Fiction > Harvard Classics > Aristophanes > The Frogs
  PREVIOUS
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD · DRAMATIS PERSONÆ
Aristophanes (c.448 B.C.–c.388 B.C.).  The Frogs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Lines 1000–1553
 
 
          Whirl thee out of the listed plain,        1000
          Past the olives, and o’er the line.
          Dire and grievous the charge he brings.
          See thou answer him, noble heart,
          Not with passionate bickerings.        1004
          Shape thy course with a sailor’s art,
          Reef the canvas, shorten the sails,
          Shift them edgewise to shun the gales.
          When the breezes are soft and low,        1008
          Then, well under control, you’ll go
          Quick and quicker to strike the foe.
O first of all the Hellenic bards high loftily-towering verse to rear,
And tragic phrase from the dust the raise, pour forth thy fountain with right good cheer.        1012
 
ÆSCH.  My wrath is hot at this vile mischance, and my spirit revolts at the thought that I
Must bandy words with a fellow like him: but lest he should vaunt that I can’t reply—
Come, tell me what are the points for which a noble poet our praise obtains.
 
EUR.  For his ready wit, and his counsels sage, and because the citizen folk he trains        1016
To be better townsmen and worthier men.  ÆSCH. If then you have done the very reverse,
Found noble-hearted and virtuous men, and altered them, each and all, for the worse,
Pray what is the meed you deserve to get?  DIO. Nay, ask not him. He deserves to die.
 
ÆSCH.  For just consider what style of men he received from me, great six-foot-high        1020
Heroical souls, who never would blench from a townsman’s duties in peace or war;
Not idle loafers, or low buffoons, or rascally scamps such as now they are,
But men who were breathing spears and helms, and the snow-white plume in its crested pride,
The greave, and the dart, and the warrior’s heart in its seven-fold casing of tough bull-hide.        1024
 
DIO.  He’ll stun me, I know, with his armoury-work; this business is going from bad to worse.
 
EUR.  And how did you manage to make them so grand, exalted, and brave with your wonderful verse?
 
DIO.  Come, Æschylus, answer, and don’t stand mute in your self-willed pride and arrogant spleen.
 
ÆSCH.  A drama I wrote with the War-god filled.  DIO. Its name?  ÆSCH. ’Tis the “Seven against Thebes” that I mean,        1028
Which whoso beheld, with eagerness swelled to rush to the battlefield there and then.
 
DIO.  O, that was a scandalous thing you did! You have made the Thebans mightier men,
More eager by far for the business of war. Now, therefore, receive this punch on the head.
 
ÆSCH.  Ah, ye might have practised the same yourselves, but ye turned to other pursuits instead.        1032
Then next the “Persians” I wrote, in praise of the noblest deed that the world can show,
And each man longed for the victor’s wreath, to fight and to vanquish his country’s foe.
 
DIO.  I was pleased, I own, when I heard their moan for old Darius, their great king, dead;
When they smote together their hands, like this, and Evir alake the Chorus said.        1036
 
ÆSCH.  Aye, such are the poet’s appropriate works: and just consider how all along
From the very first they have wrought you good, the noble bards, the masters of song.
First, Orpheus taught you religious rites, and from bloody murder to stay your hands:
Musaeus healing and oracle lore; and Hesiod all the culture of lands, The time to gather, the time to plough. And gat not Homer his glory divine        1040
By singing of valour, and honour, and right, and the sheen of the battle-extended line,
The ranging troops and the arming of men?  DIO. O, aye, but he didn’t teach that, I opine,
To Pantacles; when he was leading the show I couldn’t imagine what he was at,
He had fastened his helm on the top of his head, he was trying to fasten his plume upon that.        1044
 
ÆSCH.  But others, many and brave, he taught, of whom was Lamachus, hero true;
And thence my spirit the impress took, and many a lion-heart chief I drew,
Patrocluses, Teucers, illustrious names; for I fain the citizen-folk would spur
To stretch themselves to their measure and height, whenever the trumpet of war they hear.        1048
But Phædras and Stheneboeas? No! no harlotry business deformed my plays.
And none can say that ever I drew a love-sick woman in all my days.
 
