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Enter BALLIO, with several MALE1 and FEMALE SLAVES, from his house.
Get out, come, out with you, you rascals, kept at a loss and bought at a loss, in the minds of not one of whom aught ever comes to do aright, of whom I can't make a bit of use, unless I try it after this fashion. He flogs the men all round. At no time did I ever see human beings more like asses; so hardened are your ribs with stripes; when you flog them, you hurt yourself the most. Of such a disposition are these whipping-posts who follow this line of conduct; when the opportunity is given, pilfer, purloin2, prig, plunder, drink, eat, and run away's the word. This is their method, so that you would choose rather to leave wolves among sheep, than these fellows on guard in your house. Yet, when you look at their appearance, they don't seem amiss; by their doings they deceive you. Now, therefore, unless you all of you give your attention to this charge, unless you remove drowsiness and sloth from your breasts and eyes, I'll make your sides to be right thoroughly marked with thongs, so much so that not even Campanian coverlets are coloured as well, nor yet Alexandrian tapestry3 of purple embroidered with beasts all over. Even yesterday I already gave you all notice, and assigned to each his own respective employment; but so utterly worthless are you, so neglectful, of such stub-born dispositions, that you compel me to put you in mind of your duty with a basting. You are so minded I suppose, to get the better of this scourge and myself through the hardness of your hides. Never, i' faith, will your hides prove harder, than is this cow-hide of mine. He dangles it before them. Do look at that, please; they are minding other matters. Attend to this, and give heed to this. He flogs one of them. How now? Does it pain? Ah, that's the way it's laid on when any slave slights his master. Stand all of you before me, you race of mortals born to be thrashed; turn your ears this way; give attention all of you to what I say. You fellow who are holding the pitcher, do you fetch the water; do you take care that the cauldron's full this instant. You, with the axe, I appoint over the wood-cutting department. SLAVES of Ballio.
But this one is blunted on the edge. BALLIO
Let it be so, then. And so are you yourselves with stripes; yet am I for that reason any the less to enjoy your services? My orders I give to you, that the house be made clean. You have what you are to do; make haste, and go in-doors. Exit FIRST SLAVE. Be you the one that makes the couches smooth4. Do you wash the plate clean, and arrange it in order as well, Take care that when I return from the Forum, I find things done; that all be swept, sprinkled, scoured, made smooth, cleaned, and arranged in order. For this day is my birthday; it befits you all to celebrate it. Take care to lay the gammon of bacon, the brawn, the collared neck, and the udder, in water; do you hear me? I wish to entertain tip-top men in first-rate style, that they may fancy that I have property. Go you in-doors, and get these things ready quickly, that there may be no delay when the cook comes. I'm going to market, that I may make purchase of whatever fish is there. Boy, go you before me; I must have a care that no one cuts away my purse. Or wait there; there's something that I had almost forgotten to say at home. Do you hear me, you women? I have this charge for you--you, misses of distinction, who spend your time with illustrious men in refinements, luxury, and delights; now shall I know and make trial this day, which one has regard for her liberty5, which for her appetite which thinks on her business, which on sleeping only: this day I'll make trial which I must think of as a freed-woman, and which as one to be sold. Take you care that many a present from your lovers comes in for me this day; for if your year's board isn't picked up for me, to-morrow I'll turn you adrift on the public. You know that this is my birthday; where are those youths, the apples of whose eyes you are, whose very existence, whose delight you are? Where are your kisses, where your bosoms sweet as honey? Make the bearers of presents to come here then, for my sake, before this house, in whole regiments6. Why am I to find clothes for you, gold trinkets, and those things which you need? What have I, you jades, through your means, except vexation, you women, eager for nothing but the wine? You are a-soaking away yourselves and your paunches too, at the very time that I'm here a-dry. Now, therefore, this is the best thing to do; for me to call you each by her name, that no one of you may be declaring to me by-and-by that her business hasn't been told her. Give attention, all of you. In the first place, Hedylium, my business is with you--you, who are the favorite of the corn-merchants, men who have, all of them, immense mountains of wheat piled up at home; take you care that wheat is brought here for me, to suffice this year to come for myself and all my household, and that I may so abound in corn that the city may change my name for me, and instead of the procurer Ballio proclaim me King lasions7. CALIDORUS
apart . Do you hear what the gallows-bird is saying? * * * Doesn't he seem a regular boaster to you? PSEUDOLUS
apart . I' troth the fellow does, and a wicked one8 as well. But hush now, and give attention to this. BALLIO
