PLUTUS by Aristophanes, Part 15
What, you fool? I have not the right to dedicate myself entirely
to my country's service?
Is the country served by vile intrigue?
It is served by watching that the established law is observed-by
allowing no one to violate it.
That's the duty of the tribunals; they are established to that
And who is the prosecutor before the dicasts?
Whoever wishes to be.
Well then, it is I who choose to be prosecutor; and thus all
public affairs fall within my province.
I pity Athens for being in such vile clutches. But would you not
prefer to live quietly and free from all care and anxiety?
To do nothing is to live an animal's life.
Thus you will not change your mode of life?
No, though they gave me Plutus himself and the silphium of Battus.
CARIO (to the INFORMER)
Come, quick, off with your cloak.
(The INFORMER does not move.)
Hi! friend! it's you they are speaking to.
Off with your shoes.
(The INFORMER still remains motionless.)
I say, all this is addressed to you.
Very well! let one of you come near me, if he dares.
(He strips the INFORMER of his cloak and shoes.
The witness runs away.)
Alas! I am robbed of my clothes in full daylight.
That's what comes of meddling with other folk's business and
living at their expense.
INFORMER (over his shoulder to the departing witness)
You see what is happening; I call you to witness.
Look how the witness whom you brought is taking to his heels.
Great gods! I am all alone and they assault me.
Oh! woe, woe is me!
Give me that old ragged cloak, that I may dress out the informer.
No, no; I have dedicated it to Plutus.
And where would your offering be better bestowed than on the
shoulders of a rascal and a thief? To Plutus fine, rich cloaks
should be given.
And what then shall be done with these shoes? Tell me.
I will nail them to his brow as gifts are nailed to the trunks
of the wild olive.
I'm off, for you are the strongest, I own. But if I find someone
to join me, let him be as weak as he will, I will summon this god, who
thinks himself so strong, before the court this very day, and denounce
him as manifestly guilty of overturning the democracy by his will
alone and without the consent of the Senate or the Assembly.
Now that you are rigged out from head to foot with my old clothes,
hasten to the bath and stand there in the front row to warm yourself
better; that's the place I formerly had.
Ah! the bath-man would grab you by the balls and fling you through
the door; he would only need to see you to appraise you at your true
value.... But let us go in, friend, that you may address your
thanksgivings to the god.
(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)
(An OLD WOMAN enters,
dressed as a young girl and trying to walk
in a youthful and alluring manner. She carries a plate of food.)
OLD WOMAN (coyly)
My dear old men, am I near the house where the new god lives, or
have I missed the road?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You are at his door, my pretty little maid, who question us so