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TWO SERVANTS OF TRYGAEUS
DAUGHTERS OF TRYGAEUS
HIEROCLES, a Soothsayer
SON OF LAMACHUS
SON OF CLEONYMUS
CHORUS OF HUSBANDMEN
Behind the Orchestra on the right the farmhouse of TRYGAEUS, in the
centre the mouth of a cave closed up with huge boulders, on the left
the palace of ZEUS. In front of the farmhouse is a stable, the door
of wkich is closed. Two of TRYGAEUS'slaves are seen in front of the
stable, one of them kneading cakes of dung, the other taking the finished
cakes and throwing them into the stable.
FIRST SERVANT Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.
SECOND SERVANT There it is. Give it to him, and may it kill him!
And may he never eat a better.
FIRST SERVANT Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.
SECOND SERVANT There! I've done that too. And where's what you gave
him just now? Surely he can't have devoured it yet!
FIRST SERVANT Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his
feet and bolted it. Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them
SECOND SERVANT Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if
you do not wish to see me fall down choked.
FIRST SERVANT Come, come, another made from the stool of a fairy's
favourite. That will be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.
SECOND SERVANT There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will
accuse me of tasting what I mix.
FIRST SERVANT Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your
SECOND SERVANT By god, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench
FIRST SERVANT I shall bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.
SECOND SERVANT Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with
it. (To the AUDIENCE) Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can
buy a stopped-up nose, for there is no work more disgusting than to
mix food for a dung-beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog
will at least pounce upon our excrement without more ado, but this
foul wretch affects the disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't
eat unless I offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire
day.... But let us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it.
Has he done eating? Come, pluck up courage, cram yourself till you
burst! The cursed creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between
its claws like a wrestler clutching his opponent, and with head and
feet together rolls up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser.
What an indecent, stinking, gluttonous beast! I don't know what angry
god let this monster loose upon us, but of a certainty it was neither
Aphrodite nor the Graces.
FIRST SERVANT Who was it then?
SECOND SERVANT No doubt Zeus, the God of the Thundercrap.
FIRST SERVANT But perhaps some spectator, some beardless youth, who
thinks himself a sage, will say, "What is this? What does the beetle
mean?" And then an Ionian, sitting next him, will add, "I think it's
an allusion to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by himself."-But
now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.
SECOND SERVANT As for me, I will explain the matter to you all, children,
youths, grownups and old men, aye, even to the decrepit dotards. My
master is mad, not as you are, but with another sort of madness, quite
a new kind. The livelong day he looks open-mouthed towards heaven
and never stops addressing Zeus. "Ah! Zeus," he cries, "what are thy
intentions? Lay aside thy besom; do not sweep Greece away!" Ah! Hush,
hush! I think I hear his voice!
TRYGAEUS (from within) Oh! Zeus, what art thou going to do for our
people? Dost thou not see this, that our cities will soon be but empty
SECOND SERVANT As I told you, that is his form of madness. There
you have a sample of his follies. When his trouble first began to
seize him, he said to himself, "By what means could I go straight
to Zeus? Then he made himself very slender little ladders and so clambered
up towards heaven; but he soon came hurtling down again and broke
his head. Yesterday, to our misfortune, he went out and brought us
back this thoroughbred, but from where I know not, this great beetle,
whose groom he has forced me to become. He himself caresses it as
though it were a horse, saying, "Oh! my little Pegasus, my noble aerial
steed, may your wings soon bear me straight to Zeus!" But what is
my master doing? I must stoop down to look through this hole. Oh!
great gods! Here! neighbours, run here quick! here is my master flying
off mounted on his beetle as if on horseback. (The Machine brings
in TRYGAEUS astride an enormous figure of a dung beetle with wings
TRYGAEUS (intoning) Gently, gently, go easy, beetle; don't start
off so proudly, or trust at first too greatly to your powers; wait
till you have sweated, till the beating of your wings shall make your
limb joints supple. Above all things, don't let off some foul smell.
I adjure you; else I would rather have you stay right in the stable.
SECOND SERVANT (intoning) Poor master! Is he crazy?
TRYGAEUS (intoning) Silence! silence!
SECOND SERVANT (intoning) But why start up into the air on chance?
TRYGAEUS (intoning) 'Tis for the weal of all the Greeks; I am attempting
a daring and novel feat.
SECOND SERVANT (intoning) But what is your purpose? What useless
TRYGAEUS (intoning) No words of ill omen! Give vent to joy and command
all men to keep silence, to close down their drains and privies with
new tiles and to cork up their own arses.
FIRST SERVANT (speaking) No, I shall not be silent, unless you tell
me where you are going.
TRYGAEUS Why, where am I likely to be going across the sky, if it
be not to visit Zeus?
FIRST SERVANT For what purpose?
TRYGAEUS I want to ask him what he reckons to do for all the Greeks.
SECOND SERVANT And if he doesn't tell you?
TRYGAEUS I shall pursue him at law as a traitor who sells Greece
to the Medes.
SECOND SERVANT Death seize me, if I let you go.
TRYGAEUS It is absolutely necessary.
SECOND SERVANT (loudly) Alas! alas! dear little girls, your father
is deserting you secretly to go to heaven. Ah! poor orphans, entreat
him, beseech him. (The little daughters of TRYGAEUS come out.)
LITTLE DAUGHTER (singing) Father! father! what is this I hear? Is
it true? What! you would leave me, you would vanish into the sky,
you would go to the crows? Impossible! Answer, father, if you love
TRYGAEUS (singing) Yes, I am going. You hurt me too sorely, my daughters,
when you ask me for bread, calling me your daddy, and there is not
the ghost of an obolus in the house; if I succeed and come back, you
will have a barley loaf every morning-and a punch in the eye for sauce!
LITTLE DAUGHTER But how will you make the journey? There's no ship
that will take you there.
TRYGAEUS No, but this winged steed will.
LITTLE DAUGHTER But what an idea, papa, to harness a beetle, to fly
to the gods on.
TRYGAEUS We see from Aesop's fables that they alone can fly to the
abode of the Immortals.
LITTLE DAUGHTER Father, father, that's a tale nobody can believe!
that such a smelly creature can have gone to the gods.
TRYGAEUS It went to have vengeance on the eagle and break its eggs.
LITTLE DAUGHTER Why not saddle Pegasus? you would have a more tragic
appearance in the eyes of the gods.
TRYGAEUS Eh! don't you see, little fool, that then twice the food
would be wanted? Whereas my beetle devours again as filth what I have
LITTLE DAUGHTER And if it fell into the watery depths of the sea,
could it escape with its wings?
