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LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 12

LYSISTRATA
No, no, by Aphrodite! nothing of the sort! Why, it feels like
something hollow-a pot or a kettle. (Opening her robe) Oh! you silly
creature, if you have not got the sacred helmet of Pallas-and you said
you were with child!
THIRD WOMAN
And so I am, by Zeus, I am!
LYSISTRATA
Then why this helmet, pray?
THIRD WOMAN
For fear my pains should seize me in the Acropolis; I mean to
lay my eggs in this helmet, as the doves do.
LYSISTRATA
Excuses and pretences every word! the thing's as clear as
daylight. Anyway, you must stay here now till the fifth day, your
day of purification.
THIRD WOMAN
I cannot sleep any more in the Acropolis, now I have seen the
snake that guards the temple.
FOURTH WOMAN
Ah! and those awful owls with their dismal hooting! I cannot get a
wink of rest, and I'm just dying of fatigue.
LYSISTRATA
You wicked women, have done with your falsehoods! You want your
husbands, that's plain enough. But don't you think they want you
just as badly? They are spending dreadful nights, oh! I know that well
enough. But hold out, my dears, hold out! A little more patience,
and the victory will be ours. An oracle promises us success, if only
we remain united. Shall I repeat the words?
THIRD WOMAN
Yes, tell us what the oracle declares.
LYSISTRATA
Silence then! Now-"Whenas the swallows, fleeing before the
hoopoes, shall have all flocked together in one place, and shall
refrain them from all amorous commerce, then will be THE END of all
the ills of life; yea, and Zeus, who doth thunder in the skies,
shall set above what was erst below...."
THIRD WOMAN
What! shall the men be underneath?
LYSISTRATA
"But if dissension do arise among the swallows, and they take wing
from the holy temple, it will be said there is never a more wanton
bird in all the world."
THIRD WOMAN
Ye gods! the prophecy is clear.
LYSISTRATA
Nay, never let us be cast down by calamity! let us be brave to
bear, and go back to our posts. It would be shameful indeed not to
trust the promises of the oracle.
(They all go back into the Acropolis.)
CHORUS OF OLD MEN (singing)
I want to tell you a fable they used to relate to me when I was
a little boy. This is it: Once upon a time there was a young man
called Melanion, who hated the thought of marriage so sorely that he
fled away to the wilds. So he dwelt in the mountains, wove himself
nets, and caught hares. He never, never came back, he had such a
horror of women. As chaste as Melanion, we loathe the jades just as
much as he did.
AN OLD MAN (beginning a brief duet with one of the women)
You dear old woman, I would fain kiss you.
WOMAN
I will set you crying without onions.
OLD MAN
And give you a sound kicking.
WOMAN (pointing)
Ah, ha! what a dense forest you have there!
OLD MAN
So was Myronides one of the bushiest of men of this side; his
backside was all black, and he terrified his enemies as much as
Phormio.
CHORUS OF WOMEN (singing)
I want to tell you a fable too, to match yours about Melanion.
Once there was a certain man called Timon, a tough customer, and a
whimsical, a true son of the Furies, with a face that seemed to
glare out of a thorn-bush. He withdrew from the world because he
couldn't abide bad men, after vomiting a thousand curses at them. He
had a holy horror of ill-conditioned fellows, but he was mighty tender
towards women.
WOMAN (beginning another duet)
Suppose I up and broke your jaw for you!
OLD MAN
I am not a bit afraid of you.
WOMAN
Suppose I let fly a good kick at you?
OLD MAN
I should see your thing then.
WOMAN
You would see that, for all my age, it is very well plucked.
LYSISTRATA (rushing out of the Acropolis)
Ho there! come quick, come quick!
ONE OF THE WOMEN
What is it? Why these cries?
LYSISTRATA
A man! a man! I see him approaching all afire with the flames of
love. Oh! divine Queen of Cyprus, Paphos and Cythera, I pray you still
be propitious to our enterprise.
WOMAN
Where is he, this unknown foe?
LYSISTRATA
Over there-beside the Temple of Demeter.

 

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