The Eunuch, by Terence

Act the First.

Scene I.

Enter Phædria and Parmeno .

Phæd. And what then shall I do? not go? not now?
When she herself invites me? or were’t best
Fashion my mind no longer to endure
These harlots’ impudence? — Shut out! recall’d!
Shall I return? No, not if she implore me.

Par. Oh brave! oh excellent! if you maintain it!
But if you try, and can’t go through with spirit,
And finding you can’t bear it, uninvited,
Your peace unmade, all of your own accord,
You come and swear you love, and can’t endure it,
Good-night! all’s over! ruin’d and undone
She’ll jilt you, when she sees you in her pow’r.

Phæd. You then, in time consider and advise!

Par. Master! the thing which hath not in itself
Or measure or advice, advice can’t rule.
In love are all these ills: suspicions, quarrels,
Wrongs, reconcilements, war, and peace again:
Things thus uncertain, if by reason’s rules
You’d certain make, it were as wise a task
To try with reason to run mad. And now
What you in anger meditate — I her?
That him? — that me? that would not — pardon me!
I would die rather: No! she shall perceive
How much I am a man. — Big words like these,
She in good faith with one false tiny drop,
Which, after grievous rubbing, from her eyes
Can scarce perforce be squeez’d, shall overcome.
Nay, she shall swear, ’twas you in fault, not she;
You too shall own th’ offense, and pray for pardon.

Phæd. Oh monstrous! monstrous! now indeed I see
How false she is, and what a wretch I am!
Spite of myself I love; and knowing, feeling,
With open eyes run on to my destruction;
And what to do I know not.

Par. What to do?
What should you do, Sir, but redeem yourself
As cheaply as you can? — at easy rates
If possible — if not — at any rate —
And never vex yourself.

Phæd. Is that your counsel?

Par. Aye, if you’re wise; and do not add to love
More troubles than it has, and those it has
Bear bravely! But she comes, our ruin comes;
For she, like storms of hail on fields of corn,
Beats down our hopes, and carries all before her.

Scene II.

Enter Thais .

Thais. Ah me! I fear lest Phædria take offense
And think I meant it other than I did,
That he was not admitted yesterday. (To herself, not seeing them.)

Phæd. I tremble, Parmeno, and freeze with horror.

Par. Be of good cheer! approach yon fire — she’ll warm you.

Thais. Who’s there? my Phædria? Why did you stand here?
Why not directly enter?

Par. Not one word
Of having shut him out!

Thais. Why don’t you speak?

Phæd. Because, forsooth, these doors will always fly
Open to me, or that because I stand
The first in your good graces. (Ironically.)

Thais. Nay, no more!

Phæd. No more? — O Thais, Thais, would to Heaven
Our loves were parallel, that things like these
Might torture you, as this has tortur’d me:
Or that your actions were indifferent to me!

Thais. Grieve not, I beg, my love, my Phædria!
Not that I lov’d another more, I did this.
But I by circumstance was forc’d to do it.

Par. So then, it seems, for very love, poor soul,
You shut the door in ’s teeth.

Thais. Ah Parmeno!
Is’t thus you deal with me? Go to! — But hear
Why I did call you hither?

Phæd. Be it so.

Thais. But tell me first, can yon slave hold his peace?

Pam. I? oh most faithfully: But hark ye, madam!
On this condition do I bind my faith:
The truths I hear, I will conceal; but falsehood,
Fiction, or gross pretence, shall out at once.
I’m full of chinks, and run through here and there:
So if you claim my secrecy, speak truth.

Thais. My mother was a Samian, liv’d at Rhodes.

Par. This sleeps in silence. (Archly.)

Thais. There a certain merchant
Made her a present of a little girl,
Stol’n hence from Attica.

Phæd. A citizen?

Thais. I think so, but we can not tell for certain.
Her father’s and her mother’s name she told
Herself; her country and the other marks
Of her original, she neither knew,
Nor, from her age, was ’t possible she should.
The merchant added further, that the pirates,
Of whom he bought her, let him understand,
She had been stol’n from Sunium. My mother
Gave her an education, brought her up
In all respects as she had been her own;
And she in gen’ral was suppos’d my sister.
I journeyed hither with the gentleman
To whom alone I was connected then,
The same who left me all I have.

Par. These articles
Are both rank falsehoods, and shall out.

Thais. Why so?

Par. Because nor you with one could be content,
Nor he alone enrich’d you; for my master
Made good and large addition.

