Peace (cont'd)
 

HERMES
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.[1]

[1] 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.

TRYGAEUS
Ah! my dear sir, the Laconians at all events pull with vigour.

CHORUS
But look! only those among them who generally hold the plough-tail show any zeal,[1] while the armourers impede them in their efforts.

[1] These are the Spartan prisoners from Sphacteria, who were lying in goal at Athens. They were chained fast to large beams of wood.

HERMES
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![1]

[1] 'Twas want of force, not want of will. They had suffered more than any other people from the war. (See 'The Acharnians.')

TRYGAEUS
This won't do, friends. Come! all together! Everyone to the work and with a good heart for the business.

HERMES
Heave away, heave!

TRYGAEUS
Harder!

HERMES
Heave away, heave!

TRYGAEUS
Come on then, by heaven.

HERMES
Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave!

CHORUS
This will never do.

TRYGAEUS
Is it not a shame? some pull one way and others another. You, Argives there, beware of a thrashing!

HERMES
Come, put your strength into it.

TRYGAEUS
Heave away, heave!

CHORUS
There are many ill-disposed folk among us.

TRYGAEUS
Do you at least, who long for peace, pull heartily.

CHORUS
But there are some who prevent us.

HERMES
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.[1]

[1] Meaning, look chiefly to your fleet. This was the counsel that Themistocles frequently gave the Athenians.

CHORUS
Come, friends, none but husbandmen on the rope.

HERMES
Ah! that will do ever so much better.

CHORUS
He says the thing is going well. Come, all of you, together and with a will.

TRYGAEUS
'Tis the husbandmen who are doing all the work.

CHORUS
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.)

TRYGAEUS
Oh! venerated goddess, who givest us our grapes, where am I to find the ten-thousand-gallon words[1] wherewith to greet thee? I have none such at home. Oh! hail to thee, Opora,[2] and thee, Theoria![3] 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!

[1] A metaphor referring to the abundant vintages that peace would assure.
[2] The goddess of fruits.
[3] 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.

HERMES
Is it then a smell like a soldier's knapsack?

TRYGAEUS
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 of Euripides...

HERMES
That's a foul calumny, you wretch! She detests that framer of subtleties and quibbles.

TRYGAEUS
...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 things.

HERMES
Then look how the reconciled towns chat pleasantly together, how they laugh; and yet they are all cruelly mishandled; their wounds are bleeding still.

TRYGAEUS
But let us also scan the mien of the spectators; we shall thus find out the trade of each.

HERMES
Ah! good gods! Look at that poor crest-maker, tearing at his hair,[1] and at that pike-maker, who has just broken wind in yon sword-cutler's face.

[1] 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.

TRYGAEUS
And do you see with what pleasure this sickle-maker is making long noses at the spear-maker?

HERMES
Now ask the husbandmen to be off.

TRYGAEUS
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.

CHORUS
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.

TRYGAEUS
Friends, let us first adore the goddess, who has delivered us from crests and Gorgons;[1] then let us hurry to our farms, having first bought a nice little piece of salt fish to eat in the fields.

[1] An allusion to Lamachus' shield.

HERMES
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.

TRYGAEUS
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 many blessings.

CHORUS
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!

HERMES
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;[1] 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,[2] 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;[3] it was beyond the power of any man to stop the disaster, and Peace disappeared.

[1] 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.
[2] 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.
[3] That is, the vineyards were ravaged from the very outset of the war, and this increased the animosity.

TRYGAEUS
That, by Apollo! is what no one ever told me; I could not think what connection there could be between Phidias and Peace.

CHORUS
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.

HERMES
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.

TRYGAEUS
And 'twas with justice too; did they not break down my black fig tree, which I had planted and dunged with my own hands?

CHORUS
Yes, by Zeus! yes, 'twas well done; the wretches broke a chest for me with stones, which held six medimni of corn.

HERMES
Then the rural labourers flocked into the city[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

[1] Driven in from the country parts by the Lacedaemonian invaders.
[2] The demagogues, who distributed the slender dole given to the poor, and by that means exercised undue power over them.
[3] Meaning, the side of the Spartans.
[4] Cleon.

TRYGAEUS
Enough said, Hermes, leave that man in Hades, whither he has gone; he no longer belongs to us, but rather to yourself.[1] 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?

[1] It was Hermes who conducted the souls of the dead down to the lower regions.

HERMES
And how could she speak to the spectators? She is too angry at all that they have made her suffer.

