Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

Translated by Christopher Kelk

SScene from Terence's comedy Phormio

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



[Enter Geta]

Geta Should a red-haired man inquire of me –

Davus Stop there! He’s here.

Geta Oh, I’ve been trying to meet

You, Davus.

Davus Here’s the cash – it’s there, complete!

Already counted!

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?

Geta O.K.,

Then listen.

Davus I’m all ears.

Geta Are you au fait 70

With the elder brother of our gentleman,

One Chremes?

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

What happened?

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!

They wed.

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,

You think?

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.


[Enter Geta]

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

At hand.

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]

That’s you!

Antipho I fear he bears bad news.

Phaedria Oh no,

Are you quite sane?

Geta I’m off home – usually

He’s there.

Phaedria [to Antipho]

Let’s call him back.

Antipho Stop instantly!

Geta Whoever you are, I’ll bow to your command.

Antipho Geta!

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.

Phaedria Nah!

Antipho What am I to do?

Phaedria [to Geta]

What’s that you said? 230

Geta I’ve seen his dad, your uncle.

Antipho Remedy

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

The brave.

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


Geta No.

Antipho This? [adopts another air]

Geta You’re warmer.

Antipho This? [adopts another air]

Geta O.K.,

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 law!

Geta You follow me?

Who is that old man down the street I see?

It’s him!

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.

Phaedria Indeed

I’ll do my best.

Geta Go first. Right here I’ll stay

As back-up if you need my help.

Phaedria O.K.


[Enter Demipho]

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.

Geta [aside]

Oh, I’ll find a way.

What next?

Demipho “I had to do it,” will he say?

“It was the law.” Yes, yes, that’s true.

Geta [aside]


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

Your answer.

Phaedria He’s nearby. He, too, is well.

Is everything alright?

Demipho I wish!


Well, tell

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

You mad?

Geta [aside]

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.

Geta [aside]

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.

Geta Aye,

Easily said!

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]


[Enter Phormio]

Phormio Fearing his father, he has gone away?

Geta That’s right.

Phormio And Phormio’s left alone, you say?

Geta Correct.

Phormio The old man’s mad?

Geta Exceedingly.

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

Against myself.

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,

Help me.

Geta He’s angry.

Phormio You, wait for your cue.

I’ll give him hell. God, Demipho disputes

That Phanium is kin?

Geta Yes.

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?

Geta Agreed.

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?

Demipho Geta!

Phormio Falsify

The laws, you thief, would you?

Demipho Geta!

Phormio [aside]

Reply. 450

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

My memory.

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!

Phormio [aside]


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]


Phormio O.K.,

It’s Stilpho.

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.

Demipho Presumably,

And then I would have told you how we two

Were relatives. So now I’m asking you

That question.

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

For that.

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

Are past.

Demipho Imagine what I say he says

As well or both of them I’ll ostracize.

Geta [aside]

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

Close friends.

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

Your anger!

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

To you.

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

Be yours.

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.

[Enter Geta]

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


[enter Antipho]

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

In you.

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

Yet hope?

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

Has done?

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.

Antipho How

Is that?

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.

Antipho Where?

Geta Coming from “The Wrestling-House”.


[Enter Phaedria and Dorio]

Phaedria Now see,


Dorio No!


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.

Dorio Crap.

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

Their characters.

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,

My cousin.

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?

The swine

Has sold my Pamphila – that girl was mine!

Geta What? Sold her?


Sold her?

Phaedria Sold her.

Dorio [sarcastically]

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.

Antipho Yes,

And you’re the one can do it.

Geta In what way?

Antipho Procure the cash.

Geta I’m dying to, but say 650

From where.

Antipho My father’s back.

Geta I know. And so - ?

Antipho A word to the wise will do.

Geta Then, Antipho,

That’s it?

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

More trouble.

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

For pleas.

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 –

Provide it.

Geta How?

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

Than anything.

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 No.

Demipho Why?

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

By illness.

Demipho Which was - ?

Chremes You ask this of me?

Old age itself, sir, is a malady.

Their captain tells me, nonetheless, that they

Alighted safely.

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.

[Enter Geta]

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

Things stand?

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

With him.

Geta Well, I believe that I somehow 

Have racked my brains and found a remedy.

