Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)
Translated by Christopher Kelk
Scene from Terentius' play Heautontimorumenos
Bernard Picart (French, 1673 - 1733) - The Rijksmuseum
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Lest you should be astonished that you find
A part that is more commonly assigned
To a youth played by an old man, I will now
Explain to you and afterwards tell how
It is that that old man is I. We’ll play
It was a wholly Grecian comedy
But now it’s wholly Roman. You will see
A double plot made single. That it’s new
And what its essence is I’ll show to you. 10
The bard and who wrote it originally
I’d tell you if the great majority
Of you were not already quite aware
Of who they are and were. Now I will share
With you in just a few words why I learned
This part at all. The poet was concerned
That I should plead for him but shouldn’t speak
The prologue. It’s your judgment he would seek.
I am his advocate and hope to be
As eloquent in my advocacy 20
As he was clever in envisioning
The part I’ll speak. But we’ve been listening
To poisonous dirt that he’s contaminated
Countless Greek plays while he’s scarcely created
But few in Latin. This he’ll not deny
Nor rue and swears he’ll do so by and by
Again. Examples of good bards he shows
And therefore plans to do the same as those.
The vicious critic says he suddenly
Took playwriting as his activity, 30
Relying on the talents of his friends
And not his own. So now our hope depends
Upon your judgment, so I beg of you
That our admirers’ pleading rings more true.
Allow the playwrights great prosperity
For giving you the opportunity
Of watching faultless plays that are brand-new,
Lest he think this is said to that man who
Tossed out upon his audience of late
A servant running at a rapid rate 40
Along the street. Why does he wish to play
A maniac? He will have more to say
About his peccadilloes after he
Brings out some new ones, although he maybe
Will end them. Favour me so that I may
Be able to produce a silent play –
No slave who’s always rushing through the street,
No greedy parasite, no shameless cheat,
No mean pimp, angry dotard shall you see
Upon the stage, with excess drudgery 50
And too much shouting. For my sake concede
That this is only fair, that I may need
Less labour. Modern playwrights want to hire
An “old man” actor, and, should it require
Hard work, they run to me. If it should be
An easier task, another company
Is sought. My style is pure: see how each part
Within the play is treated by my art.
If I have never thought to set a fee
Upon it, thinking it the apogee 60
Of gain to serve you in the best way I’m
Capable of, make me a paradigm
So that young playwrights might be keen to please
You, not themselves, with their abilities.
Chremes Although our friendship’s of a recent date –
In fact it’s from when you bought an estate
Nearby – I value it considerably.
Your virtue, though, or else the fact that we
Are neighbours (which is something that I take
As being very close to friendship) make 70
May give you frank advice that It appears
That you are toiling quite beyond your years
And needs. Good lord, what do you hanker for?
You’re sixty years of age, or maybe more:
And yet no-one in this locality
Is owner of a better property
Or one more valuable, and no-one
Has more slaves , yet you act as if you’ve none
In managing your affairs. When at cockcrow
I leave the house and in the evening go 80
Back home again, I see you every day
Upon your property, slaving away –
You dig, plough, carry, having no recess,
No heed for comfort, while no happiness
You reap, I’m sure. You’ll say, though, you regret
How little work is done, but I would bet,
If you employed your slaves in what you do,
You’d flourish even more.
Menedemus Chremes, have you
Such leisure in your life that you can care
About the affairs of others but can spare 90
No leisure for your own?
Chremes I am a man:
There’s nothing in humanity that can
Be foreign to me. If you’d take my view
Upon this matter, or perhaps if you
Wish to advise me, what’s exemplary
I would embrace, but on the contrary,
Should it be wrong, I may attempt to sway
Your ardour for it.
Menedemus Well, I go my way,
You must go yours.
Chremes Would anyone crucify
Menedemus Yes, that would I. 100
Chremes I would relieve you of your wretchedness.
I beg you, what’s the cause of your distress?
Are these your just deserts?
Menedemus Oh god!
Chremes Don’t weep!
Just tell me what’s the matter, and don’t keep
Anything back. Don’t be afraid. Trust me.
For with instruction or with sympathy
Or anything at all I’ll be your aid.
Menedemus You’d hear it all?
Chremes You heard the vow I made.
Menedemus Then here it is…
Chremes But set aside that rake
And take a breather.
Chremes For goodness’ sake, 110
Menedemus Leave me alone, and let me go
Chremes [taking the rake]
Menedemus But that’s not fair!
Chremes Oh no!
Menedemus It’s what I deserve.
Chremes Have done
And tell your tale.
Menedemus Alright. I have a son,
My only one, a youth. What did I say?
“I have a son”? I had one, but today
I’m not so sure.
Menedemus Hither came to dwell
A poor Corinthian crone, and my son fell
For her young daughter, so much so that he
Thought of her as his wife. He kept from me 120
All this. When I found out, though, I began
To deal with him not like a gentleman
Should treat a love-sick youth, but in the way
That countless fathers would. For every day
I censured him: “Do you intend to go
On longer with this intrigue, even though
Your father lives, and have a mistress who
Will act as though your wife? Well, if you do
You don’t know me, for you are doing wrong.
I’d like you to be called my son as long 130
As you are worthy, but once you should quit
Your worthiness, I’ll find a way that’s fit
To deal with you. Your one fault’s an excess
Of idleness. There was no lustfulness
In me when I was your age. Penury
Drove me to Asia where prosperity
And martial glory I attained.” It came
To this, that, hearing constantly the same
Harsh words, Clinia was overcome: so he
Decided I had more sagacity 140
Than he through age and kindness, and therefore
He went to Asia, joining in the war
To serve the king.
Menedemus I didn’t know
That he had left. That was three months ago.
Chremes You’re both to blame, although the step that he
Had taken displays his vitality.
Menedemus Then when I found out from those who had learned
About his leaving, sadly I returned,
Almost subdued with grief and misery.
I sat down while my servants ran to me; 150
They took my shoes off, then some others sped
To start to cook some food for me and spread
The couches. Each one in his way would try
To mitigate the grief I felt. When I
Saw this, I thought, “A multiplicity
Of servants pamper me exclusively!
So many maids to dress me! Opulence
For just one person makes but little sense.
My only son deserves this equally,
Or even more since he would fittingly 160
Enjoy it more, being young. Yet, like a brute,
I drove him far away: thus I’d impute
Any charge of sin against myself. For he
Is eking out a life of penury,
An exile, thanks to me; therefore I’ll pay
The penalty I owe in every way
I can – I toil, make money, every shred
I save held for my son.” I went ahead
With this commitment swiftly. You would find
That in my house there’s nothing left behind - 170
My furniture and clothes I took away:
Only the maids and servants who could pay
Their keep by rustic labour did I yet
Hold on to: all the other ones I set
For auction and then sold. Immediately
I signed a bill to sell my property.
I scraped together then the modest sum
Of fifteen talents and would thereby come
To buy this farm. And here I toil away
Because I have resolved that every day 180
That I am full of misery, my boy
Is less distressed, and I should not enjoy
My life while working out here unless he
Safely returns and shares all this with me.
Chremes I think that you’re affectionate to your son
And he’d be dutiful if there’s someone
Who’d treat him rightly and judiciously.
For you have never known him adequately,
Nor he you, for when frankness is unknown
Between two people, that occurs. You’ve shown 190
No hint of how you valued him, and he
Meanwhile has never had the bravery
To show his trust in you, a thing that’s due
To fathers. Should this have been done, then you
Would not feel wretched.
Menedemus True, I must confess.
My fault’s the worser, though.
I live in hope. I’m confident that he
Will, safe and sound, be with you presently
Menedemus May the gods grant it!
Chremes That they’ll surely do.
Now, if you’re free, I am inviting you 200
To my house that you’ll keep me company
And celebrate the Bacchic rites with me.
Menedemus I can’t.
Chremes Why not? I beg of you to spare
A little time. Your son would want you there
Though far away.
Menedemus No, it would not be right
That I, who drove him overseas to fight
And suffer hardships, ought myself to flee
Hardships as well.
