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Enter PLESIDIPPUS, at a distance, talking with three CITIZENS.
I have both withdrawn you from your avocations, and that has not succeeded on account of which I've brought you; I could not catch the Procurer down at the harbour. But I have been unwilling to abandon all hope by reason of my remissness; on that account, my friends, have I the longer detained you. Now hither to the Temple of Venus am I come to see, where he was saying that he was about to perform a sacrifice. SCEPARNIO
aloud to himself, at a distance . If I am wise, I shall be getting ready this clay that is awaiting me. Falls to work digging. PLESIDIPPUS
looking round . Some one, I know not who, is speaking near to me. Enter DÆMONES, from his house. DÆM.
Hallo! Sceparnio! SCEPARNIO
Who's calling me by name? DÆM.
He who paid his money for you. SCEPARNIO
turning round . As though you would say, Dæmones, that I am your slave. DÆM.
There's occasion for plenty of clay1, therefore dig up plenty of earth. I find that the whole of my cottage must be covered; for now it's shining through it, more full of holes than a sieve. PLESIDIPPUS
advancing . Health to you, good father, and to both of you, indeed. DÆM. Health to you. SCEPARNIO
to PLESIDIPPUS, who is muffled up in a coat . But whether are you male or female, who are calling him father? PLESIDIPPUS
Why really, I'm a man. DÆM.
Then, man, go seek a father elsewhere. I once had an only daughter, that only one I lost. Of the male sex I never had a child. PLESIDIPPUS
But the Gods will give---- SCEPARNIO
going on digging . A heavy mischance to you indeed, i' faith, whoever you are, who are occupying us, already occupied, with your prating. PLESIDIPPUS
pointing to the cottage . Pray are you dwelling there? SCEPARNIO
Why do you ask that? Are you reconnoitring the place for you to come and rob there? PLESIDIPPUS
It befits a slave to be right rich in his savings, whom, in the presence of his master, the conversation cannot escape, or who is to speak rudely to a free man. SCEPARNIO
And it befits a man to be shameless and impudent, for him to whom there's nothing owing, of his own accord to come to the house of another person annoying people. DÆM.
Sceparnio, hold your tongue. To PLESIDIPPUS. What do you want, young man? PLESIDIPPUS
A mishap to that fellow, who is in a hurry to be the first to speak when his master's present. But, unless it's troublesome, I wish to make enquiry of you in a few words. DÆM.
My attention shall be given you, even though in the midst of business. SCEPARNIO
to PLESIDIPPUS . Rather, be off with you to the marsh, and cut down some reeds2, with which we may cover the cottage, while it is fine weather. DÆM.
Hold your tongue. Do you tell me to PLESIDIPPUS if you have need of anything. PLESIDIPPUS
Inform me on what I ask you; whether you have seen here any frizzle-headed fellow, with grey hair, a worthless, perjured, fawning knave. DÆM.
Full many a one; for by reason of fellows of that stamp am I living in misery. PLESIDIPPUS
Him, I mean, who brought with him to the Temple of Venus here two young women, and who was to make preparations for himself to perform a sacrifice either to-day or yesterday. DÆM.
By my faith, young man, for these very many days past I haven't seen any one sacrificing there; and yet it can't be unknown to me if any one does sacrifice there. They are always asking here for water, or for fire, or for vessels, or for a knife, or for a spit, or for a pot for cooking3, or something or other. What need is there of words? I procured my vessels and my well, for the use of Venus, and not my own. There has now been a cessation of it for these many days past. PLESIDIPPUS
According to the words you utter, you tell me I'm undone. DÆM.
Really, so far as I'm concerned, i' faith, you may be safe and sound. SCEPARNIO
stopping in his digging . Hark you, you that are roaming about Temples for the sake of your stomach, 'twere better for you to order a breakfast to be got ready at home. Perhaps you've been invited here4 to breakfast. He that invited you, hasn't he come at all? PLESIDIPPUS
'Tis the fact. SCEPARNIO
There's no risk then in your betaking yourself hence home without your breakfast. It's better for you to be a waiter upon Ceres than upon Venus; the latter attends to love, Ceres attends to wheat. PLESIDIPPUS
to DÆMONES . This fellow has been making sport of me in a digraceful manner. DÆM.
looking out at the side . O ye immortal Gods, Sceparnio, what means those people near the sea-shore? SCEPARNIO
According to my notion, they've been invited to a parting breakfast5. DÆM.
