Terence, Hecyra or The Mother-in-law

Translated by Henry Thomas Riley

Dramatis Personae LACHES: an aged Athenian, father of Pamphilus. PHIDIPPUS: an aged Athenian, father of Philumena (not seen). PAMPHILUS: son of Laches. SOSIA: servant of Pamphilus. PARMENO: servant of Sostrata. SOSTRATA: wife of Laches. MYRRHINA: wife of Phidippus. BACCHIS: a Courtesan. PHILOTIS: a Courtesan. SYRA: a Procuress.

Scene.óAthens; before the houses of LACHES, PHIDIPPUS, and BACCHIS.

Prologue 1

HECYRA is the name of this Play; when it was represented

for the first time, an unusual disaster and calamity interrupted it,

so that it could not be witnessed throughout or estimated;

so much had the populace, carried away with admiration, devoted their attention

to some rope-dancing. It is now offered as though entirely a new Play; [5]

and he who wrote it did not wish to bring it forward then

a second time, on purpose that he might be able again to sell it.

Other Plays of his you have seen represented; I beg you now to give your attention to this.

Prologue 2

I COME to you as an envoy from the Poet, in the character of prologue-speaker;

allow me to be a successful pleader, that in my old age [10]

I may enjoy the same privilege that I enjoyed when a younger man,

when I caused new Plays, that had been once rejected, to come into favor;

so that his writings might not die with the Poet.

Among them, as to those of Caecilius, which I first studied when new;

in some of which I was rejected; in some I kept my ground with difficulty. [15]

As I knew that the fortune of the stage was varying,

where the hopes were uncertain, I submitted to certain toil.

Those I zealously attempted to perform, that from the same writer

I might learn new ones, and not discourage him from his pursuits.

I caused them to be represented. When seen, they pleased. [20]

Thus did I restore the Poet to his place,

who was now almost weaned, through the malevolence of his adversaries,

from his pursuits and labors, and from the dramatic art.

But if I had at that period slighted the writer,

and had wished to use my endeavors in discouraging him, [25]

so that he might live a life of idleness rather than of study,

I might have easily discouraged him from writing others.

Now, for my sake, hear with unbiased minds what it is I ask.

I again bring before you the Hecyra, which I have never been allowed

to act before you in silence; such misfortunes have so overwhelmed it. [30]

These misfortunes your intelligence will allay,

if it is a seconder of our exertions.

The first time, when I began to act this Play, the vauntings of boxers,

the expectation of a rope-dancer, added to which,

the throng of followers, the noise, the clamor of the women, [35]

caused me to retire from your presence before the time.

In this new Play, I attempted to follow the old custom of mine,

of making a fresh trial; I brought it on again.

In the first Act I pleased; when in the mean time a rumor spread

that gladiators were about to be exhibited; the populace flock together, [40]

make a tumult, clamor aloud, and fight for their places:

meantime, I was unable to maintain my place.

Now there is no confusion: there is attention and silenceó

an opportunity of acting my Play has been granted me;

to yourselves is given the power of gracing the scenic festival. [45]

Do not permit, through your agency, the dramatic art

to sink into the hands of a few; let your authority prove

a seconder and assistant to my own.

If I have never covetously set a price upon my skill,

and have come to this conclusion, that it is the greatest gain [50]

in the highest possible degree to contribute to your entertainment;

allow me to obtain this of you, that him who has entrusted

his labors to my protection, and himself to your integrity,óthat him,

I say, the malicious may not maliciously deride, beset by them on every side.

For my sake, admit of this plea, and attend in silence, [55]

that he may be encouraged to write other Plays, and that it may be

for my advantage to study new ones hereafter, purchased at my own expense.

Act I

Scene 1

[Enter PHILOTIS and SYRA.]


By Pollux, Syra, you can find but very few lovers

who prove constant to their mistresses.

For instance, how often did this Pamphilus swear to Bacchisó [60]

how solemnly, so that any one might have readily believed himó

that he never would take home a wife so long as she lived.

Well now, he is married.


Therefore, for that very reason,

I earnestly both advise and entreat you to take pity upon no one,

but plunder, fleece, and rend every man you lay hold of. [65]


What! Hold no one exempt?


No one;

for not a single one of them, rest assured, comes to you

without making up his mind, by means of his flatteries,

to gratify his passion with you at the least possible expense.

Will you not, pray, plot against them in return ? [70]


And yet, by Pollux, it is unfair to be the same to all.


What! unfair to take revenge on your enemies?

or, for them to be caught in the very way they try to catch you ?

Alas! wretched me! why do not your age and beauty belong to me,

or else these sentiments of mine to you? [75]

Scene 2

[Enter PARMENO from the house of LACHES.]

PARMENO (at the door, speaking to SCIRTUS within.)

If the old man should be asking for me, do say that I have just gone

to the harbor to inquire about the arrival of Pamphilus.

Do you hear what I say, Scirtus? If he asks for me,

then you are to say so; if he does not, why, say nothing at all;

so that at another time I may be able to employ that excuse as a new one. [80]

(Comes forward, and looking around.)

But is it my dear Philotis that I see? How has she come here?

(Accosting her.)

Philotis heartily good-morrow.


O, good-morrow, Parmeno,


By Castor, good-morrow, Parmeno.


By Pollux, Syra, the same to you.

Philotis, tell me, where have you been enjoying yourself so long?


For my part, indeed, I have been far from enjoying myself, [85]

in leaving this place for Corinth with a most brutal captain;

for two whole years, there, had I to put up with him to my sorrow.


By Pollux, I fancy that regret for Athens

full oft possessed you, and that you thought

but poorly of your foresight.


It can not be expressed [90]

how impatient I was to return hither, get rid of the captain,

and see yourselves here, that after our old fashion

I might at my ease enjoy the merry-makings among you;

for there it was not allowed me to speak,

except at the moment prescribed,

and on such subjects as he chose.

PARMENO (sarcastically.)

I donít think it was gallant [95]

in the captain to place a restraint on your tongue.


But what is this piece of business that Bacchis has just now

been telling me in-doors here? (pointing to her house.)

A thing I never supposed would come to pass,

that he, in her lifetime, could possibly prevail upon his feelings

to take a wife.


To take, indeed!


Why, look you, has he not taken one? [100]


He has; but I doubt whether this match will be lasting.


May the Gods and Goddesses grant it so, if it is for the advantage of Bacchis.

But why am I to believe it is so? Tell me, Parmeno.


There is no need for its being spread abroad; ask me

no more about it.


For fear, I suppose, it may be made public. [105]

So may the Gods prosper me, I do not ask you in order that

I may spread it abroad, but that, in silence, I may rejoice within myself.


Youíll never speak me so fairly, that I shall trust my back

to your discretion.


Oh, donít say so, Parmeno;

as though you were not much more impatient to tell me this, [110]

than I to learn what Iím inquiring about.

PARMENO (to himself.)

She tells the truth there;

and that is my greatest failing.


If you give me your word

that youíll keep it a secret, Iíll tell you.


You are now returning

to your natural disposition. I give you my word; say on.




Iím all attention.


Pamphilus was in the height of his passion for Bacchis here, [115]

when his father began to importune him to take a wife,

and to urge those points which are usual with all fathers,

that he himself was now in years, and that he was his only son,

that he wished for a support for his declining years.

