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1 WITH him who sways all nations, seas, and lands, I am a fellow-citizen in the realms of the Gods. I am, as you see2, a bright and shining star, a Constellation that ever in its season rises here on earth and in the heavens. Arcturus is my name. By night, I am glittering in the heavens and amid the Gods, passing among mortals in the day. Other Constellations, too, descend from the heavens upon the earth; Jove, who is the ruler of Gods and men--he disperses us here in various directions among the nations, to observe the actions, manners, piety, and faith of men, just as the means of each avail him. Those who commence villanous suits at law upon false testimony, and those who, in court, upon false oath deny a debt, their names written down, do we return to Jove. Each day does he learn who here is calling for vengeance. Whatever wicked men seek here to gain their cause through perjury, who succeed before the judge in their unjust demands, the same case adjudged does he judge over again, and he fines them in a penalty much greater than the results of the judgment they have gained. The good men written down on other tablets3 does he keep. And still these wicked persons entertain a notion of theirs, that they are able to appease Jupiter with gifts, with sacrifice; both their labour and their cost they lose. This, for this reason, is so, because no petition of the perjured is acceptable to Him. If any person that is supplicating the Deities is pious, he will more easily procure pardon for himself than he that is wicked. Therefore I do advise you this, you who are good and who pass your lives in piety and in virtue--still persevere, that one day you may rejoice that so you did. Now, the reason for which I've come hither, I will disclose to you. First, then, Diphilus4 has willed the name of this city to be Cyrene5. There pointing to the cottage dwells Dæmones, in the country and in a cottage very close adjoining to the sea, an old gentleman who has come hither in exile from Athens, no unworthy man. And still, not for his bad deserts has he left his country, but while he was aiding others, meanwhile himself he embarrassed: a property honorably acquired he lost by his kindly ways. Long since, his daughter, then a little child, was lost; a most villanous fellow bought her of the thief, and this Procurer6 brought the maiden hither to Cyrene. A certain Athenian youth, a citizen of this city, beheld her as she was going home from the music-school. He begins to love her; to the Procurer he comes; he purchases the damsel for himself at the price of thirty minæ, and gives him earnest, and binds the Procurer with an oath. This Procurer, just as befitted him, did not value at one straw his word, or what, on oath, he had said to the young man. He had a guest, a fit match for himself, an old man of Sicily, a rascal from Agrigentum7, a traitor to his native city; this fellow began to extol the beauty of that maiden, and of the other damsels, too, that were belonging to him. On this he began to persuade the Procurer to go together with himself to Sicily; he said that there the men were given to pleasure; that there he might be enabled to become a wealthy man; that there was the greatest profit from courtesans. He prevails. A ship is hired by stealth. Whatever he has, by night the Procurer carries it on board ship from his house; the young man who purchased the damsel of him he has told that he is desirous of performing a vow to Venus. This is the Temple of Venus, here pointing at it , and here, for that reason, has he invited the youth hither to a breakfast8. From there at once did he embark on board ship, and he carried off the courtesans. Some other persons informed the young man what things were going on, how that the Procurer had departed. When the young man came to the harbour, their ship had got a great way out to sea. When I beheld how that the maiden was being carried off, I brought at the same instant both relief to her and destruction to the Procurer; the storm I rebuked, and the waves of the sea I aroused. For the most violent Constellation of them all am 1, Arcturus; turbulent I am when rising, when I set, more turbulent still. Now, cast ashore there, both the Procurer and his guest are sitting upon a rock; their ship is dashed to pieces. But this maiden, and another as well, her attendant, affrighted, have leaped from the ship into a boat. At this moment the waves are bringing them from the rocks to land, to the cottage of this old man, who is living here in exile, whose roof and tiles the storm has stript off. And this is his servant who is coming out of doors. The youth will be here just now, and you shall see him, who purchased the maiden of the Procurer. Now, fare ye well, and may your foes9 distrust themselves. (Exit.)
1 Arcturus: This is a star near the tail of the Great Bear, whose rising and setting was supposed to be productive of great tempests. The name is derived from its situation, from the Greek words αρκτὸς and οὐρὰ, "the Bear's tail." It rises in the beginning of October. Pliny mentions it as rising on the 12th, and Columella on the 5th of that month. We may here remark, that the Play is called "the Fisherman's Rope" in consequence of the important part which, towards the close, the rope acts in bringing the wallet to shore in the net. The scenery of this Play must have been much more picturesque than that of those of Plautus in general. At the end of the stage is a prospect of the sea, interspersed with rocks in the distance, while others project upon the front of the stage. The City of Cyrene is also seen in the distance; while nearer to the Audience is the Temple of Venus, with an altar in front of it; and adjoining the Temple is the cottage of Dæmones. Some other cottages are also seen at a distance. If the comparison may be made, it bears some slight resemblance to the Tempest of Shakspeare.
2 As you see: The actor is supposed here to point to a star placed on his forehead, or on the head-dress which he wears.
3 Written down on other tablets: This is not unlike the words of the Psalmist, Psalm lvi., 8: "Thou tellest my wanderings; put thou my tears into thy bottle. Are they not in thy book?"
4 Diphilus: He was a Greek Comic Poet, from whom Plautus is supposed to have borrowed the plot of several of his Plays.
5 Cyrene: This was a famous city of Libya, said to have been founded by Aristæus, the son of the Nymph Cyrene. It was situate in a fertile plain, about eleven miles from the Mediterranean, and was the capital of a district called "Pentapolis," from the five cities which it contained.
6 This Procurer: "Leno." The calling of the "lenones" was to traffic in young female slaves, to whom they gave an accomplished education, and then sold them or let them out for the purposes of prostitution. The "lenones' were deservedly reckoned infamous.
8 To a breakfast: -- This probably refers to the meal which took place after the sacrifice, for which certain portions of the victim, particularly the entrails, were reserved. See the Miles Gloriosus, l. 712.
9 May your foes: The Carthaginians are alluded to; this Play having been written during the second Punic war.
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