This text is part of:
Enter ANTIPHO from his house, speaking at the door to his SERVANTS.
The man in condition of a servant who always waits to be told his duty, and doesn't remember to do it of his own accord, that servant, I say, is not of a deserving character. You remember well on each returning Calends to ask for your allotment of provisions1; why, then, do you less remember to do what is necessary to do about the house? Now, therefore, if, when I return, the furniture shall not be set for me, each piece in its proper place, I'll be putting you in mind with a bull's hide remembrancer2. Not human beings seem to be living with me, but pigs. Take care, if you please, that my house is clean, when I return home. I shall soon be back home; I'm going to her house, to see my eldest daughter. If any one should enquire for me, call me thence, some of you; or----I shall be here soon myself. PHILUMENA
aside . What are we to do, sister, if our father shall resolve against us? PAMPHILA
It befits us to submit to what he does whose power is the stronger. By entreating, not by opposing, I think we must use our endeavours. If with mildness we ask for favour, I trust to obtain it of him. Oppose him we cannot, without disgrace and extreme criminality; I will neither do that myself, nor will I give you the advice to do it, but rather that we should entreat him. I know our family3; he will yield to entreaty. ANTIPHO
speaking to himself . In the first place, in what manner I should make a beginning with them, about that I am in doubt; whether I should accost them in language couched in ambiguous terms, after this fashion, as though I had never pretended4 anything at all against them, or whether as though I had heard that they were deserving of some censure against them; whether I should rather try them gently or with threats. I know that there will be opposition; I know my daughters right well. If they should prefer to remain here rather than to marry afresh, why, let them do so. What need is there for me, the term of my life run out, to be waging war with my children, when I think that they don't at all deserve that I should do so? By no means; I'll have no disturbances. But I think that this is the best thing to be done by me; I'll do thus; I'll pretend as though they had themselves been guilty of some fault; I'll terribly terrify their minds this day by some ambiguous expressions; ana then, after that, as I shall feel disposed, I'll disclose myself. I know that many words will be spoken; I'll go in. Goes to the door of PHILUMENA'S house. But the door's open. PHILUMENA
Why, surely the sound of my father's voice reached my ears. PAMPHILA
I' troth, 'tis he; let's hasten to meet him with a kiss. They both run to kiss him. PHILUMENA
My father, my respects. ANTIPHO
And to you the same. Away this instant, and be off from me, Removes her. PHILUMENA
One kiss. ANTIPHO
I've had enough of your kissing. PHILUMENA
Prithee, father, why so? ANTIPHO
Because, as it is, the seasoning of your affection has reached my soul5. PAMPHILA
Sit down here, father. Points to a chair. ANTIPHO
I'll not sit there; do you sit down; I'll sit on the bench6. Sits on a bench. PAMPHILA
Wait till I fetch a cushion. ANTIPHO
You take kind care of me; I'm nicely seated now as I am7. PAMPHILA
Do let me, father. Goes into the house. ANTIPHO
What need is there? PAMPHILA
There is need. Coming out, and bringing a cushion. ANTIPHO
I'll submit to you. Arranging the cushion. Yes, this does very well. PAMPHILA
Why, daughters can never take too much care of their parent. Whom is it proper that we should esteem more dear than yourself? And then, in the next place, father, our husbands, for whom you have chosen that we should be the mothers of families. ANTIPHO
You do as it is proper for good wives to do, in esteeming your husbands, though absent, just as though they were present. PAMPHILA
'Tis propriety, father, for us to highly honor those who have chosen us as companions for themselves. ANTIPHO
Is there any other person here to listen with his ears8 to our conversation? PHILUMENA
There's no one except us and yourself. ANTIPHO
I wish your attention to be given; for, unacquainted with female matters and ways, I come now as a pupil to you, my instructresses; in order that each of you may tell me what endowments matrons ought to have, who are the best esteemed. PAMPHILA
What's the reason that you come hither to enquire about the ways of females? ANTIPHO
Troth, I'm looking for a wife, as your mother's dead and gone. PAMPHILA
You'll easily find, father, one both worse and of worse morals than she was; one better you'll neither find nor does the sun behold. ANTIPHO
But I'm making the enquiry of you, and of this sister of yours. PAMPHILA
I' faith, father, I know how they should be, if they are to be such as I think right. ANTIPHO
I wish, then, to know what you do think right. PAMPHILA
That when they walk through the city, they should shut the mouths of all, so that none can speak ill of them with good reason. ANTIPHO
to PHILUMENA . And now speak you in your turn. PHILUMENA
What do you wish that I should speak to you about, father? ANTIPHO
How is the woman most easily distinguished, who is of a good disposition? PHILUMENA
When she, who has the power of doing ill, refrains from doing so. ANTIPHO
Not bad that. To PAMPHILA. Come, say you, which choice is the preferable, to marry a maiden or a widow? PAMPHILA
So far as my skill extends, of many evils9, that which is the least evil, the same is the least an evil. He that can avoid the women, let him avoid them, so that each day he takes care, the day before, not to do that which, the day after, he may regret. ANTIPHO
What sort of woman, pray, seems to you by far the wisest? PHILUMENA
