Quotes

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Some quotes from Phormio are the following:

Geta: O brave and kind man! But, Phormio, I often dread lest this courage may end in the stocks at last.

Phormio: Oh, by no means; I’ve made trial, and have already pondered on the paths for my feet. How many men before to-day do you suppose I have beaten, even to death, strangers as well as citizens: the better I understand it, the oftener I try it. Just tell me, look you, did you ever hear of an action of damages being brought against me?

Geta: How is that?

Phormio: Because the net is never spread for the hawk or the kite, that do us the mischief; it is spread for those that do us none: because in the last there is profit, while with the others it is labor lost. For persons, out of whom any thing can be got, there’s risk from others; they know that I’ve got nothing. You will say: “They will take you, when sentenced, into their house;” they have no wish to maintain a devouring fellow; and, in my opinion, they are wise, if for an injury they are unwilling to return the highest benefits.

In the above quotes, Geta (Demipho's slave) speaks with Phormio. Phormio's boastful words demonstrate why he is known as the "parasite" of the play. Far from showing remorse, Phormio exults that he has never been held accountable for his free-loading ways. He equates himself to a hawk or kite, two birds of prey.

Phormio maintains that his tormentors would never dare "spread the net" for him. This is because, like a bird of prey, Phormio will make his enemies regret their audacity in doing so. In Greek culture, insolvent debtors were enslaved by their creditors until they settled their accounts.

Here, Phormio maintains to Geta that he has no such fears of Chremes or Demipho "taking him" into their servitude. In other words, Phormio is unafraid of what the brothers will do when they discover his part in their sons' marital schemes. His boastful words hint at his latent craftiness and propensity for vindictiveness. For their part, the elderly brothers perfectly understand Phormio's reputation as a "devouring fellow."

That Phormio is a man not easily overcome is made clear when Chremes and Demipho corner him.

Demipho: (apart, to Chremes.) Well now, is he to be carrying off from us such a sum of money as this, and so palpably to impose upon us? By heavens, I’d sooner die. Manage to show yourself of resolute and ready wit. You see that this slip of yours has got abroad, and that you can not now possibly conceal it from your wife; it is then more conducive to our quiet, Chremes, ourselves to disclose what she will be hearing from others; and then, in our own fashion, we shall be able to take vengeance upon this dirty fellow.

Phormio. (to Nausistrata.) Unknown to you—

Chremes. Ah me!

Phormio. He married another—

Nausistrata. My dear sir, may the Gods forbid it!

Phormio. Such is the fact.

Nausistrata. Wretch that I am, I’m undone!

Phormio. And had a daughter by her, too, while you never dreamed of it.

Phormio. (in a loud voice.) Those who have a mind to come to the funeral of Chremes, why now’s their time. ’Tis thus I retaliate: come now, let him challenge Phormio who pleases: I’ll have him victimized with just a like mischance. Why then, let him return again into her good graces. I have now had revenge enough. She has got something...

(This entire section contains 725 words.)

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for her as long as she lives, to be forever ringing into his ears.

In the above quotes, Phormio gets the better of Chremes and Demipho. The brothers threaten Phormio with legal action for refusing to return the money, but he expertly turns the tables on them. By alerting Nausistrata to her husband Chremes' adultery, Phormio manages to entrap Chremes. The word "victimized" refers to the word "mactatus" in Greek, which alludes to a victim being prepared for sacrifice to the gods.

Here, Phormio exults in the way he has retaliated against Chremes. His words again highlight his character as the "parasite" or "devouring fellow" of the play. Like a bird of prey, Phormio is a dangerous adversary to anyone who dares challenge him.