This text is part of:
Enter DEMÆNETUS and LIBANUS, from the house of the former.
As you desire your own only son to survive your own existence, prosperous, and living on; so by your lengthened years, and by that wife of yours of whom you stand in awe, do I conjure you, that if this day you have said anything that's false against myself, your wife may then survive your own existence, and that, she living, you, still alive, may come to utter destruction1. DEMAENETUS
By the Gods above2 as to what you seek to know, I see that I must, perforce, speak out, whatever you question me upon, being thus conjured; so determinedly have you accosted me, that I really do not dare otherwise than to disclose everything to you making all these enquiries. Say then at once what it is that you desire so much to know; as I myself shall know, so will I let you know. LIBANUS
Troth now, prithee answer me seriously what I ask you; take care that you tell me no falsehood. DEMAENETUS
Why, then, don't you ask? LIBANUS
Will you, then, be sending me there, where stone grinds stone3? DEMAENETUS
What place is that? Or where in the world is that place? LIBANUS
Where worthless men are weeping, who breakfast upon pearled barley4. DEMAENETUS
What that place is, or where it is, I cannot understand, where worthless men are weeping, who breakfast upon pearled barley. LIBANUS
Why, in the islands of club-land and rattle- chains5, where dead oxen attack living men. DEMAENETUS
I' faith, I now understand, Libanus, what place it is; that perhaps you mean, where the pearled barley is prepared. LIBANUS
O dear: I'm not speaking of that, i' faith, nor do I wish to speak of it. Troth now, prithee, do spit out6 the words that you have spoken. DEMAENETUS
Be it so; you shall be indulged. He coughs and spits. LIBANUS
Come, come--hawk away. DEMAENETUS
What, still more? Spits on. LIBANUS
Troth now; prithee, do go on--still more. DEMAENETUS
What-from the very bottom of my throat? Spits. LIBANUS
Even more still. DEMAENETUS
Why, how long? Spits. LIBANUS
I want you, even to the death---- DEMAENETUS
Take you care of a woful mishap, if you please. LIBANUS
Of your wife, I mean, not of yourself. DEMAENETUS
For that speech, I give you leave to be free from apprehension. LIBANUS
May the Gods grant you whatever you desire. DEMAENETUS
In return, give me your attention. Why should I ask this of you? Or why should I threaten you, because you have not made me acquainted with it? Or why, in fine, should I censure my son as other fathers do? LIBANUS
What new affair is this? Aside. I wonder much what it is, and I'm in dread what the upshot of it may be. DEMAENETUS
In fact, I'm now aware that my son's in love with that Courtesan Philenium, that lives close by. Is not this as I say, Libanus? LIBANUS
You are upon the right track; such is the fact. But a dreadful malady has overtaken him. DEMAENETUS
What is the malady? LIBANUS
Why, that his presents don't equal his promises. DEMAENETUS
Are you, then, one who assists my son in his amours? LIBANUS
I really am, and our Leonida is another. DEMAENETUS
I' faith, you do kindly, and you gain thanks from me. But this wife of mine, Libanus, don't you know what sort of a person she is? LIBANUS
You are the first to experience it, but we give a guess beforehand. DEMAENETUS
I confess that she is troublesome and not to be pleased. LIBANUS
You say that later than I believed you in it. DEMAENETUS
All parents, Libanus, who listen to me, will show indulgence to their children, inasmuch as they will find their sons more kindly disposed and more affectionate; and that do I desire to do myself. I wish to be loved by mine; I wish myself to be like my father, who, for my sake, himself in the disguise of a ship-master, carried off from a procurer a female with whom I was in love; nor was he ashamed, at that time of life, to devise stratagems, and to purchase with good turns me, his son, for himself. These ways of my father have I resolved to imitate. For to-day my son Argyrippus has entreated me to give him a supply of money for his amours; and I very much wish in that to oblige my son. I wish to forward his amours; I wish him to be fond of myself, his father. Although his mother keeps him strictly, and with a tight rein, as fathers have been in the habit of doing, all that I dismiss. Especially as he has deemed me deserving, for him to entrust it to ire, I ought to pay all due regard to his feelings. Inasmuch as he has applied to me, as it is right that a respectful son should do, I wish him to have some money for him to give to his mistress * * * * * LIBANUS
You are desiring that which I find you are do siring to no purpose. Your wife brought her servant Saurea with her on her marriage7, who has more in his control trol than you have. DEMAENETUS
I received money with her, and for the portion I sold my authority. Now I'll compress into a few words what I want of you; my son is now in need of twenty silver minæ: do you manage that it may be forthwith found for him. LIBANUS
