Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

MEG. Have you any friend or intimate acquaintance whose judgment is correct ? Call. Troth, I'll tell you without reserve.

There are some whom I know to be friends; there are some whom I suspect to be so, but whose dispositions and feelings I am unable to discover, whether they incline to the side of a friend or an enemy; but of my assured friends, you are the most assured. If you know that I have done anything unwittingly or wrongfully, and if you do not accuse me of it, then you yourself will be to blame.

MEG. I know it; and if I had come hither to you for any other purpose, you request what is right.

Call. If you have anything to say, I am waiting for it.

MEG. Then, first of all, you are badly spoken of in general conversation by the public. Your fellow-citizens are calling you greedy of grovelling gain?; and then, again, there are others who nickname you a vulture, and say

that

you care but little whether you devour enemies or fellow-citizens. Since I have heard these things said against you, I have, to my misery, been sadly agitated.

Call. It is, and it is not, in my power, Megaronides : as to their saying this, that is not in my power ; as to their saying this deservedly, that is in my power.

MEG. Was this Charmides a friend of yours? (He points to the house of CHARMIDES.)

CALL. He both is and he was. That you may believe it to be so, I will tell you à circumstance as

proof. For after this son of his had squandered away his fortune, and he saw himself being reduced to poverty, and that his daughter was grown up a young woman, and that she who was both her mother and his own wife was dead; as he himself was about to go hence to Seleucia', he committed to my

Greedy of grovelling gain)-Ver. 100. Plautus makes this into one word, “ turpilucricupidum.” Probably it was used as a nickname for avaricious persons. It is here attempted to be expressed by an alliteration. Thornton renders it “ Gripeall.”

2 A vulture)-Ver. 101. Both on account of the sordid and greedy habits of that bird, and because, as is stated in the next line, it cares not which side supplies its maw when it follows the course of contending armies.

3 Hence to Seleucia)—Ver. 112. There were several cities of this name. The one in Syria, a maritime city on the Orontes, near Antioch, is probably here referred to.

1

charge the maiden bis daughter, and all his property, and that profligate son. These, I think, he would not have entrusted to me if he had been unfriendly to me.

MEG. What say you as to the young man, who you see to be thus profligate, and who has been entrusted to your care and confidence? Why do you not reform · him ? Why do you not train him to frugal habits ? It would have been somewhat more just for you to give attention to that matter, if you could have somehow made him a better man, and not for you yourself to be a party to the same disreputable conduct, and share your dishonour with his disgrace?

CALL. What have I done?
MEG. That which a bad man would do.
CALL. That is no name of mine.

MEG. Have you not bought this house from that young man ? (A pause.) Why are you silent? This, where you yourself are now living. (He points to the house of CHARMIDES.)

CALL. I did buy it, and I gave the money for it,-forty minæ, to the young man himself, into his own hand. MEG. You gave

do

you say? CALL. 'Twas done; and I am not sorry 'twas done.

MEG. I' faith -a young man committed to untrusty keeping. Have you not by these means given him a sword with which to slay himself? For, prithee, what else is it, your giving ready money to a young man who loves women, and weak in intellect, with which to complete his edifice of folly which he had already commenced ?

CALL. Ought I not to have paid him the money ?

MEG. You ought not to have paid him; nor ought you either to have bought anything of or sold anything to him; nor should you have provided him with the means of becoming worse. Have you not taken in the person who was entrusted to you

u ? Have

you

not driven out of his house the man who entrusted him to you? By my faith, a pretty

the money,

Forty mince)-Ver. 126. Unless he adds the adject “aurea," "golden," Plantas always means silver “minæ.” The “mina" was the sixtieth part of the Attic talert, and contained one hundred“ drachmæ," of about ninepence threefarthings each.

trust, and a faithful guardianship! Leave him to take care of himself; he would manage his own affairs much better.

CALL. You overpower me, Megaronides, with your accusations, in a manner so strange, that what was privately entrusted to my secrecy, fidelity, and constancy, for me to tell it to no one, nor make it public, the same I am now compelled to entrust to you.

MEG. Whatever you shall entrust to me, you shall take up the same where

you

have laid it down. CALL. Look round you, then, that no overlooker may

be near us (MEGARONIDES looks on every side); and look around every now and then, I beg of you.

MEG. I am listening if you have aught to say. CALL. If you will be silent, I will speak. At the time when Charmides set out hence for foreign parts, he showed me a treasure in this house, here in a certain closet- (He starts as if he hears a noise.) But do look around.

MEG. There is no one.

CALL. Of Philippean pieces to the number of three thousand. Alone with myself, in tears, he entreated me, by our friendship and by my honour, not to entrust this to his son, nor yet to any one, from whom that might come to his knowledge. Now, if he comes back hither safe, I will restore to him his own. But if anything should happen to him, at all events I have a stock from which to give a marriageportion to his daughter, who has been entrusted to me, that I may settle her in a condition of life that befits her.

