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CROB. What do you think, my Tuscidilla? Haven’t we given a right elegant dinner? She swallowed the hook along with the bait, and now she’s my Lydia. You gave her tasty dishes, I fed her on sweet conversation.
TUSC. Pray don’t try to hoodwink me. Don’t say I supplied the food. You haven’t enough to get me to instruct you in all love’s ways. Should I feed you and your girl friend? I swear by my guardian angels, you’ll never get a shilling from me save on loan, and that at interest. Before you go any farther, fill my palm with the two pounds you already owed me for victuals. You’ll always get a place for rest and a jest. But do you hear me? If you must have them, you will supply your own meat and heat. You talk nonsense to me, “oh best Tuscidilla,” and “I shall cherish you in my memory forever.” But I don’t see your money.
CROB. Most honorable hostess, I’ve never done you an iota of harm. My trustiness is known throughout Market Square, and I have a thousand ways of turning a coin. For, not to mention that most excellent art of thievery (mistress and queen of all the others), I can coin my own legal currency if I run short. And I have many other cheating skills at my fingertips: my alchemy turns leaden men into gold-givers, to my profit; by promising mountains of gold, my magic puts silver coins in my purse; by practicing the urinary art I can always pass forth something, in which art nothing is needed but drinking in and pissing out. But what have you to say of my parasitical science of flattery? This is the art of arts and science of sciences, whereby we entrap noble young men like so many mice or flies. I take these fellows, snared by my friendship, swallow ’ em whole, and digest them: they are my food and drink, from whom, as from a victualer’s cellar, I withdraw what I want.
TUSC. So make a withdrawal to settle your debt, as you’ve so often promised.
CROB. And so I grant myself a young man of that type, whom I shall handle with great skill. First, I shall praise him to the skies, treating him like a second Jove. Hence he will burn with affection for me, and like Jupiter once fell into Danae’s lap, so he will pour a shower of gold into my hands. Then I shall instruct him in prodigality in all its aspects, by which he might procure luxuriant banquets, put on magnificent shows, purchase all manner of pleasures, heap his starveling servants with gifts, and make me his lord and master. Hereupon, if his money should happen to run short, I shall arrange for one of my friends to serve as a confederate and purchase his ancestral lands at an absurdly knocked-down price, and thus I shall go partners with him in his fields and in his fortunes.
TUSC. I know that you’re a right fraudulent butcher, and so I urge you to settle up. For this warns me to be on my guard against you.
CROB. But you’re overanxious. I’m in the habit of gulling men, not women, a sex to whom I’m trustworthy not only in appearance, but inwardly, inside my skin. And so that I may repay you what’s owed, I must take another tack. You know that my rival, that good-for-nothing schoolmaster, is well off. I’ve made up my mind to employ all my skills to fleece him for my benefit. Thus he will be weakened in his wooing and I will fatten myself on the blood of an enemy. I trust a good start has been made, and the outcome will justify the act. But what’s this racket? You go into the house, I’ll follow Pogglostus so as to instruct Tyrophagus in all that is needful. [Exeunt. Enter Pedantius, Dromodotus, and Pedantius’ students Ludio and Bletus; they are armed. ]


PED. Come forth, my followers and disciples, surround and encircle your sovereign. Fear not my scepter, come down. Bletus, although you are not exactly overendowed with genius, nevertheless nature has not denied you strength. But, Ludio, you stand by him like “Teucer hiding beneath the shield of Ajax.” Now if in this blaze of anger I catch any sight of that Catiline-like brigand, how I’ll lash him with the flail of my eloquence!
. And if that vagrant individuation were demonstrated to me, with this academical weapon I’d hurl him down to the center of the earth, and even deeper if possible. But this cannot be, for if he passed beyond the center he’d return there by a certain natural reverberative motion.
PED. You rascal, have you dared wage war against the gods, like the giants? Can’t we fend off your arrogant spirits?
. Most reverend preceptor, most worthy general in our entire army, I shall always campaign gladly beneath your standard. You are so prudent in peace, learned in School, stout in war, and full of fear (or rather fearsome) in battle.
PED. D’you the boy - how fitting in sense, how figurative in diction? By God, I adore him, he imitates me so diligently. He’s a golden lad, “child of a white hen,” and I shall bequeath him all my books save Nizolius’ lexicon (I sleep with that of nights, and desire it buried with me).
But inasmuch as you are a student of physiognomy, pray give me your opinion of this little chick of mine, as Zopyrus did of Socrates in my Cicero’s anecdote.