TRYGAEUS (exposing himself) I am fitted with a rudder in case of
need, and my Naxos beetle will serve me as a boat.
LITTLE DAUGHTER And what harbour will you put in at?
TRYGAEUS Why is there not the harbour of Cantharus at the Piraeus?
LITTLE DAUGHTER Take care not to knock against anything and so fall
off into space; once a cripple, you would be a fit subject for Euripides,
who would put you into a tragedy.
TRYGAEUS (as the Machine hoists him higher) I'll see to it. Good-bye!
(To the Athenians) You, for love of whom I brave these dangers,
do ye neither fart nor crap for the space of three days, for, if,
while cleaving the air, my steed should scent anything, he would fling
me head foremost from the summit of my hopes. (Intoning) Now come,
my Pegasus, get a-going with up-pricked ears and make your golden
bridle resound gaily. Eh! what are you doing? What are you up to?
Do you turn your nose towards the cesspools? Come, pluck up a spirit;
rush upwards from the earth, stretch out your speedy wings and make
straight for the palace of Zeus; for once give up foraging in your
daily food.-Hi! you down there, what are you after now? Oh! my god!
it's a man taking a crap in the Piraeus, close to the whorehouses.
But is it my death you seek then, my death? Will you not bury that
right away and pile a great heap of earth upon it and plant wild thyme
therein and pour perfumes on it? If I were to fall from up here and
misfortune happened to me, the town of Chios would owe a fine of five
talents for my death, all because of your damned arse. (Speaking)
Alas! how frightened I am! oh! I have no heart for jests. Ah! machinist,
take great care of me. There is already a wind whirling round my navel;
take great care or, from sheer fright, I shall form food for my beetle....
But I think I am no longer far from the gods; aye, that is the dwelling
of Zeus, I perceive. (The beetle descends and comes to a halt in
front of the house of ZEUS. TRYGAEUS dismounts and knocks at the door.)
Hullo! Hi! where is the doorkeeper? Will no one open?
HERMES (from within) I think I can sniff a man. (Opening the door)
Why, what plague is this?
TRYGAEUS A horse-beetle.
HERMES Oh! impudent, shameless rascal! oh! scoundrel! triple scoundrel!
the greatest scoundrel in the world! how did you come here? Oh! scoundrel
of all scoundrels! your name? Reply.
TRYGAEUS Triple scoundrel.
HERMES Your country?
TRYGAEUS Triple scoundrel.
HERMES Your father?
TRYGAEUS My father? Triple scoundrel.
HERMES By the Earth, you shall die, unless you tell me your name.
TRYGAEUS I am Trygaeus of the Athmonian deme, a good vine-dresser,
little addicted to quibbling and not at all an informer.
HERMES Why do you come?
TRYGAEUS I come to bring you this meat.
HERMES (changing his tone) Ah! my good friend, did you have a good
TRYGAEUS Glutton, be off! I no longer seem a triple scoundrel to
you. Come, call Zeus.
HERMES Ah! ah! you are a long way yet from reaching the gods, for
they moved yesterday.
TRYGAEUS To what part of the earth?
HERMES Eh! of the earth, did you say?
TRYGAEUS In short, where are they then?
HERMES Very far, very far, right at the furthest end of the dome
TRYGAEUS But why have they left you all alone here?
HERMES I am watching what remains of the furniture, the little pots
and pans, the bits of chairs and tables, and odd wine-jars.
TRYGAEUS And why have the gods moved away?
HERMES Because of their wrath against the Greeks. They have located
War in the house they occupied themselves and have given him full
power to do with you exactly as he pleases; then they went as high
up as ever they could, so as to see no more of your fights and to
hear no more of your prayers.
TRYGAEUS What reason have they for treating us so?
HERMES Because they have afforded you an opportunity for peace more
than once, but you have always preferred war. If the Laconians got
the very slightest advantage, they would exclaim, "By the Twin Brethren!
the Athenians shall smart for this." If, on the contrary, the latter
triumphed and the Laconians came with peace proposals, you would say,
"By Demeter, they want to deceive us. No, by Zeus, we will not hear
a word; they will always be coming as long as we hold Pylos."
TRYGAEUS Yes, that is quite the style our folk do talk in.
HERMES So that I don't know whether you will ever see Peace again.
TRYGAEUS Why, where has she gone to then?
HERMES War has cast her into a deep pit.
HERMES Down there, at the very bottom. And you see what heaps of
stones he has piled over the top, so that you should never pull her
TRYGAEUS Tell me, what is War preparing against us?
HERMES All I know is that last evening he brought along a huge mortar.
TRYGAEUS And what is he going to do with his mortar?
HERMES He wants to pound up all the cities of Greece in it.... But
I must say good-bye, for I think he is coming out; what an uproar
he is making! (He departs in haste.)
TRYGAEUS Ah! great gods let us seek safety; I think I already hear
the noise of this fearful war mortar. (He hides.)
WAR (enters, carrying a huge mortar) Oh! mortals, mortals, wretched
mortals, how your jaws will snap!
TRYGAEUS Oh! divine Apollo! what a prodigious big mortar! Oh, what
misery the very sight of War causes me! This then is the foe from
whom I fly, who is so cruel, so formidable, so stalwart, so solid
on his legs!
WAR Oh! Prasiae! thrice wretched, five times, aye, a thousand times
wretched! for thou shalt be destroyed this day. (He throws some leeks
into the mortar.)
TRYGAEUS (to the audience) This, gentlemen, does not concern us
over much; it's only so much the worse for the Laconians.
WAR Oh! Megara! Megara! utterly are you going to be ground up! what
fine mincemeat are you to be made into! (He throws in some garlic.)
TRYGAEUS (aside) Alas! alas! what bitter tears there will be among
WAR (throwing in some cheese) Oh, Sicily! you too must perish! Your
wretched towns shall be grated like this cheese. Now let us pour some
Attic honey into the mortar. (He does so.)
TRYGAEUS (aside) Oh! I beseech you! use some other honey; this kind
is worth four obols; be careful, oh! be careful of our Attic honey.
WAR Hi! Tumult, you slave there!
TUMULT What do you want?
WAR Out upon you! Standing there with folded arms! Take this cuff
on the head for your pains.
TUMULT Oh! how it stings! Master, have you got garlic in your fist,
WAR Run and fetch me a pestle.
TUMULT But we haven't got one; it was only yesterday we moved.
WAR Go and fetch me one from Athens, and hurry, hurry!
TUMULT I'll hurry; if I return without one, I shall have no cause
for laughing. (He runs off.)
