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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 04

STREPSIADES
But that is apportioned by lot.
DISCIPLE
No, no, I mean the entire earth.
STREPSIADES
Ah! what a funny thing! How generally useful indeed is this
invention!
DISCIPLE
There is the whole surface of the earth. Look! Here is Athens.
STREPSIADES
Athens! you are mistaken; I see no courts in session.
DISCIPLE
Nevertheless it is really and truly the Attic territory.
STREPSIADES
And where are my neighbours of Cicynna?
DISCIPLE
They live here. This is Euboea; you see this island, that is so
long and narrow.
STREPSIADES
I know. Because we and Pericles have stretched it by dint of
squeezing it. And where is Lacedaemon?
DISCIPLE
Lacedaemon? Why, here it is, look.
STREPSIADES
How near it is to us! Think it well over, it must be removed to
a greater distance.
DISCIPLE
But, by Zeus, that is not possible.
STREPSIADES
Then, woe to you! and who is this man suspended up in a basket?
DISCIPLE
That's himself.
STREPSIADES
Who's himself?
DISCIPLE
Socrates.
STREPSIADES
Socrates! Oh! I pray you, call him right loudly for me.
DISCIPLE
Call him yourself; I have no time to waste. (He departs. The
machine swings in SOCRATES in a basket.)
STREPSIADES
Socrates! my little Socrates!
SOCRATES (loftily)
Mortal, what do you want with me?
STREPSIADES
First, what are you doing up there? Tell me, I beseech you.
SOCRATES (POMPOUSLY)
I am traversing the air and contemplating the sun.
STREPSIADES
Thus it's not on the solid ground, but from the height of this
basket, that you slight the gods, if indeed....
SOCRATES
I have to suspend my brain and mingle the subtle essence of my
mind with this air, which is of the like nature, in order clearly to
penetrate the things of heaven. I should have discovered nothing,
had I remained on the ground to consider from below the things that
are above; for the earth by its force attracts the sap of the mind
to itself. It's just the same with the watercress.
STREPSIADES
What? Does the mind attract the sap of the watercress? Ah! my dear
little Socrates, come down to me! I have come to ask you for lessons.
SOCRATES (descending)
And for what lessons?
STREPSIADES
I want to learn how to speak. I have borrowed money, and my
merciles creditors do not leave me a moment's peace; all my goods
are at stake.
SOCRATES
And how was it you did not see that you were getting so much
into debt?
STREPSIADES
My ruin has been the madness for horses, a most rapacious evil;
but teach me one of your two methods of reasoning, the one whose
object is not to repay anything, and, may the gods bear witness,
that I am ready to pay any fee you may name.
SOCRATES
By which gods will you swear? To begin with, the gods are not a
coin current with us.
STREPSIADES
But what do you swear by then? By the iron money of Byzantium?
SOCRATES
Do you really wish to know the truth of celestial matters?
STREPSIADES
Why, yes, if it's possible.
SOCRATES
....and to converse with the clouds, who are our genii?
STREPSIADES
Without a doubt.
SOCRATES
Then be seated on this sacred couch.
STREPSIADES (sitting down)
I am seated.
SOCRATES
Now take this chaplet.
STREPSIADES
Why a chaplet? Alas! Socrates, would you sacrifice me, like
Athamas?
SOCRATES
No, these are the rites of initiation.

 

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