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Aristophanes Index


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THE FROGS by Aristophanes, Part 06

Dionysus
O hang the fellow.
That's all his bluff: he thought to scare me off,
The jealous dog, knowing my plucky ways.
There's no such swaggerer lives as Heracles.
Why, I'd like nothing better than to achieve
Some bold adventure, worthy of our trip.
XANTHIAS
I know you would. Hallo! I hear a noise.
Dionysus
Where? what?
XANTHIAS
Behind us, there.
Dionysus
Get you behind.
XANTHIAS
No, it's in front.
Dionysus
Get you in front directly.
XANTHIAS
And now I see the most ferocious monster.
Dionysus
O, what's it like?
XANTHIAS
Like everything by turns.
Now it's a bull: now it's a mule: and now
The loveliest girl.
Dionysus
O, where? I'll go and meet her.
XANTHIAS
It's ceased to be a girl: it's a dog now.
Dionysus
It is Empusa!
XANTHIAS
Well, its face is all
Ablaze with fire.
Dionysus
Has it a copper leg?
XANTHIAS
A copper leg? yes, one; and one of cow dung.
Dionysus
O, whither shall I flee?
XANTHIAS
O, whither I?
Dionysus
My priest, protect me, and we'll sup together.
XANTHIAS
King Heracles, we're done for.
Dionysus
O, forbear, Good fellow, call me anything but that.
XANTHIAS
Well then, Dionysus.
Dionysus
O, that's worse again,
XANTHIAS (to the SPECTRE)
Aye, go thy way. O master,
here, come here.
Dionysus
O, what's up now?
XANTHIAS
Take courage; all's serene.
And, like Hegelochus, we now may say
"Out of the storm there comes a new wether."
Empusa's gone.
Dionysus
Swear it.
XANTHIAS
By Zeus she is.
Dionysus
Swear it again.
XANTHIAS
By Zeus.
Dionysus
Again.
XANTHIAS
By Zeus.
O dear, O dear, how pale I grew to see her,
But he, from fright has yellowed me all over.
Dionysus
Ah me, whence fall these evils on my head? on
Who is the god to blame for my destruction?
Air, Zeus's chamber, or the Foot of Time?

(A flute is played behind the scenes.)

XANTHIAS
What's the matter?
Dionysus
The breath of flutes.
XANTHIAS
Aye, and a whiff of torches
Breathed o'er me too; a very mystic whiff.
Dionysus
Then crouch we down, and mark what's going on.
CHORUS (in the distance)
O lacchus! O lacchus! O Iacchus!
XANTHIAS
I have it, master: 'tis those blessed Mystics,
Of whom he told us, sporting hereabouts.
They sing the Iacchus which Diagoras made.
Dionysus
I think so too: we had better both keep quiet
And so find out exactly what it is.

Enter CHORUS, who had chanted the songs of the FROGS, as initiates.

