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THE BIRDS by Aristophanes, Part 01

410 BC
THE BIRDS
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY
EUELPIDES
PITHETAERUS
TROCHILUS, Servant to Epops
Epops (the Hoopoe)
A BIRD
A HeraLD
A PRIEST
A POET
AN ORACLE-MONGER
METON, a Geometrician
AN INSPECTOR
A DEALER IN DECREES
IRIS
A PARRICIDE
CINESIAS, a Dithyrambic Poet
AN INFORMER
PROMETHEUS
POSIDON
TRIBALLUS
Heracles
SLAVES OF PITHETAERUS
MESSENGERS
CHORUS OF BIRDS
BIRDS
(SCENE:-A wild and desolate region; only thickets, rocks, and a
single tree are seen. EUELPIDES and PITHETAERUS enter, each with a
bird in his hand.)

EUELPIDES (to his jay)
Do you think I should walk straight for yon tree?
PITHETAERUS (to his crow)
Cursed beast, what are you croaking to me?...to retrace my steps?
EUELPIDES
Why, you wretch, we are wandering at random, we are exerting
ourselves only to return to the same spot; we're wasting our time.
PITHETAERUS
To think that I should trust to this crow, which has made me cover
more than a thousand furlongs!
EUELPIDES
And that I, in obedience to this jay, should have worn my toes
down to the nails!
PITHETAERUS
If only I knew where we were....
EUELPIDES
Could you find your country again from here?
PITHETAERUS
No, I feel quite sure I could not, any more than could Execestides
find his.
EUELPIDES
Alas!
PITHETAERUS
Aye, aye, my friend, it's surely the road of "alases" we are
following.
EUELPIDES
That Philocrates, the bird-seller, played us a scurvy trick,
when he pretended these two guides could help us to find Tereus, the
Epops, who is a bird, without being born of one. He has indeed sold us
this jay, a true son of Tharrhelides, for an obolus, and this crow for
three, but what can they do? Why, nothing whatever but bite and
scratch! (To his jay) What's the matter with you then, that you keep
opening your beak? Do you want us to fling ourselves headlong down
these rocks? There is no road that way.
PITHETAERUS
Not even the vestige of a trail in any direction
EUELPIDES
And what does the crow say about the road to follow?
PITHETAERUS
By Zeus, it no longer croaks the same thing it did.
EUELPIDES
And which way does it tell us to go now?
PITHETAERUS
It says that, by dint of gnawing, it will devour my fingers.
EUELPIDES
What misfortune is ours! we strain every nerve to get to the
crows, do everything we can to that end, and we cannot find our way!
Yes, spectators, our madness is quite different from that of Sacas. He
is not a citizen, and would fain be one at any cost; we, on the
contrary, born of an honourable tribe and family and living in the
midst of our fellow-citizens, we have fled from our country as hard as
ever we could go. It's not that we hate it; we recognize it to be
great and rich, likewise that everyone has the right to ruin himself
paying taxes; but the crickets only chirrup among the fig-trees for
a month or two, whereas the Athenians spend their whole lives in
chanting forth judgments from their law-courts. That is why we started
off with a basket, a stew-pot and some myrtle boughs! and have come to
seek a quiet country in which to settle. We are going to Tereus, the
Epops, to learn from him, whether, in his aerial flights, he has
noticed some town of this kind.
PITHETAERUS
Here! look!
EUELPIDES
What's the matter?
PITHETAERUS
Why, the crow has been directing me to something up there for some
time now.

 

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