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Peace

420 BC
PEACE
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

TRYGAEUS
TWO SERVANTS OF TRYGAEUS
DAUGHTERS OF TRYGAEUS
HERMES
WAR
TUMULT
HIEROCLES, a Soothsayer
AN ARMOURER
A SICKLE-MAKER
A CREST-MAKER
SON OF LAMACHUS
SON OF CLEONYMUS
CHORUS OF HUSBANDMEN
PEACE
(SCENE:-Behind the Orchestra on the right the farmhouse of
TRYGAEUS, in the centre the mouth of a cave closed up with huge
boulders, on the left the palace of ZEUS. In front of the
farmhouse is a stable, the door of wkich is closed. Two of
TRYGAEUS'slaves are seen in front of the stable, one of them
kneading cakes of dung, the other taking the finished cakes and
throwing them into the stable.)

FIRST SERVANT
Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.
SECOND SERVANT
There it is. Give it to him, and may it kill him! And may he never
eat a better.
FIRST SERVANT
Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.
SECOND SERVANT
There! I've done that too. And where's what you gave him just now?
Surely he can't have devoured it yet!
FIRST SERVANT
Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet and
bolted it. Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.
SECOND SERVANT
Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you do not
wish to see me fall down choked.
FIRST SERVANT
Come, come, another made from the stool of a fairy's favourite.
That will be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.
SECOND SERVANT
There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of
tasting what I mix.
FIRST SERVANT
Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your might.
SECOND SERVANT
By god, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no longer.
FIRST SERVANT
I shall bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.
SECOND SERVANT
Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with it. (To the
AUDIENCE) Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can buy a stopped-up
nose, for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food for a
dung-beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least
pounce upon our excrement without more ado, but this foul wretch
affects the disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't eat unless I
offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let
us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating?
Come, pluck up courage, cram yourself till you burst! The cursed
creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between its claws like a
wrestler clutching his opponent, and with head and feet together rolls
up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser. What an indecent,
stinking, gluttonous beast! I don't know what angry god let this
monster loose upon us, but of a certainty it was neither Aphrodite nor
the Graces.
FIRST SERVANT
Who was it then?
SECOND SERVANT
No doubt Zeus, the God of the Thundercrap.
FIRST SERVANT
But perhaps some spectator, some beardless youth, who thinks
himself a sage, will say, "What is this? What does the beetle mean?"
And then an Ionian, sitting next him, will add, "I think it's an
allusion to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by
himself."-But now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.
SECOND SERVANT
As for me, I will explain the matter to you all, children, youths,
grownups and old men, aye, even to the decrepit dotards. My master
is mad, not as you are, but with another sort of madness, quite a
new kind. The livelong day he looks open-mouthed towards heaven and
never stops addressing Zeus. "Ah! Zeus," he cries, "what are thy
intentions? Lay aside thy besom; do not sweep Greece away!" Ah!
Hush, hush! I think I hear his voice!
TRYGAEUS (from within)
Oh! Zeus, what art thou going to do for our people? Dost thou
not see this, that our cities will soon be but empty husks?
SECOND SERVANT
As I told you, that is his form of madness. There you have a
sample of his follies. When his trouble first began to seize him, he
said to himself, "By what means could I go straight to Zeus? Then he
made himself very slender little ladders and so clambered up towards
heaven; but he soon came hurtling down again and broke his head.
Yesterday, to our misfortune, he went out and brought us back this
thoroughbred, but from where I know not, this great beetle, whose
groom he has forced me to become. He himself caresses it as though
it were a horse, saying, "Oh! my little Pegasus, my noble aerial
steed, may your wings soon bear me straight to Zeus!" But what is my
master doing? I must stoop down to look through this hole. Oh! great
gods! Here! neighbours, run here quick! here is my master flying off
mounted on his beetle as if on horseback.
(The Machine brings in TRYGAEUS astride an enormous figure of a
dung beetle with wings spread.)
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
Gently, gently, go easy, beetle; don't start off so proudly, or
trust at first too greatly to your powers; wait till you have sweated,
till the beating of your wings shall make your limb joints supple.
Above all things, don't let off some foul smell. I adjure you; else
I would rather have you stay right in the stable.
SECOND SERVANT (intoning)
Poor master! Is he crazy?
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
Silence! silence!
SECOND SERVANT (intoning)
But why start up into the air on chance?
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
'Tis for the weal of all the Greeks; I am attempting a daring
and novel feat.
SECOND SERVANT (intoning)
But what is your purpose? What useless folly!
TRYGAEUS (intoning)
No words of ill omen! Give vent to joy and command all men to keep
silence, to close down their drains and privies with new tiles and
to cork up their own arses.
FIRST SERVANT (speaking)
No, I shall not be silent, unless you tell me where you are going.
TRYGAEUS
Why, where am I likely to be going across the sky, if it be not to
visit Zeus?
FIRST SERVANT
For what purpose?
TRYGAEUS
I want to ask him what he reckons to do for all the Greeks.
SECOND SERVANT
And if he doesn't tell you?
TRYGAEUS
I shall pursue him at law as a traitor who sells Greece to the
Medes.
SECOND SERVANT
Death seize me, if I let you go.
TRYGAEUS
It is absolutely necessary.
SECOND SERVANT (loudly)
Alas! alas! dear little girls, your father is deserting you
secretly to go to heaven. Ah! poor orphans, entreat him, beseech him.
(The little daughters of TRYGAEUS come out.)
LITTLE DAUGHTER (singing)
Father! father! what is this I hear? Is it true? What! you would
leave me, you would vanish into the sky, you would go to the crows?
Impossible! Answer, father, if you love me.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Yes, I am going. You hurt me too sorely, my daughters, when you
ask me for bread, calling me your daddy, and there is not the ghost of
an obolus in the house; if I succeed and come back, you will have a
barley loaf every morning-and a punch in the eye for sauce!
LITTLE DAUGHTER
But how will you make the journey? There's no ship that will
take you there.
TRYGAEUS
No, but this winged steed will.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
But what an idea, papa, to harness a beetle, to fly to the gods
on.
TRYGAEUS
We see from Aesop's fables that they alone can fly to the abode of
the Immortals.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
Father, father, that's a tale nobody can believe! that such a
smelly creature can have gone to the gods.
TRYGAEUS
It went to have vengeance on the eagle and break its eggs.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
Why not saddle Pegasus? you would have a more tragic appearance in
the eyes of the gods.
TRYGAEUS
Eh! don't you see, little fool, that then twice the food would
be wanted? Whereas my beetle devours again as filth what I have
eaten myself.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
And if it fell into the watery depths of the sea, could it
escape with its wings?
TRYGAEUS (exposing himself)
I am fitted with a rudder in case of need, and my Naxos beetle
will serve me as a boat.
LITTLE DAUGHTER
And what harbour will you put in at?
TRYGAEUS
Why is there not the harbour of Cantharus at the Piraeus?
LITTLE DAUGHTER
Take care not to knock against anything and so fall off into
space; once a cripple, you would be a fit subject for Euripides, who
would put you into a tragedy.
TRYGAEUS (as the Machine hoists him higher)
I'll see to it. Good-bye! (To the Athenians) You, for love of whom
I brave these dangers, do ye neither fart nor crap for the space of
three days, for, if, while cleaving the air, my steed should scent
anything, he would fling me head foremost from the summit of my hopes.
(Intoning)
Now come, my Pegasus, get a-going with up-pricked ears and make
your golden bridle resound gaily. Eh! what are you doing? What are you
up to? Do you turn your nose towards the cesspools? Come, pluck up a
spirit; rush upwards from the earth, stretch out your speedy wings and
make straight for the palace of Zeus; for once give up foraging in
your daily food.-Hi! you down there, what are you after now? Oh! my
god! it's a man taking a crap in the Piraeus, close to the
whorehouses. But is it my death you seek then, my death? Will you
not bury that right away and pile a great heap of earth upon it and
plant wild thyme therein and pour perfumes on it? If I were to fall
from up here and misfortune happened to me, the town of Chios would
owe a fine of five talents for my death, all because of your damned
arse.
(Speaking)
Alas! how frightened I am! oh! I have no heart for jests. Ah!
machinist, take great care of me. There is already a wind whirling
round my navel; take great care or, from sheer fright, I shall form
food for my beetle.... But I think I am no longer far from the gods;
aye, that is the dwelling of Zeus, I perceive. (The beetle descends
and comes to a halt in front of the house of ZEUS. TRYGAEUS
dismounts and knocks at the door.) Hullo! Hi! where is the doorkeeper?
Will no one open?
HERMES (from within)
I think I can sniff a man. (Opening the door) Why, what plague
is this?
