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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘The Self-Tormentor’
By Terence (c. 195/185–159 B.C.)
 
Translation of Henry Thomas Riley

Opening Scene: Enter Chremes, and Menedemus with a spade in his hand; the latter falls to digging.

CHREMES—Although this acquaintanceship between us is of very recent date, from the time in fact of your purchasing an estate here in the neighborhood, yet either your good qualities, or our being neighbors (which I take to be a sort of friendship), induces me to inform you, frankly and familiarly, that you appear to me to labor beyond your years, and beyond what your affairs require. For, in the name of gods and men, what would you have? What can be your aim? You are, as I conjecture, sixty years of age or more. No man in these parts has a better or more valuable estate, no one more servants; and yet you discharge their duties just as diligently as if there were none at all. However early in the morning I go out, and however late in the evening I return home, I see you either digging or plowing, or doing something, in fact, in the fields. You take respite not an instant, and are quite regardless of yourself. I am very sure that this is not done for your amusement. But really I am vexed how little work is done here. If you were to employ the time you spend in laboring yourself, in keeping your servants at work, you would profit much more.  1
  Menedemus—Have you so much leisure, Chremes, from your own affairs, that you can attend to those of others—those which don’t concern you?  2
  Chremes—I am a man: and nothing that concerns a man do I deem a matter of indifference to me. 1 Suppose that I wish either to advise you in this matter, or to be informed myself: if what you do is right, that I may do the same; if it is not, then that I may dissuade you.  3
  Menedemus—It’s requisite for me to do so: do you as it is necessary for you to do.  4
  Chremes—Is it requisite for any person to torment himself?  5
  Menedemus—It is for me.  6
  Chremes—If you have any affliction, I could wish it otherwise. But prithee, what sorrow is this of yours? How have you deserved so ill of yourself?  7
  Menedemus—Alas! alas!  [He begins to weep.]  8
  Chremes—Do not weep; but make me acquainted with it, whatever it is. Do not be reserved; fear nothing; trust me, I tell you. Either by consolation, or by counsel, or by any means, I will aid you.  9
  Menedemus—Do you wish to know this matter?  10
  Chremes—Yes; and for the reason I mentioned to you.  11
  Menedemus—I will tell you.  12
  Chremes—But still, in the mean time, lay down that rake; don’t fatigue yourself.  13
  Menedemus—By no means.  14
  Chremes—What can be your object?  [Tries to take the rake from him.]  15
  Menedemus—Do leave me alone, that I may give myself no respite from my labor.  16
  Chremes—I will not allow it, I tell you.  [Taking the rake from him.]  17
  Menedemus—Ah, that’s not fair!  18
  Chremes  [poising the rake]—Whew! such a heavy one as this, pray!  19
  Menedemus—Such are my deserts.  20
  Chremes—Now speak.  [Laying down the rake.]  21
  Menedemus—I have an only son, a young man,—alas! why did I say, “I have”?—rather I should say, “I had” one, Chremes: whether I have him now or not is uncertain.  22
  Chremes—Why so?  23
  Menedemus—You shall know. There is a poor woman here, a stranger from Corinth; her daughter, a young woman, he fell in love with, insomuch that he almost regarded her as his wife: all this took place unknown to me. When I discovered the matter, I began to reprove him; not with gentleness, nor in the way suited to the lovesick mind of a youth, but with violence, and after the usual method of fathers. I was daily reproaching him,—“Look you, do you expect to be allowed any longer to act thus, myself your father being alive: to be keeping a mistress pretty much as though your wife? You are mistaken, Clinia; and you don’t know me if you fancy that. I am willing that you should be called my son just as long as you do what becomes you; but if you do not do so, I shall find out how it becomes me to act towards you. This arises from nothing, in fact, but too much idleness. At your time of life I did not devote my time to dalliance; but in consequence of my poverty, departed hence for Asia, and there acquired in arms both riches and military glory.” At length the matter came to this: the youth, from hearing the same things so often, and with such severity, was overcome. He supposed that I, through age and affection, had more judgment and foresight for him than himself. He went off to Asia, Chremes, to serve under the king.  24
  Chremes—What is it you say?  25
  Menedemus—He departed without my knowledge; and has been gone these three months.  26
  Chremes—Both are to be blamed—although I still think this step shows an ingenuous and enterprising disposition.  27
