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The young men have given me the name of Peniculus1, for this reason, because when I eat, I wipe the tables clean. ... The persons who bind captives with chains, and who put fetters upon runaway slaves, act very foolishly, in my opinion at least. For if bad usage is added to his misfortune for a wretched man, the greater is his inclination to run away and to do amiss. For by some means or other do they release themselves from the chains; while thus fettered, they either wear away a link with a file, or else with a stone they knock out the nail; 'tis a mere trifle this. He whom you wish to keep securely that he may not run away, with meat and with drink ought he to be chained; do you bind down the mouth of a man to a full table. So long as you give him what to eat and what to drink at his own pleasure in abundance every day, i' faith he'll never run away, even if he has committed an offence that's capital; easily will you secure him so long as you shall bind him with such chains. So very supple are these chains of food, the more you stretch them so much the more tightly do they bind. But now I'm going directly to Menaechmus; whither for this long time I have been sentenced, thither of my own accord I am going, that he may enchain me. For, by my troth, this man does not nourish persons, but he quite rears and reinvigorates them; no one administers medicine more agreably. Such is this young man; himself with a very well-stocked larder, he gives dinners fit for Ceres2; so does he heap the tables up, and piles so vast of dishes does he arrange, you must stand on your couch if you wish for anything at the top. But I have now had an interval these many days, while I've been lording it at home all along together with my dear ones3;--for nothing do I eat or purchase but what it is most dear. But inasmuch as dear ones, when they are provided, are in the habit of forsaking us, I am now paying him a visit. But his door is opening; and see, 1 perceive Menaechmus himself; he is coming out of doors.
Enter MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus, from his house.
MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
speaking at the door to his WIFE within . Unless you were worthless, unless you were foolish, unless you were stark wild and an idiot, that which you see is disagreable to your husband, you would deem to be so to yourself as well. Moreover, if after this day you do any such thing to me, I'll force you, a divorced woman, turned out of my doors to go visit your father. For as often as I wish to go out of the house, you are detaining me, calling me back, asking me questions; whither I am going, what matter I am about, what business I am transacting, what I am wanting, what I am bringing, what I have been doing out of doors? I've surely brought home a custom-house officer4 as my wife; so much am I obliged to disclose all my business, whatever I have done and am doing. I've had you hitherto indulged too much. Now, therefore, I'll tell you how I am about to act. Since I find you handsomely in maids, provisions, wool, gold trinkets, garments, and purple, and you are wanting in nought, you'll beware of a mischief if you're wise; you'll leave off watching your husband. In a lower voice. And therefore, that you mayn't be watching me in vain, for your pains I shall find me a mistress to-day, and invite her to dinner somewhere out of doors. PENICULUS
apart . This fellow pretends that he's upbraiding his wife, but he's addressing myself; for if he does dine out of doors, he really is punishing me, not his wife. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
to himself . Hurra! I' troth, by my taunts I've driven my wife from the door at last. Where now are your intriguing husbands? Why do they hesitate, all returning thanks, to bring presents to me who have fought so gallantly? This mantle5 of my wife's taking it from under his cloak I've just now stolen from in-doors, and I'm taking it to my mistress. This way it's proper for a clever trick to be played this knowing husband-watcher. This is a becoming action, this is right, this is skilful, this is done in workman-like style; inasmuch as at my own risk I've taken this from my plague, this same shall be carried off to destruction6. With the safety of my allies7 I've gained a booty from the foe. PENICULUS
aloud, at a distance . Harkye! young man; pray what share have I8 in that booty? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I'm undone; I've fallen into an ambuscade. PENICULUS
Say a safeguard rather. Don't be afraid. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What person's this? PENICULUS
'Tis I. Coming up to him. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
O my convenient friend--O my ready occasion, save you. PENICULUS
And save you. they shake hands. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
What are you about? PENICULUS
Holding my good Genius in my right hand. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You couldn't have come to me more à propos than you have come. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I'm in the habit of doing so; I understand all the points of ready occasion. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Would you like to be witness of a brilliant exploit? PENICULUS
What cook has cooked it? I shall know at once if he has made any mistake, when I see the remnants.9. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Tell me--did you ever see a picture painted on a wall, where the eagle is carrying off Ganymede10, or Venus Adonis? PENICULUS
Many a time. But what are these pictures to me? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Come, look at me11. Do I at all bear any resemblance to them? PENICULUS
What's this garb of yours? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Pronounce me to be a very clever fellow. PENICULUS
Where are we to feed? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Only do you say that which I requested you. PENICULUS
Well, I do say so; very clever fellow. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
And don't you venture to add anything of your own to it? PENICULUS
-- And very pleasant fellow. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Go on. PENICULUS
I' faith, I really can't go on, unless I know for what reason. You've had a fall-out with your wife; on that ground am I the more strongly on my guards12 against you. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
