Nunc quid petam mea causa aequo animo attendite.
Hecyram ad vos refero, quam mihi per silentium
numquam agere licitumst; ita eam oppressit calamitas.
eam calamitatem vostra intellegentia
sedabit, si erit adiutrix nostrae industriae.
quom primum eam agere coepi, pugilum gloria
(funambuli eodem accessit exspectatio),
comitum conventus, strepitus, clamor mulierum
fecere ut ante tempus exirem foras.
vetere in nova coepi uti consuetudine
in experiundo ut essem; refero denuo.
primo actu placeo; quom interea rumor venit
datum iri gladiatores, populus convolat,
tumultuantur, clamant, pugnant de loco.
ego interea meum non potui tutari locum.
nunc turba nulla est: otium et silentiumst:
agendi tempus mihi datumst; vobis datur
potestas condecorandi ludos scaenicos.
nolite sinere per vos artem musicam
recidere ad paucos: facite ut vostra auctoritas
meae auctoritati fautrix adiutrixque sit.
si numquam avare pretium statui arti meae
et eum esse quaestum in animum induxi maxumum
quam maxume servire vostris commodis,
sinite impetrare me, qui in tutelam meam
studium suom et se in vostram commisit fidem,
ne eum circumventum inique iniqui irrideant.
mea causa causam accipite et date silentium,
ut lubeat scribere aliis mihique ut discere
novas expediat posthac pretio emptas meo.
(Terence, Hecyra 28-57)
Now for my sake listen to my request with open minds. I am presenting “The Mother-in-Law” to you again, which I have never been allowed to play in silence; it has been so dogged by disaster. But your good sense, allied to my efforts, can mitigate the disaster. The first time I tried to perform the play, I was forced off the stage early; there was talk of boxers—and added to that a promise of a tightrope walker—crowds of supporters, general uproar, and women screaming. I decided to use my old practice on this new play and continue the experiment: I put it on a second time. The first act went well. But then a rumour arose that there was going to be a gladiatorial show: crowds rushed in, with much confusion, shouting, and fighting for places, and in these circumstances I couldn’t preserve my place. Now there is no disturbance; all is peace and quiet. I have the chance to perform the play, and you the opportunity to add lustre to the dramatic festivals. Do not allow the dramatic art to fall into the hands of a few through your negligence. Make sure that your influence aids and abets my influence. I have never priced my art on the basis of greed; I have adopted the principle that the greatest reward for me is to serve your interests the best. So let me prevail on you not to allow an author who has entrusted his career to my keeping and himself to your protection to be cheated and unfairly derided by unfair critics. For my sake listen to my plea and grant me silence, so that other authors may be encouraged to write and it may be worth my while in the future to put on new plays bought at my own expense. (tr. John Barsby)
[PHO.] Itane patris ais conspectum veritum hinc abiisse?
[PHO.] Phanium relictam solam?
[PHO.] et iratum senem?
[PHO.] ad te summam solum, Phormio, rerum redit.
tute hoc intristi, tibi omnest exedendum: accingere.
[GET.] obsecro te—
[PHO.] si rogabit—
[GET.] in te spes est.
quid si reddet—?
[GET.] tu impulisti.
[PHO.] sic opinor.
[PHO.] cedo senem. iam instructa sunt mi in corde consilia omnia.
[GET.] quid ages?
[PHO.] quid vis, nisi uti maneat Phanium atque ex crimine hoc
Antiphonem eripiam atque in me omnem iram derivem senis?
[GET.] o vir fortis atque amicus! verum hoc saepe, Phormio,
vereor, ne istaec fortitudo in nervom erumpat denique.
[Terentius, Phormio 315-325]
[PHO.] Do you say he ran away in fear of facing his father?
[PHO.] Leaving Phanium alone?
[PHO.] And the old man furious?
[PHO.] (to himself) The whole thing’s back in your hands, Phormio. You got them into this mess, you must get them out of it*. Gird yourself for action.
[GET.] I implore you—
[PHO.] (to himself) If he asks—
[GET.] Our hope lies in you.