EUR.  For you no lot or portion had got in Queen Aphrodite.  ÆSCH. Thank Heaven for that.
But ever on you and yours, my friend, the mighty goddess mightily sat; Yourself she cast to the ground at last.  DIO. O, aye, that came uncommonly pat.        1052
You showed how cuckolds are made, and lo, you were struck yourself by the very same fate.
 
EUR.  But say, you cross-grained censor of mine, how my Stheneboeas could harm the state.
 
ÆSCH.  Full many a noble dame, the wife of a noble citizen, hemlock took,
And died, unable the shame and sin of your Bellerophon-scenes to brook.        1056
 
EUR.  Was then, I wonder, the tale I told of Phædra’s passionate love untrue?
 
ÆSCH.  Not so: but tales of incestuous vice the sacred poet should hide from view,
Nor ever exhibit and blazon forth on the public stage to the public ken.
For boys a teacher at school is found, but we, the poets, are teachers of men.        1060
We are BOUND things honest and pure to speak.  EUR. And to speak great Lycabettuses, pray,
And massive blocks of Parnassian rocks, is that things honest and pure to say?
In human fashion we ought to speak.  ÆSCH. Alas, poor witling, and can’t you see
That for mighty thoughts and heroic aims, the words themselves must appropriate be?        1064
And grander belike on the ear should strike the speech of heroes and godlike powers,
Since even the robes that invest their limbs are statelier, grander robes than ours.
Such was my plan: but when you began, you spoilt and degraded it all.  EUR. How so?
 
ÆSCH.  Your kings in tatters and rags you dressed, and brought them on, a beggarly show,        1068
To move, forsooth, our pity and ruth.  EUR. And what was the harm, I should like to know.
 
ÆSCH.  No more will a wealthy citizen now equip for the state a galley of war.
He wraps his limbs in tatters and rags, and whines he is poor, too poor by far.
 
DIO.  But under his rags he is wearing a vest, as woolly and soft as a man could wish.        1072
Let him gull the stated and he’s off to the mart; an eager, extravagant buyer of fish.
 
ÆSCH.  Moreover, to prate, to harangue, to debate, is now the ambition of all in the state.
Each exercise-ground is in consequence found deserted and empty: to evil repute
Your lessons have brought our youngsters, and taught our sailors to challenge, discuss, and refute        1076
The orders they get from their captains, and yet, when I was alive, I protest that the knaves
Knew nothing at all, save for rations to call, and to sing “Rhyppapae” as they pulled through the waves.
 
DIO.  And, bedad, to let fly from their sterns in the eye of the fellow who tugged at the undermost oar,
And a jolly young messmate with filth to besmirch, and to land for a filching adventure ashore;        1080
          But now they harangue, and dispute, and won’t row,
          And idly and aimlessly float to and fro.
 
ÆSCH.  Of what ills is he not the creator and cause?
          Consider the scandalous scenes that he draws,        1084
          His bawds, and his panders, his women who give,
              Give birth in the sacredest shrine,
          Whilst other with brothers are wedded and bedded,
                  And others opine        1088
          That “not to be living’ is truly “to live.”
          And therefore our city is swarming to-day
          With clerks and with demagogue-monkeys, who play
          Their jackanape tricks at all times, in all places,        1092
          Deluding the people of Athens; but none
          Has training enough in athletics to run
              With the torch in his hand at the races.
 
DIO.  By the Powers, you are right! At the Panathenaea        1096
I laughed till I felt like a postherd to see a
Pale, paunchy young gentlemen pounding along,
With his head butting forward, the last of the throng,
In the direst of straits; and, behold, at the gates,        1000
The Ceramites flapped him, and smacked him, and slapped him,
In the ribs, and the loin, and the flank, and the groin,
And still, as they spanked him, he puffed and he panted,
Till at one mighty cuff, he discharged such a puff        1104
That he blew out his torch and levanted.
 