Chremes You think so?
Chremes Farewell, then.
Menedemus Farewell, too, to you [exit]
Chremes My eyes
Are wet with tears. I so much sympathize 210
With Menedemus. But because the light
Of day is fading, I have to invite
My neighbour Plania to dine with me.
I’ll see if he’s at home. [goes to Phania’s door, returns]. They say that he
Is there already. It seems I delay
My guests. I must go in, then, straightaway.
What noise is this that’s coming from inside
My house? Who’s coming out? I’ll step aside.
Clitipho [at the door, to Clinia within]
There’s nothing, Clinia, so far to fear: 220
They’ve not been long, and shortly she’ll be here
With the messenger, I’m sure. Therefore subdue
That causeless worry that’s tormenting you.
Chremes Who’s that who’s talking to my son?
Clitipho I see
My father coming. Dad, how happily
You’re here. I wished to speak with you.
Chremes Oh, why?
Clitipho A man named Menedemus lives nearby.
D’you know him?
Chremes Very well.
Clitipho And do you know
He has a son?
Chremes I’ve heard he has, although
He went to Asia.
Clitipho He’s not there now, dad:
He’s at our house.
Chremes He’s at our - ?
Clitipho Once he had 230
Got off his vessel, I immediately
Brought him to dinner. Since our infancy
We’ve always been close friends.
Chremes Ah, such elation
You bring me! How I wish my invitation
To Menedemus now was not declined!
His unexpected pleasure as we dined
Would have caused me delight. But it is not
Too late yet even now.
Clitipho Be careful what
You’re doing There’s no need.
Clitipho He’s not clear
Yet what to do, since he’s just landed here. 240
He’s scared of everything, particularly
His father’s wrath and how his girl might be
Disposed towards him. For his love’s so great
That it caused this disturbance and his late
Journey to Asia.
Chremes Yes, I know.
Clitipho He sent
A slave to her in Rome. Our Syrus went
With him at my command.
Chremes And what has he
Said to you?
Clitipho That he is in misery.
Chremes Who could be more? The blessings that they say
Belong to men have all been snatched away - 250
Parents, a country in prosperity,
Comrades, relations, riches, family.
But everyone on earth is different –
He who knows how to use them is content
But he who doesn’t suffers.
He’s always been a glum old man, and he,
I fear, will stoop to angry wickedness.
Chremes What – Menedemus? [aside] Ah, I must suppress
The words I might have said, for it is clear
That Clinia will profit through his fear 260
Clitipho What are you mumbling?
Chremes I’ll tell you. He, in spite of everything,
Should have stayed home. It’s possible he could
Have had too strict a father, but he should
Have borne it. For whomever can one bear
More than one’s father? And it is not fair
That each one’s humour be the same. But never
Was Menedemus too strict: fathers ever
Are equally severe – I mean those who
Are wise. They do not want their sons to woo 270
The ladies or dine out day after day;
They curb their pocket-money. This will pay,
However, in integrity. Once greed
Hampers the mind, though, it leads on to need
To filch. “Watch others,” it is wisely said (and true),
“To gain what will be favourable to you.”
Clitipho That’s so, I think.
Chremes I’ll go in to find out
What is for dinner. Meanwhile, look about,
Because we’re at the shag-end of the day,
And see that you don’t stray too far away. 280
Clitipho [to himself]
How wicked are all fathers to young men,
Judging that, once born, we should swiftly then
Become dotards and never do what we,
As youths, are partial to! They oversee
Us by their own desires of long ago,
Not now. If I should have a son, he’d know
A lenient father. I would find a way
Of finding out when he had gone stray
And pardon him. Mine, though, contrastingly,
By means of someone else, explains to me 290
His feelings. When he’s in his cups he’ll tell
Me of his wicked ways till I’m in Hell.
To gain what will be favourable,” he’ll say,
“To you, watch others.” Oh- so- canny, eh?
That I’m deaf to it all he doesn’t know.
My mistress’ words are more portentous, though:
“Bring, this, bring that,” she’ll say. I’ve no reply
To this. No -one’s more miserable than I.
This Clinia, though, with woes discomfited,
Has a sweetheart who’s upright and well-bred, 300
No courtesan. Mine is notorious,
Outrageous, lofty, proud, presumptuous,
Tenacious. All I have to give her – well,
I always make a point never to tell
Her I have nothing. Father does not know
This ill luck I met with not long ago.
Clinia If my affair had granted me success,
By now she would be by my side, I’d guess.
I fear, though, that she has been led astray
While I was absent. For a huge array
Of things support the thoughts harassing me:
Her age, location, opportunity,
A worthless mother who has her in thrall
And counts gain the most precious thing of all.
Clitipho Take care no-one comes out
And sees you here.
Clinia I will. I live in doubt
And have a feeling that some dreadful thing
Will happen to me.
Clitipho Don’t go settling
Upon something before you really know
Clinia If she had not sustained some woe, 320
She would be here.
Clitipho She will be soon.
Clinia But when?
Clitipho It’s far from here, you know. Besides, we men
Know well the traits of women, for when they
Make preparations to be on their way
A year goes by.
Clinia I’m scared, though.
Clitipho Courage! Here
Are Dromo and Syrus. They’re getting near. [they step aside]
Dromo Yes. But while we drew out our chat,
We left the girls behind.
Did you hear that,
Clinia? She’s arrived.
I hear, I see.
Oh, I’m so glad she got here finally. 330
Dromo She’s brought with her so many maids, and so
It’s no surprise that we have been so slow.
Maids? Ah, I’m dead!
Syrus Ah, so ponderous
A load they’re travelling with! A shame on us
To let them lag!
Syrus Jewels of gold,
Clothes! It grows late and they have not been told
The way. How dumb of us! Go back! Be quick!
I had such hopes, but now I’m feeling sick.
You ask that? Maids, gold jewellery,
Clothes? She’d but one young maid just recently 340
When I departed. Whence do you surmise
She got all these?
Ah, now I realize…
Syrus Ye gods, what mob Is this? It’s very plain
Our house is scarcely able to contain
Them all. What will they eat? What will they drink?
And is it possible that you could think
That none will undergo such misery
As that old man? Ah, those I wished to see
Clinia Disloyal one, distractedly
I roamed, spurning my nationality 350
Because of you, but now you’re prosperous,
Antiphila, leaving me comfortless
And in extreme disgrace; I’ve disobeyed
My father, and my attitude has made
Me sorrowful and ashamed. He lectured me
About the ways of women fruitlessly:
He couldn’t wean me off her. Now, however,
I’ll leave her. When it was worthwhile to sever
Our partnership I balked. No misery
Is more broadspread than mine.
Syrus [to himself]
It seems that he 360
Was misled by our conversation here. [aloud]
Clinia, you’ve misjudged what we said, I fear,
About your girl. Her lifestyle and the way
She feels about you are the same today
As they have been, at least as we can guess.
Clinia Nothing would bring me greater happiness
Than knowing I was wrong.
Therefore, lest anything at all should be
Misread, the aged woman who they said
Had given birth to her had not. She’s dead, 370
As I heard her say to the other one.
Clinia Who’s that?
Syrus Wait. I will say what I’ve begun
To say, then tell you that.
Clinia But quickly, though!
Syrus First, when we came up the house, Dromo
Knocked on the door: a crone appeared. When she
Opened it, he hurried in immediately.
I followed. She then locked the door and went
Back to her wool-work. It was evident
What. once you’d left, what she was doing – we
Indeed came on her unexpectedly. 380
An opportunity was given us
To judge her daily course of life, for thus
A person’s tendencies are manifest.
We found her working at her web and dressed
In mourning clothes, the reason, I surmise,
For this being the old lady’s demise.
No gold; nor was she clothed extravagantly
(She’d clearly dressed herself); no trumpery
That some girls daub themselves with; and her hair
Was loose and long, tossed back with little care 390
Over her temples. Shush!
Clinia Please, don’t make me
Full of pure exaltation fruitlessly.