TRYGAEUS
A horse-beetle.
HERMES
Oh! impudent, shameless rascal! oh! scoundrel! triple scoundrel!
the greatest scoundrel in the world! how did you come here? Oh!
scoundrel of all scoundrels! your name? Reply.
TRYGAEUS
Triple scoundrel.
HERMES
Your country?
TRYGAEUS
Triple scoundrel.
HERMES
Your father?
TRYGAEUS
My father? Triple scoundrel.
HERMES
By the Earth, you shall die, unless you tell me your name.
TRYGAEUS
I am Trygaeus of the Athmonian deme, a good vine-dresser, little
addicted to quibbling and not at all an informer.
HERMES
Why do you come?
TRYGAEUS
I come to bring you this meat.
HERMES (changing his tone)
Ah! my good friend, did you have a good journey?
TRYGAEUS
Glutton, be off! I no longer seem a triple scoundrel to you. Come,
call Zeus.
HERMES
Ah! ah! you are a long way yet from reaching the gods, for they
moved yesterday.
TRYGAEUS
To what part of the earth?
HERMES
Eh! of the earth, did you say?
TRYGAEUS
In short, where are they then?
HERMES
Very far, very far, right at the furthest end of the dome of
heaven.
TRYGAEUS
But why have they left you all alone here?
HERMES
I am watching what remains of the furniture, the little pots and
pans, the bits of chairs and tables, and odd wine-jars.
TRYGAEUS
And why have the gods moved away?
HERMES
Because of their wrath against the Greeks. They have located War
in the house they occupied themselves and have given him full power to
do with you exactly as he pleases; then they went as high up as ever
they could, so as to see no more of your fights and to hear no more of
your prayers.
TRYGAEUS
What reason have they for treating us so?
HERMES
Because they have afforded you an opportunity for peace more
than once, but you have always preferred war. If the Laconians got the
very slightest advantage, they would exclaim, "By the Twin Brethren!
the Athenians shall smart for this." If, on the contrary, the latter
triumphed and the Laconians came with peace proposals, you would
say, "By Demeter, they want to deceive us. No, by Zeus, we will not
hear a word; they will always be coming as long as we hold Pylos."
TRYGAEUS
Yes, that is quite the style our folk do talk in.
HERMES
So that I don't know whether you will ever see Peace again.
TRYGAEUS
Why, where has she gone to then?
HERMES
War has cast her into a deep pit.
TRYGAEUS
Where?
HERMES
Down there, at the very bottom. And you see what heaps of stones
he has piled over the top, so that you should never pull her out
again.
TRYGAEUS
Tell me, what is War preparing against us?
HERMES
All I know is that last evening he brought along a huge mortar.
TRYGAEUS
And what is he going to do with his mortar?
HERMES
He wants to pound up all the cities of Greece in it.... But I must
say good-bye, for I think he is coming out; what an uproar he is
making!
(He departs in haste.)
TRYGAEUS
Ah! great gods let us seek safety; I think I already hear the
noise of this fearful war mortar. (He hides.)
WAR (enters, carrying a huge mortar)
Oh! mortals, mortals, wretched mortals, how your jaws will snap!
TRYGAEUS
Oh! divine Apollo! what a prodigious big mortar! Oh, what misery
the very sight of War causes me! This then is the foe from whom I fly,
who is so cruel, so formidable, so stalwart, so solid on his legs!
WAR
Oh! Prasiae! thrice wretched, five times, aye, a thousand times
wretched! for thou shalt be destroyed this day.
(He throws some leeks into the mortar.)
TRYGAEUS (to the audience)
This, gentlemen, does not concern us over much; it's only so
much the worse for the Laconians.
WAR
Oh! Megara! Megara! utterly are you going to be ground up! what
fine mincemeat are you to be made into!
(He throws in some garlic.)
TRYGAEUS (aside)
Alas! alas! what bitter tears there will be among the Megarians!
WAR (throwing in some cheese)
Oh, Sicily! you too must perish! Your wretched towns shall be
grated like this cheese. Now let us pour some Attic honey into the
mortar.
(He does so.)
TRYGAEUS (aside)
Oh! I beseech you! use some other honey; this kind is worth four
obols; be careful, oh! be careful of our Attic honey.
WAR
Hi! Tumult, you slave there!
TUMULT
What do you want?
WAR
Out upon you! Standing there with folded arms! Take this cuff on
the head for your pains.
TUMULT
Oh! how it stings! Master, have you got garlic in your fist, I
wonder?
WAR
Run and fetch me a pestle.
TUMULT
But we haven't got one; it was only yesterday we moved.
WAR
Go and fetch me one from Athens, and hurry, hurry!
TUMULT
I'll hurry; if I return without one, I shall have no cause for
laughing.
(He runs off.)
TRYGAEUS (to the audience)
Ah! what is to become of us, wretched mortals that we are? See the
danger that threatens if he returns with the pestle, for War will
quietly amuse himself with pounding all the towns of Hellas to pieces.
Ah! Bacchus! cause this herald of evil to perish on his road!
WAR (to the returning TUMULT)
Well?
TUMULT
Well, what?
WAR
You have brought back nothing?
TUMULT
Alas! the Athenians have lost their pestle-the tanner, who
ground Greece to powder.
TRYGAEUS
Oh! Athene, venerable mistress! it is well for our city he is
dead, and before he could serve us with this hash.
WAR
Then go and seek one at Sparta and have done with it!
TUMULT
Aye, aye, master!
(He runs off.)
WAR (shouting after him)
Be back as quick as ever you can.
TRYGAEUS (to the audience)
What is going to happen, friends? This is the critical hour. Ah!
if there is some initiate of Samothrace among you, this is surely
the moment to wish this messenger some accident-some sprain or strain.
TUMULT (returning)
Alas! alas! thrice again, alas!
WAR
What is it? Again you come back without it?
TUMULT
The Spartans too have lost their pestle.
WAR
How, varlet?
TUMULT
They had lent it to their allies in Thrace, who have lost it for
them.
TRYGAEUS
Long life to you, Thracians! My hopes revive, pluck up courage,
mortals!
WAR
Take all this stuff; I am going in to make a pestle for myself.
(He goes in, followed by TUMULT.)
TRYGAEUS (coming out of his hiding-place)
Now is the time to sing as Datis did, as he masturbated at high
noon, "Oh pleasure! oh enjoyment! oh delights!" Now, oh Greeks! is the
moment when freed of quarrels and fighting, we should rescue sweet
Peace and draw her out of this pit, before some other pestle
prevents us. Come, labourers, merchants, workmen, artisans, strangers,
whether you be domiciled or not, islanders, come here, Greeks of all
countries, come hurrying here with picks and levers and ropes! This is
the moment to drain a cup in honour of the Good Genius.
(The CHORUS enters; it consists of labourers and farmers from
various Greek states.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Come hither all! quick, to the rescue! All peoples of Greece,
now is the time or never, for you to help each other. You see
yourselves freed from battles and all their horrors of bloodshed.
The day hateful to Lamachus has come. (To TRYGAEUS) Come then, what
must be done? Give your orders, direct us, for or swear to work this
day without ceasing, until with the help of our levers and our engines
we have drawn back into light the greatest of all goddesses, her to
whom the olive is so dear.
TRYGAEUS
Silence! if War should hear your shouts of joy he would bound
forth from his retreat in fury.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Such a decree overwhelms us with joy; how different to the
edict, which bade us muster with provisions for three days.
TRYGAEUS
Let us beware lest the cursed Cerberus prevent us even from the
nethermost bell from delivering the goddess by his furious howling,
just as he did when on earth.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Once we have hold of her, none in the world will be able to take
her from us. Huzza! huzza!
TRYGAEUS
You will work my death if you don't subdue your shouts. War will
come running out and trample everything beneath his feet.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Well then! Let him confound, let him trample, let him overturn
everything! We cannot help giving vent to our joy.
TRYGAEUS
Oh! cruel fate! My friends! in the name of the gods, what
possesses you? Your dancing will wreck the success of a fine
undertaking.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
It's not I who want to dance; it's my legs that bound with
delight.
TRYGAEUS
Enough, please, cease your gambols.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
There! That's all.
TRYGAEUS
You say so, and nevertheless you go on.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Yet one more figure and it's done.
TRYGAEUS
Well, just this one; then you must dance no more.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
No, no more dancing, if we can help you.
TRYGAEUS
But look, you are not stopping even now.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
By Zeus, I am only throwing up my right leg, that's all.
