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The Eleven Comedies by Aristophanes et al

Part 3 out of 7

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

DICAEOPOLIS. Is it salt that you are bringing?

MEGARIAN. Are you not holding back the salt?

DICAEOPOLIS. 'Tis garlic then?

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

DICAEOPOLIS. What _do_ you bring 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. But what is this?

MEGARIAN. A _sow_, for a certainty.[233]

DICAEOPOLIS. You say a sow! of what country, then?

MEGARIAN. From Megara. What! is that not a sow then?

DICAEOPOLIS. No, I don't believe it is.

MEGARIAN. This is too much! what an incredulous man! He says 'tis not a
sow; but we will stake, an 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? will you hear them squeal?

DICAEOPOLIS. Well, yes, i' faith, I will.

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

GIRL. 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 cunt.

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.[234]

MEGARIAN. Because it is quite young, but in good time it will have a big
one, thick and red.

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 Aphrodité.

DICAEOPOLIS. But sows are not immolated to Aphrodité.

MEGARIAN. Not sows to Aphrodité! Why, 'tis the only goddess to whom they
are offered! the flesh of my sows will be excellent on the 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.

DAUGHTER. Wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS. Can you eat chick-pease?[235]

DAUGHTER. Wee-wee, wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS. And Attic figs?

DAUGHTER. 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. But surely, 'tis impossible
they have bolted all the figs!

MEGARIAN. Yes, certainly, bar this one that I took from them.

DICAEOPOLIS. Ah! what funny 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 buy them of you. Wait for me here.

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. Hi! fellow, what countryman are you?

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 that sack. I will punish your Megarian lingo.[236]

MEGARIAN. Dicaeopolis, Dicaeopolis, they want to denounce me.

DICAEOPOLIS. Who dares do this thing? Inspectors, drive out the
Informers. Ah! you offer to enlighten us without a lamp![237]

INFORMER. What! I may not denounce our enemies?

DICAEOPOLIS. Have a care for yourself, if you don't go off pretty quick
to denounce elsewhere.

MEGARIAN. What a plague to Athens!

DICAEOPOLIS. Be reassured, Megarian. Here is the value of your two swine,
the garlic and the salt. Farewell and much happiness!

MEGARIAN. Ah! we never have that amongst us.

DICAEOPOLIS. Well! may the inopportune wish apply to myself.

MEGARIAN. Farewell, dear little sows, and seek, far from your father, to
munch your bread with salt, if they give you any.

CHORUS. 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,[238] 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[239] wiping his foul rump, nor will Cleonymus[240] jostle you; you
will take your walks, clothed in a fine tunic, without meeting
Hyperbolus[241] and his unceasing quibblings, without being accosted on
the public place by any importunate fellow, neither by Cratinus,[242]
shaven in the fashion of the debauchees, nor by this musician, who
plagues us with his silly improvisations, 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[243] jeers, nor of Lysistratus,[244]
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. 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, pipe with your bone flutes into a dog's rump.[245]

DICAEOPOLIS. Enough, enough, get you gone. Rascally hornets, away with
you! Whence has sprung this accursed swarm of Cheris[246] fellows which
comes assailing my door?

BOEOTIAN. Ah! by Iolas![247] Drive them off, my dear host, you will
please me immensely; all the way from Thebes, they were there piping
behind me and 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.[248]
What do you bring?

BOEOTIAN. All that is good in Boeotia, marjoram, penny-royal, rush-mats,
lamp-wicks, ducks, jays, woodcocks, waterfowl, wrens, divers.

DICAEOPOLIS. 'Tis a very hail of birds that beats down on my market.

BOEOTIAN. I also bring geese, hares, foxes, moles, hedgehogs, cats,
lyres, martins, otters and eels from the Copaic lake.[249]

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

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

DICAEOPOLIS. 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.[250] Slaves, hither with the stove and the bellows.
Look at this charming eel, that returns to us after six long years of
absence.[251] 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

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. Hah! here we have Nicarchus,[252] who comes to denounce you.

BOEOTIAN. How small he is!

DICAEOPOLIS. But in his case the whole is one mass of ill-nature.

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 lamp-wicks from an enemy's country.

DICAEOPOLIS. Then you go as far as denouncing 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 would devour everything.
(_He strikes him_.)

NICARCHUS (_to the Chorus_). You will bear witness, that he mishandles

DICAEOPOLIS. Shut his mouth. Give him some hay; I am going to pack him up
as a vase, that he may not get broken on the road.

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, for one would say he is
cracked already; he rings with a false note, which the gods abhor.

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.

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.

CHORUS. There! it is well packed now!

BOEOTIAN. Marry, I will proceed to carry off my bundle.

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.


DICAEOPOLIS. What do want crying this gait?

SERVANT. Lamachus wants to keep the Feast of Cups,[253] and I come by his
order to bid you one drachma for some thrushes and three more for a
Copaic eel.

DICAEOPOLIS. And who is this Lamachus, who demands an eel?

SERVANT. 'Tis the terrible, indefatigable Lamachus, he, 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; I go home on thrushes' wings and
blackbirds' pinions.[254]

CHORUS. 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 I welcome the
god of war in my house; never shall he chant the 'Harmodius' at my
table;[255] he is a sot, who comes feasting with those who are
overflowing with good things and brings all sorts of mischief at his
heels. He overthrows, ruins, rips open; 'tis vain to make him a thousand
offers, "be seated, pray, drink this cup, proffered in all friendship,"
he burns our vine-stocks and brutally pours out the wine from our
vineyards on the ground. 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.

DICAEOPOLIS. Oh! Peace! companion of fair Aphrodité and of the sweet
Graces, how charming are your features and yet I never knew it! Would
that Eros might join me to thee, Eros, crowned with roses as Zeuxis[256]
shows him to us! Perhaps I seem somewhat old to you, but I am yet able to
make you 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 young vine-stock, loaded with fruit and all round the field
olive trees, which would furnish us with oil, wherewith to anoint us both
at the New Moons.

HERALD. List, ye people! 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. Women, children, have you not heard? Faith! do you not heed
the herald? Quick! let the hares boil and roast merrily; keep them
a-turning; withdraw them from the flame; prepare the chaplets; reach me
the skewers that I may spit the thrushes.

CHORUS. I envy you your wisdom and even more your good cheer.

DICAEOPOLIS. What then will you say when you see the thrushes roasting?

CHORUS. Ah! true indeed!

DICAEOPOLIS. Slave! stir up the fire.

CHORUS. See, how he knows his business, what a perfect cook! How well he
understands the way to prepare a good dinner!

A HUSBANDMAN. Ah! woe is me!

DICAEOPOLIS. Heracles! What have we here?

HUSBANDMAN. A most miserable man.

DICAEOPOLIS. Keep your misery for yourself.

HUSBANDMAN. Ah! friend! since you alone are enjoying peace, grant me a
part of your truce, were it but five years.

DICAEOPOLIS. What has happened to you?

HUSBANDMAN. I am ruined; I have lost a pair of steers.


HUSBANDMAN. The Boeotians seized them at Phylé.[257]

DICAEOPOLIS. Ah! poor wretch! and yet you have not left off white?

HUSBANDMAN. Their dung made my wealth.

DICAEOPOLIS. What can I do in the matter?

HUSBANDMAN. Crying for my beasts has lost me my eyesight. Ah! if you care
for poor Dercetes of Phylé, anoint mine eyes quickly with your balm of

DICAEOPOLIS. But, my poor fellow, I do not practise medicine.

HUSBANDMAN. Come, I adjure you; perchance I shall recover my steers.

DICAEOPOLIS. 'Tis impossible; away, go and whine to the disciples of

HUSBANDMAN. Grant me but one drop of peace; pour it into this reedlet.

DICAEOPOLIS. No, not a particle; go a-weeping elsewhere.

HUSBANDMAN. Oh! oh! oh! my poor beasts!

CHORUS. This man has discovered the sweetest enjoyment in peace; he will
share it with none.

DICAEOPOLIS. Pour honey over this tripe; set it before the fire to dry.

CHORUS. What lofty tones he uses! Did you hear him?

DICAEOPOLIS. Get the eels on the gridiron!

