Menander: Perikeiromene

Translated by F.G.Allinson (1921) - see the translator's introduction for some information about the play. Since Allinson wrote his translation, one further papyrus fragment of the play has been found, containing parts of lines 473-492. As a result, some changes have been made to the translation of those lines.

The line numbers have been adjusted to match the most recent editions of the play. Click on the G symbols to go to the corresponding Greek text.



The Greek spelling of the names is shown in brackets, if it is different from the Latin spelling that is used in the translation.

POLEMON jealous lover of Glycera.
GLYCERA   ( Glykera ) daughter of Pataecus ; sister of Moschion.
SOSIAS body-servant of Polemon.
DORIS Glycera's maid.
MISAPPREHENSION the goddess Agnoia.
DAVUS   ( Daös ) a slave of Moschion.
PATAECUS   ( Pataikos real father of Glycera and Moschion.
MOSCHION son of Pataecus; adopted by Myrrhina.
HABROTONON a courtesan.
MYRRHINA a rich Corinthian matron, now married to Pataecus.
CHORUS revellers.

Scene : A street in Corinth before the houses of Polemon and Pataecus. The street leads, on one side, to the Market-place, on the other, to the country.



The initial scenes, now lost (about 120 verses), created the situation in the household of Polemon which remained unchanged until near the end of the play - Glycera living as a refugee in a neighbour's house, Polemon trying by every means to regain her. One of the first scenes was an interview between these two, ending in a rupture which seemed irreparable. The evening before (v. 153, 300) Polemon had seen Moschion kissing Glycera and, ignorant that he is her brother, had departed in violent anger to a place in the country, promising to decide at a later time upon his course of action (v. 159). The night he had spent in an effort to drown his sorrow (v. 988). The next morning he had returned to his house, and in a fit of jealous rage had shorn the hair from the head of Glycera with his sword. It is after this outrage has been committed that the two appear before the house and engage in an angry dialogue in which Glycera, unable to explain the real facts, protests in vain her innocence of wrong-doing.

To this scene probably belongs the following quotation. If so, Polemon must already have repented his rash act and become willing to forgive Glycera, although the affair with Moschion is still unexplained .

Why are you weeping, Glycera ? I take my oath, Fr.3   G
My dearest, by Athena and Olympian Zeus -

It's under oath you've been ere now these many times.

An illustration of a scene in this part of the play is provided by a recently discovered mosaic from Antioch, which has the title "Perikeiromene, (Act) 1". A similar, but less distinct, wall-painting had already been found at Ephesus. Both pictures display three figures. The first, a woman holding her cloak over her head to cover her hair, is clearly Glycera. The second, in a military-style cloak, must be Polemon. The identity of the the third figure, an elderly man with his with his arm raised, is less certain; but W.G.Arnott suggests that it is Sosias.

At the close of the scene Polemon returns to the country.


With the help of her maid, Doris, Glycera carries out her plan of leaving Polemon' s house. Myrrhina, the wife of the next-door neighbour, Pataecus, offers to give her shelter (v. 143, 282). They hastily move there, taking with them the necessary personal effects. The goddess Misapprehension appears and tells the story of the twin infants who had been exposed many years ago by their parents and discovered by a poor old woman. The first few lines of the narrative are lost; the disposition which the woman made of the boy and the girl is now disclosed :


She's fain to rear the one of these, the girl, because 121   G
She craved a daughter for herself, the other child
She gave unto a wealthy woman dwelling here
Within this house, who lacked a child. This was the way
It happened. But, when several years had intervened
And when the war and evil times waxed always worse
In Corinth, then the aged woman, straitened sore -
Because the girl, whom now you see, was fully grown
And this impetuous young fellow, born and bred
Corinthian, had appeared as lover - gives to him
The girl, as if her daughter born, to have and hold. 130   G
At length, her powers failing, and foreseeing now
Some sudden end of life, no longer she concealed
The circumstances, but she tells the girl how she
Adopted her as foundling ; gives to her besides
The swaddling-clothes belonging to her ; and explains
About her own blood-brother hitherto unknown.
Making for human fortune some provision thus
If ever she might need assistance, for in him
She saw her one relation ; watching well besides 140   G
Lest, thanks to me, Misapprehension, something chance
Against their will, because she saw that he was rich
And ever drinking, while the girl was comely, young,
And left in utterly unstable union.
And so she died. But he, the soldier, bought this house
Not long ago. The girl, however, though she dwelt
As next-door neighbour to her brother, has not let
The matter out nor wishes him to change a lot
That seems so brilliant, but she'd like him to enjoy 150   G
The gifts of fortune. She, as luck would have it, chanced
Last evening - for, as said above, he's overbold
And makes a point of always hanging round the house -
To have been seen by him as she was sending off
Her maid upon some errand. Catching sight of her
Just by the door and running up to her, forthwith
He kissed and kissed and kept on hugging her. But she,
Apprised before that 'twas her brother, held her ground.
Just then up came the other man and saw it all.
The sequel he has told himself how it befell.
Now he went off remarking that at leisure he 160   G
Would wish a further interview.- But she the while
Stood there and wept, bemoaning that she was not free
To act untrammelled. All of this was set ablaze
Because of what's to follow. First: that he should fall
Into a passion - for 'twas I that egged him on
Though he's not such by nature - next, that thus might start
The train of revelations ; then, that they should find,
In course of time, their next of kin. And so, if one
Of you grew vexed and thought this a disgrace, let him
Now alter his opinion. For by help of God
The evil, even as it comes to being, turns
To good. Now fare ye well, spectators, and may you 170   G
Prove gracious to us and the sequel prosper too.

