The Comedies of Aristophanes, a new and literal translation from the revised text of Dindorf with notes and extracts from the best metrical versions, trans. William James Hicke (London: George Bell and Sons, 1901). Vol. 2 (Lysistrata, The Thesmophoriazusae, Frogs, Ecclesiazusae, and Plutus) https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2698,
Vol. 2 of a two volume collection. It contains the plays Lysistrata, The Thesmophoriazusae, Frogs, Ecclesiazusae, and Plutus.
The text is in the public domain.
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“Aristophanis Λυσιστράτη. Schol. Lysistr. 173, Καλλίου ἄρχοντος ἐφ’ οὗ εἰσήχθη τὸ δρᾶμα. Arg. Lysistr., ἐδιδάχθη ἐπὶ Καλλίου ἄρχοντος τοῦ μετὰ Κλεόκριτον ἄρξαντος. εἰσῆκται δὲ διὰ Καλλιστράτου. Schol. Lysistr. 1096, ἐπὶ Σικελιας ἔμελλον πλεῖν πρὸ ἐτῶν τεσσάϱων τῆς καθέσεως τούτου τοῦ δράματος. Four years were the actual interval, from the sailing of the expedition, bc 415, ϑέρους μεσοῦντος, to the Dionysia of the Archon Callias, bc 411. Musgrave has neglected these testimonies, and has followed Petitus in the chronology of this Play, which he places in Ol. 92, 4, or three years below the true time.” Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, p. 73. Droysen, (Introduction to the Lysistrata, p. 127,) “It has not been recorded whether this play was brought on the stage at the Lenæan festival, or at the Dionysia, i. e. in January or March of the year 411. According to the internal evidence of the time, the latter would appear the more probable.” The plot is this:—Lysistrata, the wife of an Athenian magistrate, takes it into her head to attempt a pacification between the belligerents. She summons a council of women, who come to a determination to expel their husbands from their beds, until they conclude a peace. In the mean time the elder women are commissioned to seize the Acropolis, and make themselves masters of the money which had been stowed therein for the purposes of war. Their design succeeds; and the husbands are reduced to a terrible plight by the novel resolution of their wives. Ambassadors at length come from the belligerent parties, and peace is concluded with the greatest despatch, under the direction of the clever Lysistrata.
[Scene—the front of a house.]
Well! if one had summoned them to the temple of Bacchus,1 or Pan, or Colias,2 or Genetyllis, it would not even have been possible to pass through by reason of the kettle-drums: but now not a single woman is present here; saving that my neighbour here is coming forth. [Eetnr Calonice.] Welcome, Calonice!
And you too, Lysistrata! Why are you troubled? Be not of a sad countenance, child! for it does not beseem you to arch3 your eyebrows.
I am inflamed in my heart, Calonice, and am greatly vexed on account of us women, because we are considered among men to be bad;—
For,4 by Jove, we are so!
—and when it was told5 them to meet together here, Edition: current; Page:  to deliberate about no small matter, they sleep, and have not come.
But, my dearest, they will come. Of a truth women find it difficult to get out. For one of us goes poking1 about her husband, another wakens the servant, another puts the child to bed, another washes hers, another feeds hers with morsels.
But indeed there were other matters more important for them than these.
What is the matter, dear Lysistrata, for which you summon us women? What is the affair? Of what size is it?
Is it also thick?2
And thick, by Jove.
Why, how then have we not come?3
This is not the fashion of it; for, if it had been so, we should have quickly assembled. But there is a certain affair which has been investigated by me, and revolved with much sleeplessness.
Doubtless the matter revolved is somewhat subtle.
Aye, so subtle, that the safety of all Greece depends upon4 the women.
Upon the women? Why, it depended5 on a slight thing then.
Then, by Jove, ’tis best they should no longer exist.
—and that all the Bœotians perish utterly.1
Not all, pray; exempt the eels.2
But about Athens I will utter no such ill language.3 Do you conjecture something4 else! If the women assemble here, both those from Bœotia, and those from the Peloponnese, and we from Attica, we shall save Greece in common.
What prudent or brilliant action could women accomplish? we, who sit decked5 out, wearing saffron-coloured robes, and beautified, and wearing loose Cimmerian vests, and sandals?
For6 in truth these are even the very things, which I expect will save us; the little saffron-coloured robes, and the unguents, and the sandals, and the alkanet root, and the transparent vests.
In what manner, pray?
So that none of the men of the present day lift a spear against each other—
Then, by the two goddesses, I’ll get me a saffron robe dyed.
—nor take a shield—
I’ll put on a Cimmerian vest.
—nor little sword.
I’ll get sandals.
Ought not, then, the women to have been present?
No, by Jove, but to have come flying long ago.1
But those, I well know, have crossed over at daybreak in the swift boats.
Nor have the Acharnian women4 come, whom I expected and counted on to come hither the first.
At any rate the wife of Theogenes5 consulted the statue of Hecate, with the intention of coming hither. But see! here now are some coming! and, again, some others are coming! Hah! hah! Whence are they?
Aye, by Jove! In sooth methinks Anagyrus6 has been set in motion. [Enter Myrrhina.]
Surely we have not come too late, Lysistrata? What do you say? Why are you silent?
I do not commend you, Myrrhina, who have only now come about so important a matter.
I had great difficulty in finding my girdle in the dark. But if it be very pressing,1 tell it to us now we are present.
No, by Jove; but let us wait for a little while for the women from Bœotia and from the Peloponnese to come.
You say far better. But see! here now’s Lampito approaching! [Enter Lampito.]
O dearest Laconian! welcome, Lampito! How your beauty, dearest, shines forth! What2 a fresh colour you have! how vigorous your body is! You could even throttle a bull.
I fully believe so, by the two goddesses! I exercise myself and spring against my buttocks.
What beautiful breasts3 you have!
Upon my word you handle me like a victim.
But from what country is this other young woman?
By the two goddesses, a Bœcotian of rank is coming to you. [Enter Bœotian.]
Aye, by Jove, O Bœotian, with a beautiful bosom.4
And, by Jove, with the hair very neatly plucked out.
Who is the other girl? [Enter Corinthian.]
A good one, by the two goddesses; but a Corinthian.
Aye, by Jove, she is evidently good,5—see here! in these parts!
But who brought together this company of women?
Then say6 to us what you wish.
Yea, by Jove, my dear woman.
Mention, then, the important business, whatever this is.
I will now mention it. But before I mention it, I will ask you this small question.
Whatever you please.
Do you not long for the fathers of your children, who are absent on military service? for I well know that the husband of each one of you is abroad.1
In truth my husband has been absent, O unhappy man, five months in Thrace, guarding Eucrates.2
And mine has been absent seven whole months in Pylos.
And mine, even if he ever does depart from the ranks,3 having taken up his shield, flies off and disappears.
But not even a spark of a paramour is left; for since the Milesians4 betrayed us, I have not seen a thing of the kind, which might have consoled us in the absence of our husbands. Would you be willing, therefore, with me to put an end to the war, if I were to find a contrivance?
Yea, by the two goddesses, I would be willing, if I were obliged even to pawn this upper garment, and drink the proceeds this very day.5
Methinks I would even cut myself in half like a turbot and give6 it away.
And I would even go up to Taygetus, if there1 I were about to get a sight of peace.
I will2 mention it; for the matter must not remain concealed. We, O women, if we are to compel the men to be at peace, must abstain—
From what? tell us!
Will you do it then?
We will do it, even if we must die.
Then we must abstain3 from the marriage-bed. Why do you turn away from me? Whither are you going? He you! why do you compress your lips and shake your heads at me? Why is your colour changed? Why is the tear let fall? Will you do it, or will you not do it? or what do you purpose4 to do?
I cannot do it; let the war go on!
Neither can I, by Jove! let the war go on.5
You say this, you turbot? And yet,6 just now, you said you would even cut yourself in half.
Any thing else, any thing else, whatever you wish. I am willing to walk even through fire, if I must: this7 rather than the loss of conjugal rights; for there’s nothing like them, dear Lysistrata.
(to Myrrhina). What, then, do you say?
I also am willing to walk through fire.
Oh, our entire race, devoted to lewdness! No wonder tragedies8 are made from us; for we are nothing but “Neptune and a boat.”9 But, my dear Laconian, vote Edition: current; Page:  with me! for if only you side with me, we may yet restors the affair.
By the two goddesses, women find it hard to sleep alone without a husband. Yet still1 we must do it, for there is great need of peace.
O thou dearest, and the only woman out of these!
But if we were to abstain as much as possible from what2 you now mention, (which may heaven forefend!) would peace be made aught the more for this?
Aye, much, by the two goddesses! For if we were to sit3 at home painted, and approach them lightly clad in our vests of fine linen, having the hairs plucked off our bosoms, the men would become enamoured, and desire to lie with us; and if we were not to come nigh them, but abstain, they would quickly make peace, I well know.4
Of a truth Menelaus, when he had taken a side glance at the breasts5 of Helen when naked, threw away his sword, I believe.
But what, my friend, if our husbands leave us?
The saying of Pherecrates,6 “to flay a skinned dog.”
These similes are idle talk. If they should lay hold of us and drag us to the chamber by force?
Do you hold on by the doors.
But what if they beat us?
You must be niggardly of conjugal rights; for there is no pleasure in these acts which are accomplished by force Besides, you must pain them; and be assured they will very soon give up. For a man1 will never be delighted, unless it suits the woman.2
If in truth you two are decided about this, we also agree.3
And so we will persuade our husbands every where justly to keep peace without deceit. In what way, however, could4 any one, on the other hand, persuade the unstable crowd of the Athenians not to talk nonsense?
We of course will persuade our party.
Not as long as the triremes are in readiness5 and Edition: current; Page:  the inexhaustible sum of money is in the temple of the goddess
But this also has been well provided for; for to-day we shall seize upon the Acropolis. For orders have been given to the oldest to do this,1 while we arrange these matters, to seize upon the Acropolis while pretending to sacrifice.
It may be altogether well,2 for so you represent it.
Why then, Lampito, do we not swear to these things as soon as possible, that they may be inviolable?
Produce the oath, that we may swear.
You say well. Where is the policewoman?3 Whither are you staring? Set the shield before us upside down; and let some one give me the sacrificial parts.
Lysistrata, what oath in the world will you make us swear?
What? Over a shield, slaying sheep, as they say Æschylus4 once did.
Nay, do not swear anything about peace, O Lysistrata, over a shield.
What, then, should the oath be?
If we were to get a white horse5 from some quarter and sacrifice it as a victim.
For what purpose a white horse?
How then6 shall we swear?
I will tell you, by Jove, if you wish. Let us place a large black cup upside down,7 and slaughter a Thasian jar of wine, and swear over the cup—to pour no water in.
O earth! I commend the oath prodigiously.1
Let some one bring a cup from within and a jar.
O dearest women, what a vast jar!2 Any one would be immediately exhilarated if he got this.
The blood is of a good colour and bubbles out well.
(stooping and smelling at the wine). Moreover it smells sweet too, by Castor!
Permit me, women, to swear the first. [Tries to drink out of the jar.]
No, by Venus, unless you obtain it by lot.
Lampito, do all of you lay hold6 on the cup, and let one say in behalf of the rest of you whatever I say; and you shall swear to these things, and abide by them. “There is no one, either paramour or husband”—
“There is no one, either paramour or husband”—
“Who shall approach me in an amorous mood.” Say it!
“Who shall approach me in an amorous mood.” Bless me! Lysistrata, my knees sink under me.
“But I will spend my life at home in1 chastity”—
“But I will spend my life at home in chastity”—
“Wearing a saffron-coloured robe, and decked out”—
“Wearing a saffron-coloured robe, and decked out”—
“So that my husband may be as much as possible enamoured”—
“So that my husband may be as much as possible enamoured”—
“And I will never willingly comply with my husband”—
“And I will never willingly comply with my husband”—
“But if he force me by violence against my will”—
“But if he force me by violence against my will”—
“I will be niggardly of conjugal rights and will not indulge him”—
“I will be niggardly of conjugal rights and will not indulge him”—
“I will not raise my slippers towards the roof”—
“I will not raise my slippers towards the roof”—
“I will not stand like a lioness upon a cheese-scraper”—
“I will not stand like a lioness upon a cheese-scraper”—
“If2 I abide by these, may I drink from hence”—
“If I abide by these, may I drink from hence”—
“But if I violate them, may the cup be3 filled with water”—
“But if I violate them, may the cup be filled with water”—
Do you all swear to these?
Yea, by Jove!
Come, let me dedicate this. [Takes a drink.]
Your share only, my dear, that from the first we may be friends1 of each other. [The goblet is passed round. A cry of women is heard behind the scene.]
What shout is that?
The very thing2 I spoke of! for the women have already seized upon the Acropolis of the goddess. Come, Lampito, do you go and arrange well your affairs, and leave these here with us as3 hostages; and let us, along with the other women who are in the citadel,4 go in and help to put in the bolts.
Do you not think, then, that the men will immediately render joint aid against us?
I care little for them. For they will not come with either so great threats or so much fire as to open these gates except upon the terms which we mentioned.
Never, by Venus! For we women should be called unconquerable and abominable to no purpose. [Enter chorus of old men carrying billets of wood and pans of charcoal.]
Advance, Draces, lead on slowly, although5 you are pained in your shoulder with carrying so great a weight of a trunk of fresh olive. Of a truth there are many unexpected things in long life, alas! for who would ever have expected, O Strymodorus,6 to hear that women whom we Edition: current; Page:  supported at home, a manifest pest, would get possession1 of the sacred image, and seize upon my Acropolis, and also make fast the Propylæa2 with bolts and bars? But let us hasten to the citadel as soon as possible, O Philurgus, so that we may place these trunks round about them, as many as began and prosecuted this business, and heap up one pyre, and with our own hands set fire to them all with one vote; and the wife3 of Lycon the first. For, by Ceres, she shall not laugh at us, while I am alive! Since not even Cleomenes,4 who was the first that seized upon it, departed scot-free;5 but nevertheless, though breathing Laconian fury, he went off, having delivered up his arms6 to me, with a very small little cloak, dirty, squalid, unkempt, unwashed for seven years. So savagely did I besiege that noted7 man, sleeping at the doors seventeen8 deep. And shall I not then being present restrain from so great daring these enemies to Euripides and to all the gods? No longer then may my trophy9 be in Tetrapolis! Edition: current; Page:  But indeed the steep part itself of my road towards the citadel, whither1 I am hastening, remains for me to traverse. And we must manage to draw this at length, without a pack ass. How the yoke2 has heavily pressed my shoulder! But nevertheless we must go, and must blow up the fire, est at the end of our journey it be extinguished without our perceiving it. [Blows at the coals.] Faugh! faugh! Oh! oh, what a smoke! O king Hercules, how dreadfully it bites my eyes, like a mad dog, having assailed me from the pan! and this fire is by all means Lemnian3 too. For otherwise it would never thus have bitten my sore eyes with its teeth. Hasten forwards to the citadel, and assist the goddess; or when shall we aid her better than now, Laches? [Blows at the coa’s.] Faugh! faugh! Oh! oh, what4 a smoke! By the favour of the gods, this fire is awake and alive. Should we not therefore, if we were first to deposit the yoke here, and stick the torch of vine-wood into the pan and kindle it, then burst in the door like a ram?5 And if the women do not undo the bolts when we call, we must set fire to the doors and oppress them with the smoke. Now let us deposit our load. [Blows at the coals.] Oh, what a smoke! Bless my soul! Who of the generals at Samos6 will help with the yoke? This has now ceased to gall my back. It is your business, O pan,7 Edition: current; Page:  to kindle your cinders, so that you may first bring me the torch alight. Mistress Victory, assist us, and let us set up1 a trophy over the now present audacity of the women in the citadel. [Enter chorus of women coming out of the citadel.]
Women, methinks I perceive flame and smoke as of a fire burning. We must hasten more quickly. Fly, fly, Nicodice, before that Calyce and Critylla, being blown upon from all sides,2 be set on fire by grievous laws and mischievous old men! But I am afraid of this. Surcly I am not coming3 to the rescue too late? For now, having filled my bucket at the fountain early in the morning, with difficulty, by reason of the crowd and tumult and clatter of pitchers, jostling with women-servants and runaway slaves, having brought it eagerly, I come with water to the rescue of my fellow tribes-women being on fire. For I heard that old dotards were coming, carrying logs, about three talents in weight, as if about to wait upon persons at the bath,4 threatening most dreadful words, that it behoved them to burn the abominable women to a cinder with fire; whom, O goddess, may I never see set on fire, but to have delivered Greece and the citizens from war and madness! for which purpose, O guardian of the city with golden crest, they occupied thy seat. And I invoke thee as our ally, O Tritogenia, if any5 man burn them Edition: current; Page:  from below, to bring water along with us! Let be! What’s1 this? O men laboriously wicked! for never would good or pious men have been for doing this.
This affair has come unexpected for us to see.2 See! here again’s a swarm of women coming out of doors to the rescue! [They make a retrograde movement.]
O Phædrias, shall we suffer these to prate so much? Ought one not to have broken one’s cudgel about them with beating them?
Let us also now deposit our pitchers on the ground; so that, if any one lay his hand upon us, this may not be a hinderance. [They lay down their pitchers.]
If, by Jove, one had already struck their jaws twice or thrice, like those5 of Bupalus, they would not have a voice.
If you will not be silent, I’ll beat and drive away your8 old age.
Come forward and only touch Stratyllis with your finger!
But what, if I thump her with my fists? what mischief1 will you do to me?
I’ll bite and tear out your lungs and entrails.2
Let us take up the pitcher of water, O Rhodippe.
Why, O thou hateful to the gods, hast thou come hither with water?
Why then have you come with fire, you old man nigh to the grave?5 With the intention of setting yourself on fire?
I have come in order that I may heap up a pyre and set fire to your friends underneath.
And I, that I might extinguish6 your pyre with this.
Will you extinguish my fire?
The deed itself7 will soon show.
I don’t know but I’ll scorch you with8 this torch just as I am.
If you happen to have any soap,1 I’ll provide a bath.
You a bath for me, you filthy wretch?
And that, too,2 a nuptial one.
Did you hear her audacity?
For I am free.
I’ll stop you from your present clamour.
But you shall no longer sit in the Heliæa.3
Set fire to her hair!
Thy task,4 O Achelöus! [The women empty their buckets on the men’s heads.]
Ah me, miserable!
Was it hot? [Another volley of buckets.]
Why, hot? Will you not stop? What are you doing?
I am watering you, that you may grow.
But I am parched5 up and shaking already.
Therefore, since you have fire, you shall warm yourself. [Enter committee-man.6]
Has the wantonness of the women burst forth, and their drumming, and their frequent orgies,7 and this mourning on the roofs for Adonis,8 which I once9 heard when I was in Edition: current; Page:  the Assembly. Demostratus (a plague take1 him!) was advising to sail to Sicily; but his wife, dancing, cries, “Ah! ah, for Adonis!” And Demostratus was advising2 to enlist Zacynthian hoplites; but his wife upon the roof, being rather tipsy, tells them to mourn for Adonis. But he, Cholozyges, hateful to the gods and abominable, overpowered her. Such are their acts of wantonness.3
What then would you say,4 if you were also to hear of the insolence of these? who have both insulted us in other respects, and drenched us with their pitchers, so that we may wring our garments, as if we had made water in them.
Justly, by the briny Neptune! For when we ourselves join with the women in villany, and teach them to be licentious, such5 counsels spring from them; we, who speak in this wise in the workmen’s6 shops, “Goldsmith, as my wife was dancing in the evening, the clasp of the necklace you7 made dropped out of the hole. For my part, I must sail to Salamis; but do you, if you have leisure, come by all8 Edition: current; Page:  means towards evening and fit in the clasp1 for her.” And some other one speaks after this manner to the shoemaker, a youth, but able to do a man’s work, “Shoemaker, the cross-straps pinch the little toe2 of my wife’s foot, since it is tender. Come you, therefore, at noon and loosen this, so that it may be wider.” Such things concur in such3 affairs, when I, who am a Committee-man, who have provided spars for oars,4 am shut out5 from the gates by the women, now when there’s need of the money. But it’s no6 use to stand. Bring the levers, that I may restrain them from their insolence. Why do you gape, you wretch? Whither, again, are you staring, who do nothing but look after a tavern? Will you not place your levers under the gates and force your way on that side? and I will join in forcing this way. [Enter Lysistrata.]
Do not force7 with your levers! for I am coming forth of my own accord. What need is there of levers? For there is not more need of levers, than of sense and judgment.
What, really, you abominable creature? Where is the policeman? Seize her, and tie her hands behind her!
By Diana, if in truth he shall lay the tip of his hand upon me, he shall weep for it, policeman8 as he is! [Policemen draw back.]
Are you afraid, you fellow? Will you not seize her by the waist, and you with him, and bind her quickly?
By Pandrosus,1 if in truth you shall only lay your hand upon her, you shall be trampled on and ease yourself again!
“Shall ease yourself again,” quoth’a! Where is there another2 policeman? Bind this one the first, because she also chatters!
What’s this? Where is there a policeman?5 Lay hold on her! I will stop some of you from this going out.
By Diana, if in truth you shall approach her, I’ll pluck out the hairs that will make you scream!6 [Policemen run away.]
By the two goddesses, then you shall know that with us also there are four companies of warlike women within, fully armed!
Twist back their hands, policemen! [Policemen lay hands on the women.]
O allied women, run out from within, ye green-grocery-market-women, ye garlic-bread-selling-hostesses! Will ye not drag?1 Will ye not beat? Will ye not smite? Will ye not revile? Will ye not behave impudently? [Women rush in and drive off the policemen.] Stop! Retire! Do not despoil them!
Ah me, how miserably have my policemen2 fared!
Nay, what did you expect? Did you think you had come against some women-slaves, or do you suppose anger is not in women?
Aye, by Apollo, and very much too, if a tavern3 be near!
O commissioner of this land, who have wasted many words, why do you hold a parley with these wild beasts? Do you not know with what a bath these just now drenched us in our garments, and that too4 without lye?
But, my good sir, you ought not rashly to lay your hand upon your neighbours. But if you do this, you must have swelled eyes. For I am willing to sit modestly, like a virgin, offending no one here, nor even stirring a chip, unless one take my comb, like a wasp’s nest, and irritate me.
O Jupiter! what ever shall we make of these5 monsters? For these things are no longer bearable. But you must inquire into this casualty along with me, with whatever intent they seized upon the citadel, and for what purpose they seized upon the Acropolis on the mighty rock, not to be trodden, the sacred enclosure. But ask repeatedly, and do not be persuaded,6 and apply all tests. For it is disgraceful to leave such7 an affair as this untested, having given it up.
Well now, by Jove, I wish to learn this first from them; with what intent you shut up our citadel with your bolts.
That we might make the money safe, and that you might not fight on account of it.
Why, are1 we fighting on account of the money?
Aye, and all the other matters, too, have been thrown into confusion. For in order that Pisander2 might be able to steal, and those who aim at offices, they were always stirring up some commotion.3 Therefore let them do whatever they please, for that matter! for they shall no longer take out this money.
What will you do then?4
Ask me this? We will manage it.
Will you manage the money?
Why5 do you think this strange? Do we not wholly manage your domestic property also for you?
But the case is not the same.
How6 not the same?
We must carry on the war out7 of this money.
But in the first place there is no occasion for war.
Why, how otherwise shall we be saved?
We will save you.
Aye, we to be sure.
A sad case indeed!
Be assured1 that you shall be saved, even if you do not wish.
You mention a shameful case.
You are indignant: but this must be done notwithstanding.
By Ceres, ’tis unjust!
We must save2 you, my friends.
Even if I don’t want?
Aye, so much the more, for that matter.
But how came you to care about war and peace?
We will tell you.
(with a significant motion of his fist). Tell me now quickly, that you may not get a beating!
Hear now, and try to restrain your hands!
But I am not able: for through my passion3 it is difficult to restrain them.
Then you shall suffer for it so much the more.
Croak this4 at yourself, old woman; but tell me your story.
I will do so. During the former war and former time, through our modesty, we bore with you5 men, whatever you did; for you did not allow us to mutter: and then you did not please us. But we perceived6 you very well; and oftentimes when we were at home we used7 to hear that you had determined some important matter badly; and then being pained internally,8 we used to ask you with a smile, “What Edition: current; Page:  has been determined by you to-day amongst the people1 to post up upon the pillar2 about peace?” “What’s that to you?” the man used to say; “will you not be silent?” And 1 used to be silent.
But I would never have been silent.
Aye, and you’d have howled too, if you were not silent.
So then I kept silence at home. We used to hear3 perhaps of some other more pernicious decree of yours; and then we used to ask, “How is it, husband, that you manage these matters so foolishly?” But he having looked askance at me used immediately to tell me that, “if I will not weave4 my warp, I should wail loudly in my head; but war shall be a care to men.”5
Rightly said of him, by Jove!
How6 rightly, you wretch? if not even when you were determining badly, it was permitted us to advise you. But7 when now we plainly heard you now saying in the streets, “Is there not a man in the country?” and some other said, “Certainly not, by Jove!” after this it was immediately determined by us women, being assembled, to save Greece in Edition: current; Page:  common. For why1 ought we to wait? If therefore you be willing to hear us in turn giving good advice, and to be silent in turn, as we were then, we would restore you.
You restore us? You mention a shameful case, and not to be endured by me.
Hold your tongue!
Must I hold my tongue for2 you, you abominable creature, and that too wearing a hood about your head? Then may I not live!
Well, if this be an obstacle to you, there! take this hood from me, and take and put it about your head, and then hold your tongue!—and this little basket! and then gird yourself up3 and card wool, munching beans!4 “but war shall be a care to women.”
Retire,5 O women, from your pitchers, in order that we also in turn may assist our friends. For I would never be tired with dancing, nor would exhausting6 weariness seize my knees. I am willing to venture7 everything with these in the cause of virtue, in whom is intellect, is beauty, is boldness, is wisdom, is prudent patriotism. Come, most courageous offspring of grandmothers, and of fruitful nettles, advance with vehemence,8 and do not yield! for you are now still running before the wind.
But if delightful Eros and the Cyprus-born Venus breathe desire upon our bosoms and our breasts, and then create in the men a pleasing passion and voluptuousness, I think that we shall some time be called amongst the Greeks Lysimachæ.9
By having done what?
If in the first place we put a stop to people lounging1 in the market-place with arms and acting madly.
Aye, by the Paphian Venus!
For now in truth in the pottery-market,2 and in the vegetable-market alike, they walk about throughout the market-place with arms, like Corybantes.
Yes, by Jove! for it becomes the brave.
And yet the affair is ridiculous, when a fellow with a shield and a Gorgon then3 purchases mackarel.
At all events, by Jove, I saw a man with long hair, a commander of cavalry, upon a horse putting pease-soup into his brazen helmet, which he had bought from an old woman. And another, again, a Thracian, shaking a shield and javelin like Tereus, frightened the woman that dealt in figs and swallowed the ripe ones.4
How then will you be able to allay many disturbed affairs in the country, and to put an end to them?
How? Show us!
Like as, when our thread is tangled, we take it in this way and draw it out with our spindles hither and thither, thus also will we put an end to this war, if you let us, having brought it to an end by means of embassies hither and thither.
Do6 you think, pray, to allay a dreadful state of Edition: current; Page:  affairs with your wool, and threads, and spindles, you silly women?
Aye, and if there was any sense in you, you would administer1 all your affairs after the fashion of our wool.
How, pray? Come, let me see!
In the first place it behoved you, as if washing away the dirt of a fleece in a bath, to flog the knaves headlong out of the city, and to pick out the briers; and to tear in pieces these who combine together and those who press themselves close together2 for the magistracies, and to pluck their heads;3 and then all to card public good-feeling into a basket, having mixed up4 both the resident-aliens and whatever stranger or friend there is with you, and whoever is indebted to the public, and to mix these up5 in one body; and, by Jove, to mark6 the states, as many as are colonies of this city, that these lie uncared for, like the pieces of wool, each apart by itself; and then, having taken the wool from all these, to bring it together, and collect it into one mass; and then to make a large ball; and then, out of this to weave a cloak for the people.
Is it not, therefore, shameful that these should cudgel7 these things and wind them off into a ball, who had not even any concern in the war at all?
Be silent, and do not remind1 us of our woes!
And then, when we ought to be cheered and enjoy our youth, we sleep alone on account of the expeditions.2 And our case I omit: but I am grieved for the maidens who grow old in their chambers.
Do not men, therefore, grow old as well?
But, by Jove, you do not mention a like case. For he, when he has come back, even though he be gray-headed, soon marries a young girl; but the woman’s time is short, and if she do not take advantage of it, no one is willing to marry her; but she sits looking for omens.3
But whoever is still able to act a manly part—
[Drenches him with water.]
And receive these7 from me!
And take this crown!
What is wanting? What do you desire? Go to the ship! Charon calls you,8 and you hinder him from setting sail.
Then is it not shameful that I should suffer these things? But, by Jove, I will show myself to the Committee forthwith, going as9 I am.
Will you lay a complaint10 against us, that we did not lay you out? But on the third day at any rate the sacrifices Edition: current; Page:  to the dead will come from us very early1 in the morning ready prepared.
[Exeunt Committee-man and attendants.]
It is his business to sleep no longer, who is free. But, sirs, let us strip2 and set to work at this affair! For already these matters appear to me to savour of more and greater deeds; and especially I scent the tyranny of Hippias;3 and I fear greatly lest some men of the Spartans, having assembled here in the house of Clisthenes,4 should by craft stir up the women hateful to the gods to seize upon our money, and our pay, whereby I lived. For surely it is shameful that these, women as they are, should now advise the citizens, and prate about a brazen shield, and besides5 reconcile us to the Lacedæmonians, to whom there’s no trusting,6 unless one can a gaping wolf. But these things, sirs, they have contrived for a tyranny. But over me they shall not tyrannize; for I will be on my guard, and will henceforth wear my sword in a myrtle-bough,7 and will lounge in the market-place Edition: current; Page:  in arms nigh the statue1 of Aristogiton, and will stand beside him thus;2 for that very destiny is mine,3 to smite the jaw of this old woman hateful to the gods.
Then your mother shall not recognise4 you when you enter the house. But, O dear matrons, let us first place these on the ground. For we, O all ye citizens, begin words serviceable to the state; naturally, since it reared me splendidly in luxury. As soon as5 I was seven years of age I carried the peplus; and then,6 when I was ten years of age, I was meal-grinder to Diana;7 and then I was Arctos8 at the Brauronia, wearing the saffron-coloured robe; and at length, when I was a beautiful girl, I carried the basket, wearing a chain of figs. Do I not then owe9 it to the state to give it some good advice? But if I am a woman, do not grudge me this,10 if I introduce something better than the present part of affairs. For I have a part in the contribution; for I contribute men. But you miserable old men have no part; for after you have expended11 your ancestral fund, as it is called, which you got from the Persians,12 you do not Edition: current; Page:  pay in turn your contributions. But moreover we are in danger of being ruined by you. Then ought you to grumble? But if you shall annoy me at all, I will strike your jaw with this untanned buskin.
Then are not these matters great insolence? and methinks the matter will increase still more. But whoever is a perfect man must repel the matter. Come, let us strip off our sleeveless coat, since it behoveth a man forthwith to savour of manhood; but it does not become him to be muffled up. But come, ye white-footed,1 now it behoveth us, who went to Lipsydrium,2 when as yet3 we were men, now it behoveth us to grow young again, and to make our whole body active,4 and to shake off this old age. For if any of us shall afford these if it were but a small handle,5 they will in no wise fail of assiduous handicraft; but they will both build ships, and furthermore attempt to fight by sea, and to sail against us, like Artemisia.6 But if they turn themselves to horsemanship, I strike the Knights off the list. For a woman is a creature most skilful in horsemanship and having a good seat.7 And she would not slip off when it runs. See the Amazons whom Micon painted8 on horseback fighting with the men! But we ought to take and fit this neck9 into the perforated stocks of all these.
By the two goddesses, if you shall provoke me, I will now let loose my passion,1 and will make you today call your fellow-tribesmen to your aid, being pommeled. But let us also,2 O women, speedily strip, so that we may savour of women angered even to biting.3 Now let any one come near me! in order that he may never eat garlic or black beans.4 Since, if you shall even merely speak ill of me,—for I am exceedingly angry,—I the beetle will deliver you like5 an eagle that is laying eggs. For I will not care for you, if my Lampito live, and the dear Theban girl, well-born6 Ismenia. For you will have no power, not even if you make decrees seven times, who, O wretch, wast hateful even7 to all your neighbours. Therefore also yesterday, when I was making a feast8 to Hecate, I invited from my neighbours a good and amiable girl as the companion of my children—an eel9 from Bœotia; but they said they would not send it, on account of your decrees. And you will not cease10 from these decrees, till some one, having taken you by the leg, take and break your neck. O thou11 authoress of this deed and design, why hast thou come to me from the house with a sad countenance?
