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Aristophanes Index


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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 20

STREPSIADES
You villain, you parricide, you gallows-bird!
PHIDIPPIDES
Go on, repeat your epithets, call me a thousand other names, if it
please you. The more you curse, the greater my amusement!
STREPSIADES
Oh! you ditch-arsed cynic!
PHIDIPPIDES
How fragrant the perfume breathed forth in your words.
STREPSIADES
Do you beat your own father?
PHIDIPPIDES
Yes, by Zeus! and I am going to show you that I do right in
beating you.
STREPSIADES
Oh, wretch! can it be right to beat a father?
PHIDIPPIDES
I will prove it to you, and you shall own yourself vanquished.
STREPSIADES
Own myself vanquished on a point like this?
PHIDIPPIDES
It's the easiest thing in the world. Choose whichever of the two
reasonings you like.
STREPSIADES
Of which reasonings?
PHIDIPPIDES
The Stronger and the Weaker.
STREPSIADES
Miserable fellow! Why, I am the one who had you taught how to
refute what is right. and now you would persuade me it is right a
son should beat his father.
PHIDIPPIDES
I think I shall convince you so thoroughly that, when you have
heard me, you will not have a word to say.
STREPSIADES
Well, I am curious to hear what you have to say.
CHORUS (singing)
Consider well, old man, how you can best triumph over him. His
brazenness shows me that he thinks himself sure of his case; he has
some argument which gives him nerve. Note the confidence in his look!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But how did the fight begin? tell the CHORUS; you cannot help
doing that much.
STREPSIADES
I will tell you what was the start of the quarrel. At THE END of
the meal, as you know, I bade him take his lyre and sing me the air of
Simonides, which tells of the fleece of the ram. He replied bluntly,
that it was stupid, while drinking, to play the lyre and sing, like
a woman when she is grinding barley.
PHIDIPPIDES
Why, by rights I ought to have beaten and kicked you the very
moment you told me to sing I
STREPSIADES
That is just how he spoke to me in the house, furthermore he
added, that Simonides was a detestable poet. However, I mastered
myself and for a while said nothing. Then I said to him, 'At least,
take a myrtle branch and recite a passage from Aeschylus to
me.'-'For my own part,' he at once replied, 'I look upon Aeschylus
as the first of poets, for his verses roll superbly; they're nothing
but incoherence, bombast and turgidity.' Yet still I smothered my
wrath and said, 'Then recite one of the famous pieces from the
modern poets.' Then he commenced a piece in which Euripides shows, oh!
horror! a brother, who violates his own uterine sister. Then I could
not longer restrain myself, and attacked him with the most injurious
abuse; naturally he retorted; hard words were hurled on both sides,
and finally he sprang at me, broke my bones, bore me to earth,
strangled and started killing me!
PHIDIPPIDES
I was right. What! not praise Euripides, the greatest of our
poets?
STREPSIADES
He the greatest of our poets? Ah! if I but dared to speak! but the
blows would rain upon me harder than ever.
PHIDIPPIDES
Undoubtedly and rightly too.
STREPSIADES
Rightly! Oh! what impudence! to me, who brought you up! when you
could hardly lisp, I guessed what you wanted. If you said broo,
broo, well, I brought you your milk; if you asked for mam mam, I
gave you bread; and you had no sooner said, caca, than I took you
outside and held you out. And just now, when you were strangling me, I
shouted, I bellowed that I was about to crap; and you, you
scoundrel, had not the heart to take me outside, so that, though
almost choking, I was compelled to do my crapping right there.
CHORUS (singing)
Young men, your hearts must be panting with impatience. What is
Phidippides going to say? If, after such conduct, he proves he has
done well, I would not give an obolus for the hide of old men.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Come, you, who know how to brandish and hurl the keen shafts of
the new science, find a way to convince us, give your language an
appearance of truth.
PHIDIPPIDES
How pleasant it is to know these clever new inventions and to be
able to defy the established laws! When I thought only about horses, I
was not able to string three words together without a mistake, but now
that the master has altered and improved me and that I live in this
world of subtle thought, of reasoning and of meditation, I count on
being able to prove satisfactorily that I have done well to thrash
my father.

 

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