The Clouds by Aristophanes
The Clouds (cont'd)
Strepsiades. Unfortunate man that I am! What a penalty shall I this day pay to the bugs!
Chorus. Now meditate and examine closely; and roll yourself about in every way, having wrapped yourself up; and quickly, when you fall into a difficulty, spring to another mental contrivance. But let delightful sleep be absent from your eyes.
Strepsiades. Attatai! Attatai!
Chorus. What ails you? Why are you distressed?
Strepsiades. Wretched man, I am perishing! The Corinthians, coming out from the bed, are biting me, and devouring my sides, and drinking up my life-blood, and tearing away my flesh, and digging through my vitals, and will annihilate me.
Chorus. Do not now be very grievously distressed.
Strepsiades. Why, how, when my money is gone, my complexion gone, my life gone, and my slipper gone? And furthermore in addition to these evils, with singing the night-watches, I am almost gone myself.
Socrates. Ho you! What are you about? Are you not meditating?
Strepsiades. I? Yea, by Neptune!
Socrates. And what, pray, have you thought?
Strepsiades. Whether any bit of me will be left by the bugs.
Socrates. You will perish most wretchedly.
Strepsiades. But, my good friend, I have already perished.
Socrates. You must not give in, but must wrap yourself up; for you have to discover a device for abstracting, and a means of cheating.
[Walks up and down while Strepsiades wraps himself up in the blankets.]
Strepsiades. Ah me! Would, pray, some one would throw over me a swindling contrivance from the sheep-skins.
Socrates. Come now; I will first see this fellow, what he is about. Ho you! Are you asleep?
Strepsiades. No, by Apollo, I am not!
Socrates. Have you got anything?
Strepsiades. No; by Jupiter, certainly not!
Socrates. Nothing at all?
Strepsiades. Nothing, except what I have in my right hand.
Socrates. Will you not quickly cover yourself up and think of something?
Strepsiades. About what? For do you tell me this, O Socrates!
Socrates. Do you, yourself, first find out and state what you wish.
Strepsiades. You have heard a thousand times what I wish. About the interest; so that I may pay no one.
Socrates. Come then, wrap yourself up, and having given your mind play with subtilty, revolve your affairs by little and little, rightly distinguishing and examining.
Strepsiades. Ah me, unhappy man!
Socrates. Keep quiet; and if you be puzzled in any one of your conceptions, leave it and go; and then set your mind in motion again, and lock it up.
Strepsiades. (in great glee). O dearest little Socrates!
Socrates. What, old man?
Strepsiades. I have got a device for cheating them of the interest.
Socrates. Exhibit it.
Strepsiades. Now tell me this, pray; if I were to purchase a Thessalian witch, and draw down the moon by night, and then shut it up, as if it were a mirror, in a round crest-case, and then carefully keep it-
Socrates. What good, pray, would this do you?
Strepsiades. What? If the moon were to rise no longer anywhere, I should not pay the interest.
Socrates. Why so, pray?
Strepsiades. Because the money is lent out by the month.
Socrates. Capital! But I will again propose to you another clever question. If a suit of five talents should be entered against you, tell me how you would obliterate it.
Strepsiades. How? How? I do not know but I must seek.
Socrates. Do not then always revolve your thoughts about yourself; but slack away your mind into the air, like a cock-chafer tied with a thread by the foot.
Strepsiades. I have found a very clever method of getting rid of my suit, so that you yourself would acknowledge it.
Socrates. Of what description?
Strepsiades. Have you ever seen this stone in the chemist's shops, the beautiful and transparent one, from which they kindle fire?
Socrates. Do you mean the burning-glass?
Strepsiades. I do. Come what would you say, pray, if I were to take this, when the clerk was entering the suit, and were to stand at a distance, in the direction of the sun, thus, and melt out the letters of my suit?
Socrates. Cleverly done, by the Graces!
Strepsiades. Oh! How I am delighted, that a suit of five talents has been cancelled!
Socrates. Come now, quickly seize upon this.
Socrates. How, when engaged in a lawsuit, you could overturn the suit, when you were about to be cast, because you had no witnesses.
Strepsiades. Most readily and easily.
Socrates. Tell me, pray.
Strepsiades. Well now, I'll tell you. If, while one suit was still pending, before mine was called on, I were to run away and hang myself.
Socrates. You talk nonsense.
Strepsiades. By the gods, would I! For no one will bring action against me when I am dead.
Socrates. You talk nonsense. Begone; I can't teach you any longer.
Strepsiades. Why so? Yea, by the gods, O Socrates!
Socrates. You straightaway forget whatever you learn. For what now was the first thing you were taught? Tell me.
Strepsiades. Come, let me see: nay, what was the first? What was the fist? Nay, what was the thing in which we knead our flour? Ah me! What was it?
Socrates. Will you not pack off to the devil, you most forgetful and most stupid old man?
Strepsiades. Ah me, what then, pray will become of me, wretched man? For I shall be utterly undone, if I do not learn to ply the tongue. Come, O ye Clouds, give me some good advice.
Chorus. We, old man, advise you, if you have a son grown up, to send him to learn in your stead.
