This text is part of:
Enter CHREMES from his house.
to himself. It is now daybreak.1 Why do I delay to knock at my neighbor's door, that he may learn from me the first that his son has returned? Although I am aware that the youth would not prefer this. But when I see him tormenting himself so miserably about his absence, can I conceal a joy so unhoped for, especially when there can be no danger to him from the discovery? I will not do so; but as far as I can I will assist the old man. As I see my son aiding his friend and year's-mate, and acting as his confidant in his concerns, it is but right that we old men as well should assist each other. Enter MENEDEMUS from his house. MENEDEMUS
to himself Assuredly I was either born with a disposition peculiarly suited for misery, or else that saying which I hear commonly repeated, that "time assuages human sorrow," is false. For really my sorrow about my son increases daily; and the longer he is away from me, the more anxiously do I wish for him, and the more I miss him. CHREMES
apart. But I see him coming out of his house; I'll go speak to him. Aloud. Menedemus, good-morrow; I bring you news, which you would especially desire to be imparted. MENEDEMUS
Pray, have you heard any thing about my son, Chremes? CHREMES
He's alive, and well. MENEDEMUS
Why, where is he, pray? CHREMES
Here, at my house, at home. MENEDEMUS
My son? CHREMES
Such is the fact. MENEDEMUS
Come home? CHREMES
My son, Clinia, come home? CHREMES
I say so. MENEDEMUS
Let us go. Lead me to him, I beg of you. CHREMES
He does not wish you yet to know of his return, and he shuns your presence; he's afraid that, on account of that fault, your former severity may even be increased. MENEDEMUS
Did you not tell him how I was affected?2 CHREMES
For what reason, Chremes? CHREMES
Because there you would judge extremely ill both for yourself and for him, if you were to show yourself of a spirit so weak and irresolute. MENEDEMUS
I can not help it: enough already, enough, have I proved a rigorous father. CHREMES
Ah Menedemus! you are too precipitate in either extreme, either with profuseness or with parsimony too great. Into the same error will you fall from the one side as from the other. In the first place, formerly, rather than allow your son to visit a young woman, who was then content with a very little, and to whom any thing was acceptable, you frightened him away from here. After that, she began, quite against her inclination, to seek a subsistence upon the town. Now, when she can not be supported without a great expense, you are ready to give any thing. For, that you may know how perfectly she is trained to extravagance, in the first place, she has already brought with her more than ten female attendants, all laden with clothes and jewels of gold; if a satrap3 had been her admirer, he never could support her expenses, much less can you. MENEDEMUS
Is she at your house ? CHREMES
Is she, do you ask? I have felt it; for 1 have given her and her retinue one dinner; had I to give them another such, it would be all over with me; for, to pass by other matters, what a quantity of wine she did consume for me in tasting only,4 saying thus, "This wine is too acid,5 respected sir,6 do please look for something more mellow." I opened all the casks, all the vessels7;" she kept all on the stir: and this but a single night. What do you suppose will become of you when they are constantly preying upon you? So may the Gods prosper me, Menedemus, I do pity your lot. MENEDEMUS
Let him do what he will; let him take, waste, and squander; I'm determined to endure it, so long as I only have him with me. CHREMES
If it is your determination thus to act, I hold it to be of very great foment that he should not be aware that with a full knowledge you grant him this. MENEDEMUS
What shall I do ? CHREMES
Any thing, rather than what you are thinking of; supply him with money through some other person; suffer yourself to be imposed upon by the artifices of his servant: although I have smelt out this too, that they are about that, and are secretly planning it among them. Syrus is always whispering with that servant of yours;8 they impart their plans to the young men; and it were better for you to lose a talent this way, than a mina the other. The money is not the question now, but this--in what way we can supply it to the young man with the least danger. For if he once knows the state of your feelings, that you would sooner part with your life, and sooner with all your money, than allow your son to leave you; whew ! what an inlet9 will you be opening for his debauchery! aye, and so much so, that henceforth to live can not be desirable to you. For we all become worse through indulgence. Whatever comes into his head, he'll be wishing for; nor will he reflect whether that which he desires is right or wrong. You will not be able to endure your estate and him going to ruin. You will refuse to supply him: he will immediately have recourse to the means by which he finds that he has the greatest hold upon you, and threaten that he will immediately leave you. MENEDEMUS
You seem to speak the truth, and just what is the fact. CHREMES
I'faith, I have not been sensible of sleep this night with my eyes,10 for thinking of this--how to restore your son to you. MENEDEMUS
taking his hand. Give me your right hand. I request that you will still act in a like manner, Chremes. CHREMES
I am ready to serve you. MENEDEMUS
Do you know what it is I now want you to do? CHREMES
Tell me. MENEDEMUS
As you have perceived that they are laying a plan to deceive me, that they may hasten to complete it. I long to give him whatever he wants: I am now longing to behold him. CHREMES
I'll lend my endeavors. This little business is in my way. Our neighbors Simus and Crito are disputing here about boundaries; they have chosen me for arbitrator. I'll go and tell them that I can not possibly give them my attention to-day as I had stated I would. I'll be here immediately. (Exit.) MENEDEMUS
Pray do. To himself. Ye Gods, by our trust in you! That the nature of all men should be so constituted, that they can see and judge of other men's affairs better than their own! Is it because in our own concerns we are biased either with joy or grief in too great a degree How much wiser now is he for me, than I have been for myself! Re-enter CHREMES. CHREMES
I have disengaged myself, that I might lend you my services at my leisure. Syrus must be found and instructed by me in this business. Some one, I know not who, is coming out of my house: do you step hence home, that they may not perceive11 that we are conferring together. MENEDEMUS goes into his house.
