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Enter MYRRHINA, from her house.
I am undone! What am I to do? which way turn myself? In my wretchedness, what answer am I to give to my husband? For he seems to have heard the voice of the child when crying, so suddenly did he rush in to my daughter without saying a word. What if he comes to know that she has been delivered? for what reason I am to say I kept it concealed, upon my faith I do not know. But there's a noise at the door; I believe it is himself coming out to me: I'm utterly undone! Enter PHIDIPPUS, from the house. PHIDIPPUS
to himself. My wife, when she saw me going to my daughter, betook herself out of the house: and look, there she is. Addressing her. What have you to say, Myrrhina? Hark you! to you I speak. MYRRHINA
What, to me, my husband? PHIDIPPUS
Am I your husband? Do you consider me a husband, or a man, in fact? For, woman, if I had ever appeared to you to be either of these, I should not in this way have been held in derision by your doings. MYRRHINA
By what doings? PHIDIPPUS
Do you ask the question? Is not your daughter brought to bed? Eh, are you silent? By whom? MYRRHINA
Is it proper for a father to be asking such a question? Oh, shocking! By whom do you think, pray, except by him to whom she was given in marriage? PHIDIPPUS
I believe it; nor indeed is it for a father to think otherwise. But I wonder much what the reason can be for which you so very much wish all of us to be in ignorance of the truth, especially when she has been delivered properly, and at the right time.1 That you should be of a mind so perverse as to prefer that the child should perish, through which you might be sure that hereafter there would be a friendship more lasting between us, rather than that, at the expense of your feelings, his wife should continue with him! I supposed this to be their fault, while in reality it lies with you. MYRRHINA
I am an unhappy creature! PHIDIPPUS
I wish I were sure that so it was; but now it recurs to my mind what you once said about this matter, when we accepted him as our son-in-law. For you declared that you could not endure your daughter to be married to a person who was attached to a courtesan, and who spent his nights away from home. MYRRHINA
aside. Any cause whatever I had rather he should suspect than the right one. PHIDIPPUS
I knew much sooner than you did, Myrrhina, that he kept a mistress; but this I never considered a crime in young men; for it is natural to them all. For, i' faith, the time will soon come when even he will be disgusted with himself for doing so. But just as you formerly showed yourself, you have never. ceased to be the same up to the present time; in order that you might withdraw your daughter from him, and that what I did might not hold good, one thing itself now plainly proves how far you wished it carried out. MYRRHINA
Do you suppose that I am so willful that I could have entertained such feelings toward one whose mother I am, if this match had been to our advantage? PHIDIPPUS
Can you possibly foresee or judge what is to our advantage? You have heard it of some one, perhaps, who has told you that he has seen him coming from or going to his mistress. What then? If he has done so with discretion, and but occasionally, is it not more kind in us to conceal our knowledge of it, than to do our. best to be aware of it, in consequence of which he will detest us? For if he could all at once have withdrawn himself from her with whom he had been intimate for so many years, I should not have deemed him a man, or likely to prove a constant husband for our daughter. MYRRHINA
Do have done about the young man, I pray; and what you say I've been guilty of. Go away, meet him by yourself; ask him whether he wishes to have her as a wife or not; if so it is that he should say he does wish it, why, send her back; but if on the other hand he does not wish it, I have taken the best course for my child. PHIDIPPUS
And suppose he does not wish it, and you, Myrrhina, knew him to be in fault; still I was at hand, by whose advice it was proper for these matters to be settled; therefore I am greatly offended that you have presumed to act thus without my leave. I forbid you to attempt to carry the child any where out of this house. But I am very foolish to be expecting her to obey my orders. I'll go in-doors, and charge the servants to allow it to be carried out nowhere. Goes into the house. MYRRHINA
Upon my faith, I do believe that there is no woman living more wretched than I; for how he would take it, if he came to know the real state of the case, i' faith, is not unknown to me, when he bears this, which is of less consequence, with such angry feelings; and I know not in what way his sentiments can possibly be changed. Out of very many misfortunes, this one evil alone had been wanting to me, for him to compel me to rear a child of whom we know not who is the father; for when my daughter was ravished, it was so dark that his person could not be distinguished, nor was any thing taken from him on the occasion by which it could be afterward discovered who he was. He, on leaving her, took away from the girl, by force, a ring which2 she had upon her finger. I am afraid, too, of Pamphilus, that he may be unable any longer to conceal what I have requested, when he learns that the child of another is being brought up as his. Goes into the house.
1 At the right time: Lemaire observes that, from this passage, it would appear that the Greeks considered seven months sufficient for gestation. So it would appear, if we are to take the time of the Play to be seven, and not nine, months after the marriage; and, as before observed, the former seems to be the more reasonable conclusion.
2 A ring which: Colman remarks that this preparation for the catastrophe by the mention of the ring, is not so artful as might have been expected from Terence; as in this soliloquy he tells the circumstances directly to the Audience.
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