But hold, the Argives have not pulled the least bit; they have done
nothing but laugh at us for our pains while they were getting gain
with both hands.
 Both Sparta and Athens had sought the alliance of the Argives; they
had kept themselves strictly neutral and had received pay from both sides.
But, the year after the production of 'The Wasps,' they openly joined
Athens, had attacked Epidaurus and got cut to pieces by the Spartans.
Ah! my dear sir, the Laconians at all events pull with vigour.
But look! only those among them who generally hold the plough-tail
show any zeal, while the armourers impede them in their efforts.
 These are the Spartan prisoners from Sphacteria, who were lying in
goal at Athens. They were chained fast to large beams of wood.
And the Megarians too are doing nothing, yet look how they are
pulling and showing their teeth like famished curs; The poor wretches
are dying of hunger!
 'Twas want of force, not want of will. They had suffered more than
any other people from the war. (See 'The Acharnians.')
This won't do, friends. Come! all together! Everyone to the work
and with a good heart for the business.
Off to the Devil with you, Megarians! The goddess hates you. She
recollects that you were the first to rub her the wrong way.
Athenians, you are not well placed for pulling. There you are too busy
with law-suits; if you really want to free the goddess, get down a
little towards the sea.
 Meaning, look chiefly to your fleet. This was the counsel that
Themistocles frequently gave the Athenians.
Come, friends, none but husbandmen on the rope.
He says the thing is going well. Come, all of you, together and
with a will.
'Tis the husbandmen who are doing all the work.
Come then, come, and all together! Hah! hah! at last there is some
unanimity in the work. Don't let us give up, let us redouble our efforts.
There! now we have it! Come then, all together! Heave away, heave!
Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave! Heave
away, heave! All together! (PEACE IS DRAWN OUT OF THE PIT.)
Oh! venerated goddess, who givest us our grapes, where am I to
find the ten-thousand-gallon words wherewith to greet thee? I have
none such at home. Oh! hail to thee, Opora, and thee, Theoria!
How beautiful is thy face! How sweet thy breath! What gentle fragrance
comes from thy bosom, gentle as freedom from military duty, as
the most dainty perfumes!
 A metaphor referring to the abundant vintages that peace would
 The goddess of fruits.
 Aristophanes personifies under this name the sacred ceremonies
in general which peace would allow to be celebrated with due pomp.
Opora and Theoria come on the stage in the wake of Peace, clothed
and decked out as courtesans.
Is it then a smell like a soldier's knapsack?
Oh! hateful soldier! your hideous satchel makes me sick! it stinks
like the belching of onions, whereas this lovable deity has the odour
of sweet fruits, of festivals, of the Dionysia, of the harmony
of flutes, of the comic poets, of the verses of Sophocles, of the phrases
That's a foul calumny, you wretch! She detests that framer of
subtleties and quibbles.
...of ivy, of straining-bags for wine, of bleating ewes, of
provision-laden women hastening to the kitchen, of the tipsy servant
wench, of the upturned wine-jar, and of a whole heap of other good
Then look how the reconciled towns chat pleasantly together, how
they laugh; and yet they are all cruelly mishandled; their wounds
are bleeding still.
But let us also scan the mien of the spectators; we shall thus
find out the trade of each.
Ah! good gods! Look at that poor crest-maker, tearing at his hair, and
at that pike-maker, who has just broken wind in yon sword-cutler's face.
 Aristophanes has already shown us the husbandmen and workers
in peaceful trades pulling at the rope the extricate Peace, while
the armourers hindered them by pulling the other way.
And do you see with what pleasure this sickle-maker is making long
noses at the spear-maker?
Listen, good folk! Let the husbandmen take their farming tools and
return to their fields as quick as possible, but without either
sword, spear or javelin. All is as quiet as if Peace had been reigning
for a century. Come, let everyone go till the earth, singing the Paean.
Oh, thou, whom men of standing desired and who art good to
husbandmen, I have gazed upon thee with delight; and now I go to greet
my vines, to caress after so long an absence the fig trees I planted
in my youth.
Friends, let us first adore the goddess, who has delivered us from
crests and Gorgons; then let us hurry to our farms, having first
bought a nice little piece of salt fish to eat in the fields.
By Posidon! what a fine crew they make and dense as the crust of
a cake; they are as nimble as guests on their way to a feast.
