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THE THESMOPHORIAZUSAE by Aristophanes, Part 11

FIRST WOMAN
I carried it ten months.
MNESILOCHUS
You carried it?
FIRST WOMAN
I swear it by Artemis.
MNESILOCHUS
How much does it hold? Three cotylae? Tell me.
FIRST WOMAN
Oh! what have you done? You have stripped the poor child quite
naked, and it is so small, so small.
MNESILOCHUS
So small?
FIRST WOMAN
Yes, quite small, to be sure.
MNESILOCHUS
How old is it? Has it seen the feast of cups thrice or four times?
FIRST WOMAN
It was born about the time of the last Dionysia. But give it
back to me.
MNESILOCHUS
No, may Apollo bear me witness.
FIRST WOMAN
Well, then we are going to burn him.
MNESILOCHUS
Burn me, but then I shall rip this open instantly.
FIRST WOMAN
No, no, I adjure you, don't; do anything you like to me rather
than that.
MNESILOCHUS
What a tender mother you are; but nevertheless I shall rip it
open.
(He tears open the wine-skin.)
FIRST WOMAN
Oh, my beloved daughter! Mania, hand me the sacred cup, that I may
at least catch the blood of my child.
MNESILOCHUS
Hold it below; that's the only favour I grant you.
(He pours the wine into the cup.)
FIRST WOMAN
Out upon you, you pitiless monster!
MNESILOCHUS
This robe belongs to the priestess.
SECOND WOMAN
What belongs to the priestess?
MNESILOCHUS
Here, take it.
(He throws her the Cretan robe.)
SECOND WOMAN
Ah! unfortunate Mica! Who has robbed you of your daughter, your
beloved child?
FIRST WOMAN
That wretch. But as you are here, watch him well, while I go
with Clisthenes to the Magistrates and denounce him for his crimes.
MNESILOCHUS
Ah! how can I secure safety? what device can I hit on? what can
I think of? He whose fault it is, he who hurried me into this trouble,
will not come to my rescue. Let me see, whom could I best send to him?
Ha! I know a means taken from Palamedes; like him, I will write my
misfortune on some oars, which I will cast into the sea. Where might I
find some oars? Hah! what if I took these statues instead of oars,
wrote upon them and then threw them towards this side and that. That's
the best thing to do. Besides, like oars they are of wood.
(singing)
Oh! my hands, keep up your courage, for my safety is at stake.
Come, my beautiful tablets, receive the traces of my stylus and be the
messengers of my sorry fate. Oh! oh! this R looks miserable enough!
Where is it running to then? Come, off with you in all directions,
to the right and to the left; and hurry yourselves, for there's much
need indeed!
(He sits down to wait for Euripides. The CHORUS turns and faces
the audience.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Let us address ourselves to the spectators to sing our praises,
despite the fact that each one says much ill of women. If the men
are to be believed, we are a plague to them; through us come all their
troubles, quarrels, disputes, sedition, griefs and wars. But if we are
truly such a pest, why marry us? Why forbid us to go out or show
ourselves at the window? You want to keep this pest, and take a
thousand cares to do it. If your wife goes out and you meet her away
from the house, you fly into a fury. Ought you not rather to rejoice
and give thanks to the gods? for if the pest has disappeared, you will
no longer find it at home. If we fall asleep at friends' houses from
the fatigue of playing and sporting, each of you comes prowling
round the bed to contemplate the features of this pest. If we seat
ourselves at the window, each one wants to see the pest, and if we
withdraw through modesty, each wants all the more to see the pest
perch herself there again. It is thus clear that we are better than
you, and the proof of this is easy. Let us find out which is the worse
of the two sexes. We say, "It's you," while you aver, "it's we."'
Come, let us compare them in detail, each individual man with a woman.
Charminus is not equal to Nausimache, that's certain. Cleophon is in
every respect inferior to Salabaccho. It's a long time now since any
of you has dared to contest the prize with Aristomache, the heroine of
Marathon, or with Stratonice.
Among the last year's Senators, who have just yielded their
office to other citizens, is there one who equals Eubule? Not even
Anytus would say that. Therefore we maintain that men are greatly
our inferiors. You see no woman who has robbed the state of fifty
talents rushing about the city in a magnificent chariot; our
greatest peculations are a measure of corn, which we steal from our
husbands, and even then we return it to them the very same day. But we
could name many amongst you who do quite as much, and who are, even
more than ourselves, gluttons, parasites, cheats and kidnappers of
slaves. We know how to keep our property better than you. We still
have our cylinders, our beams, our baskets and our surshades;
whereas many among you have lost the wood of your spears as well as
the iron, and many others have cast away their bucklers on the
battlefield.
There are many reproaches we have the right to bring against
men. The most serious is this, that the woman, who has given birth
to a useful citizen, whether taxiarch or strategus should receive some
distinction; a place of honour should be reserved for her at the
Stenia, the Scirophoria, and the other festivals that we keep. On
the other hand, she of whom a coward was born or a worthless man, a
bad trierarch or an unskilful pilot, should sit with shaven head,
behind her sister who had borne a brave man. Oh! citizens! is it
just that the mother of Hyperbolus should sit dressed in white and
with loosened tresses beside that of Lamachus and lend out money on
usury? He, who may have made a deal of this nature with her, so far
from paying her interest, should not even repay the capital, saying,
"What, pay you interest? after you have given us this delightful son?"

 

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