Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

Translated by Christopher Kelk

Scene from Terence's play Heautontimorumenos

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

Heautontimorumenos today.

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

Himself intentionally?

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.

Menedemus No!

Chremes For goodness’ sake, 110

Why not?

Menedemus Leave me alone, and let me go

On working.

Chremes [taking the rake]


Menedemus But that’s not fair!

Chremes Oh no!

That’s heavy!

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.

Chremes Why?

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.

Chremes Really?

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.

Chremes Nevertheless,

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?

Menedemus Certainly.

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.

Chremes Why?

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.

Clitipho Certainly

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

Of Menedemus.

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 Clinia!

Clinia Oh!

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

The truth.

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]


Syrus Really?

Dromo Yes. But while we drew out our chat,

We left the girls behind.

Clitipho [aside]

Did you hear that,

Clinia? She’s arrived.

Clinia [aside]

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.

Clinia [aside]

Maids? Ah, I’m dead!

Clitipho [aside]


Syrus Ah, so ponderous

A load they’re travelling with! A shame on us

To let them lag!

Clinia [aside]

Oh no!

Syrus Jewels of gold,

Clothes! It grows late and they have not been told

The way. How dumb of us! Go back! Be quick!

Clinia [aside]

I had such hopes, but now I’m feeling sick.

Clitipho [aside]

What’s wrong?

Clinia [aside]

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?

Clitipho [aside]

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

Are here.

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.

Syrus Primarily,

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

The mistress.

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

For you.

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.

Clitipho Where?

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

To spill?

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

To do?

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

Enough disgrace?

Syrus No, she’ll be sent away

To join your mother.

Clitipho Why?

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

Is sound.

Clitipho Find something of that kind for me,

I beg.

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

And fruitless.

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

Another chance.

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.

Clinia Indeed.

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 –

Syrus No,

I won’t allow it.

Clitipho Just to say hello?

Syrus Be wise! Take off!

Clitipho Alright. But he - ?

Syrus Will stay

Right here.

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.

Clinia [aside]

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.

Syrus [aside[

I do believe that’s true.

Clinia [aside]

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?


Bacchis Who?

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.

Menedemus Where?

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 No.

Menedemus Why?

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

With me.

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

My son.

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

To Dromo.

Syrus [in a whisper]

Who’s that talking? I’m in fear

He might have heard me.

Chremes Syrus.

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

Too much.

Syrus You didn’t? Well, you are, I think,

An aged eagle, as goes the cliché.

Chremes Nonsense!

Syrus That courtesan is, I must say,


Chremes Indeed.

Syrus Such comeliness!

Chremes Yes.

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.

Syrus Who?

Chremes The young man’s servant.

Syrus [to himself]

Oh, I fear for you,


Chremes Oh such a mess!

Syrus But what was he

To do?

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

Despite himself.

Syrus You jest!

Chremes That’s what he should

Have done.

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

With this.

Syrus Well, I can do that easily

At your command: for how it’s usually

Done I know well.

Chremes So much the better.

Syrus I

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!

Clitipho Me??

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?

Clitipho [aside]

I’m utterly


Syrus You got those same dictates from me.

You’ve been both wise and prudent.

Clitipho Shush!

Syrus Alright.

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.

Clinia Where?

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

Of that.

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

The house.

Chremes And…?

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.

Syrus How?

Chremes He’ll say, “I’ll not have them sell 790

The maid to me.”

Syrus Speak what I want to hear,

I beg.

Chremes It’s just not possible, I fear.

Syrus No?

Chremes No.

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.

Chremes [apart]

Syrus, what

Is she talking about?

Sostrata Nurse, is it not

The same?

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

For Chremes.

Syrus [apart]

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!

Husband, hello.

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

By us?

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 –

The ring.

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

Some hint?

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

To me.

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.

Clinia Syrus,

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 Whoopee!

Syrus Oh

Shut up!.

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

Is bootless.

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

My drift?

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.

Clinia Really?

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

By him.

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

Should fall??

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

A beating.

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?

Bacchis What?

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

So gullible?

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!



Wants me?

Syrus Syrus.

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]

I’ll go

And speak to him.

Chremes Syrus, hello.

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.

Syrus Recently?

Oh yes, I wrapped it all up thoroughly.

Chremes Success?



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

Your wishes?

Syrus No – what I tell you is true.

Chremes Well?

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

Your judgment.

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

Was found?

Syrus The same, and he’ll ask that she’ll be

Given to him.

Chremes Why? I don’t get it.

Syrus You

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 –

Merely pretend.

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.

Syrus I

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

I won’t.

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

Loves her.

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

Her whereabouts?

Clitipho Our house.

Syrus No, that’s not true.

Clinia Where, then?

Syrus She’s at Clinia’s.

Clitipho Then all is through

With me.

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]

Say “Here”.

Clitipho Here.

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 [aside]

He’s wrong.


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?

Menedemus What?

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.

Chremes Well,

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?

Chremes You

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.

Menedemus Right.

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

So long?

Menedemus Who’s lingering?

Chremes Auspiciously

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.

Menedemus Oh?

Chremes That rascal can

Mould countenances.

Menedemus Are you saying, man.

That Clinia fakes delight?

Chremes Indeed.

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.

Chremes Stay.

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!

Chremes No?

Menedemus No, I say.

Chremes Not even your son?

Menedemus No. He would have today

To be the wedding-day.

Chremes Astonishing!

And Syrus, too? Did he say anything?

Menedemus Nothing.

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.

Chremes What?

Menedemus I omit

Their warm embracing: I don’t think of it. 1280

Chremes Could there be more tricks?

Menedemus Ach!

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 Alone?

Menedemus Alone.

Chremes Ye gods, I fear, I fear!

Menedemus Then Bacchis, too.

Chremes Alone?

Menedemus Alone.

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?


Or she-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

I’m in.

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?

You’re mute.

Chremes Do you say “dowry”?

Menedemus Yes, I do.

Chremes Ah!

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

Don’t know.

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

Be it.

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

To him.

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 –

Clitipho What?

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

Us hunger.

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

That boy.

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

You are.

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

Like this.


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.

Chremes Oh,

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?

I won’t.

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:

Command me.

Chremes Wed!

Clitipho Dad!

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

He’ll do.

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

It, father.

Sostrata Therefore, son, I’ll give to you

That beautiful young girl who’s sure to please

You well – the daughter of Phanocrates,

Our neighbour.

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,


Chremes What?

Clitipho Pardon Syrus.

Chremes Be it so.

All Give your applause! Farewell! Now off you go!