Part 4 out of 7
TRYGAEUS. Of a swoon. He could not bear the shock of seeing one of his
casks full of wine broken. Ah! what a number of other misfortunes our
city has suffered! So, dearest mistress, nothing can now separate us from
HERMES. If that be so, receive Opora here for a wife; take her to the
country, live with her, and grow fine grapes together.
TRYGAEUS. Come, my dear friend, come and accept my kisses. Tell me,
Hermes, my master, do you think it would hurt me to fuck her a little,
after so long an abstinence?
HERMES. No, not if you swallow a potion of penny-royal afterwards.
But hasten to lead Theoria to the Senate; 'twas there she lodged
TRYGAEUS. Oh! fortunate Senate! Thanks to Theoria, what soups you will
swallow for the space of three days! how you will devour meats and
cooked tripe! Come, farewell, friend Hermes!
HERMES. And to you also, my dear sir, may you have much happiness, and
don't forget me.
TRYGAEUS. Come, beetle, home, home, and let us fly on a swift wing.
HERMES. Oh! he is no longer here.
TRYGAEUS. Where has he gone to then?
HERMES. He is harnessed to the chariot of Zeus and bears the
TRYGAEUS. But where will the poor wretch get his food?
HERMES. He will eat Ganymede's ambrosia.
TRYGAEUS. Very well then, but how am I going to descend?
HERMES. Oh! never fear, there is nothing simpler; place yourself beside
TRYGAEUS. Come, my pretty maidens, follow me quickly; there are plenty of
folk awaiting you with standing tools.
CHORUS. Farewell and good luck be yours! Let us begin by handing over all
this gear to the care of our servants, for no place is less safe than a
theatre; there is always a crowd of thieves prowling around it, seeking
to find some mischief to do. Come, keep a good watch over all this. As
for ourselves, let us explain to the spectators what we have in our
minds, the purpose of our play.
Undoubtedly the comic poet who mounted the stage to praise himself in the
parabasis would deserve to be handed over to the sticks of the beadles.
Nevertheless, oh Muse, if it be right to esteem the most honest and
illustrious of our comic writers at his proper value, permit our poet to
say that he thinks he has deserved a glorious renown. First of all, 'tis
he who has compelled his rivals no longer to scoff at rags or to war with
lice; and as for those Heracles, always chewing and ever hungry, those
poltroons and cheats who allow themselves to be beaten at will, he was
the first to cover them with ridicule and to chase them from the
stage; he has also dismissed that slave, whom one never failed to
set a-weeping before you, so that his comrade might have the chance of
jeering at his stripes and might ask, "Wretch, what has happened to your
hide? Has the lash rained an army of its thongs on you and laid your back
waste?" After having delivered us from all these wearisome ineptitudes
and these low buffooneries, he has built up for us a great art, like a
palace with high towers, constructed of fine phrases, great thoughts and
of jokes not common on the streets. Moreover 'tis not obscure private
persons or women that he stages in his comedies; but, bold as Heracles,
'tis the very greatest whom he attacks, undeterred by the fetid stink of
leather or the threats of hearts of mud. He has the right to say, "I am
the first ever dared to go straight for that beast with the sharp teeth
and the terrible eyes that flashed lambent fire like those of Cynna,
surrounded by a hundred lewd flatterers, who spittle-licked him to his
heart's content; it had a voice like a roaring torrent, the stench of a
seal, a foul Lamia's testicles and the rump of a camel."
I did not recoil in horror at the sight of such a monster, but fought him
relentlessly to win your deliverance and that of the Islanders. Such are
the services which should be graven in your recollection and entitle me
to your thanks. Yet I have not been seen frequenting the wrestling school
intoxicated with success and trying to tamper with young boys; but I
took all my theatrical gear and returned straight home. I pained
folk but little and caused them much amusement; my conscience rebuked me
for nothing. Hence both grown men and youths should be on my side and I
likewise invite the bald to give me their votes; for, if I triumph,
everyone will say, both at table and at festivals, "Carry this to the
bald man, give these cakes to the bald one, do not grudge the poet whose
talent shines as bright as his own bare skull the share he deserves."
Oh, Muse! drive the War far from our city and come to preside over our
dances, if you love me; come and celebrate the nuptials of the gods, the
banquets of us mortals and the festivals of the fortunate; these are the
themes that inspire thy most poetic songs. And should Carcinus come to
beg thee for admission with his sons to thy chorus, refuse all traffic
with them; remember they are but gelded birds, stork-necked dancers,
mannikins about as tall as a pat of goat's dung, in fact machine-made
poets. Contrary to all expectation, the father has at last managed
to finish a piece, but he owns himself a cat strangled it one fine
Such are the songs with which the Muse with the glorious hair
inspires the able poet and which enchant the assembled populace, when the
spring swallow twitters beneath the foliage; but the god spare us
from the chorus of Morsimus and that of Melanthius! Oh! what a
bitter discordancy grated upon my ears that day when the tragic chorus
was directed by this same Melanthius and his brother, these two
Gorgons, these two harpies, the plague of the seas, whose gluttonous
bellies devour the entire race of fishes, these followers of old women,
these goats with their stinking arm-pits. Oh! Muse, spit upon them
abundantly and keep the feast gaily with me.
TRYGAEUS. Ah! 'tis a rough job getting to the gods! my legs are as good
as broken through it. How small you were, to be sure, when seen from
heaven! you had all the appearance too of being great rascals; but seen
close, you look even worse.
SERVANT. Is that you, master?
TRYGAEUS. So I have been told.
SERVANT. What has happened to you?
TRYGAEUS. My legs pain me; it is such a plaguey long journey.
SERVANT. Oh! do tell me....
SERVANT. Did you see any other man besides yourself strolling about in
TRYGAEUS. No, only the souls of two or three dithyrambic poets.
SERVANT. What were they doing up there?
TRYGAEUS. They were seeking to catch some lyric exordia as they flew by
immersed in the billows of the air.
SERVANT. Is it true, what they tell us, that men are turned into stars
TRYGAEUS. Quite true.
SERVANT. Then who is that star I see over yonder?
TRYGAEUS. That is Ion of Chios, the author of an ode beginning
"Morning"; as soon as ever he got to heaven, they called him "the Morning
SERVANT. And those stars like sparks, that plough up the air as they dart
across the sky?
TRYGAEUS. They are the rich leaving the feast with a lantern and a light
inside it. But hurry up, show this young girl into my house, clean out
the bath, heat some water and prepare the nuptial couch for herself and
me. When 'tis done, come back here; meanwhile I am off to present this
one to the Senate.
SERVANT. But where then did you get these pretty chattels?
TRYGAEUS. Where? why in heaven.
SERVANT. I would not give more than an obolus for gods who have got to
keeping brothels like us mere mortals.
TRYGAEUS. They are not all so, but there are some up there too who live
by this trade.
SERVANT. Come, that's rich! But I bethink me, shall I give her something
TRYGAEUS. No, for she would neither touch bread nor cake; she is used to
licking ambrosia at the table of the gods.
SERVANT. Well, we can give her something to lick down here too.
CHORUS. Here is a truly happy old man, as far as I can judge.
TRYGAEUS. Ah! but what shall I be, when you see me presently dressed for
CHORUS. Made young again by love and scented with perfumes, your lot will
be one we all shall envy.
TRYGAEUS. And when I lie beside her and caress her bosoms?
CHORUS. Oh! then you will be happier than those spinning-tops who call
Carcinus their father.
TRYGAEUS. And I well deserve it; have I not bestridden a beetle to save
the Greeks, who now, thanks to me, can make love at their ease and sleep
peacefully on their farms?
SERVANT. The girl has quitted the bath; she is charming from head to
foot, both belly and buttocks; the cake is baked and they are kneading
the sesame-biscuit; nothing is lacking but the bridegroom's penis.
TRYGAEUS. Let us first hasten to lodge Theoria in the hands of the
SERVANT. But tell me, who is this woman?
TRYGAEUS. Why, 'tis Theoria, with whom we used formerly to go to
Brauron, to get tipsy and frolic. I had the greatest trouble to get
hold of her.
SERVANT. Ah! you charmer! what pleasure your pretty bottom will afford me
every four years!
TRYGAEUS. Let us see, who of you is steady enough to be trusted by the
Senate with the care of this charming wench? Hi! you, friend! what are
you drawing there?
SERVANT. I am drawing the plan of the tent I wish to erect for myself on
TRYGAEUS. Come, who wishes to take the charge of her? No one? Come,
Theoria, I am going to lead you into the midst of the spectators and
confide you to their care.
SERVANT. Ah! there is one who makes a sign to you.
TRYGAEUS. Who is it?
SERVANT. 'Tis Ariphrades. He wishes to take her home at once.
TRYGAEUS. No, I'm sure he shan't. He would soon have her done for,
licking up all her life juice. Come, Theoria, put down all this
gear.--Senate, Prytanes, look upon Theoria and see what precious
blessings I place in your hands. Hasten to raise its limbs and to
immolate the victim. Admire the fine chimney, it is quite black with
smoke, for 'twas here that the Senate did their cooking before the War.
