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Aristophanes Index


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THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 06

CLEON
Will you not let me speak?
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Assuredly not, for I too am an awful rascal.
DEMOSTHENES
If he does not give in at that, tell him your parents were awful
rascals too.
CLEON
Once more, will you let me speak?
SAUSAGE-SELLER
No, by Zeus!
CLEON
Yes, by Zeus, you shall!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
No, by Posidon! We will fight first to see who shall speak first.
CLEON
I will die sooner.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I will not let you....
DEMOSTHENES
Let him, in the name of the gods, let him die.
CLEON
What makes you so bold as to dare to speak to my face?
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Because I know both how to speak and how to cook.
CLEON
Hah! the fine speaker! Truly, if some business matter fell your
way, you would know thoroughly well how to attack it, to carve it up
alive! Shall I tell you what has happened to you? Like so many others,
you have gained some petty lawsuit against some alien. Did you drink
enough water to inspire you? Did you mutter over the thing
sufficiently through the night, spout it along the street, recite it
to all you met? Have you bored your friends enough with it? And for
this you deem yourself an orator. You poor fool!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And what do you drink yourself then, to be able all alone by
yourself to dumbfound and stupefy the city so with your clamour?
CLEON
Can you match me with a rival? Me? When I have devoured a good hot
tunny-fish and drunk on top of it a great jar of unmixed wine. I say
"to Hell with the generals of Pylos!"
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I, when I have bolted the tripe of an ox together with a sow's
belly and swallowed the broth as well, I am fit, though slobbering
with grease, to bellow louder than all orators and to terrify Nicias.
DEMOSTHENES
I admire your language so much; the only thing I do not approve is
that you swallow all the broth yourself.
CLEON
Even though you gorged yourself on sea-dogs, you would not beat
the Milesians.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Give me a bullock's breast to devour, and I am a man to traffic in
mines.
CLEON
I will rush into the Senate and set them all by the ears.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I will pull out your arse to stuff like a sausage.
CLEON
As for me, I will seize you by the rump and hurl you head foremost
through the door.
DEMOSTHENES
By Posidon, only after you have thrown me there first.
CLEON
(Beginning another crescendo of competitive screeching)
Beware of the carcan!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I denounce you for cowardice.
CLEON
I will tan your hide.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I will flay you and make a thief's pouch with the skin.
CLEON
I will peg you out on the ground.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I will slice you into mince-meat.
CLEON
I will tear out your eyelashes.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I will slit your gullet.
DEMOSTHENES
We will set his mouth open with a wooden stick as the cooks do
with pigs; we will tear out his tongue, and, looking down his gaping
throat, will see whether his inside has any pimples.
CHORUS (singing)
Thus then at Athens we have something more fiery than fire, more
impudent than impudence itself! 'Tis a grave matter; come, we will
push and jostle him without mercy. There, you grip him tightly under
the arms; if he gives way at the onset, you will find him nothing
but a craven; I know my man.
DEMOSTHENES
That he has been all his life and he has only made himself a
name by reaping another's harvest; and now he has tied up the ears
he gathered over there, he lets them dry and seeks to sell them.
CLEON
I do not fear you as long as there is a Senate and a people
which stands like a fool, gaping in the air.
CHORUS (singing)
What unparalleled impudence! 'Tis ever the same brazen front. If I
don't hate you, why, I'm ready to take the place of the one blanket
Cratinus wets; I'll offer to play a tragedy by Morsimus. Oh! you
cheat! who turn all into money, who flutter from one extortion to
another; may you disgorge as quickly as you have crammed yourself!
Then only would I sing, "Let us drink, let us drink to this happy
event!" Then even the son of Ulius, the old wheat-fairy, would empty
his cup with transports of joy, crying, "Io, Paean! Io, Bacchus!"

 

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