Gly. Thais, that Acarnanian soldier, who used to be so fond of Abrotonum, and then fell in love with me — he was decorated, and wore a military cloak — do you know the man I mean? I suppose you have forgotten him?
Th. Oh no, dear, I know; why, he shared our table last harvest festival. Well? you look as if you had something to tell me about him.
Gly. That wicked Gorgona (such a friend of mine, to be sure!)— she has stolen him away from me.
Th. What! he has given you up, and taken her in your place?
Gly. Yes, dear; isn’t it horrid of her?
Th. Well, Glycera darling, it is wicked, of course; but it is not very surprising; it is what all we poor girls do. You mustn’t be too much vexed; I shouldn’t blame her, if I were you; Abrotonum never blamed you about him, you know; and you were friends, too. But I cannot think what he finds in her; where are his eyes? has he never found out how thin her hair is? what a lot of forehead she shows! and her lips! all livid; they might be a dead woman’s; and that scraggy neck, veined all over; and what an amount of nose! I grant you she is tall and straight; and she has quite a nice smile.
Gly. Oh, Thais, you don’t think it was her looks caught him. Don’t you know? her mother Chrysarium is a witch; she knows Thessalian charms, and can draw down the moon; they do say she flies o’ nights. It was she bewitched him with drugs in his drink, and now they are making their harvest out of him.
Th. Ah well, dear, you will get a harvest out of some one else; never mind him.
Myr. Well, Pamphilus? So I hear you are to marry Phido the shipmaster’s daughter — if you have not done so already! And this is the end of your vows and tears! All is over and forgotten! And I so near my time! Yes, that is all I have to thank my lover for; that, and the prospect of having a child to bring up; and you know what that means to us poor girls. I mean to keep the child, especially if it is a boy: it will be some comfort to me to call him after you; and perhaps some day you will be sorry, when he comes to reproach you for betraying his poor mother. I can’t say much for the lady’s looks. I saw her only the other day, with her mother, at the Thesmophoria; little did I know then that she was to rob me of my Pamphilus! Hadn’t you better see what she is like first? Take a good look at her eyes; and try not to mind the colour, and the cast (she has such a squint!). Or no: there is no need for you to see her: you have seen Phido; you know what a face he has.
Pa. How much more nonsense are you going to talk about shipowners and marriages? What do I know about brides, ugly or pretty? If you mean Phido of Alopece, I never knew he had a grown-up daughter at all. Why, now I think of it, he is not even on speaking terms with my father. They were at law not long ago — something about a shipping contract. He owed my father a talent, I think it was, and refused to pay; so he was had up before the Admiralty Court, and my father never got paid in full, after all, so he said. Do you suppose if I wanted to marry I should pass over Demeas’s daughter in favour of Phido’s? Demeas was general last year, and she is my cousin on the mother’s side. Who has been telling you all this? Is it just a cobweb spun in that jealous little brain of yours?
Myr. Pamphilus! You mean to say you are not going to be married?
Pa. Are you mad, or what is the matter with you? We did not have much to drink yesterday.
Myr. Ask Doris; it is all her fault. I sent her out to buy some wool, and to offer up prayer to Artemis for me. And she said that she met Lesbia, and Lesbia ——— Doris, tell him what Lesbia said, unless you invented it all yourself.
Dor. May I die, miss, if I said a word more than the truth! Just by the town-hall Lesbia met me, and ‘Doris,’ says she, smiling, ‘your young gentleman is to marry Phido’s daughter. And if you don’t believe me,’ says she, ‘look up their street, and you will see everything crowned with garlands, and a fine bustle going on; flutes playing, and people singing the wedding-song’
Pa. Well; and you did?
Dor. That I did, sir; and it was all as Lesbia had said.
Pa. Ah, now I see! You have told your mistress nothing but the truth; and there was some ground for what Lesbia told you. However, it is a false alarm. The wedding is not at our house. I remember now. When I went back home yesterday, after leaving you, ‘Pamphilus,’ said my mother, here is neighbour Aristaenetus’s son, Charmides, who is no older than you, just going to marry and settle down: when are you going to turn over a new leaf? ‘ And then I dropped off to sleep. I went out early this morning, so that I saw nothing of all that Doris has seen. If you doubt my word, Doris can go again; and look more carefully this time, Doris; mark the house, not the street only, and you will find that the garlands are next door.
Myr. I breathe again! Pamphilus, if it had been true, I should have killed myself!
Pa. True, indeed! Am I mad, that I should forget Myrtium, so soon to become the mother of my child?
Mother. You must be mad, Philinna; what was the matter with you at the dinner last night? Diphilus was in tears this morning when he came and told me how he had been treated. You were tipsy, he said, and made an exhibition of yourself, dancing when he asked you not to; then you kissed his friend Lamprias, and when Diphilus did not like that, you left him and went and put your arms round Lamprias; and he choking with rage all the time. And afterwards you would not go near him, but let him cry by himself, and kept singing and teasing him.
