THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 17
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Take him with you. (The UNJUST DISCOURSE and PHIDIPPIDES go into
the THOUGHTERY. To STREPSIADES, who is just going into his own house.)
I think you will regret this. (The CHORUS turns and faces the
audience.) judges, we are all about to tell you what you will gain
by awarding us the crown as equity requires of you. In spring, when
you wish to give your fields the first dressing, we will rain upon you
first; the others shall wait. Then we will watch over your corn and
over your vinestocks; they will have no excess to fear, neither of
heat nor of wet. But if a mortal dares to insult the goddesses of
the Clouds, let him think of the ills we shall pour upon him. For
him neither wine nor any harvest at all! Our terrible slings will
mow down his young olive plants and his vines. If he is making bricks,
it will rain, and our round hailstones will break the tiles of his
roof. If he himself marries or any of his relations or friends, we
shall cause rain to fall the whole night long. Verily, he would prefer
to live in Egypt than to have given this iniquitous verdict.
STREPSIADES (coming out again)
Another four, three, two days, then the eve, then the day, the
fatal day of payment! I tremble, I quake, I shudder, for it's the
day of the old moon and the new. Then all my creditors take the
oath, pay their deposits, I swear my downfall and my ruin. As for
me, I beseech them to be reasonable, to be just, "My friend, do not
demand this sum, wait a little for this other and give me time for
this third one." Then they will pretend that at this rate they will
never be repaid, will accuse me of bad faith and will threaten me with
the law. Well then, let them sue me! I care nothing for that, if
only Phidippides has learnt to speak fluently. I am going to find out;
I'll knock at the door of the school. (He knocks.).... Ho! slave,
SOCRATES (coming out)
Welcome! Socrates! But first take this sack (offers him a sack
of flour); it is right to reward the master with some present. And
my son, whom you took off lately, has he learnt this famous reasoning?
He has learnt it.
Wonderful! Oh! divine Knavery!
You will win just as many causes as you choose.
Even if I have borrowed before witnesses?
So much the better, even if there are a thousand of them!
STREPSIADES (bursting into song)
Then I am going to shout with all my might. "Woe to the usurers,
woe to their capital and their interest and their compound interest!
You shall play me no more bad turns. My son is being taught there, his
tongue is being sharpened into a double-edged weapon; he is my
defender, the saviour of my house, the ruin of my foes! His poor
father was crushed down with misfortune and he delivers him." Go and
call him to me quickly. Oh! my child! my dear little one! run
forward to your father's voice!
Lo, the man himself!
Oh, my friend, my dearest friend!
Take your son, and get you gone.
STREPSIADES (as PHIDIPPIDES appears)
Oh, my son! oh! oh! what a pleasure to see your pallor! You are
ready first to deny and then to contradict; it's as clear as noon.
What a child of your country you are! How your lips quiver with the
famous, "What have you to say now?" How well you know, I am certain,
to put on the look of a victim, when it is you who are making both
victims and dupes! And what a truly Attic glance! Come, it's for you
to save me, seeing it is you who have ruined me.
What is it you fear then?
The day of the old and the new.
Is there then a day of the old and the new?
The day on which they threaten to pay deposit against me.
Then so much the worse for those who have deposited! for it's
not possible for one day to be two.
Why, undoubtedly, unless a woman can be both old and young at
the same time.
But so runs the law.
I think the meaning of the law is quite misunderstood.
What does it mean?
Old Solon loved the people.
What has that to do with the old day and the new?
He has fixed two days for the summons, the last day of the old
moon and the first day of the new; but the deposits must only be
paid on the first day of the new moon.
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