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INDIGNATION Ignoramus will not rule by himself.
BATTISM I shall be Roscius, but I also once was Roscius before.
CHRONOLOGY I, Pedantius, lived forty years ago.
PARONOMY I lived, and I spoke to the Cambridge theater’s cheering.
CONFESSION Now in lieu of the stage, a printed copy is in the works
PARONOMY (for I still owe jests to my playful Muses).
APOSTROPHE I come forth, I greet the reader instead of the spectator.
COMPARISON Here there is a greater wealth of words in my diction.
METAPHOR And if Dromodotus does not equal him with his barbarous whirlwind,
MIMESIS at least he will surpass him in his formal points.
COMPARISON Our Lydia is prettier than Rosabella,
DECORUM And with me for a teacher, Ignoramus learns how to chat up a sweetheart,
RHYTHM and utter entreaties with resounding verse,
POLYSYNDETON and cheat, and swindle, and ensnare.
GOLDEN VERSE The law of the stage gives the laurel to Pedantius.


PARONOMY As I am being mocked, I am not mocking or making
fun of our grave professors,
SYNATHROISM of the sort, number, and type that our island produces.
APORIA But if there ever were such men, vain, snooty grammarians,
COMPOSITION drivellers, nitpickers, phrase-stealers, trash-sellers -
INGEMINATION If there be anybody (this rule does not disappoint),
if there be anybody of my tribe,
APPOSITION let him be construed in the same gender, case, and number.


 CROBOLUS a lover
POGGLOSTUS slave of Crobolus
DROMODOTUS a philosopher
PEDANTIUS a schoolmaster
LUDIO, BLETUS schoolboys
TYROPHAGUS a parasite
TUSCIDILLA a landlady
LYDIA a girl
GILBERT a haberdasher


Crobolus, the former slave of Chremylus, loved the girl Lydia, the maidservant of old man Charondas. Pedantius the schoolmaster also wooed her. Pedantius rejected, Lydia fell in love with Crobolus. But since she was Charondas’ slave, he demanded thirty minas to set her free. By his clever stratagems and those of his friends, Crobolus contrived that Pedantius paid the money, while he himself got the girl.


CROB. You no-account fellow, shiftless and unteachable - may all your devil-ancestors rip you to shreds, man of evil habits, most useless of men! How long must I go on issuing you instructions, as if you were a child? Can’t you do anything on your own hook?
. Sure, you can do everything. Want to test my hook?
CROB. [To the audience.] Recently I hired this buffoon you see before you, pitying him as he roamed the streets like a vagabond. I gave him a humble servant’s position so there would be someone to do a brave job of guarding my back, and be my flunkey - thus I would cut a better figure for my darling Lydia. But by God, he’s so uncouth that he’s fitter to serve the keepers of cattle and swine than well-bred, polite Crobolus. Take a look at this stubborn fellow’s boorish carriage. [To Pogglostus.] Hey Pogglostus, who taught you to wiggle your shoulders and waggle your ass?
POG. Pray what concern have you with my ass?
CROB. I’ll make you heed my will, rascal. Where’s the politesse due your master? Why are you not obliging me with uncovered head, bent knee, open hands, pleasant expression, supple movement, pleasant bits of flattery? How often have I given you instructions, dolt? You have an iron skull, no instruction can be imprinted on your brain by which you might comport yourself decently.
POG. “Old precepts grow tiresome,” master: we’re all of us better taught by examples. So for the sake of my instruction, you be the servant for a while. Thus I’ll most effectively learn your carriage, expressions, manners, and words.
CROB. At length you are acquiring some sense, I see, Pogglostus. In this way you can be made into my second self. Take my cloak and cap, give me your weapon. [He swaps his cloak for Pogglostus’ rusty old sword.] Now pay attention.
POG. What an elegant servant! But I’m waiting for some bits of flattery.
CROB. You should speak thus: “Oh beloved Crobolus, a man worthy of reclining on Venus’ bosom! Oh dearest heart, seat of all the Sirens, with a belly most deserving of ambrosia, a belly to be filled with nectar, food of the gods. His arms are brawny, they’ve oft overthrown towers. His feet are sweeter than the lips of maidens.” You ought to repeat such statements with the utmost humility, and kiss my feet.
