LLR Books

Dramalogue to spotlight father of modern comedy


By Jan Sjostrom

What can the works of a playwright who lived 2,500 years ago have to say to us today? Rather a lot, according to Mark Perlberg, host of Aristophanes: The Father of Comedy, which will be presented at 2 and 7 p.m. Tuesday at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
“With respect to dramatic comedy, Aristophanes is where it all began,” he said. “For scripts 2,500 years old, they are shockingly relevant and funny.” Aristophanes, the greatest representative of ancient Greek comedy, was known for his bold satire, often licentious humor and wild imagination.
In his presentation, Perlberg will talk about Aristophanes, ancient Greek theater and life in ancient Greece. Performers Wayne LeGette, Margery Lowe and Erin Joy Schmidt will read scenes from Aristophanes’ plays, including Wasp, which is about a dog on trial for stealing cheese.

For tickets, call 514-4042 or visit palmbeachdramaworks.org.




FROM WIKIPEDIA

Aristophanes (c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaeum,3 was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his thirty plays survive virtually complete. These, together with fragments of some of his other plays, provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, and they are used to define the genre.4 Also known as the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy,6 Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author.
 His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato89 singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates although other satirical playwrights10 had also caricatured the philosopher.
His second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by the demagogue Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. "In my opinion," he says through the Chorus in that play, "the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all." (κωμδοδιδασκαλίαν εναι χαλεπώτατον ργον πάντων)11
Less is known about Aristophanes than about his plays. In fact, his plays are the main source of information about him. It was conventional in Old Comedy for the Chorus to speak on behalf of the author during an address called the 'parabasis' and thus some biographical facts can be found there.
However, these facts relate almost entirely to his career as a dramatist and the plays contain few clear and unambiguous clues about his personal beliefs or his private life.13 He was a comic poet in an age when it was conventional for a poet to assume the role of 'teacher' (didaskalos), and though this specifically referred to his training of the Chorus in rehearsal, it also covered his relationship with the audience as a commentator on significant issues.14
Aristophanes claimed to be writing for a clever and discerning audience,15 yet he also declared that 'other times' would judge the audience according to its reception of his plays.16 He sometimes boasts of his originality as a dramatist17 yet his plays consistently espouse opposition to radical new influences in Athenian society. He caricatured leading figures in the arts (notably Euripides, whose influence on his own work however he once begrudgingly acknowledged),18 in politics (especially the populist Cleon), and in philosophy/religion (where Socrates was the most obvious target). Such caricatures seem to imply that Aristophanes was an old-fashioned conservative, yet that view of him leads to contradictions.19
It has been argued that Aristophanes produced plays mainly to entertain the audience and to win prestigious competitions.20 His plays were written for production at the great dramatic festivals of Athens, the Lenaia and City Dionysia, where they were judged and awarded prizes in competition with the works of other comic dramatists. An elaborate series of lotteries, designed to prevent prejudice and corruption, reduced the voting judges at the City Dionysia to just five in number.
These judges probably reflected the mood of the audiences21 yet there is much uncertainty about the composition of those audiences.22 The theatres were certainly huge, with seating for at least 10 000 at the Theatre of Dionysus. The day's program at the City Dionysia for example was crowded, with three tragedies and a 'satyr' play ahead of a comedy, but it is possible that many of the poorer citizens (typically the main supporters of demagogues like Cleon) occupied the festival holiday with other pursuits. The conservative views expressed in the plays might therefore reflect the attitudes of the dominant group in an unrepresentative audience.
 The production process might also have influenced the views expressed in the plays. Throughout most of Aristophanes' career, the Chorus was essential to a play's success and it was recruited and funded by a choregus, a wealthy citizen appointed to the task by one of the archons. A choregus could regard his personal expenditure on the Chorus as a civic duty and a public honour, but Aristophanes showed in The Knights that wealthy citizens might regard civic responsibilities as punishment imposed on them by demagogues and populists like Cleon.23 Thus the political conservatism of the plays may reflect the views of the wealthiest section of Athenian society, on whose generosity all dramatists depended for putting on their plays.24
When Aristophanes' first play The Banqueters was produced, Athens was an ambitious, imperial power and The Peloponnesian War was only in its fourth year. His plays often express pride in the achievement of the older generation (the victors at Marathon)2526 yet they are not jingoistic, and they are staunchly opposed to the war with Sparta. The plays are particularly scathing in criticism of war profiteers, among whom populists such as Cleon figure prominently.
By the time his last play was produced (around 386 BC) Athens had been defeated in war, its empire had been dismantled and it had undergone a transformation from being the political to the intellectual centre of Greece.27 Aristophanes was part of this transformation and he shared in the intellectual fashions of the period — the structure of his plays evolves from Old Comedy until, in his last surviving play, Wealth II, it more closely resembles New Comedy. However it is uncertain whether he led or merely responded to changes in audience expectations.28
Aristophanes won second prize at the City Dionysia in 427 BC with his first play The Banqueters (now lost). He won first prize there with his next play, The Babylonians (also now lost). It was usual for foreign dignitaries to attend the City Dionysia, and The Babylonians caused some embarrassment for the Athenian authorities since it depicted the cities of the Athenian League as slaves grinding at a mill.29 Some influential citizens, notably Cleon, reviled the play as slander against the polis and possibly took legal action against the author. The details of the trial are unrecorded but, speaking through the hero of his third play The Acharnians (staged at the Lenaia, where there were few or no foreign dignitaries), the poet carefully distinguishes between the polis and the real targets of his acerbic wit:
μν γρ νδρες, κοχ τν πόλιν λέγω,
μέμνησθε τοθ τι οχ τν πόλιν λέγω,
λλ νδράρια μοχθηρά, παρακεκομμένα...30
People among us, and I don't mean the polis,
Remember this — I don't mean the polis -
But wicked little men of a counterfeit kind....
Aristophanes repeatedly savages Cleon in his later plays. But these satirical diatribes appear to have had no effect on Cleon's political career — a few weeks after the performance of The Knights - a play full of anti-Cleon jokes - Cleon was elected to the prestigious board of ten generals.31 Cleon also seems to have had no real power to limit or control Aristophanes: the caricatures of him continued up to and even beyond his death.
In the absence of clear biographical facts about Aristophanes, scholars make educated guesses based on interpretation of the language in the plays. Inscriptions and summaries or comments by Hellenistic and Byzantine scholars can also provide useful clues. We know however from a combination of these sources,32 and especially from comments in The Knights33 and The Clouds,34 that Aristophanes' first three plays were not directed by him — they were instead directed by Callistratus and Philoneides,35 an arrangement that seemed to suit Aristophanes since he appears to have used these same directors in many later plays as well (Philoneides for example later directed
The Frogs and he was also cred, perhaps wrongly, with directing The Wasps.)36 Aristophanes's use of directors complicates our reliance on the plays as sources of biographical information because apparent self-references might have been made with referencee to his directors instead. Thus for example a statement by the chorus in The Acharnians37 seems to indicate that the 'poet' had a close, personal association with the island of Aegina, yet the terms 'poet' (poietes) and 'director' (didaskalos) are often interchangeable as dramatic poets usually directed their own plays and therefore the reference in the play could be either to Aristophanes or Callistratus. Similarly, the hero in The Acharnians complains about Cleon "dragging me into court" over "last year's play"38 but here again it is not clear if this was said in reference to Aristophanes or Callistratus, either of whom might have been prosecuted by Cleon.39
Comments made by the Chorus referring to Aristophanes in The Clouds40 have been interpreted as evidence that he can hardly have been more than 18 years old when his first play The Banqueters was produced.41 The second parabasis in Wasps42 appears to indicate that he reached some kind of temporary accommodation with Cleon following either the controversy over The Babylonians or a subsequent controversy over The Knights.43 It has been inferred1 from statements in The Clouds and Peace that Aristophanes was prematurely bald.44
We know that Aristophanes was probably victorious at least once at the City Dionysia (with Babylonians in 427)45 and at least three times at the Lenaia, with Acharnians in 425, Knights in 424, and Frogs in 405. Frogs in fact won the unique distinction of a repeat performance at a subsequent festival. We know that a son of Aristophanes, Araros, was also a comic poet and he could have been heavily involved in the production of his father's play Wealth II in 388.46 Araros is also thought to have been responsible for the posthumous performances of the now lost plays Aeolosicon II and Cocalus,47 and it is possible that the last of these won the prize at the City Dionysia in 387.48 It appears that a second son, Philippus, was twice victorious at the Lenaia49 and he could have directed some of Eubulus’ comedies.50 A third son was called either Nicostratus or Philetaerus,51 and a man by the latter name appears in the catalogue of Lenaia victors with two victories, the first probably in the late 370s.52
Plato's The Symposium appears to be a useful source of biographical information about Aristophanes, but its reliability is open to doubt.53 It purports to be a record of conversations at a dinner party at which both Aristophanes and Socrates are guests, held some seven years after the performance of The Clouds, the play in which Socrates was cruelly caricatured. One of the guests, Alcibiades, even quotes from the play when teasing Socrates over his appearance54 and yet there is no indication of any ill-feeling between Socrates and Aristophanes.
Plato's Aristophanes is in fact a genial character and this has been interpreted as evidence of Plato's own friendship with him55 (their friendship appears to be corroborated by an epitaph for Aristophanes, reputedly written by Plato, in which the playwright's soul is compared to an eternal shrine for the Graces).56 Plato was only a boy when the events in The Symposium are supposed to have occurred and it is possible that his Aristophanes is in fact based on a reading of the plays. For example, conversation among the guests turns to the subject of Love and Aristophanes explains his notion of it in terms of an amusing allegory, a device he often uses in his plays. He is represented as suffering an attack of hiccoughs and this might be a humorous reference to the crude physical jokes in his plays. He tells the other guests that he is quite happy to be thought amusing but he is wary of appearing ridiculous.5758 This fear of being ridiculed is consistent with his declaration in The Knights that he embarked on the career of comic playwright warily after witnessing the public contempt and ridicule that other dramatists had incurred.59
Aristophanes survived The Peloponnesian War, two oligarchic revolutions and two democratic restorations; this has been interpreted as evidence that he was not actively involved in politics despite his highly political plays.60 He was probably appointed to the Council of Five Hundred for a year at the beginning of the fourth century but such appointments were very common in democratic Athens.61 Socrates, in the trial leading up to his own death, put the issue of a personal conscience in those troubled times quite succinctly:
ναγκαόν στι τν τ ντι μαχούμενον πρ το δικαίου, κα ε μέλλει λίγον χρόνον σωθήσεσθαι, διωτεύειν λλ μ δημοσιεύειν.62
"...he who will really fight for the right, if he would live even for a little while, must have a private station and not a public one.63
The language of Aristophanes' plays, and in Old Comedy generally, was valued by ancient commentators as a model of the Attic dialect. The orator Quintilian believed that the charm and grandeur of the Attic dialect made Old Comedy an example for orators to study and follow, and he considered it inferior in these respects only to the works of Homer.6465 A revival of interest in the Attic dialect may have been responsible for the recovery and circulation of Aristophanes' plays during the 4th and 5th centuries AD, resulting in their survival today.64 In Aristophanes' plays, the Attic dialect is couched in verse and his plays can be appreciated for their poetic qualities.
For Aristophanes' contemporaries the works of Homer and Hesiod formed the cornerstones of Hellenic history and culture. Thus poetry had a moral and social significance that made it an inevitable topic of comic satire.66 Aristophanes was very conscious of literary fashions and traditions and his plays feature numerous references to other poets. These include not only rival comic dramatists such as Eupolis and Hermippus67 and predecessors such as Magnes, Crates and Cratinus,68 but also tragedians, notably Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, all three of whom are mentioned in e.g. The Frogs. Aristophanes was the equal of these great tragedians in his subtle use of lyrics.69 He appears to have modelled his approach to language on that of Euripides in particular, so much so that the comic dramatist Cratinus labelled him a 'Euripidaristophanist' addicted to hair-splitting niceties.18
A full appreciation of Aristophanes' plays requires an understanding of the poetic forms he employed with virtuoso skill, and of their different rhythms and associations.70 There were three broad poetic forms: iambic dialogue, tetrameter verses and lyrics:71
•           Iambic dialogue: Aristophanes achieves an effect resembling natural speech through the use of the iambic trimeter (corresponding to the effects achieved by English poets such as Shakespeare using iambic pentameters). His realistic use of the metre7273 makes it ideal for both dialogue and soliloquy, as for instance in the prologue, before the arrival of the Chorus, when the audience is introduced to the main issues in the plot. The Acharnians opens with these three lines by the hero, Dikaiopolis (rendered here in English as iambic pentameters):
How many are the things that vex my heart!
Pleasures are few, so very few — just four -
But stressful things are manysandthousandsandheaps!74
Here Aristophanes employs a frequent device, arranging the syntax so that the final word in a line comes as a comic climax.75 The hero's pleasures are so few he can number them (τέτταρα, four) but his causes for complaint are so many they beggar numerical description and he must invent his own word for them (ψαμμακοσιογάργαρα, literally 'sandhundredheaps', here paraphrased 'manysandthousandsandheaps'). The use of invented compound words is another comic device frequently found in the plays.7677
•           Tetrameter catalectic verses: These are long lines of anapests, trochees or iambs (where each line is ideally measured in four dipodes or pairs of feet), used in various situations within each play such as:
o          formal debates or agons between characters (typically in anapestic rhythm);
o          excited dialogue or heated argument (typically trochaic rhythm, the same as in early tragedy);
o          long speeches declaimed by the Chorus in parabases (in either anapestic or trochaic rhythms);
o          informal debates barely above the level of ordinary dialogue (typically iambic).
Anapestic rhythms are naturally jaunty (as in many limericks) and trochaic metre is suited to rapid delivery (the word 'trochee' is in fact derived from trechein, 'to run', as demonstrated for example by choruses who enter at speed, often in aggressive mood)78 However, even though both these rhythms can seem to 'bowl along'72 Aristophanes often varies them through use of complex syntax and substituted metres, adapting the rhythms to the requirements of serious argument. In an anapestic passage in The Frogs, for instance, the character Aeschylus presents a view of poetry that is supposed to be serious but which leads to a comic interruption by the god, Dionysus:
AES.:It was Orpheus singing who taught us religion and how wrong people are when they kill,
And we learned from Musaeus medicinal cures and the science of divination.
If it's farming you want, Hesiod knows it all, when to plant, when to harvest. How godlike
Homer got to be famous, I'll tell if you ask: he taught us what all good men should know,
Discipline, fortitude, battle-readiness. DIO.: But no-one taught Pantocles — yesterday
He was marching his men up and down on parade when the crest of his helmet fell off!79
The rhythm begins at a typical anapestic gallop, slows down to consider the revered poets Hesiod and Homer, then gallops off again to its comic conclusion at the expense of the unfortunate Pantocles. Such subtle variations in rhythm are common in the plays, allowing for serious points to be made while still whetting the audience's appetite for the next joke.
•           Lyrics: Almost nothing is known about the music that accompanied Greek lyrics, and the metre is often so varied and complex that it is difficult for modern readers or audiences to get a feel for the intended effects, yet Aristophanes still impresses with the charm and simplicity of his lyrics.72 Some of the most memorable and haunting lyrics are dignified hymns set free of the comic action80 In the example below, taken from The Wasps, the lyric is merely a comic interlude and the rhythm is steadily trochaic. The syntax in the original Greek is natural and unforced and it was probably accompanied by brisk and cheerful music, gliding to a concluding pun at the expense of Amynias, who is thought to have lost his fortune gambling.81
Though to myself I often seem
A bright chap and not awkward,
None comes close to Amynias,
Son of Sellos of the Bigwig
Clan, a man I once saw
Dine with rich Leogorus.
Now as poor as Antiphon,
He lives on apples and pomegranates
Yet he got himself appointed
Ambassador to Pharselus,
Way up there in Thessaly,
Home of the poor Penestes:
Happy to be where everyone
Is as penniless as he is!82

