Phormio, by Terence

Prologue.

The Old Bard finding it impossible
To draw our Poet from the love of verse,
And bury him in indolence, attempts
By calumny to scare him from the stage;
Pretending that in all his former plays
The characters are low, and mean the style;
Because he ne’er describ’d a mad-brain’d youth,
Who in his fits of frenzy thought he saw
A hind, the dogs in full cry after her;
Her too imploring and beseeching him
To give her aid. — But did he understand
That, when the piece was first produc’d, it ow’d
More to the actor than himself its safety,
He would not be thus bold to give offense.
— But if there’s any one who says, or thinks,
“That had not the Old Bard assail’d him first,
Our Poet could not have devis’d a Prologue,
Having no matter for abuse;” — let such
Receive for answer, “that although the prize
To all advent’rers is held out in common,
The Veteran Poet meant to drive our Bard
From study into want: He therefore chose
To answer, though he would not first offend.
And had his adversary but have prov’d
A generous rival, he had had due praise;
Let him then bear these censures, and reflect
Of his own slanders ’tis the due return.
But henceforth I shall cease to speak of him,
Although he ceases not himself to rail.”
But now what I’d request of you, attend:
To-day I bring a new play, which the Greeks
Call Epidicazomenos; the Latins,
From the chief character, name Phormio:
Phormio, whom you will find a parasite,
And the chief engine of the plot. — And now,
If to our Poet you are well inclin’d,
Give ear; be favorable; and be silent!
Let us not meet the same ill fortune now
That we before encounter’d, when our troop
Was by a tumult driven from their place;
To which the actor’s merit, seconded
By your good-will and candor, has restor’d us.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/terence/phormio/prologue.html

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