Phi. Ah, mother, he never told you how he behaved; if you knew how rude he was, you would not take his part. He neglected me and made up to Thais, Lamprias’s girl, before Lamprias came. I was angry, and let him see what I thought of him, and then he took hold of Thais’s ear, bent her neck back and gave her — oh, such a kiss! I thought it would never end. So I began to cry; but he only laughed, and kept whispering to her — about me, of course; Thais was looking at me and smiling. However, when they heard Lamprias coming, and had had enough of each other at last, I did take my place by him all the same, not to give him an excuse for a fuss afterwards. It was Thais got up and danced first, showing her ankles ever so much, as if no one else had pretty ones. And when she stopped, Lamprias never said a word, but Diphilus praised her to the skies — such perfect time! such varied steps! foot and music always right; and what a lovely ankle! and so on, and so on; it might have been the Sosandra of Calamis he was complimenting, and not Thais; what she is really like, you know well enough. And how she insulted me, too! ‘If some one is not ashamed of her spindle-shanks,’ she said, ‘she will get up and dance now.’ Well, that is all, mammy; of course I did get up and dance. What was I to do? take it quietly and make her words seem true and let her be queen?
Mother. You are too touchy, my lass; you should have taken no notice. But go on.
Phi. Well, the others applauded, but Diphilus lay on his back and looked up at the ceiling, till I was tired and gave up. Mother. But what about kissing Lamprias? is that true? and going across and embracing him? Well, why don’t you speak? Those are things I cannot forgive.
Phi. I wanted to pay him out.
Mother. And then not sitting near him! singing while he was in tears! Think how poor we are, girl; you forget how much we have had from him, and what last winter would have been if Aphrodite had not sent him to us.
Phi. I dare say! and I am to let him outrage my feelings just for that?
Mother. Oh, be as angry as you like, but no tit for tat. You ought to know that if a lover’s feelings are outraged his love ends, and he finds out his folly. You have always been too hard on the lad; pull too tight, and the rope breaks, you know.
Me. Bacchis, don’t you know any of those old women — there are any number of them about, ‘Thessalians,’ they call them — they have incantations, you know, and they can make a man in love with you, no matter how much he hated you before? Do go and bring me one, there’s a dear! I’d give the clothes off my back, jewellery and all, to see Charinus here again, and to have him hate Simiche as he hates me at this moment.
Ba. Melitta! You mean to tell me that Charinus has gone off after Simiche, and that after making his people so angry because he wouldn’t marry the heiress, all for your sake? She was to have brought him five talents, so they said. I have not forgotten what you told me about that.
Me. Oh, that is all over now; I have not had a glimpse of him for the last five days. No; he and Simiche are with his friend Pammenes enjoying themselves.
Ba. Poor darling! But it can’t have been a trifle that drove him away: what was it all about?
Me. I don’t know exactly. All I can say is, that he came back the other day from Piraeus (his father had sent him there to collect some money), and wouldn’t even look at me! I ran to meet him, expecting him to take me in his arms, instead of which he pushed me away! ‘Go to Hermotimus the shipowner,’ he said; ‘go and read what is written on the column in the Ceramicus; you will find your name there, and his.’ Hermotimus? column? what do you mean?’ said I. But he would tell me nothing more; he went to bed without any dinner, and never gave me so much as a look. I tried everything: I lavished all my endearments on him, and did all I could to make him look at me. Nothing would soften him: all he said was, ‘If you keep on bothering, I shall go away this minute, I don’t care what time it is.’
Ba. But you did know Hermotimus, I suppose?
Me. My dear, if I ever so much as heard of a Hermotimus who was a ship-owner, may I be more wretched than I am now! — Next morning, at cock-crow, Charinus got up, and went off. I remembered his saying something about my name being written up in the Ceramicus, so I sent Acis to have a look; and all she found was just this, chalked up close by the Dipylus, on the right as you come in: Melitta loves Hermotimus; and again a little lower down: Hermotimus the ship-owner loves Melitta.
Ba. Ah, mischievous boys! I see what it is! Some one must have written it up to tease Charinus, knowing how jealous he is. And he took it all in at once! I must speak to him if I see him anywhere. He is a mere child, quite unsophisticated.
Me. If you see him, yes: but you are not likely to. He has shut himself up with Simiche; his people have been asking for him, they think he is here still. No, Bacchis, I want one of those old women; she would put all to rights.
Ba. Well, love, I know a capital witch; she comes from Syria, such a brisk, vigorous old thing! Once when Phanias had quarrelled with me in the same way, all about nothing, she brought us together again, after four whole months; I had quite given hire up, but her spells drew him back.