Exit Misapprehension. Enter Sosias from the country. He begins to stroll up and down before the two houses.


Scene. SOSIAS, and (later) DORIS

This man of ours that was but now so blustering
And warlike, he who won't permit that women wear
Their hair full length, lies sprawled out weeping. I but now
Have left him giving them a luncheon and his friends
Have come together hoping that more readily
He'd bear his trouble. He, because he has no way
To learn what here is going on, has sent me forth
For merely this, to fetch a mantle, though he lacks 180   G
No single thing except he'd keep me on the go.

Enter Doris from the house of Pataecus. She calls back to her mistress within the house. She does not see Sosias, who stands at one side.

DORIS { as she comes out }
Yes, mistress, I will go outside to take a look.

SOSIAS { aside }
Ah, Doris ! How she has grown up ! How well she looks !
They live in lively fashion here, it seems to me,
These ladies. But I'm off now.

Sosias, about to leave, pauses.

DORIS { approaching Polemon's house }
At the door I'll knock.
For none of them is here without. Unhappy she
Who takes a soldier-man ! They're lawless, all of them,
No spark of honour. O my mistress, how unjust 190   G
Your treatment is ! { Knocking }
Slaves ! Hey !

SOSIAS { aside }
Well, he'll be glad enough
When now he hears she's weeping. For that's just the thing
That he himself was wishing for.

Exit Sosias to the country. A slave opens the door.

Boy, call me here . . .

She gives a command to the slave and later, finding that Polemon is not at home, enters his house, presumably to recover Glycera's birth-tokens.

* * * About 70 verses lacking. * * *

Scene. DAVUS (alone)

Davus has learned that Glycera has sought shelter in the house of his master and assumes that Moschion's infatuation for her is reciprocated. Toward the end of the scene a crowd of revellers is seen approaching.

DAVUS { Knocking at the door of Pataecus's house }
Hey, slaves ! A lot of drunken youths are coming up, 261   G
A perfect gang of them. Especial praise I pay
Our mistress, for she brings the girl in here. Now that's
A mother for you ! My young master we must seek.
Yes, that's the programme, for, it seems, 'tis just the time
That he should come here double quick. That's what I think.

Exit Davus to find Moschion. The band of revellers gives entertainment between the acts.



Davus returns with Moschion.


Davus, many a time you've brought me tales, ere this, that are not true.
Nay, you are a quack impostor and a god-detested man,
But if now, too, you mislead me -

Hang me quick if I mislead.

Now you talk with moderation.

Treat me, then, like enemy. 270   G
But it this is true I'm saying, and you find her there within ;
If 'twas I that chased and captured all this for you, Moschion ;
If 'twas I won her to come here, using countless arguments,
If 'twas I that made your mother give her welcome and prepare
All your pleasure - what's for me, then ?

Look you, Davus, what life, say,
Of all lives you'd find most pleasing ?

Let's look into that with care,

Wouldn't you prefer the treadmill ?

I - the treadmill ?

MOSCHION {objectively}
Now, thinks he,
With all speed to that I'm coming!

Nay, by no means ; no ! I say.

I'd prefer perhaps to have you Lord Protector of the Greeks
And Comptroller of the Armies.

Nay, I don't go in for that ; 280   G
Soldiers straight would slit my gullet; on the quiet let me steal.


An illegible remark. He recommends, perhaps, risky speculation on bottomry.

Let me have a General-store,
Moschion, or in the Market I would sit and cheeses sell -
I'm not anxious, no, I swear it, to become a millionaire
For my role ... is rather.


