Cast of Characters:
Silvius—Heir of the house of Valerius, a rich Roman family
Gaius—Friend of Silvius
Aurelius—The paterfamilias of the Aureli home
Nomenclature of Aurelius
Scene 1: The light of early morning is peeping over the rooftops of the houses that crown the Caelian Hill of Rome, tinging the roofs in gold and the shadows in gray. Clients are already gathering in the vestibulium of the house of Aureli. Silvius is about to enter when a friend on the street recognizes him.
Gaius: Good morning, Silvius! What brings you here?
Silvius: Some personal business with Aurelius.
Gaius (with a wink): Not in debt with him, I hope?
Silvius (seriously): No, I’m here to ask for his daughter in marriage.
Gaius: Well, you’re a rich, promising gentleman! You deserve Aurelia, and I bet her father will think the same. The gods be with you. Bring your news to the Campus Martius this afternoon. I’ll be there. (Silvius looks embarrassed.) Is anything wrong?
Silvius: Whenever I have visited Aurelius before, he never seems to remember me! He always consults his lurking nomenclature when I show my face in the atrium.
Gaius (waving his hand dismissively): Oh, I doubt he cares what his future son-in-law’s name is as long as it’s that of a rich aristocrat. Can’t wait to hear your happy announcement!
(Gaius exits, leaving Silvius pacing in the vestibulium.)
Scene 2: Silvius enters the atrium where Aurelius sits with his nomenclature standing next to him.
Aurelius (aside to nomenclature): Who is that man? He looks familiar. Is his name Julius?
Nomenclature: No, sir. It’s Silvius Valerius.
Aurelius (sotto voce): Oh, yes!
Aurelius (aloud): Silvius, welcome! What business brings you here? Not debts, I think! (laughs heartily, for the Valerius family is famously rich)
Silvius: I’m here to sign a contract with you. I would like to marry your daughter Aurelia.
Aurelius: I could not find a happier choice in a son-in-law. You have my happy blessing, Julius—
Nomenclature (in an urgent whisper): Silvius! His name is Silvius, sir!
Aurelius (turns slightly red and clears his throat): That is Silvius. Lapsus linguae!
(Silvius does not appear convinced, but he does look happy as he and Aurelius bid farewell.)
Scene 3: Jullina prepares Aurelia for the wedding.
Jullina: Today is the day! The omens are favorable, and all is prepared. You look beautiful, Aurelia.
Aurelia (smiles): Thank you, mother.
Jullina (placing the flame-colored wedding veil on Aurelia’s head): The perfect color for you, my beautiful daughter!
(Jullina and Aurelia embrace affectionately. The noise in the house grows louder.)
Jullina: We must go down. Silvius will be here soon.
Scene 4: A crowd waits outside Silvius’ new house as Silvius and Aurelia complete the wedding ceremony inside and light their hearthfire. At last, they emerge into the sunlight, smiling.
Silvius: Thank you for sharing in our joy, friends.
Gaius (yells from the crowd): I was right!
(Silvius smiles and winks at Gaius as everyone else becomes distracted. Too late, Gaius sees the wedding torch Aurelia tossed. It knocks him down, but a moment later he pops up, torch in hand and grinning.)
Silvius (mouths to Gaius): You’re next.
Gaius: Hope you’re as right as I was!
(The End. Curtain falls.)