BIOGRAFIE: Menander (griechisch Μένανδρος Ménandros, latinisiert und deutsch Menander; * 342/341 v. Chr. in Kephisia; † 291/290 v. Chr.) war ein griechischer Komödiendichter.
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AKTUELLE PREMIEREN: 

 

''In großen Teilen erhaltene Werke'''
 

 

'''Bruchstücke und verlorene Werke'''
 

  • * Andria
    * Dis Exapaton
    * Encheiridion
    * Georgos (Der Bauer)
    * Heros (Der Halbgott)
    * Hypobolimaios
    * Iereia (Die Priesterin)
    * Kolax (Der Schmeichler)
    * Leukadia
    * Misoumenos (Der Mann, den sie hasste)
    * Phasma (Das Gespenst)
    * Plokion
    * Philadelphoi
    * Pseudherakles
    * Synaristosai (Frauen beim Mittag)
    * Thais
    * Theophoroumene
    * Trophonios

     

EPITREPONTES
THE PLAY

THE ARBITRATION

                         The _Epitrepontes_ of Menander

                         THE FRAGMENTS TRANSLATED AND
                            THE GAPS CONJECTURALLY
                                  FILLED IN

                                     BY

                             GILBERT MURRAY, O.M.

                     FORMERLY REGIUS PROFESSOR OF GREEK
                        IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD


                                  _London_
                          GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD

 


                          FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1945

       CHARACTERS


CHARISIUS, _a Young Athenian_

PAMPHILÊ, _Wife to Charisius_

ONÊSIMUS, _Personal Servant to Charisius_

SMÎCRINÊS, _Father to Pamphilê_

SÔPHRONÊ, _Nurse to Pamphilê_

CHAERESTRATUS, _Next-door-Neighbour to Charisius_

SÎMIAS, _Older Friend to Chaerestratus_

HABROTONON, _or, for short_,

HABRO, _Harp-player at Chaerestratus's House_

CÂRION, _Cook at Chaerestratus's House_

SYRISCUS, _a Charcoal-burner_

DÂVUS, _a Shepherd_

CALLISTO, _an Arcadian nymph transformed into a Bear by Artemis_


_An old Duenna in charge of_ HABROTONON, _Guests at House of_
    CHAERESTRATUS, SYRISCUS'S _Wife and a Baby_.


[THE SCENE _is the country near Athens. A tree in the foreground; the
    House of_ CHARISIUS (_A_) _back Left, that of_ CHAERESTRATUS
    (_B_) _back Right_.]

       CHARACTERS


CHARISIUS, _a Young Athenian_

PAMPHILÊ, _Wife to Charisius_

ONÊSIMUS, _Personal Servant to Charisius_

SMÎCRINÊS, _Father to Pamphilê_

SÔPHRONÊ, _Nurse to Pamphilê_

CHAERESTRATUS, _Next-door-Neighbour to Charisius_

SÎMIAS, _Older Friend to Chaerestratus_

HABROTONON, _or, for short_,

HABRO, _Harp-player at Chaerestratus's House_

CÂRION, _Cook at Chaerestratus's House_

SYRISCUS, _a Charcoal-burner_

DÂVUS, _a Shepherd_

CALLISTO, _an Arcadian nymph transformed into a Bear by Artemis_


_An old Duenna in charge of_ HABROTONON, _Guests at House of_
    CHAERESTRATUS, SYRISCUS'S _Wife and a Baby_.


[THE SCENE _is the country near Athens. A tree in the foreground; the
    House of_ CHARISIUS (_A_) _back Left, that of_ CHAERESTRATUS
    (_B_) _back Right_.]

    ACT I


CÂRION, _the Cook, with_ ONÊSIMUS.

                              CÂRION

The man who entertains this dancing girl,
Only just married, isn't he? That's odd.

                             ONÊSIMUS

Yes, not so long. Five months and thirteen days.

                              CÂRION

A daughter of old Smîcrinês, they say?
Young and attractive, eh?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                         Well, that depends
On taste. But yes, no doubt she has been admired,
Not only by her husband.

                              CÂRION

                         Eh? Who else?
Tell me.

                             ONÊSIMUS

        I can't. I've absolutely sworn
To keep the whole thing secret.

                              CÂRION

                                Yes, quite right.
That's what I always do; swear secrecy,
And then, to show you know what "secret" means,
Tell them another secret of your own.
There's hardly a house I cook for, where I don't
Worm out the family troubles. For my art's sake
I must. Unless I know their state of mind
How can I give my clients what they want?
Come, out with it! I've got these innocents' dinner
All planned. I'm quite free.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Well, in confidence,
I don't mind telling you.

                              CÂRION

                          I'll pay you back,
Trust me, with scandals quite as rich as yours.
All knowledge comes in useful.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               In my case
It certainly has. You see, I found it out
Two weeks back, while the master was away
At Ephesus. No one in the house but me
Knows anything. . . . Ah, there's old Sôphronê,
Her nurse.
    [_Enter_ SÔPHRONÊ, _walking slowly_.
           She must be in it. But she can't
Do much. And we've forbidden her to hold
Any communication with her mistress.
    [SÔPHRONÊ _stops; touches her eyes with her fingers;
        then hitches her cloak up by lifting her right
        arm in the air_.
Well, Sôphronê, who are you looking for?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

The master. Has he come yet?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Smîcrinês?
No. You be off! You know the rule. No message.
No mischief.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

            I am going.
                                   [_Exit_ SÔPHRONÊ.

                              CÂRION

                        What's all this?
Do you give orders?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                    I and the Young Master.
You see, as soon as ever he came back,
I asked to have a word with him alone,
And told him. Didn't he go up in smoke!
He's awfully grateful, though.

                              CÂRION

                              You told him what?

                             ONÊSIMUS

It puts me in a different position
From all the others. I'm his confidant.
He's grateful to me.

                              CÂRION

                     What for?
                             ONÊSIMUS

                               Why, because
I told him.

                              CÂRION

            Told him what?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           Besides, I'm there
To watch; the mistress doesn't know I know.

                              CÂRION

You know what?

                             ONÊSIMUS

               There's no pleasure in the world
Like knowing everything there is to know,
Especially when no one knows you know it.

                              CÂRION

What is it, man? What do you know?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                   I'll tell you.
                        [_Whispers in_ CÂRION'S _ear_.

                              CÂRION

Impossible!

                             ONÊSIMUS

            It's true.

                              CÂRION

                       How does he take it?

                             ONÊSIMUS

He's furious, and of course can't say a word.
That's the worst thing. He's got to keep it dark.

                              CÂRION

Good God! Then that explains these harp-players
And banquets! . . . It's all frightfully upsetting
For me. I need a whole new bill of fare.
I planned a feast for lovers; just a gay,
Light-hearted, liquid, joyous, merrymaking,
And now . . . He really loved his wife, you say?

                             ONÊSIMUS

He did, devotedly. Not now, of course;
No; now we act together, he and I,
We watch and punish her as she deserves.

                              CÂRION

That's it. The man is thinking of his wife
The whole time. It's all done to punish her.
God bless me, it's a banquet of revenge,
Dark, bitter, fierce.        [_He sits down, ruminating._

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  Well, what's your story?

                              CÂRION

                                           Story?

                             ONÊSIMUS

You promised me a story as good as mine.

                              CÂRION

Man, I can't think of stories. I have duties
To think of. That's enough.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                            You promised me
A scandal.

                              CÂRION

           Did I?--oh, well; old Telônes
Is bankrupt. Will that do?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           Why no; I never
Heard of the man. That's no good.

                              CÂRION

                                  Callicles
Is said to have a second wife in Smyrna.
I can't do more for you. I must get to work.

                             ONÊSIMUS

Some details, please!

                       CÂRION (_ruminating_)

                     A bitter resinous sauce
With salted tunny; an old fighting cock
With mustard; no, with some Arabian spice
That burns. Oh, how my master Labdacus
Would have enjoyed this problem. I must take
Plenty of time . . . Good Lord, the guests arriving
Already!

                             ONÊSIMUS

         Here! You haven't paid your debt.
                             [_Exeunt into House B._
    [_Enter from the town_ SÎMIAS _and_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                              SÎMIAS

I wish you'd think again, Chaerestratus,
Why should you lend your house, day after day,
To help Charisius to neglect his wife
And waste his substance on this dancing girl?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

She's not a dancing girl; she's a musician;
A good musician, too, and well behaved.
I like him, Sîmias, and I like the girl,
And if he wants my house . . . They make a noise,
Those lads, but do no harm; besides, you're there,
And you'd make any place respectable.
You know Charisius hardly looks at her.

                              SÎMIAS

While you do nothing else.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                          He doesn't mind . . .
That's what annoys me. First, the man deserts
His own wife. So far I don't criticize.
I have no wife, and his I never met.
For all I know, she may be just the sort
No reasonable man could help deserting.
But then he goes out of his way to hire
This elegant, well-mannered harp-player,
And treats her with contempt--at any rate
With stark bad manners, hardly speaks to her . . .

                              SÎMIAS

Why should he? She's a slave, a hired companion.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

A slave, a hired . . . Oh yes. I know these girls;
They're all humbugs and liars. It's their business. . . .
Still, this one has good manners.

                              SÎMIAS

                                  All the same,
Why should you let Charisius have your house
To revel in? The thing's discreditable
To both of you, and seemingly no pleasure
To anyone.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

           Why? Well, I hardly know.
I couldn't well refuse him. Certainly
I never saw a drearier diner out.
If in his own house he was drearier still,
I only wonder why it's not his wife
Does the deserting. If she came and asked me,
I'd let the unfortunate woman have this house
To revel in till she died.

                              SÎMIAS

                               Then all the more . . .

                          CHAERESTRATUS

Why do I do it? Why? Because I like it.
Who wouldn't like it? It's a constant pleasure--
Free gratis, too--to see Habrotonon,
Study her movements, listen to her music,
Sometimes to talk with her. Come. In we go.
                              [_Exeunt into House B._
    [_Enter_ CHARISIUS, _gloomy, from his own house_. _He speaks off._

                            CHARISIUS

Porter! I shall be out again this evening;
And if your mistress asks . . . if anyone
Who calls wishes to know where he can find me,
I am at a drinking party with some friends.
Say we expect the same young harp-player,
A very fine musician, whom we all
Greatly admire . . .
                  [_Enter_ HABROTONON _with_ DUENNA.

                             DUENNA

                    There, darling, you hear that!
You can't say you're neglected, when they all
Admire you so. . . . Charisius, here she is,
Fresh as a rose, and tuned like her own harp!
Come, ducky, speak to him.

                      HABROTONON (_stiffly_)

                          Good evening, Sir.

                      CHARISIUS (_stiffly_)

Good evening. Go in, please. You'll find them waiting,
I'll follow afterwards.
    [_Exit_ HABROTONON _to House B._ CHARISIUS _waits_.

                             DUENNA

Lovely she is, just lovely. . . . And the bill,
Twelve drachmae for to-night.                 (_trying it on_)
                              And then the night
That you forgot, five days ago.

                            CHARISIUS

                                Forgot?
Did I?

                             DUENNA

       You did indeed, and I don't wonder.
No thought you had for anything but her.
Twice you forgot. That's three nights altogether.
Thirty-six drachmae.
                                  [_Enter_ ONÊSIMUS.

                            CHARISIUS

                  Here you are.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               What's that?
    [CHARISIUS _gives money and exit to House B._
        DUENNA _takes the money and puts it in her mouth_.

                             DUENNA

Good-night, Sir. Blessings on you.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                   You old fraud!
Stop!

                   DUENNA (_with mouth full_)

      There were three nights he forgot to pay.
He knows he did. He admits it.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               Every night
You had your money. He sent me myself.
To pay you, and I did. Spit out that cash!
Out with it, quick. It's no good gobbling at me.
                              [_Exit, pursuing_ DUENNA.

 


                             PROLOGUE


[_Enter the Nymph_ CALLISTO, _wearing a bearskin with
     the head and jaws over her head_.

Are we alone? My mistress, Artemis,
Nowhere about? No; if she were, I'd hear
Far off the clanging of that silver bow.
No doubt she's off on the Arcadian hills,
Playing her regular part, always the same!
How well I know it all: The Huntress bright
Who roams a virgin through the virgin woods,
Fleet as the winds and free; lover of all
The young wild forest life, the kids and fawns,
And pards, and us poor bears, and everything,
And shows her love, combined with marksmanship,
By shooting us! Just like these goddesses!
No reasoning power! No common sense at all!
Nothing but charm of manner and good looks!
And such a mass of fads! To think that I
In old days believed everything she said,
Took all her ways as models to adore;
Yes, and should do so still, and still be just
As narrow, if I'd never been a bear!
  It's that that saved me. You must know me now;
Callisto, once beloved of Artemis.
Her chosen friend, and virginal as she
Until. . . . Well, really, was I much to blame?
They never think, these virgin goddesses;
It pleases them to stay eternally
Unloved, and then they fly into a rage
When we poor nymphs are different. If she wished
All of us Oreads to be like herself,
Why did she set us dancing, those long nights,
In ecstasy and longing, on till dawn
Through the dark woods? Others were roaming, too,
Young gods, and fauns, and satyrs, all half-drunk
With songs and moonlight. What could she expect?
She wouldn't listen. She went wild with rage,
And, seeking out some awful punishment,
Some lesson I should learn and not forget,
Transformed me on the spot, and sentenced me
To fourteen years' hard labour as a Bear.
  I did learn lessons! It's an education
Beyond the Schools, to have been a real she-bear.
I roamed the Arcadian forests, fed on fruits
And honeycomb, had fresh cubs every spring,
Suckled them, licked them into shape, and then
Forgot them and had others. I accepted
Simple things simply. All my ways became
Just what the Stoic, Zeno, recommends,
Self-serving, with no master and no slave:
I had no vain desires; I asked for no
Rare food, or costly wine; no cooks, no clothes,
No purse, no pride; and never cared at all
What other she-bears said or thought of me.
Those fourteen innocent years have taught me lessons
I've not forgotten, lessons utterly
Beyond her comprehension. She has never
Learnt anything at all. She still keeps up
The same old ways, the same old Festivals,
The same old dances by the same old moon.
She calls on all her votaries to attend
And then, of course, as anyone might guess,
Sometimes the same thing happens as with me,
And all these gods and mortals lose their wits,
And women suffer! So it has happened here.
This innocent girl herself, this Pamphilê,
Goes mad with fear. Her baby is snatched away
By that old Nurse and hidden like a crime,
From husbands, fathers, and all murderous males.
She dares not speak. Her secret shuts her off
From all she loves. She watches day by day
There, at the window, for a silent sign
The Nurse gives, passing by without a word:
"I have seen him;" "He is safe;" "In danger;" "dead."

    [_For the first sign she touches her eyes; for the second
        lifts her right arm; for danger, arms round
        waist; for dead, arms straight down._

Alas, these humans! Always overwise
And harassed by the strange laws they devise
For their own torment; always surfeited
With fears more painful than the things they dread;
Always so eager that the strong shall wreak
For every sin due vengeance on the weak,
And most on women. If they ever knew
The truth . . . but who could show them what is true,
As now they are? The book of life that I
In my green forest read so innocently
And wisely, they have never understood. . . .
Poor baby, I would help it if I could.

    [_Exit_ CALLISTO. _Enter from the House B_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                     CHAERESTRATUS (_speaking off_)

All right. I have no wish to interrupt.
I'll walk about outside. I like fresh air.
And if there's any billing to be done
Or cooing, I have not the slightest wish
To bill nor yet to coo.
                      [_Enter from House A_ SMÎCRINÊS.

                      SMÎCRINÊS (_to the Porter_)

                        No, I'll not wait.
When he returns you'll tell him that I called.
The thing's past understanding. When his father
First made proposals to me, I enquired
Most carefully about him. They all told me
Charisius was a god-fearing young man,
The makings of a frugal son-in-law
And a good husband.

                       CHAERESTRATUS (_aside_)

                    It's old Smîcrinês,
The father-in-law. I wonder what he's heard.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

I can't think what the Devil's come to him.
Dinners and drinking parties every night!
A famous cook engaged at goodness knows
What fee! And then the wine the fellow drinks!
It just amazes me. It's not so much
The intoxication; it's the awful price:
So much a spoonful! I can't understand
How any conscience can consent to it.

                       CHAERESTRATUS (_aside_)

I thought so. Obviously he has heard some talk.
Now he'll come raging in to stop all these
Love-feasts! It's not my business, but I think
He'll go back sorry he came.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                            My daughter brought him
Four talents, and he doesn't choose to be
Her housemate. He lives out. He's paying twelve
Drachmas a day to that old madam!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                                         Yes.
Twelve is the price. He's got his details right.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Twelve for one day! Enough to keep a man
A month and six days!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                        How exact! Two obols
A day; the dole that keeps a slave in gruel
And leaves him hungry!
                       [_Enter_ SÎMIAS _from House B_.

                              SÎMIAS

                        Hi, Chaerestratus,
Your absence will be noticed.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                              My dear man,
Do you see?

                              SÎMIAS

             Who's that?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                           The father of the bride.
Doesn't he scowl; like a philosopher
Gone pessimist.

                              SÎMIAS

                No wonder. The poor man
Is worried about your harpist. He's afraid
The lawful wife indoors may find herself
Turned out and her place taken.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                                If you'd heard him
Growling just now!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                 How everything combines
To thwart me! My wife dead; one daughter lost
I did hope I could guard the livelihood
Of this one that remains.

                              SÎMIAS

                          How did he get
His information! I suppose some servant
Has told him things. If we could ward him off
For just a day or two we'd have a chance
To get Charisius to give up these follies
And be himself again. You'll have to help.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

I can't refuse my house, but, short of that,
I'll help. I rather hate the whole affair.

                              SÎMIAS

You told me you enjoyed it.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                            So I do;
But somehow. . . . Well, let's put an end to it.
It's easy enough. Why shouldn't I, right now
Go up to him and tell him the whole story;
Or, better still, invite him to come in
And see things for himself. Let the old fool
Burst if he wants to.

                              SÎMIAS

                   Silence on your life!
That would wreck everything beyond repair.
Don't talk so.

                        SMÎCRINÊS (_rising_)

                I'll go home.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                               Yes, do, by all means:
Or, better still, to the Devil.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                                I'll go home,
I want first to make certain of the facts
About my daughter's treatment; then I'll think
Calmly what line to take about the man.
                                                [_Exit_

                              SÎMIAS

Ought we to warn Charisius that he's here?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

Yes, rather. What an old pest! That's the way
To break a household up.

                              SÎMIAS

                         I only wish
He'd break up others.              [_Singing heard off_

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                      Others?

                              SÎMIAS

                             And begin
By one next door.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                 Do you mean mine?

                              SÎMIAS

                                   Yes, my friend,
Yours. But meantime let's warn Charisius.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                                         Mine? . . .
But let's go in. I see a noisy crowd
Making this way, young lads and not too sober.
It's better not to meet them.

                              SÎMIAS

                              Can you help it?
Unhappy man, these are our fellow-guests!
                                 [_Exeunt into House._

                       CHORUS OF REVELLERS

          I long to be a loony,
          A laughing, leaping loony;
          As mad as all those others
          Renowned in tragic story,
          Who run so wild and moony
          On murdering their mothers.
          I don't know which the best is,
          Alcmaeon or Orestes;
          They both get rather gory
          When murdering their mothers.
            I don't want all the bother
          Of murdering my mother.
          I don't want blood and slaughter;
          Red wine is what I'm after;
          It's wine I want and laughter,
          With no allaying water.
            Oh, when the night is moony,
          And springtime soft and spoony,
          It's then I'll be a loony,
          With no allaying water,
          A laughing, leaping loony
          With no allaying water!
                      [_They straggle into the House._

    ACT I


CÂRION, _the Cook, with_ ONÊSIMUS.

