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Phantasta? By Hercules, at least in my opinion Phantasta’s the only man who understands good manners. I like him wonderfully, henceforth he’ll always be one of my closest friends. In my view Chrestophilus and Philomathes are destined to be silly little philosophers. For learned men are rarely endowed with good manners. In comparison with them, how worthily Phantasta kisses a hand, how artfully he bows and makes a knee! He’s a god among mortals, he so surpasses common men with the gestures of all his body, and what a talkative tongue he has! Lately he encountered me in the road which men call Broad Street, and how eloquently he spoke his greeting! He took that single word “hello” which others speak and so elaborated on it that a man who hadn’t heard it before would imagine it was an entire Ciceronian period. This hugely delighted me, and so without Phantasta’s knowledge I arranged for his words to be secretly transcribed. I have a copy at hand. See here, these are his words: “I do not wish you a happy day, as the common run of humanity is wont to do, but rather as many years full of new joy as the bards sing Nestor once lived. I kiss even your shadow and the sole of your foot, and I wholly dissolve at your service.” At these words I was transformed into a lifeless tree-trunk, my voice was choked, I could not say a word. Let me commit these words to memory. I’ll wager my life I’ll reduce the next man I greet to silence.


CHR. Now at length I’m freed! How wretchedly my ears suffered! I greatly dreaded that I’d be forever deafened by that heap of words, such did that uncouth, lying Phantasta overwhelm me. I believe that when his mother was carrying him in her womb she had an insatiable appetite for tongue, since her son was manufactured wholly out of that substance. I think he’s read no other book than the one entitled De Verborum Copia. I freely confess the jig is up with me, that’s good, and I am greatly obliged to you, whichever of the gods you were who freed me from this flood and pile of words.
APHR. [Entering on the other side of the stage.] “I do not wish you a happy day, etc.” If somebody is put in my path, as I hope, this lavish greeting is ready for him. But see, there’s Chrestophilus, he’s opportunely fallen into my trap. I’ll overwhelm this philosopher with Phantasta’s devices, he’ll have no means of self-defense. I’ll approach him.
CHR. Who’s this? Jupiter spare me, has Phantasta returned? I’d rather meet Cerberus himself, that three-headed dog.
APHR. “I do not wish you a happy day, etc.”
CHR. [Aside.] Ha, ha, he. This is our Aphronius, the man I’d most like to see act like Phantasta. Heavens, he’s made a good start. I’ll see if he can complete it. He’s come to the non ultra of the Pillars of Hercules. [Aloud.] Aphronius, greatest glory of the human race, my dearest darling, this hour has blessed me with your arrival, an hour which I henceforth want to memorialize in my grateful mind as sacred. For I shall consecrate it with my prayers and vows. In comparison with you, there’s nobody on this earth for whom I care a fig, and I rejoice in your embrace more than Pamphilus did in the arms of Thais. {Aside.] He’s not disappointed, and, as I had predicted, he won’t be able to continue. See how he’s wholly dissolved in sweat, how this effort is worse than death itself. He’s asked for a punishment à la Phaethon, Phantasta has given him a chariot to drive which he doesn’t know how to steer.
APHR. What’s new, my Chrestophilus? Are you in good health?
CHR. [Aside.] The man is returning to himself. [Aloud.] I am alive and in good health, as you see. But how are you faring, in respect to something worth the asking?
APHR. What's worth the asking?
CHR. You seem different, changed.
APHR. Different? Changed? How so?
CHR. By Jove, you were’nt the Aphronius you are now.
APHR. I am your servant, as is always my habit.
CHR. And I pray you always will be. But, friend, tell me what’s new.
APHR. New? Nothing’s new.
CHR. How clever. I understand “Know thyself.”
APHR. Understand that I don’t know.
CHR. What an witty fellow! Tell me seriously, don’t you know anything about Philomathes.
APHR. Why should I know anything about the man?
CHR. Rumor has it that he’s in love, and they say he’s destined to gain the object of his affection.
APHR. Tell me, friend, in what lady’s net is he caught.
CHR. That of the fair maiden Sophia.
APHR. Whose?
CHR. Sophia’s, I say.
APHR. Are you telling the truth?
CHR. Truth itself is not any more truthful.
APHR. Is this credible? I pity the man. But I can’t help laughing.
CHR. What’s the matter?
APHR. Nothing, nothing at all. I remembered a certain joke. He, can you keep quiet?
CHR. You’re telling the story to a mute man.
APHR. Well then, what’s your view of Sophia?
CHR. I believe she’s chastity itself.
APHR. So you think our friend is going to marry a chaste enough virgin?
CHR. I think so and I know so.
APHR. This knowledge of yours is only a likelihood.
CHR. I admit I can’t prove such an elusive thing.
APHR. But there was a time when I could prove how elusive it is.
CHR. Are you talking about a time when Sophia’s faith was corrupt? How could you prove that with certainty?
APHR. How could I? How could I not? I hope you think I’m a man. This man could please Cynthia herself.
CHR. But I know you couldn’t please Sophia, man that you are. I want to hear this lie, whatever it may be. You seem to be saying something strange.
APHR. It’s strange to tell a lie.
CHR. Not at all, for I know you’re lying.
APHR. I tell you, it’s easier to conquer a woman than to tell the truth.
CHR. So Sophia found out what kind of man you are?
APHR. And she bore all my weight.
CHR. And if your gravity made her gravid, what about your father?
APHR. Let my father worry about that. I know he’ll be very grateful to me when he finds out what progress I’ve been making, how here at Athens I’ve been filled with the precepts and principles of wisdom. But you talk about my father? This will never come to his ears. Philomathes will heal this wound, if you’re telling the truth.
CHR. So I hope you don’t fall out of his good graces.
APHR. Not me. But take care not to say a word to anyone.
CHR. Stones will speak before I do.
APHR. Somebody’s waiting for me in the market-place. I’m off, Chrestophilus, farewell. [Exit.]
CHR. Whatever this donkey may prattle, I know she’s honorable. A good person harbors no suspicion about another good person. But look, Philomathes is coming, sadder than usual.