POG. Pray show me how. I wish you’d kiss mine first. Are you neglecting your duty thus, you wretch? Carry on with the job.
CROB. You’re mistaken, Pogglostus. I want you to seem like a master, not be one.
POG. Hypocrisy displeases me. So I’m Crobolus in truth, and now I’m going to make love to Lydia. And you, Pogglostus, take care that you carefully obey my “do this.” Cloak and cap, slippers and shoes, make sure they’re neat and natty. Be the bugle-boy of my praises, hang on my every whim, swear by my words, swiftly do my bidding. Act thusly and I shall be your paternal patron. Sluff off and see that I have a brawny biceps.
CROB. Good heavens, Pogglostus, you play the master right haughtily! Now learn by experience how you can play the servant aright.
POG. Are you, the servant, so saucily to vex your master? But you should be amiable, Pogglostus. Pray cover your head, no need to fawn. I’m your friend, just ape me.
CROB. Is that so, you whipping-post? This sword will put an end to the quarrel. [Brand
ishing it.] See this scepter? Hand back the kingdom; if you’re smart you’ll be a subject.
POG. Right, right. It scarce befits a fine fellow like myself to perish by a rusty sword. As I serve you, master, I shall fear no gibbet or noose.
CROB. [To the audience.] But I fear this, that while I was teaching him to play the servant, this cloak might meanwhile attract more servants than I would wish, such as my straightened circumstances could not support. I’d lose it willingly. [To Pogglostus.] Now back to you: henceforth you must heed me so that in all things you can promptly play the parasite.
POG. That’s the mot juste, master: for while I’m following you I’m hungrier than any parasite.
CROB. Indeed, gallows-bait, for you’re a bigger glutton than any parasite. Haven’t I been cramming you with food all the while? And so you’re so quickly hungry again? If I could support a whole army on my resources, I still couldn’t satisfy that Charybdis of yours. If I were to build you mountains of black bread on my table, with ease you would hurl all of ’ em, even the tallest, down into that gaping maw. Nay in truth, you could swallow the ocean; you could out-drink the sun itself, which parches the world by soaking up its moisture.  
POG. So as a token of our restored friendship, you give me an embrace while I kiss you.
CROB. You kiss me, you filthy fellow, you dunghill, you mess, you sewer? Bah!
POG. Do you want me to worship you honorably, meekly, prostrated as if you were my heavenly father?
CROB. I am your helpful father.
POG. Helpful maybe, but hardly my father. For I’m well aware I’m born of noble stock, whoever my daddy was. Beneath these ragged clothes is concealed something noble, something worthy of a throne. And you require that I prostrate myself at your feet? I respond, in the first place, that “virtue does not know how to be servile.” And in conclusion, we courtiers scorn that unbecoming custom of showing obeisance to our betters. Indeed, we do not even acknowledge our equals.
CROB. So then, do you not confess that I outrank you?
POG. I can scarcely abandon my lofty spirits. But to humor you I’ll pretend. For I certainly esteem you highly.
CROB. You ought to tolerate me, even when I occasionally thunder with a terrible tone.
POG. But if you’ll heed me, you will restrain your wrath.
CROB. And furthermore, if I should happen to add a few blows to my resonant words, Pogglostus, for the sake of my superior dignity, you should regard this as fair and just.
POG. Master, I suffer from a certain constitutional weakness, which cannot bear the weight of two fists.
CROB. But the sum of it all, the very sum of sums, is that you be loyal.
POG. I am. “Upon my faith I offer this to you and to the entire republic.” Once upon a time the entryway to our church served as my cradle. There my mother abandoned me and fled, on account of which I was sanctified through and through, stem to stern, right there on the spot.
CROB. But I’m very afraid lest you are a runaway, you gallows-bait.
POG. I announce this in advance: you couldn’t hang onto me for a single day, unless you retain me with food and drink. You can entrap this beak of mine at your full table: thus binding me with edible chains keep me your captive.
CROB. Then go in, and bid our landlady set an elegant table for tonight. Let her invite my Lydia and sneak her in, let her spare no expense. And let her charge this all to my name.
POG. Or mine, if she wants. There’s no great difference.
CROB. Get going.
POG. I’ll fly hither and thither, as you command. [Exit.]


