PLUTUS by Aristophanes, Part 09
Oh! cudgel and rope's end, come to my help!
Why such wrath and these shouts, before you hear my arguments?
But who could listen to such words without exclaiming?
Any man of sense.
But if you lose your case, what punishment will you submit to?
Choose what you will.
That's all right.
You shall suffer the same if you are beaten!
Do you think twenty deaths a sufficiently large stake?
Good enough for her, but for us two would suffice.
You won't escape, for is there indeed a single valid argument to
oppose me with?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
To beat her in this debate, you must call upon all your wits. Make
no allowances and show no weakness!
It is right that the good should be happy, that the wicked and the
impious, on the other hand, should be miserable; that is a truth, I
believe, which no one will gainsay. To realize this condition of
things is a proposal as great as it is noble and useful in every
respect, and we have found a means of attaining the object of our
wishes. If Plutus recovers his sight and ceases from wandering about
unseeing and at random, he will go to seek the just men and never
leave them again; he will shun the perverse and ungodly; so, thanks to
him, all men will become honest, rich and pious. Can anything better
be conceived for the public weal?
Of a certainty, no! I bear witness to that. It is not even
necessary she should reply.
Does it not seem that everything is extravagance in the world,
or rather madness, when you watch the way things go? A crowd of rogues
enjoy blessings they have won by sheer injustice, while more honest
folks are miserable, die of hunger, and spend their whole lives with
you. Now, if Plutus became clear-sighted again and drove out
Poverty, it would be the greatest blessing possible for the human
Here are two old men, whose brains are easy to confuse, who assist
each other to talk rubbish and drivel to their hearts' content. But if
your wishes were realized, your profit would be great! Let Plutus
recover his sight and divide his favours out equally to all, and
none will ply either trade or art any longer; all toil would be done
away with. Who would wish to hammer iron, build ships, sew, turn,
cut up leather, bake bricks, bleach linen, tan hides, or break up
the soil of the earth with the plough and garner the gifts of Demeter,
if he could live in idleness and free from all this work?
What nonsense all this is! All these trades which you just mention
will be plied by our slaves.
Your slaves! And by what means will these slaves be got?
We will buy them.
But first say, who will sell them, if everyone is rich?
Some greedy dealer from Thessaly-the land which supplies so many.
But if your system is applied, there won't be a single
slave-dealer left. What rich man would risk his life to devote himself
to this traffic? You will have to toil, to dig and submit yourself
to all kinds of hard labour; so that your life would be more
wretched even than it is now.
May this prediction fall upon yourself!
You will not be able to sleep in a bed, for no more will ever be
manufactured; nor on carpets, for who would weave them, if he had
gold? When you bring a young bride to your dwelling, you will have
no essences wherewith to perfume her, nor rich embroidered cloaks dyed
with dazzling colours in which to clothe her. And yet what is the
use of being rich, if you are to be deprived of all these
enjoyments? On the other hand, you have all that you need in
abundance, thanks to me; to the artisan I am like a severe mistress,
who forces him by need and poverty to seek the means of earning his
And what good thing can you give us, unless it be burns in the
bath, and swarms of brats and old women who cry with hunger, and
clouds uncountable of lice, gnats and flies, which hover about the
wretch's head, trouble him, awake him and say, "You will be hungry,
but get up!" Besides, to possess a rag in place of a mantle, a
pallet of rushes swarming with bugs, that do not let you close your
eyes, for a bed; a rotten piece of matting for a coverlet; a big stone
for a pillow, on which to lay your head; to eat mallow roots instead
of bread, and leaves of withered radish instead of cake; to have
nothing but the cover of a broken jug for a stool, the stave of a
cask, and broken at that, for a kneading-trough, that is the life
you make for us! Are these the mighty benefits with which you
pretend to load mankind?