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THE ACHARNIANS by Aristophanes, Part 06

CHORUS (singing; belligerently again)
Well then, bring out a block before your door, scoundrel, and
let us hear the good grounds you can give us; I am curious to know
them. Now mind, as you proposed yourself, place your head on the block
and speak.
DICAEOPOLIS (coming out of his house, carrying a block)
Here is the block; and, though I am but a very sorry speaker, I
wish nevertheless to talk freely of the Lacedaemonians and without the
protection of my buckler. Yet I have many reasons for fear. I know our
rustics; they are delighted if some braggart comes, and rightly or
wrongly, loads both them and their city with praise and flattery; they
do not see that such toad-eaters are traitors, who sell them for gain.
As for the old men, I know their weakness; they only seek to overwhelm
the accused with their votes. Nor have I forgotten how Cleon treated
me because of my comedy last year; he dragged me before the Senate and
there he uttered endless slanders against me; it was a tempest of
abuse, a deluge of lies. Through what a slough of mud he dragged me! I
almost perished. Permit me, therefore, before I speak, to dress in the
manner most likely to draw pity.
CHORUS (singing; querulously)
What evasions, subterfuges and delays! Wait! here is the sombre
helmet of Pluto with its thick bristling plume; Hieronymus lends it to
you; then open Sisyphus' bag of wiles; but hurry, hurry, for
discussion does not admit of delay.
The time has come for me to manifest my courage, so I will go
and seek Euripides. (Knocking on EURIPIDES' door) Ho! slave, slave!
SLAVE (opening the door and poking his head out)
Who's there?
Is Euripides at home?
He is and he isn't; understand that, if you can.
What's that? He is and he isn't!
Certainly, old man; busy gathering subtle fancies here and
there, his mind is not in the house, but he himself is; perched aloft,
he is composing a tragedy.
Oh, Euripides, you are indeed happy to have a slave so quick at
redartee! Now, fellow, call your master.
Impossible! (He slams the door.)
Too bad. But I will not give up. Come, let us knock at the door
again. Euripides, my little Euripides, my darling Euripides, listen;
never had man greater right to your pity. It is Dicaeopolis of the
Chollidan Deme who calls you. Do you hear?
EURIPIDES (from within)
I have no time to waste.
Very well, have yourself wheeled out here.
Well, let them roll me out; as to coming down, I have not the
(The eccyclema turns and presents the interior of the house.
EURIPIDES is lying on a bed, his slave beside him. On the back
wall are hung up tragic costumes of every sort and a multitude
of accessories is piled up on the floor.)
What words strike my ear?
You perch aloft to compose tragedies, when you might just as
well do them on the ground. No wonder you introduce cripples on the
stage. And why do you dress in these miserable tragic rags? No
wonder your heroes are beggars. But, Euripides, on my knees I
beseech you, give me the tatters of some old piece; for I have to
treat the CHORUS to a long speech, and if I do it badly it is all over
with me.
What rags do you prefer? Those in which I rigged out Oeneus on the
stage, that unhappy, miserable old man?
No, I want those of some hero still more unfortunate.
Of Phoenix, the blind man?
No, not of Phoenix, you have another hero more unfortunate than
EURIPIDES (to himself)
Now, what tatters does he want? (to DICAEOPOLIS) Do you mean those
of the beggar Philoctetes?
No, of another far more beggarly.
Is it the filthy dress of the lame fellow, Bellerophon?
No, not Bellerophon; the one I mean was not only lame and a
beggar, but boastful and a fine speaker.
Ah! I know, it is Telephus, the Mysian.
Yes, Telephus. Give me his rags, I beg of you.


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