CROB. [Alone.] Truly, Crobolus, you are undertaking great things: to marry; to enhance this minuscule city with most useful citizens, your children; to maintain servants and a household; and finally to hold public office in our state. First I shall ply the publican’s trade, for Lydia knows how to prepare most elegant meals. I shall welcome guests most politely, I’ll arrange it that noblemen frequent my establishment. If my Lydia bears me handsome daughters (and it is needful that she bear them, as I want), I shall marry them off shrewdly to them. I shall live life pleasantly ensconced amidst all manner of luxuries, cheering my belly with foodstuffs and drink. I shall devote myself to card games and playing at the ball, and sometimes (pardon me, serious sirs, if I say so) to dice. And afterwards, when my virtue becomes public knowledge and I have sought and gained many honors, I shall not rest until they have granted me and the legitimate heirs of my body the title of Baron or Earl. [Enter Dromodotus.] But who is this who so rudely interrupts my meditations on such pleasant topics? Who is gazing at heaven and earth with such amazement? Oh, I recognize the man.
. [Peering upwards.] Zenith.
CROB. It’s Dromodotus the philosopher, a friend of my rival Pedantius.
DRO. [Peering downwards.] Nadir.
CROB. Or rather his half brother —
DRO. Horizon.
CROB. — for assuredly Mother Folly bestowed the both of them upon this world.
DRO. Ursa Major.
CROB. And today I shall employ my science of trickery to teach both what it is to be wise.
DRO. Cosmos, macrocosm, The All, Universe. All this which I see today by the working of my optic nerve (and assuredly I see by the admission of images, not the emission of rays) is great Jove’s temple, in which three things chiefly present themselves for our consideration. First, a simple body, round and ever-moving, which we call Sky. Second, this center of the universe called Earth, around which rotates the circumference of the star-bearing sphere. Third, a certain subterranean concavity in which, as in a cavern, dwell devils
, though I know that it cannot be proven out of Aristotle that there are any devils. Nevertheless it is responded that Aristotle did not see the truth in spiritual matters. But I myself put my finger on the problem thus: there are Antipodes, therefore there are devils, for such devils plant their footsteps opposite to ours. For everything has its contrary (I mean of course in respect to qualities, not substances, which have no contraries). And the entire sensible universe is governed by Strife and Love. And here, since I have mentioned love, I must say something about my love for my friend Pedantius. For just as the elementary Qualities are intermingled thanks to the mediation of Love, just so he and I are joined together by mutual friendship.
CROB. [Aside.] Just like pus and phlegm are made of the same stuff, so you and he are pals.
DRO. And just as a man will feel pain if he sees his ancient horse is diseased, in the same way I share the pain because I hear that my old friend is in love. For just is disease is the effective cause of death in the body, so love effects a certain deprivation of the rational intelligence. But just as the wise man gives his diseased nag a potion, in no other wise do I propose to offer my friend, tortured by the torments of love, the liniment of my advice. For just as the brain is given us by Nature to cool the heart’s heat, just so we brainy philosophers gradually rarefy and overcome these inflammations of our love-smitten friends by administering a dose of wisdom’s elixir. But just as there’s no advantage in possessing a medicine unless it is applied to the patient, so I cannot help Pedantius unless he has the benefit of my company. Wherefore, just as the expanse of air, for the preservation of the continuity of things in concavities and for the destruction of vacuums, stretches itself out and becomes attenuated by the elongation of its essence, in no other way would I banish the vacuum or love-vacuity from my friend’s brain by the infusion of my most substantial advice. Now I have come here, by extending myself, as it were, over this surface of three geometrical miles. And so hasten, my soul (which is the initiator of motion), move this organical body along swiftly.
CROB. [To himself.] I could move that body of yours along right smartly and organically with a leather lash.
DRO. [Seeing Crobolus.] But behold, a fellow whom I might interrogate most opportunely. Hey, boy, have you ever seen here a good man, noble and a recipient of the highest Arts degree, Master Pedantius?
CROB. Presumably you speak of our schoolmaster. I know no nobleman of that name.
DRO. Thus it is: the common run of mankind accounts a man as noble because of breeding and money, not virtue and learning. But the latter are the primary and essential, indeed the radical and fundamental efficient causes of true nobility. But you perhaps “have the opinions of a wise man, but speak like a commoner.”
