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And suppose it is much better that you should hold your peace, and I should speak? 2nd BACCHIS
With pleasure; you may proceed. 1st BACCHIS
When my memory shall fail me, then do you take care to aid me, sister. 2nd BACCHIS
I' faith, I'm more afraid that I shan't have the choice of prompting you. 1st BACCHIS
Troth, I'm afraid the little nightingale may lose her powers1 of song. Follow this way. They move. Enter PISTOCLERUS. PISTOCLERUS
What are these two Courtesans, the namesake-sisters, about? 1st BACCHIS
Nothing is there more wretched than a woman. PISTOCLERUS
What, say you, is there more worthy of it? What have you been planning in your consultation? 1st BACCHIS
What's proper? PISTOCLERUS
I' faith, that doesn't belong to the Courtesan. 1st BACCHIS
This sister of mine entreats me so to find some person to protect her against this Captain; that when she as served her time2 he may bring her back home. Do you, I entreat you, be her protector. PISTOCLERUS
Why should I protect her? 1st BACCHIS
That she may be brought home again, when she has fulfilled her engagement to him, so that he may not take her as a servant3 for himself. But, if she had the gold to pay him back again, gladly would she do so. PISTOCLERUS
Where now is this person? 1st BACCHIS
I expect that he'll be here just now. But this you'll be able to arrange better among ourselves; and sitting there, you shall wait until he comes. So you will drink some wine, and so, I'll give you a kiss when you have drunk it. PISTOCLERUS
Your coaxing is mere birdlime. 1st BACCHIS
How so? PISTOCLERUS
Because, in fact, I understand how you two are aiming at one poor pigeon, myself; aside very nearly is the limed reed4 breaking my feathers. Madam, I judge that such deeds befit me not. 1st BACCHIS
Why so, I pray? PISTOCLERUS
Bacchis, it is, because I dread you Bacchantes, and your Bacchanalian den5. 1st BACCHIS
What is it that you dread? Surely, not that the couch in my house may lead you into mischief? PISTOCLERUS
Your allurements6, more than your couch, do I dread. You're a mischievous serpent7. But, madam, a lurking-place does not befit this youthful age. 1st BACCHIS
Should you wish at my house to do anything that's unwise, I myself should hinder it. But, when the Captain comes, I wish you to be at my house for this reason; because, when you are present, no one will do her and me any injury. You will prevent that, and by the same means you will be aiding your friend; this Captain, too, on arriving, will suspect that I am your mistress. Why are you silent, pray? PISTOCLERUS
Because these things are pleasant in the talking of; but in the practice, and when you make trial, the same are armed with stings. They pierce the feelings, goad one's fortune, and wound one's merits and character. 2nd BACCHIS
What do you dread from her? PISTOCLERUS
What do I dread, do you ask? Am I a person in my youth to enter a place of exercise8 of such a nature, where people sweat to their undoing?--where for the quoit I rereive a loss, disgrace, too, for my running? 2nd BACCHIS
How charmingly you do talk. PISTOCLERUS
Where I'm to take a turtle-dove9 instead of a sword, and where another puts into my hand the goblet10 instead of the cestus; the drinking-cup11 is in place of the helmet, the wreathed garland instead of the crest12, the dice in place of the lance. For the coat of mail I should have to assume a soft cloak13; where, too, in place of a horse a couch must be given me,--for shield, a strumpet14 may be lying by me. Avaunt from me--avaunt! 2nd BACCHIS
O, you're too fierce. PISTOCLERUS
I am attending to my own interests. 2nd BACCHIS
You must be softened down; and, in fact, I offer you my aid in this. PISTOCLERUS
But you are too expensive an assistant. 1st BACCHIS
Do pretend that you are in love with me. PISTOCLERUS
Whether should I be pretending that in jest, or seriously? 1st BACCHIS
Well said! better to do the last. When the Captain comes here, I want you15 to embrace me. PISTOCLERUS
What need is there of my doing that? 1st BACCHIS
I want him to see you. I know what I'm about? PISTOCLERUS
And I, i' faith, I know not what I'm in fear of. But what say you----? 1st BACCHIS
What's the matter now? PISTOCLERUS
Well, suppose perchance on a sudden a breakfast or a drinking bout, or else a dinner, should take place at your house, just as is the wont in such places of resort; where, then, should I take my place? 1st BACCHIS
Near myself, my life, that with a she wit a he wit may be reclining at the repast. A place here, at our house, should you come late, is always at your service. When you wish right merrily to disport yourself, my rosebud, you say to me, "Do let me enjoy myself to-day," I'll provide you a delightful place where it may be so. PISTOCLERUS
Here is a rapid stream; not without hazard can this way be passed. 1st BACCHIS
