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(Before daybreak.) Enter at one side of the stage PHÆDROMUS, with a lighted torch, and followed by SLAVES with wine and provisions for an entertainment, and PALINURUS on the opposite side.
Whither away must I say that you are going out of doors at this time o' night, Phædromus, with that dress and with this train1? PHÆD.
Whither Venus and Cupid summon me, and Love persuades me; whether 'tis the midnight or whether the earliest twilight, if the day is fixed2 for pleading your cause with your antagonist, still must you go where they command you, whether you will or no. PALINURUS
But pray, pray---- PHÆD.
Pray ---- you are annoying to me. PALINURUS
Really that is neither pretty nor befitting you to say. You are your own servant3; in your fine garb you are showing the light with your waxen torch4. PHÆD.
And ought I not to carry that which is gathered by the labour of the little bees--which has its birth in sweets--to my own sweet one, my little honey? PALINURUS
But whither must I say that you are going? PHÆD.
If you ask me that, I'll tell, so that you may know. PALINURUS
If I make the enquiry, what would you answer me? PHÆD.
This is the Temple pointing to it of Æsculapius. PALINURUS
That I have known for more than a twelvemonth past. PHÆD.
Close to it is that door, dear as my very eyes. Points to the door of CAPPADOX. Hail to you! door, dear as my very eyes; have you been quite well of late? PALINURUS
Did a fever leave you5 but yesterday, or the day before, and did you take your dinner yesterday? PHÆD.
Are you laughing at me? PALINURUS
Why then, madman, are you enquiring whether the door is well or not? PHÆD.
I' faith, I've known it as a door most comely and most discreet: never one word does it whisper; when it is opened, it is silent; and when, by night, she secretly comes out to me, it holds its peace. PALINURUS
And are you not, Phædromus, doing, or contemplating the doing of, some deed which is unworthy of yourself or of your family? Are you not laying a snare for some modest fair one, or for one that should be modest? PHÆD.
For no one; and may Jupiter not permit me to do so. PALINURUS
I wish the same. Ever, if you are wise, so bestow your love, that if the public should know the object which you love, it may be no disgrace to you. Ever do you take care that you be not disgraced6. PHÆD.
What means that expression? PALINURUS
For you to proceed with caution on your path; the object that you love, love in the presence of witnesses. PHÆD.
Why, 'tis a Procurer that lives here. He points. PALINURUS
No one drives you away from there, nor yet forbids you, if you have the money, to buy what's openly on sale. No one forbids any person from going along the public road, so long as he doesn't make a path through the field that's fenced around; so long as you keep yourself away from the wife, the widow, the maiden, youthful age, and free-born children, love what you please. PHÆD.
This is the house of a Procurer. PALINURUS
A curse befall it. PHÆD.
Why so? PALINURUS
Because it serves in an infamous service. PHÆD.
You speak out. PALINURUS
Be it so, most especially. PHÆD.
Once more, will you hold your tongue? PALINURUS
You bade me speak out7, I thought. PHÆD.
Then, now I forbid you. But, as I had begun to say, he has a young female slave---- PALINURUS
This Procurer, you mean, who's living here? PHÆD.
You have hold of it exactly. PALINURUS
The less shall I be in dread of its falling. PHÆD.
You are impertinent. He wishes to make her a courtesan, while she is desperately in love with me; whereas I don't wish to have her upon loan. PALINURUS
Why so? PHÆD.
Because I'm for having her as my own; I love her equally as well. PALINURUS
Clandestine courtship is bad; 'tis utter ruin. PHÆD.
I' troth, 'tis so as you say. PALINURUS
Has she as yet submitted to the yoke of Venus? PHÆD.
For me she is as chaste as though she were my own sister, unless, indeed, she is any the more unchaste for some kissing. PALINURUS
Always, do you understand, flame follows very close on smoke; with smoke, nothing can be burnt, with flame, it can. He who wishes to eat the kernel8 of the nut, first breaks the nut; he who wishes to seduce, opens the dance9 with kisses. PHÆD.
But she is chaste, and never yet has bestowed her favours upon man. PALINURUS
That I could believe10, if any Procurer had any shame. PHÆD.
Well, but what think you of her? When she has any opportunity, she steals away to me; when she has given me a kiss, she's off again. This happens by reason of this, because this Procurer is lying a-bed ill in the Temple11 of Æsculapius; that fellow is my torturer. PALINURUS
How so? PHÆD.
At one time he asks me for thirty minæ for her, at another for a great talent; and from him I cannot obtain any fair and just dealing. PALINURUS
You are too exacting, in requiring that of him which no Procurer possesses. PHÆD.
Now, I've sent my Parasite hence to Caria12, to ask for money on loan from my friend; if he doesn't bring me this, which way to turn myself I know not. PALINURUS
If you salute the Deities, towards the right13 I think; now this is this altar of Venus before their door. PHÆD.
I have already vowed to bring me14 an early breakfast for my Venus15. PALINURUS
What? Will you then be giving up yourself as a breakfast to Venus? PHÆD.