TRYGAEUS (to the audience) Ah! what is to become of us, wretched
mortals that we are? See the danger that threatens if he returns with
the pestle, for War will quietly amuse himself with pounding all the
towns of Hellas to pieces. Ah! Bacchus! cause this herald of evil
to perish on his road!
WAR (to the returning TUMULT) Well?
TUMULT Well, what?
WAR You have brought back nothing?
TUMULT Alas! the Athenians have lost their pestle-the tanner, who
ground Greece to powder.
TRYGAEUS Oh! Athene, venerable mistress! it is well for our city
he is dead, and before he could serve us with this hash.
WAR Then go and seek one at Sparta and have done with it!
TUMULT Aye, aye, master! (He runs off.)
WAR (shouting after him) Be back as quick as ever you can.
TRYGAEUS (to the audience) What is going to happen, friends? This
is the critical hour. Ah! if there is some initiate of Samothrace
among you, this is surely the moment to wish this messenger some accident-some
sprain or strain.
TUMULT (returning) Alas! alas! thrice again, alas!
WAR What is it? Again you come back without it?
TUMULT The Spartans too have lost their pestle.
WAR How, varlet?
TUMULT They had lent it to their allies in Thrace, who have lost
it for them.
TRYGAEUS Long life to you, Thracians! My hopes revive, pluck up courage,
WAR Take all this stuff; I am going in to make a pestle for myself.
(He goes in, followed by TUMULT.)
TRYGAEUS (coming out of his hiding-place) Now is the time to sing
as Datis did, as he masturbated at high noon, "Oh pleasure! oh enjoyment!
oh delights!" Now, oh Greeks! is the moment when freed of quarrels
and fighting, we should rescue sweet Peace and draw her out of this
pit, before some other pestle prevents us. Come, labourers, merchants,
workmen, artisans, strangers, whether you be domiciled or not, islanders,
come here, Greeks of all countries, come hurrying here with picks
and levers and ropes! This is the moment to drain a cup in honour
of the Good Genius. (The CHORUS enters; it consists of labourers
and farmers from various Greek states.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Come hither all! quick, to the rescue! All peoples
of Greece, now is the time or never, for you to help each other. You
see yourselves freed from battles and all their horrors of bloodshed.
The day hateful to Lamachus has come. (To TRYGAEUS) Come then, what
must be done? Give your orders, direct us, for or swear to work this
day without ceasing, until with the help of our levers and our engines
we have drawn back into light the greatest of all goddesses, her to
whom the olive is so dear.
TRYGAEUS Silence! if War should hear your shouts of joy he would
bound forth from his retreat in fury.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Such a decree overwhelms us with joy; how different
to the edict, which bade us muster with provisions for three days.
TRYGAEUS Let us beware lest the cursed Cerberus prevent us even from
the nethermost bell from delivering the goddess by his furious howling,
just as he did when on earth.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Once we have hold of her, none in the world
will be able to take her from us. Huzza! huzza!
TRYGAEUS You will work my death if you don't subdue your shouts.
War will come running out and trample everything beneath his feet.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Well then! Let him confound, let him trample,
let him overturn everything! We cannot help giving vent to our joy.
TRYGAEUS Oh! cruel fate! My friends! in the name of the gods, what
possesses you? Your dancing will wreck the success of a fine undertaking.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS It's not I who want to dance; it's my legs that
bound with delight.
TRYGAEUS Enough, please, cease your gambols.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS There! That's all.
TRYGAEUS You say so, and nevertheless you go on.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Yet one more figure and it's done.
TRYGAEUS Well, just this one; then you must dance no more.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS No, no more dancing, if we can help you.
TRYGAEUS But look, you are not stopping even now.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS By Zeus, I am only throwing up my right leg,
TRYGAEUS Come, I grant you that, but pray, annoy me no further.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Ah! the left leg too will have its fling; well,
that's its right. I am so happy, so delighted at not having to carry
my buckler any more. I fart for joy and I laugh more than if I had
cast my old age, as a serpent does its skin.
TRYGAEUS No, it's not time for joy yet, for you are not sure of success.
But when you have got the goddess, then rejoice, shout and laugh;
thenceforward you will be able to sail or stay at home, to make love
or sleep, to attend festivals and processions, to play at cottabos,
live like true Sybarites and to shout, Io, io!
CHORUS (singing) Ah! God grant we may see the blessed day. I have
suffered so much; have so oft slept with Phormio on hard beds. You
will no longer find me a bitter and angry judge....
TRYGAEUS (singing) Nor, naturally, hard in your ways, as heretofore.
CHORUS (singing) ....but turned indulgent and grown younger by twenty
years through happiness. We have been killing ourselves long enough,
tiring ourselves out with going to the Lyceum and returning laden
with spear and buckler.-But what can we do to please you? Come, speak;
for 'tis a good Fate that has named you our leader.
TRYGAEUS How shall we set about removing these stones?
HERMES (who has just returned) Rash reprobate, what do you propose
TRYGAEUS Nothing bad, as Cillicon said.
HERMES You are undone, you wretch.
TRYGAEUS Yes, if the lot had to decide my life, for Hermes would
know how to turn the chance.
HERMES You are lost, you are dead.
TRYGAEUS On what day?
HERMES This instant.
TRYGAEUS But I have not provided myself with flour and cheese yet
to start for death.
HERMES You are kneaded and ground already, I tell you.
TRYGAEUS Hah! I have not yet tasted that gentle pleasure.
HERMES Don't you know that Zeus has decreed death for him who is
caught exhuming Peace?
TRYGAEUS What! must I really and truly die?
HERMES You must.
TRYGAEUS Well then, lend me three drachmae to buy a young pig; I
wish to have myself initiated before I die.
HERMES Oh! Zeus, the Thunderer!
TRYGAEUS I adjure you in the name of the gods, master, don't report
HERMES I may not, I cannot keep silent.
TRYGAEUS In the name of the meats which I brought you so good-naturedly.
HERMES Why, wretched man, Zeus will annihilate me, if I do not shout
out at the top of my voice, to inform him what you are plotting.
TRYGAEUS Oh, no! don't shout, I beg you, dear little Hermes.... And
what are you doing, comrades? You stand there as though you were stocks
and stones. Wretched men, speak, entreat him at once; otherwise he
will be shouting.
CHORUS (singing) Oh! mighty Hermes! do not do it; no, do not do
it! If ever you have eaten some young pig, sacrificed by us on your
altars, with pleasure, may this offering not be without value in your
TRYGAEUS (singing) Do you not hear them wheedling you, mighty god?
