A line-by-line translation

The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter ADRIANA and LUCIANA

ADRIANA

Neither my husband nor the slave returned That in such haste I sent to seek his master? Sure, Luciana, it is two o'clock.

ADRIANA

Neither my husband nor my servant who I sent running to find his master have returned? Luciana, it's already two o'clock. 

LUCIANA

Perhaps some merchant hath invited him, And from the mart he’s somewhere gone to dinner. Good sister, let us dine and never fret. A man is master of his liberty; Time is their master, and when they see time They’ll go or come. If so, be patient, sister.

LUCIANA

Perhaps some merchant has invited him, and he's gone to lunch somewhere from the market. Remember that men are masters of their own freedom. Time is their only master, and when they think it's the right time they come and go as they wish. Let's eat and not fret. 

ADRIANA

Why should their liberty than ours be more?

ADRIANA

Why should men have more freedom than women?

LUCIANA

Because their business still lies out o' door.

LUCIANA

Because their work takes place outside the house. 

ADRIANA

Look when I serve him so, he takes it ill.

ADRIANA

When I treat him like this, he takes it badly. 

LUCIANA

O, know he is the bridle of your will.

LUCIANA

Oh, you should know that he restrains your will like a bridle restrains a horse. 

ADRIANA

There’s none but asses will be bridled so.

ADRIANA

Only donkeys would be controlled like this. 

LUCIANA

Why, headstrong liberty is lashed with woe. There’s nothing situate under heaven’s eye But hath his bound, in earth, in sea, in sky. The beasts, the fishes, and the wingèd fowls Are their males' subjects and at their controls. Man, more divine, the masters of all these, Lord of the wide world and wild wat'ry seas, Endued with intellectual sense and souls, Of more preeminence than fish and fowls, Are masters to their females, and their lords. Then let your will attend on their accords.

LUCIANA

Well, being headstrong in your desire for freedom leads only to woe. There's nothing under heaven—whether on land, in sea, or in sky—that isn't bound in some way. The beasts, fish, and birds, are all subject to the control of the males of their species. Man is more godly and is master of all these creatures. Man is lord of the whole world and wild, watery seas. Man has intellectual ability and a soul greater than any fish or birds. Men are masters of women, and lords to their ladies. For those reasons, let yourself be ruled by men's wishes. 

ADRIANA

This servitude makes you to keep unwed.

ADRIANA

With that servant-like attitude, you'll never get married. 

LUCIANA

Not this, but troubles of the marriage bed.

LUCIANA

It's not that. It's just that I don't want to deal with what happens in the marriage bed. 

ADRIANA

But, were you wedded, you would bear some sway.

ADRIANA

But, if you were married, you would have some power. 

LUCIANA

Ere I learn love, I’ll practice to obey.

LUCIANA

Before I fall in love, I'll learn to obey. 

ADRIANA

How if your husband start some otherwhere?

ADRIANA

What if your husband strayed elsewhere?

LUCIANA

Till he come home again, I would forbear.

LUCIANA

Till he came home, I'd hold out for him. 

ADRIANA

Patience unmoved! No marvel though she pause; They can be meek that have no other cause. A wretched soul, bruised with adversity We bid be quiet when we hear it cry, But were we burdened with like weight of pain, As much or more we should ourselves complain. So thou, that hast no unkind mate to grieve thee, With urging helpless patience would relieve me; But, if thou live to see like right bereft, This fool-begged patience in thee will be left.

ADRIANA

What amazing patience! I'm not amazed you hesitate to marry: it's easy to be meek when you have no reason not to be. We tell miserable people who have been mistreated to be quiet when we hear them cry, but if we had the same pain, or more, we should complain just like them. So you, who have no cruel husband to cause you grief, would stop telling me to be patient if you had a man. But, if you lose your rights in the same way that I have, you'll give up this insistence on being patient. 

LUCIANA

Well, I will marry one day, but to try.Here comes your man. Now is your husband nigh.

LUCIANA

Well, I will marry one day, if only to try it out. Here comes your servant. Now your husband's on his way. 

Enter DROMIO OF EPHESUS

ADRIANA

Say, is your tardy master now at hand?

ADRIANA

Tell me, is your tardy master coming soon?

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Nay, he’s at two hands with me, and that my two ears can witness.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

No, he's used both hands on me, as you can see from my two ears. 

ADRIANA

Say, didst thou speak with him? Know’st thou his mind?

ADRIANA

Tell me, did you speak with him? Do you know what he's planning to do?

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Ay, ay, he told his mind upon mine ear.Beshrew his hand, I scarce could understand it.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Yes, yes, he told me his plans by beating me on the my ear. Curse his hand, I could hardly understand it. 

LUCIANA

Spake he so doubtfully thou couldst not feel his meaning?

LUCIANA

He spoke so unclearly you couldn't get a feeling for what he meant?

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Nay, he struck so plainly I could too well feel his blows, and withal so doubtfully that I could scarce understand them.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

No, he struck so clearly I could easily feel his blows, and yet he was so confusing that I could hardly understand what was happening. 

ADRIANA

But say, I prithee, is he coming home?It seems he hath great care to please his wife.

ADRIANA

But, tell me, please, is he coming home? It seems like he would take great care to please his wife

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Why, mistress, sure my master is horn mad.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Why, mistress, surely my master is horn mad

ADRIANA

Horn mad, thou villain!

ADRIANA

Horn mad, you villain! 