CROB. Of a truth I say what I think. Now things have come to the point that whoever has learned how to decline nouns, or to make a word agree with another in the Accusative case, takes on noble titles. But I would not call these philosophers (who argue arrogantly over everything knowable) noble, even if they brag of being kings.
DRO. You appear to be a man of slender and poverty-stricken wit. Tell me, have you ever read Plato? He says that state is blessed in which either the king is a philosopher, or the philosopher is the king. Hence you can see that “philosopher” and “king” are exchangeable terms. But your intellect or mind, reason, and character, is unteachable, nor grasps these points of doctrine. Therefore we classify you among sheep, cattle, and beasts of the field, “and Learning has no enemy save the ignorant man.”
CROB. And, pray tell, what friends does have it have save you few literati? Who values a fanatic, famished, flatulent philosopher at a groat’s worth?
DRO. As the charioteer lashes at the horse with his whip, so I scourge you with my intellect. Let me treat with you on a single question, in the Socratic style. What do you think? Are your garments less valuable than your body?
CROB. They are. So what?
DRO. Is your body not superior to your clothes?
CROB. Same answer.
DRO. Is not the mind the most worthy part of a man?
CROB. What’s the point of all this?
DRO. Are not the goods of the mind better than external things?
DRO. Is what is better not the nobler?
CROB. I grant you this.
DRO. And the goods of the mind are better than those of the body?
CROB. Doubtless.
DRO. And the goods the mind possesses better than those owned by the external man?
CROB. Draw your conclusion.
DRO. So we have come to this, that philosophers are nobler than the rest.
CROB. Entirely false.
DRO. Are you lacking in common sense, do you deny this conclusion?
CROB. Are you lacking in personal sense, do you conclude what you have not proven?
DRO. Oh! Are you perhaps of the opinion that we philosophers do not excel others insofar as the mind goes? I shall prove it, if you deny. I’m ready for anything.
CROB. I regard this speculative category of men as the worst, shabbiest, most inept, and most arrogant.
DRO. Now you play the slanderer, and are impudent.
CROB. When you call me a slanderer, it’s the same as if you were to call me a philosopher. DRO. Though I cannot grow angry, being a philosopher, I am still aroused.
CROB. For a philosopher, even to grow raving mad is not a motion contrary to nature.
DRO. To the same degree that an ox is greater than a flea, so the philosopher surpasses the common man. In comparison to you we are heated to the fourth degree. But possibly you will deny that we know more things: thus if you grant one absurd premise an infinity of absurd conclusions follow.
CROB. And so he who has one absurd premise has ’ em all absurd.
DRO. You reckon from an absurd premise, you whom I would could properly call absurdity itself in the abstract. Think about concrete things, you absurd, unjust, unlettered man. Such things are held in contempt nowadays.
CROB. And you are more absurd than absurdity.
DRO. More quickly I would be counted among the Transcendent Categories, than I could make this senseless brute comprehend arguments.
CROB. Since you are well-born, noble, and a king, I beg you invite me to dinner.
DRO. Let my Saturn cast a perpetual vacuum upon your gut!
CROB. You use the word “vacuum,” philosopher, which you claim is nothing, yet it exists in your brain. And if all philosophers are like you, they are the most foolish of all living creatures.
DRO. [Starting to go.] “One cannot argue with someone who denies one’s first principles.”
CROB. Ah, pray remain. Now at length I recognize your loftiness.
DRO. You are unworthy to listen to moral philosophy.
CROB. I’m a doer, not a listener, but you folks are always listening and never doing. But whom do I see? Now you can have your Pedantius. I don’t want him to see me. [Exit.]
DRO. Your imagination, or rather your melancholy fantasy, constantly vexes you. You see the shadows of things, not their identities and is-nesses. But now, for a while I shall keep watch here to see what he does. [Enter Pedantius.]


