Play by Terence ~ Ludi Megalenses 2761 AUC (Nova Roma)/Act I

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Act I: Andria by P. Terentius Afer


(Enter SIMO and SOSIA, followed by SERVANTS carrying provisions.)

SIMO (to the Servants.) Do you carry those things away in-doors; begone. (Beckoning to SOSIA) Sosia, just step here; I want a few words with you.

SOSIA Consider it as said; that these things are to be taken care of, I suppose.

SIMO No, it's another matter.

SOSIA What is there that my ability can effect for you more than this?

SIMO There's no need of that ability in the matter which I have in hand; but of those qualities which I have ever known as existing in you, fidelity and secrecy.

SOSIA I await your will.

SIMO Since I purchased you, you know that, from a little child, your servitude with me has always been easy and light. From a slave I made you my freedman ; for this reason, because you served me with readiness. The greatest recompense that I possessed, I bestowed upon you.

SOSIA I bear it in mind.

SIMO I am not changed.

SOSIA If I have done or am doing aught that is pleasing to you, Simo, I am glad that it has been done; and that the same has been gratifying to you, I consider sufficient thanks. But this is a cause of uneasiness to me; for the recital is, as it were, a censure to one forgetful of a kindness. But tell me, in one word, what it is that you want with me.

SIMO I'll do so. In the first place, in this affair I give you notice: this, which you suppose to be such, is not a real marriage.

SOSIA Why do you pretend it then?

SIMO You shall hear all the matter from the beginning; by that means you'll be acquainted with both my son's mode of life and my own design, and what I want you to do in this affair. For after he had passed youthfulness, Sosia, and had obtained free scope of living, (for before, how could you know or understand his disposition, while youthful age, fear, and a master were checking him ?)

SOSIA That's true.

SIMO What all young men, for the most part, do, devote their attention to some particular pursuit, either to training horses or dogs for hunting, or to the philosophers; in not one of these did he engage in particular beyond the rest, and yet in all of them in a moderate degree. I was pleased.

SOSIA Not without reason; for this I deem in life to be especially advantageous; that one do nothing to excess.

SIMO Such was his mode of life; readily to bear and to comply with all; with whomsoever he was in company, to them to resign himself; to devote himself to their pursuits; at variance with no one; never preferring himself to them. Thus most readily you may acquire praise without envy, and gain friends.

SOSIA He has wisely laid down his rule of life; for in these days obsequiousness begets friends; sincerity, dislike.

SIMO Meanwhile, three years ago, a certain woman from Andros removed hither into this neighborhood, driven by poverty and the neglect of her relations, of surpassing beauty and in the bloom of youth.

SOSIA Ah! I'm afraid that this Andrian will bring some mischief.

SIMO At first, in a modest way, she passed her life with thriftiness and in hardship, seeking a livelihood with her wool and loom. But after an admirer made advances, promising her a recompense, first one and then another; as the disposition of all mankind has a downward tendency from industry toward pleasure, she accepted their proposals, and then began to trade upon her beauty. Those who then were her admirers, by chance, as it often happens, took my son thither that he might be in their company. Forthwith I said to myself, " He is surely caught; he is smitten." In the morning I used to observe their servant-boys coming or going away; I used to make inquiry, "Here, my lad, tell me, will you, who had Chrysis yesterday?" for that was the name of the Andrian (touching SOSIA on the arm) .

SOSIA I understand.

SIMO Phaedrus, or Clinias, or Niceratus, they used to say; for these three then loved her at the same time. "Well now, what did Pamphilus do?" "What ? He gave his contribution; he took part in the dinner." Just so on another day I made inquiry, but I discovered nothing whatever that affected Pamphilus. In fact, I thought him sufficiently proved, and a great pattern of continence; for he who is brought into contact with dispositions of that sort, and his feelings are not aroused even under such circumstances, you may be sure that he is already capable of undertaking the governance of his own life. This pleased me, and every body with one voice began to say all kinds of flattering things, and to extol my good fortune, in having a son endowed with such a disposition. What need is there of talking? Chremes, influenced by this report, came to me of his own accord, to offer his only daughter as a wife to my son, with a very large portion. It pleased me; I betrothed him; this was the day appointed for the nuptials.