DROM. Inasmuch (as it is said in the treatise On Categories) certain qualities are in but not spoken about, others are spoken about but are not in, and yet are others are both in and spoken about, whereas some are in but not spoken about, thus talent resides in some but is not apparent, and appears to be in some, but is not in them, and in yet others is not and does not appear, and in some who are born under a happy star, both is in them and appears so. Such is Ludio, this boy of yours.
. Why are we standing here like lazy donkeys? Did we convene here to swat at flies? Either let our foeman appear or let us depart. Perhaps this gallows-bird heard I was here, for in keeping night watches I’m most brutal against these robbers.
PED. Come, since we have sailed past peril’s reefs, we seem to be in the shallows of tranquillity. So take home this Achilles-like weaponry of ours. If I go st or hem, come running back, ready to fight for hearth and home.
LUD. Jupiter Best and Greatest, protect and defend against your enemies!
PED. Pray listen to the lad’s elegant tropes. Off with you.
LUD. May Jupiter, I say, aid you. May Minerva diminish your enemies, may Pallas make ’ em go pallid, may Mars and the mortician maim ’ em. Tantara bounce!
PED. Terrific, nothing better! That is to say, go with happy step. In this boy there’s plenty of Pedantius.
LUD. [To the audience.] Unless I occasionally beguile him with pleasantries he would never let go of his lash. For as he basely plies his paddle, certainly he willingly wields his whip.
PED. Go play.
LUD,. BLED. Thank you.
BLED. [To the audience.] And if he lands more than three blows, I’ll complain to Mother. She’ll nag Father, who’ll hale him before a judge. And the judge will scourge my preceptor’s wallet ’ til it bleeds.
BLE. Let’s go, I say. Good-bye. [Exeunt.]
PED. And now if you render yourself attentive, friendly, and docile (the three necessary requirements for an auditor), I shall expound to you, both generally and in detail, what I’ve kept secret from you so far, the reasons for my love.
DROM. I am aware that the ignorance of causes is the mother of error. But take care lest you supply a pseudo-cause in the place of a cause, or an apparent good in lieu of a genuine one. For just as a shooting star, even if it shoots, is not a star, so an apparent good, even if it appears such, is not a good. Passing beyond these initial caveats, proceed with good fortune.
PED. First, you must be advised and made aware that I am not drawn on by titillating and carnal lust, but by pure and simple honesty. Let these few remarks be said by way of preface, so as to meet a certain unstated objection.
DROM. This is a methodical and Aristotelian procedure, just as in the Physics he first showed what things are not first principles, and in the Ethics what happiness is not, before he showed what these are. Since the effective cause of your love has not been adduced, the order of your argument now requires that you state its true instrumental cause. For assuredly if lust is subtracted, the first cause of love is removed. For an object of the appetites is postulated, there remains no possibility of union with this object: thus proclaims philosophy.
PED. I take these praises of yours in the best part. As for the other things you mention, accept it thus. I do not hate women, since I am aware they are of some needful utility for us mortals. And so I confess I am in love. I am not born of flint, nor of a tigress, as is Aeneas according to the judgment of angry Dido in the pages of Vergil (the genitive formation is Didonis, or rather Didûs s according to the Greek declension, just as Sapphûs is the genitive of Sappho, which is to say -ûs circumflexed). But I am not love with youthful redundancy, or (if I am any judge) to the highest degree, but rather philosophically. And that reasons that motivate me are fivefold, or rather sixfold.
DROM. The number is trivial, just make sure they’re irrefutable. It is Pythagorean to view numbers religiously and mystically, and of numbers they reckon twelve causes corresponding to the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
PED. One, you are to be aware that I crave perfect happiness, which cannot exist in the absence of the addition or corollary of a wife.
DROM. As if true virtue did not conduce to happiness by itself! But a wife is not a virtue, even to the slightest degree, and is perhaps even a vice. Woman is Nature’s mistake or infirmity, since Nature always strives for that which is perfect and best. But matter is more powerful. And so . . .
PED. Two, I have determined to buy me a house out of my funds, in which a materfamilias is no less requisite than a bell in a church or wood in a fireplace.
DROM. In truth, if we consider domestic economics, a woman is a helping cause, reasonably enough. And the family is the cornerstone of the state, from which it is constructed, as the great philosopher demonstrates in the Politics, Book One. So now, Pedantius, you have become a political scientist!
PED. I have become one? Rather, I was born such, as Nature created me an orator. For “the good orator is the oracle of the state,” on the testimony of our oracle Cicero. But I hasten along my chosen path. Three, if I were ever to fall ill, a wife is a kind of medicine, especially in the case of a fever, when thirst prevails.
