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I, Hymenaeus, am present, the god of the conjugal wedding-chamber, who will bring happy marriages to all. Now learn the reason I have come. In this house there is an unspoiled virgin, Julia, whom three men are courting: Pantomagus, a talker of empty words, Fredericus, a German, and Erophilus, a student. The old man wants to bestow his daughter upon Pantomagus, because his father has left him ample wealth. I come to obstruct this plague of a marriage, for I alone know best the troubles that flow from this polluted spring. I am therefore come to aid Julia, so she may have as her husband he whom she loves, and by whom she will be most loved in return. Now, with the kindness of a god in a comedy (since I have seen other gods do this very thing in comedies by Plautus), I’ll tell you the rest in the manner of an Argument. This Erophilus I’ve already told you about, while he secretly sneaks into the girl’s house by night, is by an unforeseen mishap carried out as if he were a dead man, but by the effort of myself and of Juno he is restored to life and to Julia. Therefore you who are in favor of Hymenaeus, receive this play in a friendly spirit for my sake. For what certain evil-minded people state, that we are giving you somebody else’s comedy dressed a little bit in a new guise, reveal either their own ignorance, or (if they don’t wish to seem ignorant) their malice. For Boccaccio once provided the plot for this play, more than three hundred years ago in his Decameron, when Roger disgracefully bamboozles the surgeon. If a number of ignorant people should come across this story, which we are unaware of (but, as you see, as can happen), let it be your decision which of the two you like the more. I swear the characters, the stage-set, the slight amount of stage-furniture, and the ending are my own, and not borrowed from anybody because of my lack of invention. And, if it is permissible to cite precedents, this story is further removed from Boccaccio’s than Terence’s Eunuch is from Menander’s Colax. So, at my request, those whom I hope my play will please should pay attention. And if somebody should refuse to listen to it in a kind spirit, let him go outside and walk about with my good leave, so that others who do wish to listen may have a place to sit.
EROPHILUS a young man
PANTOMAGUS a physician
FREDERICUS a German
ALFONSUS Julia’s father
BARGULUS, CLOPETARUS thieves
SANNIO servant to Alphonsus
PANTALEO servant to Erophilus
GOTHRIO servant to Pantomagus
LEONARDUS servant to Fredericus
AMERINA a maid
FERDINANDUS Erophilus’ father
ACT I, SCENE i
PANTALEO, FREDERICUS, LEONARDUS, PANTOMAGUS, GOTHRIO
PANTA. Immortal gods, how women play tricks on men! Inside three men are courting a single maiden, Pantomagus (falsely entitled a doctor), Fredericus the German (an egregious drinker), and Erophilus my master, whose praises I do not mention here. Pantomagus takes Julia’s pulse with his thumb, and boastfully lectures about the health of the body. Fredericus deals with her after his nation’s fashion, and for the most part hangs on her lips. My master chooses her heart for his citadel. Alphonsus inclined particularly toward Pantomagus, for he’s aware the man’s well-moneyed. He doesn’t give a hang for Fredericus, but he really loathes Master Erophilus, who he calls a dissolute youth. Now all of these are within to court Julia, and see, Fredericus’s coming out. (Enter Fredericus.)
FRED. What do you say, Leonardus? Do I seem to have handled Julia well, and to have conducted myself inside in a properly loving manner? They were sitting in there with Erophilus telling a story, and on the other side sat the physician holding her hand. I said nothing, but asked how she was faring, embraced her tightly, and kissed her.
LEO. You couldn’t have declared more with a few words, Master. Let the physician give disputations, let Erophilus tell tales. You should attack her with brief points to your arguments, a syllogism in three parts, for women don’t like rhetorical disquisitions.
