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Aristophanes Index


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THE WASPS by Aristophanes, Part 07

CHORUS (singing)
....and accomplice of Brasidas, you with your woollen-fringed coat
and your long beard?
BDELYCLEON
Ah! it would be better to separate altogether from my father
than to steer my boat daily through such stormy seas!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! you have but reached the parsley and the rue, to use the
common saying. What you are suffering is nothing! but welcome the hour
when the advocate shall adduce all these same arguments against you
and shall summon your accomplices to give witness.
BDELYCLEON
In the name of the gods! withdraw or we shall fight you the
whole day long.
CHORUS (singing)
No, not as long as I retain an atom of breath. Ha! your desire
is to tyrannize over us!
BDELYCLEON
Everything is now tyranny with us, no matter what is concerned,
whether it be large or small. Tyranny! I have not heard the word
mentioned once in fifty years, and now it is more common than
salt-fish, the word is even current on the market. If you are buying
gurnards and don't want anchovies, the huckster next door, who is
selling the latter, at once exclaims, "That is a man whose kitchen
savours of tyranny!" If you ask for onions to season your fish, the
green-stuff woman winks one eye and asks, "Ha, you ask for onions! are
you seeking to tyrannize, or do you think that Athens must pay you
your seasonings as a tribute?"
XANTHIAS
Yesterday I went to see a whore about noon and told her to get
on top; she flew into a rage, pretending I wanted to restore the
tyranny of Hippias.
BDELYCLEON
That's the talk that pleases the people! As for myself, I want
my father to lead a joyous life like Morychus instead of going away
before dawn basely to calumniate and condemn; and for this I am
accused of conspiracy and tyrannical practice!
PHILOCLEON
And quite right too, by Zeus! The most exquisite dishes do not
make up to me for the life of which you deprive me. I scorn your red
mullet and your eels, and would far rather eat a nice little
lawsuitlet cooked in the pot.
BDELYCLEON
That's because you have got used to seeking your pleasure in it;
but if you will agree to keep silence and hear me, I think I could
persuade you that you deceive yourself altogether.
PHILOCLEON
I deceive myself, when I am judging?
BDELYCLEON
You do not see that you are the laughing-stock of these men,
whom you are ready to worship. You are their slave and do not know it.
PHILOCLEON
I a slave, I, who lord it over all?
BDELYCLEON
Not at all, you think you are ruling when you are only obeying.
Tell me, father, what do you get out of the tribute paid by so many
Greek towns.
PHILOCLEON
Much, and I appoint my colleagues jurymen.
BDELYCLEON
And I also. (To the slaves) Release him.
PHILOCLEON
And bring me a sword; If I am worsted in this debate, I shall fall
on the blade.
BDELYCLEON
Tell me whether you will accept the verdict of the Court.
PHILOCLEON
May I never drink my Heliast's pay in honour of the Good Genius,
it if I do not.
CHORUS (singing)
Now it is necessary for you, who are of our school, to say
something novel, that you may not seem...
BDELYCLEON (interrupting)
And I must note down everything he says, so as to remember it;
someone bring me a tablet, quick.
CHORUS (singing)
....to side with this youth in his opinions. You see how serious
the question has become; if he should prevail, which the gods forfend,
it will be all over for us.
PHILOCLEON
But what will you say of it, if he should triumph in the debate?
CHORUS (singing)
That old men are no longer good for anything; we shall be
perpetually laughed at in the streets, shall be called thallophores,
mere brief-bags.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You are to be the champion of all our rights and sovereignty.
Come, take courage! Bring into action all the resources of your wit.
PHILOCLEON
At the outset I will prove to you that there exists no king
whose might is greater than ours. Is there a pleasure, a blessing
comparable with that of a juryman? Is there a being who lives more
in the midst of delights, who is more feared, aged though he be?
From the moment I leave my bed, men of power, the most illustrious
in the city, await me at the bar of the tribunal; the moment I am seen
from the greatest distance, they come forward to offer me a gentle
handy-that has pilfered the public funds; they entreat me, bowing
right low and with a piteous voice, "Oh, father," they say, "pity
me, I adjure you by the profit you were able to make in the public
service or in the army, when dealing with the victuals." Why, the
man who speaks thus would not know of my existence, had I not let
him off on some former occasion.

 

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