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Enter ARTEMONA and the PARASITE, from the house of DEMÆNETUS, at the further side of the stage.1
Prithee, do you say that my husband is carousing here, together with my son?--and that he has carried to his mistress twenty minæ of silver?--and that, with the knowledge of my son, his father is perpetrating this wickedness? A PARASITE
Trust me in nothing henceforth, either divine or human, Artemona, if you find me untruthful in this matter. ARTEMONA
Wretched then am I, who have supposed that, beyond others, my husband was sober, decent, chaste, and especially fond of his wife. A PARASITE
But now, henceforth, understand that he, before all men, is a person of the smallest worth--a drunkard, a good-for-nothing fellow, unchaste, and a contemner of his own wife. ARTEMONA
I' faith, if this wasn't true, he would never be doing the things that he is now doing. A PARASITE
Upon my word, I too always hitherto took him to be a decent person; but by this action he declares himself,--to be carousing, indeed, together with his son, and, a decrepit old man, toying with a mistress in his company. ARTEMONA
For this it is, i' faith, that he's going out to dinner every day. He says that he's going to Archidemus, Chereas, Chærestratus, Clinius, Chremes, Cratinus, Dinias, Demosthenes: while he's thinking of debauchery, and public dens of infamy with his harlot. A PARASITE
Why don't you bid your maid-servants carry him off home upon their shoulders? ARTEMONA
Do you only be quiet. By my troth, I'll surely give him some trouble. A PARASITE
I'm sure of it, that so it will befall him, so long, indeed, as you shall continue married to him. ARTEMONA
I was fancying that this fellow was still giving attendance either in the senate or to his dependants: that for that reason it was, that, worn out with fatigue, he snored the whole night through. Wearied with his labours out of doors he comes home at night. Another's farm he ploughs, his own he leaves untilled. Both he himself is corrupted, and he corrupts his son as well. A PARASITE
Do you only follow me this way, I'll make you just now to fall upon the man himself in the very fact. ARTEMONA
By heaven, there's nothing that I could more wish for. A PARASITE
Just stop there. He moves stealthily forward, and examines the other side of the stage. ARTEMONA
What's the matter? A PARASITE
returning to her . If perchance you were to see your husband reclining, if you beheld him with a garland on, caressing a mistress, could you recognize him? ARTEMONA
I' troth, I could. A PARASITE
points to the other end of the stage . Then there's your man. ARTEMONA
moving stealthily forward with the PARASITE . I'm undone. A PARASITE
Stay a little. Let's observe in private, from ambush, what business they are about. ARGYRIPPUS
What end will you put to your caresses, father? DEMAENETUS
I confess, my son---- ARGYRIPPUS
What do you confess? DEMAENETUS
That I'm utterly undone with love for her. A PARASITE
to ARTEMONA . Do you hear what he says? ARTEMONA
I hear. DEMAENETUS
to PHILENIUM . Ought I not to filch the mantle from my wife at home, which she is so fond of, and bring it to you? Though my wife's life should last a whole year in consequence, by my troth I could not be dissuaded from doing so. A PARASITE
to ARTEMONA . Do you suppose that he has been accustomed to frequent a brothel to-day for the first time? ARTEMONA
Upon my faith, it was he that was pilfering me; whereas I was suspecting my maid-servants, and was tormenting the wretched creatures who were innocent all the while. ARGYRIPPUS
Father, bid him pour out some wine; 'tis a long time since I drank first2. DEMAENETUS
to the SERVANT . Begin, boy, from the top3. To PHILENIUM . Come, do you meanwhile from below give me a kiss. Kisses her. ARTEMONA
to the PARASITE . Wretch that I am, I'm undone! How the villain, the garnishing of a bier4, is kissing away. DEMAENETUS
A breath, by my faith, somewhat sweeter than that of my wife. PHILENIUM
Tell me, there's a dear, does the breath of your wife smell bad? DEMAENETUS
I'd prefer to drink bilge-water, if it were necessary, rather than kiss her. ARTEMONA
apart . By heavens, you are a wretch. PAR. apart . I' faith, he's deserving so to be. ARGYRIPPUS
How say you, father? Takes a draught in the meanwhile. ARTEMONA