[PHO.] (to himself) Look, what if he replies—?
[GET.] It was you who pushed him into it.
[PHO.] (to himself) That’s it, I think.
[GET.] Help us.
[PHO.] Bring on the old man. All my plans are now drawn up in my mind.
[GET.] What are you going to do?
[PHO.] What do you want, other than that Phanium stays, I rescue Antipho from the charges against him, and I divert all the old man’s anger on to myself?
[GET.] What a brave man you are and a true friend! But I often worry, Phormio, that this bravery of yours will land you in jail.
* Literally, “you cooked this, you must eat it up,” a proverbial expression that, as Donatus points out, is especially suitable for parasites.
(tr. John Barsby, with his note)
[DEM.] Nostrapte culpa facinus ut malis expediat esse,
dum nimium dici nos bonos studemus et benignos.
ita fugias ne praeter casam, quod aiunt. nonne id sat erat
accipere ab illo iniuriam? etiam argentumst ultro obiectum,
ut sit qui vivat dum aliud aliquid flagiti conficiat.
[DEM.] eis nunc praemiumst qui recta prava faciunt.
[DEM.] ut stultissume quidem illi rem gesserimus.
(Terence, Phormio 766-772)
[DEM.] We’ve only ourselves to blame if dishonesty pays, while we’re so keen to maintain a reputation for honesty and kindness. When on the run, make for home, as the saying goes. Wasn’t it enough for us to be tricked by this fellow, without throwing him money as well to live on until his next outrageous scheme?
[DEM.] These days the prize goes to those who turn right into wrong.
[DEM.] We’ve been absolute fools in the way we’ve handled this business.
(tr. John Barsby)
CHR. At ego illi neque do neque despondeo.
SYR. non? quam ob rem?
CHR. quam ob rem? me rogas? homini—
SYR. ut lubet.
non ego dicebam in perpetuom ut illam illi dares,
verum ut simulares.
CHR. non meast simulatio:
ita tu istaec tua misceto, ne me admisceas.
egon quoi daturus non sum, ut ei despondeam?
SYR. scite poterat fieri;
et ego hoc, quia dudum tu tanto opere suaseras
SYR. ceterum equidem istuc, Chremes,
aequi bonique facio.
CHR. atqui quam maxume
volo te dare operam ut fiat, verum alia via.
SYR. fiat, quaeratur aliquid. sed illud quod tibi
dixi de argento quod ista debet Bacchidi,
id nunc reddendumst illi: neque tu scilicet
illuc confugies: “quid mea? num mihi datumst?
num iussi? num illa oppignerare filiam
meam me invito potuit?” verum illud, Chremes,
dicunt: “ius summum saepe summast malitia.
CHR. haud faciam.
(Terence, Heaut. 779-797)
CHR. But I won’t marry her to him! I won’t engage her to
SYR. Won’t you? Why not?
CHR. Why not?! Are you asking me that? A man who—
SYR. (interrupting) As you like. I wasn’t saying that you should give her to him permanently, but that you should pretend.
CHR. It’s not my style to pretend: you cook up those schemes of yours without mixing me up in them! Me engage her to a man I’m not going to marry her to?!
SYR. I thought you would.
CHR. Certainly not!
SYR. It could have been done cleverly; and the only reason I embarked on this was because you’d urged me earlier so insistently.
CHR. I believe you.
SYR. But that really doesn’t bother me in the slightest, Chremes.
CHR. But I do want you to work as hard as you can to make it happen, only some other way!
SYR. All right, let me think of something.—But do you remember what I told you about the money that the girl owes Bacchis? That’s got to be paid over to her now. And I’m sure you won’t fall back on saying ‘What’s it got to do with me? It wasn’t given to me, was it? Was it on my orders? Could she offer my daughter as security without my consent?’ It’s true what they say, Chremes: the highest legalism is often the lowest cunning.
CHR. I won’t do that!