An illegible, sarcastic remark comparing Davus with "an old hag."

Just to stuff my paunch suffices, Master, I'm content, I say,
On the terms that I have mentioned.

Zeus ! You were not born to lead.
Haggle cheeses till you're haggard. 290   G

Good ! But, as the saying goes,
Now enough of prayers and praying. Here's your wished-for girl arrived.
Straight into the house, young master.

Right you are. Yes, that's my lay.
It's my chance now to console her and to mock her soldier-man,
God-detested, feather-crested commandant !

Indeed you may.

You, there, Davus, go indoors now, be my spy on everything.
Make report : What is she doing ? Where's my mother ? As for me,
How are they disposed to welcome ? In a matter such as this
You've no need of nice instructions, you are clever.

I will go.

I'll await you, Davus, strolling up and down before the door.

Exit Davus into the house of Pataecus. Moschion soliloquizes.

Well, when I approached last evening, this is how she then behaved : 300   G
Fled not when I ran to meet her. but embraced and held me fast.
I am not, it seems, unpleasing, when one meets or looks at me,
By Athena, to my thinking I'm a charmer to the girls.
But I now to Adrasteia - may it please her - make my bow.

Davus returns from his errand.

She is freshly bathed, and seated, Moschion.

The darling thing !

And your mother walks about there busied with - I know not what !
And the luncheon's served and ready, and from what is going on,
Seems to me, 'tis you they wait for.

So I thought long since myself.
Am I then unpleasing ? Did you tell them that I'm ready here ?

No, by Zeus.

Go now and tell them.

DAVUS {obeying}
As you see, I'm off again. 310   G

Davus re-enters the house.

She'll be shy now when we enter, that, of course, I may assume,
Cover up her face - 'tis custom - but I must on entering
Forthwith up and kiss my mother, win her wholly to my will,
Turn to flattery and tell her that for her alone I live.
For she treats this present business just as if it were her own.
Hark ! Again the door is creaking, some one comes.

Davus returns, crestfallen.

Well, slave, how now ?
How you hesitate, now, Davus, to approach me !

Yes, by Zeus,
It's too queer. Why, when I entered, told your mother you're at hand,
Straight she says: "No more of that, sir." Adds: "From whom, pray, has he heard?
Is it you who've told your master that, because the girl was scared, 320   G
Here with us she's taken refuge ? May you not live out the year.
Off," says she, "Off to perdition! Slave, begone, away, away ! "
Listen now to one thing more, sir : all our scheme is ruined quite :
Far from pleased was she on learning of your presence.

Whipping post,
You have duped me !

Now you're joking - why, your mother -

What is that ?
Did she take her in unwilling ? Or how was it ? Didn't you say
You persuaded her to come here for my pleasure ?

DAVUS {as if trying to remember}
I say that ?
"I persuaded her to come here ?" By Apollo, no, not I.
If, young sir, you think I trick you - still am lying - bind me fast.

Didn't you claim just now that you, sir, had my mother won to this 330   G
So that here the girl she welcomed, just to please me ?

DAVUS {as if recalling with difficulty}
So I did.
There now, see, I said so. Yes, sir, I recall it.

And you thought
That on my account she did this ?

That's a point I can't make clear,
But, at any rate, I urged her.

MOSCHION {threateningly}
Very good. Come here, then.

Where ?

MOSCHION {strikes him}
Cut it short. I'll make you know it.

What the mischief, Moschion,
I then - wait yet, just a minute -

Now you'd play the fool to me.

By Asclepius, I do not, if you'll listen. She, perhaps,
Won't give in, you understand me, offhand, at the first assault,
But demands, before agreement, she should hear your side, by Zeus.
For she comes as no mere flute-girl nor degraded courtesan - 340   G

Davus, now you are inventing further twaddle all for me.

Test it. I see through this business, as I think. For good and all
She has left her house - no fooling. Three days' space at most, or four,
If to stay your suit you're willing, someone then will pay you heed.
This she let me know. Yes, surely, now 'tis time for you to hear.

MOSCHION {half persuaded}
Where meanwhile am I to leave you, Davus, safe in fetters bound ?
You would send me off a-strolling on a pretty lengthy stroll.
Just now you've been babbling to me one more tale that is not true -

You won't let me plan unruffled. Change your tactics in a way :
Into the house go now discreetly.

You'll procure us food?

Of course.
I have ways and means, you see it ? 350   G

Stop your chatter, slave, lead on.

Yes, you too go in and help me straighten out a thing or two.

I give in ; I do it gladly.

