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THE ECCLESIAZUSAE by Aristophanes, Part 02

PRAXAGORA
Have you the beards that we had all to get ourselves for the
Assembly?
FIRST WOMAN
Yea, by Hecate! Is this not a fine one?
SECOND WOMAN
Aye, much finer even than the one Epicrates has.
PRAXAGORA (to the other women)
And you?
FIRST WOMAN
Yes, yes; look, they all nod assent.
PRAXAGORA
I see that you have got all the rest too, Spartan shoes, staffs
and men's cloaks, as it was arranged.
FIRST WOMAN
I have brought Lamias' club, which I stole from him while he
slept.
PRAXAGORA
What, the club that makes him fart with its weight?
SECOND WOMAN
By Zeus the Deliverer, if he had the skin of Argus, he would
know better than any other how to shepherd the popular herd.
PRAXAGORA
But come, let us finish what has yet to be done, while the stars
are still shining; the Assembly, at which we mean to be present,
will open at dawn.
FIRST WOMAN
Good; you must take up your place at the foot of the platform
and facing the Prytanes.
SECOND WOMAN
I have brought this with me to card during the Assembly.
(She shows some wool.)
PRAXAGORA
During the Assembly, wretched woman?
SECOND WOMAN
Surely, by Artemis! shall I hear any less well if I am doing a bit
of carding? My little ones are all but naked.
PRAXAGORA
Think of her wanting to card! whereas we must not let anyone see
the smallest part of our bodies. 'Twould be a fine thing if one of us,
in the midst of the discussion, rushed on to the speaker's platform
and, flinging her cloak aside, showed her Phormisius. If, on the other
hand, we are the first to take our seats closely muffled in our
cloaks, none will know us. Let us fix these beards on our chins, so
that they spread all over our bosoms. How can we fail then to be
mistaken for men? Agyrrhius has deceived everyone, thanks to the beard
of Pronomus; yet he was no better than a woman, and you see how he now
holds the first position in the city. Thus, I adjure you by this day
that is about to dawn, let us dare to copy him and let us be clever
enough to possess ourselves of the management of affairs. Let us
save the ship of state, which just at present none seems able either
to sail or row.
FIRST WOMAN (in a tragic style)
But where shall we find orators in an Assembly of women?
PRAXAGORA
Nothing simpler. Is it not said that the cleverest speakers are
those who get made love to most often? Well, thanks to the gods, we
are that by nature.
FIRST WOMAN
There's no doubt of that; but the worst of it is our inexperience.
PRAXAGORA
That's the very reason we are gathered here, in order to prepare
the speech we must make in the Assembly. Hasten, therefore, all you
who know aught of speaking, to fix on your beards.
SECOND WOMAN
Oh you stupid thing! is there ever a one among us cannot use her
tongue?
PRAXAGORA
Come, look sharp, on with your beard and become a man. As for
me, I will do the same in case I should have a fancy for getting on to
the platform. Here are the chaplets.
(They all put on their beards.)
SECOND WOMAN
Oh! great gods! my dear Praxagora, do look here! Is it not
laughable?
PRAXAGORA
How laughable?
SECOND WOMAN
Our beards look like broiled cuttle-fishes.
PRAXAGORA (pretending to be the HeraLD)
Priest, bring in the cat. Step forward, please Silence,
Ariphrades! Come and take your seat. Now, who wishes to speak?
SECOND WOMAN
I do.
PRAXAGORA
Then put on this chaplet and success be with you.
SECOND WOMAN
There!
PRAXAGORA
Well then I begin.
SECOND WOMAN
Before drinking?
PRAXAGORA
Hah! she wants to drink!
SECOND WOMAN
Why, what else is the meaning of this chaplet?
PRAXAGORA
Get you hence! you would probably have played us this trick also
before the people.

 

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Aristophanes Index

 

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