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MERCURY, alone

Well and prosperously has this affair gone on for me; from the door have I removed the greatest obstacle, so that it may be allowed my father to embrace her in security. When now he shall have reached his master, Amphitryon there, he will say that the servant Sosia has repulsed himself from the door here; and then the other will suppose that he is telling him a lie, and will not believe that he has come here as he had ordered him. Both of them and the whole household of Amphitryon I will fill with mistakes and distraction, even until my father shall have had full enjoyment of her whom he loves; then at last all shall know what has been done. In the end Jupiter shall restore Alcmena to the former affection of her husband. For Amphitryon will just now be beginning a quarrel with his wife, and will be accusing her of incontinence; then will my father change for her this strife into tranquillity. Now, inasmuch as yet I've said but little about Alcmena, this day will she bring forth two sons, twins; the one will be born in the tenth month after he was begotten, the other in the seventh month1; of these the one is the son of Amphitryon2, the other of Jupiter. But of the younger son the father is the superior, of the elder the inferior. To the AUDIENCE. Now do you comprehend this how it is? But for the sake of the honor3 of this Alcmena, my father will take care that it shall happen at one birth, so that in one travail she may complete her double pangs, and not be laid under suspicion of unchastity, and that the clandestine connexion may remain concealed. Although, as I have said just now, Amphitryon shall still know all the matter in the end. What then? No one surely will impute it to Alcmena as a disgrace; for it does not seem that a God is acting justly to permit his own offences and his own faultiness to fall upon a mortal. I'll cut short my talk: the door makes a noise. See, the counterfeit Amphitryon is coming out of doors, and together with him Alcmena, the wife that he has taken the loan of.

1 In the seventh month: It is difficult to imagine how a critic can suppose that the duration of this Play is intended to be seven months, merely because, according to the ancient story, Hercules was born seven months after the intercourse of Jupiter with Alcmena. Heinsius and Vossius, however, were of this extraordinary opinion. They probably did not reflect that Plautus, for the sake of finding material for his Play, supposed the same intercourse to have been repeated on the same night on which Hercules was born.

2 Son of Amphitryon: Iphiclus was the son of Amphitryon.

3 Of the honor: "Honoris." Madame Dacier has observed, that the tenderness of Jupiter extended only to her health, and not to her "reputation," as the word "honoris" would seem to imply. "Honoris gratiâ" may however, simply mean "for her own sake."

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