Wicked women’s proceedings and the female mind make me down-hearted, and to walk up1 and down.
What do you say? what do you say?
The truth! the truth!
What is there alarming? Tell it to your own friends!
But it is disgraceful2 to mention, and difficult to keep silent.
Do not then conceal from me what ill we have suffered.
To speak in fewest words,3 we long for the men.
Why call on4 Jupiter? In truth this is so. Consequently I am no longer able to keep them from their husbands; for they are escaping by stealth. The first I caught widening the hole where the cave of Pan5 is; the other, again, creeping down by the pulley;6 the other deserting; the other one upon a sparrow, purposing now to fly down to the house of Orsilochus,7 I dragged down yesterday by the hair. And they keep making all sorts of excuses8 so as to depart home. In sooth, one of them is now coming. Hollo you! whither are you running? [A woman attempts to run past.]
I wish to go home; for my Milesian fleeces are being destroyed by the moths at home.
What9 moths? Will you not go back again?
But, by the two goddesses, I will return speedily, when I have only spread them out on the couch—
Don’t spread them out, or depart any whither!
Must I then suffer the fleeces to be destroyed?
Yes, if there be need of this.1 (1st woman goes back again.]
Ah me, miserable! miserable for my flax which I have left at home unhackled!
See! here’s another coming out for her unhackled flax!2 Come back again hither!
Don’t5 bark it! for if you begin this, another woman will wish to do the same. [2nd woman goes back again.]
O mistress6 Ilithyia, delay my parturition until I shall have gone to a place not hallowed!
Why do you talk this nonsense?
I shall bring forth immediately.
But you were not pregnant yesterday.
But to-day I am. Come, Lysistrata, send me home as soon as possible to the midwife!
What tale are you telling? What is this hard thing7 that you have?
A male child.
And I am pregnant too, by Jove!
Why then had you this?
In order that, if my delivery should come upon Edition: current; Page:  me while still in the Acropolis, I might go into1 this helmet and bring forth, as the pigeons do.
What do you say? You are making excuses. The matter is evident. Will you not wait here for the helmet’s2 naming-day?
But I am not even able to sleep in the Acropolis, since once I saw the serpent, the guardian3 of the house.
And I, unhappy, am destroyed with want of sleep through the owls, which are constantly crying, “to who.”4
My good women, cease from your juggling tricks! You long for your husbands perhaps: but do you not think that we long for them? They spend uneasy nights, I well know. But hold out, my good friends, and persevere still further for a short time! for we have an oracle that we shall prevail, unless we be distracted by seditions. Now this is5 the oracle.
Tell us what it says.6
Be silent now! “But when the Swallows,7 avoiding the Hoopoes, cower into one place, and abstain from the phallus, there shall be a rest from evils, and high-thundering Jove shall make8 the higher to be lower”—
Shall we lie above them?
— “but if the Swallows be at variance,1 and fly away with their wings from the sacred temple, no longer shall any bird whatever appear to be more lewd.”
By Jove, the oracle is clear! Let us not then, O all ye gods, give up through suffering; but let us go in. For this will be disgraceful, my dearest women, if we shall betray the oracle.2 [Exit Lysistrala.]
I wish to tell you a story, which I once heard myself when I was yet a boy; in this wise:3—There was once a youth, Melanion, who, avoiding marriage, went to a desert place and dwelt in the mountains. And then he hunted hares,4 having made nets: and he had a dog. And he returned home again no more by reason of his hatred. So much5 did he abominate the women: and we, who are chaste, abominate them no less than Melanion.6
I wish, old woman, to kiss you—
Then you shall not eat an onion.7
— and to lift up your leg and tread on you.
You wear a large beard.
I also wish to tell you a story in reply to your Melanion. There was a certain Timon,1 unsettled, encompassed round as to his face with unapproachable thorns,2 a scion of the Furies. This Timon, then, by reason of his hatred, went off having imprecated many curses against wicked men. So much did he always hate in return your3 wicked men; but he was very dear to the women.
Would you that I strike your jaw?
By no means! I am afraid of it.
But I will strike you with my leg.
You will show your ancles.
Yet, however, you would not see them with long hair, though I am an old woman, but depillated with the lamp.4 [Enter Lysistrata attended by several women.]
Ho! ho, women! come hither to me quickly!
What’s the matter? tell me, what means the cry?
Where is he, whoever he is?
Near the temple of Ceres.7
Oh, by Jove, in truth there is! Who8 in the world is he?
Look! Does any one of you know him?
Yes, by Jove, I do; and he is my husband Cinesias.9
Don’t trouble yourself: I’ll do so.
Moreover I will remain3 here and cheat him utterly and roast him thoroughly. But do you depart! [Exit Myrrhina, and enter Cinesias, attended by a servant leading his child by the hand.]
Ah me, miserable! What a spasm and what a tension possesses me,4 as if I were racked upon a wheel!
Who is this who stands within the outposts?5
Yes, a man.
Then will you not begone out of the way?
Who are you who drive me out?
By the gods, then, call me out Myrrhina!
Must I call6 your Myrrhina, quoth’a? Who are you?
Her husband, Cinesias the Pæonian.7
Welcome, thou dearest! for thy name8 is not without Edition: current; Page:  fame among us, nor yet inglorious. For your wife constantly has you in her mouth;1 and if she get an egg or an apple, she says, “May Cinesias have this!”
Oh, by the gods!
Yes, by Venus; and if any conversation about husbands arise, straightway your wife says, that every thing else is nonsense in comparison with Cinesias.
Go then, call her!
What then? will you give me any thing?
Aye, by Jove, will I, if you wish it! I have this What, then, I have, I give you.
Come then, let me2 descend and call her.
Very quickly then! [Exit Lysistrata.] For I have no pleasure in my life since she went away from the house; but I am grieved when I go in; and every thing appears to me to be desolate; and I find no pleasure in my victuals when I eat, for I am tortured.
(talking with Lysistrata in the Acropolis above). I love him, I love him; but he is not willing to be loved by me. Do not call me to him!
My dearest little Myrrhina, why do you act thus? Come down3 hither!
By Jove, I will not go down thither!
Will you not come down when I call you, Myrrhina?
No; for you call me when you don’t want me at all.
I not in want of you? Nay, rather, undone.
I will go away.
Nay don’t, pray! but at least hearken to your little child! [Turning to the child.] Ho you! will you not call4 your mother?
Mamma! mamma! mamma!5
Ho you! what are1 you about? Do you not even pity the little child, being unwashed and unsuckled six days past?
Of course I pity it; but its father2 is negligent.
Come down, my good girl, to your little child!
O thou dearest little child7 of a bad father! come, let me kiss you, most dear to your mother!
Why, O wretch, do you do this, and comply with other women, and cause me to be grieved, and8 art grieved yourself?
Don’t put your hand on me!
While you are ruining9 my and your property, which is in the house.
I care little about them.
Care you little about your thread, which is tossed10 about by the cocks and hens?
Even so, by Jove!1
The rites of Venus have been so long a time uncelebrated by you. Will you not go back?
Not I, by Jove! unless you make peace and cease from the war.
Therefore, if it seem good to you, we will e’en do so.
Therefore, if it seem good to you, I will e’en go thither; but now I have sworn not to do it.
At least lie down with me for2 a while!
Certainly not! and yet I cannot say3 that I do not love you.
Do you love me? Why then do you4 not lie down, my little Myrrhina?
O you ridiculous man! in presence of the child?
No, by Jove! but, Manes, do you take it home! [Servant leads the child off.] There! the child is now out of the way: will you not lie down?
Why, where could one do this, you rogue?
Very well,5 where the temple of Pan is.
Why, how, pray, any longer could I go to the Acropolis pure?
Very well, I ween, after you have washed in the Clepsydra.6
Shall I then, pray, break my oath, you rogue, after having sworn?
On my head be it!7 Don’t be concerned at all for your oath!
Come then, let me bring a little bed for us.
By no means! It suffices us upon the ground.
By Apollo, I will not1 make you lie down upon the ground, although being such! [Runs off.]
Of a truth it is right well evident that my wife loves me.2
(returning with a bedstead). There! lie down quickly; and I will undress myself. [Cinesias lies down upon the bed.] And yet, bless3 my soul, I must bring out a mattress.
What mattress? Don’t talk to me4 of that!
Yea, by Diana! for it were shameful to lie upon the bed-cords.
Let me give you a kiss then!
There! [Kisses him and runs off.]
Ah! Return then very quickly!
(returning with a mattress). There’s a mattress! Lie down! I’ll now undress myself. And yet, bless my soul! you have not a pillow.
Neither do I want one.
But, by Jove, I do! [Runs off.]
Truly my carcase is entertained like Hercules.5
(returning with a pillow). Rise! jump up!6
I have every thing now.7
Come then, my little treasure!9
Now I’ll undo my girdle!1 Remember then; do not deceive me about the peace.
Then2 may I perish, by Jove!
You have not a counterpane.3
Neither do I want one, by Jove; but I want something else.
Don’t trouble yourself! You shall do so; for I will come speedily. [Runs off.]
The woman4 will kill me with her bed-clothes.
(returning with a counterpane). Raise yourself up!
But I am raised up already.
Would you that I anoint you?
Nay, do not, by Apollo!
Yea, by Venus, whether you will or no! [Runs off.]
O Lord Jove, would the unguent were5 poured out!
(returning with a flash of ointment). Reach forth your hand now, and take it and anoint yourself!
By Apollo, this ointment is not sweet! unless to be dilatory and not savouring of marriage be so.6
Ah me, miserable! I have brought the Rhodian7 unguent.
’Tis excellent! Never mind it,1 my good girl!
Nonsense! [Runs off.]
May he perish most miserably, who first boiled unguents!
(returning with a fresh flask). Take this casket!
But I have another. Come, you tiresome2 thing, lie down and don’t bring me any thing at all!
I will do so, by Diana! In sooth I am taking off my shoes. But, my dearest, see that you vote to make peace.
I will determine about it. [Exit Myrrhina.] My wife has undone me and killed me, both in all other respects, and because she has flayed me and gone. Ah me! what shall I do?3 Whom shall I solicit, being disappointed of the prettiest of all? How shall I educate this? Where’s the Dog-fox?4 Let out5 a nurse to me.
O thou unhappy, thou art afflicted in thy soul with dreadful suffering, having been deceived! And I pity you, alas! alas! For what kidneys could hold out, what soul,6 and what bowels, and what loins? What rump could, being strained, and not having to do with any one in the morning?7
O Jove, what dreadful convulsions!8
This, however, has your all-abominable and all-execrable wife now done to you.
No, by Jove, but dear and sweetest of all!
Don’t talk to me9 of sweet! Abominable, Edition: current; Page:  abominable certainly. [Exit Cinesias.] O Jove, Jove, would that you would whirl her away and turn her round,1 and carry her off with a great whirlwind and hurricane, as you do the heaps of corn, and then let her go, and she might be borne back again to the earth, and then suddenly bestride the trident! [Enter Lacedæmonian Herald and Committee-man.]
Where is the Senate of the Athenians, or the2 Prytanes? I wish to make an announcement.
Whether are you a man or Conisalus?3
By the two gods, I have come from Sparta as a herald, young4 man, about the peace!
And then, pray, have you come with a spear under your arm?
No, by Jove, not I!
Whither are you turning yourself? Why, pray, do you put forward your cloak? or have you a swelling in the groin from your journey?
The fellow’s a fool,5 by Castor!
But you are excited, O you most abominable!
No, by Jove, not I! Don’t talk nonsense6 again!
But what’s this here?
A Spartan scytale.7
All Sparta is excited, and all the allies are excited There is need of Pellene.1
From whom did this misfortune fall upon you? From Pan?2
No; Lampito, I think, began it; then the other women throughout Sparta at once, as if starting from one starting-post, drove away their husbands from their beds.
How are you then?
This thing has been sworn to by the women from all parts: I have just now5 ascertained it. But bid them as soon as possible send here ambassadors with full powers to treat about peace! and I will bid the senate choose other ambassadors from hence, having exhibited this.
I will fly; for you speak altogether most excellently. [Exeunt Herald and Committee-man.]
There is no wild beast more unconquerable than a woman, nor fire, nor any panther so shameless.
Why, are you aware of this, and then make war upon me, when it is in your power, you wretch, to have me a firm friend?
“For I will6 never cease to hate woman.”
In the first place, you appear2 a man; in the next place, you are not ridiculous: and if you had not vexed me, I would have seized and taken out this little insect in your eye, which now is in it.
This, it seems, is the thing which was distressing me. See! there’s3 my ring! Pull it out! and then show it me, when you’ve taken it out! for, by Jove, it has been stinging my eye this long while.
Well, I’ll do so; although you are a cross man. O Jove! in truth a monstrous gnat to look at is in your eye. Don’t you see it? Is not this gnat a Tricorysian one?4
By Jove, you have eased5 me; for it has been digging wells in me this long while; so that, after it has been taken out, my tears flow copiously.
But I will wipe you clean, although you are very bad, and will kiss you.
Do not kiss6 me!
Whether7 you will or no.
A plague8 take you! since you are wheedling by nature; and that saying is rightly said, and not badly “Neither with9 utterly-abandoned women, nor without utterly-abandoned Edition: current; Page:  women.” But now I make peace with you, and henceforth I will neither do any thing bad any more,1 nor suffer it from you. Come, let us be united and begin2 our song together!
We are not prepared,3 sirs, to speak any ill at all4 of any of the citizens; but, quite the contrary, both to say and do every thing good; for our present5 sufferings even are sufficient. But let every man and woman make it known,6 if any wishes to receive money, two or three minæ: we have7 plenty within, and have purses. And if ever peace appear, whoever shall have now borrowed from us, shall never repay what he shall have received. We are going to entertain some Carystian8 strangers, honourable and good men; and I have still some broth; and I had a sucking-pig; and this I have slaughtered, so that you shall eat tender and fine meat. Come therefore to my house to-day! But you ought to do this early,9 having bathed, both you and your children; and then to go in, and ask no one any questions, but boldly to proceed straight forward, as if into your own houses, for the door shall be—shut.
Well now, see! here are the ambassadors from Sparta coming, trailing beards! as if with a bandage10 about their thighs. [Enter Spartan Ambassadors.] Spartans, in the first place, welcome! next, tell us in what state you are come!
What need to say many words to you? for you may see in what state we have come.
Bless me! This calamity is dreadfully excited! It seems to be worse inflamed.
Unspeakably! What can one say?1 But let some one come by all means and make peace with us, as he pleases.
Well now, I see these here aborigines putting back their dress from their bellies, like wrestlers, so that the disease2 appears to be one belonging to an athlete. [Enter Athenians.]
Who can tell us where Lysistrata is? for see! we men here3 have come, of such rank!
Both this disease and the other agree in this way.4 Does a tension seize you towards morning?
If you are wise, you will take your clothes, so that none of the mutilaters of the Hermæ7 shall see you.
By Jove, you certainly say well!
Yea, by the two gods, by all means! Come, let us put on our dress!8
Welcome, Spartans! We have suffered shameful things.
O my dearest! of a truth we should have suffered dreadful things, if the men could have seen9 us excited.
Come now, Spartans, you must mention each severally. For what are you come hither?
As ambassadors about peace.
In truth you say well: we also are come on account of this. Why then do we not summon Lysistrata, who alone can make peace between us!
Aye, by the two gods, and Lysistratus,1 if you like.
But there’s no occasion, as it seems, for us to call her; for see! here she2 is herself coming out, when she heard it? [Enter Lysistrata.] Hail! O thou bravest of all women; now it behoveth thee to be clever,3 good, easy, grave, mild, and shrewd; for the chiefs of the Grecians, caught by thy charm, have yielded to thee, and referred all their grievances to thee in common.
Well, the business is not difficult, if one were to find people eager for peace,4 and not making trial of each other. But I’ll soon know. Where is Peace?5 First take and lead forward the Spartans, and not with a hand violent or self-willed, nor as our husbands6 used unskilfully to do it, but very affectionately,7 as is proper women should. If any do not give his hand, lead him by the nose. [Enter Peace represented by a beautiful girl.] Come! do you also lead these Athenians, and lead them forward, having caught hold of them by whatever part they present. You Spartans, stand close beside me, and you on this side, and hear my words! I am a woman, it is true; but sense is in me:8 “and of myself Edition: current; Page:  I am not ill off in respect of1 intellect.” By having often heard the remarks of my father and my elders, I have been not ill educated. I wish to take and justly chide you2 in common, who, although you besprinkle your altars with the same lustral-water,3 as kindred people, at Olympia, Pylæ, and Delphi—how many others could I mention, if there were occasion for me to be prolix?—are destroying Grecian men and Grecian cities with your armies, when barbarians4 are before you as enemies. One part of my speech5 is thus far finished.
I am killed with desire.
In the next place, ye Spartans,—for I will turn to you,—do you not know, when formerly Periclides6 the Spartan came hither as a suppliant of the Athenians, and sat upon the altars, pale, in a red cloak, begging an army? At that time Messena7 was pressing upon you, and at the same Edition: current; Page:  time the god1 was shaking the earth. But Cimon went with four thousand hoplites and saved the whole of Sparta. After you have been benefited in this way by the Athenians, do you devastate a land, from which you have received benefits?
By Jove, Lysistrata, these are in the wrong!
We are in the wrong: but sin is unspeakably beautiful.2
Do you suppose I shall let you3 Athenians off? Know you not when the Spartans in turn came in arms and slew many Thessalians,4 and many confederates and allies of Hippias, alone on that day5 marching out with you to battle, and freed you, who were wearing servile6 dresses, and in place of the servile dress, clothed your people again with a mantle?
I have never seen a better7 woman!
And I, never yet a fairer bosom!
Why, then, when many benefactions8 exist on both sides, do you fight, and not cease from your wickedness? Why do you not make peace? Come, what’s the hinderance?
We are willing, if one be willing to restore to us this spencer.
Of what kind, good sir?
Pylos,9 which we have been wishing for and desiring this long while.
By Neptune, this you shall10 not do!
Give it up to them, good sir!
And whom then shall we solicit?
Do you demand another place instead of this!
Then do you deliver up to us the what d’ye call ’em—in the first place this Echinus, and the Melian Gulf behind it, and the legs1 of Megara!
No, by the two gods, not all, my good sir!2
Give them up! do not dispute about legs!
I am willing now to strip and cultivate the land naked.3
And I, by the two gods, to dung them4 in the morning.
When5 you shall have made peace, you shall do so. But if you think fit to do this, deliberate, and go and consult your allies!
What6 allies, my friend? We are excited. Will not our allies be of the same opinion—all to enjoy themselves?
Ours7 will, at any rate, by the two gods!
Aye, by Jove! for the Carystians also will.8
You say well. Now therefore see that you be pure, so that we women may entertain you in the Acropolis with what we have in our chests. And there give oaths and assurances to each other; and then each of you shall take his own wife and depart.
Well, let us go as soon as possible.
Lead whither you please.
Yes, by Jove, as quickly as possible! [Excunt Lysistrata, Athenians, and Spartans.]
I do not grudge to offer9 my variegated bed-clothes, Edition: current; Page:  and little cloaks, and state-robes,1 and golden ornaments, as many as I have, to all to carry to their children and whenever any one’s daughter is Canephorus. I tell you all now to take of my property out of the house; and that nothing is so well sealed up, that2 you may not break the sealing-wax, and bear away whatever is in the house. But he shall see nothing when he looks, unless some of you see sharper than I do. But if any of you has no food, and maintains domestics and many small children, he may receive from me husked wheat; but the chœnix-loaf is very fresh to look at. Whatever poor person therefore wishes, let him come to my house with sacks and wallets; for he shall receive wheat; and Manes my servant shall put it into them. I forewarn you, however, not to come to my door, but to beware of the dog.3 [Enter Market-loungers, and knock clamorously at the door of the Citadel.]
Open the door!
I’ll not do so!
If we must by all means do so, we will endure, to gratify you.
And we too will endure with you.
[Enter an Athenian returning from the entertainment.]
I have never seen such an entertainment! Upon my word, the Spartans were even entertaining; but we were the cleverest boon-companions1 over the wine.
Aye, rightly said; because we Athenians are not in our right senses when we are sober. If I prevail upon the Athenians by my words,2 we shall always go on embassies3 to all places drunk. For at present, whenever we go to Sparta sober, we immediately look to see what we can disturb:4 so that, what they say, we hear not; but what they don’t say, this we wrongly suspect.5 And we do not make the same report about the same things.6 But now every thing pleases; so that, if any one were to sing the scolion of Telamon,7 when he ought to sing that of Clitagora, we would praise8 him, and swear a false oath beside that it Edition: current; Page:  was quite the thing. [Market-loungers again crowd about the door.]
But see! here are these people coming together again! Will you not begone, you scoundrels?
Yes, by Jove! for now they are coming out of the house.1 [Enter Spartans returning from the entertainment.]
Take your wind-instruments, my dearest, so that I may dance the Dipodia, and sing2 a pleasing strain upon the Athenians and upon us at the same time.
Take, then, your pipes,3 by the gods! for I am pleased to see you dancing.
Rouse, O Mnemosyne, the youths,4 and my Muse, who is cognizant of us and of the Athenians, when they at Artemisium dashed against the ships,5 like to the gods, and conquered the Persians. But us, on the contrary, did Leonidas lead, like boars, I ween, sharpening their tusks; and abundant foam6 sprang up about our jaws, and abundant foam at the same time flowed down our legs:7 for the men, the Persians, were8 not less numerous than the sands. Huntress Diana, slayer of wild beasts, virgin goddess, come hither to our truce, so that you may keep us united for a long time! Now again may fruitful friendship ever subsist through our covenants, and may we cease from the flattering foxes!9 O come hither, hither, O virgin huntress!
Come now, since the other matters have been transacted well, do you, Spartans, lead away these,1 and you, Athenians, the others! and let husband stand beside wife, and wife beside husband: and then, after having danced in honour2 of the gods for our prosperous fortune, let us be cautious henceforth never to sin again!
Lead forward the chorus! offer thanks! and invoke Artemis! and invoke her twin brother, leader of the chorus, the gracious Apollo! and invoke Nysius! Bacchus,3 who sparkles with his eyes amongst the Mænads! and Jove blazing with fire! and invoke his venerable, blessed spouse! and then the deities, whom we shall use as no forgetful witnesses respecting the noble Peace, which the goddess Venus made! Alalai! io pæan!4 Raise yourselves5 aloft! io! io! io! for the victory!6 Evoe, evoe! evæ, evæ!7 Spartan,8 do you now produce a new song after our new song.
Come9 again, Spartan Muse, having left the lovely Taygetus, celebrating Apollo, the god of Amyclæ, revered by us; and Minerva dwelling in a brazen house;10 and the brave Tyndaridæ, who sport beside the Eurotas. Come, advance rapidly! Oh, come, bounding lightly! so that we may celebrate Sparta, to whom the choruses of the gods are a care and the sound of feet; and the damsels, like fillies, bound up frequently with their feet beside the Eurotas, making haste; and their locks are agitated, like those of the Bacchanals brandishing the thyrsus Edition: current; Page:  and sporting.1 And the chaste daughter of Leda, the comely leader of the chorus, leads them. But come, bind your hair with a fillet, and dance with hand and foot, like a stag! and at the same time make a noise cheering the chorus; and again celebrate the most mighty, the all-conquering goddess dwelling in a brazen house! [Exeunt omnes.]
“The Thesmophoriazusæ was acted Ol. 92, 1, in the archonship of Pallas. Scholiast on vs. 841, ἐπαινεῖ τὸν Λάμαχον νῦν· ἤδη γὰρ ετεθνήκει ἐν Σικελίᾳ τετἄρτῳ ἔτει πϱότεϱον. Lamachus died in the beginning of Ol. 91, 2. See Thuc. vi. 101. Scholiast on vs. 190, γέρων γὰρ τότε Εὐριπίδης ἦν· ἔκτῳ γοῦν ἔτει ὕστεϱον τελευτᾷ. Euripides died about the close of Ol. 93, 2, or the beginning of 93, 3. Scholiast on Ran. 53, ἡ γὰρ Ἀνδρομέδα ὀγδόῳ ἔτει πϱοεισῆκται, i. e. Ol. 91, 4. Now Aristophanes himself (Thesm. vs. 1060) testifies that the Andromeda was acted the year before the Thesmophoriazusæ.” Enger. Dindorf and Wachsmuth also refer it to this year; on the contrary, Dobree and Fritzsche refer it to Ol. 92, 2.
The Thesmophoriazusæ has a proper intrigue, a knot which is not [Editor: illegible word] till the conclusion, and in this therefore possesses a great advantage. Euripides, on account of the well-known hatred of women displayed in his tragedies, is accused and condemned at the Thesmophoria, at which festival women only were admitted. After a fruitless attempt to induce the effeminate poet Agathon to undertake the hazardous experiment, Euripides prevails on his father-in-law, Mnesilochus, who was somewhat advanced in years, to disguise himself as a woman, that under this assumed appearance he may plead his cause. The manner in which he does this gives rise to suspicions, and he is discovered to be a man; he flies to the altar for refuge, and to secure himself still more from the impending danger, he snatches a child from the arms of one of the women, and threatens to kill it if they do not let him alone. Upon examination, however, it turns out to be a wine-skin, wrapped up like a child. Euripides now appears in a number of different shapes to save his friend: at one time he is Menelaus, who finds Helen again in Egypt; at another time he is Echo, helping the chained Andromeda to pour out her lamentations, and immediately after he appears as Perseus, about to release her from the rock. At length he succeeds in rescuing Mnesilochus, who is fastened to a sort of pillory, by assuming the character of a procuress, and enticing away the officer of justice who has charge of him, a simple barbarian, by the charms of a dancing-girl. These parodied scenes, composed almost entirely in the very words of Euripides’ tragedies, are inimitable. Whenever Euripides is introduced, we may always, generally speaking, lay our account with having the most ingenious and apposite ridicule: it seems as if the mind of Aristophanes possessed a peculiar and specific power of giving a comic turn to the poetry of this tragedian. Whatever be the faults of the present play, it will be very generally admitted to be the drollest and most facetious of all the writings of Aristophanes.
[Scene—the front of Agathon’s house.]
O Jupiter! will the swallow ever1 appear? The man will kill me with dragging me about2 from early dawn! Is it possible, Euripides, before I lose my spleen entirely, to learn from you whither you are leading me?
(with great seriousness). Nay, you must3 not hear all that you will soon see, being present.
How say you? Tell it me again! Must I not hear?
Not what you are to see.
Then must I not even see?
Not what you must hear.
How do you advise me? Upon my word, you speak cleverly! You say I must neither hear nor see.
Not so; for, be well assured, the nature of each of them is distinct, of not hearing, and of not seeing.
Thus have these been distinguished formerly.1 For Ether, when first it was separated,2 and in itself bore moving animals, first contrived an eye for that which ought to see, modelled after the sun’s disk, and bored ears like a funnel.
On account of the funnel, then, must I3 neither hear nor see? By Jove, I am delighted at having learned this in addition! What a thing, I ween, are learned conversazioni!
Many such matters mayest thou learn from me.
Come hither, and give me your attention!
Do you see this little door?6
Yes, by Hercules, I think so!
Be silent then!1
Must I be silent about the little door?
Must I hear and be silent about the little door?
Here dwells2 the illustrious Agathon the tragic poet.
Of what sort3 is this Agathon?
There is a certain Agathon—
Is it the black, the strong one?
No; another one. Have you never seen him?4
Is it the shaggy-bearded one?5
Have you never seen him?
Certainly not, by Jove, as far as I know!6
And yet you have coquetted with him, but you don’t know it7 perhaps. Come, let us crouch out of the way! for a domestic of his is coming out with fire and myrtle-wreaths. He seems about to make a previous8 sacrifice on behalf of his poetic composition. [They retire to one side.]
Servant of Agathon (coming out of the house). Let all the people abstain from ill-omened words, having closed their mouths; for the company of the Muses is sojourning within Edition: current; Page:  my master’s house, composing lyric poems. And let the breathless1 Ether check its blasts, and the azure wave of the sea not roar—
Be silent! What are you saying?2
—and let the race of birds be put to sleep, and the feet of savage wild beasts that roam the woods not be put in motion.
Oh my gracious!
For the beautifully-speaking Agathon our chief3 is about—
To be debauched?
Who’s he that spoke?
—to lay the stocks,4 the beginning of a drama. And he is bending new felloes for verses: others he is turning5 on the lathe, other verses he is patching together; and he is coining maxims, and speaking in tropes,6 and is moulding as in wax, and is rounding, and is casting—
And is wenching.
What rustic7 approaches our eaves?
One who is ready to turn and whirl round and cast this toe of mine in the eaves of8 you and your beautifully-speaking poet.
Doubtless you were a rake, old man, when you were young.1
My good sir, let this man go; but do you by all means2 call out Agathon hither to me!
Make no entreaty; for he himself will come out soon; for he is beginning to make lyric poems. In truth, when it is winter, it is not easy to bend3 the strophes, unless one come forth to the door to the sun. [Exit.]
What then shall I do?
Wait; for he is coming forth. O Jove, what do you purpose4 to do to me to-day?
By the gods, I wish to learn what this business is. Why do you groan? Why are you vexed? You ought5 not to conceal it, being my son-in-law.
A great evil is ready kneaded for me.
Of what kind?6
On this day will be decided whether Euripides still lives7 or is undone.
Why, how? For now neither the courts are about Edition: current; Page:  to judge causes, nor is there a sitting of the Senate; for it is the third1 day, the middle of the Thesmophoria.
In truth, I expect this very thing2 even will destroy me. For the women have plotted against me, and are going to hold an assembly to-day about me in the temple of3 Demeter and Persephone for my destruction.
Wherefore? why, pray?4
Because I represent them in tragedy and speak ill of them.
To persuade Agathon the tragic poet to go to the temple of Demeter and Persephone.
What to do? Tell me!
To sit in assembly among the women, and to speak whatever7 is necessary in my defence.
Openly,8 or secretly?
Secretly, clothed in a woman’s stole.1
What’s the matter?
Agathon is coming out.
Why, of what sort is he?
He who is being wheeled4 out. [The doors of the back scene are thrown open, and Agathon is wheeled in, fantastically dressed in women’s clothes.]
Hush! He is preparing again to sing.7
“The ant’s8 paths?” or what is he plaintively singing?
Come, then, Muse, glorify Phœbus, the drawer of the golden bow, who founded the walls6 of the city in the land of Simois!
Deign to accept our most noble strains, O Phœbus, who in musical honours bearest off the sacred prize!
And chant the maiden dwelling in oak-grown mountains, the huntress Diana!
I follow, celebrating and glorifying the revered offspring of Latona, the unwedded Diana.
And Latona, and the notes of the lyre7 accompanying the dances of the Phrygian graces in harmony with the foot.
I honour queen Latona, and the lyre, the mother of songs, with an approved masculine8 voice; by which9 light Edition: current; Page:  is kindled in divinely-inspired eyes, and by our sudden voice. On which account glorify king Phœbus with honours! Hail, happy child of Latona!
How sweet the song, O venerable Genetyllides,1 and womanish, and wanton, and lascivious!2 So that, whilst I listened, a tickling passed under my very bottom. I wish, O youth, to ask you who you are,3 in the words of Æschylus in his Lycurgeia:4 of what land,5 you weakling? What’s your country? What means the dress? what the confusion of fashions? What does the harp prattle6 to the saffron-coloured robe? what the lyre to the head-dress? What mean the oil-flask and the girdle? How unsuitable! What connexion then between a mirror and a sword? And you yourself, O youth, are you reared7 as a man? Why, where are the tokens of a man? Where is your cloak? Where are your boots?8 Or9 as a woman then? Where then10 are Edition: current; Page:  your breasts? What do you say? Why are you silent? Nay, then, I’ll judge of you1 from your song, since you are not willing to tell me yourself.
Old man,2 old man, I heard, indeed, the censure of your envy, but the pain I did not feel! I wear my attire in accordance with3 my thoughts. For it behoveth a poet, conformably to the dramas which he must compose, to have his turn of mind in accordance with these. For example,4 if one be composing female dramas, the body of the poet ought to have a participation in their manners.
Therefore do you mount on horseback when you compose a Phædra?5
When therefore you compose satyric dramas, call me,8 in order that I may actively compose poetry along with you in your rear.