CHORUS (singing) Be not pitiless toward our prayers; permit us to
deliver the goddess. Oh! the most human, the most generous of the
gods, be favourable toward us, if it be true that you detest the haughty
crests and proud brows of Pisander; we shall never cease, oh master,
offering you sacred victims and solemn prayers.
TRYGAEUS Have mercy, mercy, yourself be touched by their words; never
was your worship so dear to them as to-day. (Aside) Really they
are the greatest thieves that ever were. (To HERMES) And I shall
reveal to you a great and terrible plot that is being hatched against
HERMES Hah! speak and perchance I shall let myself be softened.
TRYGAEUS Know then, that the Moon and that infamous Sun are plotting
against you, and want to deliver Greece into the hands of the barbarians.
HERMES What for?
TRYGAEUS Because it is to you that we sacrifice, whereas the barbarians
worship them; hence they would like to see you destroyed, that they
alone might receive the offerings.
HERMES Is it then for this reason that these untrustworthy charioteers
have for so long been defrauding us, one of them robbing us of daylight
and the other nibbling away at the other's disk?
TRYGAES Yes, certainly. So therefore, Hermes, my friend, help us
with your whole heart to find and deliver the captive and we will
celebrate the great Panathenaea in your honour as well as all the
festivals of the other gods; for Hermes shall be the Mysteries. the
Dipolia, the Adonia; everywhere the towns, freed from their miseries,
will sacrifice to Hermes the Liberator; you will be loaded with benefits
of every kind, and to start with, I offer you this cup for libations
as your first present.
HERMES Ah! how golden cups do influence me! Come, friends. get to
work. To the pit quickly, pick in hand, and drag away the stones.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS We go, but you, cleverest of all the gods, supervise
our labours; tell us, good workman as you are, what we must do; we
shall obey your orders with alacrity. (They begin to lift the stones.)
TRYGAEUS Quick, reach me your cup, and let us preface our work by
addressing prayers to the gods.
HERMES Libation! Libation! Silence! Let us offer our libations and
our prayers, so that this day may begin an era of unalloyed happiness
for Greece and that he who has bravely pulled at the rope with us
may never resume his buckler.
TRYGAEUS Aye, may we pass our lives in peace, caressing our mistresses
and poking the fire.
HERMES May he who would prefer the war, oh Dionysus....
TRYGAEUS Be ever drawing barbed arrows out of his elbows.
HERMES If there be a citizen, greedy for military rank and honours,
who refuses, oh, divine Peace! to restore you to daylight....
TRYGAEUS May he behave as cowardly as Cleonymus on the battlefield.
HERMES If a lance-maker or a dealer in shields desires war for the
sake of better trade....
TRYGAEUS May he be taken by pirates and eat nothing but barley.
HERMES If some ambitious man does not help us, because he wants to
become a General, or if a slave is plotting to pass over to the enemy....
TRYGAEUS Let his limbs be broken on the wheel, may he be beaten to
death with rods!
HERMES As for us, may Fortune favour us! Io! Paean, Io!
TRYGAEUS Don't say Paean, but simply, Io.
HERMES Very well, then! Io! Io! Io! I'll simply say, Io!
TRYGAEUS To Hermes, the Graces, the Horae, Aphrodite, Eros!
HERMES But not to Ares.
HERMES Nor to Enyalius.
TRYGAEUS No. (The stones have been removed and a rope attacked to
the cover of the pit. The indented portions of the following scene
are a sort of chanty.)
HERMES Come, all strain at the ropes to tear off the cover. Pull!
CHORUS Heave away, heave, heave, oh!
HERMES Come, pull harder, harder.
CHORUS Heave away, heave, heave, oh!
HERMES Still harder, harder still.
CHORUS Heave away, heave! Heave away, heave, heave, oh!
TRYGAEUS Come, come, there is no working together. Come! all pull
at the same instant! you Boeotians are only pretending. Beware!
HERMES Come, heave away, heave!
TRYGAEUS Heave away, heave oh!
CHORUS Hi! you two pull as well.
TRYGAEUS Why, I am pulling, I am hanging on to the rope and straining
till I am almost off my feet; I am working with all my might.
CHORUS Why does not the work advance then?
TRYGAEUS Lamachus, this is terrible! You are in the way, sitting
there. We have no use for your Medusa's head, friend. But wait, 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.
HERMES Ah! my dear sir, the Laconians at all events pull with vigour.
TRYGAEUS But look! only those among them who generally hold the plough-tail
show any zeal, while the armourers impede them in their efforts.
HERMES And the Megarians too are doing nothing, yet look how they
are pulling and showing their teeth like famished curs.
TRYGAEUS The poor wretches are dying of hunger I suppose.
HERMES This won't do, friends. Come! all together! Everyone to the
work and with a good heart for the business.
CHORUS Heave away, heave!
CHORUS Heave away, heave!
HERMES Come on then, by heaven.
CHORUS We are moving it a little.
TRYGAEUS Isn't it terrible and stupid! 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
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Come, friends, none but husbandmen on the rope.
HERMES Ah I that will do ever so much better.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS He says the thing is going well. Come, all of
you, together and with a will.
TRYGAEUS It's the husbandmen who are doing all the work.
CHORUS Come then, come, and all together!
HERMES Hah! hah! at last there is some unanimity in the work.
CHORUS Don't let us give up, let us redouble our efforts.
HERMES There! now we have it!
CHORUS 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. With her come OPORA and THEORIA.)
TRYGAEUS 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!
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 tragic 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 (ignoring this) ....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....
TRYGAEUS And yet they are all cruelly mishandled; their wounds are
HERMES But let us also scan the mien of the spectators; we shall
thus find out the trade of each.
TRYGAEUS Good god!
HERMES Look at that poor crest-maker, tearing at his hair....
TRYGAEUS ....and at that pike-maker, who has just farted in yon sword-cutler's
HERMES And do you see with what pleasure this sickle-maker....
TRYGAEUS ....is thumbing his nose at the spear-maker?
HERMES Now tell the husbandmen to be off.
TRYGAEUS Listen, good folk! Let the husbandmen take their farming
tools and return to their fields as quickly 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 and till the earth,
singing the Paean.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to PEACE) 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; then let us hurry to our farms, having
first bought a nice little piece of salt fish to eat in the fields.
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 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
CHORUS (singing) 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.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS 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; Pericles feared he might share his in-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
TRYGAEUS That, by Apollo is what no one ever told me; I could not
think what connection there could be between Phidias and Peace.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Nor I, until 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, it was the ruin of the husbandmen, who were innocent of all
blame; for, in revenge, your galleys went out to devour their figs.