SOSIA What then stands in the way? Why should they not take place ?

SIMO You shall hear. In about a few days after these things had been agreed on, Chrysis, this neighbor, dies.

SOSIA Bravo! You've made me happy. I was afraid for him on account of Chrysis.

SIMO Then my son was often there, with those who had admired Chrysis; with them he took charge of the funeral; sorrowful, in the mean time, he sometimes wept with them in condolence. Then that pleased me. Thus I reflected: "He by reason of this slight intimacy takes her death so much to heart; what if he himself had wooed her? What will he do for me his father?" All these things I took to be the duties of a humane disposition and of tender feelings. Why do I detain you with many words? Even I myself, for his sake, went forth to the funeral, as yet suspecting no harm.

SOSIA Ha! what is this?

SIMO You shall know. She is brought out; we proceed. In the mean time, among the females who were there present, I saw by chance one young woman of beauteous form.

SOSIA Very likely.

SIMO And of countenance, Sosia, so modest, so charming, that nothing could surpass. As she appeared to me to lament beyond the rest, and as she was of a figure handsome and genteel beyond the other women, I approached the female attendants ; I inquired who she was. They said that she was the sister of Chrysis. It instantly struck my mind: "Ay, ay, this is it; hence those tears, hence that sympathy."

SOSIA How I dread what you are coming to !

SIMO The funeral procession meanwhile advances; we follow; we come to the burying-place. She is placed upon the pile; they weep. In the mean time, this sister, whom I mentioned, approached the flames too incautiously, with considerable danger. There, at that moment, Pamphilus, in his extreme alarm, discovers his well-dissembled and long-hidden passion; he runs up, clasps the damsel by the waist. "My Glycerium," says he, "what are you doing? Why are you going to destroy yourself?" Then she, so that you might easily recognize their habitual attachment, weeping, threw herself back upon him--how affectionately !

SOSIA What do you say?

SIMO I returned thence in anger, and hurt at heart: and yet there was not sufficient ground for reproving him. He might say; " What have I done? How have I deserved this, or offended, father ? She who wished to throw herself into the flames, I prevented; I saved her." The defense is a reasonable one.

SOSIA You judge aright; for if you censure him who has assisted to preserve life, what are you to do to him who causes loss or misfortune to it?

SIMO Chremes comes to me next day, exclaiming: "Disgraceful conduct!"--that he had ascertained that Pamphilus was keeping this foreign woman as a wife. I steadfastly denied that to be the fact. He insisted that it was the fact. In short, I then left him refusing to bestow his daughter.

SOSIA Did not you then reprove your son?

SIMO Not even this was a cause sufficiently strong for censuring him.

SOSIA How so? Tell me.

SIMO " You yourself, father," he might say, "have prescribed a limit to these proceedings. The time is near, when I must live according to the humor of another; meanwhile, for the present allow me to live according to my own."

SOSIA What room for reproving him, then, is there left?

SIMO If on account of his amour he shall decline to take a wife, that, in the first place, is an offense on his part to be censured. And now for this am I using my endeavors, that, by means of the pretended marriage, there may be real ground for rebuking him, if lie should refuse; at the same time, that if that rascal Davus has any scheme, he may exhaust it now, while his knaveries can do no harm: who, I do believe, with hands, feet, and all his might, will do every thing; and more for this, no doubt, that he may do me an ill turn, than to oblige my son.

SOSIA For what reason ?

SIMO Do you ask? Bad heart, bad disposition. Whom, however, if I do detect ---- But what need is there of talking? If it should turn out, as I wish, that there is no delay on the part of Pamphilus, Chremes remains to be prevailed upon by me; and I do hope that all will go well. Now it's your duty to pretend these nuptials cleverly, to terrify Davus; and watch my son, what he's about, what schemes he is planning with him.

SOSIA 'Tis enough; I'll take care; now let's go in-doors.

SIMO You go first; I'll follow. (SOSIA goes into the house of SIMO.)

SIMO (to himself.) There's no doubt but that my son doesn't wish for a wife; so alarmed did I perceive Davus to be just now, when he heard that there was going to be a marriage. But the very man is coming out of the house. (Stands aside.)

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