Me. What was her fee? do you remember
Ba. Oh, she was most reasonable: one drachma, and a loaf of bread. Then you have to provide salt, of course, and sulphur, and a torch, and seven pennies. And besides this, you must mix her a bowl of wine, which she has to drink all by herself; and then there must be something belonging to the man, his coat, or his shoes, or a lock of hair, or something.
Me. I have got his shoes.
Ba. She hangs them up on a peg, and fumigates them with the sulphur, throwing a little salt into the fire, and muttering both your names. Then she brings out her magic wheel, and spins it, and rattles off an incantation, such horrid, outlandish words! Well, she had scarcely finished, when; sure enough, in came Phanias; Phoebis (that was the girl he was with) had begged and implored him not to go, and his friends declared it was a shame; but the spell was too strong for them. Oh yes, and she taught me a splendid charm against Phoebis. I was to mark her footsteps, and rub out the last of them, putting my right foot into her left footprint, and my left into her right; and then I was to say: My foot on thy foot; I trample thee down! I did it exactly as she told me.
Me. Oh, Bacchis, dear, do be quick and fetch the witch. Acis, you see to the bread and sulphur and things.
Mother. Well, child, if we get another gallant like Chaereas, we must make some offerings; the earthly Aphrodite shall have a white kid, the heavenly one in the Gardens a heifer, and our lady of windfalls a garland. How well off we shall be, positively rolling in wealth! You see how much this boy brings in; not an obol, not a dress, not a pair of shoes, not a box of ointment, has he ever given you; it is all professions and promises and distant prospects; always, if my father should———-, and I should inherit, everything would be yours. And according to you, he swears you shall be his wife.
Mu. Oh yes, mother, he swore it, by the two Goddesses 1 and Polias.
Mother. And you believe it, no doubt. So much so that the other day, when he had a subscription to pay and nothing to pay with, you gave him your ring without asking me, and the price of it went in drink. Another time it was the pair of Ionian necklaces that Praxias the Chian captain got made in Ephesus and brought you; two darics apiece they weighed; a club-dinner with the men of his year it was that time. As for shirts and linen, those are trifles not worth mention. A mighty catch he has been, to be sure!
Mu. He is so handsome with his smooth chin; and he loves me, and cries as he tells me so; and he is the son of Laches the Areopagite and Dinomache; and we shall be his real wife and mother-in-law, you know; we have great expectations, if only the old man would go to bye-bye.
Mother. So when we want shoes, and the shoemaker expects to be paid, we are to tell him we have no money, ‘but take a few expectations.’ And the baker the same. And on rent-day we shall ask the man to wait till Laches of Collytus is dead; he shall have it after the wedding. Well, I should be ashamed to be the only pretty girl that could not show an earring or a chain or a bit of lace.
Mu. Oh well, mother, are the rest of them happier or better-looking than I am?
Mother. No; but they have more sense; they know their business better than to pin their faith to the idle words of a boy with a mouthful of lover’s oaths. But you go in for constancy and true love, and will have nothing to say to anybody but your Chaereas. There was that farmer from Acharnae the other day; his chin was smooth too; and he brought the two minae he had just got for his father’s wine; but oh dear me no! you send him away with a sneer; none but your Adonis for you.
Mu. Mother, you could not expect me to desert Chaereas and let that nasty working-man (faugh!) come near me. Poor Chaereas! he is a pet and a duck.
Mother. Well, the Acharnian did smell rather of the farm. But there was Antiphon — son to Menecrates — and a whole mina; why not him? he is handsome, and a gentleman, and no older than Chaereas.
Mu. Ah, but Chaereas vowed he would cut both our throats if he caught me with him.
Mother. The first time such a thing was ever threatened, I suppose. So you will go without your lovers for this, and be as good a girl as if you were a priestess of Demeter instead of what you are. And if that were all! — but to-day is harvest festival; and where is his present?
Mu. Mammy dear, he has none to give.
Mother. They don’t all find it so hard to get round their fathers; why can’t he get a slave to wheedle him? why not tell his mother he will go off for a soldier if she doesn’t let him have some money? instead of which he haunts and tyrannizes over us, neither giving himself nor letting us take from those who would. Do you expect to be eighteen all your life, Musarium? or that Chaereas will be of the same mind when he has his fortune, and his mother finds a marriage that will bring ‘ him another? You don’t suppose he will remember tears and kisses and vows, with five talents of dowry to distract him
Mu. Oh yes, he will. They have done everything to make him marry now; and he wouldn’t! that shows.
Mother. I only hope it shows true. I shall remind you of all this when the time comes.
60:1 Demeter and Persephone.
Am. Well, but, Chrysis, I don’t call a man in love at all, if he doesn’t get jealous, and storm, and slap one, and clip one’s hair, and tear one’s clothes to pieces.
