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Enter PHRONESIUM, from her house.
Please now, is my door apt to bite1, that you are afraid to come in, my love? DINARCHUS
aside. Behold the spring! How all blooming it is! how fragrantly does it smell! how brightly does it shine. PHRONESIUM
Why so ill-mannered, as not, on your arrival from Lemnos2, to give a kiss to your mistress, my Dinarchus? DINARCHUS
aside . O dear, by my troth, I'm being punished now, and most terribly---- PHRONESIUM
Why do you turn yourself away? DINARCHUS
My greetings to you, Phronesium. PHRONESIUM
Greetings to you as well. Will you dine here to-day, as you've arrived in safety? DINARCHUS
I'm engaged. PHRONESIUM
Where will you dine then? DINARCHUS
Wherever you request me; here. PHRONESIUM
You'll give me pleasure by doing so. They take their places at a collation spread before the house. DINARCHUS
I' troth, myself still more. You'll give me your company to-day, I suppose, my Phronesium? PHRONESIUM
If it could possibly be done, I would. DINARCHUS
Give me my shoes3 then--make haste, remove the table. PHRONESIUM
Are you in your senses, pray? DINARCHUS
By heavens, I cannot drink now; so sick at heart am I. PHRONESIUM
Stay; something shall be done. Don't go. DINARCHUS
Ah, you've refreshed me with cold water! My senses have now returned. Take off my shoes4; give me something to drink. PHRONESIUM
By my faith, you are just the same that you used to be. But tell me, have you sped successfully? DINARCHUS
I' troth, successfully enough, indeed, hither to you, inasmuch as I enjoy the opportunity of seeing you. PHRONESIUM
Embrace me then. DINARCHUS
With pleasure. He embraces her.) Oil, this is honey sweeter than sweet honey In this, Jove, my fortune does exceed thine own! PHRONESIUM
Won't you give me a kiss? DINARCHUS
Aye, ten even. Kisses her. PHRONESIUM
You are not niggardly in that. You promise more than I ask of you. Turns away her head. DINARCHUS
I only wish that from the first I had been as sparing of my property, as you are now thrifty of your kisses. PHRONESIUM
If I could possibly cause you any saving, i' troth, I could wish it done. DINARCHUS
Have you bathed then? PHRONESIUM
I' troth, indeed I have then, to my own satisfaction and that of my eyes. Do I seem to be loathsome to you? DINARCHUS
I' faith, not to myself indeed; but I remember that there was once a time when between ourselves we were loathsome5, the one to the other. But what doing of yours is this I've heard upon my arrival? What new matter have you been scheming here in my absence? PHRONESIUM
Why, what is it? DINARCHUS
In the first place, that you've been blessed with children, and that you've safely got over it, I'm delighted. PHRONESIUM
to some ATTENDANTS near the door . Go you away from there into the house, and shut the door. They go in, and shut the door. You now alone are left to be present at my communication; to you I've ever entrusted my designs. For my own part, I've neither had any child nor have I been pregnant; but I've pretended that I was pregnant; I wasn't though. DINARCHUS
For what reason, O my life? PHRONESIUM
On account of a Babylonian Captain, who kept me as though his wife for a year, while he was here. DINARCHUS
That I knew. But what means this? For what purpose was your design in pretending this? PHRONESIUM
That there might be a certain bond and tie6 for him to be returning to me again. Now he has lately sent me a letter hither, that he'll make trial how much I value him. If I should raise and bring up the child which I should bear, that then I should have all his property. DINARCHUS
I listen with pleasure. In fine, what is it you are contriving? PHRONESIUM
My mother ordered the servant-maids, since now the tenth month is arriving close at hand, each to go in some different direction, to seek out and bespeak a boy or a girl, to be passed off as my own. Why need I make many words? You know Syra, the female hair-dresser7, who now lives hard by our house? DINARCHUS
I know her. PHRONESIUM
She, with the utmost care, went about among the families, and secretly found out a child, and brought it to me. She said it was given to her. DINARCHUS
O shocking traffic! She then hasn't borne this child who at first did bear it, but you who come afterwards. PHRONESIUM
