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Enter MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
to himself . How we do practise a custom here that is very foolish and extremely troublesome, and how even those who are the most worthy and great1 do follow this habit: all wish their dependants to be many in number; whether they are deserving or undeserving, about that they don't enquire. Their property is more enquired about, than what the reputation of their clients is for honor. If any person is poor and not dishonest, he is considered worthless; but if a rich man is dishonest, he is considered a good client. Those who neither regard laws nor any good or justice at all, the same have zealous patrons. What has been entrusted to them, they deny to have been so entrusted; men full of litigation, rapacious, and fraudulent; who have acquired their property either by usury or by perjury; their whole pleasure is in litigation. When the day for trial is appointed, at the same time it is mentioned to their patrons, in order that they may plead for them, about what they have done amiss. Before the people2, or at law before the Praetor, or before the Aedile, is the cause tried. Just so, this day, a certain dependant has kept me very much engaged, nor was it allowed me to do what I wished, or in company with whom I wished; so fast did he stick to me, so much did he detain me. Before the Aedile, in behalf of his doings, very many and very disgraceful, did I plead his cause; a compromise I obtained, obscure and perplexed--more than enough I said, and than I needed to say, that surety for him3 might end this litigation. What did he do? Well, what? He gave bail. And never did I at any time see any person more clearly detected; three very adverse witnesses against all his misdeeds were there. May all the Gods confound him, he has so spoilt this day for me; and myself as well, who ever this day beheld the Forum with my eyes. I ordered a breakfast to be prepared; my mistress is expecting me, I'm sure; as soon as ever I had the opportunity, I made haste immediately to leave the Forum. Now, I suppose, she's angry with me; the mantle, however, will appease her that I gave her, the one I took away to-day from my wife and carried to Erotium here. PENICULUS
apart to the WIFE . What say you now? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
apart . That I'm unfortunately married to a worthless fellow. PENICULUS
apart . Do you perfectly hear what he says? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
apart . Quite well. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
If I am wise, I shall be going hence in-doors, where it may be comfortable for me. PENICULUS
coming forward Stop; on the contrary, it shall be uncomfortable. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
... she is very sorrowful; this doesn't quite please me, but I'll speak to her. Tell me, my wife, what is it amiss with you? PENICULUS
to the WIFE . The pretty fellow's soothing you. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Can't you cease being annoying to me? Did I address you? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
turning away from MENAECHMUS . Take yourself off--away with your caresses from me. Do you persist in it? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Why are you offended with me? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You ought to know. PENICULUS
The rascal knows, but he pretends not to know. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Has any one of the servants done amiss? Do either the maid or the men-servants give you saucy answers? Speak out; it shan't be done with impunity. THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You are trifling. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Surely you are angry at some one of the domestics? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You are trifling. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Are you angry with me at all events? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Now you are not trifling. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I' faith, I haven't done wrong in anything. THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Ah! now you are trifling again. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Wife, what's the matter? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Do you ask me that? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Do you wish me to ask him? To PENICULUS. What's the matter? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
The mantle. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
The mantle? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
A certain person has taken a mantle. MENAECHMUS starts. PENICULUS
to MENAECHMUS . Why are you alarmed? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
For my part, I'm not alarmed at all--aside except about one thing; the mantle makes4 my face mantle. PENICULUS
aside to MENAECHMUS . But as for me, you shouldn't have slily devoured the breakfast. To the WIFE. Go on against your husband. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
making signs to PENICULUS . Won't you hold your tongue? PENICULUS
Faith, I really will not hold my tongue. To the WIFE. He's nodding to me not to speak. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
On my word, I really never did nod to you, or wink in any way. PENICULUS
Nothing is more audacious than this man, who resolutely denies those things which you see. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
By Jupiter and all the Gods, I swear, wife, that I did not nod to him; isn't that enough for you? PENICULUS
She now believes you about that matter; go back again there. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Go back where? PENICULUS
Why, to the embroiderer, as I suppose. Go and bring the mantle back. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What mantle is it? PENICULUS
Now I hold my tongue, since he doesn't remember his own business. THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Did you suppose that you could possibly commit these villanies unknown to me? By heavens, you have assuredly taken that away from me at a heavy usury; such is the return5. Shaking her fist. PENICULUS
Such is the return. Do you make haste to eat up the breakfast in my absence; and then in your drunkenness make fun of me, with your chaplet on, before the house. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
By all the powers, I have neither breakfasted, nor have I this day set foot inside of that house. PENICULUS
Do you deny it? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
By my troth, I really do deny it. PENICULUS
Nothing is there more audacious than this fellow. Did I not just now see you standing here before the house, with a chaplet of flowers on, when you were declaring that my headpiece wasn't sound, and declaring that you didn't know me, and saying that you were a foreigner? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