                              CÂRION

The man who entertains this dancing girl,
Only just married, isn't he? That's odd.

                             ONÊSIMUS

Yes, not so long. Five months and thirteen days.

                              CÂRION

A daughter of old Smîcrinês, they say?
Young and attractive, eh?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                         Well, that depends
On taste. But yes, no doubt she has been admired,
Not only by her husband.

                              CÂRION

                         Eh? Who else?
Tell me.

                             ONÊSIMUS

        I can't. I've absolutely sworn
To keep the whole thing secret.

                              CÂRION

                                Yes, quite right.
That's what I always do; swear secrecy,
And then, to show you know what "secret" means,
Tell them another secret of your own.
There's hardly a house I cook for, where I don't
Worm out the family troubles. For my art's sake
I must. Unless I know their state of mind
How can I give my clients what they want?
Come, out with it! I've got these innocents' dinner
All planned. I'm quite free.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Well, in confidence,
I don't mind telling you.

                              CÂRION

                          I'll pay you back,
Trust me, with scandals quite as rich as yours.
All knowledge comes in useful.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               In my case
It certainly has. You see, I found it out
Two weeks back, while the master was away
At Ephesus. No one in the house but me
Knows anything. . . . Ah, there's old Sôphronê,
Her nurse.
    [_Enter_ SÔPHRONÊ, _walking slowly_.
           She must be in it. But she can't
Do much. And we've forbidden her to hold
Any communication with her mistress.
    [SÔPHRONÊ _stops; touches her eyes with her fingers;
        then hitches her cloak up by lifting her right
        arm in the air_.
Well, Sôphronê, who are you looking for?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

The master. Has he come yet?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Smîcrinês?
No. You be off! You know the rule. No message.
No mischief.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

            I am going.
                                   [_Exit_ SÔPHRONÊ.

                              CÂRION

                        What's all this?
Do you give orders?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                    I and the Young Master.
You see, as soon as ever he came back,
I asked to have a word with him alone,
And told him. Didn't he go up in smoke!
He's awfully grateful, though.

                              CÂRION

                              You told him what?

                             ONÊSIMUS

It puts me in a different position
From all the others. I'm his confidant.
He's grateful to me.

                              CÂRION

                     What for?
                             ONÊSIMUS

                               Why, because
I told him.

                              CÂRION

            Told him what?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           Besides, I'm there
To watch; the mistress doesn't know I know.

                              CÂRION

You know what?

                             ONÊSIMUS

               There's no pleasure in the world
Like knowing everything there is to know,
Especially when no one knows you know it.

                              CÂRION

What is it, man? What do you know?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                   I'll tell you.
                        [_Whispers in_ CÂRION'S _ear_.

                              CÂRION

Impossible!

                             ONÊSIMUS

            It's true.

                              CÂRION

                       How does he take it?

                             ONÊSIMUS

He's furious, and of course can't say a word.
That's the worst thing. He's got to keep it dark.

                              CÂRION

Good God! Then that explains these harp-players
And banquets! . . . It's all frightfully upsetting
For me. I need a whole new bill of fare.
I planned a feast for lovers; just a gay,
Light-hearted, liquid, joyous, merrymaking,
And now . . . He really loved his wife, you say?

                             ONÊSIMUS

He did, devotedly. Not now, of course;
No; now we act together, he and I,
We watch and punish her as she deserves.

                              CÂRION

That's it. The man is thinking of his wife
The whole time. It's all done to punish her.
God bless me, it's a banquet of revenge,
Dark, bitter, fierce.        [_He sits down, ruminating._

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  Well, what's your story?

                              CÂRION

                                           Story?

                             ONÊSIMUS

You promised me a story as good as mine.

                              CÂRION

Man, I can't think of stories. I have duties
To think of. That's enough.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                            You promised me
A scandal.

                              CÂRION

           Did I?--oh, well; old Telônes
Is bankrupt. Will that do?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           Why no; I never
Heard of the man. That's no good.

                              CÂRION

                                  Callicles
Is said to have a second wife in Smyrna.
I can't do more for you. I must get to work.

                             ONÊSIMUS

Some details, please!

                       CÂRION (_ruminating_)

                     A bitter resinous sauce
With salted tunny; an old fighting cock
With mustard; no, with some Arabian spice
That burns. Oh, how my master Labdacus
Would have enjoyed this problem. I must take
Plenty of time . . . Good Lord, the guests arriving
Already!

                             ONÊSIMUS

         Here! You haven't paid your debt.
                             [_Exeunt into House B._
    [_Enter from the town_ SÎMIAS _and_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                              SÎMIAS

I wish you'd think again, Chaerestratus,
Why should you lend your house, day after day,
To help Charisius to neglect his wife
And waste his substance on this dancing girl?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

She's not a dancing girl; she's a musician;
A good musician, too, and well behaved.
I like him, Sîmias, and I like the girl,
And if he wants my house . . . They make a noise,
Those lads, but do no harm; besides, you're there,
And you'd make any place respectable.
You know Charisius hardly looks at her.

                              SÎMIAS

While you do nothing else.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                          He doesn't mind . . .
That's what annoys me. First, the man deserts
His own wife. So far I don't criticize.
I have no wife, and his I never met.
For all I know, she may be just the sort
No reasonable man could help deserting.
But then he goes out of his way to hire
This elegant, well-mannered harp-player,
And treats her with contempt--at any rate
With stark bad manners, hardly speaks to her . . .

                              SÎMIAS

Why should he? She's a slave, a hired companion.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

A slave, a hired . . . Oh yes. I know these girls;
They're all humbugs and liars. It's their business. . . .
Still, this one has good manners.

                              SÎMIAS

                                  All the same,
Why should you let Charisius have your house
To revel in? The thing's discreditable
To both of you, and seemingly no pleasure
To anyone.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

           Why? Well, I hardly know.
I couldn't well refuse him. Certainly
I never saw a drearier diner out.
If in his own house he was drearier still,
I only wonder why it's not his wife
Does the deserting. If she came and asked me,
I'd let the unfortunate woman have this house
To revel in till she died.

                              SÎMIAS

                               Then all the more . . .

                          CHAERESTRATUS

Why do I do it? Why? Because I like it.
Who wouldn't like it? It's a constant pleasure--
Free gratis, too--to see Habrotonon,
Study her movements, listen to her music,
Sometimes to talk with her. Come. In we go.
                              [_Exeunt into House B._
    [_Enter_ CHARISIUS, _gloomy, from his own house_. _He speaks off._

                            CHARISIUS

Porter! I shall be out again this evening;
And if your mistress asks . . . if anyone
Who calls wishes to know where he can find me,
I am at a drinking party with some friends.
Say we expect the same young harp-player,
A very fine musician, whom we all
Greatly admire . . .
                  [_Enter_ HABROTONON _with_ DUENNA.

                             DUENNA

                    There, darling, you hear that!
You can't say you're neglected, when they all
Admire you so. . . . Charisius, here she is,
Fresh as a rose, and tuned like her own harp!
Come, ducky, speak to him.

                      HABROTONON (_stiffly_)

                          Good evening, Sir.

                      CHARISIUS (_stiffly_)

Good evening. Go in, please. You'll find them waiting,
I'll follow afterwards.
    [_Exit_ HABROTONON _to House B._ CHARISIUS _waits_.

                             DUENNA

Lovely she is, just lovely. . . . And the bill,
Twelve drachmae for to-night.                 (_trying it on_)
                              And then the night
That you forgot, five days ago.

                            CHARISIUS

                                Forgot?
Did I?

                             DUENNA

       You did indeed, and I don't wonder.
No thought you had for anything but her.
Twice you forgot. That's three nights altogether.
Thirty-six drachmae.
                                  [_Enter_ ONÊSIMUS.

                            CHARISIUS

                  Here you are.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               What's that?
    [CHARISIUS _gives money and exit to House B._
        DUENNA _takes the money and puts it in her mouth_.

                             DUENNA

Good-night, Sir. Blessings on you.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                   You old fraud!
Stop!

                   DUENNA (_with mouth full_)

      There were three nights he forgot to pay.
He knows he did. He admits it.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               Every night
You had your money. He sent me myself.
To pay you, and I did. Spit out that cash!
Out with it, quick. It's no good gobbling at me.
                              [_Exit, pursuing_ DUENNA.

 


                             PROLOGUE


[_Enter the Nymph_ CALLISTO, _wearing a bearskin with
     the head and jaws over her head_.

Are we alone? My mistress, Artemis,
Nowhere about? No; if she were, I'd hear
Far off the clanging of that silver bow.
No doubt she's off on the Arcadian hills,
Playing her regular part, always the same!
How well I know it all: The Huntress bright
Who roams a virgin through the virgin woods,
Fleet as the winds and free; lover of all
The young wild forest life, the kids and fawns,
And pards, and us poor bears, and everything,
And shows her love, combined with marksmanship,
By shooting us! Just like these goddesses!
No reasoning power! No common sense at all!
Nothing but charm of manner and good looks!
And such a mass of fads! To think that I
In old days believed everything she said,
Took all her ways as models to adore;
Yes, and should do so still, and still be just
As narrow, if I'd never been a bear!
  It's that that saved me. You must know me now;
Callisto, once beloved of Artemis.
Her chosen friend, and virginal as she
Until. . . . Well, really, was I much to blame?
They never think, these virgin goddesses;
It pleases them to stay eternally
Unloved, and then they fly into a rage
When we poor nymphs are different. If she wished
All of us Oreads to be like herself,
Why did she set us dancing, those long nights,
In ecstasy and longing, on till dawn
Through the dark woods? Others were roaming, too,
Young gods, and fauns, and satyrs, all half-drunk
With songs and moonlight. What could she expect?
She wouldn't listen. She went wild with rage,
And, seeking out some awful punishment,
Some lesson I should learn and not forget,
Transformed me on the spot, and sentenced me
To fourteen years' hard labour as a Bear.
  I did learn lessons! It's an education
Beyond the Schools, to have been a real she-bear.
I roamed the Arcadian forests, fed on fruits
And honeycomb, had fresh cubs every spring,
Suckled them, licked them into shape, and then
Forgot them and had others. I accepted
Simple things simply. All my ways became
Just what the Stoic, Zeno, recommends,
Self-serving, with no master and no slave:
I had no vain desires; I asked for no
Rare food, or costly wine; no cooks, no clothes,
No purse, no pride; and never cared at all
What other she-bears said or thought of me.
Those fourteen innocent years have taught me lessons
I've not forgotten, lessons utterly
Beyond her comprehension. She has never
Learnt anything at all. She still keeps up
The same old ways, the same old Festivals,
The same old dances by the same old moon.
She calls on all her votaries to attend
And then, of course, as anyone might guess,
Sometimes the same thing happens as with me,
And all these gods and mortals lose their wits,
And women suffer! So it has happened here.
This innocent girl herself, this Pamphilê,
Goes mad with fear. Her baby is snatched away
By that old Nurse and hidden like a crime,
From husbands, fathers, and all murderous males.
She dares not speak. Her secret shuts her off
From all she loves. She watches day by day
There, at the window, for a silent sign
The Nurse gives, passing by without a word:
"I have seen him;" "He is safe;" "In danger;" "dead."

    [_For the first sign she touches her eyes; for the second
        lifts her right arm; for danger, arms round
        waist; for dead, arms straight down._

Alas, these humans! Always overwise
And harassed by the strange laws they devise
For their own torment; always surfeited
With fears more painful than the things they dread;
Always so eager that the strong shall wreak
For every sin due vengeance on the weak,
And most on women. If they ever knew
The truth . . . but who could show them what is true,
As now they are? The book of life that I
In my green forest read so innocently
And wisely, they have never understood. . . .
Poor baby, I would help it if I could.

    [_Exit_ CALLISTO. _Enter from the House B_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                     CHAERESTRATUS (_speaking off_)

All right. I have no wish to interrupt.
I'll walk about outside. I like fresh air.
And if there's any billing to be done
Or cooing, I have not the slightest wish
To bill nor yet to coo.
                      [_Enter from House A_ SMÎCRINÊS.

                      SMÎCRINÊS (_to the Porter_)

                        No, I'll not wait.
When he returns you'll tell him that I called.
The thing's past understanding. When his father
First made proposals to me, I enquired
Most carefully about him. They all told me
Charisius was a god-fearing young man,
The makings of a frugal son-in-law
And a good husband.

                       CHAERESTRATUS (_aside_)

                    It's old Smîcrinês,
The father-in-law. I wonder what he's heard.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

I can't think what the Devil's come to him.
Dinners and drinking parties every night!
A famous cook engaged at goodness knows
What fee! And then the wine the fellow drinks!
It just amazes me. It's not so much
The intoxication; it's the awful price:
So much a spoonful! I can't understand
How any conscience can consent to it.

                       CHAERESTRATUS (_aside_)

I thought so. Obviously he has heard some talk.
Now he'll come raging in to stop all these
Love-feasts! It's not my business, but I think
He'll go back sorry he came.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                            My daughter brought him
Four talents, and he doesn't choose to be
Her housemate. He lives out. He's paying twelve
Drachmas a day to that old madam!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                                         Yes.
Twelve is the price. He's got his details right.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Twelve for one day! Enough to keep a man
A month and six days!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                        How exact! Two obols
A day; the dole that keeps a slave in gruel
And leaves him hungry!
                       [_Enter_ SÎMIAS _from House B_.

                              SÎMIAS

                        Hi, Chaerestratus,
Your absence will be noticed.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                              My dear man,
Do you see?

                              SÎMIAS

             Who's that?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                           The father of the bride.
Doesn't he scowl; like a philosopher
Gone pessimist.

                              SÎMIAS

                No wonder. The poor man
Is worried about your harpist. He's afraid
The lawful wife indoors may find herself
Turned out and her place taken.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                                If you'd heard him
Growling just now!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                 How everything combines
To thwart me! My wife dead; one daughter lost
I did hope I could guard the livelihood
Of this one that remains.

                              SÎMIAS

                          How did he get
His information! I suppose some servant
Has told him things. If we could ward him off
For just a day or two we'd have a chance
To get Charisius to give up these follies
And be himself again. You'll have to help.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

I can't refuse my house, but, short of that,
I'll help. I rather hate the whole affair.

                              SÎMIAS

You told me you enjoyed it.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                            So I do;
But somehow. . . . Well, let's put an end to it.
It's easy enough. Why shouldn't I, right now
Go up to him and tell him the whole story;
Or, better still, invite him to come in
And see things for himself. Let the old fool
Burst if he wants to.

                              SÎMIAS

                   Silence on your life!
That would wreck everything beyond repair.
Don't talk so.

                        SMÎCRINÊS (_rising_)

                I'll go home.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                               Yes, do, by all means:
Or, better still, to the Devil.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                                I'll go home,
I want first to make certain of the facts
About my daughter's treatment; then I'll think
Calmly what line to take about the man.
                                                [_Exit_

                              SÎMIAS

Ought we to warn Charisius that he's here?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

Yes, rather. What an old pest! That's the way
To break a household up.

                              SÎMIAS

                         I only wish
He'd break up others.              [_Singing heard off_

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                      Others?

                              SÎMIAS

                             And begin
By one next door.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                 Do you mean mine?

                              SÎMIAS

                                   Yes, my friend,
Yours. But meantime let's warn Charisius.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                                         Mine? . . .
But let's go in. I see a noisy crowd
Making this way, young lads and not too sober.
It's better not to meet them.

                              SÎMIAS

                              Can you help it?
Unhappy man, these are our fellow-guests!
                                 [_Exeunt into House._

                       CHORUS OF REVELLERS

          I long to be a loony,
          A laughing, leaping loony;
          As mad as all those others
          Renowned in tragic story,
          Who run so wild and moony
          On murdering their mothers.
          I don't know which the best is,
          Alcmaeon or Orestes;
          They both get rather gory
          When murdering their mothers.
            I don't want all the bother
          Of murdering my mother.
          I don't want blood and slaughter;
          Red wine is what I'm after;
          It's wine I want and laughter,
          With no allaying water.
            Oh, when the night is moony,
          And springtime soft and spoony,
          It's then I'll be a loony,
          With no allaying water,
          A laughing, leaping loony
          With no allaying water!
                      [_They straggle into the House._

  ACT III


ONÊSIMUS _alone_.

That ring! I've started off five times or more
To show it to the Master. Then somehow
When I've come up and got him to myself,
I daren't . . . I sometimes doubt if it was wise
To tell him the other thing. "God damn the rogue
Who told me!" is what he mutters to himself
When he's alone. I've heard him. Yes, quite often
He says that . . . H'm, suppose he made it up
With her? Well, that would be the end of me!
To have told her secret, fatal! Bad enough
Even to have known it. . . . Yes, I am sure it's best
To make no further trouble. Why, even now
We're in for a quite fairly devilish row.

    [_Enter_ HABROTONON _from the House of_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                     HABROTONON (_speaking off_)

Excuse me, gentlemen! . . . I beg you, Sir,
You only cause me annoyance . . . Well, if ever
A helpless girl was made a laughing stock!
They said the man had fallen in love with me;
It's not love, it's repulsion; something quite
Inhuman! He won't even let me sit
At the same table. I must keep far off!

                  ONÊSIMUS (_musing over the ring_)

Return it to the man I got it from?
That's hardly sensible.

                            HABROTONON

                        The wretched man,
What is he wasting all that money for?
For all he has got from me, I'm qualified
To carry the holy basket to the Goddess,
Lord save us! "Free from contact with a male
For three days."

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  What on earth am I to do?
I ask you; what on earth?
    [_Enter_ SYRISCUS _from the House of_ CHARISIUS.
        HABROTONON _begins to take notice_.

                             SYRISCUS

                           Where can he be?
I've hunted for him everywhere inside (_seeing_ ONÊSIMUS).
Hullo! Look here, mate. Either give me back
That ring or show it to the man you mean
To show it to. Let's get the business settled.
I can't wait longer.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                     See, man; it's like this.
It really does belong . . . so much I know
For certain . . . to Charisius. But I somehow
Don't like to show it him. It's much the same
As telling him he's the father of that baby
The ring was found with.

                             SYRISCUS

                         How do you mean, you fool?

                             ONÊSIMUS

He lost it last year at the Tauropolia;
So much we know. There was an all-night dance,
Women as well as men. One can but think
He gave it as a present to some girl
He got mixed up with. I suppose it's she
Who had this baby and left it in the wood.
If one could find the girl, and then produce
This ring, it would be clinching; but not now.
To show it now would only make suspicion
And trouble.

                             SYRISCUS

            It's your business, anyhow,
Not mine. But if you're trying to put me off,
Or if you expect to make me pay you something
To get it back, you make a great mistake.
I don't go halves in anything!

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               All right.
Who asked you to?

                             SYRISCUS

                  I've got a job in town
Just now, but when it's finished, I'll come back
And see what's to be done.
                                         [_Exit_ SYRISCUS.

                            HABROTONON

                            Onêsimus,
Is it the child the woman there indoors
Is nursing, that this charcoal-burner found?

                             ONÊSIMUS

Yes, so he says.

                            HABROTONON

                It's such a pretty creature!
Poor child!

                             ONÊSIMUS

            And lying beside it was this ring,
My master's.

                            HABROTONON

              What an awful thing! Just think!
That baby is your master's son, your own
Young master. You can't mean to leave him there
In slavery! You could be hanged for that.