Strepsiades. Well, I have a fine, handsome son, but he is not willing to learn. What must I do?
Chorus. But do you permit him?
Strepsiades. Yes, for he is robust in body, and in good health, and is come of the high-plumed dames of Coesyra. I will go for him, and if he be not willing, I will certainly drive him from my house.
Go in and wait for me a short time.
Chorus. Do you perceive that you are soon to obtain the greatest benefits through us alone of the gods? For this man is ready to do everything that you bid him. But you, while the man is astounded and evidently elated, having perceived it, will quickly fleece him to the best of your power.
For matters of this sort are somehow accustomed to turn the other way.
[Enter Strepsiades and Phidippides]
Strepsiades. By Mist, you certainly shall not stay here any longer! But go and gnaw the columns of Megacles.
Phidippides. My good sir, what is the matter with you, O father? You are not in your senses, by Olympian Jupiter!
Strepsiades. See, see, "Olympian Jupiter!" What folly! To think of your believing in Jupiter, as old as you are!
Phidippides. Why, pray, did you laugh at this?
Strepsiades. Reflecting that you are a child, and have antiquated notions. Yet, however, approach, that you may know more; and I will tell you a thing, by learning which you will be a man. But see that you do not teach this to any one.
Phidippides. Well, what is it?
Strepsiades. You swore now by Jupiter.
Phidippides. I did.
Strepsiades. Seest thou, then, how good a thing is learning? There is no Jupiter, O Phidippides!
Phidippides. Who then?
Strepsiades. Vortex reigns, having expelled Jupiter.
Phidippides. Bah! Why do you talk foolishly?
Strepsiades. Be assured that it is so.
Phidippides. Who says this?
Strepsiades. Socrates the Melian, and Chaerephon, who knows the footmarks of fleas.
Phidippides. Have you arrived at such a pitch of frenzy that you believe madmen?
Strepsiades. Speak words of good omen, and say nothing bad of clever men and wise; of whom, through frugality, none ever shaved or anointed himself, or went to a bath to wash himself; while you squander my property in bathing, as if I were already dead. But go as quickly as possible and learn instead of me.
Phidippides. What good could any one learn from them?
Strepsiades. What, really? Whatever wisdom there is among men. And you will know yourself, how ignorant and stupid you are. But wait for me here a short time.
Phidippides. Ah me! What shall I do, my father being crazed? Shall I bring him into court and convict him of lunacy, or shall I give information of his madness to the coffin-makers?
[Re-enter Strepsiades with a cock under one arm and a hen under the other]
Strepsiades. Come, let me see; what do you consider this to be? Tell me.
Strepsiades. Right. And what this?
Strepsiades. Both the same? You are very ridiculous. Do not do so, then, for the future; but call this alektryaina, and this one alektor.
Phidippides. Alektryaina! Did you learn these clever things by going in just now to the Titans?
Strepsiades. And many others too; but whatever I learned on each occasion I used to forget immediately, through length of years.
Phidippides. Is it for this reason, pray, that you have also lost your cloak?
Strepsiades. I have not lost it; but have studied it away.
Phidippides. What have you made of your slippers, you foolish man?
Strepsiades. I have expended them, like Pericles, for needful purposes. Come, move, let us go. And then if you obey your father, go wrong if you like. I also know that I formerly obeyed you, a lisping child of six years old, and bought you a go-cart at the Diasia, with the first obolus I received from the Heliaea.
Phidippides. You will assuredly some time at length be grieved at this.
Strepsiades. It is well done of you that you obeyed. Come hither, come hither O Socrates! Come forth, for I bring to you this son of mine, having persuaded him against his will.
Socrates. For he is still childish, and not used to the baskets here.
Phidippides. You would yourself be used to them if you were hanged.
Strepsiades. A mischief take you! Do you abuse your teacher?
Socrates. "Were hanged" quoth 'a! How sillily he pronounced it, and with lips wide apart! How can this youth ever learn an acquittal from a trial or a legal summons, or persuasive refutation? And yet Hyperbolus learned this at the cost of a talent.
Strepsiades. Never mind; teach him. He is clever by nature. Indeed, from his earliest years, when he was a little fellow only so big, he was wont to form houses and carve ships within-doors, and make little wagons of leather, and make frogs out of pomegranate-rinds, you can't think how cleverly. But see that he learns those two causes; the better, whatever it may be; and the worse, which, by maintaining what is unjust, overturns the better. If not both, at any rate the unjust one by all means.
Socrates. He shall learn it himself from the two causes in person.
Strepsiades. I will take my departure. Remember this now, that he is to be able to reply to all just arguments.
[Exit Strepsiades and enter Just Cause and Unjust Cause]
Just Cause. Come hither! Show yourself to the spectators, although being audacious.
Unjust Cause. Go whither you please; for I shall far rather do for you, if I speak before a crowd.
Just Cause. You destroy me? Who are you?
Unjust Cause. A cause.
Just Cause. Ay, the worse.
Unjust Cause. But I conquer you, who say that you are better than I.
Just Cause. By doing what clever trick?
