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Enter SIMO and CALLIPHO.
If now a Dictator1 were to be appointed at Athens of Attica out of the spendthrifts or out of the gallants, I do think that no one would surpass my son. For now the only talk of all throughout the city is to the effect that he is trying to set his mistress free, and is seeking after money for that purpose. Some people bring me word of this; and, in fact, I had long ago perceived it, and had suspected it, but I dissembled on it. PSEUDOLUS
apart . Already is his son suspected by him; this affair is nipt in the bud, this business is at a stand-still. The way is now entirely blocked up against me, by which I had intended to go a-foraging for the money. He has perceived it beforehand. There's no booty for the marauders. CALLIPHO
Those men who carry about and who listen to accusations, should all be hanged, if so it could be at my decision, the carriers by their tongues, the listeners by their ears. For these things that are told you, that your son in his amour is desirous to chouse you out of money, the chance is that these things so told you are all lies. But sappose they are true, as habits are, now-a-days especially, what has he done so surprising? What new thing, if a young man does love, and if he does liberate his mistress? PSEUDOLUS
apart . A delightful old gentleman. SIMO
I don't wish him to follow the old-fashioned habits2. CALLIPHO
But still, in vain do you object; or you yourself shouldn't have done the like in your youthful days. It befits the father to be immaculate, who wishes his son to be more immaculate than he has been himself. But the mischief and the profligacy you were guilty of might have been distributed throughout the whole population, a share for each man. Are you surprised at it, if the son does take after the father? PSEUDOLUS
apart . O Zeus, Zeus3! how few in number are you considerate men. See, that's being a father to a son, just as is proper. SIMO
Who is it that's speaking here? Looking round. Why, surely 'tis my servant Pseudolus. 'Tis he corrupts my son, the wicked scoundrel; he is his leader, he his tutor. I long for him to be put to extreme torture. CALLIPHO
This is folly now, thus to keep your anger in readiness. How much better were it to accost him with kind words and to make all enquiries, whether these things are true or not that they tell you of? SIMO
I'll take your advice. PSEUDOLUS
apart . They are making towards you, Pseudolus; prepare your speech to meet the old fellow. Good courage in a bad case is half the evil got over. Aloud, as he advances to meet them. First, I salute my master, as is proper; and alter that, if anything is left, that I bestow upon his neighbour. SIMO
Good day to you. What are you about? PSEUDOLUS
About standing here in this fashion assuming an attitude . SIMO
See the attitude of the fellow, Callipho; how like that of a man of rank. CALLIPHO
I consider that he is standing properly and with boldness. PSEUDOLUS
It befits a servant innocent and guileless, as he is, to be bold, most especially before his master. CALLIPHO
There are some things about which we wish to inquire of you, which we ourselves know and have heard of as though through a cloud of mist. SIMO
He'll manage you now with his speeches, so that you shall think it isn't Pseudolus but Socrates4 that's talking to you. What do you say? PSEUDOLUS
For a long time you have held me in contempt, I know. I see that you have but little confidence in me. You wish me to be a villain; still, I will be of strict honesty. SIMO
Take care, please, and make the recesses of your ears free, Pseudolus, that my words may be enabled to enter where I desire. PSEUDOLUS
Come, say anything you please, although I am angry at you. SIMO
What, you, a slave, angry at me your master? PSEUDOLUS
And does that seem wonderful to you? SIMO
Why, by my troth, according to what you say, I must be on my guard against you in your anger, and you are thinking of beating me in no other way than I am wont to beat yourself. What do you think? To CALLIPHO. CALLIPHO
I' faith, I think that he's angry with good reason, since you have so little confidence in him. SIMO
I'll leave him alone then. Let him be angry: I'll take care that he shall do me no harm. But what do you say? What as to that which I was asking you? PSEUDOLUS
