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Enter STRATOPHANES, at a distance, followed by a SERVANT and several FEMALE SLAVES.
to the AUDIENCE . Don't you be expecting, Spectators, that I should recount my combats; with my hands in battle I'm wont to recount them, and not in words. I know that many a soldier have told lies; both the Homeric poetlings1, and a thousand others besides them could be named, who have been both convicted and condemned for their sham battles. He's not to be commended who trusts another any further than he sees. It pleases me not when those commend more who hear than those who see; of more value is one eye-witness than ten hearsays. Those who hear, speak of what they've heard; those who see, know beyond mistake. I like him not whom the town-gossips2 are praising, and the men of his maniple are mum about; nor yet those whose tongues at home make blunt the edge3 of our swords. The valiant are much more serviceable to the public than the eloquent and skilled. Valour easily finds for itself a fluent eloquence; without valour, for my own part, I esteem an eloquent citizen as a hired mourner4, who praises other people, but can't do the same for herself. Now, after ten months, am I come to Athens of Attica to see my mistress, how she gets on, whom I left pregnant by my embrace. PHRONESIUM
raising herself on the couch, and speaking to ASTAPHIUM . See who's talking. ASTAPHIUM
coming forward, and looking about . The Captain's now close at hand, my mistress Phronesium: Stratophanes is coming to you. In a low voice. Now is it requisite for you to pretend yourself an invalid. PHRONESIUM
in a low voice . Hold your tongue. What, the plague, de I want you for as an adviser in this matter? Is it possible to excel myself in craftiness? STRATOPHANES
to himself . Madam's brought to bed, as I fancy. ASTAPHIUM
it a low voice . Would you like me to accost the gentleman? PHRONESIUM
I wish you. ASTAPHIUM moves forward. STRATOPHANES
O delightful! Why, see, here's Astaphium coming to meet me. ASTAPHIUM
affecting surprise . By all the powers! welcome to you, Stratophanes, that you're safe arrived---- STRATOPHANES
I know it all. But, prithee, has Phronesium been brought to bed? ASTAPHIUM
She has been delivered of a very fine boy. STRATOPHANES
Is it like me at all? ASTAPHIUM
Do you ask the question? Why, the moment it was born, it asked for a sabre and shield for itself. STRATOPHANES
It's my own; I know it at once from the proofs. ASTAPHIUM
Indeed it is extremely like you. STRATOPHANES
Ye Gods above! Is it of full growth already? Has it already chosen some army which it intends to plunder? ASTAPHIUM
Why really, it was only born five days ago. STRATOPHANES
What then, after it was born? After so many days, i' faith, something really ought by this time to have been done. What business had it to leave the womb before it could go forth to battle? ASTAPHIUM
Follow me, and wish her joy, and congratulate her. STRATOPHANES
I follow. They move to the other side of the stage. PHRONESIUM
in a faint voice . Prithee, where is she who has left me here and forsaken me? AST. I'm here; I'm bringing you Stratophanes, so much longed for by you. PHRONESIUM
Prithee, where is he? STRATOPHANES
going close to the couch . Mars, on his arrival from abroad, salutes Neriene his spouse5. Since you've well got over it, and since you've been blest with offspring, I congratulate you in that you have given birth to a great glory to me and to yourself. PHRONESIUM
Welcome to you, you who have almost deprived me of life and light; and who have, for your own gratification, centred in my body the cause of great anguish, with the pangs of which I'm even now dreadfully afflicted. STRATOPHANES
Well, well; not to your misfortune, my love, do these pains befall you. You've brought forth a son who'll be filling your house with plunder. PHRONESIUM
By the powers, there's very much greater need to have our granaries well filled with wheat; lest, before he takes the plunder, hunger should be putting an end to us here. STRATOPHANES
Be of good heart. PHRONESIUM
Do, please, take a kiss from me here. I cannot lift up my head; such pain I've felt, and in such pain I now am; and I cannot as yet, of my own strength, walk upon my feet. STRATOPHANES
stooping down, and kissing her . If, right from the middle of the sea, you were to order me to take a kiss from you, I would not hesitate to fetch it, my sweet. You've experienced it already so to be; and now shall you experience it, my Phronesium, that I do dote upon you. Pointing to a distance behind him. See there, I've brought you two female slaves from Syria; I present you with them. To a SERVANT behind him. Do you bring those women this way. Now, these were both of them queens at their own homes; but with my own hand I laid waste their country, I present you with them. Handing them forward to her. PHRONESIUM
Are you dissatisfied with the number of female slaves I have already, that you must be still making additions to the number, to be devouring food for me? STRATOPHANES
I' troth, if this indeed isn't acceptable to you, you boy beckoning to the SERVANT , do you give me that bag. See here, my love, I've brought this mantle from Panchæa6 for you. Take it for yourself. He presents it to her. PHRONESIUM
What, is so little as this to be given me in return for pain so great? STRATOPHANES
aside . I' faith, to my misfortune, I'm undone! My son's already costing me his weight in gold. To PHRONESIUM. Do you still set such little value on me? I've brought you a purple garment from Sarra7, and two pretty ones from Pontus. Takes the garments from the SERVANT, and presents them. Take this for yourself, my love. To the SERVANT. Take those Syrian women hence out of my sight. The SERVANT takes them into the house. Do you love me at all? PHRONESIUM
Not at all, i' faith; nor do you deserve it. STRATOPHANES
aside . What, is nothing enough for her? Really, to myself she hasn't even said one word. I do believe that these presents would sell for more than twenty minæ, which I have given her. Now she's desperately enraged with me I perceive and understand it; but I'll address her still. To PHRONESIUM. What say you then? Do you wish me, my love, to go to dinner where I was invited, and after that to return hither to your house to sleep? Why are you silent? Aside. I' troth, beyond a doubt, I'm undone. But what fine affair is this? Who's this fellow that's leading such a long train? I'm resolved to watch whither they are taking it. It's being brought to her, I do believe; but I'll soon know more. He stands at a distance.
1 Homeric poetlings: By. "Homeronidæ," he probably means "wretched imitators of Homer."
2 Whom the town-gossips: He does not admire those would-be heroes whose praises are in the mouths of the gossips about town (scurræ), but whose achievements are never witnessed by the soldiers who serve under their command (manipulares).
3 Make blunt the edge: This remark might, perhaps, with some justice he applied to some of the senators of modern times; whose fault it certainly is not if their tongues fail to blunt the edge of the swords of their countrymen when fighting the battles of their fellow-citizens "who live at home at ease."
5 Nerien his spouse: Aulus Gellius also mentions Neria, or Neriene as the wife of Mars.
6 From Panchæa: Panchæa was a district of Arabia Felix, which was said to produce frankincense.
7 From Sarra: Sarra was a name of the city of Tyre, which was so called from the "murex," or shell-fish, from which the Tyrian purple was extracted, and which, in the Phoenician language, was called by that name.
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