Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

Translated by Christopher Kelk

Scene from Terence's play Eunuchus

Scene from Terence's Eunuchus
Bernard Picart (French, 1673 - 1733) - The Rijksmuseum

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If there are people eager to delight

As many good men as they can and slight

But few, our poet now enrols his name

Among them, and if there’s someone who’ll blame

Him for harsh words, let that man bear in mind

That these are words of a responsive kind,

Not an attack; for he was first to be

The instigator as he literally

Translated plays, creating Latin verse

For good Greek plays, the idiom being worse. 10

Menander’s Apparition recently

He published and the same man’s comedy

Treasure in which someone is asked for gold –

Before the asker says it’s his we’re told

The reason why the former thinks it ought

To be his own and how the gold was brought

Into his father’s tomb. From now on, though,

Let him not fool himself or ponder so:

“I’m done; there’s nothing he can say to me.”

I warn him to avoid inaccuracy 20

And quit provoking me. I’ve many more

Points, which for now I will forgive him for

But take up later should he continue

Offending me as he’s begun to do.

After the aediles bought the play that we

Will now perform – Menander’s comedy

Eunuchus – that man got a studied look

At it, and when the magistrates all took

Their seats, “A thief wrote this,” he shouted out,

“No poet, but he won’t cause me to doubt

His theft. It’s Colax, penned by Naevius

And Plautus, an old play that gave to us

The parts of the soldier and the parasite.”

Is this a fault? No, it’s an oversight

The poet was no thief, but you may see

Our play and be the judge, The comedy

Colax presents Menander’s parasite

And braggart soldier, which are lifted right

Out of the Greek, which he does not gainsay,

Although he does indeed gainsay that they 40

Were known by him to have been turned into

The Latin tongue. If it had been taboo

For others to transcribe those parts, why then

Could they display scurrying serving-men,

Fine matrons, nasty whores, a parasite,

A changeling child? Would it indeed be right

To show a slave who’s always keen to flout

An old man over love or hate or doubt?

Nothing is said that’s not been said before

In fact. It’s only fair that you therefore 50

Should know and pardon what our poets pen

That our ancestors wrote. Attend me, then,

And hold your peace so that you might find out

What this Eunuchus play is all about.



Phaedria What should I do, therefore? Should I not go

When she has sent for me? Or should I so

Behave myself as not to tolerate

A whore’s affronts? She shut me out, of late

She called me back. No, should she beg and plead,

I will not go.

Parmeno If you don’t go indeed, 60

You’ll show great fearlessness; but once you start

And cannot hold out boldly, then lose heart,

While no-one asks you, and no harmony

Exists between you, you’ll go willingly

To her, showing your love for her, and vow

That you can’t bear her absence, that is how

Your goose is cooked. She’d jilt you should she see

You’re done for. Therefore ponder carefully

While there’s still time. Master, you cannot find

Prudence or tact in matters of this kind. 70

In love you’ll always see harm, hesitation,

Antagonism, reconciliation,

War, and then peace at last. Should you endeavour

To make sense of such senseless things, you’d never

Succeed, no more than if you tried to be

Insane with reason. Now you’re angrily

Thinking, “What? Should I go to her? She who

Received him, spurning me? Ah, why don’t you

Leave me alone? I’d rather die; so she

Shall know the sort of man that I can be.” 80

The tiny tears she squeezed out were untrue;

Her cheeks now dry, she’ll start accusing you,

And you’ll give in.

Phaedria Disgraceful! Now I see

She’s villainous and I’m in misery.

She wearies me and yet I am aflame

For her; I’m still alive, yet all the same

I’m perishing. I don’t know what to do.

Parmeno Well, with the least expenditure that you

Can manage free yourself from slavery –

If you can’t manage it almost scot-free, 90

Escape as best you can and don’t distress


Phaedria Is that what you advise?

Parmeno Oh yes,

If you are wise. Be sure, additionally,

Not to exacerbate love’s misery

But handle well whatever it may bring.

But here’s the cause of all our suffering,

For she is interrupting the delight

That we should be enjoying as our right.


Thais [to herself]

Ye gods, I fear that Phaedria won’t believe

Why yesterday I chose not to receive 100

Him at my house.

Phaedria [apart, to Parmeno]

I’m trembling, Parmeno,

Just to cast eyes on her.

Parmeno [apart]

Be cheerful, though.

Approach her fire: you’ll soon be more aflame

Than you would need.

Thais Who’s that? My love, you came

To me? Why linger? Why did you delay

To go in?

Parmeno [apart]

Not one more word did she say

Of her rebuff.

Thais Such taciturnity!

Phaedria Of course, your doorway always welcomes me

And I’m your favourite beau!

Thais Forget all that.

Phaedria Forget it all? Thais, I tell you flat – 110

I would your love were equal to my own,

That this predicament would make you groan

As it does me or I’d not care a jot

About what you inflict on me.

Thais Do not

Torment yourself, my love. The reason why

I banned you from my house was not that I

Love someone more than you – oh no indeed.

It was because there was an urgent need

To do it.

Parmeno I believe you thoughtlessly

Banned him for love, as you do usually. 120

Thais Oh yes? [to Phaedria] But hear the reason why I call

You here.

Phaedria Go on.

Thais But tell me first of all

If he [pointing to Parmeno] can hold his tongue.

Parmeno You can be sure

I can. But on these terms I will secure

My pledge: although if what I hear that’s true

I will keep mum about, yet if from you

I hear is fiction, I will let it out;

I’m full of cracks, I leak things like a spout.

If you desire your secret to remain

Just that, a secret, therefore tell the plain 130

And honest truth.

Thais My mother, a Samian,

Was an inhabitant of Rhodes.

Parmeno I can

Keep that a secret.

Thais Well then anyway,

A little baby girl was snatched away

In Attica: a certain merchant then

Gave her to Mother.

Phaedria What – a citizen?

Thais I think so, but we cannot rightly tell.

The names of both my parents she knew well.

The land and other things she didn’t know,

And, with her tender years, she could not so. 140

The merchant said the thieves from whom he bought

The child told him that she’d been snatched and brought

From Sunium. Mother comprehensively

Instructed her and bred her as if she

Were her own daughter, and most people thought

That they were sisters. Then that merchant brought

Me here: he was the only friend I had.

He left me all that I possess.

Parmeno Too bad!

I spurn those statements – neither one is true.

Thais How so?

Parmeno One man was not enough for you - 150

He, too, [indicating Phaedria] gave you large gifts.

Thais He did indeed;

Allow me to continue, though, and heed

My words. The captain loved me now, but he

Took off for Caria, and subsequently

I met you. Since then you have been aware

Of how I cherish you and how we share

Much counsel.

Phaedria Parmeno won’t leak that out.

Parmeno Oh, is it then a matter of some doubt?

Thais Please listen. Mother died just recently.

Her brother hankered after property: 160

He saw this beauteous maiden who could play

The lyre and hoped that folk would wish to pay

A decent price for her. Now luckily

This friend of mine was there and bought for me

This girl, suspecting nothing. He returned,

But when of our affection he had learned,

He thought up explanations why he should

Not give me her. He said that if he could

Be sure that he would be preferred by me

Over yourself and feel a certainty 170

That I’d not leave him, he would acquiesce

And give her, though he felt some fearfulness.

But as I see it, he is hungering

For the young girl.

Phaedria No more, though?

Thais Not a thing –

I asked about him. I want him away

From her for many reasons: for they say

That she’s my sister and that, furthermore,

I should restore her to her comrades. For

I’m all alone - no friends, no family.

I wish to have some friends, so please help me 180

To make it easier. Give him a few

More days with me. What? No response from you?

Phaedria Vile woman! After what you’ve done, how can

I answer?

Parmeno Well done, master. You’re a man!

You’ve had enough.

Phaedria Your drift I didn’t know:

“A little girl was kidnapped; just as though

She were her own, my mother bred her; they

Say that we’re sisters; I wish that I may

Restore her to her friends.” All that you’ve said

Amounts to this: I’m out, and in my stead 190

He’s in. And why? You love him more than me

And furthermore you have a fear that she

Who was brought here will snatch that man away

From you.

Thais I do?

Phaedria Well, what else can you say

You care about? Am I the only one

Who gave you gifts? In your opinion

Were those gifts banned? Did I not, when you said

You wished to have a serving-maiden, bred

In Ethiopia, immediately

Go off in search of one? When you told me 200

You wished to have a eunuch, too, since they

Are only used by queens, I went away

And found one. Twenty minae for the two

Of them I paid. Although abhorred by you

I can recall these things. My doing so

Makes you despise me.

Thais Phaedria, although

I wish her gone and think that it can be

Effected thus, I’ll follow your decree

And save our friendship.

Phaedria How I wish that you

Meant those last four words! If I thought them true, 210

I’d suffer anything.

Parmeno [apart]

How readily

One phrase defeats him!

