Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

Translated by Christopher Kelk

Scene from Terence's play Adelphi

Scene from Terentius' play Adelphi
Bernard Picart (French, 1673 - 1733) - The Rijksmuseum

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Our poet found critics dishonestly

Carped at his play and every adversary

Disliked the piece that we’re about to play,

And so there are some things he’d like to say

About himself so that you may decide

Whether one ought to honour him or chide.

Diphilus wrote Synapothnescontes

And it became the Commorientes,

Written by Plautus. In an early scene

Of the Greek play a courtesan had been 10

Nabbed by a youth, but Plautus took away

That part. Our poet, though, put in this play

That very part, translating word for word,

And this new play is ready to be heard.

Decide, then, if a theft has been committed

Or something was restored that was omitted

Before. Now what those nasty people say –

That noble men helped him to write the play –

The poet takes as splendid approbation

What they believe is an abomination, 20

Because he pleases all of those who please

Us all in our responsibilities,

In war, in peace, and show no vanity.

Now then, do not expect the plot from me.

The old men will repeat a part to you

And in the playing one more fragment, too.

And make sure, also, that your courtesy

Will swell the poet’s skill and industry.



Micio Hey, Storax! Aeschinus from last night’s spread

Has not returned, and that, too, may be said 30

Of all the men sent after him. They say -

And rightly so – if you should stay away

Abroad for some time, it is better you

Are doing what your wife says that you do

Than what your doting parents may conceive

Of you. If you’re abroad she will believe

You’re having an affair, or at a bar

Or having fun and, when she’s sad, you are

In clover. So, because my son’s not here,

What am I to imagine and what fear 40

Must I embrace? Has he caught cold? Has he

Had a bad fall? Sustained some injury?

Alas, that any man could contemplate

A thing like that and think he’s found a mate

He loves more than himself! However, he

Is not mine but my brother’s progeny,

And from his youth he’s been quite different.

I’ve lived a comfortable life in town, content

And – what they think a lucky thing – unmarried.

But to the contrary, he’s always tarried 50

Out in the countryside laboriously

Though poor. He has a wife and progeny –

Two sons. The older I took in. I brought

Him up from infancy and always thought

Of him as my own son. I took my joy

In him, my only care. But that the boy

Might love me, too, I took great care. So I

Would give him presents and turn a blind eye

When he was naughty. My authority

In everything was not obligatory. 60

In other words, what other lads have done

And never told their folks, I trained my son

Never to hide from me. For those who lie

And double-cross their fathers by and by

Will do the same things much more easily

To others. For I think by charity

And sense of shame a child is more controlled

Than by dismay. My brother does not hold

This view. He often yells, “What’s up with you,

Micio, spoiling him, letting him screw 70

And drink?  Why cosset him financially?

You dress him much too well. Such idiocy!”

He’s stricter than what’s fair. For anyone,

As I believe, who thinks dominion

With force is stronger than that which is founded

On friendship errs. In this view I am grounded.

A man who’s roughly-used is constantly

On guard, in fear that his iniquity

Will be found out: in hopes it stays concealed,

He to his old proclivities will yield. 80

He whom you treat, though, with consideration

Will always act out of his inclination.

Returning like for like, here or away,

He’s just the same. This is a father’s way –

Rather to train his son that he might make

His choices on his own terms than to quake

In fear of someone else. Accordingly

Fathers differ from masters. Therefore he

Who cannot do this will have to concede

He cannot govern children. And indeed 90

Is this not such man I speak of? Yes!

He’s looking sad: he’s scolding, then, I guess.

As usual. Ah, I am glad to see

You well, Demea.


Demea We meet happily:

You’re just the man I want to see.


You’re sad!

But why?

Demea You ask me that when we’ve a lad

Like Aeschinus?

Micio [aside] I knew it! [to Demea] What’s he done?

Demea You ask me what he’s done? This lad, our son,

Who feels no shame at all, who has no awe

Of anyone, who thinks there is no law 100

That can restrain him? Well, I will pass by

What he’s done in the past, but my o my…!

Micio What? What is it?

Demea He’s broken down the door

Of someone’s house, barged in and furthermore

Slaughtered the master and his family

And snatched a wench he craved. Indignantly

Everyone said it was a shameful thing.

How many said, as I was hurrying

Hither, those selfsame words! Yes, everyone

Is saying so. Plainly, doesn’t our son 110

Behold his brother in his country home

Going about his business far from Rome,

Frugal and sober? He’s performed no act

Like that. What I have told him I in fact

Tell you: you’ve caused his wickedness.

Micio No man

Has ever been less reasonable than

A callow one who thinks that only he

Acts fairly.

Demea Meaning…?

Micio It’s a fallacy!

You’re wrong, Demea.  It’s no heinous sin

For youths to wench and drink or to break in 120

A door. If we have never acted thus,

It’s poverty that intercepted us.

If you perhaps did something out of need,

Do you want to be thanked for it? Indeed,

That’s so unfair. If both of us had had

The means, we would have acted like our lad.

Were you a man, you’d let your other boy

Do likewise while his youth he can enjoy.

However, once he’s seen the back of you,

He’ll be of a more sober age to do 130

Those things.

Demea You drive me mad! So it’s no crime

For youths to act like that?

Micio Time after time

You din my ears. Listen! You gave to me

Your son to be adopted, and so he

Became mine, so if he should fall from grace,

Then it’s against me: therefore I will face

The greater part of blame. If he should dine

At banquets, smell of perfume, guzzle wine,

It’s on my tab. To love is he inclined?

I’ll give him funds, should I be of a mind 140

To help him. If I’m not, he’ll probably

Be thrown out of his mistress’ door. Has he

Broken some doors? They’ll be repaired. He’s torn

A garment? It will be resewn and worn

Once more. I’m rich enough, and so far it

Is not an inconvenience. So quit

Your talk or find an umpire. But I’ll show

That you are most to blame in this.

Demea Oh! Oh!

Learn how to be father from someone

Who is one.

Micio He’s indeed your natural son 150

But he is mine through my anxiety.

Demea You? Anxious?

Micio Ah, if you keep on at me,

I’m off!

Demea Ha! At it again!

Micio Am I to hear

The same old thing so often?

Demea He is dear

To me.

Micio To me as well. So let’s take care

Of him, each dealing equally with his share

Since taking care of both is practically

Like taking back the lad you gave to me.

Demea Ah, Micio!

Micio I have that feeling, too.

Demea How can I answer? If it pleases you, 160

Then let him squander, spend, annihilate.

If I say more hereafter –

Micio Still irate,


Demea Do I lack credibility?

Do I ask for him back? It bothers me:

I am not unrelated. Ah, I’m done

With meddling. I should take care of one

Of them, you say, and this I surely do.

He’s as I wish, thank God. But as for you,

Your lad will learn in time. I do not care

To blame him anymore. [Exit]

Micio There’s something there 170

In what he says, not all, though. Nonetheless

Something compels in me uneasiness,

Though I refused to show it – he’s the kind

That, when I try to calm him down, I find

I counter and resist him steadily.

And yet, unlike most of humanity,

He takes it badly. But, should I increase

His anger or attempt to make our peace,

I’d be as mad as him. But Aeschinus

Has proved himself somewhat injurious 180

To me. What ladies of the night has he

Not screwed or given presents? Recently

(Perhaps it was though boredom of the lot

Of them) he said he wished to tie the knot.

I had great hopes at last the fieriness

Of youth had left him. Ah, such happiness!

But now the lad’s up to his tricks once more

And I am resolute to know the score.

He may be at the forum. Off I go

Thither to find out what I need to know. 190



Sannio You people, help a wretched man, I plead!

I’m innocent! Assist a man in need!

Aeschinus Stand still! Don’t look back! There’s nothing to fear.

That man will never touch you while I’m here.