TRYGAEUS And with justice too; did they not break down my black fig
tree, which I had planted and dunged with my own hands?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Yes, by Zeus! yes, that was 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 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 demagogues.
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.
It was the tanner who was the author of all this woe.
TRYGAEUS Enough said, Hermes leave that man in Hades, whither he
has gone; be no longer belongs to us, but rather to you. 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. (To PEACE) Oh! venerated Goddess! why art thou
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 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.
TRYGAEUS Yes, we did wrong, but forgive us, for our mind was then
entirely absorbed in leather.
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.
HERMES There is yet another question she has just put to me. Who
rules now in the rostrum?
TRYGAEUS It's 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 by the
TRYGAEUS We shall be more far-seeing in consequence.
HERMES And why?
TRYGAEUS Because he is a lamp-maker. Formerly we only directed our
busines 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.
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.
HERMES And wise Cratinus, is he still alive?
TRYGAEUS He died about the time of the Laconian invasion.
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.
TRYGAEUS (to OPORA) Come, my dear one, come and accept my kisses.
(To HERMES) 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.
But hasten to lead Theoria to the Senate; that was where she lodged
TRYGAEUS 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!
HERMES And to you also, my dear sir, may you have much happiness,
and don't forget me.
TRYGAEUS (looking around for his dung-beetle) 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 thunderbolts.'
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
TRYGAEUS Come, my pretty maidens, follow me quickly; there are plenty
of men waiting for you with their tools ready. (He goes out, with
OPORA and THEORIA.)
LEADER OF THE 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. (The
CHORUS turns and faces the audience.) Undoubtedly the comic poet
who mounted the stage to praise himself in the parabasis would deserve
to be handed over to the sticks or 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, he is the one who
has compelled his rivals no longer to scoff at rags or to war with
lice; and as for those Heracleses, always chewing and ever hungry,
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 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 it's
not obscure private persons or women that he stages in his comedies;
but, bold as Heracles, it's 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, the unwashed balls of a Lamia
and the arse 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 seduce 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. (More and more
rapidly from here on) 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
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing) 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 goat's turd, in fact machine-made poets. Contrary to all
expectation, the father has at last managed to finish a piece, but
he admits that a cat strangled it one fine evening.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing) 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. (TRYGAEUS
enters, limping painfully, accompanied by OPORA and THEORIA.)
TRYGAEUS Ah! it's a rough job getting to the gods! my legs are as
good as broken through it. (To the audience) 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 (coming out of TRYGAEUS' house) Is that you, master?
TRYGAEUS So I've been told.
SERVANT What has happened to you?
TRYGAEUS My legs pain me; it was such a damned long journey.
SERVANT Oh! tell me....
SERVANT Did you see any other man besides yourself strolling about
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
TRYGAEUS Quite true.
SERVANT Then what star has Ion of Chios turned into?
TRYGAEUS The Morning Star, the one he wrote a poem about; as soon
as he got up there, everyone called him the Morning Star.
SERVANT And those stars like sparks, that plough up the air as they
dart across the sky.
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,
(pointing to OPORA) clean out the bath, heat some water and prepare
the nuptial couch for herself and me. When that's done, come back
here; meanwhile I am off to present this other one to the Senate.
SERVANT But where then did you get these girls?
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 like that, but there are some up there
too who live by this trade.
SERVANT Come, that's rich! But tell me, shall I give her something
TRYGAEUS No, for she would touch neither 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. (He
takes OPORA into the house.)
CHORUS (singing) Here is a truly happy old man, as far as I can
TRYGAEUS (singing) Ah! but what shall I be, when you see me presently
dressed for the wedding?
CHORUS (singing) Made young again by love and scented with perfumes,
your lot will be one we all shall envy.
TRYGAEUS (singing) And when I lie beside her and fondle her breasts?
CHORUS (singing) Oh! then you will be happier than those spinning-tops
who call Carcinus their father.
TRYGAEUS (singing) 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 (returning from the house) The girl has quitted the bath;
she is charming from head to foot, belly and buttocks too; the cake
is baked and they are kneading the sesame-biscuit; nothing is lacking
but the bridegroom's tool.
TRYGAEUS Let us first hasten to lodge Theoria in the hands of the
SERVANT Tell me, who is this woman?
TRYGAEUS Why, it's Theoria, with whom we used formerly to go to Brauron,
to get tipsy and frolic-I had the greatest trouble to get hold of
SERVANT Ah! you charmer! what pleasure your pretty bottom will afford
me every four years!
TRYGAEUS (to the audience) Let's see, which one of you is steady
enough to be trusted by the Senate with the care of this charming
wench? (to the SERVANT) Hi! you, friend! what are you drawing there?
SERVANT (who has been making signs in the air) It's er.... well,
at the Isthmian Games I shall have a tent for my tool.
TRYGAEUS (to the audience) 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 It's Ariphrades. He wishes to take her home at once.
TRYGAEUS No, he must not. He would soon have her done for, absorbing
all her life-force. Come, Theoria, take off all these clothes. (THEORIA
undresses. As soon as she is nude, TRYGAEUS conducts her to the front
row of seats, where the SENATORS sit.) Senate, Prytanes, gaze upon
Theoria and see what precious blessings I place in your hands. Hasten
to raise its limbs and to immolate the victim. And look at this chimney.
SERVANT God, what a beautiful one! It's black with smoke because
the Senate used to do its cooking there before the war.
TRYGAEUS Now that you have found Theoria again, you can start the
most charming games from to-morrow, wrestling with her on the ground,
on all fours, 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 something else. 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
CHORUS (singing) Such a man as you assures the happiness of all
TRYGAEUS (singing) When you are gathering your vintages you will
prize me even better.
CHORUS (singing) E'en from to-day we hail you as the deliverer of
TRYGAEUS (singing) Wait until you have drunk a beaker of new wine,
before you appraise my true merits.
CHORUS (singing) Excepting the gods, there is none greater than
yourself, and that will ever be our opinion.
TRYGAEUS (singing) 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
SERVANT Pots of green-stuff as we do to poor Hermes-and even he thinks
the fare pretty mean?
TRYGAEUS What will you offer them? A fatted bull?
SERVANT Oh no! I don't want to start bellowing 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.
TRYGAEUS What other victim do you prefer then?
SERVANT A sheep.
TRYGAEUS A sheep?
TRYGAEUS But that's the Ionic form of the word.
SERVANT Purposely. So that if anyone in the assembly says, "We must
go to war," all may start bleating in alarm, "Oi, oi."
