The Brothers, by Terence

Act the First.

Scene I.

Enter Micio .

Ho, Storax! — No reply? — Then Æschinus
Never return’d, it seems, last night from supper;
Nor any of the slaves, who went to meet him.
— ’Tis commonly — and oh how truly! — said,
If you are absent, or delay, ’twere best
That should befall you, which your wife declares
Or which in anger she supposes of you
Than that which kindest parents fear. — Your wife,
If you delay, suspects that you’re engag’d
In some intrigue, debauch, or entertainment;
Consulting your own happiness abroad,
While she, poor soul! is left to pine at home.
But what a world of fears possess me now!
How many ills I figure to myself,
As causes that my son is not return’d!
Lest he have taken cold, or had a fall,
Or broke a limb! — Good heavens! that a man
Shou’d doat so much, or suffer any one
To wind himself so close about his heart,
As to grow dearer to him than himself!
And yet he is not my son, but my brother’s,
Whose bent of mind is wholly different.
I, from youth upward even to this day,
Have led a quiet and serene town-life;
And, as some reckon fortunate, ne’er married.
He, in all points the opposite of this,
Has pass’d his days entirely in the country
With thrift and labor; married; had two sons;
The elder boy is by adoption mine;
I’ve brought him up; kept; lov’d him as my own;
Made him my joy, and all my soul holds dear,
Striving to make myself as dear to him.
I give, o’erlook, nor think it requisite
That all his deeds should be controll’d by me,
Giving him scope to act as of himself;
So that the pranks of youth, which other children
Hide from their fathers, I have us’d my son
Not to conceal from me. For whosoe’er
Hath won upon himself to play the false one,
And practice impositions on a father,
Will do the same with less remorse to others;
And ’tis, in my opinion, better far
To bind your children to you by the ties
Of gentleness and modesty, than fear.
And yet my brother don’t accord in this,
Nor do these notions nor this conduct please him.
Oft he comes open-mouth’d — “Why how now, Micio?
Why do you ruin this young lad of ours?
Why does he wench? why drink? and why do you
Allow him money to afford all this?
You let him dress too fine. ’Tis idle in you.”
— ’Tis hard in him, unjust and out of reason.
And he, I think, deceives himself indeed,
Who fancies that authority more firm
Founded on force, than what is built on friendship;
For thus I reason, thus persuade myself:
He who performs his duty driven to’t
By fear of punishment, while he believes
His actions are observ’d, so long he’s wary;
But if he hopes for secrecy, returns
To his own ways again: But he whom kindness,
Him also inclination makes your own:
He burns to make a due return, and acts,
Present or absent, evermore the same.
’Tis this then is the duty of a father,
To make a son embrace a life of virtue,
Rather from choice than terror or constraint.
Here lies the mighty difference between
A father and a master. He who knows not
How to do this, let him confess he knows not
How to rule children. — But is this the man
Whom I was speaking of? Yes, yes, ’tis he.
He seems uneasy too, I know not why,
And I suppose, as usual, comes to wrangle.

Scene II.

Enter Demea .

Micio. Demea, I’m glad to see you well.

Demea. Oho!
Well met: the very man I came to seek.

Micio. But you appear uneasy: What’s the matter?

Demea. Uneasy? well I may. — The matter, say you?
What can the matter be but Æschinus?

Micio. I said it wou’d be so. — What has he done?

Demea. What has he done! a wretch whom neither fear,
Nor modesty, nor any law can bind!
For not to speak of all his former pranks,
What has he been about but even now!

Micio. What has he done?

Demea. Burst open doors, and made
His way by force into another’s house;
Half-kill’d the master and his family,
And carried off a wench whom he was fond of.
All Athens cries out shame upon him for it.
I have been told of it a hundred times
Since my arrival. ’Tis the town-talk, Micio.
And if we needs must draw comparisons,
Does not he see his brother thrifty, sober,
Attentive to his business in the country?
Not given to these practices; and when
I say all this to him, to you I say it.
You are his ruin, Micio.

Micio. How unjust
Is he who wants experience! who believes
Nothing is right but what he does himself!

Demea. Why d’ye say that?

Micio. Because you, Demea,
Misjudge these matters. ’Tis no heinous crime
For a young man to wench or drink. — ’Tis not,
Believe me! — nor to force doors open. — This,
If neither you nor I have done, it was
That poverty allow’d us not. And now
You claim a merit to yourself, from that
Which want constrain’d you to. It is not fair.
For had there been but wherewithal to do’t,
We likewise should have done thus. Wherefore you,
Were you a man, would let your younger son,
Now, while it suits his age, pursue his pleasures;
Rather than, when it less becomes his years,
When, after wishing long, he shall at last
Be rid of you, he should run riot then.

Demea. Oh Jupiter! the man will drive me mad.
Is it no crime, d’ye say, for a young man
To take these courses?

Micio. Nay, nay; do but hear me,
Nor stun me with the self-same thing forever!
Your elder son you gave me for adoption:
He’s mine, then, Demea; and if he offends,
’Tis an offense to me, and I must bear
The burden. Does he treat? or drink? or dress?
’Tis at my cost. — Or wench? I will supply him,
While ’tis convenient to me; when ’tis not,
His mistresses perhaps will shut him out.
— Has he broke open doors? we’ll make them good.
Or torn a coat? it shall be mended. I,
Thank Heaven, have enough to do all this,
And ’tis as yet not irksome. — In a word,
Have done, or chuse some arbiter between us:
I’ll prove that you are more in fault than I.

Demea. Ah, learn to be a father; learn from those
Who know what ’tis to be indeed a parent!

Micio. By nature you’re his father, I by counsel.

Demea. You! do you counsel any thing?

Micio. Nay, nay;
If you persist, I’m gone.

Demea. Is’t thus you treat me?

Micio. Must I be plagued with the same thing so often?

Demea. It touches me.

Micio. And me it touches too.
But, Demea, let us each look to our own;
Let me take care of one, and mind you t’other.
For to concern yourself with both, appears
As if you’d redemand the boy you gave.

Demea. Ah, Micio!

Micio. So it seems to me.

Demea. Well, well;
Let him, if ’tis your pleasure, waste, destroy.
And squander; it is no concern of mine.
If henceforth I e’er say one word —

Micio. Again?
Angry again, good Demea?

Demea. You may trust me.
Do I demand him back again I gave you?
— It hurts me. I am not a stranger to him.
— But if I once oppose — Well, well, I’ve done.
You wish I should take care of one. I do
Take special care of him; and he, thank Heav’n,
Is as I wish he should be: which your ward,
I warrant, shall find out one time or other.
I will not say aught worse of him at present.


Scene III.

Micio alone.

Though what he says be not entirely true,
There’s something in it, and it touches me.
But I dissembled my concern with him,
Because the nature of the man is such,
To pacify, I must oppose and thwart him;
And even thus I scarce can teach him patience.
But were I to inflame, or aid his anger,
I were as great a madman as himself.
Yet Æschinus, ’tis true, has been to blame.
What wench is there but he is her gallant?
Or tempts her with some gift? — But lately too
(Tir’d, I suppose, and sick of wantonness)
He told me he propos’d to take a wife.
I hop’d the heyday of the blood was over,
And was rejoic’d: but his intemperance
Breaks out afresh. — Well, be it what it may,
I’ll find him out; and know it instantly,
If he is to be met with at the Forum.


Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04