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Enter PYRGOPOLINICES 1, ARTOTROGUS, and Soldiers.
Take ye care that the lustre of my shield is more bright than the rays of the sun are wont to be at the time when the sky is clear; that when occasion comes, the battle being joined, 'mid the fierce ranks right opposite it may dazzle the eyesight of the enemy. But, I wish to console this sabre of mine, that it may not lament nor be downcast in spirits, because I have thus long been wearing it keeping holiday, which so longs right dreadfully to make havoc of the enemy. But where is Artotrogus? ARTOTROGUS
Here he is; he stands close by the hero, valiant and successful, and of princely form. Mars could not dare to style himself a warrior so great, nor compare his prowess with yours. PYRGOPOLINICES
Him you mean whom I spared on the Gorgonidonian2 plains, where Bumbomachides Clytomestoridysarchides, the grandson of Neptune, was the chief commander? ARTOTROGUS
I remember him; him, I suppose, you mean with the golden armour, whose legions you puffed away with your breath just as the wind blows away leaves or the reed-thatched roof. PYRGOPOLINICES
That, on my troth, was really nothing at all. ARTOTROGUS
Faith, that really was nothing at all in comparison with other things I could mention--(aside) which you never did. If any person ever beheld a more perjured fellow than this, or one more full of vain boasting, faith let him have me for himself, I'll resign myself for his slave; if 'tis not the fact that3 my one mess of olive pottage4 is eaten up by me right ravenously. PYRGOPOLINICES
Where are you? ARTOTROGUS
Lo! here am I. I' troth in what a fashion it was you broke the fore-leg5 of even an elephant, in India, with your fist. PYRGOPOLINICES
How?--the fore-leg? ARTOTROGUS
I meant to say this--the thigh. PYRGOPOLINICES
I struck the blow without an effort. ARTOTROGUS
Troth, if, indeed, you had put forth your strength, your arm would have passed right through the hide, the entrails, and the frontispiece of the elephant. PYRGOPOLINICES
I don't care for these things just now. ARTOTROGUS
I' faith, 'tis really not worth the while for you to tell me of it, who know right well your prowess. (Aside) 'Tis my appetite creates6 all these plagues. I must hear him right out with my ears, that my teeth mayn't have time7 to grow, and whatever lie he shall tell, to it I must agree. PYRGOPOLINICES
What was it I was saying? ARTOTROGUS
O, I know what you were going to say just now. I' faith 'twas bravely done; I remember its being done. PYRGOPOLINICES
What was that? ARTOTROGUS
Whatever it was you were going to say. PYBG.
Have you got your tablets8? ARTOTROGUS
Are you intending to enlist9? I have them, and a pen as well. PYRGOPOLINICES
How cleverly you do suit your mind to my own mind. ARTOTROGUS
'Tis fit that I should know your inclinations studiously, so that whatever you wish should first occur10 to me. PYRGOPOLINICES
What do you remember? ARTOTROGUS
I do remember this. In Cilicia there were a hundred and fifty men, a hundred in Cryphiolathronia11, thirty at Sardis, sixty men of Macedon, whom you slaughtered altogether in one day. PYRGOPOLINICES
What is the sum total of those men? ARTOTROGUS
Seven thousand. PYRGOPOLINICES
It must be as much: you keep the reckoning well. ARTOTROGUS
Yet I have none of them written down; still, so I remember it was. PYRGOPOLINICES
By my troth, you have a right good memory. ARTOTROGUS
aside . 'Tis the flesh-pots12 give it a fillip. PYRGOPOLINICES
So long as you shall do such as you have done hitherto, you shall always have something to eat: I will always make you a partaker at my table. ARTOTROGUS
Besides, in Cappadocia, you would have killed five hundred men altogether at one blow, had not your sabre been blunt. PYRGOPOLINICES
I let them live, because I was quite sick of fighting. ARTOTROGUS
Why should I tell you what all mortals know, that you, Pyrgopolinices, live alone upon the earth, with valour, beauty, and achievements most unsurpassed? All the women are in love with you, and that not without reason, since you are so handsome. Witness those girls that pulled me by my mantle yesterday. PYRGOPOLINICES
What was it they said to you? ARTOTROGUS
They questioned me about you. "Is Achilles here?" says one to me. "No," says I, "his brother is." Then says the other to me: "By my troth, but he is a handsome and a noble man. See how his long hair becomes him Certainly the women are lucky who share his favours." PYBG.
