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LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 11

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
If we give them the least hold over us, that's THE END! their
audacity will know no bounds! We shall see them building ships, and
fighting sea-fights, like Artemisia; and, if they want to mount and
ride as cavalry, we had best cashier the knights, for indeed women
excel in riding, and have a fine. firm seat for the gallop. Just think
of all those squadrons of Amazons Micon has painted for us engaged
in hand-to-hand combat with men. Come then, we must now fit collars to
all these willing necks.
CHORUS OF WOMEN (singing)
By the blessed goddesses, if you anger me, I will let loose the
beast of my evil passions, and a very hailstorm of blows will set
you yelling for help. Come, dames, off with your tunics, and quick's
the word; women must smell the smell of women in the throes of
passion.... Now just you dare to measure strength with me, old
greybeard, and I warrant you you'll never eat garlic or black beans
any more. No, not a word! my anger is at boiling point, and I'll do
with you what the beetle did with the eagle's eggs.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
I laugh at your threats, so long as I have on my side Lampito
here, and the noble Theban, my dear Ismenia.... Pass decree on decree,
you can do us no hurt, you wretch abhorred of all your fellows. Why,
only yesterday, on occasion of the feast of Hecate, I asked my
neighbours of Boeotia for one of their daughters for whom my girls
have a lively liking -a fine, fat eel to wit; and if they did not
refuse, all along of your silly decrees! We shall never cease to
suffer the like, till some one gives you a neat trip-up and breaks
your neck for you! (To LYSISTRATA as she comes out from the
Acropolis) You, Lysistrata, you who are LEADER of our glorious
enterprise, why do I see you coming towards me with so gloomy an air?
LYSISTRATA
It's the behaviour of these naughty women, it's the female heart
and female weakness that so discourage me.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
Tell us, tell us, what is it?
LYSISTRATA
I only tell the simple truth.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
What has happened so disconcerting? Come, tell your friends.
LYSISTRATA
Oh! the thing is so hard to tell-yet so impossible to conceal.
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
Never seek to hide any ill that has befallen our cause.
LYSISTRATA
To blurt it out in a word-we want laying!
LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN
Oh! Zeus, oh! Zeus!
LYSISTRATA
What use calling upon Zeus? The thing is even as I say. I cannot
stop them any longer from lusting after the men. They are all for
deserting. The first I caught was slipping out by the postern gate
near the cave of Pan; another was letting herself down by a rope and
pulley; a third was busy preparing her escape; while a fourth, perched
on a bird's back, was just taking wing for Orsilochus' house, when I
seized her by the hair. One and all, they are inventing excuses to
be off home. (Pointing to the gate) Look! there goes one, trying
to get out! Halloa there! whither away so fast?
FIRST WOMAN
I want to go home; I have some Milesian wool in the house, which
is getting all eaten up by the worms.
LYSISTRATA
Bah! you and your worms! go back, I say!
FIRST WOMAN
I will return immediately, I swear I will by the two goddesses!
I only have just to spread it out on the bed.
LYSISTRATA
You shall not do anything of the kind! I say, you shall not go.
FIRST WOMAN
Must I leave my wool to spoil then?
LYSISTRATA
Yes, if need be.
SECOND WOMAN
Unhappy woman that I am! Alas for my flax! I've left it at home
unstript!
LYSISTRATA
So, here's another trying to escape to go home and strip her flax!
SECOND WOMAN
Oh! I swear by the goddess of light, the instant I have put it
in condition I will come straight back.
LYSISTRATA
You shall do nothing of the kind! If once you began, others
would want to follow suit.
THIRD WOMAN
Oh! goddess divine, Ilithyia, patroness of women in labour,
stay, stay the birth, till I have reached a spot less hallowed than
Athene's mount!
LYSISTRATA
What mean you by these silly tales?
THIRD WOMAN
I am going to have a child-now, this minute!
LYSISTRATA
But you were not pregnant yesterday!
THIRD WOMAN
Well, I am to-day. Oh! let me go in search of the midwife,
Lysistrata, quick, quick!
LYSISTRATA
What is this fable you are telling me? (Feeling her stomach) Ah!
what have you got there so hard?
THIRD WOMAN
A male child.

 

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