TRYGAEUS
Come, I grant you that, but pray, annoy me no further.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Ah! the left leg too will have its fling; well, that's its
right. I am so happy, so delighted at not having to carry my buckler
any more. I fart for joy and I laugh more than if I had cast my old
age, as a serpent does its skin.
TRYGAEUS
No, it's not time for joy yet, for you are not sure of success.
But when you have got the goddess, then rejoice, shout and laugh;
thenceforward you will be able to sail or stay at home, to make love
or sleep, to attend festivals and processions, to play at cottabos,
live like true Sybarites and to shout, Io, io!
CHORUS (singing)
Ah! God grant we may see the blessed day. I have suffered so much;
have so oft slept with Phormio on hard beds. You will no longer find
me a bitter and angry judge....
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Nor, naturally, hard in your ways, as heretofore.
CHORUS (singing)
....but turned indulgent and grown younger by twenty years through
happiness. We have been killing ourselves long enough, tiring
ourselves out with going to the Lyceum and returning laden with
spear and buckler.-But what can we do to please you? Come, speak;
for 'tis a good Fate that has named you our leader.
TRYGAEUS
How shall we set about removing these stones?
HERMES (who has just returned)
Rash reprobate, what do you propose doing?
TRYGAEUS
Nothing bad, as Cillicon said.
HERMES
You are undone, you wretch.
TRYGAEUS
Yes, if the lot had to decide my life, for Hermes would know how
to turn the chance.
HERMES
You are lost, you are dead.
TRYGAEUS
On what day?
HERMES
This instant.
TRYGAEUS
But I have not provided myself with flour and cheese yet to
start for death.
HERMES
You are kneaded and ground already, I tell you.
TRYGAEUS
Hah! I have not yet tasted that gentle pleasure.
HERMES
Don't you know that Zeus has decreed death for him who is caught
exhuming Peace?
TRYGAEUS
What! must I really and truly die?
HERMES
You must.
TRYGAEUS
Well then, lend me three drachmae to buy a young pig; I wish to
have myself initiated before I die.
HERMES
Oh! Zeus, the Thunderer!
TRYGAEUS
I adjure you in the name of the gods, master, don't report us!
HERMES
I may not, I cannot keep silent.
TRYGAEUS
In the name of the meats which I brought you so good-naturedly.
HERMES
Why, wretched man, Zeus will annihilate me, if I do not shout
out at the top of my voice, to inform him what you are plotting.
TRYGAEUS
Oh, no! don't shout, I beg you, dear little Hermes.... And what
are you doing, comrades? You stand there as though you were stocks and
stones. Wretched men, speak, entreat him at once; otherwise he will be
shouting.
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! mighty Hermes! do not do it; no, do not do it! If ever you
have eaten some young pig, sacrificed by us on your altars, with
pleasure, may this offering not be without value in your sight to-day.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Do you not hear them wheedling you, mighty god?
CHORUS (singing)
Be not pitiless toward our prayers; permit us to deliver the
goddess. Oh! the most human, the most generous of the gods, be
favourable toward us, if it be true that you detest the haughty crests
and proud brows of Pisander; we shall never cease, oh master, offering
you sacred victims and solemn prayers.
TRYGAEUS
Have mercy, mercy, yourself be touched by their words; never was
your worship so dear to them as to-day. (Aside) Really they are the
greatest thieves that ever were. (To HERMES) And I shall reveal to you
a great and terrible plot that is being hatched against the gods.
HERMES
Hah! speak and perchance I shall let myself be softened.
TRYGAEUS
Know then, that the Moon and that infamous Sun are plotting
against you, and want to deliver Greece into the hands of the
barbarians.
HERMES
What for?
TRYGAEUS
Because it is to you that we sacrifice, whereas the barbarians
worship them; hence they would like to see you destroyed, that they
alone might receive the offerings.
HERMES
Is it then for this reason that these untrustworthy charioteers
have for so long been defrauding us, one of them robbing us of
daylight and the other nibbling away at the other's disk?
TRYGAES
Yes, certainly. So therefore, Hermes, my friend, help us with your
whole heart to find and deliver the captive and we will celebrate
the great Panathenaea in your honour as well as all the festivals of
the other gods; for Hermes shall be the Mysteries. the Dipolia, the
Adonia; everywhere the towns, freed from their miseries, will
sacrifice to Hermes the Liberator; you will be loaded with benefits of
every kind, and to start with, I offer you this cup for libations as
your first present.
HERMES
Ah! how golden cups do influence me! Come, friends. get to work.
To the pit quickly, pick in hand, and drag away the stones.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
We go, but you, cleverest of all the gods, supervise our
labours; tell us, good workman as you are, what we must do; we shall
obey your orders with alacrity.
(They begin to lift the stones.)
TRYGAEUS
Quick, reach me your cup, and let us preface our work by
addressing prayers to the gods.
HERMES
Libation! Libation! Silence! Let us offer our libations and our
prayers, so that this day may begin an era of unalloyed happiness
for Greece and that he who has bravely pulled at the rope with us
may never resume his buckler.
TRYGAEUS
Aye, may we pass our lives in peace, caressing our mistresses
and poking the fire.
HERMES
May he who would prefer the war, oh Dionysus....
TRYGAEUS
Be ever drawing barbed arrows out of his elbows.
HERMES
If there be a citizen, greedy for military rank and honours, who
refuses, oh, divine Peace! to restore you to daylight....
TRYGAEUS
May he behave as cowardly as Cleonymus on the battlefield.
HERMES
If a lance-maker or a dealer in shields desires war for the sake
of better trade....
TRYGAEUS
May he be taken by pirates and eat nothing but barley.
HERMES
If some ambitious man does not help us, because he wants to become
a General, or if a slave is plotting to pass over to the enemy....
TRYGAEUS
Let his limbs be broken on the wheel, may he be beaten to death
with rods!
HERMES
As for us, may Fortune favour us! Io! Paean, Io!
TRYGAEUS
Don't say Paean, but simply, Io.
HERMES
Very well, then! Io! Io! Io! I'll simply say, Io!
TRYGAEUS
To Hermes, the Graces, the Horae, Aphrodite, Eros!
HERMES
But not to Ares.
TRYGAEUS
No.
HERMES
Nor to Enyalius.
TRYGAEUS
No.
(The stones have been removed and a rope attacked to the cover of
the pit. The indented portions of the following scene are a sort
of chanty.)
HERMES
Come, all strain at the ropes to tear off the cover. Pull!
CHORUS
Heave away, heave, heave, oh!
HERMES
Come, pull harder, harder.
CHORUS
Heave away, heave, heave, oh!
HERMES
Still harder, harder still.
CHORUS
Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave, heave, oh!
TRYGAEUS
Come, come, there is no working together. Come! all pull at the
same instant! you Boeotians are only pretending. Beware!
HERMES
Come, heave away, heave!
TRYGAEUS
Heave away, heave oh!
CHORUS
Hi! you two pull as well.
TRYGAEUS
Why, I am pulling, I am hanging on to the rope and straining
till I am almost off my feet; I am working with all my might.
CHORUS
Why does not the work advance then?
TRYGAEUS
Lamachus, this is terrible! You are in the way, sitting there.
We have no use for your Medusa's head, friend. But wait, the Argives
have not pulled the least bit; they have done nothing but laugh at
us for our pains while they were getting gain with both hands.
HERMES
Ah! my dear sir, the Laconians at all events pull with vigour.
TRYGAEUS
But look! only those among them who generally hold the plough-tail
show any zeal, while the armourers impede them in their efforts.
HERMES
And the Megarians too are doing nothing, yet look how they are
pulling and showing their teeth like famished curs.
TRYGAEUS
The poor wretches are dying of hunger I suppose.
HERMES
This won't do, friends. Come! all together! Everyone to the work
and with a good heart for the business.
CHORUS
Heave away, heave!
HERMES
Harder!
CHORUS
Heave away, heave!
HERMES
Come on then, by heaven.
CHORUS
We are moving it a little.
TRYGAEUS
Isn't it terrible and stupid! some pull one way and others
another. You Argives there, beware of a thrashing!
HERMES
Come, put your strength into it.
TRYGAEUS
Heave away, heave!
CHORUS
There are many ill-disposed folk among us.
TRYGAEUS
Do you at least, who long for peace, pull heartily.
CHORUS
But there are some who prevent us.
HERMES
Off to the Devil with you, Megarians! The goddess hates you. She
recollects that you were the first to rub her the wrong way.
Athenians, you are not well placed for pulling. There you are too busy
with law-suits; if you really want to free the goddess, get down a
little towards the sea.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Come, friends, none but husbandmen on the rope.
HERMES
Ah I that will do ever so much better.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
He says the thing is going well. Come, all of you, together and
with a will.