Exit Moschion into the house. Davus lingers outside.

Close shave that, good Heracles !
Now with terror I am shrivelled. Not so easy as I thought !

Sosias arrives from the country in time to catch sight of Moschion as he enters the house. Sosias is accompanied by a couple of peltasts - his "army." He stations his forces in front of the house of Pataecus. He does not sec Davus, who stands at one side.

Scene. SOSIAS, DAVUS (in concealment)

Again I'm on a mission ; bringing cloak and sword.
I'm told to reconnoitre ; then to make report
Of what she's doing, and I'm just upon the verge
Of telling how I caught the lover here within
That he may leap up and come running. That I'd do
Did I not feel that he's so very pitiful,
My master, luckless that he is. It is no dream,
For I believe my eyes. A bitter coming home ! 360   G

Sosias enters Polemon's house to deposit cloak and sword.

DAVUS {in concealment}
The hireling has arrived. A sorry state of things
Is this, yes, by Apollo absolutely so.
Not even yet I reckon in what's chief of all :
If from the country soon his master comes again ;
How great confusion he will cause when he turns up.

Scene. SOSIAS, DAVUS (in concealment), DORIS (appears late)

SOSIAS {he enters from the house, berating the house-slaves.}
You let her out, you sacrilegious animals,
You let her out the door?

DAVUS {aside}
The fellow's coming back
Again enraged ; I'll stand off here a little - so.

She's gone off straight, of course she has, to him next door -
The lover - bidding us a mighty big and long "Go hang !" 370   G

DAVUS {aside}
The soldier in this fellow will approve
A prophet. Yes, he hits the mark.

SOSIAS {going up to the door of Myrrhina's house}
I'll rap the door.

DAVUS {coming out of concealment}
Misguided fellow, what do you want? Where are you bound ?

Are you from here ?

Perhaps. But why thrust your nose in ?

Have you clean lost your senses ? By the gods, you dare
To keep a free-born lady from her rightful lord
By force imprisoned here ?

DORIS {comes to the door}
How meddlesome you are !
Blackmailer you, who roam around outside our door.

Think you we have no bile and are not even men ?

What? Men? Now God forbid. Four-obol raw recruits ! 380   G
When your four-drachma leader gets the likes of you
Right readily we'll fight you.

Nay, good Heracles !
What utter wantonness ! But tell me : you admit
You have her ?

Sir, be off! - [What donkeys !] - She is gone.

Ah so ! Now you I call to witness that you owned
You had her.

No, we hadn't. Never ! Some I'll see -

SOSIAS {interrupting}
Yes, some of you destroyed ! But tell me now, with whom
Do you think to have your jest ? What nonsense this ? By force
This luckless shanty we shall take by storm forthwith.
Go now and arm the lover.

Have you all this time 390   G
Been waiting, wretch, for this poor girl as though with us ?

These boys of mine, shield-bearers, everything will sack
Ere you can spit, although "four-obols" is the name
You give us.

Joking that ; "dung-eater" suits you best '

We city-dwelling folk -

DAVUS {interrupting}
We haven't her.

Oh! Bosh!
I'll take a pike to you.

Go feed the crows ! Nay, I'll
Go in, since you seem such a rough.

Davus goes in. Doris comes forward.

Hist! Sosias !

If you come near me, Doris, I will pay you out,
Yes, thoroughly. You've been the most to blame for this.

Now as you hope for safety, say that she in fear 400   G
Has run off somewhere to a woman.

"She in fear -
Off somewhere to a woman?"

Yes, to Myrrhina,
Next door, she's gone. Else may no wish of mine come true.

SOSIAS {tragically}
You see where she has gone ! Gone to her darling, here !

Of course. What else now do you ask for, Sosias ?

{ Impatiently, to Sosias }
Be off ! Be off with you ! . . .

* * * Lacuna of about 60 verses * * *

In this interval Polemon, repentant of his own conduct and eager for Glycera's return, whether by force or persuasion, has been in consultation with Pataecus. As Polemon and Sosias are conferring they are joined by Pataecus. Habrotonon also appears. Perhaps the wily Davus may have secured her to divert Sosias and his men by encouraging them to drink.


Pataecus is a friend of both parties and is convinced that the quarrel is due to a misunderstanding, not to disloyalty on the part of Glycera. He has understood from the women that Glycera has fled because of Polemon' s treatment of her (v. 492). He advises Polemon to abandon hostile measures and to try to win Glycera back by gentler means.

SOSIAS {to Polemon}
He comes from yonder, having just received some cash.
Believe me, he betrays the army and yourself.

