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PHILOMATHES an impoverished student
CHRYSOPHILUS an avaricious old man
PHANTASTA a noble fool
APHRONIUS son of Chrysophilus
AUTARCHIA wife to Chrysophilus
AUTHADIA maid to Anaea
ANAEA a silly woman
CHRESTOPHILUS a friend of Philomathes
CRITO an old man, Sophia’s uncle
CERDOUS servant to Chrysophilus
PETINUS servant to Phantasta
JANUS, TIME, MOTION, QUIET, PLACE, VACUUM (the Chorus)
Janus thrusts forth Time.
TIME Janus, why are you thrusting me forth into this hateful place?
JAN. So that you may atone for your crime where you committed it, and so that this injured audience may have a look at the man responsible for their suffering, and hiss at the guilty fellow.
TIME Forgive me, you holy divinity, and let silent shame be the penalty for this penitent, for that always torments noble hearts more than harsh and visible punishment.
JAN. You’re guilt won’t be discharged that way. While each man is giving fine gifts to his friends on the First of January, are you playing foolish tricks? Or are you making your plaint so that the people will complain about you all the more?
TIME If I may have your permission to speak, I have been playing no foolish tricks. For my regret is real and sincere. The complaint is legitimate, but those doing the complaining bungled their parts.
JAN. They did so in your name, and so you will be punished in their stead. “I want you to keep in mind that this is the daft old man,” I shout, “who has made a mockery of my First of January, for these evils persist. Inflict punishment for trying your patience, my friends, hound the old man as he deserves. For I hand him over to you.”
TIME Leave me, oh leave me. What hand will free me, what pardon will be given this guilty man? At least hold your silence while I devise new concerns and strivings, I hope with better auspices. For who can do a better job of redressing the waste of your time than Time himself? This I shall attempt to do, if your old-time favor now lifts me up as I lie prostrate, and sets me back on my feet.
ACT I, SCENE i
PHIL. Since your agreement has now put a period to my efforts (at least if there is any effort in loving), and since you have now joined your mind to mine so that one love might exist instead of two, Sophia (whom I love next to the gods), grant me the remainder of today, when we shall make the marriage-god a witness to our contract. For I don’t know if I should say yet that my joys are complete.
SOPH. So after you become my husband you will think your happiness to be complete? May the gods grant it! For when you’re a husband you’ll sing a new tune and say the same as the other husbands: “Alas, what a heap of troubles lurks in this marriage! Alas, what an evil a woman is! I married a wife? No, a pain. A woman? No, a beast or some being worse than that.” What a monstrosity you’ll call me when I’m your wife!
PHIL. I swear by the gods and goddesses, I’ve always thought a good wife to be a monstrosity, she’s such a rare animal.
SOPH. I swear by the gods and goddesses, I’ve never thought a faithless husband to be a monstrosity, he’s such a common animal.
PHIL. What then, my Sophia?
SOPH. What then, my Philomathes? I hope neither kind of monstrosity comes to pass. Furthermore, perhaps being a timid woman lacking in courage, I have always been afraid of portents, nor would I want this terror to approach our marriage-bed. And as for your calling a good woman a monstrosity, perhaps I’ll be less concerned about being good, so that the other women will not shun me.
PHIL. You do a good job of describing a woman’s nature, they want to be monstrosities so that they won’t be monstrosities. My dear Sophia, do you want another lady’s hair to be yours? Do you want your face not to be your own? In these new times the condition of your sex is such that he who sees you might think you are the creation of a painter, not of nature, and might doubt whether you are animals or born of a man, for the female head wears a horses’ mane in imitation of the turreted goddess. Things have come to such a pass that if a matron is possessed of honest manners, and is dressed as she ought to be, the others wonder at her her being pious and modest (and, I am embarrassed to say, they laugh at her). Avoid these women, Sophia, and I’ll like it if they shun you too.