The pun here in English translation (Penestes-penniless) is a weak version of the Greek pun Πενέσταισι-πενέστης, Penéstaisi-penéstĕs, "destitute". Many of the puns in the plays are based on words that are similar rather than identical, and it has been observed that there could be more of them than scholars have yet been able to identify.83 Others are based on double meanings. Sometimes entire scenes are constructed on puns, as in The Acharnians with the Megarian farmer and his pigs:84 the Megaran farmer defies the Athenian embargo against Megaran trade, and tries to trade his daughters disguised as pigs, except "pig" was ancient slang for "vagina". Since the embargo against Megara was the pretext for the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes naturally concludes that this whole mess happened because of "three cunts".
It can be argued that the most important feature of the language of the plays is imagery, particularly the use of similes, metaphors and pictorial expressions.75 In 'The Knights', for example, the ears of a character with selective hearing are represented as parasols that open and close.85 In The Frogs, Aeschylus is said to compose verses in the manner of a horse rolling in a sandpit.86 Some plays feature revelations of human perfectibility that are poetic rather than religious in character, such as the marriage of the hero Pisthetairos to Zeus's paramour in The Birds and the 'recreation' of old Athens, crowned with roses, at the end of The Knights.
Aristophanes and Rhetoric
It is widely believed that Aristophanes condemned rhetoric on both moral and political grounds. He states, “a speaker trained in the new rhetoric may use his talents to deceive the jury and bewilder his opponents so thoroughly that the trial loses all semblance of fairness”87 . He is speaking to the “art” of flattery, and evidence points towards the fact that many of Aristophanes’ plays were actually created with the intent to attack the view of rhetoric. The most noticeable attack can be seen in his play Banqueters, in which two brothers from different educational backgrounds argue over which education is better. One brother comes from a background of “old-fashioned” education while the other brother appears to be a product of the sophistic education 87 .
The chorus was mainly used by Aristophanes as a defense against rhetoric and would often talk about topics such as the civic duty of those who were educated in classical teachings. In Aristophanes’ opinion it was the job of those educated adults to protect the public from the deception and to stand as a beacon of light for those who were more gullible than others. One of the main reasons why Aristophanes was so against the sophists came into existence from the requirements listed by the leaders of the organization. Money was essential, which meant that roughly all of the pupils studying with the sophists came from upper-class backgrounds and excluded the rest of the polis. Aristophanes believed that education and knowledge was a public service and that anything that excluded willing minds was nothing but an abomination.88 He concludes that all politicians that study rhetoric must have "doubtful citizenships, unspeakable morals, and too much arrogance”87 .
The Greek word for comedy (kōmōidía) derives from the words for 'revel' and 'song' (kōmos and ōdē) and according to Aristotle89 comic drama actually developed from song. The first official comedy at the City Dionysia was not staged until 487/6 BC,90 by which time tragedy had already been long established there. The first comedy at the Lenaia was staged later still,91 only about 20 years before the performance there of The Acharnians, the first of Aristophanes' surviving plays. According to Aristotle, comedy was slow to gain official acceptance because nobody took it seriously,92 yet only sixty years after comedy first appeared at the City Dionysia, Aristophanes observed that producing comedies was the most difficult work of all.93 Competition at the Dionysian festivals needed dramatic conventions for plays to be judged, but it also fuelled innovations.94 Developments were quite rapid and Aristotle could distinguish between 'old' and 'new' comedy by 330 BC.95 The trend from Old Comedy to New Comedy saw a move away from highly topical concerns with real individuals and local issues towards generalized situations and stock characters. This was partly due to the internationalization of cultural perspectives during and after the Peloponnesian War.9697 For ancient commentators such as Plutarch,98 New Comedy was a more sophisticated form of drama than Old Comedy. However, Old Comedy was in fact a complex and sophisticated dramatic form incorporating many approaches to humour and entertainment.99 In Aristophanes' early plays, the genre appears to have developed around a complex set of dramatic conventions, and these were only gradually simplified and abandoned.
The City Dionysia and the Lenaia were celebrated in honour of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. (Euripides' play The Bacchae offers the best insight into 5th century ideas about this god.)100 Old Comedy can be understood as a celebration of the exuberant sense of release inherent in his worship101 It was more interested in finding targets for satire than in any kind of advocacy.102 During the City Dionysia, a statue of the god was brought to the theatre from a temple outside the city, and it remained in the theatre throughout the festival, overseeing the plays like a privileged member of the audience.103 In The Frogs, the god appears also as a dramatic character, and he enters the theatre ludicrously disguised as Hercules. He observes to the audience that every time he is on hand to hear a joke from a comic dramatist like Phrynichus (one of Aristophanes' rivals) he ages by more than a year.104 This scene opens the play, and it is a reminder to the audience that nobody is above mockery in Old Comedy — not even its patron god and its practitioners. Gods, artists, politicians and ordinary citizens were legitimate targets, comedy was a kind of licensed buffoonery,105 and there was no legal redress for anyone who was slandered in a play.106 There were certain limits to the scope of the satire, but they are not easily defined. Impiety could be punished in 5th century Athens, but the absurdities implicit in the traditional religion were open to ridicule.107 The polis was not allowed to be slandered, but as stated in the biography section of this article, that could depend on who was in the audience and which festival was involved.
For convenience, Old Comedy, as represented by Aristophanes' early plays, is analysed below in terms of three broad characteristics — topicality, festivity and complexity. Dramatic structure contributes to the complexity of Aristophanes' plays. However, it is associated with poetic rhythms and meters that have little relevance to English translations and it is therefore treated in a separate section.
Topicality
Old Comedy's emphasis on real personalities and local issues makes the plays difficult to appreciate today without the aid of scholarly commentaries — see for example articles on The Knights, The Wasps and Peace for lists of topical references. The topicality of the plays had unique consequences for both the writing and the production of the plays in ancient Athens.
•           Individual masks: All actors in classical Athens wore masks, but whereas in tragedy and New Comedy these identified stereotypical characters, in Old Comedy the masks were often caricatures of real people. Perhaps Socrates attracted a lot of attention in Old Comedy because his face lent itself easily to caricature by mask-makers.108 In The Knights we are told that the mask makers were too afraid to make a caricature of Cleon (there represented as a Paphlagonian slave) but we are assured that the audience is clever enough to identify him anyway.109
•           The real scene of action: Since Old Comedy makes numerous references to people in the audience, the theatre itself was the real scene of action and theatrical illusion was treated as something of a joke. In The Acharnians, for example, The Pnyx is just a few steps from the hero's front door, and in Peace Olympia is separated from Athens by a few moments' supposed flight on a dung beetle. The audience is sometimes drawn or even dragged into the action. When the hero in Peace returns to Athens from his flight to Olympia, he tells the audience that they looked like rascals when seen from the heavens, and seen up close they look even worse.110 In The Acharnians the hero confronts the archon basileus,111 sitting in the front row, and demands to be awarded first prize for a drinking competition, which is a none too subtle way for Aristophanes to request first prize for the drama competition.
•           Self-mocking theatre: Frequent parodying of tragedy is an aspect of Old Comedy that modern audiences find difficult to understand. But the Lenaia and City Dionysia included performances of both comedies and tragedies, and thus references to tragedy were highly topical and immediately relevant to the original audience.112 The comic dramatist also poked fun at comic poets and he even ridiculed himself. It is possible, as indicated earlier, that Aristophanes mocked his own baldness. In The Clouds, the Chorus compares him to an unwed, young mother113 and in The Acharnians the Chorus mockingly depicts him as Athens' greatest weapon in the war against Sparta.114
•           Political theatre: The Lenaia and City Dionysus were state-sponsored, religious festivals, and though the latter was the more prestigious of the two, both were occasions for official pomp and circumstance. The ceremonies for the Lenaia were overseen by the archon basileus and by officials of the Eleusinian mysteries. The City Dionysia was overseen by the archon eponymous and the priest of Dionysus. Opening ceremonies for the City Dionysia featured, in addition to the ceremonial arrival of the god, a parade in full armour of the sons of warriors who died fighting for the polis and, until the end of the Peloponnesian War, a presentation of annual tribute from subject states.115 Religious and political issues were topics that could hardly be ignored in such a setting and the plays often treat them quite seriously. Even jokes can be serious when the topic is politics — especially in wartime. The butts of the most savage jokes are opportunists who prey on the gullibility of their fellow citizens, including oracle-mongers,116 the exponents of new religious practices,117 war-profiteers and political fanatics.
In The Acharnians, for example, Lamachus is represented as a crazed militarist whose preparations for war are hilariously compared to the hero's preparations for a dinner party.118 Cleon emerges from numerous similes and metaphors in The Knights as a protean form of comic evil, clinging to political power by every possible means for as long as he can, yet the play also includes simple hymns invoking Poseidon and Athena,119 and it ends with visions of a miraculously transformed Demos (i.e. the morally reformed citizenry of Athens).120 Imaginative visions of a return to peaceful activities resulting from peace with Sparta,121 and a plea for leniency for citizens suspected of complicity in an oligarchic revolt122 are other examples of a serious purpose behind the plays.
•           Teasing and taunting: A festival audience presented the comic dramatist with a wide range of targets, not just political or religious ones — anyone known to the audience could be mocked for any reason, such as diseases, physical deformities, ugliness, family misfortunes, bad manners, perversions, dishonesty, cowardice in battle, and clumsiness.123 Foreigners, a conspicuous presence in imperial Athens, particularly at the City Dionysia, often appear in the plays comically mispronouncing Attic words — these include Spartans (Lysistrata), Scythians (Thesmophoriazusae), Persians, Boeotians and Megarians (The Acharnians).
Festivity
The Lenaia and City Dionysia were religious festivals, but they resembled a gala rather than a church service.124
•           Dirty jokes: A relaxation in standards of behaviour was permitted and the holiday spirit included bawdy irreverence towards both men and gods.125 Old Comedy is rich in obscenities and the crude jokes are often very detailed, as when the Chorus in The Acharnians places a curse on Antimachus,126 a choregus accused of niggardly conduct, wishing upon him a night-time mugging as he returns home from some drunken party and envisioning him, as he stoops down to pick up a rock in the darkness, accidentally picking up a fresh turd instead. He is then envisioned hurling the turd at his attacker, missing and accidentally hitting Cratinus, a lyric poet not admired by Aristophanes.127 This was particularly funny because the curse was sung (or chanted) in choreographed style by a Chorus of 24 grown men who were otherwise known to the audience as respectable citizens.
•           The musical extravaganza: The Chorus was vital to the success of a play in Old Comedy long after it had lost its relevance for tragedy.128 Technically, the competition in the dramatic festivals was not between poets but between choruses.129 In fact eight of Aristophanes' eleven surviving plays are named after the Chorus. In Aristophanes' time, the Chorus in tragedy was relatively small (twelve members) and its role had been reduced to that of an awkwardly placed commentator, but in Old Comedy the Chorus was large (numbering 24), it was actively involved in the plot, its entry into the action was frequently spectacular, its movements were practised with military precision and sometimes it was involved in choreographed skirmishes with the actors.130 The expenditure on costumes, training and maintenance of a Chorus was considerable,131 and perhaps many people in the original audience enjoyed comedy mainly for the spectacle and music.132 The chorus gradually lost its significance as New Comedy began to develop.
•           Obvious costumes: Consistent with the holiday spirit, much of the humour in Old Comedy is slapstick buffoonery that doesn't require the audience's careful attention, often relying on visual cues. Actors playing male roles appear to have worn tights over grotesque padding, with a prodigious, leather phallus barely concealed by a short tunic. Female characters were played by men but were easily recognized in long, saffron tunics.133 Sometimes the visual cues are deliberately confused for comic effect, as in The Frogs, where Dionysus arrives on stage in a saffron tunic, the buskin boots of a tragic actor and a lion skin cloak that usually characterized Heracles - an absurd outfit that provokes the character Heracles (as no doubt it provoked the audience) to guffaws of helpless mirth.134
•           The farcical anti-climax: The holiday spirit might also have been responsible for an aspect of the comic plot that can seem bewildering to modern audiences. The major confrontation (agon) between the 'good' and 'bad' characters in a play is often resolved decisively in favour of the former long before the end of the play. The rest of the play deals with farcical consequences in a succession of loosely connected scenes. The farcical anti-climax has been explained in a variety of ways, depending on the particular play. In The Wasps, for instance, it has been thought to indicate a gradual change in the main character's perspective as the lessons of the agon are slowly absorbed.135 In The Acharnians, it has been explained in terms of a unifying theme that underlies the episodes, demonstrating the practical benefits that come with wisdom.136 But the early release of dramatic tension is consistent with the holiday meanings in Old Comedy137 and it allows the audience to relax in uncomplicated enjoyment of the spectacle, the music, jokes and celebrations that characterize the remainder of the play. The celebration of the hero's victory often concludes in a sexual conquest and sometimes it takes the form of a wedding, thus providing the action with a joyous sense of closure.138
Complexity
The development of New Comedy involved a trend towards more realistic plots, a simpler dramatic structure and a softer tone.139 Old Comedy was the comedy of a vigorously democratic polis at the height of its power and it gave Aristophanes the freedom to explore the limits of humour, even to the point of undermining the humour itself.140
•           Inclusive comedy: Old Comedy provided a variety of entertainments for a diverse audience. It accommodated a serious purpose, light entertainment, hauntingly beautiful lyrics, the buffoonery of puns and invented words, obscenities, disciplined verse, wildly absurd plots and a formal, dramatic structure.
•           Fantasy and absurdity: Fantasy in Old Comedy is unrestricted and impossibilities are ignored.141 Situations are developed logically to absurd conclusions, an approach to humour that is echoed for instance in the works of Lewis Carroll and Eugène Ionesco (the Theatre of the Absurd).142 The crazy costume worn by Dionysus in The Frogs is typical of an absurd result obtained on logical grounds — he wears a woman's saffron-coloured tunic because effeminacy is an aspect of his divinity, buskin boots because he is interested in reviving the art of tragedy, and a lion skin cape because, like Heracles, his mission leads him into Hades. Absurdities develop logically from initial premises in a plot. In The Knights for instance, Cleon's corrupt service to the people of Athens is originally depicted as a household relationship in which the slave dupes his master. The introduction of a rival, who is not a member of the household, leads to an absurd shift in the metaphor, so that Cleon and his rival become erastai competing for the affections of an eromenos, hawkers of oracles competing for the attention of a credulous public, athletes in a race for approval and orators competing for the popular vote.
•           The resourceful hero: In Aristophanic comedy, the hero is an independent-minded and self-reliant individual. He has something of the ingenuity of Homer's Odysseus and much of the shrewdness of the farmer idealized in Hesiod's Works and Days, subjected to corrupt leaders and unreliable neighbours. Typically he devises a complicated and highly fanciful escape from an intolerable situation.143 Thus Dikaiopolis in The Acharnians contrives a private peace treaty with the Spartans; Bdelucleon in The Wasps turns his own house into a private law court in order to keep his jury-addicted father safely at home; Trygaeus in Peace flies to Olympus on a giant dung beetle to obtain an end to the Peloponnesian War; Pisthetairus in Birds sets off to establish his own colony and becomes instead the ruler of the bird kingdom and a rival to the gods.
•           The resourceful cast: The numerous surprising developments in an Aristophanic plot, the changes in scene, and the farcical comings and goings of minor characters towards the end of a play, were managed according to theatrical convention with only three principal actors (a fourth actor, often the leader of the chorus, was permitted to deliver short speeches).144 Songs and addresses to the audience by the Chorus gave the actors hardly enough time off-stage to draw breath and to prepare for changes in scene.
•           Complex structure: The action of an Aristophanic play obeyed a crazy logic of its own and yet it always unfolded within a formal, dramatic structure that was repeated with minor variations from one play to another. The different, structural elements are associated with different poetic meters and rhythms and these are generally lost in English translations.
Dramatic structure
The structural elements of a typical Aristophanic plot can be summarized as follows:
•          
o          prologue - an introductory scene with a dialogue and/or soliloquy addressed to the audience, expressed in iambic trimeter and explaining the situation that is to be resolved in the play;
o          parodos - the arrival of the chorus, dancing and singing, sometimes followed by a choreographed skirmish with one or more actors, often expressed in long lines of tetrameters;
o          symmetrical scenes - passages featuring songs and declaimed verses in long lines of tetrameters, arranged symmetrically in two sections such that each half resembles the other in meter and line length; the agon and parabasis can be considered specific instances of symmetrical scenes:
        parabasis - verses through which the Chorus addresses the audience directly, firstly in the middle of the play and again near the end (see the section below Parabasis);
        agon - a formal debate that decides the outcome of the play, typically in anapestic tetrameter, though iambs are sometimes used to delineate inferior arguments;145
o          episodes - sections of dialogue in iambic trimeter, often in a succession of scenes featuring minor characters towards the end of a play;
o          songs ('strophes'/'antistrophes' or 'odes'/'antodes') - often in symmetrical pairs where each half has the same meter and number of lines as the other, used as transitions between other structural elements, or between scenes while actors change costume, and often commenting on the action;
o          exodus - the departure of the Chorus and the actors, in song and dance celebrating the hero's victory and sometimes celebrating a symbolic marriage.
The rules of competition did not prevent a playwright arranging and adjusting these elements to suit his particular needs.146 In The Acharnians and Peace, for example, there is no formal agon whereas in The Clouds there are two agons.
Parabasis
The parabasis is an address to the audience by the Chorus and/or the leader of the Chorus while the actors are leaving or have left the stage. The Chorus in this role speaks sometimes out of character, as the author's mouthpiece, and sometimes in character, but very often it isn't easy to distinguish its two roles. Generally the parabasis occurs somewhere in the middle of a play and often there is a second parabasis towards the end. The elements of a parabasis have been defined and named by scholars but it is probable that Aristophanes' own understanding was less formal.147 The selection of elements can vary from play to play and it varies considerably within plays between first and second parabasis. The early plays (The Acharnians to The Birds) are fairly uniform in their approach however and the following elements of a parabasis can be found within them.
•           kommation: This is a brief prelude, comprising short lines and often including a valediction to the departing actors, such as τε χαίροντες (Go rejoicing!).
•           parabasis proper: This is usually a defense of the author's work and it includes criticism of the audience's attitude. It is declaimed in long lines of 'anapestic tetrameters'. Aristophanes himself refers to the parabasis proper only as 'anapests'.
•           pnigos: Sometimes known as 'a choker', it comprises a few short lines appended to the parabasis proper as a kind of rapid patter (it has been suggested that some of the effects achieved in a pnigos can be heard in "The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song", in act 2 of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe).148
•           epirrhematic syzygies: These are symmetrical scenes that mirror each other in meter and number of lines. They form part of the first parabasis and they often comprise the entire second parabasis. They are characterized by the following elements:
o          strophe or ode: These are lyrics in a variety of meters, sung by the Chorus in the first parabasis as an invocation to the gods and as a comic interlude in the second parabasis.
o          epirrhema: These are usually long lines of trochaic tetrameters. Broadly political in their significance, they were probably spoken by the leader of the Chorus in character.149
o          antistrophe or antode: These are songs that mirror the strophe/ode in meter, length and function.
o          antepirrhema. This is another declaimed passage and it mirrors the epirrhema in meter, length and function.
The Wasps is thought to offer the best example of a conventional approach150 and the elements of a parabasis can be identified and located in that play as follows.
Elements in The Wasps      1st parabasis 2nd parabasis
kommation   lines 1009-14151
---
parabasis proper       lines 1015-50            ---
pnigos            lines 1051-59 ---
strophe          lines 1060-70           lines 1265-74152
epirrhema     lines 1071-90            lines 1275-83
antistrophe   lines 1091-1101         missing
antepirrhema           lines 1102-1121         lines 1284-91
Textual corruption is probably the reason for the absence of the antistrophe in the second parabasis.153 However, there are several variations from the ideal even within the early plays. For example, the parabasis proper in The Clouds (lines 518-62) is composed in eupolidean meter rather than in anapests154 and the second parabasis includes a kommation but it lacks strophe, antistrophe and antepirrhema (The Clouds lines 1113-30). The second parabasis in The Acharnians lines 971-99155 can be considered a hybrid parabasis/song (i.e. the declaimed sections are merely continuations of the strophe and antistrophe)156 and, unlike the typical parabasis, it seems to comment on actions that occur on stage during the address. An understanding of Old Comedy conventions such as the parabasis is necessary for a proper understanding of Aristophanes' plays; on the other hand, a sensitive appreciation of the plays is necessary for a proper understanding of the conventions.
Influence and legacy
The tragic dramatists, Sophocles and Euripides, died near the end of the Peloponnesian War and the art of tragedy thereafter ceased to develop, yet comedy did continue to evolve after the defeat of Athens and it is possible that it did so because, in Aristophanes, it had a master craftsman who lived long enough to help usher it into a new age.157 Indeed, according to one ancient source (Platonius, c.9th Century AD), one of Aristophanes's last plays, Aioliskon, had neither a parabasis nor any choral lyrics (making it a type of Middle Comedy), while Kolakos anticipated all the elements of New Comedy, including a rape and a recognition scene.158 Aristophanes seems to have had some appreciation of his formative role in the development of comedy, as indicated by his comment in Clouds that his audience would be judged by other times according to its reception of his plays.159 Clouds was awarded third (i.e. last) place after its original performance and the text that has come down to the modern age was a subsequent draft that Aristophanes intended to be read rather than acted.160 The circulation of his plays in manuscript extended their influence beyond the original audience, over whom in fact they seem to have had little or no practical influence: they did not affect the career of Cleon, they failed to persuade the Athenians to pursue an honourable peace with Sparta and it is not clear that they were instrumental in the trial and execution of Socrates, whose death probably resulted from public animosity towards the philosopher's disgraced associates (such as Alcibiades),161 exacerbated of course by his own intransigence during the trial.162 The plays, in manuscript form, have been put to some surprising uses — as indicated earlier, they were used in the study of rhetoric on the recommendation of Quintilian and by students of the Attic dialect in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries AD. It is possible that Plato sent copies of the plays to Dionysius of Syracuse so that he might learn about Athenian life and government.163
Latin translations of the plays by Andreas Divus (Venice 1528) were circulated widely throughout Europe in the Renaissance and these were soon followed by translations and adaptations in modern languages. Racine, for example, drew Les Plaideurs (1668) from The Wasps. Goethe (who turned to Aristophanes for a warmer and more vivid form of comedy than he could derive from readings of Terence and Plautus) adapted a short play Die Vögel from The Birds for performance in Weimar. Aristophanes has appealed to both conservatives and radicals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — Anatoly Lunacharsky, first Commissar of Enlightenment for the USSR in 1917, declared that the ancient dramatist would have a permanent place in proletarian theatre and yet conservative, Prussian intellectuals interpreted Aristophanes as a satirical opponent of social reform.164 The avant-gardist stage-director Karolos Koun directed a version of The Birds under the Acropolis in 1959 that established a trend in modern Greek history of breaking taboos through the voice of Aristophanes.165
The plays have a significance that goes beyond their artistic function, as historical documents that open the window on life and politics in classical Athens, in which respect they are perhaps as important as the writings of Thucydides. The artistic influence of the plays is immeasurable. They have contributed to the history of European theatre and that history in turn shapes our understanding of the plays. Thus for example the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan can give us insights into Aristophanes' plays166 and similarly the plays can give us insights into the operettas.167 The plays are a source of famous sayings, such as "By words the mind is winged."168
Listed below is a random and very tiny sample of works influenced (more or less) by Aristophanes.
Drama
•           1909: Wasps, original Greek, Cambridge University undergraduate production, music by Vaughan Williams;
•           2004, July–October: The Frogs (musical), adapted by Nathan Lane, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, performed at The Vivian Beaumont Theater Broadway;
•           1962-2006: various plays by students and staff, Kings College London, in the original Greek:169 Frogs 1962,1971,1988; Thesmophoriazusae 1965, 1974, 1985; Acharnians 1968, 1992, 2004; Clouds 1977, 1990; Birds 1982, 2000; Ecclesiazusae 2006; Peace 1970; Wasps 1981
•           2002: Lysistrata, adapted by Robert Brustein, music by Galt McDermot, performed by American Repertory Theatre, Boston U.S.A.;
•           2008, May–June: Frogs, adapted by David Greenspan, music by Thomas Cabaniss, performed by Classic Stage Company, New York, U.S.A.
Literature
•           The romantic poet, Percy Shelley, wrote a comic, lyrical drama (Swellfoot the Tyrrant) in imitation of Aristophanes' play The Frogs after he was reminded of the Chorus in that play by a herd of pigs passing to market under the window of his lodgings in San Giuliano, Italy.170
•           Aristophanes (particularly in reference to The Clouds) is mentioned frequently by the character Menedemos in the Hellenic Traders series of novels by H N Turteltaub.
•           A liberal version of the comedies have been published in comic book format, initially by "Agrotikes Ekdoseis" during the 1990s and republished over the years by other companies. The plot was written by Tasos Apostolidis and the sketches were of George Akokalidis. The stories feature either Aristophanes narrating them, directing the play, or even as a character inside one of his stories.
Electronic media
•           The Wasps, radio play adapted by David Pountney, music by Vaughan Williams, recorded 26–28 July 2005, Albert Halls, Bolten, in association with BBC, under Halle label;
•           Acropolis Now is a comedy radio show for the BBC set in Ancient Greece. It features Aristophanes, Socrates and many other famous Greeks. (Not to be confused with the Australian sitcom of the same name.) Aristophanes is characterised as a celebrity playwright, and most of his plays have the title formula: One of Oure.g Slaves has an Enormous Knob (a reference to the exaggerated appendages worn by Greek comic actors)
•           Aristophanes Against the World was a radio play by Martyn Wade and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Loosely based on several of his plays, it featured Clive Merrison as Aristophanes.
•           In The Odd Couple, Oscar and Felix are on Password, and when the password is bird, Felix’s esoteric clue is "Aristophanes" because of his play The Birds. During the commercial break (having failed to guess the password and lost the round), Oscar orders Felix not to give any more Greek clues and angrily growls, "Aristophanes is ridiculous"! Then when it's Oscar’s turn to give the clue on the team’s next shot, the password is ridiculous and Oscar angrily growls "Aristophanes", to which Felix gleefully responds, "Ridiculous!"
Music
•           Satiric Dances for a Comedy by Aristophanes is a three-movement piece for concert band composed by Norman Dello Joio. It was commissioned in commemoration of the Bicentennial of 19 April 1775 (the start of the American Revolutionary War) by the Concord (Massachusetts) Band. The commission was funded by the Town of Concord and assistance was given by the Eastern National Park and Monument Association in cooperation with the National Park Service.
•           Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote The Wasps for a 1909 Cambridge University production of the play.171
Works
Surviving plays
 Most of these are traditionally referred to by abbreviations of their Latin titles; Latin remains a customary language of scholarship in classical studies.
•           The Acharnians (χαρνες Akharneis; Attic χαρνς; Acharnenses) 425 BC
•           The Knights (ππες Hippeis; Attic ππς; Latin: Equites) 424 BC
•           The Clouds (Νεφέλαι Nephelai; Latin: Nubes); original 423 BC, uncompleted revised version from 419 BC – 416 BC survives
•           The Wasps (Σφκες Sphekes; Latin: Vespae) 422 BC
•           Peace (Ερήνη Eirene; Latin: Pax) first version, 421 BC
•           The Birds (ρνιθες Ornithes; Latin: Aves) 414 BC
•           Lysistrata (Λυσιστράτη Lysistrate) 411 BC
•           Thesmophoriazusae or The Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria (Θεσμοφοριάζουσαι Thesmophoriazousai) first version c.411 BC
•           The Frogs (Βάτραχοι Batrakhoi; Latin: Ranae) 405 BC
•           Ecclesiazusae or The Assemblywomen; (κκλησιάζουσαι Ekklesiazousai) c. 392 BC
•           Wealth (Πλοτος Ploutos; Latin Plutus) second version, 388 BC
Datable non-surviving (lost) plays
The standard modern ion of the fragments is Kassel-Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci III.2.
•           Banqueters (427 BC)
•           Babylonians (426 BC)
•           Farmers (424 BC)
•           Merchant Ships (423 BC)
•           Clouds (first version) (423 BC)
•           Proagon (422 BC)
•           Amphiaraos (414 BC)
•           Plutus (Wealth, first version, 408 BC)
•           Gerytades (uncertain, probably 407 BC)
•           Kokalos (387 BC)
•           Aiolosikon (second version, 386 BC)
Undated non-surviving (lost) plays
•           Aiolosikon (first version)
•           Anagyros
•           Frying-Pan Men
•           Daidalos
•           Danaids
•           Centaur
•           Heroes
•           Lemnian Women
•           Old Age
•           Peace (second version)
•           Phoenician Women
•           Polyidos
•           Seasons
•           Storks
•           Telemessians
•           Triphales
•           Thesmophoriazusae (Women at the Thesmophoria Festival, second version)
•           Women in Tents
Attributed (doubtful, possibly by Archippus)
See also: Archippus (poet)
•           Dionysos Shipwrecked
•           Islands
•           Niobos
•           Poetry



