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THE ACHARNIANS by Aristophanes, Part 05

DICAEOPOLIS
And for what sin, Acharnian elders, tell me that!
CHORUS (singing, with greater excitement)
You ask that, you impudent rascal, traitor to your country; you
alone amongst us all have concluded a truce, and you dare to look us
in the face!
DICAEOPOLIS
But you do not know why I have treated for peace. Listen!
CHORUS (singing fiercely)
Listen to you? No, no, you are about to die, we will annihilate
you with our stones.
DICAEOPOLIS
But first of all, listen. Stop, my friends.
CHORUS (singing; with intense hatred)
I will hear nothing; do not address me; I hate you more than I
do Cleon, whom one day I shall flay to make sandals for the Knights.
Listen to your long speeches, after you have treated with the
Laconians? No, I will punish you.
DICAEOPOLIS
Friends, leave the Laconians out of debate and consider only
whether I have not done well to conclude my truce.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Done well! when you have treated with a people who know neither
gods, nor truth, nor faith.
DICAEOPOLIS
We attribute too much to the Laconians; as for myself, I know that
they are not the cause of all our troubles.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh, indeed, rascal! You dare to use such language to me and then
expect me to spare you!
DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, they are not the cause of all our troubles, and I who
address you claim to be able to prove that they have much to
complain of in us.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
This passes endurance; my heart bounds with fury. Thus you dare to
defend our enemies.
DICAEOPOLIS
Were my head on the block I would uphold what I say and rely on
the approval of the people.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Comrades, let us hurl our stones and dye this fellow purple.
DICAEOPOLIS
What black fire-brand has inflamed your heart! You will not hear
me? You really will not, Acharnians?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
No, a thousand times, no.
DICAEOPOLIS
This is a hateful injustice.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
May I die if I listen.
DICAEOPOLIS
Nay, nay! have mercy, have mercy, Acharnians.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You shall die.
DICAEOPOLIS
Well, blood for blood! I will kill your dearest friend. I have
here the hostages of Acharnae; I shall disembowel them.
(He goes into the house.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Acharnians, what means this threat? Has he got one of our children
in his house? What gives him such audacity?
DICAEOPOLIS (coming out again)
Stone me, if it please you; I shall avenge myself on this. (He
shows them a basket.) Let us see whether you have any love for your
coals.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Great Gods! this basket is our fellow-citizen. Stop, stop, in
heaven's name!
DICAEOPOLIS
I shall dismember it despite your cries; I will listen to nothing.
CHORUS (singing; tragically)
How, will you kill this coal-basket, my beloved comrade?
DICAEOPOLIS
Just now you would not listen to me.
CHORUS (singing; plaintively)
Well, speak now, if you will; tell us, tell us you have a weakness
for the Lacedaemonians. I consent to anything; never will I forsake
this dear little basket.
DICAEOPOLIS
First, throw down your stones.
CHORUS (singing; meekly)
There I it's done. And you put away your sword.
DICAEOPOLIS
Let me see that no stones remain concealed in your cloaks.
CHORUS (singing; petulantly)
They are all on the ground; see how we shake our garments. Come,
no haggling, lay down your sword; we threw away everything while
crossing from one side of the Orchestra to the other.
DICAEOPOLIS
What cries of anguish you would have uttered had these coals of
Parnes been dismembered, and yet it came very near it; had they
perished, their death would have been due to the folly of their
fellow-citizens. The poor basket was so frightened, look, it has
shed a thick black dust over me, the same as a cuttle-fish does.
What an irritable temper! You shout and throw stones, you will not
hear my arguments-not even when I propose to speak in favour of the
Lacedaemonians with my head on the block; and yet I cling to life.
(He goes into the house.)

 

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