Besides, it is unpolished1 to see a poet boorish and rough with hair. Consider that that well-known2 Ibycus, and Anacreon of Teos, and Alcæus, who softened down our music, wore a head-band, and practised soft Ionian airs;3 and that Phrynichus,—for you have certainly4 heard him,—was both handsome himself and dressed handsomely. On this account then his dramas also were handsome: for it is5 unavoidable that one compose similarly to one’s nature.
Most unavoidably! For, assuredly, being aware of this, I paid attention to my person.
How, by the gods?
Cease to abuse! for I also was such a one, when I was his age, when I began to compose.
By Jove, I do not envy you your training.
Yet suffer me to tell on what account I came.
Agathon, “it9 suits a wise man, who is able briefly Edition: current; Page:  to abridge many words in a proper manner.” But having been smitten1 by a new calamity, I have come to you as a suppliant.
In need of what?
The women purpose to destroy me to-day at the Thesmophoria, because I speak ill of them.
What aid then can you have from me?2
How then do you not defend yourself in person?
What’s the matter?
Did you ever compose this verse? “You take7 pleasure in beholding the light; and do you not think your father takes pleasure in beholding it?”
Don’t expect then that I will undergo your misfortune for you: for I should be mad. But bear yourself what is yours, as a private matter. For it is not right to bear8 one’s calamities with artifices, but with endurance.
And yet you, you lewd fellow, are loose-breeched, not through words, but through endurance.
But what is it, for which you fear to go thither?
I should perish more miserably than you.
How?—seeming to steal the nightly labours of the women, and to filch away the women’s love.
“Steal,” quoth’a! Nay, rather, by Jove, to be ravished! But, by Jove, the pretext is plausible.
What then? Will you do this?
Don’t imagine it!1
Oh thrice-unlucky! how I am undone!
Euripides, my dearest, my son-in-law,2 do not abandon yourself!
How then, pray, shall I act?
Bid a long farewell to this fellow, and take and use me as you please.
Come then, since you give yourself up to me, strip off this garment!
Well now, it is on the ground. But what are you going to do to me?
To shave3 these clean, but singe clear the parts below.
Well, do whatever you think fit! or I ought4 never to have given myself up to you.
Agathon, you, of course, always carry a razor,—now lend us a razor!
Take it from thence yourself out of the razor-case.
(to Agathon). You are very good! [To Mnesilochus.] Sit yourself down! Puff out your right cheek! [Mnesilochus sits down and Euripides commences shaving.]
Why do you cry out? I’ll put a gag in your mouth,1 if you don’t be silent.
Alas! woe is me! [Mnesilochus starts up and attempts to run away.]
Hollo you! whither are you running?2
Will you not then be ridiculous, pray, with the one half5 of your face shaved?
I little care.
By the gods, by no means abandon me! Come hither! [Takes him by the arm and makes him sit down again.]
Ah me, miserable!
Keep quiet,6 and lift up your head! Whither are you turning?
Why do you mutter?8 Every thing has been accomplished well.
Ah me, miserable! Then I shall serve as a light-armed9 soldier!
Don’t be concerned about it; for you shall appear very comely. Do you wish to see yourself?
If you think fit, give me the looking-glass!
Do you see yourself?
No, by Jove, but Clisthenes!1
Ah me, miserable! I shall become a sucking pig.4
Let some one bring a torch or a lamp from within! [To Mnesilochus.] Bend yourself forwards! Take care now of your extremities!5 [Euripides begins to singe him.]
It shall be my care, by Jove! only that I am burning. Ah me, miserable! Water, water,6 neighbours, before the flame take hold of my rump!
Be of good courage!
How be of good7 courage, when I’m quite burnt up?
But you’ve no further trouble now; for you have finished the greatest part.
Foh! oh, what8 soot! I have become burnt all about my rump.
Don’t be concerned! for another shall wipe it with a sponge.9
He shall weep then, whoever shall wash my breech.
Agathon, since you grudge to give yourself up to me, at any rate at least lend us a dress for this man,10 and a girdle; for you will not say that you haven’t them.
Take and use them! I don’t grudge them.11
What then shall I take?
What? First take and put on the saffron-coloured robe.
(sniffing at it). By Venus, it smells sweetly of—lechery! Gird me up quickly! Now bring12 me a girdle! [Euripides brings a girdle.]
Come then, fit me out about the legs.
We want a head-dress and headband.1
Nay, rather, see here’s a woman’s cap2 to put round him, which I wear by night!
By Jove, but it’s even very suitable!3
Will it fit me? [Puts it on.]
By Jove, but it’s capital!
Bring an upper garment!4
Take it from the little couch.
We want shoes.
Here, take mine!
Will they fit me? At all events you like to wear them loose.
I will try.
No, by Apollo! unless you swear to me—
—that you will help to deliver me with all your arts,1 if any misfortune befall me.
“I swear then by Ether, the dwelling of Jove.”2
Why rather than by the lodging of Hippocrates?3
I swear then by all your gods in a lump.4
Remember this then, that “your mind5 swore, but your tongue has not sworn;” neither will I bind it by an oath.
Hasten quickly; for the signal6 for the assembly in the temple of Ceres is exhibited; but I will be off. [Exit Euripides.]
Come on then, Thratta, follow me! See, Thratta, Edition: current; Page:  what a quantity of smoke1 ascends as the torches burn! Come, O very-beautiful Thesmophoræ,2 receive me with good luck,3 both on my entrance here, and on my return home again! Thratta, take down the box, and then take out a cake, that I may take and offer it to the two goddesses. O highly-honoured mistress, dear Demeter, and thou, Persephone, let me, possessing much, often4 sacrifice to thee! but if not, now at least be undiscovered! and let my daughter, my pig,5 meet with a husband who is rich, and besides, silly6 and stupid! and let my little boy7 have sense and understanding! Where, where shall I sit down in a good place, that I may hear the orators? Do you, Thratta, be off out of the way! for it is not permitted slaves to hear the words.
Let there be8 solemn silence! Let there be solemn Edition: current; Page:  silence! Pray to the1 Thesmophoræ, Demeter, and Cora,2 and to Plutus, and to Calligenia, and to Tellus, nurse of youths,3 and to Mercury,4 and to the Graces, to convene this assembly and the present meeting in the most becoming and most profitable5 manner:—very beneficially for the state of the Athenians, and fortunately for ourselves; and that she may get her opinion passed, who acts and speaks the best for the people6 of the Athenians and that of the women.7 Pray for these things, and for yourselves what is good. Io Pæan! io Pæan! Let us rejoice!
We accept the omen,8 and supplicate the race of the gods to appear and take pleasure in these prayers. O Jove of great renown! and thou with golden lyre, who inhabitest sacred Delos! and thou, all powerful damsel, gray-eyed, with spear of gold, who inhabitest a desirable city, come hither! and thou of many names, damsel slaying wild beasts, offspring of golden-eyed Latona! and thou marine, august Neptune, lord of the sea, having left thy fishy, storm-vexed9 recess! and ye daughters of marine Nereus! and ye mountain-roaming Edition: current; Page:  nymphs! And let the golden lyre accompany our prayers; and may we well-born Athenian women bring our debates to an accomplishment.1
Pray to the Olympic gods and to the Olympic goddesses,2 and to the Pythian gods and to the Pythian goddesses, and to the Delian gods and to the Delian goddesses, and to the other deities; if any one plots any evil3 against the people of the women, or makes proposals of peace to Euripides4 and the Persians for the purpose of any injury to the women, or purposes to be a tyrant,5 or to join in bringing back the tyrant, or has denounced a woman as substituting a child, or if any woman’s female slave, being a go-between, has whispered the matter in her master’s ear, or if any, when sent, brings lying messages, or if any paramour deceives by telling falsehoods, and does not give what he shall have formerly promised, or if any old woman6 gives presents to a paramour, or even if a mistress receives presents, betraying her friend, and if any male or female publican7 falsifies the legal measure of the gallon or the half-pint,8 pray that he may perish miserably, himself and family, but pray that the gods may give many blessings9 to all the rest of you.
We offer our united prayers that these wishes may come to be accomplished for the state, and accomplished for the people; and that those women who give1 the best advice (as many as this befalls) may get their opinions passed. But as many as for the sake of gain deceive, and violate the established oaths for the purpose of injury, or seek to revolutionize decrees and law, and tell our secrets to our enemies, or bring in the Persians for the purpose of injury to the country, act wickedly and injure the state. But, O all-powerful Jove, mayest thou accomplish this, so that the gods stand by us, although2 we are women.
Hear, every one! [Unfolds a paper and begins to read the preliminary decree.] “These things have been determined on by the Senate of the women: Timoclea was Epistates,3 Lysilla was secretary, Sostrata moved the decree; to convene an assembly in the morning4 in the middle of the Thesmophoria, when we are most at leisure; and to debate first about Euripides, what he ought to suffer; for he has been adjudged5 guilty by us all.” Who6 wishes to speak?
Through no3 ostentatiousness, by the two goddesses, have I stood up to speak, O women; but indeed I have been vexed, unhappy woman, now for a long time, seeing you treated with contumely by Euripides the son of the herb-woman,4 and abused with much abuse5 of every kind. For what abuse does he not6 smear upon us? And where has he not calumniated us, where, in short,7 are spectators, and tragic actors, and choruses? calling us adulteresses in disposition, lovers of the men, wine-bibbers,8 traitresses, gossips, masses of wickedness, great pests to men. So that, as soon as9 they come in from the wooden-benches, they look askance at us, and straightway search, lest10 any paramour be concealed in the house. And we are no longer able to do any of those things which we formerly did: such badness has he taught our husbands. So that, if even any woman weave a crown,11 she is thought to be in love; and if she let fall any vessel while roaming about the house, her husband asks her, “In whose honour is the pot broken? It must be for the Corinthian12 stranger.” Edition: current; Page:  Is any girl1 sick; straightway her brother says, “This colour in the girl does not please me.” Well; does any woman, lacking children, wish to substitute a child; it is not possible even for this to go undiscovered; for now the husbands sit down beside2 them. And he has calumniated us to the old men, who heretofore used to marry girls; so that no old man is willing to marry a woman, on account of this verse, “For3 a woman is ruler over an old bridegroom.” In the next place, through him they now put seals and bolts4 upon the women’s apartments, guarding us; and moreover they keep Molossian5 dogs, a terror6 to paramours. And this, indeed, is pardonable; but as for what was permitted us heretofore, to be ourselves the housekeepers, and to draw forth and take barley-meal, oil, and wine; not even this is any longer permitted us. For the husbands now themselves carry secret little keys, most ill-natured, certain Spartan7 ones with three Edition: current; Page:  teeth. Previously, indeed, it was possible at least1 to secretly open the door, if we got a three-obol2 seal-ring made. But now this home-born slave3 Euripides has taught them to have rings of worm-eaten wood, having them suspended about them. Now therefore I move4 that we mix up some destruction in some5 way or other for him, either by poison, or by some one artifice, so that he shall perish. These I speak openly; but the rest I will draw up in the form of a motion in conjunction with the secretary.6
Never yet did I hear a woman more intriguing than this, nor one that spoke more ably. For she speaks all justly, and has well examined all appearances, and weighed7 all things in her mind, and shrewdly discovered artful, well-invented [Editor: illegible word] so that, if Xenocles the son of Carcinus were to speak immediately after8 her, he would appear to us all, as I think, to say absolutely nothing to the purpose.
For the purpose of a few words I also have come forward. For the other matters she has laid to his charge rightly: but what I have suffered personally, these I wish to state. My husband died in Cyprus,1 having left behind him five little children, whom I used to maintain with difficulty by plaiting wreaths in the myrtle-wreath-market.2 Before this3 I supported myself, indeed, but miserably.4 But now this fellow by representing in his tragedies,5 has persuaded the people that there are no gods; so that we do not now earn even to the amount of6 one half. Now therefore I exhort and charge all to punish this man for many reasons;7 for, O women, he does savage deeds to us, as having been reared himself among the potherbs8 in their wild state. But I will be off to the market-place; for I have twenty bespoken9 wreaths to plait for people.
This other disposition, again, appears still cleverer than the former one. How1 she talked! not what was illtimed, nor yet what was void of understanding, but all persuasive, being possessed of sense and a subtle mind. The man must manifestly2 give us satisfaction for this insolence.
It is not wonderful, O women, that you who are so abused3 should be exceedingly exasperated at Euripides, nor yet that your bile should boil over; for I myself hate that man, if I be not mad,—so4 may I be blessed in my children! But nevertheless we must grant the privilege of speaking amongst each other; for we are by ourselves, and there is no blabbing5 of our conversation. Why thus do we accuse6 him, and are vexed, if, being cognizant of two or three misdeeds of ours, he has said them of us7 who perpetrate innumerable? For I myself, in the first place,—not to speak of any one else,—am conscious with myself of many shameful8 acts: at all events of that9 most shameful one, when I was a bride of three days, and my husband was sleeping beside me. Now I had a friend,10 who had debauched me when I was seven years of age. He, through love of me, came and began scratching at the door; and then I immediately understood it; and then I was for going down11 secretly, but my husband asked me, “Whither are you going down?” “Whither?—A Edition: current; Page:  colic1 and pain, husband, possesses me in my stomach; therefore I am going to the necessary.” “Go then!” said he. And then he began pounding juniper berries, anise, and sage. But after I had poured some water on the hinge,2 I went out to my paramour; and then I conversed with him beside the statue3 of Apollo, holding by the bay-tree. These, you see,4 Euripides never yet at any time spoke of. Nor does he mention how we give ourselves up to our slaves and to muleteers, if we have not any other.5 Nor how, when we junket ever so much during the night, we chew up garlic6 in the morning, in order that the husband having smelt it when he comes in from the wall,7 may not suspect us of doing any thing bad. These things, you see, he has never at any time spoken of And if he does abuse a Phædra, what is this to us?8 Neither has he ever mentioned that, how that well-known woman,9 while showing her husband at day-break10 how beautiful her upper garment is, sent out her paramour hidden in it—that he has never yet mentioned.11 And I know another woman, who12 for ten days said she was in labour, till she purchased Edition: current; Page:  a little child; while her husband went about purchasing drugs to procure a quick delivery.1 But the child2 an old woman brought in a pot with its mouth stopped with honeycomb,3 that it might not squall. Then, when she that carried it nodded, the wife immediately cried out, “Go away,4 husband, go away, for methinks I shall be immediately delivered.” For the child kicked against the bottom of the pot.5 And he ran off delighted, while she drew out the stoppage from the mouth of the child, and it cried out. And then the abominable6 old woman who brought the child, runs smiling to the husband, and says, “A lion has been born to you, a lion! your very image, both in all other respects whatever, and its nose is like yours, being crooked like an acorn-cup.”7 Do Edition: current; Page:  we not practise these wicked acts? Yea, by Diana,1 do we! And then are we angry at Euripides, “who2 have suffered nothing greater than we have committed?”
This3 certainly is wonderful, where the creature was found, and what land reared this so audacious woman. For I did not think the villanous woman would4 even ever have dared thus shamelessly to say this publicly amongst us. But now every thing may take place. I commend the old proverb, “For5 we must look about under every stone, lest an orator bite us.” But indeed there existeth not any thing Edition: current; Page:  more wicked for all purposes1 than women shameless by nature,—unless perhaps it be women.2
You are certainly not in your right senses, women, by Aglaurus!3 But you have either been bewitched, or have suffered some other great evil, who permit this pestilent creature to wantonly insult us all in such a manner. If indeed there be any one who will do it, it is well; but if not,4 we ourselves and our slaves, having got ashes from some quarter, will depillate her rump, so that she may be taught, woman as she is, henceforth5 not to speak ill of women.
Nay not my rump, pray, O women. For if, when there was freedom of speech and it was permitted us all to speak, as many citizens as are present, I then spoke what Edition: current; Page:  pleas I knew in defence of Euripides, ought I on this account to suffer punishment by being depillated by you?
Why, ought you not to suffer punishment? who1 alone hast dared to reply in defence of a man, who has done us many injuries, purposely devising tragedies where a woman has been vile, writing plays on Melanippes and Phædras.2 But he never at any time wrote a play on3 Penelope, because she has been adjudged to be a chaste woman.
I know the reason. For you could not mention a single Penelope among the women of the present day, but Phædras every one.
You hear, women, what things the villanous woman has again said of us all.
And, by Jove, too, I have not yet mentioned as many as I am cognizant of! For would you that I mention more?
Nay, you cannot any further; for you have poured forth all that you knew.
You be hanged!1
Me miserable! you talk nonsense.
May you utterly perish!
—her father under the kitchen boiler.
Are these, pray, endurable to hear?7
Nor how you, when your woman-slave had borne a male child, then substituted this for yourself, and gave up your little daughter to her.
By the two goddesses, you certainly shall not get off with impunity for saying this! but I will twitch out your hairs.8
You shall not touch me, by Jove!
Well now, see!
Well now, see!
Take my cloak, Philista! [Strips off her cloak.]
Only put your hand upon me, and, by Diana, I will—
What will you do?
I’ll make you evacuate this sesame-cake9 which you have devoured!
Cease railing at one another; for some woman10 is Edition: current; Page:  running towards us in haste. Therefore, before she is near,1 be ye silent, in order that we may hear decorously what2 she is going to say. [Enter Clisthenes.]
O women dear, ye kindred3 of my disposition, I show4 by my cheeks that I am a friend to you; for I am woman-mad, and am always your patron.5 And now6 having heard an important matter about you, which was canvassed a little before7 in the market-place, I have come to tell it and announce it to you, in order that you may see and take care, lest a terrible and important affair come suddenly upon you off your guard.
What is it, boy? for ’tis natural to call you boy,8 as long as you have your cheeks thus smooth.
They say that Euripides has sent9 a man up hither to-day his own father-in-law, an old man.
For what deed? for the purpose of what design?
In order that he might be a spy upon your words, whatever you deliberated and purposed to do.
Why, how was a man among women without being detected?
Euripides singed and depillated him, and dressed him up like a woman in all other respects.
Do you believe him in this? What man is so foolish, Edition: current; Page:  as to bear1 to have his hairs plucked out? I don’t believe it, O ye highly-honoured goddesses!
You talk foolishly; for I would not have come to report it, if I had not heard this from those who clearly knew.
This affair is a dreadful one which is announced.2 Come, women, we ought not to be idle, but to look out for the man, and search where he has secretly taken his seat unknown to us. And do you, [turning to Clisthenes,] our patron, help to find him out! so that you may have thanks for this as well as for that.3
Come, let me see! [Turning to one of the women.] First, who are you?
(aside). Whither can one4 turn?
For you must be examined.
(aside). Me miserable!
Did you ask me,5 who I am? The wife of Cleonymus.
Do you know who this woman is?
Oh yes, we know her! But examine the others.
But who, pray, is this who has the child?
My nurse, by Jupiter!
(aside). I am6 undone. [Attempts to slip away.]
(turning to Mnesilochus). Hollo you! whither are you turning? Stay here! What’s your ailment?7
Permit me to make water.
Pray do wait, and watch her carefully too! for her alone, sir, we don’t know.
You’re a long time4 making water.
Yes, by Jove, my good friend; for I suffer from strangury: I ate some nasturtium yesterday.
Why do you chatter5 about nasturtium? Will you not come hither to me? [Drags him away from the corner.]
Why, pray, do you drag me when I am ill?
Tell me, who’s your husband?
What’s his name! What sort of a person?
There is a What’s his name, who once — — What d’ye call ’em, the son of What’s his name —
You appear to me to be talking nonsense. Have you ever8 come up hither before?
Yes, by Jove, every9 year!
And who is your messmate?10
Mine is What’s her name. Ah me, miserable!
You say nothing to the purpose.11
(to Clisthenes). Go away! for I will12 examine her properly by the rites of last year. And do you stand Edition: current; Page:  away, that you may not hear, as you are a man. [Clisthenes retires to one side.] Do you tell me, what one of the rites1 used to be first exhibited to us.
Come, let me see! Nay,2 what was the first?—We drank.
What was the next after this?
We drank each other’s health.
This you heard from some one. What, then, was the third?
Xenylla asked for a night-stool; for there was no chamber-pot.3
You say nothing to the purpose. Come hither, hither, Clisthenes! This is the man whom you speak of.
What then shall I do?
Strip him; for he says nothing that is right.
And will you then4 strip the mother of nine children?
Unloose your girdle quickly, you shameless creature!
How very stout and strong she appears! and, by Jove, too, she has no breasts, as we have.
For I am barren, and have never been pregnant.
Now; but you were the mother of nine children a while ago.5
Stand upright! Whither are you thrusting down your hand?
See there, it peeped out! and very fresh-coloured it is, you rogue.
Why, where is it?
It’s gone again to the front. [Clisthenes goes in front of Mnesilochus.]
It is not here.6
Nay, but1 it has come hither again.
You’ve a kind of an isthmus,2 fellow; you’re worse than the Corinthians.
Me miserable! in what troubles have I involved myself!
Come now, what shall we do?
Guard him properly, so that he shall not escape; and I’ll report these to the Prytanes. [Exit Clisthenes.]
Then we ought now after this5 to kindle our torches and gird ourselves up well and manfully, and strip off6 our garments and search, if perchance some other man too has entered, and to run round the whole Thesmophorium7 and the tents, and to examine closely the passages. Come then,8 first of all we ought to rouse a nimble foot and look about in every direction in silence. Only we must not9 loiter, since the time admits no further delay,10 but we ought now first11 Edition: current; Page:  to run as quickly as possible round about. Come then, search, and quickly investigate all parts, if any other, again, is secretly sitting in these places.1 Cast your eye round in every direction, and properly examine all parts, in this direction, and in that. For if he be detected2 after having done unholy deeds, he shall suffer punishment, and in addition to this shall be an example3 to all the others of insolence and unjust deeds and ungodly manners; and he shall say that there are evidently gods; and he shall be forthwith a witness to all4 men to honour the gods, and that they justly pursuing what is pious, and devising what is lawful, should do what is right. And if they do not do so, the following shall happen to them: when any of them is detected acting profanely, burning with madness, mad with frenzy, if he do any thing,5 he shall be a conspicuous warning to all women and mortals6 to behold, that the god punishes what is unlawful and unholy, and it is done immediately. But it seems that pretty nigh all parts have been properly examined by us: at any rate we don’t now see any other man sitting among us. [Mnesilochus snatches a child from the arms of one of the women.]
Ah! Whither are you flying? Ho you! Ho you! will you not stay? Me miserable! miserable! And he is gone, having snatched away my child from my breast.
Oh me miserable! Will you not succour me, women? Will you not raise a mighty and rout-causing3 shout, but suffer me to be deprived of my only child?
Ha! ha! O venerable Fates, what new portent,4 again, is this which I behold? How all then5 are deeds of audacity and shamelessness! What a deed is this, again, which he has done! what a deed, again, my friends!
How I’ll knock your excessive arrogance out of you!
Are not these, pray, shameful deeds and more6 than that?
Shameful certainly, if one7 has snatched away my child.
What then can one say to this, when this man is shameless enough to do8 such things?
And, be assured, I have not done yet.
May this, however, by no means take place, I pray God!
You talk in vain: her6 I will not let go.
But, by the two goddesses, perhaps you will not7 insult us with impunity, and speak unholy words. For we will requite you for these with ungodly deeds,8 as is reasonable: and perhaps some fortune, having cast9 you into an evil of a different kind, will restrain you. But [turning to Mica] you ought to take these10 women-slaves, and bring out some wood, Edition: current; Page:  and burn the villain to ashes, and destroy him with fire as soon as possible.
Let us go to fetch the brushwood, Mania.1 And I’ll make you [addressing Mnesilochus] to-day a hot coal.
Set on fire and burn! But do you [addressing the child] quickly strip off your Cretan2 garment; and blame your mother alone of women for your death, child. [Strips the child, whereupon it turns out to be a wine-skin dressed up like an infant.] What’s this? The girl has become a wine-skin3 full of wine, and that too with Persian slippers. O ye most thirsty4 women, O most bibacious,5 and contriving by every device to tipple, O great6 blessing to publicans, but to us, on the contrary, a pest; and a pest also to the furniture7 and to the woof!8
(returning with a bundle of brushwood). Heap up beside him abundant brushwood, Mania.
Yes, heap it up! But do you answer me this question: do you say you bore this child?
Yes, and carried it ten9 months.
Did you carry it?
Yea, by Diana!
Holding three Cotylæ, or how? tell me!
[Exposes the wine-skin to view.]
What have you done to me? You have stripped my child, you shameless fellow, being so little.
Yes, by Jove, little!
How many years old is it? three Choæ,1 or four?
About so much,2 and as long as since the Dionysia. But restore it.
No, by this3 Apollo!
Then we’ll set fire to you.
Set fire by all means; but this shall be slaughtered forthwith.
Nay, do not, I beseech you; but do to me what you please instead4 of it.
Alas, my child! Give me a bowl,7 Mania; so that certainly I may at least catch the blood of my child.
Hold it under, for I will gratify you in this one thing.
[Drinks up the wine-skin himself.]
May you perish miserably! How grudging and malevolent you are!
(holding up the empty wine-skin). This hide1 belongs to the priestess.
What belongs to the priestess?
(tossing her the empty wine-skin). Take it!
This villain! But since you are present, guard him, in order that I may take Clisthenes and tell to the Prytanes4 what this man has done.
[Exit 6th woman.]
Come now, what shall be my contrivance for safety? what my attempt? what my device? For he who is the author of this, and who has involved5 me in such troubles, does not yet appear. Come, what messenger can I send to him? Now I know a contrivance out of his Palamedes:6 I’ll write upon the oars and throw them out, as that well-known7 character did. But the8 oars are not at hand. Whence therefore can it be possible for me to get oars? Edition: current; Page:  whence?1 But what if2 I were to write on these here images instead of the oars, and throw them about? Much better! Certainly indeed3 both these are wood and those were wood. O hands of mine, you must take in hand a practicable4 deed! Come now, you plates of polished tablets, receive the traces of the graver, messengers of my miseries. Ah me, this Rho is a miserable5 one! through what a furrow it goes, it goes! Go ye, hasten through all roads, that way, this way! You ought speedily.
Let us then praise ourselves in our parabasis.7 And yet every one says many ill things of the race of women, that we are an utter evil8 to men, and that all evils spring from us, strifes, quarrels, sedition, painful grief, and war. Come now, if9 we are an evil, why do you marry us, if indeed we are really Edition: current; Page:  an evil, and forbid any of us either to go out, or to be caught peeping out,1 but wish to guard the evil with so great diligence? And if the wife should go out any whither, and you then should discover her to be out of doors, you rage with madness, who ought to offer libations and rejoice, if indeed you really find the evil to be gone away from the house, and do not find it at home. And if we sleep in other people’s houses, when we play2 and are tired, every one searches for this evil, going round about the beds. And if we peep out3 of a window, he seeks to get a sight of the evil. And if she retire again, being ashamed, so much the more does every one desire to see4 the evil peep out again. So manifestly are we much better than you. And a test is at hand to see.5 Let us make trial, which of the two are worse. For we say that you are; but you say that we are. Let us consider now, and compare each with each, placing each name6 side by side, both the woman’s and the man’s. Charminus7 is inferior to Nausimache: his deeds are manifest. And in truth also Cleophon8 is, I ween, by all means inferior to Salabaccho. And none of you even attempts to contend with Aristomache for a long time,9 that notable one at Marathon, and with Stratonice. Edition: current; Page:  But what senator of those of last year, who delivered up his senatorial office1 to another, is superior to Eubule? Not even he himself2 will say this. So much3 better do we profess to be than the men. Neither would a woman who has stolen at the rate4 of fifty talents of the public money come into the city in a chariot; but when she may have committed her greatest5 peculations, when she has stolen a bushel of wheat from her husband, she restores them6 the same day. But we could point out many of these present who do this, and who are, in addition to this, more gluttonous than we, and footpads, and parasites,7 and kidnappers. And in truth also they are, I ween, inferior to us in preserving8 their patrimony. For still even now our loom9 is safe, our weaving-beam, our baskets, and our parasol; while the beam10 of many of these our husbands has perished from the house together with the head, and the parasol of many others has been cast from their shoulders in their expeditions. We women11 could justly and deservedly12 bring many charges against the men: Edition: current; Page:  but one most monstrous. For it were proper, if any of us bore a man serviceable to the state, a taxiarch or general, that she should receive some honour, and that precedence be given her at the Stenia and Scirophoria, and at the other festivals which1 we have been accustomed to keep. But if any woman bore a cowardly and worthless man, either a worthless trierarch or a bad pilot, that she should sit behind her who has borne the brave man, with her hair cut bowl-fashion.2 For how3 is it equitable, O city, that the mother of Hyperbolus4 should sit near the mother of Lamachus,5 clothed in white, and with loose flowing hair, and lend out money on usury? To whom, if she were to lend out to any one, and exact usury, no man ought to give any interest, but they6 ought to take away her money by force, saying this, “In sooth you’re deserving of interest, having borne such7 produce.”
I’ve got a squint with looking for8 him; but he does not yet9 appear. What then can be the hinderance? It must be that he is ashamed of his Palamedes10 because it is Edition: current; Page:  frigid. With what drama then can I draw1 him up? I know it! I’ll imitate his new2 Helen. At all events I have a woman’s dress.
You’re a knave, by the torch-bearing9 Hecate!
“Not10 inglorious is my native land, Sparta, and Tyndareus is my sire.”
Is he your father, you pest? Nay, rather, Phrynondas.11
“And1 I am called Helen.”
Are you again becoming a woman, before you’ve suffered punishment for your former acting the woman?2
“And3 many men died on my account at the streams of the Scamander.”
And would4 that you had died too.
Through the laziness7 of the crows.
[Enter Euripides attired as Menelaus.]
“This13 is the house of Proteus.”
Oh thrice-unlucky! [Turning to Euripides.] He is telling lies, by the two goddesses! for Proteas1 has been dead these ten years.
“At what country have we landed with our ship?”
“O wretched! whither have we sailed!”
Do you believe this fellow at all—the devil take2 him—talking nonsense? This is the Thesmophorium.
“Is Proteus himself3 within, or out of sight?”
“Alas, he is dead! Where has he been buried in the tomb?”
“This is his tomb,6 upon which I am sitting.”
Then7 may you perish miserably! and certainly indeed you will perish, who have the impudence to call the altar a tomb.
“I am1 forced to mingle in wedlock with the son of Proteus.”
Wherefore, you wretch, are you again deceiving the stranger? [To Euripides.] This fellow, O stranger, acting the knave, came up hither to the women for the stealing of the gold.
“Bark away, assailing2 me with censure.”
“Female stranger, who is the old woman who reviles3 you?”
“This is Theonoe, daughter of Proteus.”
No, by the two goddesses! unless4 Critylla daughter of Antitheus of Gargettus be so. But you’re a knave.
“What say you, woman? Turn your sparkling eyes7 towards mine.”
“I am ashamed before you, having been mauled8 in my cheeks.”
“And who are you? for the same1 word holds you and me.”
“Are you a Grecian woman, or a woman of this country?”
“A Grecian woman. But I also wish to learn2 yours.”
“I see you very like to Helen, woman.”
“And I you to Menelaus,3 as far as may be judged from the pot-herbs.”
“Then4 you rightly recognise a most unfortunate man.”
“O thou who hast come late to the arms of thy wife! Take me, take me, husband! Throw thy arms5 around me! Come, let me kiss you! Take and lead me away, lead me away, lead me away, lead me away6 very quickly.”
Then, by the two goddesses, he shall weep,7 whoever shall lead you away, being beaten with the torch.
“Do you hinder me from leading my wife, the daughter of Tyndareus, to Sparta?”
Ah me, what8 a knave you also appear to me to be, and this man’s counsellor! No wonder you were acting the Egyptian9 this long while. But he shall suffer punishment; for the Prytanis is approaching, and the Policeman.
[Goes towards them.]
This is unlucky. Well, I must sneak away.10
But what shall I do, unhappy man?
Remain quiet; for I will never abandon you, if I live;1 unless my innumerable artifices fail me. [Exit Euripides.]
This line2 has drawn up nothing. [Enter Prytanis and Policeman.]
Is this the knave of whom Clisthenes spoke to us? Ho you, why do you hang down3 your head? Lead him4 within, Policeman, and bind him to the plank, and then place him here and guard him, and suffer no one to approach him; but beat them with your whip, if any approach.
O Prytanis, by your right hand, which you are accustomed to hold7 out bent, if any one offer you money, grant me a small favour, although about to die.
In what shall I oblige8 you?
Order the Policeman to strip me naked and fasten me to the plank; in order that, being an old man, I may not in saffron-coloured robes, and a woman’s night-cap, afford laughter to the crows, while I feast them.9
It has been determined by the Senate to bind you with them on, in order that you may be clearly seen by the passers-by1 to be a knave. [Exit Prytanis.]
