Frying Fish and Accepting People as they Are

Terence, Adelphoe 420-432

“JFC, I don’t have the time to listen to you.
I have the fish I was thinking about and now
My main concern is that they don’t go bad.
That would be as big a crime on our part, Demea,
As ignoring everything you were just talking about.

As far as I can, I give my fellow enslaved friends this advice
“Too much salt or overcooked or undercleaned, ooh that’s perfect–
Remember what you did next time!
I am serious about giving them as much wisdom as I can.

Finally, I say “gaze into the saucepan as if into a mirror!”
And I tell them what they should do as practice.

I know that all these things we do are foolish—
But what would you do? You need to take each person as they are.
What else do you want?”

… non hercle otiumst
nunc mi auscultandi. piscis ex sententia
nactus sum. hi mihi ne corrumpantur cautiost.
nam id nobis tam flagitiumst quam illa, Demea,
non facere vobis quae modo dixti. et quod queo
conservis ad eundem istunc praecipio modum.
“hoc salsumst, hoc adustumst, hoc lautumst parum.
illud recte, iterum sic memento.” sedulo
moneo quae possum pro mea sapientia.
postremo tamquam in speculum in patinas, Demea,
inspicere iubeo et moneo quid facto usu’ sit.
inepta haec esse nos quae facimus sentio.
verum quid facias? ut homost, ita morem geras.
numquid vis?

color photograph of a fish filet fried brown on a skillet

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