Plautus, Menaechmi

(translation based on a production at Rhodes College)

Peniculus, a moocher
Menaechmus 1
Menaechmus 2, his twin (AKA Sosicles)
Messenio, servant of Menaechmus 2
Erotium, a courtesan
Cylindrus, Erotium's cook
A maid (Ancilla), Erotium's maid
A married lady (Matrona), wife of Menaechmus 1
An old man (Senex), father of wife of Menaechmus 1
A doctor (Medicus)

Epidamnus, a city in Western Greece


(Spoken by head actor)

First, from the very outset, I wish myself and you,

dear spectators, a gracious welcome.

I bring you Plautus by the tongue, not the hand,

and I ask you to listen sympathetically.

Now, if you'll listen and pay attention, [5]

I'll bring you in as few words as possible, I promise, Plautus' play's premise.

Comic playwrights always say this:

“the whole play is set in Athens”

so that the play might seem more Greek to you.

I’ll only say where the plot is supposed to have happened. [10]

This play is certainly Greek-like;

although it’s not Athenian, it’s at least Sicilian.

This is the background of this play.

Now I’ll give you the plot itself,

not by the bushel or peck, but by the storehouse: [15]

there’s so much of interest in this play.

There was an elderly merchant from Syracuse

whose wife bore him twin sons.

They were so alike in appearance

that their wet nurse couldn’t distinguish between them [20]

nor could their own mother could tell them apart.

So said, at least, someone who saw them.

I didn’t every see them myself, in case you thought so.

When the boys were seven,

their father loaded up a ship with wares [25]

and put one of the boys on the ship

and sailed to Tarentum on a trading expedition.

He left the other at home with his mother.

When they got to Tarentum there happened to be a civic celebration.

The place was crowded on account of these games [30]

and the boy got lost in the crowd.

A certain Epidamnian merchant

found the boy and took him home to Epidamnus.

The child’s father realized the boy was missing

and fell into despair, and on account of his affliction [35]

he died a few days later in Tarentum.

Later a message came to Syracuse with news of these events:

the boys’ grandfather learned that the one twin was lost

and that their father was dead.

He changed the name of the remaining twin [40]

in honor of the other that had been lost:

the one at home got the name

Menaechmus, the same name as the other.

and of the grandfather himself.

For this reason I can easily remember his name: [45]

he owed someone money!

I’m telling you now, don’t confuse them:

both brothers have the same name.

Now let’s return by degrees Epidamnus,

so I can tell you precisely what happened. [50]

If anyone of you wishes to take care of anything

at Epidamnus, speak up now,

but do it so there is the means to take care of it.

He’s a fool who doesn’t pay up front;

he who does pay is a bigger fool. [55]

Anyway let me start from where I began:

The Epidamnian I mentioned above

the one who made off with the twin,

had no children, but a lot of money.

He adopted the kidnapped kid [60]

as his own son and married him to a wealthy women,

and made left him an inheritance when he died.

He died while going out to the country when it was raining,

having crossed a swollen river not far from town,

and the river knocked him off his feet [65]

and sent him to a painful death.

Thus the kidnapped twin has become wealthy

and is living in Epidamnus.

Now that-twin-who-lived-at-Syracuse-Menaechmus

has this day arrived in Epidamnus with his slave, [70]

continuing his lengthy search for his long-lost-brother-Menaechmus.

So, while this story is being told, this is the city of Epidamnus.

When another play is put on, the setting will be different,

just as actors change their parts.

Now you see a pimp, now a youth, now an old man, [75]

now a pauper, a beggar, a king, a sponger, a prophet…



Scene 1

PEN: The young folk call me Peniculus

because when I come to dinner I sweep the table clean.

You know, people who throw prisoners into chains

or put leg irons on runaway slaves [80]

are pretty stupid in my opinion. Think about it.

Here you've got this poor slob, you're going to add insult to injury?

Of course he's going to want to run away and cause trouble!

He'll get out of those chains some way or another,

saw the leg irons off [85]

or smash the lock with a stone. That's nonsense!

If you want to keep him so he won't run away,

bind him to you with food and drink.

Just tie the guy's snout to a loaded table.

If you give him enough to eat and drink – [90]

what he thinks is enough - everyday,

by Pollux, he'll never run, not if his life depended on it.

Yes sir, use that kind of chain and you won't need to post a guard.

These food chains (so to speak) are mighty elastic:

the more you stretch them the tighter they bind. [95]

Take me for example. I've been coming to see Menaechmus here for some time now,

and he has me firmly under his thumb - and I love it.

You see, that guy doesn't just feed his guests, he refreshes them

and makes them reborn. Nobody can cure what ails you better!

That's just the kind of guy he is. He gives feasts fit for the gods. [100]

He'll heap those platters up so high on the table

that if you want something from off the top

you need a step ladder to get at it!

But I've been shut up at home

with my loved ones these past few days, [105]

a pantry full of tasty loved ones in fact.

But, alas, now my loved ones are running low,

so here I am, come to visit lunch ... I mean Menaechmus.

But wait, the door's opening. There's the man himself coming outside.

Scene 2

(Enter MEN-1 shouting into doorway)

MEN-1: If you weren't so evil, if you weren't so stupid, if you weren't so wild

and had any control over your mind, [110]

you'd see the things your husband hates and you'd hate them too.

And I'll tell you something else! If you do such a thing to me ever again,

I'll see to it that we get a divorce and I'll pack you up and ship you off to your father.

Whenever I want to go out you hold me back. You keep nagging me;

where am I going? what am I doing? what business am I involved in? [115]

what have I done while I was out?

It's like living with a customs agent!

Is it that necessary for me to tell you everything I've done or am doing?

I've spoiled you for too long. Now let me tell you what I'm going to do.

Since I have furnished you quite well with maids, food, [120]

wool, gold, dresses, fancy ones at that, and whatever else you needed,

if you're wise you'll steer clear of trouble. You will stop monitoring your husband.

And furthermore, just so you don't think the time you've spent spying on me has been wasted,

today I'm going to go take a tart out to dinner. That's right! I have a date!

PEN: (to audience) That man thinks he's cursing his wife,

but he's really cursing me. [125]

If he dines out it's me that he's hurting, not his wife.

MEN-1: Good, by Hercules! I finally got rid of my wife by this shouting match from the door.

Where is the delegation from the League of Cheating Husbands? They should be giving me an award

for having faced the enemy so bravely.

I just stole this gown from my wife. I'm taking it to my doxy. [130]

It's only right for me to deceive that evil prison guard of mine.

This deed is beautiful, excellent, slick, executed with panache.

I stole this from my evil wife, and I'll hear about it, but it will really be to her loss.

I snatched the loot from the enemy, with no casualties on our side.

PEN: Say, friend, anything in that little bundle there

you'd like to share with me? [135]

MEN-1: Oh-oh. I'm dead. I've fallen into a trap!

PEN: On the contrary! Into safety. Don't be afraid.

MEN-1: Who is it?

PEN: It's just me.

MEN-1: Oh my luck and my salvation!

Good morning!

PEN: Good morning!

MEN-1: What are you doing?

PEN: Holding the right hand of my guardian angel.

MEN-1: You couldn't have come at a better time. Perfect timing.

PEN: That's me alright. I have perfect timing down to a science. [140]

MEN-1: Do you want to see my splendid deed?

PEN: What cook cooked it?

I'll know soon enough whether he screwed it up, even from just inspecting leftovers.

MEN-1: Tell me, have you ever seen that painting

were an eagle snatches up Ganymede or where Venus grabs Adonis?

PEN: Lots of times, but what do those pictures have to do with me?

MEN-1: C'mon now. Look at me. [145]

Do I look the part?

PEN: What in the world have you got on?!

MEN-1: Tell me I am gorgeous.

PEN: When do we eat?

MEN-1: Just say what I told you to say.

PEN: Alright. I'll say it. You look fabulous.

MEN-1: Dare to add anything of your own?

PEN: Absolutely fabulous, darling.

MEN-1: Keep going...

PEN: No way. I'm not going any further

until I know what I'm going to get out of it. [150]

You've had a fight with your wife so I'm going to be very careful around you.

MEN-1: There's a place my wife doesn't know about where we can blow the entire day.

PEN: Sounds good to me! How soon can I start the fire?

The day's already half wasted you know. [154-155]

MEN-1: You're the one wasting with all your talk.

PEN: Well dig my eye out through the sole of my foot

if I utter even a single syllable ... unless you ask me to of course.

MEN-1: Come over here, away from the door.


MEN-1: No, even further away.

PEN: Okey dokey.

MEN-1: No, walk boldly over here, away from the lioness' cave.

PEN: Hmmm, you know, I think you'd be a good chariot racer. [160]

MEN-1: What do you mean?

PEN: You keep looking back to see if your wife's caught up with you yet.

MEN-1: What do you mean?

PEN: Me? Just what you want to hear: "yes" if you want "yes", "no" if you want "no".

MEN-1: At any rate, could you make a guess about a scent

if you got a good whiff of something?


PEN: I have a degree in sniffology. [165]

MEN-1: Then get a whiff of this, Peniculus. What do you smell? Why the face?

PEN: The top part smells like a women's gown,

the bottom part reeks of a odor you couldn't wash out for love or money.

MEN-1: Then smell this part, Peniculus. My! How daintily you shrink back!

