Phormio, by Terence

Act the Third.

Scene I.

Enter Demipho and Chremes .

Dem. Well, Chremes, have you brought your daughter with you,
On whose account you went to Lemnos?

Chrem. No.

Dem. Why not?

Chrem. Her mother grown, it seems, impatient,
Perceiving that I tarried here so long,
And that the girl’s age brook’d not my delays,
Had journeyed here, they said, in search of me,
With her whole family.

Dem. Appris’d of this,
What kept you there so long then?

Chrem. A disease.

Dem. How came it? what disease?

Chrem. Is that a question?
Old age itself is a disease. — However,
The master of the ship, who brought them over,
Inform’d me of their safe arrival hither.

Dem. Have you heard, Chremes, of my son’s misfortune
During my absence?

Chrem. Aye; and it confounds me.
For to another should I tender her,
I must relate the girl’s whole history,
And whence arises my connection with her.
You I can trust as safely as myself:
But if a stranger courts alliance with me,
While we’re new friends, he’ll hold his peace perhaps,
But if he cools, he’ll know too much of me.
Then I’m afraid my wife should know of this;
Which if she does, I’ve nothing else to do
But shake myself, and leave my house directly:
For I’ve no friend at home except myself.

Dem. I know it; and ’tis that which touches me.
Nor are there any means I’ll leave untried,
Till I have made my promise to you good.

Scene II.

Enter, at another part of the stage, Geta .

Geta (to himself). I never saw a more shrewd rogue than Phormio.
I came to let him know we wanted money,
With my device for getting it; and scarce
Had I related half, but he conceiv’d me.
He was o’erjoy’d; commended me; demanded
To meet with Demipho; and thank’d the god;
That it was now the time to show himself
As truly Phædria’s friend as Antipho’s.
I bade him wait us at the Forum; whither
I’d bring th’ old gentleman. — And there he is!
— But who’s the furthermost? Ha! Phædria’s father.
— Yet what was I afraid of, simpleton?
That I have got two dupes instead of one?
Is it not better that my hopes are doubled?
— I’ll attack him, I first propos’d. If he
Answers my expectation, well: if not,
Why then have at you, uncle!

Scene III.

Enter behind, Antipho .

Ant. (to himself). I expect
Geta’s arrival presently. — But see!
Yonder’s my uncle with my father. — Ah!
How do I dread his influence!

Geta. I’ll to them.
Oh, good Sir Chremes! (Going up.)

Chrem. Save you, save you, Geta!

Geta. I’m glad to see you safe arriv’d.

Chrem. I thank you.

Geta. How go affairs?

Chrem. A world of changes here,
As usual at first coming home again.

Geta. True. Have you heard of Antipho’s affair?

Chrem. The whole.

Geta (to Demipho). Did you inform him, Sir? — ’Tis monstrous, Chremes,
To he so shamefully impos’d upon!

Dem. ’Twas on that point I was just talking with him.

Geta. And I too, having turn’d it in my thoughts,
Have found, I think, a remedy.

Dem. How, Geta?
What remedy?

Geta. On leaving you, by chance
I met with Phormio.

Chrem. Who is Phormio?

Geta. The girl’s solicitor.

Chrem. I understand.

Geta. I thought within myself, “suppose I found him!”
And taking him aside, “Now prithee, Phormio,
Why don’t you try to settle this affair
By fair means rather than by foul?” said I.
“My master is a generous gentleman,
And hates to go to law. For I assure you
His other friends advis’d him, to a man,
To turn this girl directly out o’ doors.”

Ant. (behind). What does he mean? or where will all this end?

Geta. “The law, you think, will give you damages
If he attempts to turn her out. — Alas!
He has good counsel upon that. — I’ faith,
You’ll have hot work if you engage with him;
He’s such an orator! — But ev’n suppose
That you should gain your lawsuit, after all
The trial is not for his life, but money.”
Perceiving him a little wrought upon,
And soften’d by this style of talking with him,
“Come now,” continued I, “we’re all alone.
Tell me, what money would you take in hand
To drop your lawsuit, take away the girl,
And trouble us no farther!”

Ant. (behind). Is he mad?

Geta. — “For I am well convinc’d, that if your terms
Are not extravagant and wild indeed,
My master’s such a worthy gentleman,
You will not change three words between you.”

Dem. Who
Commission’d you to say all this?

Chrem. Nay, nay,
Nothing could be more happy to effect
The point we labor at.

Ant. (behind). Undone!

Chrem. (to Geta). Go on.

Geta. At first he rav’d.

Dem. Why, what did he demand?