PATAECUS {to Sosias}
Be off and sleep, you fool, drop all this fighting, do.
Your health's not good - yes, you I mean - you're not so well, 470   G
Nay, less ; for you are drunk !

SOSIAS {indignantly}
What, "less" ? When I have drunk
Perhaps a cotyla - no more - foresaw all this
And saved myself for future need, poor me ?

POLEMON {recognising that Sosias is drunk, to Pataecus aside}
You're right.

{ to Sosias. }
Give in to me.

SOSIAS {submissively}
What is it you're commanding me ?

Ah, that's the way to ask me. Now I'll speak to you.

SOSIAS {striving to save his importance}
Habrotonon, you give the signal.

PATAECUS {to Polemon}
First send off
Indoors this fellow and the crew that follows him.

SOSIAS {to Pataecus}
You run the war but ill.

{ to Polemon }
Disbanding is his way,
When capturing by force is possible.

What? It is he -

SOSIAS {interrupting}
Pataecus ruins us. He's no captain at all. 480   G

PATAECUS {trying to coax him away}
Now come, sir, by the gods, be off.

SOSIAS {with dignity}
I will withdraw.

{ to Habrotonon }
I thought you'd manage something, Habrotonon. Yes,
You've qualities quite useful in a siege. You've skill
In boarding, or in close investment - Going, you ?
Where now, you strumpet? You ashamed? Mind aught of this ?

Habrotonon, offended, departs.

Exit Sosias into the house, followed by his army.


If this that has befallen were of some such sort
As, Polemon, you say ; if you a wedded wife -

Now how you talk, Pataecus !

It does make a difference.

POLEMON {excitedly}
I've held her as my wedded wife.

Don't bawl, don't bawl !
And who gave her away ?

To me ? She gave herself.

All right. Perhaps you pleased her then, but now, no more. 490   G
And she has gone for good because you treated her
In ways unseemly.

What ? "Unseemly?" This your word
Beyond all else has cut me deep.

You will admit -
(Of this I'm certain) - that what you are doing now
Is crazy. Where, for instance, are you rushing ? Or
To capture whom ? For she is mistress of herself.
There's one course left, persuasion for the wretched man,
The lover.

Well, but he that has corrupted her
When I was absent ? He, you'll own, does wrong to me.

He wrongs you, yes, enough for you to lodge complaint 500   G
If ever you shall come to argument. But if
You kidnap her by force, they'll have the law of you.
This wrong calls not for private vengeance but complaint.

Not now, then - ?

No, not even now.

Then what to say
I know not, by Demeter, save I'm like to choke.
My Glycera has gone and left me ! Left me, gone !
My Glycera, Pataecus ! Nay, if so you think
It's best - for you are well acquainted and with her
You've often chatted - you go first and have a talk,
Be my ambassador, I pray you.

PATAECUS {about to go} 510   G
I agree,
You see, to that.

POLEMON {detains him}
You're good at speaking, I presume,
Pataecus ?

Pretty fair.

Indeed there's need of it,
Pataecus ; nay, my whole salvation hangs on this.
For if I've ever done her wrong in any way -
If I don't always care for her devotedly -
If you'd but look upon her finery -

Motions toward his house, inviting Pataecus in.

PATAECUS {soothingly}
Oh, that's
All right.

Just take a look, Pataecus, by the gods !
You'll pity me the more.

PATAECUS {aside}
Poseidon !

Here ! come here !
What dresses ! What an air she has when she's dressed up
In this or that! Nay, come. You never saw, perhaps. 520   G

O yes, I have.

Why, just their grandeur, I may say,
Were worth a look. But why drag in this "grandeur" now,
Crazed that I am, to chatter thus beside the point ?

PATAECUS {reassuringly}
Oh, not at all, by Zeus.

POLEMON {pressing him on to the house}
You think not ? But at least
You'll have to see them. Step this way.

You first.

I go.

Polemon leads the way into his house, Pataecus following. Moschion appears at the door of the house of Pataecus. He looks about anxiously for the enemy. When he sees Polemon entering the other house with Pataecus, and none of the "army" present, he comes out of the house reassured.