The Wasps

By Aristophanes

Written 422 B.C.E

Dramatis Personae

PHILOCLEON
BDELYCLEON, his Son
SOSIAS, Slave of Philocleon
XANTHIAS, Slave of Philocleon
BOYS
DOGS
A GUEST
A BAKER'S WIFE
AN ACCUSER
CHORUS OF WASPS


Scene

In the background is the house of PHILOCLEON, surrounded by a huge net. Two slaves are on guard, one of them asleep. On the roof is BDELYCLEON.


SOSIAS waking XANTHIAS up
Why, Xanthias! what are you doing, wretched man?

XANTHIAS
I am teaching myself how to rest; I have been awake and on watch the whole night.

SOSIAS
So you want to earn trouble for your ribs, eh? Don't you know what sort of animal we are guarding here?

XANTHIAS
Aye indeed! but I want to put my cares to sleep for a while.
He falls asleep again.

SOSIAS
Beware what you do. I too feel soft sleep spreading over my eyes,

XANTHIAS
Are you crazy, like a Corybant?

SOSIAS
No! It's Bacchus who lulls me off.

XANTHIAS
Then you serve the same god as myself. just now a heavy slumber settled on my eyelids like a hostile Mede; I nodded and, faith! I had a wondrous dream.

SOSIAS
Indeed! and so had I. A dream such as I never had before. But first tell me yours.

XANTHIAS
I saw an eagle, a gigantic bird, descend upon the market-place; it seized a brazen buckler with its talons and bore it away into the highest heavens; then I saw it was Cleonymus had thrown it away.

SOSIAS
This Cleonymus is a riddle worth propounding among guests. How can one and the same animal have cast away his buckler both on land, in the sky and at sea?

XANTHIAS
Alas! what ill does such a dream portend for me?

SOSIAS
Rest undisturbed! Please the gods, no evil will befall you.

XANTHIAS
Nevertheless, it's a fatal omen when a man throws away his weapons. But what was your dream? Let me hear.

SOSIAS
Oh! it is a dream of high import. It has reference to the hull of the State; to nothing less.

XANTHIAS
Tell it to me quickly; show me its very keel.

SOSIAS
In my first slumber I thought I saw sheep, wearing cloaks and carrying staves, met in assembly on the Pnyx; a rapacious whale was haranguing them and screaming like a pig that is being grilled.

XANTHIAS
Faugh! faugh!

SOSIAS
What's the matter?

XANTHIAS
Enough, enough, spare me. Your dream stinks vilely of old leather.

SOSIAS
Then this scoundrelly whale seized a balance and set to weighing ox-fat.

XANTHIAS
Alas! it's our poor Athenian people, whom this accursed beast wishes to cut up and despoil of their fat.

SOSIAS
Seated on the ground close to it, I saw Theorus, who had the head of crow. Then Alcibiades said to me in his lisping way, "Do you thee? Theoruth hath a crow'th head."

XANTHIAS
Ah! that's very well lisped indeed!

SOSIAS
Isn't this mighty strange? Theorus turning into a crow!

XANTHIAS
No, it is glorious.

SOSIAS
Why?

XANTHIAS
Why? He was a man and now he has suddenly become a crow; does it not foretoken that he will take his flight from here and go to the crows?

SOSIAS
Interpreting dreams so aptly certainly is worth two obols.

XANTHIAS turning to the audience
Come, I must explain the matter to the spectators. But first a few words of preamble: expect nothing very high-flown from us, nor any jests stolen from Megara; we have no slaves, who throw baskets of nuts to the spectators, nor any Heracles to be robbed of his dinner, nor does Euripides get loaded with contumely; and despite the happy chance that gave Cleon his fame we shall not go out of our way to belabour him again, Our little subject is not wanting in sense; it is well within your capacity and at the same time cleverer than many vulgar comedies.-We have a master of great renown, who is now sleeping up there on the other story. He has bidden us keep guard over his father, whom he has locked in, so. that he may not go out. This father has a curious complaint; not one of you could hit upon or guess it, if I did not tell you.-Well then, try! I hear Amynias, the son of Pronapus, over there, saying, "He is addicted to gambling." He's wrong! He is imputing his own malady to others. Yet love is indeed the principal part of his disease. Ah! here Sosias is telling Dercylus, "He loves drinking." Wrong again! the love of wine is a good man's failing. "Well then," says Nicostratus of the Scambonian deme, "he either loves sacrifices or else strangers." God no! he is not fond of strangers, Nicostratus, for he who says "Philoxenus" means a pederast, It's mere waste of time, you will not find it out. If you want to know it, keep silence! I will tell your our master's complaint; of all men, it is he who is fondest of the Heliaea. Thus, to be judging is his hobby, and he groans if he is not sitting on the first seat. He does not close an eye at night, and if he dozes off for an instant his mind flies instantly to the clepsydra. He is so accustomed to hold the balloting pebble, that he awakes with his three fingers pinched together as if he were offering incense to the new moon. If he sees scribbled on some doorway, "How charming is Demos, the son of Pyrilampes!" he will write beneath it, "How charming is Cemos!" His cock crowed one evening; said he, "He has had money from the accused to awaken me too late. As soon as he rises from supper he bawls for his shoes and away he rushes down there before dawn to sleep beforehand, glued fast to the column like an oyster. He is a merciless judge, never failing to draw the convicting line and return home with his nails full of wax like a bumble-bee. Fearing he might run short of pebbles he keeps enough at home to cover a sea-beach, so that he may have the means of recording his sentence. Such is his madness, and all advice is useless; he only judges the more each day. So we keep him under lock and key, to prevent his going out; for his son is broken-hearted over this mania. At first he tried him with gentleness, wanted to persuade him to wear the cloak no longer, to go out no more; unable to convince him, he had him bathed and purified according to the ritual without any greater success, and then handed him over to the Corybantes; but the old man escaped them, and carrying off the kettledrum, rushed right into the midst of the Heliasts. As Cybele could do nothing with her rites, his son took him to Aegina and forcibly made him lie one night in the temple of Asclepius, the God of Healing, but before daylight there he was to be seen at the gate of the tribunal. Since then we let him go out no more, but he escaped us by the drains or by the skylight, so we stuffed up every opening with old rags and made all secure; then he drove short sticks into the wall and sprang from rung to rung like a magpie. Now we have stretched-nets all around the court and we keep watch and ward. The old man's name is Philocleon, it's the best name he could have, and the son is called Edelycleon, for he is a man very fit to cure an insolent fellow of his boasting.

BDELYCLEON from the roof
Xanthias! Sosias! Are you asleep?

XANTHIAS
Alas!

SOSIAS
What is the matter?

XANTHIAS
Why, Bdelycleon is getting up.

BDELYCLEON
Will neither of you come here? My father has got into the stove-chamber and is ferreting about like a rat in his hole. Take care he does not escape through the bath drain. You there, put all your weight against the door.

XANTHIAS
Yes, master.

BDELYCLEON
By Zeus! what is that noise in the chimney? Hullo! who are you?

PHILOCLEON poking his head out of the chimney
I am the smoke going up.

BDELYCLEON
Smoke? smoke of what wood?

PHILOCLEON
Of fig-wood.

BDELYCLEON
Ah! that's the most acrid of all. But you shall not get out. Where is the chimney cover? Come down again. Now, up with another cross-bar. Now look out for some fresh dodge. But am I not the most unfortunate of men? Henceforward I shall only be called the son of Capnius.

XANTHIAS
He is pushing the door.

BDELYCLEON
Throw your weight upon it, come, put heart into the work. I will come and help you. Watch both lock and bolt. Take care he does not gnaw through the peg.

PHILOCLEON from within
What are you doing, you wretches? Let me go out; it is imperative that I go and judge, or Dracontides will be acquitted.

XANTHIAS
Would you mind that?

PHILOCLEON
Once at Delphi, the god, whom I was consulting, foretold, that if an accused man escaped me, I should die of consumption.

XANTHIAS
Apollo the Saviour, what a prophecy!

PHILOCLEON
Ah! I beseech you, if you do not want my death, let me go.

XANTHIAS
No, Philocleon, no never, by Posidon!

PHILOCLEON
Well then, I shall gnaw through the net with my teeth.

XANTHIAS
But you have no teeth.

PHILOCLEON
Oh! you rascal, how can I kill you? How? Give me a sword, quick, or a conviction tablet.

BDELYCLEON
Our friend is planning some great crime.

PHILOCLEON
No, by Zeus! but I want to go and sell my ass and its panniers, for it's the first of the month.

BDELYCLEON
Could I not sell it just as well?

PHILOCLEON
Not as well as I could.

BDELYCLEON
No, but better.

PHILOCLEON
Bring out the ass anyway.

XANTHIAS
What a clever excuse he has found now! What cunning to get you to let him go out!

BDELYCLEON
Yes, but I have not swallowed the hook; I scented the trick. I will go in and fetch the ass, so that the old man may not point his weapons that way again.
He goes in, returning immediately with the ass.
Stupid old ass, are you weeping because you are going to be sold? Come, go a bit quicker. Why, what are you moaning and groaning for? You might be carrying another Odysseus.

XANTHIAS
Why, certainly, so he is! someone has crept beneath his belly.

BDELYCLEON
Who, who? Let's see. Why it's he! What does this mean? Who are you? Come, speak!

PHILOCLEON
I am Noman.

BDELYCLEON
Noman? Of what country?

PHILOCLEON
Of Ithaca, son of Apodrasippides.

BDELYCLEON
Ha! Mister Noman, you will not laugh presently. Pull him out quick. Ah! the wretch, where has he crept to? Does he not resemble a she-ass to the life?

PHILOCLEON
If you do not leave me in peace, I shall sue.

BDELYCLEON
And what will the suit be about?

PHILOCLEON
The shade of an ass.

BDELYCLEON
You are a poor man of very little wit, but thoroughly brazen.

PHILOCLEON
A poor man! Ah! by Zeus! you know not now what I am worth; but you will know when you disembowel the old Heliast's money-bag.

BDELYCLEON
Come, get back indoors, both you and your ass.

PHILOCLEON
Oh! my brethren of the tribunal! oh! Cleon! to the rescue!

BDELYCLEON
Go and bawl in there under lock and key. And you there, pile plenty of stones against the door, thrust the bolt home into the staple, and to keep this beam in its place roll that great mortar against it. Quick's the word.

XANTHIAS
Oh! my god! whence did this brick fall on me?

BDELYCLEON
Perhaps a rat loosened it.

XANTHIAS
A rat? it's surely our gutter-judge, who has crept beneath the tiles of the roof.

