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been obliged to part with it, owing to reduced circumstances. Unluckily, however, the father encounters at the door of his own house the slave of his son's drunken visitor, waiting to escort him safely home, and he discloses the real state of affairs, which Simo confirms. Theuropides begs of him the loan of two stout slaves, with whips, and goes in quest of the culprit, Tranio, who takes refuge at the family altar, and gravely advises the old gentleman not to let it be known that he has been duped, or he will be made fun of in the next new comedy. The now sobered guest begs that all may be forgiven and forgotten, and the valet assures his master that the whipping he is longing to give him need only be deferred, as he will be sure to do something to deserve one to-morrow.
IV. The Shipwreck.
A SLAVE describes to his master, Dæmones, who has a cottage on the sea-shore, the approach of a boat, from which two girls have landed among the rocks. One of these is Palæstra, stolen in her infancy, whom a young Athenian, Pleusidippus, would have ransomed; but the slave-merchant, thinking to make a better bargain in Sicily, had shipped thither with his captives, when they were all wrecked in going out of harbour. The girls take refuge in an adjacent temple of Venus, with a very ritualistic priestess. Labrax, the slave-dealer, also gets ashore, but has lost all his money, as well as Palæstra's family trinkets. He endeavours to drag his victims from the temple, but a servant of Pleusidippus is at hand, and, with the help of the old cottager and his slaves, rescues them and secures Labrax. The lover himself soon appears, and hands the dealer over to a magistrate, for breach of contract and sacrilege. After a lapse of time, Gripus, one of Dæmones' slaves, brings up in his fishing-net a heavy wallet, which he feels certain contains gold enough to purchase his freedom, and to make him a rich man for the rest of his life. Before he can hide his booty, Trachalio, another slave, claims half. Gripus argues that it belongs to him, declaring that 'all's fish that comes to the net,' only this species is
very seldom caught. The other protests that, as a matter of conscience, he must inform the owner, but he is willing to share the responsibility of not doing so, provided he shares the prize. The dispute is referred to Dæmones; and, on the wallet being opened, besides the money and valuables belonging to Labrax, it is found to contain Palæstra's relics, amongst which the old cottager recognises some which prove her to be his daughter, and she is handed over to her lover a free woman. The money is retained by Dæmones, to be restored to its owner, from whom, however, Gripus obtains the promise of a talent for having informed him of its safety. But the master again intervenes, and applies half the talent to the ransom of his daughter's friend, whilst he takes the other half as the price of his slave's freedom. There is pungency in the reply of Gripus to his master's lecture on honesty when he made his award,―
'Ah! so I've heard the players on the stage
And with immense applause, showing quite clearly
The audience would go home, and not a soul of 'em
v. The Captives.
WE learn from the prologue that the two captives_are Philocrates, a young noble of Elis, and his slave Tyndarus. They have been taken in battle, and purchased by Hegio, a wealthy citizen of Ætolia, whose son is a prisoner at Elis, besides which, a younger son was carried off in his infancy by a revengeful slave. The interest of the play lies in the devotion of Tyndarus to his young master, with whom he exchanges clothes, in order that Hegio may send him, the slave as he thinks, to negotiate with the father of Philocrates for the release of his own son. The parting scene between the two young men, who have been brought up from childhood together, is very effective. The deception, however, is detected, and Tyndarus is consigned to work in chains at the stone quarries. After
a long interval, Philocrates returns with Hegio's son, whom he has ransomed, and is equally anxious to release Tyndarus. He also brings the runaway slave who stole Hegio's younger son, and it is elicited that he sold the boy to the father of Philocrates, who gave him to his son as a play-fellow,-the very Tyndarus who has been enduring so much suffering at his own father's hands.
VI. The Two Menæchmi.
UPON this play Shakspeare founded his 'Comedy of Errors.' The plot turns on the extraordinary resemblance between two twin-brothers, which deceives their servants, their most intimate friends, and even their wives, leading to a series of ludicrous mistakes and entanglements, which are at last set right by their meeting.
PLAUTUS calls this a tragi-comedy, because it is a dramatic version of the myth of Jupiter and Alcmena. The fun consists in Sosia, Amphitryon's slave, almost disbelieving in his own identity when Mercury not only assumes an exact resemblance of him, but tells him all his master's recent movements, and especially respecting a gold cup, which is secured in a casket under Amphitryon's own seal.
VIII. The Pot of Gold,
A FAMILY Lar, or household deity, in the character of prologue, tells the audience of a grandfather who was so covetous that he buried under the hearth a pot of gold without entrusting the secret to any of his children. The son being also a miser, the Lar would not discover the treasure to him; and now the grandson, Euclio, is as bad as either. But he has a pretty daughter, who is very attentive in her offerings to the Lar; and, as he happens to know that the husband he has chosen for her-Lyconides, a nephew of their neighbour Megadorus-will not be acceptable to her father, he intends that the uncle shall propose for the girl, and then resign
her to the nephew. He has also told Euclio of the hidden gold, in the hope that out of it he will give his daughter a liberal portion. It becomes, however, his delight and his torment; he is in constant fear of being robbed of it; he is sure that his neighbour solicits the hand of his daughter because he knows of the money; he protests that he is miserably poor; and would claim his share of a public dole if he could feel certain that his pot would not disappear during his absence from home. He consents to his daughter's marriage, but declares he can give her no dowry, and even allows Megadorus to provide the wedding feast. When the cooks, however, arrive at his house, he drives them away, because he heard them asking for a 'larger pot;' and kills his own cook for scratching about, as he believes, to unearth his treasure. At last he carries it to the temple of Faith, and re-buries it there; but finding he has been watched by a slave of Megadorus, he removes it to a sacred grove. Here the slave has climbed into a tree, and secures the pot as soon as the miser is gone. Molière has copied his frantic exclamations of despair, on discovering his loss, in his comedy of 'L'Avare;' and also the scene in which Lyconides confesses that he has stolen the girl's affections from his uncle, whilst Euclio will persist in understanding him to say that he is the thief of the gold. The conclusion of the play has not been preserved.
IX. The Trickster.
THIS is supposed to have been the author's favourite comedy. Ballio, a slave-dealer, enters, abusing his slaves. for their laziness and want of honesty, and whipping them cruelly. Then Pseudolus, a cool-headed ready-tongued slave, is introduced, saying to himself,—
'A bold behaviour in a doubtful cause Is half the victory,'
and answering his master, Simo, glibly and with impudent assurance; undertaking not only to get from him money enough to ransom a girl on whom his son has set his heart, but to obtain her from Ballio without any payment. Simo
promises to make him a present of the sum demanded if he succeeds in his design, and then, after telling Ballio of the plot, makes a wager with him that the slave will outwit him notwithstanding, which he does. Pseudolus now offers to return his master half the money he has given him, if he will be his guest at a supper he has ordered in celebration of his triumph; and Simo accepts the invitation.
Two other plays, Epedicus and Bacchides, turn upon similar incidents, with clever and unscrupulous slaves as the leading characters.
x. The Young Carthaginian.
HAVING been written during the Second Punic War, this piece would naturally take with a Roman audience; and it is interesting to scholars as containing the only existing specimen of the Carthaginian language; but the plot is devoid of ingenuity, and tediously worked out. There is, however, some real love-making between the hero and heroine, and an amusing scene in which the gentleman deputes his slave to intercede for him with the lady, and then chastises him for the endearing terms in which he addresses her on his behalf.