MOSCHION {to Polemon and Pataecus as they disappear in the other house}
In with you. Curse you ! Quick - and rid me of your sight !
With lances forth they sprang at me -

{ looking about him }
but could not take
By storm a swallow's nest, this army, scurvy knaves !
"Now they had mercenary troops," you say. But these, 530   G
The troops much talked of, are -

{ catching sight of Sosias lying drunk by the door }
this Sosias alone !
Of all the many born to wretchedness in this
Our generation - for now amongst all the Greeks,
Whatever the cause, there has sprung up a noble crop
Of such - there's no one of them all so wretched lives,
In my opinion, as myself. For soon as I
Went in, without attempting any single thing
Of all that was my wont, not even mother's room
I entered, nay, nor any of the household called,
But to a room betook myself aside and there 540   G
I lay, quite self-controlled. And I send Davus in
To tell my mother this, and merely this, that I've
Arrived. However he, with little care for me,
On finding luncheon laid out ready for them there,
Went on and took his fill. I, lying down the while,
Kept saying to myself: " Here presently will come
My mother and will bring me word from her I love,
Upon what terms she says that she and I might make
Agreement." I was practising a speech myself . . . 550   G

* * * Lacuna of about 157 verses * * *

Moschion probably goes on to tell of a confidential talk between Glyccra and Myrrhina which he has overheard. He is convinced that his hopes are illusory and realizes that he has been duped by Davus. He has also heard things which arouse his curiosity regarding Glycera (v. 787), but not enough to reveal the facts in full. When Pataecus comes out of Polemon's house, Moschion conceals himself from view. He is present, but unobserved by the others, throughout the following scenes.


While inspecting the wardrobe of Glycera in Polemon's house, Pataecus seems to have noticed something among her belongings that aroused in him a suspicion as to her identity. Therefore, when he summons her from the house, he has three objects in view : the first, to secure an explanation of her conduct with Moschion ; the second, to discharge his mission of reconciling her with Polemon ; the third, to discover who she really is. He finds her unwilling to return to Polemon (vv. 722, 748, 753, cf. 1023). She assures Pataecus, however, that her relations with Moschion have been innocent, though she admits that she has put herself in a false position with him.


{ supply e.g.: }   [. . . I could have come
With no such purpose] to his mother, dearest sir,
Nor could have taken refuge here - do you not see? -
That he might wed me - (for in truth he's far beyond 710   G
Poor me !) - Oh no, not that, but so that he might have
And hold me as his mistress. Wouldn't I, poor thing,
He too himself, have sought to keep it dark from them?
Would I have boldly faced his father and preferred
To be thus senseless, bring to pass a hateful deed
And in your minds embed disgraceful thoughts of me
Which you would never blot out? I feel no shame at that?
Pataecus, came you here persuaded, even you,
Of this, and thought that I had been a girl like that?

Nay, Zeus most reverend forbid ! But may you prove 720   G
In sober fact these charges wrong you. I believe ;
Yet, all the same, go back to him.

Against other girls
In future let him wanton.

Nay, not wantonly
This outrage happened.

Godless things he did to me.
Such treatment, surely, as you'd give some servant maid.

* * * Lacuna of 16 verses * * *

Glycera seems to have declared to Pataecus that she is free-born and also to have asked him to examine the proofs of her origin for himself, that he may assist her to establish her legal independence of Polemon. When the text begins again Glycera is explaining to Pataecus the nature of the objects, contained in the chest, which she has asked him to examine.

And I received those objects as a legacy 742   G
From father and from mother, and it is my wont.
To guard and keep them ever with me.

Well, what is
Your wish ?

To have them brought here safe.

You've given up
The fellow utterly ? What, dearest, do you want ?

Through you may I obtain this.

Well, it shall be done.
A foolish business ! But on all accounts you first
Should see -

GLYCERA {interrupting}
I know what's best for me.

So that's the way
You feel ? What maid of yours knows where you keep these things ? 750   G

My Doris knows.

PATAECUS {to an attendant}
Go, someone, call out Doris here.
Yet, Glycera, no less, I beg you by the gods.
While still 'tis possible, upon the terms I urge
[Be reconciled.]

Enter Doris from the house.

Well, here I am, my mistress, here !

MOSCHION {aside}
Now soon I'll know what mischief's up.

Go, Doris, fetch
My casket out. the one - you know - that holds, by Zeus,
Embroideries - the one which I've entrusted you
To keep. Now why these tears, poor girl ?

Exit Doris into the house.

PATAECUS {to himself}
Some very strange
Experience, by Saviour Zeus, has come to me.
Well, well, there's naught exceeds belief! The chest will show. 760   G

* * * Lacuna of about 7 verses * * *

Doris has brought out the chest and returned again into the house. Pataecus examines the embroideries. He has just made out the first pattern (perhaps a hippocamp) which he has recognized, and now goes on to number two.

Scene. MOSCHION (still in hiding), PATAECUS, GLYCERA

Which even then I saw. Is not this next one here
Some he-goat? Or an ox ? Or some such animal
Worked on it ?