                             ONÊSIMUS

I don't know what to do. I've just explained,
Nobody knows the mother.

                            HABROTONON

                             And you say
He lost the ring at last year's Tauropolia?

                             ONÊSIMUS

They'd all of them been drinking, so the boy
Said who attended him.

                            HABROTONON

                       He must have wandered
Away alone, and fallen upon some girl
Fresh from the women's midnight dance--Why, once
A thing like that happened when I was there.

                             ONÊSIMUS

When you were there?

                            HABROTONON

                     Yes, that was last year, too.
I had come to play the harp at what they call
The Younger Girls' dance, and this girl was there
Among them, laughing. I could join their play
Myself then. At that time I didn't know
What a man was.

                      ONÊSIMUS (_ironically_)

                 Says you!

                      HABROTONON (_indignant_)

                           By Aphrodite,
I swear!

                             ONÊSIMUS

         This girl, you don't know who she was?

                            HABROTONON

I could find out. I know she was a friend
Of some one in my party.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                       Did you hear
Her father's name?

                            HABROTONON

                  No, I know nothing more.
I am sure I'd know her if we met again.
My goodness, she was pretty! And, they said,
From a rich house.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  Most likely it's the same.

                            HABROTONON

I don't know. She was with us, but strayed off.
Then later, all of a sudden, back she came
Running, in tears, tearing her hair. She'd spoilt
A lovely mantle, soft Tarentine silk;
It was all tatters.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                     Did she have this ring?

                            HABROTONON

She may have had. She didn't show it me.
I won't invent things.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                       What am I to do?

                            HABROTONON

That's your look-out . . . But if you're sensible,
And ask for my advice, you'll go and show him
His ring. Suppose that girl was a free maiden.
He can't be left not knowing what he's done.

                             ONÊSIMUS

First, let us find out who the woman was.
There, Habro, that's a job for you and me
Together.

                            HABROTONON

          No, I couldn't; not until
I really know for certain who the man was
Who wronged her. I should be afraid to go
And tell those ladies I was with a story
That might be false. That ring may well have been
A pledge that one of his companions took,
And then lost. Or he may have been at dice
And put the ring up as a stake; or perhaps
He owed some debt and had no cash, and so
Paid with the ring. Hundreds of things like that
Happen at drinking bouts. Until I know
The man who wronged her I don't want to seek
That girl out or spread any kind of gossip
To anyone.

                             ONÊSIMUS

           No; I'm afraid you're right.
Then, what the Devil . . .

                            HABROTONON

                          Look, Onêsimus.
What do you say to this? The thought has just
Struck me. Suppose . . . suppose I make the whole
Adventure mine. I'll take the ring and go
In there to play to them.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                         Go on. Explain.
Though I can guess.

                            HABROTONON

                    He'll see it on my finger.
He'll ask me where I got it; and I'll say,
"At last year's Tauropolia, when I was
An innocent girl." All that that other girl
Went through I'll tell as happening to myself . . .
I know it well enough!

                             ONÊSIMUS

                      Magnificent!

                            HABROTONON

Then, if it strikes a chord in him, he'll come
Bursting to question me . . . He's tipsy, too;
He'll blurt out the whole story without waiting
For me to speak. I'll just say "Yes" to all
He says, and never risk making mistakes
By speaking first.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                 Oh, good! Better than good!

                            HABROTONON

I'll hang my head and all that, and just murmur
The obvious things. It's safe enough. "How cruel
You were to me! A cave-man!"

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Capital!

                            HABROTONON

And "Oh, how violently you threw me down!"
And "That poor cloak I ruined"! That's the kind
Of talk. But first of all I'll go indoors
And get the baby, and drop a tear, and kiss it,
And ask the woman where she got it.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                   Glory!

                            HABROTONON

And bring it in; and then the final stroke;
"So now you are a father!" and I show him
The foundling.

                             ONÊSIMUS

               Oh, Habrotonon, what cheek!
What devilry!

                            HABROTONON

            If once we have the proof,
And know that he's the father, then we'll make
Inquiries at our ease to find the mother.

                      ONÊSIMUS (_suspiciously_)

There's one thing you've not mentioned. You'll be given
Your freedom. If he once believes that you're
The mother of his child he'll have you freed.

                        HABROTONON (_musing_)

I don't know. Oh, I wonder!

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           You don't know?
Don't you? Look here, do I get any good
From all this?

                            HABROTONON

               Yes, by the Two Goddesses!
However it ends, I owe it all to you.

                             ONÊSIMUS

Ah, but suppose, when once you've caught your man,
You leave things, and forget about the true
Mother; that leaves me planted.

                            HABROTONON

                              Why should I
Do that? Do you think I'm pining for a baby?
If only I could be free! Oh, God in heaven,
After all this, that's the reward I pray for!

                             ONÊSIMUS

I hope you get it.

                            HABROTONON

                   You accept my plan?

                             ONÊSIMUS

With all my heart. And if you do try on
Some funny business, there'll be time enough
To fight you. Trust me, I'll know what to do.
Just for the present, though, I'll wait and see.

                            HABROTONON

You do agree, then?

                             ONÊSIMUS
                    I agree.

                            HABROTONON

                            Then quick,
Give me the ring.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  There!

                            HABROTONON

                         Thanks. O blessed Goddess,
Persuasion, hear me! Teach me how to tell
My story right, and may the end be well!
                                [_Exit_ HABROTONON.

                             ONÊSIMUS

By Jove, she has initiative, that girl!
She finds there isn't any road to freedom
Through love; that's a blind alley; so she turns
The opposite way. . . . Yes, I suppose I'll always
Remain a slave. A moonstruck, drivelling ass!
Can't think ahead! . . . Of course, if she has luck
I might get something. . . . That'd be only fair . . .
Fair? What a calculation, to expect
Fair dealing from a woman! You poor fool!
I only hope there's no new trouble brewing . . .
The mistress, too. She's in a slippery place.
They may find, any time, some free man's daughter
Was mother to that baby. If they do,
He'll marry her in a twinkling, and dismiss
Our Pamphilê to her father. In that case,
I'm nicely saved out of the wrath to come . . .
Well, I've kept clear this time! And after this
I abjure all meddling. Catch me ever again
Poking my nose in other folks' affairs,
Or telling tales--I give you leave to cut
My tonsils out! . . . But who's this coming up?
Oh, Smîcrinês again; back from the city;
And showing signs of mental perturbation! (_amused_)
I shouldn't wonder if he'd heard some news
Not fully in accord with what I told him.
I'd better vanish quietly and pretend
Not to have seen him. Yes, and first find out
For certain what young Habro's been about.
                 [_Exit_ ONÊSIMUS _as_ SMÎCRINÊS _enters_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

I hate this gossip. I believe they want
To make a fool of me. "Never at home;
Drunken; extravagant;" I don't believe it.
The city is humming with that sort of scandal.
Well, this time I'm determined to find out
The actual truth of the matter. For three nights
They said, he hasn't slept at home; he's drinking,
And bringing open shame upon his parents
With some disreputable harpist girl.
And yet that honest fellow I talked with here
Assured me that he had really lived at home
These last three days, and any previous trouble
He had had with Pamphilê had quite blown over.
He struck me as truthful. Pest! How can I tell
Which to believe? I didn't like those people
In Athens. They enjoyed tormenting me,
Knowing I hate extravagance. They grinned
Into my face and rattled off this story
Of special cooks and feasts and dancing girls
And dice and noise and laughter. Very likely
They made it all up, just to worry me.
If so, well, I won't let it. After all
That servant knew the facts. One man who knows
Is worth a hundred gossips. And besides
I have another witness, who knows all
And cares for me, and for my property,
And her own happiness. My daughter says
All's well. I must believe my only child.
    [_Guests burst tumultuously out of_ CHAERESTRATUS'S _House_.
But what's all this? The party breaking up?
I warned Charisius not to get mixed up
With people of that sort. That man next door's
Impossible. How could he ever hope
To keep him straight?

                          CÂRION (_off_)

                      I won't be just turned out
Like this, Sir! You're insulting my profession.
                 [_Enter_ CÂRION, _pushed out by_ SÎMIAS.

                              SÎMIAS

Go, go. The party's finished.

                              CÂRION

                             What? Before
They've tasted my best sauce? It isn't decent.
You'll never get another cook to make
Such sauces--all this fuss about a baby!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Quite a _recherché_ feast that man next door
Is giving!

                              CÂRION

          Insult upon insult! No;
I won't endure it. Off they slink and leave
Their food untouched. I swear if ever again
They give a feast and one of them comes begging
For a good cook . . . well, they can go to Heaven
And get one!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

            Tell me, Cook; what's happening here?

                              CÂRION

What's happening? Why they're making me a jest
In Athens, all because that stupid girl
Breaks in with, first, her ring and, next, her baby,
And upsets everyone, and vows it's his.
And he's struck dumb and has acknowledged it,
And no one knows which way to look; and so
They're all gone, leaving me a laughing-stock.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

All gone?

                              CÂRION

         Charisius and the harping girl
Are there alone, and that infernal baby.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Charisius? Why's he there?

                              CÂRION

                             The party's spoilt,
And when a party's spoilt the whole town thinks
The cook's to blame.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                    But why Charisius? Why
Charisius?

                              CÂRION

           First, they said I took too long
Preparing. Every self-respecting Cook
Needs time.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           You said Charisius. You must mean
The host, Chaerestratus.

                              CÂRION

                          Of course I mean
The host, the father of this wretched baby;
His name's Charisius, and that's his house,
Next door. Then, secondly, they laid my things
In the wrong order . . .

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         Oh, get out! Get out!

                              CÂRION

What? I protest.
                         [SMÎCRINÊS _drives_ CÂRION _out_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

              Then those who lied to me
Were my own household! The loud streets and gutters
Spoke the bare truth, and not quite all the truth.
Damnation! . . . But this simplifies the case.
I'll send my agent to insist at once
That he restores my daughter and her dowry.
She's still quite young. I'll find her a good husband
In spite of them. This daughter I can save.
                  [_Enter_ CHAERESTRATUS _and_ SÎMIAS.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

O Hercules, enough! Where's Sîmias?
Let's get away at once. . . . By Helios, yes,
I liked that girl, and I don't understand
Charisius. I don't like it.

                              SÎMIAS

                            Nor do I.
I always told you so.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                     Thank God my daughter
Is childless! How much harder it would be
To take her back if she had borne that man
A child . . . (_going up to them_) Excuse me, Sirs, I think you both
Were dining with Charisius. Is it true
This friend of yours gave here, day after day,
A series of continuous drinking-bouts
In a hired house? He was ashamed, I hear,
To show his face at home, but not ashamed
To breed a bastard from a prostitute . . .

                          CHAERESTRATUS

No, you're in error, Sir. This house is mine.
The mother of that child is a musician
Of charm and talent. If your son-in-law
Displeases you, no doubt you have every right
To take your daughter home and break the marriage,
But that's no reason to come meddling here
Using strong language . . .

                              SÎMIAS

                           Hush! (_to_ SMÎCRINÊS) I think you wrong
Charisius. I know nothing of this amour
He seems to have had, but I'm quite sure it's finished.
His manner to this girl . . . we all have noticed . . .
Is most reserved. He's an unhappy man,
Of that I'm sure. I beg you to think well
Before you add to his unhappiness.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Think about _him_? Why, wouldn't that be meddling
And interfering, just the things your friend
Objects to? He would sooner I went home
Taking my daughter with me? Very good.
That's what I've come to do; that's why I summon
You two men, in accordance with the law,
To bear true witness how Charisius lives,
And how he has clearly shown himself unworthy
To be my daughter's husband. Is that clear?

                              SÎMIAS

I beg, before you ask us, Smîcrinês,
You'll make quite sure it's what you really wish.
I have known Charisius many years. I know
His nature, and am sure that these last days
Something has made him mad, unlike himself.
Speak to him as a father. All the shame
You heap upon Charisius will spring back
And strike your innocent daughter.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                                   These last days!
When did he get this harping girl with child?
What was his nature then? It's not my nature
To leave my daughter wedded to a rake
Who wastes her dowry on his harping girls
And cooks.

                              SÎMIAS

           I tell you he is not like that.
He simply hates the sort of thing men call
A life of pleasure; "Drunk with so-and-so";
"Fifty gold Darics on a single feast . . ."
"This girl to-night and that to-morrow." No,
It's not his style. He has a natural pride,
I know, which makes him feel that sort of life
Disgusting.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           He has deceived you, as he once
Did me. But not again; no, not again
Or call me no Athenian! What, that man
My son-in-law? Him and his natural pride!
I hope it chokes him. What does he expect?
To live upon her dowry, and spend his days
Drunk in the tavern where he found that slut,
And live with her, thinking that we don't know,
And take his little bastard for his heir . . .

                              SÎMIAS

Good-bye, Sir. That's enough.
                  [_Exit_ SÎMIAS _and_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                              I must be calm.
It's strange how they defend him. It may be
He once was honest. It must be that woman,
That harping harlot, has corrupted him,
She and her brat . . . I'll have her whipped from Athens!
                                         [_Enter_ SYRISCUS.

                             SYRISCUS

It's rather a delicate business; here's my wife,
Insists that I must see that harper girl
And find if Dâvus really gave us all
The trinkets. . . . Ah, that kind old gentleman
Who helped me so! I'm sure he'd introduce me . . .
Allow me to congratulate you, Sir;
True happiness is to make others happy,
And that you have done indeed. It's all your work;
That poor lost baby saved, the father found
Both re-united to the lovely mother,
All thanks to you!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                   Infernal impudence!
Who sent you here to mock me? Out, you dog!

                             SYRISCUS

Help! Help! What have I done? This is a case
For arbitration--peaceful arbitration . . .
    [_Exit_ SMÎCRINÊS, _driving_ SYRISCUS _before him_.

  ACT III


ONÊSIMUS _alone_.

That ring! I've started off five times or more
To show it to the Master. Then somehow
When I've come up and got him to myself,
I daren't . . . I sometimes doubt if it was wise
To tell him the other thing. "God damn the rogue
Who told me!" is what he mutters to himself
When he's alone. I've heard him. Yes, quite often
He says that . . . H'm, suppose he made it up
With her? Well, that would be the end of me!
To have told her secret, fatal! Bad enough
Even to have known it. . . . Yes, I am sure it's best
To make no further trouble. Why, even now
We're in for a quite fairly devilish row.

    [_Enter_ HABROTONON _from the House of_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                     HABROTONON (_speaking off_)

Excuse me, gentlemen! . . . I beg you, Sir,
You only cause me annoyance . . . Well, if ever
A helpless girl was made a laughing stock!
They said the man had fallen in love with me;
It's not love, it's repulsion; something quite
Inhuman! He won't even let me sit
At the same table. I must keep far off!

                  ONÊSIMUS (_musing over the ring_)

Return it to the man I got it from?
That's hardly sensible.

                            HABROTONON

                        The wretched man,
What is he wasting all that money for?
For all he has got from me, I'm qualified
To carry the holy basket to the Goddess,
Lord save us! "Free from contact with a male
For three days."

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  What on earth am I to do?
I ask you; what on earth?
    [_Enter_ SYRISCUS _from the House of_ CHARISIUS.
        HABROTONON _begins to take notice_.

                             SYRISCUS

                           Where can he be?
I've hunted for him everywhere inside (_seeing_ ONÊSIMUS).
Hullo! Look here, mate. Either give me back
That ring or show it to the man you mean
To show it to. Let's get the business settled.
I can't wait longer.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                     See, man; it's like this.
It really does belong . . . so much I know
For certain . . . to Charisius. But I somehow
Don't like to show it him. It's much the same
As telling him he's the father of that baby
The ring was found with.

                             SYRISCUS

                         How do you mean, you fool?

                             ONÊSIMUS

He lost it last year at the Tauropolia;
So much we know. There was an all-night dance,
Women as well as men. One can but think
He gave it as a present to some girl
He got mixed up with. I suppose it's she
Who had this baby and left it in the wood.
If one could find the girl, and then produce
This ring, it would be clinching; but not now.
To show it now would only make suspicion
And trouble.

                             SYRISCUS

            It's your business, anyhow,
Not mine. But if you're trying to put me off,
Or if you expect to make me pay you something
To get it back, you make a great mistake.
I don't go halves in anything!

                             ONÊSIMUS

                               All right.
Who asked you to?

                             SYRISCUS

                  I've got a job in town
Just now, but when it's finished, I'll come back
And see what's to be done.
                                         [_Exit_ SYRISCUS.

                            HABROTONON

                            Onêsimus,
Is it the child the woman there indoors
Is nursing, that this charcoal-burner found?

                             ONÊSIMUS

Yes, so he says.

                            HABROTONON

                It's such a pretty creature!
Poor child!

                             ONÊSIMUS

            And lying beside it was this ring,
My master's.

                            HABROTONON

              What an awful thing! Just think!
That baby is your master's son, your own
Young master. You can't mean to leave him there
In slavery! You could be hanged for that.

                             ONÊSIMUS

I don't know what to do. I've just explained,
Nobody knows the mother.

                            HABROTONON

                             And you say
He lost the ring at last year's Tauropolia?

                             ONÊSIMUS

They'd all of them been drinking, so the boy
Said who attended him.

                            HABROTONON

                       He must have wandered
Away alone, and fallen upon some girl
Fresh from the women's midnight dance--Why, once
A thing like that happened when I was there.

                             ONÊSIMUS

When you were there?

                            HABROTONON

                     Yes, that was last year, too.
I had come to play the harp at what they call
The Younger Girls' dance, and this girl was there
Among them, laughing. I could join their play
Myself then. At that time I didn't know
What a man was.

                      ONÊSIMUS (_ironically_)

                 Says you!

                      HABROTONON (_indignant_)

                           By Aphrodite,
I swear!

                             ONÊSIMUS

         This girl, you don't know who she was?

                            HABROTONON

I could find out. I know she was a friend
Of some one in my party.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                       Did you hear
Her father's name?

                            HABROTONON

                  No, I know nothing more.
I am sure I'd know her if we met again.
My goodness, she was pretty! And, they said,
From a rich house.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  Most likely it's the same.

                            HABROTONON

I don't know. She was with us, but strayed off.
Then later, all of a sudden, back she came
Running, in tears, tearing her hair. She'd spoilt
A lovely mantle, soft Tarentine silk;
It was all tatters.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                     Did she have this ring?

                            HABROTONON

She may have had. She didn't show it me.
I won't invent things.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                       What am I to do?

                            HABROTONON

That's your look-out . . . But if you're sensible,
And ask for my advice, you'll go and show him
His ring. Suppose that girl was a free maiden.
He can't be left not knowing what he's done.

                             ONÊSIMUS

First, let us find out who the woman was.
There, Habro, that's a job for you and me
Together.

                            HABROTONON

          No, I couldn't; not until
I really know for certain who the man was
Who wronged her. I should be afraid to go
And tell those ladies I was with a story
That might be false. That ring may well have been
A pledge that one of his companions took,
And then lost. Or he may have been at dice
And put the ring up as a stake; or perhaps
He owed some debt and had no cash, and so
Paid with the ring. Hundreds of things like that
Happen at drinking bouts. Until I know
The man who wronged her I don't want to seek
That girl out or spread any kind of gossip
To anyone.

                             ONÊSIMUS

           No; I'm afraid you're right.
Then, what the Devil . . .

                            HABROTONON

                          Look, Onêsimus.
What do you say to this? The thought has just
Struck me. Suppose . . . suppose I make the whole
Adventure mine. I'll take the ring and go
In there to play to them.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                         Go on. Explain.
Though I can guess.