TRYGAEUS
At least let her speak a little to you, Hermes.

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[1] 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.

[1] The Spartans had thrice offered to make peace after the Pylos disaster.

TRYGAEUS
Yes, we did wrong, but forgive us, for our mind was then entirely absorbed in leather.[1]

[1] i.e. dominated by Cleon.

HERMES
Listen again to what she has just asked me. Who was her greatest foe here? and furthermore, had she a friend who exerted himself to put an end to the fighting?

TRYGAEUS
Her most devoted friend was Cleonymus; it is undisputed.

HERMES
How then did Cleonymus behave in fights?

TRYGAEUS
Oh! the bravest of warriors! Only he was not born of the father he claims; he showed it quick enough in the army by throwing away his weapons.[1]

[1] There is a pun here that cannot be rendered between [the Greek for] 'one who throws away his weapons' and 'a supposititious child.'

HERMES
There is yet another question she has just put to me. Who rules now in the rostrum?

TRYGAEUS
'Tis Hyperbolus, who now holds empire on the Pnyx. (TO PEACE) What now? you turn away your head!

HERMES
She is vexed, that the people should give themselves a wretch of that kind for their chief.

TRYGAEUS
Oh! we shall not employ him again; but the people, seeing themselves without a leader, took him haphazard, just as a man, who is naked, springs upon the first cloak he sees.

HERMES
She asks, what will be the result of such a choice of the city?

TRYGAEUS
We shall be more far-seeing in consequence.

HERMES
And why?

TRYGAEUS
Because he is a lamp-maker. Formerly we only directed our business by groping in the dark; now we shall only deliberate by lamplight.

HERMES
Oh! oh! what questions she does order me to put to you!

TRYGAEUS
What are they?

HERMES
She wants to have news of a whole heap of old-fashioned things she left here. First of all, how is Sophocles?

TRYGAEUS
Very well, but something very strange has happened to him.

HERMES
What then?

TRYGAEUS
He has turned from Sophocles into Simonides.[1]

[1] Simonides was very avaricious, and sold his pen to the highest bidder. It seems that Sophocles had also started writing for gain.

HERMES
Into Simonides? How so?

TRYGAEUS
Because, though old and broken-down as he is, he would put to sea on a hurdle to gain an obolus.[1]

[1] i.e. he would recoil from no risk to turn an honest penny

HERMES
And wise Cratinus,[1] is he still alive?

[1] A comic poet as well known for his love of wine as for his writings; he died in 431 B.C., the first year of the war, at the age of ninety-seven.

TRYGAEUS
He died about the time of the Laconian invasion.

HERMES
How?

TRYGAEUS
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 from thee.

HERMES
If that be so, receive Opora here for a wife; take her to the country, live with her, and grow fine grapes together.[1]

[1] Opora was the goddess of fruits.

TRYGAEUS
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?

HERMES
No, not if you swallow a potion of penny-royal afterwards.[1] But hasten to lead Theoria[2] to the Senate; 'twas there she lodged before.

[1] The scholiast says fruit may be eaten with impunity in great quantities if care is taken to drink a decoction of this herb afterwards.
[2] 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.

TRYGAEUS
Oh! fortunate Senate! Thanks to Theoria, what soups you will swallow for the space of three days![1] how you will devour meats and cooked tripe! Come, farewell, friend Hermes!

[1] 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.

HERMES
And to you also, my dear sir, may you have much happiness, and don't forget me.

TRYGAEUS
Come, beetle, home, home, and let us fly on a swift wing.

HERMES
Oh! he is no longer here.

TRYGAEUS
Where has he gone to then?

HERMES
He is harnessed to the chariot of Zeus and bears the thunder bolts.

TRYGAEUS
But where will the poor wretch get his food?

HERMES
He will eat Ganymede's ambrosia.

TRYGAEUS
Very well then, but how am I going to descend?

HERMES
Oh! never fear, there is nothing simpler; place yourself beside the goddess.

TRYGAEUS
Come, my pretty maidens, follow me quickly; there are plenty of folk awaiting you with ready weapons.

CHORUS
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;[1] 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,[2] 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.[3]

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;[4] but I took all my theatrical gear[5] 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[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Such are the songs[9] 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;[10] but the god spare us from the chorus of Morsimus and that of Melanthius![11] 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,[12] 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.