Oh my! oh my! O saffron robe, what things you have done! No longer is there any hope of safety. [Policeman leads Mnesilochus within.]
Come now, let us sport, as is here the custom with the women, whenever on holy seasons we celebrate the solemn orgies of the two goddesses, which Pauson3 also honours, and fasts, oftentimes protesting to them from season to season that such are frequently a care to himself.4 Put yourself in motion, each of you, advance, come on lightly with your feet in a circle,5 join hand to hand, move to the time6 of the dance; go with swift feet. It behoveth the choral order7 to look about, turning round the eye in every direction. And at the same time also celebrate, each of you, and honour with your Edition: current; Page:  voice, the race of the Olympic gods, with a mind mad for dancing. But if any one expects that I, woman as I am, will speak ill of men during the sacred rites,1 he does not think rightly. But it behoveth us immediately, as our duty is, first to dispose the graceful step of the circling dance.2 Advance with your feet, celebrating Apollo with beautiful lyre, and the bow-bearing Diana, chaste queen. Hail, thou far-darter, and grant us the victory! And let us celebrate, as is fitting, Juno who presides over marriage, who sports in all the dances, and keeps the keys of marriage.3 And I entreat the pastoral Mercury, and Pan, and the dear Nymphs, benevolently to smile upon and take pleasure in our dances.4 Begin now zealously the Diple,5 the joy of the dance. Let us sport, O women, as is the custom! Assuredly we keep6 the fast. But come! turn to another measure with foot keeping good time; round off7 the whole ode. And do thou thyself,8 O ivywreathed king Bacchus, lead us; and I will celebrate thee with chorus-loving odes,9 O Evius, O Bromius, child of Edition: current; Page:  Jove and Semele, delighting in dances, in the mountains among the pleasing hymns of the Nymplis, O Evius, Evius, beginning a choral dance, evoe! And the echo of Cithæron resounds around thee, and the thick-shaded mountains dark with leaves and the rocky dells re-echo; while around thee the beautiful-leaved ivy flourishes with its tendrils round about.
[Mnesilochus is brought upon the stage again by the Policeman fast bound to the plank.]
There now1 you shall wail to the open sky.
O Policeman, I beseech you!
Don’t beseech me!
Loosen the nail.
Well, I am2 doing so.
[Hammers it in tighter.]
Ah me, miserable! you are hammering it in the more.3
Do you wish4 it to be hammered still more?
Alas, alas! May you perish miserably.
Be silent, miserable old man! Come, let me bring a mat,5 in order that I may guard you.
[Goes out and returns again with a mat.]
These are the blessed fruits which6 I have enjoyed from Euripides. Ha, ye gods, preserver Jove, there are hopes! The man does not seem likely to abandon7 me; but he ran forth as8 Perseus, and secretly gave me a sign that I Edition: current; Page:  must become Andromeda. At all events I’m furnished with the fetters.1 Therefore it is still2 evident that he will come to save me; for otherwise he would not have flown near me.
[Enter Euripides as Perseus.]
Dear,3 dear virgins, would I could approach and escape the observation of the Policeman! [Addressing the Policeman.] Dost thou4 hear? O, I beseech thee, who dwellest in caves, by reverence, assent, permit me to come to the woman!
Pitiless5 was he, who bound me, the most distressed of mortals. When I had with difficulty escaped the antiquated6 old woman, I perished notwithstanding. For this Policeman has been standing by me this long while as my keeper: has hung me up, undone and friendless, as a dinner Edition: current; Page:  for the crows. Do you see? not among dantes, nor yet accompanied by the girls1 of my own age, do I stand with the ballot-box of pebbles, but, entangled in strong fetters, I am exposed as food for the whale Glaucetes.2 Lament me, O women, not with a bridal song, but with a prison-song,3 since I have suffered wretched things, wretched man, oh me unhappy, unhappy! and among my other impious sufferings from my relations, supplicating the man,4 kindling the all-tearful lamentation of death,5 alas! alas! who first shaved me clean, who clothed me in a saffron-coloured robe; and, in addition to this, sent me up to this temple, where the women were assembled. Ah me, thou unrelenting god of my fate! Oh me, accursed! Who at the presence of my woes will not look6 upon my unenviable suffering? Would that the fire-bearing star7 of Æther would utterly destroy me, ill-fated man. For no longer is it pleasing to me to behold the immortal Edition: current; Page:  flame; since I am hung up, the cut-throat woes of the gods,1 for a quick journey to the dead.2
(as Echo). “Hail, O dear child! but may the gods destroy thy father Cepheus, who exposed thee.”
(as Andromeda). “But who are you, who have pitied my suffering?”
“And you must weep in answer after me.”
“This shall be my care: but commence your words.” [Goes behind the scene.]
“O sacred6 night, how long a course you pursue, Edition: current; Page:  driving over the starry back of sacred Æther through the most august Olympus.”
(from behind1 the scene as Echo). “Through Olympus.”
“Why ever have I, Andromeda, obtained a share of woes above2 the rest?”
“Obtained a share.”
“Wretched3 for my death.”
“Wretched for my death.”
“You will destroy me, old woman,4 with chattering.”
“By Jove, you have got in very troublesome.”5
“Good sir,6 permit me to sing a monody, and you will oblige me. Cease.”
Go to the devil.
“Go to the devil.”
What’s the pest?
“What’s the pest?”
You talk foolishly.
“You talk foolishly.”
Plague take you.
“Plague take you.”
(awaking1 and starting up from his riat). Hollo you, what are you talking?
“Hollo you, what are you talking?”
I’ll summon the Prytanes.
“I’ll summon the Prytanes.”
What’s the pest?
“What’s the pest?”
Whence was the voice?2
“Whence was the voice?”
(turning to Mnesilochus). Are you talking?3
“Are you talking?”
You shall weep.
“You shall weep.”
Are you laughing at me?4
“Are you laughing at me?”
(to the Policeman). No, by Jove! but this woman near you.5
“This near you.”
Where is the abominable woman? Now she’s flying. Whither, whither are you flying?
“Whither, whither are you flying?”
You shall not get off6 with impunity.
“You shall not get off with impunity.”
Why, are you still muttering?
“Why, are you still muttering?”
Catch7 the abominable woman!
“Catch the abominable woman.”
The chattering and accursed woman.
(entering as Perseus). “Ye8 gods! to what land of Edition: current; Page:  barbarians have we come with swift sandals? for I, Perseus, place my wingel foot, cutting my way through mid air,1 travelling to Argos, carrying the head of the Gorgon.”2
What are you saying about3 the head of Gorgus the secretary?
“I say the head of the Gorgon.”
I also mean Gorgus.4
“O stranger, pity me all wretched: loose me from my fetters.”
Don’t you talk! Accursed8 for your audacity: do you chatter when about to die?
“O virgin, I pity you, seeing you hung up.”
It is not a virgin, but a sinful old man, and a thief, and a knave.
“You talk foolishly, Policeman; for this is Andromeda, daughter of Cepheus.”
Look at his breasts! Do they look like a woman’s?
“Give me here your1 hand, in order that I may touch the damsel; give me it, Policeman: for all men have their weaknesses, and love of this damsel has seized myself.”
I’m not at all jealous of you; but if his face had been turned this way, I would not have refused your going and kissing2 him.
“But why, Policeman, do you not permit me to release her and recline upon3 the couch and marriage-bed?”
If you strongly desire to kiss the old fellow, bore through the plank and go to him.
“No, by Jove, but I will loosen the fetters.”
Then I’ll whip you.
“And yet I’ll do so.”
Then I’ll4 cut off your head with this scimetar.
“Alas! what shall I do? To what words shall I turn? But his barbarous nature will not give ear to them.5 For in truth, if you were to offer new inventions of wisdom to stupid6 people, you would spend your labour to no purpose. Edition: current; Page:  But I must apply some other device1 which is adapted to him.” [Exit Euripides.]
Abominable fox! how he was for deceiving2 me.
Remember, Perseus, that you are leaving me miserable.
What, you’re still wishing to get the whip! [Lies down again and falls asleep.]
It is3 my custom to invite hither to4 the chorus Pallas, friend of the chorus, virgin, unwedded damsel, who guards our city, and alone possesses visible sovereignty, and is called guardian. Appear,5 O thou that hatest tyrants, as is fitting! Of a truth the people of the women6 invokes thee; and mayest thou come to me with Peace the friend of festivals.7 Come, ye8 mistresses, benevolent and propitious, to your hallowed place;9 where in truth it is not lawful for men to behold the solemn orgies of the two goddesses, where, by torch-light,10 ye show your immortal countenances. Come, approach, we supplicate you, O much-revered Thesmophoræ! If ever before ye came11 in answer to our call, come now, we beseech you, here to us. [Enter Euripides as an old procuress, accompanied by a dancing-girl and a boy with a flute.]
Women, if you are willing to make1 peace with me for the future, it is now in your power; I make you these proposals of peace on the understanding2 that you are to be in no wise abused by me at all henceforth.
On account3 of what matter do you bring forward this proposal?
This man in the plank is my father-in-law. If therefore I recover him, you shall never4 be abused at all. But if you do not comply, I will accuse you to your husbands when they come home from the army of those things which you do secretly.5
That is my business; and yours, [turning to the dancing-girl,] Elaphium, is to remember to do what I told you on the road. In the first place therefore walk past him,8 and gird yourself up. And do you, [turning to the boy,] Teredon,9 play an accompaniment to the Persian10 dance.
(waking up). What’s this bumming?1 What band of revellers awakens me?
The girl was about to practise beforehand, Policeman; for she is going to certain people to dance.
Let her dance and practise,2 I will not hinder her. [She begins to dance.] How nimble! like a flea in a sheep-skin.
Pull up this dress, child, and sit upon the Policeman’s knee and hold out your feet, that I may take off your shoes.3
Yes, yes, sit down, sit down, yes, yes, my little daughter. [Dancing-girl sits down upon the Policeman’s knee.] Ah, how firm4 her breast is, like a turnip.
(to the boy). Play you quicker! Are you still afraid of the Policeman?
Beauteous she is behind! You shall repent, if you do not remain within. Well! beauteous she is before!
It is well. Take your dress: it is time for us now to go.
Will she not kiss me first?
Certainly. [To the dancing-girl.] Kiss him!
[She kisses him.]
Oh, oh, oh! Oh my! How sweet her lips! like Attic honey. Why does she not remain with me?
Farewell, Policeman! for this cannot be.
Yes, yes, old woman, gratify me in this.
Then will you give me a drachma?
Yes, yes, I’ll give it you.
Then bring the money.
But I have not any.5 Come, take my quiver.
Then you’ll bring her again.
(to the dancing-girl). Follow me, my child! And do you, old woman, guard the old man.—But what’s your name?
Artemisia. Therefore remember my name.
[Exit Policeman with the dancing-girl.]
O crafty Mercury, this you manage well as yet. Do you then [addressing the boy] run off with this flute, my boy; and I will set him at liberty. Mind that you fly manfully, as soon as ever1 you are at liberty, and hasten2 home to your wife and children.
This shall be my3 care, if once I be at liberty.
Be thou4 free! Your business! fly! before the Policeman comes and catches you.
I will do so now.
[Exeunt Euripides and Mnesilochus.]
(returning with the dancing girl). How agreeable your daughter is, old woman, and not ill-natured, but gentle. Where’s the old woman? [Dancing-girl slips off.] Ah me, how I am undone! Where is the old man gone from hence? O old woman, old woman. I don’t commend you, old woman. Artamuxia. The old woman has deceived me. [Picks up his quiver and throws it across the stage.] Away with you as soon as possible! It is rightly called quiver, for it imposes upon me. Ah me, what shall I do? Whither is the old woman gone? Artamuxia.
Are you inquiring for5 the old woman, who was carrying the harp?
Yes, yes. Did you see her?
Both she herself has gone this way, and an old man was following her.
The old man with the saffron-coloured robe?
Yes; you might still catch her, if you were to pursue her this way.
Oh the abominable old woman! Which way6 shall I run? Artamuxia.
Run straight upwards. Whither are you running? Edition: current; Page:  Will you not run back this way? you are running the contrary way.
Me miserable! But Artamuxia is running off. [Exit Policeman.]
Run then, run then, with a fair wind to the Devil! But we have sported sufficiently; so that in truth it is time for each to go home. May the Thesmophoræ return us a gracious kindness for this. [Exeunt omnes.]
According to the notice of the ancient Didascalia, this play was acted at the Lenæan festival, January, bc 405, in the Archonship of Callias. It was brought out in Philonides’ name, who gained the first prize, Phrynichus the second with his “Muses,” and Plato the third with his “Cleophon.” The Frogs was so much admired on account of its parabasis, that it was acted a second time;—very probably in the March of the same year, at the Great Dionysia. The Frogs has for its subject the decline of the Tragic Art. Bacchus has a great longing for Euripides, and determines to bring him back from the infernal world. In this he imitates Hercules, but although furnished with that hero’s lion-skin and club, in sentiments he is very unlike him, and as a dastardly voluptuary affords much matter for laughter. He rows himself over the Acherusian lake, where the frogs merrily greet him with their melodious croakings. The proper Chorus, however, consists of the shades of those initiated in the Eleusinian mysteries. Æschylus had hitherto occupied the tragic throne in the world below, but Euripides wants to eject him. Pluto presides, but appoints Bacchus to determine this great controversy. The two poets, the sublimely wrathful Æschylus, and the subtle and conceited Euripides, stand opposite each other, and deliver specimens of their poetical powers; they sing, they declaim against each other; and their peculiar traits are characterized in masterly style. At last a balance is brought, and separate verses of each poet are weighed against each other. Notwithstanding all the efforts of Euripides to produce ponderous lines, those of Æschylus always make the scale of his rival to kick the beam. Bacchus in the mean time has become a convert to the merits of Æschylus, and although he had sworn to Euripides to take him back with him to the upper world, he dismisses him with a parody of one of his own verses in the Hippolytus:
“My tongue hath sworn, I however make choice of Æschylus.”
Consequently Æschylus returns to the living world, and resigns the tragic throne in his absence to Sophocles. The scene is first laid at Thebes; afterwards it changes to the nether shore of the Acherusian lake; and finally to the infernal world, with the palace of Pluto in the background.
[Scene—the front of Hercules’ temple.]
[the former with the lion’s skin of Hercules thrown over his usual effeminate attire, and armed with that hero’s club; the latter mounted on an ass, and carrying their travelling baggage on the end of a pole].
I say some of the usual jokes, master, at which the spectators always laugh.2
Nor any thing else facetious?
Except, “How I am afflicted!”
What then? shall I say what is very laughable?
Aye, by Jove, boldly: that thing only1 take care you say not—
That with shifting the yoke2 from one shoulder to the other, you desire to ease yourself.
Nor that I shall break wind with carrying so great a load upon me, unless some one shall remove it?
Nay, do not, I beseech you, except when I am about to vomit.
Then what occasion3 was there that I should carry this baggage, if I am to do none of those things which Phrynichus4 is accustomed to do, and Lycis, and Amipsias? They are always carrying baggage in Comedy.5
Don’t do so then; for whenever, being a spectator, I see any of these stage tricks, I come away older by more than a year.6
O this thrice-unlucky neck then! because it is distressed, but must not utter what is laughable.
Then is not this insolence and much conceit, when I, who am Bacchus, son of—a wine-jar,1 am walking myself, and toiling, while I let him ride, in order that he might not be2 distressed or carry a burden?
Why, do I not carry?
Why, how do you carry, who are carried?
Because I carry these.3
In what way?
Does not the ass then carry this weight which you carry?
Certainly not what I hold and carry; no, by Jove!
Why, how do you carry, who are yourself carried by another?
I know not; but this shoulder of mine is burdened.
Do you then, since you deny that the ass assists you, in your turn take up and carry the ass.
(addressing Xanthias). Boy!5
What’s the matter?
Did you not observe?
How exceedingly he was afraid of me.
Yes, by Jove, lest you should be mad.
(aside). By Ceres, I certainly am not able6 to refrain from laughing, though I bite my lips; nevertheless I laugh.
My good sir, come forward; for I have some need of you.
(trying to suppress his laughter). I am not able to drive away my laughter, when I see a lion’s skin lying upon a saffron-coloured robe.7 What’s your purpose? Why Edition: current; Page:  have the buskin and club1 come together? Whither in the world have you been abroad?
I embarked on board the Clisthenes.2
And fought at sea?
And we sunk either twelve or thirteen ships of the enemy too.3
Yea, by Apollo!
“And then I awoke.”4
Desire? How great7 a one?
A little one: as big as Molon.8
For a woman?
For a boy, then?1
By no means.
For a man, then?
Have you been with Clisthenes?
Do not mock me, brother, for2 I am distressed; such a desire utterly undoes me.
Of what sort, my little brother?
Pea-soup? bless me! ten thousand times in my life.
Shall I teach you thoroughly the truth6 of the matter, or shall I declare it in some other way?
Nay, do not about the pea-soup at least; for I understand that instance very well.
Therefore such a longing for Euripides consumes me—
And that too7 when he is dead?
And no man could persuade me, so as not to go to fetch him.8
To Hades below?
Aye, and, by Jove, lower still, if there be aught still ower.1
With2 what intent?
I want a clever poet, “for3 some are no longer alive, and others who are living, are bad.”
What then, is not4 Iophon alive?
Not before I shall have taken Iophon alone by himself, and tried him, what he can do without Sophocles. And besides, Euripides, as he is roguish, would even attempt to run away hither along with me, while the other is easy here, and easy there.9
But where’s Agathon?10
Whither in the world is the poor fellow3 gone?
To the banquet of the blest.
By Jove, may he perish utterly.
(aside). But no account6 made of me, though I am so dreadfully galled in my shoulder.
These are small fry, and chatter-boxes, “twittering-places of the swallows,”9 disgraces to the art, who vanish speedily, if only they receive a chorus, after having once piddled upon tragedy.10 But a poet of creative powers you could no longer find,11 if you searched, who uttered a noble expression.
So creative as to utter1 some such venturous phrase as “Æther, little mansion2 of Jove,” or “Foot of time,” or “The mind which was not willing to swear by the victims, and the tongue which swore apart from the mind.”
Do these please you?
Nay, but3 they please me to more than madness.
Of a surety4 they are knavish tricks, as appears even to you.
Do not direct5 my mind; for you have a house of your own.
And yet absolutely they appear most villanous.
Teach me to dine.6
(aside). But no account of me.
But tell me these, for the sake of which1 I have come with this dress, in imitation of you, that you might tell me your entertainers, if I should want them, whom you made use of at that time when you went to fetch Cerberus, the harbours, bakers’ shops, brothels, resting-places, lodging-houses, springs, roads, cities, rooms, hostesses, and where there are fewest bugs.
(aside). But no account of me.
Oh rash! why, will you dare to go?
And do you too say nothing further to this, but tell me about the roads, how we may soonest arrive at Hades below; and tell me neither a hot nor a very cold way.
Come now, which of them shall I tell you first? Which?2 for there is one way by a rope and a bench, if you hang yourself.
Have done, you tell me a choking one.
But there is a compendious and well-beaten3 path, that through a mortar.
Do you mean hemlock?
Aye, a cold and chilly one, for it immediately benumbs4 the shins.
Would you have me tell you a speedy and down-hill road?
Yes, by Jove, for I am not good at walking.
Creep down then to the Ceramicus.5
And what then?
When you have mounted on the lofty tower—
What must I do?
Look out thence for the torch to be thrown down and then, when the spectators call to fling it, do you, too, fling1 yourself—
But I should destroy the two membranes2 of my brain: I could not travel this way.
That whereby you then descended.3
But the voyage is long; for you will immediately come to a large lake, altogether bottomless.
How then shall I get across?
An old sailor-man will carry you over in a little boat only so big, when he has received two obols4 as his fare.
Ha! what a mighty power the two obols have every where! How came they thither, too?5
Theseus brought them. After this you will see snakes, and innumerable wild beasts most dreadful.
Do not try1 to astound, or put me in a fright, for you will not dissuade me.
Then you will see abundant mud,2 and ever-flowing ordure; and3 people lying in this, if any where any one has ever wronged his guest,4 or appropriated the wages of prostitution, or beaten his mother, or struck his father’s cheek, or sworn a false oath, or if any have transcribed a passage of Morsimus.5
Yea, by the gods, in addition to these also there ought to have been, if any one learnt the Pyrrhic dance of Cinesias.6
But who, pray, are these?
Yea, by Jove, and fare you well also; but do you (to Xanthias) take up the baggage again.
Before I have laid them down even?
Aye, and very quickly, let me tell you!
Nay, do not, I beseech you, but hire some one on those who are being carried forth to burial, who is going on this errand.6
But if I should not be able?
Then let me take7 them. [A funeral procession with a dead body on a bier crosses the stage.]
About4 how many?
Will you pay two drachmæ5 as my pay?
No, by Jove, but less.
Go you slowly on your way.6
Stay, my good sir, if I may possibly make7 a bargain with you.
Unless you will pay two drachmæ, don’t talk.
Take nine obols.
Then may I come to life again! [Funeral procession moves on.]
How8 haughty the accursed fellow is! Won’t he smart for it? I’ll go myself. [Takes up the baggage again.]
You are a good and noble fellow. Let us go to the boat. [Here the scene changes9 to the banks of the Styx.]
Avast!10 put to shore!
By Jove, this1 is that lake of which he was telling us; and I see a boat too.
Aye, by Neptune, and see here’s Charon too!
Hail, Charon! hail, Charon! hail, Charon!
Get on board quickly.
Where d’ye think you shall put6 in? to the crows really?
Yes, by Jove, as far as you are concerned.7 Now, get on board.
Here, boy! [Bacchus gets into the boat.]
I carry no slave, unless he has been in the battle1 of the Carcasses.
No, by Jove; for I happened to have sore2 eyes.
Will you not then, pray, run round the lake, round about?3
Where then shall I wait for you?
Near the stone of Auænus,4 at the resting-places.
Yes, certainly, I understand. Ah me, miserable! what omen5 did I meet with as I left home? [Xanthias runs off.]
Sit to your oar. [Bacchus goes and seats himself on the oar instead of at the oar.] If any one further is for sailing, let him make haste. [To Bacchus.] Hollo you! what are you doing?
What am I doing? why, what else but sitting on the oar, where you bade me?
Will you not then, pray, sit down here, you fat-guts?
Will you not then put forth your hands and stretch them out?
There. [Makes a silly motion with his hands.]
Why, how then shall I be able to row, being inexperienced and unused to the sea, and no Salaminian?
Very easily; for you shall hear most delightful melodies, as soon as you once lay to your oar.
From swans, the frogs, wondrous ones.
Now give the time!
Yeo ho! yeo ho!
Brekekekex, coax, coax, brekekekex, coax, coax. Marshy offspring of the fountains, let us utter an harmonious strain of hymns, my sweet-sounding song, coax, coax, which we sung in Limnæ3 around the Nysæan4 Bacchus, son of Jove, when the crowd of people rambling about in drunken revelry on the sacred festival of the Chytræ, marched through my demesne. Brekekekex, coax, coax.
I begin to have a pain in my bottom, you coax, coax. But you, no doubt,5 don’t care.
Brekekekex, coax, coax.
May you perish then together with your coax;6 for you are nothing else but coax.
Aye, justly, you busybody, for the Muses with Edition: current; Page:  beautiful lyre, and horn-footed1 Pan, who plays reed-sounded strains, have loved me, and the harper Apollo is still more delighted with me on account of the reed,2 which, put under the lyre, living in the water, I nourish in marshes. Brekekekex, coax, coax.
I have blisters, and my hinder-end has been sweating this long while, and then presently it will stoop and say “brekekekex, coax, coax.” Come, O song-loving race, have done!
Nay, rather, we will sing the more, if ever on3 sunny days we have leapt through galingal and sedge, delighting in strains of song with many a dive; or at the bottom, avoiding the rain of Jove, have chanted4 our varied watery choral music amid the noise of bursting bubbles. Brekekekex, coax, coax.
I’ll take5 this from you.
Then in truth we shall suffer dreadful things.
But I more dreadful things, if I shall burst with rowing.
Brekekekex, coax, coax.
A plague take you! for I don’t care.
Nay, assuredly, we will screech as loud as our throats can compass,1 throughout the day, brekekekex, coax, coax.
In this you shall not conquer me.
Nor, assuredly, shall you us by any means.2
Never shall you conquer me, for I will screech brekekekex, coax, coax, even if I must all the day, till I overcome your coax. [The frogs suddenly cease croaking.] I thought I should3 make you cease from your coax at last.
Have done! have done! put the boat to land with the oar; step out; pay your fare.
Take4 now the two obols. [Bacchus steps out and Charon pushes off again.]
(from a distance). Hollo!7
Come hither. [Enter Xanthias.]
What’s the state of things there?9
Darkness and mud.
Then did you see any where there the parricides and the perjured, of whom he spoke to us?
And did not you?
Aye, by Neptune, did I; and now, too, I see them. [Turns and looks towards the audience.] Come now, what shall we do?
It is best for us to go forward, for this is the place where he was saying the dreadful wild beasts were.
How he shall smart for it!1 He was humbugging, so that I might be frightened, as he knew me to be valiant, out of jealousy; for there is nothing so self-conceited as Hercules. But I should wish to fall in with one, and meet with an encounter worthy of my journey.
Well now,2 by Jove, I hear some noise.
(in a great fright). Where, where is it?
But it is in front.
Then go in front.
Well now, by Jove, I see a huge wild beast.
What sort of a one?
Dreadful: at any rate it becomes of every shape; at one time an ox, and now a mule, and at another time, again, a most beautiful woman.
Where is she? come, let me go to her.
But, again, it is no longer a woman, but now it is a dog.
Then it is the Empusa.3
At any rate her whole face blazes with fire.
And she has a brazen leg.
Aye, by Neptune, and the other, be well assured, is that of an ass.1
Whither then can I betake myself?
And whither I?
(runs to the front of the stage). O priest,2 preserve me, that I may be your boon companion.
We shall perish, O king Hercules.
O Bacchus, then.
This name still less than the other.
Go where you are going. Hither, hither, master!
What’s the matter?
And swear again.
Ah me, miserable! how pale I grew at the sight of her!
But this fellow in his fright turned redder than I.
Ah me! Whence have these evils befallen me? Whom of the gods shall I accuse of ruining me? “Æther, little mansion of Jove,” or, “Foot of time?” [A distant sound of flute-music is heard from behind the scenes.]
What’s the matter?
Did you not hear?
The breath of flutes.
I did; and a very mystical1 odour of torches too breathed upon me. Come, let us crouch down softly and listen.
[Bacchus and Xanthias retire to one side.]
Iacchus, O Iacchus, Iacchus, O Iacchus.2
To me also they appear so. Therefore it is best to keep quiet, so that we may know it for certain. [Enter Chorus.]
Iacchus, O highly-honoured, who dwellest here in your abodes, Iacchus, O Iacchus, come to thy pious votaries, to dance through this meadow;3 shaking the full-fruited chaplet about your head abounding in myrtle,4 and with bold foot treading a measure among the pious Mystæ, possessing the largest share of the Graces,5 holy and sacred, the unrestrained, mirth-loving act of worship.
O venerable, highly-honoured daughter of Ceres, how sweetly the swine’s flesh breathed6 upon me!
Will you not then be quiet, if you do get a smell of sausage?
Brandish in your hand and wake up the flaming torches,1 Iacchus, O Iacchus, thou Hesperus of the nocturnal orgies. The meadow gleams with flame; the knee of the old men moves swiftly;2 and they shake off griefs and long cycles of aged years at the sacred act of worship.3 But do thou, blessed deity, gleaming with thy torch, lead4 straight forward to the flowery, meadowy plain the youths forming5 the chorus.
It behoveth him to abstain6 from ill-omened words, and make way for7 our choirs, whoever is unskilled in such words, or is not pure in mind, or has neither seen nor celebrated with dances the orgies of the high-born Muses,8 and has not been Edition: current; Page:  initiated in the Bacchanalian orgies of the tongue of Cratinus1 the bull-eater; or takes pleasure in buffoonish verses which excite this buffoonery unseasonably;2 or does not put down hateful sedition, and is not good-natured to the citizens, but, eager for his private gain, rouses it and blows it up; or when the state is tempest-tossed, being a magistrate, receives bribes; or betrays a garrison or ships, or exports from Ægina3 forbidden exports, being another Thorycion, a vile collector of tolls,4 who used to send across to Epidaurus oar-paddings, and sail-cloth, and pitch; or who persuades any one to supply money for the ships of the enemy; or befouls the statues of Hecate,5 while he is accompanying with his voice the Cyclic choruses; or, being an orator, then nibbles off the salaries of the poets,6 because he has been lampooned in the national festivals of Bacchus.7 These I order, and again I command and again8 the third time I command to make way for the Edition: current; Page:  choruses of the Mystæ;1 but do ye wake the song, and our night-festivals,2 which become this festival.
Advance then manfully, each of you, to the flowery bosoms of the meadows, dancing, and joking, and sporting, and scoffing. We have breakfasted3 sufficiently. Come, advance, and see that you4 nobly extol the Preserver,5 singing of her with your voice, who promises to save the country for ever, even if Thorycion be not willing. Come now, praise with divine songs and celebrate the goddess Ceres,6 the fruit-bringing queen, with another species of hymns.
Ceres, queen7 of holy orgies, assist us, and preserve thy own chorus, and let me securely throughout the day sport Edition: current; Page:  and dance, and let me say much that is laughable, and much1 that is serious, and after having sported and jested2 in a manner worthy of thy festival, let me wear the head-band as conqueror.3
But come on now, and invite hither with songs the blooming god, our partner in this choral dance.
O highly-honoured Iacchus, who invented the very sweet melody of the festival, follow along with us hither to the goddess, and show how long a journey4 you accomplish without toil.
Iacchus, friend of the choral dance, escort me; for thou hast torn in pieces my sandals and my ragged garment for laughter and for economy,5 and hast devised, so that we may sport and dance without punishment.6
Iacchus, friend of the choral dance, escort me; for, having glanced a little aside, I just now spied the bosom of a young and very pretty girl, our playmate, as it peeped out from her vest rent at the side. Iacchus, friend of the choral dance, escort me.
Somehow I am always1 inclined to follow; and I wish to sport and dance with her.
And I too.
Will ye then that we jointly mock at Archedemus?2 who when seven years old had no clansmen; but now he is a demagogue among the dead above, and is chief3 of the scoundrelism there. But I hear that Clisthenes4 among the tombs depillates his5 hinder parts, and lacerates his cheeks. And stooping forward he mourned for, and bewailed, and called upon Sebinus, who6 is the Anaphlystian. And they say that Callias7 too, this son of Hippobinus, was at the sea-fight, Edition: current; Page:  dressed in a woman’s lion-skin. [Bacchus and Xanthias leave their hiding-place and come forward.]
Could you peradventure tell us whereabouts in this place Pluto dwells?1 for we are strangers newly come.
Do not go away far,2 nor ask me again and again, but know that you are come to his very door.
Take them3 up again, boy!
What is this thing but “Jove’s4 Corinth” in the baggage?
Now advance ye in the sacred circle5 of the goddess, sporting through the flowery grove, who have a participation in the festival dear to the gods.
I will go with the damsels and women, where they celebrate the night-festival in honour6 of the goddess, to carry the sacred torch.
Let us proceed to the flowery meadows abounding in roses, sporting in our manner, the most beautiful in the dance,1 which2 the blessed Fates institute. For to us alone, as many as have been initiated, and conducted ourselves in a pious manner towards the foreigners and the citizens, are the sun and the light joyous.3
Come now, in what way shall I knock at the door? in what?4 How then do the people of the country here knock?
Don’t loiter,5 but try the door, as you have your dress and your spirit after the manner of Hercules.
(knocking at the door). Boy! boy!
Hercules the brave. [Æacus comes out.]
O you impure, and shameless, and audacious fellow, and abominable, and all-abominable, and most abominable! who dragged out our dog Cerberus,7 which I had the care of, and darted away holding him by the throat, and ran clear off with him. But now you are held by the middle; such a black-hearted rock of Styx, and blood-dripping cliff of Acheron, environ you, and the roaming dogs8 of Cocytus, and the hundred-headed Echidna,9 which shall rend in sunder your viscera; and a Tartessian10 serpent shall fasten on your lungs, Edition: current; Page:  while Tithrasian1 Gorgons shall tear in pieces your kidneys, together with your entrails, stained with blood; to fetch which I will set in motion a swift foot.2 [Exit Æacus, and Bacchus falls down in a fright.]
Hollo you! what have you done?
Eased myself: invoke the god.3
O you ridiculous fellow! will you not then get up quickly, before some stranger sees you?
But I am fainting. Come, bring a sponge to put to my heart.
