Page images

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 Glycerium 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.


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.'



"The characters in this play are two fathers, two sons, both 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


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 dis-inherit his prodigal; and, all last, Clitipho promises to give up Bacchis, and marry a neighbour's daughter, upon whom he has already had an eye.

TH!E ETHIOPIAN SL AV E. This is said to have been the most popular of Terence's comedies. Thraso, a rich braggart, who has a toady, Gnatho, 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 ;
Dream of me, miss me, think of me alone ;
Hope for me, dote on me, be wholly mine,
My very heart and life, as I am thine.'

Gnatho, on his way to Thais with the slave girl, overtakes
Parmeno, and a jocular dialogue between them is amusing.

Soon afterwards the latter meets Chærea, a younger brother of Phædria, in a state of great excitement about a lovely girl he has seen in the street, and who Parmeno comes to the conclusion must be the one Gnatho is escorting to Thais's house. He tells Chærea she is not worthy of him, but this only makes him more eager in his pursuit, and at last Parmeno suggests that he shall blacken his face, and change clothes with an Ethiopian slave, whom his brother is about sending to Thais. A very good scene follows between Thraso and his parasite, in which the latter has to feign amusement at his master's oft-repeated jokes. The Ethiopian is introduced to his new mistress by Parmeno in Thraso's presence, with the hope that his many accomplishments will secure her favour for his young master. The next morning the beautiful girl has eloped with the disguised Chærea. Phædria, who has been unable to keep away, finds the real black slave at his house, in his brother's clothes, and the trick is discovered. Thraso now quarrels with Thais, and demands the return of his present, which is refused. He determines to take her by force, and the girl's. brother, whose arrival at Thais's house as a visitor has also aroused his jealousy, wishes to fetch the police; but, as Thraso approaches with a band of slaves and hangers-on, she barricades her door and defies him. He marshals his forces, and a battle of words ensues, in the course of which the brother announces from an upper window that his sister is a free-born Athenian; on which the besiegers, at Gnatho's suggestion that it is dinner time, withdraw, and the interest of the plot is over.


CHREMES and Demipho, two brothers, have gone abroad, leaving their sons, Phædria and Antipho, under the guardianship of Geta, Demipho's confidential slave. Phædria is smitten with a music-girl

, whom he is bent on ransoming ; whilst Antipho has conceived a romantic passion for Phanium, whom he has discovered mourning over a dead mother, and, at the suggestion of Phormio, a disreputable parasite, has acknowledged her as his next of kin, in order

« PreviousContinue »