The Eunuch, by Terence

Act the Second.

Scene I.

Phædria, Parmeno .

Phædria. Carry the slaves according to my order.

Par. I will.

Phæd. But diligently.

Par. Sir, I will.

Phæd. But soon.

Par. I will, Sir!

Phæd. Say, is it sufficient?

Par. Ah! what a question’s that? as if it were
So difficult! I wish, Sir Phædria,
You could gain aught so easy, as lose these.

Phæd. I lose, what’s dearer yet, my comfort with them.
Repine not at my gifts.

Par. Not I: moreover
I will convey them straight. But have you any
Other commands?

Phæd. Oh yes: set off our presents
With words as handsome as you can: and drive,
As much as possible, that rival from her!

Par. Ah, Sir, I should, of course, remember that.

Phæd. I’ll to the country, and stay there.

Par. O, aye! (Ironically.)

Phæd. But hark you!

Par. Sir, your pleasure?

Phæd. Do you think
I can with constancy hold out, and not
Return before my time?

Par. Hold out? Not you.
Either you’ll straight return, or want of sleep
Will drive you forth at midnight.

Phæd. I will toil;
That, weary, I may sleep against my will.

Par. Weary you may be; but you’ll never sleep.

Phæd. Ah, Parmeno, you wrong me. I’ll cast out
This treacherous softness from my soul, nor thus
Indulge my passions. Yes, I could remain,
If need, without her even three whole days.

Par. Hui! three whole livelong days! consider, Sir.

Phæd. I am resolved.

Parmeno alone.

Par. Heav’ns, what a strange disease is this! that love
Should so change men, that one can hardly swear
They are the same! — No mortal liv’d
Less weak, more grave, more temperate than he.
— But who comes yonder? — Gnatho, as I live;
The Captain’s parasite! and brings along
The Virgin for a present: oh rare wench!
How beautiful! I shall come off, I doubt,
But scurvily with my decrepit Eunuch.
This Girl surpasses ev’n Thais herself.

Scene II.

Enter Gnatho leading Pamphila; Parmeno behind.

Gnat. Good Heav’ns! how much one man excels another!
What diff’rence ’twixt a wise man and a fool!
What just now happen’d proves it: coming hither
I met with an old countryman, a man
Of my own place and order, like myself,
No scurvy fellow, who, like me, had spent
In mirth and jollity his whole estate.
Seeing him in a wretched trim; his looks
Lean, sick, and dirty; and his clothes all rags.
“How now!” cried I, “what means this figure, friend?
Alas! says he, my patrimony’s gone.
— Ah, how am I reduc’d! my old acquaintance
And friends all shun me.” — Hearing this, how cheap
I held him in comparison with me!
“Why, how now? wretch, said I, most idle wretch!
Have you spent all, nor left ev’n hope behind?
What! have you lost your sense with your estate?
Me! — look on me — come from the same condition!
How sleek! how neat! how clad! in what good case!
I’ve ev’ry thing, though nothing; naught possess,
Yet naught I ever want.” — “Ah, Sir, but I
Have an unhappy temper, and can’t bear
To be the butt of others, or to take
A beating now and then.” — “How then! d’ye think
Those are the means of thriving? No, my friend!
Such formerly indeed might drive a trade:
But mine’s a new profession; I the first
That ever struck into this road. There are
A kind of men, who wish to be the head
Of ev’ry thing; but are not. These I follow;
Not for their sport and laughter, but for gain
To laugh with them, and wonder at their parts:
Whate’er they say, I praise it; if again
They contradict, I praise that too: does any
Deny? I too deny: affirm? I too
Affirm: and in a word, I’ve brought myself
To say, unsay, swear, and forswear, at pleasure:
And that is now the best of all professions.”

Par. A special fellow this! who drives fools mad.

Gnat. Deep in this conversation, we at length
Come to the market, where the sev’ral tradesmen,
Butchers, cooks, grocers, poult’rers, fishmongers,
(Who, while my means were ample, profited,
And, tho’ now wasted, profit by me still,)
All run with joy to me, salute, invite,
And bid me welcome. He, poor half-starv’d wretch,
Soon as he saw me thus caress’d, and found
I got my bread so easily, desired
He might have leave to learn that art of me.
I bade him follow me, if possible:
And, as the Schools of the Philosophers
Have ta’en from the Philosophers their names,
So, in like manner, let all Parasites
Be call’d from me Gnathonics!

Par. Mark, what ease,
And being kept at other’s cost, produces!

Gnat. But hold, I must convey this girl to Thais,
And bid her forth to sup. — Ha, Parmeno!
Our rival’s slave, standing at Thais’ door!
— How melancholy he appears! All’s safe:
These poor rogues find but a cold welcome here.
I’ll play upon this knave. (Aside.)