There, take it! [Offers him a sponge.]
Put it to it.
Where is it? [Bacchus presents his posteriors to him.] Oh ye golden4 gods! is it there you keep your heart?
Why, it crept down through fright into the bottom of my belly.5
O thou most cowardly of gods and men!
What then8 would he have done?
He would have lain sniftering, if he was a coward; but I got up, and moreover wiped myself clean.
Bravely done,1 by Neptune!
By Jove, I think so. But did you not fear the sound of his words and his threats?
No, by Jove! I did not even give them a thought.
Come then, since you are so spirited and brave, do you take this club and the lion’s skin and become me, if2 you are so fearless of heart; and I will be your baggage-carrier in turn.
Give them now quickly, for I must3 comply with you; and look at the Hercules-Xanthias, if I shall be a coward, and with a spirit like you. [Dresses himself in the lion’s skin.]
O dearest Hercules,6 have you come? Come in hither; for the goddess, when she heard that you7 were come, immediately began baking loaves, boiled8 two or three pots of soup of bruised peas, broiled a whole ox, baked cheese-cakes and rolls. But do come in.
No, I thank you.1
No, I thank you.
How say you? dancing girls?
Youngish,8 and newly depillated. But do come in, for the cook was just going to take up the slices of salt fish, and the table was being carried in.
Go then, first of all tell the dancing-girls who are within, that ourself is coming in. [Addressing Bacchus.] Boy,9 follow this way with the baggage. [Exit maid-servant.]
Hollo you! stop! you are not for taking it in earnest, surely,10 because I dressed you up as Hercules in jest? Don’t be trifling, Xanthias, but take up the baggage again and carry them.
What’s the matter? Surely you don’t intend to take away from me what you gave me yourself?
Not soon, but instantly11 I’ll do it. Lay down the skin!
I call you to witness this,1 and commit my cause to the gods.
What2 gods? Is it not silly and vain, that you should expect that, slave and mortal as you are, you shall be the son of Alcmena?
This is5 agreeably to the character of a man who possesses prudence and understanding, and who has sailed about much, always to roll himself over to the snug side6 of the ship, rather than to stand like7 a painted image, having assumed one appearance: whereas, to turn oneself to the easier side is agreeably to the character of a clever man and a Theramenes8 by nature.
Why, would it not have been ridiculous, if Xanthias, slave as he is, wallowed on Milesian1 bed-clothes, and paid court to a dancing-girl, and then asked for a chamber-pot;2 while I looked at him and employed myself otherwise, and he, inasmuch as he is a knave himself, saw it, and then struck me with his fist and knocked out my front row of teeth out of my jaw. [Enter two female innkeepers.]
Plathane,3 Plathane, come hither; this is the villain that came into our inn one day, and eat up sixteen of our loaves.
Yes, by Jove, that’s the very man certainly.4
Mischief has come for somebody.5
And in addition to this too, twenty pieces of boiled meat, at half an obol apiece.6
Somebody will suffer punishment.
And that vast quantity7 of garlic.
You are talking foolishly, woman, and you don’t know what you say.
His conduct exactly! this is3 his way every where.
And he drew his sword too, pretending4 to be mad.
Yes, by Jupiter, unhappy woman!
And we two, I ween, through fear, immediately sprang up into the upper story, while he rushed out and went off with the rush-mats.
This also is his way of acting. But you ought to do something.
Go now, call Cleon my patron!
And you Hyperbolus5 for me, if you meet with him, that we may destroy him.
And I should like to cast you into the pit.
And I should like to take a sickle and cut out your gullet, with which you swallowed down my tripe.3 But I will go to fetch4 Cleon, who shall summon him to-day, and wind these out5 of him. [Exeunt female innkeepers.]
May I die most miserably, if I don’t love Xanthias!
By no means say8 so, my dear little Xanthias.
Why, how could I become the son of Alcmena, “who am at the same time9 a slave and a mortal?”
I know, I know that you are angry, and that you act so justly; and even if you were to beat me,10 I could not gain-say you. But if ever I take them away from11 you henceforth, may I myself perish most miserably, root and branch, my wife, my children, and the blear-eyed Archedemus.12
I accept the oath,1 and take the dress on these terms. [Xanthias reassumes the dress of Hercules.]
(to Xanthias). Now it is your business, since you have taken the garb which you wore at first, to make yourself young again, and again to look terror, mindful of the god to whom you liken yourself: but if you shall be detected talking nonsense, or shall utter2 any thing cowardly, it is necessary that you take up the baggage again.
You advise me not amiss, my friends; but I happen myself also to be just reflecting on these matters. That, however, if there be any good to be got, he will endeavour to take these away from me again, I well know.3 But nevertheless I will show myself brave in spirit, and looking sour.4 And it seems to be needful, for now I hear a noise of the door. [Re-enter Æacus attended by three myrmidons.]
Quickly bind this dog-stealer, that he may suffer punishment! Make haste!
(aside). “Mischief has come5 for somebody.”
(to Æacus). Go to the devil! Don’t approach me!6
Well! you’ll fight, will you?7 Ditylas, and Sceblyas, Edition: current; Page:  and Pardocas,1 come hither and fight with this fellow! [A scuffle ensues, in which Xanthias makes the officers keep their distance.]
(vexed at Xanthias’ success). Is not this2 shameful then, that this fellow should make an assault, who steals other people’s property besides?
(ironically). Nay, but3 monstrous.
Aye, indeed, ’tis shocking and shameful.
Well now, by Jupiter, I am willing to die, if I ever came hither, or stole any of your property, even of a hair’s value. Come, I’ll do a very noble thing for you: take and torture this slave of mine; and if ever you find me out guilty, lead me away and put me to death.
Why, how am I to torture him?4
In every way: by tying him to a ladder,5 by suspending him, by scourging6 him with a whip, by cudgelling Edition: current; Page:  him, by racking1 him, and further, by pouring vinegar into his nostrils, by heaping bricks upon him,2 and every other way; only don’t beat him with leek or young onion.3
Your proposition is just; and if I maim your slave at all by beating him, the money shall be deposited.4
Nay,5 nought of that; so lead him away and torture him, as I said.
Nay, rather, here, in order that he may speak before your face:6 do you [to Bacchus] put down the baggage quickly, and see that you tell us no lies here.
I advise somebody not to torture me, who am an immortal; otherwise, blame yourself.7
What do you say?
I assert that I am an immortal,8 Bacchus, son of Jove, but that this fellow is a slave.
Here you this?
Yes, I did. And so much the more too is he deserving of a whipping; for if he be a god he will not feel it.
Why then, since you also say you are a god, are you not also beaten with the same number of blows as I.1
The proposition is just; and which ever of us [to Æacus] you see crying first, or caring at all because he is beaten, consider him to be no god.
It must be that you are a noble fellow, for you come to fair terms.2 Now strip.
How then will you test us fairly?
Easily, blow for blow each party.3
You say well.
Observe then if you see me flinching. [Puts himself in an attitude for receiving the blows.]
Now I have struck you.
No, by Jove!
Neither do you seem4 to me to have felt it. But I will go to this fellow and strike him. [Strikes Bacchus.]
Assuredly I struck you.5
Why, how then did I not sneeze?
I know not: but I will try this fellow again.
Will6 you not then make haste? [Æacus strikes him.] Oh dear!
What’s the meaning of “oh dear?” were you in pain?
No, by Jove, but I thought only when the festival of Hercules among the Diomeians takes place.1
The pious man!2 I must go this way again. [Strikes Bacchus.]
What’s the matter?
I see horsemen.
Why then do you weep?
I smell onions.
For you don’t care at all about it.
No care have I.
Then I must go to this fellow again. [Strikes Xanthias.]
What’s the matter?
Take out the thorn.
What’s this affair? I must go this way again. [Strikes Bacchus.]
O Apollo!3—“who, I ween, inhabitest Delos or Pytho.”
He was pained. Did you not hear him?
Not I; for I was recollecting4 an iambic verse of Hipponax.
You effect nothing. Come, smite his flanks.
No, by Jove, no more I do. [To Bacchus.] But now present your belly.
Some one was pained.1
—“who rulest the Ægean2 headland, or, in the depths, the azure sea.”
By Ceres, I certainly am not able to discover as yet which of you is the god. But go in; for my master himself and Proserpine will distinguish you, inasmuch as they also are gods.
You say rightly; but I should have wished that you had done this before I received the blows. [Exeunt Bacchus, Xanthias, and Æacus.]
Muse3 of the sacred chorus, advance, and come for the enjoyment4 of our song, about to see the vast multitude of people, where innumerable philosophic arts5 are sitting, more ambitious than Cleophon,6 on whose incessantly chattering lips a Thracian swallow7 roars dreadfully, seated on a foreign leaf; Edition: current; Page:  and it whimpers a tearful nightingale’s dirge, that he must perish, even if the votes be equal.1
It is fitting that the sacred chorus should jointly recommend and teach what is useful for the state. In the first place therefore we move2 that you put the citizens on a level, and remove their fears. And if any one has erred, having been deceived somewhat by the artifices of Phrynichus,3 I assert that it ought to be allowed those who made a false step at that time to do away with their former transgressions by pleading their cause.4 In the next place I assert that no one in the city ought to be civilly disqualified;5 for it is disgraceful that those who have fought one battle at sea, should straightway Edition: current; Page:  be both Platæans,1 and masters, instead of slaves. Neither can I assert that this is not2 proper.—Nay, I commend it; for it is the only sensible thing that you have done.3 But in addition to this, it is reasonable that you forgive this one mishap of theirs when they entreat you, who, as well as their fathers, have oftentimes fought at sea along with you, and are related to you by birth.4 Come, O ye most wise by nature, let us remit our anger and willingly admit all men as relations, and as civilly qualified, and as citizens, whoever engages in a sea-fight along with us.5 But if thus we shall be puffed up and shall pride ourselves upon our6 city, and that too when we are7 in the arms of the billows,8 sometime here after in subsequent time9 we shall appear not to be in our right senses.
But if I am10 correct in discerning the life or the manners Edition: current; Page:  of a man, who will yet suffer for it, Cligenes1 the little, this ape, who now troubles us, the vilest bath-man of all, as many as2 are masters of soap made from adulterated soda mixed up with ashes, and of Cimolian3 earth, will not abide for a long time. But though he sees this, he is not for peace, lest he should one day be stripped4 when drunk, when walking without his cudgel.
The freedom5 of the city has often appeared to us to be similarly circumstanced with regard to the good and honourable citizens, as to the old coin and the new gold.6 For neither do we employ these at all, which are not adulterated,7 but the most excellent, as it appears, of all coins, and alone correctly struck, and proved by ringing every where, both among the Greeks and the barbarians, but this vile copper coin, struck but yesterday and lately with the vilest stamp;8 and9 we insult those of the citizens whom we know to be well-born, and discreet, and just, and good, and honourable men, and who have been trained in palæstras, and choruses, and music;10 while we use for every11 purpose the brazen, Edition: current; Page:  foreigners, and slaves, rascals, and sprung1 from rascals, who are the latest come; whom the city before this would not heedlessly and readily have used even as scape-goats.2 Yet even now, ye senseless, change3 your ways and again employ the good. For if you succeed, it will be creditable4 to you; and if you fail at all, at any rate you will seem to the wise to suffer, if you do suffer5 aught, from a stick6 which is worthy.
[Re-enter Xanthias and Æacus.]
By Jupiter the Preserver, your master7 is a gentleman.
Most assuredly a gentleman, inasmuch8 as he knows only to drink and wench.
To think of his not beating you,9 when openly convicted, that you said you were the master, when you were the slave.
He would certainly have suffered for it.
Upon my word this is a servant-like act10 which you have openly done, which I take pleasure in doing.
Take pleasure, I pray you?
Nay, but methinks I am an Epoptes,1 when I curse my master in private.
But what, when you go out muttering, after having received many blows?
Then, too, I am delighted.
But what, when you play the inquisitive busybody?2
By Jove, I am delighted3 as never any thing in the world was.
O Jupiter, the Protector of families! And when you overhear what your masters4 talk about?
Nay, but I am more than mad with joy!
But what, when you blab this to those outside?
I? Nay, by Jove, but when I do this, I am even transported beyond measure.
O Phœbus Apollo! give me your right hand, and let me kiss you, and do you kiss me yourself, and tell me, by Jove, who5 is our fellow-slave, what is this tumult, and clamour, and wrangling, within?
Between Æschylus and Euripides.
An affair, a mighty, a mighty affair6 has been set a going among the dead, and a very great commotion.
There is a law established here, that out of1 the professions, as many as are important and ingenious, he who is the best of his own fellow-artists should receive2 a public maintenance in the Prytaneum,3 and a seat next to Pluto’s—
—until some other person, better skilled in the art than he, should come;4 then it was his duty to give place.
Why then has this disturbed Æschylus?
He held the tragic seat,5 as being the best in his art.
But who now?
As soon as Euripides came down, he began to show off to the foot-pads, and cut-purses, and parricides, and house-breakers; of which sort of men6 there is a vast quantity in Hades, and they, hearing his objections, and twistings, and turnings, went stark mad, and thought him the cleverest. And then elated he laid claim to the throne where Æschylus was sitting.
And was he not pelted?7
No, by Jove, but the mob clamoured1 to institute a trial, which of the two was the cleverer in his art?
The mob of rascals?
Aye, by Jove, prodigiously.2
But were there not others on Æschylus’ side as allies?
The good are few, as here.3 [Points to the audience.]
What then is Pluto intending to do?
To institute a contest, and trial, and ordeal of their skill forthwith.4
Why, how then did not Sophocles also lay claim to the seat?
Not he, by Jove, but kissed Æschylus as soon as he came down,5 and gave him his right hand; and he6 had given up to him the seat. But now he was intending, as Clidemides7 said, to sit down as third combatant, and if Æschylus conquer, to remain in his place; but if not, he declared he would contend against Euripides in skill.
Will the affair take place then?
And they will bring5 out rulers and yard-wands for verses, and they will make close-fitted oblong squares too in the form of a brick, and rules for drawing the diameter, and wedges. For Euripides says he will examine the tragedies word by word.6
Of a truth, I suppose Æschylus takes it ill.
At any rate, he bent his head down and looked sternly.
But who, pray, will decide this?
This was difficult: for they found7 a scarcity of clever men. For neither was Æschylus on friendly terms with the Athenians—
Perhaps8 he thought them house-breakers for the most part.
—and9 in other respects considered them mere Edition: current; Page:  triffers with regard to judging of the abilities of poets.1 So then they committed it to your master, because he was experienced in the art.2 But let us go in; for whenever our masters are seriously engaged,3 blows4 are prepared for us. [Exeunt Æacus and Xanthias.]
Doubtless the loud-thunderer5 will cherish dreadful wrath within, when he sees6 his glib-tongued rival in art sharpening his teeth: then will he roll7 his eyes through dreadful frenzy. And there will be8 a helmet-nodding strife of horse-hair-crested words, and the rapid whirling of splinters,9 and parings10 of works, as the man repels the horse-mounted Edition: current; Page:  words of the ingenious1 hero: while he, having bristled up the shaggy locks of his naturally-haired mane, and contracting his brows dreadfully, and roaring, will send forth bolt-fastened words,2 tearing them up like planks with gigantic breath. On the other side the word-making, polished tongue, examiner of words, twisting about, agitating envious jaws, dissecting the words of his opponent, will refine away to nothing vast labour of the lungs.3 [Enter Bacchus, Pluto, Æschylus, and Euripides.]
I will not give up4 the seat: cease your advisings; for I assert, that I am superior to him in the art.
Æschylus, why are you silent? for you hear his language.
He will act the dignitary at first, just as he was always accustomed to play the marvellous in his tragedies.5
My good fellow,6 speak not so very loftily.
Cease, Æschylus, and do not passionately inflame your heart with wrath!
Certainly not; before I shall have shown up clearly this introducer of lame characters, what sort3 of a person he is, who speaks so boldly.
Boys, bring out a lamb, a black lamb, for a storm4 is ready to issue forth.
O thou that collectest Cretan5 monodies, and introducest unholy nuptials into the art—
Hollo! stop, O highly-honoured Æschylus! And do you, O unlucky Euripides, get yourself out of the way of the hail-storm, if you are wise, lest through passion he smite your temples with a head-breaking word and let out your Telephus.6 And do you, O Æschylus, not angrily, but temperately refute, and be refuted.7 It is not meet that poets should rail at each other, like bread-women. But you instantly roar like a holm oak on fire.
I am ready, and do not decline, to bite, or to be bitten first, if he thinks proper, in iambics, in choral songs, and in the nerves of tragedy; and, by Jove, in the Peleus, too, and the Æolus, and the Meleager, nay, even the Telephus.1
What, pray, do you mean to do? Teil me, Æschylus!
I was wishing2 not to contend here; for our contest is not on equal terms.
Because3 my poetry has not died with me, but this man’s has died with him, so that he will be able to recite it. But still, since you think proper, I must do so.
Come then, let some one give me here frankincense and fire, that I may pray,4 prior to the learned compositions, so as to decide5 this contest most skilfully. But do you [to the Chorus] sing some song to the Muses.
O you chaste Muses, the nine6 virgins of Jove, who look down upon the subtle, sagacious minds of maxim-coining men,7 whenever they enter into competition as opponents with keenly-studied tricks of wrestling, come to observe the power of mouths most skilful in furnishing for themselves words and poetic saw-dust.8 For now the mighty contest of skill is coming to action9 forthwith.
Now do you two also offer up some prayer, before you recite your verses.
(offering frankincense). O Ceres, who nourished my mind, may I be1 worthy of your mysteries!
Come then, now do you also [to Euripides] offer frankincense.2
Excuse me; for the gods3 to whom I pray, are different.
Are they some of your own, a new4 coinage?
Come then, pray to your peculiar5 gods.
Well now, we are desirous to hear from you two learned men what hostile course of argument you will enter upon. For their tongue has been exasperated, and the spirit Edition: current; Page:  of both is not devoid of courage, nor their souls sluggish. Therefore ’tis reasonable to expect that one will say something clever and well-polished; while the other, tearing them up,1 will fall on him with words torn up from the very roots, and toss about many long rolling words.
Come, you ought to recite as soon as possible: but in such manner that you shall utter what is polite, and neither metaphors,2 nor such as any one else might say.
Well now, I will speak of myself subsequently, what I am in poetry; but first I will convict this fellow, that he was an impostor and a quack, and will show with what tricks he cajoled the spectators, having received them reared as fools in the school of Phrynichus.3 For first of all he used to muffle up and seat some single character, an Achilles4 or a Niobe, without showing the face, a piece of tragic quackery,5 who did not even utter so much—
No, by Jove,1 they certainly did not.
His chorus, on the other hand, used to hurl four series of songs one after another without ceasing; while they were silent.
But I used to like the silence, and this used to please me no less than those that chatter now-a-days.
For you were a simpleton, be well assured.
I also think so myself.2 But why did What’s his name do this?
O the thorough rascal! How I was cheated, then, by him! [To Æschylus.] Why are you stretching and yawning, and showing impatience?
Because I expose him. And then, when he had trifled in this way, and the drama was now half over, he used to speak some dozen words as big5 as bulls, with brows and crests, some tremendous fellows of terrific aspect, unknown to the spectators.
Ah me, miserable!
But not a single plain word would he utter.6
Don’t grind your teeth.
It had been painted3 as a device on the ships, you ignoramus.
But I thought it was Eryxis,4 the son of Philoxenus.
Ought you then to have introduced a cock5 into tragedy?
And what sort,6 you enemy of the gods, are the things which you introduced?
Not horse-cocks, by Jove, nor yet goat-stags, as you do, such as they depict on the Persian tapestry:7 but immediately, as soon as ever I received the art from you, puffed out with pompous phrases and ponderous words, I first of all reduced it, and took off its ponderousness with versicles, and argumentations, and with white beet,8 giving it chatter-juice, filtering it from books: and then I nursed it up with monodies, making an infusion of Cephisophon.9 Then I did not Edition: current; Page:  trifle with whatever I met with, nor rashly1 jumbled things together; but he who came forward first used straightway to tell the pedigree of the piece.2
For, by Jove, ’twas better than to tell your own.3
Then ought you not, pray, to have been put to death for daring to do this?
No, by Apollo; for I did it as a popular act.
No more of this, my good friend; for upon this subject your argumentation does not appear to the best advantage.6
Then I taught these1 to speechify—
I grant you. Would that you had burst2 asunder in the middle before you taught them.
And the introduction of subtle rules, and the cornering-off of verses, to notice, to see, to understand, to twist, to love, to use stratagems,3 to suspect mischief,4 to contrive all things cunningly5—
I grant you.
Introducing domestic affairs, with which we are conversant, in which we are engaged, by which6 I might be tested; for these,7 being acquainted with the subjects, might criticise my art. But I used not to talk big, taking them away from their understandings, nor did I astound8 them by introducing Cycni and Memnons with bells on their horses’ trappings. And you will recognise9 the pupils of each, his and mine. His are Phormisius10 and Megænetus11 the Magnesian, Edition: current; Page:  whiskered-lance1-trumpeters, sneering-pine-benders while mine are Clitophon,2 and Theramenes the elegant.
I certainly instructed6 them to be prudent in such matters, by introducing into the art calculation and consideration; so that now they understand7 and discern all things, and regulate both other matters and their households better than heretofore,8 and look at things narrowly,—“How is this? Where is this? Who took this?”9
Yes, by the gods; at any rate every Athenian10 now Edition: current; Page:  when he comes in, bawls to his domestics and inquires,—“Where’s the pitcher? Who has eaten off the sprat’s head?1 My last year’s bowl is gone. Where is the garlic of yesterday? Who has nibbled at my olives?” But before this they used to sit most stupid, gaping boobies2 and blockheads.
“Thou seest this, O illustrious Achilles.”3 Come, what wilt thou say to this? Only see that thine anger seize thee not, and carry thee out of4 the course; for he has laid grievous things to your charge.5 But, O noble man, see that you do not reply with anger, but shorten sail, using the extremity6 of your sails, and then gradually bear up, and watch when you catch the wind gentle and steady. But, O thou first7 of the Greeks that built the lofty rhyme, and gave dignity to tragic nonsense,8 boldly send forth thy torrent of words.
For cleverness and instruction, and because we make the people in the cities better.
To be put to death; don’t ask him.3
Observe then what sort of men he originally received them from me, if noble and tall fellows,4 and not citizens that shirk all state burdens,5 nor loungers in the market, nor rogues, as they are now, nor villains; but breathing6 of spears, and lances, and white-crested helmets, and casques, and greaves, and seven-fold7 courage.
This mischief now is spreading.8 He will kill me with his repeated helmet-making.
And by having done what did you teach them to be so noble-minded? [Æschylus is silent.] Speak, Æschylus, and do not be churlishly haughty and angry.
By having composed a drama full of martial spirit.
Of what kind?
The “Seven against Thebes.” Every man that saw it would long to be a warrior.9
It was in your power to practise it; but you did not turn yourselves to this. Then I published the “Persæ” after this1 and taught them to desire always to conquer their adversaries, having embellished a most noble achievement.
Of a truth I was delighted, when report was made about the defunct Darius, and the chorus immediately struck its hands together thus and exclaimed “Alas!”2
This it behoves poets to practise. For observe how useful the3 noble poets have been from of old. Orpheus4 made known to us mystic rites, and to abstain5 from slaughter; Musæus, thorough cures6 of diseases, and oracles; Hesiod, the cultivation of the earth, the season for fruits, and tillage; and by what did the divine Homer obtain honour and glory, except this, that he taught what was useful, the marshalling of an army, brave deeds, and the equipment of heroes?7
And yet, nevertheless, he did not teach the most Edition: current; Page:  stupid Pantacles.1 At any rate, lately, when he was for leading the procession, he tied on his helmet first and was going to fasten his crest on it.2
But in truth many other brave men, of whose number also was the hero Lamachus: from whom my mind3 copied and represented the many brave deeds of Patrocluses4 and lion-hearted Teucers, that I might rouse the citizen to raise himself to these, whenever he should hear the trumpet. But, by Jupiter, I did not introduce harlot Phædras or Sthenobœas;5 nor does any one know any6 woman whom I ever represented in love.7
No, by Jove; for neither was there aught of Venus in you.
Yea, by Jupiter, this is assuredly the case; for you have been yourself afflicted with those things, which you composed upon other men’s wives.
Why, what harm, you wretched fellow, do my Sthenobœas do to the city?
Because you have moved women, well-born, and the wives of well-born men, to drink hemlock, shamed on account of your Bellerophons.
But is this story which1 I composed about Phædra, an unreal one?
No, by Jove, but a real2 one. Yet it becomes a poet to hide wickedness, and not to bring it forward, or represent it; for he who directs them is teacher to the little children, but poets to those3 who are grown up. In truth, it greatly behoves us to speak what is useful.
But, you wretch, it is necessary also to produce words which are equal1 to the great thoughts and sentiments. And besides, it is natural that the demi-gods2 have their words mightier than ours, for they also have their dresses grander than ours.3 When I had beneficially established this, you utterly spoiled it.
By doing what?
First by dressing royal personages in rags,4 that they might appear to men to be piteous.
By doing what then have I injured in this?
Aye, by Ceres, with a tunic of fine wool underneath; and if he impose upon them by saying this, he emerges again in the fish-market.7
Then, again, you taught them to practise loquacity and wordiness, which has emptied the palæstræ,8 and worn the buttocks of the youths who chatter, and induced the crew of the Paralus9 to contradict their commanders. And yet, at that time when I was living, they did not understand any thing else, but to call for barley cake and shout “Yo heave ho!”
Yes, by Apollo, did he, and to break wind too in the Edition: current; Page:  face of the rowers on the lowest bench,1 and to befoul his messmate, and when on shore,2 to rob people: but now to contradict, and no longer to row, and to sail this way, and, again, that way.
Of what evils is he not the cause? Has he not represented pimps, and women3 bringing forth in the temples, and having connexion with their brothers, and saying, “to live is not to live?” And then, in consequence of this,4 our city has been filled full of under-clerks, and of buffoonish charlatans, who are always deceiving the people. But no one is able any longer5 now to carry a torch6 through want of exercise.
No, by Jove, certainly not; so that I was quite spent with laughing at the Panathenaia, when a fellow, slow, pale, and fat, was running with his head down,1 being left behind, and acting strangely.2 And then the people of the Ceramicus at the gates fall to beating his belly, sides, flanks, and buttocks; and he, being beaten with the flat of the hand,3 fizzled a little and blew out the torch and ran away.
Mighty is the affair, great is the strife, and mighty comes the war.4 Therefore it will be a difficult task to decide, when the one strains5 powerfully, and the other is able to rally and resist actively. But do not encamp in the same place6 always; for there are many other approaches of captious arguments. Whatever therefore you have to dispute withal, state it, attack, rip up both what is old and what is new; and make a bold attempt to say something subtle and clever. But if you fear this, lest7 ignorance be in the spectators, so as not to understand the subtleties, while you two speak; do not dread this; since this is no8 longer so. For they have been soldiers, and each of them with a book9 learns Edition: current; Page:  the rules of art: and besides, their intellects1 are first rate; and now also they have been sharpened besides. Then don’t fear, but go through all, as far as the spectators are concerned, since they are clever.
Well now, I will2 turn to your prologues themselves, so that I shall first of all scrutinize the first part of the tragedy of the clever man himself; for he was obscure in the enunciation of his plots.
And which of his will you examine?
Very many. But first recite me that from the Oresteia.3
Come now, be silent, every man! Recite, Æschylus!
“Terrestrial4 Mercury, who watchest over thy paternal powers, be thou my preserver and ally, who supplicate thee. For I have come to this land and am returning.”
(to Euripides). Are you able to censure any part of these?
More than a dozen.
Why, they are but three lines altogether.
But each of them has twenty blunders.
[Æschylus exhibits signs of great impatience, and a desire to interrupt Euripides.]
Æschylus, I recommend you to be silent; otherwise, you will appear obnoxious to more, in addition to your three iambics.
Shall I be silent for this fellow?1
Yes; if you will take my advice.
For he has blundered prodigiously2 at the very outset.
(to Bacchus). Do you see that you are talking foolishly?
Well, I am little concerned.
How say you that I blunder?
Recite it again from the beginning.
“Terrestrial Mercury, who watchest over thy paternal powers.”
Does not Orestes then say this over the tomb of his deceased father?
I do not deny it.3
Did he then say that Mercury4 watched over this when his father perished violently by the hand of a woman, through secret stratagems?
It certainly was not that one; but he addressed Mercury, the helper,5 as “Terrestrial,” and made it plain by saying that he has obtained this prerogative from his father.
You have made a still greater blunder than I wanted; for if he have obtained the Terrestrial prerogative from his father—
He would thus be a tomb-robber by his father’s side.
Bacchus, you drink wine not redolent of flowers.6
Recite him another line, and do you [to Euripides] look out for the fault.1
“Be thou my preserver and ally, who supplicate thee. For I have come to this land and am returning.”
The sapient Æschylus has told us the same thing twice.2
(to Bacchus). Observe the expression; I will point it out to you: “For I have come to this land,” says he, “and am returning.” But “I have come,” is the same3 with “I am returning.”
(to Bacchus). This is certainly not the same, you chattering fellow; but it is6 a most excellent verse.
How, pray? tell7 me how you make that out.
Good, by Apollo! What say you, Euripides?
I deny that Orestes “returned” home; for he came secretly, without having prevailed upon the rulers.1
Good,2 by Mercury! but I do not understand what you mean.
Therefore repeat another.
Come, Æschylus, be quick and repeat it; and do you [to Euripides] look to what is faulty.
“Upon this mound of his tomb I call upon my father to hearken to me and hear.”
But how did you compose your prologues?
I will show you; and if any where I say the same thing twice,7 or you see any expletive in it foreign to the subject, spit upon me.
(to Euripides). Come now, recite; for1 I must listen to the correctness of the verses of your prologues.
“Œdipus2 was at first a fortunate man,”—
“And then, on the other hand, became the most wretched of mortals.”
No, by Jove, certainly not; nay, rather, he did not cease to be:5 assuredly not; when they exposed him as soon as he was born, in the winter, in an earthen vessel,6 that he might not be brought up and become his father’s murderer; and then he went to Polybus swollen in his feet;7 and then, being himself a young man, married an old woman, and in addition to this, his own mother; and then he blinded himself.
You talk foolishly: I compose my prologues excellently.
You demolish my prologues with a little oil-flask?
With one only. For you compose them in such a way that every thing fits your iambics, a little sheep-skin, a little oil-flask, a little bag. I will show you directly.
“You will show me,” quoth’a!
You ought now to recite.
Lost a little oil-flask.
What is this “little oil-flask?” A plague upon it!
Recite him another prologue, so that he7 may investigate again.
Lost a little oil-flask.
Ah me! we have been smitten again1 by the oil-flask!
But it shall be no trouble to us; for to this prologue he will not be able to attach an oil-flask. “There2 is not a man who is fortunate in all respects; for either, being noble, he has not subsistence, or being low-born”—
Lost a little oil-flask.
What’s the matter?
By Ceres, I would not even give it a thought: for now shall this be struck from him.
Come now, recite another, and keep clear of the oil-flask.
“Cadmus5 once, having left the Sidonian city, the son of Agenor”—
Lost a little oil-flask.
What? Shall I buy1 of him?
Yes, if you will take my advice.
Certainly not; for I shall be able to recite many prologues, where he will not be able to attach an oil-flask. “Pelops,2 son of Tantalus, having gone to Pisa with swift steeds”—
Lost a little oil-flask.
No, by Jupiter, not yet at least; for I have many still. “Œneus6 once from the earth”—
Lost a little oil-flask.
Let me first say the whole7 of the verse. “Œneus once having got an abundant crop from the earth, while offering the first-fruits”—
Lost a little oil-flask.
In the middle of his sacrifice? Why, who stole it?
Let him alone, my good sir; for let him speak to this. “Jove,8 as has been said by Truth”—
He will destroy you; for he will say, “Lost a little oil-flask.” For this little oil-flask sticks to your prologues, like warts to the eyes. Come, by the gods, turn1 to his melodies!
Well now, I am2 able to prove him to be a bad composer of melodies, and to be always introducing the same.
What ever will be the event? For I am considering what ever censure he will bring against a man, who has composed by far the most and best melodies in comparison with3 those still living at the present day. For I wonder how he will ever censure this inspired4 chief; and I fear for him.
Well now, I’ll take some of the counters and count them.7 [A symphony is played on the flute.]
“O Phthian Achilles,8 why ever, when you hear the Edition: current; Page:  murderous toil,1 alas! do you not come to their assistance? We who inhabit2 the marsh, honour Mercury our ancestral progenitor. Alas! the toil—do you not come to their assistance?”3
There are two “toils” for you, Æschylus.