That's a stag, my dearest, not a goat. 770   G

Well, horns it has. So much I know. And here's this third,
A winged horse it us. My wife's possessions these !
Yes, hers, my own, poor luckless woman that she was.

MOSCHION {aside}
A thing impossible is this, methinks, as I
Now turn it over, that my mother brought to birth
And shamelessly exposed a daughter born to her.
But if this happened and if she's my sister, mine,
Why then I'm ruined utterly, O luckless me !

[Ill-starred in truth the fate] of all else left of mine?

Make clear what you are seeking and inquire of me. 780   G

Where did you get these things, to treasure thus ?

They found me as a baby and these things with me.

MOSCHION {to himself, aside}
Put further out to sea, you labour in the surf.
The crisis of my private fortunes now is come.

PATAECUS {resuming his questions}
But were you laid there all alone ? Come, tell me that.

Why, no. A brother also they exposed with me.

MOSCHION {aside}
That point is number one of what I sought to know.

How were you separated from each other then?

Knowing from hearsay I could tell the whole to you ;
But ask of my affairs, for I may tell of them. 790   G
To keep the rest a secret I've made oath to her.

MOSCHION {aside}
Another token for me ! She has spoken plain.
She's under oath to mother. Where on earth am I ?

And he that found and reared you, who might he be, pray ?

A woman reared me, one who saw me then exposed.

And mentioned what clue to identify the place ?

A fountain-pool she spoke of, yes, a shaded spot.

The same that he who left them there described to me.

And who is that? If lawful, let me also know .

A servant left them, but it was I who refused to rear. 800   G

And you exposed them, you, the father? Tell me why.

There comes, my child, from Fortune many a circumstance
Incredible. For she who gave you birth, she died
Forthwith ; and just one day before she died, my child -

What is it happened? How I tremble! Ah, poor me !

I came to poverty, though used ere this to wealth.

All in a day ? But how ? O gods, what awful fate !

PATAECUS {theatrically}
I learned that in the wild Aegean's wide-spread brine
Was whelmed the ship that brought us in our sustenance.

Ah, wretched me, what ill luck that !

Lines 813-827 are badly mutilated and some details are only a matter of conjecture. Moschion, who is eavesdropping through the scene, learns the secret of his birth. At the end of the scene, where the text is much broken, he apparently comes forward and reveals himself.

So, beggared now, 810   G
Methought it were the part of one quite reft of sense
Children to rear and trail like cargo, towed astern -
(Yet children are the sweetest things of all to own!) -
What sort of stuff besides was left ?

That shall be told :
A necklace and some little ornament embossed
Were placed as tokens with the children there exposed.

Let's have a look at them.

But that we can't do now.

Why so ?

[ you see.]

MOSCHION {in hiding}
Why ! This man is my father, mine, as it would seem !

Was there a girdle, could you say, included there ? 820   G

There was. And worked thereon a choral dance of girls -

MOSCHION {aside, seeing Pataecus give a start of recognition }
Ah, that you recognized !

GLYCERA {continues to describe}
A robe diaphanous ;
A head-band made of gold. I've mentioned each and all.

PATAECUS {convinced}
No longer, dearest, will I keep you in suspense.

MOSCHION {apparently as he comes out of concealment makes remarks not now legible, perhaps to the following effect}
[Well, anyhow, I am ready to have an interview.
I'll go forward and ask all details.]


GLYCERA (or PATAECUS?)   {startled by Moschion's sudden appearance}
O ye gods ! Now who are you, sir ?

[Who am I ? I'm Moschion.]

* * * Lacuna of about 100 lines. * * *


At the beginning of this act Polemon learns from Doris that Glycera is Moschion's sister and that her father is the wealthy Pataecus. She is a free-born girl and a formal marriage with her has become legally possible. Now his jealous rage seems more unpardonable than ever. He is therefore in the depths of despair.


After broken lines and lacunae, we find Polemon and Doris engaged in conversation. Polemon is much wrought up.

Myself to throttle.

Nay, now don't do that at least - 976   G

But what am I to do then, Doris? How can I,
The thrice unlucky, live without her ?

Back again
She's coming to you -

Gods, to think of what you say ! -

If naughtiness hereafter you take pains to shun. 980   G

In nothing I'll be lacking. What you say, my dear,
Is well, exceeding well. Now go. I'll set you free
To-morrow, Doris.

{ Doris hastily turns to go. }
Now I'll tell you what to say.
So hear -   { Doris has entered the house }
She has gone in ; has vanished. Woe is me !
O raging Eros, how you've captured me by force !
It was a brother not a lover then she kissed ;
But I the Vengeance-driven, jealous man, forthwith,
Though questioning was called for, played my drunken trick.
So then I'll hang myself and justly.