Thais Do you think of me

As false? When you’d ask something in mere play

Of me, you finally would have your way,

Yet I’m unable to obtain from you

A mere two days.

Phaedria Well, if it’s only two;

Don’t let it stretch to twenty.

Thais No more, or –

Phaedria I don’t like “or”.

Thais No more, but I implore

This of you.

Phaedria What you wish for I must do.

Thais You’re good to me – that’s why I dote on you. 220

[to Parmeno] I’m going inland, where I’ll crucify

Myself for two days, as I must. But I

Must mollify Thais. Now, Parmeno,

Make sure you get them back.

Parmeno I shall do so.

Phaedria For two days farewell, Thais.

Thais And to you

The same, love. Is there something more that you


Phaedria Just that to you the captain be

Absent though present, that you dote on me

And feel a longing for me day and night;

Dream of me, wait for me and take delight 230

In me, hope for me, unconditionally

Be with me and in all things, finally,

Be mine as I am yours. [exeunt Phaedria and Parmeno]

Thais I fear he sees

In me, as he compares the qualities

Of other women, little probity.

I know myself indeed and certainly

I’m not deceptive, and there is no-one

Dearer to me than Phaedria. What I’ve done

Was always for the maid; I’ve virtually

Tracked down her brother, whose nobility 240

Is clear. He’s coming to my house today:

I’ll go in and until he comes I’ll stay.



Phaedria Have them brought here, in line with my decree.

Parmeno I will.

Phaedria With care.

Parmeno Alright.

Phaedria And speedily.

Parmeno Alright.

Phaedria Clear?

Parmeno What? You’re asking that of me?

Would that you’d find something as easily

As this gift will be lost!

Phaedria Ah, I am lost

Myself – for I would fail at quite a cost.

Don’t take it badly.

Parmeno Not at all – I’ll do

Your bidding. Is there anything more that you

Would have me do?

Phaedria I’d have you prettify

The gift with words, as far as you may try

To do, and oust my rival.

Parmeno I could hold

That in my mind if you had never told

Me to remember.

Phaedria I intend to leave

And go inland and stay there.

Parmeno I conceive

That’s a good plan.

Phaedria But wait!

Parmeno Yes? What?

Phaedria Do you

Believe that I am able now to screw

My courage to the sticking-place and stay

For two whole days?

Parmeno Well, no, I have to say. 260

You’ll come back straight away or, as I’d guess,

You’ll do so when you’re plagued with sleeplessness.

Phaedria I’ll work so hard that I’ll be tired out

And sleep despite myself.

Parmeno I have no doubt

You’ll still stay wide-awake, and then you’ll be

More tired.

Phaedria No! You talk nonsensically.

I must discard this weakness from my mind –

I yield to it too much. Can I not find

The backbone, if I must, to stay away

Even for two whole days?

Parmeno What’s that you say? 270

For three entire days? Think carefully.

Phaedria I am resolved. [exit]

Parmeno [to himself]

What is this malady?

That love so changes men that they can show

Themselves so different that we hardly know

Them anymore! None was less fatuous,

More even-tempered and more serious

Than him. But who comes here? Why, it’s Gnatho,

The captain’s parasite, who’s bringing – oh,

Such beauty! He has brought a gorgeous maid

To give Thais. Oh, how I’ll seem to fade! 280

With this decrepit eunuch I’ll seem crude.

She rivals Thais in her pulchritude. [stands aside]


Gnatho Immortal gods! How one man can surpass

Another! One is wise and one’s an ass.

For just today this came into my mind –

I bumped into a fellow of my kind,

A splendid chap: but he had run right through

His father’s property (I did that, too).

A filthy, worn man stood before my eyes,

Sick, old, in ragged clothes. “What means this guise?” 290

I asked. “I’ve lost my livelihood,” he said.

“How I’m reduced! I might as well be dead.

All of my friends have now deserted me.”

I’d been like him but felt contumely.

I said, “You sluggard, have you lost all hope

And, with your funds, all of your wits, you dope?

You see I’ve risen from that self-same place

And see now the complexion in my face,

My spruce appearance; see how I’m well-dressed.

I do not own a thing but I am blessed 300

With everything. Although I don’t possess

A thing, I’m lacking nothing.” “I profess

I cannot be a butt of jokes or be

Beaten,” he said. “You think that’s slavery?”

Said I. “How wrong you are! Some time ago

That class was called for, but today – oh no!

It’s like bird-liming these days. I indeed

Was first to tread this path. There is a breed

Of men who strive to be the first of all

In everything, but are not: these I call 310

Into my court. These men don’t laugh at me

But I laugh with them very willingly,

Admiring their wit: the things they say

I praise, but if they go the other way,

Denying what they’ve said, I praise that, too,

Denying what has been denied. Do you

Affirm a thing? Then I will. Finally,

I’ve trained myself in all things to agree –

A most productive calling.

Phaedria [apart, to audience]

Ah, such skill!

He makes fools truly mad.

Gnatho While we were still 320

Talking, we reached the market. Promptly then

Fishmongers, sausage-makers, fishermen,

Sweet-makers, cooks and butchers happily

Ran to us. I had served them previously,

In good and bad times catering to them all –

And, often, now. They welcome me and call

Me to their house to dine. When this wretch sees

Me treated with such grand felicities

And that I gained my fare so easily,

The fellow begs that he might learn from me 330

This method, I say, “Be my follower then,

If you are able to.” As all those men

Who teach philosophy give it its name

From their own names, it will be just the same

With my own set – the parasites will be


Parmeno [apart, to audience]

Do you see how easily

One lives off other folk?

Gnatho [to himself]

Ach, why delay

To take this maiden to Thais and say

That she should come for dinner? Ah, I see

Our rival’s servant standing gloomily 340

Before Thais’s door. So everything

Is fine: they’ve got a chilly welcoming,

I think. I’ll rag the rogue.

Parmeno [to himself]

Those men are sure

This gift will render Thais quite secure

For them.

Gnatho Sincerest greetings, Parmeno!

How are you doing?

Parmeno I am standing.

Gnatho So

I’ve noticed. Is there anything you see

That you aren’t fond of?

Parmeno Yes, you.

Gnatho Obviously.

But what else?

Parmeno Why d’you ask?

Gnatho You seem so sad.

Parmeno I’m not sad in the least.

Gnatho Well, don’t be, lad. 350

How do you like this slave?

Parmeno Not bad.

Gnatho [aside]

I’ve got

The fellow.

Parmeno [aside, overhearing him]

Oh, I know that you have not.

Gnatho How much will Thais like her?

Parmeno Thus you say

We’re toast. Well, troubles happen every day.

Gnatho The next six months I’ll give you, Parmeno,

Much comfort – no more running to and fro

Or watching till first light. That pleases you?

Parmeno What – me? It surely does.

Gnatho That’s what I do

For friends.

Parmeno That’s fine.

Gnatho Don’t you have plans to go

Somewhere? I must be keeping you.

Parmeno Oh no! 360

Gnatho Then let me meet her.

Parmeno Look, the doors are wide-

Open so you can take the girl inside.

Gnatho You’d not have someone called out? [enters house with the girl]

Parmeno Only let

Two days go by: you who can easily get

Inside with one small finger soon will see

You’ll kick and kick those doors, but fruitlessly.

Gnatho [coming from house]

Are you yet standing here now, Parmeno?

Is there no sentinel that he might know

If any mediator might have sped

Between the captain and Thais?

Parmeno Well said: 370

There must be wondrous things that can delight

The captain. Someone, though, is in my sight –

My master’s youngest son! It puzzles me

That he comes hither from Piraeus – he

Is there on guard. It’s urgent, though, no doubt.

I wonder why he’s looking all about.


Chaerea [to himself]

I’ve had it! I’ve lost her. I’m lost as well

For letting her run off. I am in Hell!

Where should I look Or ask? Which way to go?

Aha, there is one expectation, though - 380

She can’t be lost for long wherever she

May be. Oh, she has such resplendency!

I’ll now cast other women from my mind:

I hate those beauties of the common kind.

Parmeno [to himself]

Well, here’s the other one. Now, there’s something

He’s on about: I think he’s rambling

About love. Poor old man! You’d think that one

Spoke lucidly once this one has begun

To utter folly.

Chaerea [to himself]

Ah, may purgatory

Take that old man who has just hampered me; 390

To Hell with me as well in that I give

A damn for him. Here’s Parmeno, as I live.


Parmeno Why are you glum? Why in a hurry?

Where have you been?

Chaerea Oh, I’m in such a flurry

I’ve no idea whence I have come or on

What quest I am. I’m in oblivion.

Parmeno How?

Chaerea I’m in love.

Parmeno Ha!

Chaerea Now then, Parmeno,

Show me what sort of man you are. You know

You often promised me that, should I find

Someone to love, you’d show a willing mind. 400

For under cover in your cell I stored

My father’s victuals.

