(SCENE:-Behind the Orchestra on the right the farmhouse of
TRYGAEUS, in the centre the mouth of a cave closed up with huge
boulders, on the left the palace of ZEUS. In front of the
farmhouse is a stable, the door of wkich is closed. Two of
TRYGAEUS'slaves are seen in front of the stable, one of them
kneading cakes of dung, the other taking the finished cakes and
throwing them into the stable.)
Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.
There it is. Give it to him, and may it kill him! And may he never
eat a better.
Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.
There! I've done that too. And where's what you gave him just now?
Surely he can't have devoured it yet!
Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet and
bolted it. Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.
Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you do not
wish to see me fall down choked.
Come, come, another made from the stool of a fairy's favourite.
That will be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.
There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of
tasting what I mix.
Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your might.
By god, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no longer.
I shall bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.
Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with it. (To the
AUDIENCE) Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can buy a stopped-up
nose, for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food for a
dung-beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least
pounce upon our excrement without more ado, but this foul wretch
affects the disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't eat unless I
offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let
us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating?
Come, pluck up courage, cram yourself till you burst! The cursed
creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between its claws like a
wrestler clutching his opponent, and with head and feet together rolls
up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser. What an indecent,
stinking, gluttonous beast! I don't know what angry god let this
monster loose upon us, but of a certainty it was neither Aphrodite nor
Who was it then?
No doubt Zeus, the God of the Thundercrap.
But perhaps some spectator, some beardless youth, who thinks
himself a sage, will say, "What is this? What does the beetle mean?"
And then an Ionian, sitting next him, will add, "I think it's an
allusion to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by
himself."-But now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.
As for me, I will explain the matter to you all, children, youths,
grownups and old men, aye, even to the decrepit dotards. My master