TRYGAEUS A brilliant idea.
SERVANT And we shall all be lambs one toward the other, yes, 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. (They both leave.)
CHORUS (singing) How everything succeeds to our wish, when the gods
are willing and Fortune favours us! how opportunely everything falls
TRYGAEUS (returning) Nothing could be truer, for look! here stands
the altar all ready at my door. (He enters his house.)
CHORUS (singing) 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.
TRYCAEUS (returning) 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 (singing) 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 (to the SERVANT who has returned with a sheep and a vase
of water) Come, seize the basket and take the lustral water and hurry
to circle round the altar to the right.
SERVANT There! that's done. What is your next bidding?
TRYGAEUS Wait. I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the
water. Now quick, quick, you sprinkle the altar. Give me some barley-seed,
purify yourself and hand me the basin; then scatter the rest of the
barley among the audience.
TRYGAEUS You have thrown it?
SERVANT Yes, by Hermes! and all the spectators have had their share.
TRYGAEUS At least the women got none.
SERVANT Oh! their husbands will give them some this evening.
TRYGAEUS Let us pray! Who is here? Are there any good men?
SERVANT Come, give me the water, so that I may sprinkle these people.
Faith! they are indeed good, brave men. (He throws the lustral water
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.
TRYGAEUS Let us pray, then, as soon as we can.
SERVANT Yes, let us pray.
TRYGAEUS Oh! Peace, mighty queen, venerated goddess, thou, who presidest
over choruses and at nuptials, deign to accept the sacrifices we offer
SERVANT Receive it, greatly honoured mistress, and behave not like
the courtesans, 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 thou 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. 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; they'll say, "no
more eels, all sold!" and then he'll start 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. (To
the SERVANT) Take the knife and slaughter the sheep like a finished
SERVANT No, the goddess does not wish it.
TRYGAEUS And why not?
SERVANT Blood cannot please Peace, so let us spill none upon her
TRYGAEUS Then 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.
(The SERVANT goes into the house with the sheep.)
CHORUS (singing) You, who remain here, get chopped wood and everything
needed for the sacrifice ready.
TRYGAEUS Don't I look like a diviner preparing his mystic fire?
CHORUS (singing) Undoubtedly. Will anything that a wise man ought
to know escape you? Don't you know all that a man should know, who
is distinguished for his wisdom and inventive daring?
TRYGAEUS There! the wood catches. Its smoke blinds poor Stilbides.
I am now going to bring the table and thus be my own slave. (He goes
into the house.)
CHORUS (singing) You have braved a thousand dangers to save your
sacred town. All honour to you I your glory will be ever envied.
TRYGAEUS (returning with a table) Wait. Here are the legs, place
them upon the altar. For myself, I mean to go back to the entrails
and the cakes. (He is about to go into the house.)
SERVANT (going in ahead of him) I'll take care of them.
TRYGAEUS But I want you here.
SERVANT (returning) Well then, here I am. Do you think I have taken
TRYGAEUS Just get this roasted. Ab who is this man, crowned with
laurel, who is coming to me?
SERVANT He has a self-important look; is he some diviner?
TRYGAEUS No, it's Hierocles, that oracle-monger from Oreus.
SERVANT What is he going to tell us?
TRYGAEUS Evidently he is coming to oppose the peace.
SERVANT No, it's the odour of the fat that attracts him.
TRYGAEUS Let us appear not to see him.
SERVANT Very well.
HIEROCLES (approaching) What sacrifice is this? to what god are
you offering it?
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT) Keep quiet.- (Aloud) Look after the
roasting and keep your hands of the meat.
HIEROCLES To whom are you sacrificing? Answer me.
TRYGAEUS Ah! the tail is showing favourable omens.
SERVANT Aye, very favourable, oh, loved and mighty Peace!
HIEROCLES Come, cut off the first offering and make the oblation.
TRYGAEUS It's not roasted enough.
HIEROCLES Yea, truly, it's done to a turn.
TRYGAEUS Mind your own business, friend! (To the SERVANT) Cut away.
HIEROCLES Where is the table?
TRYGAEUS Bring the libations. (The SERVANT departs.)
HIEROCLES The tongue is cut separately.
TRYGAEUS We know all that. But just listen to one piece of advice.
HIEROCLES And that is?
TRYGAEUS Don't talk, for it is divine Peace to whom we are sacrificing.
HIEROCLES (in an oracular tone) Oh! wretched mortals, oh, you idiots!
TRYGAEUS Keep such ugly terms for yourself.
HIEROCLES (as before) What! you are so ignorant you don't understand
the will of the gods and you make a treaty, you, who are men, with
apes, who are full of malice?
TRYGAEUS Ha, ha, ha!
HIEROCLES What are you laughing at?
TRYGAEUS Ha, ha! your apes amuse me!
HIEROCLES (resuming the oracular manner) You simple pigeons, you
trust yourselves to foxes, who are all craft, both in mind and heart.
TRYGAEUS Oh, you trouble-maker! may your lungs get as hot as this
HIEROCLES Nay, nay! if only the Nymphs had not fooled Bacis, and
Bacis mortal men; and if the Nymphs had not tricked Bacis a second
TRYGAEUS (mocking his manner) May the plague seize you, if you don't
HIEROCLES ....it would not have been written in the book of Fate
that the bends of Peace must be broken; but first....
TRYGAEUS The meat must be dusted with salt.
HIEROCLES ....it does not please the blessed gods that we should
stop the War until the wolf uniteth with the sheep. (A kind of oracle-match
TRYGAEUS How, you cursed animal, could the wolf ever unite with the
HIEROCLES As long as the wood-bug gives off a fetid odour, when it
flies; as long as the noisy bitch is forced by nature to litter blind
pups, so long shall peace be forbidden.
TRYGAEUS Then what should be done? Not to stop War would be to leave
it to the decision of chance which of the two people should suffer
the most, whereas by uniting under a treaty, we share the empire of
HIEROCLES You will never make the crab walk straight.
TRYGAEUS You shall no longer be fed at the Prytaneum; when the war
is over, oracles are not wanted.
HIEROCLES You will never smooth the rough spikes of the hedgehog.
TRYGAEUS Will you never stop fooling the Athenians?
HIEROCLES What oracle ordered you to burn these joints of mutton
in honour of the gods?
TRYGAEUS This grand oracle of Homer's: "Thus vanished the dark war-clouds
and we offered a sacrifice to new-born Peace. When the flame had consumed
the thighs of the victim and its inwards had appeased our hunger,
we poured out the libations of wine." 'Twas I who arranged the sacred
rites, but none offered the shining cup to the diviner.