[1] In spite of what he says, Aristophanes has not always disdained this sort of low comedy--for instance, his Heracles in 'The Birds.'
[2] A celebrated Athenian courtesan of Aristophanes' day.
[3] Cleon. These four verses are here repeated from the parabasis of 'The Wasps,' produced 423 B.C., the year before this play.
[4] Shafts aimed at certain poets, who used their renown as a means of seducing young men to grant them pederastic favours.
[5] The poet supplied everything needful for the production of his piece-- vases, dresses, masks, etc.
[6] Aristophanes was bald himself, it would seem.
[7] 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.
[8] He had written a piece called 'The Mice,' which he succeeded with great difficulty in getting played, but it met with no success.
[9] 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.
[10] The scholiast informs us that these verses are borrowed from a poet of the sixth century B.C.
[11] Sons of Philocles, of the family of Aeschylus, tragic writers, derided by Aristophanes as bad poets and notorious gluttons.
[12] 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.

TRYGAEUS
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.

SERVANT
Is that you, master?

TRYGAEUS
So I've been told.

SERVANT
What has happened to you?

TRYGAEUS
My legs pain me; it is such a plaguey long journey.

SERVANT
Oh! tell me...

TRYGAEUS
What?

SERVANT
Did you see any other man besides yourself strolling about in heaven?

TRYGAEUS
No, only the souls of two or three dithyrambic poets.

SERVANT
What were they doing up there?

TRYGAEUS
They were seeking to catch some lyric exordia as they flew by immersed in the billows of the air.

SERVANT
Is it true, what they tell us, that men are turned into stars after death?

TRYGAEUS
Quite true.

SERVANT
Then who is that star I see over yonder?

TRYGAEUS
That is Ion of Chios,[1] the author of an ode beginning "Morning"; as soon as ever he got to heaven, they called him "the Morning Star."

[1] A tragic and dithyrambic poet, who had written many pieces, which had met with great success at Athens.

SERVANT
And those stars like sparks, that plough up the air as they dart across the sky?[1]

[1] The shooting stars.

TRYGAEUS
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.

SERVANT
But where then did you get these pretty chattels?

TRYGAEUS
Where? why in heaven.

SERVANT
I would not give more than an obolus for gods who have got to keeping brothels like us mere mortals.

TRYGAEUS
They are not all so, but there are some up there too who live by this trade.

SERVANT
Come, that's rich! But I bethink me, shall I give her something to eat?

TRYGAEUS
No, for she would neither touch bread nor cake; she is used to licking ambrosia at the table of the gods.

SERVANT
Well, we can give her something to lick down here too.

CHORUS
Here is a truly happy old man, as far as I can judge.

TRYGAEUS
Ah! but what shall I be, when you see me presently dressed for the wedding?

CHORUS
Made young again by love and scented with perfumes, your lot will be one we all shall envy.

TRYGAEUS
And when I lie beside her and caress her bosoms?

CHORUS
Oh! then you will be happier than those spinning-tops who call Carcinus their father.[1]

[1] It has already been mentioned that the sons of Carcinus were dancers.

TRYGAEUS
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?

SERVANT
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;[1] nothing is lacking but the bridegroom's virility.

[1] 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.

TRYGAEUS
Let us first hasten to lodge Theoria in the hands of the Senate.

SERVANT
But tell me, who is this woman?

TRYGAEUS
Why, 'tis Theoria, with whom we used formerly to go to Brauron,[1] to get tipsy and frolic. I had the greatest trouble to get hold of her.

[1] 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.

SERVANT
Ah! you charmer! what pleasure your pretty bottom will afford me every four years!

TRYGAEUS
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 drawing there?

SERVANT
I am drawing the plan of the tent I wish to erect for myself on the isthmus.[1]

[1] 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.

TRYGAEUS
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.

SERVANT
Ah! there is one who makes a sign to you.

TRYGAEUS
Who is it?

SERVANT
'Tis Ariphrades. He wishes to take her home at once.

TRYGAEUS
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.[1]

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,[2] 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;[3] you would not have failed to plead some holiday as an excuse.

[1] Doubtless the vessels and other sacrificial objects and implements with which Theoria was laden in her character of presiding deity at religious ceremonies. [2] Where the meats were cooked after sacrifice; this also marks the secondary obscene sense he means to convey. [3] 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.

CHORUS
Such a man as you assures the happiness of all his fellow-citizens.

TRYGAEUS
When you are gathering your vintages you will prize me even better.

CHORUS
E'en from to-day we hail you as the deliverer of mankind.

TRYGAEUS
Wait until you have drunk a beaker of new wine, before you appraise my true merits.

