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THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 02

NICIAS
The best thing, friend, is our famous "Let-us-bolt!"
DEMOSTHENES
But none can escape the Paphlagonian, his eye is everywhere. And
what a stride! He has one leg on Pylos and the other in the
Assembly; his arse gapes exactly over the land of the Chaonians, his
hands are with the Aetolians and his mind with the Clopidians.
NICIAS
It's best then to die; but let us seek the most heroic death.
DEMOSTHENES
Let me think, what is the most heroic?
NICIAS
Let us drink the blood of a bull; that's the death Themistocles
chose.
DEMOSTHENES
No, not that, but a bumper of good unmixed wine in honour of the
Good Genius; perchance we may stumble on a happy thought.
NICIAS
Look at him! "Unmixed wine!" Your mind is on drink intent? Can a
man strike out a brilliant thought when drunk?
DEMOSTHENES
Without question. Go, ninny, blow yourself out with water; do
you dare to accuse wine of clouding the reason? Quote me more
marvellous effects than those of wine. Look! when a man drinks, he
is rich, everything he touches succeeds, he gains lawsuits, is happy
and helps his friends. Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that
I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea.
NICIAS
My God! What can your drinking do to help us?
DEMOSTHENES
Much. But bring it to me, while I take my seat. Once drunk, I
shall strew little ideas, little phrases, little reasonings
everywhere.
(NICIAS enters the house and returns almost immediately with a
bottle.)
NICIAS
It is lucky I was not caught in the house stealing the wine.
DEMOSTHENES
Tell me, what is the Paphlagonian doing now?
NICIAS
The wretch has just gobbled up some confiscated cakes; he is drunk
and lies at full-length snoring on his hides.
DEMOSTHENES
Very well, come along, pour me out wine and plenty of it.
NICIAS
Take it and offer a libation to your Good Genius.
DEMOSTHENES (to himself)
Inhale, ah, inhale the spirit of the genius of Pramnium. (He
drinks. Inspiredly) Ah! Good Genius, thine the plan, not mine!
NICIAS
Tell me, what is it?
DEMOSTHENES
Run indoors quick and steal the oracles of the Paphlagonian, while
he is asleep.
NICIAS
Bless me! I fear this Good Genius will be but a very Bad Genius
for me.
(He goes into the house.)
DEMOSTHENES
And I'll set the flagon near me, that I may moisten my wit to
invent some brilliant notion.
(NICIAS enters the house and returns at once.)
NICIAS
How loudly the Paphlagonian farts and snores! I was able to
seize the sacred oracle, which he was guarding with the greatest care,
without his seeing me.
DEMOSTHENES
Oh! clever fellow! Hand it here, that I may read. Come, pour me
out some drink, bestir yourself! Let me see what there is in it. Oh!
prophecy! Some drink! some drink! Quick!
NICIAS
Well! what says the oracle?
DEMOSTHENES
Pour again.
NICIAS
Is "Pour again" in the oracle?
DEMOSTHENES
Oh, Bacis!
NICIAS
But what is in it?
DEMOSTHENES
Quick! some drink!
NICIAS
Bacis is very dry!
DEMOSTHENES
Oh! miserable Paphlagonian! This then is why you have so long
taken such precautions; your horoscope gave you qualms of terror.
NICIAS
What does it say?

 

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