He refused at first. But on his father pressing more urgently, [120]

he caused him to become wavering in his mind,

whether to yield rather to duty or to love.

By hammering on and teasing him, at last the old man gained his point;

and betrothed him to the daughter of our next-door neighbor here.

(pointing to the house of PHIDIPPUS)

This did not seem so very disagreeable to Pamphilus, [125]

until on the very point of marriage, when he saw

that all was ready, and that no respite was granted, but marry he must;

then, at last, he took it so much to heart, that I do believe if Bacchis

had been present, even she would have pitied him.

Whenever opportunity was afforded for us being alone, [130]

so that he could converse with me, he used to say: ďParmeno,

I am ruined! What have I done! Into what misery have I plunged myself!

Parmeno, I shall never be able to endure this. To my misery, I am undone!Ē

PHILOTIS (vehemently exclaiming.)

May the Gods and Goddesses confound you, Laches, for vexing him so !


To cut the matter short, he took home his wife. [135]

On the first night, he did not touch the girl;

the night that followed that, not a bit the more.


What is it you tell me? A young man go to bed with a virgin,

intoxicated to boot, and able to restrain himself from touching her!

You do not say whatís likely; nor do I believe it to be the truth. [140]


I suppose it does seem so to you, for no one comes to you

unless he is eager for you; but he had married her against his will.


After this, what followed ?


In a very few days after,

Pamphilus took me aside, away from the house,

and told me how that the young woman was still untouched by him; [145]

and how that before he had taken her home as his wife,

he had hoped to be able to endure this marriage:

ďBut, Parmeno, as I can not resolve to live with her any longer,

it is neither honorable in me, nor of advantage

to the young woman herself, for her to be turned to ridicule, [150]

but rather I ought to return her to her relations just as I received her.Ē


You tell me of a conscientious and virtuous disposition in Pamphilus.


ďFor me to declare this, I consider to be inconvenient to me,

but for her to be sent back to her father without mentioning any blame,

would be insolent; but I am in hopes that she, when she is sensible [155]

that she can not live with me, will go at last of her own accord.Ē


What did he do in the mean while ? Used he to visit Bacchis?


Every day.

But as usually is the case, after she saw that he belonged to another,

she immediately became more ill-natured and more peevish.


By Pollux, thatís not to be wondered at.


And this circumstance in especial contributed [160]

to estrange him from her; after he had fairly examined himself,

and her, and the one that was at home, he formed a judgment,

by comparison, upon the principles of them both.

She, just as might be expected from a person of respectable and free birth,

chaste and virtuous, patient under the slights and all the insults [165]

of her husband, and concealing his affronts.

Upon this, his mind, partly overcome by compassion

for his wife, partly constrained by the insolence of the other,

was gradually estranged from Bacchis, and transferred its affections

to the other, after having found a congenial disposition. [170]

In the mean time, there dies at Imbros an old man,

a relative of theirs. His property there devolved on them by law.

Thither his father drove the love-sick Pamphilus, much against his will.

He left his wife here with his mother, for the old man

has retired into the country; he seldom comes into the city. [175]


What is there yet in this marriage to prevent its being lasting ?


You shall hear just now. At first, for several days, there really was

a good understanding between them. In the mean time, however,

in a strange way, she began to take a dislike to Sostrata;

nor yet was there ever any quarrel or words [180]

between them.


What then ?


If at any time she came to converse with her,

she would instantly withdraw from her presence,

and refuse to see her; in fine, when she could no longer endure her,

she pretended that she was sent for by her mother to assist at a sacrifice.

When she had been there a few days, Sostrata ordered her to be fetched. [185]

She made some, I know not what, excuse. Again she gave similar orders;

no one sent back any excuse. After she had sent for her repeatedly,

they pretended that the damsel was sick. My mistress immediately

went to see her; no one admitted her. On the old man coming

to know of this, he yesterday came up from the country on purpose, [190]

and waited immediately upon the father of Philumena.

What passed between them, I do not know as yet;

but really I do feel some anxiety in what way this is to end.

You now have the whole matter; and I shall proceed whither I was on my way.


And I too, for I made an appointment with a certain stranger [195]

to meet him.


May the Gods prosper

what you undertake!




And a kind farewell to you, my dear Philotis.

[Exeunt severally.]

Act II

Scene 1

[Enter LACHES and SOSTRATA, from the house of the former.]


O faith of Gods and men! what a race is this! what a conspiracy this!

that all women should desire and reject every individual thing alike!

And not a single one can you find to swerve in any respect from the disposition of the rest. [200]

For instance, quite as though with one accord, do all mothers-in-law hate their daughters-in-law.

Just in the same way is it their system to oppose their husbands; their obstinacy here is the same.

In the very same school they all seem to me to have been trained up to perverseness.

Of that school, if there is any mistress, I am very sure that she

(pointing at SOSTRATA)

it is.

SOSTRATA Wretched me! when now I donít so much as know why I am accused!


Eh! [205]

you donít know ?


So may the Gods kindly prosper me, Laches,

and so may it be allowed us to pass our lives together in unity!

LACHES (aside.)

May the Gods avert such a misfortune!


Iím sure that before long you will be sensible that I have been accused by you undeservedly.


You, undeservedly?

Can any thing possibly be said that you deserve in return for this conduct of yours?

You, who are disgracing both me and yourself and the family, and are laying up sorrow for your son. [210]

Then besides, you are making our connections become, from friends, enemies to us,

who have thought him deserving for them to intrust their children to him.

You alone have put yourself forward, by your folly, to be causing this disturbance.


What, I?


You, woman, I say, who take me to be a stone, not a man.

Do you think because itís my habit to be so much in the country, that I donít know [215]

in what way each person is passing his life here?

I know much better what is going on here than there, where I am daily;

for this reason, because, just as you act at home, I am spoken of abroad.

Some time since, indeed, I heard that Philumena had taken a dislike to you;

nor did I the least wonder at it; indeed, if she hadnít done so, it would have been more surprising. [220]

But I did not suppose that she would have gone so far as to hate even the whole of the family;

if I had known that, she should have remained here in preference, and you should have gone away.

But consider how undeservedly these vexations arise on your account, Sostrata;

I went to live in the country, in compliance with your request, and to look after my affairs,

in order that my circumstances might be able to support your lavishness and comforts, [225]

not sparing my own exertions, beyond whatís reasonable and my time of life allows.

That you should take no care, in return for all this, that there should be nothing to vex me!


Upon my word, through no means or fault of mine has this taken place.


Nay, through you in especial;

you were the only person here; on you alone, Sostrata, falls all the blame.

You ought to have taken care of matters here, as I had released you from other anxieties. [230]

Is it not a disgrace for an old woman to pick a quarrel with a girl?

You will say it was her fault.


Indeed I do not say so, my dear Laches.


I am glad of that, so may the Gods prosper me, for my sonís sake. I am quite sure of this,

that no fault of yours can possibly put you in a worse light.


How do you know, my husband, whether she may not have pretended to dislike me, [235]

on purpose that she might be more with her mother?


What say you to this? Is it not proof sufficient,

when yesterday no one was willing to admit you into the house, when you went to see her?


Why, they told me that she was very ill just then; for that reason I was not admitted to her.


I fancy that your humors are more her malady than any thing else;

and with good reason in fact, for there is not one of you but wants her son [240]

to take a wife; and the match which has taken your fancy must be the one; when,

at your solicitation, they have married, then, at your solicitation, they are to put them away again.

