Miles Gloriosus, or The Braggart Captain

Act Two, Scene Four

Enter PALAESTRIO and PHILOCOMASIUM from the CAPTAIN’s house.

PALAESTRIO
(speaking to her in a low voice as he enters) Be sure to remember my instructions.

PHILOCOMASIUM
(aside) It’s strange you should so often remind me.

PALAESTRIO
(aside) But I fear you may not prove cunning enough.

PHILOCOMASIUM
(aside) Give me even ten scholars, though far from artful, I could instruct them so as to prove artful; in me alone is there a superabundance of artfulness; come, then, now put your plans in force; I’ll step aside here. (Steps aside.)

PALAESTRIO
What have you to say, Scledrus?

SCELEDRUS
(not lifting up his eyes) I’m about this business of mine; I have got ears, say what you please.

PALAESTRIO
I think that in that self-same position[1] you will have to die outside the gates, when, with hands outstretched, you will be carrying your cross.

SCELEDRUS
For what reason so?

PALAESTRIO
Just look on your left hand; who is that lady?

SCELEDRUS
looking. O ye immortal Gods, it really is the lady of my master!

PALAESTRIO
I’ faith, so she seems to me as well. Do then, now, since so you would have it—-

SCELEDRUS
Do what?

PALAESTRIO
Die this very instant.

PHILOCOMASIUM
advancing. Where is this faithful servant, who has falsely accused me in my innocence of this most heinous crime?

PALAESTRIO
See, here he is; ’tis he that told it me,–assuredly ’twas he.

PHILOCOMASIUM
Villain, did you say that you had seen me next door here kissing?

PALAESTRIO
Besides, he said it was with some strange young man.

SCELEDRUS
I’ faith, I did. say so, undoubtedly.

PHILOCOMASIUM
You, saw me?

SCELEDRUS
Yes, with these self-same eyes.

PHILOCOMASIUM
I fancy you will lose those eyes, which see more than what they really do see.

SCELEDRUS
By my faith, I shall never be intimidated from having seen what I really did see.

PHILOCOMASIUM
In my foolishness, I am delaying too long in parleying with this madman, whom, by the powers, I’ll punish with death.

SCELEDRUS
Forbear to threaten me: I know that the cross will prove my tomb; there are laid my forefathers, my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather. ‘Tis not in possibility, however, for these eyes of mine to be dug out[2] by your threats. But I want a few words with you; prithee, Palaestrio, whence came she hither?

PALAESTRIO
Whence but from our house?

SCELEDRUS
From our house?

PALAESTRIO
Do you credit me[3]?

SCELEDRUS
I do credit you: but ’tis a thing to be wondered at, how she has been able to return from that house to ours. For, beyond a doubt, we have neither a terrace to our house, nor any garden, nor any window but what is latticed[4]. To PHILOCOMASIUM. But, undoubtedly, I did see you in the house next door.

PALAESTRIO
Do you persist, you rascal, in pretending to accuse her?

PHILOCOMASIUM
In good sooth, then, the dream has not turned out untrue, that I dreamed last night.

PALAESTRIO
What did you dream?

PHILOCOMASIUM
I’ll tell you; but, I pray you, give attention. Last night, in my sleep, my twin-sister seemed to have come from Athens to Ephesus with a certain person, her lover. Both of them seemed to me to be having their lodgings here next door.

PALAESTRIO
to the AUDIENCE. The dream that’s being related is Palaestrio’s–pray, go on.

PHILOCOMASIUM
I seemed to be delighted because my sister had come, and on her account I seemed to be incurring a most grievous suspicion. For, in my sleep, my own servant seemed to accuse me, as you are now doing, of being caressed by a strange young man, whereas it was that own twin-sister of mine, who had been toying with her own friend. Thus did I dream that I was wrongfully accused of a crime.

PALAESTRIO
And isn’t just the same thing befalling you when awake, that you speak of as seen in your sleep? Capital; i’ faith, the dream is verified: go in-doors, and pray[5]. I should recommend that this be told to the Captain.

PHILOCOMASIUM
I am resolved to do so; nor, in fact, will I allow myself, with impunity, to be accused of disgraceful conduct. Goes into the CAPTAIN’S house.

SCELEDRUS
I fear for the thing I have done; my back does so tingle all over.

PALAESTRIO
Are you not aware that you are done for?

SCELEDRUS
Now, indeed, I’m sure she is at home; I am now resolved to watch our door, wheresoever she may be. Places himself at the door.

PALAESTRIO
But, prithee, Sceledrus, how very like the dream she dreamt to what has happened; and how you really did believe that you had seen her kissing. * * * * *

SCELEDRUS
And do you suppose that I didn’t see her?

PALAESTRIO
I’ faith, I verily believe you’ll come to your senses when ’tis too late. If this matter should only reach our master, you certainly are undone.

SCELEDRUS
Now, at length, I find out that there was a mist placed before my eyes.

PALAESTRIO
I’ faith, that really has been plain for some time now; as she was here in-doors all the while.

SCELEDRUS
Not a word of certainty have I to utter; I did not see her, although I did see her.

PALAESTRIO
By my troth, through this folly of yours you certainly have nearly ruined us; while you have wished to prove yourself faithful to your master, you have been almost undone. But the door of our next neighbour makes a noise; I’ll be silent.


  1. In that self-same position: Sceledrus is standing before the door with both arms stretched out that Philocomasium may not come out without his knowing. Palaestrio tells him, that when he comes to be fastened on the cross for his negligence, he will have to assume that attitude. The gate here alluded to is supposed to have been the Esquiline, or Metian gate at Rome, a place near which was devoted to the punishment of slaves. Athens and other Greek cities had ‘the gate of Charon,” through which malefactors passed to punishment.
  2. To be dug out: That is, “you cannot make me not to have seen what I really did see.”
  3. Do you credit me: “Viden? (vides-ne)” Literally, “do you look at me?” The Romans, when they wished to impress any one with the belief that they were speaking seriously and in good faith, used this phrase, or “vide me,” “look at me now.” Our expression, “do you look me in the face and say so?” is somewhat similar.
  4. But what is latticed: The “clathri” were a kind of lattice or trellice-work, which, as well as network, was sometimes placed before windows to prevent serpents and other noxious reptiles from getting in.
  5. And pray: After any ill-omened dream, it was the custom to offer corn and frankincense to Jupiter Prodigialis, “the disposer of prodigies,” and other of the Deities, in order that evil might be averted.

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Miles Gloriosus, or The Braggart Captain by The Comedies of Plautus. Henry Thomas Riley. London. G. Bell and Sons. 1912. Digitized by Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University, oved to Pressbooks by Ryerson Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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