CHORUS
O Iacchus! power excelling,
here in stately temples dwelling.
O Iacchus! O lacchus!
Come to tread this verdant level,
Come to dance in mystic revel,
Come whilst round thy forehead hurtles
Many a wreath of fruitful myrtles,
Come with wild and saucy paces
Mingling in our joyous dance,
Pure and holy, which embraces
all the charms of all the Graces,
When the mystic choirs advance.
XANTHIAS
Holy and sacred queen, Demeter's daughter,
O, what a jolly whiff of pork breathed o'er me!
Dionysus
Hist! and perchance you'll get some tripe yourself.
CHORUS
Come, arise, from sleep awaking,
come the fiery torches shaking,
O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Morning Star that shinest nightly.
Lo, the mead is blazing brightly,
Age forgets its years and sadness,
Aged knees curvet for gladness,
Lift thy flashing torches o'er us,
Marshal all thy blameless train,
Lead, O lead the way before us;
lead the lovely youthful CHORUS
To the marshy flowery plain.
All evil thoughts and profane be still:
far hence, far hence from our choirs depart,
Who knows not well what the Mystics tell,
or is not holy and pure of heart;
Who ne'er has the noble revelry learned,
or danced the dance of the Muses high;
or shared in the Bacchic rites which old
bull-eating Cratinus's words supply;
Who vulgar coarse buffoonery loves,
though all untimely the they make;
Or lives not easy and kind with all,
or kindling faction forbears to slake,
But fans the fire, from a base desire
some pitiful gain for himself to reap;
Or takes, in office, his gifts and bribes,
while the city is tossed on the stormy deep;
Who fort or fleet to the foe betrays;
or, a vile Thorycion, ships away
Forbidden stores from Aegina's shores,
to Epidaurus across the Bay
Transmitting oar-pads and sails and tar,
that curst collector of five per cents;
The knave who tries to procure supplies
for the use of the enemy's armaments;
The Cyclian singer who dares befoul
the Lady Hecate's wayside shrine;
The public speaker who once lampooned
in our Bacchic feasts would, with heart malign,
Keep nibbling away the Comedians' pay;-
to these I utter my warning cry,
I charge them once, I charge them twice,
I charge them thrice, that they draw not nigh
To the sacred dance of the Mystic choir.
But ye, my comrades, awake the song,
The night-long revels of joy and mirth
which ever of right to our feast belong.
Advance, true hearts, advance!
On to the gladsome bowers,
On to the sward, with flowers
Embosomed bright!
March on with jest, and jeer, and dance,
Full well ye've supped to-night.
March, chanting loud your lays,
Your hearts and voices raising,
The Saviour goddess praising
Who vows she'll still
Our city save to endless days,
Whate'er Thorycion's will.
Break off the measure, and change the time;
and now with chanting and hymns adorn
Demeter, goddess mighty and high,
the harvest-queen, the giver of corn.
O Lady, over our rites presiding,
Preserve and succour thy choral throng,
And grant us all, in thy help confiding,
To dance and revel the whole day long;
And much in earnest, and much in jest,
Worthy thy feast, may we speak therein.
And when we have bantered and laughed our best,
The victor's wreath be it ours to win.
Call we now the youthful god,
call him hither without delay,
Him who travels amongst his CHORUS,
dancing along on the Sacred Way.
O, come with the joy of thy festival song,
O, come to the goddess, O, mix with our throng
Untired, though the journey be never so long.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
lacchus, beside me advance!
For fun, and for cheapness, our dress thou hast rent,
Through thee we may dance to the top of our bent,
Reviling, and jeering, and none will resent.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
lacchus, beside me advance!
A sweet pretty girl I observed in the show,
Her robe had been torn in the scuffle, and lo,
There peeped through the tatters a bosom of snow.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
lacchus, beside me advance!
Dionysus
Wouldn't I like to follow on, and try
A little sport and dancing?
XANTHIAS
Wouldn't I?
CHORUS
Shall we all a merry joke
At Archedemus poke,
Who has not cut his guildsmen yet, though seven years old;
Yet up among the dead
He is demagogue and head
And contrives the topmost place of the rascaldom to hold?
And Cleisthenes, they say,
Is among the tombs all day,
Bewailing for his lover with a lamentable whine.
And Callias, I'm told,
Has become a sailor bold,
And casts a lion's hide o'er his members feminine.
Dionysus
Can any of you tell
Where Pluto here may dwell,
For we, sirs, are two strangers who were never here before?
CHORUS
O, then no further stray,
Nor again inquire the way,
For know that ye have journeyed to his very entrance-door.
Dionysus
Take up the wraps, my lad.
XANTHIAS
Now is not this too bad?
Like "Zeus's Corinth," he "the wraps" keeps saying o'er and o'er.
CHORUS
Now wheel your sacred dances through the glade
with flowers bedight,
All ye who are partakers of the holy festal rite;
And I will with the women and the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious
light to show.
Now haste we to the roses,
And the meadows full of posies,
Now haste we to the meadows
In our own old way,
In choral dances blending,
In dances never ending,
Which only for the holy
The Destinies array.
O, happy mystic CHORUS,
The blessed sunshine o'er us
On us alone is smiling,
In its soft sweet light:
On us who strove forever
With holy, pure endeavour,
Alike by friend and stranger
To guide our steps aright.
Dionysus
What's the right way to knock? I wonder how
The natives here are wont to knock at doors.
XANTHIAS
No dawdling: taste the door. You've got, remember,
The lion-hide and pride of Heracles.
Dionysus (knocking)
Boy! boy!

The door opens. AEACUS appears.

AEACUS
Who's there?
Dionysus
I, Heracles the strong!
AEACUS
O, you most shameless desperate ruffian, you
O, villain, villain, arrant vilest villain!
Who seized our Cerberus by the throat, and fled,
And ran, and rushed, and bolted, haling of
The dog, my charge! But now I've got thee fast.
So close the Styx's inky-hearted rock,
The blood-bedabbled peak of Acheron
Shall hem thee in: the hell-hounds of Cocytus
Prowl round thee; whilst the hundred-headed Asp
Shall rive thy heart-strings: the Tartesian Lamprey
Prey on thy lungs: and those Tithrasian Gorgons
Mangle and tear thy kidneys, mauling them,
Entrails and all, into one bloody mash.
I'll speed a running foot to fetch them hither.

Exit AEACUS.

 

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