Plautus’ Curculio



LYCO: I seem to be prospering. I’ve done a bit of reckoning, figuring up my assets and liabilities. It’s a plutocrat I am–if I don’t pay my creditors. (reflecting) Really though, by gad, on giving the question some pretty thought, if they press me too hard, I’ll just let the court do the settling. The man that’s made money quickly must economize quickly, or he’ll quickly go hungry. I’m anxious to buy a slave–I mean to say, I must get one I can have the use of; I’ve got use for my money.


CURCULIO: (to Phaedromus within) None of your advice for me when my stomach is full! I remember, I know. I am the man to do the job for you handsomely. Not a word! (coming forward) Oh Jupiter! the gorgeous way I did fill up in there! Yes, but I left one compartment of my belly empty as a storeroom for what’s left of the leavings. (seeing Lyco) Who’s this chap with his head covered doing homage to Aesculapius? ha! the very man I was looking for! (to slave) Come along. (aside) I’ll act as if I didn’t know him. (loudly to Lyco) Hullo, you! I want you!

LYCO: (leisurely) Greetings, One-Orb.

CURCULIO: (with hauteur) Sir, Sir, are you scoffing at me?

LYCO: I take it you come of the stock of the Coclites; they’re a one-orbed lot, you know.

CURCULIO: ‘Twas struck by a shot from a catapult in Sicyon.

LYCO: Oh well, little I care whether it was shot out, or knocked out when a pot of cinders was cracked on your head.

CURCULIO: (aside) My word! The man’s a clairvoyant! It happened just as he says–for catapeltic shots of that variety are for ever coming my way (aloud, with dignity) Young man, I won the honourable wound beneath this bandage in defence of my country and, I beg you, do not outrage me in public.

LYCO: How about outraging you in private, if not in public?

CURCULIO: No sir, not me! No such privacy for me, or publicity, either, certainly not. But if you can show me where to find the man I am looking for, you shall get a good substantial–thankye. I am looking for Lyco, the banker.

LYCO: (on his guard) Why d’ye look for him now, tell me that? Where are you from?

CURCULIO: I will inform you. I come from Captain Therapontigonus Smackahead.

LYCO: (aside) Gad! I know that name. I filled four whole pages of my ledger writing it down. (aloud) But why d’ye look for Lyco ?

CURCULIO: I have received instructions to carry this letter to him. (showing it)

LYCO: And who may you be ?

CURCULIO: The Captain’s freedman–I am generally called Summanus.

LYCO: (mockingly) Greetings, Summanus! Why that–name? Inform me.

CURCULIO: Well, when I have gone to bed drunk, accidents occur to my clothes; so they call me Summanus.

LYCO: You had better look for entertainment elsewhere; there’s no place for Summanus at my house, that’s sure. However, I am the man you-re looking for.

CURCULIO: You? Really? You are banker Lyco?

LYCO: I am.

CURCULIO: Therapontigonus told me to convey his cordial greetings to you and to give you this letter.


CURCULIO: Exactly. (hands over letter) Here! Look at the seal. You recognize it?

LYCO: (looking) Why shouldn’t I? (chuckling over seal) A bucklered warrior cleaving an elephant in twain with his blade.

CURCULIO: He instructed me to beg you to do what is written there without fail, if you wished to oblige him.

LYCO: Step back. I’ll see what is written here.

CURCULIO: (retiring) Very well, suit yourself–provided I get from you what I am after.

LYCO: (reading) "Captain Therapontigonus Smackahead extends heartiest greetings to Lyco, his host in Epidaurus. "

CURCULIO: (aside) I’ve got him! He’s swallowing the hook!

LYCO: "I beg you to be so kind as to see that the bearer of this letter is given the girl I purchased in Epidaurus–an affair which I transacted in your presence there and through your agency–together with the jewellery and clothes. You already know our arrangement: you are to give the money to the pimp, and he is to give the girl to my messenger. " Where is the Captain himself? Why doesn’t he come?

CURCULIO: I will tell you why–because four days ago we came from India to Caria, and now he wishes to have a solid gold statue of himself made there, good gold of Philip, seven feet high, as a memorial of his exploits.

LYCO: A memorial! What for?

CURCULIO: I’ll tell you. Why, because the Persians, Paphlagonians, Sinopians, Arabs, Carians, Cretans, Syrians, Rhodes and Lycia, Gobbleollia and Guzzleania, Centaurbattaglia and Onenipplearmia, the whole coast of Libya and the whole of Grapejusqueezia, in fact, a good half of all the nations on earth, have been subdued by him single-handed inside of twenty days.

LYCO: (apparently awestruck) Whew!

CURCULIO: What are you surprised about?

LYCO: Why, because if those people were shut up in a coop like so many chickens, even then it would take a man more than a year to walk around ‘em. Gad! I believe you do come from him–you talk such twaddle.

CURCULIO: Oh, but I will give you more facts still, if you like.

LYCO: No you won’t (going) Come along; I’ll settle the business that brought you here.


Ah, there’s our man! Good day, pimp.

CAPPADOX: (drearily) God bless you.

LYCO: What of the matter I’m coming to you about?

CAPPADOX: Tell me what you want.

LYCO: Take your money, and send the girl off with that fellow. (indicating Curculio)

1 Philip of Macedon, on acquiring the gold-mines of Thrace, issued gold pieces worth about twenty drachmae (about fifteen shillings), which became widely current as a standard coinage.

CAPPADOX: How about the oath I took?

LYCO: What’s the odds to you so long as you get your money?

CAPPADOX: "He who counsels, aids. " Come. (leads way toward his house)

CURCULIO: (sternly) Mind, pimp! no delaying me!


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