PED. [To the audience.] I see, Conscript Fathers, that all your faces and eyes are turned towards me. And I believe you are wondering, gentlemen of the jury, what the trouble is, since so many great orators and most noble men are seated, which is to say why they are not in love (thus sometimes the word “seated” is used, from the settled state of the mind), while I more than any other man have risen to my feet for the purpose of loving. What then? Am I the most daring of all men? If anyone were to say this, it would be sufficient to deny it with a word. Or am I more industrious in love than others? I hope I would not be so avid for praise that I would wish to garner it above all others. Then what thing impels me more than the rest? “Love conquers all, and we yield to love.” Love is like a greedy crow, and snatches me, your chick, o Minerva, from Wisdom’s nest. And just as they way that “the terrain is trodden by feet,” so my mind is trampled by cares. I, I say, who once set myself in opposition, like a brazen wall, to the loves of my friend Leonidas, am now myself pierced and transfixed by the sword and flames of desire. In those days, if someone were to ask me what was most important thing of all, I would have responded in triplicate “diction, diction, diction.” If someone were to ask me the same thing now, I’d say “Lydia, Lydia, Lydia.” Thus the times change and we change with them. And so, Pedantius, since you can’t do what you wish and devote yourself to letters, you must do what you can, which is to love Lydia.
. [Overhearing.] Now the irrational part of the soul is overwhelming the rational part, and hence that axiom in logic is proven most valid, that there’s greater force in negation than in affirmation. But why hesitate to accost the man? [Crosses over to Pedantius.] I wish you “a sound mind in a sound body,” Pedantius.
PED. May you be good and prosper in your affairs, Dromodotus, as said the wise poet. Do our academic colleagues fare well? Have you come to an understanding with the townsmen? I’ve already been thinking of paying you a visit, and in your School of Rhetoric, reciting some of my declamations which, like those of Demosthenes, reek of the lamp.
DRO. I’d rather they reeked of the lamp than of that unguent you use on your beard.
PED. I have written, I have composed, I have compiled more than three Philippics or Catilinarians against this nation of barbarians. What did I say? Nation? Rather that herd of townsmen, enemies of the Muses. Nonetheless they’re alive, they come to Market Square, and this not for the purpose of laying aside their insolence, but rather for its increase.
DRO. This is beside the point, Pedantius. Rumor has it you’re in love.
PED. “Rumor, an evil swifter than any other” (put a comma after “Rumor,” the rest goes in parentheses). Me love? Ridiculous, as I shall refute with just this philosophical appearance of mine.
DRO. Philosophical? Nay, sophistical, since you answer me so deceptively and ambiguously. [Aside.] He seems to me to have come to this, that I am standing in his way and struggling against some of his responsive conclusions. And thus he dares not emerge from his cave of dissimulation, lest perchance he be confounded by the chill wind of my speech, and be reduced to an atom.
PED. [To himself.] Should I speak or hold my tongue? But why should I employ an unnecessary paradox in a trifling matter? [Aloud.] Come now, Dromodotus, give me a hearing now, for since a friend is a second self I shall gladly entrust this thing to you no less than to myself. “I am burning, you have the words that reveal my mind,” as we find said in the works of Ovid (who lived in the time of Augustus).
DRO. But I have brought with me in the storehouse of my brain a huge mass of refutatory matter, for the weakening and cooling off of this enormous seething of corporeal desire. For, as I hope, this love of yours is no incurable ill (as Aristotle said of avarice).
PED. You cannot help me verbally or herbally. I need a doctoress, not a doctor (sometimes it is permissible to coin neologisms).
DRO. In the first place, since (as is written in the Parva Logicalia) I must inquire what the thing is, before I argue against love I must ask what it is.
PED. Indeed, “before we dispute, what is disputation?”
DRO. And in the second, I shall describe love’s harms, and finally its remedies. So at this time you will hear a little on these three topics.
PED. [To himself.] This man is quite ignorant of rhetoricizing. I would have said that in a wonderfully eloquent way: “I shall introduce, gentlemen of the jury, the three points I shall be handling…”
DRO. And as far as the quid sit goes, assuredly no perfect definition can be given. Thus because of the paucity of true differentiae we shall content ourselves with a description.
PED. I presume a true differentia is “a rare bird on this earth, resembling a black swan.”