Now that you have found Theoria again, you can start the most charming
games from to-morrow, wrestling with her on the ground, either on your
hands and feet, or you can lay her on her side, or stand before her with
bent knees, or, well rubbed with oil, you can boldly enter the lists, as
in the Pancratium, belabouring your foe with blows from your fist or
otherwise. The next day you will celebrate equestrian games, in
which the riders will ride side by side, or else the chariot teams,
thrown one on top of another, panting and whinnying, will roll and knock
against each other on the ground, while other rivals, thrown out of their
seats, will fall before reaching the goal, utterly exhausted by their
efforts.--Come, Prytanes, take Theoria. Oh! look how graciously yonder
fellow has received her; you would not have been in such a hurry to
introduce her to the Senate, if nothing were coming to you through
it; you would not have failed to plead some holiday as an excuse.
CHORUS. Such a man as you assures the happiness of all his
TRYGAEUS. When you are gathering your vintages you will prize me even
CHORUS. E'en from to-day we hail you as the deliverer of mankind.
TRYGAEUS. Wait until you have drunk a beaker of new wine, before you
appraise my true merits.
CHORUS. Excepting the gods, there is none greater than yourself, and that
will ever be our opinion.
TRYGAEUS. Yea, Trygaeus of Athmonia has deserved well of you, he has
freed both husbandman and craftsman from the most cruel ills; he has
CHORUS. Well then, what must we do now?
TRYGAEUS. You must offer pots of green-stuff to the goddess to consecrate
CHORUS. Pots of green-stuff as we do to poor Hermes--and even he
thinks the fare but mean?
TRYGAEUS. What will you offer then? A fatted bull?
CHORUS. Oh, no! I don't want to start bellowing the battle-cry.
TRYGAEUS. A great fat swine then?
CHORUS. No, no.
TRYGAEUS. Why not?
CHORUS. We don't want any of the swinishness of Theagenes.
TRYGAEUS. What other victim do you prefer then?
CHORUS. A sheep.
TRYGAEUS. A sheep?
TRYGAEUS. But you must give the word the Ionic form.
CHORUS. Purposely. So that if anyone in the assembly says, "We must go to
war," all may start bleating in alarm, "Oï, oï."
TRYGAEUS. A brilliant idea.
CHORUS. And we shall all be lambs one toward the other, yea, and milder
still toward the allies.
TRYGAEUS. Then go for the sheep and haste to bring it back with you; I
will prepare the altar for the sacrifice.
CHORUS. How everything succeeds to our wish, when the gods are willing
and Fortune favours us! how opportunely everything falls out.
TRYGAEUS. Nothing could be truer, for look! here stands the altar all
ready at my door.
CHORUS. Hurry, hurry, for the winds are fickle; make haste, while the
divine will is set on stopping this cruel war and is showering on us the
most striking benefits.
TRYGAEUS. Here is the basket of barley-seed mingled with salt, the
chaplet and the sacred knife; and there is the fire; so we are only
waiting for the sheep.
CHORUS. Hasten, hasten, for, if Chaeris sees you, he will come without
bidding, he and his flute; and when you see him puffing and panting and
out of breath, you will have to give him something.
TRYGAEUS. Come, seize the basket and take the lustral water and hurry to
circle round the altar to the right.
SERVANT. There! 'tis done. What is your next bidding?
TRYGAEUS. Hold! I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the
SERVANT. Be quick! be quick! Sprinkle the altar.
TRYGAEUS. Give me some barley-seed, purify yourself and hand me the
basin; then scatter the rest of the barley among the audience.
SERVANT. 'Tis done.
TRYGAEUS. You have thrown it?
SERVANT. Yes, by Hermes! and all the spectators have had their share.
TRYGAEUS. But not the women?
SERVANT. Oh! their husbands will give it them this evening.
TRYGAEUS. Let us pray! Who is here? Are there any good men?
SERVANT. Come, give, so that I may sprinkle these. Faith! they are indeed
good, brave men.
TRYGAEUS. You believe so?
SERVANT. I am sure, and the proof of it is that we have flooded them with
lustral water and they have not budged an inch.
TRYGAEUS. Come then, to prayers; to prayers, quick!--Oh! Peace, mighty
queen, venerated goddess, thou, who presidest over choruses and at
nuptials, deign to accept the sacrifices we offer thee.
SERVANT. Receive it, greatly honoured mistress, and behave not like the
coquettes, who half open the door to entice the gallants, draw back when
they are stared at, to return once more if a man passes on. But do not
act like this to us.
TRYGAEUS. No, but like an honest woman, show thyself to thy worshippers,
who are worn with regretting thee all these thirteen years. Hush the
noise of battle, be a true Lysimacha to us. Put an end to this
tittle-tattle, to this idle babble, that set us defying one another.
Cause the Greeks once more to taste the pleasant beverage of friendship
and temper all hearts with the gentle feeling of forgiveness. Make
excellent commodities flow to our markets, fine heads of garlic, early
cucumbers, apples, pomegranates and nice little cloaks for the slaves;
make them bring geese, ducks, pigeons and larks from Boeotia and baskets
of eels from Lake Copaïs; we shall all rush to buy them, disputing their
possession with Morychus, Teleas, Glaucetes and every other glutton.
Melanthius will arrive on the market last of all; 'twill be, "no
more eels, all sold!" and then he'll start a-groaning and exclaiming as
in his monologue of Medea, "I am dying, I am dying! Alas! I have let
those hidden in the beet escape me!" And won't we laugh? These are
the wishes, mighty goddess, which we pray thee to grant.
SERVANT. Take the knife and slaughter the sheep like a finished cook.
TRYGAEUS. No, the goddess does not wish it.
SERVANT. And why not?
TRYGAEUS. Blood cannot please Peace, so let us spill none upon her altar.
Therefore go and sacrifice the sheep in the house, cut off the legs and
bring them here; thus the carcase will be saved for the choragus.
CHORUS. You, who remain here, get chopped wood and everything needed for
the sacrifice ready.
TRYGAEUS. Don't I look like a diviner preparing his mystic fire?
CHORUS. Undoubtedly. Will anything that it behoves a wise man to know
escape you? Don't you know all that a man should know, who is
distinguished for his wisdom and inventive daring?
TRYGAEUS. There! the wood catches. Its smoke blinds poor Stilbides.
I am now going to bring the table and thus be my own slave.
CHORUS. You have braved a thousand dangers to save your sacred town. All
honour to you! your glory will be ever envied.
SERVANT. Hold! here are the legs, place them upon the altar. For myself,
I mean to go back to the entrails and the cakes.
TRYGAEUS. I'll see to those; I want you here.
SERVANT. Well then, here I am. Do you think I have been long?
TRYGAEUS. Just get this roasted. Ah! who is this man, crowned with
laurel, who is coming to me?
SERVANT. He has a self-important look; is he some diviner?
TRYGAEUS. No, i' faith! 'tis Hierocles.
SERVANT. Ah! that oracle-monger from Oreus. What is he going to tell
TRYGAEUS. Evidently he is coming to oppose the peace.
SERVANT. No, 'tis the odour of the fat that attracts him.
TRYGAEUS. Let us appear not to see him.
SERVANT. Very well.
HIEROCLES. What sacrifice is this? to what god are you offering it?
TRYGAEUS (_to the servant_). Silence!--(_Aloud._) Look after the roasting
and keep your hands off the meat.
HIEROCLES. To whom are you sacrificing? Answer me. Ah! the tail is
showing favourable omens.
SERVANT. Aye, very favourable, oh, loved and mighty Peace!
HIEROCLES. Come, cut off the first offering and make the oblation.
TRYGAEUS. 'Tis not roasted enough.
HIEROCLES. Yea, truly, 'tis done to a turn.
TRYGAEUS. Mind your own business, friend! (_To the servant._) Cut away.
Where is the table? Bring the libations.
HIEROCLES. The tongue is cut separately.
TRYGAEUS. We know all that. But just listen to one piece of advice.
HIEROCLES. And that is?
TRYGAEUS. Don't talk, for 'tis divine Peace to whom we are sacrificing.
HIEROCLES. Oh! wretched mortals, oh, you idiots!
TRYGAEUS. Keep such ugly terms for yourself.
HIEROCLES. What! you are so ignorant you don't understand the will of the
gods and you make a treaty, you, who are men, with apes, who are full of
TRYGAEUS. Ha, ha, ha!
HIEROCLES. What are you laughing at?
TRYGAEUS. Ha, ha! your apes amuse me!
HIEROCLES. You simple pigeons, you trust yourselves to foxes, who are all
craft, both in mind and heart.
TRYGAEUS. Oh, you trouble-maker! may your lungs get as hot as this meat!
HIEROCLES. Nay, nay! if only the Nymphs had not fooled Bacis, and Bacis
mortal men; and if the Nymphs had not tricked Bacis a second
TRYGAEUS. May the plague seize you, if you won't stop wearying us with
HIEROCLES. ... it would not have been written in the book of Fate that
the bonds of Peace must be broken; but first....
TRYGAEUS. The meat must be dusted with salt.
