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Aristophanes Index


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THE FROGS by Aristophanes, Part 15

AESCHYLUS
"Grave Hermes, witnessing a father's power,
Be thou my saviour and mine aid to-day,
For here I come and hither I return."
Dionysus
Any fault there?
EURIPIDES
A dozen faults and more.
Dionysus
Eh! why the lines are only three in all.
EURIPIDES
But every one contains a score of faults.
Dionysus
Now Aeschylus, keep silent; if you don't
You won't get off with three iambic lines.
AESCHYLUS
Silent for him!
Dionysus
If my advice you'll take.
EURIPIDES
Why, at first starting here's a fault skyhigh.
AESCHYLUS (to Dionysus)
You see your folly?
Dionysus
Have your way; I care not.
AESCHYLUS (to EURIPIDES)
What is my fault?
EURIPIDES
Begin the lines again.
AESCHYLUS
"Grave Hermes, witnessing a father's power-"
EURIPIDES
And this beside his murdered father's grave
ORESTES speaks?
AESCHYLUS
I say not otherwise.
EURIPIDES
Then does he mean that when his father fell
By craft and violence at a woman's hand,
The god of craft was witnessing the deed?
AESCHYLUS
It was not he: it was the Helper Hermes
He called the grave: and this he showed by adding
It was his sire's prerogative he held.
EURIPIDES
Why this is worse than all. If from his father
He held this office grave, why then-
Dionysus
He was
A graveyard rifler on his father's side.
AESCHYLUS
Bacchus, the wine you drink is stale and fusty.
Dionysus
Give him another: (to EURIPIDES) you, look out for faults.
AESCHYLUS
"Be thou my saviour and mine aid to-day,
For here I come, and hither I return."
EURIPIDES
The same thing twice says clever Aeschylus.
Dionysus
How twice?
EURIPIDES
Why, just consider: I'll explain.
"I come, says he; and "I return," says he:
It's the same thing, to "come" and to "return."
Dionysus
Aye, just as if you said, "Good fellow, tend me
A kneading trough: likewise, a trough to knead in."
AESCHYLUS
It is not so, you everlasting talker,
They're not the same, the words are right enough.
Dionysus
How so? inform me how you use the words.
AESCHYLUS
A man, not banished from his home, may "come"
To any land, with no especial chance.
A home-bound exile both "returns" and "comes."
Dionysus
O good, by Apollo!
What do you say, Euripides, to that?
EURIPIDES
I say ORESTES never did "return."
He came in secret: nobody recalled him.
Dionysus
O good, by Hermes I
(Aside) I've not the least suspicion what he means.
EURIPIDES
Repeat another line.
Dionysus
Ay, Aeschylus,
Repeat one instantly: you, mark what's wrong.
AESCHYLUS
"Now on this funeral mound I call my rather
To hear, to hearken.
EURIPIDES
There he is again.
To "hear," to "hearken"; the same thing, exactly.
Dionysus
Aye, but he's speaking to the dead, you knave,
Who cannot hear us though we call them thrice.
AESCHYLUS
And how do you make your prologues?
EURIPIDES
You shall hear;
And if you find one single thing said twice,
Or any useless padding, spit upon me.
Dionysus
Well, fire away: I'm all agog to hear
Your very accurate and faultless prologues.
EURIPIDES
"A happy man was Oedipus at first-
AESCHYLUS
Not so, by Zeus; a most unhappy man.
Who, not yet born nor yet conceived, Apollo
Foretold would be his father's murderer.
How could he be a happy man at first?
EURIPIDES
"Then he became the wretchedest of men."
AESCHYLUS
Not so, by Zeus; he never ceased to be.
No sooner born, than they exposed the babe,
(And that in winter), in an earthen crock,
Lest he should grow a man, and slay his father.
Then with both ankles pierced and swoln, he limped
Away to Polybus: still young, he married
An ancient crone, and her his mother too.
Then scratched out both his eyes.
Dionysus
Happy indeed
Had he been Erasinides's colleague!
EURIPIDES
Nonsense; I say my prologues are firstrate.
AESCHYLUS
Nay then, by Zeus, no longer line by line
I'll maul your phrases: but with heaven to aid
I'll smash your prologues with a bottle of oil.
EURIPIDES
You mine with a bottle of oil?
AESCHYLUS
With only one.
You frame your prologues so that each and all
Fit in with a "bottle of oil," or "coverlet-skin,"
Or "reticule-bag." I'll prove it here, and now.
EURIPIDES
You'll prove it? You?
AESCHYLUS
I will.
Dionysus
Well then, begin.
EURIPIDES
"Aegyptus, sailing with his fifty sons,
As ancient legends mostly tell the tale,
Touching at Argos"

 

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