The Acharnians (continued)
 

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
Oh! wretch! oh! infamous man! You are naught but a beggar and yet you dare to talk to us like this! you insult their worships the informers!

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
By Posidon! he speaks the truth; he has not lied in a single detail.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
But though it be true, need he say it? But you'll have no great cause to be proud of your insolence!

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
Where are you running to? Don't you move; if you strike this man, I shall be at you.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
Lamachus, whose glance flashes lightning, whose plume petrifies thy foes, help! Oh! Lamachus, my friend, the hero of my tribe and all of you, both officers and soldiers, defenders of our walls, come to my aid; else is it all over with me!

LAMACHUS
Whence comes this cry of battle? where must I bring my aid? where must I sow dread? who wants me to uncase my dreadful Gorgon's head?

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, Lamachus, great hero! Your plumes and your cohorts terrify me.

CHORUS
This man, Lamachus, incessantly abuses Athens.

LAMACHUS
You are but a mendicant and you dare to use language of this sort?

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, brave Lamachus, forgive a beggar who speaks at hazard.

LAMACHUS
But what have you said? Let us hear.

DICAEOPOLIS
I know nothing about it; the sight of weapons makes me dizzy. Oh! I adjure you, take that fearful Gorgon somewhat farther away.

LAMACHUS
There.

DICAEOPOLIS
Now place it face downwards on the ground.

LAMACHUS
It is done.

DICAEOPOLIS
Give me a plume out of your helmet.

LAMACHUS
Here is a feather.

DICAEOPOLIS
And hold my head while I vomit; the plumes have turned my stomach.

LAMACHUS
Hah! what are you proposing to do? do you want to make yourself vomit with this feather?

DICAEOPOLIS
Is it a feather? what bird's? a braggart's?

LAMACHUS
Ah! ah! I will rip you open.

DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, Lamachus! Violence is out of place here! But as you are so strong, why did you not circumcise me? You have all the tools you want for the operation there.

LAMACHUS
A beggar dares thus address a general!

DICAEOPOLIS
How? Am I a beggar?

LAMACHUS
What are you then?

DICAEOPOLIS
Who am I? A good citizen, not ambitious; a soldier, who has fought well since the outbreak of the war, whereas you are but a vile mercenary.

LAMACHUS
They elected me...

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, three cuckoos did! If I have concluded peace, 'twas disgust that drove me; for I see men with hoary heads in the ranks and young fellows of your age shirking service. Some are in Thrace getting an allowance of three drachmae, such fellows as Tisamenophoenippus and Panurgipparchides. The others are with Chares or in Chaonia, men like Geretotheodorus and Diomialazon; there are some of the same kidney, too, at Camarina and at Gela, the laughing-stock of all and sundry.

LAMACHUS
They were elected.

DICAEOPOLIS
And why do you always receive your pay, when none of these others ever gets any? Speak, Marilades, you have grey hair; well then, have you ever been entrusted with a mission? See! he shakes his head. Yet he is an active as well as a prudent man. And you, Dracyllus, Euphorides or Prinides, have you knowledge of Ecbatana or Chaonia? You say no, do you not? Such offices are good for the son of Caesyra and Lamachus, who, but yesterday ruined with debt, never pay their shot, and whom all their friends avoid as foot passengers dodge the folks who empty their slops out of window.

LAMACHUS
Oh! in freedom's name! are such exaggerations to be borne?

DICAEOPOLIS
Lamachus is well content; no doubt he is well paid, you know.

LAMACHUS
But I propose always to war with the Peloponnesians, both at sea, on land and everywhere to make them tremble, and trounce them soundly.

DICAEOPOLIS
For my own part, I make proclamation to all Peloponnesians, Megarians and Boeotians, that to them my markets are open; but I debar Lamachus from entering them.

CHORUS
Convinced by this man's speech, the folk have changed their view and approve him for having concluded peace. But let us prepare for the recital of the parabasis.