Sannio In spite of all, I’ll have her –

Aeschinus Though he’s bad,

Another beating like the one he’s had

He’ll never risk.

Sannio To know my occupation,

Aeschinus, listen closely. My vocation

Is pimp.

Aeschinus I know.

Sannio A splendid man am I

As ever was seen. And when you, by and by, 200

Make your excuses that your injury

Has not been at my hands, believe you me

I’ll prosecute my rights and you won’t pay

With words for all the wrongs you did this day

To me. I know those tricks of yours – “O how

I wish this hadn’t happened!: I will vow

You don’t deserve this pain”, when I in fact

Was treated with a most disgraceful act.

Aeschinus [to Parmeno]

Quick! Through the door!

Sannio Hah, that won’t help one bit.

Aeschinus [to the girl]

Now then step in.

Sannio And that I won’t permit. 210

Aeschinus Step this way, Parmeno, for over there

Is too far for our purposes. Take care

To stand near him. That’s right. Now, never take

Your eyes away from me until I make

The sign that you should instantaneously

Punch him right in the jaw.

Sannio I’d like to see

Him make that move on me!

Aeschinus Now Parmeno,

Watch what will happen [to Sannio] Let the woman go! [Parmeno strikes him]

Sannio Ow! Ow!

Aeschinus He will repeat that blow unless

You’re very careful.

Sannio Ah, I’m in distress! 220

Aeschinus I didn’t give the sign, but that’s OK.

Now go.

Sannio Aeschinus, what’s this? Do you hold sway

Around here?

Aeschinus If I did hold sway, you’d be


Sannio What is it you want from me?

Aeschinus Nothing.

Sannio What? Do you know me?

Aeschinus Rather I

Don’t want to.

Sannio Have I ever, on the sly,

Touched anything of yours?

Aeschinus You’d have to pay

With blows if you had done so.

Sannio Well then, say

What right you have to own the property

I paid for?

Aeschinus Better quit this mockery 230

Before the house because, if you abide

By this abuse, you will be borne inside

And whipped to death.

Sannio What, whipped? A man like me,

A freedman?

Aeschinus Yes.

Sannio O such depravity!

Is this the place where they say everyone

Has equal liberty?

Aeschinus If you are done

With raving, listen here!

Sannio I raved at you?

Or you at me?

Aeschinus Stop all that nonsense, do!

Stick to the point!

Sannio The point?

Aeschinus Do you want me

To speak of what concerns you?

Sannio Certainly. 240

As long as it’s quite fair.

Aeschinus A pimp, indeed,

Wants me to speak of fair things!

Sannio I concede

That I’m a pimp, a common plague to youth,

A perjuror, a pest, and yet in truth

I’ve never caused you grief.

Aeschinus So far!

Sannio Let us

Go back to our first subject, Aeschinus.

Aeschinus For twenty you have bought her: may your deal

Not thrive! I’ll pay you that.

Sannio What if I feel

Unwilling? Will you force me to?

Aeschinus Not me.

Sannio I feared you might.

Aeschinus A woman who is free, 250

I think, cannot be sold. I claim her through

Action of freedom. Think what you should do –

Accept the cash I’ll pay or meditate

Upon the weight of law. Deliberate

Till I return.

Sannio It hardly staggers me

That men go quite insane from injury.

You threw me out, beat me, against my will

Took off the lass and caused me so much ill

With countless blows and, to make matters worse,

Insist you pay the same out of your purse 260

As I paid for the wench. Well, let it be,

Since he so well deserves to have her! He

Demands his due. Alright then, I consent.

If he gives me the money, I’m content.

I have a great suspicion, though, that when

He says he bought her, he’ll bring several men

As witnesses forthwith to say that I

Sold her. As for the money, my oh my!

It’s all a dream – “You’ll have it soon”, “Ah, come

Tomorrow.” If he’d only pay the sum, 270

I could endure it, tough as it will be.

But I think this the true reality –

In this trade you must suffer each bad thing

In silence that young men are apt to bring

On you. I’ll get no money, and if I’ll

Give it the least reflection, it’s futile.


Syrus [to Aeschinus within]

Shush! I’ll arrange it with him, and he’ll be

Happy to take the cash. He’ll think that he

Is dealt with fairly. [to Sannio] What’s this, Sannio,

I hear about a touchy to-and-fro 280

You had with Master?

Sannio Never has there been

A more unequal fight than what I’ve seen

Today. We’re tired out, I from the beating

That I received from him and he from treating

Me thus.

Syrus Whose fault is that, then?

Sannio But what can

I then have done?

Syrus Yield to the younger man.Syrus

Sannio After offering my jaw??

Syrus Do you not see

What I am saying? Look, occasionally

Neglecting cash brings splendid gain.

Sannio Oh, oh!

Syrus Were you afraid, you stupid do-and-so, 290

That if you paid a little tiny bit

And humoured him, he would not bolster it?

Sannio I don’t buy hope with cash.

Syrus You’ll never make

A fortune, then. You don’t know how to take

A fellow in. Piss off!

Sannio I think that plan

Is better. Never such a cunning man

Am I not to prefer hard cash when I

Can get it.

Syrus Ah, your character I spy.

What are those twenty minae when compared

With humouring him? They say you have prepared 300

To go to Cyprus…

Sannio Uh-oh!

Syrus …and that you

Bought many things to take to Cyprus, too.

Your mind is wavering. When you return,

I hope you’ll settle things.

Sannio Nowhere to turn!

I’ve had it. That’s why they began this thing.

Syrus I’ve got the villain now – he’s trembling.

Sannio He’s cut me to the quick, the swine. I paid

For many wenches and on board I’ve laid

More things for Cyprus, and if I can’t be

A vendor at the fair, I’m totally 310

Buggered. If I postpone the trip, why, then,

All will be lost when I come back again.

“You’re back at last, then? Why the wait? And where

Have you been?” Better is it, then, to bear

The loss than wait so long and then pursue

The matter.

Syrus Have you reckoned up your due?

Sannio Your boss, then, will demand unworthily

To get the wench by using cruelty?

Syrus [aside]

He’s giving ground. [to Sannio] I’ve one proposal here:

See if it pleases you. Rather than fear 320

You’ll lose it all, divide the sum in two.

He’ll get the ten somehow.

Sannio [aside]

Ah, what to do?

Poor wretch, am I in greater jeopardy

Of losing half of what was promised me?

He’s shameless. Thanks to him I am in dread

Of forfeiting some teeth; my aching head

Is full of bumps and now, on top of that,

He’s cheating me? [to Syrus] Alright, I tell you flat –

I’m going nowhere.

Syrus As you wish. Do you

Have a request before I leave?

Sannio I do - 330

In order that I don’t seek legal aid,

Return the wench to me – for what I paid

For her at least. I know you never took

Advantage of my friendship. Therefore look

How grateful I can be.

Syrus I’ll try. But see –

Here’s Ctesipho. Why, he’s in ecstasy

About his girl.

Sannio But I was asking you

About the payment.

Syrus Stay little, do.


Ctesipho You should be grateful, if you have a need,

For help from any man – more so, indeed, 340

If one’s obliged to help you. Brother, brother,

How can I with sufficient spirit smother

You with my praise? One thing is clear to me –

That I can’t honour you sufficiently

But that my praise will surely be outshone

By your deserts. For my opinion

Is that I’m luckier than any other

In that I’ve been provided with a brother

Possessing qualities that always go

Beyond all men’s.

Syrus Ah, Ctesipho! Hello. 350

Ctesipho Syrus! Where’s Aeschinus?

Syrus He waits for you

At home.

Ctesipho That’s admirable!

Syrus What’s to do?

Ctesipho I’ll tell you. It’s because of him that I

Still breathe. Oh, he is such a generous guy!

