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Enter MICIO from the house of SOSTRATA.

MICIO
speaking at the door to SOSTRATA. Do as I told you, Sostrata; I'll go find Aeschinus, that lie may know how these matters have been settled. Looking round. But who was it knocking at the door?

AESCHINUS
apart. Heavens, it is my father!--I am undone !

MICIO
Aeschinus !

AESCHINUS
aside. What can be his business here?

MICIO
Was it you knocking at this door? Aside. He is silent. Why shouldn't I rally him a little? It would be as well, as he was never willing to trust me with this secret. To AESCHINUS. Don't you answer me?

AESCHINUS
confusedly. It wasn't I knocked at that door, that I know of.

MICIO
Just so; for I wondered what business you could have here. Apart. He blushes; all's well.

AESCHINUS
Pray tell me, father, what business have you there?

MICIO
Why, none of my own; but a certain friend of mine just now brought me hither from the Forum to give him some assistance.

AESCHINUS
Why?

MICIO
I'll tell you. There are some women living here; in impoverished circumstances, as I suppose you don't know them; and, in fact, I'm quite sure, for it is not long since they removed to this place.

AESCHINUS
Well, what next?

MICIO
There is a girl living with her mother.

AESCHINUS
Go on.

MICIO
This girl has lost her father; this friend of mine is her next of kin; the law obliges him to marry her. 1

AESCHINUS
aside. Undone!

MICIO
What's the matter?

AESCHINUS
Nothing. Very well: proceed.

MICIO
He has come to take her with him; for he lives at Miletus.

AESCHINUS
What ! To take the girl away with him?

MICIO
Such is the act.

AESCHINUS
All the way to Miletus, pray? 2

MICIO
Yes.

AESCHINUS
aside. I'm overwhelmed with grief To MICIO. But what of them? What do they say?

MICIO
What do you suppose they should? Why, nothing at all. The mother has trumped up a tale, that there is a child by some other man, I know not who, and she does not state the name; she says that he was the first, and that she ought not to be given to the other.

AESCHINUS
Well now, does not this seem just to you after all?

MICIO
No.

AESCHINUS
Why not, pray? Is the other to be carrying her away from here?

MICIO
Why should he not take her?

AESCHINUS
You have acted harshly and unfeelingly, and even, if, father, I may speak my sentiments more plainly, unhandsomely.

MICIO
Why so?

AESCHINUS
Do you ask me? Pray, what do you think must be the state of mind of the man who was first connected with her, who, to his misfortune, may perhaps still love her to distraction, when he sees her torn away from before his face, and borne off from his sight forever? An unworthy action, father!

MICIO
On what grounds is it so? Who betrothed her? 3 Who gave her away? When and to whom was she married? Who was the author of all this? Why did he connect himself with a woman who belonged to another?

AESCHINUS
Was it to be expected that a young woman of her age should sit at home, waiting till a kinsman of hers should come from a distance? This, my father, you ought to have represented, and have insisted on it.

MICIO
Ridiculous! Was I to have pleaded against him whom I was to, support But what's all this, Aeschinus, to us? What have we to do with them? Let us begone:---- What's the matter? Why these tears?

AESCHINUS
weeping. Father, I beseech you, listen to me.

MICIO
Aeschinus, I have heard and know it all; for I love you, and therefore every thing you do is the more a care to me.

AESCHINUS
So do I wish you to find me deserving of your love, as long as you live, my dear father, as I am sincerely sorry for the offense I have committed, and am ashamed to see you.

MICIO
Upon my word 1 believe it, for I know your ingenuous disposition: but I am afraid that you are too inconsiderate. In what city, pray, do you suppose you live? You have debauched a virgin, whom it was not lawful for you to touch. In the first place then that was a great offense; great, but still natural. Others, and even men of worth, have frequently done the same. But after it happened, pray, did you show any circumspection? Or did you use any foresight as to what was to be done, or how it was to be done? If you were ashamed to tell me of it, by what means was I to come to know it? While you were at a loss upon these points, ten months have been lost. So far indeed as lay in your power, you have periled both yourself and this poor girl, and the child. What did you imagine--that the Gods would set these matters to rights for you while you were asleep, and that she would be brought home to your chamber without any exertions of your own? I would not have you to be equally negligent in other affairs. Be of good heart, you shall have her for your wife.

AESCHINUS
Hah!

MICIO
Be of good heart, I tell you.

AESCHINUS
Father, are you now jesting with me, pray?

MICIO
I, jesting with you! For what reason?

AESCHINUS
I don't know; but so anxiously do I wish this to be true, that I am the more afraid it may not be.

MICIO
Go home, and pray to the Gods that you may have your wife; be off.

AESCHINUS
What! have my wife now?

MICIO
Now.

AESCHINUS
Now?

MICIO
Now, as soon as possible.

AESCHINUS
May all the Gods detest me, father, if I do not love you better than even my very eyes!

MICIO
What! better than her?

AESCHINUS
Quite as well.

MICIO
Very kind of you !

AESCHINUS
Well, where is this Milesian?

MICIO
Departed, vanished, gone on board ship; but why do you delay?

AESCHINUS
Father, do you rather go and pray to the Gods; for I know, for certain, that they will rather be propitious to you, 4 as being a much better man than I am.

MICIO
I'll go in-doors, that what is requisite may be prepared. You do as I said, if you are wise. Goes into his house. AESCHINUS alone.

AESCHINUS
What can be the meaning of this? Is this being a father, or this being a son? If he had been a brother or familiar companion, how could he have been more complaisant ! Is he not worthy to be beloved? Is he not to be imprinted in my very bosom? Well then, the more does he impose an obligation on me by his kindness, to take due precaution not inconsiderately to do any thing that he may not wish. But why do I delay going in-doors this instant, that I may not myself delay my own nuptials? Goes into the house of MICIO.

1 Obliges him to marry her: It appears to have been a law given by Solon to the Athenians that the next male relative of suitable age should marry a female orphan himself, or find her a suitable portion. Madame Dacier suggests that the custom was derived from the Phoenicians, who had received it from the Jews, and quotes the Book of Numbers, xxxvi. 8. This law forms the basis of the plot of the Phormio.

2 To Miletus, pray?: A colony of Athens, on the coast of Asia Minor.

3 Who betrothed her?: Donatus observes that these questions, which enumerate all the proofs requisite for a marriage, are an indirect and very delicate reproof of Aeschinus for the irregular and clandestine nature of his proceedings.

4 Propitious to you: Donatus remarks that there is great delicacy in this compliment of Aeschinus to Micio, which, though made in his presence, does not bear the semblance of flattery. Madame Dacier thinks that Terence here alludes to a line of Hesiod, which says that it is the duty of the aged to pray. Colman suggests that the passage is borrowed from some lines of Menander still in existence.

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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 3
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