PEN: What did you expect?

MEN-1: What is it then? What smells? Tell me.

PEN: Theft. Whore. Lunch! [170]


MEN-1: You can have anything you want. By Pollux you are absolutely correct.

I stole this gown from my wife, now I'm taking it to my girlfriend, the prostitute Erotium.

I'll order a nice lunch to be prepared for myself, for you, and for her.

PEN: Yes!

MEN-1: We'll drink until the morning star graces the eastern sky.

PEN: That's a pretty picture. [175]

Shall I knock now?

MEN-1: Yes, or, better yet, don't.

Wait a minute.

PEN: Hurry up! We're already a keg behind schedule!

MEN-1: Knock gently.

PEN: Why? Afraid the door's made of glass?

MEN-1: Wait! Wait! For Hercules' sake! There she is, she's coming out. [179-180]

Ah! See how the sun pales beside the brightness of her beauty?

Scene 3

EROT: Sweetie! Menaechmus! Good morning!

PEN: What about me?

EROT: You don't count as far as I'm concerned.

PEN: Don't count? Hey! I'm a real character in this play, not just some stupid extra!

MEN-1: Guess what? Know what I want at your house today?

I'd like a big old battle royal. [184-185]

EROT: That's what you'll get today.

MEN-1: Each of us will drink in battle.

Whichever of us is the better warrior the wine jug will decide.

The winner is yours, you judge which one you'll spend the night with.

When I see you, my lovely, I hate my wife so much ...

EROT: ... that you can't help but slip into something of hers. [190]

What is this?

MEN-1: A garment for you, Erotium, mon amour, a little something taken from my wife.

EROT: You always win me over so easily! You're much better to me than any of my other customers.

PEN: A floozie will flatter flatter flatter so long as she sees something she can grab.


If you really loved him you'd have nipped his nose off with kisses by now. [194-195]

MEN-1: Hold this, Peniculus. I wish to offer what I have stolen for her as I promised I would.

PEN: Oh for God's sake give it here. Dance like this with the gown later on.

MEN-1: Me? Dance? You're crazy.

PEN: Am I crazier than you?

If you won't dance, take it off.

MEN-1: I stole this today at great danger to my well-being.

With less courage, and even less risk [200]

Hercules stole the Amazon’s girdle.

Take this, a little gift just for you, since you alone care about me.

EROT: True lovers ought to be motivated by such virtue.

PEN: Especially lovers who are in a hurry to reduce themselves to poverty.

MEN-1: I bought that for four minas for my wife last year. [205]

PEN: That's four minas down the drain as your accountant can tell you.

MEN-1: Do you think that you can take care of what I want?

EROT: I know: I'll take care of whatever you have in mind.

MEN-1: Then order a lunch be prepared for the three of us at your house,

and that some fancy food be bought down at the forum. Let's see.

A delicate cut of pork, some bacon, a bit of ham, [210]

a half a head of hog or something along those lines,

something juicy that'll make me hungry as a horse when I see it on the table.

Snap to it!

EROT: By Castor, you've got it!

MEN-1: We're going to the forum.

We'll be right back. We'll have a few drinks while lunch's in the oven.

EROT: Come back whenever you want; it'll be ready.

MEN-1: Just hurry! [215]

To PEN You, follow me.

PEN: By Hercules you'd better believe I'll follow you today,

and watch every move you make. I wouldn't lose you for all the art in Athens!

(MEN-1 and PEN exit toward forum)

EROT: Hey! Get the cook Cylindrus out here to me on the double!

Scene 4

(Enter CYL)

EROT. Take a basket and some cash. Here are six drachmas.

CYL: Got it.

EROT: Go and bring back groceries. Make sure you get enough for three. [220]

Not too much, not too little.

CYL: Who's going to be here?

EROT: Me and Menaechmus and his moocher.

CYL: Well that makes ten.

His parasite will eat enough for eight.

EROT: I have listed all the guests. You take care of the rest.


Dinner's just about done. Tell' em to take their places.

EROT: Return soon.

CYL: Consider me back already! [225]


Scene 1

MEN-2: Messenio, I don't think there's any bigger

or greater thrill for a sailor than when he's been out to sea for a while

and catches sight of land.

MESS: It's an even greater thrill, I'll tell you,

when the shore you're nearing is your own.

But I beg you, Menaechmus, why have we come to Epidamnus? [230]

Or are we just going around to all the islands in the sea?

MEN-2: We have to look for my brother -- my twin brother.

MESS: But when are you going to put an end to this quest?

This is the sixth year we've been at this.

We've sailed around to Istria, Spain, Marseilles, Illyria, [235]

the entire Adriatic, Sicily, southern Italy –

hell, all of Italy that you can get to by sea.

I think if you had been looking for a needle in a haystack

you would have found it a long time ago by now; if it existed.

We're chasing after a dead man among the living. [240]

We should have found him a long time before now if he were still alive.

MEN-2: That's why I'm looking, to see if I can at least find someone

who knows for sure. If someone says he knows for a fact my brother's dead,

then I won't keep looking.

But until then, I'm going to keep on looking.

You don't understand how much he means to me. [245]

MESS: Humph. You’re grasping at straws. Why don't we just go home from here,

unless we're going to write a travel guide.

MEN-2: You do what you're told, eat what you're given, and stay out of trouble!

And don't be a such pain. You are a slave, and it's about time you started acting like one.

MESS: Humph. [250]

(to audience) It's talk like that that reminds me that I'm a slave.

He couldn't have said that more plainly or concisely.

I should keep my mouth shut, but by Pollux I can't!

To MEN-2 Listen, Menaechmus, I just took a peek in our purse

and we seem to be traveling rather light. [255]

By Hercules, if you don't return home

you'll run out of money looking for your twin, then you'll be in a fine mess.

The folks here in Epidamnus are nothing

but pleasure seekers and lushes.

The only others who live here are cheats and boot-lickers. [260]

Then you've got the hookers here too,

and they're said to be the best anywhere.

The name of the city is Epidamnus for a reason;

almost no one stays here without being damned.

MEN-2: I'll worry about that. Just give me whatever cash we've still got. [265]

MESS: Why do you want it?

MEN-2: I'm afraid of what you just said.

MESS: What's to be afraid of?

MEN-2: That you'll get me damned in Epidamnus.

You are quite the ladies man, Messenio,

but I have a chronic short temper.

If I keep the cash I can watch out for both of us: [270]

you won't go off on a toot and I won't get mad at you.

MESS: Then take it and keep it. hands purse over Happy for you to have it.

Scene 2

(CYL enters from forum with groceries)

CYL: I picked up some nice stuff at the market, if I may say so myself.

I'll be able to put on a nice lunch for the guests.

Uh-oh, I see Menaechmus. I'll get whipped for sure [275]

coming back from shopping

after the guests have arrived. I'd better go up and talk to him.

(To MEN-2) Hello Menaechmus!

MEN-2: Gods bless you, whoever you are.

CYL: Whoever I are? Don't you recognize me, Menaechmus?

MEN-2: By Hercules I do not.

CYL: Where are the rest of the guests? [280]

MEN-2: What guests are you looking for?

CYL: Your moocher.

MEN-2: My moocher? to MESS This one’s nuts.

MESS: Didn't I tell you there were a lot of cheats here? steals purse back


MEN-2: (While looking for purse) So, what moocher of mine is this

you're looking for? [285]

CYL: Peniculus, you know, old Whisk Broom.

CYL: You're a bit early for lunch, Menaechmus.

I just now got back from shopping.

MEN-2: So tell me,

how much do pigs cost around here? Those pure white ones

like they use for sacrifices.

CYL: A couple drachmas apiece.

MEN-2: OK. Here's a two drachma coin, [290]

go get yourself purified on me.

You've got to be a little touched in the head going around

talking like that to people you don't even know, whoever you are.

CYL: I'm Cylindrus! Don't you know my name?

MEN-2: I don't care if you're Cylindrus or Coriendrus, damn you either way! [295]

I don't know you and I have no desire to.

CYL: Your name is Menaechmus. That much I do know.

MEN-2: You talk like you have your act together –

but where do you know me from?

CYL: Where do I know you from?

Your girlfriend Erotium! I'm her slave. [300]

MEN-2: By Hercules I don't have any girlfriend and I certainly don't know who in the hell you are.

CYL: How can you not know who in the hell I am

when I've mixed so many drinks for you right here in this house?

MESS: Looking around Damn!

Pity there's nothing around to smash this guy's head in with.

MEN-2: You've mixed drinks for me? That's quite a trick [305]

seeing as I'd never seen nor set foot in this city before today.

CYL: You deny it?!

MEN-2: Of course I deny it!

CYL: Don't you live in that house

over there?

MEN-2: May the gods rain ruin on the people who live in that house!

CYL: (to audience) This guy's out of his tree calling curses down upon himself like that!

(To MEN-2) Hey, Menaechmus.

MEN-2: What do you want?

CYL: If you ask me – [310]

remember that two drachma piece you offered me a little while ago? –

you certainly can't be feeling that well,

Menaechmus, cursing your own house and all,

maybe you should be getting a little purification piggy for yourself. [314-315]

MEN-2: Why you little sonofabitch!

CYL: (to audience) He often jokes around like this with me.

He's a pretty funny guy ... when his wife's not around anyway.

(To MEN-2) So whaddaya say?

