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- The Acharnians - 10/12 -


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHORUS But what will be done with him?

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

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

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

CHORUS There! it is well packed now!

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

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

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

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

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

A SERVANT OF LAMACHUS Dicaeopolis!

DICAEOPOLIS What do you want crying this gait?

SERVANT Lamachus wants to keep the Feast of Cups,[1] and I come by his order to bid you one drachma for some thrushes and three more for a Copaic eel.

f[1] The second day of the Dionysia or feasts of Bacchus, kept in the month Anthesterion (February), and called the Anthesteria. They lasted three days; the second being the Feast of Cups, the third the Feast of Pans. Vases, filled with grain of all kinds, were borne in procession and dedicated to Hermes.

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

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

DICAEOPOLIS No, no, he will get nothing, even though he gave me his buckler. Let him eat salt fish, while he shakes his plumes, and, if he comes here making any din, I shall call the inspectors. As for myself, I shall take away all these goods; I go home on thrushes' wings and black-birds' pinions.[1]

f[1] A parody on some verses from a lost poet.

CHORUS You see, citizens, you see the good fortune which this man owes to his prudence, to his profound wisdom. You see how, since he has concluded peace, he buys what is useful in the household and good to eat hot. All good things flow towards him unsought. Never will I welcome the god of war in my house; never shall he chant the "Harmodius" at my table;[1] he is a sot, who comes feasting with those who are overflowing with good things and brings all manner of mischief at his heels. He overthrows, ruins, rips open; 'tis vain to make him a thousand offers, "be seated, pray, drink this cup, proffered in all friendship," he burns our vine-stocks and brutally pours out the wine from our vineyards on the ground. This man, on the other hand, covers his table with a thousand dishes; proud of his good fortunes, he has had these feathers cast before his door to show us how he lives.

f[1] A feasting song in honour of Harmodius, the assassin of Hipparchus the Tyrant, son of Pisistratus.

DICAEOPOLIS Oh, Peace! companion of fair Aphrodite and of the sweet Graces, how charming are thy features and yet I never knew it! Would that Eros might join me to thee, Eros, crowned with roses as Zeuxis[1] shows him to us! Perhaps I seem somewhat old to you, but I am yet able to make you a threefold offering; despite my age I could plant a long row of vines for you; then beside these some tender cuttings from the fig; finally a young vine-stock, loaded with fruit and all around the field olive trees, which would furnish us with oil, wherewith to anoint us both at the New Moons.

f[1] The celebrated painter, born in Heraclea, a contemporary of Aristophanes.

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

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

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

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

CHORUS Ah! true indeed!

DICAEOPOLIS Slave! stir up the fire.

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

A HUSBANDMAN Ah! woe is me!

DICAEOPOLIS Heracles! What have we here?

HUSBANDMAN A most miserable man.

DICAEOPOLIS Keep your misery for yourself.

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

DICAEOPOLIS What has happened to you?

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

DICAEOPOLIS How?

HUSBANDMAN The Boeotians seized them at Phyle.[1]

f[1] A deme and frontier fortress of Attica, near the Boeotian border.

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

HUSBANDMAN Their dung made my wealth.

DICAEOPOLIS What can I do in the matter?

HUSBANDMAN


The Acharnians - 10/12

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