He thinks that everything must take its place

Behind my happiness. For the disgrace,

Discredit, my affair, foolhardiness –

He’s taken all upon himself, no less.

What noise is at the door?

Syrus Don’t make a fuss.

Stay here, stay here.  For here comes Aeschinus.


Aeschinus Where is the villain?

Sannio [aside]

Is he seeking me?

Has he brought something? Hellfire! I can’t see

A thing.

Aeschinus [to Ctesipho]

A meeting most felicitous!

Brother, what’s up? Don’t be lugubrious.

All’s well.

Ctesipho I’ll not be sad. How could I be

With such a brother? I fear openly

To praise you more lest you believe that I

Flatter you.

Aeschinus You silly thing, put that thought by.

We know each other surely, Ctesipho,

By now, and yet it fills me full of woe 370

It almost came too late. We virtually

Were at the very point when remedy

Was hopeless even if all of mankind

Wished to help.

Ctesipho I was shamefaced.

Aeschinus Never mind –

That’s folly, not shame. Such a little thing

That almost leads you to abandoning

Your country! So unspeakable! I pray

The gods may hinder it.

Ctesipho I went astray.

Aeschinus [to Syrus]

And what did Sannio tell us finally?

Syrus He’s pacified.

Syrus Then off I go to see 380

Him paid off at the Forum. Step inside

To her, Ctesipho.

Sannio [aside to Syrus]

Come on, Syrus, decide!

Syrus Let’s go because he’s keen to be on his way

To Cyprus.

Sannio No, not so, but while I stay

I’m doing nothing.

Syrus Come, don’t be afraid,

You’ll get your cash.

Sannio All of it must be paid.

Syrus Yes, all Shush! Follow there.

Sannio I do.

Ctesipho Hey, hey,

Syrus. I beg of you, for God’s sake pay 390

That dreadful man immediately, lest he

Gets angrier, and somehow it might be

Relayed to Dad, for then I’m totally done.

Syrus No problem. Cheer up. Go in and have fun

With her. Order the couches to be laid.

Get all things ready. Once the cash is paid,

I’ll come back with provisions.

Ctesipho Do I pray.

Since all is fine, let’s have a joyful day



Sostrata Dear nurse, how will it end?

Canthara Very well, I trust.

Sostrata But, darling one, her birthing pains are just 400


Canthara You’re in fright just now, as though

You’ve never given birth.

Sostrata I’m full of woe.

There’s no-one here. I’m all alone, poor wretch!

Geta’s not here, and there’s no-one to fetch

The midwife or to send for Aeschinus.

Canthara He’ll be here soon –  he always visits us

And never skips a day.

Sostrata Sole consolation

To me is he.

Canthara Mistress, this situation

Is better for your daughter than it might

Have been, for she was in a dreadful plight. 410

Lucky indeed for such a man, for he

Has such a splendid personality

And such nobility. It’s as you say

And therefore, o you gods, guard him, I pray.


[enter Geta]

Geta Our state’s so awful that, if anyone

Looked for a remedy for what’s been done

To me, my mistress and her girl, even so

They could not find one. I’m so full of woe!

So many griefs surround us suddenly,

Impossible to banish – poverty, 420

Betrayal, cruelty, torment, disgrace!

O what an age is this! Accursed race!

Such sin! Such villainy!

Sostrata Oh misery!

Here’s Geta coming hither hastily,


Geta No oaths or promise can melt

Or move that evil man – he’s never felt

Pity. The imminent delivery

Of that unhappy woman on whom he

Committed shameful violence has not

Affected him.

Sostrata [to Canthara aside]

I just can’t make out what 430

He’s saying.

Canthara Let’s get closer.

Geta Misery

Surrounds me. I am near insanity.

I’m furious. There is no better thing

That I could wish for but have Fortune fling

That family in my way that I may spew

My anger at them while this wound is new.

I’d suffer anything while I could take

My vengeance on them. First of all I’d shake

The life out of the dotard who produced

That beast. And then that Syrus who induced 440

The crimes that he committed I would rip

And tear in countless pieces. I would grip

Him by the middle, lift him and, head-first,

Hurl him that on the ground his brains might burst

And strew the earth. As for the stripling, I

Would tear his eyes out and then from some high

Precipice fling him, while the rest I’d rush

Upon, drive, drag, trample upon and crush.

But why do I delay? I have to tell

My mistress.

Sostrata Geta, stay.

Geta Oh, go to Hell, 450

Whoever you are.

Sostrata I’m Sostrata.

Geta Indeed?

Where are you? You are just the one I need

To see. How opportune!

Sostrata You seem in fright,

Geta Just take a breath. What’s up?

Geta I’m quite –

Sostrata Quite what?

Geta Undone. This is the end for us.

Sostrata Explain to me.

Geta Now –

Sostrata Now what?

Geta Aeschinus –

Sostrata Yes? Aeschinus?

Geta Forsook our family.

Sostrata All’s over for me, Geta. Why? Tell me.

He’s got another wench.

Sostrata Aah!

Sostrata And it’s not

A secret either: openly he got 460

Her from a pimp by stealth. Such robbery!

Sostrata Are you quite sure?

Geta Yes, unequivocally.

I saw the deed myself.

Sostrata How piteous!

What to believe? And whom? Our Aeschinus!

Our very life, on whom our hopes all lay,

Our comforts! He who swore that not one day

Would he survive without her by his side.

He also said that he would place his pride

And joy, his son, upon his father’s knees

And thereby, in the hope of all his pleas, 470

He’d be allowed to wed her.

Geta Ah, don’t cry,

Mistress, but think about what by and by

Should happen. Should we suffer silently

Or make it known?

Canthara This is insanity!

What? Make it known?

Geta Well, I am not too keen

Myself for that, and, first of all, we’ve seen

His views are different from ours. If we

Should make it known, he’ll categorically

Deny it, I am sure. Your reputation

And daughter’s traits will cause some hesitation 480

In others. But if he were to admit

His new affair, it’d not help her one bit.

We have to keep a silent pact.

Sostrata No way!

Geta What?

Sostrata   I’ll tell all.

Geta Be careful what you say,


Sostrata This dilemma is the worst

That we could ever undergo. Look, first,

She hasn’t got a dowry; secondly,

What almost counts as such has gone: for she

Is not a virgin and therefore cannot

Be wed. If he denies it, I have got 490

A ring that he has lost as confirmation.

Finally, since there’s no disapprobation

Attached to her or me, I’ll go ahead.

Geta What’s that? Well, I agree with what you said

I think you’re right.

Sostrata Quick! Fast as you can go,

Tell all this to her kinsman, Hegio,

Simulus’ loyal friend, for he has shown

Respect to us.

Geta Yes, he and he alone!

Sostrata Canthara, call the midwife! Quick! Away!

Thus when we need her we may not delay. 500


Demea [to himself]

I’m totally and utterly undone,

For I have heard that Ctesipho, my son,

Accompanied that Aeschinus when he

Took off the girl. This sorrow stays with me

If he can lead him to such dissipation.

Where can I pick up my investigation

Of him? He’s in some cook-shop, I’ll be bound.

Yes, I am sure that’s where he will be found.

But here comes Syrus. Now I’ll find out where

He is. But he is one of them – he’ll swear 510

He doesn’t know, if he believes, the swine,

That I am looking for him. Alright, fine,

I will not tell him.

Syrus [to himself]

Just now we have been

To tell the old man all. I’ve never seen

A happier man.

Demea The fool!

Syrus He praised his son.

He gave me thanks although I was the one

Who told him of this project.

Demea [aside]

I’ll explode!

Syrus He counted out the money that was owed.

He even gave me half a mina, too.

I liked that.

Demea [aside]

Huh! Go to this man if you 520

Want something nicely done!

Syrus I didn’t see

You there, Demea. What’s up?

Demea You ask me

What’s up? Well, I’m astonished at the way

You live.