MEN-2: So whaddaya want?

CYL: So is this enough, what you see here,

I bought enough for three of you, or should I go get more, [320]

for you and for the moocher and for the lady?

MEN-2: Who are these moochers

and ladies you keep talking about?

MESS: What pesky demon possesses you

to pester this person?

CYL: (To MESS) What business is it of yours?

I don't know you! I'm talking with this guy. I know him.

MESS: By Castor, I'd say you're touched in the head. [325]

CYL: (to MEN-2) I'm going to go cook this stuff up now. It won't take long.

Don't go far from the house.

Did you want anything else?

MEN-2: Yes, for you to go to Hades.

CYL: sarcasticaly Better if you'd go yourself ... and take your place at the table

while I go set this stuff by Vulcan's flame. [330]

I'll go in and tell Erotium you're standing out here

so she can invite you in. CYL returns to sarcasm Better than your standing around out here.

(exit CYL)

MEN-2: Is he gone yet? By Hercules, I'm finding out

that those weren't lies you were spouting about this place!

MESS: You just watch your back.

I think some hussy lives in that joint, [335]

judging from what that basket case that was just here said.

MEN-2: But I wonder how she knew my name.

MESS: By Hercules, nothing to wonder about there. You see, sirens have this gimmick:

they send their little slaves of both sexes down to the harbor.

If some ship comes in from abroad, [340]

they pick a guy out and ask around where he came from, what his name is,

then they immediately stick to him like glue.

If they seduce him, they send him home ruined.

pointing to EROT's house Now in that port stands a pirate ship

which I think we ought to be on guard about. [345]

MEN-2: You're probably right.

MESS: If you keep your eyes open

and pay close attention you'll see that I'm right.

MEN-2: Shut up! The door just squeaked.

Let's see who's coming out.

MESS: I'll put this down for a minute.

To other slaves Keep an eye on this, will you, guys? [350]

Scene 3

(Enter EROT, talking into her house at slaves)

EROT: Leave the doors open. Go away. I don't want them shut.

Get things ready inside! Take care of things! Go on! See what needs to be done!

Set the table! Light the incense! Elegance

is a turn on to the mind of a lover. [354-355]

Such loveliness is also a loss for a lover, but for us it's clear profit.

But where is that man? The cook said he was in front of the house.

Ah! There he is. I see him. He's my best customer and biggest source of profit.

Of course that makes him more than welcome anytime in my house.

I'll go up to him now and speak to him on my own. [360]

(to MEN-2) My darling, it seems strange to me

that you should stand here outside when the doors are open,

when this house is more home to you than your own.

Everything is ready, just as you ordered,

just as you wanted it. [365]

No waiting,

Lunch is served, as you ordered.

you can come take your place whenever you wish.

MEN-2: Who's this woman talking to?

EROT: To you, silly.

MEN-2: Do I know you?

Have we met?

EROT: Of course we have! Venus picked only you [370]

of all men to cherish me most highly. And in return you don't get anything you don't deserve either.

By Castor, by your kindness you alone make me blossom.

MEN-2: (to MESS) This woman is either insane or drunk, Messenio.

She talks to me as if she's known me all her life.

MESS: Didn't I tell you that's how they operate around here?

Right now only a few leaves are falling, [375]

if we stay here for three days, the whole tree will come crashing down on you.

That's the way the trolls are here: they're all silver seductresses.

But let me have a word with her. Hey, lady, I'm talking to you!

EROT: What is it?

MESS: Where do you know this man from?

EROT: From where he has known me for a long time now,

right here in Epidamnus.

MESS: In Epidamnus? This man who's never before [380]

set foot in this city before today?

EROT: Yuk, yuk. You're very funny.

(to MEN-2) Menaechmus darling, why don't you go inside? It'll be much nicer in there.

MEN-2: This woman calls me by the right name, sure enough.

I wonder what this is all about?

MESS: She smells that purse

that you have.

MEN-2: Yeah, you're probably right. [385]

Here, take this. (gives purse to MESS) Now I'll find out whether she's interested more in me or in my money.

EROT: Let's go inside. Let's have lunch.

MEN-2: Thanks, but no thanks.

EROT: Well, why did you order me to cook lunch for you a little while ago?

MEN-2: I ordered you to cook?

EROT: Certainly! For you and your moocher.

MEN-2: Damn! For what moocher?

(to audience) This woman is obviously out of her mind! [390]

EROT: Peniculus. You know, old Whisk Broom.

MEN-2: What Whisk Broom? The one you sweep up with?

EROT: Don't be stupid. The one who came by with you a little while ago, when you carried off my gown –

the one you stole from your wife.

MEN-2: What?!

I gave you a gown I stole from my wife? Are you nuts?

(to MESS) This woman must be sleep walking! [395]

EROT: Why are you getting your jollies making fun of me and saying

that you didn't do what you did?

MEN-2: (to EROT) Say again what it was that I did that I didn't do?

EROT: You gave your wife's gown to me today.

MEN-2: I still say I didn't do it.

I have never had a wife, nor do I have one now,

and from the day I was born I swear

I've never set one jeweled foot in this town. [400]

Besides, I had lunch on the ship, before I came here and ran into you.

EROT: Damn!

What ship are you talking about now?

MEN-2: Oh, a wooden one,

it's been scraped a lot, repaired a lot, banged on a lot with a hammer.

Its patches are patched over with patches.

EROT: Now please, stop fooling around and come inside with me. [405]

MEN-2: I don't know who you're looking for lady, but it isn't me.

EROT: Don't I know you, Menaechmus? Son of Moschus.

You were born at Syracuse in Sicily,

when King Agathocles was ruler, who was followed by Phintia, [409-410]

then Liparo, who then handed the kingdom down to Hiero when he died,

and now it's still Hiero.

MEN-2: So far so good.

MESS: By Jupiter,

that woman doesn't come from there, does she?

MEN-2: By Hercules, I don't think I can keep on turning her down.

MESS: Don't do it! [414-415]

You're a dead man if you cross that threshold!

MEN-2: Why don't you shut up?

Everything's under control. I'm going to go along with the lady,

whatever she says, so long as I can get a good time out of it.

(to EROT) Sorry for arguing with you like that - just being careful. [419-420]

You see, I was afraid that this guy would go and blab to my wife about the gown and the lunch.

We can go in now if you like.

EROT: Don't you want to wait or that moocher any longer?

MEN-2: No I'm not going to wait for him, I couldn't care less about him anyway.

As a matter of fact, if he shows up, I don't want him let in!

EROT: That suits me just fine.

But d' you know what I'd like you to do for me?

MEN-2: Your wish is my command. [425]

EROT: That gown you just gave me? Please take it in to the dress shop.

I want to get some fine embroidery work put on it.

MEN-2: By Hercules, that's a great idea! It won't look the same,

so my wife wouldn't know that you have it if she sees you on the street.

EROT: Good. So take it with you when you go, would you?

MEN-2: Sure. [430]

EROT: Let's go inside.

MEN-2: I'll be right along, I want to talk to this guy first.

(exit EROT into house) Hey! Messenio! Get over here!

MESS: What's going on?

MEN-2: Jump!

MESS: What's the point? Why?

MEN-2: I know what you're going to call me.

MESS: That makes you all the more so.

MEN-2: I've got a plan to pick up some loot.

Go as fast as your feet can carry you. [434-435]

Take those slaves to an inn right away.

And make sure you come back and get me before sunset.

MESS: You don't know these strumpets, master.

MEN-2: You just shut up and mind your own business.

If I do something stupid, it'll be my problem, not yours.

This woman is a clueless idiot. As far as I can tell, [440]

we've got some easy pickings here. (MEN-2 exits into EROT's house)

MESS: (after MEN-2) Are you gone yet? (to audience) I'm dead.

He's dead for sure. That pirate ship is going to tow our little dingy straight to hell.

But I'm a fool if I expect to manage my master;

he bought me to listen to his orders, not to be his commander-in-chief.

to slaves with baggage You guys follow me.

I'll come back on time just as he ordered. [445]

(exeunt to forum)


Scene 1

PEN: Look. I'm more than thirty years old, and in those thirty years

I don't think I've ever done anything as stupid as I did today.

When I was at the town board meeting,

struggling to keep awake, Menaechmus gave me the slip!

I think he went to his girlfriend's house and didn't want to take me along. [450]

I don't know who concocted the idea of town board meetings,

but I hope he rots in hell for wasting people's time.

It isn't right for busy men to be picked to serve on those boards.

There are tons of people with nothing better to do –

summon them and fine them if they don't show up. [455]


I mean, really! Think of all those people who, say, only eat one meal a day

and have nothing to occupy their time with. They're never invited to dinner parties

and they certainly never invite anyone over themselves. Why not nab them for the job?

If they did that then I wouldn't have missed my lunch today. [460]

Besides, I'm sure he wanted me to have it with him.

I'll go anyway. Maybe there are some decent leftovers. There's always hope!

(MEN-2 enters from ER's house)

But what's this I see? Menaechmus is leaving her house wearing a garland.

The party's over! Look's like I got here just in time.

I'll watch what he does, then I'll go up and speak to him. [465]

(enter MEN-2 from Erotium's house, holding the gown and talking into the house)

MEN-2: Relax! I'll get this fixed up nice

and pretty for you today.

