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THE ACHARNIANS by Aristophanes, Part 10

LEADER OF SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
What an injustice that a man, bent with age like Thucydides,
should be brow-beaten by this braggart advocate, Cephisodemus, who
is as savage as the Scythian desert he was born in! I wept tears of
pity when I saw a Scythian maltreat this old man, who, by Ceres,
when he was young and the true Thucydides, would not have permitted an
insult from Ceres herself! At that date he would have floored ten
orators like Euathlus, he would have terrified three thousand
Scythians with his shouts; he would have pierced the whole line of the
enemy with his shafts. Ah! but if you will not leave the aged in
peace, decree that the advocates be matched; thus the old man will
only be confronted with a toothless greybeard, the young will fight
with the braggart, the ignoble with the son of Clinias; make law
that in the future, the old man can only be summoned and convicted
at the courts by the aged and the young man by the youth.
DICAEOPOLIS (coming out of his house and marking out a square in
front of it)
These are the confines of my market-place. All Peloponnesians,
Megarians, Boeotians, have the right to come and trade here,
provided they sell their wares to me and not to Lamachus. As
market-inspectors I appoint these three whips of Leprean leather,
chosen by lot. Warned away are all informers and all men of Phasis.
They are bringing me the pillar on which the treaty is inscribed and I
shall erect it in the centre of the market, well in sight of all.
(He goes back into the house just as a Megarian enters from the
left, carrying a sack on his shoulder and followed by his two
little daughters.)
MEGARIAN
Hail! market of Athens, beloved of Megarians. Let Zeus, the patron
of friendship, witness, I regretted you as a mother mourns her son.
Come, poor little daughters of an unfortunate father, try to find
something to eat; listen to me with the full heed of an empty belly.
Which would you prefer? To be sold or to cry with hunger?
DAUGHTERS
To be sold, to be sold!
MEGARIAN
That is my opinion too. But who would make so sorry a deal as to
buy you? Ah! I recall me a Megarian trick; I am going to disguise
you as little porkers, that I am offering for sale. Fit your hands
with these hoofs and take care to appear the issue of a sow of good
breed, for, if I am forced to take you back to the house, by Hermes!
you will suffer cruelly of hunger! Then fix on these snouts and cram
yourselves into this sack. Forget not to grunt and to say wee-wee like
the little pigs that are sacrificed in the Mysteries. I must summon
Dicaeopolis. Where is be? (Loudly) Dicaeopolis, do you want to buy
some nice little porkers?
DICAEOPOLIS (coming out of his house)
Who are you? a Megarian?
MEGARIAN
I have come to your market.
DICAEOPOLIS
Well, how are things at Megara?
MEGARIAN
We are crying with hunger at our firesides.
DICAEOPOLIS
The fireside is jolly enough with a piper. But what else is
doing at Megara?
MEGARIAN
What else? When I left for the market, the authorities were taking
steps to let us die in the quickest manner.
DICAEOPOLIS
That is the best way to get you out of all your troubles.
MEGARIAN
True.
DICAEOPOLIS
What other news of Megara? What is wheat selling at?
MEGARIAN
With us it is valued as highly as the very gods in heaven!
DICAEOPOLIS
Is it salt that you are bringing?
MEGARIAN
Aren't you the ones that are holding back the salt?
DICAEOPOLIS
Is it garlic then?
MEGARIAN
What! garlic! do you not at every raid like mice grub up the
ground with your pikes to pull out every single head?
DICAEOPOLIS
What are you bringing then?
MEGARIAN
Little sows, like those they immolate at the Mysteries.
DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! very well, show me them.
MEGARIAN
They are very fine; feel their weight. See! how fat and fine.
DICAEOPOLIS (feeling around in the sack)
Hey! what's this?
MEGARIAN
A sow.
DICAEOPOLIS
A sow, you say? Where from, then?
MEGARIAN
From Megara. What! isn't it a sow then?
DICAEOPOLIS (feeling around in the sack again)
No, I don't believe it is.
MEGARIAN
This is too much! what an incredulous man! He says it's not a sow;
but we will stake, if you will, a measure of salt ground up with
thyme, that in good Greek this is called a sow and nothing else.

 

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