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LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 05

LYSISTRATA
And if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this wine.
CLEONICE (more courageously)
And if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this wine.
LYSISTRATA
But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water.
CLEONICE
But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water.
LYSISTRATA
Will you all take this oath?
ALL
We do.
LYSISTRATA
Then I'll now consume this remnant.
(She drinks.)
CLEONICE (reaching for the cup)
Enough, enough, my dear; now let us all drink in turn to cement
our friendship.
(They pass the cup around and all drink. A great commotion is
heard off stage.)
LAMPITO
Listen! what do those cries mean?
LYSISTRATA
It's what I was telling you; the women have just occupied the
Acropolis. So now, Lampito, you return to Sparta to organize the plot,
while your comrades here remain as hostages. For ourselves, let us
go and join the rest in the citadel, and let us push the bolts well
home.
CLEONICE
But don't you think the men will march up against us?
LYSISTRATA
I laugh at them. Neither threats nor flames shall force our doors;
they shall open only on the conditions I have named.
CLEONICE
Yes, yes, by Aphrodite; otherwise we should be called cowardly and
wretched women.
(She follows LYSISTRATA out.)

(The scene shifts to the entrance of the Acropolis. The CHORUS
OF OLD MEN slowly enters, carrying faggots and pots of fire.)

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Go easy, Draces, go easy; why, your shoulder is all chafed by
these damned heavy olive stocks. But forward still, forward, man, as
needs must.
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
What unlooked-for things do happen, to be sure, in a long life!
Ah! Strymodorus, who would ever have thought it? Here we have the
women, who used, for our misfortune, to eat our bread and live in
our houses, daring nowadays to lay hands on the holy image of the
goddess, to seize the Acropolis and draw bars and bolts to keep any
from entering!
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Come, Philurgus, man, let's hurry there; let's lay our faggots all
about the citadel, and on the blazing pile burn with our hands these
vile conspiratresses, one and all-and Lycon's wife first and foremost!
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
Nay, by Demeter, never will I let them laugh at me, whiles I
have a breath left in my body. Cleomenes himself, the first who ever
seized our citadel, had to quit it to his sore dishonour; spite his
Lacedaemonian pride, he had to deliver me up his arms and slink off
with a single garment to his back. My word! but he was filthy and
ragged! and what an unkempt beard, to be sure! He had not had a bath
for six long years!
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Oh! but that was a mighty siege! Our men were ranged seventeen
deep before the gate, and never left their posts, even to sleep. These
women, these enemies of Euripides and all the gods, shall I do nothing
to hinder their inordinate insolence? else let them tear down my
trophies of Marathon.
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
But look, to finish this toilsome climb only this last steep bit
is left to mount. Truly, it's no easy job without beasts of burden,
and how these logs do bruise my shoulder! Still let us carry on, and
blow up our fire and see it does not go out just as we reach our
destination. Phew! phew! (Blowing the fire) Oh! dear! what a
dreadful smoke!
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
It bites my eyes like a mad dog. It is Lemnian fire for sure, or
it would never devour my eyelids like this. Come on, Laches, let's
hurry, let's bring succour to the goddess; it's now or never! Phew!
phew! (Blowing the fire) Oh dear! what a confounded smoke!
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
There now, there's our fire all bright and burning, thank the
gods! Now, why not first put down our loads here, then take a
vine-branch, light it at the brazier and hurl it at the gate by way of
battering-ram? If they don't answer our summons by pulling back the
bolts, then we set fire to the woodwork, and the smoke will choke
them. Ye gods! what a smoke! Pfaugh! Is there never a Samian general
will help me unload my burden?-Ah! it shall not gall my shoulder any
more. (Setting down the wood) Come, brazier, do your duty, make
the embers flare, that I may kindle a brand; I want to be the first to
hurl one. Aid me, heavenly Victory; let us punish for their insolent
audacity the women who have seized our citadel, and may we raise a
trophy of triumph for success!

(They begin to build a fire. The CHORUS OF WOMEN
now enters, carrying pots of water.)

 

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