Syrus It’s silly, I have got to say.

Go, Dromo, and clean all the other fish,

And let the largest eel to grace its dish

Play in the water for a while, and when

I’m back, it shall be boned. Not before then,


Demea Ah, such sin!

Syrus It niggles me

As well. I rail against it frequently. 530

Look after the salt fish, Stephanio,

And make sure that you soak it nicely.

Demea Oh,

Does he have plans, or does he think that he

Should be commended that his progeny

He’s ruined? O God, I foresee the day

When, fleeing poverty, he’ll run away

And join the army.

Syrus It is wise to see

Not only what’s before your face but be

Aware of what the future will betide.

Demea Do you still have the lutist?

Syrus She’s inside. 540

Demea Then will he live with her?

Syrus I think so, yes.

He’s mad!

Demea How can this be?

Syrus Well, at a guess,

Because his father’s stupidly carefree

And treats the boy much too indulgently.

Demea My brother shames and grieves me.

Syrus There is too

Much – I can barely say the word, since you

Are here before me – inconsistency

Between you: you are undeniably

Clear-headed, he’s s dreamer. So, would you

Give licence to that son of yours to do 550

Such things?

Demea Six months before he thought about

A deed like that I would have smelt it out.

Syrus  You need not tell me of your watchfulness.

Demea May he continue in his righteousness.

Syrus Sons turn out as their fathers wish and pray.

Demea What of him now? Have you seen him today?

Syrus What, do you mean your son? [aside] I have a mind

To send him to the country. [to Demea] You should find

He’s long been hard at work at the estate.

Demea You’re sure?

Syrus I saw him off myself.

Demea That’s great. 560

Demea I feared he loitered here.

Syrus He’s furious

As well.

Demea Why?

Syrus He got very scurrilous

And used strong words down at the market-place

About the girl with his brother face-to-face.

Demea Really?

Syrus He did not mince the words that he

Let fly. He interrupted suddenly

The counting of the cash – “O Aeschinus,”

He shouted at his brother. “Scandalous!

A shame upon our house!”

Demea I’ll weep with bliss.

Syrus “Not just the cash you squandered goes amiss 570

But your renown as well.”

Demea Bless him, for he

Is like the ancients of our family.

Syrus Aha!

Demea He’s full of words like that.

Syrus [aside]


He’s heard such words at home to practise on!

Demea I work hard, missing nothing, for I school

My boy and order him to make a rule

Of looking at the lives, as in a glass,

Of everyone so that he may amass

Examples for himself. “Do this,” I say.

Syrus That’s very fine.

Demea “Avoid this.”

Syrus That’s the way! 580

Demea “Praise this.”

Syrus Oh, that’s well said.

Demea “This is a crime.”

Syrus That’s good.

Demea But then –

Syrus Ah, I don’t have the time

To listen to you. I’ve bought some fish that I

Am partial to and must not over-fry –

A crime as great as all your maxims. Thus

To my co-slaves I am meticulous

With like precepts: “too salty”, “burnt up quite”,

“Needs much more washing”, “these are done just right –

Do that next time” : as far as I am able

I coach them to prepare a perfect table. 590

And then I order them to scrutinize

Each dish, as in a mirror, and advise

Them what to do. Yes, they’re monotonous,

Those things, but what would you require of us?

Men must be humoured. What more can there be

That you require?

Demea Well, more sagacity

From you.

Syrus Off to the country, then, are you?

Demea Yes, straightaway.

Syrus Well, what else could you do

In Rome when all your precepts none will heed?

Demea [aside]

Yes, I’m off to the country, since indeed 600

That’s where my boy is, whom I came to see,

For he’s my one responsibility.

Since my own brother, then, would have it so,

Let him tend to the other one. Oho,

Who’s that out there so barely in my sight?

My kinsman Hegio? If I see aright,

It surely is – a close friend I have had

For many years ever since I was a lad.

There aren’t too many Romans nowadays

Like him – a man who’s worthy of much praise 610

For virtue and reliability,

Who’ll never undermine the citizenry.

I joy that there is yet some intimation

Of this race. In my life some jubilation

Exists. I’ll stop him and find out if he

Is well and with him have some colloquy.


Hegio O Geta! Gods above, such a disgrace!

It’s true?

Geta It is indeed.

Hegio That from that race

Such outrage should ensue! Oh, Aeschinus,

There’s never been a deed so scandalous 620

Committed by your father.

Demea [aside]

Ah, I see

He’s heard about the lutist girl and he

Is worried, though a stranger. Micio,

However, doesn’t give a damn. Oh! Oh!

Would he were here to hear all this!

Hegio Unless

They do what’s proper, they’ll be in a mess.

Geta Now it’s upon you all my hopes depend,

Hegio, since you are my only friend,

My father and protector. Simulus,

The old man, as he died, suggested us 630

To you. Without you we’re in jeopardy.

Hegio Careful! Think hard what you have said to me.

Duty forbids me.

Demea [aside]

I’ll accost him. [to Hegio] Ho!

I bid you solemn greeting, Hegio.

Hegio Greetings, Demea. You’re the very one

I wished to see.

Demea Why’s that?

Hegio Your elder son,

Adopted by your brother, is no gent –

For he has acted like a decadent.

Demea Oh, what has he done now?

Hegio Were you acquainted

With my friend Simulus?

Demea Yes.

Hegio Well, he’s tainted 640

Old Simulus’s daughter.

Demea Hah!

Hegio No, stay!

You haven’t heard the worst I have to say.

Demea What can be worse?

Hegio Much; we may have to bear

This somehow. Many things caused this affair –

Night, lust, wine, youth: that’s normal. Then, when he

Accepted what he’d done, he wittingly

Went to the wench’s mother, promising,

With tearful supplications, that he’d bring

Her to his home. Then he was exculpated,

The deed itself hushed up and tolerated. 650

She proved with child. Nine months have now gone past.

The worthy, should the gods be pleased, at last

Lives with the lutist, and he has forsaken

The other.

Demea Are you sure you’re not mistaken?

Hegio The mother and the girl are here; the deed

Speaks for itself, while Geta is indeed

A splendid slave, industrious, for he

Supports them both and his whole family.

Take him and bind him. Question him.

Hegio Oh yes,

Demea, torture me. He will confess. 660

Take me to him.

Demea [aside]

I’m shamed and do not know

What I should say in answer.

Pamphila [from inside Sostrata’s house]:

I am so

Racked with distress. Lucina, succour me.

Hegio Has she gone into labour?

Geta Certainly.


She begs your care, Demea, so concede

That which the law compels. I, then, must plead

To the gods that everything’s done properly.

But if, Demea, you think differently,

I’ll strive to defend both her and Simulus,

Who was my kinsman, for the two of us 670

Were reared together from our infancy

And served together in the military;

We suffered penury. Therefore I’ll try

In every way to help them, even die

Before deserting them. Well?

Demea I’ll go find

My brother, and what he should have in mind

I’ll follow.

Hegio But the easier men may be

In life, the greater, too, their mastery,

Wealth, fortune, grandeur, so much more they should

Know justice if they wish to be thought good. 680

Demea Go, then, for everything will surely be

Done as it should be.

Demea You speak fittingly.

Lead me to Sostrata, Geta. [aside] They have heard

Warnings from me about what has occurred.

Would it would end now! This profligacy,

However, will lead to some tragedy.

I’m off to meet my brother and to vent

My feelings to him.


Hegio Sostrata, be content!

Try to console her. I will go to meet

Micio at the forum and repeat 690

All I have heard in order. Let him do

His duty if I find him willing to:

Let him reply, if h thinks differently,

To me so I can find some strategy.



Ctesipho My father’s in the country, then, you say?

Syrus For some time now.

Ctesipho What news?

Syrus Working away

Down at the farm, I guess.