CHORUS. You are killing me with hunger; your smoke is choking your
neighbours, and you split our ears with your bawling.

DICAEOPOLIS. Have this fried and let it be nicely browned.

A BRIDESMAID. Dicaeopolis! Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS. Who are you?

BRIDESMAID. A young bridegroom sends you these viands from the marriage

DICAEOPOLIS. Whoever he be, I thank him.

BRIDESMAID. And in return, he prays you to pour a glass of peace into
this vase, that he may not have to go to the front and may stay at home
to do his duty to his young wife.

DICAEOPOLIS. Take back, take back your viands; for a thousand drachmae I
would not give a drop of peace; but who are you, pray?

BRIDESMAID. I am the bridesmaid; she wants to say something to you from
the bride privately.

DICAEOPOLIS. Come, what do you wish to say? (_The bridesmaid whispers in
his ear._) _Ah!_ what a ridiculous demand! The bride burns with longing
to keep by her her husband's weapon. Come! bring hither my truce; to her
alone will I give some of it, for she is a woman, and, as such, should
not suffer under the war. Here, friend, reach hither your vial. And as to
the manner of applying this balm, tell the bride, when a levy of soldiers
is made to rub some in bed on her husband, where most needed. There,
slave, take away my truce! Now, quick hither with the wine-flagon, that I
may fill up the drinking bowls!

CHORUS. I see a man, striding along apace, with knitted brows; he seems
to us the bearer of terrible tidings.

HERALD. Oh! toils and battles! 'tis Lamachus!

LAMACHUS. What noise resounds around my dwelling, where shines the glint
of arms.

HERALD. The Generals order you forthwith to take your battalions and your
plumes, and, despite the snow, to go and guard our borders. They have
learnt that a band of Boeotians intend taking advantage of the feast of
Cups to invade our country.

LAMACHUS. Ah! the Generals! they are numerous, but not good for much!
It's cruel, not to be able to enjoy the feast!

DICAEOPOLIS. Oh! warlike host of Lamachus!

LAMACHUS. Wretch! do you dare to jeer me?

DICAEOPOLIS. Do you want to fight this four-winged Geryon?

LAMACHUS. Oh! oh! what fearful tidings!

DICAEOPOLIS. Ah! ah! I see another herald running up; what news does he
bring me?

HERALD. Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS. What is the matter?

HERALD. Come quickly to the feast and bring your basket and your cup;
'tis the priest of Bacchus who invites you. But hasten, the guests have
been waiting for you a long while. All is ready--couches, tables,
cushions, chaplets, perfumes, dainties and courtesans to boot; biscuits,
cakes, sesamé-bread, tarts, and--lovely dancing women, the sweetest charm
of the festivity. But come with all haste.

LAMACHUS. Oh! hostile gods!

DICAEOPOLIS. This is not astounding; you have chosen this huge, great
ugly Gorgon's head for your patron. You, shut the door, and let someone
get ready the meal.

LAMACHUS. Slave! slave! my knapsack!

DICAEOPOLIS. Slave! slave! a basket!

LAMACHUS. Take salt and thyme, slave, and don't forget the onions.

DICAEOPOLIS. Get some fish for me; I cannot bear onions.

LAMACHUS. Slave, wrap me up a little stale salt meat in a fig-leaf.

DICAEOPOLIS. And for me some good greasy tripe in a fig-leaf; I will have
it cooked here.

LAMACHUS. Bring me the plumes for my helmet.

DICAEOPOLIS. Bring me wild pigeons and thrushes.

LAMACHUS. How white and beautiful are these ostrich feathers!

DICAEOPOLIS. How fat and well browned is the flesh of this wood-pigeon!

LAMACHUS. Bring me the case for my triple plume.

DICAEOPOLIS. Pass me over that dish of hare.

LAMACHUS. _Oh!_ the moths have eaten the hair of my crest!

DICAEOPOLIS. I shall always eat hare before dinner.

LAMACHUS. Hi! friend! try not to scoff at my armour.

DICAEOPOLIS. Hi! friend! will you kindly not stare at my thrushes.

LAMACHUS. Hi! friend! will you kindly not address me.

DICAEOPOLIS. I do not address you; I am scolding my slave. Shall we wager
and submit the matter to Lamachus, which of the two is the best to eat, a
locust or a thrush?

LAMACHUS. Insolent hound!

DICAEOPOLIS. He much prefers the locusts.

LAMACHUS. Slave, unhook my spear and bring it to me.

DICAEOPOLIS. Slave, slave, take the sausage from the fire and bring it to

LAMACHUS. Come, let me draw my spear from its sheath. Hold it, slave,
hold it tight.

DICAEOPOLIS. And you, slave, grip, grip well hold of the skewer.

LAMACHUS. Slave, the bracings for my shield.

DICAEOPOLIS. Pull the loaves out of the oven and bring me these bracings
of my stomach.

LAMACHUS. My round buckler with the Gorgon's head.

DICAEOPOLIS. My round cheese-cake.

LAMACHUS. What clumsy wit!

DICAEOPOLIS. What delicious cheese-cake!

LAMACHUS. Pour oil on the buckler. Hah! hah! I can see an old man who
will be accused of cowardice.

DICAEOPOLIS. Pour honey on the cake. Hah! hah! I can see an old man who
makes Lamachus of the Gorgon's head weep with rage.

LAMACHUS. Slave, full war armour.

DICAEOPOLIS. Slave, my beaker; that is _my_ armour.

LAMACHUS. With this I hold my ground with any foe.

DICAEOPOLIS. And I with this with any tosspot.

LAMACHUS. Fasten the strappings to the buckler; personally I shall carry
the knapsack.

DICAEOPOLIS. Pack the dinner well into the basket; personally I shall
carry the cloak.

LAMACHUS. Slave, take up the buckler and let's be off. It is snowing! Ah!
'tis a question of facing the winter.

DICAEOPOLIS. Take up the basket, 'tis a question of getting to the feast.

CHORUS. We wish you both joy on your journeys, which differ so much. One
goes to mount guard and freeze, while the other will drink, crowned with
flowers, and then sleep with a young beauty, who will rub his tool for

I say it freely; may Zeus confound Antimachus, the poet-historian, the
son of Psacas! When Choregus at the Lenaea, alas! alas! he dismissed me
dinnerless. May I see him devouring with his eyes a cuttle-fish, just
served, well cooked, hot and properly salted; and the moment that he
stretches his hand to help himself, may a dog seize it and run off with
it. Such is my first wish. I also hope for him a misfortune at night.
That returning all-fevered from horse practice, he may meet an
Orestes,[259] mad with drink, who breaks open his head; that wishing to
seize a stone, he, in the dark, may pick up a fresh stool, hurl his
missile, miss aim and hit Cratinus.[260]

SLAVE OF LAMACHUS. Slaves of Lamachus! Water, water in a little pot! Make
it warm, get ready cloths, cerate, greasy wool and bandages for his
ankle. In leaping a ditch, the master has hurt himself against a stake;
he has dislocated and twisted his ankle, broken his head by falling on a
stone, while his Gorgon shot far away from his buckler. His mighty
braggadocio plume rolled on the ground; at this sight he uttered these
doleful words, "Radiant star, I gaze on thee for the last time; my eyes
close to all light, I die." Having said this, he falls into the water,
gets out again, meets some runaways and pursues the robbers with his
spear at their backsides.[261] But here he comes, himself. Get the door

LAMACHUS. Oh! heavens! oh! heavens! What cruel pain! I faint, I tremble!
Alas! I die! the foe's lance has struck me! But what would hurt me most
would be for Dicaeopolis to see me wounded thus and laugh at my

DICAEOPOLIS (_enters with two courtesans_). Oh! my gods! what bosoms!
Hard as a quince! Come, my treasures, give me voluptuous kisses! Glue
your lips to mine. Haha! I was the first to empty my cup.

LAMACHUS. Oh! cruel fate! how I suffer! accursed wounds!

DICAEOPOLIS. Hah! hah! hail! Knight Lamachus! (_Embraces Lamachus._)

LAMACHUS. By the hostile gods! _(Bites Dicaeopolis.)_

DICAEOPOLIS. Ah! great gods!

