THE FROGS by Aristophanes, Part 09
Upon my word you're quite the gentleman,
You're all for right and justice. Strip then, both.
How can you test us fairly?
Easily. I'll give you blow for blow.
A good idea.
We're ready now! (AEACUS strikes him) see if you
catch me flinching.
I struck you.
Well, it seems "no" indeed.
Now then I'll strike the other. (Strikes Dionysus.)
Tell me when?
I struck you.
Struck me? Then why didn't I sneeze?
Don't know, I'm sure. I'll try the other again.
And quickly too. Good gracious!
Why "good gracious"?
Not hurt you, did I?
No, I merely thought of
The Diomeian feast of Heracles.
A holy man! 'Tis now the other's turn.
Look at those horsemen, look!
But why these tears?
There's such a smell of onions.
Then you don't mind it?
Mind it? Not a bit.
Well, I must go to the other one again.
Do pray pull out this thorn.
What does it mean? 'Tis this one's turn again.
Apollo! Lord! (calmly) of Delos
and of Pytho.
He flinched! You heard him?
Not at all; a jolly Verse of Hipponax flashed across my mind.
You don't half do it: cut his flanks to pieces.
By Zeus, well thought on. Turn your belly here.
There! he's flinching.
who dost reign
Amongst the Aegean peaks and creeks
And oer the deep blue main.
No, by Demeter, still I can't find out
Which is the god, but come ye both indoors;
My lord himself and Persephassa there,
Being gods themselves, will soon find out the truth.
Right! right! I only wish you had thought of that
Before you gave me those tremendous whacks.
Exeunt Dionysus, XANTHIAS, AEACUS, and ATTENDANTs.
Come, Muse, to our Mystical CHORUS,
O come to the joy of my song,
O see on the benches before us
that countless and wonderful throng,
Where wits by the thousand abide,
with more than a Cleophon's pride-
On the lips of that foreigner base,
of Athens the bane and disgrace,
There is shrieking, his kinsman by race,
The garrulous swallow of Thrace;
From that perch of exotic descent,
Rejoicing her sorrow to vent,
She pours to her spirit's content,
a nightingale's woful lament,
That e'en though the voting be equal,
his ruin will soon be the sequel.
Well it suits the holy CHORUS
evermore with counsel wise
To exhort and teach the city;
this we therefore now advise-
End the townsmen's apprehensions;
equalize the rights of all;
If by Phrynichus's wrestlings
some perchance sustained a fall,
Yet to these 'tis surely open,
having put away their sin,
For their slips and vacillations
pardon at your hands to win.
Give your brethren back their franchise.
Sin and shame it were that slaves,
Who have once with stern devotion
fought your battle on the waves,
Should be straightway lords and masters,
yea Plataeans fully blown-
Not that this deserves our censure;
there I praise you; there alone
Has the city, in her anguish,
policy and wisdom shown-
Nay but these, of old accustomed
on our ships to fight and win,
(They, their fathers too before them),
these our very kith and kin,
You should likewise, when they ask you,
pardon for their single sin.
O by nature best and wisest,
O relax your jealous ire,
Let us all the world as kinsfolk
and as citizens acquire,
All who on our ships will battle
well and bravely by our side.
If we cocker up our city,
narrowing her with senseless pride,
Now when she is rocked and reeling
in the cradles of the sea,
Here again will after ages deem we acted brainlessly.
And O if I'm able to scan
the habits and life of a man
Who shall rue his iniquities soon!
not long shall that little baboon,
That Cleigenes shifty and small,
the wickedest bathman of all
Who are lords of the earth-which is brought
from the isle of Cimolus, and wrought
With nitre and lye into soap-
Not long shall he vex us, I hope.
And this the unlucky one knows,
Yet ventures a peace to oppose,
And being addicted to blows
he carries a stick as he goes,
Lest while he is tipsy and reeling,
some robber his cloak should be stealing.
Often has it crossed my fancy,
that the city loves to deal
With the very best and noblest
members of her commonweal,
just as with our ancient coinage,
and the newly-minted gold.
Yea for these, our sterling pieces,
all of pure Athenian mould,
All of perfect die and metal,
all the fairest of the fair,
All of workmanship unequalled,
proved and valued everywhere
Both amongst our own Hellenes
and Barbarians far away,
These we use not: but the worthles
pinchbeck coins of yesterday,
Vilest die and basest metal,
now we always use instead.
Even so, our sterling townsmen,
nobly born and nobly bred,
Men of worth and rank and mettle,
men of honourable fame,
Trained in every liberal science,
choral dance and manly game,
These we treat with scorn and insult,
but the strangers newliest come,
Worthless sons of worthless fathers,
pinchbeck townsmen, yellowy scum,
Whom in earlier days the city
hardly would have stooped to use
Even for her scapegoat victims,
these for every task we choose.
O unwise and foolish people,
yet to mend your ways begin;
Use again the good and useful:
so hereafter, if ye win
'Twill be due to this your wisdom:
if ye fall, at least 'twill be
Not a fall that brings dishonour,
falling from a worthy tree.
Enter AEACUS, XANTHIAS and two ATTENDANTs.