TRYGAEUS
It's the husbandmen who are doing all the work.
CHORUS
Come then, come, and all together!
HERMES
Hah! hah! at last there is some unanimity in the work.
CHORUS
Don't let us give up, let us redouble our efforts.
HERMES
There! now we have it!
CHORUS
Come then, all together! Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave!
Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave! All together!
(PEACE is drawn out of the pit. With her come OPORA and THEORIA.)
TRYGAEUS
Oh! venerated goddess, who givest us our grapes, where am I to
find the ten-thousand-gallon words wherewith to greet thee? I have
none such at home. Oh! hail to thee, Opora, and thee, Theoria! How
beautiful is thy face! How sweet thy breath! What gentle fragrance
comes from thy bosom, gentle as freedom from military duty, as the
most dainty perfumes!
HERMES
Is it then a smell like a soldier's knapsack?
TRYGAEUS
Oh! hateful soldier! your hideous satchel makes me sick! it stinks
like the belching of onions, whereas this lovable deity has the
odour of sweet fruits, of festivals, of the Dionysia, of the harmony
of flutes, of the tragic poets, of the verses of Sophocles, of the
phrases of Euripides....
HERMES
That's a foul calumny, you wretch! She detests that framer of
subtleties and quibbles.
TRYGAEUS (ignoring this)
....of ivy, of straining-bags for wine, of bleating ewes, of
provision-laden women hastening to the kitchen, of the tipsy servant
wench, of the upturned wine-jar, and of a whole heap of other good
things.
HERMES
Then look how the reconciled towns chat pleasantly together, how
they laugh....
TRYGAEUS
And yet they are all cruelly mishandled; their wounds are bleeding
still.
HERMES
But let us also scan the mien of the spectators; we shall thus
find out the trade of each.
TRYGAEUS
Good god!
HERMES
Look at that poor crest-maker, tearing at his hair....
TRYGAEUS
....and at that pike-maker, who has just farted in yon
sword-cutler's face.
HERMES
And do you see with what pleasure this sickle-maker....
TRYGAEUS
....is thumbing his nose at the spear-maker?
HERMES
Now tell the husbandmen to be off.
TRYGAEUS
Listen, good folk! Let the husbandmen take their farming tools and
return to their fields as quickly as possible, but without either
sword, spear or javelin. All is as quiet as if Peace had been reigning
for a century. Come, let everyone go and till the earth, singing the
Paean.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to PEACE)
Oh, thou, whom men of standing desired and who art good to
husbandmen, I have gazed upon thee with delight; and now I go to greet
my vines, to caress after so long an absence the fig trees I planted
in my youth.
TRYGAEUS
Friends, let us first adore the goddess, who has delivered us from
crests and Gorgons; then let us hurry to our farms, having first
bought a nice little piece of salt fish to eat in the fields.
HERMES
By Posidon! what a fine crew they make and dense as the crust of a
cake; they are as nimble as guests on their way to a feast.
TRYGAEUS
See, how their iron spades glitter and how beautifully their
three-pronged mattocks glisten in the sun! How regularly they align
the plants! I also burn to go into the country and to turn over the
earth I have so long neglected.-Friends, do you remember the happy
life that Peace afforded us formerly; can you recall the splendid
baskets of figs, both fresh and dried, the myrtles, the sweet wine,
the violets blooming near the spring, and the olives, for which we
have wept so much? Worship, adore the goddess for restoring you so
many blessings.
CHORUS (singing)
Hail! hail! thou beloved divinity! thy return overwhelms us with
joy. When far from thee, my ardent wish to see my fields again made me
pine with regret. From thee came all blessings. Oh! much desired
Peace! thou art the sole support of those who spend their lives
tilling the earth. Under thy rule we had a thousand delicious
enjoyments at our beck; thou wert the husbandman's wheaten cake and
his safeguard. So that our vineyards, our young fig-tree woods and all
our plantations hail thee with delight and smile at thy coming.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But where was she then, I wonder, all the long time she spent away
from us? Hermes, thou benevolent god, tell us!
HERMES
Wise husbandmen, hearken to my words, if you want to know why
she was lost to you. The start of our misfortunes was the exile of
Phidias; Pericles feared he might share his in-luck, he mistrusted
your peevish nature and, to prevent all danger to himself, he threw
out that little spark, the Megarian decree, set the city aflame, and
blew up the conflagration with a hurricane of war, so that the smoke
drew tears from all Greeks both here and over there. At the very
outset of this fire our vines were a-crackle, our casks knocked
together; it was beyond the power of any man to stop the disaster, and
Peace disappeared.
TRYGAEUS
That, by Apollo is what no one ever told me; I could not think
what connection there could be between Phidias and Peace.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Nor I, until now. This accounts for her beauty, if she is
related to him. There are so many things that escape us.
HERMES
Then, when the towns subject to you saw that you were angered
one against the other and were showing each other your teeth like
dogs, they hatched a thousand plots to pay you no more dues and gained
over the chief citizens of Sparta at the price of gold. They, being as
shamelessly greedy as they were faithless in diplomacy, chased off
Peace with ignominy to let loose War. Though this was profitable to
them, it was the ruin of the husbandmen, who were innocent of all
blame; for, in revenge, your galleys went out to devour their figs.
TRYGAEUS
And with justice too; did they not break down my black fig tree,
which I had planted and dunged with my own hands?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Yes, by Zeus! yes, that was well done; the wretches broke a
chest for me with stones, which held six medimni of corn.
HERMES
Then the rural labourers flocked into the city and let
themselves be bought over like the others. Not having even a
grape-stone to munch and longing after their figs, they looked towards
the demagogues. These well knew that the poor were driven to extremity
and lacked even bread; but they nevertheless drove away the Goddess,
each time she reappeared in answer to the wish of the country, with
their loud shrieks that were as sharp as pitchforks; furthermore, they
attacked the well-filled purses of the richest among our allies on the
pretence that they belonged to Brasidas' party. And then you would
tear the poor accused wretch to pieces with your teeth; for the
city, all pale with hunger and cowed with terror, gladly snapped up
any calumny that was thrown it to devour. So the strangers, seeing
what terrible blows the informers dealt, sealed their lips with
gold. They grew rich, while you, alas! you could only see that
Greece was going to ruin. It was the tanner who was the author of
all this woe.
TRYGAEUS
Enough said, Hermes leave that man in Hades, whither he has
gone; be no longer belongs to us, but rather to you. That he was a
cheat, a braggart, a calumniator when alive, why, nothing could be
truer; but anything you might say now would be an insult to one of
your own folk.
(To PEACE) Oh! venerated Goddess! why art thou silent?
HERMES
And how could she speak to the spectators? She is too angry at all
that they have made her suffer.
TRYGAEUS
At least let her speak a little to you, Hermes.
HERMES
Tell me, my dear, what are your feelings with regard to them?
Come, you relentless foe of all bucklers, speak; I am listening to
you. (PEACE whispers into HERMES' ear.) Is that your grievance against
them? Yes, yes, I understand. Hearken, you folk, this is her
complaint. She says, that after the affair of Pylos she came to you
unbidden to bring you a basket full of truces and that you thrice
repulsed her by your votes in the assembly.
TRYGAEUS
Yes, we did wrong, but forgive us, for our mind was then
entirely absorbed in leather.
HERMES
Listen again to what she has just asked me. Who was her greatest
foe here? and furthermore, had she a friend who exerted himself to put
an end to the fighting?
TRYGAEUS
Her most devoted friend was Cleonymus; it is undisputed.
HERMES
How then did Cleonymus behave in fights?
TRYGAEUS
Oh! the bravest of warriors! Only he was not born of the father he
claims; he showed it quick enough in the army by throwing away his
weapons.
HERMES
There is yet another question she has just put to me. Who rules
now in the rostrum?
TRYGAEUS
It's Hyperbolus who now holds empire on the Pnyx. (To PEACE)
What now? you turn away your head!
HERMES
She is vexed, that the people should give themselves a wretch of
that kind for their chief.
TRYGAEUS
Oh! we shall not employ him again; but the people, seeing
themselves without a leader, took him haphazard, just as a man, who is
naked, springs upon the first cloak he sees.
HERMES
She asks, what will be the result of such a choice by the city?
TRYGAEUS
We shall be more far-seeing in consequence.
HERMES
And why?
TRYGAEUS
Because he is a lamp-maker. Formerly we only directed our
busines by groping in the dark; now we shall only deliberate by
lamplight.
HERMES
Oh! oh! what questions she does order me to put to you!
TRYGAEUS
What are they?
