Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

LESB. Very good.

PHILTO (aside). Troth, I think our neighbour has sold his house? When his father shall come from abroad, his place is in the beggar's gate”, unless, perchance, he should creep into his son's stomach3.

Stas. There were a thousand Olympic drachmæt paid to the bankers, which you were owing upon account. is introduced, which means “is gone," or " has vanished.” Greek terms were current at Rome, just as French words and sentences are imported into our language; indeed, the fashions of Rome were very generally set by the Greeks.

1 Has sold his house)—Ver. 422. He feels satisfied now that Lysiteles has been correctly informed, and that Lesbonicus really is in difficulties.

2 The beggar's gate)-Ver. 423. He probably alludes to the “Porta Trigemina" at Rome, which was upon the road to Ostia. It received its name from the three twin-born brothers, the Horatii, who passed beneath it when going to fight the Curiatii. This, being one of the largest and most frequented roads in Rome, was especially the resort of mendicants; among whom, in the opinion of Philto, the father of Lesbonicus will have to take his place. Some Commentators would read "ponte” instead of “portâ,” and they think that the allusion is to the Sublician bridge at Rome, where we learn from Seneca and Juvenal that the beggars used to sit and ask alms.

3 His son's stomach)-Ver. 424. He satirically alludes to the reckless conduct of Lesbonicus, who has spent everything to satisfy his love for eating, drinking, and debauchery.

4 Olympic drachmc)- Ver. 425. As already mentioned, the “ drachma” was about ninepence three-farthings in value. As one hundred made a “mina," onefourth of the price received for the house would go to satisfy the banker's claim.

5 To the banker)-Ver. 426. The “ Trapezitæ” were the same as the “ Argentarii” at Rome, who were bankers and money-changers on their own account, while the “Mensarii” transacted business on behalf of the state. Their shops, or offices, were situate around the Forum, and were public property. Their principal business was the exchange of Roman for foreign coin, and the keeping of sums of money

for other persons, which were deposited with or without interest, according to agreement. They acted as agents for the sale of estates, and a part of their duty was to test the genuineness of coin, and, in later times, to circulate it from the mint among the people. Lending money at a profit was also part of their business. It is supposed that among the Romans there was a higher and a lower class of “ gentarii.” The more respectable of them probably held the position of the banker of modern times; while those who did business on a paltry scale, or degraded themselves by usury, were not held in any esteem. Their shops, being public property, were built under the inspection of the Censors, and by them were let to the "argentarii.” “ Trapezitæ,” as they are here called, was properly the Greek name for these persons, who were so styled from the tpaneša, or “table," at which they sat. All will remember the “tables of the money-changers” mentioned in the New Testament. The “mensarii" were employed to lend out the public money to borrowers at interest.

ar

LESB. Those, I suppose, that I was security for ?

I Stas. Say, rather?,“ Those that I paid down"-for that young man whom you used to say was so rich.

LESB. It was so done.
Stas. Yes, just to be squandered away.

LESB. That was done as well. But I saw him in a pitiable state, and I did have pity on him.

Stas. You have pity on others, and you have neither pity nor shame for yourself.

PHIL. (aside). 'Tis time to accost him.

LESB. Is this Philto that is coming here? Troth, 'tis he himself.

Stas. l' faith, I could wish he was my slave, together with his savingst.

PHIL. Philto right heartily wishes health to both master and servant, Lesbonicus and Stasimus.

LESB. May the Gods give you, Philto, whatever you may wish for. How is your son ?

PHIL. He wishes well to you.

LESB. In good sooth, he does for me what I do for him in return! Stas. (aside). That phrase, “He wishes well,” is worth

“ less, unless a person does well too. I, too, “wish” to be a free man; I wish in vain. He, perhaps, might wish to become frugal; he would wish to no purpose.

PAIL. My son has sent me to you to propose an alliance and bond of friendship between himself and your family. He wishes to take your sister for his wife; and I have the same feelings, and I desire it.

1 I was security for)—Ver. 427. "Spondeo,” “I promise,” was a term used on many occasions among the Romans, derived from the Greek otevdouai, " to pour out a libation;" the usual mode of ratifying a treaty. Among others, it was pronounced by a person when he became security that another should repay money, as Lesbonicus, to his misfortune, had done in the present instance.

2 Say, rather)—Ver. 427. Stasimus will not allow his master to mince the matter in the slightest degree. “Don't say 'I was security for it, but I paid it down.""

3 You used to say)—Ver. 428. He probably alludes to some former occasion, on which his master, having been duped into the belief, was telling him of the extraordinary wealth of his new acquaintance.

4 With his savings)—Ver. 434. “Peculium” was the property amassed by a slave out of his savings, which he was permitted to keep as his own. According to the strictness of the law, the “peculium" was the property of the master. Sometimes it was agreed that the slave should purchase his freedom with his “peculium” when it amounted to a certain sum.

LESB. I really don't understand your ways; amid your prosperity you are laughing at my adversity.

PHIL. I am a man?: you are a man. So may Jupiter love me, I have neither come to laugh at you, nor do I think you deserving of it! But as to what I said, my son begged me to ask for your sister as his wife.

LESB. It is right that I should know the state of my own circumstances. My position is not on an equal footing with yours; seek some other alliance for yourselves.

Stas. (to LESBONICUS). Are you really sound in mind or intellect to refuse this proposal ? For I perceive that he has been found for you a very friend in need?.

LESB. Get away hence, and go hang yourself.

Stas. Faith, if I should commence to go, you would be forbidding met

LESB. Unless you want me, Philto, for anything else, I have given you my answer.

PAIL. I trust, Lesbonicus, that you will one day be more obliging to me than I now find you to be. For both to act5 unwisely and to talk unwisely, Lesbonicus, are sometimes neither of them profitable.

