'll accost him; I'll address him of my own accord. To MENAECHMUS. My dear life, it seems wonderful to me that you are standing here out of doors, for whom the door is wide open, more so than your own house, inasmuch as this house is at your service. Everything's ready as you requested and as you desired; nor have you now any delay in-doors. The breakfast, as you ordered, is prepared here; when you please, you may go and take your place. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
To whom is this woman addressing herself? EROTIUM
Why, I'm talking to yourself. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
What business have I ever had with you, or have I now? EROTIUM
Troth, inasmuch as Venus has willed that you singly above all I should exalt; and that not without your deserving it. For, by my faith, you alone make me, by your kindnesses, to be thriving. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
For sure this woman is either mad or drunk, Messemo, that addresses me, a person whom she knows not in so familiar a way. MESSENIO
Didn't I say that these things are in the habit of occurring here? The leaves are falling now; in comparison with this, if we shall be here for three days, the trees will be tumbling upon you. For to such a degree are all these Courtesans wheedlers out of one's money. But only let me address her. Harkye, woman, I'm speaking to you. EROTIUM
What's the matter? MESSENIO
Where have you yourself known this person? EROTIUM
In that same place where he has known me for this long time, in Epidamnus. MESSENIO
In Epidamnus? A man who, until this day, has never put a foot here inside of this city. EROTIUM
Heyday! You are making fun, my dear Menaechmus. But, prithee, why not go in? There, it will be more suitable for you. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I' faith, this woman really does address me rightly by my name. I wonder very much what's the meaning of this business. MESSENIO
aside . That purse that you are carrying has been smelt out by her. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
aside . I' faith, and rightly have you put me in mind. Take it, then; I'll know now whether she loves myself or the purse most. Gives him the purse. EROTIUM
Let's go in the house to breakfast. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
You invite me kindly; so far, my thanks. EROTIUM
Why then did you bid me a while since prepare a breakfast for you? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I, bid you prepare? EROTIUM
Certainly you did, for yourself and your Parasite. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
A plague, what Parasite? Surely this woman isn't quite right in her senses. EROTIUM
Peniculus. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Who is this Peniculus The one with which the shoes are wiped clean2? EROTIUM
Him, I mean, who came with you a while ago, when you brought me the mantle which you purloined from your wife. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
What do you mean? I, gave you a mantle, which I purloined from my wife? Are you in your senses? Surely this woman dreams standing, after the manner of a gelding3. EROTIUM
Why does it please you to hold me in ridicule, and to deny to me things that have been done by you? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Tell me what it is that I deny after having done it? EROTIUM
That you to-day gave me your wife's mantle. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Even still do I deny it. Indeed, I never had a wife, nor have I one; nor have I ever set my foot here within the city gate since I was born. I breakfasted on board ship; thence did I come this way, and here I met you. EROTIUM
See that now; I'm undone, wretched creature that I am! What ship are you now telling me about? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
A wooden one, weather-beaten full oft, cracked full oft, many a time thumped with mallets. Just as the implements of the furrier4; so peg is close to peg. EROTIUM
Now, prithee, do leave off making fun of me, and step this way with me. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
... for, madam, you are looking for some other person, I know not whom, not me. EROTIUM
Don't I know you, Menaechmus, the son of your father Moschus, who are said to have been born in Sicily, at Syracuse, where King Agathocles reigned, and after him Pintia5, the third Liparo, who at his death left the kingdom to Hiero--which Hiero is now king? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
You say, madam, what is not untrue. MESSENIO
By Jupiter, hasn't this woman come from there, who knows you so readily? ... MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
apart . Troth, I think she must not be denied. MESSENIO
apart . Don't you do it. You are undone, if you enter inside her threshold. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
apart . But you only hold your tongue ... The matter goes on well. I shall assent to the woman, whatever she shall say, if I can get some entertainment. Just now, madam speaking to her in a low voice , I contradicted you not undesignedly; I was afraid of that fellow, lest he might carry word to my wife about the mantle and the breakfast. Now, when you please, let's go in-doors. EROTIUM