“O most glorious of the Achaians, wide-ruling son of Atreus,4 learn from me. Alas! the toil—do you not come to their assistance?”
This is the third “toil” for you, Æschylus.
“Speak words of good5 omen: the chief priestesses6 are near, to open the temple of Diana. Alas! the toil—do you not come to their assistance? I am authorized7 to declare the propitious road-omen of the heroes. Alas! the toil—do you not come to their assistance?”
Come now, repeat it, and don’t add a “toil” to it. [An accompaniment played on the cithara.]
“How1 the impetuous bird sends the two-throned sovereignty of the Achaians, youth of Greece,—phlattothrattophlattothrat,—the Sphinx. the bitch, the president of mischances,—phlattothrattophlattothrat,—with spear and avenging hand,—phlattothrattophlattothrat,—having permitted them to meet with the eager dogs that roam the air,—phlattothrattophlattothrat,—and the party hanging upon Ajax,—phlattothrattophlattothrat.”
Yet certainly I transferred them from a good place to a good place, that I might not be seen cropping the same sacred meadow of the Muses with Phrynichus.4 But this fellow borrows from all the prostitutes,5 from the scolia of Melitus,6 from the Carian7 flute-music, from dirges, from Edition: current; Page:  dance-tunes. It shall soon be made manifest. Let some one bring me the lyre. And yet, what occasion for a lyre against him? Where is she that rattles1 with the castanets? Come hither, Muse of Euripides, to whose accompaniment these songs2 are adapted for singing. [Enter a woman with the castanets, most ludicrously habited as the Muse of Euripides.]
This Muse was never accustomed to act the Lesbian; no.3
(with an accompaniment of the castanets). “Ye halcyons that twitter beside5 the ever-flowing waves of the sea, moistening your bodies with the humid drops of your wings, being besprinkled; and ye spiders, that, dwelling under the roof in corners, wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-whirl6 with your fingers the threads stretched on the web-beam, the cares of the tuneful7 shuttle, where8 the dolphin fond of the flute was leaping around the dark-beaked prows—oracles and stadia. The exhilaration9 of the shoot of the vine, the toil-assuaging10 Edition: current; Page:  tendril of the grape. Throw your arms1 around me, my child.” [To Bacchus.] Do you see this foot?2
I see it.
What then? do you see this?
I see it.
(to Euripides). Yet, however, though you compose such stuff, do you dare to censure my melodies, who compose melodies after the twelve modes of Cyrene? These are your melodies. But I wish further to go through the manner of your monodies. “Oh3 dark-shining dusk of Night, what unfortunate dream do you send to me from the unseen world, a minister of hell, having a soulless soul, child4 of black Night, a horrible, dreadful sight, clad in black shroud, murderously, murderously glaring, having huge claws? Come, ye attendants, light me a lamp and bring me dew from the rivers in pitchers, and warm some water, that I may wash5 away the divine dream. Ho, thou marine deity! there we have it! Ho, ye fellow-inmates, behold these portents! Glyce has carried away my cock and is gone. O ye mountain-born Edition: current; Page:  nymphs! 1O Mania,2 seize her. But3 I, unhappy woman, chanced to be intent on my labours, wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-whirling with my hands a spindle full of flax, making a clue, that I might take it to market early in the morning and sell it. But he flew up, flew up4 to heaven with the very light extremities5 of his wings; and left behind to me woes, woes; and tears, tears from mine eyes I shed, I shed, unhappy woman. Come, O ye Cretans,6 children of Ida, take your bows and succour me, and put your limbs in motion, encircling7 the house. And at the same time let the maid Dictynna, beautiful Diana,8 with her bitch-puppies go through the house on every side. And do thou, Hecate,9 daughter of Edition: current; Page:  Jove, holding up lamps with double lights with very rapid hands, light me along to Glyce’s, that I may enter and search after the theft.”
Have done now with your melodies.
I too have had enough. For I wish to bring him to the scales, which alone will try our poetry; for they will test the weight of our expressions.
The clever poets are painstaking. For this, again, is another novel prodigy, full of strangeness, which no3 other person would have thought of! By the deity,4 I would not have believed it, if even any one of the common5 people had told me, but would have thought he was trifling therein.
Come then, stand by near the scale.6
And take hold and each of you recite your sentence, and do not let go till I cry “cuckoo” to you.7
We are keeping hold.
Now recite your verse into the scales.
“Would that8 the hull of the Argo had not flown through.”
“O river1 Sperchius, and ye cattle-feeding pastures.”
“Cuckoo!” let go! Why, this man’s side2 sinks far lower.
Why, what ever is the reason?
Because he put in a river,3 having like a wool-dealer made his verse wet as they do their fleeces; while the verse which you put in was furnished with wings.
Come, let him recite another and weigh it against mine.
Then take hold again.
“There is no other temple of Persuasion,4 save speech.”—
“For5 Death alone of the gods loves not gifts.”
Let go! let go! Why, this man’s side declines again; for he put in Death, the weightiest of evils.
And I Persuasion,6 a verse most admirably expressed.
But Persuasion is a light thing, and has no sense. Come, search again for some other of your heavy ones, which shall draw down the scale for you, a mighty and huge one.
Come, where then have I such a one? where?
I’ll tell you: “Achilles has thrown1 quatre-deux.” Recite! for this is your last weighing.
“And in2 his right hand he grasped a club heavy with iron.”
“For3 chariot upon chariot, and corpse upon corpse.”
He has foiled you again, even now.
In what way?
He put in two chariots and two corpses, which not even a hundred Egyptians4 could lift.
And now let him no longer dispute with me word by word; but let him get into the scales and sit down, himself, his children, his wife, and Cephisophon, having taken his books5 with him, while I will merely recite two verses of mine.
Then will you accomplish none of those things, for the sake of which you came?
But if I decide?
You shall take one of the two, whichever you prefer, and depart, that you may not come in vain.
May you be prosperous! Come, hear this from me: I came down for a poet.3
On what account?
In order that the city may be saved and hold its choruses. Whichever therefore of you shall give some good advice to the state, him I purpose to take. In the first place, then, what opinion do you each entertain respecting Alcibiades?4 For the state has difficult labour-pains.
But what opinion does it entertain respecting him?
I hate a citizen, who shall show himself slow to benefit his country, but quick to greatly injure it; and I hate one who is full of resources for himself, but without resources for the state.
O Neptune, excellent! But [to Æschylus] what opinion do you hold?
One must not rear a lion’s whelp1 within the city: above all not rear a lion in the city; but if one rear it, one must submit to its ways.
’Twould look ridiculous: but what is the meaning of it?
If they were in a sea-fight, and then with vinegar cruets were to sprinkle vinegar in the enemy’s eyes—[Bacchus turns angrily away.] I know, and am willing to speak.
When we consider trustworthy what is now distrusted, and what is trusted, unworthy of trust—
How? I do2 not understand you. Speak somehow less learnedly and more clearly.
If we were to distrust those citizens whom we now trust, and employ those whom we do not employ,3 we might be saved. If we are now unsuccessful in these measures, how should we not be saved by doing the contrary?
I only: but Cephisophon the vinegar-cruets.
(to Æschylus). What then do you say?
Now tell me first about the city, what kind of persons it employs:6 is it the good?
By no means.7 It hates them most abominably.
And does it take pleasure in the bad?
It certainly does not; but employs them of necessity.
How1 then could one save such a city, which neither cloak nor goat-skin fits?
Devise something, by Jupiter! if possibly it may emerge again.2
I will speak there;3 but here I am not willing.
Nay, don’t4 say so; but send up your good counsel from here.
Good, but the judge7 swallows them alone.
(to Bacchus). Decide!8
This shall be your judgment; for I will choose him whom my soul desires.
Being mindful, then, of the gods by whom you swore, that you would assuredly take me away homewards, choose your friends.
“My9 tongue has sworn,” but I shall choose Æschylus.
What have you done, O most abominable1 of men?
I? I have adjudged Æschylus to be conqueror. For why not?
Do you look me in the face, after you have done a most shameful deed to me?
“Why shameful,2 if the spectators do not think so?”
Wretch! will you allow me to be dead then?
“Who knows3 but to live is to die, and to breathe, to feast, and to sleep, a sheep-skin.”
Go4 ye then within, Bacchus.
That I may entertain you two, before you sail away.
You say well, by Jove; for I am not displeased with the matter. [Exeunt Pluto, Bacchus, Æschylus, and Euripides.]
Happy is the man who possesses perfect knowledge. And we may learn this by many instances. For this man, having been adjudged5 to be wise, will depart home again, to the advantage of his citizens,6 and to the advantage of his own relations and friends, by reason of his being intelligent.7 ’Tis well then not to sit by Socrates8 and chatter, having rejected Edition: current; Page:  music, and having neglected the most important parts of the tragic art. But to idly waste one’s time on grand1 words and petty quibbles, is the part of a madman. [Re-enter Pluto, Bacchus, and Æschylus.]
Come now, Æschylus, depart joyfully, and save our city by good advice, and instruct the senseless, for they are numerous; and take and give this [offering a halter] to Cleophon, and this [offering a bowl of hemlock] to the financiers Myrmex and Nicomachus2 together, and this [offering a scourge] to Archenomus; and bid them come hither quickly to me, and not delay. And if they do not come quickly, by Apollo, I will brand them, and bind them hand and foot, and quickly despatch them under the earth along with Adimantus the son of Leucolophus.3
I will do so; and do you give my seat to Sophocles to keep and preserve for me, if perchance I should ever return hither. For him I judge to be next in genius. But mind that the rascal, and liar, and buffoon, never sit upon my seat, even against his will.
(to the Chorus). Therefore do you light for him the sacred torches, and at the same time escort him, celebrating him with his own4 melodies and songs.
Ye deities beneath the earth, in the first place5 give a good journey to the poet departing and hastening to the Edition: current; Page:  light, and to the city good thoughts of great blessings: for so we may cease altogether from great griefs and dreadful conflicts in arms. But let Cleophon1 fight, and any other of these that pleases, in his native land. [Exeunt omnes.]
Of the date of the Ecclesiazusæ we are not informed by any Didascalia. We learn, however, from a note of the Scholiast on vs. 193, that it was brought on the stage two years after the league with the Bœotians; consequently, in the spring of the year 392, bc; and, (as may be inferred from the Scholiast on the Frogs, vs. 404,) at the Great Dionysia. The Ecclesiazusæ is, like the Lysistrata, a picture of woman’s ascendency, but one much more depraved than the other. In the dress of men the women steal into the public assembly, and by means of the majority of voices which they have thus surreptitiously obtained, they decree a new constitution, in which there is to be a community of goods and of women. This is a satire on the ideal republics of the philosophers, with similar laws. Protagoras had projected such before Plato. This comedy appears to labour under the very same fault as the Peace: the introduction, the secret assembly of the women, their rehearsal of their parts as men, the description of the popular assembly, are all handled in the most masterly manner; but towards the middle the action stands still. Nothing remains but the representation of the perplexities and confusion which arise from the different communities, especially the community of women, and from the prescribed equality of rights in love both for the old and ugly, and for the young and beautiful. These perplexities are pleasant enough, but they turn too much on a repetition of the same joke.
[Scene—the front of a citizen’s house, having a lamp suspended over the door. Time—a little past midnight.]
(coming out of the house dressed in men’s clothes). O bright eye of the wheel-formed lamp,1 suspended most commodiously in a situation commanding a wide view, (for I will declare both your parentage2 and your fortunes:3 for, having been driven with the wheel by4 the force of the potter, you possess in your nozzles5 the bright honours of the sun,) send forth the signal of flame agreed upon! For to you alone we reveal it:—justly; for you also stand close by us in our bed-chambers when we try the various modes of Aphrodite; and no one excludes your eye from the house, the witness of our bending bodies. And you alone cast light into the secret recesses of our persons, when you singe6 off the hair which flourishes upon them. And you aid us when secretly opening7 the storehouses filled with fruits and the Bacchic stream. And although you help to do this, you do not babble of it to the neighbours. Wherefore you shall also be privy to our present designs, as many as were determined Edition: current; Page:  on by my friends at the Scira.1 But none of them is present, who ought to have come. And yet it is close upon daybreak; and the Assembly will take place immediately;2 and we must take possession of different3 seats from those which Phyromachus formerly ordered, if you still remember, and sit down without being detected. What then can be the matter? Have they their beards not sewed on, which they were ordered to have? or has it been difficult for them to steal and take their husbands’ clothes? But I see a lamp there4 approaching. Come, now let me5 retire back, lest the person who approaches should chance to be a man.
[Retires to one side.]
It is time to go; for the herald just now crowed6 the second time, as we were setting out.
(coming forward out of her hiding-place). I was lying awake the whole night expecting you. But come, let me summon our neighbour here by tapping at her door: for I must escape the notice of her husband.
[Taps at the door.]
I heard the tapping7 of your fingers, as I was putting on my shoes, since I was not asleep: for my husband, my dearest, (for he whom I live with8 is a Salaminian,) was occupying me the whole night Edition: current; Page:  in the bed-clothes, so that it was only just now I could get this garment of his.
Well now I see Clinarete also, and Sostrate here now approaching, and Philænete.
[Enter Clinarete, Sostrate, and Philænete.]
Will you not hasten then? for Glyce swore that that one of our1 number who came last, should pay three choæ of wine, and a chœnix of chick-peas.
And don’t you see Gusistrate, the wife of the innkeeper, with her lamp in her right hand, and the wife of Philodoretus, and the wife of Chæretades?
I see very many other women also approaching, all that are good for aught in the city.4
(entering, followed by many others). And I, my dearest, escaped and stole away with very great difficulty; for my husband kept coughing the whole night, having been stuffed with anchovies over-night.5
Sit down then, since I see you are assembled, in order that I may ask you about this, if you have done all that was determined on at the Scira.
Yes. In the first place I have my armpits roughter6 than a thicket, as was agreed upon. In the next place, whenever my husband went to the market, I anointed Edition: current; Page:  my whole body, and basked the whole day standing in the sun-shine.1
And I. I threw the razor out of the house the first thing, in order that I might be hairy all over, and no longer like a woman at all.
Have you the beards, which we were all ordered to have, whenever we assembled?
(holding one up). Yea, by Hecate! see! here’s a fine one!2
(holding one up). And I one, not a little finer than that of Epicrates.3
(turning to the others). But what do you say?
They say yes; for they nod assent.
Well now I perceive that you have done the other things. For you have Laconian shoes, and staffs, and your husbands’ garments, as we ordered.
I secretly brought away this club of4 Lamia’s as he was sleeping.
This is one of those clubs, under whose5 weight he fizzles.
Yea, by Jove! wherefore you ought to take your seat under the Bema,5 over against the Prytanes.
(holding up some wool). By Jove, I brought these here, in order that I might card when the Assembly was6 full.
Full, you rogue?7
Yes, by Diana! for how should I hear any worse, if I carded? My children are naked.
“Carded,” quoth’a! you who ought to exhibit no part of your person to the meeting! [Turning to the others.] Therefore we should be finely off, if8 the Assembly chanced to be full, and then some of us strode over and took up her dress9 and exhibited her Phormisius.10 Now if we take our seats first, we shall escape observation when we have wrapped our garments close round us: and when we let our beards hang down, which we will tie on there, who would not think as men on seeing us? At any rate Agyrrhius11 has the Edition: current; Page:  beard of Pronomus, without being noticed. And yet, before this, he was a woman. But now, you see, he has the chief power in the state. On this account, by the coming day,1 let us venture on so great an enterprise, if by2 any means we be able to seize upon the administration of the state, so as to do the state some good. For now we neither sail3 nor row.
Why, how can4 an effeminate conclave of women harangue the people?
Nay, rather, by far the best, I ween. For they say, that as many of the youths also as most resemble women, are the most skilful in speaking. Now we have this by chance.5
I know not: the want of experience is a sad thing.6
Therefore we have assembled here on purpose,7 so that we might practise beforehand what we must say there. You cannot be too quick8 in tying on your beard; and the others, as many as have practised speaking.
But who of us, my friend, does not know how to speak?
Come hither, dearest Praxagora, see, you rogue how laughable even the affair seems.
Just as if one were to tie a beard on fried cuttle-fish.3
Purifier,4 you must carry round—the cat.5 Come forward to the front!6 Ariphrades,7 cease talking! Come forward and sit down! [Here the women mimic the ceremonies of the lustration.] Who wishes to speak?8
Now put on the chaplet, and success to you!9
Then shall I speak before I drink?
Why have I crowned2 myself then, my friend?
Get out of the way! You would have done such things to us there also.
How3 then? don’t they also drink in the Assembly?
Yes, by Diana! and that too unmixed wine. At any rate their decrees, as many as they make, are, to people considering well, mad ones, like drunken people’s.4 And, by Jove, they make libations too; or, on what account would they make so many prayers, if wine was not present? And they rail at one another too, like drunken men; and the policemen carry out him that plays drunken tricks.
Go you and sit down; for you are a worthless thing.5
By Jove, upon my word it were better for me not to have a beard; for, as it seems, I shall be parched with thirst. [Goes and sits down.]
Is there any other who6 wishes to speak?
I should have wished some other one of those accustomed to speak were giving the best advice, in order that9 Edition: current; Page:  I might have been sitting quiet. But now,1 according to my motion, I will not suffer a single hostess to make cisterns of water in the taverns.2 I don’t approve of it, by the two goddesses!3
“By the two goddesses!” Wretch, where have you your senses?
What’s the matter? for indeed I did not ask you for drink.
No, by Jove; but you swore by the two goddesses, being a man. And yet you spoke4 the rest most cleverly.
Give me the chaplet! I will speak again. For now I think I have gone over it properly in my mind. “To me, O women,7 who are sitting here”—
Again you are calling the men “women,” you wretch.
It’s on account of Epigonus1 yonder. For when I looked thither I thought I was speaking to women.
Away with you also,2 and sit down there.3 Methinks I must take this chaplet myself and speak4 for you. I pray to the gods that I may bring our plans to a successful issue. “I have an equal share in this country as you; but I am vexed and annoyed at all the transactions of the state. For I see it always employing bad leaders: and if any be good for one day, he is bad for ten. Have5 you committed it to another; he will do still more mischief. Therefore it is difficult to advise men so hard to please as you, who are afraid of those who wish to love you, but those who are not willing you constantly supplicate. There was a time when we did not make use of Assemblies at all, but considered Agyrrhius6 a villain. But now, when we do make use of them, he who has received money praises the custom above measure; but he who has not received, says that those who seek to receive pay in the Assembly are worthy of death.”
By Venus, you say this well.
You have mentioned Venus,7 you wretch. You would have done a pretty thing, if you had said this in the Assembly.
But I would not have said it.
(to the first woman). Neither accustom yourself now to say it. [Returning to her subject.] “Again, when we deliberated about this alliance,8 they said the state would Edition: current; Page:  perish, if it did not take place: and when now it did take place, they were vexed; and the orator1 who persuaded you to it, immediately fled away. Is it necessary2 to launch ships the poor man approves of it, but the wealthy3 and the farmers do not approve of it. You were vexed at the Corinthians, and they at you.4 But now they are good,—and do you now be good to them. Argeus5 is ignorant, but Hieronymus is clever. A hope of safety peeped out, but it is banished * * * * * * * * * * * * * Thrasybulus6 himself not being called to our aid.”
What a sagacious man!
(to first woman). Now you praise1 rightly. [Returning to her subject.] “You, O people, are the cause of this. For you, receiving the public money as pay, watch, each of you, in private, what he shall gain; while the state totters along like Æsimus.2 If therefore you take my advice, you shall still be saved. I assert that we ought to intrust the state to the women. For in our houses we employ them as3 stewards and managers.”
Well done! well done! by Jove! well done! say on, say on, O good sir!
“But that they are superior to us in their habits I will demonstrate. For, in the first place, they wash their wool in warm water, every one of them, after the ancient custom And you will not see them trying in a different way. But would not the city of the Athenians be saved, if it observed this properly,4 unless it made itself5 busy with some other new-fangled scheme? They roast sitting, just as before. They carry burdens on their heads, just as before. They keep the Thesmophoria, just as before. They6 bake their cheese-cakes, just as before. They torment their husbands,7 just as before. They have paramours in the house, just as before. They buy dainties for themselves, just as before. They like their wine unmixed,8 just as before. They delight9 in being wantonly treated, just as before. Therefore, sirs, let us intrust the city Edition: current; Page:  to them, and not chatter exceedingly, nor inquire what in the world they will do; but let us fairly suffer them to govern, having considered this alone,1 that, in the first place, being mothers, they will be desirous to save the soldiers; and in the next place, who could send provisions quicker than the parent? A woman is most ingenious2 in providing money; and when governing, could never be deceived; for they themselves are accustomed to deceive. The rest I will omit: but if you take my advice in this, you will spend your lives happily.”
Well done, O sweetest Praxagora, and cleverly! Whence, you rogue, did you learn this so prettily?
During the flight3 I dwelt with my husband in the Pnyx; and then I learnt by hearing the orators.
No wonder then, my dear, you are4 clever and wise: and we5 women elect you as general on the spot, if you will effect these things, which you have in your mind. But if Cephalus6 should be unlucky enough to meet7 and insult you, how will you reply to him in the Assembly?
I will say he is crazed.
But this they all know.
But also that he is melancholy-mad.
This too they know.
But also that he tinkers8 his pots badly, but the state well and prettily.
How then, if Neoclides1 the blear-eyed insults you?
Him I bid count the hairs on a dog’s tail.2
How then, if they knock you?
I ’ll knock again; since I am not unused to many knocks.
That thing alone is unconsidered, what in the world you will do, if the Policemen try to drag you away.3
I ’ll nudge with the elbow in this way; for I will never be caught4 by the middle.
And if they lift you up, we will bid them let you alone.
This has been well considered by us. But that we have not thought of, how we shall remember then to hold up our hands; for we are accustomed to hold up our legs.
The thing is difficult: but nevertheless we must hold up our hands, having bared one arm up to the shoulder. Come then, gird up your tunics;5 and put on your Laconian shoes as soon as possible, as you always see your husbands do, when they are about to go to the Assembly or out of doors. And then, when all these matters are well, tie on your beards. And when you shall have arranged them precisely, having them fitted on, put on also your husbands’ garments, which6 you stole; and then go, leaning on your staffs, singing Edition: current; Page:  some old man’s1 song, imitating the manner of the country people.
Come, hasten! for it is the custom there for those who are not present at the Pnyx at day-break,4 to skulk away, having not even a doit.5 [The women advance into the orchestra, and there form themselves into a chorus.]
It is time for us to advance, O men,—for this6 we ought mindfully to be always repeating, so that it may never escape7 our memories. For the danger is not trifling, if we be caught entering upon so great an enterprise in secret. Let us go to the Assembly, O men; for the Thesmothetes threatened, that whoever should not come at dawn very early, in haste, looking sharp and sour, content8 with garlic-pickle, he would not give him the three obols.Edition: current; Page: 
Come, O Charitimides,1 and Smicythus, and Draces, follow in haste, taking heed to yourself that you blunder in none of those things which you ought to effect. But see that, when we have received our ticket,2 we then sit down3 near each other, so that we may vote for all measures, as many as it behoves our sisterhood. And yet, what am I saying? for I ought to have called them “brotherhood.”4
But see that we jostle those who have come from the city; as many as heretofore,5 when a person had to receive only one obolus on his coming, used to sit and chatter, crowned with chaplets.6 But now they are a great nuisance. But when the brave Myronides7 held office, no one used to dare to conduct the affairs of the state for the receipt8 of money; but each of them used9 to come with drink in a little wine-skin, and bread at the same time, and two onions besides, and three olives.10 But now, like people carrying clay, they seek to get three obols, whenever they transact any public business.
(coming out of his house attired in his wife’s Edition: current; Page:  petticoat and shoes). What’s the matter? Whither in the world is my wife gone? for it is now near1 morning, and she does not appear. I have been lying this long while wanting to ease myself, seeking to find my shoes and my garment in the dark. And when now,2 on groping after it, I was not able to find it, but he, Sir-reverence, now continued to knock at the door,3 I take this kerchief of my wife’s, and I trail along her Persian slippers. But where, where could one ease himself in an unfrequented4 place? or is every place a good place5 by night? for now no one will see me easing myself. Ah me, miserable! because I married a wife, being an old man.6 How many stripes I deserve to get! For she never went out to do any good. But nevertheless I must certainly go aside to ease myself.
Who is it? Surely it is not Blepyrus7 my neighbour? Yes, by Jove! ’tis he himself assuredly. [Goes up to him.] Tell me, what means this yellow8 colour? Cinesias has not, I suppose, befouled you somehow?
No; but I have come out with my wife’s little saffron-coloured robe9 on, which she is accustomed to put on.
But where is your garment?
I can’t tell. For when I looked for it, I did not find it in the bed-clothes.
Then did you not even bid10 your wife tell you?
By Neptune, then you’ve suffered exactly the same as I;4 for she I live with, is gone with the garment I used to wear. And this is not the only thing5 which troubles me; but she has also taken my shoes. Therefore I was not able to find them any where.
By Bacchus, neither could I my Laconian shoes! but as I wanted to ease myself, I put my feet into my wife’s buskins and am hastening, in order that I might6 not do it in the blanket, for it was clean-washed.7
What then can it be? Has some woman among her friends invited her to breakfast?
And I too, as soon as I shall have eased myself. But now a wild pear has shut up1 my hinder end.
Is it the wild pear which Thrasybulus2 spoke of to the Spartans? [Exit.]
By Bacchus, at any rate it clings very tight to me. But what shall I do? for not even is this the only thing which troubles me; but to know3 where the dung will go to in future, when I eat. For now this Achradusian,4 whoever in the world he is, has bolted the door. Who then will go for a doctor for me? and which one? Which of the breech-professors5 is clever in his art? Does Amynon6 know it? But perhaps he will deny it. Let some one summon Antisthenes7 by all means. For this man, so far as groans8 are concerned, knows what a breech wanting to ease itself means. O mistress Ilithyia,9 do not suffer me to be burst or10 shut up! lest I become a comic night-stool.11 [Enter Chremes.]
Hollo you! what are you doing? You are not easing yourself, I suppose?
I? Certainly not any longer, by Jove; but am rising up.
Have you your wife’s smock on?1
Yes, for in the dark I chanced to find this in the house. But whence have you come, pray?
From the Assembly.
Why, is it dismissed already?
Nay, rather, by Jove, at dawn. And indeed the vermilion,2 O dearest Jove! which they threw about on all sides, afforded much laughter.
Then did you get your three obols?
But what was the reason?
A very great crowd of men, as never at any time5 came all at once to the Pynx. And indeed, when we saw them, we compared them all to shoe-makers: for6 the Assembly was marvellously7 filled with white8 to look at. So that neither I myself nor many others got any thing.
Shouldn’t I then get any thing, if I went now?
Ah me, wretched! “O Antilochus,11 loudly bewail me who live, more than the three obols:” for I12 am undone. Edition: current; Page:  But what was the cause, that so vast a crowd was assembled so early?1
What else, but that the Prytanes determined to bring forward2 a motion concerning the safety of the state? And then forthwith the blear-eyed Neoclides first crept forward.3 And then you can’t think4 how the people bawled out, “Is it not shameful,5 that this fellow should dare to harangue the people, and that too when the question is6 concerning safety, who did not save his7 own eye-lashes?” And he cried aloud and looked around and said, “What8 then ought I to have done?”
If I had happened to be present, I would have said, “Pound together garlic with fig-juice and put in Laconian9 spurge, and anoint your eye-lids with it at night.”
After him the very clever Evæon10 came forward, naked, as appeared to most,—he himself, however, said he had on11 a tunic,—and then delivered a most democratic speech. “You see me, myself also, in want12 of safety of the value of four staters. Yet, nevertheless, I will tell you how you shall Edition: current; Page:  save the state and the citizens. For if the fullers furnish cloaks to those in want, as soon as ever the sun turns,1 a pleurisy would never seize any of us. And as many as have no bed or bed-clothes, let them go2 to the tanners’ to sleep after they have been washed. But if he3 shut them out with the door when it is winter, let him have to pay three goat-skias.”
By Bacchus, an excellent plan! But if he had added that, no one would have voted against it,—that the mealhucksters should4 furnish three chœnixes as5 supper to all those in want, or suffer smartly for it; that they might have derived6 this benefit from Nausicydes.
After this then a handsome, fair-faced youth,7 like to Nicias,8 jumped up to harangue the people, and essayed to speak, to the intent that we ought to commit the state to the women. And then the mob of shoemakers cheered and cried out, that he spoke9 well: but those from the country grumbled loudly.
For, by Jove, they had sense.
Why, what did he say?
First he said you were a knave.
And of you?
Don’t ask this yet. And then a thief.
And, by Jove, an informer too.
And, by Jove, the greater part of these here. [Points to the audience.]
Who denies this?2
A woman, on the other hand, he said was a clever and money-getting thing; and he said they did not constantly divulge the secrets of the Thesmophoria, while you and I always did so when we were senators.
And, by Mercury, in this he did not lie!
Then he said they lent to3 each other garments, gold, silver, drinking-cups,4 all alone,5 not in the presence of witnesses: and that they returned all these, and did not keep them back;6 while most of us, he said, did so.
Yes, by Neptune, in the presence of witnesses!
That they did not act the informer, did not bring actions, nor put down the democracy; but he praised the women for many good qualities, and for very many other reasons.
What then was decreed?
To commit the state to them. For7 this plan alone appeared not to have been tried as yet in the state.
And has it been decreed?
And have all matters been committed to them, which used to be a care to the citizens?
So it is.
Then shall I not go to Court, but my wife?
No, nor any longer shall you rear the children you have, but your wife.
Nor any longer is it my business to groan1 at day-break?
No; by Jove! but this now is the women’s care; while you shall remain at home without groans.
What to do?
—to lie with them.
But what if we be not able?
They will not give us our breakfast.
Do you, by Jove, manage this, that you may breakfast and amuse yourself at the same time.
Compulsion is most dreadful.4
But if this shall be profitable for the state, every man ought to do so. Certainly indeed5 there is a saying of our elders,6 “Whatever senseless or silly measures we determine on, that they all turn7 out for our advantage.” And Edition: current; Page:  may they turn out so, O mistress Pallas and ye gods! But I will depart: and fare-you-well! [Exit Chremes.]
And you too farewell, O Chremes! [Goes into his house.]
Advance, proceed! Is there any of the men that is following us? Turn about! look! guard yourself carefully,—for knaves are numerous,—lest perchance some one being behind us, should espy1 our dress. But step along, stamping2 with your feet as much as possible. This affair would bring disgrace upon us all among3 the men, if4 it were discovered. Wherefore gird yourself up, and look about5 in that direction and on the right, lest the affair shall become a mishap.6 Come, let us hasten! for we are now near the place, whence we set out to the Assembly, when we went7 there: and we may see the house, whence is our general, who devised the measure which has now been decreed by the citizens. Wherefore it is fitting that we do not loiter waiting longer, equipped with beards, lest some one shall see us, and perhaps8 denounce us. But come hither to the shade,9 having come to the wall,10 glancing aside with one eye,11 change your dress again as you were before, and do not loiter: for Edition: current; Page:  see here! now we behold our general coming from the Assembly. Come, hasten every one, and hate to have a beard1 on your jaws. For see! they have come with this dress on this long while. [Enter Praxagora and other women from the Assembly, no longer disguised as men.]
These measures, O women, which we deliberated on, have turned out successfully. But throw off your cloaks as soon as possible, before any of the men see you! let the men’s shoes go far away! undo2 the fastened Laconian shoe-strings! throw away your staffs! And do you now [to a female servant] put them in order. I wish to creep in secretly, before3 my husband sees me, and deposit his garment again whence I took it, and the other things which I brought out.
Now all the things you spoke of are lying in order. It is your business to instruct us in the rest, by doing what useful thing we shall seem rightly to obey you. For I know I have conversed with no woman cleverer than you.
Wait then, in order that I may use you4 all as advisers in the office to which I have been just now elected. For there, in the uproar and danger, you have been most courageous.
Ho you! whence have you come, Praxagora?
What’s that to you,5 my dear?
“What’s that to me?” How foolishly you ask.
You certainly will not say, from a paramour.
Perhaps not from one.6
Well now you can put this to the test.
If my head smells of perfume.7
How then? does not a woman intrigue even without perfume?
I, unhappy, certainly not.1
Why2 then did you go off at day-break in silence with my garment?
A woman my companion and friend sent for me in the night, being in the pains of labour.3
And then was it not possible for you to go when you had told me?
And not to care for the woman in child-bed,4 being in such a condition, husband?
