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DIED B.C. 159.
ERENCE was only ten years old when Plautus died; and the intervening generation of Roman play-goers were entertained by the compositions of Cæcilius, of which none remain. Brought up as a slave in the household of Terentius, a Roman senator, he took the name of his patron when he obtained his freedom; and, having received a liberal education, he was admitted, as a young man, into the society of aristocratic friends, by whom it is supposed that he was assisted in the composition of his plays. The six which follow are probably all that he put upon the stage, as in the midst of his career he left Rome, to travel in Greece, and never returned.
1. The Maid of Andros.
THE Scene is laid in Athens, but the words, and manners of the characters, are Roman. Simo tells his freedman Sosia that he wants his services in a matter which involves trust and secrecy; and the dialogue gives a pleasant idea of the kindly relations which sometimes subsisted between the head of a household and his dependants. The father has recently seen his son Pamphilus leading an exquisitely pretty foreign girl from a funeral with the tenderest affection, notwithstanding that he is engaged to the daughter of his friend Chremes, who also has heard of the matter, and
that the young man is privately married to the stranger. In order to ascertain the truth, Simo means to pretend to his son that the wedding has been arranged for that very evening, and Sosia is to assist in the 'deception by spreading the news everywhere. Pamphilus, however, has a slave named Davus, who is devoted to him, and always ready to thwart his father, whose secret he has just learned. He is meditating how to act, when Simo enters, and begs him to keep his young master out of mischief, hinting that, if he has had a love affair, he must now begin a different life, and that Davus should keep him straight, instead of leading him from bad to worse, evoking from the slave the often-quoted exclamation of injured innocence,-'I'm only Davus, I'm no Edipus;' to which Simo replies with a threat that he will have him flogged within an inch of his life, if he catches him scheming to disappoint the match he has arranged for his son. But Davus proceeds to find out that no preparations are being made for the wedding, and that Chremes still refuses to give his daughter to a man who he believes has a wife already. He therefore advises Pamphilus-who is doubly perplexed with his father's determination, and with the fact that his lady-love has presented him with a baby-to consent at once to the marriage, with the hope that he will thus gain a respite, and that 'something will turn up.' But Simo goes straight to Chremes, with the assurance that the affair between Pamphilus and the girl (Glycerium) is at an end, and begs his friend to withdraw his objection to his daughter's engagement. Calling Davus, he almost apologises for having mistrusted him, and, to his intense dismay, announces Chremes' consent. Another lover, however, makes his appearance. Philumena, the bride-elect, has a decided preference for her betrothed's friend Clarinus, and Pamphilus has always assured him that he never intended to marry her; but now Clarinus naturally suspects him of treachery. Davus undertakes that he will set matters right yet, and induces the nurse to allow him to lay the baby at Simo's door, just as Chremes is coming to call upon him. A scene ensues, and the marriage is again broken off.
Meanwhile a stranger arrives with the news that Glyce
rium is the free-born daughter of Athenian parents; but Simo discredits the intelligence, which is brought by Davus, and orders him off to prison. The tale, however, proves to be true, the supposed Andrian maid being another daughter of Chremes, who, it was believed, had been shipwrecked, whilst under the care of her uncle, many years since, and all ends pleasantly; Pamphilus still becoming Chremes' son-in-law; Clarinus pairing off with Philumena; and Davus, released from his bonds, rejoicing in the general restoration of harmony.
II. The Mother-in-Law.
A YOUNG wife, fancying she has lost her husband's confidence, leaves the house of his father and mother, with whom they have been living, and returns to her parents. Laches, her father-in-law, believing his wife, Sostrata, to be the cause, scolds her in a conjugal dialogue, exceedingly like those of modern occurrence. The grief, however, of the young husband when he learns that his wife has left him, and his fear that she has had some quarrel with his mother, whom he dearly loves, are very finely drawn. So, too, is the mother-in-law's apprehension lest the runaway should entertain any dislike to her, when she has done her very best to make her a happy home. Laches, at last, is touched by his wife's unselfish goodness; and there is a simple pathos in his proposal that they shall go into the country, and leave the young couple to themselves, telling his son,
In short, my boy,
We're only "the old man and woman," now.'
In the end the wife is reconciled to her husband, and Laches, we are allowed to hope, duly repents of his unjust reproach,
'You mothers never rest until your sons
Get them a wife; and then your whole delight
Is to make mischief between wife and husband.'
III. The Self-Tormentor.
THE characters in this play are two fathers, two sonsboth in love and a scheming slave. Menedemus, one of the fathers, is noticed by the other one, Chremes, to be always working on his farm even harder than his slaves; and, in reply to the surprise of Menedemus that his neighbour should have leisure to meddle with other people's affairs, Chremes makes answer in the famous words,—
'I am a man ; nothing in human life
Can fail to have its interest for me.'
Menedemus then tells him that his son, Clinia, has taken service in the East, in consequence of his having forbidden his marriage with a foreigner, and that he has determined to punish himself for his harshness by a life of self-denial. Clinia, however, returns from the wars, with Chremes' son, Clitipho, who begs his father to receive Clinia's lady-love, Antiphila, as a visitor. Syrus, the slave, manages to introduce Clitipho's young lady, Bacchis, instead, and that Antiphila shall be entertained by Chremes' wife in her separate apartments. Chremes is somewhat astonished at the manners of the dashing young woman to whom he has given shelter; and, meeting Menedemus, warns him that Clinia's intended seems to be an extremely fast personage; but his son having come back, the remorseful father is content to let him squander all his substance. Chremes, however, offers to regulate the young man's expenditure, and then prompts Syrus to impose some tale upon the covetous old wretch, to make him more liberal to his unfortunate son. The slave is rather surprised at such a suggestion from his master, which suits his purpose exactly; but merely begs him remember, should his own son get into any scrape hereafter, the instructions he is now giving. In the next scene, Chremes is puzzled at Clinia's indifference towards Bacchis, and Clitipho's constant flirtations with her. He taxes his son with disloyalty to his friend in the presence of Syrus, who, fearing his young master's imprudence may lead to the detection of the imposture, entreats the father to warn him seriously, pretending that, as for his
advice, he minds it less and less. Meanwhile Chremes' wife has discovered that Antiphila is her daughter, whom she sent away as soon as she was born, in obedience to his threat that he would never bring up a girl. This, of course, clears the way for her marriage with Clinia; but Syrus manages to extort fifty pounds from his master for her ransom, by declaring that she was purchased in her infancy by Bacchis, to whom he sends the money by Clitipho. It is some time before Chremes can be brought to believe that his own son is the real lover of the dashing young lady; whilst Menedemus, no longer a self-tormentor,' is highly gratified to find that he is to have such a modest daughter-in-law, and amused at the collapse of his scheming friend, whose monstrous folly wants a name to itself. Chremes vows he will disinherit his prodigal; and, at last, Clitipho promises to give up Bacchis, and marry a neighbour's daughter, upon whom he has already had an
IV. The Ethiopian Slave.
THIS is said to have been the most popular of Terence's comedies. Thraso, a rich braggart, who has a toady, Guatho, is one of the suitors of a lady named Thais. She, however, prefers another young fellow, Phædria, but, at the same time, does not care to discard her wealthy lover. Phædria has been refused admittance when he called, and is advised by his slave Parmeno to go into the country, when she will soon send for him, although he would probably walk back to town in his sleep; and Thais lets him know that she does not wish to offend Thraso just now, he having promised her, as a present, a beautiful slave-girl, whom she is anxious to restore to her friends. Phædria consents not to call again for two whole days, and takes his unwilling leave in the following lines:
'Still love me day and night; still long for me;