Scene 2

[Enter PHIDIPPUS from his house.]

PHIDIPPUS (speaking to PHILUMENA within.)

Although I am aware, Philumena, that I have the right to compel you to do

what I order, still, being swayed by the feelings of a father, I will prevail upon myself

to yield to you, and not oppose your inclination. [245]


And look, most opportunely I see Phidippus; Iíll presently know from him how it is.

(Accosting him.)

Phidippus, although I am aware that I am particularly indulgent to all my family,

still it is not to that degree to let my good nature corrupt their minds.

And if you would do the same, it would be more for your own interest and ours.

At present I see that you are under the control of those women.


Just look at that, now ! [250]


I waited on you yesterday about your daughter; you sent me away just as wise as I came.

It does not become you, if you wish this alliance to continue,

to conceal your resentment. If there is any fault on our side, disclose it;

either by clearing ourselves, or excusing it, we shall remedy these matters for you,

yourself the judge. But if this is the cause of detaining her at your house, [255]

because she is ill, then I think that you do me an injustice, Phidippus,

if you are afraid lest she should not be attended with sufficient care at my house.

But, so may the Gods prosper me, I do not yield in this to you, although you are her father,

that you can wish her well more than I do, and that on my sonís account,

who I know values her not less than his own self. [260]

Nor, in fact, is it unknown to you, how much, as I believe, it will vex him,

if he comes to know of this; for this reason, I wish to have her home before he returns.


Laches, I am sensible of both your carefulness and your good-will,

and I am persuaded that all you say is just as you say:

and I would have you believe me in this; I am anxious for her to return to you, [265]

if I possibly can by any means effect it.


What is it prevents you from effecting it?

Come, now, does she make any complaint against her husband?


By no means; for when I urged it

still more strongly, and attempted to constrain her by force to return, she solemnly protested

that she couldnít possibly remain with you, while Pamphilus was absent.

Probably each has his own failing; I am naturally of an indulgent disposition; [270]

I can not thwart. my own family.

LACHES (turning to his wife, who stands apart.)

Ha! Sostrata!

SOSTRATA (sighing deeply.)

Alas! wretched me!


Is this your final determination?


For the present, at least, as it seems; but have you any thing else to say?

for I have some business that obliges me to go at once to the Forum.


Iíll go with you.


Scene 3

[SOSTRATA alone.]


By Pollux, we assuredly are all of us hated by our husbands with equal injustice,

on account of a few, who cause us all to appear deserving of harsh treatment. [275]

For, so may. the Gods prosper me, as to what my husband accuses me of, I am quite guiltless.

But it is not so easy to clear myself, so strongly have people come to the conclusion

that all step-mothers are harsh: by Pollux, not I, indeed, for I never regarded her

otherwise than if she had been my own daughter; nor can I conceive how this has befallen me.

But really, for many reasons, I long for. my sonís return home with impatience. [280]

(Goes into her house.)


Scene 1



No individual, I do believe, ever met with more crosses in love

than I. Alas! unhappy me! that I have thus been sparing of life!

Was it for this I was so very impatient to return home ?

O, how much more preferable had it been for me to pass my life

any where in the world than to return here and be sensible that I am thus wretched! [285]

For all of us know who have met with trouble from any cause,

that all the time that passes before we come to the knowledge of it, is so much gain.


Still, as it is, youíll the sooner know how to extricate yourself from these misfortunes.

If you had not returned, this breach might have become much wider;

but now, Pamphilus, I am sure that both will be awed by your presence. [290]

You will learn the facts, remove their enmity, restore them to good feeling once again.

These are but trifles which you have persuaded yourself are so grievous.


Why comfort me? Is there a person in all the world so wretched as I?

Before I took her to wife, I had my heart engaged by other affections.

Now, though on this subject I should be silent, it is easy for any one to know [295]

how much I have suffered; yet I never dared refuse her whom my father forced upon me.

With difficulty did I withdraw myself from another, and disengage my affections so firmly rooted there!

and hardly had I fixed them in another quarter, when, lo! a new misfortune has arisen,

which may tear me from her too.

Then besides, I suppose that in this matter I shall find either my mother or my wife in fault;

and when I find such to be the fact, what remains but to become still more wretched? [300]

For duty, Parmeno, bids me bear with the feelings of a mother;

then, to my wife I am bound by obligations; with so much temper did she formerly bear my usage,

and on no occasion disclose the many wrongs inflicted on her by me.

But, Parmeno, something of consequence, I know not what it is, must have happened

for this misunderstanding to have arisen between them, that has lasted so long. [305]


Or else something frivolous, by Hercules, if you would only give words their proper value;

those which are sometimes the greatest enmities, do not argue the greatest injuries;

for it often happens that in certain circumstances, in which another would not even be out of temper,

for the very same reason a passionate man becomes your greatest enemy.

What enmities do children entertain among themselves for trifling injuries! [310]

For what reason? Why, because they have a weak understanding to direct them.

Just so are these women, almost like children with their fickle feelings;

perhaps a single word has occasioned this enmity between them, master.


Go, Parmeno, into the house, and carry word that I have arrived.

(A noise is heard in the house of PHIDIPPUS.)

PARMENO (starting.)

Ha! What means this?


Be silent.

I perceive a bustling about, and a running to and fro.

PARMENO (going to the door.)

Come then, Iíll approach [315]

nearer to the door.

(He listens.)

Ha! did you hear?


Donít be prating.

(He listens.)

O Jupiter, I heard a shriek!


You yourself are talking, while you forbid me.

MYRRHINA (within the house.)

Please, my child, do be silent.


That seems to be the voice of Philumenaís mother.

Iím undone


Why so?


Utterly ruined!


For what reason?


Parmeno, you are concealing from me some great misfortune to me unknown.


They said that your wife, Philumena, [320]

was in alarm about something, I know not what; whether that may be it, perchance, I donít know.


I am undone! Why didnít you tell me of this?


Because I couldnít tell every thing at once.


What is the malady?


I donít know.


What! has no one brought a physician to see her?


I donít know.


Why delay going in-doors, that I may know as soon as possible for certain what it is?

In what condition, Philumena, am I now to find you? [325]

But if you are in any peril, beyond a doubt I will perish with you.

(Goes into the house of PHIDIPPUS.)

PARMENO (to himself.)

There is no need for me to follow him into the house at present,

for I see that we are all disagreeable to them.

Yesterday, no one would give Sostrata admittance.

If, perchance, the malady should become worse, [330]

which really I could far from wish, for my masterís sake especially,

they would at once say that Sostrataís servant had been in there;

they would invent a story that I had brought some mischief

against their lives and persons, in consequence of which the malady had been increased.

My mistress would be blamed, and I should incur heavy punishment. [335]



SOSTRATA (to herself.)

In dreadful alarm, I have for some time heard, I know not what confusion going on here;

Iím sadly afraid Philumenaís illness is getting worse.

Aesculapius, I do entreat thee, and thee, Health, that it may not be so.

Now Iíll go visit her.

(Approaches the door.)

PARMENO (coming forward.)

Hark you, Sostrata.

SOSTRATA (turning round.)



You will again be shut out there.


What, Parmeno, is it you? Iím undone! wretch that I am, what shall I do? [340]

Am I not to go see the wife of Pamphilus, when she is ill here next door?