                            HABROTONON

                    He'll see it on my finger.
He'll ask me where I got it; and I'll say,
"At last year's Tauropolia, when I was
An innocent girl." All that that other girl
Went through I'll tell as happening to myself . . .
I know it well enough!

                             ONÊSIMUS

                      Magnificent!

                            HABROTONON

Then, if it strikes a chord in him, he'll come
Bursting to question me . . . He's tipsy, too;
He'll blurt out the whole story without waiting
For me to speak. I'll just say "Yes" to all
He says, and never risk making mistakes
By speaking first.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                 Oh, good! Better than good!

                            HABROTONON

I'll hang my head and all that, and just murmur
The obvious things. It's safe enough. "How cruel
You were to me! A cave-man!"

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Capital!

                            HABROTONON

And "Oh, how violently you threw me down!"
And "That poor cloak I ruined"! That's the kind
Of talk. But first of all I'll go indoors
And get the baby, and drop a tear, and kiss it,
And ask the woman where she got it.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                   Glory!

                            HABROTONON

And bring it in; and then the final stroke;
"So now you are a father!" and I show him
The foundling.

                             ONÊSIMUS

               Oh, Habrotonon, what cheek!
What devilry!

                            HABROTONON

            If once we have the proof,
And know that he's the father, then we'll make
Inquiries at our ease to find the mother.

                      ONÊSIMUS (_suspiciously_)

There's one thing you've not mentioned. You'll be given
Your freedom. If he once believes that you're
The mother of his child he'll have you freed.

                        HABROTONON (_musing_)

I don't know. Oh, I wonder!

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           You don't know?
Don't you? Look here, do I get any good
From all this?

                            HABROTONON

               Yes, by the Two Goddesses!
However it ends, I owe it all to you.

                             ONÊSIMUS

Ah, but suppose, when once you've caught your man,
You leave things, and forget about the true
Mother; that leaves me planted.

                            HABROTONON

                              Why should I
Do that? Do you think I'm pining for a baby?
If only I could be free! Oh, God in heaven,
After all this, that's the reward I pray for!

                             ONÊSIMUS

I hope you get it.

                            HABROTONON

                   You accept my plan?

                             ONÊSIMUS

With all my heart. And if you do try on
Some funny business, there'll be time enough
To fight you. Trust me, I'll know what to do.
Just for the present, though, I'll wait and see.

                            HABROTONON

You do agree, then?

                             ONÊSIMUS
                    I agree.

                            HABROTONON

                            Then quick,
Give me the ring.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                  There!

                            HABROTONON

                         Thanks. O blessed Goddess,
Persuasion, hear me! Teach me how to tell
My story right, and may the end be well!
                                [_Exit_ HABROTONON.

                             ONÊSIMUS

By Jove, she has initiative, that girl!
She finds there isn't any road to freedom
Through love; that's a blind alley; so she turns
The opposite way. . . . Yes, I suppose I'll always
Remain a slave. A moonstruck, drivelling ass!
Can't think ahead! . . . Of course, if she has luck
I might get something. . . . That'd be only fair . . .
Fair? What a calculation, to expect
Fair dealing from a woman! You poor fool!
I only hope there's no new trouble brewing . . .
The mistress, too. She's in a slippery place.
They may find, any time, some free man's daughter
Was mother to that baby. If they do,
He'll marry her in a twinkling, and dismiss
Our Pamphilê to her father. In that case,
I'm nicely saved out of the wrath to come . . .
Well, I've kept clear this time! And after this
I abjure all meddling. Catch me ever again
Poking my nose in other folks' affairs,
Or telling tales--I give you leave to cut
My tonsils out! . . . But who's this coming up?
Oh, Smîcrinês again; back from the city;
And showing signs of mental perturbation! (_amused_)
I shouldn't wonder if he'd heard some news
Not fully in accord with what I told him.
I'd better vanish quietly and pretend
Not to have seen him. Yes, and first find out
For certain what young Habro's been about.
                 [_Exit_ ONÊSIMUS _as_ SMÎCRINÊS _enters_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

I hate this gossip. I believe they want
To make a fool of me. "Never at home;
Drunken; extravagant;" I don't believe it.
The city is humming with that sort of scandal.
Well, this time I'm determined to find out
The actual truth of the matter. For three nights
They said, he hasn't slept at home; he's drinking,
And bringing open shame upon his parents
With some disreputable harpist girl.
And yet that honest fellow I talked with here
Assured me that he had really lived at home
These last three days, and any previous trouble
He had had with Pamphilê had quite blown over.
He struck me as truthful. Pest! How can I tell
Which to believe? I didn't like those people
In Athens. They enjoyed tormenting me,
Knowing I hate extravagance. They grinned
Into my face and rattled off this story
Of special cooks and feasts and dancing girls
And dice and noise and laughter. Very likely
They made it all up, just to worry me.
If so, well, I won't let it. After all
That servant knew the facts. One man who knows
Is worth a hundred gossips. And besides
I have another witness, who knows all
And cares for me, and for my property,
And her own happiness. My daughter says
All's well. I must believe my only child.
    [_Guests burst tumultuously out of_ CHAERESTRATUS'S _House_.
But what's all this? The party breaking up?
I warned Charisius not to get mixed up
With people of that sort. That man next door's
Impossible. How could he ever hope
To keep him straight?

                          CÂRION (_off_)

                      I won't be just turned out
Like this, Sir! You're insulting my profession.
                 [_Enter_ CÂRION, _pushed out by_ SÎMIAS.

                              SÎMIAS

Go, go. The party's finished.

                              CÂRION

                             What? Before
They've tasted my best sauce? It isn't decent.
You'll never get another cook to make
Such sauces--all this fuss about a baby!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Quite a _recherché_ feast that man next door
Is giving!

                              CÂRION

          Insult upon insult! No;
I won't endure it. Off they slink and leave
Their food untouched. I swear if ever again
They give a feast and one of them comes begging
For a good cook . . . well, they can go to Heaven
And get one!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

            Tell me, Cook; what's happening here?

                              CÂRION

What's happening? Why they're making me a jest
In Athens, all because that stupid girl
Breaks in with, first, her ring and, next, her baby,
And upsets everyone, and vows it's his.
And he's struck dumb and has acknowledged it,
And no one knows which way to look; and so
They're all gone, leaving me a laughing-stock.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

All gone?

                              CÂRION

         Charisius and the harping girl
Are there alone, and that infernal baby.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Charisius? Why's he there?

                              CÂRION

                             The party's spoilt,
And when a party's spoilt the whole town thinks
The cook's to blame.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                    But why Charisius? Why
Charisius?

                              CÂRION

           First, they said I took too long
Preparing. Every self-respecting Cook
Needs time.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           You said Charisius. You must mean
The host, Chaerestratus.

                              CÂRION

                          Of course I mean
The host, the father of this wretched baby;
His name's Charisius, and that's his house,
Next door. Then, secondly, they laid my things
In the wrong order . . .

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         Oh, get out! Get out!

                              CÂRION

What? I protest.
                         [SMÎCRINÊS _drives_ CÂRION _out_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

              Then those who lied to me
Were my own household! The loud streets and gutters
Spoke the bare truth, and not quite all the truth.
Damnation! . . . But this simplifies the case.
I'll send my agent to insist at once
That he restores my daughter and her dowry.
She's still quite young. I'll find her a good husband
In spite of them. This daughter I can save.
                  [_Enter_ CHAERESTRATUS _and_ SÎMIAS.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

O Hercules, enough! Where's Sîmias?
Let's get away at once. . . . By Helios, yes,
I liked that girl, and I don't understand
Charisius. I don't like it.

                              SÎMIAS

                            Nor do I.
I always told you so.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                     Thank God my daughter
Is childless! How much harder it would be
To take her back if she had borne that man
A child . . . (_going up to them_) Excuse me, Sirs, I think you both
Were dining with Charisius. Is it true
This friend of yours gave here, day after day,
A series of continuous drinking-bouts
In a hired house? He was ashamed, I hear,
To show his face at home, but not ashamed
To breed a bastard from a prostitute . . .

                          CHAERESTRATUS

No, you're in error, Sir. This house is mine.
The mother of that child is a musician
Of charm and talent. If your son-in-law
Displeases you, no doubt you have every right
To take your daughter home and break the marriage,
But that's no reason to come meddling here
Using strong language . . .

                              SÎMIAS

                           Hush! (_to_ SMÎCRINÊS) I think you wrong
Charisius. I know nothing of this amour
He seems to have had, but I'm quite sure it's finished.
His manner to this girl . . . we all have noticed . . .
Is most reserved. He's an unhappy man,
Of that I'm sure. I beg you to think well
Before you add to his unhappiness.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Think about _him_? Why, wouldn't that be meddling
And interfering, just the things your friend
Objects to? He would sooner I went home
Taking my daughter with me? Very good.
That's what I've come to do; that's why I summon
You two men, in accordance with the law,
To bear true witness how Charisius lives,
And how he has clearly shown himself unworthy
To be my daughter's husband. Is that clear?

                              SÎMIAS

I beg, before you ask us, Smîcrinês,
You'll make quite sure it's what you really wish.
I have known Charisius many years. I know
His nature, and am sure that these last days
Something has made him mad, unlike himself.
Speak to him as a father. All the shame
You heap upon Charisius will spring back
And strike your innocent daughter.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                                   These last days!
When did he get this harping girl with child?
What was his nature then? It's not my nature
To leave my daughter wedded to a rake
Who wastes her dowry on his harping girls
And cooks.

                              SÎMIAS

           I tell you he is not like that.
He simply hates the sort of thing men call
A life of pleasure; "Drunk with so-and-so";
"Fifty gold Darics on a single feast . . ."
"This girl to-night and that to-morrow." No,
It's not his style. He has a natural pride,
I know, which makes him feel that sort of life
Disgusting.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           He has deceived you, as he once
Did me. But not again; no, not again
Or call me no Athenian! What, that man
My son-in-law? Him and his natural pride!
I hope it chokes him. What does he expect?
To live upon her dowry, and spend his days
Drunk in the tavern where he found that slut,
And live with her, thinking that we don't know,
And take his little bastard for his heir . . .

                              SÎMIAS

Good-bye, Sir. That's enough.
                  [_Exit_ SÎMIAS _and_ CHAERESTRATUS.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                              I must be calm.
It's strange how they defend him. It may be
He once was honest. It must be that woman,
That harping harlot, has corrupted him,
She and her brat . . . I'll have her whipped from Athens!
                                         [_Enter_ SYRISCUS.

                             SYRISCUS

It's rather a delicate business; here's my wife,
Insists that I must see that harper girl
And find if Dâvus really gave us all
The trinkets. . . . Ah, that kind old gentleman
Who helped me so! I'm sure he'd introduce me . . .
Allow me to congratulate you, Sir;
True happiness is to make others happy,
And that you have done indeed. It's all your work;
That poor lost baby saved, the father found
Both re-united to the lovely mother,
All thanks to you!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                   Infernal impudence!
Who sent you here to mock me? Out, you dog!

                             SYRISCUS

Help! Help! What have I done? This is a case
For arbitration--peaceful arbitration . . .
    [_Exit_ SMÎCRINÊS, _driving_ SYRISCUS _before him_.

 ACT IV


SMÎCRINÊS _and_ PAMPHILÊ _come out of_ CHARISIUS'S _House, talking_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

For you, my child, I am making the whole business
As easy as possible. You take no part
In the discussion; you make no complaint,
No charges. Nobody need hear a word
Of his own wasteful conduct or the wrongs
He has done to _you_. All that I don't discuss.
My case is amply strong enough without it.
"I gave my daughter to this man believing
He was a man of substance; now I find
He is not in a position to support her,
And take her back. Who wouldn't?"--As for you,
My dear, don't be afraid that you'll be left
Stranded. I know a man of good position,
A friend to me, steady and well-connected,
Who'll marry you at once.

                            PAMPHILÊ

                          Oh, father, stop!
Please--though I feel it's really you, not I,
Who ought to say all this. You are so much wiser
Than I, and put things better. But this time
I think it's I who see what's right and true.
If he's committed some great public crime,
That's for the law to deal with, not for me.
But if it's only something personal
To me, it's odd that I've not noticed it.
I don't know what it is. No doubt I'm stupid;
A woman seldom has the brains to judge
Of public things, but surely in her own
Sphere, where she's touched herself, she is fairly sharp.
I don't feel wronged; but if you think I am,
Please tell me what he has done! I only know
The old accepted law for man and wife;
That, all life long, he should be kind to her,
And she, all life long, do what pleases him.
Well, Father, I have always found him just
The husband that I wished, and everything
That has pleased one of us has pleased the other.
I call that a good husband--but he's ruined,
You say; so now you mean to change me over
To one with property enough to save me
From all my troubles. Has he enough for that?
Where will you find such riches as can ever
Repay me for the man you take away?
And what of justice, what of decency,
If I who was full partner in his wealth
Am not allowed to share his poverty?
  As for this man who means to marry me--
(Which God forbid, and which while I have will
And strength left in me, he shall never do!)
Suppose he, too, has losses, do you mean
To pass me on to a third? And if he fails,
To a fourth? How far do you intend to go,
Handing me round for your experiments
On Fortune? . . . Father, when I was a girl,
It was your business to decide what husband
To give me to. The choice was yours to make.
But once you've chosen and I have left your house--
My marriage is my own; and if I now
Judge wrongly it's my own life that I wreck.
Father, I beg you by our hearth and home,
Don't take me from this man into whose arms
You gave me. I ask simply what is fair
And kind. If you refuse, well, you'll have got
Your way by force, and I must try to bear
My lot without being utterly ashamed.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

My child, I am saving you from certain ruin.

                            PAMPHILÊ

"Saving"! But if your saving is a thing
You can't persuade me to, it's more a slave
You make me than a daughter.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                               My dear child,
Is it a case for arguing and persuading?
Isn't it obvious? Don't the facts themselves
Cry out? However, if you want me also
To argue, I'll just put a point or two.
First, child, your marriage is already wrecked,
Wrecked both for him and you. It's possible
He may enjoy himself, but certainly
You won't. You'd wish to be a loving wife?
You'll never be allowed. He doesn't want you.
  If you persist in staying, do you mean him
To keep two houses? One for his new fancy
And one for you? He won't like the expense.
Everything doubled. All the household feasts,
Two Thesmophoria parties--very costly--
Two Skira feasts. Meantime, try to imagine
Your own life. Don't we know what it will be?
"Excuse him for to-day: urgent affairs
At the Piraeus." Off he goes, and doesn't
Come back, and you'll be hurt. You'll wait alone
Hour after hour, not dining till he comes;
You fasting while he's drinking with that girl!
God bless me, even now he has left the house
To join his harp-player. All right, I say;
You leave it too, for ever!

                            PAMPHILÊ

                           May I speak?
I know Charisius. What I said about him
Just now is really true. He has never been
Unkind to me before. Something has changed him
In these last weeks. It may be I've displeased him
In some way I don't know. Some day he'll speak
About it and perhaps I can explain,
And be a better wife, and he'll forgive me . . .
At least, he may. And then he'll change again
And be himself. For me, I am quite content
To wait and hope. To go on as we are
At least a year or two will not use up
My dowry. I can live quite modestly.
And save on the housekeeping. I love my husband
And want to keep him.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      Can you hope to keep him?
Does _he_ want to keep _you_? You have a rival.
More than a rival.

                            PAMPHILÊ

                  Only a dancing girl!
All young men have these fancies . . . though I never
Thought that _he_ would; fancies that come and go;
Sudden, not lasting things. I am not afraid.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

It's not an equal battle, Pamphilê,
An honest woman matched against a whore:
They have the odds all round; they cheat and lie;
They have no shame; they flatter and deceive
In ways you never dream of; they know more;
They know the world, they know men's weaknesses . . .

                            PAMPHILÊ

I am more to him than a dozen dancing girls!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Ah, but it's not a dozen. It's just one;
One only, and she the mother of his child.
He acknowledges the boy, accepts her word,
And next thing, I suppose, will set her free
And lodge her in this house. . . . You have no child.

                      PAMPHILÊ (_collapsing_)

Father, I'll go. This woman has more right
Than I have. She'll do better than I've done.
Send Sôphronê to help me, and I'll follow.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Good, child; I knew that you'd be reasonable.
I'll fetch her; an old Nurse can give the sort
Of comfort that you need.

                      PAMPHILÊ (_embarrassed_)

                           Leave special orders
That she is to be admitted.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                           Special orders?

                            PAMPHILÊ

I mean, the porter might not understand.
He might not let her in.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         Not let her in?
Bless me, I never heard such impudence.
I'll bring her here myself. I'll let them see
You have a father and a home and friends.
                                    [_Exit_ SMÎCRINÊS.

                            PAMPHILÊ

Friends, have I? Is there one that I can trust?
No one but Sôphronê; and there's no comfort
In her. If only she had had the courage
To help me at the first to tell Charisius!
But no; she said it was a thing all men
Are merciless about. It hurts their pride
Somehow. . . . Why can't they leave it to the Goddess?
Our sin is against her, not against them.
One might have thought that, if he knew, he'd feel
Pity, as I should for another girl
So battered. . . . But of course I don't know how
A man would feel, and Sôphronê was sure.
"Hide everything," she said; "Hide everything.
Hide most of all the child, and never dream
Of seeing him again. It's the only way
To save his life." Oh, I've grown almost blind
With weeping. . . . If I only had a mother
Or sister; I could tell my sister best.
She would have understood. But now . . . no sister
No child, no husband, none that I dare speak to . . .
And Artemis, they say, never forgives.
    [_She sits, forward L, pondering. Enter_ HABROTONON
        _from House R., carrying the baby, wrapped in a torn
        crimson silk shawl. The two women do not see each other._

                            HABROTONON

I'll take him with me and search--What, whimpering, is he?
Poor mite! I've no idea what's wrong with him.
                               [_Sits, back near House._

                            PAMPHILÊ

Is there no merciful god to pity me?

                            HABROTONON

Dear pretty, never mind! We'll find your mother;
We'll search the city for her.

                       PAMPHILÊ (_rising_)

                               Well, I'll go.
    [_She moves slowly towards the House_; HABROTONON
        _sees her for the first time, and stares_.

                      HABROTONON (_rising_)

Lady! One moment!

                            PAMPHILÊ

                 Did you call me?

                            HABROTONON

                                    Yes.
Please look at me, and see if you remember
Something.
                             (PAMPHILÊ _gazes at her_.)
          It is! It's she! Oh, I'm so glad.

                            PAMPHILÊ

Who are you? What do you mean?

                            HABROTONON

                                   Give me your hand.
Poor darling; tell me, did you go last year
To see the Tauropolia in a red
Tarentine silk?

               PAMPHILÊ (_her eyes on the baby's shawl_)

               Woman, where did you get
That baby?

                            HABROTONON

           Do you recognize the shawl?
My dear . . . My dear, don't be afraid of me!

                            PAMPHILÊ

That's not your own child?

                            HABROTONON

                             No; I've passed it off
As mine . . . oh, not to do his mother wrong,
But to get time to find her. And I have!
I've found you! You're the girl I saw that night!

           PAMPHILÊ (_bursts into tears, then grasping her_)

The man! Who was that man?

                            HABROTONON

                             Charisius.

                            PAMPHILÊ

                                          No! . . .
Oh, bless you! Do you know it? Are you sure?

                            HABROTONON

Certain. But you: you came out of his house.
Aren't you his wife?

                            PAMPHILÊ

                          Yes.

