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Aristophanes Index


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PEACE by Aristophanes, Part 02

TRYGAEUS (intoning)
Gently, gently, go easy, beetle; don't start off so proudly, or
trust at first too greatly to your powers; wait till you have sweated,
till the beating of your wings shall make your limb joints supple.
Above all things, don't let off some foul smell. I adjure you; else
I would rather have you stay right in the stable.
SECOND SERVANT (intoning)
Poor master! Is he crazy?
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
Silence! silence!
SECOND SERVANT (intoning)
But why start up into the air on chance?
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
'Tis for the weal of all the Greeks; I am attempting a daring
and novel feat.
SECOND SERVANT (intoning)
But what is your purpose? What useless folly!
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
No words of ill omen! Give vent to joy and command all men to keep
silence, to close down their drains and privies with new tiles and
to cork up their own arses.
FIRST SERVANT (speaking)
No, I shall not be silent, unless you tell me where you are going.
TRYGAEUS
Why, where am I likely to be going across the sky, if it be not to
visit Zeus?
FIRST SERVANT
For what purpose?
TRYGAEUS
I want to ask him what he reckons to do for all the Greeks.
SECOND SERVANT
And if he doesn't tell you?
TRYGAEUS
I shall pursue him at law as a traitor who sells Greece to the
Medes.
SECOND SERVANT
Death seize me, if I let you go.
TRYGAEUS
It is absolutely necessary.
SECOND SERVANT (loudly)
Alas! alas! dear little girls, your father is deserting you
secretly to go to heaven. Ah! poor orphans, entreat him, beseech him.
(The little daughters of TRYGAEUS come out.)
LITTLE DAUGHTER (singing)
Father! father! what is this I hear? Is it true? What! you would
leave me, you would vanish into the sky, you would go to the crows?
Impossible! Answer, father, if you love me.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Yes, I am going. You hurt me too sorely, my daughters, when you
ask me for bread, calling me your daddy, and there is not the ghost of
an obolus in the house; if I succeed and come back, you will have a
barley loaf every morning-and a punch in the eye for sauce!
LITTLE DAUGHTER
But how will you make the journey? There's no ship that will
take you there.
TRYGAEUS
No, but this winged steed will.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
But what an idea, papa, to harness a beetle, to fly to the gods
on.
TRYGAEUS
We see from Aesop's fables that they alone can fly to the abode of
the Immortals.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
Father, father, that's a tale nobody can believe! that such a
smelly creature can have gone to the gods.
TRYGAEUS
It went to have vengeance on the eagle and break its eggs.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
Why not saddle Pegasus? you would have a more tragic appearance in
the eyes of the gods.
TRYGAEUS
Eh! don't you see, little fool, that then twice the food would
be wanted? Whereas my beetle devours again as filth what I have
eaten myself.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
And if it fell into the watery depths of the sea, could it
escape with its wings?
TRYGAEUS (exposing himself)
I am fitted with a rudder in case of need, and my Naxos beetle
will serve me as a boat.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
And what harbour will you put in at?
TRYGAEUS
Why is there not the harbour of Cantharus at the Piraeus?
LITTLE DAUGHTER
Take care not to knock against anything and so fall off into
space; once a cripple, you would be a fit subject for Euripides, who
would put you into a tragedy.

 

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