LAMACHUS. Why do you embrace me?

DICAEOPOLIS. And why do you bite me?

LAMACHUS. 'Twas a cruel score I was paying back!

DICAEOPOLIS. Scores are not evened at the feast of Cups!

LAMACHUS. Oh! Paean, Paean!

DICAEOPOLIS. But to-day is not the feast of Paean.

LAMACHUS. Oh! support my leg, do; ah! hold it tenderly, my friends!

DICAEOPOLIS. And you, my darlings, take hold of my tool both of you!

LAMACHUS. This blow with the stone makes me dizzy; my sight grows dim.

DICAEOPOLIS. For myself, I want to get to bed; I am bursting with
lustfulness, I want to be fucking in the dark.

LAMACHUS. Carry me to the surgeon Pittalus.

DICAEOPOLIS. Take me to the judges. Where is the king of the feast? The
wine-skin is mine!

LAMACHUS. That spear has pierced my bones; what torture I endure!

DICAEOPOLIS. You see this empty cup! I triumph! I triumph!

CHORUS. Old man, I come at your bidding! You triumph! you triumph!

DICAEOPOLIS. Again I have brimmed my cup with unmixed wine and drained it
at a draught!

CHORUS. You triumph then, brave champion; thine is the wine-skin!

DICAEOPOLIS. Follow me, singing "Triumph! Triumph!"

CHORUS. Aye! we will sing of thee, thee and thy sacred wine-skin, and we
all, as we follow thee, will repeat in thine honour, "Triumph, Triumph!"

* * * * *


* * * * *


[147] A name invented by Aristophanes and signifying 'a just citizen.'

[148] Cleon had received five talents from the islanders subject to
Athens, on condition that he should get the tribute payable by them
reduced; when informed of this transaction, the Knights compelled him to
return the money.

[149] A hemistich borrowed from Euripides' 'Telephus.'

[150] The tragedies of Aeschylus continued to be played even after the
poet's death, which occurred in 436 B.C., ten years before the production
of the Acharnians.

[151] A tragic poet, whose pieces were so devoid of warmth and life that
he was nicknamed [Greek: chi_on], i.e. _snow_.

[152] A bad musician, frequently ridiculed by Aristophanes; he played
both the lyre and the flute.

[153] A lively and elevated method.

[154] A hill near the Acropolis, where the Assemblies were held.

[155] Several means were used to force citizens to attend the assemblies;
the shops were closed; circulation was only permitted in those streets
which led to the Pnyx; finally, a rope covered with vermilion was drawn
round those who dallied in the Agora (the marketplace), and the
late-comers, ear-marked by the imprint of the rope, were fined.

[156] Magistrates who, with the Archons and the Epistatae, shared the
care of holding and directing the assemblies of the people; they were
fifty in number.

[157] The Peloponnesian War had already, at the date of the
representation of the 'Acharnians,' lasted five years, 431-426 B.C.;
driven from their lands by the successive Lacedaemonian invasions, the
people throughout the country had been compelled to seek shelter behind
the walls of Athens.

[158] Shortly before the meeting of the Assembly, a number of young pigs
were immolated and a few drops of their blood were sprinkled on the seats
of the Prytanes; this sacrifice was in honour of Ceres.

[159] The name, Amphitheus, contains the word, [Greek: Theos], _god_.

[160] Amongst other duties, it was the office of the Prytanes to look
after the wants of the poor.

[161] The summer residence of the Great King.

[162] Referring to the hardships he had endured garrisoning the walls of
Athens during the Lacedaemonian invasions early in the War.

[163] Cranaus, the second king of Athens, the successor of Cecrops.

[164] Lucian, in his 'Hermotimus,' speaks of these golden mountains as an
apocryphal land of wonders and prodigies.

[165] Cleonymus was an Athenian general of exceptionally tall stature;
Aristophanes incessantly rallies him for his cowardice; he had cast away
his buckler in a fight.

[166] A name borne by certain officials of the King of Persia. The actor
of this part wore a mask, fitted with a single eye of great size.

[167] Jargon, no doubt meaningless in all languages.

[168] The Persians styled all Greeks 'Ionians' without distinction; here
the Athenians are intended.

[169] A Greek measure, containing about six modii.

[170] Noted for his extreme ugliness and his obscenity. Aristophanes
frequently holds him to scorn in his comedies.

[171] Ambassadors were entertained there at the public expense.

[172] King of Thrace.

[173] The tragic poet.

[174] A feast lasting three days and celebrated during the month
Pyanepsion (November). The Greek word contains the suggestion of fraud
([Greek: apat_e]).

[175] A Thracian tribe from the right bank of the Strymon.

[176] The Boeotians were the allies of Sparta.

[177] Dicaeopolis had brought a clove of garlic with him to eat during
the Assembly.

[178] Garlic was given to game-cocks, before setting them at each other,
to give them pluck for the fight.

[179] At the least unfavourable omen, the sitting of the Assembly was
declared at an end.

[180] The deme of Acharnae was largely inhabited by charcoal-burners, who
supplied the city with fuel.

[181] He presents them in the form of wines contained in three separate

[182] Meaning, preparations for war.

[183] Meaning, securing allies for the continuance of the war.

[184] When Athens sent forth an army, the soldiers were usually ordered
to assemble at some particular spot with provisions for three days.

[185] These feasts were also called the Anthesteria or Lenaea; the
Lenaeum was a temple to Bacchus, erected outside the city. They took
place during the month Anthesterion (February).

[186] A celebrated athlete from Croton and a victor at Olympia; he was
equally good as a runner and at the 'five exercises' ([Greek:

[187] He had been Archon at the time of the battle of Marathon.

[188] A sacred formula, pronounced by the priest before offering the
sacrifice ([Greek: kan_ephoria]).

[189] The maiden who carried the basket filled with fruits at the
Dionysia in honour of Bacchus.

[190] The emblem of the fecundity of nature; it consisted of a
representation, generally grotesquely exaggerated, of the male genital
organs; the phallophori crowned with violets and ivy and their faces
shaded with green foliage, sang improvised airs, called 'Phallics,' full
of obscenity and suggestive 'double entendres.'

[191] The most propitious moment for Love's gambols, observes the

[192] Married women did not join in the processions.

[193] The god of generation, worshipped in the form of a phallus.

[194] A remark, which fixes the date of the production of the
'Acharnians,' viz. the sixth year of the Peloponnesian War, 426 B.C.

[195] Lamachus was an Athenian general, who figures later in this comedy.

[196] At the rural Dionysia a pot of kitchen vegetables was borne in the
procession along with other emblems.

[197] Cleon the Demagogue was a currier originally by trade. He was the
sworn foe and particular detestation of the Knights or aristocratic party

[198] That is, the baskets of charcoal.

[199] The stage of the Greek theatre was much broader, and at the same
time shallower, than in a modern playhouse.

[200] A mountain in Attica, in the neighbourhood of Acharnae.

[201] Orators in the pay of the enemy.

[202] Satire on the Athenians' addiction to lawsuits.

[203] 'The Babylonians.' Cleon had denounced Aristophanes to the senate
for having scoffed at Athens before strangers, many of whom were present
at the performance. The play is now lost.

[204] A tragic poet; we know next to nothing of him or his works.

[205] Son of Aeolus, renowned in fable for his robberies, and for the
tortures to which he was put by Pluto. He was cunning enough to break
loose out of hell, but Hermes brought him back again.

[206] This whole scene is directed at Euripides; Aristophanes ridicules
the subtleties of his poetry and the trickeries of his staging, which,
according to him, he only used to attract the less refined among his

[207] "Wheeled out"--that is, by means of the [Greek: ekkukl_ema], a
mechanical contrivance of the Greek stage, by which an interior was
shown, the set scene with performers, etc., all complete, being in some
way, which cannot be clearly made out from the descriptions, swung out or
wheeled out on to the main stage.

[208] Having been lamed, it is of course implied, by tumbling from the
lofty apparatus on which the Author sat perched to write his tragedies.

[209] Euripides delighted, or was supposed by his critic Aristophanes to
delight, in the representation of misery and wretchedness on the stage.
'Aeneus,' 'Phoenix,' 'Philoctetes,' 'Bellerophon,' 'Telephus,' 'Ino' are
titles of six tragedies of his in this _genre_ of which fragments are

[210] Line borrowed from Euripides. A great number of verses are
similarly parodied in this scene.

