Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)
Translated by Christopher Kelk
Scene from Terentius' play Adelphi
Bernard Picart (French, 1673 - 1733) - The Rijksmuseum
This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
Conditions and Exceptions apply.
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.
Demea You ask me that when we’ve a lad
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
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
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,
Demea Ha! At it again!
Micio Am I to hear
The same old thing so often?
Demea He is dear
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
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.
Sannio Aeschinus, what’s this? Do you hold sway
Aeschinus If I did hold sway, you’d be
Sannio What is it you want from me?
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,
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
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…
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
Syrus Have you reckoned up your due?
Sannio Your boss, then, will demand unworthily
To get the wench by using cruelty?
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.
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
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?
Is he seeking me?
Has he brought something? Hellfire! I can’t see
Aeschinus [to Ctesipho]
A meeting most felicitous!
Brother, what’s up? Don’t be lugubrious.
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
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
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.
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
Sostrata [to Canthara aside]
I just can’t make out what 430
Canthara Let’s get closer.
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
Sostrata Geta, stay.
Geta Oh, go to Hell, 450
Whoever you are.
Sostrata I’m Sostrata.
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 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!
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.
Syrus He counted out the money that was owed.
He even gave me half a mina, too.
I liked that.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Syrus He got very scurrilous
And used strong words down at the market-place
About the girl with his brother face-to-face.
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.
Demea He’s full of words like that.
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
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
Hegio Well, he’s tainted 640
Old Simulus’s daughter.
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
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
Syrus Since he likes to hear you praised, I am
Your worshipper, for then I itemize
Your virtues. Like a little boy, he cries
Ctesipho My virtues?
Syrus Yes. [coughs]
Ctesipho What’s up?
Syrus Look there –
Talk of the devil. Here he comes. Beware!
Ctesipho My father?
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
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?
Does he seek me?
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
He’s a hoot! The first to know?
But he alone knows nothing.
I will go,
Now I’ve returned, to see if I can find
Syrus, I entreat you, mind
That he’ll not end up rushing on us here.
Be quiet! I’ll be cautious, never fear.
I’ll never trust you, Syrus. I’ll conceal
Myself with her in some storeroom – I feel
I’ll get rid of him.
Demea Look here,
There’s that rapscallion Syrus.
Oh, I fear
No-one could stay here if this is the case.
How many masters have I?? Oh, I face
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
Demea Did you not say that recently
He set off for the country?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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
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!
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?
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?
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
Micio Since the father’s dead and he –
My friend – is next of kin, the laws decree
That he must marry her.
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?
Aeschinus To Miletus?
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?
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Demea I’ve brought to you
Bad tidings pf the youth.
Demea They’re new,
Micio Oh yes??
Demea You do not know
The sort of man he is.
Micio I do.
You’re dreaming. He defiled a citizen,
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
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
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
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.
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
Demea You’ll dance, too?
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.
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?
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?
Demea Is he
Inside, you hang-dog?
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?
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!
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.
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.
Micio For everything 1090
Is shared by friends – an old precept that’s true.
Demea Oh, smartly said! That just occurred to you,
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
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?
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 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!
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
Demea Come now, will you heed
An old man?
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.
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.
Demea She’s the very cream of modesty
Micio So they say.
Demea …and getting on
Micio I know.
Demea …her fertile days long gone,
And no-one to look after her, for she
Is all alone.
So what’s the relevancy
Demea And therefore I believe it’s fit
That you should wed he. [to Aeschinus] Try to see that it
Micio Wed her?
Micio Having fun,
Demea Demea [to Aeschinus]
If you’re a man, this will be done. 1270
Aeschinus Father –
Micio You crazy idiot! Would you heed
Demea It’s all in vain; for it indeed
Cannot be otherwise.
Aeschinus Father, hear me,
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
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 –
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.
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.
Will foil you with your weapons by and by.
Syrus Demea, I have done what you bade me
Demea Good man! You ought to be made free,
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]
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
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
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.
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
And put an end to his frivolities.
Folks, show your appreciation, please.