Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)
Translated by Christopher Kelk
Scene from Terence's comedy Phormio
Bernard Picart (French, 1673 - 1733) - The Rijksmuseum
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Chremes set sail, with brother Demipho,
Who left his son in Athens - Antipho.
He had a wife and daughter on the isle
Of Lemnos; he was married, too, meanwhile,
To a dame in Athens; he’d a son and heir
Who lived in Athens also – that is where
He loved a lutanist. The Lemnian wife
To Athens came and it was there her life
Came to an end. Since Chremes was elsewhere,
The daughter paid the funeral rites, but there 10
Did Antipho see her and desperately
He fell in love and married her (this he
Had brought about thanks to a servant). Then,
On their return to Athens, the old men,
Enraged, made a decision then to pay
Thirty minas for the slave to take away
The girl and have her married. With this sum
The lutanist was bought and Phanium
(That’s Chremes’ daughter) Antipho then might
Keep, too, with her identity brought to light. 20
Since that old poet can’t draw me away
From writing, forcing me to waste my day,
By calumny he tries to frighten me
From my pursuit – he says that previously
My plays were poor in language, lacking flair,
Since I had never written anywhere
The tale of some mad youth seeing a hind
Take flight from hounds and vowing to be kind
In coming to her aid. But, had he known
This play, when first presented, held its own 10
More owing to the merits of the cast
Than to its own, he’d have curtailed his blast
Of censure. Should someone believe or say,
If that old bard had not made his foray,
The new one’s prologue would not have been made
Had there not been someone to be inveighed
Against, tell him: all those whose labour lies
In the dramatic arts may win the prize.
He’d drive me to the poorhouse; but if he
Had spoken civilly, then civilly 20
Would he have been addressed. But let him take
This tit-for-tat. This talk of him I’ll make
An end of when the fellow makes an end
Of his offending. Now you must attend
To what I ask: I bring you a new piece
(It’s called Epidikazomenos in Greece,
Though Phormio in Rome). This name will be
The name of the protagonist – it’s he
Who mainly will advance the plot, should you
Approve my work. Now pay attention, do; 30
Be silently impartial, lest we know
Again the fate we knew some time ago –
A brawl caused our eviction from that place.
Thanks to the actor’s merit and the grace
And candour that you manifested, too,
In backing him, we now are back with you.
Davus Geta, my fellow-citizen and staunch chum,
Came yesterday: a small residuum
Of his account for quite some time I’d let
Stay in my hands. He wanted it offset. 40
This have I done and now I’m on my way
To give it him. His master’s son, they say,
Has wed: this tiny modicum, I’m sure,
He’s scraped together so as to procure
A wedding gift. Why must the indigent
Always be giving to the opulent
Something? This wretch, degree by small degree,
Has from his ration scraped up selflessly
What she will take away with not a whit
Of thought to all the toil involved with it. 50
Besides, he will be forced to give another
After his mistress has become a mother,
Another on his birthday, then when they
Initiate him – these she’ll take away,
The child a pretext only. Don’t I see
Geta Should a red-haired man inquire of me –
Davus Stop there! He’s here.
Geta Oh, I’ve been trying to meet
Davus Here’s the cash – it’s there, complete!
Geta I’m obliged to you
For not neglecting the amount that’s due, 60
Especially since in the present mood,
When being reimbursed, one’s gratitude
Should be immense.
Davus Why are you so depressed?
Geta With such alarm and peril am I stressed –
You’ve no idea!
Davus What’s up?
Geta You’ll know at once –
But keep it secret.
Davus Out upon you, dunce!
You’ve seen my trust with cash, yet timidly
You will not trust some secret thing with me.
What would I gain from my deceit?
Davus I’m all ears.
Geta Are you au fait 70
With the elder brother of our gentleman,
Davus Yes, of course.
Geta Alright, and can
You say you know Phaedria, his son?
Davus As well
As I know you.
Geta Well, then, my tale I’ll tell:
Both old men travelled simultaneously,
The one to Lemnos, while concurrently
Our man went to Cilicia to stay
With an old pal who, so that he might sway
His friend, had sent him letters and a vow
Of gold - a mountain’s worth.
Davus He has that now – 80
Why add more?
Geta Quiet! That’s his way.
Davus A king
Is what I should be!
Geta Both, abandoning
Their sojourns, left me as a guardian
To both their sons.
Davus An onerous duty, man!
Geta Ain’t it the truth? My genius, I thought,
In anger had forsaken me. I sought
At first to thwart them. While my loyalty
Remained, my back sustained some injury.
But then I thought, ”Why fight it?” I began,
Therefore, to cater to their every plan. 90
Davus You knew the market price.
Geta Well then, our lad
Phaedria at first got up to nothing bad.
Soon he’d picked up a lutanist whom he
Loved madly, but she lived in slavery
To a foul pimp. Those fathers took great heed
To give him nothing. Phaedria would feed
His eyes on her and follow her about
And take her to and from her school. Without
A thing to do, we’d help the lad. The school
Was opposite a barber’s shop – we’d cool 100
Our heels there usually to wait till she
Came home again. Meanwhile, one day while we
Sat there, a youth came weeping. In surprise
We asked him why he had tears in his eyes.
“Never,” he said, “has poverty been so
Grievous than now – I’m sunk so very low.
Just now I’ve seen a wretched local maid
Lamenting her dead mother, who was laid
Out cold before her. There was not one friend,
Acquaintance or relation who might tend 110
To her, except one maid. My sympathy
Was roused. She was a beauty.” In short, we
Were all moved. “Do you wish, “ said Antipho,
“To visit her?” “I think we ought to go,”
The other said. “Lead us.” We went, we came,
We saw - she was a beauty. She could claim
More beauty still, because her beauty there
Was hardly heightened, for her feet were bare,
Her hair dishevelled, her apparel mean;
She was in tears, neglected; had there been 120
No excess charm in her, her comeliness
Would then have been reduced to nothingness.
Now, he who loved the lutanist said, “Oh,
She’s nice enough.” Our youth, though –
Davus Oh, I know –
Fell for her.
Geta Yes, and how! You’ll see. Next day
He went straight to the crone, beseeching, “Pray
Let me have her.” “This is unwarranted –
She’s an Athenian citizen,” she said,
“Well-born, well-bred. If you would marry her,
Do so – but legally. If not, then, sir, 130
No deal!” He, at a loss, had the desire
To marry her but feared his absent sire.
Davus Why? Would he not have given him leave had he
Geta A girl of obscure pedigree
And dowerless? No, never.
Davus In the end
Geta There’s a parasite, old friend,
One Phormio, a self-assured young man
(God curse him!)
Davus What did he do?
Geta Well, his plan
Was this: “the law states orphan girls must wed
Their next of kin. I’ll say that’s you; that said, 140
I will arraign you and pretend to be
Her father’s friend; before the judges we
Will cite her father, mother and how you
Are kin to her; all this I’ll state as true
(It’s suited to my purpose); no detail
Of this will you refute; I shall prevail;
Your father will return and we will row –
So what? She’ll still be ours.”
Davus A witty vow!
Geta It worked – they came to court. A crushing blow!
Davus What’s that you say?
Geta You heard – you know. 150
Davus What’s to become of you?
Geta I honestly
Don’t know, but I will with serenity
Bear what the gods may send.
Davus A manly view!
Geta All of my hope is in myself.
Davus Well, you
Have earned my praise for that.
Geta Perhaps I’ll see
If someone will speak for me with this plea:
“Forgive him this time, but, should he offend
Once more, I’ll drop him.” But let him not end
With “When I leave, then kill him.”
Davus He who taught
The lutanist (well, he at least who brought 160
Her to the school – and from it!) – how is he?
Geta Not well.
Davus He hasn’t much to give, maybe.
Geta Only his hope!
Davus His father – is he here?