Never since our poet presented Comedies, has he praised himself upon the stage; but, having been slandered by his enemies amongst the volatile Athenians, accused of scoffing at his country and of insulting the people, to-day he wishes to reply and regain for himself the inconstant Athenians. He maintains that he has done much that is good for you; if you no longer allow yourselves to be too much hoodwinked by strangers or seduced by flattery, if in politics you are no longer the ninnies you once were, it is thanks to him. Formerly, when delegates from other cities wanted to deceive you, they had but to style you, "the people crowned with violets," and at the word "violets" you at once sat erect on the tips of your bums. Or if, to tickle your vanity, someone spoke of "rich and sleek Athens," in return for that "sleekness" he would get all, because he spoke of you as he would have of anchovies in oil. In cautioning you against such wiles, the poet has done you great service as well as in forcing you to understand what is really the democratic principle. Thus, the strangers, who came to pay their tributes, wanted to see this great poet, who had dared to speak the truth to Athens. And so far has the fame of his boldness reached that one day the Great King, when questioning the Lacedaemonian delegates, first asked them which of the two rival cities was the superior at sea, and then immediately demanded at which it was that the comic poet directed his biting satire. "Happy that city," he added, "if it listens to his counsel; it will grow in power, and its victory is assured." This is why the Lacedaemonians offer you peace, if you will cede them Aegina; not that they care for the isle, but they wish to rob you of your poet. As for you, never lose him, who will always fight for the cause of justice in his Comedies; he promises you that his precepts will lead you to happiness, though he uses neither flattery, nor bribery, nor intrigue, nor deceit; instead of loading you with praise, he will point you to the better way. I scoff at Cleon's tricks and plotting; honesty and justice shall fight my cause; never will you find me a political poltroon, a prostitute to the highest bidder.

I invoke thee, Acharnian Muse, fierce and fell as the devouring fire; sudden as the spark that bursts from the crackling oaken coal when roused by the quickening fan to fry little fishes, while others knead the dough or whip the sharp Thasian pickle with rapid hand, so break forth, my Muse, and inspire thy tribesmen with rough, vigorous, stirring strains.

We others, now old men and heavy with years, we reproach the city; so many are the victories we have gained for the Athenian fleets that we well deserve to be cared for in our declining life; yet far from this, we are ill-used, harassed with law-suits, delivered over to the scorn of stripling orators. Our minds and bodies being ravaged with age, Posidon should protect us, yet we have no other support than a staff. When standing before the judge, we can scarcely stammer forth the fewest words, and of justice we see but its barest shadow, whereas the accuser, desirous of conciliating the younger men, overwhelms us with his ready rhetoric; he drags us before the judge, presses us with questions, lays traps for us; the onslaught troubles, upsets and ruins poor old Tithonus, who, crushed with age, stands tongue-tied; sentenced to a fine, he weeps, he sobs and says to his friend, "This fine robs me of the last trifle that was to have bought my coffin."

Is this not a scandal? What! the clepsydra is to kill the white-haired veteran, who, in fierce fighting, has so oft covered himself with glorious sweat, whose valour at Marathon saved the country! 'Twas we who pursued on the field of Marathon, whereas now 'tis wretches who pursue us to the death and crush us! What would Marpsias reply to this? What an injustice that a man, bent with age like Thucydides, should be brow-beaten by this braggart advocate, Cephisodemus, who is as savage as the Scythian desert he was born in! Is it not to convict him from the outset? I wept tears of pity when I saw an Archer maltreat this old man, who, by Ceres, when he was young and the true Thucydides, would not have permitted an insult from Ceres herself! At that date he would have floored ten orators, he would have terrified three thousand Archers with his shouts; he would have pierced the whole line of the enemy with his shafts. Ah! but if you will not leave the aged in peace, decree that the advocates be matched; thus the old man will only be confronted with a toothless greybeard, the young will fight with the braggart, the ignoble with the son of Clinias; make a law that in the future, the old man can only be summoned and convicted at the courts by the aged and the young man by the youth.

DICAEOPOLIS
These are the confines of my market-place. All Peloponnesians, Megarians, Boeotians, have the right to come and trade here, provided they sell their wares to me and not to Lamachus. As market-inspectors I appoint these three whips of Leprean leather, chosen by lot. Warned away are all informers and all men of Phasis. They are bringing me the pillar on which the treaty is inscribed and I shall erect it in the centre of the market, well in sight of all.

A MEGARIAN Hail! market of Athens, beloved of Megarians. Let Zeus, the patron of friendship, witness, I regretted you as a mother mourns her son. Come, poor little daughters of an unfortunate father, try to find something to eat; listen to me with the full heed of an empty belly. Which would you prefer? To be sold or to cry with hunger?