Myself, and you, and all of these. Pointing to the SLAVES. PALINURUS
Then you would have Venus to be sick outright. PHÆD.
to an ATTENDANT . Here, boy, give me the bowl. PALINURUS
What are you going to do? PHÆD.
You'll know directly. An old hag is in the habit of sleeping here, as the keeper of the door; the name of the Procuress is "Much-bibber" and "Neat-bibber." PALINURUS
Just as you would speak of a flagon, in which Chian wine16 is wont to be. PHÆD.
What need is there of words? She is a most vinous soul; and the very moment that I've sprinkled this door with the wine, she knows by the smell that I'm here, and opens it forthwith. PALINURUS
Is it for her the bowl is brought with the wine? PHÆD.
Unless you object. PALINURUS
I' faith, I do object; for I'd rather have it broken about him who has brought it. I fancied it was brought for ourselves. PHÆD.
Why don't you hold your tongue? If any's left after her, it will be enough for ourselves. PALINURUS
What river is it, pray, that the sea does not receive? PHÆD.
Follow me this way, Palinurus, to the door; do you be obedient to me. PALINURUS
I'll do so. They advance to the door of the PROCURER'S house. PHÆD.
sprinkling the door with wine . Come, drink, you joyous door, quaff on, readily prove propitious unto me. PALINURUS
in an afected tone . Door, would you like some olives or a tit-bit, or some capers? PHÆD.
Arouse and send out here to me your portress. PALINURUS
You're spilling the wine; what matter is it that possesses you? Takes hold of his arm. PHÆD.
Let me alone. Don't you see? This most joyous door is opening; does the hinge make a bit of creaking? 'Tis a charming one. PALINURUS
Why don't you then give it a kiss? PHÆD.
Hold your tongue; let's keep back the light and our noise. PALINURUS
Be it so. They stand apart, leaving the bowl near the door.
1 And with this train: As it is supposed to be before daybreak, he is holding a lighted torch, and is attended by a train of slaves, who are carrying wine and other provisions for the entertainment, or early breakfast, which he is about to give. He has also a gay dress on for the occasion.
2 If the day is fixed: "Status condictus dies." This term properly applies to a day appointed for pleading a cause.
3 Your own servant: "Puer" may signify either "servant" or "boy" in this passage. In the former case, Palinurus would mean, "you are acting as your own servant, in carrying the torch;" in the latter, the allusion would probably be to the fact that boys, handsomely drest, used, at the nuptial ceremony, to carry lighted torches before the bride and bridegroom.
4 Your waxen torch: It is not improbable that the flambeaux, or torches, used by the higher classes, were of wax; while those in more common use were made of pine-wood, tow, and other inflammable substances.
5 A fever leave you: He asks his master this, as he is in doubt whether he is in his senses or not. It was a notion among the ancients that fasting was very apt to produce delirium.
6 Be not disgraced: "Intestabilis." One who is, infamous, and whose evidence cannot be taken as a witness in the courts of law. Lambinus suggests that here, as in other instances where the word is used by Plautus, an indelicate pun is intended.
7 Bade me speak out: Phædromus had said to Palinurus, "Obloquere," which may either mean "you are abusive" or "do you speak out." Phædromus intends it in the former sense, but Palinurus pretends to understand it in the latter; and when his master tells him to be quiet, he says, "Why, I thought you told me to speak out."
8 To eat the kernel: This is exactly our proverb, which implies that labour attends every pursuit--"To extract the kernel, you must crack the shell."
9 Opens the dance: There is an indecent allusion intended in this line, which is somewhat modified in the translation.
10 I could believe: Palinurus thinks it impossible that such a wretch as Cappadox would leave her untouched.
11 In the Temple: It was the custom of those who wished to ask anything of the Gods, to lie in their Temples, in order that they might receive their answers and instructions in their sleep.
12 To Caria: Caria was in Asia Minor. Schmieder justly observes, that the Parasite must have used the wings of Dædalus, to go from Epidaurus in the Peloponnesus, to Caria, and discharge his commission and return in four days only. A Roman audience would not, however, be likely to know much about the relative distance of places so far off.
13 Towards the right: Dextrovorsum. A quibble seems to be intended in the use of this word; Palinurus, in saying "turn to the right hand," probably meæis, sarcastically, "turn to a right course of life."
14 To bring me: "Me inferre." These words may mean, according to the context, either "myself to bring" or "to bring myself." Phædromus means to use them in the former sense; but, in his quibbling mood, Palinurus chooses to understand them in the latter.
15 For my Venus: By his "Venus" he means Planesium, with whom he is desperately in love, and for whom and the Procuress he is carrying the "jentaculum." This was a meal which, we learn from Martial, was generally taken about three or four o'clock in the morning. It was, however, taken by few but invalids and children. The reason of Phædromus providing a "jentaculum' for his mistress is probably the circumstance of the Procurer not being likely to interfere, as he has determined to pass the night in the Temple of Æsculapius.
16 Chian wine: Chios, now Scio, in the Ægean Sea, produced the choicest wine, which was the only wine of Greece that did not requne to be mixed with sea-water, to correct acidity and increase its durability.
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