Phormio, by Terence


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.

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