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THE ACHARNIANS by Aristophanes, Part 07

Slave! give him Telephus' tatters; they are on top of the rags
of Thyestes and mixed with those of Ino. There they are; take them.
DICAEOPOLIS (holding up the costume for the audience to see)
Oh! Zeus, whose eye pierces everywhere and embraces all, permit me
to assume the most wretcbed dress on earth. Euripides, cap your
kindness by giving me the little Mysian hat, that goes so well with
these tatters. I must to-day have the look of a beggar; "be what I am,
but not appear to be"; the audience will know well who I am, but the
CHORUS will be fools enough not to, and I shall dupe them with my
subtle phrases.
I will give you the hat; I love the clever tricks of an
ingenious brain like yours.
Rest happy, and may it befall Telephus as I wish. Ah, I already
feel myself filled with quibbles. But I must have a beggar's staff.
EURIPIDES (handing him a staff)
Here you are, and now get away from this porch.
Oh, my soul! You see how you are driven from this house, when I
still need so many accessories. But let us be pressing, obstinate,
importunate. Euripides, give me a little basket with a lamp lighted
Whatever do you want such a thing as that for?
I do not need it, but I want it all the same.
EURIPIDES (handing him a basket)
You importune me; get out of here!
Alas! may the gods grant you a destiny as brilliant as your
Leave me in peace.
Oh, just a little broken cup.
EURIPIDES (handing him a cup)
Take it and go and hang yourself. (to himself) What a tiresome
Ah! you do not know all the pain you cause me. Dear, good
Euripides, just a little pot with a sponge for a stopper.
Miserable man! You are stealing a whole tragedy. Here, take it and
be off.
(He hands DICAEOPOLIS a pot.)
I am going, but, great gods! I need one thing more; unless I
have it, am a dead man. Hearken, my little Euripides, only give me
this and I go, never to return. For pity's sake, do give me a few
small herbs for my basket.
You wish to ruin me then. Here, take what you want; but it is
all over with my plays!
(He hands him some herbs.)
I won't ask another thing; I'm going. I am too importunate and
forget that I rouse against me the hate of kings. (He starts to leave,
then returns quickly) Ah! wretch that I am! I am lost! I have
forgotten one thing, without which all the rest is as nothing.
Euripides, my excellent Euripides, my dear little Euripides, may I die
if I ask you again for the smallest present; only one, the last,
absolutely the last; give me some of the chervil your mother left
you in her will.
Insolent hound! Slave, lock the door! (The eccyclema turns back
Oh, my soul! we must go away without the chervil. Art thou
sensible of the dangerous battle we are about to engage upon in
defending the Lacedaemonians? Courage, my soul, we must plunge into
the midst of it. Dost thou hesitate and art thou fully steeped in
Euripides? That's right! do not falter, my poor heart, and let us risk
our head to say what we hold for truth. Courage and boldly to the
front. I am astonished at my bravery.
(He approaches the block.)
CHORUS (singing; excitedly)
What do you purport doing? what are you going to say? What an
impudent fellow! what a brazen heart! to dare to stake his head and
uphold an opinion contrary to that of us all! And he does not
tremble to face this peril Come, it is you who desired it, speak!
Spectators, be not angered if, although I am a beggar, I dare in
comedy to speak before the people of Athens of the public weal; even
Comedy can sometimes discern what is right. I shall not please, but
I shall say what is true. Besides, Cleon shall not be able to accuse
me of attacking Athens before strangers; we are by ourselves at the
festival of the Lenaea; the time when our allies send us their tribute
and their soldiers is not yet here. There is only the pure wheat
without the chaff; as to the resident aliens settled among us, they
and the citizens are one, like the straw and the ear.
I detest the Lacedaemonians with all my heart, and may Posidon,
the god of Taenarus, cause an earthquake and overturn their dwellings!
My vines too have been cut. But come (there are only friends who
hear me), why accuse the Laconians of all our woes? Some men (I do not
say the city, note particularly that I do not say the city), some
wretches, lost in vices, bereft of honour, who were not even
citizens of good stamp, but strangers, have accused the Megarians of
introducing their produce fraudulently, and not a cucumber, a leveret,
a suckling pig, a clove of garlic, a lump of salt was seen without its
being said, "Halloa! these come from Megara," and their being
instantly confiscated. Thus far the evil was not serious and we were
the only sufferers. But now some young drunkards go to Megara and
carry off the harlot Simaetha; the Megarians, hurt to the quick, run
off in turn with two harlots of the house of Aspasia; and so for three
whores Greece is set ablaze. Then Pericles, aflame with ire on his
Olympian height, let loose the lightning, caused the thunder to
roll, upset Greece and passed an edict, which ran like the song, "That
the Megarians be banished both from our land and from our markets
and from the sea and from the continent." Meanwhile the Megarians, who
were beginning to die of hunger, begged the Lacedaemonians to bring
about the abolition of the decree, of which those harlots were the
cause; several times we refused their demand; and from that time there
was horrible clatter of arms everywhere. You will say that Sparta
was wrong, but what should she have done? Answer that. Suppose that
a Lacedaemonian had seized a little Seriphian dog on any pretext and
had sold it, would you have endured it quietly? Far from it, you would
at once have sent three hundred vessels to sea, and what an uproar
there would have been through all the city I there it's a band of
noisy soldiery, here a brawl about the election of a Trierarch;
elsewhere pay is being distributed, the Pallas figure-heads are
being regilded, crowds are surging under the market porticos,
encumbered with wheat that is being measured, wine-skins,
oar-leathers, garlic, olives, onions in nets; everywhere are chaplets,
sprats, flute-girls, black eyes; in the arsenal bolts are being
noisily driven home, sweeps are being made and fitted with leathers;
we hear nothing but the sound of whistles, of flutes and fifes to
encourage the workers. That is what you assuredly would have done, and
would not Telephus have done the same? So I come to my general
conclusion; we have no common sense.


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