HIEROCLES. ... it does not please the blessed gods that we should stop
the War until the wolf uniteth with the sheep.
TRYGAEUS. How, you cursed animal, could the wolf ever unite with the
HIEROCLES. As long as the wood-bug gives off a fetid odour, when it
flies; as long as the noisy bitch is forced by nature to litter blind
pups, so long shall peace be forbidden.
TRYGAEUS. Then what should be done? Not to stop the War would be to leave
it to the decision of chance which of the two people should suffer the
most, whereas by uniting under a treaty, we share the empire of Greece.
HIEROCLES. You will never make the crab walk straight.
TRYGAEUS. You shall no longer be fed at the Prytaneum; the war done,
oracles are not wanted.
HIEROCLES. You will never smooth the rough spikes of the hedgehog.
TRYGAEUS. Will you never stop fooling the Athenians?
HIEROCLES. What oracle ordered you to burn these joints of mutton in
honour of the gods?
TRYGAEUS. This grand oracle of Homer's: "Thus vanished the dark
war-clouds and we offered a sacrifice to new-born Peace. When the flame
had consumed the thighs of the victim and its inwards had appeased our
hunger, we poured out the libations of wine." 'Twas I who arranged the
sacred rites, but none offered the shining cup to the diviner.
HIEROCLES. I care little for that. 'Tis not the Sibyl who spoke it.
TRYGAEUS. Wise Homer has also said: "He who delights in the horrors of
civil war has neither country nor laws nor home." What noble words!
HIEROCLES. Beware lest the kite turn your brain and rob....
TRYGAEUS. Look out, slave! This oracle threatens our meat. Quick, pour
the libation, and give me some of the inwards.
HIEROCLES. I too will help myself to a bit, if you like.
TRYGAEUS. The libation! the libation!
HIEROCLES. Pour out also for me and give me some of this meat.
TRYGAEUS. No, the blessed gods won't allow it yet; let us drink; and as
for you, get you gone, for 'tis their will. Mighty Peace! stay ever in
HIEROCLES. Bring the tongue hither.
TRYGAEUS. Relieve us of your own.
HIEROCLES. The libation.
TRYGAEUS. Here! and this into the bargain (_strikes him_).
HIEROCLES. You will not give me any meat?
TRYGAEUS. We cannot give you any until the wolf unites with the sheep.
HIEROCLES. I will embrace your knees.
TRYGAEUS. 'Tis lost labour, good fellow; you will never smooth the rough
spikes of the hedgehog.... Come, spectators, join us in our feast.
HIEROCLES. And what am I to do?
TRYGAEUS. You? go and eat the Sibyl.
HIEROCLES. No, by the Earth! no, you shall not eat without me; if you do
not give, I take; 'tis common property.
TRYGAEUS (_to the servant_). Strike, strike this Bacis, this humbugging
HIEROCLES. I take to witness....
TRYGAEUS. And I also, that you are a glutton and an impostor. Hold him
tight and beat the impostor with a stick.
SERVANT. You look to that; I will snatch the skin from him, which he has
stolen from us. Are you going to let go that skin, you priest from
hell! do you hear! Oh! what a fine crow has come from Oreus! Stretch your
wings quickly for Elymnium.
CHORUS. Oh! joy, joy! no more helmet, no more cheese nor onions! No,
I have no passion for battles; what I love, is to drink with good
comrades in the corner by the fire when good dry wood, cut in the height
of the summer, is crackling; it is to cook pease on the coals and
beechnuts among the embers; 'tis to kiss our pretty Thracian while
my wife is at the bath. Nothing is more pleasing, when the rain is
sprouting our sowings, than to chat with some friend, saying, "Tell me,
Comarchides, what shall we do? I would willingly drink myself, while the
heavens are watering our fields. Come, wife, cook three measures of
beans, adding to them a little wheat, and give us some figs. Syra! call
Manes off the fields, 'tis impossible to prune the vine or to align the
ridges, for the ground is too wet to-day. Let someone bring me the thrush
and those two chaffinches; there were also some curds and four pieces of
hare, unless the cat stole them last evening, for I know not what the
infernal noise was that I heard in the house. Serve up three of the
pieces for me, slave, and give the fourth to my father. Go and ask
Aeschinades for some myrtle branches with berries on them, and then, for
'tis the same road, you will invite Charinades to come and drink with me
to the honour of the gods who watch over our crops."
When the grasshopper sings its dulcet tune, I love to see the Lemnian
vines beginning to ripen, for 'tis the earliest plant of all. I love
likewise to watch the fig filling out, and when it has reached maturity I
eat with appreciation and exclaim, "Oh! delightful season!" Then too I
bruise some thyme and infuse it in water. Indeed I grow a great deal
fatter passing the summer this way than in watching a cursed captain with
his three plumes and his military cloak of a startling crimson (he calls
it true Sardian purple), which he takes care to dye himself with Cyzicus
saffron in a battle; then he is the first to run away, shaking his plumes
like a great yellow prancing cock, while I am left to watch the
nets. Once back again in Athens, these brave fellows behave
abominably; they write down these, they scratch through others, and this
backwards and forwards two or three times at random. The departure is set
for to-morrow, and some citizen has brought no provisions, because he
didn't know he had to go; he stops in front of the statue of
Pandion, reads his name, is dumbfounded and starts away at a run,
weeping bitter tears. The townsfolk are less ill-used, but that is how
the husbandmen are treated by these men of war, the hated of the gods and
of men, who know nothing but how to throw away their shield. For this
reason, if it please heaven, I propose to call these rascals to account,
for they are lions in times of peace, but sneaking foxes when it comes to
TRYGAEUS. Oh! oh! what a crowd for the nuptial feast! Here! dust the
tables with this crest, which is good for nothing else now. Halloa!
produce the cakes, the thrushes, plenty of good jugged hare and the
A SICKLE-MAKER. Trygaeus, where is Trygaeus?
TRYGAEUS. I am cooking the thrushes.
SICKLE-MAKER. Trygaeus, my best of friends, what a fine stroke of
business you have done for me by bringing back Peace! Formerly my sickles
would not have sold at an obolus apiece, to-day I am being paid fifty
drachmas for every one. And here is a neighbour who is selling his casks
for the country at three drachmae each. So come, Trygaeus, take as many
sickles and casks as you will for nothing. Accept them for nothing; 'tis
because of our handsome profits on our sales that we offer you these
TRYGAEUS. Thanks. Put them all down inside there, and come along quick to
the banquet. Ah! do you see that armourer yonder coming with a wry face?
A CREST-MAKER. Alas! alas! Trygaeus, you have ruined me utterly.
TRYGAEUS. What! won't the crests go any more, friend?
CREST-MAKER. You have killed my business, my livelihood, and that of this
poor lance-maker too.
TRYGAEUS. Come, come, what are you asking for these two crests?
CREST-MAKER. What do you bid for them?
TRYGAEUS. What do I bid? Oh! I am ashamed to say. Still, as the clasp is
of good workmanship, I would give two, even three measures of dried figs;
I could use 'em for dusting the table.
CREST-MAKER. All right, tell them to bring me the dried figs; 'tis always
better than nothing.
TRYGAEUS. Take them away, be off with your crests and get you gone; they
are moulting, they are losing all their hair; I would not give a single
fig for them.
A BREASTPLATE-MAKER. Good gods, what am I going to do with this fine
ten-minae breast-plate, which is so splendidly made?
TRYGAEUS. Oh, you will lose nothing over it.
BREASTPLATE-MAKER. I will sell it you at cost price.
TRYGAEUS. 'Twould be very useful as a night-stool....
BREASTPLATE-MAKER. Cease your insults, both to me and my wares.
TRYGAEUS. ... if propped on three stones. Look, 'tis admirable.
BREASTPLATE-MAKER. But how can you wipe, idiot?
TRYGAEUS. I can pass one hand through here, and the other there, and
BREASTPLATE-MAKER. What! do you wipe with both hands?
TRYGAEUS. Aye, so that I may not be accused of robbing the State, by
blocking up an oar-hole in the galley.
BREASTPLATE-MAKER. So you would pay ten minae for a night-stool?
TRYGAEUS. Undoubtedly, you rascal. Do you think I would sell my rump for
a thousand drachmae?
BREASTPLATE-MAKER. Come, have the money paid over to me.
TRYGAEUS. No, friend; I find it hurts me to sit on. Take it away, I won't
A TRUMPET-MAKER. What is to be done with this trumpet, for which I gave
sixty drachmae the other day?
TRYGAEUS. Pour lead into the hollow and fit a good, long stick to the
top; and you will have a balanced cottabos.
TRUMPET-MAKER. Ha! would you mock me?
TRYGAEUS. Well, here's another notion. Pour in lead as I said, add here a
dish hung on strings, and you will have a balance for weighing the figs
which you give your slaves in the fields.
A HELMET-MAKER. Cursed fate! I am ruined. Here are helmets, for which I
gave a mina each. What am I to do with them? who will buy them?
TRYGAEUS. Go and sell them to the Egyptians; they will do for measuring
A SPEAR-MAKER. Ah! poor helmet-maker, things are indeed in a bad way.