Not go see her! Donít even send any person for the purpose of seeing her;

for Iím of opinion that he who loves, a person to whom he is an object of dislike, commits a double mistake:

he himself takes a useless trouble, and causes annoyance to the other.

Besides, your son went in to see how she is, as soon as he arrived. [345]


What is it you say? Has Pamphilus arrived?


He has.


I give thanks unto the Gods!

Well, through that news my spirits are revived, and anxiety has departed from my heart.


For this reason, then, I am especially unwilling you should go in there;

for if Philumenaís malady at all abates, she will, I am sure, when they are by themselves,

at once tell him all the circumstances; both what misunderstandings have arisen between you, [350]

and how the difference first began. But see, heís coming out-how sad he looks!

[Re-enter PAMPHILUS, from the house of PHIDIPPUS.]

SOSTRATA (running up to him.)

O my son! (Embraces him.)


My mother, blessings on you.


I rejoice that you are returned safe.

Is Philumena in a fair way?

PAMPHILUS (Weeping.)

She is a little better.


Would that the Gods may grant it so!

Why, then, do you weep, or why so dejected?


Allís well, mother. [355]


What meant that confusion? Tell me; was she suddenly taken ill?


Such was the fact.


What is her malady?


A fever.


An intermitting one?


So they say. Go in the house, please, mother; Iíll follow you immediately.


Very well.

(Goes into her house.)


Do you run and meet the servants, Parmeno, and help them with the baggage.

PARMENO Why, donít they know the way themselves to come to our house?

PAMPHILUS (stamping.)

Do you loiter? [360]


Scene 3

[PAMPHILUS, alone.]


I can not discover any fitting commencement of my troubles,

at which to begin to narrate the things that have so unexpectedly befallen me,

some of which with these eyes I have beheld; some I have heard with my ears;

and on account of which I so hastily betook myself, in extreme agitation, out of doors.

For just now, when, full of alarm, I rushed into the house, expecting to find [365]

my wife afflicted with some other malady than what I have found it to beóah me!

immediately the servant-maids beheld that I had arrived, they all at the same moment

joyfully exclaimed, ďHe is come,Ē from having so suddenly caught sight of me.

But I soon perceived the countenances of all of them change,

because at so unseasonable a juncture chance had brought me there. [370]

One of them in the mean time hastily ran before me to give notice

that I had come. Impatient to see my wife, I followed close.

When I entered the room, that instant, to my sorrow, I found out her malady;

for neither did the time afford any interval to enable her to conceal it,

nor could she complain in any other accents than those which the case itself prompted. [375]

When I perceived this: ďO disgraceful conduct!Ē I exclaimed, and instantly hurried away

from the spot in tears, overwhelmed by such an incredible and shocking circumstance.

Her mother followed me; just as I got to the threshold, she threw herself on her knees:

I felt compassion for her. Assuredly it is the fact, in my opinion,

just as matters befall us all, so are we elated or depressed. [380]

At once she began to address me in these words:

ďO my dear Pamphilus, you see the reason why she left your house;

for violence was offered to her when formerly a maid, by some villain to us unknown.

Now, she took refuge here then, that from you and others she might conceal her labor.Ē

But when I call to mind her entreaties, I can not, wretched as I am, refrain from tears. [385]

ďWhatever chance or fortune it is,Ē said she, ďwhich has brought you here to-day,

by it we do both conjure you, if with equity and justice we may,

that her misfortune may be concealed by you, and kept a secret from all.

If ever you were sensible, my dear Pamphilus, that she was tenderly disposed toward you,

she now asks you to grant her this favor in return, without making any difficulty of it. [390]

But as to taking her back, act quite according to your own convenience.

You alone are aware of her lying-in, and that the child is none of yours.

For it is said that it was two months after the marriage before she had commerce with you.

And then, this is but the seventh month since she came to you.

That you are sensible of this, the circumstances themselves prove. Now, if it is possible, Pamphilus, [395]

I especially wish, and will use my endeavors, that her labor may remain unknown to her father,

and to all, in fact. But if that can not be managed, and they do find it out,

I will say that she miscarried; I am sure no one will suspect otherwise than,

what is so likely, the child was by you.

It shall be instantly exposed; in that case there is no inconvenience whatever to yourself, [400]

and you will be concealing an outrage so undeservingly committed upon her, poor thing!Ē

I promised this, and I am resolved to keep faith in what I said.

But as to taking her back, really I do not think that would be at all creditable,

nor will I do so, although love for her, and habit, have a strong influence upon me.

I weep when it occurs to my mind, what must be her life, and how great her loneliness [405]

in future. O Fortune, thou hast never been found constant!

But by this time my former passion has taught me experience in the present case.

The means by which I got rid of that, I must employ on the present occasion.

Parmeno is coming with the servants; it is far from convenient

that he should be here under present circumstances, for he was the only person [410]

to whom I trusted the secret that I kept aloof from her when I first married her.

I am afraid lest, if he should frequently hear her cries,

he might find out that she is in labor. He must be dispatched

by me somewhere till Philumena is delivered.

Scene 4

[Enter at a distance PARMENO and SOSIA, with people carrying baggage.]


Do you say that this voyage was disagreeable to you? [415]


By Hercules, Parmeno, it can not be so much as expressed

in words, how disagreeable it is to go on a voyage.


Do you say so?


O lucky man! You donít know what evils

you have escaped, by never having been at sea.

For to say nothing of other hardships, mark this one only; [420]

thirty days or more was I on board that ship, and every moment,

to my horror, was in continual expectation of death:

such unfavorable weather did we always meet with.


How annoying!


Thatís not unknown to me: in fine, by Hercules, I would rather

run away than go back, if I knew that I should have to go back there. [425]


Why really, but slight causes formerly made you, Sosia,

do what now you are threatening to do.

But I see Pamphilus himself standing before the door.

(To the Attendants, who go into the house of LACHES.)

Go in-doors; Iíll accost him, to see if he wants any thing with me.

(Accosts PAMPHILUS.)

What, still standing here, master?


Yes, and waiting for you.


Whatís the matter? [430]


You must run across to the citadel.


Who must?




To the citadel? Why thither?


To meet Callidemides, my entertainer

at Myconos, who came over in the same ship with me.

PARMENO (aside.)

Confusion! I should say he has made a vow that if ever he should return home safe,

he would rupture me with walking. [435]


Why are you lingering?


What do you wish me to say? Or am I to meet him only?


No; say that I can not meet him to-day, as I appointed,

so that he may not wait for me to no purpose. Fly!


But I donít know the manís appearance.


Then Iíll tell you how to know it;

a huge fellow, ruddy, with curly hair, fat, with gray eyes [440]

and freckled countenance.


May the Gods confound him!

What if he shouldnít come? Am I to wait there, even till the evening?


Yes, wait there. Run!


I canít; I am so tired.

[Exit slowly.]


Heís off. What shall I do in this distressed situation? Really, I donít know

in what way Iím to conceal this, as Myrrhina entreated me, [445]

her daughterís lying-in; but I do pity the woman.

What I can, Iíll do; only so long, however, as I observe my duty;

for it is proper that I should be regardful of a parent, rather than of my passion.

But lookóI see Phidippus and my father.

They are coming this way; what to say to them, Iím at a loss. [450]

(Stands apart.)

Scene 5

[Enter, at a distance, LACHES and PHIDIPPUS.]