HERMES
She wants to have news of a whole heap of old-fashioned things she
left here. First of all, how is Sophocles?
TRYGAEUS
Very well, but something very strange has happened to him.
HERMES
What then?
TRYGAEUS
He has turned from Sophocles into Simonides.
HERMES
Into Simonides? How so?
TRYGAEUS
Because, though old and broken-down as he is, he would put to
sea on a hurdle to gain an obolus.
HERMES
And wise Cratinus, is he still alive?
TRYGAEUS
He died about the time of the Laconian invasion.
HERMES
How?
TRYGAEUS
Of a swoon. He could not bear the shock of seeing one of his casks
full of wine broken. Ah! what a number of other misfortunes our city
has suffered! So, dearest mistress, nothing can now separate us from
thee.
HERMES
If that be so, receive Opora here for a wife; take her to the
country, live with her, and grow fine grapes together.
TRYGAEUS (to OPORA)
Come, my dear one, come and accept my kisses. (To HERMES) Tell me,
Hermes, my master, do you think it would hurt me to love her a little,
after so long an abstinence?
HERMES
No, not if you swallow a potion of penny-royal afterwards. But
hasten to lead Theoria to the Senate; that was where she lodged
before.
TRYGAEUS
Oh! fortunate Senate! Thanks to Theoria, what soups you will
swallow for the space of three days! how you will devour meats and
cooked tripe! Come, farewell, friend Hermes!
HERMES
And to you also, my dear sir, may you have much happiness, and
don't forget me.
TRYGAEUS (looking around for his dung-beetle)
Come, beetle, home, home, and let us fly on a swift wing.
HERMES
Oh! he is no longer here.
TRYGAEUS
Where has he gone to then?
HERMES
He is 'harnessed to the chariot of Zeus and bears the
thunderbolts.'
TRYGAEUS
But where will the poor wretch get his food?
HERMES
He will eat Ganymede's ambrosia.
TRYGAEUS
Very well then, but how am I going to descend?
HERMES
Oh! never fear, there is nothing simpler; place yourself beside
the goddess.
TRYGAEUS
Come, my pretty maidens, follow me quickly; there are plenty of
men waiting for you with their tools ready.
(He goes out, with OPORA and THEORIA.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Farewell and good luck be yours! Let us begin by handing over
all this gear to the care of our servants, for no place is less safe
than a theatre; there is always a crowd of thieves prowling around it,
seeking to find some mischief to do. Come, keep a good watch over
all this. As for ourselves, let us explain to the spectators what we
have in our minds, the purpose of our play.
(The CHORUS turns and faces the audience.)
Undoubtedly the comic poet who mounted the stage to praise himself
in the parabasis would deserve to be handed over to the sticks or
the beadles. Nevertheless, oh Muse, if it be right to esteem the
most honest and illustrious of our comic writers at his proper
value, permit our poet to say that he thinks he has deserved a
glorious renown. First of all, he is the one who has compelled his
rivals no longer to scoff at rags or to war with lice; and as for
those Heracleses, always chewing and ever hungry, he was the first
to cover them with ridicule and to chase them from the stage; he has
also dismissed that slave, whom one never failed to set weeping before
you, so that his comrade might have the chance of jeering at his
stripes and might ask, "Wretch, what has happened to your hide? Has
the lash rained an army of its thongs on you and laid your back
waste?" After having delivered us from all these wearisome ineptitudes
and these low buffooneries, he has built up for us a great art, like a
palace with high towers, constructed of fine phrases, great thoughts
and of jokes not common on the streets. Moreover it's not obscure
private persons or women that he stages in his comedies; but, bold
as Heracles, it's the very greatest whom he attacks, undeterred by the
fetid stink of leather or the threats of hearts of mud. He has the
right to say, "I am the first ever dared to go straight for that beast
with the sharp teeth and the terrible eyes that flashed lambent fire
like those of Cynna, surrounded by a hundred lewd flatterers, who
spittle-licked him to his heart's content; it had a voice like a
roaring torrent, the stench of a seal, the unwashed balls of a Lamia
and the arse of a camel. I did not recoil in horror at the sight of
such a monster, but fought him relentlessly to win your deliverance
and that of the islanders." Such are the services which should be
graven in your recollection and entitle me to your thanks. Yet I
have not been seen frequenting the wrestling school intoxicated with
success and trying to seduce young boys; but I took all my
theatrical gear and returned straight home. I pained folk but little
and caused them much amusement; my conscience rebuked me for
nothing. (More and more rapidly from here on) Hence both grown men and
youths should be on my side and I likewise invite the bald to give
me their votes; for, if I triumph, everyone will say, both at table
and at festivals, "Carry this to the bald man, give these cakes to the
bald one, do not grudge the poet whose talent shines as bright as
his own bare skull the share he deserves."
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Oh, Muse! drive the war far from our city and come to preside over
our dances, if you love me; come and celebrate the nuptials of the
gods, the banquets of us mortals and the festivals of the fortunate;
these are the themes that inspire thy most poetic songs. And should
Carcinus come to beg thee for admission with his sons to thy chorus,
refuse all traffic with them; remember they are but gelded birds,
stork-necked dancers, mannikins about as tall as a goat's turd, in
fact machine-made poets. Contrary to all expectation, the father has
at last managed to finish a piece, but he admits that a cat
strangled it one fine evening.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Such are the songs with which the Muse with the glorious hair
inspires the able poet and which enchant the assembled populace,
when the spring swallow twitters beneath the foliage; but the god
spare us from the chorus of Morsimus and that of Melanthius! Oh!
what a bitter discordancy grated upon my ears that day when the tragic
chorus was directed by this same Melanthius and his brother, these two
Gorgons, these two Harpies, the plague of the seas, whose gluttonous
bellies devour the entire race of fishes, these followers of old
women, these goats with their stinking arm-pits. Oh! Muse, spit upon
them abundantly and keep the feast gaily with me.
(TRYGAEUS enters, limping painfully, accompanied by OPORA and
THEORIA.)
TRYGAEUS
Ah! it's a rough job getting to the gods! my legs are as good as
broken through it. (To the audience) How small you were, to be sure,
when seen from heaven! you had all the appearance too of being great
rascals; but seen close, you look even worse.
SERVANT (coming out of TRYGAEUS' house)
Is that you, master?
TRYGAEUS
So I've been told.
SERVANT
What has happened to you?
TRYGAEUS
My legs pain me; it was such a damned long journey.
SERVANT
Oh! tell me....
TRYGAEUS
What?
SERVANT
Did you see any other man besides yourself strolling about in
heaven;
TRYGAEUS
No, only the souls of two or three dithyrambic poets.
SERVANT
What were they doing up there?
TRYGAEUS
They were seeking to catch some lyric exordia as they flew by
immersed in the billows of the air.
SERVANT
Is it true, what they tell us, that men are turned into stars
after death?
TRYGAEUS
Quite true.
SERVANT
Then what star has Ion of Chios turned into?
TRYGAEUS
The Morning Star, the one he wrote a poem about; as soon as he got
up there, everyone called him the Morning Star.
SERVANT
And those stars like sparks, that plough up the air as they dart
across the sky.
TRYGAEUS
They are the rich leaving the feast with a lantern and a light
inside it.-But hurry up, show this young girl into my house, (pointing
to OPORA) clean out the bath, heat some water and prepare the
nuptial couch for herself and me. When that's done, come back here;
meanwhile I am off to present this other one to the Senate.
SERVANT
But where then did you get these girls?
TRYGAEUS
Where? why in heaven.
SERVANT
I would not give more than an obolus for gods who have got to
keeping brothels like us mere mortals.
TRYGAEUS
They are not all like that, but there are some up there too who
live by this trade.
SERVANT
Come, that's rich! But tell me, shall I give her something to eat?
TRYGAEUS
No, for she would touch neither bread nor cake; she is used to
licking ambrosia at the table of the gods.
SERVANT
Well, we can give her something to lick down here too.
(He takes OPORA into the house.)
CHORUS (singing)
Here is a truly happy old man, as far as I can judge.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Ah! but what shall I be, when you see me presently dressed for the
wedding?
CHORUS (singing)
Made young again by love and scented with perfumes, your lot
will be one we all shall envy.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
And when I lie beside her and fondle her breasts?
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! then you will be happier than those spinning-tops who call
Carcinus their father.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
And I well deserve it; have I not bestridden a beetle to save
the Greeks, who now, thanks to me, can make love at their ease and
sleep peacefully on their farms?
SERVANT (returning from the house)
The girl has quitted the bath; she is charming from head to
foot, belly and buttocks too; the cake is baked and they are
kneading the sesame-biscuit; nothing is lacking but the bridegroom's
tool.