Parmeno Look, I’m getting bored.

Your point?

Chaerea Make good your vow. If this affair

Is worthy of the task, put all your care

Into it. For this girl’s not like those others

Who’ve been instructed by their anxious mothers

To keep their shoulders down, their bosoms bound,

To show their slenderness. If one is found

A tad too rounded, then they will declare

She’s like a boxer and reduce her fare. 410

Their treatment, although they are vigorous,

Makes them seem thin as bullrushes to us,

So they’re admired.

Parmeno And yours?

Chaerea A look that’s new.

Parmeno Indeed?

Chaerea A frame that’s firm, a genuine hue,

And full of juice.

Parmeno Her age?

Chaerea Sixteen.

Parmeno That’s fine –

A very flower of youth.

Chaerea Make sure she’s mine

By imprecation, force or secrecy,

For nothing else could matter much to me

So she is mine.

Parmeno Who owns her?

Chaerea I don’t know.

Parmeno Where is she from?

Chaerea My answer is – ditto.

Parmeno Where does she live?

Chaerea I still don’t know that now.

Parmeno Where did you see her?

Chaerea In the street.

Parmeno And how

Did you lose sight of her?

Chaerea That very thing

Gnawed at my mind as I was pondering

The problem as I walked. There is no-one

More cursed than me, I think. I’m quite undone.


What is the matter?

Chaerea You ask that of me?

Do you know of my dad’s contemporary

And kinsman Archimenides?

Parmeno I do.

Chaerea He met me as I followed her.

Parmeno That’s too 430


Chaerea Awful, rather. Parmeno,

Commonplace things in life are labelled so.

For six or seven months I’d safely swear

That I’d not seen the fellow anywhere

Till now, when I have very little need

Or urge to see him. Is that not indeed

A fatal blow?

Parmeno It surely is.

Chaerea He ran

Up to me from afar. Here was this man,

Bent, palsied, drooping-lipped, wheezing. “Hey! Hey!”

He said to me, “I’ve got something to say 440

To you.” I stopped. He said, “Now, do you know

What I would have you do?” “Tell me.” “I go

To court tomorrow.” “And…?” “Well, at daybreak

Your father promised me that he would take

The witness stand. Remind him of his vow.”

He went on, and an hour had passed by now.

And was there something else? I asked. “Oh no,”

He said, “that’s everything. I’ve got to go.”

I looked back for the girl, but meanwhile she

Had turned into this street here.

Parmeno [to himself]

It would be 450

Astounding if by that he did not mean

The girl who’s now a gift.

Chaerea She could be seen

Nowhere when I got back.

Parmeno I guess she might

Have had some servants?

Chaerea Yes, a parasite

And a maidservant.

Parmeno [to himself]

Ah, I know this well.

[to Chaerea]

Your goose is cooked. You’ve been consigned to Hell.

Chaerea You talk of other things apparently.

Parmeno Oh no, I talk of this same quandary

Chaerea Have you, then, seen the girl? Tell me if you

Know who she might be.

Parmeno Yes, I have; I do. 460

I know she took her.

Chaerea Really?

Parmeno Yes.

Chaerea You know

Where she is at this moment, Parmeno?

Parmeno Yes, she was taken by Thais, for she

Was given her as a gift.

Chaerea Who could that be

Who could afford her?

Parmeno He’s Captain Thraso,

Phaedria’s rival.

Chaerea A good deal of woe

For my poor brother!

Parmeno You’d say there was more

If you but knew what gift he has in store

For her.

Chaerea What gift?

Parmeno A eunuch.

Chaerea You don’t say!

You mean that creature she bought yesterday? 470

Parmeno Yes.

Chaerea Well, with gifts like that he’ll certainly

Be kicked out. But I didn’t know that she

Lived nearby.

Parmeno She came here not long ago.

Chaerea Ye gods, I’m done for, brimming full of woe.

I never saw her. Is she just as fair

As people say?

Parmeno Oh yes.

Chaerea But can’t compare

With my girl?

Parmeno She’s much fairer.

Chaerea Parmeno,

I long to have her. Please arrange it so.

Parmeno I’ll strive to do my best in helping you.

Is there yet more that you would have me do? 480

Chaerea Where are you going?

Parmeno Home, that I might bring

These slaves to Thais at the ordering

Of Phaedria.

Chaerea Such serendipity

That eunuch has that he’s destined to be

Her gift!

Parmeno Why’s that?

Chaerea Well, he will be right there

Beside a fellow-slave who’s passing fair.

He’ll see her, talk with her, be with her, day

And night, sometimes take food with her; he may

Sleep near her even.

Parmeno What if you should be

That person?

Chaerea How could that be so? Tell me. 490

Parmeno Put on his garb.

Chaerea His garb? What then?

Parmeno Then feign

To be him.

Chaerea Ah, I hear you.

Parmeno I’ll maintain

That you are he.

Chaerea I get it.

Parmeno Then you may

Enjoy all the advantages you say

That he enjoys – you’ll eat with her and be

Beside her, touch her, play with her, maybe

Sleep next to her. None of those women knows

Who you might be, so you may easily pose

As a eunuch through your age and your physique.

Chaerea I’ve never seen a better plan: you speak 500

Wisely. So let’s go in. Dress me and take

Me in immediately.

Parmeno What? You mistake.

I’m joking.

Chaerea Nonsense!

Parmeno Ah, what misery!

Why did I do this? Where are you pushing me?

You’ll knock me down. Stop it.

Chaerea Come on, let’s go.

Parmeno You still insist?

Chaerea I do, yes, Parmeno.

Parmeno I fear this is too hazardous a plot.

Chaerea I promise you it certainly is not.

Parmeno I’ll smart for it.

Chaerea Ah!

Parmeno We’re committing sin.

Chaerea Is it a sin that I should be let in 510

The house of a courtesan and thereby pay

Them back who torture us in every way

Due to our youth and cozen them as we

Ourselves were cozened by them constantly?

And is it right my father by some scheme

Was duped? To those who know this, it would seem

That I’m to blame, while everyone would see

The other as a good act.

Parmeno What are we

To do about it? If you must, then go

Ahead. Don’t lay your criticism, though,

On me after the fact.

Chaerea No, certainly

I won’t.

Parmeno You bid me, then?

Chaerea It’s my decree,

My urging, my command. I’ll never cede

My right. So follow me.

Parmeno May we succeed!



Thraso Did Thais thank me largely?

Gnatho Oh, yes, she

Did that – a lot.

Thraso Was she in ecstasy?

Gnatho Well, not the gift itself but that it came

From you. Indeed at that she was aflame.

Parmeno [entering, apart]

I’m here to spy: should opportunity

Arise, it is incumbent upon me 530

To take the gifts. The captain’s here.

Thraso I guess

That everything I do brings thankfulness.

Gnatho I noticed.

Thraso Even the Great King used to say

“Thank you” for all my deeds. The rest? No way!

Gnatho Often a clever man like you will take

The fame earned by another’s toil and make

It his.

Thraso That’s very true.

Gnatho The King, then, in his sight

Has resolutely kept you –

Thraso Yes, that’s right.

Gnatho To be a comrade.

Thraso Yes, he certainly

Entrusted all his troops and plans to me. 540

Gnatho Amazing!

Thraso When men bored hm or he burned

With hate for business or, perhaps, he yearned

For respite, just as – do you get it?

Gnatho Yes,

Just as he wanted his unhappiness

To disappear…

Thraso You’ve got it. He’d take me

To be the sole man in his company.

Gnatho Ah, such a man of taste!

Thraso With very few


Gnatho If he spent time with you,

Then none, I think.

Thraso So they all envied me,

Tormented with discomfort privately. 550

But I don’t give a damn. Oh, they were green

With envy! – notably one who had been

Made Indian elephant-handler. For one day

When he was tiresome, I was moved to say

To him, “Strabo, is your ferocity

Because you’re running a menagerie

Of wild beasts?”

Gnatho Oh, well said, and wisely, too.

A body blow! What did he say to you?

Thraso He was struck dumb.

Gnatho Of course!

Parmeno [apart]

One’s spiritless,

Past care, the other one is villainous. 560

Thraso Did I tell you about the time I chaffed

A Rhodian at a banquet? How we laughed!

Gnatho Never. Tell on, I pray. [apart] I’ve heard the joke

A thousand times.

Thraso The man of whom I spoke

Just now was young, and he began to toy

With my mistress and snigger at me. “Oy,”

You louse,“ I said, “a hare and yet not done

With hunting game?” [Gnatho laughs] What’s up?

Gnatho A clever one,

The very best of all that I’ve heard told.

Is it your own? For I had thought it old. 570

Thraso You know it?

Gnatho Yes, for it is said to be

Among the very best.

Thraso Well, actually,

It’s mine.

Gnatho It’s such a pity you should aim

It at an inconsiderate youth who came

From genteel kin.

