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Enter GNATHO at a distance, leading PAMPHILA.
to himself. Immortal Gods! how much does one man excel another! What a difference there is between a wise person and a fool! This strongly came into my mind from the following circumstance. As I was, coming along to-day, I met a certain person of this place, of my own rank and station, no mean fellow, one who, like myself, had guttled away his paternal estate; I saw him, shabby, dirty, sickly, beset with rags and years;--"What's the meaning of this garb?" said I; he answered, "Because, wretch that I am, I've lost what I possessed: see to what I am reduced,--all my acquaintances and friends forsake me." On this I felt contempt for him in: comparison with myself. "What!" said I, "you pitiful sluggard, have you so managed matters as to have no hope left? Have you lost your wits together with your estate? Don't you see me, who have risen from the same condition? What a complexion I have, how spruce and well dressed, what portliness of person? I have every thing, yet have nothing; and although I possess nothing, still, of nothing am I in want." "But I," said he, "unhappily, can neither be a butt nor submit to blows."1 "What!" said I, "do you suppose it is managed by those means? You are quite mistaken. Once upon a time, in the early ages, there was a calling for that class; this is a new mode of coney-catching; I, in fact, have been the first to strike into this path. There is a class of men who strive to be the first in every thing, but are not; to these I make my court; I do not present myself to them to be laughed at; but I am the first to laugh with them, and at the same time to admire their parts: whatever they say, I commend; if they contradict that self-same thing, I commend again. Does any one deny? I deny: does he affirm? I affirm: in fine, I have so trained myself as to humor them in every thing. This calling is now by far the most productive." PARMENO
apart. A clever fellow, upon my faith! From being fools he makes men mad outright. GNATHO
to himself, continuing. While we were thus talking, in the mean time we arrived at the market-place; overjoyed, all the confectioners ran at once to meet me; fishmongers,2 butchers, cooks,3 sausage-makers, and fishermen, whom, both when my fortunes were flourishing and when they were ruined, I had served, and often serve still: they complimented me, asked me to dinner, and gave me a hearty welcome. When this poor hungry wretch saw that I was in such great esteem, and that I obtained a living so easily, then the fellow began to entreat me that I would allow him to learn this method of me; I bade him become my follower4 if he could; as the disciples of the Philosophers take their names from the Philosophers themselves, so too, the Parasite; ought to be called Gnathonics. PARMENO
apart to the Audience. Do you see the effects of ease and feeding at another's cost? GNATHO
to Iimself, continuing. But why do I delay to take this girl to Thais, and ask her to come to dinner? Aside, on seeing PARMENO. But I see Parmeno, our rival's servant, waiting before the door of Thais with a sorrowful air; all's safe; no doubt these people are finding a cold welcome. I'm resolved to have some sport with this knave. PARMENO
aside. They fancy that, through this present, Thais is quite their own. GNATHO
accosting PARMENO. With his very best wishes Gnatho greets Parmeno, his very good friend.--What are you doing? PARMENO
I'm standing.5 GNATHO
So I perceive. Pray, do you see any thing here that don't please you? PARMENO
I believe you,--but any thing else, pray? PARMENO
Why so? GNATHO
Because you are out of spirits. PARMENO
Not in the least. GNATHO
Well, don't be so; but what think you of this slave? pointing to her. PARMENO
Really, not amiss. GNATHO
aside. I've galled the fellow. PARMENO
aside, on overhearing him. How mistaken you are in your notion! GNATHO
How far do you suppose this gift will prove acceptable to Thais? PARMENO
It's this you mean to say now, that we are discarded there. Hark you, there are vicissitudes in all things. GNATHO
For the next six months, Parmeno, I'll set you at ease; you sha'n't have to be running to and fro, or sitting up till daylight. Don't I make you happy? PARMENO
Me? O prodigiously! GNATHO
That's my way with my friends. PARMENO
I commend you. GNATHO
I'm detaining you; perhaps you were about to go somewhere else. PARMENO
In that case then, lend me your services a little; let me be introduced to her. PARMENO
Very well; GNATHO knocks at the door, which immediately opens now the door is open for you, aside because you are bringing her. GNATHO
going into the house of THAIS, ironically. Should you like any one to be called out from here? Goes in with PAMPHILA, and shuts the door. PARMENO
to himself. Only let the next two days go by; you who, at present, in such high favor, are opening the door with one little finger, assuredly I'll cause to be kicking at that door full oft, with your heels, to no purpose. Re-enter GNATHO from the house. GNATHO
Still standing here, Parmeno? Why now, have you been left on guard here, that no go-between might perchance be secretly running from the Captain to her? (Exit.) PARMENO
Smartly said; really they ought to be wonderful things to please the Captain. But I see my master's youngest son coming this way; I wonder why he has come away from the Piraeus,6 for he is at present on guard there in the public service. It's not for nothing; he's coming in a hurry, too; I can't imagine why he's looking around in all directions.
1 Nor submit to blows: It has been remarked in the Notes to the Translation of Plautus that the Parasites had, in consequence of their state of dependence, to endure blows and indignities from their fellow-guests. Their attempts to be "ridiculi" or "drolls" were made in order to give some small return to their entertainers. See especially the character of Gelasimus in the Stichus of Plautus, and the words of Ergasilus in the Captivi, 1. 88, 90. Diderot, as: quoted by Colman, observes: "This is the only Scene in Terence which I remember that can be charged with being superfluous. Thraso has made a present to Thais of a young girl. Gnatho is to convey her. Going along with her, he amuses himself with giving the Spectators a most agreeable eulogium on his profession. But was that the time for it? Let Gnatho pay due attention on the stage to the young woman whom he is charged with, and let him say what he will to himself, I consent to it."
3 Cooks: The “"coqui"” were in the habit of standing in the market-place for hire by those who required their services. See the Pseudolus, the Aulularia, and the Mercator of Plautus, and the Notes to Bohn's Translation. See also a remark on the knavish character of the sausage-makers in the Truculentus of Plautus, 1. 110.
4 Become my follower: “"Sectari."” In allusion to the manners of the ancient Philosophers, who were wont to be followed by a crowd of their disciples, who were styled "sectatores" and "sectae." Gnatho intends to found a new school of Parasites, who shall be called the "Gnathonics," and who, by their artful adulation, shall contrive to be caressed instead of being maltreated. Artotrogus, the Parasite in the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus, seems, however, to have forestalled Gnatho as the founder of this new school.
5 I'm standing: "Quid agitur?" "Statur." The same joke occurs in the Pseudolus of Plautus, l. 457. “"Quid agitur? Statur hic ad hunc modum?"” "What is going on?" or "What are you about?" "About standing here in this fashion;" assuming an attitude. Colman observes that there is much the same kind of conceit in the
Cooke has the following note: "'Quid agitur' is to be supposed to have a single meaning as spoken by Gnatho, but Parmeno archly renders it ambiguous by his answer. Our two first English translations, that by Bernard and that by Hoole, make nothing of it, nor indeed any other part of their author. Echard follows Madame Dacier, and perceives a joke; but he does not render 'quid agitur' as the question ought to be translated. 'Quid agitur' sometimes means,' What are you doing?' Sometimes, 'How do you do?' 'How are you?' or 'How goes the world with you?'"
"My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about." PISTOL.
"Two yards or more." ”
6 From the Piroeus)--Ver. 290. The Piraeus was the chief harbor of Athens, at the mouth of the Cephisus, about three miles from the City. It was joined to the town by two walls, one of which was built by Themistocles, and the other by Pericles. It was the duty of the Athenian youth to watch here in turn by way of precaution against surprise by pirates or the enemy.
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