Metrotimé. Flog him Lampriscos, across the shoulders, till his wicked
soul is all but out of him. He's spent my all in playing odd and even; knuckle bones are
nothing to him. Why, he hardly knows the door of the Letter School. And yet the thirtieth
comes round and I must pay---tears no excuse.
His writing tablet which I take the trouble to wax anew each month, lies unregarded in
the corner. If by chance he deigns to touch it he scowls like Hades, then puts nothing
right but smears it out and out. He doesn't know a letter, till you scream it twenty
times. The other day his father made him spell "Maron"; the rascal made it
"Simon": dolt I thought myself to send him to a school! Ass-tending is his
trade!---Another time we set him to recite some childish piece; he sifts it out like water
through a crack, "Apollo" ---pause,---then "hunter!"
[The poor mother goes on to say that it is useless to scold the boy; for, if she
does, he promptly runs away from home, to sponge upon his grandmother, or sits upon the
roof out of the way like an ape, breaking the tiles, which is expensive for his parents.]
Yet he knows the seventh and the twentieth of the month, whole holidays, as if he reads
the stars, he lies awake o'nights dreaming of them. But, so may yonder Muses prosper you,
give him in stripes no less than---
Lampriscos [briskly]. Right you are, here, Euthias, Coccalos, and
Phillos hoist him upon your backs. I like your goings on, my boy! I'll teach you manners!
Where's my strap, with the stinging cow's tail?
Cottalos [in terror]. By the Muses, sir,---not with the stinger?
Lampriscos. Then you shouldn't be so naughty.
Cottalos. O, how many will you give me!
Lampriscos. Your mother fixes that.
Cottalos. How many, mother?
Metrotimé. As many as your wicked hide can bear.
[They proceed with the flogging]
Cottalos. Stop!---That's enough!---Stop! Lampriscos. You should stop
Cottalos. I'll never do it more, I promise you.
Lampriscos. Don't talk so much, or else I'll bring a gag.
Cottalos. I won't talk,---only do not kill me,---please!
Lampriscos [at length relenting]. Let him down, boys.
Metrotimé. No---leather him till sunset.
Lampriscos. Why, he's as mottled as a water snake.
Metrotimé. Well, when he's done his reading, good or bad, give him a
trifle more, say twenty strokes.
Cottalos [in agony]. Yah!
Metrotimé. [turning away]. I'll go home and get a pair of fetters.
Our Lady Muses, whom he scorned, shall see their scorner hobble here with shackled feet.