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PHRONESIUM and ASTAPHIUM appear before the door of the house. Enter STRATOPHANES.
to himself . That I should love1 for this! I'm taking an atonement for my offences to my mistress! That that may be taken by her in kindly part which I've squandered before, I'll add this as well. But what's this? I see the mistress and her maid before the house. I must accost her. Addressing them. What are you doing here? PHRONESIUM
Don't speak to me. STRATOPHANES
You are too angry. Pats her on the shoulder. PHRONESIUM
Leave me alone. Can't you possibly cease to be an annoyance to me? STRATOPHANES
What is the matter, my dear little Astaphium? ASTAPHIUM
I' faith, she's angry with you with good reason. PHRONESIUM
What, I? I'm not even half spiteful enough to. wards that fellow. STRATOPHANES
My love, if I have at all offended before, I present you with this mina of gold. If you smile upon me, deign me a look. PHRONESIUM
My hand forbids me to believe anything, before it holds in its possession. We require food for the child; we require it for the dame2 as well, that bathes the child; we require it for the nurse3, as well, that she may have a leather bottle full of old wine in ample style, that night and day she may tipple; we stand in need of fire; we want coals, too; we want swathes, napkins, the cradle, the cradle-bed; oil we want; the child requires flour, for pap; all day we are wanting something; never, in the same one day, can our task be performed, but what there's always need of something; for the children of officers cannot be reared upon medlars4. STRATOPHANES
Look upon me then. Take this presenting the money , with which to satisfy these necessities. PHRONESIUM
taking it . Give it me, although it's very little. STRATOPHANES
Whatever you shall order, shall be given at your demand. Give me a kiss now. Tries to kiss her. PHRONESIUM
Leave me alone, I say! You are a nuisance! STRATOPHANES
aside . It's no use, I'm not loved by her; the day wears apace. More than ten pounds of silver have I lost in this short time by reason of my passion. PHRONESIUM
giving the money to ASTAPHIUM . Take this, and carry it away in-doors. ASTAPHIUM carries it in. Enter STRABAX, from the house. STRABAX
to himself . Where in the world is my mistress? I get on with no business, either in the country or here, at this rate; I'm spoiling with mouldiness, I'm grown so dreadfully numbed with lying waiting here upon the couch. But look, I perceive her. Hallo! sweetheart, what are you about? STRATOPHANES
What fellow is that? PHRONESIUM
One that, upon my honor, I love far more than yourself. STRATOPHANES
Than myself? In what way? PHRONESIUM
Why, this way, that you are not to be troublesome to me. Moves as if going. STRATOPHANES
Are you going now, after you've got the gold? PHRONESIUM
What you've given me, I've put away in-doors. STRABAX
Come here, sweetheart; I've got something to say to you. PHRONESIUM
Why, I was just coming to you. STRABAX
To me, my charmer? PHRONESIUM
In serious truth, i' faith. STRABAX
Although I seem a simpleton to you, I like myself to have a bit of recreation. For pretty though you are, you are so to your own loss, unless I amuse myself a bit with you. PHRONESIUM
Should you like me to embrace you and give you a kiss? STRABAX
Do whatever you like, I'll deem it agreable. She kisses him. STRATOPHANES
What, shall I suffer her to be embracing other men before my eyes? I' faith, 'twere better that I were dead. Woman, take your hands off of him, unless, perhaps, by this sword of mine, won from the enemy, you wish yourself and him to die. Flourishing his sword. PHRONESIUM
There's no use in "badinage5," Captain. If you want yourself to be loved, with gold, Stratophanes, not with iron, may you prevent him from loving me. STRATOPHANES
How, the plague, are you pretty or witty, to be fond of a fellow of that description? PHRONESIUM
aside, to STRATOPHANES . Don't it come to your recollection what an actor once said upon the stage? " All people have an eye to their profit, and are not over delicate." STRATOPHANES
That you could possibly caress this fellow, so dirty and foul! PHRONESIUM
Although he is dirty, although he is foul, still, he's pretty to me. STRATOPHANES
Didn't I give you some gold? PHRONESIUM
To me? You gave money for the child's food. STRABAX
Now, if you hope to have her, another mina of gold is requisite. STRATOPHANES
A sore mishap upon these people, and a weighty one! STRABAX
By all means, keep that by way of provision for your own journey. STRATOPHANES
What does she owe you? STRABAX
Three things. STRATOPHANES
What, pray? STRABAX
Perfumes, her favours, and kisses. PHRONESIUM
apart . He answers him like for like. To STRATOPHANES. But now, at all events, if you do love me, do you give me some little trifle from your most abundant treasures. STRATOPHANES