[211] Report said that Euripides' mother had sold vegetables on the

[212] Aristophanes means, of course, to imply that the whole talent of
Euripides lay in these petty details of stage property.

[213] 'The Babylonians' had been produced at a time of year when Athens
was crowded with strangers; 'The Acharnians,' on the contrary, was played
in December.

[214] Sparta had been menaced with an earthquake in 427 B.C. Posidon was
'The Earthshaker,' god of earthquakes, as well as of the sea.

[215] A song by Timocreon the Rhodian, the words of which were
practically identical with Pericles' decree.

[216] A small and insignificant island, one of the Cyclades, allied with
the Athenians, like most of these islands previous to and during the
first part of the Peloponnesian War.

[217] A figure of Medusa's head, forming the centre of Lamachus' shield.

[218] Indicates the character of his election, which was arranged, so
Aristophanes implies, by his partisans.

[219] Towns in Sicily. There is a pun on the name Gela--[Greek: Gela] and
[Greek: Katagela] (ridiculous)--which it is impossible to keep in
English. Apparently the Athenians had sent embassies to all parts of the
Greek world to arrange treaties of alliance in view of the struggle with
the Lacedaemonians; but only young debauchees of aristocratic connections
had been chosen as envoys.

[220] A contemporary orator apparently, otherwise unknown.

[221] The _parabasis_ in the Old Comedy was a sort of address or topical
harangue addressed directly by the poet, speaking by the Chorus, to the
audience. It was nearly always political in bearing, and the subject of
the particular piece was for the time being set aside altogether.

[222] It will be remembered that Aristophanes owned land in Aegina.

[223] Everything was made the object of a law-suit at Athens. The old
soldiers, inexpert at speaking, often lost the day.

[224] A water-clock used to limit the length of speeches in the courts.

[225] A braggart speaker, fiery and pugnacious.

[226] Cephisodemus was an Athenian, but through his mother possessed
Scythian blood.

[227] The city of Athens was policed by Scythian archers.

[228] Alcibiades.

[229] The leather market was held at Lepros, outside the city.

[230] Meaning an informer ([Greek: phain_o], to denounce).

[231] According to the Athenian custom.

[232] Megara was allied to Sparta and suffered during the war more than
any other city, because of its proximity to Athens.

[233]: Throughout this whole scene there is an obscene play upon the word
[Greek: choiros], which means in Greek both 'sow' and 'a woman's organs
of generation.'

[234] Sacrificial victims were bound to be perfect in every part; an
animal, therefore, without a tail could not be offered.

[235] The Greek word, [Greek: erebinthos], also means the male sexual
organ. Observe the little pig-girl greets this question with _three_
affirmative squeaks!

[236] The Megarians used the Doric dialect.

[237] A play upon the word [Greek: phainein], which both means _to light_
and _to denounce_.

[238] An informer (sycophant), otherwise unknown.

[239] A debauchee of vile habits; a pathic.

[240] Mentioned above; he was as proud as he was cowardly.

[241] An Athenian general, quarrelsome and litigious, and an Informer
into the bargain.

[242] A comic poet of vile habits.

[243] A painter.

[244] A debauchee, a gambler, and always in extreme poverty.

[245] This kind of flute had a bellows, made of dog-skin, much like the
bagpipes of to-day.

[246] A flute-player, mentioned above.

[247] A hero, much honoured in Thebes; nephew of Heracles.

[248] A form of bread peculiar to Boeotia.

[249] A lake in Boeotia.

[250] He was the Lucullus of Athens.

[251] This again fixes the date of the presentation of the 'Acharnians'
to 426 B.C., the sixth year of the War, since the beginning of which
Boeotia had been closed to the Athenians.

[252] An Informer.

[253] The second day of the Dionysia or feasts of Bacchus, kept in the
month Anthesterion (February), and called the Anthesteria. They lasted
three days; the second being the Feast of Cups, a description of which is
to be found at the end of this comedy, the third the Feast of Pans.
Vases, filled with grain of all kinds, were borne in procession and
dedicated to Hermes.

[254] A parody of some verses from a lost poet.

[255] A feasting song in honour of Harmodius, the assassin of Hipparchus
the Tyrant, son of Pisistratus.

[256] The celebrated painter, born at Heraclea, a contemporary of

[257] A deme and frontier fortress of Attica, near the Boeotian border.

[258] An Athenian physician of the day.

[259] An allusion to the paroxysms of rage, as represented in many
tragedies familiar to an Athenian audience, of Orestes, the son of
Agamemnon, after he had killed his mother.

[260] No doubt the comic poet, rival of Aristophanes.

[261] Unexpected wind-up of the story. Aristophanes intends to deride the
boasting of Lamachus, who was always ascribing to himself most unlikely



The 'Peace' was brought out four years after 'The Acharnians' (422 B.C.),
when the War had already lasted ten years. The leading motive is the same
as in the former play--the intense desire of the less excitable and more
moderate-minded citizens for relief from the miseries of war.

Trygaeus, a rustic patriot, finding no help in men, resolves to ascend to
heaven to expostulate personally with Zeus for allowing this wretched
state of things to continue. With this object he has fed and trained a
gigantic dung-beetle, which he mounts, and is carried, like Bellerophon
on Pegasus, on an aerial journey. Eventually he reaches Olympus, only to
find that the gods have gone elsewhere, and that the heavenly abode is
occupied solely by the demon of War, who is busy pounding up the Greek
States in a huge mortar. However, his benevolent purpose is not in vain;
for learning from Hermes that the goddess Peace has been cast into a pit,
where she is kept a fast prisoner, he calls upon the different peoples of
Hellas to make a united effort and rescue her, and with their help drags
her out and brings her back in triumph to earth. The play concludes with
the restoration of the goddess to her ancient honours, the festivities of
the rustic population and the nuptials of Trygaeus with Opora (Harvest),
handmaiden of Peace, represented as a pretty courtesan.

Such references as there are to Cleon in this play are noteworthy. The
great Demagogue was now dead, having fallen in the same action as the
rival Spartan general, the renowned Brasidas, before Amphipolis, and
whatever Aristophanes says here of his old enemy is conceived in the
spirit of 'de mortuis nil nisi bonum.' In one scene Hermes is descanting
on the evils which had nearly ruined Athens and declares that 'The
Tanner' was the cause of them all. But Trygaeus interrupts him with the

"Hold--say not so, good master Hermes;
Let the man rest in peace where now he lies.
He is no longer of our world, but yours."

Here surely we have a trait of magnanimity on the author's part as
admirable in its way as the wit and boldness of his former attacks had
been in theirs.

* * * * *



HIEROCLES, a Soothsayer.

SCENE: A farmyard, two slaves busy beside a dungheap; afterwards, in

* * * * *


FIRST SERVANT. Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.

SECOND SERVANT. Coming, coming.

FIRST SERVANT. Give it to him, and may it kill him!

SECOND SERVANT. May he never eat a better.

FIRST SERVANT. Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.

SECOND SERVANT. There! I've done that too.

FIRST SERVANT. And where's what you gave him just now; surely he can't
have devoured it yet!

SECOND SERVANT. Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet
and boiled it.

FIRST SERVANT. Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.

SECOND SERVANT. Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you
do not wish to see me fall down choked.

FIRST SERVANT. Come, come, another made of the stool of a young
scapegrace catamite. 'Twill be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well

SECOND SERVANT. There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will
accuse me of tasting what I mix.

FIRST SERVANT. Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your

SECOND SERVANT. I' faith, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no
longer, so I bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.

FIRST SERVANT. Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with it.

SECOND SERVANT. Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can buy a
stopped-up nose, for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food
for a beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least pounce
upon our excrement without more ado, but this foul wretch affects the
disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't eat unless I offer him a cake
that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let us open the door a
bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating? Come, pluck up
courage, cram yourself till you burst! The cursed creature! It wallows in
its food! It grips it between its claws like a wrestler clutching his
opponent, and with head and feet together rolls up its paste like a
ropemaker twisting a hawser. What an indecent, stinking, gluttonous
beast! I know not what angry god let this monster loose upon us, but of a
certainty it was neither Aphrodité nor the Graces.