CHOR. Dread the battle, and stout the combat, mighty and manifold looms the war.
        Hard to decide in the fight they’re waging,
        One like a stormy tempest raging,        1108
One alert in the rally and skirmish, clever to parry and foin and spar.
        Nay, but don’t be content to sit
Always in one position only: many the fields for your keen-edged wit.
        On then, wrangle in every way.        1112
        Argue, battle, be flayed and flay,
        Old and new from your stores display,
Yea, and strive with venturesome daring something subtle and neat to say.
 
Fear ye this, that to-day’s spectators lack the grace of artistic lore,        1116
        Lack the knowledge they need for taking
        All the points ye will soon be making?
Fear it not: the alarm is groundless: that, be sure, is the case no more.
        All have fought the campaign ere this:        1120
Each a book of the words is holding; never a single point they’ll miss.
        Bright their natures, and now, I ween,
        Newly whetted, and sharp, and keen.
        Dread not any defect of wit,        1124
Battle away without misgiving, sure that the audience, at least, are fit.
 
EUR.  Well, then, I’ll turn me to your prologues now,
Beginning first to test the first beginning
Of this fine poet’s plays. Why, he’s obscure        1128
Even in the enunciation of the facts.
 
DIO.  Which of them will you test?  EUR. Many: but first
Give us that famous one from the “Oresteia.”
 
DIO.  St! Silence, all! Now, Æschylus, begin.        1132
 
ÆSCH.  Grave Hermes, witnessing a father’s power,
Be thou my saviour and mine aid to-day,
For here I come and hither I return.
 
DIO.  Any fault there?  EUR. A dozen faults, and more.        1136
 
DIO.  Eh! why, the lines are only three in all.
 
EUR.  But every one contains a score of faults.
 
DIO.  Now, Æschylus, keep silent; if you don’t,
You won’t get off with three iambic lines.        1140
 
ÆSCH.  Silent for him!  DIO. If my advice you’ll take.
 
EUR.  Why, at first starting, here’s a fault sky-high.
 
ÆSCH.  (To Dio.) You see your folly?  DIO. Have your way; I Care not.
 
ÆSCH.  (To Eur.) What is my fault?  EUR. Begin the lines again.        1144
 
ÆSCH.  Grave Hermes, witnessing a father’s power—
 
EUR.  And this beside his murdered father’s grave
Orestes speaks?  ÆSCH. I say not otherwise.
 
EUR.  Then does he mean that when his father fell        1148
By craft and violence at a woman’s hand,
The god of craft was witnessing the deed?
 
ÆSCH.  It was not he: it was the Helper Hermes
He called the grave: and this he showed by adding        1152
It was his sire’s prerogative he held.
 
EUR.  Why, this is worse than all. If from his father
He held this office grave, why, then—  DIO. He was
A graveyard rifler on his father’s side.        1156
 
ÆSCH.  Bacchus, the wine you drink is stale and fusty.
 
DIO.  give him another: (To Eur.) you, look out for faults.
 
ÆSCH.  Be thou my saviour and mine aid to-day,
For here I come, and hither I return.        1160
 
EUR.  The same thing twice says clever Æschylus.
 
DIO.  How twice?  EUR. Why, just consider: I’ll explain.
“I come,” says he; and “I return,” says he:
It’s the same thing to “come” and to “return.”        1164
 
DIO.  Aye, just as if you said, “Good fellow, lend me
A kneading-trough: likewise, a trough to knead in.”
 
ÆSCH.  It is not so, you everlasting talker,
They’re not the same, the words are right enough.        1168
 
DIO.  How so? inform me how you use the words.
 
ÆSCH.  A man, not banished from his home, may “come”
To any land, with no especial chance.
A home-bound exile both “returns” and “comes.”        1172
 
DIO.  O, good, by Apollo!
What do you say, Euripides, to that?
 
