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Aristophanes Index


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LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 10

MAGISTRATE
Is it not a sin and a shame to see them carding and winding the
State, these women who have neither art nor part in the burdens of the
war?
LYSISTRATA
What! wretched man! why, it's a far heavier burden to us than to
you. In the first place, we bear sons who go off to fight far away
from Athens.
MAGISTRATE
Enough said! do not recall sad and sorry memories!
LYSISTRATA
Then secondly, instead of enjoying the pleasures of love and
making the best of our youth and beauty, we are left to languish far
from our husbands, who are all with the army. But say no more of
ourselves; what afflicts me is to see our girls growing old in
lonely grief.
MAGISTRATE
Don't the men grow old too?
LYSISTRATA
That is not the same thing. When the soldier returns from the
wars, even though he has white hair, he very soon finds a young
wife. But a woman has only one summer; if she does not make hay
while the sun shines, no one will afterwards have anything to say to
her, and she spends her days consulting oracles that never send her
a husband.
MAGISTRATE
But the old man who can still get an erection...
LYSISTRATA
But you, why don't you get done with it and die? You are rich;
go buy yourself a bier, and I will knead you a honey-cake for
Cerberus. Here, take this garland.
(Drenching him with water.)
CLEONICE
And this one too.
(Drenching him with water.)
MYRRHINE
And these fillets.
(Drenching him with water.)
LYSISTRATA
What else do you need? Step aboard the boat; Charon is waiting for
you, you're keeping him from pushing off.
MAGISTRATE
To treat me so scurvily! What an insult! I will go show myself
to my fellow-magistrates just as I am.
LYSISTRATA
What! are you blaming us for not having exposed you according to
custom? Nay, console yourself; we will not fail to offer up the
third-day sacrifice for you, first thing in the morning.
(She goes into the Acropolis, with CLEONICE and MYRRHINE.)
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Awake, friends of freedom; let us hold ourselves aye ready to act.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
I suspect a mighty peril; I foresee another tyranny like Hippias'.
I am sore afraid the Laconians assembled here with Clisthenes have, by
a stratagem of war, stirred up these women, enemies of the gods, to
seize upon our treasury and the funds whereby I lived.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Is it not a sin and a shame for them to interfere in advising
the citizens, to prate of shields and lances, and to ally themselves
with Laconians, fellows I trust no more than I would so many
famished wolves? The whole thing, my friends, is nothing else but an
attempt to re-establish tyranny. But I will never submit; I will be on
my guard for the future; I will always carry a blade hidden under
myrtle boughs; I will post myself in the public square under arms,
shoulder to shoulder with Aristogiton; and now, to make a start, I
must just break a few of that cursed old jade's teeth yonder.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
Nay, never play the brave man, else when you go back home, your
own mother won't know you. But, dear friends and allies, first let
us lay our burdens down.
CHORUS OF WOMEN (singing)
Then, citizens all, hear what I have to say. I have useful counsel
to give our city, which deserves it well at my hands for the brilliant
distinctions it has lavished on my girlhood. At seven years of age,
I carried the sacred vessels; at ten, I pounded barley for the altar
of Athene; next, clad in a robe of yellow silk, I played the bear to
Artemis at the Brauronia; presently, when I was grown up, a tall,
handsome maiden, they put a necklace of dried figs about my neck,
and I was one of the Canephori.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
So surely I am bound to give my best advice to Athens. What
matters that I was born a woman, if I can cure your misfortunes? I pay
my share of tolls and taxes, by giving men to the State. But you,
you miserable greybeards, you contribute nothing to the public
charges; on the contrary, you have wasted the treasure of our
forefathers, as it was called, the treasure amassed in the days of the
Persian Wars. You pay nothing at all in return; and into the bargain
you endanger our lives and liberties by your mistakes. Have you one
word to say for yourselves?... Ah! don't irritate me, you there, or
I'll lay my slipper across your jaws; and it's pretty heavy.
CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
Outrage upon outrage! things are going from bad to worse. Let us
punish the minxes, every one of us that has balls to boast of. Come,
off with our tunics, for a man must savour of manhood; come, my
friends, let us strip naked from head to foot. Courage, I say, we
who in our day garrisoned Lipsydrion; let us be young again, and shake
off eld.

 

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