Thais. I allow it,
But let me hasten to the point I wish:
Meantime the captain, who was then but young
In his attachment to me, went to Caria.
I, in his absence, was address’d by you;
Since when, full well you know, how very dear
I’ve held you, and have trusted you with all
My nearest counsels.

Phæd. And yet Parmeno
Will not be silent even here.

Par. Oh, Sir,
Is that a doubt?

Thais. Nay, prithee now, attend!
My mother’s lately dead at Rhodes: her brother,
Too much intent on wealth, no sooner saw
This virgin, handsome, well-accomplish’d, skill’d
In music, than, spurr’d on by hopes of gain,
In public market he expos’d and sold her.
It so fell out, my soldier-spark was there,
And bought her, all unknowing these events,
To give to me: but soon as he return’d,
And found how much I was attach’d to you,
He feign’d excuses to keep back the girl;
Pretending, were he thoroughly convinc’d
That I would still prefer him to yourself,
Nor fear’d that when I had receiv’d the girl,
I would abandon him, he’d give her to me;
But that he doubted. For my part, I think
He is grown fond of her himself.

Phæd. Is there
Aught more between them?

Thais. No; for I’ve inquir’d,
And now, my Phædria, there are sundry causes
Wherefore I wish to win the virgin from him.
First, for she’s call’d my sister; and moreover,
That I to her relations may restore her.
I’m a lone woman, have nor friend, nor kin:
Wherefore, my Phædria, I would raise up friends
By some good turn:— And you, I prithee now,
Help me to do it. Let him some few days
Be my gallant in chief. What! no reply?

Phæd. Abandon’d woman! Can I aught reply
To deeds like these?

Par. Oh excellent! well said!
He feels at length; Now, master, you’re a man.

Phæd. I saw your story’s drift. — “A little girl
Stol’n hence — My mother brought her up — was call’d
My sister — I would fain obtain her from him,
That I to her relations might restore her — ”
All this preamble comes at last to this.
I am excluded, he’s admitted. Why?
But that you love him more than me, and fear
Lest this young captive win your hero from you.

Thais. Do I fear that?

Phæd. Why, prithee now, what else?
Does he bring gifts alone? didst e’er perceive
My bounty shut against you? Did I not,
Because you told me you’d be glad to have
An Ethiopian servant-maid, all else
Omitted, seek one out? You said besides,
You wish’d to have an Eunuch, ’cause forsooth,
They were for dames of quality; I found one:
For both I yesterday paid twenty minæ,
Yet you contemn me — I forgot not these,
And for these I’m despis’d.

Thais. Why this, my Phædria?
Though I would fain obtain the girl, and though
I think by these means it might well be done;
Yet, rather than make you my enemy,
I’ll do as you command.

Phæd. Oh, had you said
Those words sincerely. “Rather than make you
My enemy!” — Oh, could I think those words
Came from your heart, what is ’t I’d not endure!

Par. Gone! conquer’d with one word! alas, how soon!

Thais. Not speak sincerely? from my very soul?
What did you ever ask, although in sport,
But you obtain’d it of me? yet I can’t
Prevail on you to grant but two short days.

Phæd. Well — for two days — so those two be not twenty.

Thais. No in good faith but two, or —

Phæd. Or? no more.

Thais. It shall not be: but you will grant me those.

Phæd. Your will must be a law.

Thais. Thanks, my sweet Phædria!

Phæd. I’ll to the country: there consume myself
For these two days: it must be so: we must
Give way to Thais. See you, Parmeno,
The slaves brought hither.

Par. Sir, I will.

Phæd. My Thais,
For these two days farewell!

Thais. Farewell, my Phædria!
Would you aught else with me?

Phæd. Aught else, my Thais?
Be with yon soldier present, as if absent:
All night and day love me: still long for me:
Dream, ponder still of me; wish, hope for me:
Delight in me; be all in all with me;
Give your whole heart, for mine’s all yours, to me.


Scene III.

Manet Thais .

Ah me! I fear that he believes me not,
And judges of my heart from those of others.
I in my conscience know, that nothing false
I have deliver’d, nor to my true heart
Is any dearer than this Phædria:
And whatsoe’er in this affair I’ve done,
For the girl’s sake I’ve done: for I’m in hopes
I know her brother, a right noble youth.
To-day I wait him, by his own appointment;
Wherefore I’ll in, and tarry for his coming.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01