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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 01

420 BC
THE CLOUDS
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

STREPSIADES
PHIDIPPIDES
SERVANT OF STREPSIADES
DISCIPLES OF SOCRATES
SOCRATES
JUST DISCOURSE
UNJUST DISCOURSE
PASIAS, a Money-lender
AMYNIAS, another Money-lender
CHORUS OF CLOUDS
CLOUDS
(SCENE:-In the background are two houses, that of Strepsiades and
that of Socrates, the Thoughtery. The latter is small and dingy;
the in, terior of the former is shown and two beds are seen, each
occupied.)

STREPSIADES (sitting up)
GREAT gods! will these nights never end? will daylight never come?
I heard the cock crow long ago and my slaves are snoring still! Ah! Ah!
It wasn't like this formerly. Curses on the war! has it not done
me ills enough? Now I may not even chastise my own slaves. Again
there's this brave lad, who never wakes the whole long night, but,
wrapped in his five coverlets, farts away to his heart's content.
(He lies down) Come! let me nestle in well and snore too, if it be
possible....oh! misery, it's vain to think of sleep with all these
expenses, this stable, these debts, which are devouring me, thanks
to this fine cavalier, who only knows how to look after his long
locks, to show himself off in his chariot and to dream of horses!
And I, I am nearly dead, when I see the moon bringing the third decade
in her train and my liability falling due....Slave! light the lamp and
bring me my tablets. (The slave obeys.) Who are all my creditors?
Let me see and reckon up the interest. What is it I owe?....Twelve
minae to Pasias....What! twelve minae to Pasias?....Why did I borrow
these? Ah! I know! It was to buy that thoroughbred, which cost me so
much. How I should have prized the stone that had blinded him!
PHIDIPPIDES (in his sleep)
That's not fair, Philo! Drive your chariot straight, I say.
STREPSIADES
This is what is destroying me. He raves about horses, even in
his sleep.
PHIDIPPIDES (still sleeping)
How many times round the track is the race for the chariots of
war?
STREPSIADES
It's your own father you are driving to death....to ruin. Come!
what debt comes next, after that of Pasias?....Three minae to
Amynias for a chariot and its two wheels.
PHIDIPPIDES (still asleep)
Give the horse a good roll in the dust and lead him home.
STREPSIADES
Ah! wretched boy! it's my money that you are making roll. My
creditors have distrained on my goods, and here are others again,
who demand security for their interest.
PHIDIPPIDES (awaking)
What is the matter with you, father, that you groan and turn about
the whole night through?
STREPSIADES
I have a bum-bailiff in the bedclothes biting me.
PHIDIPPIDES
For pity's sake, let me have a little sleep. (He turns over.)
STREPSIADES
Very well, sleep on! but remember that all these debts will fall
back on your shoulders. Oh! curses on the go-between who made me marry
your mother! I lived so happily in the country, a commonplace,
everyday life, but a good and easy one-had not a trouble, not a
care, was rich in bees, in sheep and in olives. Then indeed I had to
marry the niece of Megacles, the son of Megacles; I belonged to the
country, she was from the town; she was a haughty, extravagant
woman, a true Coesyra. On the nuptial day, when I lay beside her, I
was reeking of the dregs of the wine-cup, of cheese and of wool; she
was redolent with essences, saffron, voluptuous kisses, the love of
spending, of good cheer and of wanton delights. I will not say she did
nothing; no, she worked hard...to ruin me, and pretending all the
while merely to be showing her the cloak she had woven for me, I said,
"Wife you go too fast about your work, your threads are too closely
woven and you use far too much wool."
(A slave enters witk a lamp.)
SLAVE
There is no more oil in the lamp.
STREPSIADES
Why then did you light such a thirsty lamp? Come here, I am
going to beat you.
SLAVE
What for?
STREPSIADES
Because you have put in too thick a wick....Later, when we had
this boy, what was to be his name? It was the cause of much
quarrelling with my loving wife. She insisted on having some reference
to a horse in his name, that he should be called Xanthippus, Charippus
or Callippides. I wanted to name him Phidonides after his grandfather.
We disputed long, and finally agreed to style him Phidippides....She
used to fondle and coax him, saying, "Oh! what a joy it will be to
me when you have grown up, to see you, like my father, Megacles,
clothed in purple and standing up straight in your chariot driving
your steeds toward the town." And I would say to him, "When, like your
father, you will go, dressed in a skin, to fetch back your goats
from Phelleus." Alas! he never listened to me and his madness for
horses has shattered my fortune. (He gets out of bed.) But by dint
of thinking the livelong night, I have discovered a road to salvation,
both miraculous and divine. If he will but follow it, I shall be out
of my trouble! First, however, he must be awakened, but it must be
done as gently as possible. How shall I manage it? Phidippides! my
little Phidippides!

 

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