1 It is now daybreak: Though this is the only Play which includes more than one day in the action, it is not the only one in which the day is represented as breaking. The Amphitryon and the Curculio of Plautts commence before daybreak, and the action is carried on into the middle of the day. Madame Dacier absolutely considers it as a fact beyond all doubt, that the Roman Audience went home after the first two Acts of the Play, and returned for the representation of the third the next morning at daybreak. Scaliger was of the same opinion; but it is not generally entertained by Commentators.
2 How I was affected: "Ut essem," literally, "How I was."
3 If a satrap: "Satrapa" was a Persian word signifying "a ruler of a province." The name was considered as synonymous with "possessor of wealth almost inexhaustible."
4 In tasting only: " Pytiso" was the name given to the nasty practice of tasting wine, and then spitting it out; offensive in a man, but infinitely more so in a woman. It seems in those times to have been done by persons who wished to give themselves airs in the houses of private persons; at the present day it is probably confined to wine-vaults and sale-rooms where wine is put up to auction, and even there it is practiced much more than is either necessary or agreeable. Doubtless Bacchis did it to show her exquisite taste in the matter of wines.
5 Is too acid: "Asperum;" meaning that the wine was not old enough for her palate. The great fault of the Greek wines was their tartness, for which reason sea-water was mixed with them all except the Chian, which was the highest class of wine.
6 Respected sir: "Pater," literally "father;" a title by which the young generally addressed aged persons who were strangers to them.
7 All the casks, all the vessels: "Dolia omnia, omnes serias." The finer kinds of wine were drawn off from the " dolia," or large vessels, into the "amphorae," which, like the "dolia," were made of earth, and sometimes of glass. The mouths of the vessels were stopped tight by a plug of wood or cork, which was made impervious to the atmosphere by being rubbed over with a composition of pitch, clay, wax, or gypsum. On the outside, the title of the wine was painted, and among the Romans the date of the vintage was denoted by the names of the Consuls then in office. When the vessels were of glass, small tickets or labels, called "pittacia," were suspended from them, stating to a similar effect. The "seriae" were much the same as the "dolia," perhaps somewhat smaller; they were both long, bell-mouthed vessels of earthen-ware, formed of the best clay, and lined with pitch while hot from the furnace. "Seriae" were also used to contain oil and other liquids; and in the Captivi of Plautus the word is applied to pans used for the purpose of salting meat. "Relino" signifies the act of taking the seal of pitch or Wax off the stopper of the wine-vessel.
8 With that servant of yours: Dromo.
9 What an inlet: "Fenestram ;" literally, "a window."
10 This night with my eyes: Colman has the following Note here: "Hedelin obstinately contends from this passage, that neither Chremes nor any of his family went to bed the whole night; the contrary of which is evident, as Menage observes, from the two next Scenes. For why should Syrus take notice of his being up so early, if he had never retired to rest? Or would Chremes have reproached Clitipho for his behavior the night before, had the feast never been interrupted? Eugraphius's interpretation of these words is natural and obvious, who explains them to signify that the anxiety of Chremes to restore Clinia to Menedemus broke his rest."
11 That they may not perceive: Madame Dacier observes that Chremes seizes this as a very plausible and necessary pretense to engage Menedemus to return home, and not to his labors in the field, as he had at first intended.
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