A line-by-line translation

The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors Translation Act 4, Scene 2

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Enter ADRIANA and LUCIANA

ADRIANA

Ah, Luciana, did he tempt thee so? Mightst thou perceive austerely in his eye That he did plead in earnest, yea or no? Looked he or red or pale, or sad or merrily? What observation mad’st thou in this case Of his heart’s meteors tilting in his face?

ADRIANA

Oh, Luciana, did he really attempt to seduce you like that? Could you tell from his face whether he was serious, yes or no? Did he look red or pale or sad or happy? What observation did you make in his face of what his heart might really feel?

LUCIANA

First he denied you had in him no right.

LUCIANA

First he denied that you had any right to him. 

ADRIANA

He meant he did me none; the more my spite.

ADRIANA

He meant he didn't do right by me, which makes me all the more miserable. 

LUCIANA

Then swore he that he was a stranger here.

LUCIANA

Then he swore that he was a stranger here. 

ADRIANA

And true he swore, though yet forsworn he were.

ADRIANA

He's definitely acting stranger, so that's true, even though he's lying. 

LUCIANA

Then pleaded I for you.

LUCIANA

Then I pleaded on your behalf. 

ADRIANA

And what said he?

ADRIANA

And what did he say?

LUCIANA

That love i begged for you he begged of me.

LUCIANA

The love that I begged him to give you he begged me to give to him. 

ADRIANA

With what persuasion did he tempt thy love?

ADRIANA

What methods did he use to tempt your love?

LUCIANA

With words that in an honest suit might move.First he did praise my beauty, then my speech.

LUCIANA

He used words that might have moved me if they were honest. First, he praised my beauty, then my voice. 

ADRIANA

Did’st speak him fair?

ADRIANA

Did you encourage him?

LUCIANA

Have patience, I beseech.

LUCIANA

Calm down, I beg you. 

ADRIANA

I cannot, nor I will not hold me still; My tongue, though not my heart, shall have his will. He is deformèd, crooked, old, and sere, Ill-faced, worse-bodied, shapeless everywhere, Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind, Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.

ADRIANA

I cannot and I will not hold still. Even though my heart still loves him, listen to what I have to say: he's deformed, crooked, old, and withered, with an ugly face and a worse body, shapeless all over. He's vicious, ungentle, foolish, stupid, unkind. His body is awful, but his mind is worse. 

LUCIANA

Who would be jealous, then, of such a one?No evil lost is wailed when it is gone.

LUCIANA

Who would be jealous over someone like that, then? No one cries over something evil when it's gone. 

ADRIANA

Ah, but I think him better than I say, And yet would herein others' eyes were worse. Far from her nest the lapwing cries away. My heart prays for him, though my tongue do curse.

ADRIANA

Ah, but I think better of him than I say, and still wish other women saw him as ugly. Just like the lapwing flies far away from her nest so no one knows where it is located, I'm hiding how much my heart loves him in my angry  words. 

Enter DROMIO OF SYRACUSE, running

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Here, go—the desk, the purse! Sweet, now make haste.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

[To himself] Here, go—the desk, the purse! Come on now, move fast. 

LUCIANA

How hast thou lost thy breath?

LUCIANA

How have you lost your breath?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

By running fast.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

By running fast. 

ADRIANA

Where is thy master, Dromio? Is he well?

ADRIANA

Where's your master, Dromio? Is he well?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

No, he’s in Tartar limbo, worse than hell. A devil in an everlasting garment hath him, One whose hard heart is buttoned up with steel; A fiend, a fury, pitiless and rough; A wolf, nay, worse, a fellow all in buff; A back-friend, a shoulder clapper, one that countermands The passages of alleys, creeks, and narrow lands; A hound that runs counter and yet draws dryfoot well, One that before the judgment carries poor souls to hell.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

No he's in limbo in Tartarus, that's worse than hell. A devil in a prison officer uniform has got him, a devil whose hard heart is closed and steely. He's a demon, evil, pitiless, and rough. He's a wolf; no, it's worse, he's wearing the uniform. He's a back-stabber, he arrests you by the shoulder, he forbids you to walk through alleys, and creeks, and narrow paths. He's a dog that flees from the prey but also tracks the prey by the smell of its foot. On Judgment Day, he'll be carrying the damned to hell. 

ADRIANA

Why, man, what is the matter?

ADRIANA

Why, man, what is the matter?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

I do not know the matter. He is ’rested on the case.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

I don't know the matter. He's arrested on the case

ADRIANA

What, is he arrested? Tell me at whose suit.

ADRIANA

What, is he arrested? Tell me who's had him arrested. 

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

I know not at whose suit he is arrested well,But he’s in a suit of buff which ’rested him; that can I tell.Will you send him, mistress, redemption—the money in his desk?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

I don't know who's had him arrested, but the man who arrested him is in prison-keeper uniform, that I can tell you. Will you send him his redemption, mistress—I mean the money in his desk?

ADRIANA

Go fetch it, sister.

ADRIANA

Go get the money, sister. 

Exit LUCIANA

This I wonder at,That he, unknown to me, should be in debt.Tell me, was he arrested on a bond?

I'm shocked that, unknown to me, he could be in debt. Tell me, was he arrested for failing to pay a bond

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Not on a bond, but on a stronger thing:A chain, a chain. Do you not hear it ring?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Not on a bond but something stronger: a chain, a chain. Don't you hear it ring?

ADRIANA

What, the chain?

ADRIANA

Hear what, the chain?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

No, no, the bell. 'Tis time that I were gone.It was two ere I left him, and now the clock strikes one.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

No, no, the bell. It's time that I left. I parted with him at two and now the clock strikes one

ADRIANA

The hours come back. That did I never hear.

ADRIANA

The hours go backwards. I've never heard of that happening before. 

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

O yes, if any hour meet a sergeant, he turns back for very fear.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Oh, yes, if any hour runs into a cop, he goes backwards out of fear. 

ADRIANA

As if time were in debt. How fondly dost thou reason!

ADRIANA

As if time owed debts. How crazy your reasoning is! 

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Time is a very bankrupt and owes more than he’s worth to season. Nay, he’s a thief too. Have you not heard men say That time comes stealing on by night and day? If he be in debt and theft, and a sergeant in the way, Hath he not reason to turn back an hour in a day?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Time always owes major debt—he's always running out. He's a thief too. Haven't you heard men say that times steals on by night and day? If he's in debt and a a thief, and there's a cop coming, doesn't he have good reason to turn back an hour?

Re-enter LUCIANA with a purse

ADRIANA

Go, Dromio. There’s the money. Bear it straight,And bring thy master home immediately.Come, sister, I am pressed down with conceit:Conceit, my comfort and my injury.

ADRIANA

Go, Dromio. There's the money. Bring it right away, and bring your master home immediately. Come, sister, my imagination weighs on me: imagination, it both comforts me and hurts me. 

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).