Unjust Cause. By discovering new contrivances.
Just Cause. For these innovations flourish by the favour of these silly persons.
Unjust Cause. No; but wise persons.
Just I will destroy you miserably.
Unjust Cause. Tell me, by doing what?
Just By speaking what is just.
Unjust Cause. But I will overturn them by contradicting them; for I deny that justice even exists at all.
Just Do you deny that it exists?
Unjust Cause. For come, where is it?
Just With the gods.
Unjust Cause. How, then, if justice exists, has Jupiter not perished, who bound his own father?
Just Bah! This profanity now is spreading! Give me a basin.
Unjust Cause. You are a dotard and absurd.
Just You are debauched and shameless.
Unjust Cause. You have spoken roses of me.
Just And a dirty lickspittle.
Unjust Cause. You crown me with lilies.
Just And a parricide.
Unjust Cause. You don't know that you are sprinkling me with gold.
Just Certainly not so formerly, but with lead.
Unjust Cause. But now this is an ornament to me.
Just You are very impudent.
Unjust Cause. And you are antiquated.
Just And through you, no one of our youths is willing to go to school; and you will be found out some time or other by the Athenians, what sort of doctrines you teach the simple-minded.
Unjust Cause. You are shamefully squalid.
Just And you are prosperous. And yet formerly you were a beggar saying that you were the Mysian Telephus, and gnawing the maxims of Pandeletus out of your little wallet.
Unjust Cause. Oh, the wisdom--
Just Oh, the madness--
Unjust Cause. Which you have mentioned.
Just And of your city, which supports you who ruin her youths.
Unjust Cause. You shan't teach this youth, you old dotard.
Just Yes, if he is to be saved, and not merely to practise loquacity.
Unjust Cause. (to Phidippides) Come hither, and leave him to rave.
Just You shall howl, if you lay your hand on him.
Chorus. Cease from contention and railing. But show to us, you, what you used to teach the men of former times, and you, the new system of education; in order that, having heard you disputing, he may decide and go to the school of one or the other.
Just Cause. I am willing to do so.
Unjust Cause. I also am willing.
Chorus. Come now, which of the two shall speak first?
Unjust Cause. I will give him the precedence; and then, from these things which he adduces, I will shoot him dead with new words and thoughts. And at last, if he mutter, he shall be destroyed, being stung in his whole face and his two eyes by my maxims, as if by bees.
Chorus. Now the two, relying on very dexterous arguments and thoughts, and sententious maxims, will show which of them shall appear superior in argument. For now the whole crisis of wisdom is here laid before them; about which my friends have a very great contest. But do you, who adorned our elders with many virtuous manners, utter the voice in which you rejoice, and declare your nature.
Just Cause. I will, therefore, describe the ancient system of education, how it was ordered, when I flourished in the advocacy of justice, and temperance was the fashion. In the first place it was incumbent that no one should hear the voice of a boy uttering a syllable; and next, that those from the same quarter of the town should march in good order through the streets to the school of the harp-master, naked, and in a body, even if it were to snow as thick as meal. Then again, their master would teach them, not sitting cross-legged, to learn by rote a song, either "pallada persepolin deinan" or "teleporon ti boama" raising to a higher pitch the harmony which our fathers transmitted to us. But if any of them were to play the buffoon, or to turn any quavers, like these difficult turns the present artists make after the manner of Phrynis, he used to be thrashed, being beaten with many blows, as banishing the Muses. And it behooved the boys, while sitting in the school of the Gymnastic-master, to cover the thigh, so that they might exhibit nothing indecent to those outside; then again, after rising from the ground, to sweep the sand together, and to take care not to leave an impression of the person for their lovers. And no boy used in those days to anoint himself below the navel; so that their bodies wore the appearance of blooming health. Nor used he to go to his lover, having made up his voice in an effeminate tone, prostituting himself with his eyes. Nor used it to be allowed when one was dining to take the head of the radish, or to snatch from their seniors dill or parsley, or to eat fish, or to giggle, or to keep the legs crossed.
Unjust Cause. Aye, antiquated and dipolia-like and full of grasshoppers, and of Cecydes, and of the Buphonian festival!
Just Yet certainly these are those principles by which my system of education nurtured the men who fought at Marathon. But you teach the men of the present day, so that I am choked, when at the Panathenaia a fellow, holding his shield before his person, neglects Tritogenia, when they ought to dance. Wherefore, O youth, choose with confidence, me, the better cause, and you will learn to hate the Agora, and to refrain from baths, and to be ashamed of what is disgraceful, and to be enraged if any one jeer you, and to rise up from seats before your seniors when they approach, and not to behave ill toward your parents, and to do nothing else that is base, because you are to form in your mind an image of Modesty: and not to dart into the house of a dancing-woman, lest, while gaping after these things, being struck with an apple by a wanton, you should be damaged in your reputation: and not to contradict your father in anything; nor by calling him Iapetus, to reproach him with the ills of age, by which you were reared in your infancy.
Unjust Cause. If you shall believe him in this, O youth, by Bacchus, you will be like the sons of Hippocrates, and they will call you a booby.