DAUGHTERS
To be sold, to be sold!

MEGARIAN
That is my opinion too. But who would make so sorry a deal as to buy you? Ah! I recall me a Megarian trick; I am going to disguise you as little porkers, that I am offering for sale. Fit your hands with these hoofs and take care to appear the issue of a sow of good breed, for, if I am forced to take you back to the house, by Hermes! you will suffer cruelly of hunger! Then fix on these snouts and cram yourselves into this sack. Forget not to grunt and to say wee-wee like the little pigs that are sacrificed in the Mysteries. I must summon Dicaeopolis. Where is be? Dicaeopolis, do you want to buy some nice little porkers?

DICAEOPOLIS
Who are you? a Megarian?

MEGARIAN
I have come to your market.

DICAEOPOLIS
Well, how are things at Megara?

MEGARIAN
We are crying with hunger at our firesides.

DICAEOPOLIS
The fireside is jolly enough with a piper. But what else is doing at Megara, eh?

MEGARIAN
What else? When I left for the market, the authorities were taking steps to let us die in the quickest manner.

DICAEOPOLIS
That is the best way to get you out of all your troubles.

MEGARIAN
True.

DICAEOPOLIS
What other news of Megara? What is wheat selling at?

MEGARIAN
With us it is valued as highly as the very gods in heaven!

DICAEOPOLIS
Is it salt that you are bringing?

MEGARIAN
Are you not holding back the salt?

DICAEOPOLIS
'Tis garlic then?

MEGARIAN
What! garlic! do you not at every raid grub up the ground with your pikes to pull out every single head?

DICAEOPOLIS
What DO you bring then?

MEGARIAN
Little sows, like those they immolate at the Mysteries.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! very well, show me them.

MEGARIAN
They are very fine; feel their weight. See! how fat and fine.

DICAEOPOLIS
But what is this?

MEGARIAN
A SOW, for a certainty.

DICAEOPOLIS
You say a sow! Of what country, then?

MEGARIAN
From Megara. What! is it not a sow then?

DICAEOPOLIS
No, I don't believe it is.

MEGARIAN
This is too much! what an incredulous man! He says 'tis not a sow; but we will stake, an you will, a measure of salt ground up with thyme, that in good Greek this is called a sow and nothing else.

DICAEOPOLIS
But a sow of the human kind.

MEGARIAN
Without question, by Diocles! of my own breed! Well! What think you? will you hear them squeal?

DICAEOPOLIS
Well, yes, I' faith, I will.

MEGARIAN
Cry quickly, wee sowlet; squeak up, hussy, or by Hermes! I take you back to the house.

GIRL
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

MEGARIAN
Is that a little sow, or not?

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, it seems so; but let it grow up, and it will be a fine fat bitch.

MEGARIAN
In five years it will be just like its mother.

DICAEOPOLIS
But it cannot be sacrificed.

MEGARIAN
And why not?

DICAEOPOLIS
It has no tail.

MEGARIAN
Because it is quite young, but in good time it will have a big one, thick and red.

DICAEOPOLIS
The two are as like as two peas.

MEGARIAN
They are born of the same father and mother; let them be fattened, let them grow their bristles, and they will be the finest sows you can offer to Aphrodite.

DICAEOPOLIS
But sows are not immolated to Aphrodite.

MEGARIAN
Not sows to Aphrodite! Why, 'tis the only goddess to whom they are offered! the flesh of my sows will be excellent on the spit.

DICAEOPOLIS
Can they eat alone? They no longer need their mother!

MEGARIAN
Certainly not, nor their father.

DICAEOPOLIS
What do they like most?

MEGARIAN
Whatever is given them; but ask for yourself.

DICAEOPOLIS
Speak! little sow.

DAUGHTER
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS
Can you eat chick-pease?

DAUGHTER
Wee-wee, wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS
And Attic figs?

DAUGHTER
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

DICAEOPOLIS
What sharp squeaks at the name of figs. Come, let some figs be brought for these little pigs. Will they eat them? Goodness! how they munch them, what a grinding of teeth, mighty Heracles! I believe those pigs hail from the land of the Voracians. But surely 'tis impossible they have bolted all the figs!

