LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 09
You would have been reduced to silence by blows then.
Well, for my part, I would say no more. But presently I would come
to know you had arrived at some fresh decision more fatally foolish
than ever. "Ah! my dear man," I would say, "what madness next!" But he
would only look at me askance and say: "Just weave your web, please;
else your cheeks will smart for hours. War is men's business!"
Bravo! well said indeed!
How now, wretched man? not to let us contend against your
follies was bad enough! But presently we heard you asking out loud
in the open street: "Is there never a man left in Athens?" and, "No,
not one, not one," you were assured in reply. Then, then we made up
our minds without more delay to make common cause to save Greece. Open
your ears to our wise counsels and hold your tongues, and we may yet
put things on a better footing.
You put things indeed! Oh! this is too much! The insolence of
May I die a thousand deaths ere I obey one who wears a veil!
If that's all that troubles you, here, take my veil, wrap it round
your head, and hold your tongue.
Then take this basket; put on a girdle, card wool, munch beans.
The war shall be women's business.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
Lay aside your water-pots, we will guard them, we will help our
friends and companions.
CHORUS OF WOMEN (singing)
For myself, I will never weary of the dance; my knees will never
grow stiff with fatigue. I will brave everything with my dear
allies, on whom Nature has lavished virtue, grace, boldness,
cleverness, and whose wisely directed energy is going to save the
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
Oh! my good, gallant Lysistrata, and all my friends, be ever
like a bundle of nettles; never let your anger slacken; the winds of
fortune blow our way.
May gentle Love and the sweet Cyprian Queen shower seductive
charms on our breasts and our thighs. If only we may stir so amorous a
feeling among the men that they stand as firm as sticks, we shall
indeed deserve the name of peace-makers among the Greeks.
How will that be, pray?
To begin with, we shall not see you any more running like mad
fellows to the Market holding lance in fist.
That will be something gained, anyway, by the Paphian goddess,
Now we see them, mixed up with saucepans and kitchen stuff,
armed to the teeth, looking like wild Corybantes!
Why, of course; that's what brave men should do.
Oh! but what a funny sight, to behold a man wearing a
Gorgon's-bead buckler coming along to buy fish!
The other day in the Market I saw a phylarch with flowing
ringlets; he was on horseback, and was pouring into his helmet the
broth he had just bought at an old dame's still. There was a
Thracian warrior too, who was brandishing his lance like Tereus in the
play; he had scared a good woman selling figs into a perfect panic,
and was gobbling up all her ripest fruit-
And how, pray, would you propose to restore peace and order in all
the countries of Greece?
It's the easiest thing in the world!
Come, tell us how; I am curious to know.
When we are winding thread, and it is tangled, we pass the spool
across and through the skein, now this way, now that way; even so,
to finish of the war, we shall send embassies hither and thither and
everywhere, to disentangle matters.
And is it with your yarn, and your skeins, and your spools, you
think to appease so many bitter enmities, you silly women?
If only you had common sense, you would always do in politics
the same as we do with our yarn.
Come, how is that, eh?
First we wash the yarn to separate the grease and filth; do the
same with all bad citizens, sort them out and drive them forth with
rods-they're the refuse of the city. Then for all such as come
crowding up in search of employments and offices, we must card them
thoroughly; then, to bring them all to the same standard, pitch them
pell-mell into the same basket, resident aliens or no, allies, debtors
to the State, all mixed up together. Then as for our Colonies, you
must think of them as so many isolated hanks; find THE ENDs of the
separate threads, draw them to a centre here, wind them into one, make
one great hank of the lot, out of which the public can weave itself
a good, stout tunic.