On the contrary, as some time since I parted with you, so I'm now returning home at last. PENICULUS
I understand you. You didn't think it was in my power to take vengeance upon you; i' faith, I've told it all to your wife. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Told her what? PENICULUS
I don't know; ask her own self. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
turning to his WIFE . What's this, wife? Pray, what has he been telling you? What is it? Why are you silent? Why don't you say what it is? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
As though you didn't know. I' faith, I certainly am a miserable woman. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Why are you a miserable woman? tell me. THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Do you ask me? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Faith, I shouldn't ask you if I knew. PENICULUS
O the wicked fellow; how he does dissemble. You cannot conceal it; she knows the matter thoroughly; by my faith, I've disclosed everything. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What is it? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Inasmuch as you are not at all ashamed, and don't wish to confess of your own accord, listen, and attend to this; I'll both let you know why I'm sorrowful, and what he has told me. My mantle has been purloined from me at home. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Mantle purloined from me? PENICULUS
to the WIFE . D'you see how the rogue is catching you up? To MENAECHMUS. It was purloined from her, not from you; for certainly if it had been purloined from you, it would now be safe. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
to PENICULUS . I've nothing to do with you. But to his WIFE what is it you say? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
A mantle, I say, has been lost from home. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Who has stolen it? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I faith, he knows that, who took it away. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What person was it? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
A certain Menaechmus. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
By my troth, 'twas villanously done. Who is this Menaechmus? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You are he, I say. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Who accuses me? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I, myself. PENICULUS
I, too; and you carried it off to Erotium here, your mistress. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I, gave it her? PENICULUS
You, you, I say. Do you wish for an owl6 to be brought here, to say "you, you," continually to you? For we are now quite tired of it. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
By Jupiter and all the Gods, I swear, wife (and isn't that enough for you?), that I did not give it. PENICULUS
Aye, and I, by all the powers, that we are telling no untruth. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
But I haven't given it away, but just only lent it to be made use of. THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
But, i' faith, for my part, I don't lend either your scarf or your cloak out of the house, to any one, to be made use of. 'Tis fair that the woman should lend out of the house the woman's apparel, the man the man's. But why don't you bring the mantle home again? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I'll have it brought back. THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
For your own interest you'll do so, as I think; for you shall never enter the house to-day unless you bring the mantle with you. I'm going home. PENICULUS
to the WIFE . What's there to be for me, who have given you this assistance? THE WIFE OF MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Your assistance shall be repaid, when anything shall be purloined from your house. The WIFE goes into the house. PENICULUS
Then, by my troth, that really will never be; for nothing have I at home to lose. May the Gods confound you, both husband and wife. I'll make haste to the Forum, for I see clearly that I've quite fallen out with this family. (Exit.) MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
My wife thinks that she does me an injury when she shuts me out of doors; as though I hadn't another better place to be admitted into. If I displease you, I must endure it; I shall please Erotium here, who won't be shutting me out of her house, but will be shutting me up in her house rather. Now I'll go; I'll beg her to give me back the mantle that I gave her a while since. I'll purchase another for her--a better one. Hallo! is any one the porter here? Knocks at EROTIUM'S door. Open here, and some one of you call Erotium before the door.
1 Most worthy and great: "Optumi maximi." This was properly an epithet of Jupiter, and is, perhaps, satirically applied to the "little Gods," the great men of Rome. In the previous line he uses "morus," the Greek word μωρός, signifying "foolish," on account of its resemblance to the word "mores," "manner" or "custom."
2 Before the people: It is thought that he here refers to the three modes of trial in civil cases among the Romans -- "apud populum," before the people in the Comitia centuriata, or full assembly; "in iure," before the "Praetor," or his delegates, the "Recuperatores" or "Iudices selecti," "commissioned judges;" and before the Aedile, or city officer. He says, that on being summoned to the "concio," a "cliens" or dependant suddenly accosted him, and insisted on his defending him, which greatly detained him, but that in spite of the worthlessness of his client's cause, he was at last successful in effecting a compromise.
3 That surety for him: He probably means that he gained time for his client to pay the debt, on condition of his giving bail or security that be would do so within a certain time.
4 The mantle makes: "Palla pallorem incutit." In his alarm he cannot avoid a pun on the resemblance between "palla," the "mantle," and "pallor," paleness. The meaning is, literally, "the mantle strikes paleness into me;" but an attempt is made in the Translation to imitate the play upon the words.
5 Such is the return: "Sic datur." Literally, "thus it is given," or "on these terms it is lent." Some Commentators will have it, that these words are accompanied with a slap on the face, in which case they will be equivalent to "there, take that." They may, however, simply mean, "such are the terms" on which you had my mantle, "such are the results of your lending;" her abuse and indignation, accompanied, perhaps, with a threat, being the "foenus," or "interest" for the loan.
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