TRYGAEUS. That man has no cause for complaint.
SPEAR-MAKER. But helmets will be no more used.
TRYGAEUS. Let him learn to fit a handle to them and he can sell them for
SPEAR-MAKER. Let us be off, comrade.
TRYGAEUS. No, I want to buy these spears.
SPEAR-MAKER. What will you give?
TRYGAEUS. If they could be split in two, I would take them at a drachma
per hundred to use as vine-props.
SPEAR-MAKER. The insolent dog! Let us go, friend.
TRYGAEUS. Ah! here come the guests, children from the table to relieve
themselves; I fancy they also want to hum over what they will be singing
presently. Hi! child! what do you reckon to sing? Stand there and give me
the opening line.
THE SON OF LAMACHUS. "Glory to the young warriors...."
TRYGAEUS. Oh! leave off about your young warriors, you little wretch; we
are at peace and you are an idiot and a rascal.
SON OF LAMACHUS. "The skirmish begins, the hollow bucklers clash against
TRYGAEUS. Bucklers! Leave me in peace with your bucklers.
SON OF LAMACHUS. "And then there came groanings and shouts of victory."
TRYGAEUS. Groanings! ah! by Bacchus! look out for yourself, you cursed
squaller, if you start wearying us again with your groanings and hollow
SON OF LAMACHUS. Then what should I sing? Tell me what pleases you.
TRYGAEUS. "'Tis thus they feasted on the flesh of oxen," or something
similar, as, for instance, "Everything that could tickle the palate was
placed on the table."
SON OF LAMACHUS. "'Tis thus they feasted on the flesh of oxen and, tired
of warfare, unharnessed their foaming steeds."
TRYGAEUS. That's splendid; tired of warfare, they seat themselves at
table; sing, sing to us how they still go on eating after they are
SON OF LAMACHUS. "The meal over, they girded themselves ..."
TRYGAEUS. With good wine, no doubt?
SON OF LAMACHUS. "... with armour and rushed forth from the towers, and a
terrible shout arose."
TRYGAEUS. Get you gone, you little scapegrace, you and your battles! You
sing of nothing but warfare. Who is your father then?
SON OF LAMACHUS. My father?
TRYGAEUS. Why yes, your father.
SON OF LAMACHUS. I am Lamachus' son.
TRYGAEUS. Oh! oh! I could indeed have sworn, when I was listening to you,
that you were the son of some warrior who dreams of nothing but wounds
and bruises, of some Boulomachus or Clausimachus; go and sing your
plaguey songs to the spearmen.... Where is the son of Cleonymus? Sing me
something before going back to the feast. I am at least certain he will
not sing of battles, for his father is far too careful a man.
SON OF CLEONYMUS. "An inhabitant of Saïs is parading with the spotless
shield which I regret to say I have thrown into a thicket."
TRYGAEUS. Tell me, you little good-for-nothing, are you singing that for
SON or CLEONYMUS. "But I saved my life."
TRYGAEUS. And dishonoured your family. But let us go in; I am very
certain, that being the son of such a father, you will never forget this
song of the buckler. You, who remain to the feast, 'tis your duty to
devour dish after dish and not to ply empty jaws. Come, put heart into
the work and eat with your mouths full. For, believe me, poor friends,
white teeth are useless furniture, if they chew nothing.
CHORUS. Never fear; thanks all the same for your good advice.
TRYGAEUS. You, who yesterday were dying of hunger, come, stuff yourselves
with this fine hare-stew; 'tis not every day that we find cakes lying
neglected. Eat, eat, or I predict you will soon regret it.
CHORUS. Silence! Keep silence! Here is the bride about to appear! Take
nuptial torches and let all rejoice and join in our songs. Then, when we
have danced, clinked our cups and thrown Hyperbolus through the doorway,
we will carry back all our farming tools to the fields and shall pray the
gods to give wealth to the Greeks and to cause us all to gather in an
abundant barley harvest, enjoy a noble vintage, to grant that we may
choke with good figs, that our wives may prove fruitful, that in fact we
may recover all our lost blessings, and that the sparkling fire may be
restored to the hearth.
TRYGAEUS. Come, wife, to the fields and seek, my beauty, to brighten and
enliven my nights. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! oh! thrice happy man, who so well
deserve your good fortune!
TRYGAEUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS. What shall we do to her?
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS. What shall we do to her?
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS. We will gather her kisses.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS. We will gather her kisses.
CHORUS. Come, comrades, we who are in the first row, let us pick up the
bridegroom and carry him in triumph. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS. You shall have a fine house, no cares and the finest of figs. Oh!
Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS. The bridegroom's fig is great and thick; the bride's is very soft
TRYGAEUS. While eating and drinking deep draughts of wine, continue to
repeat: Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS. Farewell, farewell, my friends. All who come with me shall have
* * * * *
FINIS OF "PEACE"
* * * * *
 An obscene allusion, the faeces of catamites being 'well ground'
from the treatment they are in the habit of submitting to.
 'Peace' was no doubt produced at the festival of the Apaturia,
which was kept at the end of October, a period when strangers were
numerous in Athens.
 The winged steed of Perseus--an allusion to a lost tragedy of
Euripides, in which Bellerophon was introduced riding on Pegasus.
 Fearing that if it caught a whiff from earth to its liking, the
beetle might descend from the highest heaven to satisfy itself.
 The Persians and the Spartans were not then allied as the Scholiast
states, since a treaty between them was only concluded in 412 B.C., i.e.
eight years after the production of 'Peace'; the great king, however, was
trying to derive advantages out of the dissensions in Greece.
 _Go to the crows_, a proverbial expression equivalent to our _Go to
 Aesop tells us that the eagle and the beetle were at war; the eagle
devoured the beetle's young and the latter got into its nest and tumbled
out its eggs. On this the eagle complained to Zeus, who advised it to lay
its eggs in his bosom; but the beetle flew up to the abode of Zeus, who,
forgetful of the eagle's eggs, at once rose to chase off the
objectionable insect. The eggs fell to earth and were smashed to bits.
 Pegasus is introduced by Euripides both in his 'Andromeda' and his
 Boats, called 'beetles,' doubtless because in form they resembled
these insects, were built at Naxos.
 Nature had divided the Piraeus into three basins--Cantharos,
Aphrodisium and Zea; [Greek: kántharos] is Greek for a dung-beetle.
 In allusion to Euripides' fondness for introducing lame heroes in
 An allusion to the proverbial nickname applied to the
Chians--[Greek: Chios apopat_on], "shitting Chian." On account of their
notoriously pederastic habits, the inhabitants of this island were known
throughout Greece as '_loose-arsed_' Chians, and therefore always on the
point of voiding their faeces. There is a further joke, of course, in
connection with the hundred and one frivolous pretexts which the
Athenians invented for exacting contributions from the maritime allies.
 Masters of Pylos and Sphacteria, the Athenians had brought home the
three hundred prisoners taken in the latter place in 425 B.C.; the
Spartans had several times sent envoys to offer peace and to demand back
both Pylos and the prisoners, but the Athenian pride had caused these
proposals to be long refused. Finally the prisoners had been given up in
423 B.C., but the War was continued nevertheless.
 An important town in Eastern Laconia on the Argolic gulf,
celebrated for a temple where a festival was held annually in honour of
Achilles. It had been taken and pillaged by the Athenians in the second
year of the Peloponnesian War, 430 B.C. As he utters this imprecation,
War throws some leeks, [Greek: prasa], the root-word of the name Prasiae,
into his mortar.
 War throws some garlic into his mortar as emblematical of the city
of Megara, where it was grown in abundance.
 Because the smell of bruised garlic causes the eyes to water.
 He throws cheese into the mortar as emblematical of Sicily, on
account of its rich pastures.
 Emblematical of Athens. The honey of Mount Hymettus was famous.
 Cleon, who had lately fallen before Amphipolis, in 422 B.C.
 An island in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Thrace and opposite
the mouth of the Hebrus; the Mysteries are said to have found their first
home in this island, where the Cabirian gods were worshipped; this cult,
shrouded in deep mystery to even the initiates themselves, has remained
an almost insoluble problem for the modern critic. It was said that the
wishes of the initiates were always granted, and they were feared as
to-day the _jettatori_ (spell-throwers, casters of the evil eye) in
Sicily are feared.
 Brasidas perished in Thrace in the same battle as Cleon at
Amphipolis, 422 B.C.
 An Athenian general as ambitious as he was brave. In 423 B.C. he
had failed in an enterprise against Heraclea, a storm having destroyed
his fleet. Since then he had distinguished himself in several actions,
and was destined, some years later, to share the command of the
expedition to Sicily with Alcibiades and Nicias.
 Meaning, to start on a military expedition.
 The Chorus insist on the conventional choric dance.
 One of the most favourite games with the Greeks. A stick was set
upright in the ground and to this the beam of a balance was attached by
its centre. Two vessels were hung from the extremities of the beam so as
to balance; beneath these two other and larger dishes were placed and
filled with water, and in the middle of each a brazen figure, called
Manes, was stood. The game consisted in throwing drops of wine from an
agreed distance into one or the other vessel, so that, dragged downwards
by the weight of the liquor, it bumped against Manes.