Geta Not yet.
Davus Your old man – when will he appear,
Geta Don’t know. He sent a note, they say –
It’s with the customs people. I’m away
To fetch it.
Davus Geta, is there anything more
You want of me?
Geta Be well. [Exit Davus] Come to the door,
Boy. Take this and give it to Dorcium.
[Enter Antipho and Phaedria]
Antipho When thoughts of Dad’s returning hither come 170
Into my mind, Phaedria, I’m filled with terror.
I should have waited for him – tactless error!
Phaedria What’s up?
Antipho You ask me that? – we were a team
In this bold enterprise! Would that this scheme
Had never crossed the mind of Phormio
And he had not persuaded me to go
Ahead with it – the spring of my distress.
Then I would not have gained her. Oh, I guess
I might have been uneasy for a spell
But not tormented by this daily hell. 180
Phaedria I hear you.
Antipho I expect him every hour –
Then he will part us.
Phaedria Others’ lack of power
To gain their love brings them anxiety,
While you lament a superfluity
Of love. You have a surfeit, Antipho.
Upon my life we all should seek to know
A life like yours. O would that I were blessed
To spend my life with her I love the best –
Happy I’d be. Against your affluence
Now weigh my paucity: at no expense 190
You’ve gained a well-born, genteel girl, a wife
Of stainless reputation – such a life
Of joy except that equanimity
Has passed you by. You’d find that quality
If you dealt with that pimp as I have done.
Antipho Still, Phaedria, you seem the lucky one.
You may without restraint do what you please –
Keep her or let her go. Neither of these
May I do – I’ve no rights nor liberty.
But look, there’s Geta hurrying to me. 200
I dread the news he brings.
Geta: You’re a dead man
Unless you come up quickly with a plan,
Geta. You’re unprepared and evils loom.
I don’t know how to dodge my certain doom.
If we don’t act adroitly, grief will drop
On me or on my master. I can’t stop
Folk knowing now about our brazenness.
Antipho [to Phaedria]
What’s up with him?
Geta To put to rights this mess
I’ve very little time. My master’s near
Antipho [to Phaedria]
What’s all this mischief?
Geta He’ll soon hear 210
Of it. What shall I do to stem his pique?
I’ll irritate him if I choose to speak,
Provoke him if I’m silent; if I make
Excuses, well, I might as well then bake
A baked brick and try washing it. Oh hell!
I’m so afraid, though discomposed as well
For Antipho. He keeps me here – without
The man I would have headed out
And saved myself, avenging the old man
For being crabby, grabbing what I can. 220
Antipho [to Phaedria]
How can he manage that?
Geta Where’s Antipho?
Phaedria [to Antipho]
Antipho I fear he bears bad news.
Phaedria Oh no,
Are you quite sane?
Geta I’m off home – usually
Phaedria [to Antipho]
Let’s call him back.
Antipho Stop instantly!
Geta Whoever you are, I’ll bow to your command.
Geta The man I wanted – here at hand!
Antipho Tell me your news, and in one word, I pray.
Geta I will.
Antipho Then speak.
Geta Now at the harbour bay –
Antipho My father?
Geta Yes, you’ve got it.
Antipho Then I’m dead.
Antipho What am I to do?
Phaedria [to Geta]
What’s that you said? 230
Geta I’ve seen his dad, your uncle.
For this so sudden blow I cannot see.
O Phanium, if Fate takes me from you,
My life’s not bearable.
Geta Here’s what you do,
Therefore – be more alert, for Fortune backs
Antipho I’m not myself.
Geta But, sir, the facts
Need you to be so now especially,
For if he senses your timidity,
Your father will assume some guilt in you.
Phaedria That’s true.
Antipho I cannot change.
Geta What would you do 240
If faced with something else more burdensome?
Antipho I’m even less equipped for that.
Geta Come, come,
You’re useless. Phaedria, why do we stew
In vain here, wasting time? I’m off.
Phaedria Me too.
Antipho What if I should adopt a certain air?
Geta Don’t be a fool.
Antipho Look at me [adopts an air]. Is that fair
Antipho This? [adopts another air]
Geta You’re warmer.
Antipho This? [adopts another air]
Just keep to that: whatever he may say,
Reply in kind. Don’t let him agitate
You with his bluster.
Antipho Yes, I get it.
Geta State 250
That you were forced...
Phaedria ...by law!
Geta You follow me?
Who is that old man down the street I see?
Antipho I cannot stay.
Geta What’s up with you?
Where are you off to, Antipho? Stay, do.
Antipho I know myself – and that offence of mine.
My Phamium – my life, too – I consign
To you. [exit]
Phaedria What now?
Geta You’ll hear controversy
And, if I’m not mistaken, I will be
Strung up. Our own advice to Antipho,
Though, we must take.
Phaedria No “musts”, man, let them go. 260
Just tell me what to do.
Geta Do you recall
Your words at the beginning of it all
In order to protect ourselves? The cause,
You said, was just and clear, within all laws,
Phaedria I do.
Geta That plea we need,
Unless there’s something likelier.
I’ll do my best.
Geta Go first. Right here I’ll stay
As back-up if you need my help.
Demipho [to himself]
Is Antipho, then, wed against my will?
Has he no shame? Does he not feel a chill 270
At my authority? – authority??
No, my displeasure. Such audacity!
O Geta, rare advice!
Geta Right at the end
He had to say that!
Demipho How will they defend
Themselves, I wonder.
Oh, I’ll find a way.
Demipho “I had to do it,” will he say?
“It was the law.” Yes, yes, that’s true.
Demipho But knowingly, in silence, to concede
The case – was that the law?
Phaedria He’s pitiless!
Geta Hush, let me think.
Demipho I don’t know, I confess, 280
What I should do. It’s all beyond belief,
Unlooked-for. One should think upon one’s grief
In loss and risk when back from overseas –
A son’s offence, a wife’s death, the disease
Of a daughter – knowing it’s all prevalent.
Thus nothing new may cause bewilderment.
What is beyond one’s hopes one must believe
Will turn to gain.
Geta Oh, no-one can conceive
How much more wisdom can be found in me
Than in my master. Each adversity 290
Of mine I’ve pondered: should he reappear,
He’ll send me to the mill to grind, I fear,
Beat me, put me in chains, force me to sweat
Out in the fields – all this will not be met
With wonder. What will unexpectedly
Occur I’ll count as gain. Now hastily
Go to him; first off make him warm to you.
Demipho Why, Phaedria’s approaching – my nephew.
Phaedria Uncle, hello.
Demipho Hello. Where’s Antipho?
Phaedria I’m glad you’re safely back.
Demipho Yes. Let me know 300
Phaedria He’s nearby. He, too, is well.
Is everything alright?
Demipho I wish!
Me what’s the matter.
Demipho Oh, the nerve of you
To ask me that! While I’m away, you two
Contrive a lovely marriage!
Phaedria And that’s got
Nice acting, that!
Demipho How can I not?
I long to get him in my sights that he
Might learn that through his own delinquency
His father’s turned from mellow to severe.
Phaedria No sin has he committed, uncle dear, 310
To cause your wrath.
Demipho They’re in collusion – see!
Know one, know all! It’s a conspiracy!
Phaedria Not true.
Demipho When one’s in trouble, to his aid
There comes the other. They take turns to trade
Geta Well, there unwittingly he drew
An accurate picture of them.
Demipho Phaedria, you
Would not have helped things if that had been so.
Phaedria If any sin pertained to Antipho
To harm his profit or his reputation,
He should be punished in retaliation. 320
But if for this poor youth there was a trap
That had been laid by some designing chap
Successfully, then who should we reprove,
Ourselves or else the judges, who remove,
Through envy, money from the rich and give
It to the poor through pity?
