THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 15
Ah! if the Paphlagonian ran any risk that day, it was because he
was drunk. Oh, too credulous son of Cecrops, do you accept that as a
glorious exploit? A woman would carry a heavy burden if only a man had
put it on her shoulders. But to fight! Go to! he would empty his
bowels before he would ever fight.
Note this Pylos in front of Pylos, of which the oracle speaks,
"Pylos is before Pylos."
How "in front of Pylos"? What does he mean by that?
He says he will seize upon your bath-tubs.
Then I shall not bathe to-day.
No, as he has stolen our baths. But here is an oracle about the
fleet, to which I beg your best attention.
Read on! I am listening; let us first see how we are to pay our
"Son of Aegeus, beware of the tricks of the dog-fox, he bites from
the rear and rushes off at full speed; he is nothing but cunning and
perfidy." Do you know what the oracle intends to say?
The dog-fox is Philostratus.
No, no, it's Cleon; he is incessantly asking you for light vessels
to go and collect the tributes, and Apollo advises you not to grant
What connection is there between a galley and dog-fox?
What connection? Why, it's quite plain-a galley travels as fast as
Why, then, does the oracle not say dog instead of dog-fox?
Because he compares the soldiers to young foxes, who, like them,
eat the grapes in the fields.
Good! Well then! how am I to pay the wages of my young foxes?
I will undertake that, and in three days too! But listen to this
further oracle, by which Apollo puts you on your guard against the
snares of the greedy fist.
Of what greedy fist?
The god in this oracle very clearly points to the hand of Cleon,
who incessantly holds his out, saying, "Fill it."
That's a lie! Phoebus means the hand of Diopithes. But here I have
a winged oracle, which promises you shall become an eagle and rule
over all the earth.
I have one, which says that you shall be King of the Earth and
of the Red Sea too, and that you shall administer justice in Ecbatana,
eating fine rich stews the while.
I have seen Athen& in a dream, pouring out full vials of riches
and health over the people.
I too have seen the goddess, descending from the Acropolis with an
owl perched upon her helmet; on your head she was pouring out
ambrosia, on that of Cleon garlic pickle.
Truly Glanis is the wisest of men. I shall yield myself to you;
guide me in my old age and educate me anew.
Ah! I adjure you! not yet; wait a little; I will promise to
distribute barley every day.
Ah! I will not hear another word about barley; you have cheated me
too often already, both you and Theophanes.
Well then! you shall have flour-cakes all piping hot.
I will give you cakes too, and nice cooked fish; all you'll have
to do is eat.
Very well, mind you keep your promises. To whichever of you
shall treat me best I hand over the reins of state.
I will be first.
(He rushes into the house.)
No, no, I will.
(He runs off.)
Demos, you are our all-powerful sovereign lord; all tremble before
you, yet you are led by the nose. You love to be flattered and fooled;
you listen to the orators with gaping mouth and your mind is led
It's rather you who have no brains, if you think me so foolish
as all that; it is with a purpose that I play this idiot's role, for I
love to drink the livelong day, and so it pleases me to keep a thief
for my minister. When he has thoroughly gorged himself, then I
overthrow and crush him.