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Plutus

380 BC
PLUTUS
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

CHREMYLUS
CARIO, Servant of Chremylus
PLUTUS, God of Riches
BLEPSIDEMUS, friend of Chremylus
POVERTY
WIFE OF CHREMYLUS
A JUST MAN
AN INFORMER
AN OLD WOMAN
A YOUTH
HERMES
A PRIEST OF ZEUS
CHORUS OF RUSTICS
PLUTUS


PLUTUS


(SCENE:-The Orchestra represents a public square in Athens.
In the background is the house of CHREMYLUS. A ragged old
blind man enters, followed by CHREMYLUS and his slave CARIO.)

CARIO
What an unhappy fate, great gods, to be the slave of a fool! A
servant may give the best of advice, but if his master does not follow
it, the pool slave must inevitably have his share in the disaster; for
fortune does not allow him to dispose of his own body, it belongs to
his master who has bought it. Alas! 'tis the way of the world. But the
god, Apollo (in tragic style), whose oracles the Pythian priestess
on her golden tripod makes known to us, deserves my censure, for
surely he is a physician and a cunning diviner; and yet my master is
leaving his temple infected with mere madness and insists on following
a blind man. Is this not opposed to all good sense? It is for us,
who see clearly, to guide those who don't; whereas he clings to the
trail of a blind fellow and compels me to do the same without
answering my questions with ever a word. (To CHREMYLUS) Aye, master,
unless you tell me why we are following this unknown fellow, I will
not be silent, but I will worry and torment you, for you cannot beat
me because of my sacred chaplet of laurel.
CHREMYLUS
No, but if you worry me I will take off your chaplets, and then
you will only get a sounder thrashing.
CARIO
That's an old song! I am going to leave you no peace till you have
told me who this man is; and if I ask it, it's entirely because of
my interest in you.
CHREMYLUS
Well, be it so. I will reveal it to you as being the most faithful
and the most rascally of all my servants. I honoured the gods and
did what was right, and yet I was none the less poor and unfortunate.
CARIO
I know it but too well.
CHREMYLUS
Others amassed wealth-the sacrilegious, the demagogues, the
informers, indeed every sort of rascal.
CARIO
I believe you.
CHREMYLUS
Therefore I came to consult the oracle of the god, not on my own
account, for my unfortunate life is nearing its end, but for my only
son; I wanted to ask Apollo if it was necessary for him to become a
thorough knave and renounce his virtuous principles, since that seemed
to me to be the only way to succeed in life.
CARIO (with ironic gravity)
And with what responding tones did the sacred tripod resound?
CHREMYLUS
You shall know. The god ordered me in plain terms to follow the
first man I should meet upon leaving the temple and to persuade him to
accompany me home.
CARIO
And who was the first one you met?
CHREMYLUS
This blind man.
CARIO
And you are stupid enough not to understand the meaning of such an
answer! Why, the god was advising you thereby, and that in the
clearest possible way, to bring up your son according to the fashion
of your country.
CHREMYLUS
What makes you think that?
CARIO
Is it not evident to the blind, that nowadays to do nothing that
is right is the best way to get on?
CHREMYLUS
No, that is not the meaning of the oracle; there must be another
that is nobler. If this blind man would tell us who he is and why
and with what object he has led us here, we should no doubt understand
what our oracle really does mean.
CARIO (to PLUTUS)
Come, tell us at once who you are, or I shall give effect to my
threat. (He menaces him.) And quick too, be quick, I say.
PLUTUS
I'll thrash you.
CARIO (to CHREMYLUS)
Do you understand who he says he is?
CHREMYLUS
It's to you and not to me that he replies thus: your mode of
questioning him was ill-advised. (To PLUTUS) Come, friend, if you
care to oblige an honest man, answer me.
PLUTUS
I'll knock you down.
CARIO (sarcastically)
Ah! what a pleasant fellow and what a delightful prophecy the
god has given you!
CHREMYLUS (to PLUTUS)
By Demeter, you'll have no reason to laugh presently.
CARIO
If you don't speak, you wretch, I will surely do you an ill turn.
PLUTUS
Friends, take yourselves off and leave me.
CHREMYLUS
That we very certainly shan't.
CARIO
This, master, is the best thing to do. I'll undertake to secure
him the most frightful death; I will lead him to the verge of a
precipice and then leave him there, so that he'll break his neck
when he pitches over.
CHREMYLUS
Well then, seize him right away.
(CARIO does so.)
PLUTUS
Oh, no! Have mercy!
CHREMYLUS
Will thou speak then?
PLUTUS
But if you learn who I am, I know well that you will ill-use me
and will let me go again.
CHREMYLUS
I call the gods to witness that you have naught to fear if you
will only speak.
PLUTUS
Well then, first unhand me.
CHREMYLUS
There! we set you free.
PLUTUS
Listen then, since I must reveal what I had intended to keep a
secret. I am Plutus.
CARIO
Oh! you wretched rascal! You Plutus all the while, and you never
said so!
CHREMYLUS
You, Plutus, and in this piteous guise! Oh, Phoebus Apollo! oh, ye
gods of heaven and hell! Oh, Zeus! is it really and truly as you say?
PLUTUS
Yes.
CHREMYLUS
Plutus' very own self?
PLUTUS
His own very self and none other.
CHREMYLUS
But tell me, how come you're so squalid?
PLUTUS
I have just left Patrocles' house, who has not had a bath since
his birth.
CHREMYLUS
But your infirmity; how did that happen? Tell me.
PLUTUS
Zeus inflicted it on me, because of his jealousy of-mankind.
When I was young, I threatened him that I would only go to the just,
the wise, the men of ordered life; to prevent my distinguishing these,
he struck me with blindness' so much does he envy the good!
CHREMYLUS
And yet, it's only the upright and just who honour him.
PLUTUS
Quite true.
CHREMYLUS
Therefore, if ever you recovered your sight, you would shun the
wicked?
PLUTUS
Undoubtedly.
CHREMYLUS
You would visit the good?
PLUTUS
Assuredly. It is a very long time since I saw them.
CARIO (to the audience)
That's not astonishing. I, who see clearly, don't see a single
one.
PLUTUS
Now let me leave you, for I have told you everything.
CHREMYLUS
No, certainly not! we shall fasten ourselves on to you faster than
ever.
PLUTUS
Did I not tell you, you were going to plague me?
CHREMYLUS
Oh! I adjure you, believe what I say and don't leave me; for you
will seek in vain for a more honest man than myself.
CARIO
There is only one man more worthy; and that is I.
PLUTUS
All talk like this, but as soon as they secure my favours and grow
rich, their wickedness knows no bounds.
CHREMYLUS
And yet all men are not wicked.
PLUTUS
All. There's no exception.
CARIO
You shall pay for that opinion.
CHREMYLUS
Listen to what happiness there is in store for you, if you but
stay with us. I have hope; aye, I have good hope with the god's help
to deliver you from that blindness, in fact to restore your sight.
PLUTUS
Oh! do nothing of the kind, for I don't wish to recover it.
CHREMYLUS
What's that you say?
CARIO
This fellow hugs his own misery.
PLUTUS
If you were mad enough to cure me, and Zeus heard of it, he
would overwhelm me with his anger.
CHREMYLUS
And is he not doing this now by leaving you to grope your
wandering way?
PLUTUS
I don't know; but I'm horribly afraid of him.
CHREMYLUS
Indeed? Ah! you are the biggest poltroon of all the gods! Why,
Zeus with his throne and his lightnings would not be worth an obolus
if you recovered your sight, were it but for a few moments.
PLUTUS
Impious man, don't talk like that.
CHREMYLUS
Fear nothing! I will prove to you that you are far more powerful
and mightier than he.
PLUTUS
I mightier than he?
CHREMYLUS
Aye, by heaven! (To CARIO) For instance, what is the basis of
the power that Zeus wields over the other gods?
CARIO
Money; he has so much of it.
CHREMYLUS
And who gives it to him?