MEGARIAN
Yes, certainly, bar this one that I took from them.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! what funny creatures! For what sum will you sell them?

MEGARIAN
I will give you one for a bunch of garlic, and the other, if you like, for a quart measure of salt.

DICAEOPOLIS
I buy them of you. Wait for me here.

MEGARIAN
The deal is done. Hermes, god of good traders, grant I may sell both my wife and my mother in the same way!

AN INFORMER
Hi! fellow, what countryman are you?

MEGARIAN
I am a pig-merchant from Megara.

INFORMER
I shall denounce both your pigs and yourself as public enemies.

MEGARIAN
Ah! here our troubles begin afresh!

INFORMER
Let go that sack. I will punish your Megarian lingo!

MEGARIAN
Dicaeopolis, Dicaeopolis, they want to denounce me.

DICAEOPOLIS
Who dares do this thing? Inspectors, drive out the informers. Ah! you offer to enlighten us without a lamp!

INFORMER
What! I may not denounce our enemies?

DICAEOPOLIS
Have a care for yourself, if you don't go off pretty quick to denounce elsewhere.

MEGARIAN
What a plague to Athens!

DICAEOPOLIS
Be reassured, Megarian. Here is the price for your two swine, the garlic and the salt. Farewell and much happiness!

MEGARIAN
Ah! we never have that amongst us.

DICAEOPOLIS
Well! may the inopportune wish apply to myself.

MEGARIAN
Farewell, dear little sows, and seek, far from your father, to munch your bread with salt, if they give you any.

CHORUS
Here is a man truly happy. See how everything succeeds to his wish. Peacefully seated in his market, he will earn his living; woe to Ctesias, and all other informers who dare to enter there! You will not be cheated as to the value of wares, you will not again see Prepis wiping his foul rump, nor will Cleonymus jostle you; you will take your walks, clothed in a fine tunic, without meeting Hyperbolus and his unceasing quibblings, without being accosted on the public place by any importunate fellow, neither by Cratinus, shaven in the fashion of the debauchees, nor by this musician, who plagues us with his silly improvisations, Artemo, with his arm-pits stinking as foul as a goat, like his father before him. You will not be the butt of the villainous Pauson's jeers, nor of Lysistratus, the disgrace of the Cholargian deme, who is the incarnation of all the vices, and endures cold and hunger more than thirty days in the month.

A BOEOTIAN By Heracles! my shoulder is quite black and blue. Ismenias, put the penny-royal down there very gently, and all of you, musicians from Thebes, pipe with your bone flutes into a dog's rump.

DICAEOPOLIS
Enough, enough, get you gone. Rascally hornets, away with you! Whence has sprung this accursed swarm of Charis fellows which comes assailing my door?

BOEOTIAN
Ah! by Iolas! Drive them off, my dear host, you will please me immensely; all the way from Thebes, they were there piping behind me and have completely stripped my penny-royal of its blossom. But will you buy anything of me, some chickens or some locusts?

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! good day, Boeotian, eater of good round loaves. What do you bring?

BOEOTIAN
All that is good in Boeotia, marjoram, penny-royal, rush-mats, lamp-wicks, ducks, jays, woodcocks, water-fowl, wrens, divers.

DICAEOPOLIS
'Tis a very hail of birds that beats down on my market.

BOEOTIAN
I also bring geese, hares, foxes, moles, hedgehogs, cats, lyres, martins, otters and eels from the Copaic lake.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! my friend, you, who bring me the most delicious of fish, let me salute your eels.

BOEOTIAN
Come, thou, the eldest of my fifty Copaic virgins, come and complete the joy of our host.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! my well-beloved, thou object of my long regrets, thou art here at last then, thou, after whom the comic poets sigh, thou, who art dear to Morychus. Slaves, hither with the stove and the bellows. Look at this charming eel, that returns to us after six long years of absence. Salute it, my children; as for myself, I will supply coal to do honour to the stranger. Take it into my house; death itself could not separate me from her, if cooked with beet leaves.

BOEOTIAN
And what will you give me in return?

DICAEOPOLIS
It will pay for your market dues. And as to the rest, what do you wish to sell me?

BOEOTIAN
Why, everything.