 A general of austere habits; he disposed of all his property to pay
the cost of a naval expedition, in which he beat the fleet of the foe off
the promontory of Rhium in 429 B.C.
 The Lyceum was a portico ornamented with paintings and surrounded
with gardens, in which military exercises took place.
 A citizen of Miletus, who betrayed his country to the people of
Priené. When asked what he purposed, he replied, "Nothing bad," which
expression had therefore passed into a proverb.
 Hermes was the god of chance.
 As the soldiers had to do when starting on an expedition.
 That is, you are pedicated.
 The initiated were thought to enjoy greater happiness after death.
 He summons Zeus to reveal Trygaeus' conspiracy.
 An Athenian captain, who later had the recall of Alcibiades decreed
by the Athenian people; in 'The Birds' Aristophanes represents him as a
cowardly braggart. He was the reactionary leader who established the
Oligarchical Government of the Four Hundred, 411 B.C., after the failure
of the Syracusan expedition.
 Among other attributes, Hermes was the god of thieves.
 Alluding to the eclipses of the sun and the moon.
 The Panathenaea were dedicated to Athené, the Mysteries to Demeter,
the Dipolia to Zeus, the Adonia to Aphrodité and Adonis. Trygaeus
promises Hermes that he shall be worshipped in the place of all the other
 The pun here cannot be kept. The word [Greek: paian], Paean,
resembles [Greek: paiein], to strike; hence the word, as recalling the
blows and wounds of the war, seems of ill omen to Trygaeus.
 The device on his shield was a Gorgon's head. (_See_ 'The
 Both Sparta and Athens had sought the alliance of the Argives; they
had kept themselves strictly neutral and had received pay from both
sides. But, the year after the production of 'The Wasps,' they openly
joined Athens, had attacked Epidaurus and got cut to pieces by the
 These are the Spartan prisoners from Sphacteria, who were lying in
gaol at Athens. They were chained fast to large beams of wood.
 'Twas want of force, not want of will. They had suffered more than
any other people from the war. (_See_ 'The Acharnians.')
 Meaning, look chiefly to your fleet. This was the counsel that
Themistocles frequently gave the Athenians.
 A metaphor referring to the abundant vintages that peace would
 The goddess of fruits.
 Aristophanes personifies under this name the sacred ceremonies in
general which peace would allow to be celebrated with due pomp. Opora and
Theoria come on the stage in the wake of Peace, clothed and decked out as
 Aristophanes has already shown us the husbandmen and workers in
peaceful trades pulling at the rope to extricate Peace, while the
armourers hindered them by pulling the other way.
 An allusion to Lamachus' shield.
 Having been commissioned to execute a statue of Athené, Phidias was
accused of having stolen part of the gold given him out of the public
treasury for its decoration. Rewarded for his work by calumny and
banishment, he resolved to make a finer statue than his Athené, and
executed one for the temple of Elis, that of the Olympian Zeus, which was
considered one of the wonders of the world.
 He had issued a decree, which forbade the admission of any Megarian
on Attic soil, and also all trade with that people. The Megarians, who
obtained all their provisions from Athens, were thus almost reduced to
 That is, the vineyards were ravaged from the very outset of the
war, and this increased the animosity.
 Driven in from the country parts by the Lacedaemonian invaders.
 The demagogues, who distributed the slender dole given to the poor,
and by that means exercised undue power over them.
 Meaning, the side of the Spartans.
 It was Hermes who conducted the souls of the dead down to the lower
 The Spartans had thrice offered to make peace after the Pylos
 i.e. dominated by Cleon.
 There is a pun here, that cannot be rendered, between [Greek:
apobolimaios], which means, _one who throws away his weapons_, and
[Greek: upobolimaios], which signifies, _a supposititious child_.
 Simonides was very avaricious, and sold his pen to the highest
bidder. It seems that Sophocles had also started writing for gain.
 i.e. he would recoil from no risk to turn an honest penny.
 A comic poet as well known for his love of wine as for his
writings; he died in 431 B.C., the first year of the war, at the age of
 Opora was the goddess of fruits.
 The Scholiast says fruit may be eaten with impunity in great
quantities if care is taken to drink a decoction of this herb afterwards.
 Theoria is confided to the care of the Senate, because it was this
body who named the [Greek: The_orhoi], deputies appointed to go and
consult the oracles beyond the Attic borders or to be present at feasts
 The great festivals, e.g. the Dionysia, lasted three days. Those in
honour of the return of Peace, which was so much desired, could not last
a shorter time.
 In spite of what he says, Aristophanes has not always disdained
this sort of low comedy--for instance, his Heracles in 'The Birds.'
 A celebrated Athenian courtesan of Aristophanes' day.
 Cleon. These four verses are here repeated from the parabasis of
'The Wasps,' produced 423 B.C., the year before this play.
 Shafts aimed at certain poets, who used their renown as a means of
seducing young men to grant them pederastic favours.
 The poet supplied everything needful for the production of his
piece--vases, dresses, masks, etc.
 Aristophanes was bald himself, it would seem.
 Carcinus and his three sons were both poets and dancers. (_See_ the
closing scene of 'The Wasps.') Perhaps relying little on the literary
value of their work, it seems that they sought to please the people by
the magnificence of its staging.
 He had written a piece called 'The Mice,' which he succeeded with
great difficulty in getting played, but it met with no success.
 This passage really follows on the invocation, "_Oh, Muse! drive
the War_," etc., from which indeed it is only divided by the interpolated
criticism aimed at Carcinus.
 The Scholiast informs us that these verses are borrowed from a poet
of the sixth century B.C.
 Sons of Philocles, of the family of Aeschylus, tragic writers,
derided by Aristophanes as bad poets and notorious gluttons.
 The Gorgons were represented with great teeth, and therefore the
same name was given to gluttons. The Harpies, to whom the two voracious
poets are also compared, were monsters with the face of a woman, the body
of a vulture and hooked beak and claws.
 A tragic and dithyrambic poet, who had written many pieces, which
had met with great success at Athens.
 The shooting stars.
 That is, men's tools;--we can set her to 'fellate.'
 It has already been mentioned that the sons of Carcinus were
 It was customary at weddings, says Menander, to give the bride a
sesame-cake as an emblem of fruitfulness, because sesame is the most
fruitful of all seeds.
 An Attic town on the east coast, noted for a magnificent temple, in
which stood the statue of Artemis, which Orestes and Iphigenia had
brought from the Tauric Chersonese and also for the Brauronia, festivals
that were celebrated every four years in honour of the goddess. This was
one of the festivals which the Attic people kept with the greatest pomp,
and was an occasion for debauchery.
 Competitors intending to take part in the great Olympic, Isthmian
and other games took with them a tent, wherein to camp in the open.
Further, there is an obscene allusion which the actor indicates by
gesture, pointing to the girl's privates, signifying there is the lodging
where he would fain find a delightful abode. The 'Isthmus' is the
perineum, the narrow space betwixt _anus_ and _cunnus_.
 He was a 'cunnilingue,' as we gather also from what Aristophanes
says of his infamous habits in the 'Knights.'
 Doubtless the vessels and other sacrificial objects and implements
with which Theoria was laden in her character of presiding deity at
 The whole passage is full of obscene _double entendres_. Theoria
throughout is spoken of in words applicable to either of her twofold
character--as a sacred, religious feast, and as a lady of pleasure.
 Where the meats were cooked after sacrifice; Trygaeus points to
Theoria's privates, marking the secondary obscene sense he means to
 "Or otherwise"--that is, with the standing penis. The whole
sentence contains a series of allusions to different 'modes of love.'
 One of the offices of the Prytanes was to introduce those who asked
admission to the Senate, but it would seem that none could obtain this
favour without payment. Without this, a thousand excuses would be made;
for instance, it would be a public holiday, and consequently the Senate
could receive no one. As there was some festival nearly every day, he
whose purse would not open might have to wait a very long while.
 This was only offered to lesser deities.
 In the Greek we have a play upon the similarity of the words,
[Greek: bous], a bull, and [Greek: boan], to shout the battle cry.
 Theagenes, of the Piraeus, a hideous, coarse, debauched and
evil-living character of the day.
 That is the vocative of [Greek: oïs], [Greek: oïos], the Ionic form
of the word; in Attic Greek it is contracted throughout--[Greek: ois],
[Greek: oios], etc.
 An obscene jest. The Greek word, says the Scholiast, means both
barley and the male organ.
 Before sacrificing, the officiating person asked, "_Who is here?_"
and those present answered, "_Many good men._"
 The actors forming the chorus are meant here.
 Lysimacha is derived from [Greek: luein], to put an end to, and
[Greek: mach_e], fight.
 A tragic poet, reputed a great gourmand.
 A tragedy by Melanthius.
 Eels were cooked with beet.--A parody on some verses in the 'Medea'
 As a matter of fact, the Sicyonians, who celebrated the festival of
Peace on the sixteenth day of the month of hecatombeon (July), spilled no
blood upon her altar.