CARIO (pointing to Plutus)
This fellow.
CHREMYLUS
If sacrifices are offered to him, is not Plutus their cause?
CARIO
Undoubtedly, for it's wealth that all demand and clamour most
loudly for.
CHREMYLUS
Thus it's Plutus who is the fount of all the honours rendered to
Zeus, whose worship he can wither up at the root, if it so pleases
him.
PLUTUS
And how so?
CHREMYLUS
Not an ox, nor a cake, nor indeed anything at all could be
offered, if you did not wish it.
PLUTUS
Why?
CHREMYLUS
Why? but what means are there to buy anything if you are not there
to give the money? Hence if Zeus should cause you any trouble, you
will destroy his power without other help.
PLUTUS
So it's because of me that sacrifices are offered to him?
CHREMYLUS
Most assuredly. Whatever is dazzling, beautiful or charming in the
eyes of mankind, comes from you. Does not everything depend on wealth?
CARIO
I myself was bought for a few coins; if I'm a slave, it's only
because I was not rich.
CHREMYLUS
And what of the Corinthian whores? If a poor man offers them
proposals, they do not listen; but if it be a rich one, instantly they
turn their arses to him.
CARIO
It's the same with the lads; they care not for love, to them money
means everything.
CHREMYLUS
You speak of male whores; yet some of them are honest, and it's
not money they ask of their patrons.
CARIO
What then?
CHREMYLUS
A fine horse, a pack of hounds.
CARIO
Yes, they would blush to ask for money and cleverly disguise their
shame.
CHREMYLUS
It is in you that every art, all human inventions, have had
their origin; it is through you that one man sits cutting leather in
his shop.
CARIO
That another fashions iron or wood.
CHREMYLUS
That yet another chases the gold he has received from you.
CARIO
That one is a fuller.
CHREMYLUS
That the other washes wool.
CARIO
That this one is a tanner.
CHREMYLUS
And that other sells onions.
CARIO
And if the adulterer, caught red-handed, is depilated, it's on
account of you.
PLUTUS
Oh! great gods! I knew naught of all this!
CARIO (to CHREMYLUS)
Is it not he who lends the Great King all his pride? Is it not
he who draws the citizens to the Assembly?
CHREMYLUS
And tell me, is it not you who equip the triremes?
CARIO
And who feed our mercenaries at Corinth? Are not you the cause
of Pamphilus' sufferings?
CHREMYLUS
And of the needle-seller's with Pamphilus?
CARIO
It is not because of you that Agyrrhius farts so loudly?
CHREMYLUS
And that Philepsius rolls off his fables? That troops are sent
to succour the Egyptians? And that Lais is kept by Philonides?
CARIO
That the tower of Timotheus...
CHREMYLUS
...(To CARIO) May it fall upon your head! (To PLUTUS) In short,
Plutus, it is through you that everything is done; you must realize
that you are the sole cause both of good and evil.
CARIO
In war, it's the flag under which you serve that victory favours.
PLUTUS
What! I can do so many things by myself and unaided?
CHREMYLUS
And many others besides; wherefore men are never tired of your
gifts. They get weary of all else,-of love...
CARIO
Bread.
CHREMYLUS
Music.
CARIO
Sweetmeats.
CHREMYLUS
Honours.
CARIO
Cakes.
CHREMYLUS
Battles.
CARIO
Figs.
CHREMYLUS
Ambition.
CARIO
Gruel.
CHREMYLUS
Military advancement.
CARIO
Lentil soup.
CHREMYLUS
But of you they never tire. If a man has thirteen talents, he
has all the greater ardour to possess sixteen; if that wish is
achieved, he will want forty or will complain that he knows not how to
make both ends meet.
PLUTUS
All this, I suppose, is very true; there is but one point that
makes me feel a bit uneasy.
CHREMYLUS
And that is?
PLUTUS
How could I use this power, which you say I have?
CHREMYLUS
Ah! they were quite right who said there's nothing more timorous
than Plutus
PLUTUS
No, no; it was a thief who calumniated me. Having broken into a
house, he found everything locked up and could take nothing, so he
dubbed my prudence fear.
CHREMYLUS
Don't be disturbed; if you support me zealously, I'll make you
more sharp-sighted than Lynceus.
PLUTUS
And how should you be able to do that, you. who are but a mortal?
CHREMYLUS
I have great hope, after the answer Apollo gave me, shaking his
sacred laurels the while.
PLUTUS
Is he in the plot then?
CHREMYLUS
Surely.
PLUTUS
Take care what you say.
CHREMYLUS
Never fear, friend; for, be well assured, that if it has to cost
me my life, I will carry out what I have in my head.
CARIO
And I will help you, if you permit it.
CHREMYLUS
We shall have many other helpers as well-all the worthy folk who
are wanting for bread.
PLUTUS
Ah! they'll prove sorry helpers.
CHREMYLUS
No, not so, once they've grown rich. But you, Cario, run quick...
CARIO
Where?
CHREMYLUS
...to call my comrades, the other husbandmen (you'll probably
find the poor fellows toiling away in the fields), that each of
them may come here to take his share of the gifts of Plutus.
CARIO
I'm off. But let someone come from the house to take this morsel
of meat.
CHREMYLUS
I'll see to that; you run your hardest. As for you, Plutus, the
most excellent of all the gods, come in here with me; this is the
house you must fill with riches to-day, by fair means or foul.
PLUTUS
I don't at all like going into other folks' houses in this manner;
I have never got any good from it. If I got inside a miser's house,
straightway he would bury me deep underground; if some honest fellow
among his friends came to ask him for the smallest coin, he would deny
ever having seen me. Then if I went to a fool's house, he would
sacrifice in dicing and wenching, and very soon I should be completely
stripped and pitched out of doors.
CHREMYLUS
That's because you have never met a man who knew how to avoid
the two extremes; moderation is the strong point in my character. I
love saving as much as anybody, and I know how to spend, when it's
needed. But let us go in; I want to make you known to my wife and to
my only son, whom I love most of all after yourself.
PLUTUS
I'm quite sure of that.
CHREMYLUS
Why should I hide the truth from you?
(They enter CHREMYLUS' house.)
CARIO (to the CHORUS, which has followed him in)
Come, you active workers, who, like my master, eat nothing but
garlic and the poorest food, you who are his friends and his
neighbours, hasten your steps, hurry yourselves; there's not a
moment to lose; this is the critical hour, when your presence and your
support are needed by him.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why, don't you see we are speeding as fast as men can, who are
already enfeebled by age? But do you deem it fitting to make us run
like this before ever telling us why your master has called us?
CARIO
I've grown hoarse with the telling, but you won't listen. My
master is going to drag you all out of the stupid, sapless life you
are leading and ensure you, one full of all delights.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
And how is he going to manage that?
CARIO
My poor friends, he has brought with him a disgusting old
fellow, all bent and wrinkled, with a most pitiful appearance, bald
and toothless; upon my word, I even believe he is circumcised like
some vile barbarian.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
This news is worth its weight in gold! What are you saying? Repeat
it to me; no doubt it means he is bringing back a heap of wealth.
CARIO
No, but a heap of all the infirmities attendant on old age.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
If you are tricking us, you shall pay us for it. Beware of our
sticks!
CARIO
Do you deem me so brazen as all that, and my words mere lies?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What serious airs the rascal puts on! Look! his legs are already
shrieking, "oh! oh!" They are asking for the shackles and wedges.
CARIO
It's in the tomb that it's your lot to judge. Why don't you go
there? Charon has given you your ticket.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Plague take you! you cursed rascal, who rail at us and have not
