Ter. Now is this fair, Pluto,--that I should die at the age of thirty, and that old Thucritus go on living past ninety?
Pl. Nothing could be fairer. Thucritus lives and is in no hurry for his neighbours to die; whereas you always had some design against him; you were waiting to step into his shoes.
Ter. Well, an old man like that is past getting any enjoyment out of his money; he ought to die, and make room for younger men.
Pl. This is a novel principle: the man who can no longer derive pleasure from his money is to die!--Fate and Nature have ordered it otherwise.
Ter. Then they have ordered it wrongly. There ought to be a proper sequence according to seniority. Things are turned upside down, if an old man is to go on living with only three
teeth in his head, half blind, tottering about with a pair of slaves on each side to hold him up, drivelling and rheumy-eyed, having no joy of life, a living tomb, the derision of his juniors,--and young men are to die in the prime of their strength and beauty. ’Tis contrary to nature. At any rate the young men have a right to know when the old are going to die, so that they may not throw away their attentions on them for nothing, as is sometimes the case. The present arrangement is a putting of the cart before the horse.
Pl. There is a great deal more sound sense in it than you suppose, Terpsion. Besides, what right have you young fellows got to be prying after other men's goods, and thrusting yourselves upon your childless elders? You look rather foolish, when you get buried first; it tickles people immensely; the more fervent your prayers for the death of your aged friend, the greater is the general exultation when you precede him. It has become quite a profession lately, this amorous devotion to old men and women,--childless, of course; children destroy the illusion. By the way though, some of the beloved objects see through your dirty motives well enough by now; they have children, but they pretend to hate them, and so have lovers all the same. When their wills come to be read, their faithful bodyguard is not included: nature asserts itself, the children get their rights, and the lovers realize, with gnashings of teeth, that they have been taken in.
Ter. Too true! The luxuries that Thucritus has enjoyed at my expense! He always looked as if he were at the point of death. I never went to see him, but he would groan and squeak like a chicken barely out of the shell: I considered that he might step into his coffin at any moment, and heaped gift upon gift, for fear of being outdone in generosity by my rivals; I passed anxious, sleepless nights, reckoning and arranging all; ’twas this, the sleeplessness and the anxiety, that brought me
to my death. And he swallows my bait whole, and attends my funeral chuckling.
Pl. Well done, Thucritus! Long may you live to enjoy your wealth,--and your joke at the youngsters' expense; many a toady may you send hither before your own time comes!
Ter. Now I think of it, it would be a satisfaction if Charoeades were to die before him.
Pl. Charoeades! My dear Terpsion, Phido, Melanthus,--every one of them will be here before Thucritus,--all victims of this same anxiety!
Ter. That is as it should be. Hold on, Thucritus!