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THE ECCLESIAZUSAE by Aristophanes, Part 03

SECOND WOMAN
Well! don't the men drink then in the Assembly?
PRAXAGORA
Now she's telling us the men drink!
SECOND WOMAN
Yes, by Artemis, and neat wine too. That's why their decrees
breathe of drunkenness and madness. And why libations, why so many
ceremonies, if wine plays no part in them? Besides, they abuse each
other like drunken men, and you can see the archers dragging more than
one uproarious drunkard out of the market-place.
PRAXAGORA
Go back to your seat, you are wandering.
SECOND WOMAN (returning to her seat)
Ah! I should have done better not to have muffled myself in this
beard; my throat's afire and I feel I shall die of thirst.
PRAXAGORA
Who else wishes to speak?
FIRST WOMAN (rising)
I do.
PRAXAGORA
Quick then, take the chaplet; the time's running short. Try to
speak worthily, let your language be truly manly, and lean on your
staff with dignity.
FIRST WOMAN
I had rather have seen one of your regular orators giving you wise
advice; but, as that is not to be, it behoves me to break silence; I
cannot, for my part indeed, allow the tavern-keepers to fill up
their wine-pits with water. No, by the two goddesses...
PRAXAGORA
What? by the two goddesses! Wretched woman, where are your senses?
FIRST WOMAN
Eh! what?... I have not asked you for a drink.
PRAXAGORA
No, but you want to pass for a man, and you swear by the two
goddesses. Otherwise you did very well.
FIRST WOMAN
Well then. By Apollo...
PRAXAGORA
Stop! All these details of language must be adjusted; else it is
quite useless to go to the Assembly.
FIRST WOMAN
Give me back the chaplet; I wish to speak again, for I think I
have got hold of something good. You women who are listening to me...
PRAXAGORA
Women again; why, you wretched creature, it's men that you are
addressing.
FIRST WOMAN
That's the fault of Epigonus; I caught sight of him way over
there, and I thought I was speaking to women.
PRAXAGORA
Come, withdraw and remain seated in the future. I am going to take
this chaplet myself and speak in your name. May the gods grant success
to my plans! My country is as dear to me as it is to you, and I groan,
I am grieved at all that is happening in it. Scarcely one in ten of
those who rule it is honest, and all the others are bad. If you
appoint fresh chiefs, they will do still worse. It is hard to
correct your peevish humour; you fear those who love you and throw
yourselves at the feet of those who betray you. There was a time
when we had no assemblies, and then we all thought Agyrrhius a
dishonest man; now they are established, he who gets money thinks
everything is as it should be, and he who does not, declares all who
sell their votes to be worthy of death.
SECOND WOMAN
By Aphrodite, that is well spoken.
PRAXAGORA
Why, wretched woman, you have actually called upon Aphrodite.
Oh! what a fine thing it would have been if you had said that in the
Assembly!
SECOND WOMAN
But I would not have done it then.
PRAXAGORA
Well, mind you don't fall into the habit. (Resuming the oratorical
manner) When we were discussing the alliance, it seemed as though it
were all over with Athens if it fell through. No sooner was it made
than we were vexed and angry, and the orator who had caused its
adoption was compelled to seek safety in flight. Is there talk of
equipping a fleet? The poor man says, yes, but the rich citizen and
the countryman say, no. You were angered against the Corinthians and
they with you; now they are well disposed towards you, be so towards
them. As a rule the Argives are dull, but the Argive Hieronymus is a
distinguished chief. Herein lies a spark of hope; but Thrasybulus is
far from Athens and you do not recall him.
SECOND WOMAN
Oh! what a brilliant man!
PRAXAGORA (to her)
That's better! that's fitting applause. (Continuing her speech)
Citizens, you are the ones who are the cause of all this trouble.
You vote yourselves salaries out of the public funds and care only for
your own personal interests; hence the state limps along like Aesimus.
But if you hearken to me, you will be saved. I assert that the
direction of affairs must be handed over to the women, for they are
the ones who have charge and look after our households.
ALL THE WOMEN
Very good, very good, that's perfect! Go on, go on.

 

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