Geta. Too much: as much as came into his head.

Chrem. Well, but the sum?

Geta. He talk’d of a great talent.

Dem. Plague on the rascal! what! has he no shame?

Geta. The very thing I said to him. — “Suppose
He was to portion out an only daughter,
What could he give her more? — He profits little,
Having no daughter of his own; since one
Is found to carry off a fortune from him.”
— But to be brief, and not to dwell upon
All his impertinences, he at last
Gave me this final answer. — “From the first,
I wish’d,” said he, “as was indeed most fit,
To wed the daughter of my friend myself.
For I was well aware of her misfortune;
That, being poor, she would be rather given
In slavery, than wedlock, to the rich.
But I was forc’d, to tell you the plain truth,
To take a woman with some little fortune,
To pay my debts: and still, if Demipho
Is willing to advance as large a sum
As I’m to have with one I’m now engag’d to.
There is no wife I’d rather take than her.”

Ant. (behind). Whether through malice or stupidity,
He is rank knave or fool, I can not tell.

Dem. (to Geta). What, if he owes his soul?

Geta. “I have a farm,”
Continued he, “that’s mortgag’d for ten minæ.”

Dem. Well, let him take her then: I’ll pay the money.

Geta. "A house for ten more.”

Dem. Huy! huy! that’s too much.

Chrem. No noise! demand those ten of me.

Geta. “My wife
Must buy a maid; some little furniture
Is also requisite; and some expense
To keep our wedding: all these articles,”
Continues he, “we’ll reckon at ten minæ.”

Dem. No; let him bring ten thousand writs against me.
I’ll give him nothing. What! afford the villain
An opportunity to laugh at me?

Colman’s note on this passage says in part: “I have . . . rendered the sexcentas of Terence by Ten Thousand, as being most agreeable to the English idiom, as well as the Greek.”

Chrem. Nay, but be pacified! I’ll pay the money.
Only do you prevail upon your son
To marry her whom we desire.

Ant. (behind). Ah me!
Geta, your treachery has ruin’d me.

Chrem. She’s put away on my account: ’tis just
That I should pay the money.

Geta. “Let me know,”
Continues he, “as soon as possible,
Whether they mean to have me marry her;
That I may part with t’other, and be certain.
For t’other girl’s relations have agreed
To pay the portion down immediately.”

Chrem. He shall be paid this too immediately.
Let him break off with her, and take this girl!

Dem. Aye, and the plague go with him!

Chrem. Luckily
It happens I’ve some money here; the rents
Of my wife’s farms at Lemnos. I’ll take that; (to Demipho)
And tell my wife that you had need of it.


Scene IV.

Manent Antipho, Geta .

Ant. (coming forward). Geta!

Geta. Ha, Antipho!

Ant. What have you done!

Geta. Trick’d the old bubbles of their money.

Ant. Well,
Is that sufficient, think ye?

Geta. I can’t tell.
’Twas all my orders.

Ant. Knave, d’ye shuffle with me? (Kicks him.)

Geta. Plague! what d’ye mean?

Ant. What do I mean, Sirrah!
You’ve driven me to absolute perdition.
All pow’rs of heav’n and hell confound you for’t,
And make you an example to all villains!
— Here! would you have your business duly manag’d,
Commit it to this fellow! — What could be
More tender than to touch upon this sore,
Or even name my wife? my father’s fill’d
With hopes that she may be dismiss’d. — And then,
If Phormio gets the money for the portion,
He, to be sure, must marry her. — And what
Becomes of me then?

Geta. He’ll not marry her.

Ant. Oh, no: but when they redemand the money,
On my account he’ll rather go to jail! (Ironically.)

Geta. Many a tale is spoiled in telling, Antipho.
You take out all the good, and leave the bad.
— Now hear the other side — If he receives
The money, he must wed the girl: I grant it.
But then some little time must be allow’d
For wedding-preparation, invitation,
And sacrifices. — Meanwhile, Phædria’s friends
Advance the money they have promis’d him:
Which Phormio shall make use of for repayment.

Ant. How so? what reason can he give?

Geta. What reason?
A thousand. — “Since I made this fatal bargain,
Omens and prodigies have happen’d to me.
There came a strange black dog into my house!
A snake fell through the tiling! a hen crow’d!
The Soothsayer forbade it! The Diviner
Charg’d me to enter on no new affair
Before the winter.” — All sufficient reasons.
Thus it shall be.

Ant. Pray Heav’n it may be!

Geta. It shall.
Depend on me:— But here’s your father. — Go;
Tell Phædria that the money’s safe.

Exit Antipho .