FRED. I didn’t learn rhetoric, but if these midgets should contend with me, if words fail me, I’ll give them wounds, or rather I’ll attack them with a shrewd plan. First I’ll make both of them so drunk that their feet won’t do their proper job, then when they’re collapsed on the ground I’ll load them with blows, I’ll teach them what it is for midgets to contend with a man. But in particular that chatterbox physician, most like the monkey, that most disgraceful beast, who wraps monkey-fur around his neck, who treated me with contempt inside, I’ll — (Enter Pantomagus.)
LEO. Quiet, Master. He’s coming out.
FRED. Now I’ll speak to you so he won’t understand me, and yet I’ll make great fun of him. That’s wisdom.
LEO. Ah, how clever!
PANTO. Pray, have you ever seen a degenerate donkey sitting on a noble horse’s back?
GOT. Don’t be surprised at this, master. For today that happens all over.
PANTO. But I can’t tolerate what happens all over, you fool.
GOT. Ah, Master, I pray you don’t be so savage. You should compare your genius with his stupidity? Then, by heavens, you’re most silly. But see where he’s walking around.
FRED. Ess sol ken stound far eber kan,
Man hab dan etwas guit getan.
PANTO. What’s he saying, Gothrio?
GOT. He’s speaking French, he’s philosophizing, I understand him.
PANTO. How so?
FRED. Leonardus, you hear?
GOT. “When o’er Gibraltar the sun will take his ease,
Then with great heat will boil the Atlantic seas.”
PANTO. Surely, thus I was thinking.
LEO. You teased him cleverly, Master.
FRED. Dat beeff ute segghen.
PANTO. What’s that, Gothrio?
GOT. “He gives a foddered bull.”
PANTO. To whom?
GOT. To you, as I imagine, together with its horns.
LEO. Te seker wat.
GOT. He pronounces you blind.
PANTO. He’s lying, gods be praised.
FRED. Nu hoort en woort.
GOT. “There’s no harm in beer.”
PANTO. Heavens, I believe him.
LEO. But don’t believe him, Pantomagus. Heavens, he lies like a physician.
PANTO. Really, dullard? Have you come to mock me?
LEO. Pray, may I use a byword?
PANTO. A byword? But by this word you’ll get a whipping, you rascal.
FRED. But hold your hand if you’re wise, medico, and heal thyself. I’ll defend my servant, as a master should.
GOT. Call him a toadstool.
PANTO. What are you saying, toadstool?
GOT. And a sot.
PANTO. And a sot.
GOT. Tit for tat.
PANTO. What next?
GOT. And wine-scum.
PANTO. And wine-scum.
FRED. What did you say? Repeat these things to me.
GOT. Wait, Fredericus, I’ll defend my master, as a servant should.
PANTO. Does he think I’ll accept this insult? I’d rather die. Follow me, Gothrio.
GOT. Farewell, Fredericus.
FRED. What do you say now? How we drove him away from here! What did you say when he got so upset?
LEO. I said his servant lies like a physician.
FRED. Very fine. You should always act this way. You do the mocking, I’ll do the fighting for us both. Now let’s depart straight for the market-place.
LEO. But Erophilus is coming out of Alphonsus’ house. (Enter Erophilus.)
FRED. Let him go where he wants, you follow me.
LEO. I’m following.
ACT I, SCENE ii
EROPHILUS, JULIA, SANNIO
ERO. Follow me this way, Julia, lest your father catch sight of you.
JUL. I don’t dare withdraw further from the house. Thus, so to speak, our hunting-dog Sannio searches for me.
ERO. But come here, a little bit away from the door, lest somebody secretly overhear our conversation.
JUL. I see I must go. Where love calls I follow.
ERO. What are we doing, Julia? How long are we dragging out this delay? Why aren’t we seeking a way for our love, but are both dying miserably by a slow wasting disease? Your father is preparing Pantomagus to be your husband, a stupid man but rich, to whom he’ll sell you as a bride.
JUL. But may the deep earth swallow me up, Erophilus, before I betray the trust I have given you.
ERO. So lend me your secret ears.