While you are interrupting me, you are delaying yourself. PENICULUS
Knock out my only eye13, Menaechmus, if I speak one word but what you bid me. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
... where, unknown to my wife, we will erect the funeral pile ... and let us consume this day14 upon it. PENICULUS
Well, come then, since you request what's fair, how soon am I to set fire to the pile? Why really, the day's half dead already down to its navel15. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Come this way from the door. PENICULUS
Be it so. Moves from the door. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Come still more this way. PENICULUS
Very well. Moves. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus
Even still, step aside boldly from the lioness's den. PENICULUS
still moving . Well done; by my troth, as I fancy, you really would bean excellent charioteers16. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Why so? PENICULUS
That your wife mayn't follow you, you are looking back ever and anon. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
But what say you? PENICULUS
What, I? Why, whatever you choose, that same do I say, and that same do I deny. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Could you make any conjecture at all from the smell, if perchance you were to take a smell at something? PENICULUS
Were the college of Augurs summoned ... MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
holds out the skirt of the mantle . Come then, take a sniff at this mantle that I'm holding. What does it smell of? Do you decline? PENICULUS
It's as well to smell the top of a woman's garment; for at this other place the nose is offended with an odour that can't be washed out. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
holding another part . Take a smell here then, Peniculus, as you are so daintily nice. PENICULUS
Very well. He smells it. MENAECHMUS
How now? What does it smell of? Answer me. PENICULUS
Theft, a mistress, and a breakfast. To you ... MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
You have spoken out ... now it shall be taken to this mistress of mine, the Courtesan Erotium. I'll order a breakfast at once to be got ready, for me, you, and her; then will we booze away even to the morrow's morning star. PENICULUS
Capital. You've spoken out distinctly. Am I to knock at the door then? MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Knock--or hold, rather. PENICULUS
You've removed17 the goblet a full mile by that. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Knock gently. PENICULUS
You're afraid, I think, that the doors are made of Samian crockery. Goes to knock. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Hold, prithee, hold, i' faith; see, she's coming out herself. The door of EROTIUM'S house is opened. Ha you behold the sun, is it not quite darkened in comparison with the bright rays of her person.
Enter EROTIUM, from her house.
My life, Menaechmus, save you. PENICULUS
And what for me? EROTIUM
You are out of my number. PENICULUS
... that same thing is wont to be done for the other supernumeraries18 of the legion. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I would order a skirmish to be got ready there at your house for me to-day. EROTIUM
To-day it shall be done. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
In that skirmish we two shall drink. Him shall you choose that shall be found there the better warrior with the goblet; do you make up your mind with which of the two you'll pass this night. How much, my love, when I look upon you, do I hate my wife. EROTIUM
Meantime, however, you cannot help being wrapped in something of hers. What's this? Takes hold of the mantle. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
taking it off . 'Tis a new dress for you, and a spoil from19 my wife, my rosebud. EROTIUM
You have a ready way of prevailing, so as to be superior in my eyes to any one of those that pay me suit. Embraces him. PENICULUS
aside . The harlot's coaxing in the meantime, while she's looking out what to plunder ... to EROTLUM for if you really loved him, by this his nose ought to have been off with your teething him.20. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Take hold of this, Peniculus: I wish to dedicate the spoil that I've vowed. PENICULUS
Give it me. Holds it while MENAECHMUS puts it on. But, i' faith, prithee, do dance afterwards with the mantle on in this way. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I--dance? I' faith, you're not in your senses. PENICULUS
Are you or I the most? If you won't dance, then take it off. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
to EROTIUM . At a great risk have I stolen this to-day. In my opinion, indeed, Hercules didn't ever carry off the belt from Hippolyta21 with danger as great. Take this for yourself he takes it off, and gives her the mantle , since you are the only one alive that's compliant with my humours. EROTIUM
With such feelings 'tis proper that real lovers should be animated. PENICULUS
aside . Those, indeed, who are making haste to bring themselves down to beggary. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
I purchased that for my wife a year since at the price of four minae. PENICULUS
aside . The four minae are clearly gone for ever, as the account now stands. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Do you know what I wish you to attend to? EROTIUM
I don't know; but I'll attend to whatever you do wish. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Order a breakfast, then, to be provided for us three at your house, and some dainties to be purchased at the market; kernels of boars' neck, or bacon off the gammon22, or pig's head, or something in that way, which, when cooked and placed on table before me, may promote an appetite like a kite's: and-forthwith---- EROTIUM
I' faith, I will. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
We're going to the Forum: we shall be here just now. While it's cooking, we'll take a whet in the meantime. EROTIUM
Come when you like, the things shall be ready. MENAECHMUS of Epidamnus.
Only make haste, then. Do you follow me to PENICULUS . PENICULUS
By my troth, I certainly shall keep an eye on you, and follow you. I wouldn't take the wealth of the Gods to lose you this day. (Exeunt MENAECHMUS and PENICULUS.) EROTIUM
speaking at the door of her house . Call Cylindrus, the cook, out of doors this moment from within.
Enter CYLINDRUS, from the house.