FIRST SERVANT. Who was it then?

SECOND SERVANT. No doubt the Thunderer, Zeus.

FIRST SERVANT. But perhaps some spectator, some beardless youth, who
thinks himself a sage, will say, "What is this? What does the beetle
mean?" And then an Ionian,[263] sitting next him, will add, "I think 'tis
an allusion to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by
himself."--But now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.

SECOND SERVANT. As for me, I will explain the matter to you all,
children, youths, grown-ups and old men, aye, even to the decrepit
dotards. My master is mad, not as you are, but with another sort of
madness, quite a new kind. The livelong day he looks open-mouthed towards
heaven and never stops addressing Zeus. "Ah! Zeus," he cries, "what are
thy intentions? Lay aside thy besom; do not sweep Greece away!"

TRYGAEUS. Ah! ah! ah!

FIRST SERVANT. Hush, hush! Methinks I hear his voice!

TRYGAEUS. Oh! Zeus, what art thou going to do for our people? Dost thou
not see this, that our cities will soon be but empty husks?

FIRST SLAVE. As I told you, that is his form of madness. There you have a
sample of his follies. When his trouble first began to seize him, he said
to himself, "By what means could I go straight to Zeus?" Then he made
himself very slender little ladders and so clambered up towards heaven;
but he soon came hurtling down again and broke his head. Yesterday, to
our misfortune, he went out and brought us back this thoroughbred, but
from where I know not, this great beetle, whose groom he has forced me to
become. He himself caresses it as though it were a horse, saying, "Oh! my
little Pegasus,[264] my noble aerial steed, may your wings soon bear me
straight to Zeus!" But what is my master doing? I must stoop down to look
through this hole. Oh! great gods! Here! neighbours, run here quick! here
is my master flying off mounted on his beetle as if on horseback.

TRYGAEUS. Gently, gently, go easy, beetle; don't start off so proudly, or
trust at first too greatly to your powers; wait till you have sweated,
till the beating of your wings shall make your limb joints supple. Above
all things, don't let off some foul smell, I adjure you; else I would
rather have you stop in the stable altogether.

SECOND SERVANT. Poor master! Is he crazy?

TRYGAEUS. Silence! silence!

SECOND SERVANT (_to Trygaeus_). But why start up into the air on chance?

TRYGAEUS. 'Tis for the weal of all the Greeks; I am attempting a daring
and novel feat.

SECOND SERVANT. But what is your purpose? What useless folly!

TRYGAEUS. No words of ill omen! Give vent to joy and command all men to
keep silence, to close down their drains and privies with new tiles and
to stop their own vent-holes.[265]

FIRST SERVANT. No, I shall not be silent, unless you tell me where you
are going.

TRYGAEUS. Why, where am I likely to be going across the sky, if it be not
to visit Zeus?

FIRST SERVANT. For what purpose?

TRYGAEUS. I want to ask him what he reckons to do for all the Greeks.

SECOND SERVANT. And if he doesn't tell you?

TRYGAEUS. I shall pursue him at law as a traitor who sells Greece to the

SECOND SERVANT. Death seize me, if I let you go.

TRYGAEUS. It is absolutely necessary.

SECOND SERVANT. Alas! alas! dear little girls, your father is deserting
you secretly to go to heaven. Ah! poor orphans, entreat him, beseech him.

LITTLE DAUGHTER. Father! father! what is this I hear? Is it true? What!
you would leave me, you would vanish into the sky, you would go to the
crows?[267] 'Tis impossible! Answer, father, an you love me.

TRYGAEUS. Yes, I am going. You hurt me too sorely, my daughters, when you
ask me for bread, calling me your daddy, and there is not the ghost of an
obolus in the house; if I succeed and come back, you will have a barley
loaf every morning--and a punch in the eye for sauce!

LITTLE DAUGHTER. But how will you make the journey? 'Tis not a ship that
will carry you thither.

TRYGAEUS. No, but this winged steed will.

LITTLE DAUGHTER. But what an idea, daddy, to harness a beetle, on which
to fly to the gods.

TRYGAEUS. We see from Aesop's fables that they alone can fly to the abode
of the Immortals.[268]

LITTLE DAUGHTER. Father, father, 'tis a tale nobody can believe! that
such a stinking creature can have gone to the gods.

TRYGAEUS. It went to have vengeance on the eagle and break its eggs.

LITTLE DAUGHTER. Why not saddle Pegasus? you would have a more
_tragic_[269] appearance in the eyes of the gods.

TRYGAEUS. Eh! don't you see, little fool, that then twice the food would
be wanted? Whereas my beetle devours again as filth what I have eaten

LITTLE DAUGHTER. And if it fell into the watery depths of the sea, could
it escape with its wings?

TRYGAEUS (_showing his penis_). I am fitted with a rudder in case of
need, and my Naxos beetle will serve me as a boat.[270]

LITTLE DAUGHTER. And what harbour will you put in at?

TRYGAEUS. Why, is there not the harbour of Cantharos at the Piraeus?[271]

LITTLE DAUGHTER. Take care not to knock against anything and so fall off
into space; once a cripple, you would be a fit subject for Euripides, who
would put you into a tragedy.[272]

TRYGAEUS. I'll see to it. Good-bye! (_To the Athenians._) You, for love
of whom I brave these dangers, do ye neither let wind nor go to stool for
the space of three days, for, if, while cleaving the air, my steed should
scent anything, he would fling me head foremost from the summit of my
hopes. Now come, my Pegasus, get a-going with up-pricked ears and make
your golden bridle resound gaily. Eh! what are you doing? What are you up
to? Do you turn your nose towards the cesspools? Come, pluck up a spirit;
rush upwards from the earth, stretch out your speedy wings and make
straight for the palace of Zeus; for once give up foraging in your daily
food.--Hi! you down there, what are you after now? Oh! my god! 'tis a man
emptying his belly in the Piraeus, close to the house where the bad girls
are. But is it my death you seek then, my death? Will you not bury that
right away and pile a great heap of earth upon it and plant wild thyme
therein and pour perfumes on it? If I were to fall from up here and
misfortune happened to me, the town of Chios[273]would owe a fine of five
talents for my death, all along of your cursed rump. Alas! how frightened
I am! oh! I have no heart for jests. Ah! machinist, take great care of
me. There is already a wind whirling round my navel; take great care or,
from sheer fright, I shall form food for my beetle.... But I think I am
no longer far from the gods; aye, that is the dwelling of Zeus, I
perceive. Hullo! Hi! where is the doorkeeper? Will no one open?

* * * * *

_The scene changes and heaven is presented._

HERMES. Meseems I can sniff a man. (_He perceives Trygaeus astride his
beetle._) Why, what plague is this?

TRYGAEUS. A horse-beetle.

HERMES. Oh! impudent, shameless rascal! oh! scoundrel! triple scoundrel!
the greatest scoundrel in the world! how did you come here? Oh! scoundrel
of all scoundrels! your name? Reply.

TRYGAEUS. Triple scoundrel.

HERMES. Your country?

TRYGAEUS. Triple scoundrel.

HERMES. Your father?

TRYGAEUS. My father? Triple scoundrel.

HERMES. By the Earth, you shall die, unless you tell me your name.

TRYGAEUS. I am Trygaeus of the Athmonian deme, a good vine-dresser,
little addicted to quibbling and not at all an informer.

HERMES. Why do you come?

TRYGAEUS. I come to bring you this meat.

HERMES. Ah! my good friend, did you have a good journey?

TRYGAEUS. Glutton, be off! I no longer seem a triple scoundrel to you.
Come, call Zeus.

HERMES. Ah! ah! you are a long way yet from reaching the gods, for they
moved yesterday.

TRYGAEUS. To what part of the earth?

HERMES. Eh! of the earth, did you say?

TRYGAEUS. In short, where are they then?

HERMES. Very far, very far, right at the furthest end of the dome of

TRYGAEUS. But why have they left you all alone here?

HERMES. I am watching what remains of the furniture, the little pots and
pans, the bits of chairs and tables, and odd wine-jars.