even the heart to tell us why your master has made us come. We were
pressed for time and tired out, yet we came with all haste, and in our
hurry we have passed by lots of wild onions without even gathering
them.
CARIO
I will no longer conceal the truth from you. Friends, it's
Plutus whom my master brings, Plutus, who will give you riches.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What! we shall really all become rich?
CARIO
Aye, certainly; you will then be Midases, provided you grow
ass's ears.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What joy, what happiness! If what you tell me is true, I long to
dance with delight.
CARIO (singing, with appropriate gestures)
And I too, threttanelo! want to imitate the Cyclops and lead
your troop by stamping like this. Do you, my dear little ones, cry,
aye, cry again and bleat forth the plaintive song of the sheep and
of the stinking goats; follow me like lascivious goats with their
tools out.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
(Singing, to the same tune and with similar mimicry)
As for us, threttanelo! we will seek you, dear Cyclops,
bleating, and if we find you with your wallet full of fresh herbs, all
disgusting in your filth, sodden with wine and sleeping in the midst
of your sheep, we will seize a great flaming stake and burn out your
eye.
CARIO
I will copy that Circe of Corinth, whose potent philtres compelled
the companions of Philonides like swine to swallow balls of dung,
which she herself had kneaded with her hands; and do you too grunt
with joy and follow your mother, my little pigs.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! Circe with the potent philtress, who besmear your companions
so filthily, what pleasure I shall have in imitating the son of
Laertes! I will hang you up by your balls, I will rub your nose with
dung like a goat, and like Aristyllus you shall say through your
half-opened lips, "Follow your mother, my little pigs."
CARIO
Enough of tomfoolery, assume a grave demeanour; unknown to my
master I am going to take bread and meat; and when I have fed well,
I shall resume my work.
(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)
CHREMYLUS (coming out of his house)
To say, "Hail! my dear neighbours!" is an old form of greeting and
well worn with use; so therefore I embrace you, because you have not
crept like tortoises, but have come rushing here in all haste. Now
help me to watch carefully and closely over the god.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Be at ease. You shall see with what martial zeal I will guard him.
What! we jostle each other at the Assembly for three obols, and am I
going to let Plutus in person be stolen from me?
CHREMYLUS
But I see Blepsidemus; by his bearing and his haste I can
readily see he knows or suspects something.
BLEPSIDEMUS
What has happened then? Whence, how has Chremylus suddenly grown
rich? I don't believe a word of it. Nevertheless, nothing but his
sudden fortune was being talked about in the barber-shops. But I am
above all surprised that his good fortune has not made him forget
his friends; that is not the usual way!
CHREMYLUS
By the gods, Blepsidemus, I will hide nothing from you. To-day
things are better than yesterday; let us share, for are you not my
friend?
BLEPSIDEMUS
Have you really grown rich as they say?
CHREMYLUS
I shall be soon, if the god agrees to it. But there is still
some risk to run.
BLEPSIDEMUS
What risk?
CHREMYLUS
Well...
BLEPSIDEMUS
Tell me, quick!
CHREMYLUS
If we succeed, we are happy for ever, but if we fail, it is all
over with us.
BLEPSIDEMUS
It's a bad business, and one that doesn't please me! To grow
rich all at once and yet to be fearful! ah! I suspect something that's
little good.
CHREMYLUS
What do you mean?
BLEPSIDEMUS
No doubt you have just stolen some gold and silver from some
temple and are repenting.
CHREMYLUS
Nay! heaven preserve me from that!
BLEPSIDEMUS
A truce to idle phrases! the thing is only too apparent, my
friend.
CHREMYLUS
Don't suspect such a thing of me.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Alas! then there is no honest man! not one, that can resist the
attraction of gold!
CHREMYLUS
By Demeter, you have no common sense.
BLEPSIDEMUS (aside)
How he has changed!
CHREMYLUS
But, good gods, you are mad, my dear fellow!
BLEPSIDEMUS (aside)
His very look is distraught; he has done some crime!
CHREMYLUS
Ah! I know the tune you are playing now; you think I have
stolen, and want your share.
BLEPSIDEMUS
My share of what, pray?
CHREMYLUS
You are beside the mark; the thing is quite otherwise.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Perhaps it's not a theft, but some piece of knavery!
CHREMYLUS
You are insane!
BLEPSIDEMUS
What? You have done no man an injury?
CHREMYLUS
No! assuredly not I
BLEPSIDEMUS
But, great gods, what am I to think? You won't tell me the truth.
CHREMYLUS
You accuse me without really knowing anything.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Listen, friend, no doubt the matter can yet be hushed up, before
it gets noised abroad, at trifling expense; I will buy the orators'
silence.
CHREMYLUS
Aye, you will lay out three minae and, as my friend, you will
reckon twelve against me.
BLEPSIDEMUS
I know someone who will come and seat himself at the foot of the
tribunal, holding a supplicant's bough in his hand and surrounded by
his wife and children, for all the world like the Heraclidae of
Pamphilus.
CHREMYLUS
Not at all, poor fool! But, thanks to me, worthy folk alone
shall be rich henceforth.
BLEPSIDEMUS
What are you saying? Have you then stolen so much as all that?
CHREMYLUS
Oh your insults will be the death of me.
BLEPSIDEMUS
You're the one who is courting death.
CHREMYLUS
Not so, you wretch, since I have Plutus.
BLEPSIDEMUS
You have Plutus? Which one?
CHREMYLUS
The god himself.
BLEPSIDEMUS
And where is he?
CHREMYLUS
There.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Where?
CHREMYLUS
Indoors.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Indoors?
CHREMYLUS
Aye, certainly.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Get you gone! Plutus in your house?
CHREMYLUS
Yes, by the gods I
BLEPSIDEMUS
Are you telling the truth?
CHREMYLUS
I am.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Swear it by Hestia.
CHREMYLUS
I swear it by Posidon.
BLEPSIDEMUS
The god of the sea?
CHREMYLUS
Yes, and by all the other Posidons, such there be.
BLEPSIDEMUS
And you don't send him to us, to your friends?
CHREMYLUS
We've not got to that point yet.
BLEPSIDEMUS
What do you say? Is there no chance of sharing?
CHREMYLUS
Why, no. We must first.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Do what?
CHREMYLUS
...restore him his sight.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Restore whom his sight? Speak!
CHREMYLUS
Plutus. It must be done, no matter how.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Is he then really blind?
CHREMYLUS
Yes, undoubtedly.
BLEPSIDEMUS
I am no longer surprised he never came to me.
CHREMYLUS
If it please the gods, he'll come there now.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Must we not go and seek a physician?
CHREMYLUS
Seek physicians at Athens? Nay! there's no art where there's no
fee.
BLEPSIDEMUS (running his eyes over the audience)
Let's look carefully.
CHREMYLUS (after a thorough survey)
There is not one.
BLEPSIDEMUS
It's a positive fact; I don't know of one.
CHREMYLUS
But I have thought the matter well over, and the best thing is
to make Plutus lie in the Temple of Asclepius.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Unquestionably that's the very best thing. Hurry and lead him away
to the temple.
CHREMYLUS
I am going there.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Then hurry up.
CHREMYLUS
That's just what I am doing.

