Extract from:


The Self-Tormentor

(tr. Betty Radice, Penguin 1965)

[MENEDEMUS, haggard and shabbily dressed, is wearily trudging home carrying a heavy pronged hoe when his neighbour CHREMES comes out of his house to speak to him.]

CHREMES [in some embarrassment as MENEDEMUS takes no notice] I know it's not long since we became acquainted, in fact it all started with your buying the farm next to mine, and this is the first time we've really had much to do with each other .... All the same, there's something about you -- or maybe it's the fact that we're neighbours, which I always think is the next best thing to being friends -- which makes me feel that I ought to speak out frankly and give you some friendly advice. [He waits until MENEDEMUS looks up.] Your behaviour doesn't seem to me to be right for a man of your age and circumstances. What does it all mean, for heaven's sake? What on earth do you want? You're sixty, if not more, I imagine, and no one hereabouts has better land worth more than yours; you've plenty of slaves to work it, and yet you continue to do their work as if you'd no one at all. However early I go out in the morning, however late I come home in the evening, I always see you at work in the fields, digging or ploughing or moving something about. You never slack off for a moment or think of yourself, and it isn't as if you get any pleasure out of it, I'm sure. You may tell me you're not satisfied with the amount of work done on the place, but if you'd only apply the effort you spend on doing everything yourself to making your people get on with the job, you'd do better.

MENEDEMUS: Chremes, can you spare a moment from your own affairs to listen to someone else's--even if they don't really concern you?

CHREMES: I'm human, so any human interest is my concern [Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto]. Call it solicitude or curiosity on my part, whichever you like. If you're right I'll copy you, and if you're wrong I'll try to make you mend your ways.

source of the extract: http://www.wfu.edu/~ulery/CLA272/course-materials/TERENCE.html

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created: 13 June 1999
last modified: 2 November 2002