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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 16

UNJUST DISCOURSE
Enough said! Oh! you poor wrestler! From the very outset I have
seized you and hold you round the middle; you cannot escape me. Tell
me, of all the sons of Zeus, who had the stoutest heart, who performed
the most doughty deeds?
JUST DISCOURSE
None, in my opinion, surpassed Heracles.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Where have you ever seen cold baths called 'Bath of Heracles'? And
yet who was braver than he?
JUST DISCOURSE
It is because of such quibbles, that the baths are seen crowded
with young folk, who chatter there the livelong day while the gymnasia
remain empty.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Next you condemn the habit of frequenting the market-place,
while I approve this. If it were wrong Homer would never have made
Nestor speak in public as well as all his wise heroes. As for the
art of speaking, he tells you, young men should not practise it; I
hold the contrary. Furthermore he preaches chastity to them. Both
precepts are equally harmful. Have you ever seen chastity of any use
to anyone? Answer and try to confute me.
JUST DISCOURSE
To many; for instance, Peleus won a sword thereby.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
A sword! Ah! what a fine present to make him! Poor wretch!
Hyperbolus, the lamp-seller, thanks to his villainy, has gained more
than....do not know how many talents, but certainly no sword.
JUST DISCOURSE
Peleus owed it to his chastity that he became the husband of
Thetis.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
.... who left him in the lurch, for he was not the most ardent; in
those nocturnal sports between the sheets, which so please women, he
possessed but little merit. Get you gone, you are but an old fool. But
you, young man, just consider a little what this temperance means
and the delights of which it deprives you-young fellows, women,
play, dainty dishes, wine, boisterous laughter. And what is life worth
without these? Then, if you happen to commit one of these faults
inherent in human weakness, some seduction or adultery, and you are
caught in the act, you are lost, if you cannot speak. But follow my
teaching and you will be able to satisfy your passions, to dance, to
laugh, to blush at nothing. Suppose you are caught in the act of
adultery. Then up and tell the husband you are not guilty, and
recall to him the example of Zeus, who allowed himself to be conquered
by love and by women. Being but a mortal, can you be stronger than a
god?
JUST DISCOURSE
Suppose your pupil, following your advice, gets the radish
rammed up his arse and then is depilated with a hot coal; how are
you going to prove to him that he is not a broad-arse?
UNJUST DISCOURSE
What's the matter with being a broad-arse?
JUST DISCOURSE
Is there anything worse than that?
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Now what will you say, if I beat you even on this point?
JUST DISCOURSE
I should certainly have to be silent then.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well then, reply! Our advocates, what are they?
JUST DISCOURSE
Sons of broad-arses.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Nothing is more true. And our tragic poets?
JUST DISCOURSE
Sons of broad-arses.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well said again. And our demagogues?
JUST DISCOURSE
Sons of broad-arses.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
You admit that you have spoken nonsense. And the spectators,
what are they for the most part? Look at them.
JUST DISCOURSE
I am looking at them.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well! What do you see?
JUST DISCOURSE
By the gods, they are nearly all broad-arses. (pointing) See, this
one I know to be such and that one and that other with the long hair.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
What have you to say, then?
JUST DISCOURSE
I am beaten. Debauchees! in the name of the gods, receive my
cloak; I pass over to your ranks.
(He goes back into the Thoughtery.)
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well then! Are you going to take away your son or do you wish me
to teach him how to speak?
STREPSIADES
Teach him, chastise him and do not fail to sharpen his tongue
well, on one side for petty law-suits and on the other for important
cases.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Don't worry, I shall return him to you an accomplished sophist.
PHIDIPPIDES
Very pale then and thoroughly hang-dog-looking.

 

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