apart . Aye, pray, how say you? By my troth, to your own great detriment, you've surely said that against me. Never mind; only de you come home, I'll let you know what danger there is in speaking abusively against a wife with a dowry. ARGYRIPPUS
Don't you love my mother? DEMAENETUS
Who--I? I love her just now, because she isn't present. ARGYRIPPUS
How, when she is present? DEMAENETUS
Then, I wish she was dead. A PARASITE
apart to ARTEMONA . This fellow is fond of you, according to what he says. ARTEMONA
On my word, he's surely laying out all this at interest; for if, this day, he returns home, I'll especially have my revenge in kissing him. ARGYRIPPUS
handing the dice-box . Father, throw the dice; that afterwards I may have a throw. DEMAENETUS
By all means. You, Philenium, for myself, and death for my wife. He throws. 'Tis Venus's cast5. Lads, clap your hands, and give me some honeyed wine in my cup, in honor of my throw. ARTEMONA
apart . I can hold out no longer. A PARASITE
apart . If you haven't learned the fulling trade6, it's not to be wondered at; now it's quite fitting for you to beset his eyes. They make their appearance before the revellers. ARTEMONA
By heavens, I will live, and you this day have made that invocation to your own great misfortune. A PARASITE
Will some one run to fetch the undertakers7? ARGYRIPPUS
Health to you, mother. ARTEMONA
Health indeed after this fashion! A PARASITE
aside . Demænetus is dead. 'Tis time to betake myself hence: this battle bravely waxes hot. I'll be off to Diabolus. I'll tell him his orders are performed as he desired them; and in the meantime I'll persuade him that we should take a meal, while these people are squabbling. Afterwards, in fine, I'll bring him here to-morrow, to the procuress, that he may give her the twenty mince, that, in his turn, he in his passion may be enabled to obtain this damsel. I hope that Argyrippus will be able to be prevailed upon to allow him to pass each alternate night with him in her company; for, unless I obtain that, I've lost my patron8; so great is the passion of the man by reason of his love. He quietly withdraws. ARTEMONA
addressing PHILENIUM . What business have you to give a retreat here in your house to my husband? PHILENIUM
Troth, he really will this day be the death of wretched me, through sheer disgust. ARTEMONA
to DEM ÆNETUS . Rise, wencher, be off home. DEMAENETUS
I'm undone. ARTEMONA
Yes, you are9; don't, i' faith, gainsay it, you most vile of all men. Why, the cuckoo's still on his nest10. Rise, wencher, be off home. DEMAENETUS
Woe to me! ARTEMONA
You prophesy correctly. Rise, wencher, be off home. DEMAENETUS
Step a little this way then. ARTEMONA
Rise, wencher, be off home. DEMAENETUS
Now, prithee, wife---- ARTEMONA
Do you remember now that I'm your wife? It was but just now, when you were heaping abuse upon me, that I wasn't your wife. DEMAENETUS
I'm utterly ruined. ARTEMONA
Why, pray? Does the breath of your wife smell strong? DEMAENETUS
It smells of myrrh. ARTEMONA
Have you filched my mantle then to be giving to your harlot? ARGYRIPPUS
By the powers--what, did he promise that he would filch your mantle? ARTEMONA
Won't you hold your tongue? ARGYRIPPUS
I was going to dissuade him, mother. ARTEMONA
to ARGYRIPPUS . A pretty son! To DEMÆNETUS. Is it proper for a father to teach these morals to his children? Are you ashamed of nothing? DEMAENETUS
I' faith, if there's nothing else, I'm ashamed of you, wife. ARTEMONA
With your hoary head, your wife is dragging you, you cuckoo, from dens of infamy. DEMAENETUS
The dinner's cooking; mayn't I stop, only to take my dinner? ARTEMONA
Faith, you'll dine to-day on a heavy mishap, as you deserve. DEMAENETUS
rising . I shall repose but uncomfortably; my wife is taking me home condemned. ARGYRIPPUS
I told you, father, not to devise ill against my mother. PHILENIUM
to DEMÆNETUS . Do remember about the mantle11, there's a dear. DEMAENETUS
calls out to CLEÆRETA . Won't you order her to go away from here? PHILENIUM
No, I'll go in, in preference. To ARGYRIPPUS. Follow me this way, my life. ARGYRIPPUS
Yes, I follow. ARTEMONA
to DEMÆNETUS . Be off home. PHILENIUM
to DEMÆNETUS . Do give me a kiss, at least, before you go. DEMAENETUS
to PHILENIUM . Go hang yourself. (Exeunt.) The COMEDIANS.