Geta As I live,
I’d say he tells the truth – except I know
The facts of these proceedings. Is there, though,
A judge who knows your rights when you would say
Nothing in your defence – like him?
Geta When they 330
Went to those judges, he performed the part
Of a noble youth. He could not speak his heart –
His modesty confused him in his fear.
Well, good for him! But what am I doing here?
Approach the codger. [to Demipho] Sir, it gladdens me
To see you safely back.
Demipho Oh, fine trustee
Of all my kin, good-day! I went away
While trusting you to be my son’s mainstay!
Geta For some time now your censure have I heard,
And we do not deserve it – not one word – 340
Particularly I – I’ve not been freed,
As yet, and thus am not allowed to plead
A case or be a witness. What did you
Expect of me?
Demipho I own all that is true;
Unused to lawsuits, he had cause to fear,
And you’re a slave, and yet, however near
In kin she is to us, there was no need
To marry her. The law enjoins, indeed,
You may provide a dowry and then she
May seek another. Why, instead, did he 350
Bring home that pauper?
Geta No sure reason why,
But he was broke.
Demipho He could have borrowed.
Demipho At least on interest
If all else failed.
Geta Oh, fine words! I’m impressed!
Who’d lend him money while you live?
Demipho No way!
She shan’t reside with him one single day!
She isn’t worthy. I want you to show
Me him, or where he lives.
Geta What, Phormio?
Demipho The man who’ll speak for her.
Geta I’ll bring him here.
Demipho Where’s Antipho?
Geta Out somewhere.
Demipho Disappear 360
And find him, Phaedria. Bring him to me.
Phaedria I’m off.
Geta Yes, to Pamphila’s, certainly.
Demipho I’ll greet my household gods and then I’ll walk
On to the forum so that I may talk
With friends and ask their help that I may be
Not unprepared when Phormio comes to me. [exit]
Phormio Fearing his father, he has gone away?
Geta That’s right.
Phormio And Phormio’s left alone, you say?
Phormio The old man’s mad?
Phormio [to himself]
Upon you, Phormio, this catastrophe 370
Now rests. You’ve hashed it up, the thing’s a mess.
Now you must swallow it. Come on.
Geta Oh yes,
I beg of you.
Phormio [to himself]
If he should ask –
Geta In you
Lies all our hope.
Phormio [to himself]
I wonder, will this do? –
He sends her back.
Geta You forced him!
Phormio [to himself]
Yes, that’s wise.
Geta Help us!
Phormio So bring his dad before our eyes. 380
I’ve got it all mapped out.
Geta What is your plan?
Phormio He’ll keep the girl and I will clear the man
Of this offence and turn the old man’s spleen
Geta Brave friend! But I have been
So often anxious lest your bravery
Should put us in the stocks.
Phormio That will not be.
I’ve checked the dangers and I know the way
My feet must go. How many, would you say,
- Both citizens and foreigners – have I
Flogged – even fatally? Such things I try 390
The more I know about them. Have you ever
Heard of an action brought against me? Never.
Geta How come?
Phormio Because it’s not for birds of prey
The net is spread – they put us in harm’s way.
It’s spread for those who cause no injury,
For there lies profit, while profligacy
Comes from the others. When there is something
That can be gained, danger is threatening
From others. But I have damn-all and they
Know that. “They’ll take you as their slave,” you’ll say. 400
To feed a hungry guy? No, in my view
He who won’t benefit a person who
May injure him is wise.
Geta He cannot be
Thankful enough for your benignity.
Phormio There’s never gratitude enough, indeed,
That one can give his patron who will feed
Him free of charge when he comes, squeaky-clean,
Anointed, from the baths where he has been
At leisure, while the patron is with care
And his expenses eaten up. While there 410
Is everything to please you, he is sore.
You laugh, you drink and settle down before
The rest. You’re served a banquet full of doubt –
Geta What do you mean by that?
Phormio You can’t work out
Which item is the best. When you have thought
How choice and costly is the food he’s bought,
Must you not think that he’s a god?
Geta Look there –
The old man is approaching. Have a care –
First onset is the fiercest.
[Enter Demipho, Hegio, Cratinus, Crito]
Demipho Oh the scorn!
Was there an outrage that was ever borne 420
More heavily than this? I beg of you,
Geta He’s angry.
Phormio You, wait for your cue.
I’ll give him hell. God, Demipho disputes
That Phanium is kin?
Phormio And refutes
That he knows who her father was?
Geta That’s true.
Demipho That is the man I spoke of. Follow, do.
Phormio Nor does he know who Stilpho was?
Phormio Because she was renounced in dire need,
Her dad disowned and she disgraced. Oh hell,
The fruits of greed! Badmouth my master? Well, 430
You’ll get a mouthful if you do.
Demipho Has he
Come here on purpose just to lambast me?
Phormio Now just because the youth is unaware
Of who her father was I will not bear
Him any malice. For that man is old
And poor and by hard toil keeps his household;
He’s chiefly out of town where he’d a plot
Of land to cultivate (my father got
It him). Meanwhile the old man says that he,
His kinsman, has neglected him. And, gee, 440
I’ve never seen a better man.
Geta Watch out –
Mind what you say.
Phormio Get lost. There is no doubt
That if I’d not admired him, then she
Would not have garnered for her family
My rancour – in a most ungenerous fashion
He slights them now.
Geta Are you still in a passion,
Cursing my master, swine, while he’s away?
Phormio Well, he deserves it.
Geta Oh how dare you say
Such things, you jailbird?
The laws, you thief, would you?
Geta Who is it? Oh!
Demipho Be quiet!
Geta Night and day
He would revile you while you were away -
All lies - to his advantage.
Demipho Shush! I yearn,
With your permission, my good youth, to learn,
If you are pleased to answer, who this chum
You speak of was. Tell me - how did it come
About that he said he and I were kin?
Phormio Oh yes, go on, pretend to reel it in
As if you didn’t know!
Demipho How could I do?
Phormio You know!
Demipho Well, if I do, you’ll have to cue 460
Phormio You really do not know
Your cousin on your mother’s side?
Demipho Oh! Oh!
You’re killing me. His name! Just tell it me!
Phormio His name?
Demipho Come on, speak up!
I can’t recall.
Demipho Tell me.
Phormio Geta, d’you know
The name that only just a while ago
I told you? Tell it me. [to Demipho] I’ll not tell you –
You know it well and now come here to screw
The facts from me.
Demipho I what?
Geta [aside to Phormio]
Demipho What was that?
Phormio Stilpho, I say. 470
You know him.
Demipho I do not know him, nor do
I have a relative by that name.
Phormio Aren’t you
Ashamed? If he had left to you, however,
Ten talents –
Demipho Curse you!
Phormio - you’d at once endeavour
To trace the forebears in your ancestry
Three generations back.
And then I would have told you how we two
Were relatives. So now I’m asking you
Geta Well said, sir. [to Phormio] Watch out – you hear?
Phormio My duty I’ve already made quite clear. 480
Why did your son not prove it was untrue
If such it was?
Demipho Speak of my son, would you?
He’s just too dumb to waste words on.
Phormio Well then,
Since you are wise, go to the courts again
For a retrial. You’re preeminent
Around here and alone can gain consent
Demipho Though wronged, I want no litigation
Nor words from you – let’s say she’s a relation
And rates a dowry. So take her away.
Here’s five minae.
Phormio Oh very funny!
Demipho Pray, 490
Is that unfair? Or am I to obtain
Not even this, which is my legal gain?
Phormio Are you allowed to treat her like a whore,
Then pay her hire and send her packing or,
Lest poverty disgrace her, mustn’t she
Nor rather wed her next-of-kin and be
With just one man, which you would thwart?
Demipho Just so,
Her next-of-kin, yes. For what reason, though,
Should she be ours?
Phormio A thing tried once, they say,
Can’t be retried.