                            HABROTONON

                           Happy, happy woman!
Some merciful god has pitied both of you.
            [_Knocks are heard on the door of House L._
Stop! Someone next door knocking! Take me in.
Here! To this house. I'll tell you everything.
                                 [_Exeunt into House R._
                     [_Enter_ ONÊSIMUS _from House L._

                             ONÊSIMUS

He's dotty! Upon my word he's going mad!
He _is_ mad! No, but really, by the Gods,
He's off his head, Charisius, I mean,
My master. It's a cardiac paroxysm
Of the Black Gall, or something. I don't see
How else you can explain it. There he stood
Just now, ever so long, against the door,
Peering and listening, while just outside
Old Smîcrinês was grumbling to his daughter
All, I suppose, about this mess of ours.
As men of the world, I hardly like to tell you
How he kept changing colour: "O my sweetest,"
He cried. "What things you say!" and beat his head--
His own head! Then again, after a bit,
"God help me, what a wife I have had and lost!"
Then, when he'd heard all that there was to hear,
And crept away at last to his own room,
What groans and tearing of the hair! Just one
Continuous raving! "Blackguard that I am,"
He kept on, "when I had done a thing like that,
And made myself the father of a bastard,
To feel no pity, show no spark of mercy
To her in just the same plight! Barbarous!
Utterly heartless!" He's in such a state,
Half-mad, cursing himself and looking murder,
It's dangerous. I am all shrivelled up with fear.
As he is now, if he caught sight of me,
Who first obliged him with the information
About that baby, he might kill me dead.
No one has seen me slip out of the house,
But where to go to now, or what to think . . .
Ah! Someone coming out! I'm lost, I'm done for!
O Zeus the Saviour, save me if you can!
             [_Hides in the branches of the tree R._
                                    [_Enter_ CHARISIUS.

                            CHARISIUS

Am I a paragon? Always with an eye
For how things look! Such a discerning judge
Of honour and dishonour! So correct
And irreproachable in private life!
Some Power above has given me just the medicine
I needed, just the right appropriate thing
To make me see my vileness! "What," it says,
You miserable creature, puffed with pride
And fine words, so you can't forgive your wife
For--what? For being wronged, not doing wrong.
I'll make you see yourself in the same mess,
Blundering. I'll show you her all love and kindness
To you, and you all angry pride to her.
That ought to teach you what you are: pig-headed,
Hard-hearted, and most wretched all at once.
You heard her with her father? How like you!
"I am the partner of his life," she said:
"I cannot run away from the misfortune
That's fallen upon him." Now, my high and mighty
Barbarian, what do you mean to do with her? . . .
Go, clasp her to your heart; beg her forgiveness!
Or may all Furies . . . ! H'm. Of course there'll be
Her father too. He's sure to be hot-headed
And violent when he knows. Oh, damn her father!
I'll tell him bluntly: "My good Smîcrinês,
Let me alone. My wife's not leaving me.
Why make these storms and bully Pamphilê? . . ."
    [ONÊSIMUS, _peering round, falls out of tree with a crash_.
What? You again? What are you doing here?

                             ONÊSIMUS

Oh, this is quite bad; very bad. Ye Gods
Above me, help! Don't leave me in this soup!

                            CHARISIUS

You dirty dog, have you been skulking here
And listening?

                             ONÊSIMUS

             No; I swear. I've just come out
This moment.

                            CHARISIUS

             Is there nothing one can keep
From you? I catch you hiding everywhere,
Onêsimus, listening to every word. . . .

                             ONÊSIMUS

Isn't it natural I should try to hide
When you go round, like murder and damnation?

                            CHARISIUS

Here, rogue, I'll teach you to know everything.
    [ONÊSIMUS _runs away_; CHARISIUS _pursues him_.
              [_Enter from the House_ HABROTONON.

                            HABROTONON

Stop! Or you'll show that you yourself know nothing.

                            CHARISIUS

Who's this? You?--What have you to do with this?
Why aren't you in the house, minding that baby?

                            HABROTONON

I have given it to its mother. It's not mine.

                            CHARISIUS

Not yours? Not?--How? Was that whole tale a fraud
Of you two knaves?--Keep off, I'll see you later.

                            HABROTONON

Which will you do, send me away, or listen
To what we have to say, and learn the truth?

                            CHARISIUS

The truth . . . from two false disobedient slaves?

                            HABROTONON

Yes, hidden truth by a slave's trick revealed.

                             ONÊSIMUS

I was so frightened, Master. I just wanted
To experiment on you, to find you out . . .

                            CHARISIUS

To find me out . . . to experiment on me?

                             ONÊSIMUS

The woman made me. I take my oath she did.
                        [_Clasps_ CHARISIUS'S _knees_.

                            CHARISIUS

Don't pull me about, you rogue!

                            HABROTONON

                                Don't beat the man!
Listen! It's great news. Listen!--Your own wife,
No poor strange girl, is mother to that child.

                            CHARISIUS

I wish to God it could be so.

                            HABROTONON

                              It is.
So may Demeter love me!

                            CHARISIUS

                        Fairy tales.
You're telling me!

                            HABROTONON

                   A fairy tale come true!

                            CHARISIUS

That boy is Pamphilê's? An hour ago
You told me it was mine.

                            HABROTONON

                         Yes. So it is.

                            CHARISIUS

And Pamphilê's? Habro, I'm serious.
Don't wing me with false hopes.

                            HABROTONON

                             The wings will bear you.
I told you I was at the Tauropolia
Last year, and that I saw--all that was true--
A girl alone, who ran out of the darkness
Weeping and terrified . . .

                            CHARISIUS

                        Brute that I was!

                            HABROTONON

I did not know her name, but I remembered
Her face.

                            CHARISIUS

          You ought to have told me this before!

                            HABROTONON

How could I tell you till I knew myself?

                            CHARISIUS

Yes, I see that.

                            HABROTONON

                I had no clue, no guess,
Who the girl was, till now at your own door
I have seen her.

          CHARISIUS, _deeply moved, sits silently thinking_.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                 There! I told you long ago
She'd had a baby . . .

                            HABROTONON

                     Stupid! Hold your tongue!

                        CHARISIUS (_rising_)

The wrong I did was greater than I knew.
I'll ask her to forgive me. I'll go now.
                       [_Turning on his way to the House._
I owe you a great debt. I promised you,
Freedom, Habrotonon, when I believed
You the child's mother. Well, that promise holds.

                             ONÊSIMUS

What about me? I found the ring. I started
The whole affair.

                            CHARISIUS

                  You rascal! All the mischief
You've made . . .

                            HABROTONON

                 must be forgiven, Master, now.
Without him I should never have unravelled
The secret; you would never have won back
Your wife and child. Rogue as he is, to you
He has been always faithful.

                            CHARISIUS

                             Yes; he's been
True to his master. . . . Well, I'll trust you still.
                                     [_Exit into House A._

             HABROTONON (_to herself, deeply moved_)

Freedom! O Saviour Gods, I bless your name!

                      ONÊSIMUS (_jubilant_)

I knew I'd pull it off. I always do.

 ACT IV


SMÎCRINÊS _and_ PAMPHILÊ _come out of_ CHARISIUS'S _House, talking_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

For you, my child, I am making the whole business
As easy as possible. You take no part
In the discussion; you make no complaint,
No charges. Nobody need hear a word
Of his own wasteful conduct or the wrongs
He has done to _you_. All that I don't discuss.
My case is amply strong enough without it.
"I gave my daughter to this man believing
He was a man of substance; now I find
He is not in a position to support her,
And take her back. Who wouldn't?"--As for you,
My dear, don't be afraid that you'll be left
Stranded. I know a man of good position,
A friend to me, steady and well-connected,
Who'll marry you at once.

                            PAMPHILÊ

                          Oh, father, stop!
Please--though I feel it's really you, not I,
Who ought to say all this. You are so much wiser
Than I, and put things better. But this time
I think it's I who see what's right and true.
If he's committed some great public crime,
That's for the law to deal with, not for me.
But if it's only something personal
To me, it's odd that I've not noticed it.
I don't know what it is. No doubt I'm stupid;
A woman seldom has the brains to judge
Of public things, but surely in her own
Sphere, where she's touched herself, she is fairly sharp.
I don't feel wronged; but if you think I am,
Please tell me what he has done! I only know
The old accepted law for man and wife;
That, all life long, he should be kind to her,
And she, all life long, do what pleases him.
Well, Father, I have always found him just
The husband that I wished, and everything
That has pleased one of us has pleased the other.
I call that a good husband--but he's ruined,
You say; so now you mean to change me over
To one with property enough to save me
From all my troubles. Has he enough for that?
Where will you find such riches as can ever
Repay me for the man you take away?
And what of justice, what of decency,
If I who was full partner in his wealth
Am not allowed to share his poverty?
  As for this man who means to marry me--
(Which God forbid, and which while I have will
And strength left in me, he shall never do!)
Suppose he, too, has losses, do you mean
To pass me on to a third? And if he fails,
To a fourth? How far do you intend to go,
Handing me round for your experiments
On Fortune? . . . Father, when I was a girl,
It was your business to decide what husband
To give me to. The choice was yours to make.
But once you've chosen and I have left your house--
My marriage is my own; and if I now
Judge wrongly it's my own life that I wreck.
Father, I beg you by our hearth and home,
Don't take me from this man into whose arms
You gave me. I ask simply what is fair
And kind. If you refuse, well, you'll have got
Your way by force, and I must try to bear
My lot without being utterly ashamed.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

My child, I am saving you from certain ruin.

                            PAMPHILÊ

"Saving"! But if your saving is a thing
You can't persuade me to, it's more a slave
You make me than a daughter.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                               My dear child,
Is it a case for arguing and persuading?
Isn't it obvious? Don't the facts themselves
Cry out? However, if you want me also
To argue, I'll just put a point or two.
First, child, your marriage is already wrecked,
Wrecked both for him and you. It's possible
He may enjoy himself, but certainly
You won't. You'd wish to be a loving wife?
You'll never be allowed. He doesn't want you.
  If you persist in staying, do you mean him
To keep two houses? One for his new fancy
And one for you? He won't like the expense.
Everything doubled. All the household feasts,
Two Thesmophoria parties--very costly--
Two Skira feasts. Meantime, try to imagine
Your own life. Don't we know what it will be?
"Excuse him for to-day: urgent affairs
At the Piraeus." Off he goes, and doesn't
Come back, and you'll be hurt. You'll wait alone
Hour after hour, not dining till he comes;
You fasting while he's drinking with that girl!
God bless me, even now he has left the house
To join his harp-player. All right, I say;
You leave it too, for ever!

                            PAMPHILÊ

                           May I speak?
I know Charisius. What I said about him
Just now is really true. He has never been
Unkind to me before. Something has changed him
In these last weeks. It may be I've displeased him
In some way I don't know. Some day he'll speak
About it and perhaps I can explain,
And be a better wife, and he'll forgive me . . .
At least, he may. And then he'll change again
And be himself. For me, I am quite content
To wait and hope. To go on as we are
At least a year or two will not use up
My dowry. I can live quite modestly.
And save on the housekeeping. I love my husband
And want to keep him.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      Can you hope to keep him?
Does _he_ want to keep _you_? You have a rival.
More than a rival.

                            PAMPHILÊ

                  Only a dancing girl!
All young men have these fancies . . . though I never
Thought that _he_ would; fancies that come and go;
Sudden, not lasting things. I am not afraid.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

It's not an equal battle, Pamphilê,
An honest woman matched against a whore:
They have the odds all round; they cheat and lie;
They have no shame; they flatter and deceive
In ways you never dream of; they know more;
They know the world, they know men's weaknesses . . .

                            PAMPHILÊ

I am more to him than a dozen dancing girls!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Ah, but it's not a dozen. It's just one;
One only, and she the mother of his child.
He acknowledges the boy, accepts her word,
And next thing, I suppose, will set her free
And lodge her in this house. . . . You have no child.

                      PAMPHILÊ (_collapsing_)

Father, I'll go. This woman has more right
Than I have. She'll do better than I've done.
Send Sôphronê to help me, and I'll follow.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Good, child; I knew that you'd be reasonable.
I'll fetch her; an old Nurse can give the sort
Of comfort that you need.

                      PAMPHILÊ (_embarrassed_)

                           Leave special orders
That she is to be admitted.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                           Special orders?

                            PAMPHILÊ

I mean, the porter might not understand.
He might not let her in.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         Not let her in?
Bless me, I never heard such impudence.
I'll bring her here myself. I'll let them see
You have a father and a home and friends.
                                    [_Exit_ SMÎCRINÊS.

                            PAMPHILÊ

Friends, have I? Is there one that I can trust?
No one but Sôphronê; and there's no comfort
In her. If only she had had the courage
To help me at the first to tell Charisius!
But no; she said it was a thing all men
Are merciless about. It hurts their pride
Somehow. . . . Why can't they leave it to the Goddess?
Our sin is against her, not against them.
One might have thought that, if he knew, he'd feel
Pity, as I should for another girl
So battered. . . . But of course I don't know how
A man would feel, and Sôphronê was sure.
"Hide everything," she said; "Hide everything.
Hide most of all the child, and never dream
Of seeing him again. It's the only way
To save his life." Oh, I've grown almost blind
With weeping. . . . If I only had a mother
Or sister; I could tell my sister best.
She would have understood. But now . . . no sister
No child, no husband, none that I dare speak to . . .
And Artemis, they say, never forgives.
    [_She sits, forward L, pondering. Enter_ HABROTONON
        _from House R., carrying the baby, wrapped in a torn
        crimson silk shawl. The two women do not see each other._

                            HABROTONON

I'll take him with me and search--What, whimpering, is he?
Poor mite! I've no idea what's wrong with him.
                               [_Sits, back near House._

                            PAMPHILÊ

Is there no merciful god to pity me?

                            HABROTONON

Dear pretty, never mind! We'll find your mother;
We'll search the city for her.

                       PAMPHILÊ (_rising_)

                               Well, I'll go.
    [_She moves slowly towards the House_; HABROTONON
        _sees her for the first time, and stares_.

                      HABROTONON (_rising_)

Lady! One moment!

                            PAMPHILÊ

                 Did you call me?

                            HABROTONON

                                    Yes.
Please look at me, and see if you remember
Something.
                             (PAMPHILÊ _gazes at her_.)
          It is! It's she! Oh, I'm so glad.

                            PAMPHILÊ

Who are you? What do you mean?

                            HABROTONON

                                   Give me your hand.
Poor darling; tell me, did you go last year
To see the Tauropolia in a red
Tarentine silk?

               PAMPHILÊ (_her eyes on the baby's shawl_)

               Woman, where did you get
That baby?

                            HABROTONON

           Do you recognize the shawl?
My dear . . . My dear, don't be afraid of me!

                            PAMPHILÊ

That's not your own child?

                            HABROTONON

                             No; I've passed it off
As mine . . . oh, not to do his mother wrong,
But to get time to find her. And I have!
I've found you! You're the girl I saw that night!

           PAMPHILÊ (_bursts into tears, then grasping her_)

The man! Who was that man?

                            HABROTONON

                             Charisius.

                            PAMPHILÊ

                                          No! . . .
Oh, bless you! Do you know it? Are you sure?

                            HABROTONON

Certain. But you: you came out of his house.
Aren't you his wife?

                            PAMPHILÊ

                          Yes.

                            HABROTONON

                           Happy, happy woman!
Some merciful god has pitied both of you.
            [_Knocks are heard on the door of House L._
Stop! Someone next door knocking! Take me in.
Here! To this house. I'll tell you everything.
                                 [_Exeunt into House R._
                     [_Enter_ ONÊSIMUS _from House L._

                             ONÊSIMUS

He's dotty! Upon my word he's going mad!
He _is_ mad! No, but really, by the Gods,
He's off his head, Charisius, I mean,
My master. It's a cardiac paroxysm
Of the Black Gall, or something. I don't see
How else you can explain it. There he stood
Just now, ever so long, against the door,
Peering and listening, while just outside
Old Smîcrinês was grumbling to his daughter
All, I suppose, about this mess of ours.
As men of the world, I hardly like to tell you
How he kept changing colour: "O my sweetest,"
He cried. "What things you say!" and beat his head--
His own head! Then again, after a bit,
"God help me, what a wife I have had and lost!"
Then, when he'd heard all that there was to hear,
And crept away at last to his own room,
What groans and tearing of the hair! Just one
Continuous raving! "Blackguard that I am,"
He kept on, "when I had done a thing like that,
And made myself the father of a bastard,
To feel no pity, show no spark of mercy
To her in just the same plight! Barbarous!
Utterly heartless!" He's in such a state,
Half-mad, cursing himself and looking murder,
It's dangerous. I am all shrivelled up with fear.
As he is now, if he caught sight of me,
Who first obliged him with the information
About that baby, he might kill me dead.
No one has seen me slip out of the house,
But where to go to now, or what to think . . .
Ah! Someone coming out! I'm lost, I'm done for!
O Zeus the Saviour, save me if you can!
             [_Hides in the branches of the tree R._
                                    [_Enter_ CHARISIUS.

                            CHARISIUS

Am I a paragon? Always with an eye
For how things look! Such a discerning judge
Of honour and dishonour! So correct
And irreproachable in private life!
Some Power above has given me just the medicine
I needed, just the right appropriate thing
To make me see my vileness! "What," it says,
You miserable creature, puffed with pride
And fine words, so you can't forgive your wife
For--what? For being wronged, not doing wrong.
I'll make you see yourself in the same mess,
Blundering. I'll show you her all love and kindness
To you, and you all angry pride to her.
That ought to teach you what you are: pig-headed,
Hard-hearted, and most wretched all at once.
You heard her with her father? How like you!
"I am the partner of his life," she said:
"I cannot run away from the misfortune
That's fallen upon him." Now, my high and mighty
Barbarian, what do you mean to do with her? . . .
Go, clasp her to your heart; beg her forgiveness!
Or may all Furies . . . ! H'm. Of course there'll be
Her father too. He's sure to be hot-headed
And violent when he knows. Oh, damn her father!
I'll tell him bluntly: "My good Smîcrinês,
Let me alone. My wife's not leaving me.
Why make these storms and bully Pamphilê? . . ."
    [ONÊSIMUS, _peering round, falls out of tree with a crash_.
What? You again? What are you doing here?

                             ONÊSIMUS

Oh, this is quite bad; very bad. Ye Gods
Above me, help! Don't leave me in this soup!

                            CHARISIUS

You dirty dog, have you been skulking here
And listening?

                             ONÊSIMUS

             No; I swear. I've just come out
This moment.

                            CHARISIUS

             Is there nothing one can keep
From you? I catch you hiding everywhere,
Onêsimus, listening to every word. . . .

                             ONÊSIMUS

Isn't it natural I should try to hide
When you go round, like murder and damnation?

                            CHARISIUS

Here, rogue, I'll teach you to know everything.
    [ONÊSIMUS _runs away_; CHARISIUS _pursues him_.
              [_Enter from the House_ HABROTONON.

                            HABROTONON

Stop! Or you'll show that you yourself know nothing.

                            CHARISIUS

Who's this? You?--What have you to do with this?
Why aren't you in the house, minding that baby?

                            HABROTONON

I have given it to its mother. It's not mine.

                            CHARISIUS

Not yours? Not?--How? Was that whole tale a fraud
Of you two knaves?--Keep off, I'll see you later.

                            HABROTONON

Which will you do, send me away, or listen
To what we have to say, and learn the truth?

                            CHARISIUS

The truth . . . from two false disobedient slaves?

                            HABROTONON

Yes, hidden truth by a slave's trick revealed.

                             ONÊSIMUS

I was so frightened, Master. I just wanted
To experiment on you, to find you out . . .