See, how their iron spades glitter and how beautifully their
three-pronged mattocks glisten in the sun! How regularly they align
the plants! I also burn myself to go into the country and to turn over
the earth I have so long neglected.--Friends, do you remember the happy
life that Peace afforded us formerly; can you recall the splendid
baskets of figs, both fresh and dried, the myrtles, the sweet wine,
the violets blooming near the spring, and the olives, for which we
have wept so much? Worship, adore the goddess for restoring you so
Hail! hail! thou beloved divinity! thy return overwhelms us with
joy. When far from thee, my ardent wish to see my fields again made me
pine with regret. From thee came all blessings. Oh! much desired
Peace! thou art the sole support of those who spend their lives
tilling the earth. Under thy rule we had a thousand delicious
enjoyments at our beck; thou wert the husbandman's wheaten cake and
his safeguard. So that our vineyards, our young fig-tree woods and all
our plantations hail thee with delight and smile at thy coming.
But where was she then, I wonder, all the long time she spent away
from us? Hermes, thou benevolent god, tell us!
Wise husbandmen, hearken to my words, if you want to know why
she was lost to you. The start of our misfortunes was the exile of
Phidias; Pericles feared he might share his ill-luck, he mistrusted
your peevish nature and, to prevent all danger to himself, he threw
out that little spark, the Megarian decree, set the city aflame, and
blew up the conflagration with a hurricane of war, so that the smoke
drew tears from all Greeks both here and over there. At the very
outset of this fire our vines were a-crackle, our casks knocked
together; it was beyond the power of any man to stop the disaster,
and Peace disappeared.
 Having been commissioned to execute a statue of Athene, Phidias was
accused of having stolen part of the gold given him out of the public
treasury for its decoration. Rewarded for his work by calumny and
banishment, he resolved to make a finer statue than his Athene,
and executed one for the temple of Elis, that of the Olympian Zeus,
which was considered one of the wonders of the world.
 He had issued a decree, which forbade the admission of any Megarian
on Attic soil, and also all trade with that people. The Megarians,
who obtained all their provisions from Athens, were thus almost reduced to starvation.
 That is, the vineyards were ravaged from the very outset of the war,
and this increased the animosity.
That, by Apollo! is what no one ever told me; I could not think
what connection there could be between Phidias and Peace.
Nor I; I know it now. This accounts for her beauty, if she is
related to him. There are so many things that escape us.
Then, when the towns subject to you saw that you were angered
one against the other and were showing each other your teeth like
dogs, they hatched a thousand plots to pay you no more dues and gained
over the chief citizens of Sparta at the price of gold. They, being as
shamelessly greedy as they were faithless in diplomacy, chased off
Peace with ignominy to let loose War. Though this was profitable to
them, 'twas the ruin of the husbandmen, who were innocent of all
blame; for, in revenge, your galleys went out to devour their figs.
And 'twas with justice too; did they not break down my black fig tree,
which I had planted and dunged with my own hands?
Yes, by Zeus! yes, 'twas well done; the wretches broke a
chest for me with stones, which held six medimni of corn.
Then the rural labourers flocked into the city and let themselves
be bought over like the others. Not having even a grape-stone to munch
and longing after their figs, they looked towards the orators.
These well knew that the poor were driven to extremity
and lacked even bread; but they nevertheless drove away the Goddess,
each time she reappeared in answer to the wish of the country,
with their loud shrieks that were as sharp as pitchforks; furthermore,
they attacked the well-filled purses of the richest among our allies on
the pretence that they belonged to Brasidas' party. And then you would
tear the poor accused wretch to pieces with your teeth; for the
city, all pale with hunger and cowed with terror, gladly snapped up
any calumny that was thrown it to devour. So the strangers, seeing
what terrible blows the informers dealt, sealed their lips with
gold. They grew rich, while you, alas! you could only see that
Greece was going to ruin. 'Twas the tanner who was the author
of all this woe.
 Driven in from the country parts by the Lacedaemonian invaders.
 The demagogues, who distributed the slender dole given to the poor,
and by that means exercised undue power over them.
 Meaning, the side of the Spartans.
Enough said, Hermes, leave that man in Hades, whither he has
gone; he no longer belongs to us, but rather to yourself. That he was
a cheat, a braggart, a calumniator when alive, why, nothing could be
truer; but anything you might say now would be an insult to one of
your own folk. Oh! venerated Goddess! why art thou silent?
 It was Hermes who conducted the souls of the dead down to the lower
And how could she speak to the spectators? She is too angry at all
that they have made her suffer.
At least let her speak a little to you, Hermes.
Tell me, my dear, what are your feelings with regard to them?
Come, you relentless foe of all bucklers, speak; I am listening to
you. (PEACE WHISPERS INTO HERMES' EAR.) Is that your grievance against
them? Yes, yes, I understand. Hearken, you folk, this is her
complaint. She says, that after the affair of Pylos she came to you
unbidden to bring you a basket full of truces and that you thrice
repulsed her by your votes in the assembly.