From what place in the world? DEMAENETUS
Cheat me of them. LIBANUS
You are talking downright nonsense. You are bidding me take the clothes from off a naked man. I, cheat you?--come now, fly you without wings, please. What, am I to cheat you who have nothing in your power for your own self? Unless you have first cheated your wife out of something. DEMAENETUS
Impose upon or rob myself in any way you can, my wife in any way, my servant Saurea in any way. I promise you that it shall not prove to your detriment, if you effect it to-day. LIBANUS
On the same principle you might bid me to fish in the air, and to hunt with a javelin in the midst of the sea. DEMAENETUS
Take Leonida as your coadjutor8; devise some plan or other, think of some expedient: bring it about that my son this day gets some money to give his mistress. LIBANUS
What say you, Demænetus * * * * * if the foe should intercept me, will you ransom me? DEMAENETUS
I will ransom you. LIBANUS
Then do you attend to something else, whatever you please. DEMAENETUS
I'm off to the Forum, unless you wish for anything. LIBANUS
Be of--why are you not walking9? DEMAENETUS
And do you hear, too----? LIBANUS
Well now. DEMAENETUS
If I want you for anything, where will you be? LIBANUS
Wherever it shall be agreable to my feelings. Really, there's not a person that I shall stand in dread of from this time forward, for fear he might be able to do me an injury, since in your discourse you have disclosed to me all your sentiments. Why, your own self even I don't stand much in awe of, if I carry this out. I'll go where I intended, and there I'll commune upon my plans. DEMAENETUS
Do you hear me? I shall be with Archibulus, the banker. LIBANUS
In the Forum, you mean? DEM. There, if there shall be any occasion for me10. LIBANUS
I'll remember it. (Exit.) DEMAENETUS
to himself Not any servant can there be more artful than this fellow, nor yet more crafty, nor one that it is more difficult for you to be on your guard against. If you want anything well managed, entrust it to this same fellow; he'd rather he should die in wretchedness, than not have that quite completed which he has promised. For I know that this money is as surely forthcoming for my son, as that I look upon this same walking-stick. But why am I delaying to go to the Forum where I had intended ... (Exit.)
1 Come to utter destruction: "Pestem obpetas." Literally, "meet with a plague." This expression held a somewhat similar rank with our uncourteous invitation, "Go to the devil."
2 By the Gods above: "Per Deum Fidium." Literally, "by the God Fidius." This God had a Temple in the Capitol at Rome. He was represented as having Honor on his right hand, and Truth on the left. He is mentioned by Ovid, in the Sixth Book of the Fasti, as having the names also of Sancus and Semo. He was also called Sangus and Sanctus, and is generally supposed to have been the Sabine Hercules. Saint Augustine says that he was a king of the Sabines, whom they had deified.
3 Stone grinds stone: He alludes to the "pistrinum," or hand-mill, where refractory slaves were often sent and set to grind the corn, which was a very laborious employment.
4 Pearled barley: "Polenta." This was barley-meal, dried before the fire, soaked in water for a night, and then baked.
5 Club-land and rattle-chain: "Fustitudinas, ferricrepinas." These are words coined by the author for the occasion. In the next line he alludes to flogging with thongs of hide.
6 Do spit out: The ancients signified extreme disgust by spitting. Libanus is so frightened at the bare "idea" of the "pistrinum," or "mill," that he deems the attempt to mention it as of bad omen, and begs that his master will spit away from him the very notion of it.
7 With her on her marriage: "Dotalem." The husband was master of the other slaves in the household; but the "dotalis" was under the sole control of the mistress. Aulus Gellius, in his Seventeenth Book, calls him "servus recepticius," probably, either because it was his business to receive whatever was due to his mistress, or from his being received into the house in preference to all other slaves.
8 Your coadjutor: "Optio" was originally the name of the lientenant, or adjutant, who was chosen by the centurion in the Roman armies to assist him in the discharge of his duties.
9 Why are you not walking: "Etiamne ambulas." Thornton, quoting from Limiers, says, in reference to this passage, "This is a banter of the slave's, who is rallying his master on the pain he is in, in walking supported by his crutch-stick. There is a distinction made between 'ire,' which, the grammarians tell us, is used to express walking fast, and 'ambulare,' 'to walk slowly,' or 'step by step.'"
10 Any occasion for me: "Si quid opus fuerit." This expression equivalent to ours, "if I am wanted," was made use of by the Romans when they had the intention of engaging in some occupation of importance.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.