(They are just leaving when POVERTY comes running in;

she is a picture of squalor and the two men recoil in horror.)


POVERTY
Unwise, perverse, unholy men! What are you daring to do, you
pitiful, wretched mortals? Whither are you flying? Stop! I command it!
BLEPSIDEMUS
Oh! great gods!
POVERTY
My arm shall destroy you, you infamous beings! Such an attempt
is not to be borne; neither man nor god has ever dared the like. You
shall die!
CHREMYLUS
And who are you? Oh! what a ghastly pallor!
BLEPSIDEMUS
Perhaps it's some Erinys, some Fury, from the theatre; there's a
kind of wild tragic look in her eyes.
CHREMYLUS
But she has no torch.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Let's knock her down!
POVERTY
Who do you think I am?
CHREMYLUS
Some wine-shop keeper or egg-woman. Otherwise you would not have
shrieked so loud at us, who have done nothing to you.
POVERTY
Indeed? And have you not done me the most deadly injury by seeking
to banish me from every country?
CHREMYLUS
Why, have you not got the Barathrum left? But who are you?
Answer me quickly!
POVERTY
I am one that will punish you this very day for having wanted to
make me disappear from here.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Might it be the tavern-keeper in my neighbourhood, who is always
cheating me in measure?
POVERTY
I am Poverty, who have lived with you for so many years.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Oh! great Apollo! oh, ye gods! whither shall I fly?
(He starts to run away.)
CHREMYLUS
Here! what are you doing! You coward! Are going to leave me here?
BLEPSIDEMUS (still running)
Not I.
CHREMYLUS
Stop then! Are two men to run away from one woman?
BLEPSIDEMUS
But, you wretch, it's Poverty, the most fearful monster that
ever drew breath.
CHREMYLUS
Stay where you are, I beg of you.
BLEPSIDEMUS
No no! a thousand times, no!
CHREMYLUS
Could we do anything worse than leave the god in the lurch and fly
before this woman without so much as ever offering to fight?
BLEPSIDEMUS
But what weapons have we? Are we in a condition to show fight?
Where is the breastplate, the buckler, that this wretch has not
pawned?
CHREMYLUS
Be at ease. Plutus will readily triumph over her threats unaided.
POVERTY
Dare you reply, you scoundrels, you who are caught red-handed at
the most horrible crime?
CHREMYLUS
As for you, you cursed jade, you pursue me with your abuse, though
I have never done you the slightest harm.
POVERTY
Do you think it is doing me no harm to restore Plutus to the use
of his eyes?
CHREMYLUS
Is this doing you harm, that we shower blessings on all men?
POVERTY
And what do you think will ensure their happiness?
CHREMYLUS
Ah! first of all we shall drive you out of Greece.
POVERTY
Drive me out? Could you do mankind a greater harm?
CHREMYLUS
Yes-if I gave up my intention to deliver them from you.
POVERTY
Well, let us discuss this point first. I propose to show that I am
the sole cause of all your blessings, and that your safety depends
on me alone. If I don't succeed, then do what you like to me.
CHREMYLUS
How dare you talk like this, you impudent hussy?
POVERTY
Agree to hear me and I think it will be very easy for me to
prove that you are entirely on the wrong road, when you want to make
the just men wealthy.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Oh! cudgel and rope's end, come to my help!
POVERTY
Why such wrath and these shouts, before you hear my arguments?
BLEPSIDEMUS
But who could listen to such words without exclaiming?
POVERTY
Any man of sense.
CHREMYLUS
But if you lose your case, what punishment will you submit to?
POVERTY
Choose what you will.
CHREMYLUS
That's all right.
POVERTY
You shall suffer the same if you are beaten!
CHREMYLUS
Do you think twenty deaths a sufficiently large stake?
BLEPSIDEMUS
Good enough for her, but for us two would suffice.
POVERTY
You won't escape, for is there indeed a single valid argument to
oppose me with?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
To beat her in this debate, you must call upon all your wits. Make
no allowances and show no weakness!
CHREMYLUS
It is right that the good should be happy, that the wicked and the
impious, on the other hand, should be miserable; that is a truth, I
believe, which no one will gainsay. To realize this condition of
things is a proposal as great as it is noble and useful in every
respect, and we have found a means of attaining the object of our
wishes. If Plutus recovers his sight and ceases from wandering about
unseeing and at random, he will go to seek the just men and never
leave them again; he will shun the perverse and ungodly; so, thanks to
him, all men will become honest, rich and pious. Can anything better
be conceived for the public weal?
BLEPSIDEMUS
Of a certainty, no! I bear witness to that. It is not even
necessary she should reply.
CHREMYLUS
Does it not seem that everything is extravagance in the world,
or rather madness, when you watch the way things go? A crowd of rogues
enjoy blessings they have won by sheer injustice, while more honest
folks are miserable, die of hunger, and spend their whole lives with
you. Now, if Plutus became clear-sighted again and drove out
Poverty, it would be the greatest blessing possible for the human
race.
POVERTY
Here are two old men, whose brains are easy to confuse, who assist
each other to talk rubbish and drivel to their hearts' content. But if
your wishes were realized, your profit would be great! Let Plutus
recover his sight and divide his favours out equally to all, and
none will ply either trade or art any longer; all toil would be done
away with. Who would wish to hammer iron, build ships, sew, turn,
cut up leather, bake bricks, bleach linen, tan hides, or break up
the soil of the earth with the plough and garner the gifts of Demeter,
if he could live in idleness and free from all this work?
CHREMYLUS
What nonsense all this is! All these trades which you just mention
will be plied by our slaves.
POVERTY
Your slaves! And by what means will these slaves be got?
CHREMYLUS
We will buy them.
POVERTY
But first say, who will sell them, if everyone is rich?
CHREMYLUS
Some greedy dealer from Thessaly-the land which supplies so many.
POVERTY
But if your system is applied, there won't be a single
slave-dealer left. What rich man would risk his life to devote himself
to this traffic? You will have to toil, to dig and submit yourself
to all kinds of hard labour; so that your life would be more
wretched even than it is now.
CHREMYLUS
May this prediction fall upon yourself!
POVERTY
You will not be able to sleep in a bed, for no more will ever be
manufactured; nor on carpets, for who would weave them, if he had
gold? When you bring a young bride to your dwelling, you will have
no essences wherewith to perfume her, nor rich embroidered cloaks dyed
with dazzling colours in which to clothe her. And yet what is the
use of being rich, if you are to be deprived of all these
enjoyments? On the other hand, you have all that you need in
abundance, thanks to me; to the artisan I am like a severe mistress,
who forces him by need and poverty to seek the means of earning his
livelihood.
CHREMYLUS
And what good thing can you give us, unless it be burns in the
bath, and swarms of brats and old women who cry with hunger, and
clouds uncountable of lice, gnats and flies, which hover about the
wretch's head, trouble him, awake him and say, "You will be hungry,
but get up!" Besides, to possess a rag in place of a mantle, a
pallet of rushes swarming with bugs, that do not let you close your
eyes, for a bed; a rotten piece of matting for a coverlet; a big stone
for a pillow, on which to lay your head; to eat mallow roots instead
of bread, and leaves of withered radish instead of cake; to have
nothing but the cover of a broken jug for a stool, the stave of a
cask, and broken at that, for a kneading-trough, that is the life
you make for us! Are these the mighty benefits with which you
pretend to load mankind?
POVERTY
It's not my life that you describe,; you are attacking the
existence beggars lead.
CHREMYLUS
Is Beggary not Poverty's sister?
POVERTY
Thrasybulus and Dionysius are one and the same according to you.
No, my life is not like that and never will be. The beggar, whom you
have depicted to us, never possesses anything. The poor man lives
thriftily and attentive to his work: he has not got too much, but he
does not lack what he really needs.
CHREMYLUS
Oh! what a happy life, by Demeter! to live sparingly, to toil
incessantly and not to leave enough to pay for a tomb!
POVERTY
That's it! jest, jeer, and never talk seriously! But what you
don't know is this, that men with me are worth more, both in mind
and body, than with Plutus. With him they are gouty, big-bellied,
heavy of limb and scandalously stout; with me they are thin,
wasp-waisted, and terrible to the foe.
CHREMYLUS
No doubt it's by starving them that you give them that waspish
waist.
POVERTY
As for behaviour, I will prove to you that modesty dwells with
me and insolence with Plutus.
CHREMYLUS
Oh the sweet modesty of stealing and burglary.
POVERTY
Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor,
both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they
are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for
justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.
CHREMYLUS
That is absolutely true, although your tongue is very vile. But it
matters not, so don't put on those triumphant airs; you shall not be
punished any the less for having tried to persuade me that poverty
is worth more than wealth.
POVERTY
Not being able to refute my arguments, you chatter at random and
exert yourself to no purpose.
CHREMYLUS
Then tell me this, why does all mankind flee from you?
POVERTY
Because I make them better. Children do the very same; they flee
from the wise counsels of their fathers. So difficult is it to see
one's true interest.
CHREMYLUS
Will you say that Zeus cannot discern what is best? Well, he takes
Plutus to himself...
BLEPSIDEMUS
...and banishes Poverty to the earth.
POVERTY
Ah me! how purblind you are, you old fellows of the days of
Cronus! Why, Zeus is poor, and I will clearly prove it to you. In
the Olympic games, which he founded, and to which he convokes the
whole of Greece every four years, why does he only crown the
victorious athletes with wild olive? If he were rich he would give
them gold.
CHREMYLUS
That's the way he shows that he clings to his wealth; he is
sparing with it, won't part with any portion of it, only bestows
baubles on the victors and keeps his money for himself.
POVERTY
But wealth coupled to such sordid greed is yet more shameful
than poverty.
CHREMYLUS
May Zeus destroy you, both you and your chaplet of wild olive!
POVERTY
Thus you dare to maintain that Poverty is not the fount of all
blessings!
CHREMYLUS
Ask Hecate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will
tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor
make it disappear before it is even served. But go and hang yourself
and don't breathe another syllable. I will not be convinced against my
will.
POVERTY
"Oh! citizens of Argos! do you hear what he says?"
CHREMYLUS
Invoke Pauson, your boon companion, rather.
POVERTY
Alas! what is to become of me?
CHREMYLUS
Get you gone, be off quick and a pleasant journey to you.
POVERTY
But where shall I go?
CHREMYLUS
To gaol; but hurry up, let us put an end to this.
POVERTY (as she departs)
One day you will recall me.
CHREMYLUS
Then you can return; but disappear for the present. I prefer to be
rich; you are free to knock your head against the walls in your rage.
BLEPSIDEMUS
And I too welcome wealth. I want, when I leave the bath all
perfumed with essences, to feast bravely with my wife and children and
to fart in the faces of toilers and Poverty.
CHREMYLUS
So that hussy has gone at last! But let us make haste to put
Plutus to bed in the Temple of Asclepius.
BLEPSIDEMUS
Let us make haste; else some bothering fellow may again come to
interrupt us.
CREMYLUS (loudly)
Cario, bring the coverlets and all that I have got ready from
the house; let us conduct the god to the temple, taking care to
observe all the proper rites.

