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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 02

PHIDIPPIDES (awaking again)
What is it, father?
STREPSIADES
Kiss me and give me your hand.
PHIDIPPIDES (getting up and doing as his father requests)
There! What's it all about?
STREPSIADES
Tell me! do you love me?
PHIDIPPIDES
By Posidon, the equestrian Posidon! yes, I swear I do.
STREPSIADES
Oh, do not, I pray you, invoke this god of horses; he is the one
who is the cause of all my cares. But if you really love me, and
with your whole heart, my boy, believe me.
PHIDIPPIDES
Believe you? about what?
STREPSIADES
Alter your habits forthwith and go and learn what I tell you.
PHIDIPPIDES
Say on, what are your orders?
STREPSIADES
Will you obey me ever so little?
PHIDIPPIDES
By Bacchus, I will obey you.
STREPSIADES
Very well then! Look this way. Do you see that little door and
that little house?
PHIDIPPIDES
Yes, father. But what are you driving at?
STREPSIADES
That is the Thoughtery of wise souls. There they prove that we are
coals enclosed on all sides under a vast snuffer, which is the sky. If
well paid, these men also teach one how to gain law-suits, whether
they be just or not.
PHIDIPPIDES
What do they call themselves?
STREPSIADES
I do not know exactly, but they are deep thinkers and most
admirable people.
PHIDIPPIDES
Bah! the wretches! I know them; you mean those quacks with pale
faces, those barefoot fellows, such as that miserable Socrates and
Chaerephon?
STREPSIADES
Silence! say nothing foolish! If you desire your father not to die
of hunger, join their company and let your horses go.
PHIDIPPIDES
No, by Bacchus! even though you gave me the pheasants that
Leogoras raises.
STREPSIADES
Oh! my beloved son, I beseech you, go and follow their teachings.
PHIDIPPIDES
And what is it I should learn?
STREPSIADES
It seems they have two courses of reasoning, the true and the
false, and that, thanks to the false, the worst law-suits can be
gained. If then you learn this science, which is false, I shall not
have to pay an obolus of all the debts I have contracted on your
account.
PHIDIPPIDES
No, I will not do it. I should no longer dare to look at our gallant
horsemen, when I had so ruined my tan.
STREPSIADES
Well then, by Demeter! I will no longer support you, neither
you, nor your team, nor your saddle-horse. Go and hang yourself, I
turn you out of house and home.
PHIDIPPIDES
My uncle Megacles will not leave me without horses; I shall go
to him and laugh at your anger.
(He departs. STREPSIADES goes over to SOCRATES' house.)
STREPSIADES
One rebuff shall not dishearten me. With the help of the gods I
will enter the Thoughtery and learn myself. (He hesitates.) But at
my age, memory has gone and the mind is slow to grasp things. How
can all these fine distinctions, these subtleties be learned?
(Making up his mind) Bah! why should I dally thus instead of rapping
at the door? Slave, slave!
(He knocks and calls.)
A DISCIPLE (from within)
A plague on you! Who are you?
STREPSIADES
Strepsiades, the son of Phido, of the deme of Cicynna.
DISCIPLE (coming out of the door)
You are nothing but an ignorant and illiterate fellow to let fly
at the door with such kicks. You have brought on a miscarriage-of an
idea!
STREPSIADES
Pardon me, please; for I live far away from here in the country.
But tell me, what was the idea that miscarried?
DISCIPLE
I may not tell it to any but a disciple.
STREPSIADES
Then tell me without fear, for I have come to study among you.

 

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