Did you not say, just now, that she was waiting for my sonís return?


Just so.


They say that he has arrived; let her return.

PAMPHILUS (apart to himself aloud.)

What excuse to make to my father

for not taking her back, I donít know!

LACHES (turning round.)

Who was it I heard speaking here?

PAMPHILUS (apart.)

I am resolved to persevere in the course I determined to pursue.


ĎTis the very person about whom I was talking to you.


Health to you, my father. [455]


Health to you, my son.


I am glad that you have returned, Pamphilus,

and the more especially so, as you are safe and well.


I believe you.


Have you but just arrived?


Only just now.


Tell me, what has our cousin

Phania left us?


Why really, by Hercules, he was a man very much devoted to pleasure

while he lived; and those who are so, donít much benefit their heirs, [460]

but for themselves leave this commendation: While he lived, he lived well.


So then, you have brought home nothing more than a single sentiment?


Whatever he has left, we are the gainers by it.


Why no, it has proved a loss;

for I could have wished him alive and well.


You may wish that with impunity;

heíll never come to life again; and after all I know which of the two you would prefer. [465]


Yesterday, he

(pointing to PHIDIPPUS)

desired Philumena to be fetched to his house.

(Whispers to PHIDIPPUS, nudging him with his elbow.)

Say that you desired it.


Donít punch me so.


I desired it.


But heíll now send her home again.


Of course.


I know the whole affair, and how it happened; I heard it just now, on my arrival.


Then may the Gods confound those spiteful people who told this news with such readiness!


I am sure that it has been my study, that with reason no slight might possibly be committed [470]

by your family; and if I were now truthful to mention of

how faithful, loving, and tender a disposition I have proved toward her,

I could do so truly, did I not rather wish that you should learn it of herself;

for by that method you will be the more ready to place confidence in my disposition

when she, who is now acting unjustly toward me, speaks favorably of me. [475]

And that through no fault of mine this separation has taken place, I call the Gods to witness.

But since she considers that it is not befitting her to give way to my mother,

and with readiness to conform to her temper,

and as on no other terms it is possible for good feeling to exist between them,

either my mother must be separated, Phidippus, from me, or else Philumena. [480]

Now affection urges me rather to consult my motherís pleasure.


Pamphilus, your words have reached my ears not otherwise than to my satisfaction,

since I find that you post-pone all considerations for your parent.

But take care, Pamphilus, lest impelled by resentment, you carry matters too far.


How, impelled by resentment, could, I now be biased against her [485]

who never has been guilty of any thing toward me, father,

that I could not wish, and who has often deserved as well as I could desire?

I both love and praise and exceedingly regret her, for I have found by experience

that she was of a wondrously engaging disposition with regard to myself;

and I sincerely wish that she may spend the remainder of her life [490]

with a husband who may prove more fortunate than me,

since necessity thus tears her from me.


ĎTis in your own power to prevent that.


If you are in your senses,

order her to come back.


It is not my intention, father;

I shall study my motherís interests.

(Going away.)


Whither are you going? Stay, [495]

stay, I tell you; whither are you going?



What obstinacy is this?


Did I not tell you, Phidippus, that he would take this matter amiss?

It was for that reason I entreated you to send your daughter back.


By Pollux, I did not believe he would be so brutish;

does he now fancy that I shall come begging to him? [500]

If so it is that he chooses to take back his wife, why, let him;

if he is of another mind, let him pay back her portion, and take himself off.


Just look at that, now; you too are getting obstinate and huffish.

PHIDIPPUS (speaking with anger.)

You have returned to us in a very ungovernable mood, Pamphilus.


This anger will depart; although he has some reason for being vexed. [505]


Because you have had a windfall, a little money,

your minds are elevated.


Are you going to fall out with me, too?


Let him consider, and bring me word to-day,

whether he will or will not, that she may belong to another if she does not to him.

(Goes hastily into his own house.)


Phidippus, stay; listen to a few wordsóHeís off; what matters it to me? [510]

In fine, let them manage it between themselves, just as they please;

since neither my son nor he pay any regard to me;

they care but little for what I say. Iíll carry the quarrel

to my wife, by whose planning all these things have been brought about,

and against her I will vent all the vexation that I feel. [515]

Act IV

Scene 1

[Enter MYRRHINA, from her house.]


I am undone! What am I to do? which way turn myself? In my wretchedness, what answer am I

to give to my husband? For he seems to have heard the voice of the child when crying,

so suddenly did he rush in to my daughter without saying a word.

What if he comes to know that she has been delivered? for what reason I am to say I kept it concealed,

By Pollux, I do not know. [520]

But thereís a noise at the door; I believe it is himself coming out to me: Iím utterly undone!

[Enter PHIDIPPUS, from the house.]

PHIDIPPUS (to himself.)

My wife, when she saw me going to my daughter, betook herself out of the house:

and look, there she is.

(Addressing her.)

What have you to say, Myrrhina? Hark you! to you I speak.


What, to me, my husband?


Am I your husband? Do you consider me a husband, or a man, in fact?

For, woman, if I had ever appeared to you to be either of these, [525]

I should not in this way have been held in derision by your doings.


By what doings?


Do you ask the question?

Is not your daughter brought to bed? Eh, are you silent? By whom?


Is it proper for a father to be asking such a question?

Oh, shocking! By whom do you think, pray, except by him to whom she was given in marriage?


I believe it; nor indeed is it for a father to think otherwise. But I wonder much

what the reason can be for which you so very much wish all of us to be in ignorance [530]

of the truth, especially when she has been delivered properly, and at the right time.

That you should be of a mind so perverse as to prefer that the child should perish,

through which you might be sure that hereafter there would be a friendship more lasting between us,

rather than that, at the expense of your feelings, his wife should continue with him!

I supposed this to be their fault, while in reality it lies with you. [535]


I am an unhappy creature!


I wish I were sure that so it was; but now it recurs to my mind

what you once said about this matter, when we accepted him as our son-in-law.

For you declared that you could not endure your daughter to be married to a person

who was attached to a courtesan, and who spent his nights away from home.

MYRRHINA (aside.)

Any cause whatever I had rather he should suspect than the right one. [540]


I knew much sooner than you did, Myrrhina, that he kept a mistress;

but this I never considered a crime in young men; for it is natural to them all.

For, by Pollux, the time will soon come when even he will be disgusted with himself for doing so.

But just as you formerly showed yourself, you have never ceased to be the same up to the present time;

in order that you might withdraw your daughter from him, and that what I did might not hold good, [545]

one thing itself now plainly proves how far you wished it carried out.


Do you suppose that I am so willful that I could have entertained

such feelings toward one whose mother I am, if this match had been to our advantage?


Can you possibly foresee or judge what is to our advantage?

You have heard it of some one, perhaps, who has told you [550]

that he has seen him coming from or going to his mistress. What then?

If he has done so with discretion, and but occasionally, is it not more kind in us to conceal

our knowledge of it, than to do our best to be aware of it, in consequence of which he will detest us?

For if he could all at once have withdrawn himself from her

with whom he had been intimate for so many years, I should not have deemed him a man, [555]

or likely to prove a constant husband for our daughter.


Do have done about the young man, I pray;

and what you say Iíve been guilty of. Go away, meet him by yourself;

ask him whether he wishes to have her as a wife or not; if so it is that he should say he does wish it,

why, send her back; but if on the other hand he does not wish it, I have taken the best course for my child.


