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Works by Aristophanes
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for the Lacedaemonians. I consent to anything; never will I forsake
this dear little basket.
First, throw down your stones.
CHORUS (singing; meekly)
There I it's done. And you put away your sword.
Let me see that no stones remain concealed in your cloaks.
CHORUS (singing; petulantly)
They are all on the ground; see how we shake our garments. Come,
no haggling, lay down your sword; we threw away everything while
crossing from one side of the Orchestra to the other.
What cries of anguish you would have uttered had these coals of
Parnes been dismembered, and yet it came very near it; had they
perished, their death would have been due to the folly of their
fellow-citizens. The poor basket was so frightened, look, it has
shed a thick black dust over me, the same as a cuttle-fish does.
What an irritable temper! You shout and throw stones, you will not
hear my arguments-not even when I propose to speak in favour of the
Lacedaemonians with my head on the block; and yet I cling to life.
(He goes into the house.)
CHORUS (singing; belligerently again)
Well then, bring out a block before your door, scoundrel, and
let us hear the good grounds you can give us; I am curious to know
them. Now mind, as you proposed yourself, place your head on the block
and speak.
DICAEOPOLIS (coming out of his house, carrying a block)
Here is the block; and, though I am but a very sorry speaker, I
wish nevertheless to talk freely of the Lacedaemonians and without the
protection of my buckler. Yet I have many reasons for fear. I know our
rustics; they are delighted if some braggart comes, and rightly or
wrongly, loads both them and their city with praise and flattery; they
do not see that such toad-eaters are traitors, who sell them for gain.
As for the old men, I know their weakness; they only seek to overwhelm
the accused with their votes. Nor have I forgotten how Cleon treated
me because of my comedy last year; he dragged me before the Senate and
there he uttered endless slanders against me; it was a tempest of
abuse, a deluge of lies. Through what a slough of mud he dragged me! I
almost perished. Permit me, therefore, before I speak, to dress in the
manner most likely to draw pity.
CHORUS (singing; querulously)
What evasions, subterfuges and delays! Wait! here is the sombre
helmet of Pluto with its thick bristling plume; Hieronymus lends it to
you; then open Sisyphus' bag of wiles; but hurry, hurry, for
discussion does not admit of delay.
The time has come for me to manifest my courage, so I will go
and seek Euripides. (Knocking on EURIPIDES' door) Ho! slave, slave!
SLAVE (opening the door and poking his head out)
Who's there?
Is Euripides at home?
He is and he isn't; understand that, if you can.
What's that? He is and he isn't!
Certainly, old man; busy gathering subtle fancies here and
there, his mind is not in the house, but he himself is; perched aloft,
he is composing a tragedy.
Oh, Euripides, you are indeed happy to have a slave so quick at
redartee! Now, fellow, call your master.

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