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A monologue from the play by Titus Maccius Plautus
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plautus, vol. II. Trans. Paul Nixon. London: William Heinemann, 1917.
If you weren’t mean, if you weren’t stupid, if you weren’t a violent virago, what you see displeases your husband would be displeasing to you, too. Now mark my words,
if you act like this toward me after today, you shall hie yourself home to your father as a divorcee. Why, whenever I want to go out, you catch hold of me, call me back, cross-question me as to where I’m going,
what I’m doing, what business I have in hand, what I’m after, what I’ve got, what I did when I was out. I’ve married a custom-house officer, judging from the way everything–all I’ve done and am doing–must be declared.
I’ve pampered you too much; now then, I’ll state my future policy. Inasmuch as I keep you well provided with maids, food, woollen cloth, jewelry, coverlets, purple dresses, and you lack for nothing,
you will look out for trouble if you’re wise, and cease spying on your husband. [in a lower tone as his wife goes back inside] And furthermore, that you may not watch me for nothing,
I’ll reward your diligence by taking a wench to dinner and inviting myself out somewhere. Hurrah! By Jove, at last my lecture has driven her away! [looks around] Where are your married gallant?
Why don’t they all hurry up with gifts and congratulations for my valiant fight? [showing a woman’s mantle worn underneath his cloak] This mantle I just now stole from my wife inside there, and [gleefully] it’s going to a wench.
This is the way to do–to cheat a cunning jailer in such clever style! I have taken booty from the enemy without loss to my allies!