 The Spartans had thrice offered to make peace after the Pylos disaster.
Yes, we did wrong, but forgive us, for our mind was then
entirely absorbed in leather.
Of a swoon. He could not bear the shock of seeing one of his casks
full of wine broken. Ah! what a number of other misfortunes our city
has suffered! So, dearest mistress, nothing can now separate us
If that be so, receive Opora here for a wife; take her to the
country, live with her, and grow fine grapes together.
Come, my dear friend, come and accept my kisses. Tell me, Hermes,
my master, do you think it would hurt me to love her a little,
after so long an abstinence?
No, not if you swallow a potion of penny-royal afterwards. But
hasten to lead Theoria to the Senate; 'twas there she lodged before.
 The scholiast says fruit may be eaten with impunity in great quantities
if care is taken to drink a decoction of this herb afterwards.
 Theoria is confided to the care of the Senate, because it was this body
who named the deputies appointed to go and consult the oracles beyond
the Attic borders to be present at feats and games.
Oh! fortunate Senate! Thanks to Theoria, what soups you will
swallow for the space of three days! how you will devour meats and
cooked tripe! Come, farewell, friend Hermes!
 The great festivals, e.g. the Dionysia, lasted three days. Those in
honour of the return of Peace, which was so much desired, could not last
a shorter time.
And to you also, my dear sir, may you have much happiness, and
don't forget me.
Come, beetle, home, home, and let us fly on a swift wing.
Very well then, but how am I going to descend?
Oh! never fear, there is nothing simpler; place yourself beside
Come, my pretty maidens, follow me quickly; there are plenty of
folk awaiting you with ready weapons.
Farewell and good luck be yours! Let us begin by handing over
all this gear to the care of our servants, for no place is less safe
than a theatre; there is always a crowd of thieves prowling around it,
seeking to find some mischief to do. Come, keep a good watch over
all this. As for ourselves, let us explain to the spectators what we
have in our minds, the purpose of our play.
Undoubtedly the comic poet who mounted the stage to praise himself
in the parabasis would deserve to be handed over to the sticks
of the beadles. Nevertheless, oh Muse, if it be right to esteem
the most honest and illustrious of our comic writers at his proper
value, permit our poet to say that he thinks he has deserved
a glorious renown. First of all, 'tis he who has compelled his
rivals no longer to scoff at rags or to war with lice; and as for
those Heracles, always chewing and ever hungry, those poltroons and
cheats who allow themselves to be beaten at will, he was the first
to cover them with ridicule and to chase them from the stage; he has
also dismissed that slave, whom one never failed to set a-weeping before
you, so that his comrade might have the chance of jeering at his
stripes and might ask, "Wretch, what has happened to your hide? Has
the lash rained an army of its thongs on you and laid your back
waste?" .After having delivered us from all these wearisome ineptitudes
and these low buffooneries, he has built up for us a great art, like
a palace with high towers, constructed of fine phrases, great thoughts
and of jokes not common on the streets. Moreover 'tis not obscure
private persons or women that he stages in his comedies; but, bold
as Heracles, 'tis the very greatest whom he attacks, undeterred by
the fetid stink of leather or the threats of hearts of mud. He has
the right to say, "I am the first ever dared to go straight for that beast
with the sharp teeth and the terrible eyes that flashed lambent fire
like those of Cynna, surrounded by a hundred lewd flatterers,
who spittle-licked him to his heart's content; it had a voice like
a roaring torrent, the stench of a seal, a foul Lamia's testicles and
the rump of a camel.
I did not recoil in horror at the sight of such a monster, but fought him
relentlessly to win your deliverance and that of the Islanders. Such
are the services which should be graven in your recollection and entitle me
to your thanks. Yet I have not been seen frequenting the wrestling school
intoxicated with success and trying to tamper with young boys;
but I took all my theatrical gear and returned straight home.
I pained folk but little and caused them much amusement; my conscience
rebuked me for nothing. Hence both grown men and youths should be
on my side and I likewise invite the bald to give me their votes; for,
if I triumph, everyone will say, both at table and at festivals,
"Carry this to the bald man, give these cakes to the bald one, do not
grudge the poet whose talent shines as bright as his own bare skull
the share he deserves."
Oh, Muse! drive the War far from our city and come to preside over
our dances, if you love me; come and celebrate the nuptials of
the gods, the banquets of us mortals and the festivals of the fortunate;
these are the themes that inspire thy most poetic songs. And should
Carcinus come to beg thee for admission with his sons to thy chorus,
refuse all traffic with them; remember they are but gelded birds,
stork-necked dancers, mannikins about as tall as a pat of goat dung,
in fact machine-made poets. Contrary to all expectation, the father
has at last managed to finish a piece, but he owns himself that a cat
strangled it one fine evening.
