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Enter SYRA and EUTYCHUS, at a distance, on opposite sides.
to herself . Whither my mistress sent me, to her father ----, he's not at home; they said that he has gone off into the country. Now, I'll take home this answer. I' faith, the women do live upon hard terms, and, wretched creatures, on much more unjust ones than the men. For if a husband has been keeping a mistress without the knowledge of his wife, if the wife comes to know it, the husband gets off with impunity; if, unknown to the husband, the wife goes from the house out of doors, a pretext arises for the husband, the marriage is dissolved1. I wish the law was the same for the husband as for the wife; for the wife that is a good one, is content with one husband; why, any the less, should the husband be content with one wife? By my troth, I'd give cause, if men were punished in the same way (if any one should be keeping a mistress unknown to his wife), as those women are repudiated who are guilty of a slip, that there should be more divorced men than there are women now. EUTYCHUS
to himself, apart . I'm quite tired with hunting the whole city through; I find nothing whatever about this woman. But my mother has returned from the country; for I see Syra standing before the house. Syra! SYRA
Who is it that's calling me? EUTYCHUS
'Tis I, your master and foster-child. SYRA
turning round . Save you, my foster-child. EUT. Has my mother returned from the country then? Answer me. SYRA
Aye, for her own especial sake and that of the family. EUTYCHUS
What is it that's the matter? SYRA
That very pretty father of yours has brought a mistress into the house. EUTYCHUS
How say you? SYRA
Your mother, on arriving from the country, found her at home. EUTYCHUS
By my troth, I didn't think my father was a person for those practices. Is the woman now even still in-doors? SYRA
Even still. EUTYCHUS
Do you follow me. He goes into the house of LYSIMACHUS. [ SYRA
to herself . How now2? Do I see Peristrata here, the wife of Demipho? She quickens her pace; she glances about with her eyes; she turns herself round; she inclines her neck on one side. I'll observe from here what matter she's about; it's something of importance, whatever scent she's upon. Stands aside.
1 The marriage is dissolved: She alludes to the facility with which at Rome, where the Play was performed, wives were divorced on the merest suspicion of infidelity.
2 How now?: From the commencement of this line to the end of the act is generally considered to be spurious; probably it is the work of some zealous critic of the middle ages, who fondly thought to improve the Play as it stood. He introduces Peristrata as complaining of the conduct of her husband, in depriving her son of his mistress, but never suspecting what is the true state of the case; an opportunity for a Comic dilemma, which Plautus himself, had he intended to introduce the character, would probably not have neglected.
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