Syrus The aged woman spun the woof; also
A little maid was weaving, covered, though,
In filthy rags, dirty and slovenly.
Clitipho If this is true, Clinia, take it from me
That you are the most fortunate of men.
You heard of how she lived there – surely, then,
The mistress must be safe, considering
Her confidante’s condition. It’s the thing 400
To bribe the maid when one’s eager to see
Clinia Please, I beg, don’t flatter me
By giving me false hope. What did she say
When you had mentioned me?
Syrus Well, straightaway,
When we said you had come back and that you
Were keen to see her once again, she threw
Her work aside and wept so copiously
That one could clearly see her ardency
Clinia I’m full of joy and scarce aware
Of where I am. You gave me such a scare 410
Clitipho I knew there were no grounds for fear.
But, Syrus, tell me what I wish to hear –
Who was the other one?
Syrus Your Bacchis. We
Will bring her.
Syrus To our house, certainly.
Clinia What? To my dad’s?
Clitipho Ah, such shamelessness!
Syrus All deeds are always somewhat dangerous
If great and notable.
Clitipho You rogue, you try
To gain some praise at my expense, while I
Am lost if you make one mistake. What do
You plan to do?
Syrus Still –
Clitipho Still what?
Syrus Well, if you 420
Let me, I’ll speak.
Clinia Let him.
Clitipho Well, go ahead.
Syrus The situation here, it could be said –
What devious mischief is he now about
Clinia Syrus, he’s right. Now cut it out.
Get to the point.
Syrus I can’t keep mum. You’re so
Incredibly dishonest, Clitipho.
I can’t abide it.
Clinia He should certainly
Be heard. [to Clitipho] Shut up!
Syrus You’re yearning still to be
Your mistress’ lover; you wish to procure
The cash to buy her gifts yet be secure 430
In getting it: that’s wise beyond a doubt –
If you want something you must go without!
You may have her but not the money, too,
Or else the cash without her – which would you
Choose? My plan’s fine and safe. For without fear
You’ll have your mistress by your side right here
Within the house. The money you have vowed
To get her I will find, for, long and loud,
You’ve deafened me with pleas. What more am I
Clitipho If –
Syrus “If”, you say? You by and by 440
Will find out I am right.
Syrus We will pretend
She’s his. [pointing to Clinia]
Clitipho That’s fine, but what do you intend
That he should do with his? Should it be said
She’s his as well, as though we’ve not been fed
Syrus No, she’ll be sent away
To join your mother.
Syrus If I should say
The reason, it would be a lengthy tale.
The reason’s good, though.
Clitipho Gibberish! I fail
To see a solid reason why I ought
To take that risk.
Syrus Wait! Here’s another thought 450
If you’re afraid, which you may both agree
Clitipho Find something of that kind for me,
Syrus No problem: I’ll meet her and say
That she should be brought home again.
Clitipho Hey! Hey!
What’s that you said?
Syrus I’ll take away all fear
So you’ll sleep comfortably on either ear.
Clitipho What shall I do now?
Syrus What are you to do?
The goods that –
Clitipho Syrus, say but what is true.
Be quick before you find that it’s too late
Clinia Yes, the gods provide your fate. 460
Enjoy it while you can: you never know –
Clitipho Syrus, I’m telling you –
Syrus Yes, off you go!
I’ll do what I have said.
Clinia There may not be
Clitipho Yes, indubitably.
Syrus, I say. Syrus!
Syrus [to himself]
He’s all aglow. [to Clitipho]
What do you want?
Clitipho Come back.
Syrus I’m doing so.
Syrus What’s up? Don’t say that you don’t like this, too!
Clitipho No, not at all, for I commit to you
Myself, my mistress and my reputation.
You are the judge: don’t flirt with condemnation. 470
Syrus It’s odd that you’d give me that admonition,
Clitipho, as though it were that my position
Is less at stake than yours. If we were met
With some misfortune, you yourself would get
Words flung at you; yours truly, though, would be
Horsewhipped. It’s more important, then, for me
To take great care. Pretend she’s his.
This circumstance necessitates some speed.
Clitipho I love you, Clinia
Clinia But there must be
No slip-ups on her part.
Clitipho She’s perfectly 480
Clitipho But I’m amazed that with such ease
You have convinced one whose propensities
Include contempt of men of great acclaim.
Syrus My timing was appropriate when I came
To her (a vital thing): for there I met
A wretched soldier trying hard to get
Her into bed: she played him artfully
And by refusing stirred his ardency,
And thus she’d please you very much. You, though,
Will have to curb your rashness, for you know 490
How smart your father in such things can be
And I know of your disability
To check yourself: eschew equivocation,
Groans, hems, coughs, sidelong looks and cacchination.
Clitipho You will commend me.
Syrus Watch yourself.
Clitipho You’ll be
Surprised at me.
Syrus Oh, look how speedily
The girls have caught us up!
Clitipho Oh, where are they?
Why do you hold me back?
Syrus You have to say
She’s not your girl right now.
Clitipho I know the score –
She’s at my father’s, but I must –
Syrus No more! 500
Clitipho Let me.
Syrus I won’t, I say.
Clitipho One moment –
I won’t allow it.
Clitipho Just to say hello?
Syrus Be wise! Take off!
Clitipho Alright. But he - ?
Syrus Will stay
Clitipho The lucky man!
Syrus Be on your way.
Bacchis Antiphila, you happily took care
To make sure that your manners matched those fair
Good looks of yours. For I am not a bit
Surprised if all men want you. For your wit
Is proven by your speech. For when I hear
Of you and all those other girls who sneer 510
Upon the mob, it’s clear you’re of a kind,
But we are not. You have to be inclined
To honesty. However, those whom we
Deal with will not allow us that. You see,
They court us for our looks – once those are gone,
Those lovers change direction and move on.
Unless we’ve saved up something, we must live
In poverty. But once you’ve pledged to give
Yourselves to just one man who markedly
Compares to you in manners, he will see 520
You as a partner. By this kindliness
Your loving sympathies will coalesce,
And thus your love will show itself to be
Impervious to all calamity.
Antiphila I do not know of other women. I
Have always had an eagerness to try
To match my joy with his.
Therefore, my dear
Antiphila, I now have come back here.
When far away, my labours seemed to me
But slight except that I was forced to be
Far from your sight.
I do believe that’s true.
Syrus, I am in Hell, I’m telling you.
How can I not possess her?
Syrus If I know
Your father, he will be the cause of woe
To you for some time.
Bacchis Who’s that young man who
Is looking at us?
Antiphila [seeing Clinia]
Oh, support me, do!
Bacchis What’s wrong?
Antiphila I’m lost, I’m steeped in misery.
Bacchis Why are you gaping so?
Antiphila Whom do I see?
Clinia Ah, my sweetheart, hello!
Antiphila My love, for whom I have been yearning so, 540
Clinia You’re well?
Antiphila I’m full of happiness
That you have come safe home.
Clinia My eagerness
Has been rewarded. You’re here! Go in, do:
The old man has been long awaiting you.
Chremes [to himself]
It’s dawn already. Why do I delay
To knock upon my neighbour’s door to say
His son is back? Of course, I am aware
The lad would not approve. But seeing him there
Thinking him gone, covered in misery,
Could I conceal unlooked-for ecstasy 550
When there’s no danger? No. As far as I can
I’ll do my best to help the poor old man.
My son succours his friend in his concerns
In friendship: thus it’s right that in our turns
Old men like us should help each other, too.
Menedemus It seems that from my birth I have been due
Unhappiness, unless that common phrase
‘Sorrow’s removed by the advance of days’
Is wrong. My sorrow while my son’s away
Grows greater still with every passing day. 560
The longer that he’s far away from me,
The more I long for him.
Chremes [to himself]
Aha, I see
Him coming from his house. Well, I shall go
And have a chat with him. Old friend, hello!
You’ll revel in the news I have to tell.
Menedemus About my son?
Chremes Yes. He’s alive and well.
Chremes At my house.
Menedemus My son?
