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Aristophanes Index


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THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 05

CLEON
Eh! what! Knights, are you helping them? But, if I am beaten, it
is in your cause, for I was going to propose to erect a statue in
the city in memory of your bravery.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! the impostor! the dull varlet! See! he treats us like old
dotards and crawls at our feet to deceive us; but the cunning
wherein his power lies shall this time recoil on himself; he trips
up himself by resorting to such artifices.
CLEON
Oh citizens! oh people! see how these brutes are bursting my
belly.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What shouts! but it's this very bawling that incessantly upsets
the city!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I can shout too-and so loud that you will flee with fear.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
If you shout louder than he does I will strike up the triumphal
hymn; if you surpass him in impudence the cake is ours.
CLEON
I denounce this fellow; he has had tasty stews exported from
Athens for the Spartan fleet.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I denounce him; he runs into the Prytaneum with an empty belly
and comes out with it full.
DEMOSTHENES
And by Zeus! he carries off bread, meat, and fish, which is
forbidden. Pericles himself never had this right.
(A screaming match now ensues, each line more raucous than the
last. The rapidity of the dialogue likewise increases.)
CLEON
You are travelling the right road to get killed.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I'll bawl three times as loud as you.
CLEON
I will deafen you with my yells.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I you with my bellowing.
CLEON
I shall calumniate you, if you become a Strategus.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Dog, I will lay your back open with the lash.
CLEON
I will make you drop your arrogance,
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I will baffle your machinations.
CLEON
Dare to look me in the face!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I too was brought up in the market-place.
CLEON
I will cut you to shreds if you whisper a word.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
If you open your mouth, I'll shut it with shit.
CLEON
I admit I'm a thief; that's more than you do.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
By our Hermes of the market-place, if caught in the act, why, I
perjure myself before those who saw me.
CLEON
These are my own special tricks. I will denounce you to the
Prytanes as the owner of sacred tripe, that has not paid tithe.
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! you scoundrel! you impudent bawler! everything is filled
with your daring, all Attica, the Assembly, the Treasury, the decrees,
the tribunals. As a furious torrent you have overthrown our city; your
outcries have deafened Athens and, posted upon a high rock, you have
lain in wait for the tribute moneys as the fisherman does for the
tunny-fish.
CLEON (somewhat less loudly)
I know your tricks; it's an old plot resoled.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
If you know naught of soling, I understand nothing of sausages;
you, who cut bad leather on the slant to make it look stout and
deceive the country yokels. They had not worn it a day before it had
stretched some two spans.
DEMOSTHENES
That's the very trick he played on me; both my neighbours and my
friends laughed heartily at me, and before I reached Pergasae I was
swimming in my shoes.
CHORUS (singing)
Have you not always shown that blatant impudence, which is the
sole strength of our orators? You push it so far, that you, the head
of the State, dare to milk the purses of the opulent aliens and, at
sight of you, the son of Hippodamus melts into tears. But here is
another man who gives me pleasure, for he is a much greater rascal
than you; he will overthrow you; 'tis easy to see, that he will beat
you in roguery, in brazenness and in clever turns. Come, you, who have
been brought up among the class which to-day gives us all our great
men, show us that a liberal education is mere tomfoolery.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Just hear what sort of fellow that fine citizen is.

 

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