Scene V.

Re-enter Demipho and Chremes .

Dem. Nay, peace!
I’ll warrant he shall play no tricks upon us:
I’ll not part rashly with it, I assure you;
But pay it before witnesses, reciting
To whom ’tis paid, and why ’tis paid.

Geta. How cautious,
Where there is no occasion! (Aside.)

Chrem. You had need.
But haste, dispatch it while the fit’s upon him:
For if the other party should be pressing,
Perhaps he’ll break with us.

Geta. You’ve hit it, Sir.

Dem. Carry me to him then.

Geta. I wait your pleasure.

Chrem. (to Demipho). When this is done, step over to my wife,
That she may see the girl before she goes;
And tell her, to prevent her being angry,
“That we’ve agreed to marry her to Phormio,
Her old acquaintance, and a fitter match;
That we have not been wanting in our duty,
But giv’n as large a portion as he ask’d.”

Dem. Pshaw! what’s all this to you?

Chrem. A great deal, brother.

Dem. Is’t not sufficient to have done your duty,
Unless the world approves it?

Chrem. I would choose
To have the whole thing done by her consent,
Lest she pretend we turn’d her out o’ doors.

Dem. Well, I can say all this to her myself.

Chrem. A woman deals much better with a woman.

Dem. I’ll ask your wife to do it then.

Exeunt Demipho and Geta .

Chrem. I’m thinking
Where I shall find these women now.

Scene VI.

Enter Sophrona at a distance.

Soph. (to herself). Alas!
What shall I do, unhappy as I am?
Where find a friend? to whom disclose this story?
Of whom beseech assistance? — For I fear
My mistress will sustain some injury
From following my counsel: the youth’s father,
I hear, is so offended at this marriage.

Chrem. Who’s this old woman, coming from my brother’s,
That seems so terrified?

Soph. (to herself). ’Twas poverty
Compell’d me to this action: though I knew
This match would hardly hold together long,
Yet I advis’d her to it, that meanwhile
She might not want subsistence.

Chrem. Surely, surely,
Either my mind deceives me, or my eyes fail me,
Or that’s my daughter’s nurse.

Soph. Nor can we find —

Chrem. What shall I do?

Soph. — Her father out.

Chrem. Were’t best
I should go up to her, or wait a little,
To gather something more from her discourse?

Soph. Could he be found, my fears were at an end.

Chrem. ’Tis she. I’ll speak with her.

Soph. (overhearing). Whose voice is that?

Chrem. Sophrona!

Soph. Ha! my name too?

Chrem. Look this way.

Soph. (turning). Good Heav’n have mercy on us! Stilpho!

Chrem. No.

Soph. Deny your own name?

Chrem. (in a low voice). This way, Sophrona! —
— A little further from that door! — this way! —
And never call me by that name, I charge you.

Soph. What, ar’n’t you then the man you said you was? (Aloud.)

Chrem. Hist! hist!

Soph. What makes you fear those doors so much?

Chrem. I have a fury of a wife within:
And formerly I went by that false name,
Lest she should indiscreetly blab it out,
And so my wife might come to hear of this.

Soph. Ah! thus it was, that we, alas! poor souls,
Could never find you out here.

Chrem. Well, but tell me,
What business have you with that family? (Pointing.)
— Where is your mistress and her daughter?

Soph. Ah!

Chrem. What now? are they alive?

Soph. The daughter is:
The mother broke her heart with grief.

Chrem. Alas!

Soph. And I a poor, unknown, distress’d old woman,
Endeavoring to manage for the best,
Contriv’d to match the virgin to a youth,
Son to the master of this house.

Chrem. To Antipho?

Soph. The very same.

Chrem. What! has he two wives then?

Soph. No, mercy on us! he has none but her.

Chrem. What is the other then, who, they pretend,
Is a relation to him?

Soph. This is she.

Chrem. How say you?

Soph. It was all a mere contrivance:
That he, who was in love, might marry her
Without a portion.

Chrem. O ye powers of heav’n,
How often fortune blindly brings about
More than we dare to hope for! Coming home,
I’ve found my daughter, even to my wish,
Match’d to the very person I desir’d.
What we have both been laboring to effect,
Has this poor woman all alone accomplish’d.

Soph. But now consider what is to be done!
The bridegroom’s father is return’d; and he,
They say, is much offended at this marriage.

Chrem. Be of good comfort: there’s no danger there.
But, in the name of heav’n and earth, I charge you,
Let nobody discover she’s my daughter.

Soph. None shall discover it from me.

Chrem. Come then!
Follow me in, and you shall hear the rest.


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