Ch. Is that the only way to tell?
Am. To tell a serious passion, yes. The kisses and tears and vows, the constant attendance — all that only shows that he’s beginning to be in love; it’s still coming on. But the real flame is jealousy, pure and simple. So if Gorgias is jealous, and slaps you, as you say, you may hope for the best; pray that he may always go on as he has begun!
Ch. Go on slapping me?
Am. No, no; but getting angry if you ever look at any one else. If he were not in love with you, why should he mind your having another lover?
Ch. Oh, but I haven’t! It’s all a mistake! He took it into his head that old Moneybags had been paying me attentions, because I just happened to mention his name once.
Am. Well, that’s very nice, too. You want him to think that there are rich men after you. It will make him all the more angry, and all the more liberal; he’ll be afraid of being cut out by his rivals.
Ch. But Gorgias never gives me anything. He only storms and slaps.
Am. Oh, you wait. Nothing tames them like jealousy.
Ch. Ampelis, I believe you want me to be slapped!
Am. Nonsense! All I mean is this: if you want to make a man wildly in love with you, let him see that you can do without him. When he thinks that he has you all to himself, he is apt to cool down. You see I’ve had twenty years’ experience: whereas you, I suppose, are about eighteen, perhaps not that. Come now; I’ll tell you what happened to me, not so many years ago. Demophantus was my admirer in those days; the usurer, you know, at the back of the Poecile. He had never given me more than five drachmae at a time, and he wanted to have everything his own way. The fact was, my dear, his love was only skin-deep. There were no sighs or tears with him; no knocking me up at unearthly hours; he would spend an evening with me now and then — very occasionally — and that was all. But one day when he called, I was ‘not at home’; I had Callides the painter with me (he had given me ten drachmae). Well, at the time Demophantus said some very rude things, and walked off. However, the days went by, and I never sent to him; and at last (finding that Callides had been with me again) even Demophantus began to catch fire, and to get into a passion about it; so one day he stood outside, and waited till he found the door open: my dear, I don’t know what he didn’t do! cried, beat me, vowed he would murder me, tore my clothes dreadfully! And it all ended with his giving me a talent; after which I saw no one else for eight months on end. His wife told everybody that I had bewitched him with some drug. ’Twas easy to see what the drug had been: jealousy. Now you should try the same drug upon Gorgias. The boy will have money, if anything happens to his father.
Dor. Oh, miss, we are lost, lost! Here is Polemon back from the wars a rich man, they say. I saw him myself in a mantle with a purple border and a clasp, and a whole train of men at his back. His friends when they caught sight of him crowded round to get their greetings in. I made out in the train his man who went abroad with him. So I said How d’ye do, and then asked, ‘Do tell me, Parmenon, how you got on; have you made anything to repay you for all your fighting?’
Pa. Ah, you should not have begun with that. Thanks to all the Gods you were not killed (you ought to have said), and most of all to Zeus who guards the stranger and Athene who rules the battle! My mistress was always trying to find out how you were doing and where you were. And if you had added that she was always weeping and talking of Polemon, that would have been still better.
Dor. Oh, I said all that right at the beginning; but I never thought of telling you that; I wanted to get on to the news. This was how I began to Parmenon: ‘Did you and your master’s ears burn, Parmenon?’ I said; ‘mistress was always talking of him and crying; and when any one came back from the last battle and reported that many had been killed, she would tear her hair and beat her breast, and grieve so every time! ‘
Pa. Ah, that was right, Dorcas.
Dor. And then after a little while I went on to the other questions. And he said, ‘Oh, yes, we have come back great men.’
Pa. What, straight off like that? never a word of how Polemon had talked or thought of me, or prayed he might find me alive?
Dor. Yes, he said a good deal of that. But his real news was enormous riches — gold, raiment, slaves, ivory. As for the money, they didn’t count it, but measured it by the bushel, and it took some time that way. On Parmenon’s own finger was a huge queer-shaped ring with one of those three-coloured stones, the outer part red. I left him when he wanted to give me the history of how they crossed the Halys and killed somebody called Tiridates, and how Polemon distinguished himself in the battle with the Pisidians. I ran off to tell you, and give you time to think. Suppose Polemon were to come — and you may be sure he will, as soon as he has got rid of his company — and find when he asked after you that Philostratus was here; what would he do?
Pa. Oh, Dorcas, we must find some way out of it. It would be shabby to send Philostratus about his business so soon after having that talent from him; and he is a merchant, and if he keeps all his promises ———-. And on the other hand, it is a pity not to be at home to Polemon now he is come back such a great man; besides, he is so jealous; when he was poor, there was no getting on with him for it; and what will he be like now?
Dor. Here he comes.
Pa. Oh, Dorcas, what am I to do? I shall faint; how I tremble!