(CARIO comes out of the house with a
bundle under one arm and leading PLUTUS with the other.
CHREMYLUS and BLEPSIDEMUS join him and all four of them depart.)

(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)
CARIO
Oh! you old fellows, who used to dip out the broth served to the
poor at the festival of Theseus with little pieces of bread hollowed
like a spoon, how worthy of envy is your fate! How happy you are, both
you and all just men!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
My good fellow, what has happened to your friends? You seem the
bearer of good tidings.
CARIO
What joy-for my master and even more for Plutus! The god has
regained his sight; his eyes sparkle with the greatest brilliancy,
thanks to the benevolent care of Asclepius.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! what transports of joy! oh! what shouts of gladness!
CARIO
Aye! one is compelled to rejoice, whether one will or not.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
I will sing to the honour of Asclepius, the son of illustrious
Zeus, with a resounding voice; he is the beneficent star which men
adore.
CHREMYLUS' WIFE (coming out of the house)
What mean these shouts? Is there good news? With what impatience
have I been waiting in the house, and for so long too!
CARIO
Quick! quick, some wine, mistress. And drink some yourself,
(aside) it's much to your taste. I bring you all blessings in a lump.
WIFE
Where are they?
CARIO
In my words, as you are going to see.
WIFE
Have done with trifling! come, speak.
CARIO
Listen, I am going to tell you everything from the feet to the
head.
WIFE
Oh! don't throw anything at my head.
CARIO
Not even the happiness that has come to you?
WIFE
No, no, nothing ... to annoy me.
CARIO
Having arrived near to the temple with our patient, then so
unfortunate, but now at the apex of happiness, of blessedness, we
first led him down to the sea to purify him.
WIFE
Ah! what a singular pleasure for an old man to bathe in the cold
seawater!
CARIO (in the manner of the tragic messenger)
Then we repaired to the temple of the god. Once the wafers and the
various offerings had been consecrated upon the altar, and the cake of
wheaten-meal had been banded over to the devouring Hephaestus, we made
Plutus lie on a couch according to the rite, and each of us prepared
himself a bed of leaves.
WIFE
Had any other folk come to beseech the deity?
CARIO
Yes. Firstly, Neoclides, who is blind, but steals much better than
those who see clearly; then many others attacked by complaints of
all kinds. The lights were put out and the priest enjoined us to
sleep, especially recommending us to keep silent should we hear any
noise. There we were all lying down quite quietly. I could not
sleep; I was thinking of a certain stew-pan full of pap placed close
to an old woman and just behind her head. I had a furious longing to
slip towards that side. But just as I was lifting my head, I noticed
the priest, who was sweeping off both the cakes and the figs on the
sacred table; then he made the round of the altars and sanctified
the cakes that remained, by stowing them away in a bag. I therefore
resolved to follow such a pious example and made straight for the pap.
WIFE
You rogue! and had you no fear of the god?
CARIO
Aye, indeed! I feared that the god with his crown on his head
might have been near the stew-pan before me. I said to myself, "Like
priest, like god." On hearing the noise I made the old woman put out
her hand, but I hissed and bit it, just as a sacred serpent might have
done. Quick she drew back her hand, slipped down into the bed with her
head beneath the coverlets and never moved again; only she let flee
a fart in her fear which stank worse than a weasel. As for myself, I
swallowed a goodly portion of the pap and, having made a good feed,
went back to bed.
WIFE
And did not the god come?
CARIO
He did not tarry; and when he was near us, oh! dear! such a good
joke happened. My belly was quite blown up, and I let a thunderous
fart!
WIFE
Doubtless the god pulled a wry face?
CARIO
No, but Iaso blushed a little and Panacea turned her head away,
holding her nose; my farts are not perfume.
WIFE
And what did the god do?
CARIO
He paid not the slightest heed.
WIFE
He must then be a pretty coarse kind of god?
CARIO
I don't say that, but he's used to tasting stools.
WIFE
Impudent knave, go on with you!
CARIO
Then I hid myself in my bed all a-tremble. Asclepius did the round
of the patients and examined them all with great attention; then a
slave placed beside him a stone mortar, a pestle and a little box.
WIFE
Of stone?
CARIO
No, not of stone.
WIFE
But how could you see all this, you arch-rascal, when you say
you were hiding all the time?
CARIO
Why, great gods, through my cloak, for it's not without holes!
He first prepared an ointment for Neoclides; he threw three heads of
Tenian garlic into the mortar, pounded them with an admixture of
fig-tree sap and lentisk, moistened the whole with Sphettian
vinegar, and, turning back the patient's eyelids, applied his salve to
the interior of the eyes, so that the pain might be more excruciating.
Neoclides shrieked, howled, sprang towards the foot of his bed and
wanted to bolt, but the god laughed and said to him, "Keep where you
are with your salve; by doing this you will not go and perjure
yourself before the Assembly."
WIFE
What a wise god and what a friend to our city
CARIO
Thereupon he came and seated himself at the head of Plutus' bed,
took a perfectly clean rag and wiped his eyelids; Panacea covered
his head and face with a purple cloth, while the god whistled, and two
enormous snakes came rushing from the sanctuary.
WIFE
Great gods!
CARIO
They slipped gently beneath the purple cloth and, as far as I
could judge, licked the patient's eyelids; for, in less time than even
you need, mistress, to drain down ten beakers of wine, Plutus rose up;
be could see. I clapped my hands with joy and awoke my master, and the
god immediately disappeared with the serpents into the sanctuary. As
for those who were lying near Plutus, you can imagine that they
embraced him tenderly. Dawn broke and not one of them had closed an
eye. As for myself, I did not cease thanking the god who had so
quickly restored to Plutus his sight and had made Neoclides blinder
than ever.
WIFE
Oh! thou great Asclepius! How mighty is thy power! (To CARIO)
But tell me, where is Plutus now?
CARIO
He is approaching, escorted by an immense crowd. The rich, whose
wealth is ill-gotten, are knitting their brows and shooting at him
looks of fierce hate, while the just folk, who led a wretched
existence, embrace him and grasp his hand in the transport of their
joy; they follow in his wake, their heads wreathed with garlands,
laughing and blessing their deliverer; the old men make the earth
resound as they walk together keeping time. Come, all of you, all,
down to the very least, dance, leap and form yourselves into a chorus;
no longer do you risk being told, when you go home. "There is no
meal in the bag."
WIFE
And I, by Hecate! I will string you a garland of cakes for the
good tidings you have brought me.
CARIO
Hurry, make haste then; our friends are close at hand.
WIFE
I will go indoors to fetch some gifts of welcome, to celebrate
these eyes that have just been opened.
(She goes back into the house.)
CARIO
Meantime I am going forth to meet them.
(Exit)