                            CHARISIUS

To find me out . . . to experiment on me?

                             ONÊSIMUS

The woman made me. I take my oath she did.
                        [_Clasps_ CHARISIUS'S _knees_.

                            CHARISIUS

Don't pull me about, you rogue!

                            HABROTONON

                                Don't beat the man!
Listen! It's great news. Listen!--Your own wife,
No poor strange girl, is mother to that child.

                            CHARISIUS

I wish to God it could be so.

                            HABROTONON

                              It is.
So may Demeter love me!

                            CHARISIUS

                        Fairy tales.
You're telling me!

                            HABROTONON

                   A fairy tale come true!

                            CHARISIUS

That boy is Pamphilê's? An hour ago
You told me it was mine.

                            HABROTONON

                         Yes. So it is.

                            CHARISIUS

And Pamphilê's? Habro, I'm serious.
Don't wing me with false hopes.

                            HABROTONON

                             The wings will bear you.
I told you I was at the Tauropolia
Last year, and that I saw--all that was true--
A girl alone, who ran out of the darkness
Weeping and terrified . . .

                            CHARISIUS

                        Brute that I was!

                            HABROTONON

I did not know her name, but I remembered
Her face.

                            CHARISIUS

          You ought to have told me this before!

                            HABROTONON

How could I tell you till I knew myself?

                            CHARISIUS

Yes, I see that.

                            HABROTONON

                I had no clue, no guess,
Who the girl was, till now at your own door
I have seen her.

          CHARISIUS, _deeply moved, sits silently thinking_.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                 There! I told you long ago
She'd had a baby . . .

                            HABROTONON

                     Stupid! Hold your tongue!

                        CHARISIUS (_rising_)

The wrong I did was greater than I knew.
I'll ask her to forgive me. I'll go now.
                       [_Turning on his way to the House._
I owe you a great debt. I promised you,
Freedom, Habrotonon, when I believed
You the child's mother. Well, that promise holds.

                             ONÊSIMUS

What about me? I found the ring. I started
The whole affair.

                            CHARISIUS

                  You rascal! All the mischief
You've made . . .

                            HABROTONON

                 must be forgiven, Master, now.
Without him I should never have unravelled
The secret; you would never have won back
Your wife and child. Rogue as he is, to you
He has been always faithful.

                            CHARISIUS

                             Yes; he's been
True to his master. . . . Well, I'll trust you still.
                                     [_Exit into House A._

             HABROTONON (_to herself, deeply moved_)

Freedom! O Saviour Gods, I bless your name!

                      ONÊSIMUS (_jubilant_)

I knew I'd pull it off. I always do.

  ACT V


_Enter_ SÎMIAS _and_ CHAERESTRATUS _talking_.

                              SÎMIAS

We mustn't seem to avoid a friend in trouble.
The child is his. He gave the girl his word
For that before a dozen witnesses.
There's no way out. Well, you must just remain
A good friend to Charisius--Good, remember,
And true! That girl is not a common slave;
In heart and character she's a free woman.
Besides, she's now the mother of his child.
Therefore, Halt! No more ogling of the harpist!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

Why should you think I need all this advice?
I've no desire to ogle anyone,
Nor offer anyone condolences,
Nor yet congratulations. I'd just sooner
Be left alone. You go to him.

                              SÎMIAS

                              All right.
I'll do my best to find some words of comfort
For poor Charisius and his bonny boy!
Well, here goes! (_seeing_ HABROTONON) Prudence, prudence!
    [_As he goes into the House_, HABROTONON _enters and is
        going towards the House when_ CHAERESTRATUS _speaks_.

                      CHAERESTRATUS (_stiffly_)

                                     Pray allow me,
To offer you my warm congratulations.
I hear you are promised freedom.

                            HABROTONON

                                 Thank you, Sir,
That is so.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

            And perhaps still further honours?

                            HABROTONON

What higher honour is there?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                             Marriage?

                            HABROTONON

                                       No;
I have not heard of any.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                         But that child . . .

                            HABROTONON

Is with his mother. I'm just going to her.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

His mother?

                            HABROTONON

             Pamphilê.

                     CHAERESTRATUS (_amazed_)

                       Has Pamphilê
Bought it, or what? You said the child was yours.

                            HABROTONON

I had my reasons.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                  Then that rigmarole
You told . . .

                            HABROTONON

               Has served its purpose. Now we know
Not all of it was true.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                        A lie to make him
Believe the child was yours!

                            HABROTONON

                             Yes. Slaves are good
At lying. It's our chief accomplishment.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

You did him a great wrong! Made him confess
The child was his!

                            HABROTONON

                 It was. The ring proved that.
And when I once knew that, I had the clue
To find its mother.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                   But why should you find her?
If she was found you lost all claim upon him.
You were no more the mother of his child;
Why should he set you free?

                            HABROTONON

                            I took that risk.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

That risk! The risk of being held a slave
For ever!

                            HABROTONON

          What a slave I should have been,
And worse, if I had tried to hide the truth?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

I never knew a slave before who felt
In that way.

                            HABROTONON

             Why, what else was there to do?
Slave as I am, and hungering to be free,
I have a woman's heart. How could I leave
That child cast out and helpless, a free child
Born of a gentle house? Or how could I
Forget that wronged girl at the midnight feast?
Great liars as we slaves are, we can be honest.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

You had your freedom safe, and took the risk
Of losing it again!

                            HABROTONON

                   Safe, would you say?
No; any chance might have upset my story
And covered me with shame.
             [_Enter_ MAID _from House R. with tray_.
                           Are those the tokens?
You're taking them to the mistress? Leave them here.
I'll take them (_exit_ MAID). Think how deadly these would be
Against me! Look, except Charisius' ring,
They are all her things, not mine (_looking through them_).
                                  I never wore
Gold chains and precious stones . . . though once I had
A silver cup like that . . . rather like that.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

You, as a child?

                            HABROTONON

                Oh, I was quite a baby.
It had my name engraved, like Pamphilê's
On this.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

         It looks as if there'd been some name
Cut out here; and then Pamphilê's inscribed
Above it.

                            HABROTONON

          Oh, of course the cup is hers!
I never meant to claim it. I don't even
Remember properly what mine was like.

                CHAERESTRATUS (_looking at the cup_)

There was some name; but not Habrotonon.

                            HABROTONON

Habrotonon! Who'd give a child a name
Like that, a poor hired slave-performer's name,
Like "Pegs-and-strings" or "Catgut"? No; I had
A real name once.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                 What was it?

                            HABROTONON

                             I don't know.
Some grown-up name. They never called me by it . . .
They called me . . . Oh, just silly baby names.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

What was your father's name?

                            HABROTONON

                               How should I know?
I called him Dadda. I was very little.

                    CHAERESTRATUS (_with the cup_)

A K I can make out, and perhaps an L;
Kle, Kleo--

                            HABROTONON

            Kleo-- No; I'm only guessing.
I half thought . . . That's enough! I can quite see
What you expect; you think I'm going to tell you
The usual slave's romance, how I was born
Quite free and rich, but captured in the wars
Or lost at sea. You won't believe a word!
Why should you? I've no shred of proof to back
My fables.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

          I believe your every word.
I know you are free at heart, too true, too proud
For tricks that one can pardon in a slave.
But do try to remember. Any detail
Might give us clues . . .

                            HABROTONON

                          I haven't any clues!
I knew so little. I can just remember
Men fighting in the streets. I lost my doll.
And a man came and took me by the hand
And said: "Come on, my dear. The other children
Are waiting." So he took me to the Gate,
And there there was a crowd, and I was put
Among the smallest girls, and we were sold
Quickly, in bunches, to the slave-dealers.
Then later I was taught to play the harp
And given that stupid name . . . Oh, it's all useless.
I don't know where it was. I don't remember
My father's name. Most likely I never knew it.
I have no proofs.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                   What need have I of proofs?
Charisius is your guardian? I propose
To-day to ask him his ward's hand in marriage.

                            HABROTONON

No, no! I need some time to think; to learn
How to be free; to sit and taste my freedom;
Lie on the ground and whisper to the Earth
"Free, Mother, free at last!" No more unclean,
No more a coward! I want to wash my body,
And clean my soul of slavish fears and stains;
And be no more, in my own thoughts, as yours,
That harp-girl who was hired to smile and play,
Be kissed and revel at some drunken feast,
Or else be beaten. I want time to breathe . . .
--I must take in these things to Pamphilê.
    [_She picks up the tray. Enter from House_ SÎMIAS;
        _behind him_ ONÊSIMUS, _a large drinking cup
        in his hands, watches with interest_. CHAERESTRATUS
        _tries to hold_ HABROTONON, _but she slips by into the House_.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

But listen. Stay a moment.

                              SÎMIAS

                           What's all this?
Chaerestratus, I warned you!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                            Yes, you did!
You did! But wasn't that some time ago?
Hasn't there been a change?

                      SÎMIAS (_taken aback_)

                              Why, so there has.
I always said that girl ought to be free.
And if she's free . . . But you're so hasty. Come,
Let's talk it over.
                            [_Exeunt together to House B._

                             ONÊSIMUS

                   There he goes again!
After the harping girl! Well, I don't mind.
That girl's too clever for me. I can never
Quite make her out . . . I must say she's played fair
About our partnership. I've got full pardon
For everything, and special thanks for finding
That baby. I've not got liberty, like her.
But, Lord, why should I want it? She'll go free,
And lodge alone and work and weave and sew,
Eat little, wear cheap clothes, and sometimes get
On her good days a chance to play that harp
At temples: no more banqueting for her!
I like a big house, plenty of good grub,
Plenty of people, lots of news and gossip,
And secrets to find out. Besides I'm now
A privileged and powerful person, I'm
Trusted with secrets! . . . She's a pretty baggage
No doubt. Chaerestratus is quite right there.
Ah, what it is to have a temperate
Abstemious mind! (_takes a long drink_) If he'd had half my chances,
I bet he never could have kept his hands
Off such a girl. I can, by Jove, and will.
Here comes . . . Hullo! I'll have a lark with him.
                                                 [_Exit._
        [_Enter_ SMÎCRINÊS _and_ _Sôphronê_, _arguing_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

That's what you think? Plague take me, Sôphronê,
If I don't break your head! You'll scold me too,
Like all the others? Hasty, am I? Hasty,
Claiming my daughter back, you god-forsaken
Old reptile? Do you want me to sit smiling
While her egregious husband wolfs up all
Her dowry? And just talk and talk in hopes
To save my property? You're like the rest . . .
No, sharp's the word! So no more talk from you.
I've no dispute with anyone except
My daughter. As for you, I brought you here
Simply to make my daughter change her mind,
And be obedient--quickly--Sôphronê,
On our way home . . . I think you saw that pond
In passing . . . in that pond I mean to duck you
All night until you choke, or may I never
Know happiness again! I only want you
To see I'm right and not keep picking quarrels.
H'm, I must knock. The blessèd door is barred.
Ho, boys, there! Porter! Someone hurry up
And open. Why the Devil can't they hear me?
               [_Enter_ ONÊSIMUS (_still with the cup_).

                             ONÊSIMUS

Who's knocking at the door? Oh, Smîcrinês
The furious, come to fetch his precious dowry
And daughter!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

             Yes, you infernal jackanapes.

                             ONÊSIMUS

How right you are! One sees you have a brain
Both philosophic and executive,
Good for abduction, good for burglary;
Splendid, by Hercules!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      O Gods and devils!

                             ONÊSIMUS

Gods? So you think the Gods have time to apportion
The appropriate bane and blessing, day by day,
To each man? . . . Do you really, Smîcrinês?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

What are you talking about?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Let me explain.
It's simple. There are cities in the world,
At least a hundred thousand. In each city
Say, thirty thousand citizens. The Gods,
You think, keep watch on each of these, all day
And every day, giving them all their due
Of good and evil?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                 What's all this?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                 I think
That works the Gods too hard. "Then don't they care
For human kind at all?" Of course they do.
They've billeted on every citizen
A special guardian, called his Temperament.
He's our unsleeping watchman. Use him wrong,
He'll plague you; right, and he's your preservation.
(You've never read psychology? Of course not.)
Our Temperament, why it's the God who guides
Each one of us, the cause of all our troubles
And pleasures. If you wish for happiness
Implore this God not to go doing things
Absurd or inconsiderate.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         What, you rascal?
It's doing something inconsiderate now,
My temperament?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                Your temperament's the plague
Of your whole life.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                    Infernal impudence!

                             ONÊSIMUS

Well, really, do you think it a good thing
To abduct one's daughter from her husband? Really?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Who says it's a good thing? It's only a thing
That must be done.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                   You see? The man maintains
A bad thing is a thing "that must be done."
Who sends him mad if not his Temperament?
However, it so happens that, before
You had time to do this bad thing, a pure chance
Has saved you. You've come just in time to find
Peace signed and those old troubles all washed out.
Let this be a lesson to you, Smîcrinês.
Don't let me ever catch you again behaving
So violently! Come in now; no more talk
Of grievances, and welcome to your arms
Your grandson.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

             Grandson, you infernal rogue?

                 ONÊSIMUS (_laughing helplessly_)

You wooden-head, you thought you were so clever,
Like lots of other fathers! That's the way
You watch over a marriageable girl!
No wonder we've strange babies to bring up,
Miraculous five-monthers!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         I don't know
What you are talking about.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           The old woman does,
Unless I am much mistaken . . . Sôphronê,
The Tauropolia; it was there my master
Found her alone; she had somehow lost the choir
She played in, and . . . you understand?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                                   Of course.

                             ONÊSIMUS

And now there's been a mutual recognition,
And all's well.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

              What does he mean, you wicked woman?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

"So Nature willed, who, heeding not man's laws
Invented women for this very cause."

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Have you gone mad?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                   Must I recite a whole
Tragic oration from Euripides?
I will if you can't see.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                        It makes me sick,
Your tragic stuff. You see only too well
What this man means?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                      Of course. I knew it all.

                             ONÊSIMUS

You bet your life. She knew it long ago,
That old nurse.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

               I'm disgraced.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                              Not you, unless
You choose to assume you are.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                              It's terrible!

                             SÔPHRONÊ

There never was a grander stroke of luck,
If this man's story is true. Our baby's father . . .

                             ONÊSIMUS

Is certainly Charisius. He admits it.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Is that the word? Of course it's his; and now
The scoundrel dares to claim that Pamphilê's
Its mother, so as not to lose my dowry.
He's welcome to his bastards. But my daughter
Is different. She has always been obedient,
And good. I don't believe a word of it.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

I know the child was hers.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                           What reason have I
To trust your word?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                   Ask Pamphilê herself.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

She loves that scoundrel. She'd say anything
To win him back to her. How do I know
You're not all in a plot to torture me
And save Charisius?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                     Have you seen the tokens?
                           [_Calling to the House._
Habrotonon, kindly bring those tokens out.
               [HABROTONON _brings them on the tray_.
These were the things set out beside the baby
When he was found. I know: I put them there;
I kept close watch upon him all the time,
And these are what I took from Pamphilê.

                   SMÎCRINÊS (_examining them_)

They're not all hers. I never saw that ring.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

Charisius' ring, that is.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                        This silver cup,
This wasn't Pamphilê's.

                            HABROTONON

                       Not hers? I wonder
Can it be really mine?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      Yours? This cup yours?
This was my elder daughter's cup.

                            HABROTONON

                                   I am sorry.
I thought it looked like . . . May I look again?
                               [SMÎCRINÊS _snatches it up_.
I know mine had my name engraved inside it.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

What name?

                            HABROTONON

           I don't know. I was very little.
Some grown-up name. They never called me by it.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

You don't know your own name. Perhaps you know
Your mother's name?

                            HABROTONON

                    We only called her Mother.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Where did your father live?

                            HABROTONON

                           It was some island,
I think.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

        Some island: which? (HABROTONON _is silent_)
     I never heard
A feebler piece of fraud. I should have thought
In your profession you'd acquire more skill.

                            HABROTONON

No, it's no good. It was a baby world
I lived in.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           That's enough. Back to your quarters!
One bastard grandchild's quite enough for me,
Without a harping slave-girl for a daughter.
    [HABROTONON _turns away, discomfited_. SÔPHRONÊ
        _has been looking closely at her_.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

Grasshopper!

                  HABROTONON (_turning suddenly_)

             Grasshopper! Who calls me that?
Who is it? . . . Sôpho! No! You can't be Sôpho.

                 SÔPHRONÊ (_embraces_ HABROTONON)

Grasshopper darling!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                    Stop! We have no proof!

                             SÔPHRONÊ

Be quiet, you stupid man! Haven't you said
Enough of harsh things you'll be sorry for?

                             ONÊSIMUS

Great Gods! Chaerestratus must know of this!
                                 [_Exit to House B._

                             SÔPHRONÊ

What happened, child, the day we lost you? Can you
Remember anything?

                            HABROTONON

                   A little. I
Was with my mother.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                    On the temple steps.
I left you while we tried to find a boat.

                            HABROTONON

Then suddenly she was gone. I couldn't find her.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

I found her.

                            HABROTONON

             Yes; and then a man came up
Smiling and said, "Come, dear; the other children
Are waiting."

                             SÔPHRONÊ

               So you went with him?

                            HABROTONON

                                     Why, yes.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Why did you go with him?

                            HABROTONON

                            He took my hand.
Besides, he sounded kind. Only I lost
My doll.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

         I know. I found it by her body.

                            HABROTONON

And so he brought us to the slave-dealers
Down by the quay, and sold us.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                              Oh, my child!
Forgive me. I have wronged you. I am old
And bitter, and see all things through a blur
Of loss and anger and bewilderment.
So many evil things I have seen and suffered.
By wars and wicked men: all whom I loved
Lost but one daughter, whom I sought to save
Too harshly, from dishonour--Sôphronê,
Take this great news to Pamphilê.
       [SÔPHRONÊ _and_ HABROTONON _go in together_.
                                   Great wrongs
They have suffered, both, but who dares speak the word
Dishonour? Both I count as innocent
And honourable women.
    [_Re-enter_ SÔPHRONÊ, _with_ HABROTONON, PAMPHILÊ
        _and_ CHARISIUS. PAMPHILÊ _carrying the Baby_.
                          Clearista,
You shall be free by nightfall. I shall pay
Your price this afternoon.

                            CHARISIUS

                           Excuse me, Sir,
This lady has done me a service past all counting,
And I have promised faithfully myself
To pay her ransom.
             [_Enter_ CHAERESTRATUS _with_ ONÊSIMUS.

                            SÔPHRONÊ

                   Well, be quick about it.
Whoever it is. Her owners mustn't hear
This story, or they'll raise her price beyond
Your worst foreboding.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                        Quite the contrary.
Leave this to me. I have some little knowledge
Of the Attic courts. I'll call upon these rascals
And face them with the charge that "by mere fraud
And violence they detain in slavery
A free-born body." They'll give in at once.
They must.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           What a remarkable young man!
Such knowledge of the law and such good sense
Combined! (_to_ CHARISIUS) My son-in-law, this man speaks well;
Who is he?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

           Sir, your second son-in-law,
With your permission!    [_Takes_ HABROTONON'S _arm_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      This is all too much
For me to understand. Yes; I'm bewildered.
Clearista, what say you?

                            HABROTONON

                        Well, this time Yes.
I am dreaming: how can I refuse a dream?
Is this still you and I? So changed we seem
And moved to a new world. Can this be me
And yonder Sôpho and here Pamphilê,
And father? A new world!