BDELYCLEON
Ah! woe to us! there he is, he has turned into a sparrow; he will be flying off. Where is the net? where? Shoo! shoo! get back! Ah! by Zeus! I would rather have to guard Scione than such a father.

XANTHIAS
And now that we have driven him in thoroughly and he can no longer escape without our knowledge, can we not have a few winks of sleep, no matter how few?

BDELYCLEON
Why, wretch! the other jurymen will be here almost directly to summon my father!

XANTHIAS
Why, it's scarcely dawn yet!

BDELYCLEON
Ah, they must have risen late to-day. Generally it is the middle of the night when they come to fetch him. They arrive here, carrying lanterns in their hands and singing the charming old verses of Phrynichus' Sidonian Women; it's their way of calling him.

XANTHIAS
Well, if need be, we will chase them off with stones.

BDELYCLEON
What! you dare to speak so? Why, this class of old men, if irritated, becomes as terrible as a swarm of wasps. They carry below their loins the sharpest of stings, with which to prick their foes; they shout and leap and their stings burn like so many sparks.

XANTHIAS
Have no fear! If I can find stones to throw into this nest of jurymen-wasps, I shall soon have them cleared off.
Enter the CHORUS, composed of old men costumed as wasps.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
March on, advance boldly and bravely! Comias, your feet are dragging; once you were as tough as a dog-skin strap and now even Charinades walks better than you. Ha! Strymodorus of Conthyle, you best of mates, where is Euergides and where is Chabes of Phlya? Ha, ha, bravo! there you are, the last of the lads with whom we mounted guard together at Byzantium. Do you remember how, one night, prowling round, we noiselessly stole the kneading-trough of a baker's wife; we split it in two and cooked our green-stuff with it.-But let us hasten, for the case of Laches comes on to-day, and they all say he has embezzled a pot of money. Hence Cleon, our protector, advised us yesterday to come early and with a three days' stock of fiery rage so as to chastise him for his crimes. Let us hurry, comrades, before it is light; come, let us search every nook with our lanterns to see whether those who wish us ill have not set us some trap.

BOY
Father, father, watch out for the mud.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Pick up a blade of straw and trim your lamp.

BOY
No. I can trim it quite well with my finger.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why do you pull out the wick, you little dolt? Oil is scarce, and it's not you who suffer when it has to be paid for.
Strikes him.

BOY
If you teach us again with your fists, we shall put out the lamps and go home; then you will have no light and will squatter about in the mud like ducks in the dark.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
I know how to punish offenders bigger than you. But I think I am treading in some mud. Oh! it's certain it will rain in torrents for four days at least; look at the snuff in our lamps; that is always a sign of heavy rain; but the rain and the north wind will be good for the crops that are still standing. Why, what can have happened to our mate, who lives here? Why does he not come to join our party? There used to be no need to haul him in our wake, for he would march at our head singing the verses of Phrynichus; he was a lover of singing. Should we not, friends, make a halt here and sing to call him out? The charm of my voice will fetch him out, if he hears it.

CHORUS singing
Why does the old man not show himself before the door? Why does he not answer? Has he lost his shoes? has he stubbed his toe in the dark and thus got a swollen ankle? Perhaps he has a tumour in his groin. He was the hardest of us all; he alone never allowed himself to be moved. If anyone tried to move him, he would lower his head, saying, "You might just as well try to boil a stone." But I bethink me, an accused man escaped us yesterday through his false pretence that he loved Athens and had been the first to unfold the Samian plot. Perhaps his acquittal has so distressed Philocleon that he is abed with fever-he is quite capable of such a thing.-Friend, arise, do not thus vex your heart, but forget your wrath. To-day we have to judge a man made wealthy by-treason, one of those who set Thrace free; we have to prepare him a funeral urn....so march on, my boy, get going.
Here a duet begins between the BOY and the CHORUS.

BOY
Father, would you give me something if I asked for it?

CHORUS
Assuredly, my child, but tell me what nice thing do you want me to buy you? A set of knuckle-bones, I suppose.

BOY
No, father, I prefer figs; they are better.

CHORUS
No, by Zeus! even if you were to hang yourself with vexation.

BOY
Well then, I will lead you no farther.

CHORUS
With my small pay, I am obliged to buy bread, wood, and stew; and now you ask me for figs!

BOY
But, father, if the Archon should not form a court to-day, how are we to buy our dinner? Have you some good hope to offer us or only "Helle's sacred waves"?

CHORUS
Alas! alas! I have not a notion how we shall dine.

BOY
Oh! my poor mother! why did you let me see this day?

CHORUS
So that you might give me troubles to feed on.

BOY
Little wallet, you seem like to be a mere useless ornament!

BOY AND CHORUS
It is our destiny to groan.

PHILOCLEON appearing at an upper window; singing
My friends, I have long been pining away while listening to you from my window, but I absolutely know not what to do. I am detained here, because I have long wanted to go with you to the law-court and do all the harm I can. Oh! Zeus! cause the peals of thy thunder to roll, change me quickly into smoke or make me into a Proxenides, a tissue of falsehoods, like the son of Sellus. Oh, King of Heaven! hesitate not to grant me this favour, pity my misfortune or else may thy dazzling lightning instantly reduce me to ashes; then carry me hence, and may thy breath hurl me into some strong, hot marinade or turn me into one of the stones on which the votes are counted.

CHORUS singing
Who is it detains you and shuts you in? Speak, for you are talking to friends.

PHILOCLEON singing
My son. But no bawling, he is there in front asleep; lower your voice.

CHORUS singing
But, poor fellow, what is his aim? what is his object?

PHILOCLEON singing
My friends, he will not have me judge nor do anyone any ill, but he wants me to stay at home and enjoy myself, and I will not. And does this wretch, this Demologocleon dare to say such odious things, just because you tell the truth about our navy? He would not have dared, had he not been a conspirator.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But meanwhile, you must devise some new dodge, so that you can come down here without his knowledge.

PHILOCLEON
But what? Try to find some way. For myself, I am ready for anything, so much do I burn to run along the tiers of the tribunal with my voting-pebble in my hand.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
There is surely some hole through which you could manage to squeeze from within, and escape dressed in rags, like the crafty Odysseus.

PHILOCLEON
Everything is sealed fast; not so much as a gnat could get through. Think of some other plan; there is no possible hole of escape.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Do you recall how, when you were with the army at the taking of Naxos, you descended so readily from the top of the wall by means of the spits you had stolen?

PHILOCLEON
I remember that well enough, but what connection is there with present circumstances? I was young, clever at thieving, I had all my strength, none watched over me, and I could run off without fear. But to-day men-at-arms are placed at every outlet to watch me, and two of them are lying in wait for me at this very door armed with spits, just as folks lie in wait for a cat that has stolen a piece of meat.

CHORUS singing
Come, discover some way as quick as possible. Here is the dawn come, my dear little friend.

PHILOCLEON singing
The best way is to gnaw through the net. Oh! goddess who watchest over the nets, forgive me for making a hole in this one.

CHORUS singing
It's acting like a man eager for his safety. Get your jaws to work.

PHILOCLEON singing
There! it's gnawed through! But no shouting! let Bdelycleon notice nothing!

CHORUS singing
Have no fear, have no fear! if he breathes a syllable, it will be to bruise his own knuckles; he will have to fight to defend his own head. We shall teach him not to insult the mysteries of the goddesses.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But fasten a rope to the window, tie it around your body and let yourself down to the ground, with your heart bursting with the fury of Diopithes.

PHILOCLEON
But if these notice it and want to fish me up and drag me back into the house, what will you do? Tell me that.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
We shall call up the full strength of our oak-tough courage to your aid. That is what we will do.

PHILOCLEON
I trust myself to you and risk the danger. If misfortune overtakes me, take away my body, bathe it with your tears and bury it beneath the bar of the tribunal.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Nothing will happen to you, rest assured. Come, friend, have courage and let yourself slide down while you invoke your country's gods.

PHILOCLEON
Oh! mighty Lycus! noble hero and my neighbour, thou, like myself, takest pleasure in the tears and the groans of the accused. If thou art come to live near the tribunal, 'tis with the express design of hearing them incessantly; thou alone of all the heroes hast wished to remain among those who weep. Have pity on me and save him, who lives close to thee; I swear I will never make water, never, nor ever let a fart, against the railing of thy statue.
He slides down as quietly as possible; nevertheless BDELYCLEON wakes up.

BDELYCLEON to XANTHIAS
Ho, there! ho! get up!

XANTHIAS waking up
What's the matter?

BDELYCLEON
I thought I heard talking close to me. Is the old man at it again, escaping through some loophole?

XANTHIAS
No, by Zeus! no, but he is letting himself down by a rope.

BDELYCLEON
Ha, rascal! what are you doing there? You shall not descend.
To XANTHIAS
Mount quick to the other window, strike him with the boughs that hang over the entrance; perhaps he will turn back when he feels himself being thrashed.

PHILOCLEON to the audience
To the rescue! all you, who are going to have lawsuits this year-Smicythion, Tisiades, Chremon and Pheredipnus. It's now or never, before they force me to return, that you must help.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why do we delay to let loose that fury, that is so terrible, when our nests are attacked?

CHORUS singing
I feel my angry sting is stiffening, that sharp sting, with which we punish our enemies. Come, children, cast your cloaks to the winds, run, shout, tell Cleon what is happening, that he may march against this foe of our city, who deserves death, since he proposes to prevent the trial of lawsuits.
The Boys run off, taking the CHORUS' mantles with them.

BDELYCLEON rushing out of the house with the two slaves and seizing his father
Friends, listen to the truth, instead of bawling.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
By Zeus! we will shout to heaven.

BDELYCLEON
And I shall not let him go.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why, this is intolerable, 'tis manifest tyranny.

CHORUS singing
Oh! citizens, oh! Theorus, the enemy of the gods! and all you flatterers, who rule us! come to our aid.

XANTHIAS
By Heracles! they have stings. Do you see them, master?

BDELYCLEON
It was with these weapons that they killed Philippus the son of Gorgias when he was put on trial.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
And you too shall die. Turn yourselves this way, all, with your stings out for attack and throw yourselves upon him in good and serried order, and swelled up with wrath and rage. Let him learn to know the sort of foes he has dared to irritate.

XANTHIAS
The fight will be fast and furious, by great Zeus! I tremble at the sight of their stings.

CHORUS singing
Let this man go, unless you want to envy the tortoise his hard shell.

PHILOCLEON
Come, my dear companions, wasps with relentless hearts, fly against him, animated with your fury. Sting him in the arse, eyes, and fingers.

BDELYCLEON opening the door and trying to shove his struggling father in
Midas, Phryx, Masyntias, here! Come and help. Seize this man and hand him over to no one, otherwise you shall starve to death in chains. Fear nothing, I have often heard the crackling of fig-leaves in the fire.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
If you won't let him go, I shall bury this sting in your body.

PHILOCLEON
Oh, Cecrops, mighty hero with the tail of a dragon! Seest thou how these barbarians ill-use me-me, who have many a time made them weep a full bushel of tears?

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Is not old age filled with cruel ills? What violence these two slaves offer to their old master! they have forgotten all bygones, the fur-coats and the jackets and the caps he bought for them; in winter he watched that their feet should not get frozen. And only see them now; there is no gentleness in their look nor any recollection of the slippers of other days.

PHILOCLEON to XANTHIAS
Will you let me go, you accursed animal? Don't you remember the day when I surprised you stealing the grapes; I tied you to an olive-tree and I cut open your bottom with such vigorous lashes that folks thought you had been raped. Get away, you are ungrateful. But let go of me, and you too, before my son comes up.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You shall repay us for all this, and that soon. Tremble at our ferocious glance; you shall taste our just anger.

BDELYCLEON
Strike! strike! Xanthias! Drive these wasps away from the house.

XANTHIAS
That's just what I am doing.

BDELYCLEON
Blind them with smoke too!

XANTHIAS AND SOSIAS
You will not go? The plague seize you! Will you not clear off?

BDELYCLEON
Hit them with your stick Xanthias, and you Sosias, to smoke them out better, throw Aeschines, the son of Sellartius, on the fire.

XANTHIAS as the CHORUS retires from the unequal conquest
There, we were bound to drive you off sooner or later!

BDELYCLEON
Eh! by Zeus! you would not have put them to flight so easily if they had fed on the verses of Philocles.

CHORUS singing
It is clear to all the poor that tyranny has attacked us sorely. Proud emulator of Amynias, you, who only take pleasure in doing ill, see how you are preventing us from obeying the laws of the city; you do not even seek a pretext or any plausible excuse, but claim to rule alone.

BDELYCLEON
Hold! A truce to all blows and brawling! Had we not better confer together and come to some understanding?

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Confer with you, the people's foe! with you, a royalist....

CHORUS singing
....and accomplice of Brasidas, you with your woollen-fringed coat and your long beard?

BDELYCLEON
Ah! it would be better to separate altogether from my father than to steer my boat daily through such stormy seas!

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! you have but reached the parsley and the rue, to use the common saying. What you are suffering is nothing! but welcome the hour when the advocate shall adduce all these same arguments against you and shall summon your accomplices to give witness.

BDELYCLEON
In the name of the gods! withdraw or we shall fight you the whole day long.

CHORUS singing
No, not as long as I retain an atom of breath. Ha! your desire is to tyrannize over us!

BDELYCLEON
Everything is now tyranny with us, no matter what is concerned, whether it be large or small. Tyranny! I have not heard the word mentioned once in fifty years, and now it is more common than salt-fish, the word is even current on the market. If you are buying gurnards and don't want anchovies, the huckster next door, who is selling the latter, at once exclaims, "That is a man whose kitchen savours of tyranny!" If you ask for onions to season your fish, the green-stuff woman winks one eye and asks, "Ha, you ask for onions! are you seeking to tyrannize, or do you think that Athens must pay you your seasonings as a tribute?"

XANTHIAS
Yesterday I went to see a whore about noon and told her to get on top; she flew into a rage, pretending I wanted to restore the tyranny of Hippias.

BDELYCLEON
That's the talk that pleases the people! As for myself, I want my father to lead a joyous life like Morychus instead of going away before dawn basely to calumniate and condemn; and for this I am accused of conspiracy and tyrannical practice!

PHILOCLEON
And quite right too, by Zeus! The most exquisite dishes do not make up to me for the life of which you deprive me. I scorn your red mullet and your eels, and would far rather eat a nice little lawsuitlet cooked in the pot.

BDELYCLEON
That's because you have got used to seeking your pleasure in it; but if you will agree to keep silence and hear me, I think I could persuade you that you deceive yourself altogether.

PHILOCLEON
I deceive myself, when I am judging?

BDELYCLEON
You do not see that you are the laughing-stock of these men, whom you are ready to worship. You are their slave and do not know it.

PHILOCLEON
I a slave, I, who lord it over all?

BDELYCLEON
Not at all, you think you are ruling when you are only obeying. Tell me, father, what do you get out of the tribute paid by so many Greek towns.

PHILOCLEON
Much, and I appoint my colleagues jurymen.

BDELYCLEON
And I also.
To the slaves
Release him.

PHILOCLEON
And bring me a sword; If I am worsted in this debate, I shall fall on the blade.

BDELYCLEON
Tell me whether you will accept the verdict of the Court.

PHILOCLEON
May I never drink my Heliast's pay in honour of the Good Genius, it if I do not.

CHORUS singing
Now it is necessary for you, who are of our school, to say something novel, that you may not seem...

BDELYCLEON interrupting
And I must note down everything he says, so as to remember it; someone bring me a tablet, quick.

CHORUS singing
....to side with this youth in his opinions. You see how serious the question has become; if he should prevail, which the gods forfend, it will be all over for us.

PHILOCLEON
But what will you say of it, if he should triumph in the debate?

CHORUS singing
That old men are no longer good for anything; we shall be perpetually laughed at in the streets, shall be called thallophores, mere brief-bags.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You are to be the champion of all our rights and sovereignty. Come, take courage! Bring into action all the resources of your wit.

PHILOCLEON
At the outset I will prove to you that there exists no king whose might is greater than ours. Is there a pleasure, a blessing comparable with that of a juryman? Is there a being who lives more in the midst of delights, who is more feared, aged though he be? From the moment I leave my bed, men of power, the most illustrious in the city, await me at the bar of the tribunal; the moment I am seen from the greatest distance, they come forward to offer me a gentle handy-that has pilfered the public funds; they entreat me, bowing right low and with a piteous voice, "Oh, father," they say, "pity me, I adjure you by the profit you were able to make in the public service or in the army, when dealing with the victuals." Why, the man who speaks thus would not know of my existence, had I not let him off on some former occasion.

BDELYCLEON
Let us note this first point, the supplicants.

PHILOCLEON
These entreaties have appeased my wrath, and I enter-firmly resolved to do nothing that I have promised. Nevertheless I listen to the accused. Oh! what tricks to secure acquittal! Ah! there is no form of flattery that is not addressed to the Heliast! Some groan over their poverty and exaggerate it. Others tell us anecdotes or some comic story from Aesop. Others, again, cut jokes; they fancy I shall be appeased if I won If we are not even then won over, why, then they drag forward their young children by the hand, both boys and girls, who prostrate themselves and whine with one accord, and then the father, trembling as if before a god, beseeches me not to condemn him out of pity for them, "If you love the voice of the lamb, have pity on my sons"; and because I am fond of little sows, I must yield to his daughter's prayers. Then we relax the heat of our wrath a little for him. Is not this great power indeed, which allows even wealth to be disdained?

BDELYCLEON
A second point to note, the disdain of wealth. And now recall to me what are the advantages you enjoy, you, who pretend to rule over Greece?

PHILOCLEON
We are entrusted with the inspection of the young men, and thus we have a right to examine their tools. If Oeagrus is accused, he is not acquitted before he has recited a passage from 'Niobe' and he chooses the finest. If a flute-player gains his case, he adjusts his mouth-strap in return and plays us the final air while we are leaving. A father on his death-bed names some husband for his daughter, who is his sole heir; but we care little for his will or for the shell so solemnly placed over the seal; we give the young maiden to him who has best known how to secure our wavour. Name me another duty that is so important and so irresponsible.

BDELYCLEON
Aye, it's a fine privilege, and the only one on which I can congratulate you; but surely to violate the will is to act badly towards the heiress.

