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Aristophanes Index


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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 12

SOCRATES
Good! but I am going to propose another trick to you. If you
were condemned to pay five talents, how would you manage to quash that
verdict? Tell me.
STREPSIADES
How? how? I don't know, I must think.
SOCRATES
Do you always shut your thoughts within yourself? Let your ideas
fly in the air, like a may-bug, tied by the foot with a thread.
STREPSIADES
I have found a very clever way to annul that conviction; you
will admit that much yourself.
SOCRATES
What is it?
STREPSIADES
Have you ever seen a beautiful, transparent stone at the
druggists', with which you may kindle fire?
SOCRATES
You mean a crystal lens.
STREPSIADES
That's right. Well, now if I placed myself with this stone in
the sun and a long way off from the clerk, while he was writing out
the conviction, I could make all the wax, upon which the words were
written, melt.
SOCRATES
Well thought out, by the Graces!
STREPSIADES
Ah! I am delighted to have annulled the decree that was to cost me
five talents.
SOCRATES
Come, take up this next question quickly.
STREPSIADES
Which?
SOCRATES
If, when summoned to court, you were in danger of losing your case
for want of witnesses, how would you make the conviction fall upon
your opponent?
STREPSIADES
That's very simple and easy.
SOCRATES
Let me hear.
STREPSIADES
This way. If another case had to be pleaded before mine was
called, I should run and hang myself.
SOCRATES
You talk rubbish!
STREPSIADES
Not so, by the gods! if I were dead, no action could lie against
me.
SOCRATES
You are merely beating the air. Get out! I will give you no more
lessons.
STREPSIADES (imploringly)
Why not? Oh! Socrates! in the name of the gods!
SOCRATES
But you forget as fast as you learn. Come, what was the thing I
taught you first? Tell me.
STREPSIADES
Ah let me see. What was the first thing? What was it then? Ah!
that thing in which we knead the bread, oh! my god! what do you call
it?
SOCRATES
Plague take the most forgetful and silliest of old addlepates!
STREPSIADES
Alas! what a calamity! what will become of me? I am undone if I do
not learn how to ply my tongue. Oh! Clouds! give me good advice.
CHORUS-LEADER
Old man, we counsel you, if you have brought up a son, to send him
to learn in your stead.
STREPSIADES
Undoubtedly I have a son, as well endowed as the best, but he is
unwilling to learn. What will become of me?
CHORUS-LEADER
And you don't make him obey you?
STREPSIADES
You see, he is big and strong; moreover, through his mother he
is a descendant of those fine birds, the race of Coesyra.
Nevertheless, I will go and find him, and if he refuses, I will turn
him out of the house. Go in, Socrates, and wait for me awhile.
(SOCRATES goes into the Thoughtery, STREPSIADES into his own house.)
CHORUS (singing)
Do you understand, Socrates, that thanks to us you will be
loaded with benefits? Here is a man, ready to obey you in all
things. You see how he is carried away with admiration and enthusiasm.
Profit by it to clip him as short as possible; fine chances are all
too quickly gone.
STREPSIADES (coming out of his house and pushing his son in front of
him) No, by the Clouds! you stay here no longer; go and devour the
ruins of your uncle Megacles' fortune.
PHIDIPPIDES
Oh! my poor father! what has happened to you? By the Olympian
Zeus! You are no longer in your senses!
STREPSIADES
Look! "the Olympian Zeus." Oh! you fool! to believe in Zeus at
your age!
PHIDIPPIDES
What is there in that to make you laugh?
STREPSIADES
You are then a tiny little child, if you credit such antiquated
rubbish! But come here, that I may teach you; I will tell you
something very necessary to know to be a man; but do not repeat it
to anybody.

 

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Aristophanes Index

 

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