EUR.  I say Orestes never did “return.”
He came in secret: nobody recalled him.        1176
 
DIO.  O, good, by Hermes!
(Aside.) I’ve not the least suspicion what he means.
 
EUR.  Repeat another line.  DIO. Aye, Æschylus,
Repeat one instantly: you, mark what’s wrong.        1180
 
ÆSCH.  Now on this funeral mound I call my father
To hear, to hearken.  EUR. There he is again.
To “hear,” to “hearken”; the same thing, exactly.
 
DIO.  Aye, but he’s speaking to the dead, you knave,        1184
Who cannot hear us though we call them thrice.
 
ÆSCH.  And how do you make your prologues?  EUR. You shall hear;
And if you find one single thing said twice,
Or any useless padding, spit upon me.        1188
 
DIO.  Well, fire away: I’m all agog to hear
Your very accurate and faultless prologues.
 
EUR.  A happy man was Oedipus at first—
 
ÆSCH.  Not so, by Zeus; a most unhappy man,        1192
Who, not yet born nor yet conceived. Apollo
Foretold would be his father’s murderer.
How could he be a happy man at first?
 
EUR.  Then he became the wretchedest of men.        1196
 
ÆSCH.  Not so, by Zeus; he never ceased to be.
No sooner born, than they exposed the babe
(And that in winter), in an earthen crock,
Lest he should grown a man, and slay his father.        1200
Then with both ankles pierced and swoln, he limped
Away to Polybus: still young, he married
An ancient crone, and her his mother too;
The scratched out both his eyes.  DIO. Happy indeed        1204
Had he been Erasinides’ colleague!
 
EUR.  Nonsense; I say my prologues are first-rate.
 
ÆSCH.  Nay, then, by Zeus, no longer line by line
I’ll maul your phrases: but with heaven to aid        1208
I’ll smash your prologues with a bottle of oil.
 
EUR.  You mine with a bottle of oil?
 
ÆSCH.  With only one.
You frame your prologues so that each and all        1212
Fit in with a “bottle of oil,” or “coverlet-skin,”
Or “reticule-bag.” I’ll prove it here, and now.
 
EUR.  You’ll prove it? You?  ÆSCH. I will.  DIO. Well, then, begin.
 
EUR.  Aegyptus, sailing with his fifty sons,        1216
As ancient legends mostly tell the tale,
Touching at Argos,  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.
 
EUR.  Hang it, what’s that? Confound that bottle of oil!
 
DIO.  Give him another: let him try again.        1220
 
EUR.  Bacchus, who, clad in fawnskins, leaps and bounds
With torch and thyrsus in the choral dance
Along Parnassus.  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.
 
DIO.  Ah me, we are stricken—with that bottle again!        1224
 
EUR.  Pooh, pooh, that’s nothing. I’ve a prologue here,
He’ll never tack his bottle of oil to this:
No man is blest in every single thing.
One is of noble birth, but lacking means.        1228
Another, baseborn,  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.
 
DIO.  Euripedes!  EUR. Well?  DIO. Lower your sails, my boy;
This bottle of oil is going to blow a gale.
 
EUR.  O, by Demeter, I don’t care one bit;        1232
Now from his hands I’ll strike that bottle of oil.
 
DIO.  Go on then, go; but ware the bottle of oil.
 
EUR.  Once Cadmus, quitting the Sidonian town,
Agenor’s offspring  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.        1236
 
DIO.  O, pray, my man, buy off that bottle of oil,
Or else he’ll smash our prologues all to bits.
 
EUR.  I buy of him?  DIO. If my advice you’ll take.
 
EUR.  No, no I’ve many a prologue yet to say,        1240
To which he can’t tack on his bottle of oil.
Pelops, the son of Tantalus, while driving
His mares to Pisa  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.
 
DIO.  There! he tacked on the bottle of oil again.        1244
O, for heaven’s sake, pay him its price, dear boy;
You’ll get it for an obol, spick-and-span.
 