TRYGAEUS
Let us first hasten to lodge Theoria in the hands of the Senate.
SERVANT
Tell me, who is this woman?
TRYGAEUS
Why, it's Theoria, with whom we used formerly to go to Brauron, to
get tipsy and frolic-I had the greatest trouble to get hold of her.
SERVANT
Ah! you charmer! what pleasure your pretty bottom will afford me
every four years!
TRYGAEUS (to the audience)
Let's see, which one of you is steady enough to be trusted by
the Senate with the care of this charming wench? (to the SERVANT)
Hi! you, friend! what are you drawing there?
SERVANT (who has been making signs in the air)
It's er.... well, at the Isthmian Games I shall have a tent for my
tool.
TRYGAEUS (to the audience)
Come, who wishes to take the charge of her? No one? Come, Theoria,
I am going to lead you into the midst of the spectators and confide
you to their care.
SERVANT
Ah! there is one who makes a sign to you.
TRYGAEUS
Who is it?
SERVANT
It's Ariphrades. He wishes to take her home at once.
TRYGAEUS
No, he must not. He would soon have her done for, absorbing all
her life-force. Come, Theoria, take off all these clothes. (THEORIA
undresses. As soon as she is nude, TRYGAEUS conducts her to the
front row of seats, where the SENATORS sit.) Senate, Prytanes, gaze
upon Theoria and see what precious blessings I place in your hands.
Hasten to raise its limbs and to immolate the victim. And look at this
chimney.
SERVANT
God, what a beautiful one! It's black with smoke because the
Senate used to do its cooking there before the war.
TRYGAEUS
Now that you have found Theoria again, you can start the most
charming games from to-morrow, wrestling with her on the ground, on
all fours, or you can lay her on her side, or stand before her with
bent knees, or, well rubbed with oil, you can boldly enter the
lists, as in the Pancratium, belabouring your foe with blows from your
fist or something else. The next day you will celebrate equestrian
games, in which the riders will ride side by side, or else the chariot
teams, thrown one on top of another, panting and whinnying, will
roll and knock against each other on the ground, while other rivals,
thrown out of their seats, will fall before reaching the goal, utterly
exhausted by their efforts.-Come, Prytanes, take Theoria. Oh! look-how
graciously yonder fellow has received her; you would not have been
in such a hurry to introduce her to the Senate, if nothing were coming
to you through it; you would not have failed to plead some holiday
as an excuse.
CHORUS (singing)
Such a man as you assures the happiness of all his
fellow-citizens.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
When you are gathering your vintages you will prize me even
better.
CHORUS (singing)
E'en from to-day we hail you as the deliverer of mankind.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Wait until you have drunk a beaker of new wine, before you
appraise my true merits.
CHORUS (singing)
Excepting the gods, there is none greater than yourself, and
that will ever be our opinion.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
Yea, Trygaeus of Athmonia has deserved well of you, he has freed
both husbandman and craftsman from the most cruel ills; he has
vanquished Hyberbolus.
SERVANT
Well then, what must be done now?
TRYGAEUS
You must offer pots of green-stuff to the goddess to consecrate
her altars.
SERVANT
Pots of green-stuff as we do to poor Hermes-and even he thinks the
fare pretty mean?
TRYGAEUS
What will you offer them? A fatted bull?
SERVANT
Oh no! I don't want to start bellowing the battle-cry.
TRYGAEUS
A great fat swine then?
SERVANT
No, no.
TRYGAEUS
Why not?
SERVANT
We don't want any of the swinishness of Theagenes.
TRYGAEUS
What other victim do you prefer then?
SERVANT
A sheep.
TRYGAEUS
A sheep?
SERVANT
Yes.
TRYGAEUS
But that's the Ionic form of the word.
SERVANT
Purposely. So that if anyone in the assembly says, "We must go
to war," all may start bleating in alarm, "Oi, oi."
TRYGAEUS
A brilliant idea.
SERVANT
And we shall all be lambs one toward the other, yes, and milder
still toward the allies.
TRYGAEUS
Then go for the sheep and haste to bring it back with you; I
will prepare the altar for the sacrifice.
(They both leave.)
CHORUS (singing)
How everything succeeds to our wish, when the gods are willing and
Fortune favours us! how opportunely everything falls out.
TRYGAEUS (returning)
Nothing could be truer, for look! here stands the altar all
ready at my door.
(He enters his house.)
CHORUS (singing)
Hurry, hurry, for the winds are fickle; make haste, while the
divine will is set on stopping this cruel war and is showering on us
the most striking benefits.
TRYCAEUS (returning)
Here is the basket of barley-seed mingled with salt, the chaplet
and the sacred knife; and there is the fire; so we are only waiting
for the sheep.
CHORUS (singing)
Hasten, hasten, for, if Chaeris sees you, he will come without
bidding, he and his flute; and when you see him puffing and panting
and out of breath, you will have to give him something.
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT who has returned with a sheep and a vase
of water)
Come, seize the basket and take the lustral water and hurry to
circle round the altar to the right.
SERVANT
There! that's done. What is your next bidding?
TRYGAEUS
Wait. I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the water.
Now quick, quick, you sprinkle the altar. Give me some barley-seed,
purify yourself and hand me the basin; then scatter the rest of the
barley among the audience.
SERVANT
Done.
TRYGAEUS
You have thrown it?
SERVANT
Yes, by Hermes! and all the spectators have had their share.
TRYGAEUS
At least the women got none.
SERVANT
Oh! their husbands will give them some this evening.
TRYGAEUS
Let us pray! Who is here? Are there any good men?
SERVANT
Come, give me the water, so that I may sprinkle these people.
Faith! they are indeed good, brave men.
(He throws the lustral water on hem.)
TRYGAEUS
You believe so?
SERVANT
I am sure, and the proof of it is that we have flooded them with
lustral water and they have not budged an inch.
TRYGAEUS
Let us pray, then, as soon as we can.
SERVANT
Yes, let us pray.
TRYGAEUS
Oh! Peace, mighty queen, venerated goddess, thou, who presidest
over choruses and at nuptials, deign to accept the sacrifices we offer
thee.
SERVANT
Receive it, greatly honoured mistress, and behave not like the
courtesans, who half open the door to entice the gallants, draw back
when they are stared at, to return once more if a man passes on. But
do not thou act like this to us.
TRYGAEUS
No, but like an honest woman, show thyself to thy worshippers, who
are worn with regretting thee all these thirteen years. Hush the noise
of battle, be a true Lysimacha to us. Put an end to this
tittle-tattle, to this idle babble, that set us defying one another.
Cause the Greeks once more to taste the pleasant beverage of
friendship and temper all hearts with the gentle feeling of
forgiveness. Make excellent commodities flow to our markets, fine
heads of garlic, early cucumbers, apples, pomegranates and nice little
cloaks for the slaves; make them bring geese, ducks, pigeons and larks
from Boeotia and baskets of eels from Lake Copais; we shall all rush
to buy them, disputing their possession with Morychus, Teleas,
Glaucetes and every other glutton. Melanthius will arrive on the
market last of all; they'll say, "no more eels, all sold!" and then
he'll start groaning and exclaiming as in his monologue of Medea, "I
am dying, I am dying! Alas! I have let those hidden in the beet escape
me!" And won't we laugh? These are the wishes, mighty goddess, which
we pray thee to grant. (To the SERVANT) Take the knife and slaughter
the sheep like a finished cook.
SERVANT
No, the goddess does not wish it.
TRYGAEUS
And why not?
SERVANT
Blood cannot please Peace, so let us spill none upon her altar.
TRYGAEUS
Then go and sacrifice the sheep in the house, cut off the legs and
bring them here; thus the carcase will be saved for the Choregus.
(The SERVANT goes into the house with the sheep.)
CHORUS (singing)
You, who remain here, get chopped wood and everything needed for
the sacrifice ready.
TRYGAEUS
Don't I look like a diviner preparing his mystic fire?
CHORUS (singing)
Undoubtedly. Will anything that a wise man ought to know escape
you? Don't you know all that a man should know, who is distinguished
for his wisdom and inventive daring?
TRYGAEUS
There! the wood catches. Its smoke blinds poor Stilbides. I am now
going to bring the table and thus be my own slave.
(He goes into the house.)
CHORUS (singing)
You have braved a thousand dangers to save your sacred town. All
honour to you I your glory will be ever envied.
TRYGAEUS (returning with a table)
Wait. Here are the legs, place them upon the altar. For myself,
I mean to go back to the entrails and the cakes.
(He is about to go into the house.)
SERVANT (going in ahead of him)
I'll take care of them.