                            PAMPHILÊ

                        And where will you
Place him to whom the world is really new,
The man new-born, a symbol of that breath
Each year by which the race is snatched from death?
He has no past: his morning sweeps away
All clouds.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           Nay, child, there is a yesterday
Always. Past evil leaves a stress of dread
Under all joy. Have not our sages said,
When wounded men, lulled to oblivion deep
By that Egyptian poppy, slowly creep
Toward sense again, the first thing that they know
Is pain, for pain is life? Each infant so
By his first wailing makes good prophecy,
For man 'tis pain to live and pain to die.

                            SÔPHRONÊ

Pain first, but after . . . wonder, longing, strife,
Adventure, hopes and fears; all these are life;
Defeat, success, the worship of some truth
Or phantom, all the battle-joys of youth,
And ways of thought that, as youth fades, may still
Fill age with fragrance. Man, for good or ill,
And all his race, is even as this child
I saved, a frail thing, homeless in the wild,
Part pain, part hope, all daring; and who knows
Whence here it came or whither hence it goes?
For this the Man-Babe lives, these things to do
And suffer; thus he makes the world anew
At each new birth, still facing to a day
Unknown, and still the hero of his play.



                               
 

NOTES


The scene is an open space with two Houses at the back, as usual in the
New Comedy. The tree makes it easier for two people to be on the stage
together without seeing each other--a situation which often occurs.

The conceited and pedantic Cook is a regular New Comedy character, and
so is the valet or personal attendant, a cunning rogue, stupid and not
over-honest, but genuinely devoted to his young master.

As to the names, they come from the stock of New Comedy. As in
Restoration Comedy, they have meanings more or less suitable to the
character; Pamphilê, "_All-dear_"; Onêsimus, "_Helpful_"; Sôphronê,
"_Prudence_." Habrotonon, meaning something like "_softly or delicately
tuned_," is a name suited to a harpist's profession. The two slave names
Syriscus and Dâvus mean respectively, "_Little Syrian_" and "_Davian_,"
the Davi being a nomad tribe in Asia. Charisius has a suggestion of
"Pleasantness," Smîcrinês a suggestion of "meanness." The names,
however, are all real names taken from ordinary life; they are not
artificial inventions like "Lady Wishfor't," "Sir John Brute," or
"Sneerwell," in English comedy.


                               ACT I

p. 14. Sôphronê, as we shall see in Act V, is a silent person who gets
her way. She has more brains and more experience than the others.

p. 19. Chaerestratus is not a "young puppy," but an interesting
character. He is torn between his obvious, though unspoken, love for
Habrotonon, and his dislike of getting mixed up in a rowdy party or a
dishonourable intrigue.

p. 23. Small coins were usually carried in the mouth or the hand. (See
Blaydes on Aristophanes, _Eccles_. 818.) For bulkier things a fold of
the gown could be girded up as a pocket.

p. 24. PROLOGUE.--Menander's Prologues seem generally to have come in
this position, as second scenes after a first scene meant to rouse
curiosity and require explanation. In parody of the tragic prologue,
they are generally spoken by non-human characters with a touch of the
absurd about them, like the goddess Ignorance in the _Rape of the
Locks_. Callisto's account of herself here is roughly in agreement with
the story told by Hygînus and others, though no one seems to have
mentioned the "fourteen years' hard labour." Elsewhere she either
remained a bear or became a constellation.

p. 26. "all murderous males." By ancient law the father had an absolute
right to decide whether the child presented to him should or should not
be reared. If it proved to be the illegitimate child of his wife its
chances would be small.

p. 27. Smîcrinês (from _smikros_, "small") is said to have been a name
used in Comedy for misers. This Smîcrinês has some miserly traits but is
in general like one of the regular "cross old men." He becomes
progressively humanized as the play proceeds.

p. 28. Four talents, in gold about £960, was quite a large dowry for the
time. Polemo in the _Locks_ was pleased with three. The purchasing power
of money was vastly greater than now, and 10 per cent. a usual rate of
interest. Two obols a day was the regular "dole" for a pauper. See Tarn
in _The Hellenistic Age_ (Cambridge, 1932).

p. 29. "Some pessimist philosopher." Philosophy was, for various
reasons, a matter of great general interest at the time. Menander is
said to have been a close friend of Epicurus.

p. 32. "Young lads, and not too sober." This is the cue for the entry of
a Chorus of professional Dancers, performing a sort of ballet as an
_entr'acte_. The Chorus in the New Comedy had ceased to be an integral
part of the play. The song supplied here is based on a famous lyric in
the style of Anacreon. The youths are garlanded and wild but not tipsy.
They may be so when the revel breaks up in Act III.


                               ACT II

p. 34. These soliloquies, intended partly to reveal character, partly
just to keep the audience informed, however unrealistic they seem to us,
were a favourite device of Menander's, and show one side of his art.

p. 34. Young Habro: I venture, in accordance with a common Greek custom,
to shorten Habrotonon's name.

pp. 38-53. This scene, which has given the play its name, is fortunately
preserved in full on the papyrus, together with the rest of the Act.
Dâvus is a rough rustic; Syriscus a more brainy and polished oriental;
but both are poor slaves in goatskin cloaks.

p. 45. Nêleus and Pelias: Both were heroes of tragedies of the Nativity
Play type. To our taste this speech is obviously too long. To the
original audience there was amusement in the references to tragedy and
also in the surprising rhetorical fluency of the charcoal-burner.

p. 49. "After the rents are paid." Apparently Syriscus and Dâvus were
tenants of Charisius and had come up for a rent-day.

p. 52. "His friend next door. . . . The same house." Did the two
neighbouring villas have their slave-quarters in common?


                                ACT III

p. 54. Note how Onêsimus is constantly shifting from one extreme to
another, from over-confidence to terror, from belief in his own
cleverness to suspicion that he has made a fool of himself. See, for
example, his changes on pp. 65 and 84, or the last words in Act IV, p.
92.

It is in this Act that Habrotonon's character first becomes visible. She
is a free-born and courageous girl, now a slave. She has learned enough
of the impudence and cynicism of her trade, to be able to use them when
necessary, but essentially her feelings towards the exposed baby, the
wronged girl and the tipsy and ill-mannered young man, are those of a
free woman, womanly, self-respecting, and generous. Menander treats with
a curious reticence the tragedy which forms the background of
Habrotonon. It is indicated by a phrase or two, like "I know it well
enough" on p. 61, and the mention of her innocence at the time of last
year's Tauropolia, but does not come out clearly, if I read the author's
intention right, till the end of the play. The real slave, Onêsimus, is
incapable of understanding her.

p. 54. Habrotonon apparently came away at some early stage of the
dinner, and returned to the company during dessert, though, owing to
Cârion's inordinate delays dessert had not yet been reached.

"Free from contact": in the strict sense. He had not even shaken hands
with her.

p. 56. Tauropolia. This is the first mention of a feast called
Tauropolia in Attica. It seems to refer to the festival of Artemos
Tauropolos at Brauron, in which we happen to know that there was a dance
or performance of young girls--over the age of ten--pretending to be
bears.

p. 57. "That this charcoal-burner found." Habrotonon did not know it was
the shepherd who really found the baby.

p. 59. Tarentine. A "Tarentine" was a light, almost diaphanous wrap made
of the byssus, or fine linen of South Italy. The word is also applied to
silk.

p. 61. "I know it well enough." Evidently Habrotonon's owners had not
made her go out as a _hetaira_ to banquets until quite lately. This fits
in with the intensity of her feelings about the unknown girl at the
Tauropolia and about slavery in Act V.

p. 72. Daric. A Persian gold coin with a head of Darius.


                               ACT IV

pp. 75 ff. A curious critical question arises about the opening of this
Act. There is a gap in our text of about 23 lines in one place and about
94 later, just before Habrotonon's entrance. It must have contained
Smîcrinês's scene with his daughter, persuading her to leave her
husband. Now it so happens that on a papyrus published by Weil in 1879
there is a speech of 44 lines in which a young wife pleads with her
father not to make her leave her husband. It is headed in the papyrus
"Euripides," and seems to have been set as a school exercise. It is
certainly not Euripides, and almost certainly came from some play of the
New Comedy. Professor D. S. Robertson has made the very attractive
suggestion that it comes from this play and this place. The fit is not
perfect; but the situation is extremely similar; and the line of
pleading is just what Pamphilê might well have used. Her speech gives a
fine picture of a loving and dutiful wife, according to the ideas of
Menandrian Athens, but of course one must also remember her secret. She
knows that there is an excuse for Charisius which must not be mentioned.

p. 78. The Thesmophoria and Skira were two of the great Athenian
festivals. It seems curious that they should bulk so large in the
supposed expenses of Charisius, but that is characteristic of ancient
Greek life, or indeed that of any simple society; a very frugal daily
life with great outbursts on the important festivals.

pp. 82 ff. This recognition scene must be taken slowly and involves a
good deal of silent acting. It is a characteristic of Menander's style
to alternate scenes in which the language is everything with others in
which little is said and much indicated.

p. 84. "As men of the world." Onêsimus frankly addresses the audience.
This deliberate breach of the illusion is a trick that has lasted on
from Aristophanes to modern farce.

p. 84. In the stage convention doors usually opened outwards. You
knocked to warn people in the street.

p. 85. The bitter self-reproach of Charisius is interesting and shows
the vast gulf between the moral ideas of Menander and those of Wycherley
or Congreve. He is ashamed of his own action; at the same time it makes
him understand his wife's. She had been carried away by the excitements
of the Midnight Revel, as he was, and also was far less a free agent.

pp. 87 ff. Habrotonon speaks with calm, almost with authority; Charisius
is angry and bewildered; Onêsimus utterly frightened.


                               ACT V

p. 98. "Pegs-and-strings or Catgut." See p. 117. "Habrotonon" was a name
denoting her profession as a slave musician. Her real name, we find, was
Clearista.

p. 100. The slave dealers. They would naturally gather round a besieged
or sacked town to buy up prisoners of war or children whose parents were
lost or could not take care of them. Xenophon tells how Agêsilaus, King
of Sparta, made arrangements for protecting such children and old people
when he took a town (_Ages._ I. 21).

p. 100. A free woman would normally have a "guardian" of some sort, to
be responsible for her before the law. As Habrotonon had no husband or
older male relation it seems that Charisius, if he had bought her and
set her free, would act.

p. 101. "work and weave and sew." The virtuous free woman without a
family was apt to have a hard life, as we see from Terence.

pp. 103 ff. Onêsimus, presumably under the influence of his wine,
proceeds to talk philosophy. Philosophers were a strong influence in
Athens at the time.

p. 111. "Grasshopper." The Greek name of the cicada, "Tettix," was
sometimes given to children. We even hear of men so called.

 


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Transcriber's Notes:-

Pg 18 Omitted character name, CÂRION, inserted before dialogue
      "Man, I can't think of stories."

Minor punctuation errors and omissions corrected.


[The end of _The Arbitration_ by Gilbert Murray]

  ACT V


_Enter_ SÎMIAS _and_ CHAERESTRATUS _talking_.

                              SÎMIAS

We mustn't seem to avoid a friend in trouble.
The child is his. He gave the girl his word
For that before a dozen witnesses.
There's no way out. Well, you must just remain
A good friend to Charisius--Good, remember,
And true! That girl is not a common slave;
In heart and character she's a free woman.
Besides, she's now the mother of his child.
Therefore, Halt! No more ogling of the harpist!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

Why should you think I need all this advice?
I've no desire to ogle anyone,
Nor offer anyone condolences,
Nor yet congratulations. I'd just sooner
Be left alone. You go to him.

                              SÎMIAS

                              All right.
I'll do my best to find some words of comfort
For poor Charisius and his bonny boy!
Well, here goes! (_seeing_ HABROTONON) Prudence, prudence!
    [_As he goes into the House_, HABROTONON _enters and is
        going towards the House when_ CHAERESTRATUS _speaks_.

                      CHAERESTRATUS (_stiffly_)

                                     Pray allow me,
To offer you my warm congratulations.
I hear you are promised freedom.

                            HABROTONON

                                 Thank you, Sir,
That is so.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

            And perhaps still further honours?

                            HABROTONON

What higher honour is there?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                             Marriage?

                            HABROTONON

                                       No;
I have not heard of any.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                         But that child . . .

                            HABROTONON

Is with his mother. I'm just going to her.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

His mother?

                            HABROTONON

             Pamphilê.

                     CHAERESTRATUS (_amazed_)

                       Has Pamphilê
Bought it, or what? You said the child was yours.

                            HABROTONON

I had my reasons.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                  Then that rigmarole
You told . . .

                            HABROTONON

               Has served its purpose. Now we know
Not all of it was true.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                        A lie to make him
Believe the child was yours!

                            HABROTONON

                             Yes. Slaves are good
At lying. It's our chief accomplishment.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

You did him a great wrong! Made him confess
The child was his!

                            HABROTONON

                 It was. The ring proved that.
And when I once knew that, I had the clue
To find its mother.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                   But why should you find her?
If she was found you lost all claim upon him.
You were no more the mother of his child;
Why should he set you free?

                            HABROTONON

                            I took that risk.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

That risk! The risk of being held a slave
For ever!

                            HABROTONON

          What a slave I should have been,
And worse, if I had tried to hide the truth?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

I never knew a slave before who felt
In that way.

                            HABROTONON

             Why, what else was there to do?
Slave as I am, and hungering to be free,
I have a woman's heart. How could I leave
That child cast out and helpless, a free child
Born of a gentle house? Or how could I
Forget that wronged girl at the midnight feast?
Great liars as we slaves are, we can be honest.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

You had your freedom safe, and took the risk
Of losing it again!

                            HABROTONON

                   Safe, would you say?
No; any chance might have upset my story
And covered me with shame.
             [_Enter_ MAID _from House R. with tray_.
                           Are those the tokens?
You're taking them to the mistress? Leave them here.
I'll take them (_exit_ MAID). Think how deadly these would be
Against me! Look, except Charisius' ring,
They are all her things, not mine (_looking through them_).
                                  I never wore
Gold chains and precious stones . . . though once I had
A silver cup like that . . . rather like that.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

You, as a child?

                            HABROTONON

                Oh, I was quite a baby.
It had my name engraved, like Pamphilê's
On this.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

         It looks as if there'd been some name
Cut out here; and then Pamphilê's inscribed
Above it.

                            HABROTONON

          Oh, of course the cup is hers!
I never meant to claim it. I don't even
Remember properly what mine was like.

                CHAERESTRATUS (_looking at the cup_)

There was some name; but not Habrotonon.

                            HABROTONON

Habrotonon! Who'd give a child a name
Like that, a poor hired slave-performer's name,
Like "Pegs-and-strings" or "Catgut"? No; I had
A real name once.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                 What was it?

                            HABROTONON

                             I don't know.
Some grown-up name. They never called me by it . . .
They called me . . . Oh, just silly baby names.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

What was your father's name?

                            HABROTONON

                               How should I know?
I called him Dadda. I was very little.

                    CHAERESTRATUS (_with the cup_)

A K I can make out, and perhaps an L;
Kle, Kleo--

                            HABROTONON

            Kleo-- No; I'm only guessing.
I half thought . . . That's enough! I can quite see
What you expect; you think I'm going to tell you
The usual slave's romance, how I was born
Quite free and rich, but captured in the wars
Or lost at sea. You won't believe a word!
Why should you? I've no shred of proof to back
My fables.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

          I believe your every word.
I know you are free at heart, too true, too proud
For tricks that one can pardon in a slave.
But do try to remember. Any detail
Might give us clues . . .

                            HABROTONON

                          I haven't any clues!
I knew so little. I can just remember
Men fighting in the streets. I lost my doll.
And a man came and took me by the hand
And said: "Come on, my dear. The other children
Are waiting." So he took me to the Gate,
And there there was a crowd, and I was put
Among the smallest girls, and we were sold
Quickly, in bunches, to the slave-dealers.
Then later I was taught to play the harp
And given that stupid name . . . Oh, it's all useless.
I don't know where it was. I don't remember
My father's name. Most likely I never knew it.
I have no proofs.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                   What need have I of proofs?
Charisius is your guardian? I propose
To-day to ask him his ward's hand in marriage.

                            HABROTONON

No, no! I need some time to think; to learn
How to be free; to sit and taste my freedom;
Lie on the ground and whisper to the Earth
"Free, Mother, free at last!" No more unclean,
No more a coward! I want to wash my body,
And clean my soul of slavish fears and stains;
And be no more, in my own thoughts, as yours,
That harp-girl who was hired to smile and play,
Be kissed and revel at some drunken feast,
Or else be beaten. I want time to breathe . . .
--I must take in these things to Pamphilê.
    [_She picks up the tray. Enter from House_ SÎMIAS;
        _behind him_ ONÊSIMUS, _a large drinking cup
        in his hands, watches with interest_. CHAERESTRATUS
        _tries to hold_ HABROTONON, _but she slips by into the House_.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

But listen. Stay a moment.

                              SÎMIAS

                           What's all this?
Chaerestratus, I warned you!

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                            Yes, you did!
You did! But wasn't that some time ago?
Hasn't there been a change?

                      SÎMIAS (_taken aback_)

                              Why, so there has.
I always said that girl ought to be free.
And if she's free . . . But you're so hasty. Come,
Let's talk it over.
                            [_Exeunt together to House B._

                             ONÊSIMUS

                   There he goes again!
After the harping girl! Well, I don't mind.
That girl's too clever for me. I can never
Quite make her out . . . I must say she's played fair
About our partnership. I've got full pardon
For everything, and special thanks for finding
That baby. I've not got liberty, like her.
But, Lord, why should I want it? She'll go free,
And lodge alone and work and weave and sew,
Eat little, wear cheap clothes, and sometimes get
On her good days a chance to play that harp
At temples: no more banqueting for her!
I like a big house, plenty of good grub,
Plenty of people, lots of news and gossip,
And secrets to find out. Besides I'm now
A privileged and powerful person, I'm
Trusted with secrets! . . . She's a pretty baggage
No doubt. Chaerestratus is quite right there.
Ah, what it is to have a temperate
Abstemious mind! (_takes a long drink_) If he'd had half my chances,
I bet he never could have kept his hands
Off such a girl. I can, by Jove, and will.
Here comes . . . Hullo! I'll have a lark with him.
                                                 [_Exit._
        [_Enter_ SMÎCRINÊS _and_ _Sôphronê_, _arguing_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

That's what you think? Plague take me, Sôphronê,
If I don't break your head! You'll scold me too,
Like all the others? Hasty, am I? Hasty,
Claiming my daughter back, you god-forsaken
Old reptile? Do you want me to sit smiling
While her egregious husband wolfs up all
Her dowry? And just talk and talk in hopes
To save my property? You're like the rest . . .
No, sharp's the word! So no more talk from you.
I've no dispute with anyone except
My daughter. As for you, I brought you here
Simply to make my daughter change her mind,
And be obedient--quickly--Sôphronê,
On our way home . . . I think you saw that pond
In passing . . . in that pond I mean to duck you
All night until you choke, or may I never
Know happiness again! I only want you
To see I'm right and not keep picking quarrels.
H'm, I must knock. The blessèd door is barred.
Ho, boys, there! Porter! Someone hurry up
And open. Why the Devil can't they hear me?
               [_Enter_ ONÊSIMUS (_still with the cup_).

                             ONÊSIMUS

Who's knocking at the door? Oh, Smîcrinês
The furious, come to fetch his precious dowry
And daughter!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

             Yes, you infernal jackanapes.

                             ONÊSIMUS

How right you are! One sees you have a brain
Both philosophic and executive,
Good for abduction, good for burglary;
Splendid, by Hercules!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      O Gods and devils!