Dor. Why, here is Philostratus too.
Pa. Oh, what will become of me? oh that the earth would swallow me up!
Phi. Well, my dear, where is that wine?
Pa. (Now he has gone and done it!) Ah, Polemon, so you are back at last; are you well?
Po. Who is this person coming to you? What, no answer? Oh, mighty fine, Pannychis! Here have I come on the wings of love — the whole way from Thermopylae in five days; and all for a woman like this! But I deserve it; I ought to be grateful; I shall not be plundered any more, that is something.
Phi. And who may you be, good sir?
Po. Polemon, deme Stiria, tribe Pandionis; will that do for you? late colonel, now general of division, and Pannychis’s lover, so long as he supposed a mere man was good enough for her.
Phi. At present, however, sir free-lance, Pannychis is mine. She has had one talent, and will have another as soon as my cargoes are disposed of. Come along, Pannychis; the colonel can keep his colonelling for the Odrysians.
Dor. She is a free woman; it is for her to say whether she will come along or not.
Pa. What shall I do, Dorcas?
Dor. Better go in; Polemon is too angry to talk to now, and a little jealousy will only whet his appetite.
Pa. Well, if you think so, let us go in.
Po. I give you both fair warning that you drink your last drink to-day; I ought to know by this time how to part soul from body. Parmenon, the Thracians. Full armour, battle array, this alley blocked. Pikemen in the centre, slingers and archers on the flanks, and the remainder in the rear.
Phi. You take us for babies, Mr. Mercenary, to judge from your appeal to our imaginations. Now I wonder whether you ever shed as much blood as runs in a cock’s veins, or ever looked on war; to stretch a point in your favour, I dare say you may have been corporal in charge of a bit of wall somewhere.
Po. You will know ere long, when you look upon our serried ranks of glittering steel.
Phi. Oh, pack up your traps and come, by all means. I and my Tibius — I have only one man, you see — will scatter you so wide with a few stones and bricks that you shall never find one another again.
Try. Well, to be sure! Get a girl to keep company with you, and then turn your back on her! Nothing but tears and groans! The wine was not good enough, I suppose, and you didn’t want a tête-à-tête dinner. Oh yes, I saw you were crying at dinner too. And now it is one continued wail like a baby’s . What is it all about, Charmides? do tell me; let me get that much out of my evening with you.
Ch. Love is killing me, Tryphaena; I can stand it no longer.
Try. It is not love for me, that is clear. You would not be so cold to me, and push me away when I want to put my arms round you. It really is not fair to keep me off like this! Never mind, tell me who it is; perhaps I may help you to her; I know one ought to make oneself useful.
Ch. Oh, you two know each other quite well; she is quite a celebrity.
Try. Name, name, Charmides!
Ch. Well then — Philematium.
Try. Which? there are two of them; one in Piraeus, who has only just come there; Damyllus the governor’s son is in love with her; is it that one? or the other, the one they call The Trap?
Ch. Yes, that is she; she has caught me and got me tight, poor mouse.
Try. And the tears were all for her?
Ch. Even so.
Try. Is this recent? or how long has it been going on?
Ch. Oh, it is nothing new. I saw her first at the Dionysia; that makes seven months.
Try. Had you a full view of her, or did you just see her face and as much as a woman of forty-five likes to show?
Ch. Oh, come! I have her word for it she will be two-and-twenty next birthday.
Try. Well, which are you going to trust — her word, or your own eyes? Just take a careful look at her temples some day; that is the only place where her own hair shows; all the rest is a thick wig; but at the temples, when the dye fades a little, you can easily detect the grey. But that is nothing; insist on seeing more than her face.
Ch. Oh, but I am not favoured so far as that.
Try. No, I should think not. She knows what the effect would be; why, she is all over — oh, talk of leopard-skins! And it was she made you cry like that, was it? I dare say, now, she was very cruel and scornful?
Ch. Yes, she was, dear; and such a lot of money as she has from me! Just now she wants a thousand drachmas; well, I am dependent on my father, and he is very close, and I could not very well get it; so she is at home to Moschion, and will not see me. That is why you are here; I thought it might vex her.
Try. Well, I’m sure I never never would have come if I had been told what it was for — just to vex somebody else, and that somebody old coffin-ripe Philematium! I shall go away; for that matter the third cock-crow is past.
Ch. No, no, not so fast, Tryphaena. If it is all true — the wig, the dye, and the leopard-skin — I shall hate the sight of her.
Try. If your mother has ever seen her at the bath, ask her. As to the age, you had better ask your grandfather about that, if he is alive.
Ch. Well, as that is what she is like, come up close to me. Give me your arms — and your lips — and let us be friends. Philematium be hanged!
