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The Frogs   


I say Orestes never did "return."
He came in secret: nobody recalled him.
DIONYSUS
O good, by Hermes I
(Aside) I've not the least suspicion what he means.
EURIPIDES
Repeat another line.
DIONYSUS
Ay, Aeschylus,
Repeat one instantly: you, mark what's wrong.
AESCHYLUS
"Now on this funeral mound I call my rather
To hear, to hearken.
EURIPIDES
There he is again.
To "hear," to "hearken"; the same thing, exactly.
DIONYSUS
Aye, but he's speaking to the dead, you knave,
Who cannot hear us though we call them thrice.
AESCHYLUS
And how do you make your prologues?
EURIPIDES
You shall hear;
And if you find one single thing said twice,
Or any useless padding, spit upon me.
DIONYSUS
Well, fire away: I'm all agog to hear
Your very accurate and faultless prologues.
EURIPIDES
"A happy man was Oedipus at first-
AESCHYLUS
Not so, by Zeus; a most unhappy man.
Who, not yet born nor yet conceived, Apollo
Foretold would be his father's murderer.
How could he be a happy man at first?
EURIPIDES
"Then he became the wretchedest of men."
AESCHYLUS
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 grow a man, and slay his father.
Then with both ankles pierced and swoln, he limped
Away to Polybus: still young, he married
An ancient crone, and her his mother too.
Then scratched out both his eyes.
DIONYSUS
Happy indeed
Had he been Erasinides's colleague!
EURIPIDES
Nonsense; I say my prologues are firstrate.
AESCHYLUS
Nay then, by Zeus, no longer line by line
I'll maul your phrases: but with heaven to aid
I'll smash your prologues with a bottle of oil.
EURIPIDES
You mine with a bottle of oil?
AESCHYLUS
With only one.
You frame your prologues so that each and all
Fit in with a "bottle of oil," or "coverlet-skin,"
Or "reticule-bag." I'll prove it here, and now.
EURIPIDES
You'll prove it? You?

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