JUL. You do me an injury, Erophilus, if you are afraid of my loyalty.
ERO. Ah, Julia, you are killing me. Don’t you indeed know how deeply this word has pierced my heart? Am I madly to fear your loyalty, when there is no spirit in my body with which I can fear, besides this one which is yours, which you carry with you, Julia? But let these things be dismissed, now listen to what I want you to do. If your father, set in his ways, demands that you live for his sake alone, nor freely look at or speak to anybody, in the deep of night, when welcome sleep comes a-creeping, my Julia, I’ll carry you away from here either by yourself or accompanied by your maid, if you prefer.
JUL. Ah, Erophilus, obviously you desire me to be a ruined woman now! Does it thus befit a girl to abandon her father’s house? By this, what woes I’ll create for my father! Then what will men chatter about me, who have always lived with my reputation untouched? For although my mind is a witness that you have always loved me chastely, yet everybody’s good name is dearer than to him than his life, and if this is taken away, there is no reason why he should wish to live.
ERO. Indeed you do well, and as befits an upright woman, that you obey your harsh father so dutifully. But do you know what’s commonly said? “Love knows no father.”
JUL. You are speaking of blind love, but mine sees, and foresees many future evils, unless you are careful. What if my irate father abandons me and, since he has the power, refuses to acknowledge me as his daughter?
ERO. But Erophilus will receive you, deserted, and lovingly acknowledge you as his wife.
JUL. Indeed nothing is more reverend to me than your love, nor does anything equally delight my mind. But what if I can keep both my father and Erophilus, nor lose the one for the other’s sake, would I act in a way that pleases you?
ERO. It would be most pleasing, but in the meantime any delay is displeasing.
JUL. But we must make haste slowly.
ERO. But delay creates danger.
JUL. No, a dog in haste whelps blind pups.
ERO. What are you urging?
JUL. That we must endure this and be hopeful.
ERO. Hope is delightful, but hard to endure.
JUL. Oh, you’re wrong. It’ easy to endure, but perhaps hard to keep on enduring.
ERO. Let it be, since you best me with your wisdom, now I’ll humor you, I’ll obey, I’ll endure as long as I can possess you, I am willing to undergo whatever you wish. (Enter Sannio.)
JUL. My Erophilus, don’t you know how dear you are to my heart, nor what troubles my father is making for me when he forbids me to love you? But I’ll endure it. A day will grant what a day denies.
SAN. Oh, well done! Now I’ll see to it that your father is present.
JUL. Meanwhile, Erophilus, I entreat and implore you that you hold dear me and my reputation.
ERO. I swear that it will be dearer to me than my life.
JUL. Now it’s time for me to go inside, Erophilus. Farewell.
ERO. But if you stayed I’d fare better. But your door is creaking. Alas, the old man’s coming out. It’s not right for a man to flee when he’s done nothing. You be of good cheer, and leave the rest to me.
ACT I, SCENE iii
ALPHONSUS, JULIA, EROPHILUS
ALPH. Where are those people whom Sannio saw conversing nearby? And there they are, I’ll approach. Great greetings, am I a burden to you? But you especially, Julia, are you acting as an upright girl should? Can’t I make you compliant with what I bid you? How often have I forbidden you to burst outdoors, or to accost anyone or speak to him when you are by yourself?
JUL. We only came here, father mine, to take a walk. We’re not seeking any hiding-place or corner, as you see.
ALPH. Go inside, there I’ll speak my entire mind to you. What am I to call this business, Erophilus, that you are always alone with my daughter? Is this the custom among you Venetians, that an unknown man should haunt a strange household? Or because my door is always open to you, you fool, do you imagine my house to be a brothel?
ERO. I can’t be sufficiently astonished at your wrath, Alphonsus, nor do I see where these troublesome words are creeping.
ALPH. Nor can I be sufficiently astonished at your boldness, nor why I understand why you are poking your nose here, or what you want.