Just Cause. Yet certainly shall you spend your time in the gymnastic schools, sleek and blooming; not chattering in the market-place rude jests, like the youths of the present day; nor dragged into court for a petty suit, greedy, pettifogging, knavish; but you shall descend to the Academy and run races beneath the sacred olives along with some modest compeer, crowned with white reeds, redolent of yew, and careless ease, of leaf-shedding white poplar, rejoicing in the season of spring, when the plane-tree whispers to the elm. If you do these things which I say, and apply your mind to these, you will ever have a stout chest, a clear complexion, broad shoulders, a little tongue, large hips, little lewdness. But if you practise what the youths of the present day do, you will have in the first place, a pallid complexion, small shoulders, a narrow chest, a large tongue, little hips, great lewdness, a long psephism; and this deceiver will persuade you to consider everything that is base to be honourable, and what is honourable to be base; and in addition to this, he will fill you with the lewdness of Antimachus.
Chorus. O thou that practisest most renowned high-towering wisdom! How sweetly does a modest grace attend your words! Happy, therefore, were they who lived in those days, in the times of former men! In reply, then, to these, O thou that hast a dainty-seeming Muse, it behooveth thee to say something new; since the man has gained renown. And it appears you have need of powerful arguments against him, if you are to conquer the man and not incur laughter.
Unjust Cause. And yet I was choking in my heart, and was longing to confound all these with contrary maxims. For I have been called among the deep thinkers the "worse cause" on this very account, that I first contrived how to speak against both law and justice; and this art is worth more than ten thousand staters, that one should choose the worse cause, and nevertheless be victorious. But mark how I will confute the system of education on which he relies, who says, in the first place, that he will not permit you to be washed with warm water. And yet, on what principle do you blame the warm baths?
Just Cause. Because it is most vile, and makes a man cowardly.
Unjust Cause. Stop! For immediately I seize and hold you by the waist without escape. Come, tell me, which of the sons of Jupiter do you deem to have been the bravest in soul, and to have undergone most labours?
Just Cause. I consider no man superior to Hercules.
Unjust Cause. Where, pray, did you ever see cold Herculean baths? And yet, who was more valiant than he?
Just Cause. These are the very things which make the bath full of youths always chattering all day long, but the palaestras empty.
Unjust Cause. You next find fault with their living in the market-place; but I commend it. For if it had been bad, Homer would never have been for representing Nestor as an orator; nor all the other wise men. I will return, then, from thence to the tongue, which this fellow says our youths ought not to exercise, while I maintain they should. And again, he says they ought to be modest: two very great evils. For tell me to whom you have ever seen any good accrue through modesty and confute me by your words.
Just Cause. To many. Peleus, at any rate, received his sword on account of it.
Unjust Cause. A sword? Marry, he got a pretty piece of luck, the poor wretch! While Hyperbolus, he of the lamps, got more than many talents by his villainy, but by Jupiter, no sword!
Just Cause. And Peleus married Thetis, too, through his modesty.
Unjust Cause. And then she went off and left him; for he was not lustful, nor an agreeable bedfellow to spend the night with. Now a woman delights in being wantonly treated. But you are an old dotard. For (to Phidippides) consider, O youth, all that attaches to modesty, and of how many pleasures you are about to be deprived--of women, of games at cottabus, of dainties, of drinking-bouts, of giggling. And yet, what is life worth to you if you be deprived of these enjoyments? Well, I will pass from thence to the necessities of our nature. You have gone astray, you have fallen in love, you have been guilty of some adultery, and then have been caught. You are undone, for you are unable to speak. But if you associate with me, indulge your inclination, dance, laugh, and think nothing disgraceful. For if you should happen to be detected as an adulterer, you will make this reply to him, " that you have done him no injury": and then refer him to Jupiter, how even he is overcome by love and women . And yet, how could you, who are a mortal, have greater power than a god?
Just Cause. But what if he should suffer the radish through obeying you, and be depillated with hot ashes? What argument will he be able to state, to prove that he is not a blackguard?
Unjust Cause. And if he be a blackguard, what harm will he suffer?
Just Cause. Nay, what could he ever suffer still greater than this?
Unjust Cause. What then will you say if you be conquered by me in this?
Just Cause. I will be silent: what else can I do?
Unjust Cause. Come, now, tell me; from what class do the advocates come?
Just Cause. From the blackguards.
Unjust Cause. I believe you. What then? From what class do tragedians come?
Just Cause. From the blackguards.
Unjust Cause. You say well. But from what class do the public orators come?
Just Cause. From the blackguards.
Unjust Cause. Then have you perceived that you say nothing to the purpose? And look which class among the audience is the more numerous.
Just Cause. Well now, I'm looking.
Unjust Cause. What, then, do you see?
Just Cause. By the gods, the blackguards to be far more numerous. This fellow, at any rate, I know; and him yonder; and this fellow with the long hair.
Unjust Cause. What, then, will you say?
Just Cause. We are conquered. Ye blackguards, by the gods, receive my cloak, for I desert to you.
[Exeunt the Two Causes, and re-enter Socrates and Strepsiades.]