Are you going to wait for the Parasite as well? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I'm neither going to wait for him, nor do I care a straw for him, nor, if he should come, do I want him to be admitted in-doors. EROTIUM
By my faith, I shall do that not at all reluctantly. But do you know what I beg you to do? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Only command me what you will. EROTIUM
For you to take that mantle which you gave me just now to the embroiderer's6, that it may be trimmed again, and that some work may be added which I want. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I' faith, you say what's right; in such a way shall it be disguised that my wife shan't know that you are wearing it, if she should see you in the street. EROTIUM
Then take it away with you just now, when you go away. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
By all means. EROTIUM
Let's go in-doors. Goes into her house. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
I'll follow you this instant; I only wish to speak to this person. So, there! Messenio, step to me this way. MESSENIO
What's the matter? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
What need for it? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
There is need, I know what you'll say to me---- MESSENIO
So much the worse. MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Hold your tongue ... I've got some spoil; thus much of the business have I begun upon. Go, and, as quick as you can, take away those peoples7 at once to an inn8. Then do you take care to come and meet me9 before sunset. MESSENIO
Don't you know that these people are harlots, master? MENAECHMUS SOSICLES
Hold your tongue, I say, and go you away from here. It will cost me pain, not you, if I do anything here that's foolish. This woman is silly and inexperienced. So far as I've perceived just now, there's some spoil for us here. He goes into the house of EROTIUM. MESSENIO
I'm undone. Are you going away then? He is certainly ruined; the piratical craft is now leading the boat straight to destruction. But I'm an unreasonable fellow to wish to rule my master; he bought me to obey his orders, not to be his commander. To the ATTENDANTS. Follow me, that, as I'm ordered, I may come in good time to meet my master.
1 Leave the door ajar: Ladies of Erotium's character would find it more convenient to have their doors ajar, that persons might step in unperceived, besides, in the present instance, she wishes the "ianitor" not to shut the door, as me expects to return directly with Menaechmus.
2 Are wiped clean: "Baxae" or "baxeae" were sandals made a twigs or fibres. They were often worn on the stage by Comic actors, and probably on saying this, Menaechmus Sosicles points to his own. The Egyptians made them of palm-leaves and papyrus. They were much worn by the philosophers of ancient times. Probably the "peniculi," made of the tails of oxen, were much used for the purpose of dusting shoes.
3 Manner of a gelding: He compares her to a horse, which sleeps and dreams (if it dreams at all) in a standing posture.
4 Of the furrier: The "pellio," "furrier" or "skinner," would require a great many pegs in fastening down the skins for the purpose of stretching them. Meursius thinks that Plautus intends a sly hit here at Pellio, the bad actor, who is mentioned in the Second Scene of the Second Act in the Bacchides. If so, the joke is quite lost on us.
5 After him Pintia: She is supposed, by the Commentators, to be purposely represented here as quite mistaken in her historical facts, and as making nothing but a confused jumble of them. Some think that the words "Pintia" and "Liparo" are ablative cases; but it is much more probable that they are nominatives. Gronovius thinks that one Phintias is alluded to, who, as we are told by Diodorus Siculus, assumed the government at Agrigentum after the death of Agathocles. He did not, however, reign at Syracuse. We do not learn from history that Hiero received the government from Liparo, but, on the contrary, that his virtuous character was the sole ground for his election to the sovereignty. Lipara was the name of one of the Aeolian islands (now called the Isles of Lipari), not far from the coast of Sicily. Some think that she means to call Agathocles by the additional names of Plintias (and not Pintia) from πλιντὸς, "pottery," as he had exercised the trade of a potter, and of "Liparo," from the Greek λυπηρός, "savage," by reason of the cruelty of which he was guilty in the latter part of his life. This notion seems, however, to be more fanciful than well-founded.
6 To the embroiderer's: "Phrygionem." As the natives of Phrygia were very dexterous at embroidering, and their services were much sought for the purposes of luxury, all embroiderers, in time came to be called "phrygiones." Cotter renders "ad phrygionem" here "to Phrygia," and so throughout the whole play!
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