By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Pure Fun: Plautus

From Act I, scene ii of the comedy (about the twin) Brothers Menaechmus:

Unless you are evil, unless you are stupid, unless wild, unless bereft of your mind,
what you see that is hateful to your husband, you should find it hateful to yourself.

Besides, if, after today, you act toward me in this way, I will pack you off divorced back to your father.

For as often as I wish to go out, you delay me, you call me back, you interrogate me: where I may be going, what I may be doing, what business I am carrying on, what I may be looking for, what I may take along, what I did outside the house.

I have married a customs officer! So I must describe everything, whatever I did and whatever I do.

I have made you too pampered; now therefore, I will say what I will do, since I maintain you well: with slavegirls, food, wool, gold, clothing, purple--you do not lack anything,

You will beware of repercussions if you are wise, you will stop spying on your husband.

And so, lest you watch me in vain, on account of your diligence, today I will take a prostitute [some like to soften this term to "girlfriend"] to dinner and I will engage myself as a guest to anyone outside the house.

(The above is my translation; I consulted the 2011 Loeb translation by Wolfgang De Melo--I like his term "customs officer.")

Plautus, like Terence, wrote comedies. The Loeb Classical Library editors tell us that the comedies of Plautus "are the earliest Latin works to survive complete and are the cornerstones of the European theatrical tradition from Shakespeare and Molière to modern times." His works inspired the musical and movie "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

For those interested in the original Latin, see below from the online Latin Library collection:

MENAECHMVS Ni mala, ni stulta sies, ni indomita imposque animi, 110
quod viro esse odio videas, tute tibi odio habeas.
praeterhac si mihi tale post hunc diem
faxis, faxo foris vidua visas patrem.
nam quotiens foras ire volo, me retines, revocas, rogitas,
quo ego eam, quam rem agam, quid negoti geram, 115
quid petam, quid feram, quid foris egerim.
portitorem domum duxi, ita omnem mihi
rem necesse eloqui est, quidquid egi atque ago.
nimium ego te habui delicatam; nunc adeo ut facturus dicam.
quando ego tibi ancillas, penum, 120
lanam, aurum, vestem, purpuram
bene praebeo nec quicquam eges,
malo cavebis si sapis,
virum observare desines.
atque adeo, ne me nequiquam serves, ob eam industriam
hodie ducam scortum ad cenam atque aliquo condicam foras.