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THE BIRDS by Aristophanes, Part 15

ORACLE-MONGER
Look at the book. "If you do as I command, divine youth, you shall
be an eagle among the clouds; if not, you shall be neither
turtle-dove, nor eagle, nor woodpecker."
PITHETAERUS
Does it say all that?
ORACLE-MONGER
Look at the book.
PITHETAERUS
This oracle in no sort of way resembles the one Apollo dictated to
me: "If an impostor comes without invitation to annoy you during the
sacrifice and to demand a share of the victim, apply a stout stick
to his ribs."
ORACLE-MONGER
You are drivelling.
PITHETAERUS
Look at the book. "And don't spare him, were he an eagle from
out of the clouds, were it Lampon himself or the great Diopithes."
ORACLE-MONGER
Does it say that?
PITHETAERUS
Look at the book and go and hang yourself.
ORACLE-MONGER
Oh! unfortunate wretch that I am.
(He departs.)
PITHETAERUS
Away with you, and take your prophecies elsewhere.
(Enter METON, With surveying instruments.)
METON
I have come to you...
PITHETAERUS (interrupting)
Yet another pest! What have you come to do? What's your plan?
What's the purpose of your journey? Why these splendid buskins?
METON
I want to survey the plains of the air for you and to parcel
them into lots.
PITHETAERUS
In the name of the gods, who are you?
METON
Who am I? Meton, known throughout Greece and at Colonus.
PITHETAERUS
What are these things?
METON
Tools for measuring the air. In truth, the spaces in the air
have precisely the form of a furnace. With this bent ruler I draw a
line from top to bottom; from one of its points I describe a circle
with the compass. Do you understand?
PITHETAERUS
Not in the least.
METON
With the straight ruler I set to work to inscribe a square
within this circle; in its centre will be the market-place, into which
all the straight streets will lead, converging to this centre like a
star, which, although only orbicular, sends forth its rays in a
straight line from all sides.
PITHETAERUS
A regular Thales! Meton...
METON
What d'you want with me?
PITHETAERUS
I want to give you a proof of my friendship. Use your legs.
METON
Why, what have I to fear?
PITHETAERUS
It's the same here as in Sparta. Strangers are driven away, and
blows rain down as thick as hail.
METON
Is there sedition in your city?
PITHETAERUS
No, certainly not.
METON
What's wrong then?
PITHETAERUS
We are agreed to sweep all quacks and impostors far from our
borders.
METON
Then I'll be going.
PITHETAERUS
I'm afraid it's too late. The thunder growls already.
(He beats him.)
METON
Oh, woe! oh, woe!
PITHETAERUS
I warned you. Now, be off, and do your surveying somewhere else.
(METON takes to his heels. He is no sooner gone than an INSPECTOR
arrives.)
INSPECTOR
Where are the Proxeni?
PITHETAERUS
Who is this Sardanapalus?
INSPECTOR
I have been appointed by lot to come to Nephelococcygia. as
inspector.
PITHETAERUS
An inspector! and who sends you here, you rascal?
INSPECTOR
A decree of Teleas.
PITHETAERUS
Will you just pocket your salary, do nothing, and get out?
INSPECTOR
Indeed I will; I am urgently needed to be at Athens to attend
the Assembly; for I am charged with the interests of Pharnaces.
PITHETAERUS
Take it then, and get on your way. This is your salary.
(He beats him.)

 

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Aristophanes Index

 



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