Demipho Oh no? I’ll plug away 500
Till I succeed.
Phormio That’s nonsense!
Demipho Leave me be.
Phormio To sum it up, you’re nothing, sir, to me.
Your son is damned, not you; your marrying days
Demipho Imagine what I say he says
As well or both of them I’ll ostracize.
That’s quite a passion.
Phormio You will be more wise.
Demipho Are you resolved, you wretch, to lay on me
Your very best?
Phormio He’s scared of us, though he
Conceals it well.
Geta [aside to Phormio]
A good beginning there!
Phormio If you bear everything that you must bear, 510
You’ll do a worthwhile thing, and then we’ll be
Demipho Close friends? As if I’d want to see
Or hear you anymore!
Phormio But if you two
Can find accord, then that will gladden you
In your old age – consider that.
Demipho Oh why
Not keep her, then, yourself?
Phormio Do modify
Demipho Act! The time for words is past.
Unless you take the girl and do it fast
I’ll turn her out of doors.
Phormio If you would dare
To treat a noble maid that way, beware: 520
I’ll bring a whopping action, Demipho,
Against you. If you need me, let me know –
I’ll be at home.
Geta I get it. [exit Phormio]
Demipho What distress
My son affords me. This whole nuptial mess
Involves us both! And he’s not here that I
At least may hear his views. [to Geta] Begone and try
To see If he’s gone home or not.
Geta I go.
Demipho [to the assistants] You see now how things stand. Look, Hegio,
What should I do?
Hegio Cratinus knows, I feel,
If you agree.
Demipho Cratinus, I appeal 530
Cratinus You want my counsel?
Demipho Yes, I do.
Cratinus I think that you should do what favours you.
Your son’s deed in your absence now should be
Put back to square one: thus will victory
Demipho Now, Hegio, your evaluation.
Hegio I think he spoke with due deliberation.
There are as many viewpoints, though, as folk –
Each has his way – and one may not revoke,
I think, a carried law – it’s wrong to try.
Demipho Speak, Crito.
Crito More discussion – that’s what I 540
Propose. Tough case!
Hegio You need us anymore?
Demipho No thank you. [exeunt assistants] I’m more shaky than before.
Geta They say he’s not come back.
Demipho Then I must stay
And wait for Chremes, and what he will say
In counsel I will follow. Now I’ll go
Down to the port to ask if any know
When he’ll return.
Geta And I will go seek out
Antipho so that he’ll be in no doubt
Of what occurred here. But look there – I see
That he is coming, just propitiously. 550
Antipho In many ways you’re guilty, Antipho,
For this dismay you’re feeling – just to go
Away and place your very sustenance
In others! Did you think they could advance
You better than yourself? For certainly
You should have entertained some sympathy,
Despite how other matters stood, for her
Who lives with you, in case she should incur
Some harm through trusting you. Poor creature, she
Has placed all of her hopes and property 560
Geta Master, we have for some large span
Of time rebuked your absence.
Antipho Just the man
That I’ve been seeking.
Geta I’m remiss as well,
Antipho Tell me where my fortunes dwell.
Has Dad guessed something?
Geta No, not yet.
Antipho Is there
Geta I don’t know.
Antipho Ah! I’m in despair!
Geta But Phaedria has risked both life and limb
On your behalf.
Antipho That’s typical of him.
Geta And Phormio has showed himself to be
A man of energy.
Antipho What is it he 570
Geta He gagged the old man in his gall.
Antipho Fine chap!
Geta I helped as well.
Antipho I love you all.
Geta That’s how things stood; and they’re still peaceful now.
Your father’s waiting for your uncle.
Geta He wants his help in this affair.
Antipho To see my uncle safe-arrived will scare
Me half to death. He said, from what I hear,
I am to live or die.
Geta Pheadria’s near.
Geta Coming from “The Wrestling-House”.
[Enter Phaedria and Dorio]
Phaedria Now see,
Let me speak one word...
Dorio No, leave me be. 580
Phaedria No, listen...
Dorio Look, I’m tired of hearing what
I’ve heard a thousand times.
Phaedria The news I’ve got
Will please you.
Dorio I’m all ears..
Phaedria Can’t I sway you
To stay three days? Where are you going to?
Dorio I wondered if you’d something new to tell.
Antipho I fear for this procurer.
Geta I as well.
Phaedria You don’t believe me?
Dorio No, you’re blabbering.
Phaedria I promise.
Phaedria Your kindness, you will find,
Will bring you profit.
Dorio You’re out of your mind.
Phaedria You will be glad.
Dorio All dreams!
Phaedria It won’t take long
To try it.
Dorio You still sing the same old song.
Phaedria You’ll be my kinsman, father, friend...
Dorio Oh, twitter
Phaedria To be so harsh, severe and bitter 590
That you’re not moved by prayers or sympathy!
Dorio To be so black and thoughtless endlessly
That you can use fine words and think you can
Take her for nothing!
Antipho [aside to Geta]
I pity the man.
Phaedria I’m done for.
Geta Oh how well both men sustain
Phaedria How awful that the pain
Of my distress occurred when Antipho
Was being inconvenienced also.
Antipho What is the matter, Phaedria?
Phaedria Lucky you,
Antipho Lucky? I?
Phaedria Of course, you who 600
Possess your love and are not in the mess
I find myself in now.
Antipho Do I possess
My love? Well, I am holding, as they say,
A wolf by both its ears. I have no way
Of knowing how to lose or keep her.
Dorio [pointing to Phaedria]
Is in the same boat.
Antipho Show yourself to be
The pimp you are. What has he done?
Has sold my Pamphila – that girl was mine!
Geta What? Sold her?
Phaedria Sold her.
Shame! To buy
A wench with one’s own money!
Phaedria Nor can I 610
Get him to wait three more days and reverse
The deal so I may put into my purse
The cash my friends have promised me. If you
Have not been paid by then, you’ve license to
Wait not one hour more.
Dorio Oh, excellent!
Antipho It’s not a long time, Dorio. Consent –
He’ll pay you double for your gracious heart.
Dorio Words, words!
Antipho So will you tear their love apart
And take her from this city?
Dorio It’s not I
Nor you who do that.
Geta May the gods supply 620
You with your just deserts.
Dorio For months on end
Against my will I’ve stomached you, my friend –
Your vows, your tears, your failure to provide
The cash. But now I’ve found one who, dry-eyed,
Will pay up. For your betters, now, make way.
Antipho As I remember, though, there was a day
Prescribed for payment.
Phaedria Yes, that’s true.
Dorio Do I
Deny that fact?
Antipho Well, has that day passed by?
Dorio No. This precedes it.
Geta Oh, the perfidy!
Aren’t you ashamed?
Dorio Not while it profits me. 630
Geta You pile of shit!
Phaedria You think that this is right?
Dorio That’s how I am. If that suits you, you might
Make use of me.
Antipho You’d toy with him, would you?
Dorio Oh no, he toys with me. He always knew
My character. I find he’s not the same
As he appears. He’s played an artful game.
I am not changed. Tomorrow at daybreak,
However, the captain says he’ll come to make
His payment. Phaedria, I will obey
My own precept: whoever comes to pay 640
Before the other wins the prize. Goodbye!
Phaedria What can I do? How, in a twink, can I
Acquire the cash? I might as well be dead.
I’m destitute! The cash was warranted
Had I three days in hand.
Antipho Geta, shall we
Allow this man to suffer after he,
As I have said, showed me such kindliness?
Let’s pay him back.
Geta That’s honourable.
And you’re the one can do it.
Geta In what way?
Antipho Procure the cash.
Geta I’m dying to, but say 650
Antipho My father’s back.
Geta I know. And so - ?
Antipho A word to the wise will do.
Geta Then, Antipho,
Antipho It is.
Geta You counsel famously!