Chremes Oh yes indeed.
Menedemus My Clinia’s back?
Chremes That’s what I said.
Menedemus Then lead
Me to the boy, I beg of you.
Chremes Well, he
Does not want you to know and hopes to flee 570
Your sight due to his fault, and he’s afraid
The old cold-bloodedness that you displayed
Will have increased.
Menedemus You didn’t, then, reveal
That I have changed?
Chremes Because I feel
That if you should display some hesitancy,
You’d judge yourself and him exceedingly
Menedemus I cannot help it. For too long
Have I been harsh.
Chremes Your instincts are too strong
In both extremes – one day, too much largess,
And then the next, too much miserliness. 580
One side and then the other! Back then, you
Would not allow your Clinia to woo
A young lass who with little was content,
Happy with anything. Oh no, you sent
Him packing. After that, unwillingly
She started on a life of harlotry.
Now, since her life-style needs an outputting
Of lavish means, you’d give him anything.
Just listen now to her great recklessness –
She comes with her maidservants (in excess 590
Of ten in number) weighed down with a lot
Of clothes and golden cups. If she had got
A satrap for a lover, he would need
More than he could supply her with. Indeed
The same would go for you.
Menedemus Is she inside?
Chremes Hah! I should know, for I had to provide
A meal for her and all her company
Of friends: one more would be the death of me.
There was a deal of wine – for tasting, though –
(Omitting many things). “Ah,” she said, no! 600
Too sharp. I want a smoother one, good sir.”
I uncorked every cask of wine for her.
The servants were constantly occupied,
And this was just one night! What would betide
You, do you fancy, if they constantly
Exploited you? You have my sympathy.
Menedemus Let him do what he likes. Let him consume,
Squander and waste, for I will give him room
For anything as long as he may live
Chremes If you’ve decided, then, to give 610
Such license to him, it is clear that you
Must hide your bounty.
Menedemus What, then, should I do?
Chremes Well, anything but what you have in mind;
Imburse him via someone you must find.
Allow yourself to be inveigled by
His servant, who’s a tricksy fellow. I
Notice the servants always wangling
Some scheme. Syrus is always whispering
To Dromo. They then tell the young men what
They’ve planned. To lose a talent through their plot 620
Is better than to lose a mina through
The other. But the money’s not, for you,
The problem - it’s a method that’s risk-free
In giving him the money, for once he
Finds out your thoughts, that you would rather die
And lose your wealth than not have him close by,
Whew, what a window to debauchery
You will have opened! After that you’d be
Loath to exist. For when we dissipate
We, all of us, start to deteriorate. 630
He’ll pounce upon whatever comes to hand
Whether it’s good or bad. You’ll not withstand
The ruin of him and your property.
You’ll stop his funds and he will strive to see
Where he has most control of you, and he’ll
Threaten to leave you.
Menedemus Ah, now you reveal
The truth of it.
Chremes I tossed and turned all night,
My eyes not closing, fretting how I might
Reclaim your son.
Menedemus Then give me your right hand
And pledge you’ll help me.
Chremes I’m at your command. 640
Menedemus You know what I want you to do?
Chremes Tell me.
Menedemus Since you’re aware they plan some trickery
To play upon me and are hurrying
To end the scheme, myself I’m hankering
To give him what he wants. I long to see
Chremes I’ll help you. There’s one difficulty –
Simus and Crito, who both live nearby,
Have a dispute on boundaries, and I
Will be their arbiter. I’ll go and say
That, though I promised, I can’t help today. 650
I’ll come at once.
Menedemus Please do! [exit Chremes] [to himself] Such is the state
Of men that they more freely arbitrate
About the affairs of others than they do
About their own. Is it because we’re too
Happy or sad within ourselves? For he
Is wiser in my case than I could be! [re-enter Chremes]
Chremes I shelved my meeting. Now unoccupied,
I’ll help you. I’ll get Syrus on my side
And tutor him. Oh look, there’s someone who
Is coming from my house. I beg of you, 660
Take yourself home in case he should appear
Before us and perceive us talking here.
Syrus [to himself]
Run everywhere! Yet money must be got.
The old man must be trapped.
Chremes [apart, overhearing]
Hah! Did I not
Say they were planning this? This Syrus, though,
Is somewhat dull: this task, then, had to go
Syrus [in a whisper]
Who’s that talking? I’m in fear
He might have heard me.
Syrus Yes, I’m here.
Chremes But doing what?
Syrus Alright. But I am shocked,
Chremes, that you’re up early when you knocked 670
Back plenty yesterday.
Chremes I did not drink
Syrus You didn’t? Well, you are, I think,
An aged eagle, as goes the cliché.
Syrus That courtesan is, I must say,
Syrus Such comeliness!
Syrus Not as in the past, I must confess,
But for these times quite satisfactory.
It’s not at all remarkable to me
That Clinia dotes on her. His father, though,
Is niggardly, our neighbour here. D’you know 680
The man? As though not rich, his son has fled
Through want. Do you know it is as I said?
Chremes Of course I do. He should be tortured.
Chremes The young man’s servant.
Syrus [to himself]
Oh, I fear for you,
Chremes Oh such a mess!
Syrus But what was he
Chremes What?? He should use some trickery
To find something the youth could give his lass
To save the old man from this ticklish pass
Syrus You jest!
Chremes That’s what he should
Syrus I ask you, do you think it’s good 690
To cheat one’s master?
Chremes Sometimes yes.
Syrus Quite so.
Chremes It’s often been a cure for extreme woe.
The son would then have stayed.
Syrus [to himself]
Well, whether he
Is joking or is speaking seriously
I don’t know, but he’s made me even more
Resolved to dupe him.
Chremes What’s he waiting for?
To be sent off again once he cannot
Support her? Has he not another plot
To bilk the old man?
Syrus He’s an imbecile.
Chremes Then for the young man’s sake you ought to deal 700
Syrus Well, I can do that easily
At your command: for how it’s usually
Done I know well.
Chremes So much the better.
Have never had a tendency to lie.
Chremes Then do it.
Syrus Think, though, if such things take place
Again, they’re symptoms of the human race
And therefore may involve your Clitipho.
Chremes I hope that this will not be called for, though.
Syrus As do I. No transgression do I see
In him, however, but if there should be 710
Some in him, don’t blame me. He’s young, it’s plain.
[aside] But if a chance presents itself again,
I’ll have you!
Chremes We will see what we must do
If necessary. Well, be off with you!
Syrus I’ve never heard a more germane reply
From my own master, and I don’t think I
Have had more leave to act perniciously.
Someone is coming out. Who could it be?
Chremes What does this mean? What are you doing, son?
Is this appropriate?
Clitipho What have I done? 720
Chremes Did I not see you put your hand just now
Upon that courtesan’s bosom?
Syrus [to himself]
Oh, I vow
I’m done for!
Chremes I couldn’t help but see,
So don’t deny it. Such an injury
You do to him, for you could not restrain
Yourself! Such an affront to entertain
Your friend, then bed his mistress! Then last night
When in your cups you were so impolite.
Syrus [to himself]
I’ve had it!
Chremes And annoying. Gods above,
I fear the outcome. I know those who love – 730
They rage about things that you’d not surmise.
Clitipho He trusts in me, though, you must realize,
That I’d not do such things.
Chremes Then be it so.
But certainly at least you ought to go
From them for some time. Passion stimulates
A lot of things. Your presence there frustrates
Their deeds. I’ve formulated a decree
From my own self: to no friend presently
Dare I reveal my secrets, Clitipho:
With one, his rank forbids it, while I’m so 740
Ashamed to tell another: it is thus
I don’t seem foolish or indecorous;
See, then, he does the same. For we must know
Both when and where it’s requisite to show
Syrus [whispering to Clitipho]
What’s he said?
Syrus You got those same dictates from me.
You’ve been both wise and prudent.
Chremes [coming forward]
Syrus, he shames me.
Syrus Yes indeed – with quite
Good cause. He galls me, too.
Chremes Persistent man!
Syrus It’s true.
