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Enter PHILUMENA from her house.
Who now, pray, is breaking this door down? To GELASIMUS. Are you doing this? Do you come to me like an enemy? GELASIMUS
My respects to you; I come at your bidding. PHILUMENA
And is it for that reason you are breaking down my door? GELASIMUS
Scold your own people; the offenders are your own. I came to see what you wanted me for. Why, for my own part, I pitied this door. PINACIUM
For that reason your assistance was given so very readily. PHILUMENA
Pray, who's that, talking here so near to us? GELASIMUS
Where is he? Looks on each side. PINACIUM
coming forward . Attend to me, and leave alone that needy Parasite, Philumena. PHILUMENA
That name my elders gave me. PHILUMENA
What's your business PINACIUM
What's my business, do you ask? PHILUMENA
Why shouldn't I ask it? PINACIUM
What's yours with me? PHILUMENA
Do you insult me, impudent fellow? Answer me, this very instant, Pinacium. PINACIUM
Bid those, then, to let me alone, who are detaining me. PHILUMENA
Who are detaining you? PINACIUM
Do you ask me that? A lassitude is in possession of all my limbs. PHILUMENA
Well, I know right well that it's not in possession of your tongue. PINACIUM
With such rapid speed have I been hastening from the harbour, for the sake of your own well-doing. PHILUMENA
Why, do you bring any good news? PINACIUM
I bring more, by very much, than you expect. PHILUMENA
I'm saved, then. PINACIUM
And I'm done for; lassitude is drinking up my marrow apace. GELASIMUS
What, then, am I, the marrow of whose stomach, to my sorrow, famine has seized upon? PHILUMENA
Did you meet any one? PINACIUM
But any man? PINACIUM
Very many; but, of the many, not one a greater rascal than he is. Points at GELASIMUS. PHILUMENA
How so? GELASIMUS
I have been affronted already at his saying uncivil things to me. If you irritate me any further---- Holds up his fist to PINACIUM. PINACIUM
I' faith, you'll be plaguy hungry to eat >me. GELASIMUS
I'll cause you to know that assuredly you've said that with reason. PINACIUM
I wish everything to be made clean. Calls to the SERVANTS from the door. Bring out here your brooms, and a reed as well,1 that I may destroy all the labours of the spiders and their plaguy webs, and rout out all their looms. The SERVANTS bring some brooms. GELASIMUS
The poor things will be cold in future. PINACIUM
What? Do you think that they are just like yourself, with only one coat? Take this broom. Gives him a broom. GELASIMUS
I'll take it. PINACIUM
This I'll take myself. Do you sweep away there. GELASIMUS
I'll do so. Sweeps away. PINACIUM
calling aloud. Will some one bring here a pail and water2? GELASIMUS
Really, this fellow's playing the Ædile3 without the vote of the public even. The water is brought. PINACIUM
Come, do you quickly sweep the ground, and sprinkle before he t house. GELASIMUS
I'll do so. PINACIUM
It needs be done. I'll knock down the spider-webs there from the door and from the wall. GELASIMUS
I' faith, a troublesome business, this. PHILUMENA
Still, I don't at all understand what it means; unless, perchance, some guests are about to come? PINACIUM
ordering the SERVANTS . Do you spread the couches. GELASIMUS
aside . The beginning pleases me, about the couches. PINACIUM
Others, you chop the billets; others, you clean the fish which the fisherman has brought; take you down the gammon of bacon and the collar of brawn4. GELASIMUS
aside . I' faith, this is a very sensible fellow. PHILUMENA
By my troth, as I imagine, you haven't quite minded the directions of your mistress. PINACIUM
Why, I've left all matters unattended to by reason of what you wished. PHILUMENA
Then do you inform me upon that, on account of which you were sent to the harbour? PINACIUM
I'll tell you. After, with the daybreak, you had sent me to the harbour, the sun with its beams opportunely arose from out of the sea. While I was enquiring of the revenue officers whether any ship had arrived from Asia, and they were saying none had come, I beheld, in the meantime, a bark, than which I think I never saw a greater one. With a favouring breeze, and in full sail, it came into harbour. We were enquiring one of another whose ship it was, and what it carried? In the meantime I espied your husband and his servant Stichus. PHILUMENA
Ha! what? Did you mention Epignomus? GELASIMUS
Your husband and my own life. PINACIUM
He has arrived, I say. PHILUMENA
Did you see him yourself? PINACIUM
Yes, and with pleasure too. GELASIMUS
I' faith, I'll surely take the broom, and sweep this place with pleasure. PINACIUM
He has brought a great amount of silver and gold. GELASIMUS
'Tis right cleverly done. PINACIUM
Wool and purple in plenty. GELASIMUS
Aye, for me to clothe my carcase with. PINACIUM
Couches, adorned with ivory and gold. GELASIMUS
I'll recline at table right regally. PINACIUM
