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Enter SYNCERASTUS, with some cooking utensils, from the Temple of Venus.

SYNCERASTUS
to himself It's quite clear that Gods and men neglect the benefit of him who has a master like a person of such character as I have for a master. There's not another person anywhere in the world more perjured or more wicked than is my master, nor one so filthy or so defiled with dirt. So may the Gods bless me, I'd rather pass my life either in the stone quarries or at the mill, with my sides hampered with heavy irons, than pass this servitude with a Procurer. What a race this is! What corruptors of men they are! Ye Gods, by our hopes in you, every kind of men you may see there, just as though you had come to Acheron --horse and foot, a freed-man, a thief, or a runaway, if you choose, one whipped, chained, or condemned to slavery. He who has got money to pay, whatever sort of person he is--all kinds are taken in; throughout all the house, in consequence, are darkened spots and hiding-places: drinking and eating are going on, just as though in a cookshop, and in no less degree. There may you see epistles written in letters inscribed on pottery1, and sealed with pitch: the names are upon them in letters a cubit long; such a perfect levy on vintners2 have we got at our house.

MILPHIO
apart . Upon my faith, it is quite wonderful, if his master doesn't make him his heir; for really, the way he soliloquizes, he's making a speech over him as though dead and gone. I'd both like to accost the fellow, and yet I listen to him with extreme delight.

SYNCERASTUS
to himself . When I see these things going on, I'm vexed that slaves, purchased at the heaviest price, should at our house be robbed of the savings3 which ought to go to their masters. But at last nothing is left visible: "badly gotten, badly gone."

MILPHIO
apart . This man goes on talking quite as though he himself were an honest fellow, when, upon my faith, he himself is able to make worthlessness more worthless.

SYNCERASTUS
to himself . Now I'm taking home these vessels from the Temple of Venus, where with his sacrifice my master has not been able to propitiate Venus on her festive day.

MILPHIO
apart . Charming Venus!

SYNCERASTUS
to himself . But our Courtesans, with their first ictims, appeased Venus in an instant.

MILPHIO
O charming Venus, once again!

SYNCERASTUS
moving . Now I'll go home.

MILPHIO
coming forward . Hallo! Syncerastus!

SYNCERASTUS
looking around . Who's calling Syncerastus?

MILPHIO
Your friend.

SYNCERASTUS
You don't act like a friend, in causing me delay when I've got a burden.

MILPHIO
But in return for this matter I'll lend you my aid, when you please, and when you give me your commands. Consider the agreement signed.

SYNCERASTUS
If so it is to be, I'll give you my services in this----

MILPHIO
In what way?

SYNCERASTUS
Why that, when I'm to have a beating, you yourself may substitute your hide.

MILPHIO
Get along with you.

SYNCERASTUS
I don't understand what sort of person you are.

MILPHIO
I'm good for nothing.

SYNCERASTUS
Be so to yourself, then.

MILPHIO
I want you.

SYNCERASTUS
But my burden is pressing me.

MILPHIO
Then, do you set it down, and turn your face to me.

SYNCERASTUS
I'll do so, although I have no leisure. Putts down his load.

MILPHIO
Save you, Syncerastus.

SYNCERASTUS
O Milphio, may all the Gods and Goddesses favour----

MILPHIO
What person, pray?

SYNCERASTUS
Neither you, nor me, Milphio, nor my own master, in fact.

MILPHIO
Whom are they to favour, then?

SYNCERASTUS
Any one else they please; for not one of us is de serving of it.

MILPHIO
You speak wittily.

SYNCERASTUS
It befits me to do so.

MILPHIO
What are you doing?

SYNCERASTUS
I'm doing that which, clearly, adulterers don't generally do.

MILPHIO
What's that?

SYNCERASTUS
Bringing all off in safety4.

MILPHIO
May the Gods confound you and your master!

SYNCERASTUS
May they not confound me. I could make them ruin him, if I chose--ruin my master, did I not fear for myself, Milphio.

MILPHIO
What is it? Tell me.

SYNCERASTUS
You are a bad one.

MILPHIO
I am a bad one.

SYNCERASTUS
It goes but badly with me.

MILPHIO
Just tell me, then; you ought to be in quite other plight. Why is it that it goes badly with you, who have at home in superabundance what to eat, and what to drink? You don't give a single three-obol piece away to a mistress, and have her for nothing.

SYNCERASTUS
May Jupiter so love me----

MILPHIO
I' faith, in the degree that you deserve, to wit.

SYNCERASTUS
How I do long for this family to come to ruin.

MILPHIO
If you long for it, lend your aid.

SYNCERASTUS
Without feathers it isn't easy to fly: my wings have got no feathers.

MILPHIO
Troth, then, don't pluck out any hairs; then, in the next two months, your arm-pits will be fit for flying.

SYNCERASTUS
Away to utter perdition!

MILPHIO
Away yourself, and your master!

SYNCERASTUS
But, really, if a person knew him well, the fellow might soon be ruined.

MILPHIO
Why so?

SYNCERASTUS
* * * Just as though you could be silent on any matter.

MILPHIO
I'll keep the matter more strictly secret for you than that which has been told to a dumb woman.

SYNCERASTUS
I could easily bring my mind to believe you there, if I did not know you.

MILPHIO
Trust me boldly at my own peril.

SYNCERASTUS
I shall trust you to my cost, and still I will trust you.

MILPHIO
Don't you know that your master is a mortal enemy of my master?

SYNCERASTUS
I know it.

MILPHIO
By reason of the love affair?

SYNCERASTUS
You are losing all your pains.

MILPHIO
Why so?

SYNCERASTUS
Because you are teaching one that has been taught.

