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Enter BROMIA, from the house, AMPHITRYON lying on the ground.
to herself . The hopes and resources of my life lie buried in my breast, nor is there any boldness in my heart, but what I have lost it. So much to me do all things seem, the sea, the earth, the heavens, to be conspiring, that now I may be crushed, that I may be destroyed. Ah, wretched me! I know not what to do. Prodigies so great have come to pass within the house. Ah! woe is me! I'm sick at heart, some water I could wish! I'm overpowered and I'm utterly undone. My head is aching, and I cannot hear, nor do I see well with my eyes No woman is there more wretched than myself, nor can one seem to be more so. Thus has it this day befallen my mistress; for when she invoked for herself the Deities of travail, what rumblings and grumblings1, crashes and flashes; suddenly, how instantaneously did it thunder, and how woundy loud. On the spot where each one stood, at the peal he fell; then some one, I know not who, exclaimed in a mighty voice, "Alcmena, succour is at hand, fear not: propitious both to thee and thine, the Ruler of the Heavens comes. Arise," it said, "ye who have fallen down in your terror through dread of me." As I lay, I arose; I fancied that the house was in flames. Then Alcmena called me; and then did that circumstance strike me with horror. Fears for my mistress took possession of me; I ran to her to enquire what she wanted; and then I beheld that she had given birth to two male children; not yet did any one of us perceive when she was delivered, or indeed expect it. Sees AMPHITRYON. But what's this? Who's this old man that's lying thus before our house? Has Jupiter then smitten him with his thunders? By my troth, I think so; for, oh Jupiter! he is in a lethargy just like one dead. I'll approach, that I may learn who it is. She advances. Surely, this is my master Amphitryon. Calls aloud. Ho! Amphitryon! AMPH.
I'm dead. BROMIA
I'm slain outright. BROMIA
Give me your hand. Takes his hand. AMPH.
recovering . Who is it that has hold of me? BROMIA
Bromia, your maid-servant. AMPH.
rising . I tremble all over, to such a degree has Jove pealed against me. And no otherwise is it than if I had come hither from Acheron. But why have you come out of the house? BROMIA
The same alarm has scared ourselves, affrighted with horror; in the house where you yourself dwell, have I seen astounding prodigies. Woe to me, Amphitryon; even now do my senses fail me to such a degree. AMPH.
Come now, tell me; do you know me to be your master Amphitryon? BROMIA
I do know it. AMPH.
Look even once again. BROMIA
I do know it. AMPH.
She alone of all my household has a sane mind. BROMIA
Nay but, really, they are all of them sane. AMPH.
But my wife causes me to be insane by her own shameful practices. BROMIA
But I'll make you, Amphitryon, to be holding other language; that you may understand that your wife is dutiful and chaste, upon that subject I will in a few words discover some tokens and some proofs. In the first place of all, Alcmena has given birth to two sons. AMPH.
Two, say you? BROMIA
The Gods preserve me! BROMIA
Allow me to speak, that you may know that all the Deities are propitious to yourself and to your wife. AMPH.
Say on. BROMIA
After that, this day, your wife began to be in labour, when the pangs of childbirth came on, as is the custom with women in travail, she invoked the immortal Gods to give her aid, with washed hands2 and with covered head. Then forthwith it thundered with most tremendous crash. At first we thought that your house was falling; all your house shone bright, as though it had been made of gold. AMPH.
Prithee, relieve me quickly from this, since you have kept me long enough in suspense. What happened then? BROMIA
While these things were passing, meanwhile, not one of us heard your wife groaning or complaining; and thus, in fact, without pain was she delivered. AMPH.
Then do I rejoice at this, whatever she has merited at my hands. BROMIA
Leave that alone, and hear these things which I shall tell you. After she was delivered, she bade us wash the babes; we commenced to do so. But that child which I washed, how stout, how very powerful he is; and not a person was there, able to wrap him in the swaddling-clothes. AMPH.
Most wondrous things you tell of. If these things are true, I do not apprehend but that succour has been brought to my wife from heaven. BROMIA
Now shall I make you own to things more wondrous still. After he was laid in the cradle, two immense crested serpents glided down through the skylight; instantly they both reared their heads. AMPH.
Ah me! BROMIA
Be not dismayed--but the serpents began to gaze upon all around. After they beheld the children, quickly they made towards the cradle; I, fearing for the children, alarmed for myself, going backwards, began to draw and pull the cradle to and fro, and so much the more fiercely did the serpents pursue. After that one of the children caught sight of the serpents, he quickly leapt from the cradle, straightway he made an attack upon them, ana suddenly he grasped them, one in each hand. AMPH.
You tell of wondrous things; a very fearful exploit do you relate; for at your words horror steals upon the limbs of wretched me. What happened then? Say on. BBOM.
The child slew both the serpents. While these things are passing, in a loud voice there calls upon your wife---- AMPH.
What person----? BROMIA
Jupiter, the supreme Ruler of Gods and men. He said that he had secretly enjoyed Alcmena in his embraces, and that he was his own son who had overcome those serpents; the other, he said, was your child. AMPH.
By my troth, I am not sorry if I am allowed to take my half of a blessing in partnership with Jupiter. Go home, and bid the sacred vessels to be at once prepared for me, that with many victims I may seek my peace with supreme Jove. I will apply to Tiresias3 the soothsayer, and consult him what he considers ought to be done; at the same time I'll relate to him this matter just as it has happened. It thunders. But what means this? How dreadfully it thunders! Ye Gods, your mercy, I do entreat.
1 Rumblings and grumblings: "Strepitus, crepitus, somtus tonitrus." A iingle in evidently intended here.
2 With washed hands: The head was covered and the hands made pure by washing, before sacrifice to the Gods.
3 Tiresias: Some Commentators think that under the name Tiresias any soothsayer is here meant, and that this was before the time of Tiresias. So involved is the heathen Mythology, that it would be hard to say who existed first, Tiresias or Amphitryon, so that if Plautus is guilty of an anachronism, it is one of his most excusable ones. Juno was said to have struck Tiresias with blindness; on which Jupiter, as a recompense, bestowed on him the gift of prophecy See the Metamorphoses of Ovid, B. 3, l. 323.
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