Socrates. What then? whether do you wish to take and lead away this your son, or shall I teach him to speak?
Strepsiades. Teach him, and chastise him: and remember that you train him properly; on the one side able for petty suits; but train his other jaw able for the more important causes.
Socrates. Make yourself easy; you shall receive him back a clever sophist.
Strepsiades. Nay, rather, pale and wretched.
[Exeunt Socrates, Strepsiades, and Phidippides.]
Chorus. Go ye, then: but I think that you will repent of these proceedings. We wish to speak about the judges, what they will gain, if at all they justly assist this Chorus. For in the first place, if you wish to plough up your fields in spring, we will rain for you first; but for the others afterward. And then we will protect the fruits, and the vines, so that neither drought afflict them, nor excessive wet weather. But if any mortal dishonour us who are goddesses, let him consider what evils he will suffer at our hands, obtaining neither wine nor anything else from his farm. For when his olives and vines sprout, they shall be cut down; with such slings will we smite them. And if we see him making brick, we will rain; and we will smash the tiles of his roof with round hailstones. And if he himself, or any one of his kindred or friends, at any time marry, we will rain the whole night; so he will probably wish rather to have been even in Egypt than to have judged badly.
[Enter Strepsiades with a meal-sack on his shoulder.]
Strepsiades. The fifth, the fourth, the third, after this the second; and then, of all the days I most fear, and dread, and abominate, immediately after this there is the Old and New. For every one to whom I happen to be indebted, swears, and says he will ruin and destroy me, having made his deposits against me; though I only ask what is moderate and just-"My good sir, one part don't take just now; the other part put off I pray; and the other part remit"; they say that thus they will never get back their money, but abuse me, as I am unjust, and say they will go to law with me. Now therefore let them go to law, for it little concerns me, if Phidippides has learned to speak well. I shall soon know by knocking at the thinking-shop.
[Knocks at the door.]
Boy, I say! Boy, boy!
Socrates. Good morning, Strepsiades.
Strepsiades. The same to you. But first accept this present; for one ought to compliment the teacher with a fee. And tell me about my son, if he has learned that cause, which you just now brought forward.
Socrates. He has learned it.
Strepsiades. Well done, O Fraud, all-powerful queen!
Socrates. So that you can get clear off from whatever suit you please.
Strepsiades. Even if witnesses were present when I borrowed the money?
Socrates. Yea, much more! Even if a thousand be present.
Strepsiades. Then I will shout with a very loud shout: Ho! Weep, you petty-usurers, both you and your principals, and your compound interests! For you can no longer do me any harm, because such a son is being reared for me in this house, shining with a double-edged tongue, for my guardian, the preserver of my house, a mischief to my enemies, ending the sadness of the great woes of his father. Him do thou run and summon from within to me.
[Socrates goes into the house.]
O child! O son! Come forth from the house! Hear your father!
[Re-enter Socrates leading in Phidippides]
Socrates. Lo, here is the man!
Strepsiades. O my dear, my dear!
Socrates. Take your son and depart.
Strepsiades. Oh, oh, my child! Huzza! Huzza! How I am delighted at the first sight of your complexion! Now, indeed, you are, in the first place, negative and disputatious to look at, and this fashion native to the place plainly appears, the "what do you say?" and the seeming to be injured when, I well know, you are injuring and inflicting a wrong; and in your countenance there is the Attic look. Now, therefore, see that you save me, since you have also ruined me.
Phidippides. What, pray, do you fear?
Strepsiades. The Old and New.
Phidippides. Why, is any day old and new?
Strepsiades. Yes; on which they say that they will make their deposits against me.
Phidippides. Then those that have made them will lose them; for it is not possible that two days can be one day.
Strepsiades. Can not it?
Phidippides. Certainly not; unless the same woman can be both old and young at the same time.
Strepsiades. And yet it is the law.
Phidippides. For they do not, I think, rightly understand what the law means.
Strepsiades. And what does it mean?
Phidippides. The ancient Solon was by nature the commons' friend.
Strepsiades.This surely is nothing whatever to the Old and New.
Phidippides. He therefore made the summons for two days, for the Old and New, that the deposits might be made on the first of the month.
Strepsiades. Why, pray, did he add the old day?
Phidippides. In order, my good sir, that the defendants, being present a day before, might compromise the matter of their own accord; but if not, that they might be worried on the morning of the new moon.
Strepsiades. Why, then, do the magistrates not receive the deposits on the new moon, but on the Old and New?
Phidippides. They seem to me to do what the forestallers do: in order that they may appreciate the deposits as soon as possible, on this account they have the first pick by one day.
Strepsiades. (turning to the audience) Bravo! Ye wretches, why do you sit senseless, the gain of us wise men, being blocks, ciphers, mere sheep, jars heaped together, wherefore I must sing an encomium upon myself and this my son, on account of our good fortune. "O happy Strepsiades! How wise you are yourself, and how excellent is the son whom you are rearing!" My friends and fellow-tribesmen will say of me, envying me, when you prove victorious in arguing causes. But first I wish to lead you in and entertain you.