MILPHIO
Why, then, do you doubt that my master will do a mischief to your master with pleasure, so far as he can do, with his deserving it? Then besides, if you lend some assistance, on that account he'll be able to do it the more easily.

SYNCERASTUS
But I'm afraid of this, Milphio----

MILPHIO
What is it that you're afraid of?

SYNCERASTUS
That while I'm preparing the plot against my master, I may be betrayed by yourself. If my master knows that I've been talking to any individual, he'll forthwith be making me from Syncerastus into Brokenlegs5.

MILPHIO
On my word, never shall any mortal be made the wiser by me; only to my master alone will I tell it; and to him, too, in such a way that he shall not disclose that this matter originated in yourself.

SYNCERASTUS
I shall trust you at my peril, and yet I will trust you. But do you keep this a secret to yourself.

MILPHIO
To Faith herself it is not more safely confided. Speak out boldly (there's room and opportunity); we are here alone.

SYNCERASTUS
If your master chooses to act with caution, he'll prove the ruin of my master.

MILPHIO
How can that be?

SYNCERASTUS
Easily.

MILPHIO
Then let me be acquainted with this "easily,' that he may know it as well.

SYNCERASTUS
Because Adelphasium, whom your master dotes on is free by birth.

MILPHIO
In what way?

SYNCERASTUS
In the same way that her other sister Anterastylis is.

MILPHIO
But how am I to believe that?

SYNCERASTUS
Because he bought them at Anactorium, when little children, of a Sicilian pirate.

MILPHIO
For how much?

SYNCERASTUS
For eighteen minæ.

MILPHIO
with an air of surprise . These two for eighteen minæ6?

SYNCERASTUS
And their nurse for the third. He, too, who sold them told him that he was selling persons who had been kidnapped: he said that they were free-born, and from Carthage.

MILPHIO
Ye Gods, by our hopes in you! you mention a most interesting matter; for my master Agorastocles was born in the same place; he was stolen thence when about six years old; after that, the person who stole him brought him here and sold him to my master; that person adopted him as heir to his wealth, when he departed this life.

SYNCERASTUS
You mention everything that can render it the more easy; let him assert their freedom, his own countrywomen, in an action on their freedom.

MILPHIO
Only do keep silence and hold your tongue.

SYNCERASTUS
He certainly will bring the Procurer to a backgammon, if he gets them away.

MILPHIO
Nay but, I'll cause him to be ruined before he moves one foot7; 'tis so contrived already.

SYNCERASTUS
May the Gods grant it so, that I don't continue the slave of this Procurer.

MILPHIO
On the contrary, upon my faith, I'll cause you to be a free man with myself, if the Gods are willing.

SYNCERASTUS
May the Gods grant it so! Do you detain me for anything else, Milphio?

MILPHIO
Fare you well, and may happiness attend you.

SYNCERASTUS
I' faith, that lies in the power of yourself and your master. Farewell, and mind that these things have been told in secrecy.

MILPHIO
This has not been mentioned even. Farewell.

SYNCERASTUS
But really it's of no use, unless this is done while it is warm.

MILPHIO
You are right in your advice, and so it shall be done.

SYNCERASTUS
There's excellent material, if you provide an excellent workman.

MILPHIO
Can't you hold your tongue?

SYNCERASTUS
I'll hold my tongue and be off.

MILPHIO
A grand opportunity you've made for me. SYNCERASTUS goes into the house of LYCUS. He's gone from here. The immortal Gods do will my master to be preserved, and this Procurer utterly ruined; a mischief so great is impending upon him. Is it not the fact, before one weapon has been launched, then another presses upon him? I'll go in-doors, that I may recount these matters to my master. For if I were to call him out hither before the house, and, what you've to the AUDIENCE just heard, if I were now here to repeat the same, it would be folly. I'd rather in-doors be an annoyance to my master singly, than be so here to all of you. Immortal Gods, what misfortunes, what great calamities do this day await this Procurer. But now there's no reason why I should delay. This business is resolved upon; no pausing is allowed; for both this must be cleverly managed, which has just now been entrusted to me, and that plan as well which was formed at home must be attended to. If there's any delay, he who sends me a heavy mischance will be acting rightly. Now I'll off in-doors; until my master comes from the Forum, I'll wait at home. Goes into the house of AGORASTOCLES.

1 Inscribed on pottery: He alludes to the marks denoting the age of wine, which were placed upon the "amphoræ" or "cadi," the earthenware casks. These were stopped tight with wood or cork, made impervious to the atmosphere with pitch (as here mentioned), or with clay, or a composition of gypsum. On the outside the title of the wine was either painted, or inscribed in earthenware letters, which are here alluded to. The date of the vintage was denoted by the names of the Consuls then in office. When the vessels were of glass, small tickets, called "pittacia," were suspended from them stating to a similar effect.

2 Levy of vintners: He calls the worthless characters who are skulking in his master's house "vinarii," " vintners," from their love for wine, of which the Procurer seems to be in possession of a choice stock.

3 Robbed of the savings: "Expeculiatas." He alludes to those slaves who, having run away from their masters, are lurking in the Procurer's house, where they spend all their savings (peculium), which, by rights, should go to their masters towards the purchase of their freedom.

4 All of in safety: There is an indecent allusion in this passage which is modified in the translation.

5 Brokenlegs: "Crucifragium;" a word coined for the occasion

6 For eighteen minœ?: He asks this question, as thirty minæ was about the average price for a single slave.

7 Moves one foot: "Calcem." By some this word is thought to be used for "calculum," a "chessman," and that reference is made to the use of the word "incitas" in the previous line, which was the mate or backgammon in the game of "duodecim scripta" (somewhat similar to our game of backgammon) and in which " calculi," "pieces" or "chessmen," were used

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