 A celebrated diviner, who had accompanied the Athenians on their
expedition to Sicily. Thus the War was necessary to make his calling pay
and the smoke of the sacrifice offered to Peace must therefore be
unpleasant to him.
 A town in Euboea on the channel which separated that island from
 When sacrificing, the tail was cut off the victim and thrown into
the fire. From the way in which it burnt the inference was drawn as to
whether or not the sacrifice was agreeable to the deity.
 This was the part that belonged to the priests and diviners. As one
of the latter class, Hierocles is in haste to see this piece cut off.
 The Spartans.
 Emphatic pathos, incomprehensible even to the diviner himself; this
is a satire on the obscure style of the oracles. Bacis was a famous
 Of course this is not a _bona fide_ quotation, but a whimsical
adaptation of various Homeric verses; the last is a coinage of his own,
and means, that he is to have no part, either in the flesh of the victim
or in the wine of the libations.
 Probably the Sibyl of Delphi is meant.
 The skin of the victim, that is to say.
 A temple of Euboea, close to Oreus. The servant means, "Return
where you came from."
 This was the soldier's usual ration when on duty.
 Slaves often bore the name of the country of their birth.
 Because of the new colour which fear had lent his chlamys.
 Meaning, that he deserts his men in mid-campaign, leaving them to
look after the enemy.
 Ancient King of Athens. This was one of the twelve statues, on the
pedestals of which the names of the soldiers chosen for departure on
service were written. The decrees were also placarded on them.
 The trierarchs stopped up some of the holes made for the oars, in
order to reduce the number of rowers they had to supply for the galleys;
they thus saved the wages of the rowers they dispensed with.
 The mina was equivalent to about £3 10s.
 Which is the same thing, since a mina was worth a hundred drachmae.
 For _cottabos_ see note above, p. 177. [Footnote 287. Transcriber.]
 _Syrmaea_, a kind of purgative syrup much used by the Egyptians,
made of antiscorbutic herbs, such as mustard, horse-radish, etc.
 As wine-pots or similar vessels.
 These verses and those which both Trygaeus and the son of Lamachus
quote afterwards are borrowed from the 'Iliad.'
 Boulomachus is derived from [Greek: boulesthai] and [Greek: mach_e]
to wish for battle; Clausimachus from [Greek: klaein] and [Greek:
mach_e], the tears that battles cost. The same root, [Greek: mach_e],
battle, is also contained in the name Lamachus.
 A distich borrowed from Archilochus, a celebrated poet of the
seventh century B.C., born at Paros, and the author of odes, satires,
epigrams and elegies. He sang his own shame. 'Twas in an expedition
against Saïs, not the town in Egypt as the similarity in name might lead
one to believe, but in Thrace, that he had cast away his buckler. "A
mighty calamity truly!" he says without shame. "I shall buy another."
The 'Lysistrata,' the third and concluding play of the War and Peace
series, was not produced till ten years later than its predecessor, the
'Peace,' viz. in 411 B.C. It is now the twenty-first year of the War, and
there seems as little prospect of peace as ever. A desperate state of
things demands a desperate remedy, and the Poet proceeds to suggest a
burlesque solution of the difficulty.
The women of Athens, led by Lysistrata and supported by female delegates
from the other states of Hellas, determine to take matters into their own
hands and force the men to stop the War. They meet in solemn conclave,
and Lysistrata expounds her scheme, the rigorous application to husbands
and lovers of a self-denying ordinance--"we must refrain from the male
organ altogether." Every wife and mistress is to refuse all sexual
favours whatsoever, till the men have come to terms of peace. In cases
where the women _must_ yield 'par force majeure,' then it is to be with
an ill grace and in such a way as to afford the minimum of gratification
to their partner; they are to lie passive and take no more part in the
amorous game than they are absolutely obliged to. By these means
Lysistrata assures them they will very soon gain their end. "If we sit
indoors prettily dressed out in our best transparent silks and prettiest
gewgaws, and with our 'mottes' all nicely depilated, their tools will
stand up so stiff that they will be able to deny us nothing." Such is the
burden of her advice.
After no little demur, this plan of campaign is adopted, and the
assembled women take a solemn oath to observe the compact faithfully.
Meantime as a precautionary measure they seize the Acropolis, where the
State treasure is kept; the old men of the city assault the doors, but
are repulsed by "the terrible regiment" of women. Before long the device
of the bold Lysistrata proves entirely effective, Peace is concluded, and
the play ends with the hilarious festivities of the Athenian and Spartan
plenipotentiaries in celebration of the event.
This drama has a double Chorus--of women and of old men, and much
excellent fooling is got out of the fight for possession of the citadel
between the two hostile bands; while the broad jokes and decidedly
suggestive situations arising out of the general idea of the plot
outlined above may be "better imagined than described."
* * * * *
HERALD OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS.
ENVOYS OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS.
AN ATHENIAN CITIZEN.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN.
CHORUS OF WOMEN.
SCENE: In a public square at Athens; afterwards before the gates of the
Acropolis, and finally within the precincts of the citadel.
* * * * *
LYSISTRATA (_alone_). Ah! if only they had been invited to a Bacchic
revelling, or a feast of Pan or Aphrodité or Genetyllis, why! the
streets would have been impassable for the thronging tambourines! Now
there's never a woman here-ah! except my neighbour Calonicé, whom I see
approaching yonder.... Good day, Calonicé.
CALONICÉ. Good day, Lysistrata; but pray, why this dark, forbidding face,
my dear? Believe me, you don't look a bit pretty with those black
LYSISTRATA. Oh! Calonicé, my heart is on fire; I blush for our sex. Men
_will_ have it we are tricky and sly....
CALONICÉ. And they are quite right, upon my word!
LYSISTRATA. Yet, look you, when the women are summoned to meet for a
matter of the last importance, they lie abed instead of coming.
CALONICÉ. Oh! they will come, my dear; but 'tis not easy, you know, for
women to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband;
another is getting the servant up; a third is putting her child asleep,
or washing the brat or feeding it.
LYSISTRATA. But I tell you, the business that calls them here is far and
away more urgent.
CALONICÉ. And why _do_ you summon us, dear Lysistrata? What is it all
LYSISTRATA. About a big affair.
CALONICÉ. And is it thick too?
LYSISTRATA. Yes indeed, both big and great.
CALONICÉ. And we are not all on the spot!
LYSISTRATA. Oh! if it were what you suppose, there would be never an
absentee. No, no, it concerns a thing I have turned about and about this
way and that of many sleepless nights.
CALONICÉ. It must be something mighty fine and subtle for you to have
turned it about so!
LYSISTRATA. So fine, it means just this, Greece saved by the women!
CALONICÉ. By women! Why, its salvation hangs on a poor thread then!
LYSISTRATA. Our country's fortunes depend on us--it is with us to undo
utterly the Peloponnesians....
CALONICÉ. That would be a noble deed truly!
LYSISTRATA. To exterminate the Boeotians to a man!
CALONICÉ. But surely you would spare the eels.
LYSISTRATA. For Athens' sake I will never threaten so fell a doom; trust
me for that. However, if the Boeotian and Peloponnesian women join us,
Greece is saved.
CALONICÉ. But how should women perform so wise and glorious an
achievement, we women who dwell in the retirement of the household, clad
in diaphanous garments of yellow silk and long flowing gowns, decked out
with flowers and shod with dainty little slippers?
LYSISTRATA. Nay, but those are the very sheet-anchors of our
salvation--those yellow tunics, those scents and slippers, those
cosmetics and transparent robes.
CALONICÉ. How so, pray?
LYSISTRATA. There is not a man will wield a lance against another ...
CALONICÉ. Quick, I will get me a yellow tunic from the dyer's.
LYSISTRATA. ... or want a shield.
CALONICÉ. I'll run and put on a flowing gown.
LYSISTRATA. ... or draw a sword.
CALONICÉ. I'll haste and buy a pair of slippers this instant.
LYSISTRATA. Now tell me, would not the women have done best to come?
CALONICÉ. Why, they should have _flown_ here!
LYSISTRATA. Ah! my dear, you'll see that like true Athenians, they will
do everything too late.... Why, there's not a woman come from the
shoreward parts, not one from Salamis.
CALONICÉ. But I know for certain they embarked at daybreak.
LYSISTRATA. And the dames from Acharnae! why, I thought they would
have been the very first to arrive.
CALONICÉ. Theagenes wife at any rate is sure to come; she has
actually been to consult Hecaté.... But look! here are some arrivals--and
there are more behind. Ah! ha! now what countrywomen may they be?
LYSISTRATA. They are from Anagyra.
CALONICÉ. Yes! upon my word, 'tis a levy _en masse_ of all the female
population of Anagyra!
MYRRHINÉ. Are we late, Lysistrata? Tell us, pray; what, not a word?
LYSISTRATA. I cannot say much for you, Myrrhiné! you have not bestirred
yourself overmuch for an affair of such urgency.
MYRRHINÉ I could not find my girdle in the dark. However, if the matter
is so pressing, here we are; so speak.