PHIL. Alas, how unsuitable love is for a pauper! It behooves him to be generous to his darling, but need cannot do this. A wretch, I daily visit Crito’s house, but I’m ashamed to go inside since I have no gold. Even Sophia wants to milk me of my money. Oh Sophia, the sole solace of my life, poverty prevents me from enjoying you.
CHR. Greetings, Philomathes. I see you are gloomy, what’s the matter?
PHIL. Chrestophilus, whom above all others I have always found to be a loyal and kindly friend, I wouldn’t want to conceal any of my affairs from you. You are scarcely unaware that I’m in love with Sophia, but I can’t enjoy her. She loves me alone, but nevertheless she refuses to marry me alone, since I lack wealth. She has need of others.
CHR. She’s worthy of you, Philomathes, and you of her. But perhaps you’re too head-over-heels about her, worthy though she is.
PHIL. There’s no such thing as excessive love, when it is good.
CHR. But even a good love’s ardor is excessive. Watch what you do. Is there any need for haste?
PHIL. True love hates delays, it can’t bear them.
CHR. But delay reduces pain — and also love.
PHIL. And it involves risk.
CHR. Doesn’t headstrong love do the same? Often a man hastening to the marriage-bed should recall that saying, “quickly enough, if well enough.”
PHIL. Rather, a man bent on marriage should discover this to be true, “not well enough, unless quickly enough.”
CHR. That’s true. But calm your mind, let us relax with pastimes. Forget your Sophia for the moment, a man who is never playful is hardly wise. I’ll think about it and see if there’s some way I can help you. Time will discover some cure for this ill.


PHAN. But where’s my servant? Hey, my clumsy little Petinus.
PET. Why are you commanding me to come a-flying? See, I’m right here.
PHAN. What sort of fellow do I strike you as being? Tell me frankly, while I live exuberantly, expansively, and ecstatically at Athens, don’t I seem to surpass those oil-burning, threadbare, idiotic night owls by many a furlong?
PET. By an infinity of them.
PHAN. They sit around so assiduously devouring their books that they grow foolish. I cavort with drink and dance, flit hither and thither, and am wiser than a thousand of those stupid rhetors. I want to lavish more effort on adjusting my shoestrings, straightening my garters, and brushing my clothes than those pallid students spend at night on their pallid documents. For I adjudge that I gain more attractiveness in this fashion of style than exists in hundreds of rhetors, when it comes to enticing the girls.
PET. An exotic style is a unique attraction.
PHAN. So that the little flowerlets of my discourse might genially pour forth, I sift the grain of my vocabulary with the winnow of my wit, just as people do flour in a sieve. Frankly, I believe this is the persuasive marrow of suasion.
PET. Yes, if I can frankly speak my opinion, I regard you as a kind of god of elegance.
PHAN. Those unpolished, trumped-up little rhetors use their oratory so insipidly in pursuing the ladies, they are as fearful, stunned, hesitant blushing as if they were pleading a capital case before the Court of the Areopagus. They make their shameful advances so bashfully that they teach the girls how to refuse them.
PET. [Aside.] This madman does not understand Aristotle’s peripatetic philosophy. In all seriousness he inanely and stupidly babbles his unadulterated trash until he disgusts you and you have to wash out your ears.
PHAN. These starvelings don’t even dream of applying cosmetics to their faces, neatening their cloths, devising new forms of address and precise kisses, or of these fame-conferring depictions. These I believe to be my unique invention.
PET. Most assuredly.
PHAN. I am of the opinion that the Moon was a madwoman when she came down to earth for the sake of Endymion’s handsomeness, but not of mine.
PET. Possibly she was afraid lest you’d give her horns, since you not unjustly neglected her great beauty.
PHAN. But, my Petinus, I, to whose love all the ladies keep a-running in streams, am somewhat bound by love for Sophia.
PET. As she passed you by she thus cast her darting eyes at you with such an elegant, urbane expression (so she seemed to me) that I can well enough understand you love her. Nor in vain, doubtlessly. As if the bait of love, the allure of enticement, was not in your carriage, your expression, your fancy dress!
PHAN. I love her desperately.
PET. I know your love will not be a cause for despair. Assuredly she will rejoice when you confer some grace or other upon her.
PHAN. And so, until I can gain my love more successfully, I brood on how I can confer them elegantly.
PET. As you do everything.
PHAN. Petinus, I have written a letter that I wish you to place in her hands.
PET. In no way will I let there be just cause for reproach. Mercury does not execute Jove’s command any more successfully or quickly.
PHAN. You will do this upon your word, my Petinus, my merry clown. But so that you may have a better understanding, I’ll read it. “In accordance with his desire Mars enjoys Venus. Phantasta dotes on Sophia, let him enjoy his life. Mars’ desire is life for Phantasta, and you are my life, my desire. If I live, this is your doing. If I make a vow, this is my doing. For I desire to vow myself to you, if, thanks to you, I may live. Your PHANTASTA (or, if not, a nobody).” [Enter Sophia on the other side of the stage.]