Par. These fellows think
This present will make Thais all their own. (Aside.)

Gnat. To Parmeno, his lov’d and honor’d friend,
Gnatho sends greeting. (Ironically.) — What are you upon?

Par. My legs.

Gnat. I see it. — Is there nothing here
Displeasing to you?

Par. You.

Gnat. I do believe it.
But prithee, is there nothing else?

Par. Wherefore?

Gnat. Because you’re melancholy.

Par. Not at all.

Gnat. Well, do not be so! — Pray, now, what d’ye think
Of this young handmaid?

Par. Troth, she’s not amiss.

Gnat. I plague the rascal. (Half aside.)

Par. How the knave’s deceiv’d! (Half aside.)

Gnat. Will not this gift be very acceptable
To Thais, think you?

Par. You’d insinuate
That we’re shut out. — There is, alas, a change
In all things.

Gnat. For these six months, Parmeno,
For six whole months at least, I’ll make you easy;
You sha’n’t run up and down, and watch till daylight;
Come, don’t I make you happy?

Par. Very happy.

Gnat. ’Tis my way with my friends.

Par. You’re very good.

Gnat. But I detain you: you, perhaps, was going
Somewhere else.

Par. Nowhere.

Gnat. May I beg you then
To use your int’rest here, and introduce me
To Thais?

Par. Hence! away! these doors
Fly open now, because you carry her.

Gnat. Would you have any one call’d forth?


Par. Well, well!
Pass but two days; and you, so welcome now,
That the doors open with your little finger,
Shall kick against them then, I warrant you,
Till your heels ache again.

Re-enter Gnatho .

Gnat. Ha! Parmeno!
Are you here still? What! are you left a spy,
Lest any go-between should run by stealth
To Thais from the Captain?


Par. Very smart!
No wonder such a wit delights the Captain!
But hold! I see my master’s younger son
Coming this way. I wonder much he should
Desert Piræus, where he’s now on guard.
’Tis not for nothing. All in haste he comes,
And seems to look about.

Scene III.

Enter Chærea; Parmeno behind.

Chær. Undone! undone!
The Girl is lost; I know not where she is,
Nor where I am: ah, whither shall I trace?
Where seek? of whom inquire? or which way turn?
I’m all uncertain; but have one hope still:
Where’er she is, she can not long lie hid.
Oh charming face! all others from my memory
Hence I blot out. Away with common beauties!

Par. So, here’s the other! and he mutters too
I know not what of love. Oh what a poor
Unfortunate old man their father is!
As for this stripling, if he once begin,
His brother’s is but jest and children’s play
To his mad fury.

Chær. Twice ten thousand curses
Seize the old wretch, who kept me back to-day;
And me for staying! with a fellow too
I did not care a farthing for! — But see!
Yonder stands Parmeno. — Good-day!

Par. How now?
Wherefore so sad? and why this hurry, Chærea?
Whence come you?

Chær. I? I can not tell, i’faith,
Whence I am come, or whither I am going,
I’ve so entirely lost myself.

Par. And why?

Chær. I am in love.

Par. Oh brave!

Chær. Now, Parmeno,
Now you may show what kind of man you are.
You know you’ve often told me; “Chærea,
Find something out to set your heart upon,
And mark how I will serve you!” yes, you know
You’ve often said so, when I scrap’d together
All the provisions for you at my father’s.

Par. Away, you trifler!

Chær. Nay, in faith, it’s true:
Now make your promise good! and in a cause
Worthy the utmost reachings of your soul:
A girl! my Parmeno, not like our misses;
Whose mothers try to keep their shoulders down,
And bind their bosoms, that their shapes may seem
Genteel and slim. Is a girl rather plump?
They call her nurse, and stint her in her food:
Thus art, in spits of nature, makes them all
Mere bulrushes: and therefore they’re belov’d.

Par. And what’s this girl of yours?

Chær. A miracle.

Par. Oh, to be sure!

Chær. True, natural red and white;
Her body firm, and full of precious stuff!

Par. Her age?

Chær. About sixteen.

Par. The very prime!

Chær. This girl, by force, by stealth, or by entreaty,
Procure me! how I care not, so I have her.

Par. Well, whom does she belong to?

Chær. I don’t know.

Par. Whence comes she?

Chær. I can’t tell.

Par. Where does she live?

Chær. I can’t tell neither.

Par. Where was it you saw her?

Chær. Here in the street.

Par. And how was it you lost her?

Chær. Why it was that, which I so fumed about,
As I came hither! nor was ever man
So jilted by good fortune as myself.

Par. What mischief now?

Chær. Confounded luck.

Par. How so?

Chær. How so! d’ye know one Archidemides,
My father’s kinsman, and about his age?

