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THE KNIGHTS by Aristophanes, Part 18

SAUSAGE-SELLER
Oh! Zeus, protector of Greece! 'tis to you I owe this victory!
DEMOSTHENES
Hail! illustrious conqueror, but forget not, that if you have
become a great man, 'tis thanks to me; I ask but a little thing;
appoint me secretary of the law-court in the room of Phanus.
DEMOS (to the SAUSAGE-SELLER)
But what is your name then? Tell me.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
My name is Agoracritus, because I have always lived on the
marketplace in the midst of lawsuits.
DEMOS
Well then, Agoracritus, I stand by you; as for the Paphlagonian, I
hand him over to your mercy.
AGORACRITUS
Demos, I will care for you to the best of my power, and all
shall admit that no citizen is more devoted than I to this city of
simpletons.
(They all enter the house of DEMOS.)
CHORUS (singing)
What fitter theme for our Muse, at the close as at the beginning
of our work, than this, to sing the hero who drives his swift steeds
down the arena? Why afflict Lysistratus with our satires on his
poverty, and Thumantis, who has not so much as a lodging? He is
dying of hunger and can be seen at Delphi, his face bathed in tears,
clinging to your quiver, oh, Apollo and supplicating you to take him
out of his misery.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
An insult directed at the wicked is not to be censured; on the
contrary, the honest man, if he has sense, can only applaud. Him, whom
I wish to brand with infamy, is little known himself; he's the brother
of Arignotus. I regret to quote this name which is so dear to me,
but whoever can distinguish black from white, or the Orthian mode of
music from others, knows the virtues of Arignotus, whom his brother,
Ariphrades, in no way resembles. He gloats in vice, is not merely a
dissolute man and utterly debauched-but he has actually invented a new
form of vice; for he pollutes his tongue with abominable pleasures
in brothels, befouling all of his body. Whoever is not horrified at
such a monster shall never drink from the same cup with me.
CHORUS (singing)
At times a thought weighs on me at night; I wonder whence comes
this fearful voracity of Cleonymus. 'Tis said that when dining with
a rich host, he springs at the dishes with the gluttony of a wild
beast and never leaves the bread-bin until his host seizes him round
the knees, exclaiming, "Go, go, good gentleman, in mercy go, and spare
my poor table!"
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
It is said that the triremes assembled in council and that the
oldest spoke in these terms, "Are you ignorant, my sisters, of what is
plotting in Athens? They say that a certain Hyperbolus, a bad
citizen and an infamous scoundrel, asks for a hundred of us to take
them to sea against Carthage." All were indignant, and one of them, as
yet a virgin, cried, "May god forbid that I should ever obey him! I
would prefer to grow old in the harbour and be gnawed by worms. No! by
the gods I swear it, Nauphante, daughter of Nauson, shall never bend
to his law; that's as true as I am made of wood and pitch. If the
Athenians vote for the proposal of Hyperbolus, let them! we will hoist
full sail and seek refuge by the temple of Theseus or the shrine of
the Eumenides. No! he shall not command us! No! he shall not play with
the city to this extent! Let him sail by himself for Tartarus, if such
please him, launching the boats in which he used to sell his lamps."
(The SAUSAGE-SELLER comes out of the house of DEMOS, splendidly
robed.)
AGORACRITUS (solemnly)
Maintain a holy silence! Keep your mouths from utterance! call
no more witnesses; close these tribunals, which are the delight of
this city, and gather at the theatre to chant the Paean of
thanksgiving to the gods for a fresh favour.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! torch of sacred Athens, saviour of the Islands, what good
tidings are we to celebrate by letting the blood of the victims flow
in our marketplaces?
AGORACRITUS
I have freshened Demos up somewhat on the stove and have turned
his ugliness into beauty.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
I admire your invertive genius; but, where is he?
AGORACRITUS
He is living in ancient Athens, the city of the garlands of
violets.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
How I should like to see him! What is his dress like, what his
manner?
AGORACRITUS
He has once more become as he was in the days when he lived with
Aristides and Miltiades. But you will judge for yourselves, for I hear
the vestibule doors opening. Hail with your shouts of gladness the
Athens of old, which now doth reappear to your gaze, admirable, worthy
of the songs of the poets and the home of the illustrious Demos.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! noble, brilliant Athens, whose brow is wreathed with
violets, show us the sovereign master of this land and of all Greece.
(DEMOS comes from his house, rejuvenated and joyous.)
AGORACRITUS
Lo! here he is coming with his hair held in place with a golden
band and in all the glory of his old-world dress; perfumed with myrrh,
he spreads around him not the odour of lawsuits, but that of peace.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Hail! King of Greece, we congratulate you upon the happiness you
enjoy; it is worthy of this city, worthy of the glory of Marathon.

 

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