SOPH. You do a good job of describing a man’s nature. They make a show of giving us good counsel, but in the meantime they are unfair and refuse to heed their own advice. Therefore I would not want your manners to raise a laugh, and I shall dress in accordance with fashion. This departure from rectitude will have its place with me too, when it has become the public mode.
PHIL. What if my fortune can’t stand the expense?
SOPH. Now I see the point of your admonitions. So you don’t like the new modes of the times because they not uncommonly involve expense. Tell me, good sir, whom do you imagine you are about to marry? A woman, I think, and look here, the name of woman smacks of expenditure, and if your fortune cannot stand the cost, believe me, no woman will ever stand you. I have no dowry, you have no more, and our agreement in this is assuredly a bad agreement. I promised to be your bride, I confess, but this was pledged on condition that you were going to contribute a sufficiency to support the both of us, and that my mind should not ask more than what is sufficient. Go now, make these preparations for the future, if you can. Let this suffice as my answer to you, farewell for now. [Exit.]
PHIL. What’s this? “Let this suffice as my answer to you, farewell for now.” Look here, I know that from now on I’m going to be in constant trouble. Did I say trouble? I said trouble. Sophia, you worst of womankind, can you hear me? Can you hear me? I tell you, if I ever see your hypnotic eyes again, then, Jupiter, I’ve told you, farewell forever. But I don’t think she heard me. Thus, more’s the pity, my ardent love cannot easily be extinguished. But let me think what this is. What is it? Woman. Just as material seeks form, so Woman seeks Man. But material seeks naked form, and likewise Woman seeks Man. Thus she has been accustomed, thus she is accustomed. So far Sophia hasn’t seen fifteen years. But if she had, then I believe she’d have a care for man, albeit needy and naked. But, being as she’s Sophia, my Sophia doesn’t do as the others are accustomed to do. I have to devise something. But what’s this something? I have no idea what it’s going to be, but it certainly will be something which will allow me to gain my wishes. I’ll visit Chrestophilus so that he can advise me, if he has any advice to give. [Exit.]
ACT I, SCENE ii
Nine Ephesian talents, ten Theban, and the same number of Corinthian talents are due to me, I expect to get them any day. At Athens Crito has owed me a thousand minas, but I understand these are reduced by three hundred. This has been inflicted on me by Aphronius while he runs up yearly expenses at Athens to no good point. I don’t want him to waste any more of his time or my money there, and play the fool. I think my son Aphronius is educated enough if he can sign his name with sufficient ability that nobody can forge his signature. Why does he seek to learn more than that? A man who chases after education at great expense and scorns profit is a fool, albeit an erudite one, if you can understand the thing aright. If you can’t, how can you do anything at all? This alone is wisdom. He who fails to understand this doesn’t understand anything. I for may part can well attest how much good is conferred by seeking after money and paying attention to it. Lately Corydon, a rich enough man, died and entrusted his single heiress to my care. I want my Aphronius to marry that girl, and have decided to recall my son from Athens. But I must consult my wife, I don’t think it’s safe to do anything in this household against her will. Any old man whose taken a young wife must please her with words if he cannot with deeds. Hey, who’s inside? Call forth Autarchia. [She comes out.]
ACT I, SCENE iii
AUT. Who called me out? Was it you, Chrysophilus?
CHRYS. Since you share my concern for our son, I wanted to consult you about bringing him back from Athens. He’s been pointlessly squandering time and money there so much that, if you are willing to consent, I have decided to marry him to that girl entrusted to us for the sake of acquiring her ample dowry.
AUT. There’s no need to consult me, my husband. Why should I, his stepmother, have any decision about your son?
CHRYS. You should love him as you do myself.
AUT. For heaven’s sake, I regard an old man and a fool as one and the same.
CHRYS. But do you like the idea?
AUT. Absolutely. Marriage between young people is much more fitting.
CHRYS. You speak the truth.
AUT. Actually, I think it is harmful. If I had been married when my youth was not yet a-boil, I imagine it would have been much more welcome. But there’s nothing in your virility that I would complain of — openly.
CHRYS. Forgetting those things, you agree with me that I should summon Aphronius. You make sure that Cerdous comes out, and that Anaea acquires your manners. Go inside.