Clitipho I mayn’t go near them?
Chremes Hah! You can 750
Find but one way for that.
Syrus [to himself]
Ah! He’ll betray
Himself before I’ve got the money. [aloud] Hey,
Chremes, will you not lend your ears to me,
Though acquiescing my stupidity?
Chremes What should I do?
Syrus Send him away.
Clinia But where
Am I to go?
Syrus Wherever! I don’t care.
Just take a walk.
Syrus Ah! It’s not as though
There aren’t a thousand spots to choose. Just go!
Chremes He’s right.
Clinia Syrus, for thrusting me away,
The devil extirpate you.
Syrus [to Clitipho]
From this day 760
Don’t stray so far. [to Chremes] What more do you assume
He’ll do unless the gods should give you room
To watch, correct and warn him?
Chremes I’ll take care
Syrus But, master, this is your affair.
Chremes I’ll do it.
Syrus If you’re wise, you will, for he
Pays less attention day by day to me.
Chremes About what I alluded to around
Some days ago have you progressed or found
A fitting plan? Or are you not yet done?
Syrus You mean the trick I’ll play? Yes, I’ve found one. 770
Chremes Good man! Tell me!
Syrus I will. As one thing, though,
Leads to another –
Chremes Look, I have to know.
Syrus That courtesan is bad.
Chremes So it would seem.
Syrus If you but knew! You ought to see the scheme
She’s hatched. Nearby there was a Corinthian crone –
She gave her a thousand drachmas as a loan.
Chremes And then…?
Syrus She died, leaving her progeny,
A youthful girl, to be security.
Chremes I understand.
Syrus She’s with your wife inside
Syrus She begs Clinia to provide 780
The money on the understanding she –
I mean the daughter – stand security.
She wants the full one thousand.
Chremes Will she, though?
Syrus What? Do you have your doubt? Yes, I think so.
What will you do?
Syrus What, I? I’ll go to see
Menedemus and impart to him that she
Was brought from Caria as a captive, yet
Wealthy and noble: it’s a likely bet,
Is she’s redeemed, she’ll make him rich as well.
Chremes You’re wrong.
Chremes He’ll say, “I’ll not have them sell 790
The maid to me.”
Syrus Speak what I want to hear,
Chremes It’s just not possible, I fear.
Syrus But why, I wonder?
Chremes You’ll hear more –
Wait! What’s all that commotion at the door?
Sostrata Unless I am deceived, this is the ring
That I suspect it is, the very thing
That jeopardized my daughter.
Is she talking about?
Sostrata Nurse, is it not
Nurse I said so when you showed it me.
Sostrata But, Nurse, have you perused it thoroughly? 800
Nurse I have.
Sostrata Go in, then, and if you have found
She’s had her bath, tell me. I’ll wait around
Well, she wants you. You must see
Why: she’s quite serious, so there must be
Some reason, and it frightens me.
Chremes Oh no,
It’s sure to be some trifle, and she’ll go
Around the houses with it.
Sostrata Look who’s here!
Chremes Hello to you, my dear.
Sostrata I want to speak with you.
Chremes Then tell me why.
Sostrata Well, first I beg you not to think that I 810
Dared to defy your orders.
Chremes D’you believe,
Although that is incredible to conceive,
That I would think that? Nonetheless, I do.
Syrus [to himself]
Ah, this excuse portends some fault.
Sostrata Do you
Recall when I was pregnant and you said
That, if I bore a girl, she’d not be bred
Chremes I know you bred her.
Syrus [to himself]: That’s a fact,
And my young master has, through that one act,
Sustained a loss.
Sostrata Oh no, an elderly
And decent dame from Corinth was by me 820
Given the child to be exposed.
Chremes Could you
Commit such folly?
Sostrata Ahh! What did I do?
Chremes You ask that?
Sostrata It was done unwittingly.
Chremes You ignorantly and impudently
Do and say everything, I surely know.
How many misdemeanours do you show
In this affair! If you had wished to see
My orders carried out, you’d certainly
Have killed the child, not feigned that she was dead
In hopes that she might live. But, that being said, 830
I grant maternal love and sympathy.
Her future, though, you managed splendidly!
It’s very clear our daughter was betrayed,
For this old woman might have plied her trade
By using her or sold her. I suppose
You reasoned in this way: “Anything goes
As long as she survives.” Why would you mess
Around with those who know no righteousness?
For better or for worse, for loss or gain,
They look for only what they may attain. 840
Sostrata I own I sinned: you’ve made it clear to me.
You’re older than I am, so here’s my plea:
Forgive me that your justice may supply
Protection for my foolishness.
Chremes Well, I
Will gladly do so, but my easy way
Will, Sostrata, prompt you to go astray.
So tell me why.
Sostrata As women tend to be
An injudicious sex and terribly
Credulous, from my finger a ring I drew
When giving her the child and told her to 850
Expose her with it that she might possess
Something of ours.
Chremes A double thoughtfulness!
For you have saved yourself and her.
Sostrata See this –
Chremes Where did you get it?
Sostrata From the miss
Whom Bacchis brought.
Syrus [to himself]
Chremes And what did she
Sostrata For safekeeping she gave it to me
Before she bathed. I took no note at first
But later recognized it. With a burst
I sought you.
Chremes Is there something that you feel
About the woman, or did she reveal 860
Sostrata I don’t know unless you maybe
Ask her whence she came by it. Possibly
You’ll find out everything.
Syrus [to himself]
Ah, I am dead!
Too much too soon! For if what she has said
Is true, she’s ours.
Chremes Now tell me if the crone
You gave the child still lives.
Sostrata That is unknown
Chremes Back then, what did she report to you?
Sostrata That she had done what I bade her to do.
Chremes So that we may conduct some scrutiny
About her, what’s her name?
Sostrata It’s Philtere. 870
Syrus [to himself]
That’s her! She must be safe, but I - not so!
Chremes Follow me in, dear Sostrata, Let’s go.
Sostrata All has turned out beyond my expectation,
For I have been brim-full of trepidation
That you would be as harsh as you once were
When you were eager for exposing her.
Chremes Often one can’t be what one wants to be
When circumstances are refractory.
A daughter now brings me such happiness;
In former days I wanted nothing less. 880
Syrus Unless I am deceived, my punishment
Is near: my forces in this incident
Are in dire straits, unless I can conceive
A plan to make the old man not believe
That she’s his own son’s mistress. Any hope
Of cash or fooling him makes me a dope.
If I escape unscathed, that means success
In my opinion. Ah, the distress
I feel to have my taste-buds suddenly
Deprived of such a juicy delicacy! 890
What shall I do or fabricate? Well then,
It seems that I will have to start again.
Nothing’s so hard that cannot be found out
By seeking. What if I should set about
The case like this…? [thinks] No, that won’t do. Or this…?
[thinks] No way. [thinks] Or this…? [thinks] No. Ah, marvellous!
I have it now. I think that I can claim
That I will get that money all the same.
Clinia Henceforth I cannot feel uneasiness
Now that I’m filled with such light-heartedness. 900
I’ll show my father more frugality
Than even he would not suspect in me.
Syrus [to himself]
I’m not mistaken: she has been located,
As I’ve just heard from him. [to Clinia] I’m so elated
That this turned out so well for you.
You’ve heard the news?
Syrus Isn’t that obvious?
I’ve been here all this while.
Clinia But have you ever
Been told of anyone with such luck?
Syrus Never. 1000
May the gods prosper me, I do not take
Delight on my account but for her sake:
She’s worth a thousand honours.
In my turn
Listen to me. Let’s guard your friend’s concern
And keep it safe. The old man must not know
A thing about his mistress.
Clinia Antiphila’s going to marry me.
Syrus Still interrupting?
Clinia Ah, such jollity!
What can I do? Indulge me, though.
Syrus I will.
Clinia We’re blest like gods.
Syrus It seems my labour still 1010
Clinia Speak: I’ll listen.
Syrus That’s not true.
Clinia It is – I will.