Parmeno [apart]

To Hell with you!

Gnatho What then?

Thraso Well, he was ruffled. All the other men

Round me were laughing fit to burst, although

They were afraid of me now.

Gnatho Rightly so.

Thraso Should I, then, go to Thais and remove

Her apprehensiveness that it might prove 580

I do not love the girl?

Gnatho Hell, no! Expand

Her doubts.

Thraso Why should I?

Gnatho Don’t you understand?

If she should mention Phaedria and show

She likes him, to provoke you…

Thraso Now I know.

Gnatho Why, it’s the only remedy. When she

Names Phaedria, then you immediately

Name Pamphila. Then if she should suggest

Inviting Phaedria to be her guest,

Say, “Let’s have Pamphila sing at your soirée.”

Should she praise Phaedria’s looks, then straight away 590

Praise Pamphila’s. And thus this tit-for-tat

Of yours will certainly be gnawing at

Her heart.

Thraso Well, if she loves me that will do

The trick, I think.

Gnatho The gifts she gets from you

And likes reveals her partiality

To you already. Thus she’ll easily

Get vexed and always fear the gifts you bear

For her you’ll angrily transfer elsewhere.

Thraso I never thought of that. Well said, Gnatho.

Gnatho Nonsense! You never thought of it? How so? 600

Had you not thought about it previously,

How did it come to you so readily?


Thais I thought I heard my captain’s voice. Ah, here

You are. Good-day, Thraso.

Thraso Good-day, my dear.

Sweet, how are you? How much do you love me

For sending you that music-girl?

Parmeno [apart]

Oh, he

Is so polite! Oh what a splendid start

In meeting her!


Much, bless your generous heart.

Gnatho Let’s dine. Come on! Why are you standing there?

Parmeno [apart]

That other one was born just for the fare 610

His gut can take.

Thraso I won’t delay to go.

Whenever you wish.

Parmeno [apart]

I’ll go to them as though

I’m coming out. Are you going somewhere,


Thais Parmeno, I’m off to take the air


Parmeno Where?

Thais [indicating Thraso]

Don’t you see him?

Parmeno [apart]

Yes, I do –

Unfortunately. [to Thais] Here are gifts for you

From Phaedria.

Gnatho Why stand there? Let’s away.

Parmeno [to Thraso]

Give her the gifts and pass the time of day

With her.

Thraso [sarcastically]

Ah, they are splendid gifs, no doubt,

As good as mine.

Parmeno Well, you will soon find out.

[going to the door] Get them out now, as quickly as you can.

[to Thais] This one here is an Ethiopian.

Thraso Three minae.

Gnatho Hardly that much!

Parmeno Dorus, where

Are you? Come on outside [enter Phaedria, as the eunuch] This eunuch’s rare,

Genteel and youthful.

Thais And good-looking, too.

Parmeno What do you have to say, Gnatho? Do you

Find fault with him? And what of you, Thraso?

Well, neither of them says a word, and so

They must like him. [to Thais] Test him in anything –

In literature, music, wrestling. 630

This eunuch has the same ability

As gentlefolk.

Thraso If opportunity

Arose, this eunuch, even sober I’d –

Parmeno The giver of this gift could not abide

Your living just for him; he’d not exclude

All others nor upon your thoughts intrude

With talk of fights nor show his scars to you

Nor stifle you as other people do;

When it’s not inconvenient and when

You wish and when the time is right, why then 640

She will receive you.

Thraso [to Gnatho]

Well, this servant’s master

Must be a most deplorable disaster.

Gnatho No-one who had the means to buy another

Could suffer him, I’m sure of it

Thraso Just smother

Your words, worst of the worst! The man who could

Flatter that man unquestionably would

Pick food out of the ashes of the dead.

Thraso Well, shall we go?

Thais These folks must first be led

Inside; I’ll give my orders, then come out.

Thraso [to Gnatho]

Well, I’ll be on my way. You, hang about 650

For her.

[Gnatho laughs]

It’s wrong for generals to walk

Abroad with their mistresses.

Thraso I won’t talk

To you! You ape your master. [Gnatho laughs] Why that roar

Of laughter?

Gnatho Something that you said before

About the Rhodian just came to me.

Here’s Thais.

Thraso Go ahead immediately.

Make all things ready.

Gnatho Right.

Thais Pythias, make clear

That Chremes, if he should be coming here,

Should wait. If he can’t do that easily,

He should come back, but bring him straight to me 660

If he cannot.

Pythias Right.

Thais What did I intend

To say? Ah yes, make sure that you attend

That maiden well and make sure you shall be

At home.

Thraso Well, let us go.

Thais And follow me.


Chremes [to himself]

The more I think of it, the more I guess

That Thais plans to cause me much distress:

I see that she besets me cunningly,

Even that first time she requested me

To be fetched to her (somebody may say

“What business had you with her, then?” Well, hey, 670

I’ve no idea). Then when I came she found

Some pretext that I’d have to hang around.

She said that she had made a sacrifice

For business with me – I smelt a device.

And then she lay beside me, focusing

All her attention on me, essaying

To speak with me. When conversation grew

Awkward, she turned the subject in a new

Direction: “How long is it since they died –

Your mother and your father?” I replied, 680

“A long time.” Did I own a property

In Sunium? And how far from the sea?

I think she wished to take the place from me

Because she fancied it. Then, finally,

Had I a little sister from that spot

Who disappeared ? And who was with her? What

Did she have on her? What did she intend

With suchlike questions? Would she, then, pretend

To be my sister? Such audacity!

But if she’s still alive now, she would be 690

Sixteen, no older. I am younger than

Thais. As resolutely as she can,

She calls for me. Let her say what she will

And not be troublesome: by Heaven, I still

Won’t come a third time. Hey! Hello! Hello!

Is someone there? It’s Chremes.

Pythias He is so


Chremes [apart]

Traps, then, are set.

Pythias Most earnestly

Thais beseeches you that you should be

Her guest tomorrow.

Chremes No. I’m going to

The country.

Pythias Come, good sir, I beg of you. 700

Chremes It’s quite impossible, I say.

Pythias Then stay

With us till she returns.

Chremes No, there’s no way.

Pythias But why, Chremes?

Chremes You dreadful creature, leave.

Pythias Well, if you’re still determined, she’ll receive

You where she is.

Chremes I’ll go there.

Pythias Dorias, see

Him to the captain’s house immediately.


Antipho [to himself]

A few of us young fellows yesterday

At the Piraeus chose to while away

The time in feasting. Chaerea’d be the King

Of Revels, we decided. Each one’s ring 710

Was pledged, both place and time arranged, and yet

The time’s gone by and nothing has been set.

I can’t find Chaerea and I don’t know

What I should say or think. The others, though,

Commissioned me to seek him out. Therefore

I’ll try his home. Who’s there at Thais’ door?

He’s coming out. I wonder if it’s he.

It is. But what is all that frippery

He’s wearing? What’s he up to? I can’t say.

I’ll have to suss him out farther away. 720


Chaerea [to himself]

Is anybody here? No, there’s no one.

Is someone dogging me? Ah good, there’s none.

I now can give vent to my ecstasy.

I’m now prepared to die assuredly

So that my life may not be sullied by

Some mishap. Is there not now, though, some spy

Who follows me wherever I may be,

Intent on deafening and worrying me

To death by asking why this happiness,

This joyfulness, where did I get this dress, 730

Where I am going, whence, what is my end

In this, am I quite sane or round the bend?

Antipho [apart]

I’ll go and grant the favour that I see

He wants. [to Chaerea] Chaerea, what’s this frippery?

Why are you wearing it? I’d love to glean

From you why you’re so happy: what does it mean?

Are you insane? Why do you stare at me?

Why mute?

Chaerea I greet you, comrade, happily.

O joyful day! There’s no-one anywhere

I’d rather see than you.

Antipho So you must share 740

With me what all this means.

Chaerea I beg of you,

Listen to me. You know the mistress who

Has taken my brother’s fancy?

Antipho Certainly.

Her name’s Thais, I think.

Chaerea Yes, that is she.

Antipho As I recall.

Chaerea Why should I, Antipho,

Extol to you her beauty since you know

That I judge beauty well? I’ve got it bad.

Antipho Really?

Chaerea If you’d seen her, you’d say she had

Exquisite looks, I know. What more to say?

I fell in love, Then, as is fortune’s way, 750

There was a eunuch whom my brother bought

For his Thais, but no-one yet had thought

To send him on. A plan given to me

By Parmeno, my servant, rapidly

I took up.

Antipho Which was….?

Chaerea Quiet! You shall hear

It soon enough. For I should then appear

As him once we’d changed clothes.

Antipho But you would seem

A eunuch?

Chaerea Yes, that’s right.

Antipho And from this scheme

You’d gain precisely what?

Chaerea What?? I would be

With her, hear her and see her constantly. 760

Is that a slight or trivial motivation?