aside . And, by my troth, something must you lose amid this stream. Aloud. Give me your hand and follow me. PISTOCLERUS
O, by no means. 1st FIRST BACCHIS
Why so? PISTOCLERUS
Because to a man in his youth nothing can be more alluring than these--night, women, wine. 1st BACCHIS
Away, then, with you; for my part, I don't at all care for it, but for your own sake. The Captain, then, shall take her off; don't you be present at all if you don't choose. PISTOCLERUS
to himself . And am I a thing of nothing, who cannot moderate my own passions? 1st BACCHIS
What's there for you to fear? PISTOCLERUS
There's nothing; all nonsense. Madam, I resign myself to you. I'm yours; to you do I devote my services. 1st BACCHIS
You are a dear man. Now I wish you to do this. To-day I want to give a welcome entertainment16 to my sister. For that purpose I shall at once order the money17 to be brought you from in-doors. Do you take care and cater for us a splendid entertainment. PISTOCLERUS
No, I'll stand treat; for it would be a shame, that on my account you both should take trouble for me, and by reason of that trouble should pay the expense from your own means. 1st BACCHIS
But I can't allow you to give anything. PISTOCLERUS
Do let me. 1st BACCHIS
Well, I'll let you, if you choose. Prithee, do make haste. PISTOCLERUS
I shall be here again, before I cease to love you. (Exit PISTOCLERUS.) 2nd BACCHIS
You entertain me pleasantly upon my return, my sister. 1st BACCHIS
How so, prithee? 2nd BACCHIS
Because, in my way of thinking, this day a lucky haul has fallen to your lot. 1st BACCHIS
He's mine, assuredly. Now, sister, with respect to Mnesilochus, I'll give you my aid18, that here at home you may be receiving gold, rather than be going hence together with the Captain. 2nd BACCHIS
That's my desire. 1st BACCHIS
My aid shall be given you. The water's warm; let's go in, that you may bathe. For, as you have travelled on board ship, you are faint, I think. 2nd BACCHIS
A little so, sister. PISTOCLERUS is seen at a distance. Besides, he's beginning to cause I don't know what bustle. Let's begone hence. 1st BACCHIS
Follow me this way in-doors to bathe, that you may relieve your weariness.
1 May lose her powers: The nightingale was supposed to sing continually; so that "lusciniae deest cantio," "the nightingale has lost her song," became a proverb which expressed the happening of anything extraordinary.
2 Has served her time: "Emeritus" was the term applied to soldiers who had "served out their time," or "got their discharge." Plautus probably uses the term satirically, as applied to the engagement which the Second Bacchis had made with the Captain.
3 As a servant: She pretends that her sister is afraid, that when her time has expired, the Captain--having carried her to a foreign country--may make a slave of her, and that she s, consequently, desirous to be left at Athens, and to repay him the money which he had given her upon the making of the engagement. She feigns that it is necessary for him to protect her sister on behalf of his absent friend Mnesilochus, that she herself may obtain an opportunity of ensnaring him
4 The limed reed: A reed dipped in birdlime was employed for the purpose of catching birds. Pistoclerus says to himself that he feels how nearly he is entrapped.
5 Your Bacchanalian den: "Bacchanal" was properly the place where the Bacchanalia, or orgies, were celebrated. He styles them "Bacchantes," and their house a "Bacchanal," in allusion both to their names and their habits.
8 A place of exercise: He draws a parallel between the life of a person who for health and rational recreation frequents the "palaestra," or school for exercise, and of those who frequent the haunts of Courtesans. He alludes in the following lines to the exercises of throwing the quoit, running, boxing fencing, hurling the lance, and riding.
9 A turtle-dove: The turtle-dove, as being sacred to Venus, would be an appropriate inmate of a Courtesan's house.
13 A soft cloak: It was the custom at entertainments for the revellers to exchange their ordinary clothes for fine vestments, elaborately embroidered.
15 I want you: He is only to pretend to be her admirer when the Captain comes, by way of accounting for his presence and interference on behalf of her sister. This is afterwards rendered unnecessary by his own pliancy, and the arrival of Mnesilochus himself.
16 A welcome entertainment: "Cæna viatica" was an entertainment offered to a person by his friends immediately on his arrival from a voyage or journey.
17 Order the money: This she says artfully, well knowing that he will at once offer to bear the expense of the entertainment.
18 Give you my aid: They will try to get Mnesilochus to advance the-money to redeem her from the Captain.
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