EUR.  Not yet, by Zeus; I’ve plenty of prologues left.
Oeneus once reaping  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.        1248
 
EUR.  Pray let me finish one entire line first.
Oeneus once reaping an abundant harvest,
Offering the firstfruits  ÆSCH. Lost his bottle of oil.
 
DIO.  What, in the act of offering? Fie! Who stole it?        1252
 
EUR.  O, don’t keep bothering! Let him try with this!
Zeus, as by Truth’s own voice the tale is told,
 
DIO.  No, he’ll cut in with “Lost his bottle of oil.”
Those bottles of oil on all your prologues seem        1256
To gather and grow, like styes upon the eye.
Turn to his melodies now, for goodness’ sake.
 
EUR.  O, I can easily show that he’s a poor
Melody-maker; makes them all alike.        1260
 
CHOR.    What, O, what will be done!
            Strange to think that he dare
            Blame the bard who has won,
            More than all in our days,        1264
            Fame and praise for his lays,
            Lays so many and fair.
            Much I marvel to hear
            What the charge he will bring        1268
            ’Gainst our tragedy king;
            Yea, for himself do I fear.
 
EUR.  Wonderful lays! O, yes, you’ll see directly.
I’ll cut down all his metrical strains to one.        1272
 
DIO.  And I, I’ll take some pebbles, and keep count.
 
(A slight pause, during which the music of a flute is heard. The music continues to the end of line 1277 as an accompaniment to the recitative.)


EUR.  Lord of Phthia, Achilles, why, hearing the voice of the hero-dividing,
      Hah! smiting! approachest thou not to the rescue?
We, by the lake who abide, are adoring our ancestor Hermes.        1276
      Hah! smiting! approachest thou not to the rescue?
 
DIO.      O Æschylus, twice art thou smitten!
 
EUR.  Hearken to me, great king; yea, hearken, Atreides, thou noblest of all the Achaeans.
      Hah! smiting! approachest thou not to the rescue?        1280
 
DIO.  Thrice, Æschylus, thrice art thou smitten!
 
EUR.  Hush! the bee-wardens are here: they will quickly the Temple of Artemis open.
      Hah! smiting! approachest thou not to the rescue?
I will expound (for I know it) the omen the chieftains encountered.        1284
      Hah! smiting! approachest thou not to the rescue?
 
DIO.  O Zeus and King, the terrible lot of smitings!
I’ll to the bath: I’m very sure my kidneys
Are quite inflamed and swoln with all these smitings.        1288
 
EUR.  Wait till you’ve heard another batch of lays
Culled from his lyre-accompanied melodies.
 
DIO.  Go on then, go: but no more smitings, please.
 
EUR.  How the twin-throned powers of Achaea, the lords of the mighty        1292
Hellenes.
      O phlattothrattophlattothrat!
Sendeth the Sphinx, the unchancy, the chieftainess blood-hound.
      O phlattothrattophlattothrat!        1296
Launcheth fierce with brand and hand the avengers the terrible eagle.
      O phlattothrattophlattothrat!
So for the swift-winged hounds of the air he provided a booty.
      O phlattothrattophlattothrat!        1300
The throng down-bearing on Aias.
      O phlattothrattophlattothrat!
 
DIO.  Whence comes that phlattothrat? From Marathon, or
Where picked you up these cable-twister’s strains?        1304
 
ÆSCH.  From noblest source for noblest ends I brought them,
Unwilling in the Muses’ holy field
The selfsame flowers as Phrynichus to cull.
But he from all things rotten draws his lays,        1308
From Carian flutings, catches of Meletus,
Dance-music, dirges. You shall hear directly.
Bring me the lyre. Yet wherefore need a lyre
For songs like these? Where’s she that bangs and jangles        1312
Her castanets? Euripides’ Muse,
Present yourself: fit goddess for fit verse.
 
DIO.  The Muse herself can’t be a wanton? No!
 
ÆSCH.  Halcyons, who by the ever-rippling        1316
      Waves of the sea are babbling,
      Dewing your plumes with the drops that fall
      From wings in the salt spray dabbling.
 