Besides--Babylonian coverings for couches5, and carpets dyed in purple, has he brought. GELASIMUS
Abundance of fine things. I' faith, his business has been successful. PINACIUM
Then, as I began to say, female players on the harp, on the pipe, sackbuts too6, has he brought with him, of surprising beauty. GELASIMUS
Capital! When I'm at my wine, I'll be quite sportive; then am I in merriest pin. PINACIUM
Besides many unguents of numerous kinds. GELASIMUS
I'll not sell my bon mots; I'll not have an auction now; I've got an estate in fee7. Let the mischievous hunters of auctions go to perdition. Hercules, I congratulate thee that the tenths which I vowed to thee are increased. 'Tis my hope that at length, by some means or other, I may expel this plaguy famine from my stomach. PINACIUM
And then, besides, he has brought some Parasites8 with him. GELASIMUS
Alas! to my confusion, I'm undone. PINACIUM
Right funny fellows. GELASIMUS
I' faith, I'll sweep this dust back, which I just now swept together. Sweeps it back . Those bon mots are now on sale, which I was saying I wouldn't sell. I'm done for: now there is occasion for spiteful persons to rejoice at my misfortune. Hercules, thou who art a God, thou really hast departed not oppoitunely. PHILUMENA
Did you see Pamphilus, the husband of my sister? PINACIUM
Isn't he there? PINACIUM
Yes, they said that he had come as well. I ran hither before them, with all speed, that I might bring the welcome tidings. PHILUMENA
Go in-doors, Pinacium; bid the servants prepare the sacred things9 for me. To GELASIMUS. Fare you well! GELASIMUS
Do you want me to assist? PHILUMENA
I have servants enough in the house. PHILUMENA and PINACIUM go into the house. GELASIMUS
to himself . In good sooth, Gelasimus, I doubt you have come to but little purpose, if neither he that is here gives you any aid, nor yet he that's coming. I'll off indoors to my books10, and take my instructions from the cleverest sayings; for if I don't drive away those fellows, the Parasites that are coming, most surely I'm undone. (Exit.)
1 A reed as well: "Arundinem," a long reed, probably like a fishing-rod, which would be able to sweep away the spider-webs otherwise out of reach.
2 A pail and water: "Nassiternam." A water-vessel with three spouts, which received its name from "nasum," "a spout," compounded with "tres," "three."
3 Playing the Ædile: The writer here again refers, in a play the scene of which is at Athens, to Roman customs. The Ædile was a public officer at Rome, whose business it was to see that the streets, houses, and temples, were kept clean. They were chosen by the votes (suffragium) of the common people, to which fact Gelasimus alludes in the next line.
4 Collar of brawn: "Glandium." This really was the neck of the hag, which received its name from the kernels (glandes) which it contamea.
5 Coverings for couches: "Peristromatia," "blankets" or "counterpanes" were used among the Romans to cover couches; they were sometimes of the most costly description, and were mostly of purple colour, and frequently richly embroidered with gold. Pliny speaks of Babylonian cloths of divers colours, and in the seventh chapter of Joshua, ver. 24, we read, "When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment."
6 Sackbuts too: "Sambucas." "Sambuca" is supposed to be the same instrument which is mentioned in the third chapter of the Prophet Daniel, and is rendered in our version of the Old Testament by the word "sackbut." This instrument was probably introduced into Greece and Rome from Syria or Phoenicia. It is supposed to have been a kind of triangular harp. The word "sambucas" is substituted in Ritschel's edition for "sambucinas," in the former editions It is probably intended here to have the same meaning--"female players on the sambuca,'" who were also called "sambucistriæ," and whose performances were highly prized by the Romans as Asiatic luxuries.
7 An estate in fee: "Hæreditas." "A fortune," or "an heirdom," just as we say, "I have come in to a fortune." He alludes to the pleasant life he anticipates, by spunging on the wealthy Epignomus and his brother.
9 The sacred things: To perform a sacrifice on the safe return of her husband.
10 To my books: These were probably pamphlets, filled with jokes and funny stories, which Parasites would study for the entertainment of the patrons whom they were to amuse by way of return for their dinner. These books perhape occupied the same position as the "Joe Millers" did in this country during the last century, and the "Academies of Compliments" in the century before. Indeed, the latter, in all their amplitude, would have been invaluable to a Parasite, as they contain directions how to court a lady, ask a riddle, sing a funny song, put a posy on a ring, direct a letter, and a hundred other things.
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