PHILOCLEON
And if the Senate and the people have trouble in deciding some important case, it is decreed to send the culprits before the Heliasts; then Euathlus and the illustrious Colaconymus, who cast away his shield, swear not to betray us and to fight for the people. Did ever an orator carry the day with his opinion if he had not first declared that the jury should be dismissed for the day as soon as they had given their first verdict? We are the only ones whom Cleon, the great bawler, does not badger. On the contrary, he protects and caresses us; he keeps off the flies, which is what you have never done for your father. Theorus, who is a man not less illustrious than Euphemius, takes the sponge out of the pot and blacks our shoes. See then what good things you deprive and despoil me of. Pray, is this obeying or being a slave, as you pretended to be able to prove?

BDELYCLEON
Talk away to your heart's content; you must come to a stop at last and then you shall see that this grand power only resembles an anus; no matter how much you wash it, you can never get it clean.

PHILOCLEON
But I am forgetting the most pleasing thing of all. When I return home with my pay, everyone runs to greet me because of my money. First my daughter bathes me, anoints my feet, stoops to kiss me and, while she is calling me "her dearest father," fishes out my triobolus with her tongue; then my little wife comes to wheedle me and brings a nice light cake; she sits beside me and entreats me in a thousand ways, "Do take this now; do have some more." All this delights me hugely, and I have no need to turn towards you or the steward to know when it shall please him to serve my dinner, all the while cursing and grumbling. But if he does not quickly knead my cake, I have something which is my defence, my shield against all ills. If you do not pour me out drink, I have brought this long-eared jar full of wine. How it brays, when I bend back and bury its neck in my mouth! It farts like a whole army, and how I laugh at your wine-skins.
With increasing excitement
As to power, am I not equal to the king of the gods? If our assembly is noisy, all say as they pass, "Great gods! the tribunal is rolling out its thunder!" If I let loose the lightning, the richest, aye, the noblest are half dead with terror and crap for fright. You yourself are afraid of me, yea, by Demeter! you are afraid. But may I die if you frighten me.

CHORUS singing
Never have I heard speech so elegant or so sensible.

PHILOCLEON
Ah! he thought he had only to turn me round his finger; he should, however have known the vigour of my eloquence.

CHORUS singing
He has said everything without omission. I felt myself grow taller while I listened to him. Methought myself meting out justice in the Islands of the Blest, so much was I taken with the charm of his words.

BDELYCLEON
How overjoyed they are! What extravagant delight! Ah! ah! you are going to get a thrashing to-day.

CHORUS singing
Come, plot everything you can to beat him; 'tis not easy to soften me if you do no talk on my side.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
If you have nothing but nonsense to spout, it's time to buy a good millstone, freshly cut withal, to crush my anger.

BDELYCLEON
The cure of a disease, so inveterate and so widespread in Athens, is a difficult task and of too great importance for the scope of comedy. Nevertheless, my old father....

PHILOCLEON
Cease to call me by that name, for, if you do not prove me a slave and that quickly too, you must die by my hand, even if I must be deprived of my share in the sacred feasts.

BDELYCLEON
Listen to me, dear little father, unruffle that frowning brow and reckon, you can do so without trouble, not with pebbles, but on your fingers, what is the sum-total of the tribute paid by the allied towns; besides this we have the direct imposts, a mass of percentage dues, the fees of the courts of justice, the produce from the mines, the markets, the harbours, tile public lands and the confiscations. All these together amount to nearly two thousand talents. Take from this sum the annual pay of the dicasts; they number six thousand, and there have never been more in this town; so therefore it is one hundred and fifty talents that come to you.

PHILOCLEON
What! our pay is not even a tithe of the state revenue?

BDELYCLEON
Why no, certainly not.

PHILOCLEON
And where does the rest go then?

BDELYCLEON
To those who say: "I shall never betray the interests of the masses; I shall always fight for the people." And it is you, father, who let yourself be caught with their fine talk, who give them all power over yourself. They are the men who extort fifty talents at a time by threat and intimidation from the allies. "Pay tribute to me," they say, "or I shall loose the lightning on you-town and destroy it." And you, you are content to gnaw the crumbs of your own might. What do the allies do? They see that the Athenian mob lives on the tribunal in niggard and miserable fashion, and they count you for nothing, for not more than the vote of Connus; it is on those wretches that they lavish everything, dishes of salt fish, wine, tapestries, cheese, honey, chaplets, necklets, drinking-cups, all that yields pleasure and health. And you, their master, to you as a reward for all your toil both on land and sea, nothing is given, not even a clove of garlic to eat with your little fish.

PHILOCLEON
No, undoubtedly not; I have had to send and buy some from Eucharides. But you told me I was a slave. Prove it then, for I am dying with impatience.

BDELYCLEON
Is it not the worst of all slaveries to see all these wretches and their flatterers, whom they gorge with gold, at the head of affairs? As for you, you are content with the three obols which they give you and which you have so painfully earned in the galleys, in battles and sieges. But what I stomach least is that you go to sit on the tribunal by order. Some young fairy, the son of Chaereas, to wit, enters your house wiggling his arse, foul with debauchery, on his straddling legs and charges you to come and judge at daybreak, and precisely to the minute. "He who presents himself after the opening of the Court," says he, "will not get the triobolus." But he himself, though he arrives late, will nevertheless get his drachma as a public advocate. If an accused man makes him some present, he shares it with a colleague and the pair agree to arrange the matter like two sawyers, one of whom pulls and the other pushes. As for you, you have only eyes for the public pay-clerk, and you see nothing.

PHILOCLEON
Can it be I am treated thus? Oh! what is it you are saying? You stir me to the bottom of my heart! I am all ears! I cannot express what I feel.

BDELYCLEON
Consider then; you might be rich, both you and all the others; I know not why you let yourself be fooled by these folk who call themselves the people's friends. A myriad of towns obey you, from the Euxine to Sardis. What do you gain thereby? Nothing but this miserable pay, and even that is like the oil with which the flock of wool is impregnated and is doled to you drop by drop, just enough to keep you from dying of hunger. They want you to be poor, and I will tell you why. It is so that you may know only those who nourish you, and so that, if it pleases them to loose you against one of their foes, you shall leap upon him with fury. If they wished to assure the well-being of the people, nothing would be easier for them. We have now a thousand towns that pay us tribute; let them comand each of these to feed twenty Athenians; then twenty thousand of our citizens would be eating nothing but hare, would drink nothing but the purest of milk, and always crowned with garlands, would be enjoying the delights to which the great name of their country and the trophies of Marathon give them the right; whereas to-day you are like the hired labourers who gather the olives; you follow him who pays you.

PHILOCLEON
Alas! my hand is benumbed; I can no longer draw my sword. What has become of my strength?

BDELYCLEON
When they are afraid, they promise to divide Euboea among you and to give each fifty bushels of wheat, but what have they given you? Nothing excepting, quite recently, five bushels of barley, and even these you have only obtained with great difficulty, on proving you were not aliens, and then choenix by choenix.
With increasing excitement
That is why I always kept you shut in; I wanted you to be fed by me and no longer at the beck of these blustering braggarts. Even now I am ready to let you have all you want, provided you no longer let yourself be suckled by the payclerk.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS to BDELYCLEON
He was right who said, "Decide nothing till you have heard both sides," for now it seems to me that you are the one who gains the complete victory. My wrath is appeased and I throw away my sticks.
To PHILOCLEON
But, you, our comrade and contemporary....

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS taking this up in song
.... let yourself be won over by his words; come, be not too obstinate or too perverse. Would that I had a relative or kinsman to correct me thus! Clearly some god is at hand and is now protecting you and loading you with benefits. Accept them.

BDELYCLEON
I will feed him, I will give him everything that is suitable for an old man; oatmeal gruel, a cloak, soft furs, and a wench to rub his tool and his loins. But he keeps silent and will not utter a sound; that's a bad sign.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS singing
He has thought the thing over and has recognized his folly; he is reproaching himself for not having followed your advice always. But there he is, converted by your words, and wiser now, so that he will no doubt alter his ways in the future and always believe in none but you.

PHILOCLEON
Alas! alas!

BDELYCLEON
Now why this lamentation?

PHILOCLEON in tragic style
A truce to your promises! What I love is down there, down there I want to be, there, where the herald cries, "Who has not yet voted? Let him rise!" I want to be the last of all to leave the urn. Oh, my soul, my soul! where art thou? come! oh! dark shadows, make way for me! By Heracles, may I reach the court in time to convict Cleon of theft.

BDELYCLEON
Come, father, in the name of the gods, believe me!

PHILOCLEON
Believe you! Ask me anything, anything, except one.

BDELYCLEON
What is it? Let us hear.

PHILOCLEON
Not to judge any more! Before I consent, I shall have appeared before Pluto.

BDELYCLEON
Very well then, since you find so much pleasure in it, go down there no more, but stay here and deal out justice to your slaves.

PHILOCLEON
But what is there to judge? Are you mad?

BDELYCLEON
Everything as in a tribunal. If a servant opens a door secretly, you inflict upon him a simple fine; that's what you have repeatedly done down there. Everything can be arranged to suit you. If it is warm in the morning, you can judge in the sunlight; if it is snowing, then seated at your fire; if it rains, you go indoors; and if you don't rise till noon, there will be no Thesmothetes to exclude you from the precincts.

PHILOCLEON
The notion pleases me.

BDELYCLEON
Moreover, if a pleader is long-winded, you will not be hungering and chafing and seeking vengeance on the accused.

PHILOCLEON
But could I judge as well with my mouth full?

BDELYCLEON
Much better. Is it not said, that the dicasts, when deceived by lying witnesses, have need to ruminate well in order to arrive at the truth?

PHILOCLEON
Well said, but you have not told me yet who will pay my salary.

BDELYCLEON
I will.

PHILOCLEON
So much the better; in this way I shall be paid by myself. Because that damned jester, Lysistratus, played me an infamous trick the other day. He received a drachma for the two of us and went on the fish-market to get it changed and then brought me back three mullet scales. I took them for obols and crammed them into my mouth; but the smell choked me and I quickly spat them out. So I dragged him before the court.

BDELYCLEON
And what did he say to that?

PHILOCLEON
Well, he pretended I had the stomach of a cock. "You have soon digested the money," he said with a laugh.

BDELYCLEON
You see, that is yet another advantage.

PHILOCLEON
And no small one either. Come, do as you will.

BDELYCLEON
Wait! I will bring everything here.
He goes into the house.

PHILOCLEON to himself
You see, the oracles are coming true; I have heard it foretold, that one day the Athenians would dispense justice in their own houses, that each citizen. would have himself a little tribunal constructed in his porch similar to the altars of Hecate, and that there would be such before every door.

BDELYCLEON returning with slaves who are carrying various objects
There, what do you think of that? I have brought you everything needful and much more into the bargain. See, here is a thunder-mug in case you have to pee; I shall hang it up beside you.

PHILOCLEON
Good idea! Right useful at my age. You have found the true alleviation of bladder troubles.

BDELYCLEON
Here is a fire, and near to it are lentils, should you want to have a bite to eat.

PHILOCLEON
That's admirably arranged. In this way, even when feverish, I shall nevertheless receive my pay; and besides, I could eat my lentils without quitting my seat. But why this cock?

BDELYCLEON
So that, should you doze during some pleading, he may awaken you by crowing up there.

PHILOCLEON
I want only for one thing more; all the rest is as good as can be.

BDELYCLEON
What is that?

PHILOCLEON
If only they could bring me an image of the hero Lycus.

BDELYCLEON
Here it is! Why, you might think it was the god himself!

PHILOCLEON
Oh! hero, my master I how repulsive you are to look at I

BDELYCLEON
He looks just like Cleonymus.

PHILOCLEON
That is why, hero though he be, he has no weapon.

BDELYCLEON
The sooner you take your seat, the sooner I shall call a case.

PHILOCLEON
Call it, for I have been seated ever so long.

BDELYCLEON
Let us see. What case shall we bring up first? Is there a slave who has done something wrong? Ah! you Thracian there, you burnt the stew-pot the other day.

PHILOCLEON
Wait, wait! This is a fine state of affairs! You almost made me judge without a bar, and that is the most sacred thing of all for us.

BDELYCLEON
There isn't any, by Zeus.

PHILOCLEON
I'll run indoors and get one myself.
Exit

BDELYCLEON
What does it matter? Terrible thing, the force of habit.

XANTHIAS coming out of the house
Damn that animal! How can anyone keep such a dog?

BDELYCLEON
Hullo! what's the matter?

XANTHIAS
Oh, it's Labes, who has just rushed into the kitchen and seized a whole Sicilian cheese and gobbled it up.

BDELYCLEON
Good! this will be the first offence I shall make my father try.
To XANTHIAS
Come along and lay your accusation. XANTHIAS No, not I; the other dog vows he will be accuser, if the matter is brought up for trial.

BDELYCLEON
Well then, bring them both along.

XANTHIAS
That's what we'll have to do.
He goes hack into the house. A moment later PHILOCLEON comes out.

BDELYCLEON
What is this?

PHILOCLEON
The pig-trough of the swine dedicated to Hestia.

BDELYCLEON
Did you steal it from a shrine?

PHILOCLEON
No, no, by addressing Hestia first, I might, thanks to her, crush an adversary. But put an end to delay by calling up the case. My verdict is already settled.

BDELYCLEON
Wait! I still have to bring out the tablets and the scrolls.
He goes into the house.

PHILOCLEON
Oh! I am boiling, I am dying with impatience at your delays. I could have traced the sentence in the dust.

BDELYCLEON coming out with tablets and scrolls
There you are.

PHILOCLEON
Then call the case.

BDELYCLEON
Right. Who is first on the docket?

PHILOCLEON
My god! This is unbearable! I have forgotten the urns.

BDELYCLEON
Now where are you going?

PHILOCLEON
To look for the urns.

BDELYCLEON
Don't bother, I have these pots.

PHILOCLEON
Very well, then we have all we need, except the clepsydra.

BDELYCLEON pointing to the thunder-mug
What is this if it is not a clepsydra?

PHILOCLEON
You know how to supply everything.

BDELYCLEON
Let fire be brought quickly from the house with myrtle boughs and incense, and let us invoke the gods before opening the sitting.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Offer them libations and your vows and we will thank them that a noble agreement has put an end to your bickerings and strife. And first let there be a sacred silence.

CHORUS singing
Oh! god of Delphi! oh! Phoebus Apollo! convert into the greatest blessing for us all what is now happening before this house, and cure us of our error, oh, Paean, our helper!

BDELYCLEON solemnly
Oh, Powerful god, Apollo Aguieus, who watchest at the door of my entrance hall, accept this fresh sacrifice; I offer it that you may deign to soften my father's excessive severity; he is as hard as iron, his heart is like sour wine; do thou pour into it a little honey. Let him become gentle toward other men, let him take more interest in the accused than in the accusers, may he allow himself to be softened by entreaties; calm his acrid humour and deprive his irritable mind of all sting.

CHORUS singing
We unite our vows and chants to those of this new magistrate. His words have won our favour and we are convinced that he loves the people more than any of the young men of the present day.
XANTHIAS brings in two persons costumed as dogs, but with masks that suggest Laches and Cleon.

BDELYCLEON
If there be any judge near at hand, let him enter; once the proceedings have opened, we shall admit him no more.

PHILOCLEON
Who is the defendant?

BDELYCLEON
This one.

PHILOCLEON aside
He does not stand a chance.

BDELYCLEON
Listen to the indictment. A dog of Cydathenaea doth hereby charge Labes of Aexonia with having devoured a Sicilian cheese by himself without accomplices. Penalty demanded, a collar of fig-tree wood.

PHILOCLEON
Nay, a dog's death, if convicted.

BDELYCLEON
This is Labes, the defendant.

PHILOCLEON
Oh! what a wretched brute! how entirely he looks the rogue! He thinks to deceive me by keeping his jaws closed. Where is the plaintiff, the dog of Cydathenaea?

DOG
Bow wow! bow wow!

BDELYCLEON
Here he is.

PHILOCLEON
Why, he's another Labes, a great barker and a licker of dishes.

BDELYCLEON as Herald
Silence! Keep your seats!
To the Cydathenaean dog.
And you, up on your feet and accuse him.

PHILOCLEON
Go on, and I will help myself and eat these lentils.

DOG
Gentlemen of the jury, listen to this indictment I have drawn up. He has committed the blackest of crimes, against both me and the seamen. He sought refuge in a dark corner to glutton on a big Sicilian cheese, with which he sated his hunger.

PHILOCLEON
Why, the crime is clear; the filthy brute this very moment belched forth a horrible odour of cheese right under my nose.

DOG
And he refused to share with me. And yet can anyone style himself your benefactor, when he does not cast a morsel to your poor dog?

PHILOCLEON
He has not shared anything, not even with his comrade. His madness is as hot as my lentils.

BDELYCLEON
In the name of the gods, father! No hurried verdict without hearing the other side!

PHILOCLEON
But the evidence is plain; the fact speaks for itself.

DOG
Then beware of acquitting the most selfish of canine gluttons, who has devoured the whole cheese, rind and all, prowling round the platter.

PHILOCLEON
There is not even enough left for me to fill up the chinks in my pitcher.

DOG
Besides, you must punish him, because the same house cannot keep two thieves. Let me not have barked in vain, else I shall never bark again.

PHILOCLEON
Oh! the black deeds he has just denounced! What a shameless thief! Say, cock, is not that your opinion too? Ha, ha! He thinks as I do. Here, Thesmothetes! where are you? Hand me the thunder-mug.

BDELYCLEON
Get it yourself. I go to call the witnesses; these are a plate, a pestle, a cheese knife, a brazier, a stew-pot and other half-burnt utensils.
To PHILOCLEON
But you have not finished? you are piddling away still! Have done and be seated.

PHILOCLEON
Ha, ha! I reckon I know somebody who will crap for fright to-day.

BDELYCLEON
Will you never cease showing yourself hard and intractable, and especially to the accused? You tear them to pieces tooth and nail.
To LABES
Come forward and defend yourself. What means this silence? Answer.

PHILOCLEON
No doubt he has nothing to say.

BDELYCLEON
Not at all, I think he has got what happened once to Thucydides in court; his jaws suddenly set fast. Get away! I will undertake your defence.-Gentlemen of the jury, it is a difficult thing to speak for a dog who has been calumniated, but nevertheless I will try. He is a good dog, and he chases wolves finely.

PHILOCLEON
He is a thief and a conspirator.

BDELYCLEON
No, he is the best of all our dogs; he is capable of guarding a whole flock.

PHILOCLEON
And what good is that, if he eats the cheese?

BDELYCLEON
What? he fights for you, he guards your door; he is an excellent dog in every respect. Forgive him his larceny! he is wretchedly ignorant, he cannot play the lyre.

PHILOCLEON
I wish he did not know how to write either; then the rascal would not have drawn up his pleadings.