DICAEOPOLIS
On what terms? For ready-money or in wares from these parts?

BOEOTIAN
I would take some Athenian produce, that we have not got in Boeotia.

DICAEOPOLIS
Phaleric anchovies, pottery?

BOEOTIAN
Anchovies, pottery? But these we have. I want produce that is wanting with us and that is plentiful here.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! I have the very thing; take away an Informer, packed up carefully as crockery-ware.

BOEOTIAN
By the twin gods! I should earn big money, if I took one; I would exhibit him as an ape full of spite.

DICAEOPOLIS
Hah! here we have Nicarchus, who comes to denounce you.

BOEOTIAN
How small he is!

DICAEOPOLIS
But in his case the whole is one mass of ill-nature.

NICARCHUS
Whose are these goods?

DICAEOPOLIS
Mine; they come from Boeotia, I call Zeus to witness.

NICARCHUS
I denounce them as coming from an enemy's country.

BOEOTIAN
What! you declare war against birds?

NICARCHUS
And I am going to denounce you too.

BOEOTIAN
What harm have I done you?

NICARCHUS
I will say it for the benefit of those that listen; you introduce lamp-wicks from an enemy's country.

DICAEOPOLIS
Then you go as far as denouncing a wick.

NICARCHUS
It needs but one to set an arsenal afire.

DICAEOPOLIS
A wick set an arsenal ablaze! But how, great gods?

NICARCHUS
Should a Boeotian attach it to an insect's wing, and, taking advantage of a violent north wind, throw it by means of a tube into the arsenal and the fire once get hold of the vessels, everything would soon be devoured by the flames.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! wretch! an insect and a wick devour everything! (HE STRIKES HIM.)

NICARCHUS (TO THE CHORUS)
You will bear witness, that he mishandles me.

DICAEOPOLIS
Shut his mouth. Give me some hay; I am going to pack him up like a vase, that he may not get broken on the road.

CHORUS
Pack up your goods carefully, friend; that the stranger may not break it when taking it away.

DICAEOPOLIS
I shall take great care with it, for one would say he is cracked already; he rings with a false note, which the gods abhor.

CHORUS
But what will be done with him?

DICAEOPOLIS
This is a vase good for all purposes; it will be used as a vessel for holding all foul things, a mortar for pounding together law-suits, a lamp for spying upon accounts, and as a cup for the mixing up and poisoning of everything.

CHORUS
None could ever trust a vessel for domestic use that has such a ring about it.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! it is strong, my friend, and will never get broken, if care is taken to hang it head downwards.

CHORUS
There! it is well packed now!

BOEOTIAN
Marry, I will proceed to carry off my bundle.

CHORUS
Farewell, worthiest of strangers, take this informer, good for anything, and fling him where you like.

DICAEOPOLIS
Bah! this rogue has given me enough trouble to pack! Here! Boeotian, pick up your pottery.

BOEOTIAN
Stoop, Ismenias, that I may put it on your shoulder, and be very careful with it.

DICAEOPOLIS
You carry nothing worth having; however, take it, for you will profit by your bargain; the Informers will bring you luck.

A SERVANT OF LAMACHUS Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS
What do you want crying this gait?

SERVANT
Lamachus wants to keep the Feast of Cups, and I come by his order to bid you one drachma for some thrushes and three more for a Copaic eel.

DICAEOPOLIS
And who is this Lamachus, who demands an eel?

SERVANT
'Tis the terrible, indefatigable Lamachus, who is always brandishing his fearful Gorgon's head and the three plumes which o'ershadow his helmet.

DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, he will get nothing, even though he gave me his buckler. Let him eat salt fish, while he shakes his plumes, and, if he comes here making any din, I shall call the inspectors. As for myself, I shall take away all these goods; I go home on thrushes' wings and black-birds' pinions.

CHORUS
You see, citizens, you see the good fortune which this man owes to his prudence, to his profound wisdom. You see how, since he has concluded peace, he buys what is useful in the household and good to eat hot. All good things flow towards him unsought. Never will I welcome the god of war in my house; never shall he chant the "Harmodius" at my table; he is a sot, who comes feasting with those who are overflowing with good things and brings all manner of mischief at his heels. He overthrows, ruins, rips open; 'tis vain to make him a thousand offers, "be seated, pray, drink this cup, proffered in all friendship," he burns our vine-stocks and brutally pours out the wine from our vineyards on the ground. This man, on the other hand, covers his table with a thousand dishes; proud of his good fortunes, he has had these feathers cast before his door to show us how he lives.