Jo. Cross boy! But I deserve it all! I ought to have treated you as any other girl would do — bothered you for money, and been engaged when you called, and made you cheat your father or rob your mother to get presents for me; instead of which, I have always let you in from the very first time, and it has never cost you a penny, Lysias. Think of all the lovers I have sent away: Ethocles, now a Chairman of Committees, and Pasion the shipowner, and young Melissus, who had just come into all his father’s money. I would not have a word to say to one of them; I kept myself for you, hard-hearted Phaon that you are! I was fool enough to believe all your vows, and have been living like a Penelope for your sake; mother is furious about it, and is always talking at me to her friends. And now that you feel sure of me, and know how I dote on you, what is the consequence? You flirt with Lycaena under my very eyes, just to vex me; you sit next to me at dinner, and pay compliments to Magidium, a mere music-girl, and hurt my feelings, and make me cry. And that wine-party the other day, with Thraso and Diphilus, when Cymbalium the flute-girl was there, and Pyrallis: you know how I hate that girl: as for Cymbalium, whom you kissed no less than five times, I didn’t mind so much about that — it must have been sufficient punishment in itself:— but the way in which you were always making signs to Pyrallis to notice your cup, and whispering to the boy, when you gave it back to him, that he was not to fill it for any one but Pyrallis! and that piece of apple that you bit off and shot across right into her lap, when you saw that Diphilus was occupied with Thraso — you never even tried to conceal it from me! and she kissed it, and hid it away beneath her girdle. What is the meaning of it all? What have I ever done to you? Did I ever displease you? ever look at any other man? Do I not live for you alone? A brave thing, is it not, Lysias, to vex a poor weak woman who loves you to distraction! There is a Nemesis who watches such deeds. You will be sorry some day, perhaps, when you hear of my hanging myself, or jumping head first into a well; for die I will, one way or another, rather than live to be an eyesore to you. There will be an achievement for you to boast of! You need not look at me like that, nor gnash your teeth: if you have anything to say against me, here is Pythias; let her judge between us. Oh, you are going away without a word? — You see what I have to put up with, Pythias!
Py. Monster! He cares nothing for her tears. He must be made of stone instead of flesh and blood. But the truth is, my dear, you have spoilt him, by letting him see how fond you are of him. It is a great mistake to make so much of them; they get uppish. Don’t cry, dear: take my advice, and shut him out once or twice; it will be his turn to dote on you then.
Jo. Shut him out? Don’t breathe a word of such a thing! I only wish he would wait till I turned him out!
Py. Why, here he is back again.
Jo. Pythias! What have you done? If he should have overheard that about shutting him out!
Ly. I am coming back on your account, Pythias, not on hers; I will never look at her again, after what she has done: but I don’t want you to think badly of me; it shall not be said that Lysias was hard-hearted.
Py. Exactly what I was saying.
Ly. But what would you have me do? This girl, who is so tearful now, has been disloyal to me, and received another lover; I actually found them together!
Py. Well, after all ———. But when did you make this discovery?
Ly. It must have been something like five days ago; yes, it was, because it was on the second, and to-day is the seventh. My father had found out about this precious Joessa, and how long it had been going on, and he locked me in, and gave the porter orders not to open to me. Well, I wasn’t going to be kept away from her, so I told Dromo to slip along the courtyard to the lowest part of the wall, and then let me mount on his back; I knew I could easily get over that way. To make a long story short, I got out, and came here. It was midnight, and I found the door carefully barred. Instead of knocking, I quietly lifted the door off its hinges (it was not the first time I had done so) and passed noiselessly in. Every one was asleep. I groped my way along the wall, and stopped at the bedside.
Jo. Good Heavens! What is coming? I am in torment!
Ly. I perceived from the breathing that there was more than one person there, and thought at first that Lyde must be sleeping with her. Pythias, I was mistaken! My hands passed over a smooth, beardless man’s face; the fellow was close-cropped, and reeked of scent like any woman. I had not brought my sword with me, or you may be sure I should have known what to do with it — What are you both laughing at? Is it so amusing, Pythias?
Jo. Oh, Lysias! is that all? Why, it was Pythias who was sleeping with me!
Py. Joessa, don’t tell him!
Jo. Why not? Lysias, dear, it was Pythias; I had asked her to come and sleep with me; I was so lonely without you.
Ly. Pythias? Then her hair has grown pretty fast in five days.
Jo. She has been ill, and her hair was falling off, and she had to have it cropped. And now she has got false hair. Pythias, show him that it is so. Behold your rival, Lysias! this is the young gentleman of whom you were jealous.
Ly. And what lover would not have been jealous? I had the evidence of my hands, remember.
Jo. Well, you know better now. Suppose I were to return you evil for evil? What should you say to that? It is my turn to be angry with you now.
Ly. No, you mustn’t be angry. We will have some wine, and Pythias must join us; the truce cannot be ratified without her.
