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THE ACHARNIANS by Aristophanes, Part 04

DICAEOPOLIS
Faugh!
AMPHITHEUS
What's the matter?
DICAEOPOLIS
I don't like it; it smells of pitch and of the ships they are
fitting out.
AMPHITHEUS (handing him another bottle)
Here is another, ten years old; taste it.
DICAEOPOLIS
It smells strongly of the delegates, who go around the towns to
chide the allies for their slowness.
AMPHITHEUS (handing him a third bottle)
This last is a truce of thirty years, both on sea and land.
DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! by Bacchus! what a bouquet! It has the aroma of nectar and
ambrosia; this does not say to us, "Provision yourselves for three
days." But it lisps the gentle numbers, "Go whither you will." I
accept it, ratify it, drink it at one draught and consign the
Acharnians to limbo. Freed from the war and its ills, I shall
celebrate the rural Dionysia.
AMPHITHEUS
And I shall run away, for I'm mortally afraid of the Acharnians.
(AMPHITHEUS runs off. DICAEOPOLIS goes into his house, carrying
his truce. The CHORUS of ACHARNIAN CHARCOAL BURNERS enters, in
great haste and excitement.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
This way all! Let us follow our man; we will demand him of
everyone we meet; the public weal makes his seizure imperative. Ho,
there! tell me which way the bearer of the truce has gone.
CHORUS (singing)
He has escaped us, he has disappeared. Damn old age! When I was
young, in the days when I followed Phayllus, running with a sack of
coals on my back, this wretch would not have eluded my pursuit, let
him be as swift as he will.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But now my limbs are stiff; old Lacratides feels his legs are
weighty and the traitor escapes me. No, no, let us follow him; old
Acharnians like our selves shall not be set at naught by a
scoundrel....
CHORUS (singing)
....who has dared, by Zeus, to conclude a truce when I wanted
the war continued with double fury in order to avenge my ruined lands.
No mercy for our foes until I have pierced their hearts like sharp
reed, so that they dare never again ravage my vineyards.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Come, let us seek the rascal; let us look everywhere, carrying our
stones in our hands; let us hunt him from place to place until we trap
him; could never, never tire of the delight of stoning him.
DICAEOPOLIS (from within)
Peace! profane men!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Silence all! Friends, do you hear the sacred formula? Here is
he, whom we seek! This way, all! Get out of his way, surely he comes
to offer an oblation.
(The CHORUS withdraws to one side.)
DICAEOPOLIS (comes out with a pot in his hand; he is followed by
his wife, his daughter, who carries a basket, and two slaves,
who carry the phallus.)
Peace, profane men! Let the basket-bearer come forward, and thou
Xanthias, hold the phallus well upright. Daughter, set down the basket
and let us begin the sacrifice.
DAUGHTER OF DICAEOPOLIS (putting down the basket and taking
out the sacred cake)
Mother, hand me the ladle, that I may spread the sauce on the
cake.
DICAEOPOLIS
It is well! Oh, mighty Bacchus, it is with joy that, freed from
military duty, I and all mine perform this solemn rite and offer
thee this sacrifice; grant that I may keep the rural Dionysia
without hindrance and that this truce of thirty years may be
propitious for me. Come, my child, carry the basket gracefully and
with a grave, demure face. Happy he who shall be your possessor and
embrace you so firmly at dawn, that you fart like a weasel. Go
forward, and have a care they don't snatch your jewels in the crowd.
Xanthias, walk behind the basket-bearer and hold the phallus well
erect; I will follow, singing the Phallic hymn; thou, wife, look on
from the top of the terrace. Forward!
(He sings)
Oh, Phales, companion of the orgies of Bacchus, night reveller,
god of adultery and of pederasty, these past six years I have not been
able to invoke thee. With what joy I return to my farmstead, thanks to
the truce I have concluded, freed from cares, from fighting and from
Lamachuses! How much sweeter, oh Phales, Phales, is it to surprise
Thratta, the pretty woodmaid, Strymodorus' slave, stealing wood from
Mount Phelleus, to catch her under the arms, to throw her, on the
ground and lay her, Oh, Phales, Phales! If thou wilt drink and
bemuse thyself with me, we shall to-morrow consume some good dish in
honour of the peace, and I will hang up my buckler over the smoking
hearth.
(The procession reaches the place where the CHORUS is hiding.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
That's the man himself. Stone him, stone him, stone him, strike
the wretch. All, all of you, pelt him, pelt him!
DICAEOPOLIS (using his pot for a shield)
What is this? By Heracles, you will smash my pot.
(The daughter and the two slaves retreat.)
CHORUS (singing excitedly)
It is you that we are stoning, you miserable scoundrel.

 

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