I'll make sure it doesn't even look like the same gown.

PEN: He's taking that gown to and embroiderer now that he's eaten the food,

drunk all the wine, and shut his favorite moocher out of doors. [470]

By Hercules I'm not the man I am if I don't seek revenge for this outrageous injustice.

(to audience) You just watch what I'll give him!

MEN-2: (to audience) O immortal gods! Have you ever given a man more good luck

in one day when he expected far less?

I dined, I drank, I frolicked. [475]

I carried off this gown, which will never see its rightful owner again.

PEN: I can't hear what he's saying while I'm hiding over here, but I'll bet he's talking about

how good the lunch was and about me and about my rightful share of that lunch.

MEN-2: (to audience) She says I gave this to her after I had stolen it [479-480]

from my wife. I knew right off

she was mistaken, so I just played along

as if I knew what was going on. Whatever she said,

I'd say the same thing. No need to say more.

I've never had such a good time in a naughtyhouse

and come away a richer man for it. [485]

PEN: I'll go over to him now. I can't wait to make some trouble for him.

MEN-2: (to himself) Who is this coming towards me?

PEN: What do you say?

You're looking light as a feather, aren't you? You good for nothing,

worthless dog of a man! flustered You sneap cheak!

What did I ever do to you to make you treat me like that? [490]

To give me the slip in the forum a little while ago

so you could polish off the lunch while I was away?

How dare you do such a thing when I was just as much an heir to that bounty as you were?

MEN-2: My dear friend, what business do I have with you?

Why are you bad mouthing me like this when I don't know you at all -

I'm new here. [495]

Or would you like me to give you a taste of your own medicine?

PEN: By Pollux I think you've already given me some of that!

MEN-2: Tell me, sir, what is your name anyway?

PEN: So now you're going to play dumb, huh, like you don't know my name already.

MEN-2: To my knowledge, I've never laid eyes on you before this fine day. [500]

But I'll tell you this, whoever you are,

if you have a shred of decency you'll stop pestering me.

PEN: Wake up, Menaechmus!

MEN-2: Oh, by Hercules I'm wide awake, at least I think I am.

PEN: Don't you know me?

MEN-2: I wouldn't deny it if I did.

PEN: You don't know your own moocher?

MEN-2: I don't think [505]

that that half a brain in your bony little head is fully functional.

PEN: Well tell me this: didn't you steal

that gown from your wife today and give it to Erotium?

MEN-2: I do not have a wife, by Hercules, nor did I give a gown to Erotium,

nor did I steal one.

PEN: Are you nuts? [510]

This is hopeless! Didn't I see you come outside

wearing this gown?

MEN-2: Go to hell!

You think everyone likes to prance around in women's clothing just because you do?

What do you mean you saw me wearing this gown? [514-515]

PEN: By Hercules, I did!

MEN-2: Why don't you go find a place where you belong?

Or go purify yourself, you're obviously out of your gourd.

PEN: By Pollux, no one will ever keep me

from telling what’s going on to your wife;

all your treachery will return to you: [520]

I’ll be avenged for your eating up my lunch!

MEN-2: What's going on here? Is everyone I meet here

going to try to make a fool out of me? Oh! The door creaked.

Scene 3

(enter Ancilla from Erotium's house)

ANC: Menaechmus, Erotium begs you

to take this for her to the goldsmith too [525]

and to get an ounce of gold added to it.

Oh, and ask him to fix the bracelet as well.

MEN-2: Certainly! This and that and whatever else she wants taken care of,

I'll have it taken care of, whatever she wants.

ANC: Do you know what bracelet this is?

MEN-2: I don't know, a gold one? [530]

ANC: It's the one you said

you once stole secretly from your wife's jewelry box.

MEN-2: I never did that!

ANC: You don't remember?

Then give me back the bracelet, if you don't remember.

MEN-2: Wait a minute!

Now I remember! Of course! Isn't this the one I gave her? [535]

ANC: It is.

MEN-2: Where are the arm bands that I gave her along with it?

ANC: You never gave her any.

MEN-2: Ah! That's right! This is all I gave her.

ANC: Shall I say you'll take care of it?

MEN-2: Tell her it's all taken care of.

I'll get the gown and the bracelet back to her at the same time. [539-540]

ANC: Please, my dear Menaechmus, get some earrings for me,

made with the weight of four drachmas, dangling earrings,

so that I'll be happy to see you when you come.

MEN-2: You got it! Give me the gold and I'll pay for the labor.

ANC: Pay for the gold too, if you would. I'll pay you back later. [545]

MEN-2: No, no. You give it, I'll pay you back later, double even.

ANC: I don't have any.

MEN-2: OK. Well, when you have it, give it to me then.

ANC: Do you want anything else?

MEN-2: Tell her I'll take care of these.

(exit Ancilla into Erotium's house)

Yeah, I'll take care of them, I'll sell them for whatever I can get for them.

Has she gone inside? Yup, gone in and shut the door. [550]

The gods are helping me; they're filling my pockets: they love me!

But why am I waiting when I've got a perfect opportunity

to escape from this den of iniquity?

C'mon, Menaechmus, get a move on!

I'll take this garland off and toss it over here [555]

so if they come after me they'll think I went that a way.

I'll go and try to find my slave

so I can tell him about the good luck the gods have given me today.

(exit MEN-2 towards forum)


Scene 1

MAT: Shall I permit myself to be cheated and cheated on right here in my own house,

under my own nose? Honestly! The man steals my things [560]

and carries them over to his paramour!

PEN: Shhhh! Just hush!

I'll make sure you'll catch him red handed in a minute. Just come over here, will you?

He was drunk and wearing a garland and carrying that gown

that he had stolen from you today. He was taking it to a seamstress to get something or other done to it.

Here's the garland he had on. See? Did I lie? [565]

He went this way if you want to chase him down - the trail's still hot!

MEN-1 enters

And look! There he is! Back just in time!

But he's not carrying the gown.

MAT: What will I do with him now?

PEN: Same as always, I guess; treat him badly.

Let's hide over here and you can take him by surprise. [570]

Scene 2

MEN-1: We have a very silly and irritating

custom around here, and all the elite

cling very tightly to it:

followers. Everyone wants oodles of followers for themselves.

It doesn't matter if they're bad or good, just so long as they're there. [575]

Money's more important than any trustworthiness

they might have.

If a man is poor but beyond reproach, he is considered worthless;

but if he is rich and corrupt, then he is all the more desirable.

The ones who take no interest in law or fairness [580]

keep their patrons nervous.

But the ones who are greedy

litigious liars,

who made their money by loan sharking and perjury,

they're itching for a good court battle. [584a]

When their court date is set, the date is set for their patrons too,

since their patrons have to defend them

whether the suit is brought before the people, the magistrate, or the judge.

That's what kept me from taking care of my own business today.

One of my followers got into a bit of a mess, so he held me back to help him.

I plead his case among the magistrates for his many evil deeds. [590]

I proposed twisted and broken terms –

in other words, I did what I was supposed to do - I tried to plea bargain,

I even tried to settle out of court. What did he do? He almost didn't make bail.

I never saw a man caught redder-handed!

Three witnesses to his crimes were there,

and they were really tough to discredit. [595]

To hell with him anyway! He ruined a beautiful day for himself, for me too.

He shot the whole day for me. I never did get where I was going.

I did order lunch, and my girlfriend's waiting for me I'm sure.

As soon as I could I ran from the forum. Now I'll bet she's angry with me.

Maybe that gown I stole from my wife today will placate her. [600]

PEN: (to MAT) So what do you think?

MAT: That I'm married to a wicked man.

PEN: Could you hear what he was saying over there?

MAT: I heard enough.

MEN-1: If I'm smart I'll duck in here where I can have some fun.

PEN: Wait a minute, buster! You have some trouble coming first.

MAT: By Castor you'll give back what you took with interest!

PEN: Sic him!

MAT: Did you think you could get away with that, you sneak? [605]

MEN-1: Woman, what in Hades are you talking about?

MAT: You're asking me?

MEN-1: What do you want me to ask you?

MAT: Don't try to kiss up to me.

PEN: Get it, girl!

MEN-1: Why are you

upset with me?

MAT: You ought to know.

PEN: He knows, the bastard's just playing dumb.

MEN-1: What are you talking about?

MAT: The gown.

MEN-1: The gown?

MAT: Yes, a certain gown ...

PEN: What are you afraid of?

MEN-1: I don't have anything to be afraid of.

PEN: You forgot one thing - that gown sure made you turn pale

just now. [610]

And you shouldn't have eaten that lunch behind my back either. (to MAT) Finish him!

MEN-1: Will you shut up?

PEN: No, by Hercules, I will not shut up. (to MAT) He's nodding at me to get me to be quiet.

MEN-1: By Hercules, I am not nodding at you, or winking, or anything else.

PEN: You've got a lot of nerve to say

that you didn't do anything when they

(pointing to audience) saw you do it. [615]

MEN-1: I swear by Jupiter and all the gods, my wife, - is that enough for you? –

I didn't nod at him.

PEN: Alright. She believes you now on that point, so go back.

MEN-1: Go back where?

PEN: Well, back to the embroidery shop I suppose. Go and bring the gown back.

MEN-1: And what gown would that be?

PEN: I'm going to give up if she can't keep up her side of the fight.

MAT: Oh! I hate my horrible life!