Jo. Of course not. A pretty scrape you have led me into, Pythias, you nice young man!
Py. The nice young man has led you out of it again too, so you must forgive him. I say, Lysias, you need not tell any one — about my hair, you know.
Le. And then that battle with the Galatians; tell her about that, Chenidas — how I rode out in front on the grey, and the Galatians (brave fellows, those Galatians, too)— but they ran away directly they saw me; not a man stood his ground. That time, you know, I used my lance for a javelin, and sent it through their captain and his horse as well; and then, as some of them were left — the phalanx was broken up, you see, but a certain number had rallied — well, I pulled out my trusty blade, rode at them as hard as I could go, knocked over half a dozen of the front rank with the mere rush of my horse, brought down my sword on one of the officers, and clove his head in two halves, helmet and all. The rest of you came up shortly, you remember, when they were already running.
Che. Oh, but that duel of yours with the satrap in Paphlagonia! that was a fine display, too.
Le. Well remembered; yes, that was not so bad, either. A great big fellow that satrap was, supposed to be a champion fighter too — thought nothing of Greek science. Out he came, and challenged all corners to single combat. There was consternation among our officers, from the lowest to the general himself — though he was a pretty good man. Aristaechmus the Aetolian he was — very strong on the javelin; I was only a colonel then. However, I was not afraid. I shook off the friends who clung to me — they were anxious about me when they saw the barbarian resplendent in his gilded armour, towering high with his terrible plume and brandishing his lance —
Che. Yes, I was afraid that time; you remember how I clung to you and besought you not to sacrifice yourself; life would not have been worth living, if you had fallen.
Le. I ventured it, though. Out I went, as well armed as the Paphlagonian, all gold like him. What a shout there was on both sides! the barbarians recognized me too; they knew my buckler and medals and plume. Who was it they all compared me to, Chenidas?
Che. Why, who should it be? Achilles, of course; the son of Peleus and Thetis, of course. Your helmet was so magnificent, your purple so rich, your buckler so dazzling.
Le. We met. The barbarian drew first blood — just a scratch with his lance a little above the knee; but my great spear drove through his shield and right into the breast-bone. Then I ran up, just sliced his head off with my sword, and came back carrying his arms, the head spiked on my spear dripping gore upon me.
Hym. How horrid, Leontichus! what disgusting frightful tales you tell about yourself! What girl would look at a man who likes such nastiness — let alone drink or sleep with him? I am going away.
Le. Pooh! I double your pay.
Hym. No, nothing shall induce me to sleep with a murderer.
Le. Don’t be afraid, my dear. All that was in Paphlagonia. I am a man of peace now.
Hym. No, you are unclean; the blood of the barbarian’s head on the spear has dripped over you! I embrace and kiss a man like that? the Graces forbid! he is no better than the executioner.
Le. I am certain you would be in love with me if you had seen me in my armour.
Hym. I tell you it makes me sick and frightened even to hear of such things; I see the shades and ghosts of the slain; that poor officer with his head cloven! what would it be if I saw the thing done, and the blood, and the bodies lying there? I am sure I should die; I never saw a chicken killed, even.
Le. Such a coward, girl? so poor of heart? I thought you would like to hear it.
Hym. Well, try the Lemnian women, or the daughters of Danaus, if you want to please with that sort of tale. I shall run home to my mother, while there is some daylight left. Come along, Grammis. Good-bye, mightiest of colonels, and murderer of however many it is!
Le. Stay, girl, stay. — Why, she is gone!
Che. Well, Leontichus, you frightened the simple little thing with your nodding plumes and your incredible exploits. I saw her getting pale as far back as the officer story; her face was all puckered up and quivering when you split his head.
Le. I thought it would make me more attractive. Well, but it was your fault too; you started the duel.
Che. Well, I had to chime in when I saw what you were bragging for. But you laid it on so thick. Pass the cutting off the wretched Paphlagonian’s head, what did you want to spike it on a spear for, and let the blood run down on you?
Le. That was a bit too strong, I admit; the rest was rather well put together. Well, go and persuade her to come back.
Che. Shall I tell her you lied to make her think you a fine fellow?
Le. Oh, plague upon it!
Che. It ’s the only way. Choose — a mighty champion, and loathed, or a confessed liar, and — Hymnis?
Le. Bad is the best; but I say Hymnis. Go to her, then, Chenidas, and say I lied — in parts.
Do. So, Myrtale! You ruin me first, and then close your doors on me! It was another tale when I brought you all those presents: I was your love, then; your lord, your life. But you have squeezed me dry now, and have got hold of that Bithynian merchant; so I am left to whimper on the wrong side of the door, while he, the favoured lover, enjoys your embraces, and is to become a father soon, so you tell him.