Yes, if you had told me. But there is some mischief in this.
Nay, by the two goddesses! but I went just as I was; for she who came in quest of5 me, begged me to set out by all means.
Then ought you not to have worn your own6 garment? But after you had stripped me, and thrown your upper garment over me, you went off and left me as if I were laid out7 for burial; only that you did not crown8 me, nor yet place a vase9 beside me.
For it was cold; while I am thin and weak. So then I put it on, in order that I might be warm.10 But I left you lying in the warmth, and in the bed-clothes, husband.
But with what view1 went my Laconian shoes and my staff along with you?
I changed shoes with you, in order that I might keep the garment safe,2 imitating you, and stamping with my feet, and striking the stones with the staff.
Do you know then that you have lost a sextary3 of wheat, which I ought to have received from the Assembly?
Don’t be concerned; for she has borne a male child.
No, by Jove! but the woman I went to. But has it been held?4
Yes, by Jove! Did you not know that I told you yesterday?
I just now recollect it.
Then don’t you know what has been decreed?
No, by Jove! not I.
Then sit down and chew cuttle-fish;5 for they say the state has been committed to you.
What to do? to weave?
No, by Jove! but to rule.
The affairs of the state, every one.
By Venus, the state6 will be happy henceforth!
On what account?
For many reasons. For no longer will it be permitted for the audacious to act shamefully towards it henceforth, and no where to give evidence, nor to act the informer—
By the gods, by no means do this, nor take away7 my livelihood.
My good sir,1 suffer your wife to speak.
By Neptune, grand promises, if she shall not prove false.
Now it behoves you to rouse a prudent mind and deep thought friendly to the commons, who know how to defend your friends. For your inventiveness of mind comes for the public prosperity, delighting the commons6 with innumerable aids7 for life, showing what it is able to effect. It is time:8 for our state has need of some clever contrivance. Come, do you only accomplish9 what has never been done nor mentioned before as yet. For they hate, if they see the old things often. Come, you ought not to delay, but now to begin10 your plans; for quickness enjoys the greatest share11 of favour with the spectators.
Well now, I am confident that I shall teach what is Edition: current; Page:  useful. But this is the thing I am most apprehensive about, whether the spectators1 will be willing to make innovations, and not rather abide by the very customary and ancient usages.
Now about making innovations,2 don’t be alarmed; for to do this and to neglect what is ancient, is with us equivalent to another constitution.
Now let none of you reply3 or interrupt me, before he understands the plan and has heard the speaker.4 For I will declare that all ought to enjoy all things in common, and live upon5 the same property; and not for one to be rich, and another miserably poor; nor one to cultivate much land, and another to have not even enough to be buried in;6 nor one to have7 many slaves, and another not even a footman. But I will make one common subsistence for all, and that8 too equal.
How then will it be common to all?
You shall eat dung before me.1
And shall we have a community of dung?
No, by Jove! but you were the first to interrupt2 me. For I was going to say this: I will first of all make the land common to3 all, and the silver, and the other things, as many as each has. Then we will maintain you out of these, being common, husbanding, and sparing, and giving our attention to it.
Why, he acquired it by this!8
But in truth it will be of no use to him at all.
On what account, pray?
No one will do any wickedness through poverty: for all will be possessed of all things; loaves, slices of salt fish, barley cakes, cloaks, wine, chaplets, chick-pease. So that what advantage will it be not to pay it in? For do you find it out and make it known.
Then do not these even now thieve more, who have these worldly goods?9
Yes; formerly, my good sir, when we used the former laws. But now,—for substance shall be in common,—what1 is the advantage of not paying in?
If on seeing a girl any one should desire her and wish to lie with her, he will be able2 to make presents by taking from these; but he will enjoy a share of the common property by sleeping with her.
But he will be permitted to sleep with her for nothing; for I will make3 them in common for the men to lie with, and for any one that pleases to beget children.
How then, if all shall go to the most beautiful of them and seek to lie with her?
Why, how shall our powers not6 fail us old men, before we get there where you say, if we have to do with the ugly ones first?
They will not fight.
Be of good courage! don’t fear!—they will not fight.
About your not sleeping with them.8 And such a law is provided for you.
Your plan9 has some sense; for it has been provided Edition: current; Page:  that no woman’s arms be empty. But what will the men1 do? For the women will avoid the more ugly ones, and go to the handsome.2
But the uglier3 men shall watch for the handsomer ones as they are departing from dinner, and shall have an eye upon them in the public places. And the women shall not be permitted to sleep with the handsome men, before they gratify4 the ugly and the little ones.
Then the nose of Lysicrates5 will now be as proud as that of the handsome men.
Yes, by Apollo! And the plan will be a democratic one too, and a great mockery6 of the more dignified and of those who wear rings, when a person wearing slippers7 shall Edition: current; Page:  say, “Give place first, and then watch when I have finished and allow you to play the second part.”
How then, if we live in this manner, will each be able to distinguish his own sons?
But what occasion is there? for they will consider all those who are older than themselves in age to be their fathers.
Therefore they will rightly and properly throttle every old man1 one after another through ignorance; for even now, when they know their true father, they throttle him. What then? when he is unknown, how will they not then even dung upon him?
But he who is standing by will not permit it. Formerly2 they had no concern about other people’s fathers, if any one beat them; whereas now, if any hear a father beaten, being alarmed lest any person should be beating his father, he will oppose those3 who do this.
The rest you say not amiss. But if Epicurus were to come to me, or Leucolophas,4 and call me father, this now would be terrible to hear.
A much more terrible thing, however, than this thing is—
If Aristyllus5 were to kiss you, saying you were his father.
He would suffer for it and howl.
And you would smell of mint. But he was born before the decree was made, so there is no fear lest he kiss you.
I should indeed have suffered6 a terrible thing. But who is to cultivate the land?
In the first place what you have at present will be at hand; and the rest we will weave.
One thing further I ask: if one be cast5 in a suit before the magistrates at the suit of any one, from what source will he pay off this? For it is not right to pay it out of the common fund.
But in the first place there shall not even be any suits.
But how many this will ruin!
I also make6 a decree for this. For on what account, you rogue, should there be any?
By Apollo, for many reasons! in the first place, for one reason, I ween, if any one, being in debt, denies it.
Whence7 then did the lender lend the money, when all things are in common? He is, I ween, convicted of theft.
By Ceres, you instruct us well! Now let some one8 tell me this: whence shall those who beat people pay off an action9 for assault, when they insult people after a banquet? For I fancy you’ll be at a loss about this.
Out of the barley-cake10 which he eats. For when Edition: current; Page:  one diminishes this, he will not insult again so readily, after he has been punished in his belly.
And, on the other hand, will there be no thief?
Why, how shall he steal when he has1 a share of all things?
Then will they not even strip people by night?2
Not, if you sleep—at home;3 nor, if you sleep abroad, as they used before. For all shall have subsistence. And if any one tries4 to strip a person, he shall give them of his own accord. For what occasion is there for him to resist? for he shall go and get another better than that from the common stock?
Then will the men5 not even play at dice?
Why, for what stake6 shall any one do this?
What will you make our mode of life?
Common to all. For I say I will make the city one house, having broken up7 all into one; so that they may go into each other’s houses.
But where will you serve up the dinner?
I will make the law-courts and the porticoes8 wholly men’s apartments.
What use will the Bema be to you?
By Apollo, a nice plan! But what will you make of1 the urns for the lots?
I will deposit them in the market-place; and then I will place all the people beside the statue of Harmodius and choose them by lot, until he who has drawn the lot departs joyfully, knowing in what letter he is to dine.2 And the crier3 shall command those of Beta to follow to the royal4 portico to dine; and Theta to the portico next this;5 and those of Kappa to go to the flour-market.6
That they may gobble up7 the flour?
No, by Jove! but that they may dine there.
But it shall not be so with us. For we will supply all things to all in abundance; so that every one when he is drunk shall go home together with his chaplet,10 having taken his torch. And the women in the thoroughfares, meeting with them coming from11 dinner, will say as follows: “Come hither12 to me. There is a beautiful girl here.” “And at my Edition: current; Page:  house,” some other woman will say from the chamber above, “both very beautiful and very fair. You must sleep with me, however, before1 her.” And the uglier2 men following the handsome3 men and the youths will say as follows: “Hollo, you! whither are you running? You will effect nothing at all by going: for it has been decreed for the flatnosed and the ugly to take the first turn; but that you in the mean time amuse yourself in the porch.” Come now, tell me, do these please you?
Then I must go to the market-place, that I may receive the public revenue,4 having taken a clear-voiced female-crier.5 For it is necessary that I do this, as I have been chosen to govern,6 and that I arrange the messes, so that in the first place you may banquet to-day.
Why, shall7 we banquet forthwith?
Certainly. In the next place, I wish to put a stop to the harlots every one.
This is plain: that these of ours9 may enjoy the flower of the youth. And it is not proper that the women-slaves should deck themselves out and filch away the love of Edition: current; Page:  the free women,1 but should sleep only with the men-slaves, with their persons depillated like2 a slave.
I will make ready and overhaul my substance, in order that I may carry my chattels to the market-place. Do you, O Meal-sieve,8 pretty as you are, come hither prettily out of the house the first of my goods, so that you may be a Basket-bearer,9 being powdered with meal,10 who hast overturned11 many bags of mine.
Where is the Stool-carrier?12 Pot,13 come forth hither! By Jove, you are black! nor14 could you have been blacker, Edition: current; Page:  if you had boiled the dye with which Lysicrates blackens his hair. Come hither, Tire-woman,1 stand next her! Water-bearer,2 here! bring hither this water-pot! And do you, Harper,3 come forth hither! who have often wakened me in the dead of the night4 for the Assembly with your early5 strain. Let him with the hive6 come forth! Bring the honey-combs! Place the olive-wreaths7 near! and bring out the two tripods, and the oil-flask. Now leave the little pots and the lumber.”8
Shall I pay in9 my property? Then I shall be a wretched man and possessed of little sense. No, by Neptune, never!10 but will first scrutinize and examine them11 frequently. For I will not so foolishly throw away my earnings and savings for nothing,12 before I learn13 the whole matter, how it is. Hollo you! what mean these chattels? Have you brought them out because you are flitting, or are you carrying them to put them in pawn?14
By no means.
Why then are they thus in a row? Surely you are not leading a procession in honour15 of Hiero the auctioneer?
No, by Jove! but I am about to deliver them into the market-place for the good of the state, conformably to the laws enacted.
Art going to deliver them in?
Then you are an unhappy man, by Jove the Preserver!
How then? ought I not to obey the laws?
What laws,2 you unhappy man?
Enacted? How silly you are3 then!
Certainly.—Nay, rather, the most foolish of all together.
Because I do what is ordered?4
Why, ought a sensible man to do what is ordered?
Nay, rather, a stupid man.
And do you not intend to pay them in?
Why, what else but that they are1 ready to carry their property?
Well, I’d believe,2 if I saw.
At any rate they talk of it in the streets.
Why, they will talk of it.
And they say3 they will take them up and carry them.
Why, they will say so.
You will kill me with disbelieving every thing.
Why, they will disbelieve you.
May Jove destroy you!
Why, they will destroy you. Do you think any of them who has sense will carry his property? For this is not a national4 custom; but, by Jove, we ought only to receive. For the gods5 also do so. But you will perceive that from the hands of the statues: for when we pray to them to give us blessings, they stand extending the hand with the hollow uppermost,6 not as about to give any thing, but that they may receive something.
Why, will you really carry them?
Yes, by Jove! and now indeed I am binding together these two tripods.
Continue waiting; and then to tarry yet longer.
For what purpose, pray?4
At any rate I should be nicely off, if I did not know where to pay these in.
I know that they9 vote for a thing quickly, and again deny whatever they have decreed.
They will carry them, my friend.
But what if they do not bring them?
Never mind, they’ll bring them.
But what if they do not bring them?
I’ll battle with them.
But what if they get the better of you?
I’ll leave the things and go away.
But what if they sell them?
But what if I split?
You’ll do right.2
And will you be eager to carry them?
I shall; for I see my own neighbours carrying theirs.
Plague take you!
And what will Callimachus the chorus-master contribute to them?
More than Callias.6
This man will throw away his property.
You say strange things.
What is there strange? as if I was not always seeing such decrees taking place. Don’t you know that decree7 which was determined on about the salt?
Don’t you know when we voted for those [Editor: illegible word] coins?
Aye, and that coinage was a loss to me. For I sold some bunches of grapes and went away with my mouth1 full of copper coins. And then I went to the market-place for some barley-meal. Then, just as I was holding my bag under2 for the meal, the crier proclaimed that “henceforth no one take copper; for we use silver.”
And were we not3 all lately swearing that the state would have five hundred talents from the tax of one fortieth, which Euripides4 devised? and immediately every man was for plastering Euripides with gold.5 But as soon as on our examining6 it, it appeared to be “Jove’s7 Corinth,” and the measure did not suffice, every man again was for plastering Euripides with pitch.8
The case is not the same, my good sir. At that time we were rulers, but now the women.
Whom I’ll be on my guard against, by Neptune lest they make water upon me.
I don’t know what you’re babbling about. [To his servant.] Boy,9 carry the yoke!
[Enter a Female-crier.]
O all ye citizens,1—for so this is now,—come, hasten straight2 to our Princess-President, in order that chance may point out to you, drawing lots man by man,3 where you shall dine; for the tables are piled up4 and furnished with all good things, and the couches are heaped with goatskins and carpets. They are mixing5 goblets; the female-perfumers are standing in order; the slices of salt-fish are boiling; they are spitting the hare’s flesh; cakes6 are baking; chaplets are plaiting; sweetmeats7 are toasting; the youngest women are boiling pots8 of pea-soup; and Smoius amongst them with a Knight’s uniform on is cleansing thoroughly the women’s cups. And Geron9 comes with a cloak on and light sandals, laughing loudly with another youth; and his shoes lie uncared for, and his threadbare coat is thrown off.10 Wherefore come! for he who carries the barley-cake11 is standing. Come, open your mouths! [Exit.]
Therefore I will certainly go. For why do I keep standing here, when these things have been decreed by the state?
Why, whither will you go, if you have not paid in your property?
Certainly not, if there be any sense in them, until you deliver in12 your property.
Well, I will deliver it in.
I shall not be a hinderance,1 my good sir.
I assert that others will deliver in their property still later than I.
But will you go to dinner notwithstanding?
Why, what3 must I do? for it behoves those who have right understanding to assist the state to the best of their ability.
But what if they hinder you?
But what if they whip you?
I’ll summon them.
But what if they laugh at you?
Standing at the doors—
What will you do? Tell me!
I’ll snatch away6 the victuals from those who are carrying them in.
Then go too late! Do you, Sicon and Parmeno, take up my entire property.7
Come then, let me8 help you to carry them.
By Jove, of a truth I have need of some contrivance, so that I may retain the property I have, and may somehow partake in common with these of the things which are kneading. It seems to me to be just. I must go to the same place to dine,1 and must not delay. [Exit.]2
Why in the world are the men not come? it has been time this long while: for I am standing idle, painted over with white lead,3 and clad in a saffron-coloured robe, and humming a tune4 to myself, playing amorously, in order that I may catch5 some of them as he is passing by. Ye Muses, come hither to my mouth, having devised some Ionian6 ditty.
Now you’ve been beforehand7 with me in peeping out, you8 ugly old woman; and you thought you would strip unwatched vines,9 as I was not present here, and allure some one by singing. But I’ll sing against you, if you do this.10 For even if this be tiresome11 to the spectators, nevertheless it has something amusing in it and belonging to comedy.
[An ugly old Man crosses the stage.]
Converse Edition: current; Page:  with this old man, and retire with him! But do you, my little darling of a flute-player,1 take your flute and accompany me with a tune worthy of me and of you. [Sings to the flute.] “If any one wishes to experience some good, he should sleep with me. For knowledge is not in young women,2 but in the ripe3 ones: nor would any of them be willing to love more than I the friend with whom I had to do; but she would fly off to another.”
Do not envy the young women. For pleasure4 is in their tender limbs, and blossoms on their bosoms: while you, old woman, have had5 your eyebrows polled, and have been painted, an object6 of love for Orcus.
May your teeth drop out, and may you lose your couch when wishing to be caressed, and may you find a serpent in the bed, and draw it towards you, wishing to kiss it.
“Alas! alas! what ever shall I do?7 my friend8 is not come, and I am left here alone: for my mother has gone elsewhere; and as for the rest, these I must make of no account. Come, O nurse, I beseech you, summon Orthagoras,9 that you may enjoy yourself, I entreat you.”
“Already, you wretch, you are prurient in the Ionian manner,10 and you appear to me also Edition: current; Page:  a Labda1 after the fashion of the Lesbians. But you will never filch away my darling; and you shall not spoil or intercept my hour.”2
Sing as much as you please, and peep out like a weasel; for no one will sooner come in unto you than3 me.
Then is it not for your burial?4
It would be a strange thing, you old woman.
Why, how could one tell any thing new to an old woman?
My old age won’t distress you.
What then? your alkanet,5 rather, and your white lead?
Why do you talk to me?6
And why do you peep out?
I? I am singing to myself7 in honour of my friend Epigenes.
Why, have you any other friend than Geres?8
He ’ll show you; for he will come to me presently. For see! there he is himself! [A young man is seen at a distance.]
He is not wanting any thing with you, you pest.
Yes, by Jove, you skinny jade!
He himself will soon show;1 for I will go away. [Retires from the window.]
And I too, that you may know that I am much wiser than you. [Retires from the window.]
[Enter a young Man crowned with flowers, and bearing a torch.]
Then, by Jove, you ’ll wench to your cost! For these are not the times of Charixene.4 You are bound5 to do this in conformity with the law, if we are under a democratic government. But I ’ll withdraw to watch what in the world he will do. [Retires again.]
O ye gods, may I find6 my beautiful one alone, to whom I am coming drunk, desiring her this long while.
I have deceived the accursed old woman; for she is gone, thinking that I would remain within.
Nay, this is he himself,7 of whom I made mention. [Sings.] “Come hither, pray! Come hither, pray, my beloved! come hither to me! and see that you be my bedfellow during the night.8 For love of these Edition: current; Page:  curls of yours agitates me exceedingly; and marvellous desire assails me, which has worn1 me away. Permit me, Love, I beseech thee, and make him come to my bed.”
“Come2 hither, pray! come hither, pray! and do thou run down and open this door; otherwise I will fall down and lie here. My beloved, come, I wish to rest in thy bosom.3 O Venus, wherefore dost thou make me mad after her? Permit me, Love, I beseech thee, and make her come to my bed. And this has been mentioned sufficiently for4 my anguish. But do thou, my dearest, oh, I beseech thee, open to me, embrace me! Through thee I suffer pains. O my beloved5 object decked with gold,6 child of Venus, the Muse’s honey-bee, nurseling7 of the Graces, Beauty’s face,8 open to me, embrace me! Through thee I suffer pains.”
Ho you! why do you knock? Do you seek me?
By no means.1
And2 yet you knocked furiously at the door.
Then may I die, if I did.
In want of whom, then, have you come with a torch?
In search of a certain Anaphlystian.3
Not your Sebinus,4 whom you perhaps expect.
Yes, by Venus! whether5 you wish it or no.
This was in the time of the former government, my sweet.9 But now it is decreed to bring in us first.
Yes, for him that pleases to do so,10 after the manner of the law at draughts.
But not even do you dine1 according to the law at draughts.
I don’t know what you mean. I must knock at this2 door.
Yes, when you shall have first knocked at my door.3
But I am not now asking for a boltingsieve.4
I know that I am loved: but now you are astonished that you found me out of doors. Come, put forward your lips.
Nay, my dear, I am afraid of your lover.
The best of painters.
But who is he?
He that paints the vases for the dead.5 But go away! that he may not see you at the door.
I know, I know what6 you wish.
For I also, by Jove, know7 you!
You are mad, old woman.
You talk foolishly; for I will lead you to my bed.
Do not jeer me, you wretch,3 but follow this way to my house.
But there is no necessity for me, unless you have paid in to the state the five-hundredth of your—years.4
By Venus, yet you must! for I delight in sleeping with men so young as you.
But I abominate sleeping with women so old as you; and I will never comply.
(producing a paper). But, by Jove, this, shall compel you!
And what is this?
A decree, according to which you must come to me.
Read5 whatever in the world it is.
Well now, I read it. [Reads.] “It has been decreed by the women that, if a young man desire a young woman, he shall not have to do with her before he shall Edition: current; Page:  have first1 lain with the old2 woman. But if he be not willing first to lie with the old woman, but desire the young woman, be it permitted for the elderly women to drag the young man with impunity, having laid hold of him3 by the middle.”
Ah me! to-day I shall become a Procrustes.4
Yes; for you must obey our laws.
But how, if a tribesman5 of mine, or one of my friends, comes and rescues me?
But no man is any longer authorized beyond a medimnus of corn.6
But is there no swearing off?7
No; for there is no occasion for shuffling.8
But I ’ll pretend to be a merchant.9
Aye, to your cost.10
What then must I do?
Follow this way to my house.
Why, is there a necessity for me to do this?
Aye, a Diomedean11 necessity.
Then first strew me some origanum12 underneath, Edition: current; Page:  and break off and place under four vine-twigs, and wear a tænia, and place beside you the vases, and set down the earthen vessel1 of water before your door.
Assuredly you will moreover buy me a chaplet2 too!
Whither are you dragging this man?
I am leading in mine own.
Not discreetly: for he is not of the age for sleeping with you, being so young; since you might more fitly be his mother than his wife.—Wherefore, if you shall establish this law, you will fill the whole earth with Œdipuses.
O you all-abominable, you devised this argument through envy. But I ’ll be revenged on you. [Exit.]
By Jove the preserver, you have obliged me, my darling, by having removed the old woman from me. Wherefore, in return for these good deeds, I will at night return you a kindness great and thick.5 [Young woman takes him by the arm.]
Hollo you! whither are you dragging this man in violation of the law, when the written law orders him first to sleep with me?
Ah me, miserable! Whence did you pop out,—the devil take6 you! For this pest is more abominable than that.
Come this way!
By no means suffer me to be dragged away by this old woman, I beseech you!
Nay, I do not drag you, but the law drags you. [Exit young woman.]
It does not drag me, but an Empusa clothed in a bloody blister.1
Follow this way quickly, my darling,2 and don’t chatter!
Come then, permit me first to go to the necessary and recover my spirits, otherwise you ’ll see me presently making something yellow3 on the spot through fear.
Be of good courage! come! you shall ease yourself in the house.
I fear lest I do even4 more than I wish. But I will put in two sufficient sureties.
Put me in no sureties!
Whither, whither are you going with her?
I am not going, but am dragged. But many blessings on you, whoever you are,5 because you did not suffer me to be destroyed. [Catches sight of her for the first time.] O Hercules! O ye Pans!6 O ye Corybantes! O ye Dioscuri! this pest, again, is much more abominable than the other. But what in the world is this thing, I beseech you? Are you an ape covered over with white lead,7 or an old woman sent up from the dead?8
Do not jeer me, but follow this way.
Nay, rather, this way.
Be assured that I will never let you go.
Neither, indeed, will I.
You will tear me in pieces, the devil take you!1
For you ought to follow me in conformity with the law.
Not if another old woman still uglier appear.
Come, if I first perish miserably through you, how shall I come to that beautiful one?
Do you look to that yourself: but this you must do.
Then by lying with which of you first shall I be set free?
Don’t you know? you must come this way.
Then let this one let me go.
Nay, rather, come this way to my house.
Yes, if she will let me go.
But, by Jove, I will not let you go.
Neither, indeed, will I.
You would be dangerous, if you were ferrymen.
You would wear out those on board by dragging them.
Follow this way in silence!
No, by Jove, but to my house.
Very well, when you shall have eaten a pot of onions.3
Ah me, miserable! I am now dragged close to the door. [The 2nd old woman here attempts to drag him into her house and exclude the 3rd old woman.]
Nay, do not, by the gods!6 for it is better to be afflicted with one than two evils.
Yea, by Hecate! whether you wish it or no.7
O thrice-unlucky, if I must lie with an ugly old woman the whole night and the whole day; and then, again, as soon as I am freed from her, with a Phryne,8 who has a flask9 on her jaws. Am I not wretched? Nay, rather, by Jove10 the Preserver, a most wretched man, and unfortunate, who11 must swim with such wild beasts. Edition: current; Page:  But nevertheless, if I suffer1 aught from these strumpets2 by oftentimes3 sailing in hither, let them bury4 me at the very mouth of the entrance; and the surviving one,5 having covered alive with pitch, and then having armed her two feet with lead all round about the ancles, let them place above, on the top of the mound, as a substitute6 for a funeral vase. [Exit with the two old women.]7
O happy people, and happy me, and my8 mistress herself most happy, and you, as many as stand at the doors, and all our neighbours, and our tribesmen, and I the servant in addition to these, who have my head anointed with excellent unguents, O Jove! But the Thasian9 jars, again, far surpass all these; for they abide in the head a long time; whereas all the rest lose their bloom and fly off.10 Wherefore they are far the best,—far, certainly, ye gods! Fill out pure wine: it will cheer the women the whole night, who select whatever has the most fragrance. Come, O ye women, point out to me my master, the husband of my mistress,11 where he is.12
We think you will find1 him if you remain here.
Most certainly; for see!2 here he comes to the dinner! [Enter Master.] O master, O happy, O thrice fortunate!
You have certainly mentioned a happy man.6
Whither, whither are you going?
I am going to the dinner.
By Venus, you are far the latest of all! Nevertheless, your wife bade7 me take you with me and bring you, and these young women along with you. Some Chian wine is left, and the rest of the good things. Wherefore do not loiter! And whoever of the spectators is favourable8 to us, and whoever of the judges9 is not inclined to the other Edition: current; Page:  side,1 let him come with us; for we will provide all things. Will you not, then, kindly tell all, and omit2 nobody, but freely invite old man,3 youth, and boy? for dinner is provided for them every one,—if they go away home.4 [Exeunt Master and Maid-servant.]
I will now hasten to the dinner. And see! I also have this torch opportunely! Why then do you keep loitering,5 and don’t take these and lead them away? And while you are descending I will sing you a song for the beginning of dinner.6 [To the spectators.] I wish to make a slight suggestion to the judges: to the clever, to prefer7 me, remembering my clever parts; to those who laugh merrily, to prefer me on account of my jokes. Therefore of course I bid almost all to prefer me; and that my lot should not be8 any cause of detriment to me, because I obtained9 it first; but they ought to remember all these things and not violate their oaths, but always judge the choruses justly; and not to resemble in their manners the vile harlots, who remember only whoever happen to be10 the last comers.
I am doing so.
And these hollow flanks now with your legs to the rhythm! for presently there will come an oyster-saltfish-skate-shark-remainder-of-heads-dressed-with-vinegar-laserpitium-leek-mixed-with-honey-thrush-blackbird-pigeon-dove-roasted-cock’s-brains-wagtail-cushat-hare-stewed-in-new-wine-and-seasoned-with-green-corn-with-its-shoulders-fricassee.4 So do you, having heard this, quickly and speedily take a bowl. And then make haste and take pea-soup, that you may feast upon it.
But perhaps they are greedy.
“The Plutus, according to an indubitable tradition, was twice brought upon the stage; first, in the year 408, bc, in the Archonship of Diocles, and then, in the year 388, bc, in the Archonship of Antipater. In its second representation, the Plutus contended successfully against the “Lacedæmonians” of Nicochares, the “Admetus” of Aristomenes, the “Adonis” of Nicophon, and the “Pasiphaë” of Alcæus. The Greek Scholiasts frequently assert that our present text is the first Plutus. This view is in decided contradiction to the play itself, which contains numerous allusions to the times of the Archon Antipater. The opinion of later philologers, which has been sanctioned by the great authority of Hemsterhuis, represents our present text as a riffaccimento of the two editions. But recent investigations have completely refuted this position. We therefore may confidently assume that the Plutus we have before us is just in the state in which Aristophanes in the latter years of his life brought it on the stage.” Droysen. See the Scholiast on vs. 173. The argument is simply this:—Chremylus, a poor, but just man, consults the Delphic oracle about his son, whether he ought not to be instructed in injustice and knavery, and the other arts whereby worldly men acquired riches. The god answered him nothing plainly, but merely told him he was to follow whomsoever he should first light upon on leaving the temple. The first person he meets with is a blind old man. This turns out to be Plutus, the god of riches, whom Jupiter had deprived of his eyesight in order that he might no longer distinguish between the just and the unjust. By the help of Æsculapius, Plutus is restored to the use of his eyes. Whereupon all the just are made rich, and the unjust reduced to indigence. In an artistic point of view, the Plutus must rank as by far the lowest of the existing works of Aristophanes. In its absence of personal interest, and its sparingness of personal satire, it approximates more nearly to a whimsical allegory than a proper comedy.
Scene—The front of a farm-house with a road leading to it. A blind old man is seen followed at some distance by Chremylus and his servant Cario.
How troublesome1 a thing it is, O Jupiter and ye gods, to be the slave of a crazy master! For if the servant should happen to have given the best advice, and it should seem fit to his master not to do this, it must be that the servant share the evils;2 for fortune suffers not the natural owner to be master of his person, but the purchaser. And so much for this.3 But Loxias4 who prophesies from his tripod of beaten gold I censure with this just censure, because being a physician and a clever soothsayer, as they say, he has sent away my master melancholy-mad,5 who is following behind6 a blind man, acting contrary to what it became him to do; for we who see lead the blind; whereas he follows him, and compels me besides; and that too without even7 answering a syllable8 at all. Therefore it is not possible for me to hold my Edition: current; Page:  tongue, unless you tell me, master, for what in the world we are following this man, but I ’ll give you trouble; for you will not beat1 me while I wear the chaplet.
No, by Jove, but if you trouble me in any way, I’ll do it when I have taken away your chaplet, that you may grieve the more.
Nonsense! for I will not cease until you tell me who in the world this is; for I ask it, being exceedingly well2 disposed to you.
Well then, I will not hide it from you, for I do believe you to be the most faithful of my domestics, and—the arrantest thief.3 I, though a religious and just man, was unprosperous and poor.
In truth I know it.
While others, sacrilegious persons, demagogues, and informers, and villains, were rich.
I believe4 you.
So I went to the god to consult him, thinking that my own life,5 unhappy man, had now nearly been wasted away, but to ask about my son,6 who is my only one,7 if he Edition: current; Page:  ought to change his habits and be knavish, unjust, nothing good;1 since I thought this very thing to be advantageous for life.
What then did Phœbus proclaim from amongst his chaplets?2
And whom then did you first meet with?
With this man.
Then did you not understand the meaning of the god, when it directed you, O most stupid, in the plainest terms, to educate6 your son after the fashion of the country?
By what7 do you judge of this?
It is evident that even a blind man fancies he knows this,8 that it is very advantageous to practise no virtue in these times.
It is not possible that the oracle inclines to this,9 but to something else of greater moment. But if this fellow tell us who in the world he is, and on account of what, and in want of what he came hither with us, we might understand what our oracle10 means.
Come now, do you declare yourself, who you are, before I do what comes next.1 You must be very quick about speaking.
A plague take you!2
Do you understand whom he professes himself to be?
He says this to you, not to me; for you inquire of him uncouthly and roughly. But [to Plutus] if you take any pleasure in the manners of a man of honour, tell me!
Go, hang yourself!
Take3 the man, and omen of the god.
By Ceres, you certainly shall not any longer escape4 unpunished!
For unless you will tell us, I will kill you, you wretch, in a wretched way.5
Good sirs, depart from me.
Not a whit.6
Well now, what I say, is best, master: I’ll kill this fellow in a most wretched way; for I will set him up on7 some precipice and leave him and go away, that he may fall and break his neck.
Well, up with him quickly.
By no means.
Will you not tell us then?
But if you learn who I am, I well know that you will do me some mischief, and not let me go.1
By the gods will we, if you wish it.
Then first let me go.
Lo! we let you go.
Hear now; for, as it seems, I must speak what I was2 prepared to conceal: I am Plutus.
O most abominable of all men! did you hold your tongue then, you Plutus?3
You Plutus, so wretchedly circumstanced?
O Phœbus Apollo, and ye gods and dæmons, and Jove, what do you say? Are you really he?
His very self.4
Whence then, tell us, come you so squalid?
I come from the house of Patrocles,5 who has not washed himself since he was born.
But how did you suffer this mishap?6 Declare it to me.
Jupiter treated me in this manner through envy towards mankind. For when I was a boy,7 I threatened that I Edition: current; Page:  would go1 to the just, and2 wise, and well-behaved alone. So he made me blind, that I might not distinguish any of these. So much does he envy the good.