Thais showed her to me. An invitation

Came next to stay within her house, and she,

Once she’d received me there delightedly,

Entrusted her…

Antipho To whom?

Chaerea Why, me.

Antipho Well then,

You’re covered.

Chaerea She’d decided that no men

Should go near her and told me to abide

And sojourn with the maid alone inside

The inner rooms. I nodded, modestly

Looking upon the ground.

Antipho [sarcastically]

Poor chap!

Chaerea Then she 770

Said, “I am off to dinner,” and she swept

Off with some maids of hers; some few were kept

Behind, for they were basically trainees:

They organized her bath. I said to these,

“Be quick.” Within her room the maiden sat,

As this was going on, while gazing at

A painting representing Danaë

Into whose lap a shower of gold, they say,

Was sent. I looked at it in great delight

That Jupiter once used a similar sleight 780

By changing to a man and entering

Another person’s house and fashioning

A bogus shower so he could mislead

A woman. What god was it, though, indeed?

The one who smote high temples when he threw

His thunderbolt. Could I not do this, too,

Though just a mortal creature? Happily

I did it. I was in this reverie

When she was called to bathe, and so the maid

Went off to bathe, then came back. Then they laid 790

Her on a couch. I stayed expectantly,

Awaiting orders. One maid said to me,

“Pick up the fan and let us have some air

While we are bathing. Then, if you should care

To do so, bathe as well. With modesty

I took the fan.

Antipho I would have loved to see

Your cheeky face – a hulking mule like you

Holding a fan!

Chaerea Well, with no more ado

They rushed away to bathe with many a shout,

As maids do when the master’s not about. 800

My maid was now asleep, and with a glance

I looked at her (you may call it askance,

Since it was through the fan). I looked around

To see if it was safe – it was, I found!

I locked the door.

Antipho And then…?

Chaerea “And then”, you ass?

Antipho I am, I know it.

Chaerea How could I let pass

This glorious, fleeting opportunity,

Longed-for yet seeming hopeless? I would be

The eunuch that I played if I rejected

This chance.

Antipho That’s true. But what of the expected 810


Chaerea It’s all been prepared.

Antipho That’s marvellous.

Where will it be? At your house?

Chaerea No, Discus,

Our freedman’s, place.

Antipho That’s far. We can’t be slow.

We must move quickly. Change your dress.

Chaerea Where, though?

I’m done for! I’m an exile even where

I live: I fear my brother will be there.

My father may be back, too, from his land


Antipho Well, my house is close at hand.

Let’s go there where you’ll change your dress.

Chaerea Well said!

I wonder, too, if there is in your head 820

A plan that I may take up to possess

The girl I love.

Antipho I wish you all success.



Dorias From what I’ve seen, I am afraid today

That madman will incite a dreadful fray

Or harm Thais. For when the youth Chremes,

The maiden’s brother, came here, she said, “Please,

Let him in, Captain.” He immediately

Got angry but dared not refuse her plea.

She still insisted, wanting him to stay,

The time not being right for her to say 830

Some words about her sister. Moodily

He let in Chremes, and he stayed. Then she

Began to talk to him. The captain thought

That right before his eyes Thais had brought

A rival. Therefore, wishing to annoy

The woman, he then shouted out, “Hey, boy,

Fetch Pamphila to entertain us here.”

Said Thais, “While we’re banqueting? No fear!”

He kept on – it turned to controversy.

She then took off her golden jewellery 840

Behind his back for me to take away –

A sign that she’d be leaving straight away.


Phaedria [to himself]

Country-bound, I began to ruminate

(I’m prone to do so when things aggravate

My mind) on several themes. I came to see

Each one of them most unhospitably.

Why spell it out? While I was musing thus,

I passed my villa in my heedlessness.

I’d gone quite far, then twigged and turned around;

As I was walking back again I found 850

That I felt queasy. I stopped at my drive

And reasoned with myself: “Oh man alive!

Two days without her? And then? Nothing! What?

Nothing at all? Will it become my lot

Not even to touch her or to even see

Her face? If it is not allowed for me

To do the one, then it’s but fair I may

Yet do the other? Love that’s faraway

Outranks no love at all.” I purposely

Passed by my villa, as it seems to me. 860

But how’s this? Suddenly into my sight

There hurries Pythias in such a fright.


Pythias [apart]

Where shall I find this wretch? Ah, to commit

A dreadful thing like that!

Phaedria [apart]

I fear what it

Might be. I’m done for!

Pythias [apart]

And, moreover, he,

Once he had made a perfect mockery

Of the maid, rent all her clothes, her hair.

Phaedria [apart]


Pythias Should

I have him here right now, I surely would

Fly at the villain’s eyes and scratch them out.

Phaedria I don’t know what that fray was all about 870

At home when I was absent [comes forward] Ah, what speed

You’re making, Pythias! Whom do you need

To speak to?

Pythias Phaedria, away with you!

You and your fine gifts!

Phaedria Why, what’s to do?

Pythias That eunuch that you gave us has created

Confusion here. He’s gone and violated

The maid, the captain’s gift.

Phaedria What’s that you say?

Pythias I’m dead!

Phaedria You’re drunk!

Pythias I wish you were that way,

Attacking me like that.

Dorias What monstrous act

Is this?

Phaedria You’re mad: a eunuch can’t in fact 880

Do that.

Pythias I don’t know him, but what he’s done

Speaks for itself. The maiden weeps: if one

Should ask her why, she doesn’t dare reply.

The swine is nowhere to be found, and I

Suspect he’s stolen something.

Phaedria But I’d guess

The bastard can’t be far away, unless

He’s gone back to our house.

Pythias Please go and see.

Phaedria I will and let you know immediately.

Dorias Ye gods, that is the grossest thing, my dear,

That in my life I’ve ever had to hear. 890

They love women, I hear, exceedingly

But can’t perform with them; unfortunately

I erred. I should have barred him, I’m afraid,

Of ever going anywhere near the maid.


Phaedria Come out, you beast! Resisting, eh, disgrace?

Dorus Please!

Phaedria Look at that – the swine screws up his face!

Why come back here? Why change your clothes? If I’d

Delayed a moment longer, he’d have hied


Pythias You’ve got him?

Phaedria Yes, I have.

Pythias Well done!

Dorus Fine!

Phaedria Where is he? I can’t see anyone. 900

Phaedria You don’t? He’s here.

Pythias Who’s here?

Phaedria This fellow.

Pythias Who

Is he?

Phaedria He who today was brought to you.

Pythias None of our maids have seen this man before.

Did you believe he was brought to our door?

Phaedria The only one.

Pythias There’s no comparison

Between this fellow and the other one,

Who’s handsome and genteel.

Phaedria He did seem thus

When dressed in fancy clothes: he’s hideous

Without them now.

Pythias Hush! What a stupid thought!

The difference is huge. One youth was brought 910

To us whose face you would have loved to see.

This man is clapped-out, withered, doddery

And weasel-coloured.

Phaedria What? Can this be true?

You’ve got me so I haven’t got a clue

Of what I did. [to Dorus] Did I buy you?

Dorus You did

Indeed, sir.

Pythias In his turn, however, bid

Him answer me.

Phaedria Well, ask him.

Pythias [to Dorus] Did you come

To us this very day? [to the others] Remaining dumb,

He shakes his head. The other fellow, though,

Came here at sixteen years, with Parmeno. 920

Phaedria First ask me this: where did you get that dress?

You give me no reply. Such monstrousness!

Dorus Chaerea came.

Phaedria My brother?

Dorus Yes.

Phaedria But when?

Dorus Today.

Phaedria What time?

Dorus Just now.

Phaedria With whom?

Dorus Again –

With Parmeno.

Phaedria Did you know him before?

Dorus I’d never heard of him.

Phaedria But tell me more:

How did you know he was my brother, though?

Dorus I was myself informed by Parmeno,

Who gave to me this dress.

Phaedria Ye gods, I’m dead!

Dorus And then he dressed himself in mine instead; 930

And then they left together.

Pythias Well, you know

I’m sober and have told no lies, and so

It’s clear the maid was ravished, yes?

Phaedria Do you

Believe that was this rogue has said is true?

Pythias Why should I not believe him? Look, the act

Speaks for itself, and that’s a certain fact.

Phaedria [apart, to Dorus]

Move this way just a little. Do you hear?

No, just a little closer. Yes, that’s near

Enough. Did Chaerea take your dress from you?

Dorus He did.

Phaedria And did he put it on?

Dorus That’s true. 940

And then instead of you he was brought here?

Dorus That’s right.

Phaedria A most audacious man, I fear.

Pythias Do you not now believe the mockery

Imposed with this unworthy trickery

On us?

Phaedria It’s not extraordinary, though,

That he believes the fellow. I don’t know

What I should do. [aside to Dorus] Deny it all again.

[aloud] Can I not get the truth from you? Now then,

Did you see Chaerea?

