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THE WASPS by Aristophanes, Part 06

PHILOCLEON (to the audience)
To the rescue! all you, who are going to have lawsuits this
year-Smicythion, Tisiades, Chremon and Pheredipnus. It's now or never,
before they force me to return, that you must help.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why do we delay to let loose that fury, that is so terrible,
when our nests are attacked?
CHORUS (singing)
I feel my angry sting is stiffening, that sharp sting, with
which we punish our enemies. Come, children, cast your cloaks to the
winds, run, shout, tell Cleon what is happening, that he may march
against this foe of our city, who deserves death, since he proposes to
prevent the trial of lawsuits.
(The Boys run off, taking the CHORUS' mantles with them.)
BDELYCLEON (rushing out of the house with the two slaves and seizing
his father) Friends, listen to the truth, instead of bawling.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
By Zeus! we will shout to heaven.
BDELYCLEON
And I shall not let him go.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why, this is intolerable, 'tis manifest tyranny.
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! citizens, oh! Theorus, the enemy of the gods! and all you
flatterers, who rule us! come to our aid.
XANTHIAS
By Heracles! they have stings. Do you see them, master?
BDELYCLEON
It was with these weapons that they killed Philippus the son of
Gorgias when he was put on trial.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
And you too shall die. Turn yourselves this way, all, with your
stings out for attack and throw yourselves upon him in good and
serried order, and swelled up with wrath and rage. Let him learn to
know the sort of foes he has dared to irritate.
XANTHIAS
The fight will be fast and furious, by great Zeus! I tremble at
the sight of their stings.
CHORUS (singing)
Let this man go, unless you want to envy the tortoise his hard
shell.
PHILOCLEON
Come, my dear companions, wasps with relentless hearts, fly
against him, animated with your fury. Sting him in the arse, eyes, and
fingers.
BDELYCLEON
(opening the door and trying to shove his struggling father in)
Midas, Phryx, Masyntias, here! Come and help. Seize this man and
hand him over to no one, otherwise you shall starve to death in
chains. Fear nothing, I have often heard the crackling of fig-leaves
in the fire.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
If you won't let him go, I shall bury this sting in your body.
PHILOCLEON
Oh, Cecrops, mighty hero with the tail of a dragon! Seest thou how
these barbarians ill-use me-me, who have many a time made them weep
a full bushel of tears?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Is not old age filled with cruel ills? What violence these two
slaves offer to their old master! they have forgotten all bygones, the
fur-coats and the jackets and the caps he bought for them; in winter
he watched that their feet should not get frozen. And only see them
now; there is no gentleness in their look nor any recollection of
the slippers of other days.
PHILOCLEON (to XANTHIAS)
Will you let me go, you accursed animal? Don't you remember the
day when I surprised you stealing the grapes; I tied you to an
olive-tree and I cut open your bottom with such vigorous lashes that
folks thought you had been raped. Get away, you are ungrateful. But
let go of me, and you too, before my son comes up.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You shall repay us for all this, and that soon. Tremble at our
ferocious glance; you shall taste our just anger.
BDELYCLEON
Strike! strike! Xanthias! Drive these wasps away from the house.
XANTHIAS
That's just what I am doing.
BDELYCLEON
Blind them with smoke too!
XANTHIAS AND SOSIAS
You will not go? The plague seize you! Will you not clear off?
BDELYCLEON
Hit them with your stick Xanthias, and you Sosias, to smoke them
out better, throw Aeschines, the son of Sellartius, on the fire.
XANTHIAS (as the CHORUS retires from the unequal conquest)
There, we were bound to drive you off sooner or later!
BDELYCLEON
Eh! by Zeus! you would not have put them to flight so easily if
they had fed on the verses of Philocles.
CHORUS (singing)
It is clear to all the poor that tyranny has attacked us sorely.
Proud emulator of Amynias, you, who only take pleasure in doing ill,
see how you are preventing us from obeying the laws of the city; you
do not even seek a pretext or any plausible excuse, but claim to
rule alone.
BDELYCLEON
Hold! A truce to all blows and brawling! Had we not better
confer together and come to some understanding?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Confer with you, the people's foe! with you, a royalist....

 

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