ERO. What should I be wanting? So that I might see you appeased, come, tell me what it is what has made you angry.
ALPH. You are all trained in the same school. You are always deaf to your own sins. Didn’t I see you with her yesterday in a secluded part of the house? In my presence aren’t you always communicating with gestures? Or have I perceived your sighs so often that, being in the meanwhile made of rock, I don’t suspect anything? Or perhaps you think I’m a flinty old man, equally dull of sight and of mind. You’re wrong, Erophilus, you can’t trick an old man. Age has been the teacher of these ways, by experience I’ve scarcely forgotten what I learned long ago. But, to put it in a nutshell, I love my daughter, as is right for a diligent and sober father. I don’t know well enough who you are or where you have come from. Camillus tells me you’re Venetian-born, and sent here by your father to pursue your studies. It’s scarcely fit for you to devote yourself to love, Venus hardly agrees with Pallas, nor is your ornament and dress appropriate for a son of the Muses. Then too, I’m scarcely in good health, I want my daughter to console me. And so don’t bother me any more, tend to your business, don’t disturb my household.
ERO. By heavens, when I ponder on your words, I think you do me no little injury. And even if I were greatly to deserve it, Alphonsus, you least deserve to do it to me. A stranger, I have now visited your house often, I admit I’m a nuisance. But did it suit you to be the agent of your own anger? More conveniently you could have entrusted this business to a servant, he would have ordered me to keep away from your home, I would have complied. Then you don’t know well enough who I am or where I have come from. I have a father, thanks be to the gods, of whom I’m not ashamed. But neither does he disdain having me for his son, and he made no fuss about paying the cost of my dress. But because the chief source of our argument is your daughter, why do you heap her and myself with false suspicion? Or does it abhor so from polite manners that one may not look upon a maiden and speak with her?
ALPH. I am not challenging your politeness, Erophilus. It’s polite to look upon a maiden and speak with her. But I want my daughter to be chaste, not polite.
ERO. Am I setting snares for her chastity?
ALPH. I myself shall take care that that does not happen. So, Erophilus, hear my decision, find another house, leave mine.
ACT I, SCENE iv
By Pollux, this day has given me perverse reversals, which has disturbed all my counsels, nor, plunged in thought, am I discovering what I should want or not want, thus I am being miserably whirled on love’s wheel, which disturbs my head with vertigo. I am neither waging war nor finding peace, fleeing I stop in my tracks, standing I flee, there’s no fire and I’m wholly ablaze. What do you think you should do now, Erophilus? What? Are you to live alone without her? Julia, I can’t live with you or without you. I can seek no life if I’m drawn away from you. What if I go to see the old man again? I’ll pray, I’ll entreat that he not be angry at me. Perhaps when his ire has cooled off, I’ll beseech him not to be so wrathy. I’ve decided to do this. What are you doing, fool? What if he receives you with fresh insults? What will you do? What? I’ll pay back tit with tat, which will hurt him. Ah, that’s not fitting, thus the matter will get worse and harm yourself and (what’s dearer to you) Julia. But what if you abandon this place and go far away, so that by separation you’ll at least lighten your cares? You’re doing nothing, you’re pinned here by Cupid’s dart: hurry as much as you can with oar and sail, the more you attain the deep, the more love’s storm will bear you back to port. This house was once my harbor of refuge, now the suspicious old man has turned it into a reef. But you, Venus, steer my barque so that I suffer no shipwreck of love. Now I’ll go to Camillus, my only friend. In him is all my remaining hope. I hope I’ll find him at his father’s house, where I have sent my Pantaleo on before me to announce I want to meet him. But see, he’s opportunely come, and Pantaleo with him. I can’t restrain myself from going to great him first.
ACT I, SCENE v
EROPHILUS, CAMILLUS, PANTALEO
ERO. Greetings, Camillus, the half of my life.
CAM. Then you have multiple lives, for long ago you’ve given half to Julia, you own half yourself, you give me half. But why is it you order me to be fetched?
