THE WASPS by Aristophanes, Part 13
Not at all, I think he has got what happened once to Thucydides in
court; his jaws suddenly set fast. Get away! I will undertake your
defence.-Gentlemen of the jury, it is a difficult thing to speak for a
dog who has been calumniated, but nevertheless I will try. He is a
good dog, and he chases wolves finely.
He is a thief and a conspirator.
No, he is the best of all our dogs; he is capable of guarding a
And what good is that, if he eats the cheese?
What? he fights for you, he guards your door; he is an excellent
dog in every respect. Forgive him his larceny! he is wretchedly
ignorant, he cannot play the lyre.
I wish he did not know how to write either; then the rascal
would not have drawn up his pleadings.
Witnesses, I pray you, listen. Come forward, grating-knife, and
speak up; answer me clearly. You were paymaster at the time. Did you
grate out to the soldiers what was given you?-He says he did so.
But, by Zeus! he lies.
Oh! have patience. Take pity on the unfortunate. Labes feeds
only on fish-bones and fishes' heads and has not an instant of
peace. The other is good only to guard the house; he never moves
from here, but demands his share of all that is brought in and bites
those who refuse.
Oh! Heaven! have I fallen ill? I feel my anger cooling! Woe to me!
I am softening!
Have pity, father, pity, I adjure you; you would not have him
dead. Where are his puppies? (A group of children costumed as
puppies comes out.) Come, poor little beasties, yap, up on your
haunches, beg and whine!
Descend, descend, descend, descend!
I will descend, although that word, "descend," has too often
raised false hope. None the less, I will descend.
Plague seize it! Have I then done wrong to eat! What! I, crying!
Ah! I certainly should not be weeping, if I were not stuffed with
Then he is acquitted?
It is difficult to tell.
Ah! my dear father, be good! be humane! Take this voting pebble
and rush with your eyes closed to that second urn and, father,
No, I know no more how to acquit than to play the lyre.
Come quickly, I will show you the way.
(He takes his father by the hand and leads him to the second urn.)
Is this the first urn?
PHILOCLEON (dropping in his vote)
Then I have voted.
I have fooled him and he has acquitted in spite of himself. (To
PHILOCLEON) Come, I will turn out the urns.
What is the result?
We shall see. (He examines both urns.) Labes, you stand acquitted.
(PHILOCLEON faints) Eh! father, what's the matter, what is it? (To
slaves) Water! water! (To PHILOCLEON) Pull yourself together, sir!
Tell me! Is he really acquitted?
PHILOCLEON (falling back)
Then it's all over with me!
Courage, dear father, don't let this afflict you so terribly.
And so I have charged my conscience with the acquittal of an
accused being! What will become of me? Sacred gods! forgive me. I
did it despite myself; it is not in my character.
Do not vex yourself, father; I will feed you well, will take you
everywhere to eat and drink with me; you shall go to every feast;
henceforth your life shall be nothing but pleasure, and Hyperbolus
shall no longer have you for a tool. But come, let us go in.
So be it; if you will, let us go in.
(They all go into the house.)