How so? SCEPARNIO
Why, because, after dinner, I fancy, they yesterday washed themselves clean; their ship has gone to pieces out at sea. DÆM.
looking steadfastly . Such is the fact. SCEPARNIO
But, i' faith, on dry land our cottage and tiles have done the same. DÆM.
Oh dear! what unfortunate creatures you are; to SCEPARNIO how the shipwrecked people are swimming. PLESIDIPPUS
Prithee, where are these people? DÆM.
pointing to the distance . This way, to the right; don't you see them near the shore? PLESIDIPPUS
looking the same way . I see them; to his FRIENDS follow me. I only wish it may be he that I'm seeking, that most accursed fellow. To DÆMONES and SCEPARNIO. Fare you well. SCEPARNIO
If you hadn't put us in mind, we should have thought of that ourselves. (Exeunt PLESIDIPPUS and FRIENDS. SCEPARNIO looks out towards the sea.) . But, O Palæmon6, hallowed associate of Neptune, who art said to be the partner of Hercules, what shocking thing do I see? DÆM.
What do you see? SCEPARNIO
I see two young women sitting in a boat alone. How the poor things are being tossed about That's good, that's good, well done. The surge is driving the boat away from the rock towards the shore. Not a pilot could have ever done it better. I don't think that I ever saw billows more huge. They are saved, if they can escape those waves. Now, now's the danger; it has sent one overboard! See you that one whom the waves have thrown out of the boat? Still, she's in a shallow place; she'll easily wade through it now. O capital! now she's safe; she has escaped from the water; she's now on shore. But that other one has now sprung towards the land from the boat--from her alarm she has fallen into the waves upon her knees. She has got up again; if she takes this direction, the matter's safe; a pause but she has taken to the right, to utter destruction. Ah, she will be wandering all the day---- DÆM.
What signifies that to you? SCEPARNIO
If she should fall down from that rock towards which she is wending her way, she'll be putting a period to her wandering. DÆM.
If you are about to dine this evening at their expense, I think you may then be concerned for them, Sceparnio; if you are going to eat at my house, I wish your services to be devoted to myself. SCEPARNIO
You ask what's good and proper. DÆM.
Then follow me this way. SCEPARNIO
I follow7. (Exeunt.)
1 Plenty of clay: He probably means clay for the purpose of drying and making tiles with it.
2 Some reeds: From this we learn that the cottage of Dæmones was covered with a kind of thatch. This and l. 18 of the Miles Gloriosus are probably the earliest instances in which thatched roofs are mentioned.
3 A pot for cooking: "Aula extaris." Literally, "a pot for holding the entrails" of the animals sacrificed.
4 Been invited here: It was the custom of Parasites to prowl about the Temples, for the purpose of joining in the feasts which sometimes took place at the conclusion of the sacrifice.
5 To a parting breakfast: "Prandium propter viam." Thornton has the following Note here: "This is a sorry joke, even for Sceparnio, on so serious and melancholy an occasion, and cannot be well expressed in our tongue. When the ancients were about to undertake any voyage, they used to make a sacrifice to Hercules before they set off, which was for that reason called 'propter viam;' and the custom was to burn all they didn't eat. Wherefore Sceparnio says 'laverunt,' which signifies 'they have consumed their all' as well as they have bathed.' alluding to the ship being lost."
6 Palæmon: This was one of the names of Melicerta. or Portunus, the son of Athamas and Ino. Athamas being about to slay him and Ino, they leaped into the sea, where they became sea Divinities.
7 I follow: The Scene of the wreck, previously described by Sceparnio, was probably not visible to the Audience, but was depicted by him while directing his view towards the side. of the stage.
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