(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)
PLUTUS
I adore thee, oh! thou divine sun, and thee I greet, thou city,
the beloved of Pallas: be welcome, thou land of Cecrops, which hast
received me. Alas! what manner of men I associated with! I blush to
think of it. While, on the other hand, I shunned those who deserved my
friendship; I knew neither the vices of the ones nor the virtues of
the others. A two-fold mistake, and in both cases equally fatal! Ah!
what a misfortune was mine! But I want to change everything; and in
the future I mean to prove to mankind that, if I gave to the wicked,
it was against my will.
CHREMYLUS (to the wings)
Get you gone! Oh! what a lot of friends spring into being when you
are fortunate! They dig me with their elbows and bruise my shins to
prove their affection. Each one wants to greet me. What a crowd of old
fellows thronged round me on the market-place!
WIFE
Oh! thou, who art dearest of all to me, and thou too, be
welcome! Allow me, Plutus, to shower these gifts of welcome over you
in due accord with custom.
PLUTUS
No. This is the first house I enter after having regained my
sight; I shall take nothing from it, for it is my place rather to
give.
WIFE
Do you refuse these gifts?
PLUTUS
I will accept them at your fireside, as custom requires.
Besides, we shall thus avoid a ridiculous scene; it is not meet that
the poet should throw dried figs and dainties to the spectators; it is
a vulgar trick to make them laugh.
WIFE
You are right. Look! yonder's Dexinicus, who was already getting
to his feet to catch the figs as they flew past him.
(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)
CARIO
How pleasant it is, friends, to live well, especially when it
costs nothing! What a deluge of blessings flood our household, and
that too without our having wronged a single soul! Ah! what a
delightful thing is wealth! The bin is full of white flour and the
wine-jars run over with fragrant liquor; all the chests are crammed
with gold and silver, it is a sight to see; the tank is full of oil,
the phials with perfumes, and the garret with dried figs. Vinegar
flasks, plates, stew-pots and all the platters are of brass; our
rotten old wooden trenchers for the fish have to-day become dishes
of silver; even the thunder-mug is of ivory. We others, the slaves, we
play at odd and even with gold pieces, and carry luxury so far that we
no longer wipe our arses with stones, but use garlic stalks instead.
My master, at this moment, is crowned with flowers and sacrificing a
pig, a goat and ram; it's the smoke that has driven me out, for I
could no longer endure it, it hurt my eyes so.

(A JUST MAN enters, followed by a small slave-lad who
carries a thread-bare cloak and a pair of badly worn sandals.)

JUST MAN
Come, my child, come with me. Let us go and find the god.
CARIO
Who's this?
JUST MAN
A man who was once wretched, but now is happy.
CARIO
A just man then?
JUST MAN
That's right.
CARIO
Well! what do you want?
JUST MAN
I come to thank the god for all the blessings he has showered on
me. My father had left me a fairly decent fortune, and I helped
those of my friends who were in want; it was, to my thinking, the most
useful thing I could do with my fortune.
CARIO
And you were quickly ruined?
JUST MAN
Quite.
CARIO
And since then you have been living in misery?
JUST MAN
Quite; I thought I could count, in case of need, upon the
friends whose property I had helped, but they turned their backs
upon me and pretended not to see me.
CARIO
They laughed at you, that's obvious.
JUST MAN
Quite. With my empty coffers, I had no more friends. But my lot
has changed, and so I come to the god to make him the acts of
gratitude that are his due.
CARIO
But why are you bringing this old cloak, which your slave is
carrying! Tell me.
JUST MAN
I wish to dedicate it to the god.
CARIO
Were you initiated into the Great Mysteries in that cloak?
JUST MAN
No, but I shivered in it for thirteen years.
CARIO
And this footwear?
JUST MAN
These also are my winter companions.
CARIO
And you wish to dedicate them too?
JUST MAN
Certainly.
CARIO
Fine presents to offer to the god!

(An INFORMER enters, followed by a witness.)

INFORMER (before he sees CARIO)
Alas! alas! I am a lost man. Ah! thrice, four, five, twelve times,
or rather ten thousand times unhappy fate! Why, why must fortune
deal me such rough blows?
CARIO
Oh, Apollo, my tutelary! oh! ye favourable gods! what has
overtaken this man?
INFORMER (to CARIO)
Ah! am I not deserving of pity? I have lost everything; this
cursed god has stripped me bare. Ah! if there be justice in heaven, he
shall be struck blind again,
JUST MAN
I think I know what's the matter. If this man is unfortunate, it's
because he's of little account and small honesty; and indeed he
looks it too.
CARIO
Then, by Zeus! his plight is but just.
INFORMER
He promised that if he recovered his sight, he would enrich us all
unaided; whereas he has ruined more than one.
CARIO
But whom has he thus ill-used?
INFORMER
Me.
CARIO
You were doubtless a villainous thief then.
INFORMER
No, it is rather you yourselves who were such wretches; I am
certain you have got my money.
CARIO
Ha! by Demeter! an informer! What impudence! He's ravenously
hungry, that's certain.
INFORMER
You shall follow me this very instant to the market-place, where
the torture of the wheel shall force the confession of your misdeeds
from you.
CARIO (with a threatening gesture)
Watch out, now!
JUST MAN
By Zeus the Deliverer, what gratitude all Greeks owe to Plutus, if
he destroys these vile informers!
INFORMER
You are laughing at me. Well, then I denounce you as their
accomplice. Where did you steal that new cloak from? Yesterday I saw
you with one utterly worn out.
JUST MAN
I fear you not, thanks to this ring, for which I paid Eudemus a
drachma.
CARIO
Ah! there's no ring to preserve you from the informer's bite.
INFORMER
The insolent wretches! But, my fine jokers, you have not told me
what you are up to here. Nothing good, I'm sure of that.
CARIO
Nothing of any good for you, be sure of that.
INFORMER
By Zeus! it's at my expense that you are about to dine.
CARIO
You and your witness, I hope you both burst...
JUST MAN
With an empty belly.
INFORMER
You deny it? I reckon, you villains, that there is much salt
fish and roast meat in this house. (He sniffs elaborately.)
CARIO
Can you smell anything, rascal?
JUST MAN
The cold, perhaps.
INFORMER
Can such outrages be home, oh, Zeus! Ye gods! how cruel it is to
see me treated thus, when I am such an honest fellow and such a good
citizen!
JUST MAN
You an honest man! you a good citizen!
INFORMER
A better one than any.
JUST MAN
Ah! well then, answer my questions.
INFORMER
Concerning what?
JUST MAN
Are you a husbandman?
INFORMER
D'ye take me for a fool?
JUST MAN
A merchant?
INFORMER
I assume the title, when it serves me.
JUST MAN
Do you ply any trade?
INFORMER
No, most assuredly not!
JUST MAN
Then how do you live, if you do nothing?
INFORMER
I superintend public and private business.
JUST MAN
You do? And by what right, pray?
INFORMER
Because it pleases me to do so.
JUST MAN
Like a thief you sneak yourself in where you have no business. You
are hated by all and you claim to be an honest man.
INFORMER
What, you fool? I have not the right to dedicate myself entirely
to my country's service?
JUST MAN
Is the country served by vile intrigue?
INFORMER
It is served by watching that the established law is observed-by
allowing no one to violate it.
JUST MAN
That's the duty of the tribunals; they are established to that
end.
INFORMER
And who is the prosecutor before the dicasts?
JUST MAN
Whoever wishes to be.
INFORMER
Well then, it is I who choose to be prosecutor; and thus all
public affairs fall within my province.
JUST MAN
I pity Athens for being in such vile clutches. But would you not
prefer to live quietly and free from all care and anxiety?
INFORMER
To do nothing is to live an animal's life.
JUST MAN
Thus you will not change your mode of life?
INFORMER
No, though they gave me Plutus himself and the silphium of Battus.
CARIO (to the INFORMER)
Come, quick, off with your cloak.
(The INFORMER does not move.)
JUST MAN
Hi! friend! it's you they are speaking to.
CARIO
Off with your shoes.
(The INFORMER still remains motionless.)
JUST MAN
I say, all this is addressed to you.
INFORMER (defiantly)
Very well! let one of you come near me, if he dares.
CARIO
I dare.

