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.

HALISCA: If heaven doesn’t rescue me, I’m dead and done for, with not a soul to look to for aid! Oh, how miserable my own heedlessness makes me! Oh! how I dread what will happen to my back, if my mistress finds out I’ve been so negligent! [thinking] Surely I had that little casket in my hands and received it from her here in front of the house–and where it is now I don’t know, unless I dropped it somewhere about here, as I suspect. [to audience] Dear gentlemen, dear spectators, do tell me if anyone of you saw him, the man who carried it off or who picked it up. Did he go [pointing] this way, or that? [pauses, then indignantly] I’m none the wiser for asking or pestering them–the creatures always enjoy seeing a woman in trouble! Now I’ll [scans the ground] examine the footprints here, in case I can find any. For if no one passed by after I went inside, the casket would be lying here. [looking about again, then hopelessly.] What am I to do? I’m done for, I fancy! It’s all over, my day has come, unlucky, fated wretch that I am! Not a trace of it, and there won’t be a trace left of me, either! It’s lost, and so I’m lost, too! But I won’t give up, though; I’ll keep on looking. Oh, my heart’s in a flutter and my back’s in a fright–fear on both sides driving me frantic! What poor, poor things human beings are! Now he’s happy, whoever he is, that has it–something that’s no use to him and the death of me! But I’m delaying myself by not setting to work. To work, Halisca! Eyes on the ground, eyes down! Track it–sharp now–like an augur! [looks for footprints, her nose close to the ground] He went this way . . . here’s the mark of a shoe in the dust . . . I’ll follow it up this way! Now here’s where he stopped with someone else . . . Here’s the scene of some sort of fracas . . . No, he didn’t go on this way . . . he stood here . . . from here he went over there . . . A consultation was held here . . . There are two people concerned, that’s clear as day . . . Aha! Just one person’s tracks! . . . He went this way . . . I’ll investigate . . . From here he went over here . . . from here he went– [after an energetic and futile search] nowhere! [with wry resignation] It’s no use. What’s lost is lost–the casket and my cuticle together. I’m going back inside.

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