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I am revolving many things in my mind at once, and much uneasiness do I find in thinking upon them. I tease, and fret, and wear myself out; a mind that enjoins a hard task1 is now my master. But this thing is not clear to me, nor has it been enough studied by me, which pursuit of these two I should rather follow for myself; which of the two I should think of the greater stability for passing my life therein: whether it were preferable for me to devote myself to love or to aggrandisement; in which alternative there is more enjoyment of life in passing one's days. On this point I am not fully satisfied. But this I think I'll do, that I may weigh both the points together, I must be both judge and culprit in this trial: I'll do so--I like it much. First of all, I will enlarge upon the pursuits of love, how they conduce to one's welfare. Love never expects any but the willing man to throw himself in his toils; these he seeks for, these he follows up, and craftily counsels against their interests. He is a fawning flatterer, a rapacious grappler2, a deceiver, a sweet-tooth, a spoiler, a corrupter of men who court retirement, a pryer into secrets. For he that is in love, soon as ever he has been smitten with the kisses of the object that he loves, forthwith his substance vanishes out of doors and melts away. "Give me this thing3, my honey, if you love me, if you possibly can." And then this gudgeon says: "O apple of my eye, be it so: both that shall be given you, and still more, if you wish it to be given." Then does she strike while he is wavering4; and now she begs for more. Not enough is this evil, unless there is still something more--what to eat, what to drink. A thing that creates5 a further expense, the favour of a night is granted; a whole family is then introduced for her--a wardrobe-woman6 a perfume-keeper7, a cofferer, fan-bearers8, sandal-bearers9, singing-girls, casket-keepers10, messengers, news-carriers, so many wasters of his bread and substance. The lover himself, while to them he is complaisant, becomes a beggar. When I revolve these things in my mind, and when I reflect how little one is valued when he is in need; away with you, Love--I like you not--no converse do I hold with you. Although 'tis sweet to feast and to carouse, Love still gives bitters enough to be distasteful. He avoids the Courts11 of justice, he drives away your relations, and drives yourself away from your own contemplation. Nor do men wish that he should be called their friend. In a thousand ways is Love to be held a stranger, to be kept at a distance, and to be wholly abstained from. For he who plunges into love, perishes more dreadfully than if he leapt from a rock. Away with you, Love, if you please; keep your owns12 property to yourself. Love, never be you a friend of mine; some there are, however, whom, in their misery, you may keep miserable and wretched--those whom you have easily rendered submissive to yourself. My fixed determination is to apply my mind to my advancement in life, although, in that, great labour is undergone by the mind. Good men wish these things for themselves, gain, credit, and honour, glory, and esteem; these are the rewards of the upright. It delights me, then, the more, to live together with the upright rather than with the deceitful promulgators of lies.
1 That enjoins a hard task: "Exercitor" means the "instructor or "training master" in the Gymnastic exercises. Of course, to beginners, the "exercitores" would be hard task-masters.
2 A rapacious grappler: -- "Harpago" means either a "grappling-iron" or a "flesh-hook." It was often made in the form of a hand, with the fingers bent inwards. The grappling-iron was used to throw at the enemy's ship, where it seized the rigging and dragged the vessel within reach, so that it might be easily boarded and destroyed. Cupid is so called here, figuratively, from his insidious approaches, and the difficulty which his victims have in shaking him off
3 Give me this thing: This is supposed to be pronounced in a mincing or affected way, to imitate the wheedling manners of the frail tempter.
4 While he is wavering: Literally, "she strikes him as he hangs." Lindemann seems to think that there is a play upon the word "pendentem," which would apply either to the slave, who, according to the barbarous custom of the Romans, was lashed as he hung from the hook to which he was fastened by the hands, or to the lover who is hesitating between assent and refusal; on which she, by her artfulness--"ferit"--"strikes the decisive blow." Terence has the expression "ferior munere," "to strike with a present."
5 A thing that creates: This passage is here read with a period after "comest," and not after "sumpti," as Ritschel's edition has it. This seems more agreeable to the sense of the passage, which is, however, probably in a corrupt state.
6 Wardrobe-woman: The duty of the "vestiplica" would be to fold up and try the clothes of her mistress. These slaves were also called "vestispicæ," and servants "a veste."
7 A perfume-keeper: The "unctor" was probably a male slave, whose duty it was to procure and keep the perfumes and unguents for his mistress.
8 Fan-bearers: Both male and female slaves, and eunuchs, were employed to fan their mistresses. The fans were of elegant form and beautiful colours, and were frequently made of peacocks' feathers, being of a stiff shape, and not pliable, like ours. They were used both for the purpose of cooling the air and driving away flies and gnats.
9 Sandal- bearers: The sandal was often one of the most costly articles of the female dress, being much adorned with embroidery and gold. Originally it was worn by both sexes and consisted of a wooden sole, fastened with thongs to the foot. In latter times, its use was confined to females, and a piece of leather covered the toes, while thongs, elegantly decorated, were attached to it. From the present passage it appears that it was the duty of a particular slave to take charge of sandals.
10 Casket- keepers: The "cistellatrix" probably had charge of the jewel casket of her mistress. The present passage shows in what affluence and splendour some of the courtesans lived in those days.
11 Avoids the Courts: Shakspeare has a somewhat similar passage in Romeo and Juliet:
“"But all so soon as the all cheering sun
Should in the furthest East begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,
Away from light steals home my heavy son,
And private in his chamber pens himself,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,
And mates himself an artificial night."
12 Keep your own: This is as much as to say, "I divorce myself from you, and utterly repudiate you." The words "tuas res tibi habeto" were the formula solemnly pronounced among the Romans by the husband in cases of divorce, when he delivered back to the wife her own separate property.
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