Dorus No.

Phaedria He can’t be

Brought to confess without some penalty, 950

I see. So follow me. First he agrees

But then denies [apart to Dorus] Ask pardon.

Dorus Phaedria, please

Forgive me.

Phaedria Go in. [kicks Dorus]

Dorus Ow!

Phaedria I do not know

Another honest way to dodge this blow.

I’ve had it! [aloud, pretending indignation] Even here you mess with me,

You swine!

Pythias All this is Parmeno’s trickery,

As sure as I’m alive.

Dorias Indeed.

Pythias Today

I’m going to find a way to make him pay.

Dorias, what should I do, do you suppose?

Dorias About the maid?

Pythias That’s right. Should I disclose 960

The truth or keep my mouth shut?

Dorias Well, if you

Are prudent, you won’t know the facts you do

Know – of the eunuch and about the fact

The maid was ravished: so by this one act

You will be trouble-free and also do

A service for Thais. And therefore you

Must simply say Dorus has gone away.

Pythias Right.

Dorias Do I see Chremes? Coming this way

There is Thais.

Pythias Why is she here?

Dorias When I

Left here, I saw those two begin to fly 970

Into a spat. Take in these trinkets: thus

I’ll find the origin of all this fuss.


Chremes I’ve been bamboozled – all that wine made me

Dizzy. While lying down, I felt to be

Quite sober. But when I got up, I’d find

The duties of my feet and of my mind

Were forfeited.

Pythias Chremes!

Chremes Who’s that I hear?

Ah, Pythias! Indeed it’s pretty clear

That you’re more charming than you were before.

Pythias And you, too, have perked up a good deal more. 980

Chremes Without Ceres and Liber, it’s well said,

Venus is cold. Was Thais well ahead

Of us here?

Pythias Has she left the captain?

Chremes Long

Ago. They had a row – quite a ding-dong


Pythias But did she say nothing about

Your following her?

Chremes Nothing, but, setting out,

She gave a nod to me.

Pythias But was that not


Chremes Well, I’m afraid I did not spot

Her drift till the captain made extremely clear

What I had missed. And then out on my ear 990

Was I expelled. But look here – it is she.

I wonder how she’s here ahead of me.


Thais [to herself]

He’ll soon be here, I think, to take away

My maid. Well, let him come. If he should lay

One finger on me, I immediately

I shall scratch his eyes out. His effrontery

And fancy words I’m able to endure

While they are just words, but you can be sure,

If they turn into actual deeds, then I’ll

Have him assaulted.

Chremes Thais, for some while 1000

I’ve been here.

Thais I have been expecting you,

Chremes. Are you aware that this to-do

Is all your fault?

Chremes My fault? How can that be?

Because, while I was trying earnestly

To get your sister back, I’ve had to bear

All that and so much more.

Chremes But tell me where

She is.

Thais At my house.

Chremes Hah!

Thais She has been bred

Well, as have you yourself.

Chremes What’s that you said?

Thais Its true. She’s yours – and I require no fee

For her.

Chremes I give you thanks most earnestly, 1010

As you deserve.

Thais Take care, though, that you’ll not

Find out you’ve lost the wench before you’ve got

Her safely – the captain will soon appear

To take the girl by force away from here

Go in the house, Pythias, and bring to me

The casket with the tokens.

Chremes Do you see

Him coming - ?

Pythias [to Thais]

But where is it?

Thais Why are you

So slow? It’s in the chest. Go – quickly, too. [Pythias goes in]

Chremes The captain’s bringing such a troop of men.

Ye gods!

Thais Does that make you so nervous, then? 1020

Chremes Oh, get away with you! What - nervous? Me?

No man on earth’s less so.

Thais Then let me see

The proof.

Chremes What kind of man is it you feel

I am?

Thais Look, he with whom you have to deal

Is foreign, too, and has less sway than you,

Is less well-known and here his friends are few.

Chremes I know, but it would be impetuous

To do what you may shun, better for us

To forestall rather than revenge once we

Receive an injury. Accordingly, 1030

Go in and lock the door, for I must hustle

Off to the forum – I must in this tussle

Have lawyers round me.

Thais Stay!

Chremes I should…

Thais No, stay!

Chremes I’ll be back soon. Let me be on my way.

Thais There is no need, Chremes: just say that she

Is your true sister, in her infancy

You lost her but have found her once again,

Then show the tokens.

Pythias (giving the tokens]

They’re here.

Thais Take them, then.

If he gets violent, summons him. You see

The plot?

Chremes Yes.

Thais Say it all judiciously. 1040

Chremes I will.

Thais Gather up your cloak! [aside] I am undone!

My lawyer now himself has need of one.


Thraso Shall I yield to this dreadful slur, Gnatho?

I’d rather die. Donax, Simalio,

Syriscus, follow me. Now straight away

I’ll storm the house…

Gnatho  Quite right.

Thraso …and snatch away

The girl.

Gnatho Ah, yes.

Thraso And I will beat her, too.

Gnatho Of course.

Thraso Into the fray, then, Donax, you

Take your crowbar. Simalio, the left wing

Is yours, Syriscus, yours the right. Then bring 1050

The rest. Where’s Sanga, the centurion

And thievish standard-bearer?

Sanga Here.

Thraso Go on,

You knave! A sponge to fight with?

Sanga Well, I knew

A leader’s grit and soldiers’ powers, too:

What else should I possess to wipe away

The blood?

Thraso Where are the others?

Sanga What? You say

The others, damn you? Only Sannio

Is left on guard at home.

Thraso Now you must go

And draw the troops up. In the centre line

I’ll place myself and give you all the sign. 1060

Gnatho [aside]

How wise! His troops drawn up, he then will find

A hiding-place.

Thraso A strategy of this kind

Pyrrhus once used. [Chremes and Thais appear at the window]

Chremes [to Thais]

You see his ruse? My plan

To lock the door was good advice.

Thais The man

You think a hero shows himself to be

A paltry wretch full of stupidity.

Don’t be alarmed.

Thraso [to Gnatho]

What’s your advice?

Thais [aside, to Chremes]:

A sling

For you to use would be the very thing –

Cast on the sly it would make them take flight.

Thraso There’s Thais.

Gnatho When should we fall to?

Thraso Hold tight! 1070

We should try everything before we start

To fight. She may have had a change of heart

And do what I bade her to do without


Gnatho You are wise, there is no doubt.

I always learn from you.

Thraso Primarily,

Thais, when you received the maid from me,

You said that you’d be my girl, did you not,

For some time?

Thais What’s the point you’re making?

Thraso What?

You who displayed a lover openly?

Thais And so…?

Thraso And left with him clandestinely? 1080

Thais My choice!

Thraso Give back the maid or I’ll attack

You here and now.

Chremes What? Give Pamphila back

Or be assailed? What the - ?

Gnatho Watch what you say!

Thraso What do you mean by that? You say I may

Not touch what’s mine?

Chremes Yours, rogue?

Gnatho You do not know

Whom you are cursing.

Chremes Why don’t you just go?

You know the score? If you should start a brawl

Today, you may be sure that you’ll recall

Forevermore the place, the day and me.

Gnatho You will regret making an enemy 1090

Of such a man as him.

Chremes I’ll smash your head

If you don’t sling your hook.

Gnatho What’s that you said,

You dog? Is that your game, then?

Thraso Who are you,

What do you want and what have you to do

With her?

Chremes Well, first of all I have to tell

What you should know – that she’s freeborn.

Thraso Like hell!

Chremes And she’s from Attica.

Thraso Ye gods!

Chremes And she

Was born my sister.

Thraso Such effrontery!

Chremes I warn you, Captain, then, to pose no threat

At all to her. Now, Thais, I will get 1100

The nurse Sophrona to bring her and show

The tokens.

Thraso Are you issuing a veto

That I may not touch what is mine?

Chremes Too true!

Gnatho You hear? That’s theft! Is that enough for you?

Thraso Thais, you say the same?

Thais Yes, go and find

Someone to answer you.

Thraso [to Gnatho]

We’re in a bind.

What should we do?

Gnatho Go back: she’ll soon be here

To ask forgiveness.

Thraso Really?

Gnatho Have no fear.

I know a woman’s mind: she will forgo

What you desire, but when you tell her “No”, 1110

She longs for it.

Thraso Good thinking.

Gnatho Shall I, then,

Dismiss the troops?

Thraso Yes, as you will.

Gnatho As men

Of valour do, remember to take care

Of hearth and home.

Sanga For long my mind’s been there

Among the pots and pans.

Gnatho What a mainstay

You’ve proved to be.

Thraso Now follow me this way.



Thais What’s all this foggy talk? “I am aware”;

“I’m not”; “he’s gone”; “I’ve heard”; “I wasn’t there.”

Be clear! The girl has had her garments rent,

And now she’s all in tears and reticent. 1120

The eunuch’s gone. Why? What’s all this to-do?