And suppose he does not wish it, and you, Myrrhina, knew him to be in fault; [560]

still I was at hand, by whose advice it was proper for these matters to be settled;

therefore I am greatly offended that you have presumed to act thus without my leave.

I forbid you to attempt to carry the child any where out of this house.

But I am very foolish to be expecting her to obey my orders.

Iíll go in-doors, and charge the servants to allow it to be carried out nowhere. [565]

(Goes into the house.)


By Pollux, I do believe that there is no woman living more wretched than I;

for how he would take it, if he came to know the real state of the case, by Pollux,

is not unknown to me, when he bears this, which is of less consequence, with such angry feelings;

and I know not in what way his sentiments can possibly be changed.

Out of very many misfortunes, this one evil alone had been wanting to me, [570]

for him to compel me to rear a child of whom we know not who is the father;

for when my daughter was ravished, it was so dark that his person could not be distinguished,

nor was any thing taken from him on the occasion by which it could be afterward discovered who he was.

He, on leaving her, took away from the girl, by force, a ring which she had upon her finger.

I am afraid, too, of Pamphilus, that he may be unable any longer to conceal [575]

what I have requested, when he learns that the child of another is being brought up as his.

(Goes into the house.)

Scene 2



It is not unknown to me, my son, that I am suspected by you as the cause of your wife

having left our house in consequence of my conduct; although you carefully conceal your knowledge of it.

But so may the Gods prosper me, and so may you answer all my hopes,

I have never knowingly deserved that hatred of me should with reason possess her; [580]

and while I thought before that you loved me, on that point you have confirmed my belief:

for in-doors your father has just now related to me in what way you have preferred me

to your passion. Now it is my determination to return you the favor,

that you may understand that with me lies the reward of your affection.

My Pamphilus, I think that this is expedient both for yourselves and my own reputation. [585]

I have finally resolved to retire hence into the country with your father,

that my presence may not be an obstacle, and that no pretense may remain

why your Philumena should not return to you.


Pray, what sort of resolution is this?

Driven away by her folly, would you be removing from the city to live in the country?

You shall not do so; and I will not permit, mother, any one who may wish to censure us, [590]

to say that this has been done through my perverseness, and not your inclination.

Besides, I do not wish you, for my sake, to forego your friends and relations,

and festive days.


Upon my word, these things afford me no pleasure now.

While my time of life permitted it, I enjoyed them enough; satiety of that mode of life

has now taken possession of me: this is at present my chief concern, that the length of my life [595]

may prove an annoyance to no one, or that he may look forward with impatience to my death.

Here I see that, without deserving it, I am disliked; it is time for me to retire.

Thus, in the best way, I imagine, I shall cut short all grounds of discontent with all;

I shall both free myself from suspicion, and shall be pleasing them.

Pray, let me avoid this reproach, which so generally attaches on women to their disadvantage. [600]

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

How happy am I in other respects, were it not for this one thing alone, in having such a good mother,

and her for my wife!


Pray, my Pamphilus, can you not,

seeing how each woman is, prevail upon yourself to put up with one matter of inconvenience?

If every thing else is according to your wish, and such as I take it to be-my son,

do grant me this indulgence, and take her back.


Alas! wretched me! [605]


And me as well; for this affair does not cause me less sorrow than you, my son.

Scene 3

[Enter LACHES.]


While standing just by here, I have heard, wife, the conversation you have been holding with him.

It is true wisdom to be enabled to govern the feelings whenever there is necessity;

to do at the present moment what may perhaps, in the end, be necessary to be done.


Good luck to it, by Pollux.


Retire then into the country; there I will bear with you, and you with me. [610]


I hope so, by Castor.


Go in-doors then, and get together the things that are to be taken with you.

I have now said it.


Iíll do as you desire.

(Goes into the house.)




What do you want, Pamphilus?


My mother go away? By no means.


Why would you have it so?


Because I am as yet undetermined what I shall do about my wife.


How is that?

What should you intend to do but bring her home?


For my part, I could like, and can hardly forbear it; [615]

but I shall not alter my design; that which is most advantageous I shall pursue;

I suppose (ironically) that they will be better reconciled, in consequence, if I shall take her back.


You can not tell. But it matters nothing to you which they do

when she has gone away. Persons of this age are disliked by young people;

it is right for us to withdraw from the world; in fine, we are now a nice by-word. [620]

We are, Pamphilus, ďthe old man and the old woman.Ē

But I see Phidippus coming out just at the time; letís accost him.

Scene 4

[Enter PHIDIPPUS, from his house.]

PHIDIPPUS (speaking at the door to PHILUMENA, within.)

By Pollux, I am angry with you too, Philumena,

extremely so, for, on my word, you have acted badly;

still there is an excuse for you in this matter; your mother forced you to it; [625]

but for her there is none.

LACHES (accosting him.)

Phidippus, you meet me at a lucky moment,

just at the very time.


Whatís the matter?

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

What answer shall I make them, or in what manner keep this secret?


Tell your daughter that Sostrata is going into the country,

that the may not now be afraid of returning home. [630]


Alas! your wife has been guilty of no fault in this affair;

all this mischief has originated in my wife Myrrhina.

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

They are changing sides.


ĎTis she that causes our disturbances, Laches.

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

So long as I donít take her back, let her cause as much disturbance as she pleases.


I, Pamphilus, could really wish, if it were possible, [635]

this alliance between us to be lasting;

but if you are otherwise inclined,

still take the child.

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

He has discovered that she has been brought to bed. Iím undone!


The child! What child?


We have had a grandson born to us;

for my daughter was removed from you in a state of pregnancy, [640]

and yet never before this day did I know that she was pregnant.


So may the Gods prosper me, you bring good tidings, and I am glad

a child has been born, and that she is safe: but what kind of woman

have you for a wife, or of what sort of a temper, that we should have been kept

in ignorance of this so long? I can not sufficiently express [645]

how disgraceful this conduct appears to me.


This conduct does not vex me less than yourself, Laches.

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

Even if it had just now been a matter of doubt to me,

it is so no longer, since the child of another man is to accompany her.


Pamphilus, there is no room now for deliberation for you in this matter. [650]

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

Iím undone!


We were often longing to see the day

on which there should be one to call you father; it has come to pass.

I return thanks to the Gods.

PAMPHILUS (aside.)

I am ruined!


Take home your wife, and donít oppose my will.


Father, if she had wished to have children by me, [655]

or to continue to be my wife, I am quite certain

she would not have concealed from me what I find she has concealed.

Now, as I find that her mind is estranged from me,

and think that there would be no agreement between us in future,

why should I take her back?


The young woman has done [660]

what her mother persuaded her. Is that to be wondered at?

Do you suppose you can find any woman

who is free from fault? Or is it that men have no failings?


Do you yourselves now consider, Laches, and you, Pamphilus,

whether it is most advisable for you to leave her or take her back. [665]

What your wife may do, is not in my control.

Under neither circumstance will you meet with any difficulty from me.

But what are we to do with the child?


You do ask an absurd question;

whatever happens, send him back his child of course, that we:

may bring it up as ours.

PAMPHILUS (in a low voice.)

A child which the father has abandoned, [670]

am I to rear?.


What was it you said? Howónot rear it, Pamphilus?

