THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 17
CLEON (showing him the hare)
Do you see this, you rogue?
SAUSAGE-SELLER (pretending to look afar)
A fig for that! Here are some people coming to seek me. They are
envoys, bearing sacks bulging with money.
(Hearing money mentioned CLEON turns his head, and the
SAUSAGE-SELLER seizes the opportunity to snatch away the stewed hare.)
Where, where, I say?
Bah! What's that to you? Will you not even now let the strangers
alone? Dear Demos, do you see this stewed hare which I bring you?
Ah! rascal! you have shamelessly robbed me.
You have robbed too, you robbed the Laconians at Pylos.
Please tell me, how did you get the idea to filch it from him?
The idea comes from the goddess; the theft is all my own.
And I had taken such trouble to catch this hare and I was the
one who had it cooked.
DEMOS (to CLEON)
Get you gone! My thanks are only for him who served it.
Ah! wretch! you have beaten me in impudence!
Well then, Demos, say now, who has treated you best, you and
your stomach? Decide!
How shall I act here so that the spectators shall approve my
I will tell you. Without saying anything, go and rummage through
my basket, and then through the Paphlagonian's, and see what is in
them; that's the best way to judge.
Let us see then, what is there in yours?
Why, it's empty, dear little father; I have brought everything
This is a basket devoted to the people.
Now hunt through the Paphlagonian's. (Pause, as Demos does so)
Oh! what a lot of good things! Why it's quite full! Oh! what a
huge great part of this cake he kept for himself! He had only cut
off the least little tiny piece for me.
But this is what he has always done. Of everything he took, he
only gave you the crumbs, and kept the bulk.
DEMOS (to CLEON)
Oh! rascal! was this the way you robbed me? And I was loading
you with chaplets and gifts!
I robbed for the public weal.
DEMOS (to CLEON)
Give me back that crown; I shall give it to him.
Return it quick, quick, you gallows-bird.
No, for the Pythian oracle has revealed to me the name of him
who shall overthrow me.
And that name was mine, nothing can be clearer.
Reply and I shall soon see whether you are indeed the man whom the
god intended. Firstly, what school did you attend when a child?
It was in the kitchens, where I was taught with cuffs and blows.
What's that you say? (aside) Ah! this is truly what the oracle
(To the SAUSAGE-SELLER) And what did you learn from the master of
I learnt to take a false oath without a smile, when I had stolen
CLEON (frightened; aside)
Oh! Phoebus Apollo, god of Lycia! I am undone! (To the
SAUSAGE-SELLER) And when you had become a man, what trade did you
I sold sausages and did a bit of fornication.
CLEON (in consternation; aside)
Oh! my god! I am a lost man! Ah! still one slender hope remains.
(to the SAUSAGE-SELLER) Tell me, was it on the market-place or near
the gates that you sold your sausages?
Near the gates, in the market for salted goods.
CLEON (in tragic despair)
Alas! I see the prophecy of the god is verily come true. Alas!
roll me home. I am a miserable ruined man. Farewell, my chaplet.
'Tis death to me to part with you. So you are to belong to another;
'tis certain he cannot be a greater thief, but perhaps he may be a
(He gives the chaplet to the SAUSAGE-SELLER.)