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Enter THAIS from her house.
to herself, not seeing them. Ah wretched me! I fear lest Phaedria should take it amiss or otherwise than I intended it, that he was not admitted yesterday. PHAEDRIA
aside to PARMENO. I'm trembling and shivering all over, Parmeno, at the sight of her. PARMENO
apart. Be of good heart; only approach this fire,1 you'll soon be warmer than you need. THAIS
turning round. Who is it that's speaking here? What, are you here, my Phaedria? Why are you standing here? Why didn't you come into the house at once? PARMENO
whispering to PHAEDRIA. But not a word about shutting you out! THAIS
Why are you silent? PHAEDRIA
Of course, it's because2 this door is always open to me, or because I'm the highest in your favor? THAIS
Pass those matters by. PHAEDRIA
How pass them by? O Thais, Thais, I wish that I had equal affection with yourself, and that it were in like degree, that either this might distress you in the same way that it distresses me, or that I might be indifferent at this being done by you. THAIS
Prithee, don't torment yourself, my life, my Phaedria. Upon my faith, I did it, not because I love or esteem any person more than you; but the case was such that it was necessary to be done. PARMENO
ironically. I suppose that, poor thing, you shut him out of doors, for love, according to the usual practice. THAIS
Is it thus you act, Parmeno? Well, well. To PHAEDRIA. But listen--the reason for which I desired you to be sent for hither---- PHAEDRIA
Go on. THAIS
First tell me this; can this fellow possibly hold his tongue? pointing to PARMENO. PARMENO
What, I? Perfectly well. But, hark you, upon these conditions I pledge my word to you; the truth that I hear, I'm silent upon, and retain it most faithfully; but if I hear what's false and without foundation, it's out at once; I'm full of chinks, and leak in every direction. Therefore, if you wish it to be kept secret, speak the truth. THAIS
My mother was a Samian; she lived at Rhodes---- PARMENO
That may be kept a secret. THAIS
There, at that period, a certain merchant made present to my mother of a little girl, who had been stolen away from Attica here. PARMENO
What, a citizen? THAIS
I think so; we do not know for certain: she herself used to mention her mother's and her father's name; her country and other tokens she didn't know, nor, by reason of her age, was she able. The merchant added this: that he had heard front the kidnappers that she had been carried off from Sunium.3 When my mother received her, she began carefully to teach her every thing, and to bring her up, just as though she had been her own daughter. Most persons supposed that she was my sister. Thence I came hither with that stranger, with whom alone at that period I was connected; he left me all which I now possess---- PARMENO
Both these things are false; out it goes. THAIS
How so? PARMENO
Because you were neither content with one, nor was he the only one to make you presents; for he likewise pointing to PHAEDRIA brought a pretty considerable share to you. THAIS
Such is the fact; but do allow me to arrive at the point I wish. In the mean time, the Captain, who had begun to take a fancy to me, set out to Caria;4 since when, in the interval, I became acquainted with you. You yourself are aware how very dear I have held you; and how I confess to you all my nearest counsels. PHAEDRIA
Nor will Parmeno be silent about that. PARMENO
O, is that a matter of doubt? THAIS
Attend; I entreat you. My mother died there recently; her brother is somewhat greedy after wealth. When he saw that this damsel was of beauteous form and understood music, hoping for a good price, he forthwith put her up for sale, and sold her. By good fortune this friend of mine was present; he bought her as a gift to me, not knowing or suspecting any thing of all this. He returned; but when he perceived that I had formed a connection with you as well, lie feigned excuses on purpose that he might not give her; he said that if he could feel confidence that he should be preferred to yourself by me, so as not to apprehend that, when I had received her, I should forsake him, then he was ready to give her to me; but that he did fear this. But, so far as I can conjecture, he has set his affections upon the girl. PHAEDRIA
Any thing beyond that? THAIS
Nothing; for I have made inquiry. Now, my Phaedria, there are many reasons why I could wish to get her away from him. In the first place, because she was called my sister; moreover, that I may restore and deliver her to her friends. I am a lone woman; I have no one here, neither acquaintance nor relative; wherefore, Phaedria, I am desirous by my good offices to secure friends. Prithee, do aid me in this, in order that it may be the more easily effected. Do allow him for the few next days to have the preference with me. Do you make no answer? PHAEDRIA
Most vile woman! Can I make you any answer after such behavior as this? PARMENO
Well done, my master, I commend you; aside he's galled at last. To PHAEDRIA. You show yourself a man. PHAEDRIA
I was not aware what you were aiming at; "she was carried away from here, when a little child; my mother brought her up as though her own; she was called my sister; I wish to get her away, that I may restore her to her friends." The meaning is, that all these expressions, in fine, now amount to this, that I am shut out, he is admitted. For what reason? Except that you love him more than me: and now you are afraid of her who has been brought hither, lest she should win him, such as he is, from yourself. THAIS