Par. Full well.

Chær. As I was in pursuit of her
He met me.

Par. Rather inconveniently.

Chær. Oh most unhappily! for lighter ills
May pass for inconvenient, Parmeno.
Nay, I could swear, with a safe conscience too,
For six, nay seven months, I had not seen him,
Till now, when least I wish’d and most would shun it.
Is not this monstrous? Eh!

Par. Oh! very monstrous.

Chær. Soon as from far he saw me, instantly,
Bent, trembling, drop-jaw’d, gasping, out of breath,
He hobbled up to me. — “Holo! ho! Chærea!” —
I stopp’d. — “D’ye know what I want with you?” — “What?”
— “I have a cause to-morrow.” — “Well! what then?” —
— “Fail not to tell your father, he remember
To go up with me, as an advocate.” —
His prating took some time. “Aught else?” said I.
“Nothing,” said he:— Away flew I, and saw
The girl that instant turn into this street.

Par. Sure he must mean the virgin, just now brought
To Thais for a present.

Chær. When I reach’d
This place, the girl was vanish’d.

Par. Had your lady
Any attendants?

Chær. Yes; a parasite,
With a maid-servant.

Par. ’Tis the very same;
Away! have done! all’s over.

Chær. What d’ye mean?

Par. The girl I mean.

Chær. D’ye know then who she is?
Tell me! — or have you seen her?

Par. Yes, I’ve seen her;
I know her; and can tell you where she is.

Chær. How! my dear Parmeno, d’ye know her?

Par. Yes.

Chær. And where she is, d’ye know?

Par. Yes, — there she is; (Pointing.)
Carried to Madam Thais for a present.

Chær. What monarch could bestow a gift so precious?

Par. The mighty Captain Thraso, Phædria’s rival.

Chær. Alas, poor brother!

Par. Aye, and if you knew
The gift he sends to be compar’d with this,
You’d cry alas, indeed!

Chær. What is his gift?

Par. An Eunuch.

Chær. What! that old and ugly slave
That he bought yesterday?

Par. The very same.

Chær. Why, surely, he’ll be trundled out o’ doors
He and his gift together — But till now
I never knew this Thais was our neighbour.

Par. She came but lately.

Chær. Ev’ry way unlucky:
Ne’er to have seen her neither:— Prithee, tell me,
Is she so handsome, as she’s said to be?

Par. Yes, faith.

Chær. But nothing to compare to mine.

Par. Oh, quite another thing.

Chær. But Parmeno!
Contrive that I may have her.

Par. Well, I will.
Depend on my assistance:— have you any
Further commands? (As if going.)

Chær. Where are you going?

Par. Home;
To bring according to your brother’s order,
The slaves to Thais.

Chær. Oh, that happy Eunuch!
To be convey’d into that house!

Par. Why so?

Chær. Why so? why, he shall have that charming girl
His fellow-servant, see her all day long,
Converse with her, dwell under the same roof,
And sometimes eat, and sometimes sleep by her.

Par. And what if you should be so happy?

Chær. How?
Tell me, dear Parmeno!

Par. Assume his dress.

Chær. His dress! what then?

Par. I’ll carry you for him.

Chær. I hear you.

Par. I will say that you are he.

Chær. I understand you.

Par. So shall you enjoy
Those blessings which but now you envied him:
Eat with her, be with her, touch, toy with her,
And sleep by her: since none of Thais’ maids
Know you, or dream of what you are. Besides,
Your figure, and your age are such, that you
May well pass for an Eunuch.

Chær. Oh, well said!
I ne’er heard better counsel. Come, let’s in?
Dress me, and carry me! Away, make haste!

Par. What are you at? I did but jest.

Chær. You trifle.

Par. I’m ruin’d: fool, what have I done? Nay, whither
D’ye push me thus? You’ll throw me down. Nay, stay!

Chær. Away.

Par. Nay, prithee!

Chær. I’m resolv’d.

Par. Consider;
You carry this too far.

Chær. No, not at all.
Give way!

Par. And Parmeno must pay for all.
Ah, we do wrong!

Chær. Is it then wrong for me
To be convey’d into a house of harlots,
And turn those very arts on them, with which
They hamper us, and turn our youth to scorn?
Can it be wrong for me too, in my turn,
To deceive them, by whom we’re all deceiv’d?
No, rather let it be! ’tis just to play
This trick upon them: which, if gray-beards know,
They’ll blame indeed, but all will think well done.

Par. Well, if you must, you must; but do not then,
After all’s over, throw the blame on me.

Chær. No, no!

Par. But do you order me?

Chær. I do:
Order, command, compel you; nor will e’er
Deny, or disavow my putting-on.

Par. Come on then: follow me!

Chær. Heav’n grant success!

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