CHORUS
Excepting the gods, there is none greater than yourself, and that will ever be our opinion.

TRYGAEUS
Yea, Trygaeus of Athmonia has deserved well of you, he has freed both husbandman and craftsman from the most cruel ills; he has vanquished Hyberbolus.

SERVANT
Well then, what must be done now?

TRYGAEUS
You must offer pots of green-stuff to the goddess to consecrate her altars.

SERVANT
Pots of green-stuf[1] as we do to poor Hermes--and even he thinks the fare but mean?

[1] This was only offered to lesser deities.

TRYGAEUS
What will you offer them? A fatted bull?

SERVANT
Oh no! I don't want to start bellowing the battle-cry.[1]

[1] In the Greek we have a play upon the similarity of the words [for] a bull, and to shout the battle-cry.

TRYGAEUS
A great fat swine then?

SERVANT
No, no.

TRYGAEUS
Why not?

SERVANT
We don't want any of the swinishness of Theagenes.[1]

[1] Theagenes, of the Piraeus, a hideous, coarse, debauched and evil-living character of the day.

TRYGAEUS
What other victim do you prefer then?

SERVANT
A sheep.

TRYGAEUS
A sheep?

SERVANT
Yes.

TRYGAEUS
But you must give the word the Ionic form.

SERVANT
Purposely. So that if anyone in the assembly says, "We must go to war," all may start bleating in alarm, "Oi, oi."[1]

[1] That is the vocative of the Ionic form of the word; in Attic Greek it is contracted throughout.

TRYGAEUS
A brilliant idea.

SERVANT
And we shall all be lambs one toward the other, yea, and milder still toward the allies.

TRYGAEUS
Then go for the sheep and haste to bring it back with you; I will prepare the altar for the sacrifice.

CHORUS
How everything succeeds to our wish, when the gods are willing and Fortune favours us! how opportunely everything falls out.

TRYGAEUS
Nothing could be truer, for look! here stands the altar all ready at my door.

CHORUS
Hurry, hurry, for the winds are fickle; make haste, while the divine will is set on stopping this cruel war and is showering on us the most striking benefits.

TRYGAEUS
Here is the basket of barley-seed mingled with salt, the chaplet and the sacred knife; and there is the fire; so we are only waiting for the sheep.

CHORUS
Hasten, hasten, for, if Chaeris sees you, he will come without bidding, he and his flute; and when you see him puffing and panting and out of breath, you will have to give him something.

TRYGAEUS
Come, seize the basket and take the lustral water and hurry to circle round the altar to the right.

SERVANT
There! 'tis done. What is your next bidding?

TRYGAEUS
Hold! I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the water.

SERVANT
Be quick! be quick! Sprinkle the altar.

TRYGAEUS
Give me some barley-seed, purify yourself and hand me the basin; then scatter the rest of the barley among the audience.

SERVANT
'Tis done.

TRYGAEUS
You have thrown it?

SERVANT
Yes, by Hermes! and all the spectators have had their share.

TRYGAEUS
But not the women?

SERVANT
Oh! their husbands will give it them this evening.[1]

[1] An obscene jest.

TRYGAEUS
Let us pray! Who is here? Are there any good men?[1]

[1] Before sacrificing, the officiating person asked, "Who is here?" and those present answered, "Many good men."

SERVANT
Come, give, so that I may sprinkle these. Faith! they are indeed good, brave men.

TRYGAEUS
You believe so?

SERVANT
I am sure, and the proof of it is that we have flooded them with lustral water and they have not budged an inch.[1]

[1] The actors forming the chorus are meant here.

TRYGAEUS
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.

SERVANT
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 to us.

TRYGAEUS
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.[1] 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[2] 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,[3] "I am dying, I am dying! Alas! I have let those hidden in the beet escape me!"[4] And won't we laugh? These are the wishes, mighty goddess, which we pray thee to grant.

[1] Lysimacha is derived from [the Greek for] put an end to, and [the Greek for] fight.
[2] A tragic poet, reputed a great gourmand.
[3] A tragedy by Melanthius.
[4] Eels were cooked with beet.--A parody on some verses in the 'Medea' of Melanthius.

SERVANT
Take the knife and slaughter the sheep like a finished cook.

TRYGAEUS
No, the goddess does not wish it.[1]

[1] As a matter of fact, the Sicyonians, who celebrated the festival of Peace on the sixteenth day of the month of Hecatombeon (July), spilled no blood upon her altar.

SERVANT
And why not?

TRYGAEUS
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.