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, Peace! companion of fair Aphrodite and of the sweet Graces, how charming are thy features and yet I never knew it! Would that Eros might join me to thee, Eros, crowned with roses as Zeuxis shows him to us! Perhaps I seem somewhat old to you, but I am yet able to make you a threefold offering; despite my age I could plant a long row of vines for you; then beside these some tender cuttings from the fig; finally a young vine-stock, loaded with fruit and all around the field olive trees, which would furnish us with oil, wherewith to anoint us both at the New Moons.

HERALD
List, ye people! As was the custom of your forebears, empty a full pitcher of wine at the call of the trumpet; he, who first sees the bottom, shall get a wine-skin as round and plump as Ctesiphon's belly.

DICAEOPOLIS
Women, children, have you not heard? Faith! do you not heed the herald? Quick! let the hares boil and roast merrily; keep them a-turning; withdraw them from the flame; prepare the chaplets; reach me the skewers that I may spit the thrushes.

CHORUS
I envy you your wisdom and even more your good cheer.

DICAEOPOLIS
What then will you say when you see the thrushes roasting?

CHORUS
Ah! true indeed!

DICAEOPOLIS
Slave! stir up the fire.

CHORUS
See, how he knows his business, what a perfect cook! How well he understands the way to prepare a good dinner!

A HUSBANDMAN Ah! woe is me!

DICAEOPOLIS
Heracles! What have we here?

HUSBANDMAN
A most miserable man.

DICAEOPOLIS
Keep your misery for yourself.

HUSBANDMAN
Ah! friend! since you alone are enjoying peace, grant me a part of your truce, were it but five years.

DICAEOPOLIS
What has happened to you?

HUSBANDMAN
I am ruined; I have lost a pair of steers.

DICAEOPOLIS
How?

HUSBANDMAN
The Boeotians seized them at Phyle.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! poor wretch! and yet you have not left off white?

HUSBANDMAN
Their dung made my wealth.

DICAEOPOLIS
What can I do in the matter?

HUSBANDMAN
Crying for my beasts has lost me my eyesight. Ah! if you care for poor Dercetes of Phyle, anoint mine eyes quickly with your balm of peace.

DICAEOPOLIS
But, my poor fellow, I do not practise medicine.

HUSBANDMAN
Come, I adjure you; perhaps I shall recover my steers.

DICAEOPOLIS
'Tis impossible; away, go and whine to the disciples of Pittalus.

HUSBANDMAN
Grant me but one drop of peace; pour it into this reedlet.

DICAEOPOLIS
No, not a particle; go a-weeping elsewhere.

HUSBANDMAN
Oh! oh! oh! my poor beasts!

CHORUS
This man has discovered the sweetest enjoyment in peace; he will share it with none.

DICAEOPOLIS
Pour honey over this tripe; set it before the fire to dry.

CHORUS
What lofty tones he uses! Did you hear him?

DICAEOPOLIS
Get the eels on the gridiron!

CHORUS
You are killing me with hunger; your smoke is choking your neighbours, and you split our ears with your bawling.

DICAEOPOLIS
Have this fried and let it be nicely browned.

A BRIDESMAID Dicaeopolis! Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS
Who are you?

BRIDESMAID
A young bridegroom sends you these viands from the marriage feast.

DICAEOPOLIS
Whoever he be, I thank him.

BRIDESMAID
And in return, he prays you to pour a glass of peace into this vase, that he may not have to go to the front and may stay at home to do his duty to his young wife.

DICAEOPOLIS
Take back, take back your viands; for a thousand drachmae I would not give a drop of peace; but who are you, pray?

BRIDESMAID
I am the bridesmaid; she wants to say something to you from the bride privately.

DICAEOPOLIS
Come, what do you wish to say? (THE BRIDESMAID WHISPERS IN HIS EAR.) Ah! what a ridiculous demand! The bride burns with longing to keep by her her husband's weapon. Come! bring hither my truce; to her alone will I give some of it, for she is a woman, and, as such, should not suffer under the war. Here, friend, reach hither your vial. And as to the manner of applying this balm, tell the bride, when a levy of soldiers is made to rub some in bed on her husband, where most needed. There, slave, take away my truce! Now, quick, bring me the wine-flagon, that I may fill up the drinking bowls!