TRYGAEUS
But I want you here.
SERVANT (returning)
Well then, here I am. Do you think I have taken long?
TRYGAEUS
Just get this roasted. Ab who is this man, crowned with laurel,
who is coming to me?
SERVANT
He has a self-important look; is he some diviner?
TRYGAEUS
No, it's Hierocles, that oracle-monger from Oreus.
SERVANT
What is he going to tell us?
TRYGAEUS
Evidently he is coming to oppose the peace.
SERVANT
No, it's the odour of the fat that attracts him.
TRYGAEUS
Let us appear not to see him.
SERVANT
Very well.
HIEROCLES (approaching)
What sacrifice is this? to what god are you offering it?
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT)
Keep quiet.-(Aloud) Look after the roasting and keep your hands of
the meat.
HIEROCLES
To whom are you sacrificing? Answer me.
TRYGAEUS
Ah! the tail is showing favourable omens.
SERVANT
Aye, very favourable, oh, loved and mighty Peace!
HIEROCLES
Come, cut off the first offering and make the oblation.
TRYGAEUS
It's not roasted enough.
HIEROCLES
Yea, truly, it's done to a turn.
TRYGAEUS
Mind your own business, friend! (To the SERVANT) Cut away.
HIEROCLES
Where is the table?
TRYGAEUS
Bring the libations.
(The SERVANT departs.)
HIEROCLES
The tongue is cut separately.
TRYGAEUS
We know all that. But just listen to one piece of advice.
HIEROCLES
And that is?
TRYGAEUS
Don't talk, for it is divine Peace to whom we are sacrificing.
HIEROCLES (in an oracular tone)
Oh! wretched mortals, oh, you idiots!
TRYGAEUS
Keep such ugly terms for yourself.
HIEROCLES (as before)
What! you are so ignorant you don't understand the will of the
gods and you make a treaty, you, who are men, with apes, who are
full of malice?
TRYGAEUS
Ha, ha, ha!
HIEROCLES
What are you laughing at?
TRYGAEUS
Ha, ha! your apes amuse me!
HIEROCLES (resuming the oracular manner)
You simple pigeons, you trust yourselves to foxes, who are all
craft, both in mind and heart.
TRYGAEUS
Oh, you trouble-maker! may your lungs get as hot as this meat!
HIEROCLES
Nay, nay! if only the Nymphs had not fooled Bacis, and Bacis
mortal men; and if the Nymphs had not tricked Bacis a second time....
TRYGAEUS (mocking his manner)
May the plague seize you, if you don't stop Bacizing!
HIEROCLES
....it would not have been written in the book of Fate that the
bends of Peace must be broken; but first....
TRYGAEUS
The meat must be dusted with salt.
HIEROCLES
....it does not please the blessed gods that we should stop the
War until the wolf uniteth with the sheep.
(A kind of oracle-match now ensues.)
TRYGAEUS
How, you cursed animal, could the wolf ever unite with the sheep?
HIEROCLES
As long as the wood-bug gives off a fetid odour, when it flies; as
long as the noisy bitch is forced by nature to litter blind pups, so
long shall peace be forbidden.
TRYGAEUS
Then what should be done? Not to stop War would be to leave it
to the decision of chance which of the two people should suffer the
most, whereas by uniting under a treaty, we share the empire of
Greece.
HIEROCLES
You will never make the crab walk straight.
TRYGAEUS
You shall no longer be fed at the Prytaneum; when the war is over,
oracles are not wanted.
HIEROCLES
You will never smooth the rough spikes of the hedgehog.
TRYGAEUS
Will you never stop fooling the Athenians?
HIEROCLES
What oracle ordered you to burn these joints of mutton in honour
of the gods?
TRYGAEUS
This grand oracle of Homer's: "Thus vanished the dark war-clouds
and we offered a sacrifice to new-born Peace. When the flame had
consumed the thighs of the victim and its inwards had appeased our
hunger, we poured out the libations of wine." 'Twas I who arranged the
sacred rites, but none offered the shining cup to the diviner.
HIEROCLES
I care little for that. 'Tis not the Sibyl who spoke it.
TRYGAEUS
Wise Homer has also said: "He who delights in the horrors of civil
war has neither country nor laws nor home." What noble words!
HIEROCLES
Beware lest the kite turn your brain and rob....
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT Who has returned with the libations) Look
out, slave! This oracle threatens our meat. Quick, pour the
libation, and give me some of the inwards.
HIEROCLES
I too will help myself to a bit, if you like.
TRYGAEUS
The libation! the libation!
HIEROCLES (to the SERVANT)
Pour out also for me and give me some of this meat.
TRYGAEUS
No, the blessed gods won't allow it yet; let us drink: and as
for you, get you gone, for that's their will. Mighty Peace! stay
ever in our midst.
HIEROCLES
Bring the tongue hither.
TRYGAEUS
Relieve us of your own.
HIEROCLES
The libation.
TRYGAEUS
Here! and this into the bargain. (He strikes him.)
HIEROCLES
You will not give me any meat?
TRYGAEUS
We cannot give you any until the wolf unites with the sheep.
HIEROCLES
I will embrace your knees.
TRYGAEUS
'Tis lost labour, good fellow; you will never smooth the rough
spikes of the hedgehog....Come, spectators, join us in our feast.
HIEROCLES
And what am I to do?
TRYGAEUS
You? go and eat the Sibyl.
HIEROCLES
No, by the Earth! no, you shall not eat without me; if you do
not give, I shall take; it's common property.
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT)
Strike, strike this Bacis, this humbugging soothsayer.
HIEROCLES
I take to witness....
TRYGAEUS
And I also, that you are a glutton and an impostor. (To the
SERVANT) Hold him tight and I'll beat the impostor with a stick.
SERVANT
You look to that; I will snatch the skin from him which he has
stolen from us.
TRYGAEUS
Let go that skin, you priest from hell! do you hear! Oh! what a
fine crow has come from Oreus! Stretch your wings quickly for
Elymnium.
(HIEROCLES flees. TRYGAEUS and the SERVANT go into the house.)
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! joy, joy! no more helmet, no more cheese nor onions! No, I
have no passion for battles; what I love is to drink with good
comrades in the corner by the fire when good dry wood, cut in the
height of the summer, is crackling; it is to cook pease on the coals
and beechnuts among the embers, it is to kiss our pretty Thracian
while my wife is at the bath.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Nothing is more pleasing, when the rain is sprouting our
sowings, than to chat with some friend, saying, "Tell me, Comarchides,
what shall we do? I would willingly drink myself, while the heavens
are watering our fields. Come, wife, cook three measures of beans,
adding to them a little wheat, and give us some figs. Syra! call Manes
off the fields, it's impossible to prune the vine or to align the
ridges, for the ground is too wet to-day. Let someone bring me the
thrush and those two chaffinches; there were also some curds and
four pieces of hare, unless the cat stole them last evening, for I
know not what the infernal noise was that I heard in the house.
Serve up three of the pieces for me, slave, and give the fourth to
my father. Go and ask Aeschinades for some myrtle branches with
berries on them, and then, for it's on the same road, invite
Charinades to come and drink with me to the honour of the gods who
watch over our crops."
CHORUS (singing)
When the grasshopper sings his dulcet tune, I love to see the
Lemnian vines beginning to ripen, the earliest plant of all.
Likewise I love to watch the fig filling out, and when it has
reached maturity I eat it with appreciation, exclaiming, "Oh!
delightful season!" Then too I bruise some thyme and infuse it in
water. Indeed I grow a great deal fatter passing the summer in this
way....
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
...than in watching a damned lieutenant with three plumes and
military cloak of crimson, very livid indeed; he calls it the real
Sardian purple, but if he ever has to fight in this cloak he'll dye it
another colour, the real Cyzicene yellow, he the first to run away,
shaking his plumes like a buff hippalectryon, and I am left to do
the real work. Once back again in Athens, these brave fellows behave
abominably; they write down these, they scratch through others, and
this backwards and forwards two or three times at random. The
departure is set for to-morrow, and some citizen has brought no
provisions, because he didn't know he had to go; he stops in front
of the statue of Pandion, reads his name, is dumbfounded and starts
away at a run, weeping bitter tears. The townsfolk are less
ill-used, but that is how the husbandmen are treated by these men of
war, the hated of the gods and of men, who know nothing but how to
throw away their shield. For this reason, if it please heaven, I
propose to call these rascals to account, for they are lions in
times of peace, but sneaking foxes when it comes to fighting.
TRYGAEUS (coming out of his house, followed by the SERVANT)
Oh! oh! what a crowd for the nuptial feast! Here! dust the
tables with this crest, which is good for nothing else now. Halloa!
produce the cakes, the thrushes, plenty of good jugged hare and the
little loaves.