DRO. And so love is a most common expenditure of desire for beauty (this is Plato’s definition), caused by carnal concupiscence, desirous of the fructification of its will. And now I shall analyze this definition, given by me in its whole, into its parts. Appetite is posited in the role of its genus: for just as the physicists state that matter seeks out form, so a man (composed of matter and form) is a material mass, mentally craving the fair female. Beauty, however, is produced by the colors white and red, creating according to their admixture a quality that inculcates sensual passion in our senses. There are five senses, viz. taste, small, hearing, vision, and touch. Beauty is a visual manifestation. But (and I want you to mark this point well) we see with our eyes. And the eyes, fascinated by beauty’s beams, admit the appearance of comeliness to the imagination. Imagination calls forth desire, and desire, like a rabid dog, rends the mind with love’s bite. And thus beauty, which had resided in the girl’s countenance, at length arrives at the lover’s heart by a certain natural process, and according to Aristotle the heart is the seat of the mind. And conversely, the man’s heart yearns to effect a transition into the body of the girl.
PED. What business have you with transitions, which are rhetorical figures?
DRO. These physical transitions act by means of illumination, and are achieved by direct rays first, and then in turn reflexively.
PED. What you have said so far, though not of the very best quality, is nonetheless better than the worst. I would define love elegantly out of Terence. It is indeed a fire of the feminine gender, for he wrote “approach Mistress Fire.” Doesn’t this cover the case?
DRO. I would reverse your argument thus. Love is a fire. Therefore one must guard against it as against a scorpion or the Dogstar that bites us during the dog days worse than any dog of the barking variety.
PED. But inasmuch as those bitten by scorpions (a noun, incidentally, that can be declined variously) are wont to seek their remedy from this same source, so I, smitten by love’s desire, shall cure myself by loving. “One and the same hand will confer the wound and the wound’s healing.”
DRO. Is that true? So pay attention to Love’s shortcomings. There exist ten various Predicates belonging to ten different Categories, the same number as the Oppositions, Responses, and Distinctions of the Thomists and Scotists, and as blessed Antiquity had terms for Primary Intentions and Secondary Intentions. As many Latin words as you and I know, just so many miseries will befall you in loving. And so we pass to the evidence for this. Reason, the mind’s charioteer, will be trampled by the hooves of the emotions, the raging of lust will be greater than the impulse of the primum mobile. And then the feminine quality will predominate, and if she should prove a shrew (and this is virtually universal and said of them all), then the situation comes to resemble the torrid zone, entirely uninhabitable. And now you will see those who love becoming vexed as if the dissolution of this continuum were now at hand. Furthermore, these lovers do not tend their business, although their focus of attention ought to be the nutritive and the augmentative power of the brain. And finally, he who is captivated by love is not only a captive with respect to his eyes, but even, with respect to his actual life, he is wholly dead.
PED. Should I be wholly dead? I shall never admit that, as long as I live. Thus I object. [He gestures.] You see? Movement is not suitable for dead men.
DRO. The contrary argument is this: “a lover lives in the body of his beloved,” and where he lives there is his soul. And where his soul is, there he acts. And if he active in another body, he does not act in his own. If he is not active in his own body, he does not live in it. If he does not live in his body, he is not in it. If he is not in it, his body is dead. You are of this sort. Q. E. D.
PED. You lead me sophistically into a labyrinth, into a veritable Minotaur’s cave. In lieu of Ariadne’s thread, I use my intellect, and unwinding this I firmly assert that I know I am alive.
DRO. I shall not press you. In truth, there is an ambiguity in the word “dead.” For this is not death extrinsic involving the vegetative and sensitive soul, but rather death intrinsic, touching the rational and intellectual soul, which does not think in itself because it is not thinking of itself.
PED. That which you cast in my teeth does not deserve repetition, let alone an answer.
DRO. Now I shall administer an antidote against this plague. First, you must fast a while, so that there may be an evacuation or evaporation of your superabundant sensual humor. Then you must eat fish rather than meats, which generate blood which is hot and lusty. You should abstain from sack and sugar, in which there is a stimulant toward venery. Next, avoid leisure, for occupation tends to condense the cerebral fluidity which begets from itself the shameful secretion of pleasure.
PED. Like Scipio, I am never less at rest then when I am resting.
DRO. The next things is that you avoid all lewd songs and metrified compositions of poets, who speak too explicitly of these things.
PED. Plato wisely banished ’ em from his republic.