SOPH. Philomathes, how you, involved in other amours, are allowing your Sophia to be neglected so long! How my chastity is unsullied and unchanged, as I know so well! I shall die as the wife of Philomathes or of nobody. Whatever you think of me, I pledge my faith to you alone, although others earnestly woo me.
PHAN. Hey, I see Sophia right in front of me. I’ll do a wonderful job of flattering her with my elegant little words. I deal with her close at hand, since I’ve already done so at a distance by my letter. Phantasta gives a thousandfold greeting to Sophia, that darling, dainty, eloquent maiden.
SOPH. Hello, Phantasta. Is that just as sincere, or is it impolite?
PHAN. Do you know the magnificent reputation I enjoy among everybody here at Athens, and the common report about me?
SOPH. Phantasta, I understand that the common people are swept away by their love for you.
PHAN. But I am scarcely concerned with those pale little philosophers. Being as I am a courtier, I want them to be numbered among my servants and dependants. Let them fetch my cake, my chamber-pot.
PET. [Aside.] According to my wish and command.
SOPH. [Aside.] That’s reasonable, by Hercules. For they’re too smart to allow themselves to be your friend or master. [Aloud.] But what does Phantasta command me?
PHAN. I want to you rejoice in my love, Sophia. My speech cannot be in vain, if you can look upon me without a grudge even from afar.
SOPH. [Aside.] There’s nothing good in you for me to begrudge.
PHAN. You don’t like this plume?
SOPH. It suits your head. This plume shows that you have no small intellect.
PHAN. Don’t these garters crown my legs adorably?
SOPH. Just as the same as if you were wearing a crown, Phantasta.
PHAN. Surely they’ll be able to compel a stubborn little thing to love me?
SOPH. By heavens, Phantasta, in comparison with yourself they are worthy of my love.
PET. I’m sure I’ll have this Sophia as my mistress.
PHAN. I’ll confer this exotic ring on you Sophia, as a pledge of my love condescending to love you.
SOPH. [Aside.] Can I accept this gift of a foolish lover? The wise person allows himself to be helped even by a fool. [Aloud.] Thanks be to the gods that I am deemed worthy of the love of Phantasta, never disposed to folly, orating so wisely, clad so gravely. With gratitude I accept the ring.
PHAN. But it's not gratis. You won’t deny this worthy man a kiss?
SOPH. I’d hardly deny one to a worthy man. [Aside.] Shall I allow him a kiss? He can possess me as far as the lips, but not as far as my heart’s embrace.
PHAN. I shall sign a contract of our everlasting love. But now I pray you to fare well in perpetuity, Sophia. (Exit.)]
SOPH. I wholeheartedly bid a perpetual farewell to your love.
PET. Farewell, you who are now my mistress. I will serve you in all things. (Exit.)
SOPH. Where are you, Philomathes? I wholeheartedly loathe these chatterbox lovers, these mannered sycophants.


TIME What’s happening, Motion?
MOT. You want me to put it in a word? Nothing. Can you have motion where there’s no place? Goodbye. Choose another friend who can be more helpful. [Exit.]
TIME Am I abandoned again? Now even place is missing. That’s the fellow I’ll summon next. [Enter Place.]
PLACE What is it? What does ancient, rude Time demand?
TIME Space and place.
PLACE Is anybody better off in someone else’s place than in the one he is worthy to possess? Or in a less worthy place than the one he deserves to have? This is Time’s old crime.
TIME Kindly correct this mistake.
PLACE For once I’ll act on Time’s behalf, although it is a great effort to appoint each thing its proper place. Step back a bit. [To the audience.] Why are you sitting here? This is not your place. Thus rude people always demand to sit in the front rows, but these are not yours. I hope for a better place, but this wall is a solid body and prevents me.
TIME As for what follows, let your care ensure that a place remains for pleasure. Give this your earnest attention.
PLACE I consent, and at the same time I command every man to be content with his place.

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