TRYGAEUS. And why have the gods moved away?

HERMES. Because of their wrath against the Greeks. They have located War
in the house they occupied themselves and have given him full power to do
with you exactly as he pleases; then they went as high up as ever they
could, so as to see no more of your fights and to hear no more of your

TRYGAEUS. What reason have they for treating us so?

HERMES. Because they have afforded you an opportunity for peace more than
once, but you have always preferred war. If the Laconians got the very
slightest advantage, they would exclaim, "By the Twin Brethren! the
Athenians shall smart for this." If, on the contrary, the latter
triumphed and the Laconians came with peace proposals, you would say, "By
Demeter, they want to deceive us. No, by Zeus, we will not hear a word;
they will always be coming as long as we hold Pylos."[274]

TRYGAEUS. Yes, that is quite the style our folk do talk in.

HERMES. So that I don't know whether you will ever see Peace again.

TRYGAEUS. Why, where has she gone to then?

HERMES. War has cast her into a deep pit.


HERMES. Down there, at the very bottom. And you see what heaps of stones
he has piled over the top, so that you should never pull her out again.

TRYGAEUS. Tell me, what is War preparing against us?

HERMES. All I know is that last evening he brought along a huge mortar.

TRYGAEUS. And what is he going to do with his mortar?

HERMES. He wants to pound up all the cities of Greece in it.... But I
must say good-bye, for I think he is coming out; what an uproar he is

TRYGAEUS. Ah! great gods! let us seek safety; meseems I already hear the
noise of this fearful war mortar.

WAR (_enters carrying a mortar_). Oh! mortals, mortals, wretched mortals,
how your jaws will snap!

TRYGAEUS. Oh! divine Apollo! what a prodigious big mortar! Oh, what
misery the very sight of War causes me! This then is the foe from whom I
fly, who is so cruel, so formidable, so stalwart, so solid on his legs!

WAR. Oh! Prasiae![275] thrice wretched, five times, aye, a thousand times
wretched! for thou shalt be destroyed this day.

TRYGAEUS. This does not yet concern us over much; 'tis only so much the
worse for the Laconians.

WAR. Oh! Megara! Megara! how utterly are you going to be ground up! what
fine mincemeat[276] are you to be made into!

TRYGAEUS. Alas! alas! what bitter tears there will be among the

WAR. Oh, Sicily! you too must perish! Your wretched towns shall be grated
like this cheese.[278] Now let us pour some Attic honey[279] into the

TRYGAEUS. Oh! I beseech you! use some other honey; this kind is worth
four obols; be careful, oh! be careful of our Attic honey.

WAR. Hi! Tumult, you slave there!

TUMULT. What do you want?

WAR. Out upon you! You stand there with folded arms. Take this cuff o'
the head for your pains.

TUMULT. Oh! how it stings! Master, have you got garlic in your fist, I

WAR. Run and fetch me a pestle.

TUMULT. But we haven't got one; 'twas only yesterday we moved.

WAR. Go and fetch me one from Athens, and hurry, hurry!

TUMULT. Aye, I hasten there; if I return without one, I shall have no
cause for laughing. [_Exit._

TRYGAEUS. Ah! what is to become of us, wretched mortals that we are? See
the danger that threatens if he returns with the pestle, for War will
quietly amuse himself with pounding all the towns of Hellas to pieces.
Ah! Bacchus! cause this herald of evil to perish on his road!

WAR. Well!

TUMULT (_who has returned_). Well, what?

WAR. You have brought back nothing?

TUMULT. Alas! the Athenians have lost their pestle--the tanner, who
ground Greece to powder.[280]

TRYGAEUS. Oh! Athené, venerable mistress! 'tis well for our city he is
dead, and before he could serve us with this hash.

WAR. Then go and seek one at Sparta and have done with it!

TUMULT. Aye, aye, master!

WAR. Be back as quick as ever you can.

TRYGAEUS (_to the audience_). What is going to happen, friends? 'Tis a
critical hour. Ah! if there is some initiate of Samothrace[281] among
you, 'tis surely the moment to wish this messenger some accident--some
sprain or strain.

TUMULT (_who returns_). Alas! alas! thrice again, alas!

WAR. What is it? Again you come back without it?

TUMULT. The Spartans too have lost their pestle.

WAR. How, varlet?

TUMULT. They had lent it to their allies in Thrace,[282] who have lost it
for them.

TRYGAEUS. Long life to you, Thracians! My hopes revive, pluck up courage,

WAR. Take all this stuff away; I am going in to make a pestle for myself.

TRYGAEUS. 'Tis now the time to sing as Datis did, as he masturbated
himself at high noon, "Oh pleasure! oh enjoyment! oh delights!" 'Tis now,
oh Greeks! the moment when freed of quarrels and fighting, we should
rescue sweet Peace and draw her out of this pit, before some other pestle
prevents us. Come, labourers, merchants, workmen, artisans, strangers,
whether you be domiciled or not, islanders, come here, Greeks of all
countries, come hurrying here with picks and levers and ropes! 'Tis the
moment to drain a cup in honour of the Good Genius.

CHORUS. Come hither, all! quick, quick, hasten to the rescue! All peoples
of Greece, now is the time or never, for you to help each other. You see
yourselves freed from battles and all their horrors of bloodshed. The
day, hateful to Lamachus,[283] has come. Come then, what must be done?
Give your orders, direct us, for I swear to work this day without
ceasing, until with the help of our levers and our engines we have drawn
back into light the greatest of all goddesses, her to whom the olive is
so dear.

TRYGAEUS. Silence! if War should hear your shouts of joy he would bound
forth from his retreat in fury.

CHORUS. Such a decree overwhelms us with joy; how different to the edict,
which bade us muster with provisions for three days.[284]

TRYGAEUS. Let us beware lest the cursed Cerberus[285] prevent us even
from the nethermost hell from delivering the goddess by his furious
howling, just as he did when on earth.

CHORUS. Once we have hold of her, none in the world will be able to take
her from us. Huzza! huzza![286]

TRYGAEUS. You will work my death if you don't subdue your shouts. War
will come running out and trample everything beneath his feet.

CHORUS. Well then! _Let_ him confound, let him trample, let him overturn
everything! We cannot help giving vent to our joy.

TRYGAEUS. Oh! cruel fate! My friends! in the name of the gods, what
possesses you? Your dancing will wreck the success of a fine undertaking.

CHORUS. 'Tis not I who want to dance; 'tis my legs that bound with

TRYGAEUS. Enough, an you love me, cease your gambols.

CHORUS. There! Tis over.

TRYGAEUS. You say so, and nevertheless you go on.

CHORUS. Yet one more figure and 'tis done.

TRYGAEUS. Well, just this one; then you must dance no more.

CHORUS. No, no more dancing, if we can help you.

TRYGAEUS. But look, you are not stopping even now.

CHORUS. By Zeus, I am only throwing up my right leg, that's all.

TRYGAEUS. Come, I grant you that, but pray, annoy me no further.

CHORUS. Ah! the left leg too will have its fling; well, 'tis but its
right. I am so happy, so delighted at not having to carry my buckler any
more. I sing and I laugh more than if I had cast my old age, as a serpent
does its skin.

TRYGAEUS. No, 'tis no time for joy yet, for you are not sure of success.
But when you have got the goddess, then rejoice, shout and laugh;
thenceforward you will be able to sail or stay at home, to make love or
sleep, to attend festivals and processions, to play at cottabos,[287]
live like true Sybarites and to shout, Io, io!

CHORUS. Ah! God grant we may see the blessed day. I have suffered so
much; have so oft slept with Phormio[288] on hard beds. You will no
longer find me an acid, angry, hard judge as heretofore, but will find me
turned indulgent and grown younger by twenty years through happiness. We
have been killing ourselves long enough, tiring ourselves out with going
to the Lyceum[289] and returning laden with spear and buckler.--But what
can we do to please you? Come, speak; for 'tis a good Fate, that has
named you our leader.

TRYGAEUS. How shall we set about removing these stones?

HERMES. Rash reprobate, what do you propose doing?

TRYGAEUS. Nothing bad, as Cillicon said.[290]

HERMES. You are undone, you wretch.