And yet he is honoured by the good and the just alone.
I grant you.
Come, what then? if you were to recover your sight again, just as formerly,3 would you now shun the wicked?
But would you go to the just?
And no wonder too; for neither have I, who see.
Now let me go; for now you know all about me.6
No, by Jove! but so much the more will we keep hold of you.
Did I not say that you would7 cause me trouble?
They all say this: but when they actually get possession of me, and become wealthy, they absolutely exceed all bounds in their wickedness.
So it is: yet all are not wicked.
No, by Jove, not all, but all without exception.1
You shall suffer2 for it severely.
And that you may know how many blessings you will have, if you stay with us, give your attention, that you may hear. For I think, I think,—with god’s permission3 it shall be spoken,—that I shall free you from this4 blindness, having made you see.
By no means do this; for I do not wish to recover my sight again.
What do you say?
This fellow is a born5 miserable.
I know indeed that Jupiter would destroy me, if he were to hear of the follies of these men.6
But does he not do this now, who suffers you to go about stumbling?7
I know not; but I dread him exceedingly.
What really, O you most cowardly of all deities?1 For do you suppose the sovereignty2 of Jove and his thunderbolts would be worth a three-obol piece,3 if you should recover your sight, if it were but for a short time?
Ah! say not so, you wretch!
Be quiet;4 for I will demonstrate you to be far more powerful than Jupiter.
Aye, by heaven. For, for example,6 through whom does Jupiter rule the gods?
Through money, for he has most of it.
Come, who then is it that supplies7 him with this?
This person here.
And through whom do men sacrifice to him? is it not through him?
And, by Jupiter, they pray openly8 to be rich.
Is not he then the cause, and might he not easily put an end to this, if he wished?
Why so?9 why pray?
Because10 no man would any longer sacrifice, either ox or barley-cake, or any thing else whatever, if you were not willing.
How? it is not possible for him to purchase it, I ween, unless you yourself be present1 and give him the money; so that you alone will put down the power of Jove, if he annoy you in any way.
What do you say? do they sacrifice to him through me?
I, in truth, have become a slave on account of a trifling sum of money,4 because I was not equally rich as others.
And they say that the Corinthian courtesans, when any poor man tries them, do not even pay any attention to him, but if a rich man try, that they immediately turn any thing to5 him.
And they say that the boys do this very thing, not for their lovers’, but the money’s sake.
Not the better sort, but the catamites; for the better sort do not ask for money.
One asks for a good horse, another hunting dogs.7
For, perhaps, being ashamed to ask for money, they gloss over8 their wickedness by a false name.
And all arts and clever contrivances among men have been invented through you. For one of them sits and makes shoes; and some other one is a smith,1 and another a carpenter; another is a goldsmith, having received gold from you; another, by Jove, steals clothes; another is a housebreaker; another is a fuller;2 another washes fleeces; another is a tanner; another sells onions; another, having been detected as an adulterer, is depillated through you.
Ah me, miserable! this has been unknown to me this long while.
And does not the Great King pride himself through him? And is not the Assembly held through him? But how?—do you not man the triremes? tell me. And does not he support the mercenaries in Corinth?3 And will not Pamphilus4 suffer through him? And will not the “Needle-seller”5 along with Pamphilus? And does not Agyrrhius6 fart through Edition: current; Page:  him? And [to Plutus] does not Philepsius1 relate fables on account of you? And is not the alliance2 with the Egyptians through you. And does not Lais, through you, love Philonides?3 And the tower of Timotheus4—
—May it fall upon you. And [to Plutus] are not all our affairs transacted through you? For you alone5 are the cause of all, both of our miseries and our blessings, be well assured.
At any rate, in wars also, they always conquer, upon whom he only sits down.6
Am I able, single as I am, to effect so many things?
Of manly virtue,
Of dried figs,
Of military command,
But of you3 no one has ever at any time been sated. But if any one get thirteen talents, so much the more does he desire to get sixteen. And if he accomplish this, he wishes for forty, or he says his life is not worth4 living.
In truth you appear to me to speak exceedingly well; but one thing only I fear.
Tell us, what about.
How I shall become master of this power which5 you say I have.
By no means; but some housebreaker has calumniated me. For having once crept into the3 house, he was not able to get any thing, having found every thing locked up; so then he called my forethought cowardice.
Let nothing trouble you4 now; for if you be a zealous man yourself in the business, I’ll make you more sharpsighted than Lynceus.
How then will you be able to do this, mortal as you are?
I have some good hope from what Phœbus himself told me, having shaken the Pythian laurel.
And was he then privy to this?
Do not be at all concerned, my good sir; for I, be well assured of this, will accomplish this myself, even if I must die for it.
And I too, if you wish it.
And many others5 will be our allies, as many as had no bread, though they were just.
Deary me! you tell us of miserable allies.
Not so, if they become rich again as before. But do you [to Cario] go and run quickly—
What am I to do? Tell me.
Call my fellow-labourers,—and you will probably find them working hard in the fields,—that each, being present here, may share an equal portion with us of this Plutus.
Well now, I am going. But let some one of the servants from within take and carry in this small bit of meat.6
This shall be my care: but run Edition: current; Page:  quickly.1 [Exit Cario.] And do you, O Plutus, most excellent of all gods, go in this way with me; for this is2 the house which you must to-day fill with riches, by fair means or by foul.3
But, by the gods, I am exceedingly loth to be always going into other people’s houses. For I never at any time got any good from it.4 For if I chance to go into the house of a miser, he immediately buries5 me deep in the earth: and if any good man, his friend, come to him asking to get some small sum of money, he denies that he has ever at any time even seen me. But if I chance to go into the house of a mad fellow, I am exposed to harlots and dice and driven out of doors naked in a moment of time.6
Yes; for you never at any time met with7 a moderate man. But I am somehow always of this character.8 For I both take pleasure in saving, as never man did, and again in spending,9 whenever there is occasion for it. But let us go in; for I wish both my wife to see you10 and my only son, whom I love most of all—next to you.
I believe you.
For why should one not tell the truth to you?1 [Exeunt Chremylus and Plutus.]
Oh you who have often eaten of the same thyme2 with my master, his friends, and fellow-tribesmen, and lovers of labour, come, make haste, hurry, since the time does not admit delay, but it is at the very crisis at which you ought [Editor: illegible word] be present3 and lend your aid.
Don’t you see then that we have been actively hastening this long while, as is reasonable those should who are now feeble old men? But you, perhaps, expect that I should run, before you even tell me this,5 on what account your master has called me hither.
Have I not then, I ween, been telling you this long while? It is you yourself that don’t hear. For my master says that you shall all of you live pleasantly, freed from your dreary and unpleasant mode of life.
But what, pray, and whence, is this thing which he speaks of?
He has come hither with a certain old man, ye wretches, who is filthy, crooked, miserable, wrinkled, bald, and toothless; and, by heaven, I think he is circumcised,6 too.
O you who have announced golden tidings,7 how say Edition: current; Page:  you? tell me again! For you plainly show that he is come with a heap of money.
Nay, rather, with1 a heap of the ills of age.
Do you expect, after humbugging us, to get off unpunished, and that, too, when I have a staff?
Why, do you consider me to be altogether such a man by nature in all respects, and do you think that I would say2 nothing true?
How haughty the rascal3 is! Your legs are crying out, “Oh! Oh!” longing for the stocks and fetters.
Split you!8 What an impudent fellow you are, and arrant knave by nature, who9 humbug us, and have not yet had the patience to tell us on what account your master has called me hither, who,10 after labouring much, have come hither readily, though we had no leisure, passing over11 many roots of thyme.
Well then, I will not conceal it any longer; for, sirs, my master has come with Plutus, who will make you rich.
Why, is it really possible for us all to be rich?
Nay, rather, by the gods, all Midases,12 if you get ass’s cars.
How I am delighted and gladdened, and wish to dance for joy, if you are really speaking1 this truly.
Well now, I should like2 to lead you, imitating3 the Cyclops, threttanelo! and moving thus to and fro with my feet. But come, my children, crying out frequently, and bleating4 the strains5 of sheep and stinking goats, follow me lewdly, and you shall breakfast like6 goats.
And we, on the other hand, bleating, when we have caught you, this Cyclops, threttanelo! dirty, with a wallet and dewy, wild potherbs, having a drunken head-ache, leading your sheep, and carelessly asleep some where, will take a great lighted, sharp stake and try to blind you.
And I will imitate in all her ways Circe, who mixed up the drugs, who once in Corinth1 persuaded the companions of Philonides, as if they were boars, to eat kneaded dung; while she herself kneaded it for them. But do you, grunting for delight, follow, like swine, your mother.
Therefore we, having caught you, the Circe, who mixed up the drugs and bewitched and defiled our companions, imitating for delight the son of Laertes, will hang you up2 by your testicles, and besmear your nostrils with dung, like a goat’s; while you, gaping like3 Aristyllus, shall say, “Follow, like swine, your mother.”
But come now, do you now have done with your jests and turn yourselves into another shape;4 while I should like now to go unknown to my master and take some bread and meat and eat it, and so afterwards to join in the work. [Exit Cario.]
To bid you “hail,”5 my fellow-tribesmen, is now old-fashioned and obsolete; so I “embrace you,” because you have come readily and eagerly, and not6 tardily. But see that you be7 my Edition: current; Page:  co-adjutors in the rest as well, and truly preservers of the god.
Be of good courage! for you shall think I look downright martial.1 For it would be absurd,2 if we constantly jostle one another in the Assembly for the sake of three obols, while I were to yield up Plutus himself to any one to take away.3
Well now, I see also Blepsidemus here approaching: and ’tis plain4 from his gait and haste that he has heard something of the affair. [Enter Blepsidemus.]
What then can the affair be? whence and in what way has Chremylus suddenly become rich? I don’t believe it: and yet, by Hercules, there was much talk among those who sat in the barbers’ shops,5 that the man has suddenly become wealthy. But this very thing is marvellous to me, that he, being well off, sends for his friends. In truth he does not6 do a thing fashionable in the country.
But have you really become1 rich, as people say?
Nay, but I shall be very soon, if God please;2 for there is—there is some hazard in the affair.
Of what sort?3
—that, if we succeed, we shall be always well off;6 but if we be foiled, we shall be utterly undone.
How nothing good?
If, by Jove, you have come from thence, having stolen any silver or gold from the god, and then, perhaps, repent.
O Apollo, averter of evil! not I, by Jove!
Cease talking nonsense, my good sir; for I know it for certain.
Do you suspect nothing of the kind9 of me.
By Ceres, you certainly do not appear to me to be in your right senses.
By heaven, fellow, you are mad!
I know what you are croaking5 about: you seek to get a share, as if I had stolen something.
I seek to get a share? of what?
Have you not stolen, but snatched it away?8
You are possessed.
But have you, in truth, not even defrauded any one?
Not I, indeed!9
O Hercules, come, whither can10 one turn himself? for you will not tell the truth.
For you accuse me before you know my case.
And verily, by the gods, methinks you would3 in a friendly way lay out three minæ and set down twelve.
I see a certain person4 who will sit at the Bema, holding the suppliant’s bough,5 with his children and his wife; and who will not differ at all, not even in any way,6 from the Heraclidæ of Pamphilus.7
Not so, you wretch, but on the contrary,8 I will cause the good alone, and the clever and discreet, to become rich.
What do you say? have you stolen so very much?
Ah me, what miseries! you will destroy me.
Nay, rather, you will destroy yourself, as it seems to me.9
Certainly not; for I have got Plutus, you sorry wretch.
You, Plutus? what1 Plutus?
The god himself.
Why, where is he?
At my house.
At your house?
Go to the devil! Plutus at your house?
Yes, by the gods!
Are you speaking truth?
Yea, by Neptune!
Do you mean the sea Neptune?
Aye, and t’other Neptune, if there be any other.
Then are you not for sending him round to us also your friends?
The affair is not yet come to this point.2
What do you say? not to the sharing3 point—eh?
No, by Jupiter! for we must first—
Cause him to see.
Whom to see? tell me.
Plutus, as before, in some way or other.4
Why, is he really blind?
Yes, by heaven!
No wonder,5 then, he never at any time came to me.
But, if the gods please, he shall come now.
Ought1 you not then to call in some physician?
What physician then is there now in the city? For neither is the fee of any value,2 nor the profession.
Let us see.
But there is none.
Neither do I think so.
Nay, rather, far the best, by the gods. Do not then delay, but make haste and do something or other.
Well now, I am going.
I am doing this very thing. [Enter Poverty.]
O you pitiful mannikins, who dare to do6 a hasty and unholy and unlawful deed! whither? whither? why do you fly? will you not remain?
I will destroy you, you wretches, in a wretched7 way; for you are venturing on a daring act not to be borne, but such as no other person even at any time, either8 god or man, has ventured on; therefore you are undone.9
But who are you? for you appear to me to be ghastly pale.
Perhaps ’tis some Fury from tragedy:1 it least she certainly looks very mad and tragic.
But she has no torches.
Then she shall suffer for it.
Whom do you think me to be?
What, really? for have you not acted most shamefully in seeking to banish me from every place?5
Is not then the Barathrum left you? But you ought to tell me immediately who you are.
One who will make you to-day give satisfaction, because you seek to expel me from hence.
Nay,8 but I am Poverty, who have been dwelling with you many years.
O King Apollo, and ye gods! Whither must one fly?9
Hollo! what are you about? O you most cowardly10 beast, will you not stay?
By no means.
Will you not stay? What! shall we two men fly from one woman?
Yes, for ’tis Poverty, you wretch, than whom there is no living being any where more ruinous.
Stand, I beseech you, stand!
No, by Jove, not I.
Well now, I tell you, we shall do a deed by far the most shameful of all deeds, if we shall leave the god unprotected and fly1 any whither, through fear of her, and not fight it out.
Relying on what sort of arms or strength? For what sort of breast-plate and what sort of shield does not the most abominable wretch put in pawn?2
Be of good courage; for this god alone, I well know, can set up a trophy over her ways.3
And do you also dare to mutter, you scoundrels, when you have been detected in the very act of doing shameful things?
For do you think, oh, by the gods!6 that you wrong me in no way, in endeavouring to make Plutus see again?
What wrong then do we do you in this, if we contrive good for all men?
But what good could you devise?
What? by banishing you from Greece in the first place.
By banishing me? and what greater evil do you suppose you could do to men?
What? if we were7 to delay to do this and forget it.
Well now, I wish first to render you an account of this very matter.8 And if I prove that I am the sole cause Edition: current; Page:  of all blessings to you, and that you live through me, it is well;1 but if not, now do this, whatever seems good to you.
Do you dare to say this, O most abominable?
Aye, and do you suffer yourself to be taught.2 For I think I shall very easily prove that you are altogether in the wrong, if you say you will make the just wealthy.
O cudgels and pillories,3 will you not aid me?
You ought not to complain angrily and cry out before you know.
Why, who would be able not to cry out “oh! oh!” at hearing such things?
He who is in his right senses.4
What penalty, then, shall I set down5 in the title of the suit for you, if you be cast?
Whatever seems good to you.
You say well.
For you also must suffer the same, if you lose your cause.
Do you think then twenty deaths6 sufficient?
Yes, for her; but two only will suffice for us.
Well, you ought now to say something clever, by which you shall conquer her, opposing her in argument, and not effeminately give in.1
I think that this is plain for all alike to understand,2 that it is just that the good men should be prosperous, but the wicked and the ungodly, I ween, the contrary3 of this. We therefore desiring that this4 should take place, have with difficulty found out a plan, excellent, and noble, and useful for every5 enterprise. For if Plutus now should have the use of his eyes, and not go about blind, he will go to the good men,6 and not leave them, but will fly from the wicked and the ungodly; and then he will make all to be good and rich, I ween, and to reverence7 things divine. And yet, who could ever devise a better thing than this8 for men?
No one: I am your witness in this; don’t1 ask her.
For as life is at present circumstanced for us men, who would not think it to be madness, or rather still a demoniacal possession? For many men who are wicked are rich, having accumulated them2 unjustly; while many who are very good, are badly off, and suffer hunger, and live3 with you [to Poverty] for the most part. I say, then,4 that there is a way, proceeding upon which5 a person might procure greater benefits for men, namely, if Plutus were ever to have the use of his eyes and put a stop to her.
Nay, O you two old dotards, partners in nonsense and folly, of all men the most easily persuaded not to be in your right senses, if this were to happen, which you desire, I deny that it would profit you. For if Plutus were to have the use of his eyes again and portion himself6 out equally, no man would practise either art or science; and when both these have disappeared through you, who will be willing to be a smith, or to build ships, or to sew, or to make wheels, or to make shoes, or to make bricks, or to wash, or to tan hides, or who will be willing to break up the soil of the earth with ploughings and reap the fruits7 of Ceres, if it be possible for you to live in idleness, neglecting all these?
You talk nonsense;8 for our servants shall toil at all these things for us, as many as you have now enumerated.
Whence then will you have servants?
We will buy them for money, to be sure.
But first, who will be the seller, when he too has money?
But first of all, there will not even be any one, not even a kidnapper, according to the statement, I ween, which you mention. For who that is wealthy will be willing to do this3 at the hazard of his own life? So that, having been compelled to plough, and dig, and toil at the other labours yourself, you will spend a much more painful life than the present one.
May it fall on your own head!4
Moreover you will not be able to sleep either in a bed,—for there will be none,—or in carpets; for who will be willing to weave them when he has gold? Nor, when you lead home a bride, to anoint her with dropping unguents; nor to adorn her with sumptuous5 garments, dyed, and variegated. And yet, what advantage will it be to you to be rich, when in want6 of all these? But from me all these which you stand in need of are easily obtained; for I sit, compelling the artisan, like a mistress, through his want and his poverty, to seek whence he shall have subsistence.
Why, what good could you procure, except a swarm of blisters7 from the bath, and of children beginning to be Edition: current; Page:  hungry, and of old women? and1 the quantity of lice, and gnats, and fleas, I don’t even mention2 to you, by reason of their multitude, which buzz3 about my head and torment me, wakening me and saying, “You will suffer hunger; come, get up.”4 Moreover to have a rag instead of a garment; and instead of a bed, a mattress of rushes, full of bugs, which wakens5 the sleepers; and to have a rotten mat instead of a carpet; and a good-sized stone against one’s head instead of a pillow; and to eat shoots of mallow instead of bread; and leaves of withered radish instead of barley-cake; and to have the head of a broken jar instead of a bench; and the side of a [Editor: illegible word], and that too6 broken, instead of a kneading-trough. Do I not7 demonstrate you to be the cause of many blessings to all men?
You have not mentioned my way of life, but have attacked that of beggars.8
Therefore we say, I ween, that poverty is sister9 of beggary.
Aye, you who also say that Dionysius is like Thrasybulus. But my mode of life is not thus circumstanced, no, by Jove, nor will it.1 For a beggar’s mode of life, which you describe, is to live possessed of nothing; but that of a poor man to live sparingly, and attentive to his work; and not to have any superfluity, nor yet, however, to have a deficiency.
You are trying to scoff at and ridicule me, heedless of being earnest, not knowing that I render men better both in mind and body than Plutus4 does. For with him5 they are gouty in their feet, and pot-bellied, and thick-legged, and extravagantly fat; but with me they are thin and slender, and grievous to their foes.
For, no doubt,6 you bring about the slenderness for them by hunger.
Now therefore I will discourse to you respecting sobriety, and will demonstrate that orderly behaviour dwells with me, but that riotousness belongs to Plutus.
In sooth it is very orderly to steal and to dig through walls.
Yes, by Jove;7 how is it not orderly, if he must escape notice?
Consider therefore the orators in the states, how, Edition: current; Page:  when they are poor, they are just towards the people and the state; but when they have become rich out of the public purse, they immediately become unjust, and plot against the commons, and make war upon the democracy.
Well, you don’t speak falsely in any of these things, although1 you are exceedingly slanderous. But you shall suffer none the less—don’t pride2 yourself on this—because you seek to convince us of this, that poverty is better than riches.
And you too are not yet able to refute me about this, but talk nonsense and flap your wings.
Why, how is it that all shun you?
Because I make them better. But you may see it best in3 children; for they shun their fathers who are very well-disposed towards them. So difficult a matter is it to distinguish what is right.
And despatches6 her to us.
Nay, O you who are both of you purblind in your minds with old-fashioned prejudices, Jupiter is certainly poor; and I will now teach you this clearly. For if he was rich, how would he, when celebrating the Olympic games himself, where he assembles all the Greeks every fifth year, have proclaimed as conquerors the victorious athletes, having crowned them with a chaplet of wild olive?7 And yet he ought8 rather to crown them with gold, if he was rich?
By this therefore he certainly shows that he honours riches. For through parsimony and a wish to spend none of Edition: current; Page:  it, he crowns the victors with trifles and lets his wealth remain by him.1
You seek to fix upon him a much more disgraceful thing than poverty, if he, though rich, be so stingy and avaricious.
Well, may Jupiter utterly destroy you, having crowned you with a chaplet of wild olive!
To think of your daring2 to contradict me, that all your blessings are not through poverty!
One may learn this from Hecate, whether to be rich or to suffer hunger is better. For she says that those who have property and are wealthy send a dinner every month, while the poor people snatch it away before3 one has set it down. But go and be hanged,4 and don’t mutter any thing more whatever. For you shall not convince me, even if you should convince me.5
“O city of Argos,6 you hear what he says!”
Call Pauson, your messmate.
What7 shall I do, unhappy woman!
Go to the devil quickly from us!
But whither on earth shall I go?
To the pillory; you ought not to delay, but to make haste.
Assuredly you will have to send for me hither sometime.8
Then you shall return; but now go and be hanged! For it is better for me to be rich, and to leave you to wail loudly in your head.1 [Exit Poverty.]
By Jove, then, I wish, when I am rich, to feast along with my children and my wife; and going sleek from the bath, after I have bathed, to fart at the artisans and Poverty.
This cursed wretch is gone. But let you and me convey the god as soon as possible to the temple of Æsculapius to put him to bed in it.2
And let us not delay, lest again some one come and hinder us from doing something useful.3
Boy Cario, you must bring out the bed-clothes, and convey Plutus himself, as is customary, and the other things, as many as are ready prepared in the house. [Exeunt Chremylus and Blepsidemus.]4
O you old men, who very often at the festival of Theseus5 have sopped up soup to very little bread, how prosperous you are, how happily you are circumstanced, and the rest of you, as many as have any claim to a good character!
But what news is there, O good sir, about6 your Edition: current; Page:  friends? for you appear to have come as a messenger of some good news.
My master is most prosperously circumstanced,—or rather Plutus himself; for instead of being blind, he has been1 restored to sight, and has been made clear-sighted in the pupils of his eyes, having found Æsculapius a friendly physician.2
You tell me a matter for joy, you tell me a matter for shouting.
’Tis your lot to rejoice, whether you wish it or no.
I will loudly praise Æsculapius blest in his children, and3 a great light to mortals. [Enter wife of Chremylus.]
What in the world means the shout? Is some good news announced? for, longing for this, I have been sitting in the house this long while, waiting for this fellow.
Quickly, quickly, bring wine, mistress, in order that you yourself also may drink,—and you are very fond4 of doing it, for I bring you all blessings in a lump.
Why, where are they?
You will soon learn by what is said.
Be quick and finish then some time or other what you are for saying.
Hear then; for I will tell you the whole affair from the foot to the head.5
Nay, not on my head, pray.6
Not the blessings which have now taken place?
Nay, rather, not the troubles.1
As soon as we came to the god, conveying a man, at that time most miserable, but now blessed and fortunate, if there ever was one,2 we first conveyed him to the sea, and then washed him.
By Jupiter, then he was fortunate, an old man washed in the cold sea!
Then we went to the temple of the god. And when our wafers and preparatory sacrifices were offered on the altar, and our cake in the flame of Vulcan,3 we laid Plutus on a couch, as was proper, while each of us began putting his mattress in order.
And were there any others also in need of the god?
Yes, there was one Neoclides,4 who is indeed blind, but out-does5 in stealing those who see: and many others having all sorts of diseases. But when the sacrist6 of the god put out the lamps and ordered us to sleep, telling us if any one should hear a noise, he must be silent, we all laid down in an orderly manner. And I could not sleep; but a pot of porridge which was lying a little way off from the head of an old woman strongly affected me, towards which I desired exceedingly to creep. Then on looking up I see the priest snatching away7 the cakes and dried figs from the sacred table. And after this he went round to all the altars round about, if any where a cake might be left; and then he consecrated these—into a sack.8 And I, supposing9 there Edition: current; Page:  was great piety in the thing, got up towards the pot of porridge.
O most daring1 of men, were you not afraid of the god?
Yes, by the gods, lest he might get to the pot before me, with his garlands on; for his priest taught me that beforehand.2 But the old woman, when she heard my noise, stretched forth3 her hand; and then I hissed and seized it with my teeth, as if I were an Æsculapian4 snake. But she immediately drew back her hand again, and lay down, having wrapped herself up quietly, farting for fear more offensively than a weasel. And then I swallowed greedily the greater part of the porridge:5 and then, when I was full, I rested.
But did not the god come to you?
Not yet. And after this now I did a very laughable thing indeed; for as he was approaching, I farted very loudly; for my belly6 had been blown out.
Doubtless he was immediately disgusted at you on account of this.
No; but a certain Iaso,7 who was following along with him, blushed a little, and Panacea took hold of her nose and turned away her head; for I fart no frankincense.
But he himself?
No, by Jove, he did not even take notice of it.
Then you represent the deity to be boorish.
No, by Jove, not I; but a dung-eater.1
Ha, you wretch!
After this I immediately covered myself up for fear; while he went round in a circuit inspecting all the maladics very regularly. Then a servant set before him a small stone mortar and a pestle and a small chest.
No, by Jove, certainly not, not3 the little chest.
But how did you see, the devil take4 you! who say you were wrapped up?
Through my little threadbare cloak; for, by Jupiter,5 it has6 no few holes. First of all he began to pound up a plaster7 for Neoclides, having thrown in three heads of Tenian8 garlic. Then he beat them up in the mortar, mixing9 along with them gum and squill; and then he moistened it with Sphettian10 vinegar, and spread it over, having turned his eyelids inside out, that he might be pained the more. And he crying out and bawling, jumped up and ran away, while the god laughed and said: “Sit there now,11 plastered over, that I may stop12 your excusing yourself on oath from the Assembly.”13
How very14 patriotic and wise the god is!
After this he sat down beside Plutus:1 and first he handled his head, and then he took a clean napkin and wiped his eyelids all round: and Panacea covered his head and the whole of his face with a purple cloth. Then the god whistled; then two snakes rushed forth from the temple, prodigious in size.2
O ye friendly gods!
And these two gently [Editor: illegible word] under3 the purple cloth and began to lick his eyelids all round, as it appeared to me. And before you could have drank up ten half-pints of wine, mistress, Plutus was standing up having the use of his eyes: and I clapped my hands for joy, and began to wake my master. But the god immediately took himself4 out of sight, and the snakes took themselves into the temple; while those who were lying in bed near him, you can’t think how5 they began embracing Plutus, and kept awake the whole night, until day dawned. But I praised the god very much, because he had quickly caused Plutus to see, while he made Neoclides more blind than before.
How much6 power you possess, O king and master! But [to Cario] tell me, where is Plutus?
He is coming. But there was a prodigious7 crowd about him. For all those who were formerly just, and had a scanty subsistence, were embracing him and shaking hands with him for joy; but as many as were rich, and had much property, not having acquired their subsistence justly, were contracting their brows,8 and at the same time looking angry. Edition: current; Page:  But the others were following behind with garlands on, laughing and shouting in triumph; and the shoe of the old men was resounding1 with their steps in good time.2 But come, do you all together with one accord dance, and leap, and form a chorus; for no one will announce to you when you go in that there is no meal in the bag.
Do not then delay any longer, for the men are now near to the door.
Come then, let me go in and fetch some sweetmeats5 to be showered as it were over his newly purchased eyes. [Exit wife of Chremylus.]
But I wish to go to meet them. [Exit Cario.]
(entering, accompanied by Chremylus and a great crowd of people). And first I salute6 the sun, and then the illustrious soil7 of the august Pallas, and the whole land of Cecrops, which received me. I am ashamed of my misfortunes, because I associated with such men8 without my knowing it, but shunned those who were worthy of my society, knowing nothing, oh, unhappy me! How wrongly I acted both in that case9 and in this! But I will reverse them all again, and henceforth show to all men that I unwillingly gave myself up to the wicked.
Go to the devil! How troublesome a thing are the friends who appear immediately, when one is prosperous! For they nudge me with their elbows, and Edition: current; Page:  bruise1 my shins, each of them exhibiting2 some good will. For who did not address me? What a crowd of old men was there not around me in the market-place? [Enter wife of Chremylus.]
O dearest of men! Welcome, both you, and you! Come now, for it is the custom let me take and pour3 these sweetmeats over you.
By no means; for on my first entry into the house, and when I have recovered my eye-sight, it is in no wise becoming to carry out any thing, but rather to carry in.
Then, pray, will you not accept my sweetmeats?
Yes, in the house, by the fireside, as is the custom. Then also we may avoid the vulgarity of the thing; for it is not becoming for the dramatic poet4 to throw dried figs and sweetmeats to the spectators and then force them to laugh at this.
You say very well; for see! there’s Dexinicus5 standing up, with the intention of snatching at the dried figs!
[Exeunt Plutus, Chremylus, wife, and attendants.]
How delightful it is, sirs, to fare prosperously! especially if one has brought out nothing from home.6 For a heap7 of blessings has rushed into8 our house, without our committing any injustice. Under these circumstances9 wealth is a very delightful thing. Our mealchest Edition: current; Page:  is full of wheaten flour, and our wine-jars of dark wine with a high perfume.1 And all our vessels are full of silver and gold, so that I wonder. And our oil-jar is full of oil; and our flasks are full of unguents, and our garret of dried figs. And every vinegar-cruet, and platter, and pet has become of brass; and our rotten, fishy chargers you may see of silver. And our lantern has suddenly become of ivory. And we servants play at even and odd with golden staters; and we no longer wipe ourselves with stones,2 but always with garlic, through luxury. And at present my master is sacrificing within a swine, and a goat, and a ram, with a chaplet on: but the smoke drove me out; for I was not able to remain within; for it stung my eye-lids. [Enter a Just Man attended by his servant.]
Follow with me,3 my little boy, that we may go to the god. [Enter Chremylus.]
Ha! who is this who approaches?
A man, formerly wretched, but now prosperous.
It is evident that you are one of the good, as it appears.
Then, what do you want?
I have come to the god: for he is the author of great blessings to me. For having received a considerable property from my father, I used to assist those of my friends4 who were in want, thinking it to be useful for life.5
Doubtless your money soon failed1 you.
Therefore after this you were wretched.
Just so. And I thought I should have as really firm friends, if ever I might want them, those whom I had before done kindness to when they were in want: but they began to avoid me, and pretended not2 to see me any longer.
And also3 laughed at you, I well know.
Just so. For the dearth4 which was in my vessels ruined me.
But not now.
Wherefore with good reason I have come hither to the god, to offer up my vows.
This also I am coming to the god to dedicate.
Were you initiated,7 then, in the Great Mysteries in it?
No; but I shivered in it for thirteen years.
But your shoes?
These also have weathered the storm along with me.
Then were you bringing these also to dedicate them?
Yes, by Jupiter.
You have come with very pretty1 presents for the god. [Enter an informer attended by his witness.]
Ah me, unhappy! How I am undone, miserable man, and thrice unhappy,2 and four times, and five times, and twelve times, and ten thousand times! alas! alas! with so powerful3 a fate have I been mingled.
O Apollo, averter of evil, and ye friendly gods! what in the world is the misfortune which the man has suffered?
Why, have I not now suffered shocking things, who have lost every thing out of my house through this god, who shall be blind again, unless law-suits be wanting.
I imagine I pretty nearly see into the matter; for a man is approaching who is badly off; and he seems to be of the bad stamp.4
By Jupiter, then, he is rightly5 ruined.
And whom, pray, has he treated thus?
Were you of the number of the wicked ones and housebreakers?
O Ceres, how insolently the informer has come in! It is evident that he is ravenously hungry.1
Then you’ll suffer for it.
Ah me, miserable! Are you also laughing at me, who are an accomplice? for whence have you got this garment? But yesterday I saw you with a threadbare cloak on.
But it is not possible to wear one against an informer’s8 bite.
Is not this great insolence? You mock me, but you have not stated what you are doing here. For you are here for no good.
Certainly not, by Jove, for your good; be well assured.
For, by Jove, you will dine at my cost.
Do you deny it? There is a great quantity3 of slices of salt-fish and roast meat within, you most abominable fellows. [Sniffs.]