DROM. This is the worst fever of all, which thirsts after a woman.
PED. Four, for studious types a wife is a nostrum against melancholy and brain-sickness, which always threatens those of us given to contemplation.
DROM. And sometimes she is also a remedy against a superfluity of blood, if she waxes angry. But this is an improper predication, if an inferior is predicated over its superior.
PED. Five, unless I marry, the common folk will prate that Pedantius is a eunuch. Bah! Falsehood! Bah!
DROM. This reason is not cogent. For many philosophers who went unmarried nevertheless performed that most natural of functions, that is, they engendered men like themselves. And this a eunuch cannot achieve, at least by himself, though perhaps easily enough by means of a helper. The reason’s obvious: because of the lack of an instrumental cause. Therefore the argument NO WIFE: EUNUCH is a non sequitur.
PED. Six, by the immortal gods (I can’t keep from exclaiming) what is more useful for the republic, or more conducive to the pleasure of all good men, or more splendid for the glory of my name, than to bequeath to the coming centuries a true and lifelike replica of Pedantius, an heir of my virtues and child of such a father? And finally, what is more necessary for an orator than to be quick with his tongue (this is our stem and our stern)? And a married man has at his disposal two tongues, so you can rightly term him bilingual. And I shall append a brief epilogue containing these three elements: recapitulation, appeal to the hearer, pathos. Wherefore if you consider either our advantage or the safety of the nation, you will bid farewell to this opinion of yours. As far as the matter touches me, I think thus: I seem to be prophesizing when I say Hymenaeus is the god for me; or, more emblematically, I shall wed or I shall weep.
DROM. I’m trying to wash off an Ethiopian, this man refuses to accept the benefit of my advice and is pierced with love as by the tail of a serpent. This one thing remains, inasmuch as love has made so deep an impression on you that all your parts, both the similar and the dissimilar, are suffering from it. If you cannot change yourself completely and wholeheartedly, at least do so in the attenuated manner, which is to say, accept the Lesser Indications: if not according to quantity, at least according to some external appearance, lest the common folk see it.
PED. If you urge me to be prudent, this is in my mind no less than blood in my body: Apollo, Pallas, and Mercury are my particular comrades, my brain serves as their heaven. Wherefore I cannot but be prudent.
DROM. Carefully, carefully, for the university’s honor!
PED. And chastely too. Why not? I shall never commit something unworthy of an orator or a philosopher. But see that house? She lives 7there, she who lives in me; its walls are much more blessed than I, because they embrace my Lydia, who wantonly shuns me, just as Daphne once fled from Apollo.
DROM. Are you so irrational that you love a girl who hates you?
PED. Oh the leaden dagger of your intellect! As if you didn’t hear me say that Apollo did the same, he whom I imitate in all things!
DROM. But I draw a distinction according to a philosophical viewpoint: contrary seeks out its contrary, it is true, and that not contingently but universally. But it deserves to be added, this is not done for the benefit of any old contrary, but for the sake of the Mean, so that the Mean might be attained, as Aristotle taught in the Ethics.
PED. Would that, like Lynceus of old, I could look through those walls and see what my Lydia os doing. But, oh Fortune, I must descend into the sunlight and dust.
DROM. Now is the time to decline beneath the Zodiac of reason. I’m going.
PED. In vain. You will be a witness of my battles, while I assault this girl, or rather while I adore her.


LYD. Since everything has been prepared inside according to my wishes, now I want to think a moment about the success of my affairs.
. And so I shall approach her, as they say, with favorable birds of omen. Even if I am greatly delighted by your dulcet conversation (for your voice rings out in scarce mortal wise - oh assuredly you are a goddess!), the press of time makes me interrupt your speech.
LYD. Ill done, oh Fortune, because you’ve put this man in my way, so uncouth, so importunate.
PED. Your coming is timely, the most important of all things. Stay, I crave a few words with you.
LYD. Though it displeases me, it would not be fit to be so unkind. I’ll listen to what is said.
PED. To me, who has frequently pondered, and brooded over ancient traditions, oh Miss Lydia: they seem greatly blessed who have both been able both to love and to be loved in happiness, with the result that people seem to be able to love and be loved at one and the same time. For, as the Peripatetics tell us, all love ought to be mutual and reciprocal. Wherefore, to descend from the thesis to the hypothesis, oh my charmer of souls, flower of femininity, I beg and beseech you in the name of your beauty (than which the sun has never seen anything more glorious), that, inasmuch as love rules this frame of mine, let it also creep into your bosom, to the closer coupling of us both (or “of the both of us“), so that we may stablish the tabernacle of our life, you in my heart, me in that delicate little body of yours.