DRO. You must also shun association with the ladies of the Court, who have a great effect on these baser bodies of ours. Furthermore, you must drink some purgative potions by which you can alter your constitution. For you choleric fellows dash about furiously on account of your supply of that fiery humor, whereas we melancholics, besides being brainier (as attested by Aristotle in the Problems), are much less prone to these bestial impulses thanks to the sluggishness of our earth-bound blood. And if these prescriptions do not avail, we must confront the ultimate. You are aware what Xenocrates the Platonist did to himself.
PED. Now you will allow me a chance to speak. Socrates (who only said that he knew nothing, and hence was adjudged the wisest by Apollo’s oracle) in a certain dialogue of Plato’s (he was the Homer of the philosophers) made a distinction about love in general (and he who makes no distinctions destroys the art). He pronounced one variety sordid, the mark of buffoons, but another as honorable - and in this I confess I have no little experience. But the majority of learned men have been lovers of the former sort. I say nothing of Ovid, and remain silent about Sallust and pass over Aristippus, and what’s the point of mentioning Demosthenes, and I shall keep quiet about Cicero himself, by means of the rhetorical device of aposiop
esis, who used to love unidiomatically and unchastely, as many opine, “but all men lie.” Why should I speak of your Aristotle, who was made a horse and allowed a whore to ride him? I prefer to err with all those great men (who do so without exception), rather than think aright with you. But there’s no need to point to them, for I am seeking a wife, not a Thais (thus among the best authors Thais, once a most notorious courtesan, lends her name to any whore at all). [Enter Pogglostus.]


POG. [To himself.] Master wanted me to come out, as far as I can recall, for two reasons: to gull these men by my art, and afterwards to meet a certain Tryophagus in Market Square. [Crosses over to the academics.]
DRO. Ahem, who are you?
POG. May the gods bless you, noble gentlemen.
PED. And may they heal your leg, you crippled beggar.
POG. Have pity on me, a good man but poor, a miserable half-human.
PED. I believe we learned are more battened upon by beggars than the common run of mankind, for we are acquainted with mortal miseries, we are merciful; and because we are merciful, all the suppliant wretches come flocking to us.
DRO. You are unemployed and want to play the vagabond in this way. Go away, get a job. Observe that “the planets are constantly active, and heaven’s motion is perpetual.”
PED. Why aren’t you adept at some mechanical trade? Or some adult craft, which is to say some adulterous one? For all trades are adulterated in comparison to our Liberal Arts.
POG. Oh worshipful Dominie, I never learned any such. Reverend sir, once I received part of an education and cultivated a few of those nine Muses. But oblivion has obliterated all of that.
DRO. Your learning was not an ingrained habit, but only a disposition or a mere potentiality. For had you learned profoundly rather than perfunctorily, then even if you were as long-lived as crow or oak, no privation would ever have lamed your habituated erudition.
PED. As the saying goes, perhaps you grazed the arts with your lips, but did not convert them into lymph and blood, as we erudite men are wont to do.
POG. Pray, most learned priests of the Muses, by your kindness help this poor and needy soul.
DRO. Rather, apply yourself to the art, and thus you will possess genuine and immortal riches. We who pursue the academical life, as you once did, are like separate forms, caring naught for these sublunary goods.
PED. We possess everything, yet possess nothing. That is to say, we have tranquil minds, albeit no cash. We have nothing, yet lack nothing. Though we have no money, we require none. And so, young man, “you are wasting your effort and your oil.” Don’t expect a single groat from us, for we are wealthy in words, though not in worldly goods (though wealthy is derived from wallet healthy, the lad doesn’t know it).
POG. So that I remain what I have been, which is to say harmless, pray give me something.
PED. I shall give you something. For a reliable piece of advice is that you be “upright of life, and free of sin.” For no man ought to go a-limping in his duty.
POG. I perceive I’m being mocked. Do you want to test this sword for sharpness? Indeed, good sirs, if I chose to play the bandit I could rob you against your wills. But I hope you’ll give me something.
DRO. Indeed yes, and right smartly. Here’s a certain unified non quantum to engender today’s dinner [Hands him a single groat.].
PED. Since I perceive you to be endowed with character and wit, I crave to help you, so that your ability might match your desire. Now accept this single something, whatever it may be (even if this single something is a mere nothing) with a happy expression, as a pledge of affection from me to you [Gives him one groat.].