AUT. That wife is mannerly enough for Aphronius, and a most fit wife for yourself. Birds of a feather — [Exit. Enter Cerdous.]
ACT I, SCENE iv
CHRYS. Come here, Cerdous. You’re familiar enough with Athens, unless your drunkenness there made you otherwise.
CERD. Why still remember my folly? By God, what hard drinkers live there! How they can change you from a fool into a madman! I’ve never seen such genial hosts elsewhere. But I’ll take care that they don’t make a mockery out of me.
CHRYS. I hope I find your words transformed into deeds.
CERD. Is this all you want?
CHRYS. No. I am going to entrust to your care a letter to my son Aphronius. You must attend to this carefully. I want you to bring him home to marry Anaea.
CERD. Well done, master, to hasten your son’s marriage so quickly. “Well enough, if quickly enough.” It’s no crime for a young man to chase after whores elsewhere, and some of them are affable to a young man, but not to an old.
CHRYS. What, do you think that Autarchia doesn’t love me in my old age?
CERD. If she’d take my advice, she’d sneak in a lover against your will, to complete her happiness.
CHRYS. Is that how you mock me, rascal? Prepare yourself for the journey. Be sure not to lose the letter. And also tell Crito the Athenian that the appointed day for payment is at hand.
CERD. Have no concern about this business. Farewell until I return. [Exit.]
CHRYS. This buffoon is a perverse good-for-nothing. But I’ll prefer him to a disloyal man, although he doesn’t spare my ears his words.
ACT I, SCENE v
A philosopher is a wretched animal, an insipid sheep, who is in the habit of stuffing his mind with other men’s teaching. Is he wise? I scarcely think so. Rather, he is wise who is wise according to his own judgment, as I do in abundance, and I know I’m not wrong. Why should I care about Plato or Aristotle? Why admire them, as those fellows do. Rather, I do what befits me, so that learned men follow my teachings, and Phantastics are the equals of Platonics. My sect is superior in number and in wisdom. All I have to do is look at the cover of a book and from its very title I can understand the author better than this crowd of night-owls who apply themselves with zeal days and nights, as a chicken applies itself to hatching an egg. Now I’m ashamed to haunt the doors of the Schools and endure the commotion. The entire Athenian School is silly. To loiter at Court and enjoy the king’s conversation, to be in the sight of the nobility advising the leading men what they ought to do, to rule the ladies’ affections, to be looked at with eagerness, to be cultivated by one and all amidst a throng, to the astonishment of other men, to spout admirable pronouncements, this befits a royal heart, this is mannerly. Unless this Attic region with its beau lieu, and its its sweet-smelling air stealing into my heart in the manner of a parasite, humbly begged me, as it were, to stay, would I remain here? By no means. The manners of the scholastics and their boorish intellect disgust me. Aphronius alone strikes me as worthier than the rest. For he approves of my manners, and is wise. I’ll go to visit him, I don’t give a fig for the rest.
Are we pleasing you yet? Does nobody smilingly say it has pleased him? These precincts are dead and there is no movement of spirit. Am I not hearing “Things which were bad are taking a turn for the worse?” Isn’t anybody whispering these words? My ears are still raw from their recent wounding, and my fear imagines things which it thinks cannot be budged or removed. I don’t do anything by myself, I am a very sluggish old man and I must seek an agile fellow and a youthful movement. Come hither, son, hiding in your father’s lap, who moves in time, and move yourself at this time. Wake up these sleepers.
MOTION Thus I move my foot, thus I show that life exists within. Greetings, my fellow citizens. For I see that in a certain manner you are moving in every direction. Now we are being rolled hither and thither. My hope for you is that you always be borne to the better by motion, and that you enjoy a tranquil home when I leave.
TIME As for what follows, I entrust it to your care that the play moves them. Give this your earnest attention.
MOT. I agree. I wouldn’t want men of lead to be present, whose feet, and possibly whose heads, would stick in the mud.
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