If this old fellow, unknown to his wife, has been in any way indulging his own inclinations, he has been doing nothing new or wonderful, or otherwise than others are in the habit of doing. No one is there of a disposition so severe, or of a temper so firm, but that he will enjoy himself when he has any opportunity. Now if you wish to interpose in behalf of this old man, so that he be not punished, we think that it can be brought about if you give us loud applause.
1 In the early part of this Scene, the wife and the Parasite do not see Demænetus, who is carousing in the front of Cleæreta's house, at the other side of the stage. We must remember that the Roman stage was of vast extent--as much, according to some writers, as 180 feet in width. Perhaps a wall extended a little forward by the side of the house, which would preclude the view of what was going on behind it and near to the door until Artemona and the Parasite had traversed the stage.
2 Since I drank first: They probably took the first draught each in his turn. Argyrippus tells his father that he is dry, and that it is a long time since he had the first draught.
3 From the top: We are to suppose that the three are reclining or one "triclinium," or couch. Argyrippus lies at the top, his father below him, and Philenium the lowest, with her head reclining on the old man's breast.
4 Of a bier: "Capulus" was another name of the "lectica" or "feretrum," on which the corpse was carried to the funeral pile. In the case of rich people, the "capuli" were sometimes made of ivory, and covered with gold and purple.
5 Venus's, cast: "Venereus jactus" was the best throw on the set of four "tali," or knuckle-bone dice, used by the ancients. It is supposed to have been a combination of the numbers, the sum of which was fourteen. When trying to throw the "Venereus jactus," it was usual to mention the name of the mistress of the thrower; and Demænetus> throws in "death to his wife," by way of supplement. From the next line, he appears to have been successful in his throw.
6 Haven't learned the fulling trade: He intends a pun here upon the word "durare," which meant either "to endure," "bear," or "hold out;" as also "to full," "harden," or "thicken cloth," by the fuller's art. Artemona says that she cannot "durare" in the first sense; on which the Parasite quibbles, and says, "Because you have not learnt the fulling art." In the next line also a ploy upon words is intended, as "invadi in oculos" may mean either "present yourself before his eyes" or "attack his eyes," and claw them out. No doubt the Parasite would have relished the fun, if she had taken his advice in the latter sense.
7 The undertaker: The "pollinctores" were slaves, who belonged to the "libitinarii," or "undertakers," and whose duty it was to anoint the body with oil and perfumes before it was burnt.
8 My patron: "Regem." Literally, "my king;" the name which Parasites bestowed upon their patrons.
9 Yes, you are: He says, "nullus sum," in the sense of "I'm undone;" but she chooses to take it as though he had meant "I am a worthless fellow," which meaning these words are capable of bearing.
10 Cuckoo's still on his nest: The cuckoo takes possession of the nests of other birds. and lays its eggs there. Artemona probably alludes to that fact, on seeing her husband under such a disgraceful circumstances.
11 About the mantle: This she says by way of farewell banter to the old fellow, whom she is too happy to get rid of.
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