Ctesipho I would that he

Would tire himself out now so totally,

Provided he’s still healthy, that he stays

In bed, too beat to rise, the next three days. 700

Syrus Or something even better!

Ctesipho Yes, quite so,

Because, as I began, I yearn to go

Further upon a binge that lasts all day.

Because the country’s hardly far away

I hate it. Were it farther, he’d be caught

By overtaking night before he sought

To come back here. But when he can’t find me

Out there, I’m certain he’ll come hurriedly

Back here. He’ll ask me where I’ve been and say

To me that I have not seen him today. 710

What shall I say?

Syrus Does nothing come to mind?

Ctesipho Nothing.

Syrus   So much the worse! Can you not find

A client, friend, guest?

Ctesipho Yes. What then?

Syrus Well, you

Have dealings with them.

Ctesipho Always. That won’t do.

Syrus It might.

Ctesipho   During the day, but if I stay

The night here, what the blazes can I say

For an excuse? I wish it were the way

To be with friends at night as well as day.

Be easy, for his moods I know. When he 720

Is fulminating most ferociously,

I make him just as calm as any lamb.

Ctesipho How?

Syrus   Since he likes to hear you praised, I am

Your worshipper, for then I itemize

Your virtues. Like a little boy, he cries

At once.

Ctesipho My virtues?

Syrus Yes. [coughs]

Ctesipho What’s up?

Syrus Look there –

Talk of the devil. Here he comes. Beware!

Ctesipho My father?

Syrus Yes.

Ctesipho What should we do?

Syrus Just flee

Indoors and I will deal with him.

Ctesipho If he

Asks questions, you have not seen me: do you

Hear me?

Syrus When will you stop your hullabaloo? 730


Demea Oh what a state I’m in! For I have yet

Located Micio, and then I met

A farm employee wo tells me my son

Isn’t in the country. Ah, what’s to be done?

Ctesipho [aside]


Syrus [aside]


Ctesipho [aside]

Does he seek me?

Syrus [aside]


Ctesipho [aside]

I’m dead!

Syrus Stay calm!

Demea  Damn! On what ill luck am I fed!

I cannot work it out at all, unless

I think that I’m born for unhappiness.

I am the first to feel our misery,

I am the first to act as Mercury 740

And spread the news, and I am he alone

Who takes to heart the mischief that is known

To happen.

Syrus [aside]

He’s a hoot! The first to know?

But he alone knows nothing.

Demea [aside]

I will go,

Now I’ve returned, to see if I can find

My brother.

Ctesipho [aside]

Syrus, I entreat you, mind

That he’ll not end up rushing on us here.

Syrus [aside]

Be quiet! I’ll be cautious, never fear.

Ctesipho [aside]

I’ll never trust you, Syrus. I’ll conceal

Myself with her in some storeroom – I feel

That’s safest.

Syrus [aside]

I’ll get rid of him.

Demea Look here,

There’s that rapscallion Syrus.

Syrus [aloud]

Oh, I fear

No-one could stay here if this is the case.

How many masters have I?? Oh, I face

Such grief!

Demea What does he want? Why does he fret?

Oh, tell me, sir, is my brother home yet?

Syrus “Sir”? What is up with you? I’m all at sea.

Demea What’s up with you?

Syrus Can you ask that of me?

Ctesipho beat me up, the lute girl, too.

I’m almost dead.

Demea What’s this I hear from you? 760

Syrus He split my lip. Look at it!

Demea Tell me why.

Syrus He said I recommended that he buy

The girl.

Demea Did you not say that recently

He set off for the country?

Syrus Certainly,

But he returned in fury, lashing out

At everyone. Indeed there is no doubt

He should feel shame that he had stooped to pound

An old man whom I used to lug around

When he was just a little lad.

Demea Bravo!

You take after your father, Ctesipho. 770

You are a mensch.

Syrus Bravo? Well, if he knows

What’s good for him, he will repress his blows.

Demea He laid it on.

Syrus You bet! Most certainly!

To flagellate a wretched maid and me,

A mere slave, too afraid to hit him, too.

Demea He couldn’t have done better – he thought you

Responsible. Is Micio in?

Syrus No.

Demea Oh,

I wonder where the man can be.

Syrus I know,

But I’ll not tell you now.

Demea What’s that you said?

Syrus You heard!

Demea Alright, then, I will smash your head. 780

Syrus Although I do not know his name, I know

Where he is.

Demea Where?

Syrus You know the portico

Down near the butcher’s shop?

Demea Of course.

Syrus Go straight,

And when you each that spot, you will locate

A slope, and soon a chapel you will see

Close to a narrow lane. A wild fig-tree

Stands there. You know it?

Demea Yes.

Syrus Then go straight through –

Demea It’s not a thoroughfare.

Syrus Oh yes, that’s true.

Silly me! Go back, then, to the portico.

It’s closer, thus a shorter walk. You know 790

Wealthy Cratinus’ house?

Demea Yes.

Syrus Once you’ve gone

Past that, go left and you will come upon

Diana’s shrine upon the right. You’ll see,

Before you reach the gate, a bakery

And joiner’s shop beside the pond. He’s there.

Demea And doing what?

Syrus Seats for the open air,

With stout oak legs, he makes.

Demea Oh, now I see!

For boozing! Charming! Bu what’s stopping me

From going there? [exit]

Syrus You skeleton! Then go.

Oh, I will work you hard today, for so 800

He’s earned it. Aeschinus intolerably

Lingers, the breakfast’s spoiled offensively,

And love’s zapped Ctesiphus. Now I’ll take care

Just of myself. I’m off to snatch some fare –

The choicest bits I’ll take and drink away

While bit by bit I’ll lengthen out the day.


Micio I don’t see I’m worth praising, Hegio.

I do my duty; the redress I owe

For wrongs is paid, unless you think that I’m

The sort of man who reckons that a crime 810

Is done him if you go on endlessly

About whatever he has done, yet he

Is first to censure. I’ve not acted so,

And therefore do you give me thanks?

Hegio Heck, no!

You are just what you are. But I entreat –

Go to the young girl’s mother and repeat

What I told you – the bad thoughts that exist

Are all because of that girl lutanist

And Ctesipho.

Micio Should you think that I ought

To do that, then let’s go.

Hegio A kindly thought; 820

For you will have relieved the young girl’s heart,

Who’s drowned in grief and hardship, and your part

You’ll have fulfilled. And I myself will tell

Her what you told me.

Micio No, I’ll go as well.

Hegio Well done. All those who’ve landed in distress

Attract somehow an apprehensiveness.

All things they take as slurs and always feel

Neglected through their impotence. Reveal,

Therefore, all this yourself. You should!

Micio Quite.

Hegio Come into the house, then.

Micio Very good. 830


Aeschinus My mind’s in bits! How unexpectedly

Have I been struck by this adversity!

I don’t know what to do or how to act;

My limbs are weak with fear, and that’s a fact.

My mind is, too, for no counsel can see

A place there. Ah, however can I free

Myself from this distress? Such wariness

About me is abundant and, I guess,

This wariness is somewhat justified:

For Sostrata is confident that I’d 840

Purchased the girl just for myself alone.

This very thing was told me by the crone.

Sent for the midwife, accidentally

She met me. Of Pamphila “How is she?”

I asked, “Is her delivery close at hand?

Your errand now, am I to understand,

Refers to that?” She shouted out, “Just leave!

Your promises continue to deceive.

You’ve duped us long enough.” I said to this,

“What’s up?” She said, “Farewell, go, keep that miss 850

Who pleases you!” I saw immediately

The skepticism that they had of me.

But still I checked myself so that I said

Nothing about my brother that she’d spread,

That gossip. What was I supposed to say?

That she was for my brother? There’s no way

That should be broadcast anywhere. And so

Forget it: for it possibly will go

No further. They won’t trust my words, I fear.