      Spiders, ever with twir-r-r-r-r-rling fingers        1320
      Weaving the warp and the woof,
      Little, brittle, network, fretwork,
      Under the coigns of the roof.
 
      The minstrel shuttle’s care.        1324
 
      Where in the front of the dark-prowed ships
      Yarely the flute-loving dolphin skips.
 
      Races here and oracles there.
      And the joy of the young vines smiling,        1328
 
      And the tendril of grapes, care-beguiling.
 
            O, embrace me, my child O, embrace me.
(To Dio.) You see this foot?  DIO. I do.
 
ÆSCH.  And this?  DIO. And that one too.        1332
 
ÆSCH.  (To Eur.) You, such stuff who compile,
          Dare my songs to upbraid;
          You, whose songs in the style
          Of Cyrene’s embraces are made.        1336
        So much for them: but still I’d like to show
        The way in which your monodies are framed.
          “O darkly-light mysterious Night,
          What may this Vision mean,        1340
          Sent from the world unseen
          With baleful omens rife;
          A thing of lifeless life,
          A child of sable night,        1344
          A ghastly curdling sight,
          In black funereal veils,
        With murder, murder in its eyes,
          And great enormous nails?        1348
Light ye the lanterns, my maidens, and dipping your jugs in the stream,
Draw me the dew of the water, and heat it to boiling and steam;
So will I wash me away the ill effects of my dream.
          God of the sea!        1352
          My dream’s come true.
          Ho, lodgers, ho,
          This portent view.
        Glyce has vanished, carrying off my cock,        1356
          My cock that crew!
        O Mania, help! O Oreads of the rock,
          Pursue! pursue!
        For I, poor girl, was working within,        1360
        Holding my distaff heavy and full,
        Twir-r-r-r-r-rling my hand as the threads I spin,
        Weaving an excellent bobbin of wool;
        Thinking, ‘To-morrow I’ll go to the fair,        1364
        In the dusk of the morn, and be selling it there.’
        But he to the blue upflew, upflew,
        On the lightliest tips of his wings outspread;
        To me he bequeathed but woe, but woe,        1368
        And tears, sad tears, from my eyes o’erflow,
        Which I, the bereaved, must shed, must shed.
        O children of Ida, sons of Crete,
        Grasping your bows, to the rescue come;        1372
        Twinkle about on your restless feet,
        Stand in a circle around her home.
        O Artemis, thou maid divine,
        Dictynna, huntress, fair to see,        1376
        O, bring that keen-nosed pack of thine,
        And hunt through all the house with me.
        O Hecate, with flameful brands,
        O Zeus’ daughter, arm thine hands        1380
        Those swiftliest hands, both right and left;
        Thy rays on Glyce’s cottage throw
        That I serenely there may go
        And search by moonlight for the theft.”        1384
 
DIO.  Enough of both your odes.  ÆSCH. Enough for me.
Now would I bring the fellow to the scales.
That, that alone, shall test our poetry now,
And prove whose words are weightiest, his or mine.        1388
 
DIO.  Then both come hither, since I needs must weigh
The art poetic like a pound of cheese.
 
CHOR.  O, the labour these wits go through!
        O, the wild, extravagant, new,        1392
        Wonderful things they are going to do!
        Who but they would ever have thought of it?
        Why, if a man had happened to meet me
        Out in the street, and intelligence brought of it,        1396
        I should have thought he was trying to cheat me;
        Thought that his story was false and deceiving.
        That were a tale I could never believe in.
 
DIO.  Each of you stand beside his scale,  ÆSCH. and EUR. We’re here        1400
 
DIO.  And grasp it firmly whilst ye speak your lines,
And don’t let go until I cry “Cuckoo.”
 
ÆSCH.  and EUR. Ready!  DIO. Now speak your lines into the scale.
 