Syrus Well, what I said to you
Is that your friend’s involvement must also
Be kept concealed by us. For should he go
And leave Bacchis, my boss will comprehend
Immediately that she’s his son’s girlfriend.
However, if you take her, she will be
As safe and sound as she was formerly.
Clinia But this is sure to mar my chance to wed,
Syrus. For what could possibly be said 1020
By me to Father? Do you understand
Syrus I do.
Clinia What tale, then, can be planned?
Syrus I would not have you say what is not true:
Tell him the truth.
Syrus Yes, say that you
Are keen to wed her, and the other one,
Called Bacchis, is the mistress of your son.
Clinia Oh yes, the course of action you advise
Is simply done and reasonable and wise.
You’ll ask my father, then, not to disclose
All you’ve told me to Chremes, I suppose. 1030
Syrus No, tell the truth.
Clinia What? Are you quite insane?
Or drunk? You’d have betrayed him – that’s quite plain.
How could he then be safe?
Syrus This strategy
Is perfect, and I am incredibly
Content with my dexterity to set
An ambush for the both of them – and yet
I told the truth. For it is ten to one,
Should Menedemus tell Chremes his son
Is her sweetheart, he’ll not believe it’s true.
Clinia But once again my hopes of marriage you 1040
Have snatched away, because as long as he
Believes she’s mine, he will not give to me
His daughter. It would seem your care is slight
In my affairs while you are doing right
Syrus You rogue, d’you think I have in mind
To keep this up forever? No, you’ll find
It’s just one day until I have in hand
The money. Peace! No more will I demand.
Clinia Is that enough? What if he should descry
The truth? What happens then?
Syrus What if the sky
Clinia I am afraid.
Syrus Afraid? And yet
At any time you’re able still to get
Out of it with the truth.
Clinia Alright, let’s bring
Syrus In good time here she’s exiting.
Bacchis I’m here because of Syrus’ guarantee.
A fine imbroglio! He promised me
Ten minae. Should he dupe me once again,
His constant pleadings will all be in vain,
For I’ll not come. However, when I say
I will be here and set the time of day, 1060
And Clitipho lives in hope, then I’ll deceive
The man and not appear, and he’ll receive
Clinia [apart, to Syrus]
Well, that’s fair.
Syrus Was that in fun?
If I’m not careful, she’ll see that it’s done.
Bacchis [to herself]
They’re dreaming. Then I’ll rouse them. [aloud] Did you hear
About Charinus’ farm, Phrygia my dear,
That we were shown just now?
Phrygia Yes, that did I.
Bacchis He said it’s on the right-hand side nearby.
Phrygia He did.
Bacchis Then haste there in your chaise, for he
Is keeping Bacchus’ anniversary. 1070
Ayrus [apart, to Clinia]
What is her plan?
Bacchis Say that against my will
I cannot go since I’m detained here still.
But tell him that I’ll try some trickery
On them and go.
Syrus Ah, that’s the death of me!
Wait, Bacchis. Where’s she going? Make her stay.
Bacchis [to Phrygia]
Syrus But the money’s ready.
Bacchis I’ll delay
My going, then.
Syrus You’ll have it soon.
Bacchis When you
See fit, for I’m not pressing you.
Syrus But do
You know what you must do?
Syrus You must go
To Menedemus with your escort.
Bacchis Oh, 1080
What are you at, you piece of villainy?
Syrus I’m forging cash for you.
Bacchis Do you think me
Syrus But I’ve a plan in mind.
Bacchis Is there a piece of business of some kind
For us here?
Syrus No. I’ll give you what indeed
Belongs to you.
Bacchis Alright, then, let’s proceed.
Syrus Then follow me. [goes to the door] Hello there! Dromo!
Dromo What is it?
Syrus I want you
To take Bacchis’s train immediately
Into the house.
Dromo For what?
Syrus Don’t question me. 1090
Let them take what they brought. Once they have gone,
The old man will have hopes to look upon
Fewer expenses. He’s made a slight profit
But knows not what great loss is syphoned off it.
Chremes I’m fearful now for my old friend, for he
Is victim of a great calamity.
To feed her and her retinue! Yet I
Am certain that, till many days go by,
He will not feel it. How he longs to see
His son, but when this prodigality 1100
At home he sees, and not an end in sight,
He will be keen to see his son take flight
Once more. Here’s Syrus, in good time.
Syrus [to himself]
And speak to him.
Chremes Syrus, hello.
Chremes What is the matter?
Syrus For some time I’ve yearned
That you should be thrown in my way.
Chremes I’ve learned
You spoke with Menedemus.
Oh yes, I wrapped it all up thoroughly.
Chremes Then I can hardly shirk
Patting you on the head, Syrus. Good work! 1110
I’ll gladly recompense you.
Syrus How it came
Into my head you’d be surprised.
Chremes For shame!
You boast how it turned out according to
Syrus No – what I tell you is true.
Syrus That Bacchis belongs to Clitipho
Clinia revealed to Menedemus: so
He took her thither so you might not be
Informed of it.
Chremes That’s excellent.
Syrus Tell me
Chremes Very good.
Syrus That’s pretty fair.
But hear the final guide in this affair. 1120
He’ll say he’s seen your daughter – “She’s a dish,”
He’ll say of her, and now his only wish
Is to wed her.
Chremes What, she who recently
Syrus The same, and he’ll ask that she’ll be
Given to him.
Chremes Why? I don’t get it.
I think, are dim.
Chremes Yes, possibly that’s true.
Syrus The marriage will beget hard currency
For trinkets and for clothes to – Do you see?
Chremes To buy them?
Syrus Yes, that’s right.
Chremes But I deny
Them money and my leave for marriage.
Syrus Why? 1130
Chremes What? Give my money to a runaway?
Syrus Oh no, that isn’t what I meant to say –
Chremes That’s not the way I am.
Jam up your trickeries but do not jam
Me with them! Why on earth indeed would I
Betroth my daughter with an outright lie?
Syrus Why not?
Chremes Oh no!
Syrus It could have been well planned.
I started on this ruse at your command
Some days ago.
Chremes Ye, I believe so.
Am happy either way.
Chremes But please do try 1140
To finish this, yet in another way.
Syrus That must be done. But what you heard me say
About the cash that Bacchis is still owed –
She must be paid, but don’t go down this road:
“What’s that to me?” or “Was it lent to me?”
Or “Did I give an order?” or “Could she
Promise my daughter although I’d say no?”
A proverb people use, and aptly so,
Goes thus – ‘An extreme law will often lead
To extreme lawlessness.’
Chremes Oh no indeed, 1150
Syrus Though others are at liberty,
You’re not, albeit universally
You’re thought well-placed.
Chremes Myself will be the one
To give it her.
Syrus No, let it be your son.
Chremes But why?
Syrus Because it’s theorized that he
Chremes But why him, though?
Syrus Thus it will be
More plausible. I’ll see to it my way.
He’s here: get him the cash.
Chremes Soon as I may.
Clitipho [to himself]
Facility becomes laboriousness
When something’s managed with unwillingness. 1160
My stroll, though not laborious, has made
Me weary. Now there’s nothing I’m afraid
Of more than being pressured to take flight
Once more to some dread place, far from the sight
Of dear Bacchis. May all the deities
Confound you, Syrus, and your trickeries.
You’re always planning strategies like that
To torture me.
Will you not leave me? Scat!
Glean your deserts. Your cheek has almost been
The ruin of me.
Clitipho Would that I had seen 1170
That ruin! You deserved it.
Syrus Did I so?
How’s that? How glad I am I got to know
Of this before you got the cash from me.
Clitipho What would you have me say accordingly?
You fooled me, bringing her to me, although
I may not touch her.
Syrus I’m calm. D’you know
Clitipho Our house.
Syrus No, that’s not true.
Clinia Where, then?
Syrus She’s at Clinia’s.
Clitipho Then all is through
Syrus Cheer up! The money you’ll transfer
To her – the money that you promised her. 1180
Clitipho You’re babbling: where from?
Syrus Your dad.