Get lost! If I meet no adversity
Through his marriage, shall I not rejoice? Yet you
Would have me, for his sake, seek out anew
Antipho Well, that’s true.
Phaedria Look, have we met
Before this, Geta?
Geta ‘Course we have, and yet
That the old man is angry with us all 660
Is no small matter – so are we to gall
Him further? That would leave us no leeway
Phaedria Some other man will take away
My girl to some new place. So speak to me
While you still have the opportunity.
Look at me while I’m here.
Antipho So I may – what?
Phaedria I’ll find whatever godforsaken spot
She’s taken to or die.
Antipho May you succeed,
But careful! [to Geta] What support that he may need –
Antipho Please, Geta, try, I pray,
Lest he do something on some later day 670
That we’ll regret.
Geta I’m trying now – well, he
Is fine, I think. I fear some devilry,
Antipho Don’t. Both good and bad we’ll share.
Geta What is the sum we need?
Antipho Not much – there, there! –
Just thirty minae.
Geta Wow, that’s quite a heap
Of money. She’s expensive.
Antipho No, she’s cheap.
Geta O.K. I’ll get them for you.
Phaedria Lovely man!
Geta Well, off you go.
Phaedria Be as swift as you can –
I need them now.
Geta I will, but Phormio
Must help me.
Antipho Well, he’s ready. Off you go, 680
Load him with questions most courageously.
He’ll bear them; he’s a loyal friend to me.
Geta Let’s go at once, then.
Antipho Do you need me, too?
Phaedria No thanks. Go home and, please, I beg of you,
Console that poor thing who, half-dead with fright,
I’m sure is there.
Antipho I will, with more delight
Phaedria How will you do this, though?
Geta Well, first begone. I’ll tell you as we go.
[Enter Demipho and Chremes]
Demipho Well, did you bring your daughter back, my brother,
From Lemnos as you planned?
Chremes Her mother, 690
Since I in Athens made a lengthy stay
And since our girl was growing day by day
And needed me, they say set off to see
If she could find me, with her family.
Demipho Hearing of this, then, why had you remained
For such a long time there?
Chremes I was detained
Demipho Which was - ?
Chremes You ask this of me?
Old age itself, sir, is a malady.
Their captain tells me, nonetheless, that they
Demipho While I was away 700
How did my son get on?
Chremes There is the danger –
If I would wed my daughter to a stranger,
I must disclose her family history.
Now I’ve been certain that your loyalty
To me is like mine to myself; if some
Stranger, though, calls me Dad, he will be mum
As long as we are friends; if he should go
Against me, he’ll know more than he should know;
I fear my wife will learn this, in which case
I’ll have to leave my home, for in that place 710
It’s me alone on whom I can rely.
Demipho I know – it worries me a lot, and I
Shall never cease to try to bring about
My promises to you.
Geta Without a doubt
I’ve never ever seen a slyer man
Than Phormio – I asked him how we can
Acquire the cash we need. I barely could
Speak half my words before he understood.
He laughed out loud and complimented me,
Asked of the fellow’s whereabouts, then he 720
Thanked all the gods he was allowed to show
That, having given aid to Antipho,
He’d give no less to Phaedria. “Away,”
I said, “Wait at the forum – I’ll convey
The old man thither.” There he is, though, see!
But who’s the one behind him? It must be
Phaedria’s father. Great! What did I fear?
Oh, what an idiot! Now two are here –
Not one – for me to dupe. It’s preferable
To have two hopes, I think. I’ll try to gull 730
My first mark. If he bites, that’s fine; if not,
I’ll see what from this other can be got.
[Enter Antipho, Demipho and Chremes]
Antipho At any time now Geta should be here.
There’s Chremes standing by my dad. I fear
His influence upon him.
Geta I’ll waylay
Both of them. Chremes, I bid you good-day.
Chremes And I you, Geta.
Geta I am glad that you
Are safely back.
Chremes I’m sure you are.
Geta How do
Chremes Since I arrived, there have occurred
Great changes, as is common.
Geta Have you heard 740
About our Antipho?
Chremes Yes, everything.
Geta [to Antipho]
You told him? Oh, a most disgraceful thing,
Antipho I was discussing that just now
Geta Well, I believe that I somehow
Have racked my brains and found a remedy.
Chremes What is it?
Demipho Yes, what?
After I left you, I met Phormio.
Chremes Who’s he?
Demipho Her patron.
Chremes Ah yes, now I know.
Geta I thought I’d sound him out. I took the man
Aside and said, ”Why don’t we, if we can, 750
Settle the matter graciously and not
Resort to devilry? My master’s got
A liberal nature; he hates litigation,
Yet all his friends give one recommendation –
To turn her out.”
Antipho What is he trying to say
And how will everything turn out today?
Geta “Will you say he’ll incur a penalty
If he ejects her? That’s been scanned. You’ll be
In quite a sweat if you should undertake
To take him on because - make no mistake – 760
He’s fluent. Say he’s beaten – even yet
His money, not his life, is under threat.”
I sense I’ve softened him. It’s just we two,
So I ask, “How much money, then, do you
Require to drop this suit?”
He’s wrong in the head!
Geta “If you should ask a moderate price,” I said,
“I’m sure, since he’s a reasonable fellow, you
Won’t need to bandy three words with him.”
Told you to say that?
Chremes Well, this is a plan
That could not have been better thought up, man. 770
Antipho I’m done for.
Chremes Well, go on.
Demipho What did he ask for?
Chremes How much?
Geta Well, let’s say he’s to pay
One whole talent...
Demipho To hell with him, I say.
Has he no shame?
Geta I asked him the same thing.
I said, “Suppose that he were marrying
His only daughter off. That he has none
Has been no use to him when there is one
Demanding quite a sum.” In brief, to skip
His nonsense, these last words fell from his lip: 780
“I from the first desired to have a wife,
The daughter of a friend, to share my life,
As is but right – I saw how burdensome
Her life would be for a poor girl to come
As slave into a rich man’s family.
But now I’m speaking with you openly,
So – I desired a wife who’d bring some dough
To pay off all my debts. If Demipho
Pays what for my fiancée I’d be paid,
There’s none I’d rather marry than this maid.” 790
Antipho Is this transgression or foolhardiness,
Sense or stupidity? It’s hard to guess.
Demipho What if his debt should put him in harm’s way?
Geta For ten minae his land, I heard him say,
Demipho I’ll provide the cash, then. Let
Him wed her.
Geta There’s another mortgage yet –
His house for ten more.
Demipho Ah, too much! Hellfire!
Chremes Hush. He’ll get them from me.
Geta He must acquire
A maid to serve his wife, and furniture,
And pay the wedding costs. He can procure 800
All this for ten more.
Demipho That’s it!! Let him bring
Six hundred suits against me – he’ll not wring
A thing from me. The swine is mocking me!
Chremes Be still. I’ll pay this, too, as long as he
Weds her we want for him.
Antipho Geta, I’m dead!
Your treachery has killed me.
Chremes On my head
Must be this loss and it is only just
I bear the cost.
Geta He told me that I must
Inform him straightaway that he might know
That he can wed the lady and let go 810
The other, since those other men agreed
To pay directly.
Chremes He’ll have her indeed!
Let him announce that he breaks off the pact
To wed the other.
Antipho May his life be racked
With woe for it!
Chremes Well, incidentally
I’ve brought some cash, which my wife’s property
Brings in as rent. I’ll tell her you have got
To have it.
Geta Yes, what is it?
Have you been up to?
Geta I’ve been diddling
Those two old men.
Antipho Well, is that quite the thing? 820
Geta I don’t know; that’s what I was told to do.
Antipho You rogue, I ask of you one thing and you
Answer me something else.