1 I am a man)-Ver. 447. This is somewhat like the celebrated line in Terence:

“Homo sum, humani nihil alienum a me puto,” “I am a man, nothing that is human do I think unbecoming to me."

2 Friend in need)-Ver. 456. “Ferentarias.” The “ferentarii ” were the lightarmed troops, who, being unencumbered with heavy armour, were ready to come immediately and opportunely to the assistance of those who were in danger of being overpowered by the army. The word is here used figuratively, to signify "a friend in need."

3 And go hang yourself )-Ver. 457. The word " dierecte” is supposed to come from an obsolete verb, “ dierigo," “ to extend out on both sides," and to allude to a punishment inflicted upon slaves, when they were fastened to a stake in the ground, with the arms and legs extended. Applied to a slave, it would be an opprobrious expression, equivalent to " go and be hanged."

4 Be forbidding me)-Ver. 457. He means, that if he should take his master at his word and go away, he would be the first to stop him.

5 Both to act)—Ver. 461-2. The exact meaning of these lines is somewhat obscure. Thornton's translation is:

Or in word
Or deed to play the trifler would ill suit
One of my years.

Stas. Troth, he says what's true.
LESB. I will tear out your eye

if
you

add one word. Stas. Troth, but I will talk; for if I may not be allowed to do so as I am, then I will submit to be called the one-eyed man?.

PHIL. Do you now say this, that your position and means are not on an equal footing with ours?

LESB. I do say so.

PHIL. Well, suppose, now, you were to come to a building to a public banquet, and a wealthy man by chance were to come there as your neighbour. The banquet is set on table, one that they style a public one. Suppose that dainties were heaped up before him by his dependents, and suppose any, thing pleased you that was so heaped up before him, would you eat, or would you keep your place next to this wealthy man, going without your dinner ?

LESB. I should eat, unless he were to forbid me doing so.

Stas. But I, by my faith, even if he were to forbid me, would eat and cram with both cheeks stuffed out; and what pleased him, that, in especial, would I lay hold of beforehand; nor would I yield to him one jot of my very existence. At table it befits no one to be bashful; for there the decision is about things both divine and human.

1 The one-eyed man)—Ver. 465. He means that he is determined to speak out at all risks, even if his master should be as good as his word, and tear his eye out.

2 As your neighbour)-Ver. 469. “Par" here means a close neighbour, as reclining next to him on the same "triclinium," or "couch," at the entertainment.

s Style a public one)—Ver. 470. It is not certain what kind of public banquets are here referred to. Public entertainments were given to the people on the occasion of any public rejoicing: such, for instance, as a triumph, as we learn from Suetonius in his life of Julius Cæsar. They were also given when the tenths were paid to Hercules. The clients, also, of the Patricians were in the habit of giving entertainments to their patrons on festival days, when each client contributed his sbare in kind; and numerous invitations were given, abundance and hospitality being the order of the day. Sometimes these feasts were held in a temple, and perhaps they are here referred to. There were also frequent entertainments in the “Curiæ,” or “ Court-houses” of Rome, at which the “curiales," or men of the “curia,” or “ward,” met together.

4 There the decision)—Ver. 479. Scaliger supposes th Stasimus is making a parody on the transaction of business by the Senate, who were said " to give their decisions on matters sacred and human;" and that he means to say that the feast is his Senate-house, and the food are the things sacred and human which he is bound to discuss, without respect for anybody.

[ocr errors]

2

PHIL. You

say

what is the fact. Stas. I will tell you without any subterfuge: I would make place for him on the highway, on the footpath, in the canvass for public honors; but as to what concerns the stomach—by my troth, not this much (shows the breadth of his finger-nail), unless he should first have thrashed me with his fists. With provisions at the present prices, a feast is a fortune without incumbrances1.

PHIL. Always, Lesbonicus, do you take care and think this, that that is the best, according as you yourself are the most deserving: if that you cannot attain to, at least be as near as possible to the most deserving. And now, Lesboni- . cus, I wish you to grant and accept these terms which I propose, and which I ask of you. The Gods are rich; wealth and station befit the Gods: but we poor mortal beings are, as it were, the salt-cellar? for the salt of life. The moment that we have breathed forth this, the beggar is held of equal value at Acheron with the most wealthy man when dead. Stas. (aside). It will be a wonder if

you
don't

carry your riches there with you. When you are dead, you may, perhaps,

. be as good as your name imports 4.

PHIL. Now, that you may understand that position and i Without incumbrances)-Ver. 484. Every Roman family of consequence was bound to perform particular sacrifices, which were not only ordained by the pontifical laws, but the obligation was also rendered hereditary by the civil law, and ordered to be observed by the law of the Twelve Tables: “Sacra privata perpetua manento,”

," " Let private sacrifices remain perpetual.” This law is quoted and commented upon by Cicero in his Second Book on the Laws. He there tells us that “heirs are obliged to continue their sacrifices, be they ever so expensive; and for this reason, as by the above law these sacrifices were to be maintained, no one was presumed to be better able to supply the place of the deceased person than his heir.” A property exempt from this necessity, might be truly said to be one without incumbrances.

? The salt-cellar)—Ver. 492. By this expression, Plautus seems to mean that life is to the body as salt is to flesh; it preserves it from corruption.

3 At Acheron)-Ver. 494. Acheron was a river of the Brutii in Campania. There was another river of this name in Epirus. The word usually denotes one of the rivers of Hell; here it means the Infernal regions themselves.

* As your name imports)—Ver. 496. The meaning of Stasimas is"Perhaps when you are dead, in leaving your property to another, you may really prove yourself the amiable man your name would bespeak you to be;" Philto being derived from the Greek diéw, “to love."

« ZurückWeiter »