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THE ECCLESIAZUSAE by Aristophanes, Part 14

FIRST OLD WOMAN (leaning out of the window of one house)
How is this? no men are coming? And yet it must be fully time!
Then it is for naught that I have painted myself with white lead,
dressed myself in my beautiful yellow robe, and that I am here,
frolicking and humming between my teeth to attract some passer-by! Oh,
Muses, alight upon my lips, inspire me with some soft Ionian
love-song!
YOUNG GIRL (in the window of the other house)
You putrid old thing, you have placed yourself at the window
before me. You were expecting to strip my vines during my absence
and to trap some man in your snares with your songs. If you sing, I
shall follow suit; all this singing will weary the spectators, but
is nevertheless very pleasant and very diverting.
FIRST OLD WOMAN (thumbing her nose at the YOUNG GIRL)
Ha! here is an old man; take him and lead him away. (To the
flute-player) As for you, you young flute-player, let us hear some
airs that are worthy of you and me.
(She sings)
Let him who wishes to taste pleasure come to my side. These
young things know nothing about it; it's only the women of ripe age
who understand the art of love, and no one could know how to fondle
the lover who possessed me so well as myself; the young girls are
all flightiness.
YOUNG GIRL (singing in her turn)
Don't be jealous of the young girls; voluptuousness resides in the
pure outline of their beautiful limbs and blossoms on their rounded
breasts; but you, old woman, you who are tricked out and perfumed as
if for your own funeral, are an object of love only for grim Death
himself.
FIRST OLD WOMAN (singing again)
May your tongue be stopped; may you be unable to find your couch
when you want to be loved. And on your couch, when your lips seek a
lover, may you embrace only a viper!
YOUNG GIRL (singing again)
Alas! alas! what is to become of me? There is no lover! I am
left here alone; my mother has gone out. (Interrupting her song)
There's no need to mention the rest. (Then singing again) Oh! my
dear NURSE, I adjure you to call Orthagoras, and may heaven bless you.
Ah! poor child, desire is consuming you like an Ionian woman;
(interrupting again) and yet you are no stranger to the wanton arts of
the Lesbian women. (Resuming her song) But you shall not rob me of
my pleasures; you will not be able to reduce or filch the time that
first belongs to me.
FIRST OLD WOMAN
Sing as much as you please, peep out like a cat lying in wait, but
none shall pass through your door without first having been to see me.
YOUNG GIRL
If anyone enter your house, it will be to carry out your corpse.
And that will be something new for you, you rotten old thing!
FIRST OLD WOMAN
Can anything be new to an old woman? My old age will not harm you.
YOUNG GIRL
Ah! shame on your painted cheeks!
FIRST OLD WOMAN
Why do you speak to me at all?
YOUNG GIRL
And why do you place yourself at the window?
FIRST OLD WOMAN
I am singing to myself about my lover, Epigenes.
YOUNG GIRL
Can you have any other lover than that old fop Geres?
FIRST OLD WOMAN
Epigenes will show you that himself, for he is coming to me.
See, here he is.
YOUNG GIRL
He's not thinking of you in the least.
FIRST OLD WOMAN
Aye, but he is.
YOUNG GIRL
Old starveling! Let's see what he will do. I will leave my window.
FIRST OLD WOMAN
And I likewise. You will see I am much wiser than you.
A YOUNG MAN (sings)
Ah! could I but sleep with the young girl without first making
love to the old flat-nose! It is intolerable for a free-born man.
FIRST OLD WOMAN (singing to the same tune)
Willy nilly, you must first gratify my desire. There shall be no
nonsense about that, for my authority is the law and the law must be
obeyed in a democracy.
(Speaking) But come, let me hide, to see what he's going to do.
(She retires.)
YOUNG MAN
Ah! ye gods, if I were to find the sweet child alone! the wine has
fired my lust.
YOUNG GIRL (reappearing in her window)
I have tricked that cursed old wretch; she has left her window,
thinking I would stay at home. Ah! here is the lover we were talking
of.
(She sings)
This way, my love, this way, come here and haste to rest the whole
night in my arms. I worship your lovely curly hair; I am consumed with
ardent desire. Oh! Eros, in thy mercy, compel him to my bed.
YOUNG MAN (standing beneath the YOUNG GIRL'S window and singing)
Come down and haste to open the door unless you want to see me
fall dead with desire. Dearest treasure, I am burning to yield
myself to voluptuous sport, lying on your bosom, to let my hands
play with your bottom. Aphrodite, why dost thou fire me with such
delight in her? Oh! Eros, I beseech thee, have mercy and make her
share my couch. Words cannot express the tortures I am suffering.
Oh! my adored one, I adjure you, open your door for me and press me to
your heart; 'tis for you that I am suffering. Oh! my jewel, my idol,
you child of Aphrodite, the confidante of the Muses, the sister of the
Graces, you living picture of voluptuousness, oh! open for me, press
me to your heart, 'tis for you that I am suffering.
(He knocks.)

 

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