(He strips the INFORMER of his cloak and shoes.
The witness runs away.)

INFORMER
Alas! I am robbed of my clothes in full daylight.
CARIO
That's what comes of meddling with other folk's business and
living at their expense.
INFORMER (over his shoulder to the departing witness)
You see what is happening; I call you to witness.
CARIO (laughing)
Look how the witness whom you brought is taking to his heels.
INFORMER
Great gods! I am all alone and they assault me.
CARIO
Shout away!
INFORMER
Oh! woe, woe is me!
CARIO
Give me that old ragged cloak, that I may dress out the informer.
JUST MAN
No, no; I have dedicated it to Plutus.
CARIO
And where would your offering be better bestowed than on the
shoulders of a rascal and a thief? To Plutus fine, rich cloaks
should be given.
JUST MAN
And what then shall be done with these shoes? Tell me.
CARIO
I will nail them to his brow as gifts are nailed to the trunks
of the wild olive.
INFORMER
I'm off, for you are the strongest, I own. But if I find someone
to join me, let him be as weak as he will, I will summon this god, who
thinks himself so strong, before the court this very day, and denounce
him as manifestly guilty of overturning the democracy by his will
alone and without the consent of the Senate or the Assembly.
JUST MAN
Now that you are rigged out from head to foot with my old clothes,
hasten to the bath and stand there in the front row to warm yourself
better; that's the place I formerly had.
CARIO
Ah! the bath-man would grab you by the balls and fling you through
the door; he would only need to see you to appraise you at your true
value.... But let us go in, friend, that you may address your
thanksgivings to the god.
(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)

(An OLD WOMAN enters,
dressed as a young girl and trying to walk
in a youthful and alluring manner. She carries a plate of food.)

OLD WOMAN (coyly)
My dear old men, am I near the house where the new god lives, or
have I missed the road?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You are at his door, my pretty little maid, who question us so
sweetly.
OLD WOMAN
Then I will summon someone in the house.
CHREMYLUS
No need. I am here myself. But what brings you here?
OLD WOMAN
Ah! a cruel, unjust fate! My dear friend, this god has made life
unbearable to me through ceasing to be blind.
CHREMYLUS
What does this mean? Can you be a female informer?
OLD WOMAN
Most certainly not.
CHREMYLUS
Have you drunk up your money then?
OLD WOMAN
You are mocking me! No! I am being devoured with a consuming fire.
CHREMYLUS
Then tell me what is consuming you so fiercely.
OLD WOMAN
Listen! I loved a young man, who was poor, but so handsome, so
well-built, so honest! He readily gave way to all I desired and
acquitted himself so well! I, for my part, refused him nothing.
CHREMYLUS
And what did he generally ask of you?
OLD WOMAN
Very little; he bore himself towards me with astonishing
discretion! perchance twenty drachmae for a cloak or eight for
footwear; sometimes he begged me to buy tunics for his sisters or a
little mantle for his mother: at times he needed four bushels of corn.
CHREMYLUS
That's very little, in truth; I admire his modesty.
OLD WOMAN
And it wasn't as a reward for his complacency that he ever asked
me for anything, but as a matter of pure friendship; a cloak I had
given would remind him from whom he had got it.
CHREMYLUS
It was a fellow who loved you madly.
OLD WOMAN
But it's no longer so, for the faithless wretch has sadly altered!
I had sent him this cake with the sweetmeats you see here on this dish
and let him know that I would visit him in the evening...
CHREMYLUS
Well?
OLD WOMAN
He sent me back my presents and added this tart to them, on
condition that I never set foot in his house again. Besides, he sent
me this message, "Once upon a time the Milesians were brave."
CHREMYLUS
An honest lad, indeed What do you expect? When poor, he would
devour anything; now he is rich, he no longer cares for lentils.
OLD WOMAN
Formerly he came to me every day.
CHREMYLUS
To see if you were being buried?
OLD WOMAN
No! he longed to hear the sound of my voice.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
And to carry off some present.
OLD WOMAN
If I was downcast, he would call me his little duck or his
little dove in a most tender manner...
CHREMYLUS (aside)
And then would ask for the money to buy a pair of sandals.
OLD WOMAN
When I was at the Mysteries of Eleusis in a carriage, someone made
eyes at me; he was so jealous that he beat me the whole of that day.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
That was because he liked to feed alone.
OLD WOMAN
He told me I had very beautiful hands.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
Aye, no doubt, when they handed him twenty drachmae.
OLD WOMAN
That my whole body breathed a sweet perfume.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
Yes, like enough, if you poured him out Thasian wine.
OLD WOMAN
That my glance was gentle and charming.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
He was no fool. He knew how to drag drachmae from a sex-starved
old woman.
OLD WOMAN
Ah! the god has done very, very wrong, saying he would support the
victims of injustice.
CHREMYLUS
Well, what should he do? Speak, and it shall be done.
OLD WOMAN
Compel him, whom I have loaded with benefits, to repay them in his
turn; if not, he does not merit the least of the god's favours.
CHREMYLUS
And did he not do this every night?
OLD WOMAN
He swore he would never leave me, as long as I lived.
CHREMYLUS
Aye, right but he thinks you are no longer alive.
OLD WOMAN
Ah! friend, I am pining away with grief.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
You are rotting away, it seems to me.
OLD WOMAN
I have grown so thin, I could slip through a ring.
CHREMYLUS
Yes, if it were as large as the hoop of a sieve.

(A young man enters,

wearing a garland on his head

and carrying a torch in his hand.)


