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Aristophanes Index


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THE WASPS by Aristophanes, Part 12

BDELYCLEON (solemnly)
Oh, Powerful god, Apollo Aguieus, who watchest at the door of my
entrance hall, accept this fresh sacrifice; I offer it that you may
deign to soften my father's excessive severity; he is as hard as iron,
his heart is like sour wine; do thou pour into it a little honey.
Let him become gentle toward other men, let him take more interest
in the accused than in the accusers, may he allow himself to be
softened by entreaties; calm his acrid humour and deprive his
irritable mind of all sting.
CHORUS (singing)
We unite our vows and chants to those of this new magistrate.
His words have won our favour and we are convinced that he loves the
people more than any of the young men of the present day.
(XANTHIAS brings in two persons costumed as dogs, but with masks
that suggest Laches and Cleon.)
BDELYCLEON
If there be any judge near at hand, let him enter; once the
proceedings have opened, we shall admit him no more.
PHILOCLEON
Who is the defendant?
BDELYCLEON
This one.
PHILOCLEON (aside)
He does not stand a chance.
BDELYCLEON
Listen to the indictment. A dog of CydATHENAea doth hereby
charge Labes of Aexonia with having devoured a Sicilian cheese by
himself without accomplices. Penalty demanded, a collar of fig-tree
wood.
PHILOCLEON
Nay, a dog's death, if convicted.
BDELYCLEON
This is Labes, the defendant.
PHILOCLEON
Oh! what a wretched brute! how entirely he looks the rogue! He
thinks to deceive me by keeping his jaws closed. Where is the
plaintiff, the dog of CydATHENAea?
DOG
Bow wow! bow wow!
BDELYCLEON
Here he is.
PHILOCLEON
Why, he's another Labes, a great barker and a licker of dishes.
BDELYCLEON (as HeraLD)
Silence! Keep your seats! (To the CydATHENAean dog.) And you, up
on your feet and accuse him.
PHILOCLEON
Go on, and I will help myself and eat these lentils.
DOG
Gentlemen of the jury, listen to this indictment I have drawn
up. He has committed the blackest of crimes, against both me and the
seamen. He sought refuge in a dark corner to glutton on a big Sicilian
cheese, with which he sated his hunger.
PHILOCLEON
Why, the crime is clear; the filthy brute this very moment belched
forth a horrible odour of cheese right under my nose.
DOG
And he refused to share with me. And yet can anyone style
himself your benefactor, when he does not cast a morsel to your poor
dog?
PHILOCLEON
He has not shared anything, not even with his comrade. His madness
is as hot as my lentils.
BDELYCLEON
In the name of the gods, father! No hurried verdict without
hearing the other side!
PHILOCLEON
But the evidence is plain; the fact speaks for itself.
DOG
Then beware of acquitting the most selfish of canine gluttons, who
has devoured the whole cheese, rind and all, prowling round the
platter.
PHILOCLEON
There is not even enough left for me to fill up the chinks in my
pitcher.
DOG
Besides, you must punish him, because the same house cannot keep
two thieves. Let me not have barked in vain, else I shall never bark
again.
PHILOCLEON
Oh! the black deeds he has just denounced! What a shameless thief!
Say, cock, is not that your opinion too? Ha, ha! He thinks as I do.
Here, Thesmothetes! where are you? Hand me the thunder-mug.
BDELYCLEON
Get it yourself. I go to call the witnesses; these are a plate,
a pestle, a cheese knife, a brazier, a stew-pot and other half-burnt
utensils. (To PHILOCLEON) But you have not finished? you are
piddling away still! Have done and be seated.
PHILOCLEON
Ha, ha! I reckon I know somebody who will crap for fright to-day.
BDELYCLEON
Will you never cease showing yourself hard and intractable, and
especially to the accused? You tear them to pieces tooth and nail. (To
LABES) Come forward and defend yourself. What means this silence?
Answer.
PHILOCLEON
No doubt he has nothing to say.

 

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