LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 17
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN (pointing)
Look! now he has the very same complaint. (To the MAGISTRATE)
Don't you feel a strong nervous tension in the morning?
Yes, and a dreadful, dreadful torture it is! Unless peace is
made very soon, we shall find no recourse but to make love to
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Take my advice, and arrange your clothes as best you can; one of
the fellows who mutilated the Hermae might see you.
Right, by Zeus.
(He endeavours, not too successfully, to conceal his condition.)
Quite right, by the Dioscuri. There, I will put on my tunic.
Oh! what a terrible state we are in! Greeting to you, Laconian
LACONIAN ENVOY (addressing one of his countrymen)
Ah! my boy, what a terrible thing it would have been if these
fellows had seen us just now when we were on full stand!
Speak out, Laconians, what is it brings you here?
We have come to treat for peace.
Well said; we are of the same mind. Better call Lysistrata,
then; she is the only person will bring us to terms.
Yes, yes-and Lysistratus into the bargain, if you will.
Needless to call her; she has heard your voices, and here she
(She comes out of the Acropolis.)
LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN
Hail, boldest and bravest of womankind! The time is come to show
yourself in turn uncompromising and conciliatory, exacting and
yielding, haughty and condescending. Call up all your skill and
artfulness. Lo! the foremost men in Hellas, seduced by your
fascinations, are agreed to entrust you with the task of ending
It will be an easy task-if only they refrain from mutual
indulgence in masculine love; if they do, I shall know the fact at
once. Now, where is the gentle goddess Peace? (The goddess, in the
form of a beautiful nude girl is brought in by the Machine.) Lead
hither the Laconian envoys. But, look you, no roughness or violence;
our husbands always behaved so boorishly. Bring them to me with
smiles, as women should. If any refuse to give you his hand, then take
hold of his tool. Bring up the Athenians too; you may lead them either
way. Laconians, approach; and you, Athenians, on my other side. Now
hearken all! I am but a woman; but I have good common sense; Nature
has endowed me with discriminating judgment, which I have yet
further developed, thanks to the wise teachings of my father and the
elders of the city. First I must bring a reproach against you that
applies equally to both sides. At Olympia, and Thermopylae, and
Delphi, and a score of other places too numerous to mention, you
celebrate before the same altars ceremonies common to all Hellenes;
yet you go cutting each other's throats, and sacking Hellenic
cities, when all the while the barbarian yonder is threatening you!
That is my first point.
MAGISTRATE (devouring the goddess with his eyes)
Good god, this erection is killing me!
Now it is to you I address myself, Laconians. Have you forgotten
how Periclidas, your own countryman, sat a suppliant before our
altars? How pale he was in his purple robes! He had come to crave an
army of us; it was the time when Messenia was pressing you sore, and
the Sea-god was shaking the earth. Cimon marched to your aid at the
head of four thousand hoplites, and saved Lacedaemon. And, after
such a service as that, you ravage the soil of your benefactors!
They do wrong, very wrong, Lysistrata.
We do wrong, very wrong. (Looking at the goddess) Ah! great
gods! what a lovely bottom Peace has!
And now a word to the Athenians. Have you no memory left of how,
in the days when you wore the tunic of slaves, the Laconians came,
spear in hand, and slew a host of Thessalians and partisans of Hippias
the tyrant? They, and they only, fought on your side on that
eventful day; they delivered you from despotism, and thanks to them
our nation could change the short tunic of the slave for the long
cloak of the free man.
LACONIAN ENVOY (looking at LYSISTRATA)
I have never see a woman of more gracious dignity.
MAGISTRATE (looking at PEACE)
I have never seen a woman with a finer body!
Bound by such ties of mutual kindness, how can you bear to be at
war? Stop, stay the hateful strife, be reconciled; what hinders you?
We are quite ready, if they will give us back our rampart.
What rampart, my dear man?
Pylos, which we have been asking for and craving for ever so long.
In the Sea-god's name, you shall never have it!