[Exeunt Strepsiades and Phidippides.]
Pasias (entering with his summons-witness). Then, ought a man to throw away any part of his own property? Never! But it were better then at once to put away blushes, rather than now to have trouble; since I am now dragging you to be a witness, for the sake of my own money; and further, in addition to this, I shall become an enemy to my fellow-tribesman. But never, while I live, will I disgrace my country, but will summon Strepsiades.
Strepsiades. (from within) Who's there?
Pasias. For the Old and New.
Strepsiades. I call you to witness, that he has named it for two days. For what matter do you summon me?
Pasias. For the twelve minae, which you received when you were buying the dapple-gray horse.
Strepsiades. A horse? Do you not hear? I, whom you all know to hate horsemanship!
Pasias. And, by Jupiter! You swore by the gods too, that you would repay it.
Strepsiades. Ay, by Jove! For then my Phidippides did not yet know the irrefragable argument.
Pasias. And do you now intend, on this account, to deny the debt?
Strepsiades. Why, what good should I get else from his instruction?
Pasias. And will you be willing to deny these upon oath of the gods?
Strepsiades. What gods?
Pasias. Jupiter, Mercury, and Neptune.
Strepsiades. Yes, by Jupiter! And would pay down, too, a three-obol piece besides to swear.
Pasias. Then may you perish some day for your impudence!
Strepsiades. This man would be the better for it if he were cleansed by rubbing with salt.
Pasias. Ah me, how you deride me!
Strepsiades. He will contain six choae.
Pasias. By great Jupiter and the gods, you certainly shall not do this to me with impunity!
Strepsiades. I like your gods amazingly; and Jupiter, sworn by, is ridiculous to the knowing ones.
Pasias. You will assuredly suffer punishment, some time or other, for this. But answer and dismiss me, whether you are going to repay me my money or not.
Strepsiades. Keep quiet now, for I will presently answer you distinctly.
[Runs into the house.]
Pasias. (to his summons-witness). What do you think he will do?
Witness. I think he will pay you.
[Re-enter Strepsiades with a kneading-trough]
Strepsiades. Where is this man who asks me for his money? Tell me what is this?
Pasias. What is this? A kardopos.
Strepsiades. And do you then ask me for your money, being such an ignorant person? I would not pay, not even an obolus, to any one who called the kardope kardopos.
Pasias. Then won't you pay me?
Strepsiades. Not, as far as I know. Will you not then pack off as fast as possible from my door?
Pasias. I will depart; and be assured of this, that I will make deposit against you, or may I live no longer!
Strepsiades. Then you will lose it besides, in addition to your twelve minae. And yet I do not wish you to suffer this, because you named the kardopos floolishly.
[Exeunt Pasias and Witness, and enter Amynias]
Amynias. Ah me! Ah me!
Strepsiades. Ha! Whoever is this, who is lamenting? Surely it was not one of Carcinus' deities that spoke.
Amynias. But why do you wish to know this, who I am?-A miserable man.
Strepsiades. Then follow your own path.
Amynias. O harsh fortune! O Fates, breaking the wheels of my horses! O Pallas, how you have destroyed me!
Strepsiades. What evil, pray, has Tlepolemus ever done you?
Amynias. Do not jeer me, my friend; but order your son to pay me the money which he received; especially as I have been unfortunate.
Strepsiades. What money is this?
Amynias. That which he borrowed.
Strepsiades. Then you were really unlucky, as I think.
Amynias. By the gods, I fell while driving my horses.
Strepsiades. Why, pray, do you talk nonsense, as if you had fallen from an ass?
Amynias. Do I talk nonsense if I wish to recover my money?
Strepsiades. You can't be in your senses yourself.
Amynias. Why, pray?
Strepsiades. You appear to me to have had your brains shaken as it were.
Amynias. And you appear to me, by Hermes, to be going to be summoned, if you will not pay me the money?
Strepsiades. Tell me now, whether you think that Jupiter always rains fresh rain on each occasion, or that the sun draws from below the same water back again?
Amynias. I know not which; nor do I care.
Strepsiades. How then is it just that you should recover your money, if you know nothing of meteorological matters?
Amynias. Well, if you are in want, pay me the interest of my money.
Strepsiades. What sort of animal is this interest?
Amynias. Most assuredly the money is always becoming more and more every month and every day as the time slips away.
Strepsiades. You say well. What then? Is it possible that you consider the sea to be greater now than formerly?
Amynias. No, by Jupiter, but equal; for it is not fitting that it should be greater.
Strepsiades. And how then, you wretch does this become no way greater, though the rivers flow into it, while you seek to increase your money? Will you not take yourself off from my house? Bring me the goad.
[Enter Servant with a goad.]
Amynias. I call you to witness these things.
Strepsiades. (beating him). Go! Why do you delay? Won't you march, Mr. Blood-horse?
Amynias. Is not this an insult, pray?
Strepsiades. Will you move quickly?
[Pricks him behind with the goad.]
I'll lay on you, goading you behind, you outrigger? Do you fly?
[Amynias runs off.]
I thought I should stir you, together with your wheels and your two-horse chariots.
