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The Comedies of Terence

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The Bard, when first he gave his mind to write,

Thought it his only business, that his Plays

Should please the people: but it now falls out,

He finds, much otherwise, and wastes, perforce,

His time in writing Prologues; not to tell

The argument, but to refute the slanders

Broach’d by the malice of an older Bard.

And mark what vices he is charg’d withal!

Menander wrote the Andrian and Perinthian:

Know one, and you know both; in argument

Less diff’rent than in sentiment and style.

What suited with the Andrian he confesses

From the Perinthian he transferr’d, and us’d

For his: and this it is these sland’rers blame,

Proving by deep and learned disputation,

That Fables should not be confounded thus.

That Fables should not be contaminated.

Troth! all the knowledge is they nothing know:

Who, blaming; him, blame Nævius, Plautus, Ennius,

Whose great example is his precedent;

Whose negligence he’d wish to emulate

Rather than their dark diligence. Henceforth,

Let them, I give them warning, be at peace,

And cease to rail, lest they be made to know

Their own misdeeds. Be favorable! sit

With equal mind, and hear our play; that hence

Ye may conclude, what hope to entertain,

The comedies he may hereafter write

Shall merit approbation or contempt.


Simo, Sosia, and Servants with Provisions.

Simo. Carry those things in: go! (Ex. Servants.

Sosia, come here;

A word with you!

Sosia. I understand: that these

Be ta’en due care of.

Simo. Quite another thing.

Sosia. What can my art do more for you?

Simo. This business

Needs not that art; but those good qualities,

Which I have ever known abide in you,

Fidelity and secrecy.

Sosia. I wait

Your pleasure.

Simo. Since I bought you, from a boy

How just and mild a servitude you’ve pass’d

With me, you’re conscious: from a purchas’d slave

I made you free, because you serv’d me freely:

The greatest recompense I could bestow.

Sosia. I do remember.

Simo. Nor do I repent.

Sosia. If I have ever done, or now do aught

That’s pleasing to you, Simo, I am glad,

And thankful that you hold my service good

And yet this troubles me: for this detail,

Forcing your kindness on my memory,

Seems to reproach me of ingratitude.

Oh tell me then at once, what would you? Sir!

Simo. I will; and this I must advise you first;

The nuptial you suppose preparing now,

Is all unreal.

Sosia. Why pretend it then?

Simo. You shall hear all from first to last: and thus

The conduct of my son, my own intent,

And what part you’re to act, you’ll know at once.

For my son, Sosia, now to manhood grown,

Had freer scope of living: for before

How might you know, or how indeed divine

His disposition, good or ill, while youth,

Fear, and a master, all constrain’d him?

Sosia. True.

Simo. Though most, as is the bent of youth, apply

Their mind to some one object, horses, hounds,

Or to the study of philosophy;

Yet none of these, beyond the rest, did he

Pursue; and yet, in moderation, all.

I was o’erjoy’d.

Sosia. And not without good cause....