Æschrodora, you who have for your patrons the butchers, those rivals of the procurers, who, just like ourselves, by false oaths seek their gains, do you listen; unless the three larders shall be crammed for me this day with carcases of ample weight, to-morrow, just as they say that formerly the two sons of Jupiter fastened Dirce9 to the bull, aye, this day as well, will I tie you up to the larder; that, in fact, shall be your bull. CALIDORUS
apart . I'm quite enraged by the talk of this fellow; that we should suffer the youth of Attica to encourage here10 this fellow! Where are they--where are they skulking, they of mature age, who have their amorous dealings with this procurer? Why don't they meet? Why don't they one and all deliver the public from this pestilence? But I am very simple, and very ignorant; they would venture, of course, to do that to those, to whom their passions compel them, to their misfortune, to be subservient, and, at the same time, prevent them from doing that against them which they would rather wish to do. PSEUDOLUS
apart . Hush! CAL. apart . What's the matter? PSEUDOLUS
apart . Pshaw! you are not very obliging. Why are you drowning his talk11 by your noise? CALIDORUS
apart . I'll be silent. PSEUD. apart . But I'd much rather you would be silent, than that you should say you will be silent. BALLIO
And you, Xystilis, take you care and give me your attention--you whose fanciers have large quantities of oil at home. If oil shall not be brought me here forthwith in leathern bags, I'll to-morrow cause yourself to be carried off in a leathern bag to the prostitutes' shambles12. There a bed shall be given you, I warrant, where you can have no rest, but where, even to downright fainting---- You understand what's the tendency of that which I'm saying? Will you tell me, you viper you, you who have so many of your fanciers so right well laden with their oil, is now the head of any one of your fellow-slaves a bit the better anointed by your means, or do I, myself, get my dainty morsels a bit the better seasoned with oil13 for it? But I understand-- you don't care much about oil; with wine you anoint yourself. Only wait a bit; by my troth I'll punish you for all at one spell, unless indeed this day you contrive to manage all these things that I've been speaking of. But as for you, Phœnicium, I tell you this, you pet of the mighty men--you who have been for so long a time always paying down to me your money for your liberty--you who only know how to promise, but don't know how to pay what you have promised; unless this day all your keep is brought me here out of the stores of your customers, to-morrow, Phœnicium, with a true Phœnician hide14, you'll pay a visit to the strumpets' shambles. The SLAVES go into the house of BALLIO.
1 Male: These male slaves in the text are called "lorarii." It was their province to lay the "lorum," or whip, about their fellow-slaves, at the bidding of their master.
3 Alexandrian tapestry: We learn from Pliny the Elder that the people of Alexandria excelled in weaving tapestry of many threads, which was cal ed "polymita." They excelled both the Babylonians and Phrygians in depicting birds, beasts, and human beings, upon their productions. Campania seems from the present passage to have been famous for its counterpanes.
4 Makes the couches smooth: It was to be his duty to prepare the couches required for the entertainment.
5 Regard for her liberty: By "caput" he means "liberty of the head" or "person." He will try to find out which of the women attends to gaining as much money as will one day procure her liberation, and who consequently, is studying the interests of her master.
6 In whole regiments: "Manipulatim." Literally, "in whole maniples." There were 120 men in each maniple of the "velites," "hastati," and "principes" of the Roman army, and 60 in each maniple of the "triarii." Four maniples made a cohort.
7 King Iasion: Iasius or Iasion, was a king of Arcadia, the father of Atalanta, who attended the hunt of the Calydonian boar, and was beloved by Meleager There was another person of the same name, who was the lover of Ceres, and was slain by the thunderbolts of Jove. As he was said to have been the father, by Ceres, of Plutus, the God of Riches, he is probably the person here referred to
8 And a wicked one: Pseudolus plays on the resemblance of the two words "magnificus," a boaster, and "maleficus," "wicked."
9 Fastened Dirce: Dirce was married to Lycus, the King of Thebes, after he had divorced Antiope. On this, Zethus and Amphion, the sons of the latter by Jupiter, caused the supplanter of their mother to be fastened to the tail of a wild bull, and put Lycus to death.
10 To encourage here: As being the minister of their pleasures.
11 Drowning his talk: Calidorus will keep whispering to him, while he is wishful to listen to what the procurer is saying.
12 Prostitutes' shambles: It is not exactly known what the "pergula" was, but it is supposed that it was a "booth" or "shed" adjoining to a house, which was let out for persons who wished to expose their wares to the public view. It is not improbable that in these sheds the lower class of courtesans "prostabant venales," or courted the public favour. No doubt the "leno" had one of these in his establishment, and he threatens the refractory females with it as a punishment, as it was probably tenanted by the refractory ones, and those whose charms had ceased to attract more wealthy customers.
13 Seasoned with oil: "Unctiusculo." The Romans used a great deal of oil in the seasoning of their dishes.
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