(A SICKLE-MAKER enters with a comrade; one carries sickles, the
other casks.)
SICKLE-MAKER
Trygaeus, where is Trygaeus?
TRYGAEUS
I am cooking the thrushes.
SICKLE-MAKER
Trygaeus, my best of friends, what a fine stroke of business you
have done for me by bringing back Peace! Formerly my sickles would not
have sold at an obolus apiece, to-day I am being paid fifty drachmae
for every one. And here is a neighbour who is selling his casks for
the country at three drachmae each. So come, Trygaeus, take as many
sickles and casks as you will for nothing. Accept them for nothing;
it's because of our handsome profits on our sales that we offer you
these wedding presents.
TRYGAEUS
Thanks. Put them all down inside there, and come along quick to
the banquet. Ah! do you see that armourer yonder coming with a wry
face?
(Enter an armourer, followed by other personages who represent the
various specialized trades which have profited by the war, a
crest-maker, a manufacturer of breastplates, a trumpet-maker, a
helmet-maker, a polisher of lances; each carries a sample of his
products. The armourer is the only one who speaks.)
ARMOURER
Alas! alas! Trygaeus, you have ruined me utterly.
TRYGAEUS
What! won't the crests go any more, friend?
ARMOURER
You have killed my business, my livelihood, and that of this
poor lance maker too.
TRYGAEUS
Come, come, what are you asking for these two crests?
ARMOURER
What do you bid for them?
TRYGAEUS
What do I bid? Oh! I am ashamed to say. Still, as the clasp is
of good workmanship, I would give two, even three measures of dried
figs; I could use them for dusting the table.
ARMOURER
All right, tell them to bring me the dried figs. (To the
crest-maker) That's better than nothing, my friend.
TRYGAEUS
Take them away, be off with your crests and get you gone; they are
moulting, they are losing all their hair; I would not give a single
fig for them.
ARMOURER
Good gods, what am I going to do with this fine ten-mina
breastplate, which is so splendidly made?
TRYGAEUS
Oh, you will lose nothing over it. Sell it to me at cost price. It
would be very useful as a thunder-mug...
ARMOURER
Cease your insults, both to me and my wares.
TRYGAEUS
...if propped on three stones. (He sits on it.) Look, it's
admirable
ARMOURER
But how can you wipe yourself, idiot?
TRYGAEUS (with appropriate gestures)
I can put one hand through here, and the other there, and so...
ARMOURER
What! do you wipe yourself with both hands?
TRYGAEUS
Aye, so that I may not be accused of robbing the State, by
blocking up an oar-hole in the galley.
ARMOURER
Would you crap in a thunder-mug that cost ten minae?
TRYGAEUS
Undoubtedly, you rascal. Do you think I would sell my arse for a
thousand drachmae?
ARMOURER
Come, have the money paid over to me.
TRYGAEUS
No, friend; I find it pinches my bottom. Take it away, I won't buy
it.
ARMOURER
What is to be done with this trumpet, for which I gave sixty
drachmae the other day?
TRYGAEUS
Pour lead into the hollow and fit a good, long stick to the top;
and you will have a balanced cottabus.
ARMOURER
Don't mock me.
TRYGAEUS
Well, here's another idea. Pour in lead as I said, add here a dish
hung on strings, and you will have a balance for weighing the figs
which you give your slaves in the fields.
ARMOURER
Cursed fate! I am ruined. Here are helmets, for which I gave a
mina each. What I to do with them? who will buy them?
TRYGAEUS
Go and sell them to the Egyptians; they will do for measuring
laxatives.
ARMOURER
Ah! poor helmet-maker, things are indeed in a bad way.
TRYGAEUS
He has no cause for complaint.
ARMOURER
But helmets will be no more used.
TRYGAEUS
Let him learn to fit a handle to them and he can sell them for
more money.
ARMOURER
Let us be off, comrade.
TRYGAEUS
No, I want to buy these spears.
ARMOURER
What will you give?
TRYGAEUS
If they could be split in two, I would take them at a drachma
per hundred to use as vine-props.
ARMOURER
The insolent dog! Let us go, friend.
(The munitions-makers all depart.)
TRYGAEUS (as some young boys enter)
Ah I here come the guests, young folks from the table to take a
pee; I fancy they also want to hum over what they will be singing
presently. Hi! child! what do you reckon to sing? Stand there and give
me the opening line.
BOY
"Glory to the young warriors..."
TRYGAEUS
Oh! leave off about your young warriors, you little wretch; we are
at peace and you are an idiot and a rascal.
BOY
"The skirmish begins, the hollow bucklers clash against each
other."
TRYGAEUS
Bucklers! Leave me in peace with your bucklers.
BOY
"And then there came groanings and shouts of victory."
TRYGAEUS
Groanings! ah! by Bacchus! look out for yourself, you cursed
squaller, if you start wearying us again with your groanings and
hollow bucklers.
BOY
Then what should I sing? Tell me what pleases you.
TRYGAEUS
"'Tis thus they feasted on the flesh of oxen," or something
similar, as, for instance, "Everything that could tickle the palate
was placed on the table."
BOY
"'Tis thus they feasted on the flesh of oxen and, tired of
warfare, unharnessed their foaming steeds."
TRYGAEUS
That's splendid; tired of warfare, they seat themselves at
table; sing to us how they still go on eating after they are satiated.
BOY
"The meal over, they girded themselves..."
TRYGAEUS
With good wine, no doubt?
BOY
"...with armour and rushed forth from the towers, and a terrible
shout arose."
TRYGAEUS
Get you gone, you little scapegrace, you and your battles! You
sing of nothing but warfare. Who is your father then?
BOY
My father?
TRYGAEUS
Why yes, your father.
BOY
I am Lamachus' son.
TRYGAEUS
Oh! oh! I could indeed have sworn, when I was listening to you,
that you were the son of some warrior, who dreams of nothing but
wounds and bruises, of some Bulomachus or Clausimachus; go and sing
your plaguey songs to the spearmen....Where is the son of Cleonymus?
Sing me something before going back to the feast. I am at least
certain he will not sing of battles, for his father is far too careful
a man.
SON OF CLEONYMUS
"A Saian is parading with the spotless shield which I regret to
say I have thrown into a thicket."
TRYGAEUS
Tell me, you little good-for-nothing, are you singing that for
your father?
SON OF CLEONYMUS
"But I saved my life."
TRYGAEUS
And dishonoured your family. But let us go in; I am very
certain, that being the son of such a father, you will never forget
this song of the buckler. (To the CHORUS) You, who remain to the
feast, it's your duty to devour dish after dish and not to ply empty
jaws. Come, put heart into the work and eat with your mouths full.
For, believe me, poor friends, white teeth are useless furniture if
they chew nothing.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to TRYGAEUS, who is going into the house)
Never fear; thanks all the same for your good advice. (To the
CHORUS) And all of you, who yesterday were dying of hunger, come,
stuff yourselves with this fine hare-stew; it's not every day that
we find cakes lying neglected. Eat, eat, or I predict you will soon
regret it.
TRYGAEUS (coming out of the house)
Silence! Keep silence! Here is the bride about to appear! Take
nuptial torches and let all rejoice and join in our songs. Then,
when we have danced, clinked our cups and thrown Hyperbolus through
the doorway we will carry back all our farming tools to the fields and
shall pray the gods to give wealth to the Greeks and to cause us all
to gather in an abundant barley harvest, enjoy a noble vintage, to
grant that we may choke With good figs, that our wives may prove
fruitful, that in fact we may recover all our lost blessings, and that
the sparkling fire may be restored to the hearth, (OPORA comes out
of the house, followed by torch-bearing slaves.) Come, wife, to the
fields and seek, my beauty, to brighten and enliven my nights. Oh!
Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (singing)
Oh! thrice happy man, who so well deserve your good fortune! Oh!
Hymen! oh oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS (singing)
What shall we do to her?
CHORUS (singing)
What shall we do to her?
TRYGAEUS (singing)
We will gather her kisses.
CHORUS (singing)
We will gather her kisses.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (singing)
But come, comrades, we who are in the first row, let us pick up
the bridegroom and carry him in triumph. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! Oh!
Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS (singing)
You shall have a fine house, no cares and the finest of figs.
Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (singing)
The bridegroom's fig is great and thick; the bride's very soft and
tender.
TRYGAEUS (singing)
While eating and drinking deep draughts of wine, continue to
repeat: Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus, Hail,
hail, my friends. All who come with me shall have cakes galore.


THE END
.
 

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