OLD WOMAN
But here is the youth, the cause of my complaint; he looks as
though he were going to a, festival.
CHREMYLUS
Yes, if his chaplet and his torch are any guides.
YOUTH (to the OLD WOMAN, With cool politeness)
Greeting to you.
OLD WOMAN (in a puzzled tone)
What was that he said?
YOUTH
My ancient old dear, you have grown white very quickly, by heaven!
OLD WOMAN
Oh! what an insult!
CHREMYLUS
It is a long time, then, since he saw you?
OLD WOMAN
A long time? My god! he was with me yesterday.
CHREMYLUS
It must be, then, that, unlike other people, he sees more
clearly when he's drunk.
OLD WOMAN
No, but I have always known him for an insolent fellow.
YOUTH
Oh! divine Posidon! Oh, ye gods of old age! what wrinkles she
has on her face! (He holds his torch close to her, in order to
inspect her more closely.)
OLD WOMAN
Oh! oh! keep your distance with that torch.
CHREMYLUS (aside)
It's just as well; if a single spark were to reach her, she
would catch fire like an old olive branch.
YOUTH
I propose to have a game with you.
OLD WOMAN (eagerly)
Where, naughty boy?
YOUTH
Here. Take some nuts in your hand.
OLD WOMAN
What game is this?
YOUTH
Let's play at guessing how many ... teeth you have.
CHREMYLUS
Ah! I'll tell you; she's got three, or perhaps four.
YOUTH
Pay up; you've lost! she has only one single grinder.
OLD WOMAN
You wretch! you're not in your right senses. Do you insult me thus
before this crowd?
YOUTH
I am washing you thoroughly; that's doing you a service.
CHREMYLUS
No, no! as she is there, she can still deceive; but if this
white-lead is washed off, her wrinkles will come out plainly.
OLD WOMAN
You are only an old fool!
YOUTH
Ah! he is playing the gallant, he is playing with your tits, and
thinks I do not see it.
OLD WOMAN (to CHREMYLUS)
Oh! no, by Aphrodite, don't do that, you naughty jealous fellow.
CHREMYLUS
Oh! most certainly not, by Hecate! Verily and indeed I would
need to be mad! But, young man, I cannot forgive you, if you cast
off this beautiful child.
YOUTH
Why, I adore her.
CHREMYLUS
But nevertheless she accuses you...
YOUTH
Accuses me of what?
CHREMYLUS
...of having told her insolently, "Once upon a time the
Milesians were brave."
YOUTH
Oh! I shall not dispute with you about her.
CHREMYLUS
Why not?
YOUTH
Out of respect for your age; with anyone but you I should not be
so easy; come, take the girl and be happy.
CHREMYLUS
see, I see; you don't want her any more.
OLD WOMAN
Nay this is a thing that cannot be allowed.
YOUTH
I cannot argue with a woman who has been laid by every one of
these thirteen thousand men.
(He points to the audience.)
CHREMYLUS
Yet, since you liked the wine, you should now consume the lees.
YOUTH
But these lees are quite rancid and fusty.
CHREMYLUS
Pass them through a straining-cloth; they'll clarify.
YOUTH
But I want to go in with you to offer these chaplets to the god.
OLD WOMAN
And I too have something to tell him.
YOUTH
Then I won't enter.
CHREMYLUS
Come, have no fear; she won't harm you.
YOUTH
That's true; I've been managing the old bark so long.
OLD WOMAN
Go in; Ill follow after you.
(They enter the house.)
CHREMYLUS
Good gods! that old hag has fastened herself to her youth like a
limpet to its rock.
(He follows them in.)

(Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)

(HERMES enters and begins knocking on the door.)
CARIO (opening the door)
Who is knocking at the door? Halloa! I see no one; it was then
by chance it gave forth that plaintive tone.
HERMES (to CARIO, who is about to close the door)
Cario! stop!
CARIO
Eh! friend, was it you who knocked so loudly? Tell me.
HERMES
No, I was going to knock and you forestalled me by opening.
Come, call your master quick, then his wife and his children, then his
slave and his dog, then yourself and his pig.
CARIO
And what's it all about?
HERMES
It's about this, rascal! Zeus wants to serve you all with the same
sauce and hurl the lot of you into the Barathrum.
CARIO (aside)
Have a care for your tongue, you bearer of ill tidings! (To
HERMES) But why does he want to treat us in that scurvy fashion?
HERMES
Because you have committed the most dreadful crime. Since Plutus
has recovered his sight, there is nothing for us other gods, neither
incense, nor laurels, nor cakes, nor victims, nor anything in the
world.
CARIO
And you will never be offered anything more; you governed us too
ill
HERMES
I care nothing at all about the other gods, but it's myself. I
tell you I am dying of hunger.
CARIO
That's reasoning like a wise fellow.
HERMES
Formerly, from earliest dawn, I was offered all sorts of good
things in the wine-shops,-wine-cakes, honey, dried figs, in short,
dishes worthy of Hermes. Now, I lie the livelong day on my back,
with my legs in the air, famishing.
CARIO
And quite right too, for you often had them punished who treated
you so well.
HERMES
Ah! the lovely cake they used to knead for me on the fourth of the
month!
CARIO
You recall it vainly; your regrets are useless!
HERMES
Ah! the ham I was wont to devour!
CARIO
Well then! make use of your legs and hop on one leg upon the
wine-skin, to while away the time.
HERMES
Oh! the grilled entrails I used to swallow down!
CARIO
Your own have got the colic, I think
HERMES
Oh! the delicious tipple, half-wine, half-water!
CARIO
Here, take this and be off. (He farts.)
HERMES (in tragic style)
Would you render service to the friend that loves you?
CARIO
Willingly, if I can.
HERMES
Give me some well-baked bread and a big hunk of the victims they
are sacrificing in your house.
CARIO
That would be stealing.
HERMES
Do you forget, then, how I used to take care he knew nothing about
it when you were stealing something from your master?
CARIO
Because I used to share it with you, you rogue; some cake or other
always came your way,
HERMES
Which afterwards you ate up all by yourself.
CARIO
But then you did not share the blows when I was caught.
HERMES
Forget past injuries, now you have taken Phyle. Ah! how I should
like to live with you! Take pity and receive me.
CARIO
You would leave the gods to stop here?
HERMES
One is much better off among you.
CARIO
What! you would desert Do you think that is honest?
HERMES
"Where I live well, there is my country."
CARIO
But how could we employ you here?
HERMES
Place me near the door; I am the watchman god and would shift of
the robbers.
CARIO
Shift off! Ah! but we have no love for shifts.
HERMES
Entrust me with business dealings.
CARIO
But we are rich; why should we keep a baggling Hermes?
HERMES
Let me intrigue for you.
CARIO
No, no, intrigues are forbidden; we believe in good faith.
HERMES
I will work for you as a guide.
CARIO
But the god sees clearly now, so we no longer want a guide.
HERMES
Well then, I will preside over the games. Ah! what can you
object to In that? Nothing is fitter for Plutus than to give scenic
and gymnastic games.
CARIO
How useful it is to have so many names Here you have found the
means of earning your bread. I don't wonder the jurymen so eagerly try
to get entered for many tribunals.
HERMES
So then, you admit me on these terms?
CARIO
Go and wash the entrails of the victims at the well, so that you
may show yourself serviceable at once.

(They both enter the house. A PRIEST of ZEUS comes hurrying in.)

PRIEST
Can anyone tell me where Chremylus is?
CHREMYLUS (emerging from the house)
What would you with him, friend?
PRIEST
Much ill. Since Plutus has recovered his sight, I am perishing
of starvation; I, the priest of Zeus the Deliverer, have nothing to
eat!
CHREMYLUS
And what is the cause of that, pray?
PRIEST
No one dreams of offering sacrifices.
CHREMYLUS
Why not?
PRIEST
Because all men are rich. Ah! when they had nothing, the
merchant who escaped from shipwreck, the accused who was acquitted,
all immolated victims; another would sacrifice for the success of some
wish and the priest joined in at the feast; but now there is not the
smallest victim, not one of the faithful in the temple, but
thousands who come there to take a crap.
CHREMYLUS
Why don't you take your share of those offerings?
PRIEST (ignoring this)
Hence I think I too am going to say good-bye to Zeus the Deliverer
and stop here myself.
CHREMYLUS
Be at ease, all will go well, if it so please the god. Zeus the
Deliverer is here; he came of his own accord.
PRIEST
Ha! that's good news.
(He moves toward the door.)
CHREMYLUS
Wait a little; we are going to install Plutus presently in the
place he formerly occupied behind the Temple of Athene; there he
will watch over our treasures for ever. (Calling out) Let lighted
torches be brought to the priest. Take these and walk in solemn
procession in front of the god.
PRIEST
That's magnificent!
CHREMYLUS
Let Plutus be summoned.

(PLUTUS comes out of the house, followed by the OLD WOMAN.)

OLD WOMAN
And I, what am I to do?
CHREMYLUS
Take the pots of vegetables which we are going to offer to the god
in honour of his installation and carry them on your head; you just
happen luckily to be wearing, a beautiful embroidered robe.
OLD WOMAN
And what about the object of my coming?
CHREMYLUS
Everything shall be according to your wish. The young man will
be with you this evening.
OLD WOMAN
Oh! if you promise me his visit, I will right willingly carry
the pots.

(She puts them on her head.)

CHREMYLUS
Those are strange pots indeed! Generally the scum rises to the,
top of the pots, but here the pots are raised to the top of the old
woman.

(PLUTUS begins to march solemnly off the stage;
the OLD WOMAN follows him.)


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Let us withdraw without more tarrying, and follow the others,
singing as we go
(They do so.)


THE END
.
 

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