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Aristophanes Index


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THE FROGS by Aristophanes, Part 01

400 BC
THE FROGS
by Aristophanes
Characters in the Play

XANTHIAS, servant of Dionysus
Dionysus
Heracles
A CORPSE
CHARON
AEACUS
A MAID SERVANT OF PERSEPHONE
HOSTESS, keeper of cook-shop
PLATHANE, her partner
EURIPIDES
AESCHYLUS
PLUTO
CHORUS OF FROGS
CHORUS OF BLESSED MYSTICS


FROGS|
The scene shows the house of Heracles in the
background. There enter two travellers: Dionysus on foot, in his
customary yellow robe and buskins but also with the club and lion's
skin of Heracles, and his servant XANTHIAS on a donkey, carrying the
luggage on a pole over his shoulder.

XANTHIAS
Shall I crack any of those old jokes, master,
At which the audience never fail to laugh?
Dionysus
Aye, what you will, except "I'm getting crushed":
Fight shy of that: I'm sick of that already.
XANTHIAS
Nothing else smart?
Dionysus
Aye, save "my shoulder's aching."
XANTHIAS
Come now, that comical joke?
Dionysus
With all my heart.
Only be careful not to shift your pole,
And-
XANTHIAS
What?
Dionysus
And vow that you've a belly-ache.
XANTHIAS
May I not say I'm overburdened so
That if none ease me, I must ease myself?
Dionysus
For mercy's sake, not till I'm going to vomit.
XANTHIAS
What! must I bear these burdens, and not make
One of the jokes Ameipsias and Lycis
And Phrynichus, in every play they write,
Put in the mouths of their burden-bearers?
Dionysus
Don't make them; no! I tell you when I see
Their plays, and hear those jokes, I come away
More than a twelvemonth older than I went.
XANTHIAS
O thrice unlucky neck of mine, which now
Is getting crushed, yet must not crack its joke!
Dionysus
Now is not this fine pampered insolence
When I myself, Dionysus, son of-Pipkin,
Toil on afoot, and let this fellow ride,
Taking no trouble, and no burden bearing?
XANTHIAS
What, don't I bear?
Dionysus
How can you when you're riding?
XANTHIAS
Why, I bear these.
Dionysus
How?
XANTHIAS
Most unwillingly.
Dionysus
Does not the donkey bear the load you're bearing?
XANTHIAS
Not what I bear myself: by Zeus, not he.
Dionysus
How can you bear, when you are borne yourself?
XANTHIAS
Don't know: but anyhow my shoulder's aching.
Dionysus
Then since you say the donkey helps you not,
You lift him up and carry him in turn.
XANTHIAS
O hang it all! why didn't I fight at sea?
You should have smarted bitterly for this.
Dionysus
Get down, you rascal; I've been trudging on
Till now I've reached the portal, where I'm going
First to turn in. Boy! Boy! I say there, Boy!

Enter Heracles from house.

Heracles
Who banged the door? How like prancing Centaur
He drove against it Mercy o' me, what's this?
Dionysus
Boy.
XANTHIAS
Yes.
Dionysus
Did you observe?
XANTHIAS
What?
Dionysus
How alarmed he is.
XANTHIAS
Aye truly, lest you've lost your wits.
Heracles
O by Demeter, I can't choose but laugh.
Biting my lips won't stop me. Ha! ha! ha!
Dionysus
Pray you, come hither, I have need of you.
Heracles
I vow I can't help laughing, I can't help it.
A lion's hide upon a yellow silk,
A club and buskin! What's it all about?
Where were you going?
Dionysus
I was serving lately
Aboard the-Cleisthenes.
More than a dozen of the enemy's ships.
Heracles
You two?
Dionysus
We two.
Heracles
And then I awoke, and lo!
Dionysus
There as, on deck, I'm reading to myself
The Andromeda, a sudden pang of longing.
Shoots through my heart, you can't conceive how keenly.
Heracles
How big a pang?
Dionysus
A small one, Molon's size.
Heracles
Caused by a woman?
Dionysus
No.

 

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