LYSISTRATA. No, but let us wait a moment more, till the women of Boeotia
arrive and those from the Peloponnese.
MYRRHINÉ Yes, that is best.... Ah! here comes Lampito.
LYSISTRATA. Good day, Lampito, dear friend from Lacedaemon. How well and
handsome you look! what a rosy complexion! and how strong you seem; why,
you could strangle a bull surely!
LAMPITO. Yes, indeed, I really think I could. 'Tis because I do
gymnastics and practise the kick dance.
LYSISTRATA. And what superb bosoms!
LAMPITO. La! you are feeling me as if I were a beast for sacrifice.
LYSISTRATA. And this young woman, what countrywoman is she?
LAMPITO. She is a noble lady from Boeotia.
LYSISTRATA. Ah! my pretty Boeotian friend, you are as blooming as a
CALONICÉ. Yes, on my word! and the garden is so prettily weeded too!
LYSISTRATA. And who is this?
LAMPITO. 'Tis an honest woman, by my faith! she comes from Corinth.
LYSISTRATA. Oh! honest, no doubt then--as honesty goes at Corinth.
LAMPITO. But who has called together this council of women, pray?
LYSISTRATA. I have.
LAMPITO. Well then, tell us what you want of us.
LYSISTRATA. With pleasure, my dear.
MYRRHINÉ. What is the most important business you wish to inform us
LYSISTRATA. I will tell you. But first answer me one question.
MYRRHINÉ. What is that?
LYSISTRATA. Don't you feel sad and sorry because the fathers of your
children are far away from you with the army? For I'll undertake, there
is not one of you whose husband is not abroad at this moment.
CALONICÉ. Mine has been the last five months in Thrace--looking after
LYSISTRATA. 'Tis seven long months since mine left me for Pylos.
LAMPITO. As for mine, if he ever does return from service, he's no sooner
back than he takes down his shield again and flies back to the wars.
LYSISTRATA. And not so much as the shadow of a lover! Since the day the
Milesians betrayed us, I have never once seen an eight-inch-long
_godemiche_ even, to be a leathern consolation to us poor widows.... Now
tell me, if I have discovered a means of ending the war, will you all
MYRRHINÉ. Yes verily, by all the goddesses, I swear I will, though I have
to put my gown in pawn, and drink the money the same day.
CALONICÉ. And so will I, though I must be split in two like a flat-fish,
and have half myself removed.
LAMPITO. And I too; why, to secure Peace, I would climb to the top of
LYSISTRATA. Then I will out with it at last, my mighty secret! Oh! sister
women, if we would compel our husbands to make peace, we must refrain....
MYRRHINÉ. Refrain from what? tell us, tell us!
LYSISTRATA. But will you do it?
MYRRHINÉ. We will, we will, though we should die of it.
LYSISTRATA. We must refrain from the male organ altogether.... Nay, why
do you turn your backs on me? Where are you going? So, you bite your
lips, and shake your heads, eh? Why these pale, sad looks? why these
tears? Come, will you do it--yes or no? Do you hesitate?
MYRRHINÉ. No, I will not do it; let the War go on.
LYSISTRATA. And you, my pretty flat-fish, who declared just now they
might split you in two?
CALONICÉ. Anything, anything but that! Bid me go through the fire, if you
will; but to rob us of the sweetest thing in all the world, my dear, dear
LYSISTRATA. And you?
MYRRHINÉ. Yes, I agree with the others; I too would sooner go through the
LYSISTRATA. Oh, wanton, vicious sex! the poets have done well to make
tragedies upon us; we are good for nothing then but love and
lewdness! But you, my dear, you from hardy Sparta, if _you_ join me,
all may yet be well; help me, second me, I conjure you.
LAMPITO. 'Tis a hard thing, by the two goddesses it is! for a woman
to sleep alone without ever a standing weapon in her bed. But there,
Peace must come first.
LYSISTRATA. Oh, my dear, my dearest, best friend, you are the only one
deserving the name of woman!
CALONICÉ. But if--which the gods forbid--we do refrain altogether from
what you say, should we get peace any sooner?
LYSISTRATA. Of course we should, by the goddesses twain! We need only sit
indoors with painted cheeks, and meet our mates lightly clad in
transparent gowns of Amorgos silk, and with our "mottes" nicely
plucked smooth; then their tools will stand like mad and they will be
wild to lie with us. That will be the time to refuse, and they will
hasten to make peace, I am convinced of that!
LAMPITO. Yes, just as Menelaus, when he saw Helen's naked bosom, threw
away his sword, they say.
CALONICÉ. But, poor devils, suppose our husbands go away and leave us.
LYSISTRATA. Then, as Pherecrates says, we must "flay a skinned dog,"
CALONICÉ. Bah! these proverbs are all idle talk.... But if our husbands
drag us by main force into the bedchamber?
LYSISTRATA. Hold on to the door posts.
CALONICÉ. But if they beat us?
LYSISTRATA. Then yield to their wishes, but with a bad grace; there is no
pleasure for them, when they do it by force. Besides, there are a
thousand ways of tormenting them. Never fear, they'll soon tire of the
game; there's no satisfaction for a man, unless the woman shares it.
CALONICÉ. Very well, if you _will_ have it so, we agree.
LAMPITO. For ourselves, no doubt we shall persuade our husbands to
conclude a fair and honest peace; but there is the Athenian populace, how
are we to cure these folk of their warlike frenzy?
LYSISTRATA. Have no fear; we undertake to make our own people hear
LAMPITO. Nay, impossible, so long as they have their trusty ships and the
vast treasures stored in the temple of Athené.
LYSISTRATA. Ah! but we have seen to that; this very day the Acropolis
will be in our hands. That is the task assigned to the older women; while
we are here in council, they are going, under pretence of offering
sacrifice, to seize the citadel.
LAMPITO. Well said indeed! so everything is going for the best.
LYSISTRATA. Come, quick, Lampito, and let us bind ourselves by an
LAMPITO. Recite the terms; we will swear to them.
LYSISTRATA. With pleasure. Where is our Usheress? Now, what are you
staring at, pray? Lay this shield on the earth before us, its hollow
upwards, and someone bring me the victim's inwards.
CALONICÉ. Lysistrata, say, what oath are we to swear?
LYSISTRATA. What oath? Why, in Aeschylus, they sacrifice a sheep, and
swear over a buckler; we will do the same.
CALONICÉ. No, Lysistrata, one cannot swear peace over a buckler, surely.
LYSISTRATA. What other oath do you prefer?
CALONICÉ. Let's take a white horse, and sacrifice it, and swear on its
LYSISTRATA. But where get a white horse from?
CALONICÉ. Well, what oath shall we take then?
LYSISTRATA. Listen to me. Let's set a great black bowl on the ground;
let's sacrifice a skin of Thasian wine into it, and take oath not to
add one single drop of water.
LAMPITO. Ah! that's an oath pleases me more than I can say.
LYSISTRATA. Let them bring me a bowl and a skin of wine.
CALONICÉ. Ah! my dears, what a noble big bowl! what a delight 'twill be
to empty it!
LYSISTRATA. Set the bowl down on the ground, and lay your hands on the
victim.... Almighty goddess, Persuasion, and thou, bowl, boon comrade of
joy and merriment, receive this our sacrifice, and be propitious to us
CALONICÉ. Oh! the fine red blood! how well it flows!
LAMPITO. And what a delicious savour, by the goddesses twain!
LYSISTRATA. Now, my dears, let me swear first, if you please.
CALONICÉ. No, by the goddess of love, let us decide that by lot.
LYSISTRATA. Come then, Lampito, and all of you, put your hands to the
bowl; and do you, Calonicé, repeat in the name of all the solemn terms I
am going to recite. Then you must all swear, and pledge yourselves by the
same promises.--"_I will have naught to do whether with lover or
CALONICÉ. _I will have naught to do whether with lover or husband...._
LYSISTRATA. _Albeit he come to me with stiff and standing tool...._
CALONICÉ. _Albeit he come to me with stiff and standing tool...._ Oh!
Lysistrata, I cannot bear it!
LYSISTRATA. _I will live at home in perfect chastity...._
CALONICÉ. _I will live at home in perfect chastity...._
LYSISTRATA. _Beautifully dressed and wearing a saffron-coloured gown...._
CALONICÉ. _Beautifully dressed and wearing a saffron-coloured gown...._
LYSISTRATA. _To the end I may inspire my husband with the most ardent
CALONICÉ. _To the end I may inspire my husband with the most ardent
LYSISTRATA. _Never will I give myself voluntarily...._
CALONICÉ. _Never will I give myself voluntarily...._
LYSISTRATA. _And if he has me by force...._
CALONICÉ. _And if he has me by force...._
LYSISTRATA. _I will be cold as ice, and never stir a limb...._
CALONICÉ. _I will be cold as ice, and never stir a limb...._
LYSISTRATA. _I will not lift my legs in air...._
CALONICÉ. _I will not lift my legs in air...._
LYSISTRATA. _Nor will I crouch with bottom upraised, like carven lions on
CALONICÉ. _Nor will I crouch with bottom upraised, like carven lions on a
LYSISTRATA. _An if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this
CALONICÉ. _An if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this
LYSISTRATA. _But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water_.