Myr. Come, Dorion, that is too much! Ruined you, indeed! A lot you ever gave me! Let us go through the list of your presents, from the very beginning.
Do. Very well; let us. First, a pair of shoes from Sicyon, two drachmae. Remember two drachmae.
Myr. Ah, but you were here for two nights.
Do. A box of Phoenician ointment, when I came back from Syria; the box of alabaster. The same price, as I’m a seaman!
Myr. Well, and when you sailed again, didn’t I give you that waistcoat, that you might have something to wear when you were rowing? It was Epiurus the boatswain’s, that waistcoat; he left it here one night by mistake.
Do. Epiurus recognized it, and took it away from me in Samos, only the other day; and a rare tussle we had before he got it. Then there were those onions I brought you from Cyprus, and five haddocks and four perch, the time we came back from the Bosphorus. Oh, and a whole basket of ship’s bread — eight loaves of it; and a jar of figs from Caria. Another time it was a pair of slippers from Patara, gilded ones, you ungrateful girl! Ah, and I was forgetting that great cheese from Gythium.
Myr. Say five drachmae the lot.
Do. It was all that my pay would run to, Myrtale; I was but a common seaman in those days. I have risen to be mate now, my haughty miss. And didn’t I put down a solid drachma for you at the feet of Aphrodite’s statue, when it was her feast the other day? Then I gave your mother two drachmae to buy shoes with; and Lyde there — many is the copper I have slipped into her hand, by twos and threes. Put all that together, and it makes a seaman’s fortune.
Myr. Onions and haddocks.
Do. Yes; ’twas all I had; if I were rich, I should not be a sailor. I have never brought my own mother so much as a head of garlic. I should like to know what sort of presents the Bithynian makes you?
Myr. Look at this dress: he bought it me; and this necklace, the thick one.
Do. Pooh, you have had that for years.
Myr. No, the one you knew was much lighter, and it had no emeralds. My earrings were a present of his too, and so was that rug; and he gave me two minae the other day, besides paying our rent. Rather different from Patara slippers, and Gythium cheeses and stuff!
Do. And how do you like him for a lover? you say nothing about that. He is fifty years old if he is a day; his hair is all gone in front, and he has the complexion of a lobster. Did you ever notice his teeth? And so accomplished too! it is a treat to hear him when he sings and tries to make himself agreeable; what is it they tell me about an ass that would learn the lyre? Well, I wish you joy of him; you deserve no better luck; and may the child be like his father! As for me, I’ll find some Delphis or Cymbalium that’s more in my line; your neighbour, perhaps, the flute-girl; anyhow, I shall get some one. We can’t all afford necklaces and rugs and two minae presents.
Myr. How I envy the lucky girl who gets you, Dorion! What onions she will have from Cyprus! what cheeses next time you come from Gythium!
Co. Crying, Parthenis! what is it? how do your pipes come to be broken?
Par. Oh! oh! I have been beaten by Crocale’s lover — that tall Aetolian soldier; he found me playing at Crocale’s, hired by his rival Gorgus. He broke in while they were at dinner, smashed my pipes, upset the table, and emptied out the wine-bowl. Gorgus (the country fellow, you know) he pulled out of the dining-room by the hair of his head, and the two of them, Dinomachus (I think they call him) and a fellow soldier, stood over thumping him. Oh, Cochlis, I doubt whether he will live; there was a great rush of blood from his nostrils, and his face is all swollen and livid.
Co. Is the man mad? or was it just a drunken freak?
Par. All jealousy, my dear — love run wild. Crocale had asked two talents, I believe, if Dinomachus wanted her all to himself. He refused; so she shut the door in his face, I was told, and would not let him in at all. Instead of him she took Gorgus of Oenoë, a well-to-do farmer and a nice man; they were drinking together, and she had got me in to play the pipes. Well, the wine was going, I was striking up one of those Lydian tunes, the farmer standing up to dance, Crocale clapping, and all as merry as could be. Suddenly there was a noise and a shout, crash went the front door, and a moment after in burst eight great strong men, that brute among them. Everything was upside down directly, Gorgus on the ground, as I told you, being thumped and kicked. Crocale got away somehow and took refuge with Thespias next door. Dinomachus boxed my ears, and ‘Go to blazes!’ he said, throwing me the broken pipes. I am running to tell master about it now. And the farmer is going to find some of his friends in town and get the brute summonsed in the police-court.
Co. Yes, bruises and the courts — that is all we get out of the military. They tell you they are generals and colonels, and then when it comes to paying, ‘Oh, wait for settling day,’ they say; ‘then I shall get my pay, and put everything right.’ I wish they were all dead, they and their bragging. But I never have anything to do with them; it is the best way. Give me a fisherman or a sailor or farmer no better than myself, with few compliments and plenty of money. These plume-tossing word-warriors! they are nothing but noise, Parthenis.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57