LYD. Pray find another woman to mock. I have always worked hard to be an honest girl, no matter what I seem to you.
. Good maiden (since you strike me as being such), perhaps you do not penetrate to the inner essence of what was just said. I shall state it more plainly, first in general, and second in particular. Thus, generally: every man (and I do not mean this one or that, but men considered as a universal species) is a social animal, by his nature tending to associations. Bear this in mind. And now, more particularly, each man who desires hopes to communicate all his so to speak innate nature and his very identity as a man to the woman he desires. And now I come to the application of these remarks. Thus my friend desires that there exist between the two of you not only that sociability and notional fusion, but a certain even closer relationship which comes about when one essence so depends on another that you two become things conjoined by not only being said to be such, but also by being such. And he longs to approximate to you for these ends not only through virtual contiguity, but also by local contact. Furthermore, he desires to be conjoined and combined into one not only in terms of contiguity, but also in terms of continuity. And finally he requests that out of two entities differing in number be made a single individuation, and that indissolvably conjoined.
PED. If my breast had a window in it (as Momus wished for mankind), you would perceive my faith to be fixed and scarcely fictitious, and if it were visible to the eye it would arouse wonderful love of itself, as said Plato, or somebody or other.
DROM. As I desire you to have no illusions concerning this love, as if it proceeded in some part from my friend’s empty intentionality, you should recognize that nothing is being sought by him either contrary to, or in disregard of, the honorable, which is asserted thus from a sufficient division: you are twofold, consisting of two parts, body and soul. Your body is undeniably delectable (for this external appearance dazzles and disrupts our visual senses thanks to that white complexion of yours), but he loves your soul (your most simple part) simply and for its own sake, but your body only accidentally and for the sake of your soul.
PED. Your soul combines all the Loves within itself, and no good man would hesitate to die for its sake.
LYD. Better for me to go home than be the butt of this teasing here.
PED. Do not think me in jest. But now, when love has bashed my mind’s battlements with his battering ram, I am acting seriously, most placid Lydia. Do you wish me to prove this with tears and convulsive sobbing? Ah girl, you are a witch, the enchantress of my mind! I am thrown into distraction, I am torn asunder, which is to say I am sundered in twain, of which one part is in the chamber of your body while the other searches for its lost counterpart, possessed by you. For when I first saw your fascinating face, immediately my mind, taken away, smitten, taken I know not whither, departed, inflamed by love’s fury. It departed, disappeared, decamped from its disrupted domicile. It landed on the coast of your countenance, where now it contemplates your divine beauty, a veritable Platonic idea. You alone can liberate me from this ecstasy, if you allow me to reunite my body, which is here, with my soul, which is over there.
LYD. Better yet, get your soul out of here.
PED. But you grip me like a vise, and kill me like a basilisk.
DROM. Just as iron cannot tear itself away from a magnet, so his soul (which the attractive force of your own has drawn to itself) cannot recede backward by means of movement retrograde. Love is not in this man by accident, but in essence, and cannot be cut out without harming the patient. Wherefore you should not oppose this man diametrically, or like an elliptic line, by denying his suit.
PED. I beg you to regard with compassion the eviscerated, lifeless corpse of your Pedantius, whose heart suffers as many sorrows as there are flowers in a meadow. His spleen, which usually makes him laugh, now cries out to you piteously. His poor liver is being gnawed at and chewed upon by the eagle of Prometheus, which is to say, by love. His intestines are being burned by desires, as if by blazing torches. His stomach (whether you inspect its upper portion or its lower) “burns like a raging fire pent up in a furnace.” Thus in all quarters I am afire with the love of you, the fire oppresses me as if it were Hannibal at the gates, so that I can escape by no subterfuge unless you offer me refuge. I beg that you offer me a port, a suppliant’s altar, an asylum, in sum that you be my patroness. Abandon me and I am ruined.
DROM. You see how inexplicably he is in love with all his liver, or (as common folk say) with all his heart. But by an abuse of language, since his liver makes him a lover. So show yourself his correlative, for there should be a cordial relationship and he who is touched by true love ought to differ according to logic, but not in fact: first and foremost, a girl ought to be pliable. Then too, he is learned and as eloquent as a magistrate. For just as there are seven stars in the northern Bear, so even sciences exist in his skull, whose harmony is musical, and the very melody of the seven stars according to Pythagoras.