(tr. Peter Brown)
MEN. Chreme, tantumne ab re tuast oti tibi
aliena ut cures ea quae nil ad te attinent?
CHR. homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto.
vel me monere hoc vel percontari puta:
rectumst ego ut faciam; non est te ut deterream.
MEN. mihi sic est usus; tibi ut opus factost face.
CHR. an quoiquamst usus homini se ut cruciet?
CHR. si quid laborist nollem. sed quid istuc malist?
quaeso, quid de te tantum meruisti?
CHR. ne lacruma atque istuc, quidquid est, fac me ut sciam:
ne retice, ne verere, crede inquam mihi:
aut consolando aut consilio aut re iuvero.
MEN. scire hoc vis?
CHR. hac quidem causa qua dixi tibi.
CHR. at istos rastros interea tamen
adpone, ne labora.
CHR. quam rem agis?
MEN. sine me vocivom tempus nequod dem mihi
CHR. non sinam, inquam.
MEN. ah! non aequom facis.
CHR. hui! tam gravis hos, quaeso?
MEN. sic meritumst meum.
CHR. nunc loquere.
MEN. filium unicum adulescentulum
habeo. ah! quid dixi? habere me? immo habui, Chremes;
nunc habeam necne incertumst.
CHR. quid ita istuc?
(Terence, Heaut. 76-96)
MEN. Chremes, have you got so much time to spare from your own work that you interest yourself in other people’s affairs when they don’t concern you at all?
CHR. I’m a man; I don’t regard any man’s affairs as not concerning me. You should regard me either as offering advice or as seeking enlightenment: if it’s right, I want to do it myself; if it isn’t, I want to discourage you.
MEN. This is how I have to behave; you can behave as you need to.
CHR. Does anyone have to torment himself?
MEN. I do.
CHR. If there’s some trouble, I’m sorry. But what’s the matter with you? Tell me, what have you done to earn so much punishment at your own hands?
MEN. (bursting into tears) Oh dear!
CHR. Stop crying! Tell me about it, whatever it is. Don’t keep it to yourself! Don’t feel ashamed; trust me, I tell you. I’ll help you, whether with consolation or advice or money.
MEN. Do you want to know about it?
CHR. Yes, for the reason I’ve given you.
MEN. (finally agreeing) I’ll tell you.
CHR. But meanwhile put your mattock down; you don’t have to tire yourself out. (Moves to take it from him)
MEN. (backing away) Certainly not!
CHR. What are you playing at?
MEN. Let me be! I don’t want to give myself a moment’s rest from hardship!
CHR. (taking the mattock from him) I won’t let you, I tell you!
MEN. Hey, that’s not fair!
CHR. (surprised at its weight) What! Such a heavy one?
MEN. That’s what I deserve.
CHR. (after putting it down on the ground) Now speak.
MEN. (starting on his story) I have one son, a young lad.— But why did I say I have a son? I had one, Chremes; now I don’t know whether I have one or not!
CHR. What do you mean by that?
MEN. I’ll tell you.
(tr. Peter Brown)
LACH. Pro deum atque hominum fidem, quod hoc genus est, quae haec est coniuratio!
utin omnes mulieres eadem aeque studeant nolintque omnia
neque declinatam quicquam ab aliarum ingenio ullam reperias!
itaque adeo uno animo omnes socrus oderunt nurus.
viris esse advorsas aeque studiumst, similis pertinaciast,
in eodemque omnes mihi videntur ludo doctae ad malitiam. et
ei ludo, si ullus est, magistram hanc esse satis certo scio.
(Terence, Hecyra 198-204)
LACH. In the name of gods and men, what a breed they are, what a gang of conspirators! All women have identical likes and dislikes about everything! You can’t find a single one whose character differs in any respect from the others! In particular, all mothers-in-law with one accord hate their daughters-in-law; and they’re all just as keen to oppose their husbands and just as determined. I reckon that they’ve all been schooled to wickedness in the same school, and I’m quite sure that, if there is such a school, (pointing to Sostrata) she’s the headmistress. (tr. John Barsby)