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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 05

And what is it I am to gain?
You will become a thorough rattle-pate, a hardened old stager, the
fine flour of the talkers....But come, keep quiet.
By Zeus! That's no lie! Soon I shall be nothing but wheat-flour,
if you powder me in that fashion.
Silence, old man, give heed to the prayers. (In an hierophantic
tone) Oh! most mighty king, the boundless air, that keepest the
earth suspended in space, thou bright Aether and ye venerable
goddesses, the Clouds, who carry in your loins the thunder and the
lightning, arise, ye sovereign powers and manifest yourselves in the
celestial spheres to the eyes of your sage.
Not yet! Wait a bit, till I fold my mantle double, so as not to
get wet. And to think that I did not even bring my travelling cap!
What a misfortune!
SOCRATES (ignoring this)
Come, oh! Clouds, whom I adore, come and show yourselves to this
man, whether you be resting on the sacred summits of Olympus,
crowned with hoar-frost, or tarrying in the gardens of Ocean, your
father, forming sacred CHORUSes with the Nymphs; whether you be
gathering the waves of the Nile in golden vases or dwelling in the
Maeotic marsh or on the snowy rocks of Mimas, hearken to my prayer and
accept my offering. May these sacrifices be pleasing to you.
(Amidst rumblings of thunder the CHORUS OF CLOUDS appears.)
CHORUS (singing)
Eternal Clouds, let us appear; let us arise from the roaring
depths of Ocean, our father; let us fly towards the lofty mountains,
spread our damp wings over their forest-laden summits, whence we
will dominate the distant valleys, the harvest fed by the sacred
earth, the murmur of the divine streams and the resounding waves of
the sea, which the unwearying orb lights up with its glittering beams.
But let us shake off the rainy fogs, which hide our immortal beauty
and sweep the earth from afar with our gaze.
Oh, venerated goddesses, yes, you are answering my call! (To
STREPSIADES.) Did you hear their voices mingling with the awful
growling of the thunder?
Oh! adorable Clouds, I revere you and I too am going to let off my
thunder, so greatly has your own affrighted me. (He farts.) Faith!
whether permitted or not, I must, I must crap!
No scoffing; do not copy those damned comic poets. Come,
silence! a numerous host of goddesses approaches with songs.
CHORUS (singing)
Virgins, who pour forth the rains, let us move toward Attica,
the rich country of Pallas, the home of the brave; let us visit the
dear land of Cecrops, where the secret rites are celebrated, where the
mysterious sanctuary flies open to the initiate.... What victims are
offered there to the deities of heaven! What glorious temples! What
statues! What holy prayers to the rulers of Olympus! At every season
nothing but sacred festivals, garlanded victims, is to be seen. Then
Spring brings round again the joyous feasts of Dionysus, the
harmonious contests of the CHORUSes and the serious melodies of the
By Zeus! Tell me, Socrates, I pray you, who are these women, whose
language is so solemn; can they be demi-goddesses?
Not at all. They are the Clouds of heaven, great goddesses for the
lazy; to them we owe all, thoughts, speeches, trickery, roguery,
boasting, lies, sagacity.
Ah! that was why, as I listened to them, my mind spread out its
wings; it burns to babble about trifles, to maintain worthless
arguments, to voice its petty reasons, to contradict, to tease some
opponent. But are they not going to show themselves? I should like
to see them, were it possible.
Well, look this way in the direction of Parnes; I already see
those who are slowly descending.
But where, where? Show them to me.
They are advancing in a throng, following an oblique path across
the dales and thickets.
Strange! I can see nothing.
There, close to the entrance.
Hardly, if at all, can I distinguish them.
You must see them clearly now, unless your eyes are filled with
gum as thick as pumpkins.
Aye, undoubtedly! Oh! the venerable goddesses! Why, they fill up
the entire stage.
And you did not know, you never suspected, that they were
No, indeed; I thought the Clouds were only fog, dew and vapour.


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