  Menedemus—When I learnt this from those who were in the secret, I returned home sad, and with feelings almost overwhelmed and distracted through grief. I sit down: my servants run to me; they take off my shoes; then some make all haste to spread the couches, and to prepare a repast: each according to his ability did zealously what he could, in order to alleviate my sorrow. When I observed this, I began to reflect thus:—“What! are so many persons anxious for my sake alone, to pleasure myself only? Are so many female servants to provide me with dress? Shall I alone keep up such an expensive establishment, while my only son, who ought equally to enjoy these things,—or even more so, inasmuch as his age is better suited for the enjoyment of them,—him, poor youth, have I driven away from home by my severity! Were I to do this, really I should deem myself deserving of any calamity. But so long as he leads this life of penury, banished from his country through my severity, I will revenge his wrongs upon myself,—toiling, making money, saving, and laying up for him.” At once I set about it: I left nothing in the house, neither movables nor clothing; everything I scraped together. Slaves, male and female, except those who could easily pay for their keep by working in the country,—all of them I set up to auction and sold. I at once put up a bill to sell my house. I collected somewhere about fifteen talents, and purchased this farm; here I fatigue myself. I have come to this conclusion, Chremes, that I do my son a less injury while I am unhappy; and that it is not right for me to enjoy any pleasure here, until such time as he returns home safe to share it with me.  28
  Chremes—I believe you to be of an affectionate disposition towards your children; and him to be an obedient son, if one were to manage him rightly or prudently. But neither did you understand him sufficiently well, nor he you,—a thing that happens where persons don’t live on terms of frankness together. You never showed him how highly you valued him, nor did he ever dare put that confidence in you which is due to a father. Had this been done, these troubles would never have befallen you.  29
  Menedemus—Such is the fact, I confess; the greatest fault is on my side.  30
  Chremes—But still, Menedemus, I hope for the best; and I trust that he’ll be here safe before long.  31
  Menedemus—Oh that the gods would grant it!  32
  Chremes—They will do so. Now if it is convenient to you—the festival of Bacchus is being kept here to-day—I wish you to give me your company.  33
  Menedemus—I cannot.  34
  Chremes—Why not? Do, pray, spare yourself a little while. Your absent son would wish you to do so.  35
  Menedemus—It is not right that I, who have driven him hence to endure hardships, should now shun them myself.  36
  Chremes—Is such your determination?  37
  Menedemus—It is.  38
  Chremes—Then kindly fare you well.  39
  Menedemus—And you the same.  [Goes into his house.]  40
  Chremes  [alone]—He has forced tears from me, and I do pity him. But as the day is far gone, I must remind Phania, this neighbor of mine, to come to dinner. I’ll go see whether he is at home.  [Goes to Phania’s door, makes the inquiry, and returns.]  There was no occasion for me to remind him: they tell me he has been some time already at my house; it’s I myself am making my guests wait. I’ll go in-doors immediately. But what means the noise at the door of my house? I wonder who’s coming out. I’ll step aside here.  [He stands aside.]  41
Enter Clitipho, from the house of his father Chremes
  Clitipho  [at the door, to Clinia within]—There is nothing, Clinia, for you to fear as yet: they have not been long, by any means; and I am sure that she will be with you presently along with the messenger. Do at once dismiss these causeless apprehensions which are tormenting you.
  42
  Chremes  [apart]—Who is my son talking to?  [Makes his appearance.]  43
  Clitipho  [to himself]—Here comes my father, whom I wished to see: I’ll accost him. Father, you have met me opportunely.  44
  Chremes—What is the matter?  45
  Clitipho—Do you know this neighbor of ours, Menedemus?  46
  Chremes—Very well.  47
  Clitipho—Do you know that he has a son?  48
  Chremes—I have heard that he has; in Asia.  49
  Clitipho—He is not in Asia, father; he is at our house.  50
  Chremes—What is it you say?  51
  Clitipho—Upon his arrival, after he had just landed from the ship, I immediately brought him to dine with us; for from our very childhood upwards I have always been on intimate terms with him.  52
  Chremes—You announce to me a great pleasure. How much I wish that Menedemus had accepted my invitation to make one of us, that at my house I might have been the first to surprise him, when not expecting it, with this delight!—and even yet there’s time enough—  53
  Clitipho—Take care what you do; there is no necessity, father, for doing so.  54
  Chremes—For what reason?  55
  Clitipho—Why, because he is as yet undetermined what to do with himself. He is but just arrived. He fears everything,—his father’s displeasure, and how his mistress may be disposed towards him. He loves her to distraction: on her account this trouble and going abroad took place.  56