LYD. You labor in vain, for another already owns my affections.
PED. By the faith of men and gods! “Do you vote before hearing the case?” And Crobolus is compared to me! - that beast made out of stinking flesh, that son of the earth, that unfortunate weed in the republic, for whom there’s scarce a fit place in a sewer. I’ll teach him what it means to meddle with other people’s property. But meanwhile if you keep your soul from me, you are guilty of theft, of sacrilege (for my mind is a divine thing), and of murder. Just as angry Achilles once said, “my heart is entirely swollen with doleful wrath!”
DROM. What? Is this to touch your ethereal body as if it were so much terrestrial mud? Absurd. Rather, just as worms are produced by a cow’s rotting body, so let this Crobolus’ corruption (whatever it may be) be the making of Pedantius, of whom it can be said, as far as his humility of spirit goes (not insofar as he is sublunary, but insofar as it touches on the Arts), that he is super-celestial.
LYD. I must be going, since I see you so angry.
PED. Ah! Now I grow calm again. We cholerics quickly grow inflamed and are quickly pacified. Oh unique phoenix of this world! Regard Pedantius but do not disregard him, and with a single trifling friendly word suffuse my fever-smitten heart with joy.
LYD. You may convalesce as you wish. Much work awaits me at home. [Exit.]
PED. Has she really vanished? What am I to think? Am I scorned? I do not see how the silly girl could despise me in terms of my character, my deeds, or the even balance of my nature. Lydia, I shall say of you (as Hannibal did of Phormio), I have seen many demented women, but none more so than yourself.
DROM. Indeed I see you are demented, you who wants your gravity to be lifted upwards or be elevated into a lover’s levity, although Nature wants everything weighty to be borne downward.
PED. She has so dispirited me that I do not know whether I’m an entity or a nonentity. Come with me. [Exeunt, enter Tyrophagus and Crobolus.]


TYR. But what if he gets wind of our deceptions?
. What if stones start speaking, or doorjambs seeing? He’s denser than any rock, nor is it any more trouble to cheat him than to whip a tree-trunk. Do you think I don’t know what manner of thing he is, or the power of our art? He’s vain, a veritable Narcissus, insatiably self-admiring. So when he hears Leonidas is in grace and favor with the king and that he has been appointed tutor to the royal offspring, he will be overjoyed, and in his egotism he’ll readily believe what he wants to. He will suspect no trick or deceit. So gird your loins.
TYR. And yet I’m very much afraid lest he will not entrust to me the twenty pounds we want, since I am scarcely known to him. And indeed if he knew me, he’d hardly entrust the money to me.
CROB. Bah, where are your brains? As if he would want or dare refuse something demanded in Leonidas’ name. Since you’re wearing the livery of a royal servant he’ll deem you worthy of all trust and honor. If you don’t get the money, you’ll be in no danger; if you do get it, you’ll get your cut of the loot. So get going.
TYR. Once he gets a look at my smooth manners, the grandiloquence of my speech, my athletic bearing, my countenance, not gaunt and austere but rosy and puffed up with hauteur, doubtless he’ll deduce I have been reared at Court.
CROB. Make certain that he genuinely imagines you to be a courtier, pay your duty to the man humbly with a congé, bending one leg while thrusting out the other, embrace him magnificently, promise him the highest honors until, drawn into the mint of your deceptions, this lump of crude metal can be hammered into spendable coinage.
TYR. You’ve found a fellow most adept at this discipline. No sly fox or sycophant is more learned than me. Now my mind is eager to confront the man.
CROB. And you understand this alchemical art of ours is not to be revealed? His quintessence is to be extracted.
TYR. Just allow me, and I’ll handle him astutely and alchemically.
CROB. Get started. And the time is right: the door is opening, the house itself is inviting you inside. Make sure that our sham-don coughs up his money with promptitude. I shall await in my landlady’s house.
TYR. I’m off. [Exit.]
CROB. Now I hope I shall achieve it, that this fellow will keep us in food forever, and so that I can gain readier access to my Lydia, if I get him out of our way. For he guards her like an Argus, yearning for the darling girl as if she were his prey, though I am about to prey on him and gulp him down. He’ll learn how hotter my stomach is than that of an ostrich. Now I’ve made up my mind to digest the man and consume him whole.
I believe Pogglostus must have been thrown in jail, since he hasn’t shown up yet. I’ll go see what he’s doing. [Exit.]

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