CALONICÉ. _But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water_.
LYSISTRATA. Will ye all take this oath?
MYRRHINÉ. Yes, yes!
LYSISTRATA. Then lo! I immolate the victim. (_She drinks._)
CALONICÉ. Enough, enough, my dear; now let us all drink in turn to cement
LAMPITO. Hark! what do those cries mean?
LYSISTRATA. 'Tis what I was telling you; the women have just occupied the
Acropolis. So now, Lampito, do you return to Sparta to organize the plot,
while your comrades here remain as hostages. For ourselves, let us away
to join the rest in the citadel, and let us push the bolts well home.
CALONICÉ. But don't you think the men will march up against us?
LYSISTRATA. I laugh at them. Neither threats nor flames shall force our
doors; they shall open only on the conditions I have named.
CALONICÉ. Yes, yes, by the goddess of love! let us keep up our old-time
repute for obstinacy and spite.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Go easy, Draces, go easy; why, your shoulder is
all chafed by these plaguey heavy olive stocks. But forward still,
forward, man, as needs must. What unlooked-for things do happen, to be
sure, in a long life! Ah! Strymodorus, who would ever have thought it?
Here we have the women, who used, for our misfortune, to eat our bread
and live in our houses, daring nowadays to lay hands on the holy image of
the goddess, to seize the Acropolis and draw bars and bolts to keep any
from entering! Come, Philurgus man, let's hurry thither; let's lay our
faggots all about the citadel, and on the blazing pile burn with our
hands these vile conspiratresses, one and all--and Lycon's wife,
Lysistrata, first and foremost! Nay, by Demeter, never will I let 'em
laugh at me, whiles I have a breath left in my body. Cleomenes
himself, the first who ever seized our citadel, had to quit it to
his sore dishonour; spite his Lacedaemonian pride, he had to deliver me
up his arms and slink off with a single garment to his back. My word! but
he was filthy and ragged! and what an unkempt beard, to be sure! He had
not had a bath for six long years! Oh! but that was a mighty siege! Our
men were ranged seventeen deep before the gate, and never left their
posts, even to sleep. These women, these enemies of Euripides and all the
gods, shall I do nothing to hinder their inordinate insolence? else let
them tear down my trophies of Marathon. But look ye, to finish our
toilsome climb, we have only this last steep bit left to mount. Verily
'tis no easy job without beasts of burden, and how these logs do bruise
my shoulder! Still let us on, and blow up our fire and see it does not go
out just as we reach our destination. Phew! phew! (_blows the fire_). Oh!
dear! what a dreadful smoke! it bites my eyes like a mad dog. It is
Lemnos fire for sure, or it would never devour my eyelids like this.
Come on, Laches, let's hurry, let's bring succour to the goddess; it's
now or never! Phew! phew! (_blows the fire_). Oh! dear! what a confounded
smoke!--There now, there's our fire all bright and burning, thank the
gods! Now, why not first put down our loads here, then take a
vine-branch, light it at the brazier and hurl it at the gate by way of
battering-ram? If they don't answer our summons by pulling back the
bolts, then we set fire to the woodwork, and the smoke will choke 'em. Ye
gods! what a smoke! Pfaugh! Is there never a Samos general will help me
unload my burden?--Ah! it shall not gall my shoulder any more.
(_Tosses down his wood._) Come, brazier, do your duty, make the embers
flare, that I may kindle a brand; I want to be the first to hurl one. Aid
me, heavenly Victory; let us punish for their insolent audacity the women
who have seized our citadel, and may we raise a trophy of triumph for
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Oh! my dears, methinks I see fire and smoke; can it
be a conflagration? Let us hurry all we can. Fly, fly, Nicodicé, ere
Calycé and Crityllé perish in the fire, or are stifled in the smoke
raised by these accursed old men and their pitiless laws. But, great
gods, can it be I come too late? Rising at dawn, I had the utmost trouble
to fill this vessel at the fountain. Oh! what a crowd there was, and what
a din! What a rattling of water-pots! Servants and slave-girls pushed and
thronged me! However, here I have it full at last; and I am running to
carry the water to my fellow townswomen, whom our foes are plotting to
burn alive. News has been brought us that a company of old, doddering
greybeards, loaded with enormous faggots, as if they wanted to heat a
furnace, have taken the field, vomiting dreadful threats, crying that
they must reduce to ashes these horrible women. Suffer them not, oh!
goddess, but, of thy grace, may I see Athens and Greece cured of their
warlike folly. 'Tis to this end, oh! thou guardian deity of our city,
goddess of the golden crest, that they have seized thy sanctuary. Be
their friend and ally, Athené, and if any man hurl against them lighted
firebrands, aid us to carry water to extinguish them.
STRATYLLIS. Let me be, I say. Oh! oh! (_She calls for help._)
CHORUS OF WOMEN. What is this I see, ye wretched old men? Honest and
pious folk ye cannot be who act so vilely.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ah, ha! here's something new! a swarm of women stand
posted outside to defend the gates!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Ah! ah! we frighten you, do we; we seem a mighty host,
yet you do not see the ten-thousandth part of our sex.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ho, Phaedrias! shall we stop their cackle? Suppose one
of us were to break a stick across their backs, eh?
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Let us set down our water-pots on the ground, to be out
of the way, if they should dare to offer us violence.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Let someone knock out two or three teeth for them, as
they did to Bupalus; they won't talk so loud then.
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Come on then; I wait you with unflinching foot, and I
will snap off your testicles like a bitch.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Silence! ere my stick has cut short your days.
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Now, just you dare to touch Stratyllis with the tip of
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. And if I batter you to pieces with my fists, what will
CHORUS OF WOMEN. I will tear out your lungs and entrails with my teeth.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Oh! what a clever poet is Euripides! how well he says
that woman is the most shameless of animals.
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Let's pick up our water-jars again, Rhodippé.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ah! accursed harlot, what do you mean to do here with
CHORUS OF WOMEN. And you, old death-in-life, with your fire? Is it to
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I am going to build you a pyre to roast your female
CHORUS OF WOMEN. And I,--I am going to put out your fire.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. You put out my fire--you!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Yes, you shall soon see.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I don't know what prevents me from roasting you with
CHORUS OF WOMEN. I am getting you a bath ready to clean off the filth.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. A bath for me, you dirty slut, you!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Yes, indeed, a nuptial bath--he, he!
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Do you hear that? What insolence!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. I am a free woman, I tell you.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I will make you hold your tongue, never fear!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Ah, ha! you shall never sit more amongst the
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Burn off her hair for her!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Water, do your office! (_The women pitch the water in
their water-pots over the old men._)
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. Was it hot?
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Hot, great gods! Enough, enough!
CHORUS OF WOMEN. I'm watering you, to make you bloom afresh.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Alas! I am too dry! Ah, me! how I am trembling with
MAGISTRATE. These women, have they made din enough, I wonder, with their
tambourines? bewept Adonis enough upon their terraces? I was
listening to the speeches last assembly day, and Demostratus,
whom heaven confound! was saying we must all go over to Sicily--and lo!
his wife was dancing round repeating: Alas! alas! Adonis, woe is me for
Demostratus was saying we must levy hoplites at Zacynthus--and lo!
his wife, more than half drunk, was screaming on the house-roof: "Weep,
weep for Adonis!"--while that infamous _Mad Ox_ was bellowing away
on his side.--Do ye not blush, ye women, for your wild and uproarious
CHORUS OF OLD MEN. But you don't know all their effrontery yet! They
abused and insulted us; then soused us with the water in their
water-pots, and have set us wringing out our clothes, for all the world
as if we had bepissed ourselves.
MAGISTRATE. And 'tis well done too, by Poseidon! We men must share the
blame of their ill conduct; it is we who teach them to love riot and
dissoluteness and sow the seeds of wickedness in their hearts. You see a
husband go into a shop: "Look you, jeweller," says he, "you remember the
necklace you made for my wife. Well, t'other evening, when she was
dancing, the catch came open. Now, I am bound to start for Salamis; will
you make it convenient to go up to-night to make her fastening secure?"
Another will go to a cobbler, a great, strong fellow, with a great, long
tool, and tell him: "The strap of one of my wife's sandals presses her
little toe, which is extremely sensitive; come in about midday to supple
the thing and stretch it." Now see the results. Take my own case--as a
Magistrate I have enlisted rowers; I want money to pay 'em, and lo! the
women clap to the door in my face. But why do we stand here with
arms crossed? Bring me a crowbar; I'll chastise their insolence!--Ho!
there, my fine fellow! (_addressing one of his attendant officers_) what
are you gaping at the crows about? looking for a tavern, I suppose, eh?
Come, crowbars here, and force open the gates. I will put a hand to the
LYSISTRATA. No need to force the gates; I am coming out--here I am. And
why bolts and bars? What we want here is not bolts and bars and locks,
but common sense.
MAGISTRATE. Really, my fine lady! Where is my officer? I want him to tie
that woman's hands behind her back.