  Chremes—I know it.  57
  Clitipho—He has just sent a servant into the city to her, and I ordered our Syrus to go with him.  58
  Chremes—What does Clinia say?  59
  Clitipho—What does he say?—That he is wretched.  60
  Chremes—Wretched? Whom could we less suppose so? What is there wanting for him to enjoy everything that among men, in fact, are esteemed as blessings? Parents, a country in prosperity, friends, family, relations, riches? And yet, all these are just according to the disposition of him who possesses them. To him who knows how to use them, they are blessings; to him who does not use them rightly, they are evils.  61
  Clitipho—Aye, but he always was a morose old man; and now I dread nothing more, father, than that in his displeasure he’ll be doing something to him more than is justifiable.  62
  Chremes—What, he?—[Aside.]  But I’ll restrain myself; for that the other one should be in fear of his father is of service to him.  63
  Clitipho—What is it you are saying to yourself?  64
  Chremes—I’ll tell you. However the case stood, Clinia ought still to have remained at home. Perhaps his father was a little stricter than he liked: he should have put up with it. For whom ought he to bear with, if he would not bear with his own father? Was it reasonable that he should live after his son’s humor, or his son after his? And as to charging him with harshness, it is not the fact. For the severities of fathers are generally of one character,—those I mean who are in some degree reasonable men. They do not wish their sons to be always wenching; they do not wish them to be always carousing; they give a limited allowance: and yet all this tends to virtuous conduct. But when the mind, Clitipho, has once enslaved itself by vicious appetites, it must of necessity follow similar pursuits. This is a wise maxim: “To take warning from others of what may be to your own advantage.”  65
  Clitipho—I believe so.  66
  Chremes—I’ll now go hence in-doors, to see what we have for dinner. Do you, seeing what is the time of day, mind and take care not to be anywhere out of the way.  [Goes into his house, and exit Clitipho.]
*        *        *        *        *
  67
Enter Clitipho
  Clitipho  [to himself]—What partial judges are all fathers in regard to all of us young men, in thinking it reasonable for us to become old men all at once from boys, and not to participate in those things which youth is naturally inclined to. They regulate us by their own desires, such as they now are,—not as they once were. If ever I have a son, he certainly shall find in me an indulgent father, for the means both of knowing and of pardoning his faults shall be found by me; not like mine, who by means of another person discloses to me his own sentiments. I’m plagued to death. When he drinks a little more than usual, what pranks of his own he does relate to me! Now he says, “Take warning from others of what may be to your own advantage.” How shrewd! He certainly does not know how deaf I am at the moment when he’s telling his stories. Just now the words of my mistress make more impression upon me. “Give me this, and bring me that,” she cries. I have nothing to say to her in answer, and no one is there more wretched than myself. But this Clinia, although he as well has cares enough of his own, still has a mistress of virtuous and modest breeding, and a stranger to the arts of a courtesan. Mine is a craving, saucy, haughty, extravagant creature, full of lofty airs. Then all that I have to give her is—fair words; for I make it a point not to tell her that I have nothing. This misfortune I met with not long since, nor does my father as yet know anything of the matter.
  68
Enter Clinia from the house of Chremes
  Clinia  [to himself]—If my love affairs had been prosperous for me, I am sure she would have been here by this; but I’m afraid that the damsel has been led astray here in my absence. Many things combine to strengthen this opinion in my mind: opportunity, the place, her age; a worthless mother, under whose control she is, with whom nothing but gain is precious.
  69
Enter Clitipho
  Clitipho—Clinia!
  70
  Clinia—Alas! wretched me!  71
  Clitipho—Do, pray, take care that no one coming out of your father’s house sees you here by accident.  72
  Clinia—I will do so; but really my mind presages I know not what misfortune.  73
  Clitipho—Do you persist in making up your mind upon that, before you know what is the fact?  74
  Clinia—Had no misfortune happened, she would have been here by this.  75
  Clitipho—She’ll be here presently.  76
  Clinia—When will that presently be?  77
  Clitipho—You don’t consider that it is a great way from here. Besides, you know the ways of women: while they are bestirring themselves, and while they are making preparations, a whole year passes by.  78
  Clinia—O Clitipho, I’m afraid—  79
  Clitipho—Take courage. Look, here comes Dromo, together with Syrus: they are close at hand.  [They stand aside.]  80
Enter Syrus and Dromo, conversing at a distance
  Syrus—Do you say so?
