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THE CLOUDS by Aristophanes, Part 21

STREPSIADES
Mount your horse! By Zeus! I would rather defray the keep of a
four-in-hand team than be battered with blows.
PHIDIPPIDES
I revert to what I was saying when you interrupted me. And
first, answer me, did you beat me in my childhood?
STREPSIADES
Why, assuredly, for your good and in your own best interest.
PHIDIPPIDES
Tell me, is it not right, that in turn I should beat you for
your good, since it is for a man's own best interest to be beaten?
What! must your body be free of blows, and not mine? am I not
free-born too? the children are to weep and the fathers go free? You
will tell me, that according to the law, it is the lot of children
to be beaten. But I reply that the old men are children twice over and
that it is far more fitting to chastise them than the young, for there
is less excuse for their faults.
STREPSIADES
But the law nowhere admits that fathers should be treated thus.
PHIDIPPIDES
Was not the legislator who carried this law a man like you and me?
In those days be got men to believe him; then why should not I too
have the right to establish for the future a new law, allowing
children to beat their fathers in turn? We make you a present of all
the blows which were received before his law, and admit that you
thrashed us with impunity. But look how the cocks and other animals
fight with their fathers; and yet what difference is there betwixt
them and ourselves, unless it be that they do not propose decrees?
STREPSIADES
But if you imitate the cocks in all things, why don't you
scratch up the dunghill, why don't you sleep on a perch?
PHIDIPPIDES
That has no bearing on the case, good sir; Socrates would find
no connection, I assure you.
STREPSIADES
Then do not beat at all, for otherwise you have only yourself to
blame afterwards.
PHIDIPPIDES
What for?
STREPSIADES
I have the right to chastise you, and you to chastise your son, if
you have one.
PHIDIPPIDES
And if I have not, I shall have cried in vain, and you will die
laughing in my face.
STREPSIADES
What say you, all here present? It seems to me that he is right,
and I am of opinion that they should be accorded their right. If we
think wrongly, it is but just we should be beaten.
PHIDIPPIDES
Again, consider this other point.
STREPSIADES
It will be the death of me.
PHIDIPPIDES
But you will certainly feel no more anger because of the blows I
have given you.
STREPSIADES
Come, show me what profit I shall gain from it.
PHIDIPPIDES
I shall beat my mother just as I have you.
STREPSIADES
What do you say? what's that you say? Hah! this is far worse
still.
PHIDIPPIDES
And what if I prove to you by our school reasoning, that one ought
to beat one's mother?
STREPSIADES
Ah! if you do that, then you will only have to throw yourself,
along with Socrates and his reasoning, into the Barathrum. Oh! Clouds!
all our troubles emanate from you, from you, to whom I entrusted
myself, body and soul.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
No, you alone are the cause, because you have pursued the path
of evil.
STREPSIADES
Why did you not say so then, instead of egging on a poor
ignorant old man?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
We always act thus, when we see a man conceive a passion for
what is evil; we strike him with some terrible disgrace, so that he
may learn to fear the gods.
STREPSIADES
Alas! oh Clouds! that's hard indeed, but it's just! I ought not to
have cheated my creditors....But come, my dear son, come with me to
take vengeance on this wretched Chaerephon and on Socrates, who have
deceived us both.
PHIDIPPIDES
I shall do nothing against our masters.
STREPSIADES
Oh show some reverence for ancestral Zeus!
PHIDIPPIDES
Mark him and his ancestral Zeus! What a fool you are! Does any
such being as Zeus exist?
STREPSIADES
Why, assuredly.
PHIDIPPIDES
No, a thousand times no! The ruler of the world is the
Whirlwind, that has unseated Zeus.

 

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