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Aristophanes Index


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THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 07

CLEON
By Posidon! You! would you beat me in impudence! If you succeed,
may I no longer have my share of the victims offered to Zeus on the
city altar.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I, I swear by the blows that have so oft rained upon my
shoulders since infancy, and by the knives that have cut me, that I
will show more effrontery than you; as sure as I have rounded this
fine stomach by feeding on the pieces of bread that had cleansed other
folk's greasy fingers.
CLEON
On pieces of bread, like a dog! Ah! wretch! you have the nature of
a dog and you dare to fight a dog-headed ape?
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I have many another trick in my sack, memories of my childhood's
days. I used to linger around the cooks and say to them, "Look,
friends, don't you see a swallow? It's the HeraLD of springtime."
And while they stood, their noses in the air, I made off with a
piece of meat.
CHORUS
Oh! most clever man! How well thought out! You did as the eaters
of artichokes, you gathered them before the return of the swallows."
SAUSAGE-SELLER
They could make nothing of it; or, if they suspected a trick, I
hid the meat in my crotch and denied the thing by all the gods-so that
an orator, seeing me at the game, cried, "This child will get on; he
has the mettle that makes a statesman."
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
He argued rightly; to steal, perjure yourself and make your arse
receptive are three essentials for climbing high.
CLEON
I will stop your insolence, or rather the insolence of both of
you. I will throw myself upon you like a terrible hurricane ravaging
both land and sea at the will of its fury.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Then I will gather up my sausages and entrust myself to the kindly
waves of fortune so as to make you all the more enraged.
DEMOSTHENES
And I will watch in the bilges in case the boat should make water.
CLEON
No, by Demeter! I swear, it will not be with impunity that you
have thieved so many talents from the Athenians.
DEMOSTHENES (to the SAUSAGE-SELLER)
Oh! oh! reef your sail a bit! Here is a Northeaster blowing
calumniously.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
I know that you got ten talents out of Potidaea.
CLEON
Wait! I will give you one; but keep it dark!
DEMOSTHENES (aside)
Hah! that will please him mightily; (to the SAUSAGE-SELLER) now
you can travel under full sail. The wind has lost its violence.
CLEON
I will bring four suits against you, each of one hundred talents.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I twenty against you for shirking duty and more than a
thousand for robbery.
CLEON
I maintain that your parents were guilty of sacrilege against
the goddess.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And I, that one of your grandfathers was a satellite....
CLEON
To whom? Explain!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
To Byrsina, the mother of Hippias.
CLEON
You are an impostor.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And you are a rogue.
(He strikes CLEON with a sausage.)
DEMOSTHENES
Hit him hard.
CLEON
Alas! The conspirators are murdering me!
DEMOSTHENES (to the SAUSAGE-SELLER)
Hit him! Hit him with all your might! Bruise his belly and lash
him with your guts and your tripe! Punish him with both hands!
(CLEON sinks beneath the blows.)
CHORUS-LEADER
Oh! vigorous assailant and intrepid heart! See how you have
totally routed him in this duel of abuse, so that to us and to the
citizens you seem the saviour of the city. How shall I give tongue
to my joy and praise you sufficiently?
CLEON (recovering his wits)
Ah! by Demeter! I was not ignorant of this plot and these
machinations that were being forged and nailed and put together
against me.
DEMOSTHENES (to the SAUSAGE-SELLER)
Look out, look out! Come outfence him with some wheelwright slang.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
His tricks at Argos do not escape me. Under pretence of forming an
alliance with the Argives, he is hatching a plot with the
Lacedaemonians there; and I know why the bellows are blowing and the
metal that is on the anvil; it's the question of the prisoners.

 

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