MEN-1: There, there. Why are you unhappy? You can tell me. [619a]

Are any of the slaves not working? Are your maids not doing what you want? [620]

Tell me. I'll see that they're punished.

MAT: You are a fool.

MEN-1: You're still upset. This does not please me at all.

MAT: You are a fool.

MEN-1: Certainly, you are angry at one of the slaves.

MAT: You are a fool.

MEN-1: You're not mad at me, are you?

MAT: Now you are not a fool.

MEN-1: By Pollux, I haven't done anything wrong.

MAT: Now you are a fool again. [625]

MEN-1: There, there, my dear wife. What's the matter?

PEN: He's trying to suck up to you.

MEN-1: Could you stop bothering me? Am I talking to you?

MAT: Don't you touch me!

PEN: Atta girl!! (to MEN-1) You snuck off and ate that lunch without me,

then you stumbled out of that house all drunk wearing that garland and made fun of me.

MEN-1: By Pollux I swear I did not have lunch at that house today.

Never set a foot inside there. [630]

PEN: You deny it?

MEN-1: By Hercules, of course I deny it!

PEN: You've got some nerve!

Didn't I see you just a little while ago right there in front of that house wearing that garland?

And didn't you say that you didn't think that the half a brain in my bony little head was fully functional

and that you didn't know me and that you were a tourist?

MEN-1: Yes, I did leave you a short time ago, and no, I didn't say that.

I'm only returning home just now. [635]

PEN: Oh, I know your type. You thought you had me in the palm of your hand, didn't you?

Well I'm going to get the last laugh, by Hercules. I told your wife everything.

MEN-1: What did you say?

PEN: Oh, I don't know.

Why don't you ask her yourself?

MEN-1: What is this, my dear wife? What did this guy tell you?

(MAT turns away)

What is it? Why are you silent? Why don't you tell me what it is? [640]

MAT: You ask me as if you didn't know.

MEN-1: If I knew, by Pollux, I wouldn't ask you at all.

PEN: Bravo!

This act should be enshrined in theater! You can't hide it; she knows exactly what you did.

By Hercules I told her everything.

MEN-1: What is it?

MAT: Since you apparently have no shame

and wish to confess your sins, listen up.

I'll make sure you understand precisely why I'm sad and what this man told me.

One of the gowns was stolen from the house.

MEN-1: One of my gowns was stolen? [645]

PEN: See how that bastard is trying to trick you? (to MEN-1) No, it was stolen from her, not from you.

If it had been stolen from you, it would be safe now.

MEN-1: (to PEN) I have nothing to say to you. (to MAT) But what are you saying to me?

MAT: I'm saying that a gown vanished from the house.

MEN-1: Who stole it?

MAT: (to PEN) By Pollux, he knows who stole it.

MEN-1: Who is this man?

MAT: A certain Menaechmus.

MEN-1: That's incredible! [650]

Who is this Menaechmus?

MAT: It's you.

MEN-1: Me?

MAT: You.

MEN-1: Who accuses me?

MAT: I do.

PEN: I do too. And you gave it to your little dish, Erotium, over there.

MEN-1: I gave it?

MAT: You! You're the one!

Want me to go get an owl to say "you, you" for you? We're getting tired of this already!

MEN-1: I swear by Jupiter and all the gods, my wife,--is that enough for you?-–[655]

I didn't give...

MAT: Yes you did, dammit! Don't go swearing false oaths!

MEN-1: But I didn't give it to her as a gift, I only gave her the use of it.

MAT: By Castor, I didn't give "the use" of your best toga to anyone to use.

It's right for women to loan women's clothes out,

and men to loan men's. Why don't you bring the gown home? [660]

MEN-1: I'll see that it's returned.

MAT: That would be for the best, for your own sake, I think.

You will never enter this house again unless you have the gown with you at the same time.

I am going home.

PEN: (to MAT) So what do I get out of this? I did put a lot of work into this for you.

MAT: You'll be repaid when someone steals something from your house.

(exit MAT to MEN-1's house)

PEN: That'll be never. I don't have anything that anyone would want to steal. [665]

Well, may the immortals god put the pair of you on a fast track to ruin. I'll head to the forum:

I've obviously worn out my welcome at this house! (exit PEN toward forum)

MEN-1: My wife thinks she's punishing me since she's locked me out of the house.

As if I didn't have a better place I could go to.

If I displease you, wife, deal with it. I have pleased Erotium though. [670]

She won't lock me out, in fact she'll lock me in her house.

Now I'll go beg her to give back the gown I had given her earlier.

I'll buy something better for her. Hey, there! Isn't there any door-keeper?

Open up, someone, and call Erotium to the door.

Scene 3

EROT: Who is looking for me?

MEN-1: Someone who loves your youthfulness more than his own. [675]

EROT: My Menaechmus! What are you doing standing out front? Come inside!

MEN-1: No, stay here.

Do you know why I've come to see you?

EROT: I know, you've come to get yourself some more loving from me.

MEN-1: No, by Pollux. It's that gown, the one I just gave you.

Please return it to me. My wife has found out everything that I had done.

I'll buy you any gown you want that's twice as expensive as that one. [680]

EROT: But I did give it back to you, to take to the embroiderer's shop just a minute ago;

I gave you a bracelet too, to take to the goldsmith to get it fixed.

MEN-1: You gave the gown and a bracelet to me? That can't be right.

After I gave it to you and went to the forum I went home,

and after that I came here and here I am.

EROT: Oh, I see what you're doing! [685]

Think you're clever, don't you? You're trying to cheat me!

MEN-1: No, no, no! By Pollux I didn't ask for it back for the sake of cheating you!

I'm telling you that my wife really found out!

EROT: I never asked you for that gown.

You brought it to me of your own free will; you gave it to me as a gift,

and now you demand the gift back. Fine. Be that way. Take it, keep it, shove it.[690]

You can wear it, your wife can wear it, you can lock it up in a trunk for all I care.

As of this moment you are no longer welcome here.

To think that after all I've given you for free you should treat me in such a despicable manner!

Well, the party's over, mister. No money, no honey.

Or better yet, go find someone else to push around. [695]

MEN-1: I've done it now, by Hercules. Now she's angry too. (EROT turns toward door) Hey! I'm talking to you!

Stay! Come back! (EROT slams door) Are you still there? Please come back, just for me?

She's gone. Locked the door too. Now I'm locked out of both places.

No one believes me at home, or even here at my girlfriend's house.

I'll go and talk to my friends about this mess,

see what they think I should do. [700]

(MEN-1 exits toward forum)


Scene 1

(enter MEN-2 from forum)

MEN-2: That was a stupid move I made back

when I gave Messenio all the cash.

He's probably passed out under a table in some dive by now.

(enter MAT from MEN-1's house unseen by MEN-2)

MAT: I'll keep an eye out and see how soon my husband returns with the gown.

Ah! There he is! I see him now. Ha! I was right!

He's bringing the gown with him. [705]

MEN-2: (to himself) I wonder where Messenio is wandering about now?

MAT: I'll go meet him and give him what he deserves.

(to MEN-2) Don't you feel any shame coming within my

sight with that dress?

MEN-2: startled Ah!

What's your problem, lady?

MAT: Have you no shame? [710]

Do you dare mutter one word or even speak to me?

MEN-2: What am I so guilty of that I shouldn't dare to speak?

MAT: You're asking me? You shameless, wicked man!

MEN-2: Lady, do you know why the Greeks

used to call Hecuba a bitch?

MAT: No, I do not. [715]

MEN-2: Because she used to act just like you're acting right now.

She would growl and snap at anyone she saw,

so they were right to start calling her a bitch.

MAT: Oh! I cannot tolerate such shamelessness!

I'd rather pass my life as a divorcée [720]

than have to put up with the horrible things you do!

MEN-2: What's it to me if you can put up with your husband

or want to leave him? Is this the custom here?

Running up to tourists and pouring your life stories out to them?

MAT: What stories? I will not tolerate any more of this. [725]

I will get a divorce before I put up with your evil ways any longer.

MEN-2: As far as I'm concerned you can live your life out

as a widow for as long Jupiter's on his throne.

MAT: But you just denied that you had stolen this from me,

and now you stand there with it right before my eyes. Have you no shame? [730]

MEN-2: Whoa! Hold on now, lady! You're pretty rude and rambunctious, anyone ever tell you that?

You mean to say that someone had stolen this gown from you? Well, it wasn't me.

Some other lady gave me this to have some alterations done.

MAT: Ugh! By Castor, I'm going to get my father

and tell him about what you have done. [735]

calling into house Deceo! Go get my father and bring him back here

with you at once! Tell him about the despicable things going on here.

(a slave enters from house and exits toward forum)

You just wait! I'll expose you for what you really are.

MEN-2: What are you, nuts?

What did I do?

MAT: You steal clothing and jewelry from me,

your own wife, and give it to your girlfriend. [740]

That's the whole unvarnished truth, isn't it?

MEN-2: Lady! You're out of control! How much would a man have to drink

to be able to put up with a pushy old bitch like you?

I don't know who you think I am, but I must have met you

the same day I met Hercules' second wife's grandfather. [745]

MAT: You can mock me, but you can't him.

Here comes my father now. (SEN and slave enter from forum) Why don't you look behind you?

Don't you recognize him?