I, afraid of that? PHAEDRIA
What else, then, gives you concern? Let me know. Is he the only person who makes presents? Have you found my bounty shut against you? Did I not, when you told me that you wished for a servant-maid from Aethiopia,5 setting all other matters aside, go and seek for one? Then you said that you wanted a Eunuch, because ladies of quality6 alone make use of them; I found you one. I yesterday paid twenty minae7 for them both. Though slighted by you, I still kept these things in mind; as a reward for so doing, I am despised by you. THAIS
Phaedria, what does this mean? Although I wish to get her away, and think that by these means it could most probably be effected; still, rather than make an enemy of you, I'll do as you request me. PHAEDRIA
I only wish that you used that expression from your heart and truthfully, "rather than make an enemy of you." If I could believe that this was said sincerely, I could put up with any thing. PARMENO
aside. He staggers; how instantaneously is he vanquished by a single expression! THAIS
I, wretched woman, not speak from my heart? What, pray, did you ever ask of me in jest, but that you carried your point? I am unable to obtain even this of you, that you would grant me only two days. PHAEDRIA
If, indeed, it is but two days; but don't let these days become twenty. THAIS
Assuredly not more than two days, or---- PHAEDRIA
"Or?" I won't have it. THAIS
It shall not be; only do allow me to obtain this of you. PHAEDRIA
Of course that which you desire must be done. THAIS
I love you as you deserve; you act obligingly. PHAEDRIA
to PARMENO. I shall go into the country; there I shall worry myself for the next two days: I'm resolved to do so; Thais must be humored. Do you, Parmeno, take care that they are brought hither. PARMENO
For the next two days then, Thais, adieu. THAIS
And the same to you, my Phaedria; do you desire aught else? PHAEDRIA
What should I desire? That, present with the Captain, you may be as if absent; that night and day you may love me; may feel my absence; may dream of me; may be impatient for me; may think about me; may hope for me; may centre your delight in me; may be all in all with me; in fine, if you will, be my very life, as I am yours. (Exeunt PHAEDRIA and PARMENO. THAIS
to herself. Ah wretched me!8 perhaps now he puts but little faith in me, and forms his estimate of me from the dispositions of other women.9 By my troth, I, who know my own self, am very sure of this, that I have not feigned any thing that's false, and that no person is dearer to my heart than this same Phaedria; and whatever in the present case I have done, for this girl's sake have I done it; for I trust that now I have pretty nearly discovered her brother, a young man of very good family; and he has appointed this day to come to me at my house. I'll go hence in-doors, and wait until he comes. She goes into her house.
1 Approach this fire)--Ver. 85. “"Ignem"” is generally supposed to be used figuratively here, and to mean "the flame of love." Eugraphius, however, would understand the expression literally, observing that courtesans usually had near their doors an altar sacred to Venus, on which they daily sacrificed.
2 Of course it's because)--Ver. 89. It must be observed that these words, conmencing with “"Sane, quia vero,"” in the original, are said by Phaedria not in answer to the words of Thais immediately preceding, but to her previous question, "Cur non recta introibas?" "Why didn't you come into the house at once?" and that they are spoken in bitter irony.
3 From Sunium: This was a town situate near a lofty Promontory of that name in Attica. It was famous for a fair which was held there. "Sunium's rocky brow" is mentioned by Byron in the song of the Greek Captive in the third Canto of Don Juan.
5 Servant-maid from Aethiopia: No doubt Aethiopian or negro slaves were much prized by the great, and those courtesans whose object it was to ape their manners.
7 Paid twenty minoe: The "mina" contained one hundred "drachmae" of about 9¾d. each.
8 Ah wretched me!: Donatus remarks that the Poet judiciously reserves that part of the plot to betold here, which Thais did not relate to Phaedria in the presence of Parmeno; whom the Poet keeps in ignorance as to the rank of the damsel, that he may with the more probability dare to assist Chaerea in his attempt on her.
9 From the dispositions of other women: Donatus observes that this is one of the peculiar points of excellence shown by Terence, introducing common characters in a new manner, without departing from custom or nature; since he draws a good Courtesan, and yet engages the attention of the Spectators and amuses them. Colman has the following Note here: "Under the name of Thais, Menander is supposed to have drawn the character of his own mistress, Glycerium, and it seems he introduced a Courtesan of the same name into several of his Comedies. One Comedy was entitled 'Thais,' from which St. Paul took the sentence in his Epistle to the Corinthians, 'Evil communications corrupt good manners.'" Plutarch has preserved four lines of the Prologue to that Comedy, in which the Poet, in a kind of mock-heroic manner, invokes the Muse to teach him to depict the character of his heroine.
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