Take a hand-basket and some money. See, you have three didrachmns here. Giving him money. . CYLINDRUS
I have so. EROTIUM
Go and bring some provisions, see that there's enough for three; let it be neither deficient nor overmuch. CYLINDRUS
What sort of persons are these to be? EROTIUM
Myself, Menaechmus, and his Parasite. CYLINDRUS
Then these make ten, for the Parasite easily performs the duty of eight persons23. EROTIUM
I've now told you the guests; do you take care of the rest. CYLINDRUS
Very well. It's cooked already; bid them go and take their places. EROTIUM
Make haste back. CYLINDRUS
I'll be here directly. (Exit CYLINDRUS, and EROTIUM goes into her house.)
1 Name of Peniculus: This word means "a sponge" which was fastened to a stick, and was used for the purpose of cleansing tables. He says that the youths so called him from his own propensity for clearing the tables of their provisions. The tails of foxes and of oxen were also used as "peniculi." Colman and Warner, in their translations of Terence and Plautus, render the word "dishclout."
3 With my dear ones: "Cum caris meis." When he says this, it might be supposed that he is meaning his family by these words of endearment. The next line shows that such is not the case. He has had a supply of victuals, purchased at his own cost; he has been consuming these victuals, and right dear (carissimum) has he found them. He is now coming out to look for Menaechmus, and to make up for lost time.
4 A custom-house officer: The "portitores" examined those who landed or embarked at any port, to see that they had no merchandize about them which had not paid duty. They also made the necessary enquiries who the parties were, and what was their destination. He compares his wife to one of these inquisitive persons
5 This mantle: The "palla," a kind of "mantle" or "cloak," was worn indifferently by both sexes among the Greeks and Romans. This will account for the circumstance of Menaechmus Sosicles wearing, as we shall see in the sequel, the "palla" of a female, without expecting to attract the notice of passers-by. The "palla," which by the prose writers is also called "pallium," was used for many other purposes than that of a garment. See Dr. Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
7 Of my allies: By these he means the Courtesan Erotium and the Parasite Peniculus, who have run no risk by helping him to filch away the mantle.
9 When I see the remnants: He thinks that Menaechmus is alluding to something in the eating way, and says that he can tell whether the cook has done his duty well or not, by only looking at the scraps of the entertainment.
10 Ganymede: He is mentioned in the text under another name of a gross nature. Ganymede was the son of Tros, King of Troy. Jupiter was said, in the form of an eagle, to have carried him off, and made him cupbearer to the Gods, in the place of Hebe, the Goddess of youth.
11 Come, look at me: Saying this, he probably takes the "palla" from behind him, and putting it on, stalks about with it upon him. This he could do without the risk of being seen by his wife, as on the Roman stage a number of streets and lanes were seen to terminate, up which the actor would go a little way to escape observation from a house situate just at the end of another street. He means to ask the Parasite if he does not quite equal Ganymede or Adonis, as represented in the pictures, by reason of his tasteful attire.
12 On my guard: As Menaechmus has fallen out with his wife, the Parasite thinks there is no chance of a "cena" at his house. He is the more careful then to make enquiries, lest Menaechmus should contrive to baulk him of his banquet altogether.
13 My only eye: By this it appears that Peniculus has but one eye. In the Curculio, the Parasite of that name is also represented as having but one eye.
14 Let consume this day: He supposes the day to be dead so far as business is concerned; the "cena," which generally commenced about three o'clock in the afternoon (and sometimes, perhaps, the "prandium" as well), was followed by "potatio" or "drinking," which by such characters as Menaechmus and the Parasite would be prolonged to midnight, when they would see the day dead, and celebrate its funeral in their orgies.
16 An excellent charioteer: The drivers of the chariots at the Circensian games were called "agitatores." Of course they would look back every now, and then to see how near their opponents were, that they might keep the lead.
17 You've removed: Peniculus now loses patience, and reflects that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.
18 Supernumeraries: The "adscriptivi," who were also called "accensi," were a body of reserve troops who followed the Roman army without any military duties to perform, and who were drafted off to supply the deficiencies in the legions. In battle they were placed in the rear of the army. Of course they could not claim the same advantages as the regular soldier; and his own position is likened by the Parasite to theirs.
19 A spoil from: "Exuviae" means either the slough or cast skin of a snake, or the spoil taken from the enemy. Perhaps the latter is the sense in which it is here meant, as he has described his operations as a perfect campaign.
20 With your teething him: Judging from this remark, perhaps she has accidentally forgotten to kiss her dupe, Menaechmus.
21 From Hippolyta: Hercules was commanded by Eurystheus to obtain the belt or girdle of Hippolyta, or Antiope, the Queen of the Amazons. This he effected, and gave her in marriage to his companion Theseus, by whom, after giving birth to Hippolytus, she was put to death. Some accounts, however, state that she was slain by Hercules.
23 Duty of eight persons: Athenaeus, Book I., quotes a passage from Eubulus, the Comic writer, where he represents a Parasite as being counted or two or even three at table.
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