Clitipho I see –
It seems that you are ridiculing me.
Syrus The facts will prove it.
Clitipho Oh, how I am blessed!
I love you, Syrus, deep within my breast.
Syrus Your father’s here. Don’t show surprise at why
These things occurred, and in good time comply
With what you hear. Do what he says and be
Withdrawn and try to speak infrequently.
Chremes Where’s Clitipho now?
Syrus [aside, to Clitipho]
Chremes Did you tell
Him how things are?
Clitipho I told him pretty well 1190
Chremes Take this money.
Syrus [aside, to Clitipho]
Why stand still?
Are you a stone? Take it.
Clitipho Alright, I will.
Syrus [to Clitipho]
Quick, follow me this way. [to Chremes] Here you must wait
Till we return, for we won’t vacillate.
Chremes [to himself]
My daughter has ten minae now from me
For board; ten more she’ll have for finery,
And then two talents for her dowry. Oh,
How many good and bad things we must throw
At custom! Leaving my business behind,
I’m now obliged to look around and find 1200
Someone who must receive the property
That I’ve acquired through constant drudgery.
Menedemus Oh, I am now the happiest of men,
My son, since you have found yourself again.
Chremes, I want to speak with you.
Please help my son, as much as you can do,
And me and all my kin.
ChremesTell me, I pray,
What should I do for you?
Menedemus This very day
I found your daughter.
Chremes What does that purport?
Menedemus My Clinia wants to marry her.
Chremes What sort 1210
Of man are you?
Chremes Has it slipped your mind
That we spoke of a scheme of such a kind
As to get cash from you?
Menedemus It hasn’t.
The scheme’s in motion now.
Menedemus Please, Chremes, tell
Me what you have just said. Is it not true
The woman in my house is your son’s?
Believe what people say? It’s also said
He wants a wife, and, once she’s pledged to wed,
You’ll give him money for her finery
And other things that are obligatory. 1220
Menedemus That’s right – he’ll get the cash.
Chremes Of course.
Menedemus Poor me!
It seems that I’ve been happy bootlessly.
I’d rather have him back than anything.
Therefore, Chremes, what answer shall I bring
So that he might not find out that I know
And take it badly?
Chremes “Take it badly”? Oh,
You spoil him, Menedemus.
Menedemus Let me, though,
Continue: I’ve begun, so let me go
Through all of this.
Chremes Tell him we met and say
That we have talked about the wedding-day. 1230
Menedemus I will. And…?
Chremes Let him leave it all to me;
I like my son-in-law; and, finally,
Tell him that she’s betrothed
Menedemus That is indeed
What I have wanted.
Chremes Thus with greater speed
He may request it and more rapidly
You’ll give it.
Menedemus That’s my wish.
Chremes But as I see
The matter, you’ll soon weary of your son.
So if you’re wise, make sure your giving’s done
Little by little and most cautiously.
Chremes Go in; see how much he wants. I’ll be 1240
At home if you need me.
Menedemus I will, that’s true,
For you must know of everything I do.
Menedemus [to himself]
I know I’m not too clever, but this man,
My prompter, coach and tutor, surely can
Outdo me in his own stupidity.
Those epithets that can apply to me –
Dolt, fool, twit, lump of lead – you can’t maintain
Apply to him, because his tiny brain
Surpasses all of them.
Chremes [to Sostrata, within]
Wife, don’t confound
The gods with thanks now that your child’s been found. 1250
Perhaps you judge them by your frame of mind.
Thinking them dim; perhaps things of this kind
Have been said countless times. But here’s the thing –
Why is my son with Syrus lingering
Menedemus Who’s lingering?
You’ve come, Menedemus. Now will you tell me
If what I said you passed on to your boy?
Menedemus Yes, all.
Chremes And he said…?
Menedemus Well, he yelled with joy,
As people do when they’re about to wed. [Chremes laughs]
Menedemus Why laugh?
Chremes Some sly tricks came into my head 1260
That Syrus thought up.
Chremes That rascal can
Menedemus Are you saying, man.
That Clinia fakes delight?
Menedemus I, too,
Had the same thought.
Chremes He’s sly!
Menedemus Still more would you
Think that if you knew more.
Chremes What’s that you say?
Menedemus Well, lend you ears to what I tell you.
What money have you squandered? When you said
To Clinia that he would soon be wed,
Dromo would have chimed in immediately
That you should add on cash for finery, 1270
Trinkets and maids.
Menedemus Oh no!
Menedemus No, I say.
Chremes Not even your son?
Menedemus No. He would have today
To be the wedding-day.
And Syrus, too? Did he say anything?
Chremes I wonder why.
Menedemus I’m baffled, too,
Since all the rest is so well-known to you.
Your son, though, has been moulded perfectly
By this same Syrus, so that nobody
Could guess she’s Clinia’s girl.
Menedemus I omit
Their warm embracing: I don’t think of it. 1280
Chremes Could there be more tricks?
Chremes What’s that you said?
Menedemus Into my house was brought a made-up bed
And it was placed right in the back.
Chremes And so…?
Menedemus Quick as a flash thither went Clitipho.
Chremes Ye gods, I fear, I fear!
Menedemus Then Bacchis, too.
Chremes Oh dear,
I’m done for!
Menedemus After that, they closed the door.
Chremes Did Clinia see that?
Menedemus How could he not? For
We were together.
Chremes Menedemus, she
Is my son’s mistress. That’s the death of me! 1290
Menedemus Why so?
Chremes My substance hardly will suffice
Them for ten days.
Menedemus Because he’s being nice
To his friend?
Menedemus If he actually
Is paying it.
Chremes You think he might not be?
Is anyone so mild, do you surmise,
Or pliant that he’d wish to cast his eyes
On his own mistress as she - ?
Menedemus So that I
May be more easily persuaded, why
Shouldn’t he? [laughs]
Chremes You laugh at me, as well you should.
I’m furious. So many things I could
Have known had I not been so stupid. Oh, 1300
What was it that I saw? I’m full of woe.
But, as I live, they shan’t assuredly
Escape my vengeance. For immediately –
Menedemus Can’t you control yourself? Where is your pride?
Am I not an exemplar?
Chremes I’m beside
Menedemus Such claptrap! Such ignominy
To counsel others, have sagacity
Elsewhere while never ever succouring
Chremes What must I do?
Menedemus The very thing 1310
You said I didn’t do: make it quite clear
That you’re his father, make him volunteer
To leave all things to you and make him swear
He’ll seek and ask of you nor look elsewhere
And leave you.
Chremes Oh, I’d rather he would go
Just anywhere than bring his father low
By his misdeeds. If I should still supply
My own resources, Menedemus, i
Will be reduced to hoeing fields.
Menedemus And so
Beware his nonsense: otherwise you’ll show 1320
Your temper but forgive him nonetheless,
Though with ill grace.
Chremes You don’t know what distress
Menedemus Well, I would like the pair to wed,
Unless you have another plan instead.
Chremes No, I approve the match.
Menedemus The dowry, too?
Chremes Do you say “dowry”?
Menedemus Yes, I do.
Menedemus Do not fret if it’s not generous:
The dowry’s size is no big deal to us.
Chremes According to my means, two talents pay
The price, I thought. Indeed you’ll have to say, 1330
If you would save me and my family,
The price is paid in its entirety.
Menedemus What’s that?
Chremes Pretend surprise and ask him why
I am intent on doing this.
Menedemus Well, I
Chremes I’ll mitigate the ribaldry
Abounding in him and make sure that he
Knows not which way is up.
Menedemus What’s that you say?
Chremes Leave me alone and let me have my way.
Menedemus Alright, if that’s your wish.
Chremes It is.
Menedemus Then so
Chremes And now allow your son to go 1340
And get the bride. The other one I’ll school
In children’s language. Syrus…
Menedemus What? That fool?
Chremes I’ll beat him well so he’ll remember me
Forever, for he made a mockery
Of me. Ye gods, he’d never dare to act
Thus to a widow-woman – that’s a fact!
