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Enter BALLIO and a COOK.
Those who call it the cook's market, call it so foolishly; for 'tis not a cook's market, but a thieves' market. For if, upon oath, I were to seek out the worst of men, I couldn't have brought a worse one than this fellow that I'm bringing, one, chattering, bragging, silly, and worthless. Why, for this very reason Orcus has declined1 to take him to himself, that he might be here to cook a banquet for the dead; for here he is able to cook a thing to please them alone. A COOK.
If you thought of me in this manner that you are mentioning, why did you hire me? BALLIO
From scarcity; there wasn't another. But why, if you were a cook, were you sitting in the market-place, you alone behind the rest? A COOK.
I'll tell you. By reason of the avarice of men have I become an inferior cook, not through my own inclination. BALLIO
For what reason is that? A COOK.
I'll tell you. Because, in fact, directly people come to hire a cook, no one enquires for him that's the best and the highest priced: rather do they hire him that's the lowest priced. Through this have I to-day been the only sitter in the market. Those wretched fellows are for a drachma a-piece; not any person is able to prevail on me to rise for less than a didrachm2. I don't cook a dinner too, like other cooks, who bring me up seasoned meadows of grass upon their dishes; who turn the guests into oxen, and supply the grass. This herbage, too, do they further season with other herbs: put in coriander, fennel, garlick, orage; they add, too, sorrel, cabbage, beet, and spinach. In this they dissolve a pound weight of asafœtida. The roguish mustard is pounded, which makes the eyes of those that pound it drop tears before they have pounded it. These fellows, when they cook dinners, when they do season them, season them, not with seasonings, but with vampyre owls3 which eat out the bowels of the guests while still alive. Through this, in fact, it is, that people here live such short lives, inasmuch as they heap up these herbs of this sort in their stomachs, dreadful to be mentioned, not only to be eaten. Herbage which the cattle eat not, men eat themselves. BALLIO
What do you say? Do you use divine seasonings, by which you can prolong the life of men, you, who find fault with these other seasonings? A COOK.
I proclaim it boldly; for those who shall eat of my victuals which I have seasoned will be able to exist two hundred years even. For when I've put into the saucepan either cicilendrum, or cepolindrum, or mace4, or saucaptis, the very dishes become warmed forthwith. These are sauces for fish, the cattle of Neptune; the flesh of the earthly cattle I season with cicimandrum, hapalopsis, or cataractria. BALLIO
Now may Jupiter and all the Divinities confound you with your sauces, and with all those lies of yours! A COOK.
Do allow me to speak, please. BALLIO
Speak, and go to very perdition. A COOK.
When all the saucepans are hot, I open them all then does the odour fly towards heaven with its handhanging down5. BALLIO
The odour with its hands hanging down? A COOK.
I made a mistake without thinking. BALLIO
How so? A COOK.
With its feet hanging down, I meant to say. Jupiter dines on that odour every day. BALLIO
If you happen not to go out to cook, pray what does Jupiter dine upon? A COOK.
He goes to sleep without his dinner. BALLIO
Go to very perdition. Is it for this reason that I'm to give you a didrachm to-day? A COOK.
Well, I confess that I am a very high-priced cook; but I make the results of my labour to be seen for the price, hired at which I go out. BALLIO
In thieving, to wit. A COOK.
And do you expect to meet with any cook except with the claws of a kite or of an eagle? BALLIO
And do you expect to go anywhere to cook, and not to cook the dinner there with your claws tied up? Now, therefore, you boy to the BOY , who are my servant, I now give you notice to make haste to remove hence all my property; and to keep his eyes as well in your sight. Whichever way he shall look, do you look the same way as well. If he shall move in any direction, do you move as well. If he shall put forth his hand, put you forth your hand as well. If he shall take anything of his own, do you suffer him to take it; if he shall take what's mine, do you on the other side hold him fast. If he shall stoop to the ground, do you stoop there as well. Likewise over your understrappers I shall appoint a single guard a-piece. A COOK.
Only have good courage. BALLIO
Prithee, tell me how I possibly can have good courage, who am taking you home to my house? A COOK.
Because, by my broth, this day will I do just in the way that Medea cooked up the old man Pelias6 whom she is said by a draught and by her potions from an aged man to have made young again; so will I make you likewise. BALLIO
How now; are you an enchanter as well? A COOK.