MEN-2: Oh yes, I met him the same day I met the prophet Calchas.

This is the first day I've ever seen either of you!

MAT: Do you deny that you know me? Do you deny my father? [750]

MEN-2: And I'll say the same thing again if you bring your grandfather on stage.

MAT: By Castor, you're acting the way you always do.

Scene 2

SEN: This seems like a pretty serious crisis, so I'd better hurry,

but I'm so old I can only hurry so fast.

But it isn't easy for me, you know. [755]

Not as spry as I used to be, no sir. No spring chicken here.

I drag my body around like a burden,

all my strength is gone. Old age is such a pain!

Bad business this old age thing. When it comes it brings all kinds of troubles.

I'd better not start counting them off. Makes my speech too long. [760]

But I'm pretty worried about this here crisis.

What could be going on? Why does my daughter

want me to come to her house so suddenly?

She didn't even tell me what this was all about, [763a]

what she wanted, why she wanted me to hurry over.

But I'll bet I could guess: [764a]

she's gotten herself into some sort of spat with her husband. [765]

That's the way women are. Always trying to make husbands into slaves,

and they think their dowry gives them the right!

And the men aren't much better.

But there's a limit to what a wife has to put up with.

But a daughter never invites her father to her house [770]

unless something's happened or she's had a fight.

But whatever it is, I'll find out soon enough; there she is

standing in front of her house, her husband too.

Look at her. What a puss! Just what I thought.

I'll call her over.

MAT: I'll go meet him. Good afternoon, father. [775]

SEN: Are you alright? Did I get here in time? Why are you upset?

Why is he standing over there all angry? You two

have had some kind of little skirmish, haven't you?

Well, tell me who started it, but keep it short and to the point.

MAT: I never did anything wrong,

let me put that out of your mind right away, father. [780]

But I cannot live here nor endure that man another minute.

Please take me away from here!

SEN: Wait a minute. What's this all about?

MAT: I'm considered a laughingstock, father.

SEN: By whom?

MAT: By that man you married me off to.

SEN: (to audience) Bingo! (to MAT) How many times have I told you two

to make sure not to come to me with your nit-picking? [785]

MAT: But how could I have avoided this, father?

SEN: You're asking me?

MAT: Yes, you tell me, deferentially but not if you don't want to.

SEN: How many times have I explained to you that you need [787-788]

to obey your husband, and not watch his comings and goings or stick your nose in his business?

MAT: But he's ... you know ... with that slu- ... pros- ... woman next door.

SEN: Well, obviously he has good taste. [790]

And if you keep on nagging him about it, I guarantee he'll be over there even more!

MAT: And he drinks there.

SEN: Do you think he'll want to go out drinking any less

on account of you, whether he goes over there or someplace else? Don't you know your place?

Do you honestly think you can demand he not go out any more

than you can forbid his inviting people over to his own house?

Do you expect husbands [795]

to act like slaves? If so, just give him some daily chores

and order him to sit with the slave girls and card wool.

MAT: I didn't bring you here to defend him, but to defend me.

Whose side are you on anyway?

SEN: If he's done wrong

I'll get after him worse than I've gotten after you. [800]

Look, since he keeps you in nice clothes and jewelry, gives you slaves

and keeps the kitchen cupboards full, it would be better for you to keep a clear head over all this.

MAT: But he's been filching my clothes and my jewelry out of a chest in the house –

he's stealing stuff from me! - stealing and sneaking it out of the house and taking it all to those sluts!

SEN: Well if that's the case, he's in the wrong. But if he's not doing that, [805]

then it's you who are in the wrong for falsely accusing an innocent man.

MAT: No, father, I'm not making it up! He's got the gown right now

and a bracelet too that he'd taken to her. He's bringing them back because I found out.

SEN: Alright, alright! I'll find out from him just what happened. Let me go and talk to the man.

(SEN walks over to MEN-2)

Tell me, Menaechmus, fill me in, what are you two fighting about?

Why the long face? What's she doing standing way over there all upset? [810]

MEN-2: Whoever you are, whatever your name is, old man, I swear

by almighty Jupiter and all the gods...

SEN: Whoa! What's all this swearing all of a sudden?! Swear? Swear to what?

MEN-2: That I've done nothing wrong to that lady over there,

the one that's accusing me of stealing this from her house.

May the gods make me the unhappiest man in the world [815-816]

if I've ever set foot in that house of hers.

SEN: Are you nuts calling a curse down on yourself like that?

You nutcase, you deny that you've ever set foot in your own house?

MEN-2: Old man, are you telling me that that is my house? [820]

SEN: Do you deny it?

MEN-2: Well of course I deny it!

SEN: Well of course you do not –

not unless you moved out last night! (to MAT) Daughter, come over here.

What do you say? You didn't move out of here, did you?

MAT: Why would we do that? Where would we go?

SEN: How should I know?

MAT: He's making a fool out of you - can't you see that?

SEN: OK, Menaechmus, you've had your fun. Now let's get down to business. [825]

MEN-2: Excuse me, but what business could I possibly have with you? Who are you anyway?

Where do you come from? I don't owe you anything, and I certainly don't owe her anything

MAT: Look at his eyes! Don't they look funny to you? See how his face

is turning colors? Look at his eyes! See how they flash? [829-830]

MEN-2: (aside) Ah! What could be better? If they think I'm going out of my mind,

why not act like I really am? That ought to scare them off!

MAT: Look how he stretches and gapes! What am I going to do now, father?

SEN: Come over here, daughter, keep as far away from him as you can.

MEN-2: Yippee! Yippee! Whither, oh Bacchus, dost thou beckon me to the forest

and to the hunt? [835]

I hear thee but I cannot leave this place!

On my left a rabid bitch keeps watch o'er me,

behind me a fetid goat who oft in his long life

hath borne false witness against his neighbor.

SEN: Why you son of a ...

MEN-2: Oh! Apollo from his oracle doth command me [840]

that I extinguish blazing torches in her eyes.

MAT: (shriek) Father! He's threatening to burn my eyes out!

MEN-2: (aside) They call me nuts? They're the ones that're nuts!

SEN: Psst! Hey! Daughter!

MAT: What is it?

SEN: What do we do now? Should I get some slaves out here on the double?

I'll go bring some back to grab him and tie him down in the house [845]

before he makes any more trouble.

MEN-2: (aside) Uh-oh. Now I'm stuck.

If I don't think of something fast they're going to haul into the house.

(to MAT) Indeed, thou dost forbid me to spare my fists against the face of this woman,

should she hie herself not from my sight to a horrid death.

Oh lord Apollo! Thy will be done!

SEN: Run in the house as fast as you can [850]

so he can't hurt you!

MAT: I'm running! Please, father, keep an eye on him

so he doesn't get away. to herself Why is this happening to me?

(exit MAT)

MEN-2: (aside) That's one down, one to go; and what a shifty,

shaggy, shaky, antique son of Cygnus that one is –

(to SEN), grabbing for his cane as thou biddest me,

thus shall I shatter his limbs and bones and joints [855]

with the very cane he holds!

SEN: You'll be sorry

if you touch me or take one step closer!

MEN-2: (to "Apollo") I shall do thy bidding: I shall take up a double-headed ax

and chop this old man to the bone, chop his vitals to shreds!

SEN: I'd really better watch out and take care – [860]

the way this loony's threatening he might actually hurt me.

MEN-2: You order many things of me, divine Apollo: now thou biddest

I join a team of horses, wild and untame, and ascend my chariot

to trample this little old, foul toothless lion.

Now I'm in my chariot, now I hold the reins, now the whip is in hand. [865]

Ya! My steeds! Let me hear the galloping of your hooves.

In swift course let the nimbleness of your feet be bent!

SEN: Are you threatening me with a team of horses?

MEN-2: Lo! Apollo!

Again thou biddest me charge that man, who standeth there, and kill him.

But who is this who snatches me from out my car by the hair? [870]

He changes the order and bidding of Apollo. (feigns unconsciousness)

SEN: Oh my! This illness is very grave indeed.

This man was perfectly fine a minute ago, and now he's completely off his rocker.

The sickness just fell on him like that snap.

I'll go get the doctor as fast as I can. exit toward the forum [875]

Scene 3

MEN-2: (peering around) Have those people finally gone out of sight

who made me act insane? What am I waiting for?

I need to run down to the ship while I still can.

(to audience) Hey, if the old guy comes back, [879-880]

please don't tell him what street I went down! exit

SEN: My backside hurts from sitting, my eyes hurt from watching,

from waiting for that damn doctor to get back from his rounds.

The bastard finally escaped from his patients.

He said he had to set a broken leg for Aesculapius [885]

and a broken arm for Apollo. Now I wonder

what I've brought back, a doctor or a carpenter.

Oh look, here he comes. (to MED) Hey, pick up the pace there, would you?

Scene 4

MED: What sort of illness did you say he had? Describe it, sir.

Is it spirit possession or simple insanity? Tell me. [890]

Is he sluggish or bloated?

SEN: Why do you think I got you? So you could tell me!

And make him better of course.

MED: That should be easy enough.

He'll be sane again, I promise you.

SEN: I want him to be cared for with great care. [895]

MED: Oh I'll sigh and wring my hands over six hundred times a day.

How'll that be for caring for him with great care?

SEN: (looks toward forum and sees MEN-1 approaching) And here he comes now. Let's watch and see what he does.