So many probabilities are here 860

Against them. I carried her off, I paid

For her, I took her home. All this is laid

Against me, and it’s true, I must concede.

Should I have told my father? For indeed

He might have let me wed her. I’ve been too

Lax. Aeschinus, now smell the coffee, do!

First thing to do, I’ll go to them and clear

Myself. Here is the door. O gods, my fear

Is great whenever I begin to knock

Upon this door: it gives me such a shock. 870

Hello! It’s Aeschinus. Someone inside,

Come out. There’s someone coming. Then I’ll hide.


Micio Sostrata, as I said, find Aeschinus

And tell him that the facts involving us

Are settled. [aside] Who’s that knocking?


Aeschinus [aside]

I’m undone!

Here is my father.

Micio Aeschinus, my son!

Aeschinus [aside]: What business has he here?

Micio Oh, did you knock?

[aside] He’s silent. Why, then, I believe I’ll mock

The boy a bit: he never lets me know

His secret. [to Aeschinus] Won’t you answer me?

Aeschinus [confusedly]

Oh, no, 880

It wasn’t me, I think.

Micio It wasn’t you?

Well, I was wondering what you had to do

Here. [aside] Oh, he’s blushing – everything is fine.

Aeschinus What business have you here, Dad?

Micio None of mine,

But I have got a certain friend who brought

Me hither from the forum since he sought

Advice from me.

Aeschinus Why is that?

Micio Well, you see,

Some women live in dire poverty

Right here. I’m pretty certain you don’t know

These women since it was not long ago 890

They moved here.

Aeschinus Ah, and so…?

Micio There is a girl

Who lives here with her mother.

Aeschinus Well, unfurl

Your story.

Micio Since the father’s dead and he –

My friend – is next of kin, the laws decree

That he must marry her.

Aeschinus [aside]

That’s it – I’m dead!

Micio What’s up?

Aeschinus Oh, nothing, truly. Go ahead.

Micio He’s come to take her with him far away,

For he lives in Miletus.

Aeschinus Hah! You say

He’s taking her?

Micio Right.

Aeschinus To Miletus?

Micio Yes.

Aeschinus [aside]

O gods, I am chock-full of wretchedness. 900

[to Micio] What do they say?

Micio What would you reckon? Why,

Nothing. The mother hatched a seeming lie

That some man, though she doesn’t give his name,

Fathered the boy she bore, and, since he came

Before my friend, he has priority.

Aeschinus Is that not justice?

Micio No.

Aeschinus No? Honestly?

Your friend should take her?

Micio Why not?

Aeschinus Father, you

Are harsh and pitiless, unworthy, too,

If I may speak my mind.

Micio Why so?

Aeschinus Aeschinus

How can

You ask me that? How do you think that man 910

Who knew her first must feel, what misery

He must be in when he is here to see

Her snatched away? A shameful deed!

Micio Why say

Such things? Give reasons. Who gave her away?

And who betrothed her? To whom was she wed,

And when? Who brought all those things to a head?

Why marry someone who was meant to be

Another’s wife?

Aeschinus But was it fair that she,

A nubile maid, should patiently delay

At home until a kinsman came her way 920

To claim her? Father, how could you defend

All that?

Micio Ridiculous! Why, in the end,

Should I decline to give my voice to one

For whom I’m here as advocate? My son.

What is all this to us? And how are they

Of any use to us? Come, let’s away.

Why are you weeping?

Aeschinus Listen to me, do,


Micio I’ve heard all this, and I love you.

And therefore everything you do I heed

And am concerned about.

Aeschinus  And so indeed, 930

Father, I hope to earn your love as long

As you may live, and so my grievous wrong

I rue, and I’m ashamed.

Micio Whole-heartedly

I do believe you, for well-known to me

Is your goodwill, and yet I fear that you

Are too unsympathetic. For where do

You think you live? My son, you have defiled

A girl upon whom you should not have smiled

Even. A massive sin, but human, too:

Others have often done the same as you. 940

But after doing it, did you take heed

Of what do and how? For if indeed

You shamed to tell me of it, how could I

Learn of it? Ten full months have since gone by.

You’ve put at risk yourself, your progeny,

And that poor girl. What did you honestly

Expect? That while you slept the gods would set

It all to rights and, just like that, you’d get

Her in your bed? I’d not wish you to be

As lax in other things. Look cheerily - 950

You’ll have her.

Aeschinus What?

Micio Look cheerily, I said.

Aeschinus Look, father, are you messing with my head?

Micio Me? Why?

Aeschinus I do not know, but it’s maybe

Because I yearn for her so desperately,

I fear it may not happen.

Micio Alright, go

On home and pray the gods will make it so.

Aeschinus That I may wed her now?


That’s what I say,

As soon as possible.

Aeschinus O father, may

The gods hate me if I do not love you

More than my eyes.

Micio More than the lady, too? 960

Aeschinus As well.

Micio How kind!

Aeschinus Where’s the Milesian man?

Micio He’s left, on board a ship. Quick as you can!

Aeschinus Pray to the gods yourself – I’m of a mind,

Father, that they will always be more kind

To you, for you’re the better man.

Micio I’ll head

Indoors to ready things. Do what I said.

If you are wise.

Aeschinus [aside]

What is all this? Does he

Appear to be a father? Similarly,

Am I a normal son? If he had been

A brother or a buddy, I’d have seen

No more goodwill. Can he be loved? Should he

Be set within my bosom? Certainly.

Then all the more I need to be aware

Of the responsibility that his care

Demands. So I’ll be prudent. Why delay

To go in and arrange my wedding-day?


I’m spent with walking. May great Jove confound

Syrus for his directions. I’ve crept round

The town, the gate, the pond… Well, everywhere!

And I have found no joiner’s building there.

No-one has seen my brother. I’ll wait here,

Where he abides, until he should appear.


Micio [to those within]

I’ll tell them we’ll be quick.

Demea Look over there!

It’s him! [to Micio] Micio, I have looked everywhere

For you for ages.

Micio Why?

Demea I’ve brought to you

Bad tidings pf the youth.

Micio Aha!

Demea They’re new,

And shattering!

Micio Oh yes??

Demea You do not know

The sort of man he is.

Micio I do.

Demea Oho,

You’re dreaming. He defiled a citizen,

A virgin.

Micio Yes, I know.

Demea Alright, why, then,

Put up with it? 990

Micio Why not?

Demea Won’t you go mad

And shout about it?

Micio No, I wish –

Demea A lad

Was born!

Micio The gods preserve the little one!

Demea The girl has nothing.

Micio So I’ve heard.

Demea Your son

Must marry her undowried, then?

Micio Of course.

Demea Then what will happen?

Micio Well, the case perforce

Demands it – she’ll be brought here.

Demea That’s the way

It must be done?

Micio What else am I to say?

Demea If it should not grieve you, you should pretend

It does.

Micio I have betrothed her – that’s the end; 1000

The wedding is today; goodbye to fear!

That’s what I ought to do.

Demea So does this cheer

You, Micio?

Micio No, if the present plight

Can’t be avoided. If so, I will bite

The bullet. Life’s a gamble. Should the die

Cheat you, what should turn up you have to try

To remedy by art.

Demea Ah, remedy!

Well, that has caused such prodigality –

A score of minae that was thrown away

Upon a lute-girl for whom we must pay 1010

To throw her out – if not for cash, then we

Must do the same for free.

Micio I disagree.

I have no wish to sell her.

Demea What, then, pray,

Is your intent?

Micio She at my house will stay.

Demea For God’s sake! What? A lady of the night

With a true lady in one house?

Micio That’s right.

Why not?

Demea You must be mad.

Micio I disagree.

Demea May the gods love me, your absurdity

I see – it’s so that at your house there’ll live

Someone to sing with.