TRYGAEUS. Yes, if the lot had to decide my life, for Hermes would know
how to turn the chance.[291]

HERMES. You are lost, you are dead.

TRYGAEUS. On what day?

HERMES. This instant.

TRYGAEUS. But I have not provided myself with flour and cheese yet[292]
to start for death.

HERMES. You _are_ kneaded and ground already, I tell you.[293]

TRYGAEUS. Hah! I have not yet tasted that gentle pleasure.

HERMES. Don't you know that Zeus has decreed death for him who is
surprised exhuming Peace?

TRYGAEUS. What! must I really and truly die?

HERMES. You must.

TRYGAEUS. Well then, lend me three drachmae to buy a young pig; I wish to
have myself initiated before I die.[294]

HERMES. Oh! Zeus, the Thunderer![295]

TRYGAEUS. I adjure you in the name of the gods, master, don't denounce

HERMES. I may not, I cannot keep silent.

TRYGAEUS. In the name of the meats which I brought you so good-naturedly.

HERMES. Why, wretched man, Zeus will annihilate me, if I do not shout out
at the top of my voice, to inform him what you are plotting.

TRYGAEUS. Oh, no! don't shout, I beg you, dear little Hermes.... And what
are you doing, comrades? You stand there as though you were stocks and
stones. Wretched men, speak, entreat him at once; otherwise he will be

CHORUS. Oh! mighty Hermes! don't do it; no, don't do it! If ever you have
eaten some young pig, sacrificed by us on your altars, with pleasure, may
this offering not be without value in your sight to-day.

TRYGAEUS. Do you not hear them wheedling you, mighty god?

CHORUS. Be not pitiless toward our prayers; permit us to deliver the
goddess. Oh! the most human, the most generous of the gods, be favourable
toward us, if it be true that you detest the haughty crests and proud
brows of Pisander;[296] we shall never cease, oh master, offering you
sacred victims and solemn prayers.

TRYGAEUS. Have mercy, mercy, let yourself be touched by their words;
never was your worship so dear to them as to-day.

HERMES. I' truth, never have you been greater thieves.[297]

TRYGAEUS. I will reveal a great, a terrible conspiracy against the gods
to you.

HERMES. Hah! speak and perchance I shall let myself be softened.

TRYGAEUS. Know then, that the Moon and that infamous Sun are plotting
against you, and want to deliver Greece into the hands of the Barbarians.

HERMES. What for?

TRYGAEUS. Because it is to you that we sacrifice, whereas the barbarians
worship them; hence they would like to see you destroyed, that they alone
might receive the offerings.

HERMES. 'Tis then for this reason that these untrustworthy charioteers
have for so long been defrauding us, one of them robbing us of daylight
and the other nibbling away at the other's disk.[298]

TRYGAEUS. Yes, certainly. So therefore, Hermes, my friend, help us with
your whole heart to find and deliver the captive and we will celebrate
the great Panathenaea[299] in your honour as well as all the festivals of
the other gods; for Hermes shall be the Mysteries, the Dipolia, the
Adonia; everywhere the towns, freed from their miseries, will sacrifice
to Hermes, the Liberator; you will be loaded with benefits of every kind,
and to start with, I offer you this cup for libations as your first

HERMES. Ah! how golden cups do influence me! Come, friends, get to work.
To the pit quickly, pick in hand and drag away the stones.

CHORUS. We go, but you, the cleverest of all the gods, supervise our
labours; tell us, good workman as you are, what we must do; we shall obey
your orders with alacrity.

TRYGAEUS. Quick, reach me your cup, and let us preface our work by
addressing prayers to the gods.

HERMES. Oh! sacred, sacred libations! Keep silence, oh! ye people! keep

TRYGAEUS. Let us offer our libations and our prayers, so that this day
may begin an era of unalloyed happiness for Greece and that he who has
bravely pulled at the rope with us may never resume his buckler.

CHORUS. Aye, may we pass our lives in peace, caressing our mistresses and
poking the fire.

TRYGAEUS. May he who would prefer the war, oh Dionysus, be ever drawing
barbed arrows out of his elbows.

CHORUS. If there be a citizen, greedy for military rank and honours, who
refuses, oh, divine Peace! to restore you to daylight, may he behave as
cowardly as Cleonymus on the battlefield.

TRYGAEUS. If a lance-maker or a dealer in shields desires war for the
sake of better trade, may he be taken by pirates and eat nothing but

CHORUS. If some ambitious man does not help us, because he wants to
become a General, or if a slave is plotting to pass over to the enemy,
let his limbs be broken on the wheel, may he be beaten to death with
rods! As for us, may Fortune favour us! Io! Paean, Io!

TRYGAEUS. Don't say Paean,[300] but simply, Io.

CHORUS. Very well, then! Io! Io! I'll simply say, Io!

TRYGAEUS. To Hermes, the Graces, Hora, Aphrodité, Eros!

CHORUS. And not to Ares?


CHORUS. Nor doubtless to Enyalius?


CHORUS. Come, all strain at the ropes to tear away the stones. Pull!

HERMES. Heave away, heave, heave, oh!

CHORUS. Come, pull harder, harder.

HERMES. Heave away, heave, heave, oh!

CHORUS. Still harder, harder still.

HERMES. Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave, heave, oh!

TRYGAEUS. Come, come, there is no working together. Come! all pull at the
same instant! you Boeotians are only pretending. Beware!

HERMES. Come, heave away, heave!

CHORUS. Hi! you two pull as well.

TRYGAEUS. Why, I am pulling, I am hanging on to the rope and straining
till I am almost off my feet; I am working with all my might.

HERMES. Why does not the work advance then?

TRYGAEUS. Lamachus, this is too bad! You are in the way, sitting there.
We have no use for your Medusa's head, friend.[301]

HERMES. But hold, the Argives have not pulled the least bit; they have
done nothing but laugh at us for our pains while they were getting gain
with both hands.[302]

TRYGAEUS. Ah! my dear sir, the Laconians at all events pull with vigour.

CHORUS. But look! only those among them who generally hold the
plough-tail show any zeal,[303] while the armourers impede them in their

HERMES. And the Megarians too are doing nothing, yet look how they are
pulling and showing their teeth like famished curs; the poor wretches are
dying of hunger![304]

TRYGAEUS. This won't do, friends. Come! all together! Everyone to the
work and with a good heart for the business.

HERMES. Heave away, heave!


HERMES. Heave away, heave!

TRYGAEUS. Come on then, by heaven.

HERMES. Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave!

CHORUS. This will never do.

TRYGAEUS. Is it not a shame? some pull one way and others another. You,
Argives there, beware of a thrashing!

HERMES. Come, put your strength into it.

TRYGAEUS. Heave away, heave!

CHORUS. There are many ill-disposed folk among us.

TRYGAEUS. Do you at least, who long for peace, pull heartily.

CHORUS. But there are some who prevent us.

HERMES. Off to the Devil with you, Megarians! The goddess hates you. She
recollects that you were the first to rub her the wrong way. Athenians,
you are not well placed for pulling. There you are too busy with
law-suits; if you really want to free the goddess, get down a little
towards the sea.[305]

CHORUS. Come, friends, none but husbandmen on the rope.

HERMES. Ah! that will do ever so much better.

CHORUS. He says the thing is going well. Come, all of you, together and
with a will.

TRYGAEUS. 'Tis the husbandmen who are doing all the work.

CHORUS. Come then, come, and all together! Hah! hah! at last there is
some unanimity in the work. Don't let us give up, let us redouble our
efforts. There! now we have it! Come then, all together! Heave away,
heave! Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave! Heave
away, heave! All together! (_Peace is drawn out of the pit._)

TRYGAEUS. Oh! venerated goddess, who givest us our grapes, where am I to
find the ten-thousand-gallon words[306] wherewith to greet thee? I have
none such at home. Oh! hail to thee, Opora,[307] and thou, Theoria![308]
How beautiful is thy face! How sweet thy breath! What gentle fragrance
comes from thy bosom, gentle as freedom from military duty, as the most
dainty perfumes!

HERMES. Is it then a smell like a soldier's knapsack?