POG. If it would not be an imposition, I would ask you for something for tomorrow as well.
DRO. Would that I could you could give you something, not just for tomorrow, but for the ages, and that in threefold wise, viz. forever, in perpetuity, reckoning from the hindsight, and for eternity, reckoning from foresight.
POG. This weapon will attack you both a priore and a posteriore.
DRO. And m-m-meanwhile I pray you accept this.
PED. And this too. For it is the task of the orator to succor suppliants, encourage the afflicted, and assist those oppressed by misfortune.
POG. Forgive me if I beg over-boldly from such distinguished dons as yourselves, being only an inceptor in this art. I would happily buy myself a new pair of shoes, books, and other necessaries. If you stand the expense, you will be my Maecenases.
PED. So that you might know how dear you are to me, you should be aware that I’m not habituated to such liberality, for “I sleep not for all men.” But giving to you is my profit, so take this.
DRO. Daily we are influenced by the stars and by heaven. And thus, the more generous we are, the more celestial we become, quintessential men.
POG. Only one thing remains. I must beg of you a wallet in which to keep these coins.
PED. Oh the insatiable greed! Oh the bottomless pit! Oh the Charybdis!
POG. If you don’t grin in the giving, I shan’t accept.
PED. {To himself.] I’m ruined, he’s lookied my way. Farewell, farewell my wallet, guard your health carefully, again and again farewell. [Aloud.] I am handing it over right smartly, but of this single thing I grieve, that I see a man as honorable as yourself in need of our money. You will have it presently, after I remove the remainder of its stuffing.
POG. There’s no problem if you hand it over with all its appurtenances.
PED. Since that’s your wish, I’m handing it over. [Aside.] May the gods destroy this man with all his appurtenances!
POG. This wallet is so handsome that I’ll reserve it for holidays. [To Dromodotus.] Possibly you have one for daily use?
DRO. I beg you not to convert this potentiality into action, especially since the consequence does not follow from the potential. For you must trust me, my essence and existence depend on the few groats remaining in this exceedingly small thing.
POG. Pray, most learned sir, allow me to insist, in the name of the keenness of your wit - and of this sword.
DRO. Oh, that suffices! You have insisted sufficiently, take it.
POG. Most generous men, have you given me these things, or not?
PED. Obviously, very much so, to the hilt. And have you taken them, or not?
POG. But as a loan, no? Farewell. [Exit.]
PED. A loan, because he’s so low as to take what’s not his own. Now he’s the owner, leaving me, the loaner, alone. Oh, the evil!
DRO. Go away, disappear, dissolve into primal matter, [Smith] you limping monstrosity never intended by universal nature, nature’s freakish defect and error. Die, you damnedest of all beings dwelling beneath the lunar sphere, you who plunder contemplative men. Would that “your weight would hang down from a gallows,” or “in this very now-ness: your fundamental moisture would dry up. How I shivered from top to toe, lest he “penetrate my dimension” with his sword! I would rather spend today debating in the public Schools with a hundred captious sophisters, as long as I could avoid this strangling argument.
PED. Since this mortal heart of yours imposes a “sacred dearth of gold” on me (sacred either by antithesis, or because it is consecrated to the gods of the Underworld), [Smith] I hope that whatever you touch turns to gold. Perhaps you think that a fine thing, but the same thing will be befall you that happened to Midas, “who perished of hunger, since he could not eat gold” (I hope you get his donkey’s ears, too). But now I catch sight of a field in which my oratory can flourish. May this Mercury-man be vexed by Tantalus’ rock and thirst [Smith] (not in the tongue, but in the hand), may Ixion’s whizzing wheel torture you as you go a-whirling; may the oarsman Charon dump you into the waters of Orcus’ Phlegethon, for you have used your sickle to harvest my crop. But you have not despoiled me of the divine constancy of my mind, rascal, nor of my learning, my wisdom, or of any of my virtue, as was divinely said of Attilius Regulus. [Smith]
DRO. But he has deprived me of my liberality, if not of the inclination itself, at least of the act and of its means. For, in contradiction to all medical teaching, I have been radically purged.
PED. Let’s go within lest perchance he attack us. [Exeunt.]

Go to Act II