Prithee, are we to expose it, in preference? What madness is this?

Really, I can not now be silent any longer.

For you force me to say in his presence

(pointing to PHIDIPPUS)

what I would rather not.

Do you suppose I am in ignorance of the cause of your tears, [675]

or what it is on account of which you are perplexed to this degree?

In the first place, when you alleged as a reason, that, on account

of your mother, you could not have your wife at home,

she promised that she would leave the house.

Now, since you see this pretext as well taken away from you, [680]

because a child has been born without your knowledge, you have got another

You are mistaken if you suppose that I am ignorant of your feelings.

That at last you might prevail upon your feelings to take this step,

how long a period for loving a mistress did I allow you!

With what patience did I bear the expense you were at in keeping her! [685]

I remonstrated with you and entreated you to take a wife.

I said that it was time: by my persuasion you married.

What you then did in obedience to me, you did as became you.

Now again you have set your fancy upon a mistress,

and, to gratify her, you do an injury to the other as well. [690]

For I see plainly that you have once more relapsed into

the same course of life.


What, I?


Your own self, and you act unjustly therein.

You feign false grounds for discord, that you may live

with her when you have got rid of this witness of your actions;

your wife has perceived it too; for what other reason had she [695]

for leaving you?

PHIDIPPUS (to himself.)

Itís clear he guesses right; for that must be it.


I will give you my oath that none of these is the reason.


Oh take home your wife, or tell me why you should not.


It is not the time at present.


Take the child, for surely that is not

in fault; I will consider about the mother afterward. [700]

PAMPHILUS (apart.)

In every way I am wretched, and what to do I know not;

with so many troubles is my father now besetting wretched me on every side.

Iíll go away from here, since I avail but little by my presence.

For without my consent, I do not believe that they will bring up the child,

especially as on that point my mother-in-law will second me. [705]

(Exit speedily.)


Do you run away? What, and give me no distinct answer?


Does he seem to you to be in his senses? Let him alone.

Phidippus, give me the child; Iíll bring it up.


By all means.

No wonder if my wife has taken this amiss:

women are resentful; they do not easily put up with such things. [710]

Hence that anger of hers, for she herself told me of it;

I would not mention this to you in his presence,

and at first I did not believe her; but now it is true beyond a doubt;

for I see that his feelings are altogether averse to marriage.


What am I to do, then, Phidippus? What advice do you give? [715]


What are you to do? I am of opinion that first we ought to go to this mistress of his.

Let us use entreaties with her; then let us rebuke her; and at last,

let us very seriously threaten her, if she gives him any encouragement in future.


I will do as you advise.

(Turning to an ATTEDANT.)

Ho, there, boy! run to the house of Bacchis here,

our neighbor; desire her, in my name, to come hither. [720]


And you, I further entreat, to give me your assistance in this affair.


Well, I have already said, and I now say again to the same effect, Laches,

I wish this alliance between us to continue,

if by any means it possibly may, which I trust will be the case.

But should you like me to be with you while you meet her? [725]


Why yes; but first go and get some one as a nurse for the child.


Act V

Scene 1

[Enter BACCHIS attended by her WOMEN.]


It is not for nothing that Laches now desires to speak with me;

and, by Pollux, I am not very far from mistaken in making a guess what it is he wants me for.

LACHES (to himself.)

I must take care that I donít, through anger, miss gaining, in this quarter what I otherwise might,

and that I donít do any thing which hereafter it would have been better I had not done. [730]

Iíll accost her. (Accosts her.) Bacchis, good-morrow to you!


Good-morrow to you, Laches!


By Pollux, Bacchis, I suppose you somewhat wonder

what can be my reason for sending the lad to fetch you out of doors.


By Pollux, I am even in some anxiety as well, when I reflect what I am,

lest the name of my calling should be to my prejudice; for my behavior I can easily defend. [735]


If you speak the truth, you will be in no danger, woman, from me,

for I am now of that age that it is not meet for me to receive forgiveness for a fault;

for that reason do I the more carefully attend to every particular, that I may not act with rashness;

for if you now do, or intend to do, that which is proper for deserving women to do,

it would be unjust for me, in my ignorance, to offer an injury to you, when undeserving of it. [740]


By Castor, great is the gratitude that I ought to feel toward you for such conduct;

for he who, after committing an injury, would excuse himself, would profit me but little.

But what is the matter?


You admit my son, Pamphilus, to your house.




Just let me speak: before he was married to this woman, I tolerated your amour.

Stay! I have not yet said to you what I intended. He has now got a wife: [745]

look out for another person more to be depended on, while you have time to deliberate;

for neither will he be of this mind all his life, nor, by Pollux, will you be always of your present age.


Who is it says this?


His mother-in-law.


What! that I


That you do: and she has taken away her daughter;

and for that reason, has wished secretly to destroy the child that has been born.


Did I know any other means whereby I might be enabled to establish my credit with you, [750]

more solemn than an oath, I would, Laches, assure you of this,

that I have kept Pamphilus at a distance from me ever since he took a wife.


You are very good. But, pray, do you know what I would prefer that you should do?


What? Tell me.


Go in-doors there

(pointing to the house of PHIDIPPUS)

to the women, and make the same promise,

on oath, to them; satisfy their minds, and clear yourself from this charge. [755]


I will do so; although, by Pollux, if it had been any other woman of this calling, she would not

have done so, I am quite sure; present herself before a married woman for such a purpose!

But I do not wish your son to be suspected on an unfounded report,

nor appear inconstant, undeservedly, to you, to whom he by no means ought;

for he has deserved of me, that, so far as I am able, I should do him a service. [760]


Your language has rendered me quite friendly and well disposed toward you;

but not only did they think soóI too believed it.

Now that I have found you quite different from what I had expected,

take care that you still continue the same-make use of my friendship as you please;

if otherwiseó; but I will forbear, that you may not hear any thing unkind from me. [765]

But this one thing I recommend you make trial what sort of a friend I am,

or what I can effect as such, rather than what as an enemy.

Scene 2

[Enter PHIDIPPUS and a NURSE.]


Nothing at my house

will I suffer you to be in want of; but whatever is requisite shall be supplied you in abundance.

Still, when you are well fed and well drenched, do take care that the child has enough.

(The NURSE goes into his house.)


My sonís father-in-law, I see, is coming; he is bringing a nurse for the child. [770]

(Accosting him.)

Phidippus, Bacchis swears most solemnly.


Is this she?


It is.


By Pollux, those women donít fear the Gods; and I donít think that the Gods care about them.

BACCHIS (pointing to her ATTENDANTS.)

I will give you up my female servants; with my full permission, examine them with any tortures

you please. The business at present is this: I must make his wife return home to Pamphilus;

should I effect that, I shall not regret its being reported [775]

that I have been the only one to do what other courtesans avoid doing.


We find, Phidippus, that our wives have been unjustly suspected

by us in this matter. Let us now try her still further; for if your wife discovers

that she has given credence to a false charge, she will dismiss her resentment;

but if my son is also angry, by reason of the circumstance that his wife has been brought to bed [780]

without his knowledge, that is a trifle: his anger on that account will speedily subside.

Assuredly in this matter, there is nothing so bad as to be deserving of a separation.


I sincerely wish it may be so.


Examine her; here she is; she herself will satisfy you.