If you want anything, ask me. What I know, do you consider given you as a response at Delphi. SIMO
Give your attention then, and take care and please mind your promise. What do you say? Do you know that my son is in love with a certain music-girl? PSEUDOLUS
Yea, verily5. SIMO
Whom he is trying to make free? PSEUDOLUS
Yea, verily and indeed. SIMO
And you are scheming by cajolery and by cunning tricks to get twenty minæ in ready money out of me? PSEUDOLUS
I, get them out of you? SIMO
Just so; to give them to my son, with which to liberate his mistress. Do you confess it? Speak out. PSEUDOLUS
Yea, verily; yea, verily. SIMO
He confesses it. Didn't I tell you so just now, Callipho? CALLIPHO
So I remember. SIMO
Why, directly you knew of these things, were they kept concealed from me? Why wasn't I made acquainted with them? PSEUDOLUS
I'll tell you: because I was unwilling that a bad custom should originate in me, for a servant to accuse his master before his master. SIMO
Wouldn't you order this fellow to be dragged head first to the treadmills6? CALLIPHO
Has he done anything amiss, Simo? SIMO
Yes, very much so. PSEUDOLUS
to CALLIPHO . Be quiet, I quite well understand my own affairs, Callipho. Is this a fault? Now then, give your attention to the reason why I you kept ignorant of this amour. I knew that the treadmill was close at hand, if I told you. SIMO
And didn't you know, as well, that the treadmill would be close at hand when you kept silent on it? PSEUDOLUS
I did know it. SIMO
Why wasn't it told me? PSEUDOLUS
The one evil was close at hand, the other at a greater distance; the one was at the moment, the other was a few days off. SIMO
What will you be doing now? For assuredly the money cannot be got in this quarter out of me, who have especially detected it. I shall forthwith give notice to all that no one is to trust him the money. PSEUDOLUS
I' faith, I'll never go begging to any person, so long, at all events, as you shall be alive; troth, you shall find me the money; and as for me, I shall take it from you. SIMO
You, take it from me? PSEUDOLUS
Troth, now, knock out my eye, if I do find it. PSEUDOLUS
You shall provide it. I warn you then to be on your guard against me. SIMO
By my troth, I know this for sure; if you do take it away, you will have done a wonderful and a great exploit. PSEUDOLUS
I will do it, however. SIMO
But if you don't carry it off? PSEUDOLUS
Then flog me with rods. But what if I do carry it off? SIMO
I give you Jupiter as your witness, that you shall pass your life free from punishment. PSEUDOLUS
Take care and remember that. SIMO
Could I possibly be unable to be on my guard, who am forewarned? PSEUDOLUS
I forewarn you to be on your guard. I say you must be on your guard, I tell you. Keep watch. Look, now, with those same hands will you this day give me the money SIMO
By my troth, 'tis a clever mortal if he keeps his word. PSEUDOLUS
Carry me away to be your slave if I don't do it. SIMO
You speak kindly and obligingly; for at present you are not mine, I suppose. PSEUDOLUS
Would you like me to tell you, too, what you will still more wonder at? SIMO
Come, then; i' faith, I long to hear it; I listen to you with pleasure. PSEUDOLUS
Before I fight that battle, I shall first fight another battle, famous and memorable. SIMO
What battle? PSEUDOLUS
Why, with the procurer your neighbour; by means of stratagem and artful tricks, I'l cleverly bamboozle the procurer out of this music-girl, with whom your son is so desperately in love; and I surely will have both of these things effected this very day, before the evening. SIMO
Well, if you accomplish these tasks as you say, you will surpass in might King Agathocles7. But if you don't do it, is there any reason why I shouldn't forthwith put you in the treadmill? PSEUDOLUS
Not for one day, but, i' faith, for all, whatever the time. But if I effect it, will you not at once give me the money of your own free will for me to pay to the procurer? CALLIPHO
Pseudolus is making a fair claim; say "I'll give it." SIMO
But still, do you know what comes into my mind? Suppose they have made an arrangement, Callipho, among themselves, or are acting in concert, and on a preconcerted plan, to bamboozle me out of the money? PSEUDOLUS
