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Aristophanes Index


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THE FROGS by Aristophanes, Part 02

Heracles
A boy?
Dionysus
No, no.
Heracles
A man?
Dionysus
Ah! ah!
Heracles
Was it for Cleisthenes?
Dionysus
Don't mock me, brother: on my life I am
In a bad way: such fierce desire consumes me.
Heracles
Aye, little brother? how?
Dionysus
I can't describe it.
But yet I'll tell you in a riddling way.
Have you e'er felt a sudden lust for soup?
Heracles
Soup! Zeus-a-mercy, yes, ten thousand times.
Dionysus
Is the thing clear, or must I speak again?
Heracles
Not of the soup: I'm clear about the soup.
Dionysus
Well, just that sort of pang devours my heart
For lost Euripides.
Heracles
A dead man too.
Dionysus
And no one shall persuade me not to go
After the man.
Heracles
Do you mean below, to Hades?
Dionysus
And lower still, if there's a lower still.
Heracles
What on earth for?
Dionysus
I want a genuine poet,
"For some are not, and those that are, are bad."
Heracles
What! does not Iophon live?
Dionysus
Well, he's the sole
Good thing remaining, if even he is good.
For even of that I'm not exactly certain.
Heracles
If go you must, there's Sophocles-he comes
Before Euripides-why not take him?
Dionysus
Not till I've tried if Iophon's coin rings true
When he's alone, apart from Sophocles.
Besides, Euripides, the crafty rogue,
Will find a thousand shifts to get away,
But he was easy here, is easy there.
Heracles
But Agathon, where is he?
Dionysus
He has gone and left us.
A genial poet, by his friends much missed.
Heracles
Gone where?
Dionysus
To join the blessed in their banquets.
Heracles
But what of Xenocles?
Dionysus
O he be hanged!
Heracles
Pythangelus?
XANTHIAS
But never a word of me,
Not though my shoulder's chafed so terribly.
Heracles But have you not a shoal of little songsters,
Tragedians by the myriad, who can chatter
A furlong faster than Euripides?
Dionysus
Those be mere vintage-leavings, jabberers, choirs
Of swallow-broods, degraders of their art,
Who get one CHORUS, and are seen no more,
The Muses' love once gained. But O, my friend,
Search where you will, you'll never find a true
Creative genius, uttering startling things.
Heracles
Creative? how do you mean?
Who'll dare some novel venturesome conceit,
"Air, Zeus's chamber," or "Time's foot," or this,
"'Twas not my mind that swore: my tongue committed
A little perjury on its own account."
Heracles
You like that style?
Dionysus
Like it? I dote upon it.
Heracles
I vow its ribald nonsense, and you know it.
Dionysus
"Rule not my mind": you've got a house to mind.
Heracles
Really and truly though 'tis paltry stuff.
Dionysus
Teach me to dine!
XANTHIAS
But never a word of me.
Dionysus
But tell me truly-'twas for this I came
Dressed up to mimic you-what friends received
And entertained you when you went below
To bring back Cerberus, in case I need them.
And tell me too the havens, fountains, shops,
Roads, resting-places, stews, refreshment-rooms,
Towns, lodgings, hostesses, with whom were found
The fewest bugs.
XANTHIAS
But never a word of me.
Heracles
You are really game to go?
Dionysus
O drop that, can't you?
And tell me this: of all the roads you know
Which is the quickest way to get to Hades?
I want one not too warm, nor yet too cold.
Heracles
Which shall I tell you first? which shall it be?
There's one by rope and bench: you launch away
And-hang yourself.
Dionysus
No thank you: that's too stifling.
Heracles
Then there's a track, a short and beaten cut,
By pestle and mortar.
Dionysus
Hemlock, do you mean?
Heracles
Just so.
Dionysus
No, that's too deathly cold a way;
You have hardly started ere your shins get numbed.
Heracles
Well, would you like a steep and swift descent?
Dionysus
Aye, that's the style: my walking powers are small.
Heracles
Go down to the Cerameicus.
Dionysus
And do what?
Heracles
Climb to the tower's top pinnacle-
Dionysus
And then?

 

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