Do say, there's a dear, what it is that I'm to give you; only say. If I have it left, you shall have it. PHRONESIUM
Mere kickshaws6 you're talking about. Be off, be off. STRABAX kisses her. STRATOPHANES
I've considered this over with myself. My good sir, take you care, will you, that she don't inflict a wound upon you, whose teeth are made of iron. She's allowing access to her to all in common. You take your hand off of her. STRABAX
striking him . Then, by my troth, do you take that, with a hearty punch, warlike man! STRATOPHANES
I've given her gold. STRABAX
And I, silver. STRATOPHANES
And I a mantle and a purple garment. STRABAX
And I, sheep and wool; and many other things that she shall ask for I'll give. 'Twere better for you to contest it with me with minæ than with menaces7. PHRONESIUM
Upon my faith you are a funny mortal, my Strabax. Prithee, do proceed---- Aside. A fool and a madman are contending for their ruin; I'm all right. STRATOPHANES
Come, younker, do you offer something first. STRABAX
Why no; do you squander first, and come to ruin. STRATOPHANES
to PHRONESIUM . Well, here's a talent of silver for you. It's in Philippean coins. Take it for yourself. PHRONESIUM
taking the money . So much the better. Be one of our family, but live at your own expense. STRATOPHANES
to STRABAX . Where is that which you are going to give? Open your purse-strings8. PHRONESIUM
That's a challenge. STRATOPHANES
to STRABAX . What are you afraid of? STRABAX
You are from abroad9. I live here points to his FATHER'S house . I am afraid. STRATOPHANES
I am not. Walk off, then. STRABAX
I'm bringing her some sheep fastened in a purse to my neck. STRATOPHANES
Because I gave that, how I did flounder the fellow10. STRABAX
Why no, indeed, it's I, who am going to give. PHRONESIUM
to STRATOPHANES . Come in-doors now, prithee, and to STRABAX do you then stay with me here. STRATOPHANES
You will give me your company then? STRABAX
to PHRONESIUM . What say you? PHRONESIUM
What do you say? What, with this fellow? Am I to be postponed? STRATOPHANES
I have made my present. PHRONESIUM
to STRATOPHANES . You have given; pointing to STRABAX he's going to give just now; the one I've got, the other I expect. But each of the two shall be indulged to his heart's content. STRABAX
So be it. As I see the matter stands, that must be taken that's offered. STRATOPHANES
Indeed, I shall assuredly not be letting you take possession of my couch. PHRONESIUM
aside . I' faith, I've cleverly netted them, and quite to my satisfaction. To the AUDIENCE. And as I see my affairs successfully managed, yours likewise11 would I successfully manage. I'll caress you in reality. If you are disposed to be doing anything, take care, will you, and let me know at once. For the sake of Venus, applaud; this Play is in her honor. Spectators, kindly farewell; grant applause, and then rise up12.
1 That I should love: "Eo mi amare." It is much more easy to guess at the sense of this passage, than at what is really the proper reading of it as it is evidently corrupt.
2 For the dame: "Matri." Literally, "the mother."
3 For the nurse: Even in those days, nurses were famed for their toping propensities. See the Andria of Terence, l. 229.
4 Upon medlars: It is not known whether "setanium" or "setanum" here means "medlars" or "onions." Some Commentators think it means an inferior kind of pulse, used as food for the children of the poor.
6 Mere kickshaws: Κάμπας. This is from the Greek καμπὴ, "a caterpillar," and means "nonsensical, trifling stuff." He gives her a hint, in the next line, to beware of the great teeth of the countrymen.
7 With minœ than with menaces: "Melius, te minis certare mecum, quam minaciis." He plays upon the resemblance of the word "minis," "with minæ," to "minaciis," "with threats," and means that money is more likely than menaces to have weight with Phronesium.
8 Open your purse-strings: "Solve zonam." Literally, "loosen your girdle." The girdle was sometimes used as the purse itself. At other times the purse was placed there for safety
9 You are from abroad: He alludes to the alleged service of Stratophanes in the Babylonian army, and implies that he hesitates to answer to the challenge because he does not know whether Stratophanes may not turn out to be a sharper.
10 Flounder the fellow: Stratophanes plumes himself with the idea that, he having given the money to Phronesium, the other will not dare to answer his challenge.
11 Yours likewise: There has been some doubt as to the meaning of this and the next two lines; but, on examination, it is clear that they have an indecent signification.
12 Then rise up: Cicero, in his Treatise "On Old Age," informs us that this Play was a favourite one of Plautus. It is difficult to see for what reason, as, compared with many of the others, it seems to be deficient in plot, and the Churl. from whom it takes its name has scarcely, any part in the business of it.
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