Geta What did you need
Antipho This is a pretty pass indeed –
Your fault! To the divinities I pray –
Above us and below the earth – that they
Confound you. Lord, if you want something done,
Ask him – from tranquil seas you’ll find you’ll run
Onto the rocks. There’s no less useful thing
Than touching on this sore or mentioning 830
My wife. My father hoped that he’d expel
The maid. If Phormio takes the cash, then – hell,
He’ll marry her. What then?
Geta He won’t.
Antipho I know,
But for our sake he will prefer to go
Geta But things will get worse, there’s no doubt,
If you recount the bad side. You leave out
The good, which is: although, if they should pay
The man, he’ll marry her, just as you say,
Allow some time for wedding preparations,
For sacrifices and for invitations. 840
Meanwhile will Phaedria’s friends give what they swore
They’d give – thus he’ll repay it.
Antipho But wherefore?
What grounds will he present?
Antipho You ask that, when
I’ve seen so many prodigies since then?
A strange black dog entered the house, then through
The skylight came a snake, then a hen crew.
The seer forbade it and the priest said no.
Besides I cannot justly undergo
New work before the winter. No, the action
Is this one.
Antipho Would it were!
Geta Take satisfaction – 850
It is. Here comes your father. Off, away,
Tell Phaedria the money’s on its way.
[Enter Demipho and Chremes]
Demipho Be quiet. I’ll watch out for any hoax.
I’ll not just part with this without some folks
Are found as witnesses. To whom and why
I give it I’ll have stated.
My oh my,
There’s no need for such caution.
Chremes Yes, you need
To do precisely that and with all speed
While he’s still in the mood, for, should he see
The other is more pressing, then maybe 860
He’ll throw us over.
Demipho That’s the very thing!
So take me to him.
Geta I’m not dawdling.
Chremes [to Demipho]
And then go to my wife so that she may
Call on the maid before she goes away.
Tell her we’re giving her to Phormio
That we won’t rouse her wrath, and that he’s so
Much better for her since he knows her well
And that we did not shirk our duty. Tell
Her we give him the sum he asked for.
The devil do you care?
Chremes I care a lot. 870
That you have done your duty will not do
Unless common report approves it too.
You see, I must get her acknowledgement
As well as his lest she say she was sent
Demipho Well, surely I can do that.
Another woman’s better.
Demipho Then I’ll go
And ask her.
Chremes Let me think where I can find
Sophrona What can I do? I’m in a bind.
What friend is there to whom I can express
My plans? Where is there help in my distress? 880
My mistress through my counselling, I fear,
May suffer undeservedly. I hear
The father of the youth took most amiss
What has occurred.
Chremes But look here – who is this?
A crone half-dead with fright has just appeared
From Demipho’s house.
Sophrona The poverty I feared,
Although I thought the marriage was unsound,
Forced me to see her safe.
Chremes Well, I’ll be bound,
Unless I’m tricked by sight or memory
I see my daughter’s nurse.
Sophrona Nor can we see – 890
Chremes What should I do?
Sophrona Her father.
Chremes Shall I go
To her or wait till I more surely know
What she is saying?
Sophrona If he’s brought to light,
I’ll have no justification then for fright.
Chremes It’s she! I’ll speak to her.
Sophrona Who’s speaking? Who?
Sophrona That’s my name!
Chremes Just turn round, do!
Sophrona Oh heavens! Stilpho?
Sophrona You say
You’re not him?
Chremes [sotto voce]
Step a little bit this way,
Sophrona, please, and do not use that name
Sophrona You say that you are not the same 900
As you said that you were?
Sophrona What do you fear
About this door?
Chremes My shrewish wife is here
Behind it. For that name deceptively
I once used, hoping it imprudently
Would not be blabbed abroad or that my wife
Might not learn of it somehow.
Sophrona On my life,
That’s why we fools could not discover you
Chremes Tell me, what have you to do
With that household? Where are the ladies?
Chremes What’s wrong? Are they still living?
Sophrona Well, although 910
The daughter’s still alive, the mother died
Chremes How sad!
Sophrona And as for me, I tried
As best I might – although I am alone,
An aged woman, indigent, unknown –
To wed the maid to the young man who lives there.
Chremes You mean to Antipho?
Sophrona Yes, yes, I swear!
Chrems Has he two wives, then?
Sophrona No, just one.
Chremes But, hey,
What about the other, who’s his kin, they say?
Sophrona That’s her!
Sophrona It was done intentionally
That they might wed without a marriage-fee. 920
Chremes Our trust in you’s fulfilled, I have to say!
How often do things turn out in a way
You never dared to hope – by accident!
On my return I found the very gent
I wanted for my daughter. Demipho
And I tried hard to make it happen so.
Alone, with little help from us, has he
Brought it about.
Sophrona What’s to be done now? See –
His father’s back. He takes the news, they say,
Chremes Never fear, but, pray, 930
Let no-one know she’s mine.
Sophrona I won’t.
Chremes Now come
Inside and you’ll learn the residuum.
[Enter Demipho and Geta]
Demipho It’s our fault that we gain by falsity,
Though we in others’ eyes prefer to be
Upright and generous. So, “Do not roam,”
So goes the saying, “far beyond your home”.
It’s not enough to bear an injury
But money must be given, too, so he
May live while thinking up some new offence?
It’s clear as crystal that, at our expense, 940
Those who take right and make it wrong derive
Some benefit from it.
Demipho Geta, you and I’ve
Been very foolish. Would we had an out
By marrying her off.
Demipho Is there some doubt
Geta Well, as I know the man, he may
Just change his mind.
Demipho What? Change it?
Geta “May,” I say.
Demipho I’ll take Chremes’ advice and bring her hither
And talk to her. Now, Geta, hurry thither.
Tell her Nausistrata’s about to call
On her. [exit into house]
Geta Well, Phaedria’s cash – We’ve got it all. 950
The lawsuit’s hushed up. We have taken care
That she stay here for now. However, where
Do we go now from here? The same old clay
Still bogs you down. You borrow – then you pay.
Just one day has been bought to stem the woe
That looms on us. The snares much greater grow,
So watch out. I’ll go in now to persuade
Young Phanium she should not be afraid
Of Phormio or what he says.
[Enter Demipho and Nausistrata]
Demipho Come now,
Nausistrata! As is your wont, somehow 960
Keep her content with us, and willingly
Let her do what she must.
Nausistrata I will.
Demipho Help me
As you did with the money.
Nausistrata Would I could
But I can be less helpful than I should –
It’s Chremes’ fault.
Demipho How so?
Nausistrata He’s not maintained
So well the farms my father had attained
Industriously – two talents he’d accrue
For them. Those men were poles apart.
Demipho What? Two?
Nausistrata Yes, even in hard times.
Nausistrata I wish I’d been a man; I’d show – 970
Demipho I’m sure you would –
Nausistrata How –
Demipho Save it, lady, do,
For her – she’s young and may be a match for you.
Nausistrata I’ll do your bidding. Chremes now I see
Emerging from your house.
Chremes The currency –
Has it been settled, Demipho?
Demipho I’ve seen
To that in haste.
Chremes I wish it hadn’t been.
Whoops, here’s my wife – I’ve said too much, I fear.
Demipho Why, Chremes?
Chremes Everything’s alright.
Demipho Look here,
Did you say why we’re bringing her?
Chremes Well, I
Arranged the matter.
Demipho What was her reply? 980
Chremes She’ll not be brought.
Chremes They’re so amorous,
Each of the other.
Demipho So, what’s that to us?
Chremes It means a lot. Moreover I have found
She’s kin to us.
Demipho What? Are you of sound mind?
Chremes It’s true. I’m not being rash. My memory
Demipho You’re raving!
Nausistrata Don’t cause injury,
Please, to a kinswoman.
Demipho But she is none.
Chremes Do not deny it; her father took on
A different name – that’s how you made a blunder.
Demipho Did she not know her father?
Chremes Oh, by thunder, 980
She knew him.