Chorus. What a thing it is to love evil courses! For this old man, having loved them, wishes to withhold the money that he borrowed. And he will certainly meet with something today, which will perhaps cause this sophist to suddenly receive some misfortune, in return for the knaveries he has begun. For I think that he will presently find what has been long boiling up, that his son is skilful to speak opinions opposed to justice, so as to overcome all with whomsoever he holds converse, even if he advance most villainous doctrines; and perhaps, perhaps his father will wish that he were even speechless.
Strepsiades. (running out of the house pursued by his son) Hollo! Hollo! O neighbours, and kinsfolk, and fellow-tribesmen, defend me, by all means, who am being beaten! Ah me, unhappy man, for my head and jaw! Wretch! Do you beat your father?
Phidippides. Yes, father.
Strepsiades. You see him owning that he beats me.
Strepsiades. O wretch, and parricide, and house-breaker!
Phidippides. Say the same things of me again, and more. Do you know that I take pleasure in being much abused?
Strepsiades. You blackguard!
Phidippides. Sprinkle me with roses in abundance.
Strepsiades. Do you beat your father?
Phidippides. And will prove too, by Jupiter! that I beat you with justice.
Strepsiades. O thou most rascally! Why, how can it be just to beat a father?
Phidippides. I will demonstrate it, and will overcome you in argument.
Strepsiades. Will you overcome me in this?
Phidippides. Yea, by much and easily. But choose which of the two Causes you wish to speak.
Strepsiades. Of what two Causes?
Phidippides. The better, or the worse?
Strepsiades. Marry, I did get you taught to speak against justice, by Jupiter, my friend, if you are going to persuade me of this, that it is just and honourable for a father to be beaten by his sons!
Phidippides. I think I shall certainly persuade you; so that, when you have heard, not even you yourself will say anything against it.
Strepsiades. Well, now, I am willing to hear what you have to say.
Chorus. It is your business, old man, to consider in what way you shall conquer the man; for if he were not relying upon something, he would not be so licentious. But he is emboldened by something; the boldness of the man is evident. Now you ought to tell to the Chorus from what the contention first arose. And this you must do by all means.
Strepsiades. Well, now, I will tell you from what we first began to rail at one another. After we had feasted, as you know, I first bade him take a lyre, and sing a song of Simonides, "The Shearing of the Ram." But he immediately said it was old-fashioned to play on the lyre and sing while drinking, like a woman grinding parched barley.
Phidippides. For ought you not then immediately to be beaten and trampled on, bidding me sing, just as if you were entertaining cicadae?
Strepsiades. He expressed, however, such opinions then too within, as he does now; and he asserted that Simonides was a bad poet. I bore it at first, with difficulty indeed, yet nevertheless I bore it. And then I bade him at least take a myrtle-wreath and recite to me some portion of Aeschylus; and then he immediately said, "Shall I consider Aeschylus the first among the poets, full of empty sound, unpolished, bombastic, using rugged words?" And hereupon you can't think how my heart panted. But, nevertheless, I restrained my passion, and said, "At least recite some passage of the more modern poets, of whatever kind these clever things be." And he immediately sang a passage of Euripides, how a brother, O averter of ill! Debauched his uterine sister. And I bore it no longer, but immediately assailed him with many abusive reproaches. And then, after that, as was natural, we hurled word upon word. Then he springs upon me; and then he was wounding me, and beating me, and throttling me.
Phidippides. Were you not therefore justly beaten, who do not praise Euripides, the wisest of poets?
Strepsiades. He the wisest! Oh, what shall I call you? But I shall be beaten again.
Phidippides. Yes, by Jupiter, with justice?
Strepsiades. Why, how with justice? Who, O shameless fellow, reared you, understanding all your wishes, when you lisped what you meant? If you said bryn, I, understanding it, used to give you to drink. And when you asked for mamman, I used to come to you with bread. And you used no sooner to say caccan, than I used to take and carry you out of doors, and hold you before me. But you now, throttling me who was bawling and crying out because I wanted to ease myself, had not the heart to carry me forth out of doors, you wretch; but I did it there while I was being throttled.
Chorus. I fancy the hearts of the youths are panting to hear what he will say. For if, after having done such things, he shall persuade him by speaking, I would not take the hide of the old folks, even at the price of a chick-pea. It is thy business, thou author and upheaver of new words, to seek some means of persuasion, so that you shall seem to speak justly.
Phidippides. How pleasant it is to be acquainted with new and clever things, and to be able to despise the established laws! For I, when I applied my mind to horsemanship alone, used not to be able to utter three words before I made a mistake; but now, since he himself has made me cease from these pursuits, and I am acquainted with subtle thoughts, and arguments, and speculations, I think I shall demonstrate that it is just to chastise one's father.
Strepsiades. Ride, then, by Jupiter! Since it is better for me to keep a team of four horses than to be killed with a beating.
Phidippides. I will pass over to that part of my discourse where you interrupted me; and first I will ask you this: Did you beat me when I was a boy?
Strepsiades. I did, through good-will and concern for you.