Why mute?

Pythias Oh dear, what can I say to you?

They say he wasn’t a eunuch after all.

Thais Then who?

Pythias That Chaerea.

Thais Can you recall

Which Chaerea it was?

Pythias That young man who

Is Phaedria’s brother.

Thais What, you hag?

Pythias It’s true.

Thais Why is he here? Who brought him?

Pythias I don’t know,

Though he, I think, loves Pamphila.

Thais Oh woe!

If that’s the truth! Is it because of this

She weeps?

Pythias I think so.

Thais Ah, you roguish miss! 1130

Did I not warn you, when I said adieu,

About this very thing?

Pythias What could I do?

She was entrusted, by your own decree,

To him alone.

Thais You have unfortunately

Conveyed a wolf into a shepherd’s fold.

I am so much ashamed that I have told

You to do that. What kind of man is he?

Pythias Mistress, be quiet! Bite your tongue! For we

Are saved. He’s here.

Thais Where?

Pythias On the left. Do you

Not see the very man?

Thais Why, yes, I do. 1140

Pythias Have him arrested, then, immediately.

Thais And then do what?

Pythias Do you ask that of me?

Just look at him – ah, what an impudent face!

Do you not see he’s chock-full of disgrace?


Chaerea [to himself]

Both parents were at Antipho’s, as though

On purpose, so that I could hardly go

Inside unseen. But then I saw someone

I knew approaching me, so, at a run,

I took off down some unfrequented street,

And then two more, in fear that I might meet 1150

Someone who’d recognize me. Ah, bad luck!

Is that not Thais? Yes, it is. I’m stuck.

What should I do? And yet why should I care?

What can she do to me?

Thais [to Pythias]

Let’s stop him there.

[to Chaerea] Dorus, good-day. Say, have you run away?

Chaerea Yes.

Thais Happy?

Chaerea No.

Thais You think you’ll have to pay

The price for it?

Chaerea Forgive me this one sin:

If I commit another, do me in.

Thais My anger scared you?

Chaerea No.

Thais But…?

Chaerea That that one [indicating Pythias]

Might rat on me to you.

Thais What have you done? 1160

Chaerea Not much.

Pythias You say ‘not much’, you misery?

To rape a citizen??

Chaerea I thought that she

Was just a fellow-slave.

Pythias I hardly can

Restrain myself from flying at the man

And tearing at his hair. He’s here to jeer

At us.

Thais [to Pythias]

You crazy thing, get out of here!

Pythias Why? If I did, I do believe I’d be

In debt to that hang-dog, especially

Since he has actually confessed to you

That he’s your servant.

Thais [to Chaerea]

Chaerea, let’s do 1170

Away with all of that. Unworthily

You’ve acted: if in the highest degree

I did deserve this outrage, all the same

Your profanation calls out for some blame.

Right now I don’t know how to counsel you

About the maid, since you have made a stew

Of all my thoughts. How could I possibly

Restore the maid back to the company

Of all her friends, as would be fair and right,

As I had hoped to do? That way I might 1180

Do a service to myself.

Chaerea I hope, Thais,

That henceforth there will be goodwill and peace

Between us. Circumstances of this kind

May start unhappily but then you’ll find

They end in friendship. Some divinity

Perhaps decreed this.

Thais I will certainly

Accede to it.

Chaerea Be sure the explanation

Of my unworthy act was adoration

And not an urge to hurt you.

Thais Yes, I know –

That’s why I pardon you. I am not so 1190

Callous or green that I’m oblivious

Of love’s strength.

Chaerea Now I’m feeling amorous

Towards you, too.

Pythias Be careful, mistress, do!

Thais I wouldn’t dare –

Pythias I don’t have faith in you

In anything.

Thais Desist!

Chaerea Please succour me:

I put myself into your custody.

If I can’t have her as my wife, I’ll die.

Thais But if your father –

Chaerea Oh, he will comply

If she’s a citizen.

Thais Then wait right here:

The brother of the maid will soon appear. 1200

He’ll fetch the nurse who tended her when she

Was just a baby. And here will you be

To see him recognize her.

Chaerea Oh, I’ll stay.

Thais And meanwhile, while Cremes is on his way,

Shall we go in?

Chaerea Oh yes!

Pythias [to Thais]

What will you do?

Thais Why, what’s the matter now?

Pythias I ask of you,

Will you allow him in there even now?

Thais Why not?

Pythias He’ll cause some rumpus here, I vow.

Thais Shush!

Pythias You don’t see this man’s audacity.

Chaerea I won’t do anything.

Pythias You cannot be 1210

Relied upon.

Chaerea Please keep me safe!

Pythias I’d dare

Not give you anything to keep, nor care

To keep you either. Go away!

Thais At last

Here comes the brother.

Chaerea Ah, the die is cast!

Let’s go in, Thais. I’d not have him see

Me in this dress.

Thais Wherefore? Ignominy?

Chaerea Yes.

Thais But the maid –

Chaerea I’ll follow: go in, please.

Pythias, stay here to usher in Chremes.


Pythias [to herself]

What should I do? I wonder how I can

Pay back the villain who palmed off this man 1220

On us.

Chremes Quick, Nurse!

Sophrona I’m moving. Can’t you see?

Chremes I can. It’s not in the direction we

Are going, though.

Pythias Tell me now -  have you shown

The nurse the tokens?

Chremes Yes.

Pythias And does she own

She recognizes them?

Chremes Yes, totally.

Pythias Good news: I hope it brings prosperity

To the maid. My mistress from some time ago

Has been expecting you. [Chremes and Sophrona go in] Look! Parmeno,

That splendid chap, is here. How leisurely

He moves! I hope that my ability 1230

Is equal to tormenting him. I’ll go

Inside so that I may for certain know

Of the discovery. Then, back outside,

I’ll make sure that he’s truly terrified.


Parmeno [to himself]

I’m back to see what Chaerea’s doing here.

If he’s done well, he’ll get a welcome cheer.

Despite the passion he feels for a maid,

Owned by a greedy whore, for which he paid

In spades, I’ve found a way to bring content

To him without cost or predicament. 1240

Then there’s the other point, which I don’t doubt

Crowns all my other deeds – I have found out

How young men may learn all the different ways

Whores may employ so that through all their days

They may loathe them. [enter Pythias, unseen] In them nothing is seen,

When they are out of doors, more neat or clean

Or elegant, and when they’re going out

To dine with lovers, they will pick about

Food daintily, but see their filthiness

When home, their squalor and their neediness, 1250

Their sluttishness, their greed; they’ll eat black bread

With yesterday’s broth. A youth who has been fed

This knowledge is secure.

Pythias [apart]

These sneers will I

Avenge so that you will not ever try

To ridicule us with impunity.

Ye gods, a wretched youth! Such villainy!

And cursed be he who brought him hither, too,

That scoundrel Parmeno!

Parmeno Why, what’s to do?

Pythias I pity him. I left so that I may

Not see the foul examples that they say

They’ll make of him.

Parmeno I’m done for! What a mess!

Well, I’ll accost her. Pythias, confess

What this is all about! Say what was meant

By those “examples”!

Pythias What, you malcontent?

You’ve ruined the man who brought the youth to be

The eunuch, while you planned a mockery

Of us.

Parmeno What happened, then?

Pythias Well, did you know

The maid Thais was given not long ago

Today’s a citizen, her brother, too,

A nobleman?

Parmeno I didn’t.

Pythias Well, it’s true - 1270

It has been proven. Chremes ravished her,

And when her brother found out what the cur

Had done, he furiously –

Parmeno Yes? Furiously

Did what?

Pythias Bound him.

Parmeno Bound him?

Pythias While pleadingly

Thais said, “Stop it.” He now, furthermore,

Threatened the punishment that’s laid out for

All rapists, something I don’t wish to see.

Parmeno How could he carry out such savagery?

Pythias Why savagery?

Parmeno Could it be otherwise?

Has anyone beheld before his eyes

A rapist in a strumpet’s house arrested?

Pythias I don’t know.

Parmeno But know this – it’s been attested

That he’s my master’s son.

Pythias It’s him?

Parmeno Don’t let

Thais lay hands on him. But better yet,

I’ll go inside.

Pythias Take care that you should do

Some injury to the man and find that you

Are injured equally, for everyone

Thinks that it’s you who’ve caused all that’s been done.

Parmeno What should I do or think up? Ah, I see

The old man from his country property. 1290

Should I tell him or not? I will, although

I shall get from this service many a blow.

But he must rescue him.

Pythias That’s wisely done.

Go in! Tell them each instance, one by one!


Laches [to himself]

Because my country-house is very hear

I have the benefit never to fear

Boredom from town or country: when ennui

Takes over, I change my locality.

That’s Parmeno, I think, there at the door.

I wonder now whom he is waiting for. 1300

Parmeno [pretending not to see him]

Who’s that? Master, I’m glad you’re safely here.