Scene 5

MEN-1: By Pollux this has not been a good day for me.

Everything I thought I'd done in secret that damn moocher [900]

Peniculus made public. He's caused me nothing but trouble and then some.

My own private Ulysses, ready to ruin his master at a moment's notice.

As I live and breathe, I will squoosh the life out of that man.

But I'm a fool if I think what's mine is his. What's his is mine is more like it.

He stripped me of my lunch and my money. Now I'll strip that man from his life. [905]

And this hooker Erotium acted just as you'd have expected.

I asked her for the gown back and she swears

up and down that she returned it. What a mess I'm in!

SEN: Hear what he's saying?

MED: He says he's in a big mess.

SEN: Go talk to him.

MED: Hello there, Menaechmus. Why are you baring your arm? [910]

Don't you know how bad that is for you in your condition?

MEN-1: Why don't you go hang yourself?

SEN: Notice anything?

MED: What's not to notice?!

A whole box full of prozacium couldn't get him under control.

(to MEN-1) What do you say, Menaechmus?

MEN-1: What do you want?

MED: Answer me this, if you would:

Do you drink red or white wine?

MEN-1: Why don't you go to hell? [915]

MED: (to audience) By Hercules, we're already seeing the first signs of insanity.

MEN-1: What are you asking me?

If I usually eat purple bread or red or yellow?

Whether I prefer to eat scaly birds or feathery fish?

SEN: Oh boy!

Did you hear that? Is he talking crazy or what? Why are you waiting to give him[919-920]

some kind of drugs before he goes completely off his rocker?

MED: Hold your horses. I want to interview him a little more.

SEN: You'll kill him with all your yaking!

MED: (to MEN-1) Tell me this: do your eyes often feel riveted on things?

MEN-1: What? Do you think I'm a lobster, you loser?

MED: Tell me, do you ever hear rumbling in your gut? [925]

MEN-1: When I am full of food, my stomach makes no noises. When I am hungry, then it does.

MED: Hmm. Well, that doesn't sound like an answer from an insane man.

Do you usually sleep right through till morning? Do you sleep soundly?

MEN-1: If I have paid off my debts, I sleep soundly.

May Jupiter and all the gods destroy you, you pesterer pollster. [930]

MED: (to SEN) Uh-oh, we're losing him again. You'd better watch out.

SEN: Humph! He's wisdom incarnate compared to the way he was earlier.

Before you got here he was calling his wife a rabbit bitch!

MEN-1: I never called my wife a rabbit!

SEN: You are out of your mind!

MEN-1: Me?!

SEN: Yes, you.

You even threatened to run me down with a four horse chariot. [935]

I saw you do it! Don't even try to deny it! [936-940]

MEN-1: Oh yeah? Well I know that you stole the crown of Jupiter

and I know that they threw you into jail for that

and I know that after you got out they beat you silly with twigs and branches

and I know that you killed your father and put your mother up for sale.

How do you like that? Do I respond well enough for a sane man? [945]

SEN: (to MED) For God's sake, Doc, hurry! Whatever you're going to do, do it!

Can't you see this man's insane?

MED: Know what I think you ought to do?

Bring him to my office.

SEN: Is that what you think?

MED: Why not?

I'd be able to treat him better there.

SEN: Well, if you say so.

MED: (to MEN-1) I'll have you taking Hellebore for twenty days or so. [950]

MEN-1: No, I'll hang you upside down and use you for target practice for thirty days or so.

MED: (to SEN) Go get some men to take him to my clinic.

SEN: How many?

MED: Given the way he's raving, I'd say no fewer than four.

SEN: They'll be right here. You keep an eye on him, Doc.

MED: No, I'd better go back to the office

to get ready to receive him. You tell the slaves [955]

to bring him to me.

SEN: I'll get him there right away.

MED: I'm going now. (exit MED toward forum)

SEN: Good-bye. (exit SEN into MEN-1's house)

MEN-1: My father-in-law has left and the doctor, too. I am alone. By Jupiter,

why is it that these men think I'm insane?

I've never been sick a day in my life.

I'm not crazy and I'm not going to start a fist-fight or a quarrel. [960]

I'm sane, and everyone I see is sane as well. I know these men, I will speak rationally to them.

Or are they wrongly accusing me of lunacy when it's they who are loony?

What am I going to do now? I just want to go home, but my wife won't let me.

No one will let me in here either. What a disaster this whole day has turned out to be.

I'll just stay here until ... well, by nightfall I think I'll be able

to get into my house. [965]

Scene 6

(enter MESS from harbor)

MESS: This is your proof of a good slave: he takes care

of his master's business, sees to it, arranges it, thinks it over,

and protects his master's things diligently when his master isn't even around.

And he does it all as if his master were around, perhaps even more honestly than if.

The slave whose heart is in the right place ought to think [970]

more of his back than his gullet, more of his legs than his belly.

Just keep in mind what rewards are given

to good-for-nothing slaves:

whippings, shackles,

mill-work, exhaustion, starvation, not even a blanket for the bed. [975]

These are the rewards of laziness.

I'm really afraid of that little list, so I've decided to be good rather than bad.

I find it much easier to survive tongue-lashings - I hate the leather kind –

and I much prefer to eat the meal than turn the mill.

Therefore I follow my master's orders, attend to them well and without protest. [980]

Then I get what I want.

Other slaves can do as they please. More power to'em.

Me, I'll do what I'm supposed to. I should stay in fear and out of trouble,

so I can be at my master's beck and call at every instant.

Slaves who stay in fear never get into trouble,

they're always useful to their masters. [983a]

Slaves who don't fear anything, well, once they get what they've got coming,

they sure as heck fear then! [983b]

I don't have much to fear, and it's almost time for my master to pay off my reward for my deeds.

I do my work on the principle that I think it's good for my back. [985]

So here I am, come back for my master just as he had ordered, after setting up the baggage

and the other slaves at an inn. Now I'll knock at the door so he'll know I'm here,

and lead him safely outside from this ravine of ruin.

But I'm afraid I've come too late and that the battle's already been fought.

Scene 7

(enter SEN with four strong slaves from MEN-1's house)

SEN: I swear by gods and men [990]

that you'd better follow my orders to the letter!

(points to MEN-1) Pick that man up and cart him off to the doctor's office,

unless of course you don't care what happens to you.

And don't pay any attention to anything he says.

Why are you still standing there? What are you waiting for?

He should be up on you shoulders by now! [995]

I'll go off to the clinic. I'll meet you there.

MEN-1: Uh-oh! I'm dead!

What's going on here? Why are those men running toward me?

What do you want? What are you looking for? Why are you surrounding me?

Hey! Where are you taking me? Where are you carting me off to? Oh no! Help!

Citizens of Epidamnus! I beg you! Why don't you let me go? [1000]

MESS: In the name of the immortal gods, what do I see before my eyes?

Who are those guys carrying my master off up in the air like that? It's so undignified!

MEN-1: Hey! Won't anyone dare to help me?

MESS: I'll dare, master, very daringly even!

Oh what a shameful and evil deed! Citizens of Epidamnus!

My master, who came here to your fine city of his own free will [1005]

is being masternapped right off the city streets - in broad daylight even!

to the slaves Let go of him!

MEN-1: I beg you, whoever you are, help me!

Don't let them treat me like this!

MESS: Don't worry! I want to help you and defend you and come to your aid!

I would never allow you to be murdered! Why I'd rather they murdered me first! [1010]

Poke out his eye, master, the one who's got you by the shoulder, do it!

Now these here, I'll bust every single one of them in the chops with my fists!

You stupid racks of meat! I'll give you what for, carrying my master off like that! Let him go!

MEN-1: I've got this one by the eye!

MESS: Good! Now make sure there's nothing left but a socket in his head!

You bastards! You thieves! You masternappers!

SLAVES: (variously) We’re dying! [1015]

Help us, by Hercules!

MESS: Well let him go then!

MEN-1: Why are you touching me?

(to MESS) Hit with your fists!

MESS: Go on! Go on! Get out of here and go to hell!

(SLAVES run into MEN-1's house; MESS gives the last one a final kick)

There! That's another one for you since you're the last to leave, take it as your reward!

I rearranged their faces pretty well if I may say so myself.

By Pollux, master, didn't I come to your aid in the nick of time just now? [1020]

MEN-1: May the gods always favor you, whoever you are.

If it hadn't been for you I never would have seen the sun set today.

MESS: Well then, by Pollux, if you were interested in doing the right thing, master, you'd set me free.

MEN-1: You want me to free you?

MESS: Yes, master, after all I did save you.

MEN-1: What?

I think you're mistaken.

MESS: What? I'm mistaken?

MEN-1: Jove as my witness, [1025]

I swear that I'm not your master.

MESS: Well, shut my mouth!

MEN-1: I'm not lying.

My slaves never act like you acted toward me.

MESS: Very well then, if you say I'm not yours, let me go free.

MEN-1: As far as I'm concerned, you are free, and you may go wherever you wish.

MESS: You really mean it?

MEN-1: I really mean it, by Hercules,

if I have any power over you at all. [1030]

MESS: That makes you my patron now instead of my master, doesn't it?

Well then greetings, my patron! to self "Since you are free, Messenio, I congratulate you."

But, patron, please, don't hesitate to order me around any less than you did when I was your slave.