CHORUS
I see a man, striding along apace, with knitted brows; he seems to us the bearer of terrible tidings.

HERALD
Oh! toils and battles, 'tis Lamachus!

LAMACHUS
What noise resounds around my dwelling, where shines the glint of arms.

HERALD
The Generals order you forthwith to take your battalions and your plumes, and, despite the snow, to go and guard our borders. They have learnt that a band of Boeotians intend taking advantage of the Feast of Cups to invade our country.

LAMACHUS
Ah! the Generals! they are numerous, but not good for much! It's cruel, not to be able to enjoy the feast!

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! warlike host of Lamachus!

LAMACHUS
Wretch! do you dare to jeer me?

DICAEOPOLIS
Do you want to fight this four-winged Geryon?

LAMACHUS
Oh! oh! what fearful tidings!

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! ah! I see another herald running up; what news does he bring me?

HERALD
Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS
What is the matter?

HERALD
Come quickly to the feast and bring your basket and your cup; 'tis the priest of Bacchus who invites you. But hasten, the guests have been waiting for you a long while. All is ready--couches, tables, cushions, chaplets, perfumes, dainties and courtesans to boot; biscuits, cakes, sesame-bread, tarts, lovely dancing women, the sweetest charm of the festivity. But come with all haste.

LAMACHUS
Oh! hostile gods!

DICAEOPOLIS
This is not astounding; you have chosen this huge, great ugly Gorgon's head for your patron. You, shut the door, and let someone get ready the meal.

LAMACHUS
Slave! slave! my knapsack!

DICAEOPOLIS
Slave! slave! a basket!

LAMACHUS
Take salt and thyme, slave, and don't forget the onions.

DICAEOPOLIS
Get some fish for me; I cannot bear onions.

LAMACHUS
Slave, wrap me up a little stale salt meat in a fig-leaf.

DICAEOPOLIS
And for me some good greasy tripe in a fig-leaf; I will have it cooked here.

LAMACHUS
Bring me the plumes for my helmet.

DICAEOPOLIS
Bring me wild pigeons and thrushes.

LAMACHUS
How white and beautiful are these ostrich feathers!

DICAEOPOLIS
How fat and well browned is the flesh of this wood-pigeon!

LAMACHUS
Bring me the case for my triple plume.

DICAEOPOLIS
Pass me over that dish of hare.

LAMACHUS
OH! the moths have eaten the hair of my crest.

DICAEOPOLIS
I shall always eat hare before dinner.

LAMACHUS
Hi! friend! try not to scoff at my armor?

DICAEOPOLIS
Hi! friend! will you kindly not stare at my thrushes.

LAMACHUS
Hi! friend! will you kindly not address me.

DICAEOPOLIS
I do not address you; I am scolding my slave. Shall we wager and submit the matter to Lamachus, which of the two is the best to eat, a locust or a thrush?

LAMACHUS
Insolent hound!

DICAEOPOLIS
He much prefers the locusts.

LAMACHUS
Slave, unhook my spear and bring it to me.

DICAEOPOLIS
Slave, slave, take the sausage from the fire and bring it to me.

LAMACHUS
Come, let me draw my spear from its sheath. Hold it, slave, hold it tight.

DICAEOPOLIS
And you, slave, grip, grip well hold of the skewer.

LAMACHUS
Slave, the bracings for my shield.

DICAEOPOLIS
Pull the loaves out of the oven and bring me these bracings of my stomach.

LAMACHUS
My round buckler with the Gorgon's head.

DICAEOPOLIS
My round cheese-cake.

LAMACHUS
What clumsy wit!

DICAEOPOLIS
What delicious cheese-cake!

LAMACHUS
Pour oil on the buckler. Hah! hah! I can see reflected there an old man who will be accused of cowardice.

DICAEOPOLIS
Pour honey on the cake. Hah! hah! I can see an old man who makes Lamachus of the Gorgon's head weep with rage.

LAMACHUS
Slave, full war armour.

DICAEOPOLIS
Slave, my beaker; that is MY armour.

