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PEACE by Aristophanes, Part 01

420 BC
PEACE
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

TRYGAEUS
TWO SERVANTS OF TRYGAEUS
DAUGHTERS OF TRYGAEUS
Hermes
WAR
TUMULT
HIEROCLES, a Soothsayer
AN ARMOURER
A SICKLE-MAKER
A CREST-MAKER
SON OF LAMACHUS
SON OF CLEONYMUS
CHORUS OF HUSBANDMEN
PEACE
(SCENE:-Behind the Orchestra on the right the farmhouse of
TRYGAEUS, in the centre the mouth of a cave closed up with huge
boulders, on the left the palace of Zeus. In front of the
farmhouse is a stable, the door of wkich is closed. Two of
TRYGAEUS'slaves are seen in front of the stable, one of them
kneading cakes of dung, the other taking the finished cakes and
throwing them into the stable.)

FIRST SERVANT
Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.
SECOND SERVANT
There it is. Give it to him, and may it kill him! And may he never
eat a better.
FIRST SERVANT
Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.
SECOND SERVANT
There! I've done that too. And where's what you gave him just now?
Surely he can't have devoured it yet!
FIRST SERVANT
Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet and
bolted it. Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.
SECOND SERVANT
Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you do not
wish to see me fall down choked.
FIRST SERVANT
Come, come, another made from the stool of a fairy's favourite.
That will be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.
SECOND SERVANT
There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of
tasting what I mix.
FIRST SERVANT
Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your might.
SECOND SERVANT
By god, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no longer.
FIRST SERVANT
I shall bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.
SECOND SERVANT
Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with it. (To the
AUDIENCE) Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can buy a stopped-up
nose, for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food for a
dung-beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least
pounce upon our excrement without more ado, but this foul wretch
affects the disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't eat unless I
offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let
us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating?
Come, pluck up courage, cram yourself till you burst! The cursed
creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between its claws like a
wrestler clutching his opponent, and with head and feet together rolls
up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser. What an indecent,
stinking, gluttonous beast! I don't know what angry god let this
monster loose upon us, but of a certainty it was neither Aphrodite nor
the Graces.
FIRST SERVANT
Who was it then?
SECOND SERVANT
No doubt Zeus, the God of the Thundercrap.
FIRST SERVANT
But perhaps some spectator, some beardless youth, who thinks
himself a sage, will say, "What is this? What does the beetle mean?"
And then an Ionian, sitting next him, will add, "I think it's an
allusion to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by
himself."-But now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.
SECOND SERVANT
As for me, I will explain the matter to you all, children, youths,
grownups and old men, aye, even to the decrepit dotards. My master
is mad, not as you are, but with another sort of madness, quite a
new kind. The livelong day he looks open-mouthed towards heaven and
never stops addressing Zeus. "Ah! Zeus," he cries, "what are thy
intentions? Lay aside thy besom; do not sweep Greece away!" Ah!
Hush, hush! I think I hear his voice!
TRYGAEUS (from within)
Oh! Zeus, what art thou going to do for our people? Dost thou
not see this, that our cities will soon be but empty husks?
SECOND SERVANT
As I told you, that is his form of madness. There you have a
sample of his follies. When his trouble first began to seize him, he
said to himself, "By what means could I go straight to Zeus? Then he
made himself very slender little ladders and so clambered up towards
heaven; but he soon came hurtling down again and broke his head.
Yesterday, to our misfortune, he went out and brought us back this
thoroughbred, but from where I know not, this great beetle, whose
groom he has forced me to become. He himself caresses it as though
it were a horse, saying, "Oh! my little Pegasus, my noble aerial
steed, may your wings soon bear me straight to Zeus!" But what is my
master doing? I must stoop down to look through this hole. Oh! great
gods! Here! neighbours, run here quick! here is my master flying off
mounted on his beetle as if on horseback.
(The Machine brings in TRYGAEUS astride an enormous figure of a
dung beetle with wings spread.)

 

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