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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Rewards of Heroism

By Plautus (c. 254–184 B.C.)

  • Translation of William Cranston Lawton
  • [From the ‘Captives.’ Tyndarus, a slave, captured in war with the young master who has been his lifelong comrade, exchanges name and station with him, and the supposed slave has been sent off to secure the ransom. The trick has just been discovered and acknowledged.]

  • HEGIO—To your own utter misery this was done.

    Tyndarus—Since for no sin I fall, little I reck.

    If he who promised comes not, and I die,

    This will be counted honor still, in death,

    That I from servitude and hostile hands

    Restored my master to his home and father;

    And here I rather chose to put my life

    In peril, than that he should be destroyed.

    Hegio—Enjoy that glory, then, in Acheron!

    Tyndarus—I saved my lord; I exult that he is free,

    Whom my old master trusted to my charge:

    This you account ill done?
    Hegio—Most wickedly.

    Tyndarus—But I, opposing you, say—righteously:

    Bethink you, if a slave of yours had wrought

    For your son this, what thanks you’d render him.

    Would you release him from his servitude?

    Would he be in your eyes a slave most dear?

    Hegio—I think so.
    Tyndarus—Why then wroth at me?
    [In one note of sad defiance we seem to hear an echo of Antigone’s voice: it occurs a little later in the same scene.]

    Beyond my death no ill have I to fear.

    And though I live to utmost age, the time

    Of suffering what you threaten still is brief.