{ Doris comes out }
Doris dear,
What now ?

Good news. "She'll come to you."

She mocked at me ! 990   G

By Aphrodite, no! Why, she was putting on
Her robe. Her father looked and looked. So now should
You celebrate Thankoffering for what has chanced.
When she has luck like this, it's impious to mourn.

By Zeus, it's right you are. You make my duty clear.
A cook's within there. Let him sacrifice the sow.

But where' s the basket and what else we need ?

That rite
Shall come on later, but this victim let him slay.
Nay, rather somewhere from an altar I prefer
To snatch a wreath and thus invest me.

He takes a garland from the altar of Apollo-Aguieus, near the door, and puts it on his head.

DORIS {sarcastically}
Good, you'll seem 1000   G
More plausible by far.

Now, quick, bring Glycera.

And see ! She was just coming, and her father, too.

The door rattles.

He too.- What will become of me ?

He rushes into his house.

What, sir, you're off?
He's gone ! An awful portent if a door but creak ?
I'll go in too myself to help if there is need.

Exit Doris into the house of Polemon. Enter Pataecus and Glycera from the house of Pataecus.


I'm much delighted with your: "Him I'll meet half-way."
Accepting reparation just when Fortune smiles,
That is a proof of a true Greek character.

{ to a slave }
But run, somebody, call him out- Stay. Here he is.

Enter Polemon from his house.


I'm coming out, but I was making sacrifice 1010   G
For happy outcome, hearing Glycera had found
In sober fact the wished-for friends.

You're right in that.
But hear what I shall say : "I offer her to thee
To wife, to get thee lawful children."

I accept.

"Three talents too as dowry."

And to that, agreed !

From this time on forget your soldiering, nor do
A single thing that's headstrong, never more again.

Apollo ! I, who all but perished even now,
Do anything again that's headstrong? Nay, not I,
Not even dreaming ! Glycera, my dearest one, 1020   G
Only be reconciled.

I will ; your drunken trick
Has proved a source of blessing for us -

Right, by Zeus !

And therefore full forgiveness you have gained from me.

Come then, Pataecus, join our sacrifice.

I must
Arrange another wedding. For my son I take
The daughter of Philinus. 1026   G

MOSCHION {involuntarily betraying his presence}
Earth and gods, I say !

* * * End of the manuscript. A few verses are lacking. * * *


Another fragment preserved may belong to the dialogue between Pataccus and Polemon, where Polemon, grateful for the intervention of Pataecus, may exclaim :
[Fr.1]   Thus welcome is a friend whose breeding matches yours.

A fragment is preserved, possibly from the dialogue between Polemon and Doris. See line 406.
[Fr.2]   But none the less go show this to the woman.


This comedy, the Perikeiromene, is not often cited in antiquity, but it was, as may be assumed from the frequent echoes of the story, one of the famous plays.

The play owes its title to the act of the jealous soldier-lover, Polemon, who in a sudden rage cuts off short the hair of Glycera, whom he deeply loves. He has seen her being kissed by Moschion, whom Glycera alone knows as her brother, being unable to reveal the fact through fear of injuring his career.

The development of the plot, in so far as we are able to make out the details, may be inferred from the text itself together with the accompanying explanations inserted below.

Polemon, it may be noticed, though impulsive, is not the regulation braggart soldier - miles gloriosus. Pataecus, it is assumed (see Capps, Introduction), is the second husband of Myrrhina and, therefore, as he supposes, the step-father of Moschion. When he finds later that Moschion is his own son, an explanation from Myrrhina will be forthcoming as to why she concealed from him the fact that Moschion is only her adopted son.

The exposition of the argument is given in a belated prologue following some introductory scenes. The goddess Agnoia, or Misapprehension, officiates in this capacity, as does the tutelary Genius of the household in the Hero.

The chorus, probably composed of Polemon's boon-companions, appears after the second act and probably at other places in the course of the play.

The play may be dated about 302-301 B.C., only ten years before Menander's death, when his work was already matured.

To the two lines preserved in the Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta (Nos. 391, 392 K) there have been added since 1899, from three 2 successive discoveries in Egypt, 444 verses, and Fragment No. 569 K is with confidence added to the play, so that we now possess 448 lines. There are numerous minor lacunae in the text and various unsolved problems in regard to the plot, but the long stretches of almost unbroken text give large opportunity for critical study of Menander and in some parts, at least, re-enforce his traditional reputation.

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