Laches Whom are you waiting for?

Parmeno [aside]

I’m stiff with fear.

Laches What’s wrong? Why do you shake? Come on, tell me.

Parmeno Well, I will tell you in all honesty

I’m not to blame.

Laches In what? What do you mean?

Parmeno You well may ask. Indeed, I should have been

Up-front and told you all much earlier.

Phaedria bought a eunuch and to her [indicating Thais’s house]

I was to give him.

Laches Her?

Parmeno Thais.

Laches I’ll die!

What was the price she paid?

Parmeno Twenty minae. 1310

Laches Ye gods! A music-girl has hypnotized

Chaerea here.

Laches Has he not realized

A strumpet’s function? And has he, then come

To town? A limitless continuum

Of troubles!

Parmeno Do not look at me like that,

Master – I didn’t spur him on.

Laches You rat,

Don’t talk about yourself! For as I live,

I’ll – But whatever the facts may be, just give

An explanation.

Parmeno He was brought instead

Of the eunuch here.

Laches Instead?

Parmeno That’s what I said. 1320

And he has been arrested since inside

The house for rape and he’s securely tied.

Laches I’m done for!

Parmeno Well, there’s the audacity

Of strumpets.

Laches Is there more iniquity

Or loss to tell me?

Parmeno That is all.

Laches I’ll go

Inside at once. [enters the house]

Parmeno There’s certainly much woe

Coming to me, although I had great need

To act that way. I’m glad, though, that indeed

These women, too, will weep because of me.

For the old man’s been seeking endlessly 1330

Some stimulus or other that he might

Do them a bad turn. Now it’s come to light.


Pythias [to herself]

It’s been so long since anything at all

That’s happened in my life has made me fall

About with mirth. The old man came into

The house, mistaken. I alone then knew

The thing he feared.

Parmeno [apart]

What’s this?

Pythias Now out I go

To have a word or two with Parmeno.

And yet where is the man I want to see?

Parmeno She’s looking for me.

Pythias There he is – that’s he. 1340

Parmeno What’s up, you dolt? What are you laughing at?

What do you want?

Pythias Ah, I am knocked out flat

With laughing at you.

Parmeno Why?

Pythias You ask me why?

Ye gods, a more moronic man have I

Not seen or will see. I cannot express

How many hours of pure joyousness

You’ve caused inside the house. Yet formerly

I thought you clever. Did you instantly

Need to trust me? Or were you then content

Not only with that crime, by your assent 1350

Committed by the young man, but that you

Betray the fellow to his father, too?

How do you think his father felt when he

Observed his son dressed in that frippery?

You know you’ve had it?

Parmeno What, you bitch, were these

All lies? Are you still laughing? Does it please

Your heart to laugh at us?

Pythias Oh yes! I’ll say!

Parmeno But do you think that you will get away

With this?

Pythias Yes.

Parmeno Oh but I will get you yet.

Pythias I think you will, but, Parmeno, your threat 1360

May wait till later on. Your penalty

Will be to hang, since for his felony

You made a youth remarkable and then

Betrayed him to his father. Both those men

Will make an example of you.

Parmeno Now I’m nought!

Pythias This prize is for that present that you brought.

Parmeno [to himself]

I’m caught today just like a rat in a trap,

And, self-betrayed, I cannot beat the rap.


Gnatho What hope have we? What is your plan, Thraso?

Thraso What is my plan? Well, I intend to throw 1370

Myself on Thais’ mercy and to do

What she commands.

Gnatho Did I hear that from you?

Thraso Why should I do less, though, than Hercules

When serving Omphale?

Gnatho This tends to please

Me much. [aside] I’d rather see a slipper clout

Your head. That creak means someone’s coming out.

Ah, what more mischief is there left to fear?

And why’s that total stranger rushing here?


Chaerea [to himself, aloud]

Citizens, who is more well-blessed than me

Today? No-one! For it is plain to see 1380

That I’m all-powerful. My thanks are owed

To all the gods, who’ve suddenly bestowed

So many blessings on me.

Parmeno [apart]

Why is he

So happy?

Chaerea Parmeno, so dear to me,

My joys’ creator, do you know the ground

Of my delight? My Pamphila’s been found

To be a citizen.

Parmeno So they tell me.

Chaerea And she’s betrothed to me.

Parmeno How joyously 1390

I hear your news.

Gnatho [apart, to Thraso]

Did you hear what he said?

Chaerea My brother, too, I’m pleased to say, will wed

Thais. Our families are united now;

Thais herself has made a solemn vow

For Father’s patronage: our custody

She now enjoys.

Parmeno Is Thais totally

Your brother’s, then?

Chaerea Of course.

Parmeno Another thing

To laugh about! Now somebody will fling

The captain out.

Chaerea And therefore you must see

My brother knows, wherever he may be. 1400

Parmeno I’ll check the house.

Thraso [apart, to Gnatho]

Do you not think, Gnatho,

That am done for good?

Gnatho Oh yes, that’s so.

Chaerea [to himself]

What should I mention first or notably

Commend? The man who gave advice to me

To act or me myself who had the pluck

To do the deed? Or should I praise Good Luck,

My constant guide, who crammed in just one day

So many boons? Or maybe, I should say,

My father’s patience and kind-heartedness?

O Jupiter, I pray, keep safe and bless 1410

These boons! [enter Phaedria]

Phaedria [to himself]

The things that I’ve heard recently

From Parmeno! But where’s my brother?

Chaerea He

Is here.

Phaedria Oh, I’m so glad.

Chaerea I’m sure you are,

Brother. Thais is worthier by far

Than any other to be loved, for she

Is benefactress of our family.

Phaedria To me you praise her??

Thraso [apart]

Ah, I am undone!

The less my hope, the more I love. The one

To rescue me, Gnatho, is only you.

I beg you, help me.

Gnatho [apart]

What am I to do? 1420

Thraso [apart]

By money or entreaties try to see

That I enjoy Thais in some degree.

Gnatho That’s tough.

Thraso [apart]

But, Gnatho, if to anything

You set your mind, I know you: if you bring

This off, ask me for anything that you

Desire – you’ll have it.

Gnatho [apart]

Is that true? 

Thraso [apart]

That’s true.

Gnatho Keep your house open, whether you’re there or not,

For me so that I always have a spot.

Thraso [apart]


Gnatho [apart]

I’ll get ready, then.

Phaedria Who’s that? Thraso!

Thraso Good-day to you.

Phaedria Perhaps you do not know 1430

What’s happened.

Thraso Oh, I do know.

Phaedria Therefore why

Are you still here?

Thraso So that I may rely

On your goodwill.

Phaedria Goodwill? I tell you now

If I find you out here, though you may vow

You’re seeking someone else who lives, maybe,

Near here, you’re done for.

Gnatho That’s unmannerly.

Phaedria So what?

Gnatho I didn’t know that you could show

Such arrogance.

Phaedria What I’ve said shall be so.

Gnatho But listen to my words, for they are few,

And if you’re pleased with what I say to you, 1440

Then act on them.

Phaedria Speak!

Gnatho Step this way, Thraso. [Thraso steps aside]

Now, first of all, I’d like you both to know

Explicitly that everything I do

I’m doing for myself, but if for you

It’s also advantageous, it would be

Lunacy not to do it.

Phaedria So tell me.

Gnatho Take in the captain – that’s what I suggest,

Though he’s your rival.

Phaedria Take him in??

Gnatho Digest

The thought a little. Here with her you live

At little cost, but you’ve not much to give, 1450

And she’s high-maintenance, but he’ll confer

Gifts to your love which you can’t offer her.

There’s no-one fitter for all this but he,

A man of means who gives most lavishly.

He’s dim, slow, stupid, snores all day and night,

And you may have no fear your mistress might

Be smitten with the man, and therefore you

May oust him when you will.

Chaerea [to Phaedria]

What shall we do?

Gnatho I’ve thought of something else – additionally,

Nobody entertains more splendidly 1460

Than him.

Phaedria It would be most astonishing

If we can’t use him, too.

Chaerea The very thing

I thought myself.

Gnatho Quite right! There’s one thing still –

Take me in, too. That stone up that damned hill

I’ve rolled too long.

Phaedria We will.

Chaerea And gladly, too.

Gnatho I beg you, Phaedria, and, Chaerea, you,

Take him – after a taste of him I pass

Him on that you might show folks what an ass

He is.

Chaerea With pleasure.

Phaedria Yes, it’s only fair.

Gnatho Thraso, when you’re prepared, come out from there. 1470

Thraso What’s up?


They didn’t know of you, but when

I praised your deeds and character, well, then

I won them over.

Thraso Many thanks – well done!

It’s always been the case that everyone

Loves me.

Gnatho [to Phaedria and Chaerea]

Did I not say to you that he

Is master of Attic propriety?

Phaedria Indeed he is exactly as you say.

All Give your applause and then be on your way.