Phidippides. Pray tell me, is it not just that I also should be well inclined toward you in the same way, and beat you, since this is to be well inclined-to give a beating? For why ought your body to be exempt from blows and mine not? And yet I too was born free. The boys weep, and do you not think it is right that a father should weep? You will say that it is ordained by law that this should be the lot of boys. But I would reply, that old men are boys twice over, and that it is the more reasonable that the old should weep than the young, inasmuch as it is less just that they should err.
Strepsiades. It is nowhere ordained by law that a father should suffer this.
Phidippides. Was it not then a man like you and me, who first proposed this law, and by speaking persuaded the ancients? Why then is it less lawful for me also in turn to propose henceforth a new law for the sons, that they should beat their fathers in turn? But as many blows as we received before the law was made, we remit: and we concede to them our having been thrashed without return. Observe the cocks and these other animals, how they punish their fathers; and yet, in what do they differ from us, except that they do not write decrees?
Strepsiades. Why then, since you imitate the cocks in all things, do you not both eat dung and sleep on a perch?
Phidippides. It is not the same thing, my friend; nor would it appear so to Socrates.
Strepsiades. Therefore do not beat me; otherwise you will one day blame yourself.
Phidippides. Why, how?
Strepsiades. Since I am justly entitled to chastise you; and you to chastise your son, if you should have one.
Phidippides. But if I should not have one, I shall have wept for nothing, and you will die laughing at me.
Strepsiades. To me, indeed, O comrades, he seems to speak justly; and I think we ought to concede to them what is fitting. For it is proper that we should weep, if we do not act justly.
Phidippides. Consider still another maxim.
Strepsiades. No; for I shall perish if I do.
Phidippides. And yet perhaps you will not be vexed at suffering what you now suffer.
Strepsiades. How, pray? For inform me what good you will do me by this.
Phidippides. I will beat my mother, just as I have you.
Strepsiades. What do you say? What do you say? This other, again, is a greater wickedness.
Phidippides. But what if, having the worst Cause, I shall conquer you in arguing, proving that it is right to beat one's mother?
Strepsiades. Most assuredly, if you do this, nothing will hinder you from casting yourself and your Worse Cause into the pit along with Socrates. These evils have I suffered through you, O Clouds! Having intrusted all my affairs to you.
Chorus. Nay, rather, you are yourself the cause of these things, having turned yourself to wicked courses.
Strepsiades. Why, pray, did you not tell me this, then, but excited with hopes a rustic and aged man?
Chorus. We always do this to him whom we perceive to be a lover of wicked courses, until we precipitate him into misfortune, so that he may learn to fear the gods.
Strepsiades. Ah me ! it is severe, O Clouds! But it is just; for I ought not to have withheld the money which I borrowed. Now, therefore, come with me, my dearest son, that you may destroy the blackguard Chaerephon and Socrates, who deceived you and me.
Phidippides. I will not injure my teachers.
Strepsiades. Yes, yes, reverence Paternal Jove.
Phidippides. "Paternal Jove" quoth'a! How antiquated you are! Why, is there any Jove?
Strepsiades. There is.
Phidippides. There is not, no; for Vortex reigns having expelled Jupiter.
Strepsiades. He has not expelled him; but I fancied this, on account of this Vortex here. Ah me, unhappy man! When I even took you who are of earthenware for a god.
Phidippides. Here rave and babble to yourself.
Strepsiades. Ah me, what madness! How mad, then, I was when I ejected the gods on account of Socrates! But O dear Hermes, by no means be wroth with me, nor destroy me; but pardon me, since I have gone crazy through prating. And become my adviser, whether I shall bring an action and prosecute them, or whatever you think. You advise me rightly, not permitting me to get up a lawsuit, but as soon as possible to set fire to the house of the prating fellows. Come hither, come hither, Xanthias! Come forth with a ladder and with a mattock and then mount upon the thinking-shop and dig down the roof, if you love your master, until you tumble the house upon them.
[Xanthias mounts upon the roof]
But let some one bring me a lighted torch and I'll make some of them this day suffer punishment, even if they be ever so much impostors.
1st Disciple (from within). Hollo! Hollo!
Strepsiades. It is your business, O torch, to send forth abundant flame.
[Mounts upon the roof]
1st Disciple. What are you doing, fellow?
Strepsiades. What am I doing? Why, what else, than chopping logic with the beams of your house?
[Sets the house on fire]
2nd Disciple. (from within) You will destroy us! You will destroy us!
Strepsiades. For I also wish this very thing; unless my mattock deceive my hopes, or I should somehow fall first and break my neck.
Socrates. (from within). Hollo you! What are you doing, pray, you fellow on the roof?
Strepsiades. I am walking on air, and speculating about the sun.
Socrates. Ah me, unhappy! I shall be suffocated, wretched man!
Chaerephon. And I, miserable man, shall be burnt to death!
Strepsiades. For what has come into your heads that you acted insolently toward the gods, and pried into the seat of the moon? Chase, pelt, smite them, for many reasons, but especially because you know that they offended against the gods!
[The thinking shop is burned down]
Chorus. Lead the way out; for we have sufficiently acted as chorus for today.