LAMACHUS
With this I hold my ground with any foe.

DICAEOPOLIS
And I with this with any tosspot.

LAMACHUS
Fasten the strappings to the buckler; personally I shall carry the knapsack

DICAEOPOLIS
Pack the dinner well into the basket; personally I shall carry the cloak.

LAMACHUS
Slave, take up the buckler and let's be off. It is snowing! Ah! 'tis a question of facing the winter.

DICAEOPOLIS
Take up the basket, 'tis a question of getting to the feast.

CHORUS
We wish you both joy on your journeys, which differ so much. One goes to mount guard and freeze, while the other will drink, crowned with flowers, and then sleep with a young beauty, who will excite him readily.

I say it freely; may Zeus confound Antimachus, the poet-historian, the son of Psacas! When Choregus at the Lenaea, alas! alas! he dismissed me dinnerless. May I see him devouring with his eyes a cuttle-fish, just served, well cooked, hot and properly salted; and the moment that he stretches his hand to help himself, may a dog seize it and run off with it. Such is my first wish. I also hope for him a misfortune at night. That returning all-fevered from horse practice, he may meet an Orestes, mad with drink, who breaks open his head; that wishing to seize a stone, he, in the dark, may pick up a fresh stool, hurl his missile, miss aim and hit Cratinus.

SLAVE OF LAMACHUS
Slaves of Lamachus! Water, water in a little pot! Make it warm, get ready cloths, cerate greasy wool and bandages for his ankle. In leaping a ditch, the master has hurt himself against a stake; he has dislocated and twisted his ankle, broken his head by falling on a stone, while his Gorgon shot far away from his buckler. His mighty braggadocio plume rolled on the ground; at this sight he uttered these doleful words, "Radiant star, I gaze on thee for the last time; my eyes close to all light, I die." Having said this, he falls into the water, gets out again, meets some runaways and pursues the robbers with his spear at their backsides. But here he comes, himself. Get the door open.

LAMACHUS
Oh! heavens! oh! heavens! What cruel pain! I faint, I tremble! Alas! I die! the foe's lance has struck me! But what would hurt me most would be for Dicaeopolis to see me wounded thus and laugh at my ill-fortune.

DICAEOPOLIS (ENTERS WITH TWO COURTESANS)
Oh! my gods! what bosoms! Hard as a quince! Come, my treasures, give me voluptuous kisses! Glue your lips to mine. Haha! I was the first to empty my cup.

LAMACHUS
Oh! cruel fate! how I suffer! accursed wounds!

DICAEOPOLIS
Hah! hah! hail! Knight Lamachus! (EMBRACES LAMACHUS.)

LAMACHUS
By the hostile gods! (BITES DICAEOPOLIS.)

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! Great gods!

LAMACHUS
Why do you embrace me?

DICAEOPOLIS
And why do you bite me?

LAMACHUS
'Twas a cruel score I was paying back!

DICAEOPOLIS
Scores are not evened at the Feast of Cups!

LAMACHUS
Oh! Paean, Paean!

DICAEOPOLIS
But to-day is not the feast of Paean.

LAMACHUS
Oh! support my leg, do; ah! hold it tenderly, my friends!

DICAEOPOLIS
And you, my darlings, take hold of this, both of you!

LAMACHUS
This blow with the stone makes me dizzy; my sight grows dim.

DICAEOPOLIS
For myself, I want to get to bed; I am bursting with lustfulness, I want to be bundling in the dark.

LAMACHUS
Carry me to the surgeon Pittalus.

DICAEOPOLIS
Take me to the judges. Where is the king of the feast? The wine-skin is mine!

LAMACHUS
That spear has pierced my bones; what torture I endure!

DICAEOPOLIS
You see this empty cup! I triumph! I triumph!

CHORUS
Old man, I come at your bidding! You triumph! you triumph!

DICAEOPOLIS
Again I have brimmed my cup with unmixed wine and drained it at a draught!

CHORUS
You triumph then, brave champion; thine is the wine-skin!

DICAEOPOLIS
Follow me, singing "Triumph! Triumph!"

CHORUS
Aye! we will sing of thee, thee and thy sacred wine-skin, and we all, as we follow thee, will repeat in thine honour, "Triumph, Triumph!"