She who, when affairs are prosperous, shall still be able to know herself, and who with equanimity can endure it to be worse with her than it has been. ANTIPHO
By my troth, in merry mood have I been trying the bent of your dispositions. But 'tis this for which I am come to you, and for which I wished to meet you both. My friends are advising me to the effect that I should remove you hence to my own house. PAMPHILA
But still, we, whose interests are concerned, are advising you quite otherwise. For either, father, we ought not formerly to have been bestowed in marriage, unless our husbands pleased you, or, it is not right for us now to be taken away when they are absent. ANTIPHO
And shall I suffer you while I am alive to remain married to men who are beggars? PAMPHILA
This beggar of mine is agreable to me; her own king is agreable10 to the queen. In poverty have I the same feelings that once I had in riches. ANTIPHO
And do you set such high value on thieves and beggars? PHILUMENA
You did not, as I think, give me in marriage to the money, but to the man. ANTIPHO
Why are you still in expectation of those who have been absent for now three years? Why don't you accept an eligible match11 in place of a very bad one? PAMPHILA
'Tis folly, father, to lead unwilling dogs to hunt. That wife is an enemy, who is given to a man in marriage against her will. ANTIPHO
Are you then determined that neither of you will obey the command of your father? PHILUMENA
We do obey; for where you gave us in marriage, thence are we unwilling to depart. ANTIPHO
Kindly good b'ye; I'll go and tell my friends your resolutions. PAMPHILA
They will, I doubt not, think us the more honorable, if you tell them to honorable men. ANTIPHO
Take you care, then, of their domestic concerns, the best way that you can. (Exit.) PHILUMENA
Now you gratify us, when you direct us aright: now we will hearken to you. Now, sister, let's go indoors. PAMPHILA
Well, first I'll take a look at home. If, perchance, any news should come to you from your husband, take you care that I know it. PHILUMENA
Neither will I conceal it from you, nor do you conceal from me what you may know. Calls at the door of her house. Ho there, Crocotium12, go, fetch hither Gelasimus, the Parasite; bring him here with you. For, i' faith, I wish to send him to the harbour, to see if, perchance, any ship from Asia13 has arrived there yesterday or to-day. But, one servant has been sitting at the harbour whole days in waiting; still, however, I wish it to be visited every now and then. Make haste, and return immediately. Each goes into her own house.
1 Allotment of provisions: The Greeks, it must be borne in mind, had no Calends (whence the proverb "ad Græcas Calendas," "to-morrow come never"); the Poet is here alluding to the Roman custom of distributing to the slaves their allowance of food on the Calends, or first day of every month.
2 Bull's hide remembrancer: "Monumentis bubulis." Literally, 'with memorials of oxen." The thongs of the "scutica" and of the "flagellum" were generally made of bull's hide.
3 I know our family: "Nostros." Literally, "ours," meaning "our people," "our family."
4 As though I had never pretended: Despite the ingenuity of Ritschel, this line seems to be in a corrupt state.
5 Has reached my soul: "Meæ animæ salsura evenit." Literally, 'the salting has come forth to my soul." This phrase is rendered in Leverett's Lexicon, "I am dejected" or "I am in an ill humour." That, however, does not appear to be the meaning. The father has had kissing enough from his daughters, but he intends, as it would seem, to compliment them by comparing their kisses to salt, with its refreshing and vivifying powers; and when Philumena asks for one kiss more, he says, "No, as it is (ita) their refreshing power has reached my soul." Rost seems to be of this opinion, but he suggests that "animæ meæ" are vocatives plural; in that case the passage would mean, "as it is, my loves," or "my delights, the refreshing salt of your affection has reached me."
6 On the bench: "Subsellium" generally means "a footstool," used by persons when sitting on a high seat. Here, however, it probably signifies "a bench," perhaps placed against the wall in the front of Philumena's house, where he was about to make a call.
7 Nicely seated now as I am: "Sat sic fultum est." Literally "enough is it thus supported." She has brought out the cushion, and has placed it upon or at the back of the hard bench, which was perhaps something like our garden chair.
8 To listen with his ears: "Nostris dictis auceps auribus" Literacy "a fowler for our words;" in allusion to the stealthy manner in which the fowler lies in wait for his prey.
9 Of many evils: Pamphila is embarrassed here; and as she probably does not wish her father to marry either widow or maiden, but still does not like to tell him so, she takes refuge in a truism, rather than give a direct answer to his question. Aristotle tells us that Epicharmus was much in the habit of giving utterance to remarks of this nature.
10 Her own king is agreable: She speaks here of the husband in the character of the "rex," or "king," in his own establishment, which to him is his kingdom. Of course, then, the wife would be the "regina," or "queen."
11 Eligible match: "Conditio," in the sense of "offer" or "proposal," especially applies to one of marriage. As their husbands had spent almost all their substance, the ladies are probably living on the fortune which he has given them, and he anticipates that it may be soon exhausted.
12 Crocotium: This name is derived from 'Crocus," which means the plant of that name, or saffron.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.