  81
  Dromo—’Tis as I told you; but in the mean time, while we’ve been carrying on our discourse, these women have been left behind.  82
  Clitipho  [apart]—Don’t you hear, Clinia? Your mistress is close at hand.  83
  Clinia  [apart]—Why, yes, I do hear now at last; and I see and revive, Clitipho.  84
  Dromo—No wonder: they are so incumbered; they are bringing a troop of female attendants with them.  85
  Clinia  [apart]—I’m undone! Whence come these female attendants?  86
  Clitipho  [apart]—Do you ask me?  87
  Syrus—We ought not to have left them; what a quantity of things they are bringing!  88
  Clinia  [apart]—Ah me!  89
  Syrus—Jewels of gold, and clothes; it’s growing late too, and they don’t know the way. It was very foolish of us to leave them. Just go back, Dromo, and meet them. Make haste!—why do you delay?  90
  Clinia  [apart]—Woe unto wretched me! From what high hopes am I fallen!  91
  Clitipho  [apart]—What’s the matter? Why, what is it that troubles you?  92
  Clinia  [apart]—Do you ask what it is? Why, don’t you see? Attendants, jewels of gold, and clothes;—her too, whom I left here with only one little servant-girl. Whence do you suppose that they come?  93
  Clitipho  [apart]—Oh! now at last I understand you.  94
  Syrus  [to himself]—Good gods! what a multitude there is! Our house will hardly hold them, I’m sure. How much they will eat! how much they will drink! what will there be more wretched than our old gentleman?  [Catching sight of Clinia and Clitipho.]  But look: I espy the persons I was wanting.  95
  Clinia  [apart]—O Jupiter! Why, where is fidelity gone? While I, distractedly wandering, have abandoned my country for your sake, you in the mean time, Antiphila, have been enriching yourself, and have forsaken me in these troubles: you for whose sake I am in extreme disgrace, and have been disobedient to my father; on whose account I am now ashamed and grieved that he who used to lecture me about the manners of these women, advised me in vain, and was not able to wean me away from her;—which however I shall now do; whereas when it might have been advantageous to me to do so, I was unwilling. There is no being more wretched than I.  96
  Syrus  [to himself]—He certainly has been misled by our words which we have been speaking here.—[Aloud.]  Clinia, you imagine your mistress quite different from what she really is. For both her mode of life is the same, and her disposition towards you is the same, as it always was, so far as we could form a judgment from the circumstances themselves.  97
  Clinia—How so, prithee? For nothing in the world could I rather wish for just now, than that I have suspected this without reason.  98
  Syrus—This, in the first place, then (that you may not be ignorant of anything that concerns her): the old woman, who was formerly said to be her mother, was not so. She is dead; this I overheard by accident from her, as we came along, while she was telling the other one.  99
  Clitipho—Pray, who is the other one?  100
  Syrus—Stay: what I have begun I wish first to relate, Clitipho; I shall come to that afterwards.  101
  Clitipho—Make haste, then.  102
  Syrus—First of all, then, when we came to the house, Dromo knocked at the door; a certain old woman came out; when she opened the door, he directly rushed in; I followed; the old woman bolted the door, and returned to her wool. On this occasion might be known, Clinia, or else on none, in what pursuits she passed her life during your absence—when we thus came upon a female unexpectedly. For this circumstance then gave us an opportunity of judging of the course of her daily life; a thing which especially discovers what is the disposition of each individual. We found her industriously plying at the web; plainly clad in a mourning-dress,—on account of this old woman, I suppose, who was lately dead; without golden ornaments, dressed besides just like those who only dress for themselves, and patched up with no worthless woman’s trumpery. Her hair was loose, long, and thrown back negligently about her temples.—[To Clinia.]  Do hold your peace.  103
  Clinia—My dear Syrus, do not without cause throw me into ecstasies, I beseech you.  104
  Syrus—The old woman was spinning the woof: there was one little servant-girl besides; she was weaving together with them, covered with patched clothes, slovenly, and dirty with filthiness.  105
  Clitipho—If this is true, Clinia, as I believe it is, who is there more fortunate than you? Do you mark this girl whom he speaks of as dirty and drabbish? This too is a strong indication that the mistress is out of harm’s way, when her confidant is in such ill plight; for it is a rule with those who wish to gain access to the mistress, first to bribe the maid.  106
  Clinia  [to Syrus]—Go on, I beseech you; and beware of endeavoring to purchase favor by telling an untruth. What did she say when you mentioned me?  107
  Syrus—When we told her that you had returned, and had requested her to come to you, the damsel instantly put away the web, and covered her face all over with tears; so that you might easily perceive that it really was caused by her affection for you.  108
  Clinia—So may the Deities bless me, I know not where I am for joy! I was so alarmed before.  109
 
Note 1. “I am a man,” etc.: “Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto.” St. Augustine says that at the delivery of this sentiment, the theatre resounded with applause; and deservedly, indeed, for it is replete with the very essence of benevolence and disregard of self. [back]
 
 
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