Chremes What is it? 

Demipho Yes, what?

Geta Accidentally,

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?”

Antipho [aside]

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.”

Demipho Who

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.

Geta Initially

He raved.

Demipho What did he ask for?

Geta Totally

Too much.

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,

Is mortgaged.

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.


Antipho Geta.

Geta Yes, what is it?

Antipho What

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

To know?

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

To jail.

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.

Geta [aside]

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.

Demipho What

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.

Chremes No,

Another woman’s better.

Demipho Then I’ll go

And ask her.

Chremes Let me think where I can find

Them both.


[Enter Sophrona]

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?

Chremes Sophrona!

Sophrona That’s my name!

Chremes Just turn round, do!

It’s I!

Sophrona Oh heavens! Stilpho?

Chremes No.

Sophrona You say

You’re not him?

Chremes [sotto voce]

Step a little bit this way,

Sophrona, please, and do not use that name

With me.

Sophrona You say that you are not the same 900

As you said that you were?

Chremes Shush!

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

Around here.

Chremes Tell me, what have you to do

With that household? Where are the ladies?

Sophrona Oh!

Chremes What’s wrong? Are they still living?

Sophrona Well, although 910

The daughter’s still alive, the mother died

Of grief.

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!

Chremes What?

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,

Extremely badly.

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

Of that?

Geta Well, as I know the man, he may

Just change his mind.

Demipho What? Change it?

GetaMay,” 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.

Demipho Phew!

Nausistrata Staggered?

Demipho Oh,


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.

[Enter Chremes]

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.

Demipho Why?

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

Is back.

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.

Demipho [aside]

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

Me anything-

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.

Chremes Ah!

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?

Chremes Obviously.

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

To tell.

Demipho Well, go in.

Chremes It would be amiss

If either of our sons should learn of this.


[Enter Antipho]

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


[Enter Phormio]

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?

Phormio What?

Antipho What Phaedria now

Will do, I mean. Did he inform you how

He means to spend his honeymoon?

Phormio He’ll play

Your part.

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.

[Enter 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

Are there.

Antipho Hey, Geta!

Geta Charming! Bid me stay

When I’ve just set off!

Antipho Geta!

Geta At it still?

You’ll never vanquish me with your ill-will. 1050

Antipho Stop!

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?

Geta Oh,

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.

Antipho Why?

Geta I’ll

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.

Antipho What?

Geta In secrecy

He lived on Lemnos with her mother.

Phormio Oh,

Come on! As if the woman couldn’t know

Her father!

Geta No, there’s cause. Can’t you assume

I heard all that they said inside that room

From outside?

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.

Geta Alright.

[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?

Phormio What?

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,

Let’s go.

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 –

Chremes Oh!

Demipho What’s up?

Phormio - was married to another wife

On Lemnos.

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!

Chremes Look,

We’ll spare you –

Phormio Bull!

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

And quickly.

Phormio [to Demipho, who seizes him] There’s one charge of battery

Against you.

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

Is strong.

Phormio Nausistrata!

Demipho Shut up!

Phormio What, me? 1210

Demipho Look, plant your fists into his gut if he

Won’t follow.

Phormio Or gouge out an eye. Nothing

Will stop me from a total reckoning.


[Enter Nausistrata]

Nausistrata Who’s calling me? I ask you, Chremes, what

Is this uproar?

Phormio Aha! The cat has got

His tongue!

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

He says.

Phormio Touch him – if he’s not shivering

In a cold sweat, kill me.

Chremes It’s nothing.

Nausistrata So

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?

Phormio Why,

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

For Chremes.

Nausistrata Husband, won’t you speak?

Chremes But –

Nausistrata Yes?

But what?

Chremes There is no need.

Phormio For you, I guess, 1230

But here in Lemnos –

Demipho What is that you said?

Chremes Shush!

Phormio Unbeknownst to you –

Chremes Ahh!

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

We do?

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?

Phormio [aside]

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.

Nausistrata Satisfied?

Demipho Oh yes.

Chremes I’ve got off pretty well, I must confess,

Beyond my expectations.

Nausistrata [to Phormio]

Please tell me

Your name.

Phormio It’s Phormio. Your family

All know me well, and I’m a special pal

To Phaedria.

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