Why no, by my troth, I am rather a preserver7 of mankind. BALLIO
Well now; for how much would you teach me that one point in cooking? A COOK.
What point? BALLIO
That I may preserve you from pilfering anything from me. A COOK.
For a didrachm, if you believe me; if not, not for a mina even. But whether are you about to-day to give a dinner, to your friends or to your enemies? BALLIO
Why, faith, to my friends surely. A COOK.
But why don't you invite your enemies to it rather than your friends? For this day will I present to the guests a banquet so savoury, and I'll season it with such a dulcet sweetness, that whoever shall taste each thing that's seasoned, I'll make that same person to gnaw off the ends of his own fingers. BALLIO
Troth now, prithee, before you shall present aught to the guests do you yourself first taste, and give some to your understrappers, that you may gnaw off the ends of your own pilfering hands. A COOK.
Perhaps then you don't believe me in the things that I say. BALLIO
Don't you be troublesome; you din me too much; you don't please me by it. See, there I live. Points to his house. Do you go in-doors and cook the dinner, with all speed. A BOY
Why don't you go, and take your place? Go and find the guests; the dinner's spoiling already. COOK and BOY go into the house. BALLIO
Now, just look, please, at that young offshoot; for he, too, is a good-for-nothing deputy-scullion for the cook. Truly I don't know what now first to be on my guard against; such thieves there are in my house, and there's a robber close at hand. For my neighbour here, the father of Calidorus, a short time since, in the market-place, asked me by all means to be on my guard against his servant Pseudolus, not to put any trust in him; for that he is on the hunt this day, if possible to dupe me out of the woman. He said that he had stoutly promised to him that he would get away Phœnicium from me by stratagem. I'll now go indoors and give notice to my household, that no one must put any trust whatever in this Pseudolus. Goes into his house.
1 Or cus has declined: "Orcus" is an epithet of Pluto, the king of the Infernal regions, and, sometimes, of the place itself.
2 A didrachm: Literally, "nummus," "a coin" or "piece of money," which means a didrachm or piece of two drachmæ in value, or about one shilling and sevenpence of our money.
3 With vampyre owls: "Strigibus." By this expression he probably alludes to the drastic effect of these herbs on those who partook of them. Ovid, in the Sixth Book of the Fasti, has these words: "There are ravenous fowls; not those which used to rob the mouth of Phineus at the board, but thence do they derive their origin. Large are their heads, fixed is their gaze for plunder are their beaks adapted; on their wings is a greyish colour, crooked talons are on their claws. By night they fly, and they seek the children unprotected by the nurse, and pollute their bodies dragged from their cradles. With their beaks they are said to tear the entrails of the sucklings, and they have their maws distended with the blood which they have swallowed. 'Striges' are they called; and the origin of this name is the fact, that they are wont to screech in the dismal night." It is supposed by some persons that, under this name, the vampyre bat is alluded to.
4 Cepolindrum, or mace: With the exception of mace, all these names are gibberish, invented by the Cook for the purpose of imposing upon Bailio.
5 With its hands hanging down: He means to personify the odour and to represent it as flying up to heaven; but, by mistake, he says it flies up, "demissis manibus," with its hands hanging down, which would father be the attitude of a person thrown out of, and falling from, the heavens. Ballio repeats the expression in a tone of surprise, on which the Cook corrects himself, and says he meant to say, "with its feet hanging down," "demissis pedibus."
6 The old man Pelias: The Cook could not be expected to be very learned in the heathen Mythology; and we accordingly find him making a blunder. Æson, the father of Jason, was restored to youth by the charms of Medea; but Pelias being the enemy of Jason, Medea persuaded his daughters to cut him in pieces, that he might in similar manner restore him to youth; which was accordingly done, on which, having thus contrived his death, she refused her assistance. It is much more probable that the Cook should be intended to be represented as ignorant, than as attempting here to impose on the ignorance of Ballio. Warner, in his translation, however, thinks otherwise. He says, "The humour plainly lies in the Cook's promises to restore Ballio to his juvenility by a cookery--one that would kill him. Ballio's ignorance is, indeed, here meant to be exposed to ridicule by the Cook, that is by Plautus, as it likewise is in the names of the spices, which are probably fictitious."
7 Rather a preserver: The "enchanters," who were called "venefici," "poisoners," were supposed to destroy men by their potions, whence the present reply of the Cook.
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