THE PROLOGUE1THE HOUSEHOLD GOD
Lest any one should wonder who I am, I will tell you in a few words. I am the household God of this family, from whose house you have seen me coming forth. It is now many years that I have been occupying this houses and I inhabited it for the father and the grandfather of this person who now dwells here. But beseeching me, his grandfather entrusted to me a treasure of gold, unknown to all. He deposited it in the midst of the hearth2, praying me that I would watch it for him. He, when he died, was of such an avaricious disposition, that he would never disclose it to his own son, and preferred rather to leave him in want than to show that treasure to that son. He left him no large quantity of land, on which to live with great laboriousness and in wretchedness. When he died who had entrusted that gold to me, I began to take notice whether his son would any how pay greater honor to me than his father had paid me. But he was in the habit of venerating me still less and less by very much, and gave me a still less share of devotion. So in return was it done by me; and he likewise ended his life. He left this person who now dwells here, his son, of the same disposition as his father and grandfather were. He has an only daughter; she is always every day making offerings to me, either with incense, or wine, or something or other; she presents me, too, with chaplets. Out of regard for her, I have caused this Euclio to find this treasure, in order that he might more readily give her in marriage if he should wish; for a young man of very high rank has ravished her; this young man knows who it is that he has ravished; she knows him not, nor yet does her father know that she has been ravished. This day I shall cause the old gentleman here, our neighbour, to ask her as his wife; that will I do for this reason, that he may the more easily marry her who has ravished her. And this old gentleman who shall ask her as his wife, the same is the uncle of that young man who debauched her in the night time at the festival of Ceres3. But this old fellow is now making an uproar in the house, as usual; he is thrusting the old woman out of doors, that she may not be privy to the secret. I suppose he wants to look at the gold, if it be not stolen.