Micio Why not?

Demea And you’ll give 1020

Her lessons?

Micio Yes.

Demea You’ll dance, too?

Micio Probably.

Demea Huh?

Micio And with you, if a necessity


Demea Aren’t you ashamed?

Micio  Just terminate

This rage. Instead, Demea, celebrate

The wedding of your son as you should do.

I’ll meet with them and then come back to you.

Demea Ah, what a life is this! Such craziness!

A woman lives with you, quite dowerless,

A lute-girl, too. Such waste! This lavishness

Has landed that young man in such a mess! 1030

The old man’s mad. Salvation couldn’t, if she

Herself had craved this, keep her family.



Syrus Dear little Syrus, you have delicately

Taken care of yourself. Exquisitely

You’ve done your duty. In the house I’ve dined

Sufficiently, and now I have a mind

To take a walk.

Demea [aside]

Look who’s come from within.

A fine example, that, of discipline!

Syrus [to himself]

Here comes the old man. [to Demea] What’s up? Why so sad?

Demea Rascal!

Syrus What’s this? Wise maxims?

Demea If I had 1040

You as my servant –

Syrus You’d be rich and you

Would enhance your possessions.

Demea I would do

My best to show you off to everyone

As an example.

Syrus Why? What have I done?

Demea You ask me that? In all this disarray,

Which is not yet resolved, you drank away,

You villain, as if all were going well.

Syrus I wish I’d stayed inside now, truth to tell.


Dromo Syrus, hello. Go back to Ctesipho –

He wants you for some reason.

Syrus Leave me! Go! 1050

Demea What about young Ctesipho?

Syrus Nothing.

Demea Is he

Inside, you hang-dog?

Syrus No.

Demea Then what would be

The cause to mention him?

Syrus OK, alright,

It’s someone else, a little parasite.

You know him?

Demea I will soon. [goes to the door]

Syrus [stopping him]

What’s up, though? Where

Are you about to go?

Demea [struggling]

Will you forbear!

Get off me!

Syrus Please don’t.

Demea Take your hands off me!

Or would you have your brains entirely

Knocked out? [rushes into the house]

Syrus He’s gone. No boon-companion

For Ctesipho, indeed for anyone! 1060

The only thing for me to do is hide

In some dark place until these storms subside

And quieten down. Meanwhile I’ll sleep and dream

Away the wine I’ve drunk. Yes, that’s my scheme.


Micio Sostrata, everything, as I told you,

Has been prepared, just when you like. But who

Is beating down my door so forcefully?

Demea What shall I do? What will become of me?

How shall I frame my grievance? Shall I shout?

O sky, o earth, o sea!

Micio [aside]

He has found out 1070

The whole thing and now yells it to the skies.

A quarrel will ensue. I must devise

A plan to help him, though.

Demea Ah, here is he

Who has defiled our common progeny.

Micio Calm down! Regain your wits!

Demea I have done so,

And all of my reproaches I’ve let go.

Let us resolve it all. Between us two –

And I believe it was proposed by you –

I was resolved you should not intercede

In dealings with my son and I would need 1080

To step away from care for Aeschinus.

Answer me.

Micio Yes, that was agreed by us.

Demea So why’s he boozing at your house? And why

Is he chez vous at all? Why did you buy

A mistress for him? The fair-mindedness

That you have shown to me is so much less

Than I have shown to you. I don’t take care

Of yours, and therefore it is only fair

You don’t take care of mine.

Micio Your reasoning

Is not impartial.

Demea No?

Micio For everything 1090

Is shared by friends – an old precept that’s true.

Demea Oh, smartly said! That just occurred to you,

Did it?

Micio If you don’t mind, Demea, heed

These few words. First of all, then, you have need

To think about it if the recklessness

Of our two sons has caused you some distress.

Back then you brought them up according to

Your fiscal circumstances, because you

Thought both of them would be forced to get by

On what you had. And then you thought that I 1100

Should marry. Keep that ancient saw in mind –

Scrabble, be economical and find

Enough to leave to them: take that acclaim

Yourself, and let my worldly goods, which came

Surprisingly, be spent by them. There’ll be

No diminution of that quantity.

Think of the whole of it as revenue.

Think carefully, Demea, for then you

Will save us four from great anxiety.

Demea It’s not the cash but their morality 1110

I care about.

Micio No, wait. I am aware

Of what you’re speaking of, Demea. There

Are many signs appearing in mankind

Where speculation you may easily find.

When two men do the same thing, you may say

Quite often, you may find that one man may

Be pardoned for it while the other one

May not, although the deed that they have done

Is no way different, but the other man

It is who’s different. When these signs I scan, 1120

I’m confident that it will all turn out

As we would wish, for then I have no doubt

He’s bright and skilled, displaying modesty

From time to time, possessing amity

For friends, pliant by nature: any day

That man may be reclaimed. And yet you may

Be apprehensive that he may disdain

Your interests. For as we grow old we gain

Wisdom In all things else, Demea. This

Is the one fault n which we are remiss; 1130

We’re more solicitous than we should be

About our interests, and sufficiently

We sharpen them when old.

Demea The, Micio,

We must take care that they don’t overthrow

Us both.

Micio Demea, shush! That will not be.

Expunge it from your mind. Attend to me

Today and smooth your brow.

Demea I must do so:

The time demands it. After that, I’ll go

To the country with my son at break of day.

Micio I’ll go tonight, I think. Cheer up, I say. 1140

Demea I’ll take the girl with me.

Micio Then you’ll have won,

For in that way you’ll have detained your son.

See that you keep her, though.

Demea I will; I must.

She will be overwhelmed with flour-dust

And smoke and ashes, since I’ll make her grind

And cook, so that at mid-day you would find

Her picking stubble, burnt and black as coal.

Micio That pleases me, for you are, bless my soul,

A wise man. Though he may be disinclined,

I’ll force the boy to bed her.

Demea Do you find

That funny? You, indeed, a happy guy,

With such a temper! I think –

Micio My oh my,

He’s at his tricks again.

Demea I’ll stop – OK?

Micio Let’s go in and prepare for the big day.


Demea There never was a person so well-bred

And so refined but that into his head

Come new thoughts springing from experience

And age and custom, so that what you sense

You know you don’t know and what you before

Believed was most important you abhor. 1160

That is the case with me, for I forsake

The rigid life I’ve lived as now I take

My final steps to death. Why? I can see

By my experience that clemency

And graciousness are best. Easily seen

By any is the difference between

My brother and myself. For he has spent

His life in sociability and content,

Mild, gentle, peaceable, for everyone

A ready smile. His race in life he’s run 1170

For his own self; the money that he’s made

Was for himself, and everyone has paid

Him great respect and loved him. As for me,

I have a boorish personality –

I’m rigid, self-denying and morose

As well as being truculent and close.

I married and two sons were born to us,

An added care. I was solicitous

To do the best for them. My greediness,

However, has brought me such wretchedness. 1180

But now, when to my dotage I have come,

All my hard work has brought their odium.

But he enjoys a father’s cheer, for they

Adore him, while from me they run away.

They both confide in him. By him they say,

While I am desolate. For him they pray

That he may live. They wait impatiently

For my demise; with little outlay he

Has laboured hard to raise them and now they’re

His own; the misery from all this I bear, 1190

The joy is his. Come on, then, let me see

If I am able to speak courteously

And act with kindness if he should invite

Me to be thus, and also I’d delight

In having friends who think a lot of me.

So if goodwill and generosity

Will get me that, I will not be behind

My brother, but if in this plan I find

I fail, I will not care too much, for I

Am older and thus sooner apt to die. 1200


Syrus Demea, your brother begs that you not stay

Too long away.

Demea Who’s that? Syrus! Good-day!

How are you? How’s it going?

Syrus Splendidly.