You have the whole matter in its order. Now, as the Captain has sent a message before to me, he'll be here no long time hence. DINARCHUS
Now, in the mean time, you are treating yourself here as though one who had just lain in? PHRONESIUM
Why not, when, without trouble, the matter can be nicely managed? It's proper that every one should be alive at his own trade. DINARCHUS
What's to become of me when the Captain comes? Forsaken, can I live without you? PHRONESIUM
When I've got from him that which I want, I shall easily find a way how to create discord and a separation between us; after that, my delight, I shall be always at your side. DINARCHUS
Aye, faith, but I'd rather it were at my couch8. PHRONESIUM
Moreover, I wish to sacrifice to-day to the Deities for the child, on this the fifth day9, as is proper to be done. DINARCHUS
I think you ought. PHRONESIUM
Can't you venture to give me some trifling present? DINARCHUS
Upon my faith, my delight, I seem to be making a gain for myself when you ask anything of me. PHRONESIUM
aside . And I, when I've got it. DINARCHUS
I'll take care it shall be here just now. I'll send my servant hither. PHRONESIUM
Do so. DINARCHUS
But whatever it shall be, do take it in good part. PHRONESIUM
I troth, I'm sure that you'll give all attention to your present, of which I shan't be ashamed so long as you send it to me. DINARCHUS
Do you wish anything else of me? PHRONESIUM
That, when you have leisure, you'll come again to see me. DINARCHUS
Fare you well. PHRONESIUM
Farewell. Goes into her house. DINARCHUS
to himself . O immortal Gods! 'twere the part not of a woman in love, but of a partner of kindred feelings and confiding, to do what she just now has done for me, in disclosing to me the palming of the child upon the Captain,--a thing that a sister entrusts not to her own born sister. She discloses herself now to me from her very soul, that she will never prove faithless to me so long as she exists. Ought I not to love her? Ought I not to wish her well? I'll rather not love myself, than that love should be wanting for her. Shall I not send her a present? This instant, then, I'll order five minæ to be brought to her from my house, besides catering to the amount of a mina at least. Much rather shall kindness be shown to her who wishes kindly to me, than to myself, who do every mischief to myself. (Exit.)
1 Apt to bite: Taubmann has a notion that this remark refers to the inscription often set up in the Roman vestibules: "Cave canem," "Beware of the dog."
3 Give me my shoes: "Soleas." These were a kind of slipper or sandal much in use among the Romans in the house; but it was considered effeminate to wear them in the street. They were taken off when persons reclined on the "triclinia," or couches, at meals. Dinarchus is calling to the servant to fetch his slippers, as he is going to leave the entertainment given him on his return by Phronesium. This appears to be set out on the stage in the front of the house; but there is probably some portion of the Play lost here, in which Phronesium orders it to be laid out. The last Scene in the Asinaria is somewhat similar.
4 Take off my shoes: This he says to the servant whose duty it was to take off the slippers of the guests before they reclined. Limiers suggests, most probably incorrectly, that this is going on inside of Phronesium's house, and that the door is opened wide, so that the Audience can see in.
5 Were loathsome: "Sorderemus unus alteri;" he to her because 'he had spent all his money, she to him for her covetousness and ill- nature.
6 And tie: "Redimiculum." The "redimicula" were, properly strings or ribbons which fell on the shoulders from the "mitra" or headdress of females, and were probably used for the purpose of tying it under the chin. They hung down on each side, over the breast.
7 The female hair-dresser: "Tonstricem." Warner translates the word "tonstrix," "tire-woman;" but the real meaning is, "a female hair-dresser" or "barber." They were women who used to cut the hair and pare the nails of females.
8 At my couch: "Adcubuo." There is a play on the resemblance of this word to that used by her, "adsiduo," "at your side."
9 On this the fifth day: The Greeks sacrificed to the Gods and named their children on the fifth day after their birth; the Romans on the ninth, if a male, on the eighth, if a female.
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