HIEROCLES I care little for that. 'Tis not the Sibyl who spoke it.
TRYGAEUS Wise Homer has also said: "He who delights in the horrors
of civil war has neither country nor laws nor home." What noble words!
HIEROCLES Beware lest the kite turn your brain and rob....
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT Who has returned with the libations) Look
out, slave! This oracle threatens our meat. Quick, pour the libation,
and give me some of the inwards.
HIEROCLES I too will help myself to a bit, if you like.
TRYGAEUS The libation! the libation!
HIEROCLES (to the SERVANT) Pour out also for me and give me some
of this meat.
TRYGAEUS No, the blessed gods won't allow it yet; let us drink: and
as for you, get you gone, for that's their will. Mighty Peace! stay
ever in our midst.
HIEROCLES Bring the tongue hither.
TRYGAEUS Relieve us of your own.
HIEROCLES The libation.
TRYGAEUS Here! and this into the bargain. (He strikes him.)
HIEROCLES You will not give me any meat?
TRYGAEUS We cannot give you any until the wolf unites with the sheep.
HIEROCLES I will embrace your knees.
TRYGAEUS 'Tis lost labour, good fellow; you will never smooth the
rough spikes of the hedgehog....Come, spectators, join us in our feast.
HIEROCLES And what am I to do?
TRYGAEUS You? go and eat the Sibyl.
HIEROCLES No, by the Earth! no, you shall not eat without me; if
you do not give, I shall take; it's common property.
TRYGAEUS (to the SERVANT) Strike, strike this Bacis, this humbugging
HIEROCLES I take to witness....
TRYGAEUS And I also, that you are a glutton and an impostor. (To
the SERVANT) Hold him tight and I'll beat the impostor with a stick.
SERVANT You look to that; I will snatch the skin from him which he
has stolen from us.
TRYGAEUS Let go that skin, you priest from hell! do you hear! Oh!
what a fine crow has come from Oreus! Stretch your wings quickly for
Elymnium. (HIEROCLES flees. TRYGAEUS and the SERVANT go into the
CHORUS (singing) Oh! joy, joy! no more helmet, no more cheese nor
onions! No, I have no passion for battles; what I love is to drink
with good comrades in the corner by the fire when good dry wood, cut
in the height of the summer, is crackling; it is to cook pease on
the coals and beechnuts among the embers, it is to kiss our pretty
Thracian while my wife is at the bath.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Nothing is more pleasing, when the rain is sprouting
our sowings, than to chat with some friend, saying, "Tell me, Comarchides,
what shall we do? I would willingly drink myself, while the heavens
are watering our fields. Come, wife, cook three measures of beans,
adding to them a little wheat, and give us some figs. Syra! call Manes
off the fields, it's impossible to prune the vine or to align the
ridges, for the ground is too wet to-day. Let someone bring me the
thrush and those two chaffinches; there were also some curds and four
pieces of hare, unless the cat stole them last evening, for I know
not what the infernal noise was that I heard in the house. Serve up
three of the pieces for me, slave, and give the fourth to my father.
Go and ask Aeschinades for some myrtle branches with berries on them,
and then, for it's on the same road, invite Charinades to come and
drink with me to the honour of the gods who watch over our crops."
CHORUS (singing) When the grasshopper sings his dulcet tune, I love
to see the Lemnian vines beginning to ripen, the earliest plant of
all. Likewise I love to watch the fig filling out, and when it has
reached maturity I eat it with appreciation, exclaiming, "Oh! delightful
season!" Then too I bruise some thyme and infuse it in water. Indeed
I grow a great deal fatter passing the summer in this way....
LEADER OF THE CHORUS ...than in watching a damned lieutenant with
three plumes and military cloak of crimson, very livid indeed; he
calls it the real Sardian purple, but if he ever has to fight in this
cloak he'll dye it another colour, the real Cyzicene yellow, he the
first to run away, shaking his plumes like a buff hippalectryon, and
I am left to do the real work. Once back again in Athens, these brave
fellows behave abominably; they write down these, they scratch through
others, and this backwards and forwards two or three times at random.
The departure is set for to-morrow, and some citizen has brought no
provisions, because he didn't know he had to go; he stops in front
of the statue of Pandion, reads his name, is dumbfounded and starts
away at a run, weeping bitter tears. The townsfolk are less ill-used,
but that is how the husbandmen are treated by these men of war, the
hated of the gods and of men, who know nothing but how to throw away
their shield. For this reason, if it please heaven, I propose to call
these rascals to account, for they are lions in times of peace, but
sneaking foxes when it comes to fighting.
TRYGAEUS (coming out of his house, followed by the SERVANT) Oh!
oh! what a crowd for the nuptial feast! Here! dust the tables with
this crest, which is good for nothing else now. Halloa! produce the
cakes, the thrushes, plenty of good jugged hare and the little loaves.
(A SICKLE-MAKER enters with a comrade; one carries sickles, the other
SICKLE-MAKER Trygaeus, where is Trygaeus?
TRYGAEUS I am cooking the thrushes.
SICKLE-MAKER Trygaeus, my best of friends, what a fine stroke of
business you have done for me by bringing back Peace! Formerly my
sickles would not have sold at an obolus apiece, to-day I am being
paid fifty drachmae for every one. And here is a neighbour who is
selling his casks for the country at three drachmae each. So come,
Trygaeus, take as many sickles and casks as you will for nothing.
Accept them for nothing; it's because of our handsome profits on our
sales that we offer you these wedding presents.
TRYGAEUS Thanks. Put them all down inside there, and come along quick
to the banquet. Ah! do you see that armourer yonder coming with a
wry face? (Enter an armourer, followed by other personages who represent
the various specialized trades which have profited by the war, a crest-maker,
a manufacturer of breastplates, a trumpet-maker, a helmet-maker, a
polisher of lances; each carries a sample of his products. The armourer
is the only one who speaks.)
ARMOURER Alas! alas! Trygaeus, you have ruined me utterly.
TRYGAEUS What! won't the crests go any more, friend?
ARMOURER You have killed my business, my livelihood, and that of
this poor lance maker too.
TRYGAEUS Come, come, what are you asking for these two crests?
ARMOURER What do you bid for them?
TRYGAEUS What do I bid? Oh! I am ashamed to say. Still, as the clasp
is of good workmanship, I would give two, even three measures of dried
figs; I could use them for dusting the table.
ARMOURER All right, tell them to bring me the dried figs. (To the
crest-maker) That's better than nothing, my friend.