Such are the songs with which the Muse with the glorious hair
inspires the able poet and which enchant the assembled populace,
when the spring swallow twitters beneath the foliage; but the god
spare us from the chorus of Morsimus and that of Melanthius! Oh!
what a bitter discordancy grated upon my ears that day when the tragic
chorus was directed by this same Melanthius and his brother, these two
Gorgons, these two harpies, the plague of the seas, whose gluttonous
bellies devour the entire race of fishes, these followers of old
women, these goats with their stinking arm-pits. Oh! Muse, spit upon
them abundantly and keep the feast gaily with me.
 In spite of what he says, Aristophanes has not always disdained this
sort of low comedy--for instance, his Heracles in 'The Birds.'
 A celebrated Athenian courtesan of Aristophanes' day.
 Cleon. These four verses are here repeated from the parabasis
of 'The Wasps,' produced 423 B.C., the year before this play.
 Shafts aimed at certain poets, who used their renown as a means
of seducing young men to grant them pederastic favours.
 The poet supplied everything needful for the production of his piece--
vases, dresses, masks, etc.
 Aristophanes was bald himself, it would seem.
 Carcinus and his three sons were both poets and dancers. (See the
closing scene of 'The Wasps.') Perhaps relying little on the literary value
of their work, it seems that they sought to please the people by
the magnificence of its staging.
 He had written a piece called 'The Mice,' which he succeeded
with great difficulty in getting played, but it met with no success.
 This passage really follows on the invocation, "Oh, Muse! drive
the War," etc., from which indeed it is only divided by the interpolated
criticism aimed at Carcinus.
 The scholiast informs us that these verses are borrowed from a poet
of the sixth century B.C.
 Sons of Philocles, of the family of Aeschylus, tragic writers, derided
by Aristophanes as bad poets and notorious gluttons.
 The Gorgons were represented with great teeth, and therefore
the same name was given to gluttons. The Harpies, to whom the two
voracious poets are also compared, were monsters with the face of
a woman, the body of a vulture and hooked beak and claws.
Ah! 'tis a rough job getting to the gods! my legs are as good as
broken through it. How small you were, to be sure, when seen from
heaven! you had all the appearance too of being great rascals; but seen
close, you look even worse.
They are the rich leaving the feast with a lantern and a light inside it.
--But hurry up, show this young girl into my house, clean out the bath,
heat some water and prepare the nuptial couch for herself and me.
When 'tis done, come back here; meanwhile I am off to present this one
to the Senate.
But where then did you get these pretty chattels?
I would not give more than an obolus for gods who have got to
keeping brothels like us mere mortals.
They are not all so, but there are some up there too who live by this trade.
Come, that's rich! But I bethink me, shall I give her something to eat?
No, for she would neither touch bread nor cake; she is used to
licking ambrosia at the table of the gods.
Well, we can give her something to lick down here too.
Here is a truly happy old man, as far as I can judge.
Ah! but what shall I be, when you see me presently dressed for
Made young again by love and scented with perfumes, your lot
will be one we all shall envy.
And when I lie beside her and caress her bosoms?
Oh! then you will be happier than those spinning-tops who call
Carcinus their father.
 It has already been mentioned that the sons of Carcinus were dancers.
And I well deserve it; have I not bestridden a beetle to save
the Greeks, who now, thanks to me, can make love at their ease and
sleep peacefully on their farms?
The girl has quitted the bath; she is charming from head to foot,
both belly and buttocks; the cake is baked and they are kneading
the sesame-biscuit; nothing is lacking but the bridegroom's virility.
 It was customary at weddings, says Menander, to give the bride
a sesame-caked as an emblem of fruitfulness, because sesame is the most
fruitful of all seeds.
Let us first hasten to lodge Theoria in the hands of the Senate.
Why, 'tis Theoria, with whom we used formerly to go to Brauron,
to get tipsy and frolic. I had the greatest trouble to get hold of her.
 An Attic town on the east coast, noted for a magnificent temple,
in which stood the statue of Artemis, which Orestes and Iphigenia
had brought from the Tauric Chersonese and also for the Brauronia,
festivals that were celebrated every four years in honour of the goddess.
This was one of the festivals which the Attic people kept with the greatest
pomp, and was an occasion for debauchery.
Ah! you charmer! what pleasure your pretty bottom will afford me
every four years!
