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THE BIRDS by Aristophanes, Part 24

Heracles
What else? Why, conclude peace.
POSIDON
Oh! you blockhead! do you always want to be fooled? Why, you are
seeking your own downfall. If Zeus were to die, after having yielded
them the sovereignty, you would be ruined, for you are the heir of all
the wealth he will leave behind.
PITHETAERUS
Oh! by the gods! how he is cajoling you. Step aside, that I may
have a word with you. Your uncle is getting the better of you, my poor
friend. The law will not allow you an obolus of the paternal property,
for you are a bastard and not a legitimate child.
Heracles
I a bastard! What's that you tell me?
PITHETAERUS
Why, certainly; are you not born of a stranger woman? Besides,
is not Athene recognized as Zeus' sole heiress? And no daughter
would be that, if she had a legitimate brother.
Heracles
But what if my father wished to give me his property on his
death-bed, even though I be a bastard?
PITHETAERUS
The law forbids it, and this same Posidon would be the first to
lay claim to his wealth, in virtue of being his legitimate brother.
Listen; thus runs Solon's law: "A bastard shall not inherit, if
there are legitimate children; and if there are no legitimate
children, the property shall pass to the nearest kin."
Heracles
And I get nothing whatever of the paternal property?
PITHETAERUS
Absolutely nothing. But tell me, has your father had you entered
on the registers of his phratry?
Heracles
No, and I have long been surprised at the omission.
PITHETAERUS
Why do you shake your fist at heaven? Do you want to fight? Why,
be on my side, I will make you a king and will feed you on bird's milk
and honey.
Heracles
Your further condition seems fair to me. I cede you the young
damsel.
POSIDON
But I, I vote against this opinion.
PITHETAERUS
Then it all depends on the Triballus. (To the TRIBALLUS) What do
you say?
TRIBALLUS
Givum bird pretty gel bigum queen.
Heracles
He says give her.
POSIDON
Why no, he does not say anything of the sort, or else, like the
swallows he does not know how to walk.
PITHETAERUS
Exactly so. Does he not say she must be given to the swallows?
POSIDON (resignedly)
All right, you two arrange the matter; make peace, since you
wish it so; I'll hold my tongue.
Heracles
We are of a mind to grant you all that you ask. But come up
there with us to receive Basileia and the celestial bounty.
PITHETAERUS
Here are birds already dressed, and very suitable for a nuptial
feast.
Heracles
You go and, if you like, I will stay here to roast them.
PITHETAERUS
You to roast them? you are too much the glutton; come along with
us.
Heracles
Ah! how well I would have treated myself!
PITHETAERUS
Let some one bring me a beautiful and magnificent tunic for the
wedding.
(The tunic is brought. PITHETAERUS and the three gods depart.)
CHORUS (singing)
At Phanae, near the Clepsydra, there dwells a people who have
neither faith nor law, the Englottogastors, who reap, sow, pluck the
vines and the figs with their tongues; they belong to a barbaric race,
and among them the Philippi and the Gorgiases are to be found; 'tis
these Englottogastorian Philippi who introduced the custom all over
Attica of cutting out the tongue separately at sacrifices.
(A MESSENGER enters.)
MESSENGER (in tragic style)
Oh, you, whose unbounded happiness I cannot express in words,
thrice happy race of airy birds, receive your king in your fortunate
dwellings. More brilliant than the brightest star that illumes the
earth, he is approaching his glittering golden palace; the sun
itself does not shine with more dazzling glory. He is entering with
his bride at his side, whose beauty no human tongue can express; in
his hand he brandishes the lightning, the winged shaft of Zeus;
perfumes of unspeakable sweetness pervade the ethereal realms. 'Tis
a glorious spectacle to see the clouds of incense wafting in light
whirlwinds before the breath of the zephyr! But here he is himself.
Divine Muse! let thy sacred lips begin with songs of happy omen.
(PITHETAERUS enters, with a crown on his head; he is accompanied
by BASILEIA.)
CHORUS (singing)
Fall back! to the right! to the left! advance! Fly around this
happy mortal, whom Fortune loads with her blessings. Oh! oh! what
grace! what beauty! Oh, marriage so auspicious for our city! All
honour to this man! 'tis through him that the birds are called to such
glorious destinies. Let your nuptial hymns, your nuptial songs,
greet him and his Basileia! 'Twas in the midst of such festivities
that the Fates formerly united Olympian Here to the King who governs
the gods from the summit of his inaccessible throne. Oh! Hymen! oh!
Hymenaeus! Rosy Eros with the golden wings held the reins and guided
the chariot; 'twas he, who presided over the union of Zeus and the
fortunate Here. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
PITHETAERUS
I am delighted with your songs, I applaud your verses. Now
celebrate the thunder that shakes the earth, the flaming lightning
of Zeus and the terrible flashing thunderbolt.
CHORUS (singing)
Oh, thou golden flash of the lightning! oh, ye divine shafts of
flame, that Zeus has hitherto shot forth! Oh, ye rolling thunders,
that bring down the rain! 'Tis by the order of our king that ye
shall now stagger the earth! Oh, Hymen! 'tis through thee that he
commands the universe and that he makes Basileia, whom he has robbed
from Zeus, take her seat at his side. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
PITHETAERUS (singing)
Let all the winged tribes of our fellow-citizens follow the bridal
couple to the palace of Zeus and to the nuptial couch! Stretch forth
your hands, my dear wife! Take hold of me by my wings and let us
dance; I am going to lift you up and carry you through the air.
(PITHETAERUS and BASILEIA leave dancing; the CHORUS follows
them.)
CHORUS (singing)
Alalai! Ie Paion! Tenilla kallinike! Loftiest art thou of gods!


THE END

 

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