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

I mean not cuckold mad, But sure he is stark mad. When I desired him to come home to dinner, He asked me for a thousand marks in gold. “'Tis dinnertime,” quoth I. “My gold,” quoth he. “Your meat doth burn,” quoth I. “My gold,” quoth he. “Will you come?” quoth I. “My gold,” quoth he. “Where is the thousand marks I gave thee, villain?” “The pig,” quoth I, “is burned.” “My gold,” quoth he. “My mistress, sir,” quoth I. “Hang up thy mistress! I know not thy mistress. Out on thy mistress!”

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

I don't mean he's a cuckold, but surely he's stark raving mad. When I asked him to come home to dinner, he asked me for a thousand marks in gold. "It's lunch time," said I. "My gold," said he. "Your meat is burning," said I. "My gold," said he. "Will you come?" said I. "My gold," said he. "Where is the thousand marks I gave you, villain?" "The pig," said I, "is burned." "My gold," said he. "My mistress, sir," said I. "Who cares about your mistress! I don't know your mistress. Damn your mistress!"

LUCIANA

Quoth who?

LUCIANA

Who said that?

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Quoth my master.“I know,” quoth he, “no house, no wife, no mistress.”So that my errand, due unto my tongue,I thank him, I bare home upon my shoulders,For, in conclusion, he did beat me there.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Said my master. "I have," said he, "no house, no wife, no mistress." So I carry this message to you on my shoulders instead of on my tongue, since, in conclusion, he beat me there. 

ADRIANA

Go back again, thou slave, and fetch him home.

ADRIANA

Go back again, you slave, and bring him home. 

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Go back again and be new beaten home?For God’s sake, send some other messenger.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Go back again and be beaten home again? For God's sake, send another messenger. 

ADRIANA

Back, slave, or I will break thy pate across.

ADRIANA

Go back, slave, or I'll break your head. 

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

And he will bless that cross with other beating.Between you, I shall have a holy head.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

And he'll beat me on the head so that it makes a cross with the beating you've given me. Between the two of you, I'll have a holy head. 

ADRIANA

Hence, prating peasant! Fetch thy master home.

ADRIANA

Get out, chattering peasant! Bring your master home. 

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Am I so round with you as you with me,That like a football you do spurn me thus?You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither.If I last in this service, you must case me in leather.

DROMIO OF EPHESUS

Am I so disrespectful to you as you are to me that you would throw me about like a football? You throw me out from here, and he'll throw me out from there. If I can survive this work, you must cover me in leather like a football. 

Exit DROMIO OF EPHESUS

LUCIANA

Fie, how impatience loureth in your face.

LUCIANA

Come on now, your face looks so impatient. 

ADRIANA

His company must do his minions grace, Whilst I at home starve for a merry look. Hath homely age th' alluring beauty took From my poor cheek? Then he hath wasted it. Are my discourses dull? Barren my wit? If voluble and sharp discourse be marred, Unkindness blunts it more than marble hard. Do their gay vestments his affections bait? That’s not my fault; he’s master of my state. What ruins are in me that can be found By him not ruined? Then is he the ground Of my defeatures. My decayèd fair A sunny look of his would soon repair. But, too unruly deer, he breaks the pale And feeds from home. Poor I am but his stale.

ADRIANA

He must be spending time in the company of other women while I wait at home wishing for his smile. Has my advancing age taken my alluring beauty from my poor cheek? Then he's wasted it. Are my speeches boring? Is my wit bland? If sharp, witty conversation falls apart, unkindness worsens it more than marble would blunt something equally sharp. Do these women's bright colors seduce him? That's not my fault. He's master over all of my fortunes. What sorrows have I felt that aren't due to him? He's the cause of everything that's gone wrong with me. His sunny smile would quickly fix my decaying face. But, like an unruly deer, he runs from me and eats outside our home. I'm nothing but his washed-up mistress. 

LUCIANA

Self-harming jealousy, fie, beat it hence.

LUCIANA

This jealousy is just harmful to yourself. Come on, get rid of it. 

ADRIANA

Unfeeling fools can with such wrongs dispense. I know his eye doth homage otherwhere, Or else what lets it but he would be here? Sister, you know he promised me a chain. Would that alone o' love he would detain, So he would keep fair quarter with his bed. I see the jewel best enamelèd Will lose his beauty. Yet the gold bides still That others touch, and often touching will Wear gold; yet no man that hath a name By falsehood and corruption doth it shame. Since that my beauty cannot please his eye, I’ll weep what’s left away, and weeping die.

ADRIANA

Only fools without feelings can move on from such mistreatment. I know he's been unfaithful to me, or else why wouldn't he be here? Sister, you know he promised me a chain. I'd give up the chain if he'd come back to our marriage and our bed. Even the most beautiful jewel will lose its beauty. Gold can sometimes last when others put their dirty fingers on it, and it only sometimes gets worn down. It's me, and not my husband, who will feel shame and it's only my reputation that will be ruined by his falsehood and unfaithfulness. Since my beauty can't please his eye, I'll weep what's left of my face off, and die weeping. 

LUCIANA

How many fond fools serve mad jealousy!

LUCIANA

There are so many fools in love at the mercy of their own jealousy! 

Exeunt

The comedy of errors
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Dan rubins
About the Translator: Dan Rubins

Dan Rubins is currently completing his MA in Shakespeare Studies from King's College London/Shakespeare's Globe and will be pursuing an MA in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a BA in English from Yale University. His Masters dissertation focuses on announcements of death in early modern drama, and other research areas of interest include Shakespeare in transformative contexts (prisons, schools, etc.) and rhyme in Shakespeare's dramatic texts. In addition to teaching and learning, he also writes theatre reviews (often of Shakespeare productions), composes musical theatre (frequently with Shakespearean inspirations), and sings in choirs (occasionally in Shakespearean choral settings).