Who would be more audacious than myself, if I dared to do such an action? Well, Simo, if we are thus in collusion, or have ever arranged any plan, do you mark me quite all over with elm-tree stripes8, just as when letters are written in a book with a reed. SIMO
Now then, proclaim the games as soon as you please. PSEUDOLUS
Give me your attention, Callipho, I beg you, for this day, so that you may not any way employ yourself upon other business. CALLIPHO
Why, now, I had made up my mind yesterday to go into the country. PSEUDOLUS
Still, do you now change the plan which you had resolved upon. CALLIPHO
I am now resolved not to go away on account of this; I have an inclination to be a spectator of your games, Pseudolus; and if I shall find that he doesn't give you the money which he has promised, rather than it shouldn't be done, I'll give it. SIMO
I shall not change my purpose. PSEUDOLUS
Because, by my faith, if you don't give it, you shall be dunned for it with clamour great and plenteous. Come, now, move yourselves off hence into the house this instant, and in turn give room for my tricks. SIMO
Be it so. CALLIPHO
You may have your way, PSEUDOLUS
But I want you to keep close at home. SIMO
Well, that assistance I promise you. CALLIPHO
But I shall be off to the Forum. I'll be back here presently. Exit CALLIPHO. SIMO goes into his house. PSEUDOLUS
Be back directly. To the AUDIENCE. I have a suspicion, now, that you are suspecting that I have been promising these so great exploits to these persons for the purpose of amusing you, while I am acting this play, and that I shall not do that which I said I will do. I will not change my design; so far as that then I know for certain; by what means I'm to carry it out not at all do I know as yet; only this, that so it shall be. For he that appears upon the stage in a new character, him it befits to bring something that is new. If he cannot do that, let him give place to him who can. I am inclined to go hence into the house for some little time, while I summon together9 all my stratagems in my mind. Meanwhile this piper shall entertain you. Goes into the house of SIMO, and the PIPER strikes up a tune.
1 If now a Dictator: Though the scene is at Athens, Plautus here makes reference to Roman customs. The Dictator was the highest officer in the Roman Republic, and was only elected upon emergencies.
2 The old-fashioned habits: "Vetus nolo faciat." Literally, "I do not wish him to do what is old-fashioned." He alludes to the old-fashioned trick of falling into love, and running into extravagance.
3 O Zeus, Zeus!: Ὦ Ζεῦ, Ζεῦ. Zeus was the Greek name of Jupiter, whose Latin title was formed from "Zeus pater," "Father Zeus." The use of it in Latin colloquy exactly corresponds with the irreverent French phrase too mach in use with us, "O mon Dieu!"
4 But Socrates: The most learned and virtuous of all the philosophers of ancien times.
5 Yea, verily: Ναὶ γάρ. This and the two following remarks of Pseudolus are in Greek. The Romans affected curtness of repartee in Greek, in much the same manner as we do in French. A cant tone has been attempted in the translation to be given to the remarks so made by Pseudolus.
6 To the treadmill: "Pistrinum." The establishment of each wealthy person had its "pistrinum," or "handmill," where the mill for grinding corn was worked by the hand of slaves. The most worthless and refractory were employed at this labour, and as the task was deemed a degradation, the "pistrinum" was the usual place of punishment for the slaves of the household. Throughout this translation, the liberty has been in general taken of conveying the meaning of the term by the use of the word "treadmill."
7 King Agathocles: Agathocles was famous for having risen, by his valour and merit, from being the son of a potter to be the King of Sicily.
8 With elm-tree stripes: "Stylis ulmeis," "with elm-tree styli." He alludes to the weals produced by flogging with elm-tree rods, which, being long and fine, would resemble the iron "stylus" used for writing upon was tablets.
9 While I summon together: "Dum concenturio." This word literally means, "to collect together the centuries," or "companies of a hundred men," for the purpose of giving their votes.
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