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Enter EUCLIO.

EUCLIO
to himself . My mind had a presentiment that I was going to no purpose when I left my house; and therefore I went unwillingly; for neither did any one of the wardsmen come, nor yet the master of the ward, who ought to have distributed the money. Now I'm making all haste to hasten home; for I myself am here, my mind's at home.

MEGADORUS
accosting him . May you be well, and ever fortunate, Euclio!

EUCLIO
May the Gods bless you, Megadorus!

MEGADORUS
How are you? Are you quite well, and as you wish?

EUCLIO
aside . It isn't for nothing when a rich man accosts a poor man courteously; now this fellow knows that I've got some gold; for that reason he salutes me more courteously.

MEGADORUS
Do you say that you are well?

EUCLIO
Troth, I'm not very well in the money line.

MEGADORUS
I' faith, if you've a contented mind, you have enough to passing a good life with.

EUCLIO
aside . By my faith, the old woman has made a discovery to him about the gold; 'tis clear it's all out. I'll cut off her tongue, and tear out her eyes, when I get home.

MEGADORUS
Why are you talking to yourself?

EUCLIO
I'm lamenting my poverty; I've a grown-up girl without a portion, and one that can't be disposed of in marriage; nor have I the ability to marry her to anybody.

MEGADORUS
Hold your peace; be of good courage, Euclio: she shall be given in marriaye; you shall be assisted by myself. Say, if you have need of aught; command me.

EUCLIO
aside . Now is he aiming at my property, while he's making promises; he's gaping for my gold, that he may devour it; in the one hand he is carrying a stone1. while he shows the bread in the other. I trust no person, who, rich himself, is exceedingly courteous to a poor man; when he extends his hand with a kind air, then is he loading you with some damage. I know these polypi2, who, when they've touched a thing, hold it fast.

MEG.(
Give me your attention, Euclio, for a little time: I wish to address you in a few words, about a common concern of yours and mine.

EUCLIO
aside . Alas! woe is me! my gold has been grabbed from in-doors: now he's wishing for this thing, I'm sure, to come to a compromise with me; but I'll go look in my house. He goes towards his door.

MEGADORUS
Where are you going?

EUCLIO
I'll return to you directly, for there's something I must go and see to at home. He goes into his house.

MEGADORUS
By my troth, I do believe that when I make mention of his daughter, for him to promise her to me, he'll suppose that he's being laughed at by me; nor is there out of the whole class of paupers one more beggarly than he. EUCLIO returns from his house.

EUCLIO
aside . The Gods do favour me; my property's all safe. If nothing's lost, it's safe. I was very dreadfully afraid, before I went in-doors! I was almost dead! Aloud. I'm come back to you, Megadorus, if you wish to say anything tome.

MEGADORUS
I return you thanks; I beg that as to what I shall enquire of you, you'll not hesitate to speak out boldly.

EUCLIO
So long, indeed, as you enquire nothing that I mayn't choose to speak out upon.

MEGADORUS
Tell me, of what sort of family do you consider me to be sprung?

EUCLIO
Of a good one.

MEGADORUS
What think you as to my character?

EUCLIO
'Tis a good one.

MEGADORUS
What of my conduct?

EUCLIO
Neither bad nor dishonest.

MEGADORUS
Do you know my years?

EUCLIO
I know that they are plentiful, just like your money.

MEGADORUS
I' faith, for sure I really did always take you to be a citizen without any evil guile, and now I think you so.

EUCLIO
aside . He smells the gold. Aloud. What do you want with me now?

MEGADORUS
Since you know me, and I know you, what sort of person you are--a thing, that may it bring a blessing on myself, and you and your daughter, I ask your daughter as my wife. Promise me that it shall be so.

EUCLIO
Heyday! Megadorus, you are doing a deed that's not becoming to your usual actions, in laughing at me, a poor man, and guiltless towards yourself and towards your family For neither in act, nor in words, have I ever deserved it of you, that you should do what you are now doing.

MEGADORUS
By my troth, I neither am come to laugh at you, nor am I laughing at you, nor do I think you deserving of it.

EUCLIO
Why then do you ask for my daughter for your self?

MEGADORUS
That through me it may be better for you, and through you and yours for me.

EUCLIO
This suggests itself to my mind, Megadorus, that you are a wealthy man, a man of rank; that I likewise am a person, the poorest of the poor; now, if I should give my daughter in marriage to you, it suggests itself to my mind that you are the ox, and that I am the ass; when I'm yoked to you, and when I'm not able to bear the burden equally with yourself, I, the ass, must lie down in the mire; you, the ox, would regard me no more than if I had never been born; and I should both find you unjust, and my own class would laugh at me; in neither direction should I have a fixed stall, if there should be any separation3; the asses would tear me with their teeth, the oxen would butt at me with their horns. This is the great hazard, in my passing over from the asses to the oxen.