Why, then, use another name?
Chremes Why will you never listen? What’s your game?
You just won’t understand.
Demipho If you won’t tell
Chremes I’m on the road to Hell!
Nausustrata I wonder what this means.
Demipho Well, I don’t know.
Chremes You’d like to? Well, by God, there’s no-one so
Kin to us both than her.
Demipho God! In that case
I’ll trust you. Let us go now to her place
To satisfy me one way or the other.
Demipho What is it?
Chremes I’m shocked that you – my brother – 990
Should put so little trust in me.
Demipho Would you
Have me believe you, take it all as true?
Alright, that’s fair enough. What should we do
With our friend’s daughter?
Chremes She’ll do fine.
Demipho Do you
Mean we should drop her, then?
Chremes Why not?
Demipho And she –
The other one – should stay?
Demipho Nausistrata, then, you may go.
Nausistrata I’d say
It’s better for us all that she should stay
Than what you first proposed, for in my eyes
She was genteel.
Demipho But what can we surmise 1000
From all this?
Chremes Did she close the door?
Demipho Just now.
Chremes The gods are kind. My daughter’s made her vow
In marriage to your son.
Demipho How can that be?
Chremes It’s not too safe in this locality
Demipho Well, go in.
Chremes It would be amiss
If either of our sons should learn of this.
Antipho My brother’s plans have turned out well – I’m glad,
Even if my own affairs should turn out bad.
How wise to think as he does, so that when
Things go awry, to make them straight again 1010
Is easy. He has got the money, he
Is carefree. For myself, no remedy
From this predicament can I procure.
I’m fearful if it stays concealed, for sure,
And shamed if it’s revealed. Nor should I go
Back home but for the chance that hope may show
Me how to gain her. Now I wonder where
I can find Geta so that he might share
Advice upon the opportunity
Of meeting with my father peril-free. 1020
Phormio The cash I got I gave the pimp. I brought
The woman so that Phaedria, as he ought,
Might keep her now she’s free. There’s yet one thing
To do – to win some time for partying
From those old men. The next few days I’ll go
Out on a bender.
Antipho But here’s Phormio.
What can you tell me?
Antipho What Phaedria now
Will do, I mean. Did he inform you how
He means to spend his honeymoon?
Phormio He’ll play
Antipho What part?
Phormio He plans to run away 1030
From his father and begs that you’ll plead his case
In due return – he’s going to my place
To have some drinks. “I’m going to the fair
At Sunium,” I’ll tell the old men, “where
I plan to buy the maid whom recently
Our Geta mentioned”: thus, when they don’t see
Me here, they won’t believe I’m squandering
Their money. Hey, what is that clamouring
There at your door?
Antipho Well, see who’s coming out.
Phormio It’s Geta.
Geta Oh, what fortune’s come about 1040
To bless my boss today.
Antipho What does he mean
By that, I wonder.
Geta We, his friends, have been
Relieved of fear. But why do I delay
In girding up my loins when on my way
To tell him what has happened?
Antipho Do you know
What he is on about?
Phormio Don’t you?
Antipho Not so.
Phormio Nor I.
Geta I’m off to see the pimp ‘cos they
Antipho Hey, Geta!
Geta Charming! Bid me stay
When I’ve just set off!
Geta At it still?
You’ll never vanquish me with your ill-will. 1050
Geta Sod you!
Antipho No, sod you, you so-and-so,
If you don’t stop.
Geta This is someone I know
Quite well if he addresses me that way.
Is this the man I seek or not? Hey, hey,
That is the man. Speak to him!
Antipho What’s the matter?
Most blessed of all mortals, Antipho!
The gods love you alone, that’s plain as day.
Antipho I wish! But why should I trust what you say?
Geta It’s not enough I plunge you in a sea
Of pure delirium?
Antipho You’re killing me. 1060
Look, you can shove your promises! Just tell
Me what you’ve brought.
Geta Ah, Phormio’s here as well?
Phormio I’m here. Go on!
Geta O.K., then. When we paid
You at the forum recently, we made
Our way at once to Chremes, and meanwhile
My boss sent me off to your wife.
Not tell you that – it doesn’t fit the case
At hand. When I was headed for the place
Where the women live, there ran to me that lad,
Young Mida. He pulled on my cloak and bade 1070
Me turn around. “Why hold me back?” I said.
“To see my mistress is prohibited,”
He said. “Sophronia, just two ticks ago,
Announced Chremes, the brother of Antipho.
I, too, was there” On hearing this, I stole
On tiptoe to the door, placed my ear-hole
Against it as I held my breath and stood
Right there and listened to them; and I could
Hear every word this way.
Phormio Well done, my boy.
Geta While there, I almost shouted out with joy 1080
On hearing splendid news.
Antipho Which was - ?
Geta Well, guess.
Antipho I can’t.
Geta A marvellous prodigiousness!
That Phanium your wife’s the progeny
Of Uncle Chremes.
Geta In secrecy
He lived on Lemnos with her mother.
Come on! As if the woman couldn’t know
Geta No, there’s cause. Can’t you assume
I heard all that they said inside that room
Antipho I have heard that tale before.
Geta And that you may believe it all the more – 1090
Chremes, when he came back, soon exited
The house with Demipho and both men said
That you may have her.
Antipho Chop, chop, then.
[Exeunt Antipho and Geta]
Phormio What unexpected luck! A true delight
To have a splendid opportunity
To diddle those old codgers and to see
Young Phaedria’s money problems go away –
He need not ask his confidants to pay.
The cash he has will yet be paid outright
Regardless of their wants. I’ve brought to light 1100
A way to force it from them. I must take
Upon me a new air. But now I’ll make
My way along this alley here and show
Myself to them when they come out. Although
I told them I was going to the fair,
I was pretending – I’m not going there. [Exit]
[Enter Demipho and Chremes]
Demipho I thank the gods – with reason – heartily,
Chremes, since things turned out successfully.
We must meet Phormio soon lest he should blow
The cash we need.
Phormio I’ll see if Demipho 1110
Is home so –
Demipho Phormio, we’ve come to you.
Phormio Perhaps for the same reason.
Demipho Yes, too true.
Phormio That’s what I figured. Why, though, are you here?
Demipho Oh, don’t be silly!
Phormio Did you maybe fear
I’d break my vow. I may be indigent
But in one thing I’ve kept my true intent –
To keep my word.
Chremes Is she not, Demipho,
Genteel, as I have said?
Demipho Extremely so.
Phormio I’m here to tell you that I’m standing by.
Give me my wife, whenever you please, for I 1120
Postponed all of my business, as is fit,
On finding out how much you wanted it.
Demipho He urged, though, that she not be given me.
“What would folk say if you did that?” said he.
When the time was right, you didn’t give her; now
To turn her out is shameful. Anyhow,
Almost all his advice was literally
What you yourself said face-to-face to me.
Phormio What arrogant insults!
Demipho How so?
Phormio Oh, you know!
I can’t now wed the other. How’ll I go 1130
And face her slighted self?
Chremes And then, I see
That Antipho will not part company
With her. [aside to Demipho] Say so.
Demipho And then, I see that he –
My son – won’t part with her. However, go
Off to the Forum. Tell them, Phormio,
That they’re to put the cash in my account.
Phormio What, after I transferred the whole amount
To those I owed it to?
Demipho Alright, what now?
Phormio If you will give me her and keep your vow,
I’ll marry her. But if you wish that she
Should stay with you, the cash remains with me.
This craftiness I bear is a disgrace –
I left the other girl to save your face, 1140
And she gave just as much.
Demipho Such swaggering!
Get lost, you bum! We both know everything –
You think we don’t?
Phormio You’re galling me.
Demipho If she
Were given, would you wed her?
Phormio Why not see
That for yourself?
