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THE FROGS by Aristophanes, Part 18

Dionysus
Let go, let go. Down goes his scale again.
He threw in Death, the heaviest ill of all.
EURIPIDES
And I Persuasion, the most lovely word.
Dionysus
A vain and empty sound, devoid of sense.
Think of some heavier-weighted line of yours,
To drag your scale down: something strong and big.
EURIPIDES
Where have I got one? Where? Let's see.
Dionysus
I'll tell you.
"Achilles threw two singles and a four."
Come, speak your lines: this is your last set-to.
EURIPIDES
"In his right hand he grasped an iron-clamped mace."
AESCHYLUS
"Chariot on chariot, corpse on corpse was hurled."
Dionysus
There now! again he has done you.
EURIPIDES
Done me? How?
Dionysus
He threw two chariots and two corpses in;
Five-score Egyptians could not lift that weight.
AESCHYLUS
No more of "line for line"; let him-himself,
His children, wife, Cephisophon-get in,
With all his books collected in his arms,
Two lines of mine shall overweigh the lot.
Dionysus
Both are my friends; I can't decide between them:
I don't desire to be at odds with either:
One is so clever, one delights me so.
PLUTO (coming forward)
Then you'll effect nothing
for which you came?
Dionysus
And how, if I decide?
PLUTO
Then take the winner;
So will your journey not be made in vain.
Dionysus
Heaven bless your Highness! Listen, I came down
After a poet.
EURIPIDES
To what end?
The city, saved, may keep her choral games.
Now then, whichever of you two shall best
Advise the city, he shall come with me.
And first of Alcibiades, let each
Say what he thinks; the city travails sore.
Dionysus
What does she think herself about him?
She loves, and hates, and longs to have him back.
But give me your advice about the man.
EURIPIDES
I loathe a townsman who is slow to aid,
And swift to hurt, his town: who ways and means
Finds for himself, but finds not for the state.
Dionysus
Poseidon, but that's smart! (to AESCHYLUS)
And what say you?
AESCHYLUS
'Twere best to rear no lion in the state:
But having reared, 'tis best to humour him.
Dionysus
By Zeus the Saviour, still I can't decide.
One is so clever, and so clear the other.
But once again. Let each in turn declare
What plan of safety for the state ye've got.
EURIPIDES
[First with Cinesias wing Cleocritus,
Then zephyrs waft them o'er the watery plain.
Dionysus
A funny sight, I own: but where's the sense?
EURIPIDES
If, when the fleets engage, they holding cruets
Should rain down vinegar in the foemen's eyes,]
I know, and I can tell you.
Dionysus
Tell away.
EURIPIDES
When things, mistrusted now, shall trusted be,
And trusted things, mistrusted.
Dionysus
How! I don't
Quite comprehend. Be clear, and not so clever.
EURIPIDES
If we mistrust those citizens of ours
Whom now we trust, and those employ whom now
We don't employ, the city will be saved.
If on our present tack we fail, we surely
Shall find salvation in the opposite course.
Dionysus
Good, O Palamedes! Good, you genius you.
Is this your cleverness or Cephisophon's?
EURIPIDES
This is my own: the cruet-plan was his.
Dionysus (to AESCHYLUS)
Now, you.
AESCHYLUS
But tell me whom the city uses.
The good and useful?
Dionysus
What are you dreaming of?
She hates and loathes them.
AESCHYLUS
Does she love the bad?
Dionysus
Not love them, no: she uses them perforce.
AESCHYLUS
How can one save a city such as this,
Whom neither frieze nor woollen tunic suits?
Dionysus
O, if to earth you rise, find out some way.
AESCHYLUS
There will I speak: I cannot answer here.
Dionysus
Nay, nay; send up your guerdon from below.
AESCHYLUS
When they shall count the enemy's soil their
And theirs the enemy's: when they know that ships
Are their true wealth, their so-called wealth delusion.
Dionysus
Aye, but the justices suck that down, you know.
PLUTO
Now then, decide.
Dionysus
I will; and thus I'll do it.
I'll choose the man in whom my soul delights.
EURIPIDES
O, recollect the gods by whom you swore
You'd take me home again; and choose your friends.
Dionysus
'Twas my tongue swore; my choice is-
Aeschylus.
EURIPIDES
Hah! what have you done?
Dionysus
Done? Given the victor's prize
To Aeschylus; why not?
EURIPIDES
And do you dare
Look in my face, after that shameful deed?
Dionysus
What's shameful, if the audience think not
so? Have you no heart? Wretch, would you leave me dead?
Dionysus
Who knows if death be life, and life be death,
And breath be mutton broth, and sleep a sheepskin?
PLUTO
Now, Dionysus, come ye in,
Dionysus
What for?
PLUTO
And sup before ye go.
Dionysus
A bright idea.
I'faith, I'm nowise indisposed for that.

Exeunt AESCHYLUS, EURIPIDES, PLUTO, and Dionysus.

 

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