PLUTUS by Aristophanes, Part 10
It's not my life that you describe,; you are attacking the
existence beggars lead.
Is Beggary not Poverty's sister?
Thrasybulus and Dionysius are one and the same according to you.
No, my life is not like that and never will be. The beggar, whom you
have depicted to us, never possesses anything. The poor man lives
thriftily and attentive to his work: he has not got too much, but he
does not lack what he really needs.
Oh! what a happy life, by Demeter! to live sparingly, to toil
incessantly and not to leave enough to pay for a tomb!
That's it! jest, jeer, and never talk seriously! But what you
don't know is this, that men with me are worth more, both in mind
and body, than with Plutus. With him they are gouty, big-bellied,
heavy of limb and scandalously stout; with me they are thin,
wasp-waisted, and terrible to the foe.
No doubt it's by starving them that you give them that waspish
As for behaviour, I will prove to you that modesty dwells with
me and insolence with Plutus.
Oh the sweet modesty of stealing and burglary.
Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor,
both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they
are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for
justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.
That is absolutely true, although your tongue is very vile. But it
matters not, so don't put on those triumphant airs; you shall not be
punished any the less for having tried to persuade me that poverty
is worth more than wealth.
Not being able to refute my arguments, you chatter at random and
exert yourself to no purpose.
Then tell me this, why does all mankind flee from you?
Because I make them better. Children do the very same; they flee
from the wise counsels of their fathers. So difficult is it to see
one's true interest.
Will you say that Zeus cannot discern what is best? Well, he takes
Plutus to himself...
...and banishes Poverty to the earth.
Ah me! how purblind you are, you old fellows of the days of
Cronus! Why, Zeus is poor, and I will clearly prove it to you. In
the Olympic games, which he founded, and to which he convokes the
whole of Greece every four years, why does he only crown the
victorious athletes with wild olive? If he were rich he would give
That's the way he shows that he clings to his wealth; he is
sparing with it, won't part with any portion of it, only bestows
baubles on the victors and keeps his money for himself.
But wealth coupled to such sordid greed is yet more shameful
May Zeus destroy you, both you and your chaplet of wild olive!
Thus you dare to maintain that Poverty is not the fount of all
Ask Hecate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will
tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor
make it disappear before it is even served. But go and hang yourself
and don't breathe another syllable. I will not be convinced against my
"Oh! citizens of Argos! do you hear what he says?"
Invoke Pauson, your boon companion, rather.
Alas! what is to become of me?
Get you gone, be off quick and a pleasant journey to you.
But where shall I go?
To gaol; but hurry up, let us put an end to this.
POVERTY (as she departs)
One day you will recall me.
Then you can return; but disappear for the present. I prefer to be
rich; you are free to knock your head against the walls in your rage.
And I too welcome wealth. I want, when I leave the bath all
perfumed with essences, to feast bravely with my wife and children and
to fart in the faces of toilers and Poverty.