Why do you tell me these things? Is it because you have not already heard

what my feelings are with regard to this matter, Laches? Do you only satisfy their minds. [785]


By Pollux, Bacchis, I do entreat that what you have promised me you will do.


Would you wish me, then, to go in about this business?


Go, and satisfy their minds, so as to make them believe it.


Iíll go: although, upon my word, I am quite sure that my presence will be disagreeable to them,

for a married woman is the enemy of a mistress, when she has been separated from her husband.


But they will be your friends, when they know the reason of your coming. [790]

PHIDIPPUS And I promise that they shall be your friends, when they know the fact;

for you will release them from their mistake, and yourself, at the same time, from suspicion.


Wretched me! Iím ashamed to meet Philumena.


Do you both follow me into the house.

(Goes into the house with PHIDIPPUS and her ATTENDANTS.)

LACHES (to himself.)

What is there that I could more wish for, than what I see has happened to this woman?

To gain favor without loss to myself, and to benefit myself at the same time. [795]

For if now it is the fact that she has really withdrawn from Pamphilus,

she knows that by that step she has acquired honor and reputation:

she returns the favor to him, and, by the same means, attaches us as friends to herself.

(Goes into the house.)

Scene 3

[Enter PARMENO, moving along with difficulty.]

PARMENO (to himself.)

By Pollux, my master does assuredly think my labor of little value;

to have sent me for nothing, where I have been sitting the whole day to no purpose, [800]

waiting at the citadel for Callidemides, his landlord at Myconos.

And so, while sitting there to-day, like a fool, as each person came by,

I accosted him:óĒYoung man, just tell me, pray, are you a MyconianĒ

ďI am not..Ē ďBut is your name Callidemides?Ē ďNo.Ē ďHave you any former guest here

named Pamphilus?Ē All said, ďNo; and I donít believe that there is any such person.Ē [805]

At last, by Hercules, I was quite ashamed, and went away. But how is it I see Bacchis

coming out of our neighborís? What business can she have there?

[Enter BACCHIS, from the house of PHIDIPPUS.]


Parmeno, you make your appearance opportunely; run with all speed to Pamphilus.


Why thither?


Say that I entreat him to come.


To your house?


No, to Philumena.


Whatís the matter?


Nothing that concerns you; so cease to make inquiry. [810]


Am I to say nothing else?


Yes; that Myrrhina has recognized that ring

as her daughterís, which he formerly gave me.


I understand.

Is that all?


Thatís all. He will be here directly he has heard this from you.

But do you linger?


Far from it, indeed; for Iíve not had the opportunity given me to-day;

so much with running and walking about have I wasted the whole day. [815]

(Goes into the house of LACHES.)


What great joy have I caused for Pamphilus by my coming to-day!

How many blessings have I brought him! and from how many sorrows have I rescued him!

A son I save for him, when it was nearly perishing through the agency of these women and of himself:

a wife, whom he thought that he must cast off forever, I restore to him:

from the suspicion that he lay under with his father and Phidippus, I have cleared him. [820]

This ring, in fact, was the cause of these discoveries being made.

For I remember, that about ten months ago, at an early hour of night,

he came running home to my house, out of breath, without a companion, and surcharged with wine,

with this ring in his hand. I felt alarmed immediately: ďMy Pamphilus,Ē I said, ďprithee,

my dear, why thus breathless, or where did you get that ring?-tell me!Ē [825]

He began to pretend that he was thinking of something else. When I saw that,

I began to suspect I know not what, and to press him still more to tell me.

The fellow confessed that he had ravished some female, he knew not whom,

in the street; and said, that while she was struggling, he had taken that ring away from her.

Myrrhina here recognized it just now, while I had it on my finger. [830]

She asked whence it came: I told her all the story. Hence the discovery has been made

that it was Philumena ravished by him, and that this new-born child is his.

I am overjoyed that this happiness has befallen him through my agency;

although other courtesans would not have similar feelings; nor, indeed, is it to our interest

that any lover should find pleasure in matrimony. But, by Castor, [835]

I never, for the sake of gain, will give my mind to base actions.

So long as I had the opportunity, I found him to be kind, easy, and good-natured.

This marriage has fallen out unluckily for me,óthat I confess to be the fact.

But, upon my word, I do think that I have done nothing for it to befall me deservedly.

It is but reasonable to endure inconveniences from one from whom I have received so many benefits. [840]

Scene 4

[Enter PAMPHILUS and PARMENO, from the house of LACHES, on the other side of the stage.]


Once more, take care, will you, my dear Parmeno, that you have brought me a faithful and distinct account,

so as not to allure me for a short time to indulge in these transient joys.


I have taken care.


For certain?


For certain.


I am quite a God, if it is so!


Youíll find it true.


Just stay, will you; I fear that Iím believing one thing, and you are telling another.


I am staying.


I think you said to this effectóthat Myrrhina [845]

had discovered that Bacchis has her ring.


It is the fact.


The one I formerly gave to her;

and she has desired you to tell me this: is such the fact?


Such is so, I tell you.


Who is there happier than I, and, in fact, more full of joyousness?

What am I to present you for these tidings? What?ówhat? I know not.


But I know.




Why, nothing; [850]

for neither in the tidings nor in myself do I know of there being any advantage to you.


What! am I to suffer you, who have caused me, when dead, to be restored

from the shades to lifeóto leave me unrewarded? Oh, you deem me too thankless!

But lookóI see Bacchis standing before the door;

sheís waiting for me, I suppose; Iíll accost her.


Save you, Pamphilus! [855]


Oh Bacchis! Oh my Bacchisómy preserver!


It is a fortunate thing, and gives me great delight.


By your actions, you give me reason to believe you,

and so much do you retain your former charming qualities,

that wherever you go, the meeting with you, your company, your conversation,

always give pleasure.


And you, by Castor, possess your former manners and disposition; [860]

so much so that not a single man living is more engaging than you.

PAMPHILUS (laughing.)

Ha, ha, ha! do you tell me so?


You had reason, Pamphilus, for being so fond of your wife.

For never before to-day did I set eyes upon her, so as to know her:

she seems a very gentle person.


Tell the truth.


So may the Gods bless me, Pamphilus!


Tell me, have you as yet told any of these matters to my father?


Not a word.


Nor is there need, in fact; [865]

therefore keep it a secret: I donít wish it to be the case here as it is in the Comedies,

where every thing is known to every body. Here, thoseí who ought to know,

know already; but those who ought not to know, shall neither hear of it nor know it.


Nay more, I will give you a proof why you may suppose that this may be the more easily

concealed. Myrrhina has told Phidippus to this effectóthat she has given credit to my oath, [870]

and that, in consequence, in her eyes you are exculpated.


Most excellent;

and I trust that this matter will turn out according to our wishes.


Master, may I not be allowed to know from you what is the good that I have done to-day,

or what it is you are talking about?


You may not.


Still I suspect.

ďI restore him, when dead, from the shades below.Ē In what way?


You donít know, Parmeno, [875]

how much you have benefited me to-day, and from what troubles you have extricated me.


Nay, but indeed I do know: and I did not do it without design.

PAMPHILUS (ironically)

I know that well enough.


Could Parmeno, from negligence, omit any thing that ought to be done?


Follow me in, Parmeno.


Iíll follow; for my part, I have done more good to-day,

without knowing it, than ever I did, knowingly, in all my life.

(Coming forward.)

Grant us your applause. [880]