EUR.  O, that the Argo had not winged her way—        1404
 
ÆSCH.  River Spercheius, cattle-grazing haunts—
 
DIO.  Cuckoo! let go. O, look by far the lowest
His scale sinks down.  EUR. Why, how came that about?
 
DIO.  He threw a river in, like some wool-seller        1408
Wetting his wool, to make it weight the more.
But you threw in a light and wingèd word.
 
EUR.  Come, let him match another verse with mine.
 
DIO.  Each to his scale.  ÆSCH. and EUR. We’re ready.  DIO. Speak your lines.        1412
 
EUR.  Persuasion’s only shrine is eloquent speech.
 
ÆSCH.  Death loves not gifts, alone amongst the gods.
 
DIO.  Let go, let go. Down goes his scale again.
He threw in Death, the heaviest ill of all.        1416
 
EUR.  And I Persuasion, the most lovely word.
 
DIO.  A vain and empty sound, devoid of sense.
Think of some heavier-weighted line of yours,
To drag your scale down: something strong and big.        1420
 
EUR.  Where have I got one? Where? Let’s see. Dio I’ll tell you.
“Achilles threw two singles and a four.”
Come, speak your lines: this is your last set-to.
 
EUR.  In his right hand he grasped an iron-clamped mace.        1424
 
ÆSCH.  Chariot on chariot, corpse on corpse was hurled.
 
DIO.  There now! again he has done you.  EUR. Done me? How?
 
DIO.  He threw tow chariots and two corpses in;
Five-score Egyptians could not lift that weight.        1428
 
ÆSCH.  No more of “line for line”; let him—himself,
His children, wife, Cephisophon—get in,
With all his books collected in his arms,
Two lines of mine shall overweigh the lot.        1432
 
DIO.  Both are my friends; I can’t decide between them:
I don’t desire to be at odds with either:
One is so clever, one delights me so.
 
PLUTO.  Then you’ll effect nothing for which you came?        1436
 
DIO.  And how, if I decide?  PLUTO. Then take the winner;
So will your journey not be made in vain.
 
DIO.  Heaven bless your Highness! Listen, I came down
After a poet.  EUR. To what end?  DIO. That so        1440
The city, saved, may keep her choral games.
Now then, whichever of you two shall best
Advise the city, he shall come with me.
And first of Alcibiades, let each        1444
Say what he thinks; the city travails sore.
 
EUR.  What does she think herself about him?  DIO. What?
She loves, and hates, and longs to have him back.
But give me your advice about the man.        1448
 
EUR.  I loathe a townsman who is slow to aid,
And swift to hurt, his town; who ways and means
Finds for himself, but finds not for the state.
 
DIO.  Poseidon, but that’s smart! (To Æsch.) And what say you?        1452
 
ÆSCH.  ’Twere best to rear no lion in the state:
But having reared, ’tis best to humour him.
 
DIO.  By Zeus the Saviour, still I can’t decide.
One is so clever, and so clear the other.        1456
But once again. Let each in turn declare
What plan of safety for the state ye’ve got.
 
EUR.  [First with Cinesias wing Cleocritus,
Then zephyrs waft them o’er the watery plain.        1460
 
DIO.  As funny sight, I own: but where’s the sense?
 
EUR.  If, when the fleets engage, they, holding cruets,
Should rain down vinegar in the foemen’s eyes,]
I know, and I can tell you.  DIO. Tell away.        1464
 
EUR.  When things, mistrusted now, shall trusted be,
And trusted things, mistrusted.  DIO. How! I don’t
Quite comprehend. Be clear, and not so clever.
 
EUR.  If we mistrust those citizens of ours        1468
Whom now we trust, and those employ whom now
We don’t employ, the city will be saved.
If on our present tack we fail, we surely
Shall find salvation in the opposite course.        1472
 
DIO.  Good, O Palamedes! Good, you genius you.
[Is this your cleverness or Cephisophon’s?
 
EUR.  This is my own: the cruet-plan was his.]
 