ERO. Now’s the time, Camillus, when you must put your powers to the test, so you may show who you are, who you were, who you are going to be.
CAM. He asks twice who asks quickly. If my art can achieve anything for you, ask and you shall receive from me, Erophilus. So away with all circumlocutions and briefly explain what you want me to do.
PANTA. I very much want to know what’s troubling Master.
ERO. Alphonsus has banned me from his house.
CAM. Hey, what? Banned you?
ERO. It happened, Camillus?
CAM. For what reason?
ERO. He saw me conversing with Julia.
CAM. Conversing with Julia? What happened next?
ERO. It’s just as you hear, I don’t know anything more.
CAM. Come on, that’s not proper, it won’t happen this way. For if he’s banned you from his house, yet you’ll live as close to her as can be. My father Lucius is away on a journey, and has left me as custodian of this house. You may live with me as long as you want.
ERO. But I’m living nowhere, Camillus, if not here.
PANTA. Why are you lamenting this so seriously, Master?. Is life led nowhere but in Alphonsus’ house? What if he banned you from sunlight, air, water, fire, your nation, what would you do then?
ERO. I’d prefer all of those things. Now I lack a homeland, as long as I live anywhere outside this house.
PANTA. Is this how you study philosophy? “Let your homeland be wherever it goes well.”
ERO. And so I’ll have none, since it everywhere it will go badly.
PANTA. But in what way will you lack air, without which you can’t live, outside this house?
ERO. The soul is not animated save when it loves, Pantaleo.
PANTA. How learnedly Master defends his softness!
ERO. Really? If you add a word —
PANTA. Hm, by that word I know I’m a servant. But why is Camillus standing plunged in thought?
CAM. I can’t sufficiently wonder why Alphonsus has done thus unless, being a man of a stubborn and harsh nature, he wants to bestow Julia on Pantomagus the physician, who (beyond the wealth bequeathed him by his father) hasn’t a grain of learning, nor of intelligence.
ERO. You grasp the very thing, it’s as you say.
CAM. Thus I remember Alphonsus talking to me lately: “Do you know Pantomagus the physician?” asked he. “Yes, the empiric,” said I, “nobody better.” “Hm,” asked he, “why do you call him an empiric? Isn’t he well-educated?” “Nobody more so,” said I, “in his own opinion. Now I’m informing you, Alphonsus, this man hasn’t had even a sip of book-learning.” “But,” said he, “I’ve often heard him giving anatomy-lectures, nor do I believe what you say. If I grow ill, I’ll entrust myself to him before all the physicians at Padua. You call him uneducated. I do too. But I don’t deny he’s wealthy. And he single-mindedly loves my Julia. Were that she were stupid and loved him in return! Then, I tell you, a stupid girl would be in love with a stupid man.”
ERO. I beg you help me, Camillus, in some manner that I have the ability to talk with her.
CAM. I’ll find a way. It will happen, have no fear.
ERO. It will happen, you answer? I’m breathing again, give me your hand.
CAM. See, I promise you.
ERO. And I reply that I owe you my life. But when or how will this happen?
CAM. Soon, at least, and hear the plan. Today the old man’s giving himself a birthday party, which some of us have decided to attend to offer our congratulations, so that we may have our usual masked dancing. You yourself may come among these people, Erophilus, because, other than me, you are unknown to the rest. I’ll bring you as my companion. For the rest, there’s nobody who will want to ask questions.
ERO. Oh my Camillus, I don’t want to praise you to your face, but never can I sound your praises so amply but that your friendship can’t surpass this all.
CAM. Our old friendship forbids me from being behindhand in this business. I’ll either be here or elsewhere, as you wish me to be.
ERO. For heaven’s sake, do as you usually do.
CAM. Now, if you agree, let’s hasten to the market-place, so that we can get the things we need.
ERO. I think so.
Go to Act II