BDELYCLEON
Witnesses, I pray you, listen. Come forward, grating-knife, and speak up; answer me clearly. You were paymaster at the time. Did you grate out to the soldiers what was given you?-He says he did so.

PHILOCLEON
But, by Zeus! he lies.

BDELYCLEON
Oh! have patience. Take pity on the unfortunate. Labes feeds only on fish-bones and fishes' heads and has not an instant of peace. The other is good only to guard the house; he never moves from here, but demands his share of all that is brought in and bites those who refuse.

PHILOCLEON aside
Oh! Heaven! have I fallen ill? I feel my anger cooling! Woe to me! I am softening!

BDELYCLEON
Have pity, father, pity, I adjure you; you would not have him dead. Where are his puppies?
A group of children costumed as puppies comes out.
Come, poor little beasties, yap, up on your haunches, beg and whine!

PHILOCLEON
Descend, descend, descend, descend!

BDELYCLEON
I will descend, although that word, "descend," has too often raised false hope. None the less, I will descend.

PHILOCLEON
Plague seize it! Have I then done wrong to eat! What! I, crying! Ah! I certainly should not be weeping, if I were not stuffed with lentils.

BDELYCLEON
Then he is acquitted?

PHILOCLEON
It is difficult to tell.

BDELYCLEON
Ah! my dear father, be good! be humane! Take this voting pebble and rush with your eyes closed to that second urn and, father, acquit him.

PHILOCLEON
No, I know no more how to acquit than to play the lyre.

BDELYCLEON
Come quickly, I will show you the way.
He takes his father by the hand and leads him to the second urn.

PHILOCLEON
Is this the first urn?

BDELYCLEON
Yes.

PHILOCLEON dropping in his vote
Then I have voted.

BDELYCLEON aside
I have fooled him and he has acquitted in spite of himself.
To PHILOCLEON
Come, I will turn out the urns.

PHILOCLEON
What is the result?

BDELYCLEON
We shall see.
He examines both urns.
Labes, you stand acquitted.
PHILOCLEON faints
Eh! father, what's the matter, what is it? (To slaves) Water! water!
To PHILOCLEON
Pull yourself together, sir!

PHILOCLEON weakly
Tell me! Is he really acquitted?

BDELYCLEON
Yes, certainly.

PHILOCLEON falling back
Then it's all over with me!

BDELYCLEON
Courage, dear father, don't let this afflict you so terribly.

PHILOCLEON dolefully
And so I have charged my conscience with the acquittal of an accused being! What will become of me? Sacred gods! forgive me. I did it despite myself; it is not in my character.

BDELYCLEON
Do not vex yourself, father; I will feed you well, will take you everywhere to eat and drink with me; you shall go to every feast; henceforth your life shall be nothing but pleasure, and Hyperbolus shall no longer have you for a tool. But come, let us go in.

PHILOCLEON resignedly
So be it; if you will, let us go in.
They all go into the house.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Go where it pleases you and may your happiness be great.
The CHORUS turns and faces the audience.
You meanwhile, oh! countless myriads, listen to the sound counsels I am going to give you and take care they are not lost upon you. That would be the fate of vulgar spectators, not that of such an audience. Hence, people, lend me your ear, if you love frank speaking.

The poet has a reproach to make against his audience; he says you have ill-treated him in return for the many services he has rendered you. At first he kept himself in the background and lent help secretly to other poets, and like the prophetic Genius, who hid himself in the belly of Eurycles, slipped within the spirit of another and whispered to him many a comic hit. Later he ran the risks of the theatre on his own account, with his face uncovered, and dared to guide his Muse unaided. Though overladen with success and honours more than any of your poets, indeed despite all his glory, he does not yet believe he has attained his goal; his heart is not swollen with pride and he does not seek to seduce the young folk in the wrestling school. If any lover runs up to him to complain because he is furious at seeing the object of his passion derided on the stage, he takes no heed of such reproaches, for he is inspired only with honest motives and his Muse is no pander. From the very outset of his dramatic career he has disdained to assail those who were men, but with a courage worthy of Heracles himself he attacked the most formidable monsters, and at the beginning went straight for that beast with the sharp teeth, with the terrible eyes that flashed lambent fire like those of Cynna, surround









The Acharnians

By Aristophanes

The Acharnians

By Aristophanes

Written 425 B.C.E

 Dramatis Personae

DICAEOPOLIS
HERALD
AMPHITHEUS
AMBASSADORS
PSEUDARTABAS
THEORUS
DAUGHTER OF DICAEOPOLIS
SLAVE OF EURIPIDES
EURIPIDES
LAMACHUS
A MEGARIAN
TWO YOUNG GIRLS, daughters of the Megarian
AN INFORMER
A BOEOTIAN
NICARCHUS
SLAVE OF LAMACHUS
A HUSBANDMAN
A WEDDING GUEST
CHORUS OF ACHARNIAN CHARCOAL BURNERS


Scene

The Orchestra represents the Pnyx at Athens; in the back- ground are the usual houses, this time three in number, belonging to Dicaeopolis, Euripides, and Lamachus respectively.

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DICAEOPOLIS  alone
 What cares have not gnawed at my heart and how few have been the pleasures in my life! Four, to be exact, while my troubles have been as countless as the grains of sand on the shore! Let me see! of what value to me have been these few pleasures? Ah! I remember that I was delighted in soul when Cleon had to cough up those five talents; I was in ecstasy and I love the Knights for this deed; "it is an honour to Greece." But the day when I was impatiently awaiting a piece by Aeschylus, what tragic despair it caused me when the herald called, "Theognis, introduce your Chorus!" Just imagine how this blow struck straight at my heart! On the other hand, what joy Dexitheus caused me at the musical competition, when right after Moschus he played a Boeotian melody on the lyre! But this year by contrast! Oh! what deadly torture to hear Chaeris perform the prelude in the Orthian mode!-Never, however, since I began to bathe, has the dust hurt my eyes as it does to-day. Still it is the day of assembly; all should be here at daybreak, and yet the Pnyx is still deserted. They are gossiping in the market-place, slipping hither and thither to avoid the vermilioned rope. The Prytanes even do not come; they will be late, but when they come they will push and fight each other for a seat in the front row. They will never trouble themselves with the question of peace. Oh! Athens! Athens! As for myself, I do not fail to come here before all the rest, and now, finding myself alone, I groan, yawn, stretch, fart, and know not what to do; I make sketches in the dust, pull out my loose hairs, muse, think of my fields, long for peace, curse town life and regret my dear country home, which never told me to "buy fuel, vinegar or oil"; there the word "buy," which cuts me in two, was unknown; I harvested everything at will. Therefore I have come to the assembly fully prepared to bawl, interrupt and abuse the speakers, if they talk of anything but peace.
The Orchestra begins to fill with people.
But here come the Prytanes, and high time too, for it is midday! There, just as I said, they are pushing and fighting for the front seats.

HERALD  officiously
 Step forward, step forward; get within the consecrated area.

AMPHITHEUS  rising
 Has anyone spoken yet?

HERALD
Who asks to speak?

AMPHITHEUS
I do.

HERALD
Your name?

AMPHITHEUS
Amphitheus.

HERALD
Are you not a man?

AMPHITHEUS
No! I am an immortal! Amphitheus was the son of Ceres and Triptolemus; of him was born Celeus, Celeus wedded Phaenerete, my grandmother, whose son was Lycinus, and, being born of him I am an immortal; it is to me alone that the gods have entrusted the duty of treating with the Lacedaemonians. But, citizens, though I am immortal, I am dying of hunger; the Prytanes give me nothing.

HERALD  calling
 Officers!

AMPHITHEUS  as the Scythian policemen seize him
 Oh, Triptolemus and Celeus, do ye thus forsake your own blood?

DICAEOPOLIS  rising
 Prytanes, in expelling this citizen, you are offering an outrage to the Assembly. He only desired to secure peace for us and to sheathe the sword.
The Scythians release Amphitheus.


HERALD
Sit down! Silence!

DICAEOPOLIS
No, by Apollo, I will not, unless you are going to discuss the question of peace.

HERALD  ignoring this; loudly
 The ambassadors, who are returned from the Court of the King!

DICAEOPOLIS
Of what King? I am sick of all those fine birds, the peacock ambassadors and their swagger.

HERALD
Silence!

DICAEOPOLIS  as he perceives the entering ambassadors dressed in the Persian mode
Oh! oh! By Ecbatana, what a costume!

AMBASSADOR  pompously
 During the archonship of Euthymenes, you sent us to the Great King on a salary of two drachmae per diem.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Ah! those poor drachmae!

AMBASSADOR
We suffered horribly on the plains of the Cayster, sleeping under tent, stretched deliciously on fine chariots, half dead with weariness.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 And I was very much at ease, lying on the straw along the battlements!

AMBASSADOR
Everywhere we were well received and forced to drink delicious wine out of golden or crystal flagons.....

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Oh, city of Cranaus, thy ambassadors are laughing at thee!

AMBASSADOR
For great feeders and heavy drinkers are alone esteemed as men by the barbarians.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Just as here in Athens, we only esteem the wenchers and pederasts.

AMBASSADOR
At the end of the fourth year we reached the King's Court, but he had left with his whole army to take a crap, and for the space of eight months he was thus sitting on the can in the midst of the golden mountains.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 And how long did it take him to close his arse? A month?

AMBASSADOR
After this he returned to his palace; then he entertained us and had us served with oxen roasted whole in an oven.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Who ever saw an ox roasted in an oven? What a lie!

AMBASSADOR
And one day, by Zeus, he also had us served with a bird three times as large as Cleonymus, and called the Hoax.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 And do we give you two drachmae, that you should hoax us thus?

AMBASSADOR
We are bringing to you Pseudartabas, the King's Eye.

DICAEOPOLIS
I would a crow might pluck out yours with his beak, you cursed ambassador!

HERALD  loudly
 The King's Eye!
Enter PSEUDARTABAS, in Persian costume; his mask is one great eye; he is accompanied by two eunuchs.


DICAEOPOLIS  as he sees kim
 Good God! Friend, with your great eye, round like the hole through which the oarsman passes his sweep, you have the air of a galley doubling a cape to gain port.

AMBASSADOR
Come, Pseudartabas, give forth the message for the Athenians with which you were charged by the Great King.

PSEUDARTABAS
I artamane Xarxas apiaona satra.

AMBASSADOR  to DICAEOPOLIS
 Do you understand what he says?

DICAEOPOLIS
God, no!

AMBASSADOR  to the PRYTANES
 He says that the Great King will send you gold.
to PSEUDARTABAS
Come, utter the word 'gold' louder and more distinctly.

PSEUDARTABAS
Thou shalt not have gold, thou gaping-arsed Ionian.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! God help us, but that's clear enough!

AMBASSADOR
What does he say?

DICAEOPOLIS
That the Ionians are gaping-arsed, if they expect to receive gold from the barbarians.

AMBASSADOR
Not so, he speaks of bushels of gold.

DICAEOPOLIS
What bushels? You're nothing but a wind-bag; get out of the way; I will find out the truth by myself.
to PSEUDARTABAS
Come now, answer me clearly, if you do not wish me to dye your skin red. Will the Great King send us gold?
PSEUDARTABAS makes a negative sign.
Then our ambassadors are seeking to deceive us?
PSEUDARTABAS signs affirmatively.
These fellows make signs like any Greek; I am sure that they are nothing but Athenians. Oh! ho! I recognize one of these eunuchs; it is Clisthenes, the son of Sibyrtius. Behold the effrontery of this shaven and provocative arse! How, you big baboon, with such a beard do you seek to play the eunuch to us? And this other one? Is it not Straton?

HERALD
Silence! Sit down! The Senate invites the King's Eye to the Prytaneum.
The AMBASSADORS and PSEUDARTABAS depart.


DICAEOPOLIS
Is this not sufficient to drive a man to hang himself? Here I stand chilled to the bone, whilst the doors of the Prytaneum fly wide open to lodge such rascals. But I will do something great and bold. Where is Amphitheus? Come and speak with me.

AMPHITHEUS
Here I am.

DICAEOPOLIS
Take these eight drachmae and go and conclude a truce with the Lacedaemonians for me, my wife and my children; I leave you free, my dear Prytanes, to send out embassies and to stand gaping in the air.
AMPHITHEUS rushes out.


HERALD
Bring in Theorus, who has returned from the Court of Sitalces.

THEORUS  rising; he wears a Thracian costume.
 I am here.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Another humbug!

THEORUS
We should not have remained long in Thrace.....

DICAEOPOLIS
....if you had not been well paid.

THEORUS
....if the country had not been covered with snow; the rivers
were ice-bound....
DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 That was when Theognis produced his tragedy.

THEORUS
....during the whole of that time I was holding my own with Sitalces cup in hand; and, in truth, he adored you to such a degree that he wrote on the walls, "How beautiful are the Athenians!" His son, to whom we gave the freedom of the city, burned with desire to come here and eat sausages at the feast of the Apaturia; he prayed his father to come to the aid of his new country and Sitalces swore on his goblet that he would succour us with such a host that the Athenians would exclaim, "What a cloud of grasshoppers!"

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Damned if I believe a word of what you tell us! Excepting the grasshoppers, there is not a grain of truth in it all!

THEORUS
And he has sent you the most warlike soldiers of all Thrace.

DICAEOPOLIS  aside
 Now we shall begin to see clearly.

HERALD
Come hither, Thracians, whom Theorus brought.
A few Thracians are ushered in; they have a most unwarlike appearance; the most striking feature of their costume is the circumcised phallus.


DICAEOPOLIS
What plague have we here?

THEORUS
The host of the Odomanti.

DICAEOPOLIS
Of the Odomanti? Tell me what it means. Who sliced their tools like that?

THEORUS
If they are given a wage of two drachmae, they will put all Boeotia to fire and sword.

DICAEOPOLIS
Two drachmae to those circumcised hounds! Groan aloud, ye people of rowers, bulwark of Athens!
The Odomanti steal his sack
Ah! great gods! I am undone; these Odomanti are robbing me of my garlic! Give me back my garlic.

THEORUS
Oh! wretched man! do not go near them; they have eaten garlic.

DICAEOPOLIS
Prytanes, will you let me be treated in this manner, in my own country and by barbarians? But I oppose the discussion of paying a wage to the Thracians; I announce an omen; I have just felt a drop of rain.

HERALD
Let the Thracians withdraw and return the day after tomorrow; the Prytanes declare the sitting at an end.
All leave except DICAEOPOLIS.


DICAEOPOLIS
Ye gods, what garlic I have lost! But here comes Amphitheus returned from Lacedaemon. Welcome, Amphitheus.
AMPHITHEUS enters, very much out of breath.


AMPHITHEUS
No, there is no welcome for me and I fly as fast as I can, for I am pursued by the Acharnians.

DICAEOPOLIS
Why, what has happened?

AMPHITHEUS
I was hurrying to bring your treaty of truce, but some old dotards from Acharnae got scent of the thing; they are veterans of Marathon, tough as oak or maple, of which they are made for sure-rough and ruthless. They all started shouting: "Wretch! you are the bearer of a treaty, and the enemy has only just cut our vines!" Meanwhile they were gathering stones in their cloaks, so I fled and they ran after me shouting.

DICAEOPOLIS
Let 'em shout as much as they please! But have you brought me treaty?

AMPHITHEUS
Most certainly, here are three samples to select from, this one is five years old; taste it.
He hands DICAEOPOLIS a bottle.


DICAEOPOLIS
Faugh!

AMPHITHEUS
What's the matter?

DICAEOPOLIS
I don't like it; it smells of pitch and of the ships they are fitting out.

AMPHITHEUS  handing him another bottle
 Here is another, ten years old; taste it.

DICAEOPOLIS
It smells strongly of the delegates, who go around the towns to chide the allies for their slowness.

AMPHITHEUS  handing him a third bottle
 This last is a truce of thirty years, both on sea and land.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! by Bacchus! what a bouquet! It has the aroma of nectar and ambrosia; this does not say to us, "Provision yourselves for three days." But it lisps the gentle numbers, "Go whither you will." I accept it, ratify it, drink it at one draught and consign the Acharnians to limbo. Freed from the war and its ills, I shall celebrate the rural Dionysia.

AMPHITHEUS
And I shall run away, for I'm mortally afraid of the Acharnians.
AMPHITHEUS runs off. DICAEOPOLIS goes into his house, carrying his truce. The CHORUS of ACHARNIAN CHARCOAL BURNERS enters, in great haste and excitement.


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
This way all! Let us follow our man; we will demand him of everyone we meet; the public weal makes his seizure imperative. Ho, there! tell me which way the bearer of the truce has gone.

CHORUS  singing
 He has escaped us, he has disappeared. Damn old age! When I was young, in the days when I followed Phayllus, running with a sack of coals on my back, this wretch would not have eluded my pursuit, let him be as swift as he will.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But now my limbs are stiff; old Lacratides feels his legs are weighty and the traitor escapes me. No, no, let us follow him; old Acharnians like our selves shall not be set at naught by a scoundrel....

CHORUS  singing
 ....who has dared, by Zeus, to conclude a truce when I wanted the war continued with double fury in order to avenge my ruined lands. No mercy for our foes until I have pierced their hearts like sharp reed, so that they dare never again ravage my vineyards.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Come, let us seek the rascal; let us look everywhere, carrying our stones in our hands; let us hunt him from place to place until we trap him; could never, never tire of the delight of stoning him.

DICAEOPOLIS  from within
 Peace! profane men!

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Silence all! Friends, do you hear the sacred formula? Here is he, whom we seek! This way, all! Get out of his way, surely he comes to offer an oblation.
The CHORUS withdraws to one side.


DICAEOPOLIS  comes out with a pot in his hand; he is followed by his wife, his daughter, who carries a basket, and two slaves, who carry the phallus.
Peace, profane men! Let the basket-bearer come forward, and thou Xanthias, hold the phallus well upright. Daughter, set down the basket and let us begin the sacrifice.

DAUGHTER OF DICAEOPOLIS  putting down the basket and taking out the sacred cake
Mother, hand me the ladle, that I may spread the sauce on the cake.

DICAEOPOLIS
It is well! Oh, mighty Bacchus, it is with joy that, freed from military duty, I and all mine perform this solemn rite and offer thee this sacrifice; grant that I may keep the rural Dionysia without hindrance and that this truce of thirty years may be propitious for me. Come, my child, carry the basket gracefully and with a grave, demure face. Happy he who shall be your possessor and embrace you so firmly at dawn, that you fart like a weasel. Go forward, and have a care they don't snatch your jewels in the crowd. Xanthias, walk behind the basket-bearer and hold the phallus well erect; I will follow, singing the Phallic hymn; thou, wife, look on from the top of the terrace. Forward!
He sings
Oh, Phales, companion of the orgies of Bacchus, night reveller, god of adultery and of pederasty, these past six years I have not been able to invoke thee. With what joy I return to my farmstead, thanks to the truce I have concluded, freed from cares, from fighting and from Lamachuses! How much sweeter, oh Phales, Phales, is it to surprise Thratta, the pretty woodmaid, Strymodorus' slave, stealing wood from Mount Phelleus, to catch her under the arms, to throw her, on the ground and lay her, Oh, Phales, Phales! If thou wilt drink and bemuse thyself with me, we shall to-morrow consume some good dish in honour of the peace, and I will hang up my buckler over the smoking hearth.
The procession reaches the place where the CHORUS is hiding.


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
That's the man himself. Stone him, stone him, stone him, strike the wretch. All, all of you, pelt him, pelt him!

DICAEOPOLIS  using his pot for a shield
 What is this? By Heracles, you will smash my pot.
The daughter and the two slaves retreat.


CHORUS  singing excitedly
 It is you that we are stoning, you miserable scoundrel.

DICAEOPOLIS
And for what sin, Acharnian elders, tell me that!

CHORUS  singing, with greater excitement
 You ask that, you impudent rascal, traitor to your country; you alone amongst us all have concluded a truce, and you dare to look us in the face!

DICAEOPOLIS
But you do not know why I have treated for peace. Listen!

CHORUS  singing fiercely
 Listen to you? No, no, you are about to die, we will annihilate you with our stones.

DICAEOPOLIS
But first of all, listen. Stop, my friends.

CHORUS  singing; with intense hatred
 I will hear nothing; do not address me; I hate you more than I do Cleon, whom one day I shall flay to make sandals for the Knights. Listen to your long speeches, after you have treated with the Laconians? No, I will punish you.

DICAEOPOLIS
Friends, leave the Laconians out of debate and consider only whether I have not done well to conclude my truce.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Done well! when you have treated with a people who know neither gods, nor truth, nor faith.

DICAEOPOLIS
We attribute too much to the Laconians; as for myself, I know that they are not the cause of all our troubles.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh, indeed, rascal! You dare to use such language to me and then expect me to spare you!

DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, they are not the cause of all our troubles, and I who address you claim to be able to prove that they have much to complain of in us.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
This passes endurance; my heart bounds with fury. Thus you dare to defend our enemies.

DICAEOPOLIS
Were my head on the block I would uphold what I say and rely on the approval of the people.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Comrades, let us hurl our stones and dye this fellow purple.

DICAEOPOLIS
What black fire-brand has inflamed your heart! You will not hear me? You really will not, Acharnians?

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
No, a thousand times, no.

DICAEOPOLIS
This is a hateful injustice.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
May I die if I listen.

DICAEOPOLIS
Nay, nay! have mercy, have mercy, Acharnians.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You shall die.

DICAEOPOLIS
Well, blood for blood! I will kill your dearest friend. I have here the hostages of Acharnae; I shall disembowel them.
He goes into the house.


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Acharnians, what means this threat? Has he got one of our children in his house? What gives him such audacity?

DICAEOPOLIS  coming out again
 Stone me, if it please you; I shall avenge myself on this. 
He shows them a basket.
Let us see whether you have any love for your coals.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Great Gods! this basket is our fellow-citizen. Stop, stop, in heaven's name!

DICAEOPOLIS
I shall dismember it despite your cries; I will listen to nothing.

CHORUS  singing; tragically
 How, will you kill this coal-basket, my beloved comrade?

DICAEOPOLIS
Just now you would not listen to me.

CHORUS  singing; plaintively
 Well, speak now, if you will; tell us, tell us you have a weakness for the Lacedaemonians. I consent to anything; never will I forsake this dear little basket.

DICAEOPOLIS
First, throw down your stones.

CHORUS  singing; meekly
 There I it's done. And you put away your sword.

DICAEOPOLIS
Let me see that no stones remain concealed in your cloaks.

CHORUS  singing; petulantly
 They are all on the ground; see how we shake our garments. Come, no haggling, lay down your sword; we threw away everything while crossing from one side of the Orchestra to the other.

DICAEOPOLIS
What cries of anguish you would have uttered had these coals of Parnes been dismembered, and yet it came very near it; had they perished, their death would have been due to the folly of their fellow-citizens. The poor basket was so frightened, look, it has shed a thick black dust over me, the same as a cuttle-fish does. What an irritable temper! You shout and throw stones, you will not hear my arguments-not even when I propose to speak in favour of the Lacedaemonians with my head on the block; and yet I cling to life.
He goes into the house.


CHORUS  singing; belligerently again
 Well then, bring out a block before your door, scoundrel, and let us hear the good grounds you can give us; I am curious to know them. Now mind, as you proposed yourself, place your head on the block and speak.

DICAEOPOLIS  coming out of his house, carrying a block
 Here is the block; and, though I am but a very sorry speaker, I wish nevertheless to talk freely of the Lacedaemonians and without the protection of my buckler. Yet I have many reasons for fear. I know our rustics; they are delighted if some braggart comes, and rightly or wrongly, loads both them and their city with praise and flattery; they do not see that such toad-eaters are traitors, who sell them for gain. As for the old men, I know their weakness; they only seek to overwhelm the accused with their votes. Nor have I forgotten how Cleon treated me because of my comedy last year; he dragged me before the Senate and there he uttered endless slanders against me; it was a tempest of abuse, a deluge of lies. Through what a slough of mud he dragged me! I almost perished. Permit me, therefore, before I speak, to dress in the manner most likely to draw pity.

CHORUS  singing; querulously
 What evasions, subterfuges and delays! Wait! here is the sombre helmet of Pluto with its thick bristling plume; Hieronymus lends it to you; then open Sisyphus' bag of wiles; but hurry, hurry, for discussion does not admit of delay.

DICAEOPOLIS
The time has come for me to manifest my courage, so I will go and seek Euripides.
Knocking on EURIPIDES' door
Ho! slave, slave!

SLAVE  opening the door and poking his head out
 Who's there?

DICAEOPOLIS
Is Euripides at home?

SLAVE
He is and he isn't; understand that, if you can.

DICAEOPOLIS
What's that? He is and he isn't!

SLAVE
Certainly, old man; busy gathering subtle fancies here and there, his mind is not in the house, but he himself is; perched aloft, he is composing a tragedy.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, Euripides, you are indeed happy to have a slave so quick at redartee! Now, fellow, call your master.

SLAVE
Impossible!
He slams the door.


DICAEOPOLIS
Too bad. But I will not give up. Come, let us knock at the door again. Euripides, my little Euripides, my darling Euripides, listen; never had man greater right to your pity. It is Dicaeopolis of the Chollidan Deme who calls you. Do you hear?

EURIPIDES  from within
 I have no time to waste.

DICAEOPOLIS
Very well, have yourself wheeled out here.

EURIPIDES
Impossible.

DICAEOPOLIS
Nevertheless....

EURIPIDES
Well, let them roll me out; as to coming down, I have not the time.
The eccyclema turns and presents the interior of the house. EURIPIDES is lying on a bed, his slave beside him. On the back wall are hung up tragic costumes of every sort and a multitude of accessories is piled up on the floor.


DICAEOPOLIS
Euripides....

EURIPIDES
What words strike my ear?

DICAEOPOLIS
You perch aloft to compose tragedies, when you might just as well do them on the ground. No wonder you introduce cripples on the stage. And why do you dress in these miserable tragic rags? No wonder your heroes are beggars. But, Euripides, on my knees I beseech you, give me the tatters of some old piece; for I have to treat the Chorus to a long speech, and if I do it badly it is all over with me.

EURIPIDES
What rags do you prefer? Those in which I rigged out Oeneus on the stage, that unhappy, miserable old man?

DICAEOPOLIS
No, I want those of some hero still more unfortunate.

EURIPIDES
Of Phoenix, the blind man?

DICAEOPOLIS
No, not of Phoenix, you have another hero more unfortunate than him.

EURIPIDES  to himself
 Now, what tatters does he want?
to DICAEOPOLIS
Do you mean those of the beggar Philoctetes?

DICAEOPOLIS
No, of another far more beggarly.

EURIPIDES
Is it the filthy dress of the lame fellow, Bellerophon?

DICAEOPOLIS
No, not Bellerophon; the one I mean was not only lame and a beggar, but boastful and a fine speaker.

EURIPIDES
Ah! I know, it is Telephus, the Mysian.

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, Telephus. Give me his rags, I beg of you.

EURIPIDES
Slave! give him Telephus' tatters; they are on top of the rags of Thyestes and mixed with those of Ino. There they are; take them.

DICAEOPOLIS  holding up the costume for the audience to see
 Oh! Zeus, whose eye pierces everywhere and embraces all, permit me to assume the most wretcbed dress on earth. Euripides, cap your kindness by giving me the little Mysian hat, that goes so well with these tatters. I must to-day have the look of a beggar; "be what I am, but not appear to be"; the audience will know well who I am, but the Chorus will be fools enough not to, and I shall dupe them with my subtle phrases.

EURIPIDES
I will give you the hat; I love the clever tricks of an ingenious brain like yours.

DICAEOPOLIS
Rest happy, and may it befall Telephus as I wish. Ah, I already feel myself filled with quibbles. But I must have a beggar's staff.

EURIPIDES  handing him a staff
 Here you are, and now get away from this porch.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, my soul! You see how you are driven from this house, when I still need so many accessories. But let us be pressing, obstinate, importunate. Euripides, give me a little basket with a lamp lighted inside.

EURIPIDES
Whatever do you want such a thing as that for?

DICAEOPOLIS
I do not need it, but I want it all the same.

EURIPIDES  handing him a basket
 You importune me; get out of here!

DICAEOPOLIS
Alas! may the gods grant you a destiny as brilliant as your mother's.

EURIPIDES
Leave me in peace.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, just a little broken cup.

EURIPIDES  handing him a cup
 Take it and go and hang yourself.
to himself
What a tiresome fellow!

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! you do not know all the pain you cause me. Dear, good Euripides, just a little pot with a sponge for a stopper.

EURIPIDES
Miserable man! You are stealing a whole tragedy. Here, take it and be off.
He hands DICAEOPOLIS a pot.


DICAEOPOLIS
I am going, but, great gods! I need one thing more; unless I have it, am a dead man. Hearken, my little Euripides, only give me this and I go, never to return. For pity's sake, do give me a few small herbs for my basket.

EURIPIDES
You wish to ruin me then. Here, take what you want; but it is all over with my plays!
He hands him some herbs.


DICAEOPOLIS
I won't ask another thing; I'm going. I am too importunate and forget that I rouse against me the hate of kings. 
He starts to leave, then returns quickly
Ah! wretch that I am! I am lost! I have forgotten one thing, without which all the rest is as nothing. Euripides, my excellent Euripides, my dear little Euripides, may I die if I ask you again for the smallest present; only one, the last, absolutely the last; give me some of the chervil your mother left you in her will.

EURIPIDES
Insolent hound! Slave, lock the door!
The eccyclema turns back again.


DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, my soul! we must go away without the chervil. Art thou sensible of the dangerous battle we are about to engage upon in defending the Lacedaemonians? Courage, my soul, we must plunge into the midst of it. Dost thou hesitate and art thou fully steeped in Euripides? That's right! do not falter, my poor heart, and let us risk our head to say what we hold for truth. Courage and boldly to the front. I am astonished at my bravery.
He approaches the block.


CHORUS  singing; excitedly
 What do you purport doing? what are you going to say? What an impudent fellow! what a brazen heart! to dare to stake his head and uphold an opinion contrary to that of us all! And he does not tremble to face this peril Come, it is you who desired it, speak!

DICAEOPOLIS
Spectators, be not angered if, although I am a beggar, I dare in comedy to speak before the people of Athens of the public weal; even Comedy can sometimes discern what is right. I shall not please, but I shall say what is true. Besides, Cleon shall not be able to accuse me of attacking Athens before strangers; we are by ourselves at the festival of the Lenaea; the time when our allies send us their tribute and their soldiers is not yet here. There is only the pure wheat without the chaff; as to the resident aliens settled among us, they and the citizens are one, like the straw and the ear.

I detest the Lacedaemonians with all my heart, and may Posidon, the god of Taenarus, cause an earthquake and overturn their dwellings! My vines too have been cut. But come (there are only friends who hear me), why accuse the Laconians of all our woes? Some men (I do not say the city, note particularly that I do not say the city), some wretches, lost in vices, bereft of honour, who were not even citizens of good stamp, but strangers, have accused the Megarians of introducing their produce fraudulently, and not a cucumber, a leveret, a suckling pig, a clove of garlic, a lump of salt was seen without its being said, "Halloa! these come from Megara," and their being instantly confiscated. Thus far the evil was not serious and we were the only sufferers. But now some young drunkards go to Megara and carry off the harlot Simaetha; the Megarians, hurt to the quick, run off in turn with two harlots of the house of Aspasia; and so for three whores Greece is set ablaze. Then Pericles, aflame with ire on his Olympian height, let loose the lightning, caused the thunder to roll, upset Greece and passed an edict, which ran like the song, "That the Megarians be banished both from our land and from our markets and from the sea and from the continent." Meanwhile the Megarians, who were beginning to die of hunger, begged the Lacedaemonians to bring about the abolition of the decree, of which those harlots were the cause; several times we refused their demand; and from that time there was horrible clatter of arms everywhere. You will say that Sparta was wrong, but what should she have done? Answer that. Suppose that a Lacedaemonian had seized a little Seriphian dog on any pretext and had sold it, would you have endured it quietly? Far from it, you would at once have sent three hundred vessels to sea, and what an uproar there would have been through all the city I there it's a band of noisy soldiery, here a brawl about the election of a Trierarch; elsewhere pay is being distributed, the Pallas figure-heads are being regilded, crowds are surging under the market porticos, encumbered with wheat that is being measured, wine-skins, oar-leathers, garlic, olives, onions in nets; everywhere are chaplets, sprats, flute-girls, black eyes; in the arsenal bolts are being noisily driven home, sweeps are being made and fitted with leathers; we hear nothing but the sound of whistles, of flutes and fifes to encourage the workers. That is what you assuredly would have done, and would not Telephus have done the same? So I come to my general conclusion; we have no common sense.

LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
Oh! wretch! oh! infamous man! You are naught but a beggar and yet you dare to talk to us like this! you insult their worships the informers!

LEADER OF SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
By Posidon! he speaks the truth; he has not lied in a single detail.

LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
But though it be true, need he say it? But you'll have no great cause to be proud of your insolence!

LEADER OF SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
Where are you running to? Don't you move; if you strike this man, I shall be at you.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS  bursting into song
 Oh! Lamachus, whose glance flashes lightning, whose plume petrifies thy foes, help! Oh! Lamachus, my friend, the hero of my tribe and all of you, both officers and soldiers, defenders of our walls, come to my aid; else is it all over with me!
LAMACHUS comes out of his house armed from head to foot.


LAMACHUS
Whence comes this cry of battle? where must I bring my aid? where must I sow dread? who wants me to uncase my dreadful Gorgon's head?

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, Lamachus, great hero! Your plumes and your cohorts terrify me.

CHORUS-LEADER
This man, Lamachus, incessantly abuses Athens.

LAMACHUS
You are but a mendicant and you dare to use language of this sort?

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, brave Lamachus, forgive a beggar who speaks at hazard.

LAMACHUS
But what have you said? Let us hear.

DICAEOPOLIS
I know nothing about it; the sight of weapons makes me dizzy. Oh! I adjure you, take that fearful Gorgon somewhat farther away.

LAMACHUS
There.

DICAEOPOLIS
Now place it face downwards on the ground.

LAMACHUS
It is done.

DICAEOPOLIS
Give me a plume out of your helmet.

LAMACHUS
Here is a feather.

DICAEOPOLIS
And hold my head while I vomit; the plumes have turned my stomach.

LAMACHUS
Hah! what are you proposing to do? do you want to make yourself vomit with this feather?

DICAEOPOLIS
Is it a feather? what bird's? a braggart's?

LAMACHUS
Hah! I will rip you open.

DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, Lamachus! Violence is out of place here! But as you are so strong, why did you not circumcise me? You have all the tools you need for the operation there.

LAMACHUS
A beggar dares thus address a general!

DICAEOPOLIS
How? Am I a beggar?

LAMACHUS
What are you then?

DICAEOPOLIS
Who am I? A good citizen, not ambitious; a soldier, who has fought well since the outbreak of the war, whereas you are but a vile mercenary.

LAMACHUS
They elected me....

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, three cuckoos did! If I have concluded peace, it was disgust that drove me; for I see men with hoary heads in the ranks and young fellows of your age shirking service. Some are in Thrace getting an allowance of three drachmae, such fellows as Tisamenophaenippus and Panurgipparchides. The others are with Chares or in Chaonia, men like Geretotheodorus and Diomialazon; there are some of the same kidney, too, at Camarina, at Gela, and at Catagela.

LAMACHUS
They were elected.

DICAEOPOLIS
And why do you always receive your pay, when none of these others ever gets any? Speak, Marilades, you have grey hair; well then, have you ever been entrusted with a mission? See! he shakes his head. Yet he is an as well as a prudent man. And you, Anthracyllus or Euphorides or Prinides, have you knowledge of Ecbatana or Chaonia? You say no, do you not? Such offices are good for the son of Coesyra and Lamachus, who, but yesterday ruined with debt, never pay their shot, and whom all their friends avoid as foot passengers dodge the folks who empty their slops out of window.

LAMACHUS
Oh! in freedom's name! are such exaggerations to be borne?

DICAEOPOLIS
Not unless Lamachus gets paid for it.

LAMACHUS
But I propose always to war with the Peloponnesians, both at sea, on land and everywhere to make them tremble, and trounce them soudly.
He goes back into his house.


DICAEOPOLIS
For my own part, I make proclamation to all Peloponnesians, Megarians and Boeotians, that to them my markets are open; but I debar Lamachus from entering them.
He goes into his house.


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Convinced by this man's speech, the folk have changed their view and approve him for having concluded peace. But let us prepare for the recital of the parabasis.
The CHORUS moves forward and faces the audience.
Never since our poet presented comedies, has he praised himself upon the stage; but, having been slandered by his enemies amongst the volatile Athenians, accused of scoffing at his country and of insulting the people, to-day he wishes to reply and regain for himself the inconstant Athenians. He maintains that he has done much that is good for you; if you no longer allow yourselves to be too much hoodwinked by strangers or seduced by flattery, if in politics you are no longer the ninnies you once were, it is thanks to him. Formerly, when delegates from other cities wanted to deceive you, they had but to style you, "the people crowned with violets," and at the word "violets" you at once sat erect on the tips of your bums. Or if, to tickle your vanity, someone spoke of "rich and sleek Athens," in return for that "sleekness" he would get anything he wanted, because he spoke of you as he would have of anchovies in oil. In cautioning you against such wiles, the poet has done you great service as well as in forcing you to understand what is really the democratic principle. Thus the strangers, who came to pay their tributes, wanted to see this great poet, who had dared to speak the truth to Athens. And so far has the fame of his boldness reached that one day the Great King, when questioning the Lacedaemonian delegates, first asked them which of the two rival cities was the superior at sea, and then immediately demanded at which it was that the comic poet directed his biting satire. "Happy that city," he added, "if it listens to his counsel; it will grow in power, and its victory is assured." This is why the Lacedaemonians offer you peace, if you will cede them Aegina; not that they care for the isle, but they wish to rob you of your poet. As for you, never lose him, who will always fight for the cause of justice in his comedies; he promises you that his precepts will lead you to happiness, though he uses neither flattery, nor bribery, nor intrigue, nor deceit; instead of loading you with praise, he will point you to the better way. I scoff at Cleon's tricks and plotting; honesty and justice shall fight my cause; never will you find me a political poltroon, a prostitute to the highest bidder.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS  singing
 I invoke thee, Acharnian Muse, fierce and fell as the devouring fire; sudden as the spark that bursts from the crackling oaken coal when roused by the quickening fan to fry little fishes, while others knead the dough or whip the sharp Thasian pickle with rapid hand, so break forth, my Muse, and inspire thy tribesmen with rough, vigorous, stirring strains.

LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
We others, now old men and heavy with years, we reproach the city; so many are the victories we have gained for the Athenian fleets that we well deserve to be cared for in our declining life; yet far from this, we are ill-used, harassed with law-suits, delivered over to the scorn of stripling orators. Our minds and bodies being ravaged with age, Posidon should protect us, yet we have no other support than a staff. When standing before the judge, we can scarcely stammer forth the fewest words, and of justice we see but its barest shadow, whereas the accuser, desirous of conciliating the younger men, overwhelms us with his ready rhetoric; he drags us before the judge, presses us with questions, lays traps for us; the onslaught troubles, upsets and ruins poor old Tithonus, who, crushed with age, stands tongue-tied; sentenced to a fine, he weeps, he sobs and says to his friend, "This fine robs me of the last trifle that was to have bought my coffin."

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS  singing
 Is this not a scandal? What! the clepsydra is to kill the white-haired veteran, who, in fierce fighting, has so oft covered himself with glorious sweat, whose valour at Marathon saved the country! We were the ones who pursued on the field of Marathon, whereas now it is wretches who pursue us to the death and crush us. What would Marpsias reply to this?

LEADER OF SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
What an injustice that a man, bent with age like Thucydides, should be brow-beaten by this braggart advocate, Cephisodemus, who is as savage as the Scythian desert he was born in! I wept tears of pity when I saw a Scythian maltreat this old man, who, by Ceres, when he was young and the true Thucydides, would not have permitted an insult from Ceres herself! At that date he would have floored ten orators like Euathlus, he would have terrified three thousand Scythians with his shouts; he would have pierced the whole line of the enemy with his shafts. Ah! but if you will not leave the aged in peace, decree that the advocates be matched; thus the old man will only be confronted with a toothless greybeard, the young will fight with the braggart, the ignoble with the son of Clinias; make law that in the future, the old man can only be summoned and convicted at the courts by the aged and the young man by the youth.

DICAEOPOLIS  coming out of his house and marking out a square in front of it
These are the confines of my market-place. All Peloponnesians, Megarians, Boeotians, have the right to come and trade here, provided they sell their wares to me and not to Lamachus. As market-inspectors I appoint these three whips of Leprean leather, chosen by lot. Warned away are all informers and all men of Phasis. They are bringing me the pillar on which the treaty is inscribed and I shall erect it in the centre of the market, well in sight of all.
He goes back into the house just as a Megarian enters from the left, carrying a sack on his shoulder and followed by his two little daughters.


MEGARIAN
Hail! market of Athens, beloved of Megarians. Let Zeus, the patron of friendship, witness, I regretted you as a mother mourns her son. Come, poor little daughters of an unfortunate father, try to find something to eat; listen to me with the full heed of an empty belly. Which would you prefer? To be sold or to cry with hunger?

DAUGHTERS
To be sold, to be sold!

MEGARIAN
That is my opinion too. But who would make so sorry a deal as to buy you? Ah! I recall me a Megarian trick; I am going to disguise you as little porkers, that I am offering for sale. Fit your hands with these hoofs and take care to appear the issue of a sow of good breed, for, if I am forced to take you back to the house, by Hermes! you will suffer cruelly of hunger! Then fix on these snouts and cram yourselves into this sack. Forget not to grunt and to say wee-wee like the little pigs that are sacrificed in the Mysteries. I must summon Dicaeopolis. Where is be? 
Loudly
Dicaeopolis, do you want to buy some nice little porkers?

DICAEOPOLIS  coming out of his house
 Who are you? a Megarian?

MEGARIAN
I have come to your market.

DICAEOPOLIS
Well, how are things at Megara?

MEGARIAN
We are crying with hunger at our firesides.

DICAEOPOLIS
The fireside is jolly enough with a piper. But what else is doing at Megara?

MEGARIAN
What else? When I left for the market, the authorities were taking steps to let us die in the quickest manner.

DICAEOPOLIS
That is the best way to get you out of all your troubles.

MEGARIAN
True.

DICAEOPOLIS
What other news of Megara? What is wheat selling at?

MEGARIAN
With us it is valued as highly as the very gods in heaven!

DICAEOPOLIS
Is it salt that you are bringing?

MEGARIAN
Aren't you the ones that are holding back the salt?

DICAEOPOLIS
Is it garlic then?

MEGARIAN
What! garlic! do you not at every raid like mice grub up the ground with your pikes to pull out every single head?

DICAEOPOLIS
What are you bringing then?

MEGARIAN
Little sows, like those they immolate at the Mysteries.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! very well, show me them.

MEGARIAN
They are very fine; feel their weight. See! how fat and fine.

DICAEOPOLIS  feeling around in the sack
 Hey! what's this?

MEGARIAN
A sow.

DICAEOPOLIS
A sow, you say? Where from, then?

MEGARIAN
From Megara. What! isn't it a sow then?

DICAEOPOLIS  feeling around in the sack again
 No, I don't believe it is.

MEGARIAN
This is too much! what an incredulous man! He says it's not a sow; but we will stake, if you will, a measure of salt ground up with thyme, that in good Greek this is called a sow and nothing else.

DICAEOPOLIS
But a sow of the human kind.

MEGARIAN
Without question, by Diocles! of my own breed! Well! What think you? would you like to hear them squeal?

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, I would.

MEGARIAN
Cry quickly, wee sowlet; squeak up, hussy, or by Hermes! I take you back to the house.

DAUGHTERS
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

MEGARIAN
Is that a little sow, or not?

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, it seems so; but let it grow up, and it will be a fine fat thing.

MEGARIAN
In five years it will be just like its mother.

DICAEOPOLIS
But it cannot be sacrificed.

MEGARIAN
And why not?

DICAEOPOLIS
It has no tail.

MEGARIAN
Because it is quite young, but in good time it will have a big one, thick and red. But if you are willing to bring it up you will have a very fine sow.

DICAEOPOLIS
The two are as like as two peas.

MEGARIAN
They are born of the same father and mother; let them be fattened, let them grow their bristles, and they will be the finest sows you can offer to Aphrodite.

DICAEOPOLIS
But sows are not immolated to Aphrodite.

MEGARIAN
Not sows to Aphrodite! Why, she's the only goddess to whom they are offered! the flesh of my sows will be excellent on your spit.

DICAEOPOLIS
Can they eat alone? They no longer need their mother?

MEGARIAN
Certainly not, nor their father.

DICAEOPOLIS
What do they like most?

MEGARIAN
Whatever is given them; but ask for yourself.

DICAEOPOLIS
Speak! little sow.

DAUGHTERS
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS
Can you eat chick-pease?

DAUGHTERS
Wee-wee, wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS
And Attic figs?

DAUGHTERS
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS
What sharp squeaks at the name of figs. Come, let some figs be brought for these little pigs. Will they eat them? Goodness! how they munch them, what a grinding of teeth, mighty Heracles! I believe those pigs hail from the land of the Voracians.

MEGARIAN  aside
 But they have not eaten all the figs; I took this one myself.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! what curious creatures! For what sum will you sell them?

MEGARIAN
I will give you one for a bunch of garlic, and the other, if you like, for a quart measure of salt.

DICAEOPOLIS
I'll buy them. Wait for me here.
He goes into the house.


MEGARIAN
The deal is done. Hermes, god of good traders, grant I may sell both my wife and my mother in the same way!
An INFORMER enters.


INFORMER
Hi! fellow, what country are you from?

MEGARIAN
I am a pig-merchant from Megara.

INFORMER
I shall denounce both your pigs and yourself as public enemies.

MEGARIAN
Ah! here our troubles begin afresh!

INFORMER
Let go of that sack. I'll teach you to talk Megarian!

MEGARIAN  loudly
 Dicaeopolis, want to denounce me.

DICAEOPOLIS  from within
 Who dares do this thing?
He comes out of his house.
Inspectors, drive out the informers. Ah! you offer to enlighten us without a lamp!

INFORMER
What! I may not denounce our enemies?

DICAEOPOLIS  With a threatening gesture
 Watch out for yourself, and go off pretty quick and denounce elsewhere.
The INFORMER runs away.


MEGARIAN
What a plague to Athens!

DICAEOPOLIS
Be reassured, Megarian. Here is the price for your two sowlets, the garlic and the salt. Farewell and much happiness!

MEGARIAN
Ah! we never have that amongst us.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, I'm sorry if I said the wrong thing

MEGARIAN
Farewell, dear little sows, and seek, far from your father, to munch your bread with salt, if they give you any.
He departs and DICAEOPOLIS takes the "sows" into his house.


CHORUS  singing
 Here is a man truly happy. See how everything succeeds to his wish. Peacefully seated in his market, he will earn his living; woe to Ctesias, and all other informers who dare to enter there! You will not be cheated as to the value of wares, you will not again see Prepis wiping his big arse, nor will Cleonymus jostle you; you will take your walks, clothed in a fine tunic, without meeting Hyperbolus and his unceasing quibblings, without being accosted on the public place by any importunate fellow, neither by Cratinus, shaven in the fashion of the adulterers, nor by this musician, who plagues us with his silly improvisations, that hyper-rogue Artemo, with his arm-pits stinking as foul as a goat, like his father before him. You will not be the butt of the villainous Pauson's jeers, nor of Lysistratus, the disgrace of the Cholargian deme, who is the incarnation of all the vices, and endures cold and hunger more than thirty days in the month.
A BOEOTIAN enters, followed by his slave, who is carrying a large assortment of articles of food, and by a troop of flute players.


BOEOTIAN
By Heracles! my shoulder is quite black and blue. Ismenias, put the penny-royal down there very gently, and all of you, musicians from Thebes, strike up on your bone flutes "The Dog's Arse."
The Musicians immediately begin an atrocious rendition of a vulgar tune.


DICAEOPOLIS
Enough, damn you; get out of here Rascally hornets, away with you! Whence has sprung this accursed swarm of Chaeris fellows which comes assailing my door?
The Musicians depart.


BOEOTIAN
Ah! by Iolas! Drive them off, my dear host, you will please me immensely; all the way from Thebes, they were there piping behind me and they have completely stripped my penny-royal of its blossom. But will you buy anything of me, some chickens or some locusts?

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! good day, Boeotian. eater of good round loaves. What do you bring?

BOEOTIAN
All that is good in Boeotia, marjoram, penny-royal, rush-mats, lampwicks, ducks, jays, woodcocks, water-fowl, wrens, divers.

DICAEOPOLIS
A regular hail of birds is beating down on my market.

BOEOTIAN
I also bring geese, hares, foxes, moles, hedgehogs, cats, lyres, martins, otters and eels from the Copaic lake.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! my friend, you, who bring me the most delicious of fish, let me salute your eels.

BOEOTIAN  in tragic style
 Come, thou, the eldest of my fifty Copaic virgins, come and complete the joy of our host.

DICAEOPOLIS  likewise
 Oh! my well-beloved, thou object of my long regrets, thou art here at last then, thou, after whom the comic poets sigh, thou, who art dear to Morychus. Slaves, hither with the stove and the bellows. Look at this charming eel, that returns to us after six long years of absence. Salute it, my children; as for myself, I will supply coal to do honour to the stranger. Take it into my house; death itself could not separate me from her, if cooked with beet leaves.

BOEOTIAN
And what will you give me in return?

DICAEOPOLIS
It will pay for your market dues. And as to the rest, what do you wish to sell me?

BOEOTIAN
Why, everything.

DICAEOPOLIS
On what terms? For ready-money or in wares from these parts?

BOEOTIAN
I would take some Athenian produce, that we have not got in Boeotia,

DICAEOPOLIS
Phaleric anchovies, pottery?

BOEOTIAN
Anchovies, pottery? But these we have. I want produce that is wanting with us and that is plentiful here.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! I have the very thing; take away an informer, packed up carefully as crockery-ware.

BOEOTIAN
By the twin gods! I should earn big money, if I took one; I would exhibit him as an ape full of spite.

DICAEOPOLIS  as an informer enters
 Hah! here we have Nicarchus, who comes to denounce you.

BOEOTIAN
How small he is!

DICAEOPOLIS
But all pure evil.

NICARCHUS
Whose are these goods?

DICAEOPOLIS
Mine, they come from Boeotia, I call Zeus to witness.

NICARCHUS
I denounce them as coming from an enemy's country.

BOEOTIAN
What! you declare war against birds?

NICARCHUS
And I am going to denounce you too.

BOEOTIAN
What harm have I done you?

NICARCHUS
I will say it for the benefit of those that listen; you introduce lampwicks from an enemy's country.

DICAEOPOLIS
Then you even denounce a wick.

NICARCHUS
It needs but one to set an arsenal afire.

DICAEOPOLIS
A wick set an arsenal ablaze! But how, great gods?

NICARCHUS
Should a Boeotian attach it to an insect's wing, and, taking advantage of a violent north wind, throw it by means of a tube into the arsenal and the fire once get hold of the vessels, everything would soon be devoured by the flames.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! wretch! an insect and a wick devour everything!
He strikes him.


NICARCHUS  to the CHORUS
 You will bear witness, that he mishandles me.

DICAEOPOLIS  to the BOEOTIAN
 Shut his mouth. Give me some hay; I am going to pack him up like a vase, that he may not get broken on the road.
The INFORMER is bound and gagged and packed in hay.


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Pack up your goods carefully, friend; that the stranger may not break it when taking it away.

DICAEOPOLIS
I shall take great care with it.
He hits the INFORMER on the head and a stifled cry is heard.
One would say he is cracked already; he rings with a false note, which the gods abhor.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But what will be done with him?

DICAEOPOLIS
This is a vase good for all purposes; it will be used as a vessel for holding all foul things, a mortar for pounding together law-suits, a lamp for spying upon accounts, and as a cup for the mixing up and poisoning of everything.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
None could ever trust a vessel for domestic use that has such a ring about it.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! it is strong, my friend, and will never get broken, if care is taken to hang it head downwards.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS  to the BOEOTIAN
 There! it is well packed now!

BOEOTIAN
Well then, I will proceed to carry off my bundle.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Farewell, worthiest of strangers, take this informer, good for anything, and fling him where you like.

DICAEOPOLIS
Bah! this rogue has given me enough trouble to pack! Here! Boeotian, pick up your pottery.

BOEOTIAN
Stoop, Ismenias, that I may put it on your shoulder, and be very careful with it.

DICAEOPOLIS
You carry nothing worth having; however, take it, for you will profit by your bargain; the informers will bring you luck.
The BOEOTIAN and his slave depart; DICAEOPOLIS goes into his house; a slave comes out of LAMACHUS' house.


SLAVE
Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS  from within
 What's the matter? Why are you calling me?

SLAVE
Lamachus wants to keep the Feast of Cups, and I come by his order to bid you one drachma for some thrushes and three more for a Copaic eel.

DICAEOPOLIS  coming out
 And who is this Lamachus, who demands an eel?

SLAVE  in tragic style
 He is the terrible, indefatigable Lamachus, who is always brandishing his fearful Gorgon's head and the three plumes which o'ershadow his helmet.

DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, he will get nothing, even though he gave me his buckler. Let him eat salt fish while he shakes his plumes, and, if he comes here making any din, I shall call the inspectors. As for myself, I shall take away all these goods;
in tragic style
I go home on thrushes' wings and black-birds' pinions. 
He goes into his house.


FIRST SEMI-CHORUS  singing
 You see, citizens, you see the good fortune which this man owes to his prudence, to his profound wisdom. You see how, since he has concluded peace, he buys what is useful in the household and good to eat hot. All good things flow towards him unsought. Never will welcome the god of war in my house; never shall he sing the "Harmodius" at my table; he is a sot, who comes feasting with those who are overflowing with good things and brings all manner of mischief in his train. He overthrows, ruins, rips open; it is vain to make him a thousand offers, to say "be seated, pray, and drink this cup, profered in all friendship"; he burns our vine-stocks and brutally spills on the ground the wine from our vineyards.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS  singing
 This man, on the other hand, covers his table with a thousand dishes; proud of his good fortunes, he has had these feathers cast before his door to show us how he lives.
A woman appears, bearing the attributes of Peace.
Oh, Peace! companion of fair Aphrodite and of the sweet Graces, how charming are thy features and yet I never knew it! Would that Eros might join me to thee, Eros crowned with roses as Zeuxis shows him to us! Do I seem somewhat old to thee? I am yet able to make thee a threefold offering; despite my age I could plant a long row of vines for you; then beside these some tender cuttings from the fig; finally a youn, vinestock, loaded with fruit, and all around the field olive trees, to furnish us with oil wherewith to anoint us both at the New Moons.
A HERALD enters.


HERALD
Oyez, oyez! As was the custom of your forebears, empty a full pitcher of wine at the call of the trumpet; he who first sees the bottom shall get a wine-skin as round and plump as Ctesiphon's belly.

DICAEOPOLIS  coming out of the house; to his family within








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