DIO.  (To Æsch.) Now, you,  ÆSCH. But tell me whom the city uses. The good and useful?  DIO. What are you dreaming of?        1476
She hates and loathes them.  ÆSCH. Does she love the bad?
 
DIO.  Not love them, no: she uses them perforce.
 
ÆSCH.  How can one save a city such as this,
Whom neither frieze nor woollen tunic suits?        1480
 
DIO.  O, if to earth you rise, find out some way.
 
ÆSCH.  There will I speak: I cannot answer here.
 
DIO.  Nay, nay; send up your guerdon from below.
 
ÆSCH.  When they shall count the enemy’s soil their own,        1484
And theirs the enemy’s: “when they know that ships
Are their true wealth, their so-called wealth delusion.
 
DIO.  Aye, but the justices suck that down, you know.
 
PLUTO.  Now then, decide.  DIO. I will; and thus I’ll do it:        1488
I’ll choose the man in whom my soul delights.
 
EUR.  O, recollect the gods by whom you swore
You’d take me home again; and choose your friends.
 
DIO.  ’Twas my tongue swore; my choice is—Æschylus.        1492
 
EUR.  Hah! what have you done?  DIO. Done? Given the victor’s prize
To Æschylus; why not?  EUR. And do you dare
Look in my face, after that shameful deed?
 
DIO.  What’s shameful, if the audience think not so?        1496
 
EUR.  Have you no heart? Wretch, would you leave me dead?
 
DIO.  Who knows if death be life, and life be death,
And breath be mutton broth, and sleep a sheepskin?
 
PLUTO.  Now, Dionysus, come ye in,  DIO. What for?        1500
 
PLUTO.  And sup before ye go.  DIO. A bright idea. I’ faith, I’m nowise indisposed for that.
 
CHOR.    Blest the man who possesses a
          Keen intelligent mind.
          This full often we find.        1504
          He, the bard of renown,
          Now to earth reascends,
          Goes, a joy to his town,
          Goes, a joy to his friends,        1508
          Just because he possesses a
          Keen intelligent mind.
          RIGHT it is and befitting,
          Not, by Socrates sitting,        1512
          Idle talk to pursue,
          Stripping tragedy-art of
          All things noble and true,
          Surely the mind to school        1516
          Fine-drawn quibbles to seek,
          Fine-set phrases to speak,
          Is but the part of a fool!
 
PLUTO. Farewell then, Æschylus, great and wise,        1520
      Go, save our state by the maxims rare
      Of thy noble thought; and the fools chastise,
        For many a fool dwells there.
      And this to Cleophon give, my friend,        1524
      And this to the revenue-raising crew,
      Nicomachus, Myrmex, next I send,
        And this to Archenomus too.
      And bid them all that without delay,        1528
      To my realm of the dead they hasten away.
      For if they loiter above, I swear
      I’ll come myself and arrest them there.
      And branded and fettered the slaves shall go        1532
      With the vilest rascal in all the town,
      Adeimantus, son of Leucolophus, down,
        Down, down to the darkness below.
 
ÆSCH.  I take the mission. This chair of mine        1536
        Meanwhile to Sophocles here commit
      (For I count him next in our craft divine),
        Till I come once more by thy side to sit.
      But as for that rascally scoundrel there,        1540
        That low buffoon, that worker of ill,
        O, let him not sit in my vacant chair,
          Not even against his will.
 
PLUTO. (To the Chorus.) Escort him up with your mystic throngs,        1544
        While the holy torches quiver and blaze.
        Escort him up with his own sweet songs
          And his noble festival lays.
 
CHOR.  First, as the poet triumphant is passing away to the light,        1548
        Grant him success on his journey, ye powers that are ruling below.
        Grant that he find for the city good counsels to guide her aright;
        So we at last shall be freed from the anguish, the fear, and the woe,
        Freed from the onsets of war. Let Cleophon now and his band        1552
        Battle, if battle they must, far away in their own fatherland.
 

CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD · DRAMATIS PERSONÆ
  PREVIOUS
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors