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THE ECCLESIAZUSAE by Aristophanes, Part 13

CITIZEN
Ah! I weary you? But, wretch, see what comes of decrees of this
kind. Don't you remember the one reducing the price of salt?
CHREMES
Why, certainly I do.
CITIZEN
And do you remember that about the copper coinage?
CHREMES
Ah! that cursed money did me enough harm. I had sold my grapes and
had my mouth stuffed with pieces of copper; indeed I was going to
the market to buy flour, and was in the act of holding out my bag wide
open, when the HeraLD started shouting, "Let none in future accept
pieces of copper; those of silver are alone current."
CITIZEN
And quite lately, were we not all swearing that the impost of
one-fortieth, which Euripides had conceived, would bring five
hundred talents to the state, and everyone was vaunting Euripides to
the skies? But when the thing was looked at closely, it was seen
that this fine decree was mere moonshine and would produce nothing,
and you would have willingly burnt this very same Euripides alive.
CHREMES
The cases are quite different, my good fellow. We were the
rulers then, but now it's the women.
CITIZEN
Whom, by Posidon, I will never allow to piss on my nose.
CHREMES
I don't know what the devil you're chattering about. Slave, pick
up that bundle.
HeraLD (a woman)
Let all citizens come, let them hasten at our LEADER's bidding! It
is the new law. The lot will teach each citizen where he is to dine;
the tables are already laid and loaded with the most exquisite dishes;
the couches are covered with the softest of cushions; the wine and
water are already being mixed in the ewers; the slaves are standing in
a row and waiting to pour scent over the guests; the fish is being
grilled, the hares are on the spit and the cakes are being kneaded,
chaplets are being plaited and the fritters are frying; the youngest
women are watching the pea-soup in the saucepans, and in the midst
of them all stands Smoeus, dressed as a knight, washing the
crockery. And Geron has come, dressed in a grand tunic and finely
shod; he is joking with another young fellow and has already
divested himself of his heavy shoes and his cloak. The pantry man is
waiting, so come and use your jaws.
(Exit)
CITIZEN
All right, I'll go. Why should I delay, since the state commands
me?
CHREMES
And where are you going to, since you have not deposited your
belongings?
CITIZEN
To the feast.
CHREMES
If the women have any wits, they will first insist on your
depositing your goods.
CITIZEN
But I am going to deposit them.
CHREMES
When?
CITIZEN
I am not the man to make delays.
CHREMES
How do you mean?
CITIZEN
There will be many less eager than I.
CHREMES
In the meantime you are going to dine.
CITIZEN
What else should I do? Every sensible man must give his help to
the state.
CHREMES
But if admission is forbidden you?
CITIZEN
I shall duck my head and slip in.
CHREMES
And if the women have you beaten?
CITIZEN
I shall summon them.
CHREMES
And if they laugh in your face?
CITIZEN
I shall stand near the door...
CHREMES
And then?
CITIZEN
...and seize upon the dishes as they pass.
CHREMES
Then go there, but after me. Sicon and Parmeno, pick up all this
baggage.
CITIZEN
Come, I will help you carry it.
CHREMES (pushing him away)
No, no, I should be afraid of your pretending to the LEADER that
what I am depositing belonged to you.
(Exit with his belongings.)
CITIZEN
Let me see! let me think of some good trick by which I can keep my
goods and yet take my share of the common feast. (He reflects for a
moment.) Ha! that's a fine idea! Quick! I'll go and dine, ha! ha!
(Exit laughing.)
(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)
(The scene shifts to a different section of Athens and the two
houses are now to be thought of as those of two prostitutes.)

 

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