MEGADORUS
The nearer you can unite yourself in alliance with the virtuous, so much the better. Do you receive this proposal, listen to me, and promise her to me.

EUCLIO
But indeed there is no marriage-portion.

MEGADORUS
You are to give none; so long as she comes with good principles, she is sufficiently portioned.

EUCLIO
I say so for this reason, that you mayn't be supposing that I have found any treasures.

MEGADORUS
I know that; don't enlarge upon it. Promise her to me.

EUCLIO
So be it. Starts and looks about. But, O Jupiter, am I not utterly undone?

MEGADORUS
What's the matter with you?

EUCLIO
What was it sounded just now as though it were iron?

MEGADORUS
Here at my place, I ordered them to dig up the garden. EUCLIO runs off into his house. But where is this man? He's off, and he hasn't fully answered me; he treats me with contempt. Because he sees that I wish for his friendship, he acts after the manner of mankind. For if a wealthy person goes to ask a favour of a poorer one, the poor man is afraid to treat with him; through his apprehension he hurts his own interest. The same person, when this opportunity is lost, too late, then wishes for it.

EUCLIO
coming out of the house, addressing STAPHYLA within . By the powers, if I don't give you up to have your tongue cut out by the roots, I order and I authorize you to hand me over to any one you please to be incapacitated.

MEGADORUS
By my troth, Euclio, I perceive that you consider me a fit man for you to make sport of in my old age, for no deserts of my own.

EUCLIO
I' faith, Megadorus, I am not doing so, nor, should I desire it, had I the means4.

MEGADORUS
How now? Do you then betroth your daughter to me?

EUCLIO
On those terms, and with that portion which I mentioned to you.

MEGADORUS
Do you promise her then?

EUCLIO
I do promise her.

MEGADORUS
May the Gods bestow their blessings on it.

EUCLIO
May the Gods so do. Take you care of this, and remember that we've agreed, that my daughter is not to bring you any portion.

MEGADORUS
I remember it.

EUCLIO
But I understand in what fashion you, of your class, are wont to equivocate; an agreement is no agreement, no agreement is an agreement, just as it pleases you.

MEGADORUS
I'll have no misunderstanding with you. But what reason is there why we shouldn't have the nuptials this day?

EUCLIO
Why, by my troth, there is very good reason for them.

MEGADORUS
I'll go, then, and prepare matters. Do you want me in any way?

EUCLIO
That shall be done. Fare you well.

MEGADORUS
going to the door of his house and calling out . Hallo! Strobilus, follow me quickly, in all haste, to the fleshmarket. (Exit MEGADORUS.)

EUCLIO
He has gone hence. Immortal Gods, I do beseech you! How powerful is gold! I do believe, now, that he has had some intimation that I've got a treasure at home; he's gaping for that; for the sake of that has he persisted in this alliance.

1 Carrying a stone: "To ask for bread, and to receive a stone," was a proverbial expression with the ancients. Erasmus says that it was applied to those who pretended to be friendly to a person, and at the same time were doing him mischief; and that it was borrowed from persons enticing a dog with a piece of bread, and, when it had come sufficiently near, pelting it with a stone. The expression is used in the New Testament. "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?" St. Luke, c. xi., v. 11. The bread, as we learn from specimens found at Pompeii, was often made into cakes, which somewhat resembled large stones.

2 These polypi: Ovid says in his Halieuticon, or Treatise on Fishes: "But, on the other hand, the sluggish polypus sticks to the rocks with its body provided with feelers, and by this stratagem it escapes the nets; and, according to the nature of the spot, it assumes and changes its colour, always resembling that place which it has lighted upon; and when it has greedily seized the prey hanging. from the fishing-line, it likewise deceives the angler on his raising the rod, when, on emerging into the air, it loosens its feelers, and spits forth the hook that it has despoiled of the bait."

3 Be any separation: "Si quid divortii fuat." By the use of the word "divortium," he means either an estrangement of himself from Megadorus, or a separation or divorce of the latter from his intended wife, which of course would lead to the same consequences. The facilities for divorce among the Romans have been remarked upon in a previous Note.

4 Had I the means: "Neque, si cupiam, copia est." In saying this, Euclio intends to play upon the words of Megadorus, "ludos facias," which may either signify "you make sport of me," or "you give a public show" or "spectacle," which the wealthy Patricians of Rome were in the habit of doing. Euclio pretends to take his words in the latter sense, and replies, "I couldn't even if I would," by reason of his poverty, as he pretends. It was usual for the Ædiles to provide the spectacles from their private resources, from which circumstance one who lived a life of extravagance was said "Ædilitatem petere," "to be aspiring to the Ædileship."

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