Demea That’s great! [aside] I’ve said, right there, unnaturally,

Three greetings. [to Syrus] You’re not an unworthy lad.

I’ll offer you a service.

Syrus I am glad

And thank you.

Demea Ah, yes, Syrus, it is true.

And soon you’ll find out how it profits you.


Geta [to Sostrata, within]

Mistress, I’m off to see them that they may

Send for the damsel, and without delay. 1210

Ah, here’s Demea. Greetings to you!

Demea Who

Are you?

Geta Geta.

Demea Today I’ve learned that you

Are of great worth because undoubtedly

A slave who serves his master heedfully

Is splendid and this quality I’ve seen,

Geta, in you, and therefore am I keen,

If there should be an opportunity,

To aid you. [aside] There’s the affability

I’m practising. It’s going well.

Geta How fine

To think so, sir!

Demea [aside]

The plebs will soon be mine! 1220


Aeschinus They’re killing me with nuptial machinations.

The day is wasted with their preparations.

Demea How goes it, Aeschinus?

Aeschinus Father, you’re here?

Demea In nature, yes, and in paternal cheer.

More than my eyes I love you. Why don’t you

Send for your wife?

Aeschinus That’s what I yearn to do.

I’m waiting for the flute-girl, and I need

The wedding-singers.

Demea Come now, will you heed

An old man?

Aeschinus Why?

Demea Give no consideration

To all of that – the song, illumination 1230

From torches, flute-girls, crowds. For I decree

That you tear down, as quickly as can be,

The stone wall in the garden. Bring your spouse

Across that wall and set up just one house,

And bring the mother and the servants, too.

Aeschinus O dearest father, that I’ll happily do.

Demea That’s fine. [aside] He calls me “dearest”! Micio,

My brother, will be free to come and go

That way. He’ll bring to us much company

At great expense. But what is that to me? 1240

I’m “dear” now and I will be liked. And so

Allow that Babylonian to go

And pay his twenty minae. [to Syrus] Off with you!

Do what I ordered!

Syrus What am I to do?

Demea Tear down the wall! [to Geta] And, Geta, off you go

And bring them all.

Geta Demea, you are so

Kind to my family, and therefore may

The gods bless you. [he leaves]

Demea Aeschinus, what d’you say?

I think that they deserve it.

Aeschinus I agree.

Demea More suitable than that poor girl should be 1250

Brought through the streets in childbed.

Aeschinus I concur –

It’s such a better way to carry her,


Demea Well, that’s the way I show I care.

But Micio is coming out. Look there!


Micio My brother ordered it? So where is he?

[to Demea] Did you, then, order it?

Demea Why, certainly.

In all things I am anxious to unite,

Cherish and aid this family.

Aeschinus Alright.

I pray it may be so.

Micio I’m for it, too

Demea Indeed it is the thing we ought to do. 1260

She is his spouse’s mother.

Micio Certainly.


Demea She’s the very cream of modesty

And virtue…

Micio So they say.

Demea …and getting on

In years…

Micio I know.

Demea …her fertile days long gone,

And no-one to look after her, for she

Is all alone.

Micio [aside]

So what’s the relevancy

Of this?

Demea And therefore I believe it’s fit

That you should wed he. [to Aeschinus] Try to see that it

Is done.

Micio Wed her?

Demea Yes.

Micio Me?

Demea Yes.

Micio Having fun,

Are you?

Demea Demea [to Aeschinus]

If you’re a man, this will be done. 1270

Aeschinus Father –

Micio You crazy idiot! Would you heed

This man?

Demea It’s all in vain; for it indeed

Cannot be otherwise.

Aeschinus Father, hear me,

I pray.

Micio Get lost! This is insanity.

Demea Oblige your son.

Micio Are you not quite insane?

I’m sixty-five! Would you have me attain

A time-worn wife? Tell me, is this your view?

Aeschinus Please, father – I have sanctioned this for you.

Micio You’ve sanctioned it, have you? Young lad, be free

With money that’s your own.

Demea But what if he 1280 

Should offer something more than that?

Micio As though

There could be more!

Demea Oblige me, please.

Aeschinus Don’t go

Against us.

Demea Promise!

Micio Stop!

Aeschinus Please!

Demea Micio,

Be kind.

Micio If you are so insistent, though

It’s wrong, absurd, stupid and contrary

To how I live my life, then I agree.

Aeschinus Well said!

Demea For this I love you, but –

Micio What?

Demea I

Will tell when you finally comply

With my request.

Micio What’s left?

Demea Their next of kin,

Kin to us, too, is Hegio, who’s in 1290

Dire financial straits, so we must try

To help him.

Micio How?

Demea A small farm lies nearby,

Which you lease out. Let’s give it him.

Micio It’s small?

You’re sure of that?

Demea Well, yes, but after all,

Even if it were big yet all the same

It should be done. The man is free from blame,

To her a father, one of us, and so

It’s only fair. Something that’s à propos

You said a while ago I now will say:

“A common vice when we are old and grey 1300

Is selfishness.” That blemish let us flee,

For it’s well said, and it’s obligatory

To heed it in our deeds.

Micio He’ll get what he


Aeschinus My father –

Demea We are family,

In mind and body.

Micio I’m so glad.

Demea [aside]

Now I

Will foil you with your weapons by and by.


Syrus Demea, I have done what you bade me

To do.

Demea Good man! You ought to be made free,

I think.

Micio Why?

Demea There are many grounds I can

Come up with.

Syrus O Demea, worthy man! 1310

I took care of both boys from babyhood;

I carefully taught them everything I could.

Demea That’s clear. He catered for them furthermore,

Covertly bringing home to them a whore,

Providing morning feasts, no ordinary


Syrus  O he’s so kind to me.

Demea Lastly, he helped in purchasing today

The lute-girl, so it’s only fair to pay

Him with his freedom. Other servants thus

Will be encouraged. Also, Aeschinus 1320


Micio [to Aeschinus]

You do?

Aeschinus Yes.

Micio Well, if you agree –

Come hither, Syrus. I pronounce you free.

Syrus A generous deed! My thanks to everyone

And you, Demea, specially.

Demea Well done!

Aeschinus I second that.

Syrus Thank you. I would my wife

Could top this joy and also live a life

That’s free.

Demea A splendid woman.

Syrus The first one

To nurse this man’s first-born and your grandson.

Demea Then if she was the first to do that, she

Without a doubt should also be set free. 1330

Micio For doing that?

Demea Indeed. Her price will I

Pay you.

Syrus   Demea, may the gods on high

Grant all your wishes.

Micio You’ve done well today,


Demea And furthermore you will outlay

Some pocket money for his present need.

He’ll soon repay you.

Micio No.

Demea He is indeed

A worthy man.

Syrus Upon my word, I’ll pay

It back. Please give it.

Aeschinus Father, do, I pray.

Micio I’ll ponder it.

Demea He’ll give the cash to you.

Syrus Great man!

Aeschinus Most kindly father!

Demea What’s to do? 1340

Why have you changed your tune so suddenly?

Why this caprice, this liberality?

Demea I’ll tell you. I will show you, Micio,

Your well-known easy-come and easy-go

Nature is not derived out of the way

You live your life or from a day-to-day

Feeling of good but from your tendency

To cosseting, pampering and flattery.

So, Aeschinus, since I have not revealed

My pleasant side to you, since I don’t yield 1350

To you in just or unjust things, I urge

You – let it go. Therefore be lavish, splurge,

Do what you will. But if you would be taught

About the faults to which you give no thought

Through youth but which you make so wantonly,

I’ll be there to correct them presently.

Aeschinus Then, father, we will leave it up to you,

For you know best what we will have to do.

But what is to be done with Ctesipho?

Demea He’ll have his mistress. Thus I bid him go 1360

And put an end to his frivolities.

Micio Fine!


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