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Enter AGORASTOCLES, and several ASSISTANTS walking behind him.
So may the Deities love me, there's nothing more annoying than a tardy friend, especially to a man in love, who's in a hurry in everything that he does; just as I'm leading on these assistants, fellows of most crawling step; they are more slow than merchant-ships in a calm sea. And upon my faith, I really did on purpose wave my aged friends; I knew they were too slow through their years; I apprehended delay to my passion; in vain I selected for myself these young fellows on their preferment, timber-legged, most tardy chaps. Well turning round to them , if you are going to come to-day, get on, or get off hence to utter perdition! Is this the way it befits friends to give their assistance to a person in love? Why sure, this pace was bolted through a fine floursieve1; unless you have been practising in fetters to creep along thus with this step. ADVOCATI
Hark you! although we seem to you of the commonalty and poor, if you don't speak us fair, you rich man of highest rank, we are in the habit of boldly playing the mischief with the rich man; we are under no engagement to you, about what it is that you love or hate. When we paid money for our freedom2, we paid our own, not yours; it's right that we should be under no restraint. We value you at nought; don't you fancy that we've been made over as slaves to your passion. It's proper for free men to go through the city at a moderate pace; I deem it like a slave to be running along in a bustle. Especially when the state is at peace and the enemies are slain, it is not decent to make a tumult. But if you were for making greater haste, you ought to have brought us here as assistants the day before. Don't you fancy it--not any one of us will this day be running through the streets, nor yet shall the people pelt us with stones for madmen. AGORASTOCLES
But if I had said that I was taking you to a Temple3 to breakfast, you would have surpassed a stag in speed, or a man on stilts in your steps. Now, because I have said that I am taking you as my assistants and witnesses, you are gouty, and in the slowness of your pace have been outdoing the snail. ADVOCATI
Why, really, is there not good cause for running swiftly, where you are to drink and eat at another man's expense as much as you please, until you are full, what you need never return against your will to your host, at whose expense you have been eating? But still,in some way or other, although we are poor men, we have at home something to eat; don't you browbeat us in such a contemptuous way. Whatever that very little is, that little of ours is all at home; we neither dun any one ourselves, nor does any one dun us. Not one of us is going to burst the veins of his lungs for your sake. AGORASTOCLES
You are too warm; really, I said this to you in joke. ADVOCATI
Consider it said in joke as well what we have said to you in answer. AGORASTOCLES
Troth now, prithee, do give me this aid of yours like a fly-boat, not a merchant-ship. Do hobble along at least, for I do not ask you to hurry. ADVOCATI
If you wish to do anything quietly and leisurely, we lend our aid; if you are in a hurry, it would be better for you to hire runners4 as your assistants. AGORASTOCLES
You understand (the matter I've informed you of), that I have need of your assistance with regard to this Procurer, who has so long trifled with me in my amour; that a scheme is to be planned against him about the gold and. my servant. ADVOCATI
All that we know already, if these Spectators know. For the sake of these Spectators it is that this Play is now being acted. 'Twere better for you to inform them, that when you do anything, they may know what it is you are doing. Don't you trouble about us; we know the whole matter; since we all learnt it together in company with yourself, so that we can answer you. AGORASTOCLES
Such really is the fact; but come, that I may be sure then that you know it, repeat the matter at length, and tell me what I told you just now. ADVOCATI
Are you trying in this way whether we know? Do you suppose we don't remember how you have given three hundred Philippeans to Collybiscus your bailiff, for him to bring here to the Procurer, your enemy, and to pretend that he is a foreigner from a distance, from another city? When he has brought them, you'll go there to seek your servant together with the money. AGORASTOCLES
You remember it by heart; you have saved me. ADVOCATI
He'll be for denying it; he'll suppose your Milphio is being looked for. He'll have to pay double all the money stolen; the Procurer will be adjudged to you. In this matter you wish us to be your witnesses. AGORASTOCLES
You've got the matter fast. ADVOCATI
I' faith, hardly with the tips5 of our fingers, indeed; it is so very small a one. AGORASTOCLES
This must be done quickly and with expedition. Make as much haste, then, as you can. ADVOCATI
moving as though going . Kindly fare you well, then; it's better for you to provide some active assistants, we are but slow ones. AGORASTOCLES
You move very well6. Aside. But very badly do you speak me, faith. Aloud. Moreover, I could wish your thighs to fall down into your ankles. ADVOCATI
And, i' faith, we that your tongue had fallen into your loins, and your eyes upon the ground. AGORASTOCLES
Heyday! it's not for you to be angry at what I said in joke. ADVOCATI
Nor for you, indeed, to be speaking ill to your friends in joke. AGORASTOCLES
Drop this. What I want to do, you understand. ADVOCATI
We know full well: to undo the perjured Procurer, it's that you wish. AGORASTOCLES
You've got the matter right. See, Milphio and the bailiff are opportunely coming out together. He's coming rigged out like a nobleman, and appropriately, for the plot.
1 Fine fiour-sieve: He probably alludes to the time that the fine hour takes before it gets down to the holes of the sieve through which it has to pass. Some Commentators, however, fancy that it is a general allusion to the handmill, and that he means to tell them that surely they must have lost all their activity by their punishment at the mill.
2 Paid money for our freedom: This passage shows that they had formerly been slaves. It is not improbable that numbers of liberated slaves Were always to be found in the Forum, ready for money to offer their services as witnesses of any transaction, without reference to its morality. They are here called "advocati;" which literally means, "persons summoned to one's assistance." Slaves were not allowed to give evidence against freemen.
3 To a Temple: He refers to the practice of worshippers inviting their friends to the Temples, to join them in eating the portions that were left after the sacrifice. See the Rudens, where this practice is more fully referred to "In ædem" may, however, possibly mean "to my house."
4 To hire runners: Cursores. See the Notes to the Trinummus, l. 1023.
5 Hardly with the tips: He plays upon the two meanings of "rem"--"the business in hand," or "money" or "property." Agorastocles means it in the former sense, but the assistants take it in the latter, and probably allude to the smallness of their pay.
6 You move very well: "Optume itis, pessume--dicitis." Rost suggests that the meaning of these words is, "You'll do well in going away, for you are very abusive." The passage has puzzled many of the Commentators.
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