I shall live at your house and when you go home, I'll go with you.

MEN-1: I don't think so.

MESS: I'll go to the inn now and get your baggage and your cash. [1035]

The purse with the traveling money is sealed up tight in the bag.

I'll bring that here to you right away.

MEN-1: Sounds good! Hurry up!

MESS: I'll give it back safe and sound, just as you gave it to me. Wait here for me.

(MESS exits to forum)

MEN-1: This day has just been getting weirder and weirder.

Some are saying that I am not who I say I am and shut the door in my face, [1040]

and this slave is saying he is mine

and I set him free.

He says I had a purse with cash in it.

If he brings it back, I'll tell him he may leave a free man to go wherever he wishes.

But then he might come back looking for the money from me

once he regains his senses. [1045]

My father-in-law and the doctor say that I'm crazy. Whatever's going on here, it's definitely weird.

It's like being stuck in a dream.

Well, I'd better try getting into this house of joy again.

Let's see if I don't have any better luck getting that gown back from her so that I can take it home.

(exit MEN-1 sneaks into EROT's house)

Scene 8

(MEN-2 and MESS enter from harbor)

MEN-2: Wait a minute! You saucy rascal! D'you dare to stand there and tell me [1050]

you've already met me once here today since the time I ordered you to meet me?

MESS: Didn't I just

rescue you from those four men who had picked you up and were carrying you away

right here in front of this very house? You were screaming for divine or human intervention

and I ran up and rescued you from those chumps by beating the crap out of them.

Then you set me free because I saved you. [1055]

Then when I said I was going back to fetch the money

you ran ahead as fast as you could so you could meet me and deny what you had done.

MEN-2: I told you you could go free?

MESS: You certainly did!

MEN-2: No way! What is certain

is that I'd sell myself into slavery before I'd ever set you free.

Scene 9

(MEN-1 enters from EROT's house and turns to talk into the open door)

MEN-1: You can swear till the cows come home, but it won't change the fact [1060]

that I never took any gown or bracelet away from here today. door slams Buncha bitches anyway.

MESS: For the love of the immortal gods, what do I see here?

MEN-2: What do you see?

MESS: Your mirror image.

MEN-2: What?!

MESS: I mean that man is your exact image! He's looks about as much like you as anyone ever could.

MEN-2: By Pollux, he does kind of resemble me, come to think of it.

MEN-1: Hello there, young man, whoever you are! Aren't you the one who saved me? [1065]

MESS: In the name of Hercules, sir, please tell me what your name is, if it's not a bother.

MEN-1: By Pollux, of course it's no bother. It's the least you've earned today.

My name is Menaechmus.

MEN-2: Can't be! That's my name!

MEN-1: I am from Syracuse in Sicily.

MEN-2: That's my hometown and homeland.

MEN-1: What am I hearing you say?

MEN-2: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

MESS: I'm sure I know this man: [1070]

he is my master, and I'm really his slave, but I thought I was his.

I thought he was you, I even made some trouble for him.

Please forgive me if I said anything foolish to you without realizing it.

MEN-2: I think you're losing it, Messenio. Don't you remember?

You got off the ship with me this morning.

MESS: I'm sure you're right. [1075]

You are my master, You need to go find yourself another slave.

Hello to you. Good-bye to you.

This here gentleman is Menaechmus.

MEN-1: I say that I am Menaechmus.

MEN-2: No, I am Menaechmus.

I say that you are full of it.

MEN-1: I say that I am the son of my father Moschus.

MEN-2: You're my father's son?

MEN-1: No, I am my father's son.

I’m not about to seize or steal your father! [1080]

MESS: O immortal gods! Give me the unhoped for hope which I think I see before me.

For unless my mind deceives me, theses two are twin brothers!

What they say about their homeland and there father fits like a glove.

I'll call my master aside. Menaechmus!

MEN-1 & 2: Whaddaya want?

MESS: I don't want both of you,

just the one that traveled on the ship with me.

MEN-1: That's not me. [1085]

MEN-2: Must be me.

MESS: Then you're the one I want. Come over here.

MEN-2: OK. What is it?

MESS: That man over there is either a cheat or your twin brother.

I swear I've never seen two men more alike.

No water is more like water, no milk more like milk, believe you me,

than that one is to you and you to him. After all, he does remember [1090]

the same fatherland and father. We'd better go and quiz him.

MEN-2: By Hercules I think you're right! Thanks for pointing that out!

You go ahead and do that, go quiz him. If you find that he is my brother,

you're a free man.

MESS: I hope he is.

MEN-2: Me too.

MESS: Pardon me sir. I think you said that you are called Menaechmus? [1095]

MEN-1: Yes.

MESS: This man's name is also Menaechmus. You said

you were born in Sicily; and he was born there also.

You said your father was Moschus; so was his.

Now both of you can do a favor for me and for yourselves at the same time.

MEN-1: You deserve to get whatever your heart desires. [1100]

You just say the word and I'll serve you as if you had bought me as a slave.

MESS: I have a dream ... of finding that you two are twin brothers,

born of one mother and one father on one day.

MEN-1: You're talking miracles! I hope you can achieve this dream you're chasing.

MESS: I can. But come now, both of you, and answer me some questions. [1105]

MEN-1: Ask away whenever you're ready. I'll answer as best I can and won't hold anything back.

MESS: Is your name Menaechmus?

MEN-1: Yes.

MESS: And is yours also?

MEN-2: It is.

MESS: You say your father was Moschus?

MEN-1: Yes.

MEN-2: Mine too.

MESS: Are you a Syracusan?

MEN-1: Yes.

MESS: What about you?

MEN-2: You betcha.

MESS: All the signs point to one thing so far.

Give me your attention just a little bit longer. [1110]

What's the earliest thing you remember in your fatherland? Tell me.

MEN-1: When I left Tarentum for the forum with my father. I wandered away from him,

got lost among all the people, and was snatched up and carried off here.

MEN-2: O holy Jupiter, save me!

MESS: What are you shouting? Can't you keep still?

(to MEN-1) How old were you when your father took you away from your fatherland? [1115]

MEN-1: Seven. My teeth were then just beginning to fall out.

After that day I never saw my father again.

MESS: What? How many sons

did your father have?

MEN-1: Wait. Ah, I remember now: two.

MESS: Which was older, you or he?

MEN-1: We were both the same age.

MESS: How is that possible?

MEN-1: We were both twins.

MEN-2: The gods are fulfilling my prayers! [1120]

MESS: If you don't shut up I'll stop this investigation immediately.

MEN-2: No, no. I'll shut up.

MESS: Tell me,

did you both have the same name?

MEN-1: No. My name was Menaechmus,

as it still is, but they called him Sosicles.

MEN-2: Yup! There it is! I can't hold myself back any longer!

My dear twin brother! I'm Sosicles! [1125]

MEN-1: Then why did you say your name was Menaechmus?

MEN-2: When the news that you'd wandered away from Dad and been kidnapped, and then Dad died,

our grandfather changed my name. He missed you so much he gave me your name.

MEN-1: I believe what you say happened, but tell me this...

MEN-2: Just ask! [1129-1130]

MEN-1: What was our mother's name?

MEN-2: Teuximarcha.

MEN-1: The pieces fit!

Hello, my long lost brother!

MEN-2: O my dear brother, I'm so glad to have found you!

I've been through a lot of misery and trouble looking for you.

MESS: Ah-ha! So that's how the dolly over here came to call you by his name; [1135]

she thought you were he, I think, when she asked you to lunch.

MEN-1: By Pollux, I had ordered that lunch be prepared today –

it was to be a secret lunch away from my wife, from whom I stole the gown this morning.

I gave it to her.

MEN-2: Do you mean this gown, brother?

MEN-1: That's the one!

How did you get this stuff?

MEN-2: The drab that lives in that house took me [1140]

in for lunch and said that I had given it to her. I had a pretty good lunch,

drank a bit, had my way with her, and left with the gown and some jewelry.

MEN-1: By Pollux, I'm happy if I was responsible for something good happening to you today.

When she invited you in, she must have thought you were me. [1144-1145]

MESS: You don't object to my being free, do you? You did order it.

MEN-1: Brother, he only asks for what is fair. Please agree to it, for my sake?

MEN-2: I set you free.

MEN-1: Since you are free, Messenio, I congratulate you.

MESS: But I'm going to need more than just good will if I'm going to stay free. [1149-1150]

MEN-2: (ignoring MESS) Well, brother, since everything's turned out just the way we wanted it,

let's both go back to Sicily.

MEN-1: I shall do whatever you wish, brother.

I'll have an auction here and sell whatever there is to sell. For the meanwhile,

though, brother, let's go inside.

MEN-2: Good idea!

MESS: Hello! I'm still here! Know what I'd like from you?

MEN-1: What?

MESS: Let me be your auctioneer.

MEN-1: Fine by me.

MESS: Then shall I announce [1155]

at once that there will be an auction?

MEN-1: All right, it'll be a week from today.

MESS: (to audience) There will be an auction of the goods of the Menaechmus estate a week from today!

In the morning. For sale: slaves, goods, land, houses, everything.

Everything’s for sale to whomever has cash up front.

Also for sale - a wife, if any buyer is interested. [1160]

I doubt the whole auction will bring in more 50,000 sestertii. A mere pittance.

Now, dear audience, please give us some loud applause!