MEG. O ye immortal gods! how soon, in a few words, you have made another man of me; I came to you quite a different person. But, as you have begun, proceed further to inform me.

CALL. What shall I tell you? How that this worthless fellow had almost utterly ruined his caution and my own trustiness and all the secret.

MEG. How so?

CALL. Because, while I was in the country for only six days, in my absence and without my knowledge, without

1 Of Philippean pieces)—Ver. 152. These were gold coins much in circulation throughout Greece, struck by Philip, King of Macedon.

consulting me, he advertised with billsl this house for sale.

MEG. The wolf hungered the more, and opened his mouth the wider; he watched till 2 the dog went to sleep; and intended to carry off the whole entire flock.

Call. I' faith, he would have done it, if the dog had not perceived this in time. But now, in my turn, I wish to ask you this : let me know what it was my duty for me to do. Whether was it right for me to discover the treasure to him, against which very thing his father had cautioned me, or should I have permitted another person to become the owner of this house ? Ought that money to have belonged to him who bought the house? In preference, I myself bought the house; I gave the money for the sake of the treasure, that I might deliver it safe to my friend. I have not, then, bought this house either for myself or for my own use ; for Charmides have I bought it back again; from my own store have I paid the money. This, whether it has been done rightfully or wrongfully, I own, Megaronides, that I have done. Here, then, are my misdeeds ; here, then, is my avarice. Is it for these things that they spread false reports against me ?

MEG. Stay—you have overcome your corrector. You have tied

my tongue; there is nothing for me to say in answer. CALL. Now I entreat you to aid me with your assistance and counsel, and to share this duty of mine in common with

me.

MEG. I promise you my assistance.
Call. Where, then, will you be a short time hence ?
MEG. At home.
CALL. Do you wish anything else?
MEG. Attend to the trust reposed in you.
CALL. That is being carefully done.
MEG. But how say you-

?

Advertised with bills)—Ver. 168. The method among the Romans of letting, or selling houses, was similar to ours. A bill was fixed upon the house, or some conspicuous place near it, inscribed with“ Ædes locandæ,” “ This house to be let,” or “ Ædes vendundæ, " “ This house for sale."

2 He watched till)—Ver. 170. He alludes to the conduct of Lesbonicus, who watched for the absence of his guardian, Callicles, that he might sell the house. This he would attempt to do, probably, on the plea that his father, not having been heard of for a long time, must be presumed to be dead, and the house has consequently descended to him, as his heir.

CALL. What do you want ?
MEG. Where is the young man living now?

CALL. This back part1 of the building he retained when he sold the house.

MEG. That I wanted to know. Now, then, go at once. But what say you, where is the damsel now? She is at your house, I suppose ?

CALL. She is so; I take care of her almost as much as of my own daughter. MEG. You act properly.

CALL. Before I go away, are you going to ask me anything else?

MEG. Farewell. (Exit CALLICLES.) Really, there is nothing more foolish or more stupid, nothing more lying or indeed more tattling, more self-conceited or more forsworn, than those men of this city everlastingly gossiping about, whom they call Busy bodies. And thus have I enlisted myself in their ranks together with them ; who have been the swallower of the false tales of those who pretend that they know everything, and yet know nothing. They know, forsooth, what each person either has in his mind, or is likely to have; they know what the king whispered in the ear of the queen; they know what Juno talked about in conversation with Jupiter ; that which neither is nor is likely to be, do these fellows know. Whether they praise or dispraise any one they please, falsely or truly, they care not a straw, so they know that which they

1 The back part)-Ver. 194. “Posticulum" probably means detached buildings at the back of the house, and within the garden walls, which adjoin the " posticum” or “ posticula,” the “back door" or garden-gate."

2 Call Busybodies)-Ver. 202. The word “Scurra,” which is here rendered "busybody," originally meant "a fellow-townsman,” well to do in life, and a pleasant companion. In time, however, the word came to have a bad signification attached to it, and to mean an idle fellow, who did nothing but go about cracking his jokes at the expense of others, gossiping, and mischief-making, and at last to signify " a clown,” “ buffoon,” or “mimic” on the stage. These men are most probably termed here“ assidui,”“ everlasting gossipers," from a habit which many people have of making frequent calls on their neighbours, sitting down, and never thinking of taking their departure till they have exhausted all their stock of evilspeaking, lying, and slandering. Gossiping was notoriously the propensity of the Athenians. Numbers did nothing but saunter about the city, and go from spot to spot, with the question ti kaiVOÜ, “Any news ?” Few will fail to remember the censure of them in the Seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, v. 21: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing."

« ZurückWeiter »