Demipho Your plan was that she might
Live with my son chez vous, is that not right?
Demipho Will you give the cash?
Phormio Well, tell me straight,
Will you give me my wife?
Demipho The magistrate
Will sort you out!
Phormio If that’s your attitude,
Demipho What will you do?
Phormio You think my mood 1150
Is to protect the dowerless, you pair?
I serve the dowried, too.
Chremes What do we care?
Phormio You don’t. There is a lady whom I know –
She lives just over there – whose husband –
Demipho What’s up?
Phormio - was married to another wife
Chremes Now I’ve had it!
Phormio They gave life
To a girl whom he is raising secretly.
Chremes I’m dead!
Phormio I’m off to tell their history.
Chremes Please don’t.
Phormio Oh, is it you?
Demipho He’s joking!
We’ll spare you –
Chremes Yes, let you off the hook 1160
For all the cash you have. Is that OK?
Phormio I hear you. Why d’you mess with me this way,
You idiots, with your stupid talk? “I’ll not,
I will, I’ll not, I will. Take what I’ve got;
No, give it back.” What’s said becomes unsaid,
A bargain’s now no bargain.
Chremes [aside] Who has fed
Him all this information?
Demipho I don’t know.
I know for sure I’ve told nobody, though.
Chremes A miracle!
Phormio That’s stumped them!
Demipho For God’s sake,
Is he to bilk us of all that and make 1170
Us laughingstocks? I’d rather snuff it. Be
Steadfast with ready wit, for you can see
News of your slip’s got out; you can’t conceal
It from your wife. Better that we reveal
What she will hear from others. Then we can
Take our revenge upon this seedy man
In our own way, Chremes.
Phormio I’d best take care
Or I am stuck. A gladiatorial air
Is what these fellows have – they’re setting out
To challenge me.
Chremes [to Demipho] And yet I feel some doubt 1180
That she can be appeased.
Demipho Cheer up! I’ll see
You’re back in her good books. Remember – she
Who bore the child is dead.
Phormio Is thus your way
Of dealing with me? Oh, well done, I say!
Come on. Have you not galled me, Demipho,
While hardly helping him? [pointing to and now addressing Chremes]. Is it not so?
You did just what you felt like over there
In Lemnos and you do not seem to care
One bit for this fine lass – outrageously,
In fact, you hurt her. Now you come to me 1190
And beg forgiveness. I will make her so
Incensed with you that you shan’t quench her, though
You shed huge tears.
Demipho May each divinity
Cast plague on you! That such effrontery
Exists in any man! It’s a disgrace!
He should be exiled to some desert place
At public charge.
Chremes I’m at such an impasse
I don’t know how to handle it, alas!
Demipho I do – let’s go to court.
Phormio No, here will do [pointing to the house].
That is, if it is all the same to you. 1200
Chremes Go follow after him and hold him back
While I call out the slaves.
Demipho Brother, I lack
The strength to do it on my own. Help me
Phormio [to Demipho, who seizes him] There’s one charge of battery
Demipho Sue me, then!
Phormio And one for you,
Chremes Grab him.
Phormio So this is what you’d do?
Then I must speak. Nausistrata’s come out.
Chremes Just stop his filthy mouth. See there! – the lout
Demipho Shut up!
Phormio What, me? 1210
Demipho Look, plant your fists into his gut if he
Phormio Or gouge out an eye. Nothing
Will stop me from a total reckoning.
Nausistrata Who’s calling me? I ask you, Chremes, what
Is this uproar?
Phormio Aha! The cat has got
Nausistrata Who is this man? Now why don’t you
Phormio Reply? He hasn’t got a clue
Of where he is.
Chremes Don’t credit anything
Phormio Touch him – if he’s not shivering
In a cold sweat, kill me.
Chremes It’s nothing.
What is he on about?
Phormio You soon will know. 1220
Chremes Will you believe him?
Nausistrata How can I
Believe him since he hasn’t spoken?
The swine is mad with fright.
Nausistrata That cannot be
Without some cause.
Chremes You think he frightens me?
Phormio Alright, since you’re not frightened and what I’m
About to say is nothing, p’raps it’s time
For you to say it.
Demipho Villain, shall he tell
It at your say-so?
Phormio You’ve done very well
Nausistrata Husband, won’t you speak?
Chremes But –
Chremes There is no need.
Phormio For you, I guess, 1230
But here in Lemnos –
Demipho What is that you said?
Phormio Unbeknownst to you –
Phormio Chremes wed
Nausistrata God forbid, sir!
Phormio No, it’s true.
Nausistrata I’m done for!
Phormio And he had a daughter, too –
You never dreamed of such a thing.
Chremes What can
Nausistrata By God, a wicked, evil man!
Phormio [aside to Chremes]
You’ve had it.
Nausistrata Has there been a shabbier deed?
Men grow too old for their own wives. I need
To ask you, Demipho – it sickens me
To talk to him - : are these the trips that he 1240
So often took? And is that why he stayed
So long there and why those low prices made
Our rents decline?
Demipho I don’t deny that he
Is culpable; however, he may be
Phormio He’s speaking to the dead.
Demipho Not through
Neglect or hatred of you did he do
These things. When drunk, some fifteen years ago,
He wooed that poor young woman and then – lo!
The girl was born, and from that moment on
He never touched her. Now she’s dead and gone - 1250
The only problem left. Accordingly,
I beg, bear this with equanimity
As in all other things.
Nausistrata Why should I bear
This stoically? I want the whole affair
To end. I’ve had it. What’s to hope for? Can
I think that he will be a better man
Now that he’s old? Was he not old then, too,
If old age makes men virtuous? And do
I look more comely at my age? And so,
What can you offer to me, Demipho, 1260
To make me hope that he’ll not go astray
Phormio It’s time for those who wish to stay
For Chremes’ funeral. I’ll provide it. He
Who wants to challenge Phormio will be
A readied victim just like him. Alright,
Let her forgive him. My revenge is quite
Sufficient now, and she’ll have every day
Something to din into his ears.
Nausistrata So say –
Was it my fault? Should I now, Demipho,
Tell all I did in wedlock?
Demipho This I know 1270
As well as you.
Nausistrata The blame, then, falls on me?
Demipho Of course not. But what has been done can’t be
Undone by harsh words. Pardon him. Regret,
Beseeching, owning up have all been met.
What more d’you want?
But first I must attend
To Phaedria and myself. [to Nausistrata] I urge you – lend
Your ears to me before you recklessly
Nausistrata What is it?
Phormio By my strategy
I wrested thirty minae from this man.
I gave them to your son – that way he can 1280
Possess his girl; the pimp received the dough.
Chremes What’s that you say?
Nausistrata Well, doesn’t it seem so
Improper that your son, while young, should not
Enjoy one mistress? You yourself had got
Two wives! Have you no shame? How can you scold
Your son? Well?
Demipho He’ll do as you wish.
Nausistrata Now hold –
I don’t forgive nor will I guarantee
A thing until I see my son: what he
Decides I will abide by. I will do
All he commands me.
Phormio Nausistrata, you 1290
Are a wise woman.
Demipho Oh yes.
Chremes I’ve got off pretty well, I must confess,
Beyond my expectations.
Nausistrata [to Phormio]
Please tell me
Phormio It’s Phormio. Your family
All know me well, and I’m a special pal
Nausistrata Then, Phormio, I shall
Both say and do your bidding ever after.
Phormio You’re kind.
Nausistrata You’ve earned it.
Phormio Well, to cause my laughter
And Chremes’ tears, will you do this for me?
Nausistrata Yes, what?
Phormio Let me dine with you.
Nausistrata Certainly. 1330
Phormio Let’s in.
Nausistrata Where’s Phaedria, our judge?
Phormio I’ll bring
Him here.[to the audience] Farewell and let your plaudits ring.
The end of Terence's Phormio