And pray, did they really say so? ARTOTROGUS
They both entreated me to bring you past to-day by way of a sight13 to them. PYRGOPOLINICES
'Tis really a very great plague to be too handsome a man. ARTOTROGUS
They are quite a nuisance to me; they are praying, entreating, beseeching me, to let them see you; bidding me be fetched to them; so that I can't give my attention to your business. PYRGOPOLINICES
It seems that it is time for us to go to the Forum, that I may count out their pay to those soldiers whom I have enlisted of late. For King Seleucus14 entreated me with most earnest suit that I would raise and enlist recruits for him. To that business have I resolved to devote my attention this day. ARTOTROGUS
Come, let's be going then. PYRGOPOLINICES
Guards, follow me. (Exeunt.)
1 Pyrgopolinices: The literal meaning of the name of the swaggering Captain is "the much-conquering tower," or something similar. "Artotrogus" means "bread-eater." The word "Parasite" properly denotes "one person who dines with another." The name was originally given to persons who were assistants to the priests and high magistrates, and, consequently, had a respectable signification. The hangers-on, who are called "Parasites" by the Comic writers of Greece and Rome, first received that name from Alexis, the Greek Comedian. It has been well remarked, that their chief characteristics were "importunity, love of sensual pleasures," and "the desire of getting a good dinner without paying for it." They may be subdivided into the jesting, the officious, and the flattering Parasite (assentator), of which latter kind Artotrogus is an admirable specimen. From ancient writers we find that it was their method to frequent the Courts of justice, market-places, baths, places for exercise, and other objects of public resort, with the view of obtaining a dinner, at the price of being the butt of their entertainer, and cheerfully submitting to the greatest humiliations.
2 Gorgonidonian: These three crackjaw names are coined by Plautus much in the style of the names of the characters in Bombastes Furioso. They are mere gibberish, though the two latter are derived from Greek or Latin words; the first of which signifies "a son of a fighter at the sound of the trumpet."
3 'Tis not the fact that: This line is read in many different ways, and is evidently in a most corrupt state. Ritschel suggests, "Unum epityrum apud illum estur insane bene," which we follow as nearly as is consistent with the English idiom.
4 Mess of olive pottage: -- "Epityrum" was the name of a dish much used by the people of Sicily, who ate it together with cheese. We learn from Cato (on Rural Matters), that it was made of various kinds of olives minced up, and mixed with oil, vinegar coriander, cummin, fennel, rue, and mint, and then preserved in jars.
6 My appetite creates: He now addresses the Spectators, and honestly confesses why he is a Parasite.
8 Got your tablets: The "tabulae," or "tabellae," used by the ancients for the purpose of writing, were pieces of wood, mostly of an oblong shape, covered with wax, on which an impression was made with the "stylus," or iron pen. They were sometimes made of ivory, but more frequently of citron-wood, beech, or fir The inside only of the tablet was covered with wax, the outer consisting of wood. The leaves were fastened at the back with wires, and opened and shut like the books of the present day. There was a raised margin to each leaf of the tablet, for the purpose of preventing the wax of the one from rubbing against the other. From two to five, six, or even more of these leaves were joined together, which were accordingly called "diptycha," "triptycha," and so on. Those tablets which contained legal documents were pierced through the outer edges with holes, through which a triple thread or string was passed, on which a seal was placed, in order to prevent forgery and to show that the deed was duly executed.
9 Intending to enlist: Rogare. Soldiers, when enlisted, were asked (regabantur) whether they would take the oath. Hence the word "rogare" means something tantamount to our word "enlist," or "recruit." The Parasite asks him if he is going to enlist, as the tablets would be wanted in the "Forum," or "Court of justice," for the purpose of taking down the oaths, and entering the names as the parties were sworn.
11 Cryphiolathronia: This word is mere gibberish: it is compounded of Greek words, which would make it to mean "the place of hidden secrecy." The part of the flatterer seems to be a little overdone here.
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