TRYGAEUS Take them away, be off with your crests and get you gone;
they are moulting, they are losing all their hair; I would not give
a single fig for them.
ARMOURER Good gods, what am I going to do with this fine ten-mina
breastplate, which is so splendidly made?
TRYGAEUS Oh, you will lose nothing over it. Sell it to me at cost
price. It would be very useful as a thunder-mug...
ARMOURER Cease your insults, both to me and my wares.
TRYGAEUS ...if propped on three stones. (He sits on it.) Look,
ARMOURER But how can you wipe yourself, idiot?
TRYGAEUS (with appropriate gestures) I can put one hand through
here, and the other there, and so...
ARMOURER What! do you wipe yourself with both hands?
TRYGAEUS Aye, so that I may not be accused of robbing the State,
by blocking up an oar-hole in the galley.
ARMOURER Would you crap in a thunder-mug that cost ten minae?
TRYGAEUS Undoubtedly, you rascal. Do you think I would sell my arse
for a thousand drachmae?
ARMOURER Come, have the money paid over to me.
TRYGAEUS No, friend; I find it pinches my bottom. Take it away, I
won't buy it.
ARMOURER What is to be done with this trumpet, for which I gave sixty
drachmae the other day?
TRYGAEUS Pour lead into the hollow and fit a good, long stick to
the top; and you will have a balanced cottabus.
ARMOURER Don't mock me.
TRYGAEUS Well, here's another idea. Pour in lead as I said, add here
a dish hung on strings, and you will have a balance for weighing the
figs which you give your slaves in the fields.
ARMOURER Cursed fate! I am ruined. Here are helmets, for which I
gave a mina each. What I to do with them? who will buy them?
TRYGAEUS Go and sell them to the Egyptians; they will do for measuring
ARMOURER Ah! poor helmet-maker, things are indeed in a bad way.
TRYGAEUS He has no cause for complaint.
ARMOURER But helmets will be no more used.
TRYGAEUS Let him learn to fit a handle to them and he can sell them
for more money.
ARMOURER Let us be off, comrade.
TRYGAEUS No, I want to buy these spears.
ARMOURER What will you give?
TRYGAEUS If they could be split in two, I would take them at a drachma
per hundred to use as vine-props.
ARMOURER The insolent dog! Let us go, friend. (The munitions-makers
TRYGAEUS (as some young boys enter) Ah I here come the guests, young
folks from the table to take a pee; I fancy they also want to hum
over what they will be singing presently. Hi! child! what do you reckon
to sing? Stand there and give me the opening line.
BOY "Glory to the young warriors..."
TRYGAEUS Oh! leave off about your young warriors, you little wretch;
we are at peace and you are an idiot and a rascal.
BOY "The skirmish begins, the hollow bucklers clash against each
TRYGAEUS Bucklers! Leave me in peace with your bucklers.
BOY "And then there came groanings and shouts of victory."
TRYGAEUS Groanings! ah! by Bacchus! look out for yourself, you cursed
squaller, if you start wearying us again with your groanings and hollow
BOY Then what should I sing? Tell me what pleases you.
TRYGAEUS "'Tis thus they feasted on the flesh of oxen," or something
similar, as, for instance, "Everything that could tickle the palate
was placed on the table."
BOY "'Tis thus they feasted on the flesh of oxen and, tired of warfare,
unharnessed their foaming steeds."
TRYGAEUS That's splendid; tired of warfare, they seat themselves
at table; sing to us how they still go on eating after they are satiated.
BOY "The meal over, they girded themselves..."
TRYGAEUS With good wine, no doubt?
BOY "...with armour and rushed forth from the towers, and a terrible
TRYGAEUS Get you gone, you little scapegrace, you and your battles!
You sing of nothing but warfare. Who is your father then?
BOY My father?
TRYGAEUS Why yes, your father.
BOY I am Lamachus' son.
TRYGAEUS Oh! oh! I could indeed have sworn, when I was listening
to you, that you were the son of some warrior, who dreams of nothing
but wounds and bruises, of some Bulomachus or Clausimachus; go and
sing your plaguey songs to the spearmen....Where is the son of Cleonymus?
Sing me something before going back to the feast. I am at least certain
he will not sing of battles, for his father is far too careful a man.
SON OF CLEONYMUS "A Saian is parading with the spotless shield which
I regret to say I have thrown into a thicket."
TRYGAEUS Tell me, you little good-for-nothing, are you singing that
for your father?
SON OF CLEONYMUS "But I saved my life."
TRYGAEUS And dishonoured your family. But let us go in; I am very
certain, that being the son of such a father, you will never forget
this song of the buckler. (To the CHORUS) You, who remain to the
feast, it's your duty to devour dish after dish and not to ply empty
jaws. Come, put heart into the work and eat with your mouths full.
For, believe me, poor friends, white teeth are useless furniture if
they chew nothing.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to TRYGAEUS, who is going into the house)
Never fear; thanks all the same for your good advice. (To the CHORUS)
And all of you, who yesterday were dying of hunger, come, stuff yourselves
with this fine hare-stew; it's not every day that we find cakes lying
neglected. Eat, eat, or I predict you will soon regret it.
TRYGAEUS (coming out of the house) Silence! Keep silence! Here is
the bride about to appear! Take nuptial torches and let all rejoice
and join in our songs. Then, when we have danced, clinked our cups
and thrown Hyperbolus through the doorway we will carry back all our
farming tools to the fields and shall pray the gods to give wealth
to the Greeks and to cause us all to gather in an abundant barley
harvest, enjoy a noble vintage, to grant that we may choke With good
figs, that our wives may prove fruitful, that in fact we may recover
all our lost blessings, and that the sparkling fire may be restored
to the hearth, (OPORA comes out of the house, followed by torch-bearing
slaves.) Come, wife, to the fields and seek, my beauty, to brighten
and enliven my nights. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (singing) Oh! thrice happy man, who so well
deserve your good fortune! Oh! Hymen! oh oh! Hymenaeus!
CHORUS (singing) Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS (singing) What shall we do to her?
CHORUS (singing) What shall we do to her?
TRYGAEUS (singing) We will gather her kisses.
CHORUS (singing) We will gather her kisses.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (singing) But come, comrades, we who are in
the first row, let us pick up the bridegroom and carry him in triumph.
Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
TRYGAEUS (singing) You shall have a fine house, no cares and the
finest of figs. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (singing) The bridegroom's fig is great and
thick; the bride's very soft and tender.
TRYGAEUS (singing) While eating and drinking deep draughts of wine,
continue to repeat: Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus,
Hail, hail, my friends. All who come with me shall have cakes galore.
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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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