(Under the form of Sosie.) Under this mask which resembles him,
I will drive away the babbler from here. His unfortunate arrival may
disturb the pleasures our lovers are tasting together.
My heart revives a little; perhaps it was nothing. Lest
anything untoward should happen, however, I will go in to finish the
I shall prevent your doing that unless you are stronger than Mercury.
This night seems to me unusually long. By the time I have been
on the way, either my master has taken evening for morning, or
lovely Phoebus slumbers too long in bed through having taken too much wine.
With what irreverence this lubber speaks of the Gods! My arm
shall soon chastise this insolence; I shall have a fine game with
him, stealing his name as well as his likeness.
Ah! upon my word, I was right: I am done for, miserable
creature that I am! I see a man before our house whose mien bodes me
no good. I will sing a little to show some semblance of assurance.
(He sings; and, when Mercury speaks, his voice weakens, little by little.)
What rascal is this, who takes the unwarrantable licence of
singing and deafening me like this? Does he wish me to curry his coat for him?
For more than a week, I have not found any one whose bones I
could break; my arm will lose its strength in this idleness. I must
look out for some one's back to get my wind again.
What the deuce of a fellow is this? My heart thrills with
clutching fear. But why should I tremble thus? Perhaps the rogue is
as much afraid as I am, and talks in this way to hide his fear from
me under a feigned audacity. Yes, yes, I will not allow him to think
me a goose. If I am not bold, I will try to appear so. Let me seek
courage by reason; he is alone, even as I am; I am strong, I have a
good master, and there is our house.
The action is unworthy. You gloat over the advantage which my
want of courage gives you over me; that is not fair treatment. It is
mere bullying to wish to profit by the poltroonery of those whom one
makes to feel the weight of one's arm. To thrash a man who does not
retaliate is not the act of a generous soul; and to show courage
against men who have none merits condemnation.
So, I shall break our truce, and take back my word.
I can't help it. I cannot annihilate myself for you, and endure
so improbable a tale. Is it in your power to be what I am? Can I
cease to be myself? Did any one ever hear of such a thing? And can
you give the lie to a hundred clear indications? Do I dream? Do I
sleep? Is my mind troubled by powerful transports? Do I not feel I
am awake? Am I not in my right senses? Has not my master,
Amphitryon, commanded me to come here to Alcmene his wife? Am I not,
in commending his passion to her, to give her an account of his
deeds against our enemies? Have I not just come from the harbour? Do
I not hold a lantern in my hand? Have I not found you in front of
our house? Did I not speak to you in a perfectly friendly manner? Do
you not make use of my poltroonery to hinder me from entering our
house? Have you not vented your rage upon my back? Have you not
showered blows on me? Ah! All this is but too true: would to Heaven
it were less real! Cease therefore to jeer at a wretch's lot, and
leave me to acquit myself where my duty calls me.
Stop, or the shortest step brings down upon your back
clattering evidence of my just anger. All you have just said is
mine, except the blows. It is I, whom Amphitryon sent to Alcmene;
who has just arrived from the Persian port; I, who have come to
announce the valour of his arm, which has gained us a glorious
victory, and slain the chief of our enemies. In short, I am
undoubtedly Sosie, son of Dave, an honest shepherd; brother of
Arpage, who died in a foreign land; husband of Cleanthis the prude,
whose temper drives me wild; I, who received a thousand cuts from a
whip at Thebes, without ever saying anything about it; and who was
once publicly branded on the back for being too worthy a man.
He is right. If he were not Sosie, he could not know all he
says; all this is so astounding that even I begin to believe him a
little. In fact, now I look at him, I see he has my figure, looks,
and manners. I wilt ask him some question, in order to clear up this
mystery. What did Amphitryon obtain as his share of all the plunder
taken from our enemies?
Five fine large diamonds, beautifully set in a cluster, which
their chief wore as a rare piece of handicraft.
In a casket sealed with the arms of my master.
He does not tell a single lie at any turn: I begin to doubt
myself in earnest. He has already cowed me into believing him to be
Sosie; and he might even reason me into thinking him so. Yet, when I
touch myself, and recollect, it seems to me I am myself. Where can I
find some light that will clearly make my way plain? What I have
done alone, and what no one has seen, cannot be known to any one
else: that, at least, belongs to me. I will astonish him by this
question: it will confound him, and we shall see. When they were at
close quarters, what were you doing in our tents, whither you ran to
hide yourself away?
Which I unearthed, I soon cut two succulent slices: they
suited me nicely. I added to them a wine which was usually kept
dark, and, gloated over the sight of it before I tasted it. So I
took heart for our fighters.
This unparalleled proof ends matters well in his favour; and,
unless he were in the bottle, there is nothing to be said. From the
proofs you show me, I cannot deny that you are Sosie: I admit it.
But, if you are he, tell me whom you wish me to be; for I must be someone.
When I shall no longer be Sosie, you may be he, I consent to
that; but I promise you it shall be the death of you if you take up
such a fancy while I am he.
All this confusion turns me inside out, for reason is against
what I see. But I must end this by some means; and the shortest way
for me is to go in there.
Oh! You gallows-bird, you want to taste the stick.
What is the matter? Great Gods! He makes the blows ring again;
my back will ache for a month. I will leave this devil of a fellow,
and return to the harbour. O just Heavens, what a fine ambassador I have been!
At last, I have made him fly; this treatment has paid him out
for many of his deeds. But here is Jupiter, gallantly escorting his