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THE ECCLESIAZUSAE by Aristophanes, Part 10

PRAXAGORA
The slaves. Your only cares will be to scent yourself, and to go
and dine, when the shadow of the gnomon is ten feet long on the dial.
BLEPYRUS
But how shall we obtain clothing? Tell me that!
PRAXAGORA
You will first wear out those you have, and then we women will
weave you others.
BLEPYRUS
Now another point: if the magistrates condemn a citizen to the
payment of a fine, how is he going to do it? Out of the public
funds? That would not be right surely.
PRAXAGORA
But there will be no more lawsuits.
BLEPYRUS
This rule will ruin you.
CHREMES
I think so too.
PRAXAGORA
Besides, my dear, why should there be lawsuits?
BLEPYRUS
Oh! for a thousand reasons, on my faith! Firstly, because a debtor
denies his obligation.
PRAXAGORA
But where will the lender get the money to lend, if all is in
common? unless he steals it out of the treasury? and he could not hide
that!
CHREMES
Well thought out, by Demeter!
BLEPYRUS
But tell me this: here are some men who are returning from a feast
and are drunk and they strike some passer-by; how are they going to
pay the fine? Ah! you are puzzled now!
PRAXAGORA
They will have to take it out of their pittance; and being thus
punished through their belly, they will not care to begin again.
BLEPYRUS
There will be no more thieves then, eh?
PRAXAGORA
Why steal, if you have a share of everything?
BLEPYRUS
People will not be robbed any more at night?
CHREMES
Not if you sleep at home.
PRAXAGORA
Even if you sleep outdoors there will be no more danger, for all
will have the means of living. Besides, if anyone wanted to steal your
cloak, you would give it to him yourself. Why not? You will only
have to go to the common store and be given a better one.
BLEPYRUS
There will be no more playing at dice?
PRAXAGORA
What object will there be in playing?
BLEPYRUS
But what kind of life is it you propose to set up?
PRAXAGORA
The life in common. Athens will become nothing more than a
single house, in which everything will belong to everyone; so that
everybody will be able to go from one house to the other at pleasure.
BLEPYRUS
And where will the meals be served?
PRAXAGORA
The law-courts and the porticoes will be turned into dining-halls.
BLEPYRUS
And what will the speaker's platform be used for?
PRAXAGORA
I shall place the bowls and the ewers there; and young children
will sing the glory of the brave from there, also the infamy of
cowards, who out of very shame will no longer dare to come to the
public meals.
BLEPYRUS
Well thought out, by Apollo! And what will you do with the urns?
PRAXAGORA
I shall have them taken to the market-place, and standing close to
the statue of Harmodius, I shall draw a lot for each citizen, which by
its letter will show the place where he must go to dine. Thus, those
for whom I have drawn an R will go to the royal portico; if it's a
T, they will go to the portico of Theseus; if it's an F, to that of
the flour-market.
BLEPYRUS
To cram himself there like a capon?
PRAXAGORA
No, to dine there.
BLEPYRUS
And the citizen whom the lot has not given a letter showing
where he is to dine will be driven off by everyone?
PRAXAGORA (with great solemnity)
But that will not occur. Each man will have plenty; he will not
leave the feast until he is well drunk, and then with a chaplet on his
head and a torch in his hand; and then the women running to meet you
in the crossroads will say, "This way, come to our house, you will
find a beautiful young girl there."-"And I," another will call from
her balcony, "have one so pretty and as white as milk; but before
touching her, you must sleep with me." And the ugly men, watching
closely after the handsome fellows, will say, "Hi! friend, where are
you running to? Go in, but you must do nothing; it's the ugly and
the flat-nosed to whom the law gives the right to make love first;
amuse yourself on the porch while you wait, in handling your
fig-leaves and playing with yourself." Well, tell me, does that
picture suit you?

 

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