CHORUS. Oh! hateful soldier! your hideous satchel makes me sick! it
stinks like the belching of onions, whereas this lovable deity has the
odour of sweet fruits, of festivals, of the Dionysia, of the harmony of
flutes, of the comic poets, of the verses of Sophocles, of the phrases of

TRYGAEUS. That's a foul calumny, you wretch! She detests that framer of
subtleties and quibbles.

CHORUS. ... of ivy, of straining-bags for wine, of bleating ewes, of
provision-laden women hastening to the kitchen, of the tipsy servant
wench, of the upturned wine-jar, and of a whole heap of other good

HERMES. Then look how the reconciled towns chat pleasantly together, how
they laugh; and yet they are all cruelly mishandled; their wounds are
bleeding still.

TRYGAEUS. But let us also scan the mien of the spectators; we shall thus
find out the trade of each.

HERMES. Ah! good gods! look at that poor crest-maker, tearing at his
hair,[309] and at that pike-maker, who has just broken wind in yon
sword-cutler's face.

TRYGAEUS. And do you see with what pleasure this sickle-maker is making
long noses at the spear-maker?

HERMES. Now ask the husbandmen to be off.

TRYGAEUS. Listen, good folk! Let the husbandmen take their farming tools
and return to their fields as quick as possible, but without either
sword, spear or javelin. All is as quiet as if Peace had been reigning
for a century. Come, let everyone go till the earth, singing the Paean.

CHORUS. Oh, thou, whom men of standing desired and who art good to
husbandmen, I have gazed upon thee with delight; and now I go to greet my
vines, to caress after so long an absence the fig trees I planted in my

TRYGAEUS. Friends, let us first adore the goddess, who has delivered us
from crests and Gorgons;[310] then let us hurry to our farms, having
first bought a nice little piece of salt fish to eat in the fields.

HERMES. By Posidon! what a fine crew they make and dense as the crust of
a cake; they are as nimble as guests on their way to a feast.

TRYGAEUS. See, how their iron spades glitter and how beautifully their
three-pronged mattocks glisten in the sun! How regularly they will align
the plants! I also burn myself to go into the country and to turn over
the earth I have so long neglected.--Friends, do you remember the happy
life that peace afforded us formerly; can you recall the splendid baskets
of figs, both fresh and dried, the myrtles, the sweet wine, the violets
blooming near the spring, and the olives, for which we have wept so much?
Worship, adore the goddess for restoring you so many blessings.

CHORUS. Hail! hail! thou beloved divinity! thy return overwhelms us with
joy. When far from thee, my ardent wish to see my fields again made me
pine with regret. From thee came all blessings. Oh! much desired Peace!
thou art the sole support of those who spend their lives tilling the
earth. Under thy rule we had a thousand delicious enjoyments at our beck;
thou wert the husbandman's wheaten cake and his safeguard. So that our
vineyards, our young fig-tree woods and all our plantations hail thee
with delight and smile at thy coming. But where was she then, I wonder,
all the long time she spent away from us? Hermes, thou benevolent god,
tell us!

HERMES. Wise husbandmen, hearken to my words, if you want to know why she
was lost to you. The start of our misfortunes was the exile of
Phidias;[311] Pericles feared he might share his ill-luck, he mistrusted
your peevish nature and, to prevent all danger to himself, he threw out
that little spark, the Megarian decree,[312] set the city aflame, and
blew up the conflagration with a hurricane of war, so that the smoke drew
tears from all Greeks both here and over there. At the very outset of
this fire our vines were a-crackle, our casks knocked together;[313] it
was beyond the power of any man to stop the disaster, and Peace

TRYGAEUS. That, by Apollo! is what no one ever told me; I could not think
what connection there could be between Phidias and Peace.

CHORUS. Nor I; I know it now. This accounts for her beauty, if she is
related to him. There are so many things that escape us.

HERMES. Then, when the towns subject to you saw that you were angered one
against the other and were showing each other your teeth like dogs, they
hatched a thousand plots to pay you no more dues and gained over the
chief citizens of Sparta at the price of gold. They, being as shamelessly
greedy as they were faithless in diplomacy, chased off Peace with
ignominy to let loose War. Though this was profitable to them, 'twas the
ruin of the husbandmen, who were innocent of all blame; for, in revenge,
your galleys went out to devour their figs.

TRYGAEUS. And 'twas with justice too; did they not break down my black
fig tree, which I had planted and dunged with my own hands?

CHORUS. Yes, by Zeus! yes, 'twas well done; the wretches broke a chest
for me with stones, which held six medimni of corn.

HERMES. Then the rural labourers flocked into the city[314] and let
themselves be bought over like the others. Not having even a grape-stone
to munch and longing after their figs, they looked towards the
orators.[315] These well knew that the poor were driven to extremity and
lacked even bread; but they nevertheless drove away the Goddess each time
she reappeared in answer to the wish of the country with their loud
shrieks, that were as sharp as pitchforks; furthermore, they attacked the
well-filled purses of the richest among our allies on the pretence that
they belonged to Brasidas' party.[316] And then you would tear the poor
accused wretch to pieces with your teeth; for the city, all pale with
hunger and cowed with terror, gladly snapped up any calumny that was
thrown it to devour. So the strangers, seeing what terrible blows the
informers dealt, sealed their lips with gold. They grew rich, while you,
alas! you could only see that Greece was going to ruin. 'Twas the tanner
who was the author of all this woe.[317]

TRYGAEUS. Enough said, Hermes, leave that man in Hades, whither he has
gone; he no longer belongs to us, but rather to yourself.[318] That he
was a cheat, a braggart, a calumniator when alive, why, nothing could be
truer; but anything you might say now would be an insult to one of your
own folk. Oh! venerated Goddess! why art thou silent?

HERMES. And how could she speak to the spectators? She is too angry at
all that they have made her suffer.

TRYGAEUS. At least let her speak a little to you, Hermes.

HERMES. Tell me, my dear, what are your feelings with regard to them?
Come, you relentless foe of all bucklers, speak; I am listening to you.
(_Peace whispers into Hermes' ear._) Is that your grievance against them?
Yes, yes, I understand. Hearken, you folk, this is her complaint. She
says, that after the affair of Pylos[319] she came to you unbidden to
bring you a basket full of truces and that you thrice repulsed her by
your votes in the assembly.

TRYGAEUS. Yes, we did wrong, but forgive us, for our mind was then
entirely absorbed in leather.[320]

HERMES. Listen again to what she has just asked me. Who was her greatest
foe here? and furthermore, had she a friend who exerted himself to put an
end to the fighting?

TRYGAEUS. Her most devoted friend was Cleonymus; it is undisputed.

HERMES. How then did Cleonymus behave in fights?

TRYGAEUS. Oh! the bravest of warriors! Only he was not born of the father
he claims; he showed it quick enough in the army by throwing away his

HERMES. There is yet another question she has just put to me. Who rules
now in the rostrum?

TRYGAEUS. 'Tis Hyperbolus, who now holds empire on the Pnyx. (_To
Peace._) What now? you turn away your head!

HERMES. She is vexed, that the people should give themselves a wretch of
that kind for their chief.

TRYGAEUS Oh! we shall not employ him again; but the people, seeing
themselves without a leader, took him haphazard, just as a man, who is
naked, springs upon the first cloak he sees.

HERMES. She asks, what will be the result of such a choice of the city?

TRYGAEUS. We shall be more far-seeing in consequence.

HERMES. And why?

TRYGAEUS. Because he is a lamp-maker. Formerly we only directed our
business by groping in the dark; now we shall only deliberate by

HERMES. Oh! oh! what questions she does order me to put to you!

TRYGAEUS. What are they?

HERMES. She wants to have news of a whole heap of old-fashioned things
she left here. First of all, how is Sophocles?

TRYGAEUS. Very well; but something very strange has happened to him.

HERMES. What then?

TRYGAEUS. He has turned from Sophocles into Simonides.[322]

HERMES. Into Simonides? How so?

TRYGAEUS. Because, though old and broken-down as he is, he would put to
sea on a hurdle to gain an obolus.[323]

HERMES. And wise Cratinus, is he still alive?[324]

TRYGAEUS. He died about the time of the Laconian invasion.

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