                             ONÊSIMUS

Gods? So you think the Gods have time to apportion
The appropriate bane and blessing, day by day,
To each man? . . . Do you really, Smîcrinês?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

What are you talking about?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                             Let me explain.
It's simple. There are cities in the world,
At least a hundred thousand. In each city
Say, thirty thousand citizens. The Gods,
You think, keep watch on each of these, all day
And every day, giving them all their due
Of good and evil?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                 What's all this?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                                 I think
That works the Gods too hard. "Then don't they care
For human kind at all?" Of course they do.
They've billeted on every citizen
A special guardian, called his Temperament.
He's our unsleeping watchman. Use him wrong,
He'll plague you; right, and he's your preservation.
(You've never read psychology? Of course not.)
Our Temperament, why it's the God who guides
Each one of us, the cause of all our troubles
And pleasures. If you wish for happiness
Implore this God not to go doing things
Absurd or inconsiderate.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         What, you rascal?
It's doing something inconsiderate now,
My temperament?

                             ONÊSIMUS

                Your temperament's the plague
Of your whole life.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                    Infernal impudence!

                             ONÊSIMUS

Well, really, do you think it a good thing
To abduct one's daughter from her husband? Really?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Who says it's a good thing? It's only a thing
That must be done.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                   You see? The man maintains
A bad thing is a thing "that must be done."
Who sends him mad if not his Temperament?
However, it so happens that, before
You had time to do this bad thing, a pure chance
Has saved you. You've come just in time to find
Peace signed and those old troubles all washed out.
Let this be a lesson to you, Smîcrinês.
Don't let me ever catch you again behaving
So violently! Come in now; no more talk
Of grievances, and welcome to your arms
Your grandson.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

             Grandson, you infernal rogue?

                 ONÊSIMUS (_laughing helplessly_)

You wooden-head, you thought you were so clever,
Like lots of other fathers! That's the way
You watch over a marriageable girl!
No wonder we've strange babies to bring up,
Miraculous five-monthers!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                         I don't know
What you are talking about.

                             ONÊSIMUS

                           The old woman does,
Unless I am much mistaken . . . Sôphronê,
The Tauropolia; it was there my master
Found her alone; she had somehow lost the choir
She played in, and . . . you understand?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                                   Of course.

                             ONÊSIMUS

And now there's been a mutual recognition,
And all's well.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

              What does he mean, you wicked woman?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

"So Nature willed, who, heeding not man's laws
Invented women for this very cause."

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Have you gone mad?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                   Must I recite a whole
Tragic oration from Euripides?
I will if you can't see.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                        It makes me sick,
Your tragic stuff. You see only too well
What this man means?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                      Of course. I knew it all.

                             ONÊSIMUS

You bet your life. She knew it long ago,
That old nurse.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

               I'm disgraced.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                              Not you, unless
You choose to assume you are.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                              It's terrible!

                             SÔPHRONÊ

There never was a grander stroke of luck,
If this man's story is true. Our baby's father . . .

                             ONÊSIMUS

Is certainly Charisius. He admits it.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Is that the word? Of course it's his; and now
The scoundrel dares to claim that Pamphilê's
Its mother, so as not to lose my dowry.
He's welcome to his bastards. But my daughter
Is different. She has always been obedient,
And good. I don't believe a word of it.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

I know the child was hers.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                           What reason have I
To trust your word?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                   Ask Pamphilê herself.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

She loves that scoundrel. She'd say anything
To win him back to her. How do I know
You're not all in a plot to torture me
And save Charisius?

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                     Have you seen the tokens?
                           [_Calling to the House._
Habrotonon, kindly bring those tokens out.
               [HABROTONON _brings them on the tray_.
These were the things set out beside the baby
When he was found. I know: I put them there;
I kept close watch upon him all the time,
And these are what I took from Pamphilê.

                   SMÎCRINÊS (_examining them_)

They're not all hers. I never saw that ring.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

Charisius' ring, that is.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                        This silver cup,
This wasn't Pamphilê's.

                            HABROTONON

                       Not hers? I wonder
Can it be really mine?

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      Yours? This cup yours?
This was my elder daughter's cup.

                            HABROTONON

                                   I am sorry.
I thought it looked like . . . May I look again?
                               [SMÎCRINÊS _snatches it up_.
I know mine had my name engraved inside it.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

What name?

                            HABROTONON

           I don't know. I was very little.
Some grown-up name. They never called me by it.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

You don't know your own name. Perhaps you know
Your mother's name?

                            HABROTONON

                    We only called her Mother.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Where did your father live?

                            HABROTONON

                           It was some island,
I think.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

        Some island: which? (HABROTONON _is silent_)
     I never heard
A feebler piece of fraud. I should have thought
In your profession you'd acquire more skill.

                            HABROTONON

No, it's no good. It was a baby world
I lived in.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           That's enough. Back to your quarters!
One bastard grandchild's quite enough for me,
Without a harping slave-girl for a daughter.
    [HABROTONON _turns away, discomfited_. SÔPHRONÊ
        _has been looking closely at her_.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

Grasshopper!

                  HABROTONON (_turning suddenly_)

             Grasshopper! Who calls me that?
Who is it? . . . Sôpho! No! You can't be Sôpho.

                 SÔPHRONÊ (_embraces_ HABROTONON)

Grasshopper darling!

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                    Stop! We have no proof!

                             SÔPHRONÊ

Be quiet, you stupid man! Haven't you said
Enough of harsh things you'll be sorry for?

                             ONÊSIMUS

Great Gods! Chaerestratus must know of this!
                                 [_Exit to House B._

                             SÔPHRONÊ

What happened, child, the day we lost you? Can you
Remember anything?

                            HABROTONON

                   A little. I
Was with my mother.

                             SÔPHRONÊ

                    On the temple steps.
I left you while we tried to find a boat.

                            HABROTONON

Then suddenly she was gone. I couldn't find her.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

I found her.

                            HABROTONON

             Yes; and then a man came up
Smiling and said, "Come, dear; the other children
Are waiting."

                             SÔPHRONÊ

               So you went with him?

                            HABROTONON

                                     Why, yes.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

Why did you go with him?

                            HABROTONON

                            He took my hand.
Besides, he sounded kind. Only I lost
My doll.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

         I know. I found it by her body.

                            HABROTONON

And so he brought us to the slave-dealers
Down by the quay, and sold us.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                              Oh, my child!
Forgive me. I have wronged you. I am old
And bitter, and see all things through a blur
Of loss and anger and bewilderment.
So many evil things I have seen and suffered.
By wars and wicked men: all whom I loved
Lost but one daughter, whom I sought to save
Too harshly, from dishonour--Sôphronê,
Take this great news to Pamphilê.
       [SÔPHRONÊ _and_ HABROTONON _go in together_.
                                   Great wrongs
They have suffered, both, but who dares speak the word
Dishonour? Both I count as innocent
And honourable women.
    [_Re-enter_ SÔPHRONÊ, _with_ HABROTONON, PAMPHILÊ
        _and_ CHARISIUS. PAMPHILÊ _carrying the Baby_.
                          Clearista,
You shall be free by nightfall. I shall pay
Your price this afternoon.

                            CHARISIUS

                           Excuse me, Sir,
This lady has done me a service past all counting,
And I have promised faithfully myself
To pay her ransom.
             [_Enter_ CHAERESTRATUS _with_ ONÊSIMUS.

                            SÔPHRONÊ

                   Well, be quick about it.
Whoever it is. Her owners mustn't hear
This story, or they'll raise her price beyond
Your worst foreboding.

                          CHAERESTRATUS

                        Quite the contrary.
Leave this to me. I have some little knowledge
Of the Attic courts. I'll call upon these rascals
And face them with the charge that "by mere fraud
And violence they detain in slavery
A free-born body." They'll give in at once.
They must.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           What a remarkable young man!
Such knowledge of the law and such good sense
Combined! (_to_ CHARISIUS) My son-in-law, this man speaks well;
Who is he?

                          CHAERESTRATUS

           Sir, your second son-in-law,
With your permission!    [_Takes_ HABROTONON'S _arm_.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

                      This is all too much
For me to understand. Yes; I'm bewildered.
Clearista, what say you?

                            HABROTONON

                        Well, this time Yes.
I am dreaming: how can I refuse a dream?
Is this still you and I? So changed we seem
And moved to a new world. Can this be me
And yonder Sôpho and here Pamphilê,
And father? A new world!

                            PAMPHILÊ

                        And where will you
Place him to whom the world is really new,
The man new-born, a symbol of that breath
Each year by which the race is snatched from death?
He has no past: his morning sweeps away
All clouds.

                            SMÎCRINÊS

           Nay, child, there is a yesterday
Always. Past evil leaves a stress of dread
Under all joy. Have not our sages said,
When wounded men, lulled to oblivion deep
By that Egyptian poppy, slowly creep
Toward sense again, the first thing that they know
Is pain, for pain is life? Each infant so
By his first wailing makes good prophecy,
For man 'tis pain to live and pain to die.

                            SÔPHRONÊ

Pain first, but after . . . wonder, longing, strife,
Adventure, hopes and fears; all these are life;
Defeat, success, the worship of some truth
Or phantom, all the battle-joys of youth,
And ways of thought that, as youth fades, may still
Fill age with fragrance. Man, for good or ill,
And all his race, is even as this child
I saved, a frail thing, homeless in the wild,
Part pain, part hope, all daring; and who knows
Whence here it came or whither hence it goes?
For this the Man-Babe lives, these things to do
And suffer; thus he makes the world anew
At each new birth, still facing to a day
Unknown, and still the hero of his play.

 



 

NOTES


The scene is an open space with two Houses at the back, as usual in the
New Comedy. The tree makes it easier for two people to be on the stage
together without seeing each other--a situation which often occurs.

The conceited and pedantic Cook is a regular New Comedy character, and
so is the valet or personal attendant, a cunning rogue, stupid and not
over-honest, but genuinely devoted to his young master.

As to the names, they come from the stock of New Comedy. As in
Restoration Comedy, they have meanings more or less suitable to the
character; Pamphilê, "_All-dear_"; Onêsimus, "_Helpful_"; Sôphronê,
"_Prudence_." Habrotonon, meaning something like "_softly or delicately
tuned_," is a name suited to a harpist's profession. The two slave names
Syriscus and Dâvus mean respectively, "_Little Syrian_" and "_Davian_,"
the Davi being a nomad tribe in Asia. Charisius has a suggestion of
"Pleasantness," Smîcrinês a suggestion of "meanness." The names,
however, are all real names taken from ordinary life; they are not
artificial inventions like "Lady Wishfor't," "Sir John Brute," or
"Sneerwell," in English comedy.


                               ACT I

p. 14. Sôphronê, as we shall see in Act V, is a silent person who gets
her way. She has more brains and more experience than the others.

p. 19. Chaerestratus is not a "young puppy," but an interesting
character. He is torn between his obvious, though unspoken, love for
Habrotonon, and his dislike of getting mixed up in a rowdy party or a
dishonourable intrigue.

p. 23. Small coins were usually carried in the mouth or the hand. (See
Blaydes on Aristophanes, _Eccles_. 818.) For bulkier things a fold of
the gown could be girded up as a pocket.

p. 24. PROLOGUE.--Menander's Prologues seem generally to have come in
this position, as second scenes after a first scene meant to rouse
curiosity and require explanation. In parody of the tragic prologue,
they are generally spoken by non-human characters with a touch of the
absurd about them, like the goddess Ignorance in the _Rape of the
Locks_. Callisto's account of herself here is roughly in agreement with
the story told by Hygînus and others, though no one seems to have
mentioned the "fourteen years' hard labour." Elsewhere she either
remained a bear or became a constellation.

p. 26. "all murderous males." By ancient law the father had an absolute
right to decide whether the child presented to him should or should not
be reared. If it proved to be the illegitimate child of his wife its
chances would be small.

p. 27. Smîcrinês (from _smikros_, "small") is said to have been a name
used in Comedy for misers. This Smîcrinês has some miserly traits but is
in general like one of the regular "cross old men." He becomes
progressively humanized as the play proceeds.

p. 28. Four talents, in gold about £960, was quite a large dowry for the
time. Polemo in the _Locks_ was pleased with three. The purchasing power
of money was vastly greater than now, and 10 per cent. a usual rate of
interest. Two obols a day was the regular "dole" for a pauper. See Tarn
in _The Hellenistic Age_ (Cambridge, 1932).

p. 29. "Some pessimist philosopher." Philosophy was, for various
reasons, a matter of great general interest at the time. Menander is
said to have been a close friend of Epicurus.

p. 32. "Young lads, and not too sober." This is the cue for the entry of
a Chorus of professional Dancers, performing a sort of ballet as an
_entr'acte_. The Chorus in the New Comedy had ceased to be an integral
part of the play. The song supplied here is based on a famous lyric in
the style of Anacreon. The youths are garlanded and wild but not tipsy.
They may be so when the revel breaks up in Act III.


                               ACT II

p. 34. These soliloquies, intended partly to reveal character, partly
just to keep the audience informed, however unrealistic they seem to us,
were a favourite device of Menander's, and show one side of his art.

p. 34. Young Habro: I venture, in accordance with a common Greek custom,
to shorten Habrotonon's name.

pp. 38-53. This scene, which has given the play its name, is fortunately
preserved in full on the papyrus, together with the rest of the Act.
Dâvus is a rough rustic; Syriscus a more brainy and polished oriental;
but both are poor slaves in goatskin cloaks.

p. 45. Nêleus and Pelias: Both were heroes of tragedies of the Nativity
Play type. To our taste this speech is obviously too long. To the
original audience there was amusement in the references to tragedy and
also in the surprising rhetorical fluency of the charcoal-burner.

p. 49. "After the rents are paid." Apparently Syriscus and Dâvus were
tenants of Charisius and had come up for a rent-day.

p. 52. "His friend next door. . . . The same house." Did the two
neighbouring villas have their slave-quarters in common?


                                ACT III

p. 54. Note how Onêsimus is constantly shifting from one extreme to
another, from over-confidence to terror, from belief in his own
cleverness to suspicion that he has made a fool of himself. See, for
example, his changes on pp. 65 and 84, or the last words in Act IV, p.
92.

It is in this Act that Habrotonon's character first becomes visible. She
is a free-born and courageous girl, now a slave. She has learned enough
of the impudence and cynicism of her trade, to be able to use them when
necessary, but essentially her feelings towards the exposed baby, the
wronged girl and the tipsy and ill-mannered young man, are those of a
free woman, womanly, self-respecting, and generous. Menander treats with
a curious reticence the tragedy which forms the background of
Habrotonon. It is indicated by a phrase or two, like "I know it well
enough" on p. 61, and the mention of her innocence at the time of last
year's Tauropolia, but does not come out clearly, if I read the author's
intention right, till the end of the play. The real slave, Onêsimus, is
incapable of understanding her.

p. 54. Habrotonon apparently came away at some early stage of the
dinner, and returned to the company during dessert, though, owing to
Cârion's inordinate delays dessert had not yet been reached.

"Free from contact": in the strict sense. He had not even shaken hands
with her.

p. 56. Tauropolia. This is the first mention of a feast called
Tauropolia in Attica. It seems to refer to the festival of Artemos
Tauropolos at Brauron, in which we happen to know that there was a dance
or performance of young girls--over the age of ten--pretending to be
bears.

p. 57. "That this charcoal-burner found." Habrotonon did not know it was
the shepherd who really found the baby.

p. 59. Tarentine. A "Tarentine" was a light, almost diaphanous wrap made
of the byssus, or fine linen of South Italy. The word is also applied to
silk.

p. 61. "I know it well enough." Evidently Habrotonon's owners had not
made her go out as a _hetaira_ to banquets until quite lately. This fits
in with the intensity of her feelings about the unknown girl at the
Tauropolia and about slavery in Act V.

p. 72. Daric. A Persian gold coin with a head of Darius.


                               ACT IV

pp. 75 ff. A curious critical question arises about the opening of this
Act. There is a gap in our text of about 23 lines in one place and about
94 later, just before Habrotonon's entrance. It must have contained
Smîcrinês's scene with his daughter, persuading her to leave her
husband. Now it so happens that on a papyrus published by Weil in 1879
there is a speech of 44 lines in which a young wife pleads with her
father not to make her leave her husband. It is headed in the papyrus
"Euripides," and seems to have been set as a school exercise. It is
certainly not Euripides, and almost certainly came from some play of the
New Comedy. Professor D. S. Robertson has made the very attractive
suggestion that it comes from this play and this place. The fit is not
perfect; but the situation is extremely similar; and the line of
pleading is just what Pamphilê might well have used. Her speech gives a
fine picture of a loving and dutiful wife, according to the ideas of
Menandrian Athens, but of course one must also remember her secret. She
knows that there is an excuse for Charisius which must not be mentioned.

p. 78. The Thesmophoria and Skira were two of the great Athenian
festivals. It seems curious that they should bulk so large in the
supposed expenses of Charisius, but that is characteristic of ancient
Greek life, or indeed that of any simple society; a very frugal daily
life with great outbursts on the important festivals.

pp. 82 ff. This recognition scene must be taken slowly and involves a
good deal of silent acting. It is a characteristic of Menander's style
to alternate scenes in which the language is everything with others in
which little is said and much indicated.

p. 84. "As men of the world." Onêsimus frankly addresses the audience.
This deliberate breach of the illusion is a trick that has lasted on
from Aristophanes to modern farce.

p. 84. In the stage convention doors usually opened outwards. You
knocked to warn people in the street.

p. 85. The bitter self-reproach of Charisius is interesting and shows
the vast gulf between the moral ideas of Menander and those of Wycherley
or Congreve. He is ashamed of his own action; at the same time it makes
him understand his wife's. She had been carried away by the excitements
of the Midnight Revel, as he was, and also was far less a free agent.

pp. 87 ff. Habrotonon speaks with calm, almost with authority; Charisius
is angry and bewildered; Onêsimus utterly frightened.


                               ACT V

p. 98. "Pegs-and-strings or Catgut." See p. 117. "Habrotonon" was a name
denoting her profession as a slave musician. Her real name, we find, was
Clearista.

p. 100. The slave dealers. They would naturally gather round a besieged
or sacked town to buy up prisoners of war or children whose parents were
lost or could not take care of them. Xenophon tells how Agêsilaus, King
of Sparta, made arrangements for protecting such children and old people
when he took a town (_Ages._ I. 21).

p. 100. A free woman would normally have a "guardian" of some sort, to
be responsible for her before the law. As Habrotonon had no husband or
older male relation it seems that Charisius, if he had bought her and
set her free, would act.

p. 101. "work and weave and sew." The virtuous free woman without a
family was apt to have a hard life, as we see from Terence.

pp. 103 ff. Onêsimus, presumably under the influence of his wine,
proceeds to talk philosophy. Philosophers were a strong influence in
Athens at the time.

p. 111. "Grasshopper." The Greek name of the cicada, "Tettix," was
sometimes given to children. We even hear of men so called.

 


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Transcriber's Notes:-

Pg 18 Omitted character name, CÂRION, inserted before dialogue
      "Man, I can't think of stories."

Minor punctuation errors and omissions corrected.


[The end of _The Arbitration_ by Gilbert Murray]

LIVE_TRANSLATION

ACHTUNG! DIESE SEITE IST FÜR EINE LIVE_TRANSLATION VORBEREITET. ALS REGISTRIERTER BESUCHER DIESER PREMIUM-SEITE WERDEN SIE ÜBER BEGINN UND VERLAUF DER LIVE_TRANSLATION VOLLSTÄNDIG PER E-MAIL UNTERRICHTET.