Let us see, who of you is steady enough to be trusted by the Senate
with the care of this charming wench? Hi! you, friend! what are you
I am drawing the plan of the tent I wish to erect for myself on
 Competitors intending to take part in the great Olympic, Isthmian and
other games took with them a tent, wherein to camp in the open. Further,
there is an obscene allusion which the actor indicates by a gesture.
Come, who wishes to take the charge of her? No one? Come, Theoria,
I am going to lead you into the midst of the spectators and confide you
to their care.
'Tis Ariphrades. He wishes to take her home at once.
No, I'm sure he shan't. He would soon have her done for, absorbing
all her life-force. Come, Theoria, put down all this gear.
Senate, Prytanes, look upon Theoria and see what precious blessings
I place in your hands. Hasten to raise its limbs and to immolate
the victim. Admire the fine chimney, it is quite black with smoke,
for 'twas here that the Senate did their cooking before the war.
Now that you have found Theoria again, you can start the most
charming games from to-morrow, wrestling with her on the ground,
either on your hands and feet, or you can lay her on her side, or
stand before her with bent knees, or, well rubbed with oil, you can
boldly enter the lists, as in the Pancratium, belabouring your foe
with blows from your fist or otherwise. The next day you will celebrate
equestrian games, in which the riders will ride side by side, or else
the chariot teams, thrown one on top of another, panting and whinnying,
will roll and knock against each other on the ground, while other rivals,
thrown out of their seats, will fall before reaching the goal, utterly
exhausted by their efforts.--Come, Prytanes, take Theoria. Oh! look how
graciously yonder fellow has received her; you would not have been
in such a hurry to introduce her to the Senate, if nothing were coming
to you through it; you would not have failed to plead some holiday
as an excuse.
 Doubtless the vessels and other sacrificial objects and implements
with which Theoria was laden in her character of presiding deity
at religious ceremonies.
 Where the meats were cooked after sacrifice; this also marks
the secondary obscene sense he means to convey.
 One of the offices of the Prytanes was to introduce those who asked
admission to the Senate, but it would seem that none could obtain this
favour without payment. Without this, a thousand excuses would be made;
for instance, it would be a public holiday, and consequently the Senate
could receive no one. As there was some festival nearly every day,
he whose purse would not open might have to wait a very long while.
Such a man as you assures the happiness of all his fellow-citizens.
When you are gathering your vintages you will prize me even better.
E'en from to-day we hail you as the deliverer of mankind.
Wait until you have drunk a beaker of new wine, before you
appraise my true merits.
Excepting the gods, there is none greater than yourself, and that
will ever be our opinion.
Yea, Trygaeus of Athmonia has deserved well of you, he has freed
both husbandman and craftsman from the most cruel ills; he has
Come, then, to prayers; to prayers, quick!-- Oh! Peace, mighty queen,
venerated goddess, thou, who presidest over choruses and at nuptials,
deign to accept the sacrifices we offer thee.
Receive it, greatly honoured mistress, and behave not like the coquettes,
who half open the door to entice the gallants, draw back when they
are stared at, to return once more if a man passes on. But do not act like this
No, but like an honest woman, show thyself to thy worshippers, who
are worn with regretting thee all these thirteen years. Hush the noise
of battle, be a true Lysimacha to us. Put an end to this
tittle-tattle, to this idle babble, that set us defying one another.
Cause the Greeks once more to taste the pleasant beverage of friendship
and temper all hearts with the gentle feeling of forgiveness. Make
excellent commodities flow to our markets, fine heads of garlic,
early cucumbers, apples, pomegranates and nice little cloaks for the slaves;
make them bring geese, ducks, pigeons and larks from Boeotia
and baskets of eels from Lake Copais; we shall all rush to buy them,
disputing their possession with Morychus, Teleas, Glaucetes and every
other glutton. Melanthius will arrive on the market last of all; 'twill be,
"no more eels, all sold!" and then he'll start a-groaning and exclaiming
as in his monologue of Medea, "I am dying, I am dying! Alas!
I have let those hidden in the beet escape me!" And won't we laugh?
These are the wishes, mighty goddess, which we pray thee to grant.
 Lysimacha is derived from [the Greek for] put an end to, and
[the Greek for] fight.
 A tragic poet, reputed a great gourmand.
 A tragedy by Melanthius.
 Eels were cooked with beet.--A parody on some verses in the 'Medea'
Take the knife and slaughter the sheep like a finished cook.
Blood cannot please Peace, so let us spill none upon her altar.
Therefore go and sacrifice the sheep in the house, cut off the legs
and bring them here; thus the carcase will be saved for the choregus.