Clitipho Menedemus, can my dad so suddenly
Lose the paternal love he had for me?
What crime did I commit? And was it so
Monstrous? Most youths act thus.
Menedemus It must, I know, 1350
Be tough on you: I, too, take it amiss –
As much as you. I can’t account for this
But that I wish you well.
Clitipho Didn’t you tell me
My father has been waiting here? [enter Chremes]
Menedemus Yes. See
Him there! [Menedemus enters the house]
Chremes My son, why are you blaming me?
What I’ve committed in this quandary
Was with an eye to your own shamelessness.
When I observed your casual carelessness,
And that you think that instant satisfaction
Has prime importance, shunning any action 1360
For future days, I thought to see you’d not
Want or possess the money that I’ve got.
When I was not allowed to give it you,
To whom particularly it was due,
I went to your close relatives that they
Could be your guardians and thus a stay
Against your folly: thus would you be fed
And clothed and have a roof above your head.
Clitipho Ye gods!
Chremes That way you’ll be the heir to me
And Bacchis won’t possess my property. 1370
Syrus I’ve had it! Ah, what misery have I
Unwittingly brought on!
Clitipho I want to die!
Chremes Learn how to live: then if continuing
To live upsets you, try the other thing.
Will you allow me, master…?
Chremes Go ahead.
Syrus But is it safe to say what must be said?
Chremes Say on.
Syrus Well, this insane depravity
Has made my faults a liability
Chremes It’s over You are off the hook,
So disregard it. You don’t have to look 1380
Out for an altar or somebody who
Will be an intermediary for you.
Syrus So what’s your plan?
Chremes I’m angry at no-one,
Not you, not him. And you, for what I’ve done,
Should not be angry either. [Chremes enters the house]
Syrus Ah, I see
He’s gone. Would I had asked him –
Syrus - how we
May eat. We’re cast adrift. You’ll be fed by
Your sister for the moment.
Clitipho How am I
Reduced to fear of hunger?
Syrus While we live,
There’s hope –
Clitipho What hope is that?
Syrus That it might give 1390
Clitipho You make jokes in such a jam
As we are in?
Syrus Oh no! In fact I am
Thinking of it as I did recently,
Hearing your father. As it seems to me –
Clitipho Yes? Well?
Syrus It won’t take long before I’m done. [he ponders]
Clitipho What is it, then?
Syrus I don’t think you’re their son.
Clitipho What? Are you mad?
Syrus I’ll say what came to me
As I was thinking. Be the referee.
While they had you alone and all their joy
Was you, they cosseted their little boy. 1400
But now a daughter has been found as well:
They’ve thereby found a reason to expel
Clitipho That’s true.
Syrus Would he, then, be irate?
Clitipho I don’t think so.
Clitipho However, contemplate
This fact: mothers defend their sons when they’ve
Done wrong, and when their fathers rant and rave,
They side with them: not here, though.
Clitipho Yes, that’s true
Enough. So, Syrus, what am I to do?
Syrus Ask them about this doubt, but openly:
Then if it’s true, they’ll show their sympathy, 1410
And if it’s not, you’ll then find out whose son
Clitipho You counsel well: it shall be done.
Syrus [to himself]
My plan’s so opportune: the more despair
The lad feels, he’ll more easily repair
The rift with Chremes. I don’t even know
If he will wed: if not, no thanks will go
To me. Here comes the old man. I’ll be gone.
Considering all that has been going on,
That he did not expel me straightaway
Surprises me. So now I’ll go to pray
To Clinia’s dad to be my intercessor.
My trust in Chremes couldn’t be much lesser.
Sostrata Be careful that you do not wrong your lad,
Husband. I’m nonplussed that you could have had
A stupid thought like that.
Chremes Do you persist
And play the woman still? Do I insist
On being contradicted in this case?
But if I were to ask you face-to-face
What was my fault and why you’re acting thus,
You would not know why you made such a fuss. 1430
Sostrata Not know?
Chremes “Know”, then. Both phrases that I heard
Are just the same to you.
Sostrata It’s quite absurd
To wish me mute about a vital matter
I don’t expect it: therefore chatter
Away! I’ll do it, though.
Sostrata You will?
Chremes I will.
Sostrata But are you not aware of how much ill
You’ll cause? It’s thought he is a foundling.
A foundling, do you say?
Sostrata They say it’s so.
Chremes Admit it.
Sostrata Leave that to our enemies,
I beg of you. Would I admit that he’s 1440
Not mine despite the fact that it’s so clear
That he’s my son indeed?
Chremes What? Do you fear
That you’re unable to authenticate
His birth at any time?
Sostrata Because of late
My daughter has been found again?
Chremes Oh no,
But for a better reason – he is so
Like you in character – you easily
Could prove he’s yours. Such similarity!
Your vices are alike. It’s ten to one
No other woman could have borne your son. 1450
But here’s the bashful man himself! Now you
Must study him and frame your point of view.
Clitipho Mother, if I have ever gladdened you,
That you called me your son I beg you do
Remember. Pity, too, my misery.
But this I seek and long to hear – tell me
Who were my parents.
Sostrata Your opinion
Must not be that you’re someone else’s son.
Clitipho I am.
Sostrata [to Chremes]
Is this your wish? [to Clitipho] My son, I swear
That we’re your parents. After this, take care 1460
You’ll never say those words again to me.
Chremes Take care that, if you fear me, I’ll not see
Your tendencies again.
Clitipho What tendencies?
Chremes You want to know? I’ll tell you all of these –
Sloth, trifling, gluttony, duplicity,
Extravagancy and debauchery.
Clitipho No parent says such things.
Chremes If from my head
You came, as did Minerva, so it’s said,
From that of Jove, I still would not agree
To feel the shame from such profligacy. 1470
The gods forbid!
Chremes I don’t know what they’ll do.
But I’ll prevent it if I can. What you
Are seeking is your parents: you don’t try
To learn what you are lacking – to comply
With what I say and guard what industry
Has earned me. That you brought, through trickery,
Before my eyes… Ah, I’d be in disgrace
To speak that dreadful thought before her face. [indicating Sostrata]
But you weren’t even in a slight degree
Ashamed to speak thus.
Clitipho [to himself]
This is killing me 1480
With shame, for I don’t know where I can start
To find how I might tame his wrathful heart.
Menedemus [to himself]
Chremes tortures the youth too cruelly.
I’ll go and re-establish harmony.
Good timing – here they are.
Chremes Give the command,
My friend, to have my daughter sent for and
Conclude the bargain.
Sostrata Ah, my husband, no!
Clitipho Forgive me, father, for my faults.
Menedemus Do so,
Chremes Give Bacchis all my property?
Menedemus We’ll not allow it.
Clitipho Pardon me, 1490
I beg you, father.
Sostrata Do, Chremes, my dear.
Menedemus Don’t be so harsh.
Chremes What, then, can I do here?
I cannot see it through.
Menedemus Ah, that is you
Chremes Then I’ll do it, should he do
What I think fit.
Clitipho I’ll do just anything:
Chremes I’m not listening.
Menedemus I’ll make him do so.
Chremes He’s still mum.
Clitipho I’m dead!
Sostrata You’re stalling?
Chremes Whatever comes into his head
Menedemus He’ll do it all.
Sostrata At first you’ll find
It hard through ignorance, but then your mind
Will change and find it easier.
Clitipho I’ll do
Sostrata Therefore, son, I’ll give to you
That beautiful young girl who’s sure to please
You well – the daughter of Phanocrates,
Clitipho What? That red-haired, cat-eyed one
Who sports a hooked nose? No, it can’t be done.
Chremes Picky! You’d think he’d want her.
Sostrata Well, alright,
There is another.
Clitipho Look, I think I might
Be left to choose if I am to be wed.
Sostrata Now that’s commendable, my son. Well said! 1510
Clitipho The daughter, then, of Archonides here.
Sostrata I’m satisfied.
Clitipho One more word in your ear,
Clitipho Pardon Syrus.
Chremes Be it so.
All Give your applause! Farewell! Now off you go!