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- The Acharnians - 2/12 -

Oh, Triptolemus and Ceres, do ye thus forsake your own blood?

DICAEOPOLIS Prytanes, in expelling this citizen, you are offering an outrage to the Assembly. He only desired to secure peace for us and to sheathe the sword.

PRYTANIS Sit down and keep silence!

DICAEOPOLIS No, by Apollo, I will not, unless you are going to discuss the question of peace.

HERALD The ambassadors, who are returned from the Court of the King!

DICAEOPOLIS Of what King? I am sick of all those fine birds, the peacock ambassadors and their swagger.

HERALD Silence!

DICAEOPOLIS Oh! oh! by Ecbatana,[1] what a costume!

f[1] The summer residence of the Great King.

AN AMBASSADOR During the archonship of Euthymenes, you sent us to the Great King on a salary of two drachmae per diem.

DICAEOPOLIS Ah! those poor drachmae!

AMBASSADOR We suffered horribly on the plains of the Cayster, sleeping under a tent, stretched deliciously on fine chariots, half dead with weariness.

DICAEOPOLIS And I was very much at ease, lying on the straw along the battlements![1]

f[1] Referring to the hardships he had endured garrisoning the walls of Athens during the Lacedaemonian invasions early in the War.

AMBASSADOR Everywhere we were well received and forced to drink delicious wine out of golden or crystal flagons....

DICAEOPOLIS Oh, city of Cranaus,[1] thy ambassadors are laughing at thee!

f[1] Cranaus, the second king of Athens, the successor of Cecrops.

AMBASSADOR For great feeders and heavy drinkers are alone esteemed as men by the barbarians.

DICAEOPOLIS Just as here in Athens, we only esteem the most drunken debauchees.

AMBASSADOR At the end of the fourth year we reached the King's Court, but he had left with his whole army to ease himself, and for the space of eight months he was thus easing himself in the midst of the golden mountains.[1]

f[1] Lucian, in his 'Hermotimus,' speaks of these golden mountains as an apocryphal land of wonders and prodigies.

DICAEOPOLIS And how long was he replacing his dress?

AMBASSADOR The whole period of a full moon; after which he returned to his palace; then he entertained us and had us served with oxen roasted whole in an oven.

DICAEOPOLIS Who ever saw an oxen baked in an oven? What a lie!

AMBASSADOR On my honour, he also had us served with a bird three times as large as Cleonymus,[1] and called the Boaster.

f[1] Cleonymus was an Athenian general of exceptionally tall stature; Aristophanes incessantly rallies him for his cowardice; he had cast away his buckler in a fight.

DICAEOPOLIS And do we give you two drachmae, that you should treat us to all this humbug?

AMBASSADOR We are bringing to you Pseudartabas[1], the King's Eye.

f[1] A name borne by certain officials of the King of Persia. The actor of this part wore a mask, fitted with a single eye of great size.

DICAEOPOLIS I would a crow might pluck out thine with his beak, you cursed ambassador!

HERALD The King's Eye!

DICAEOPOLIS Eh! Great Gods! Friend, with thy great eye, round like the hole through which the oarsman passes his sweep, you have the air of a galley doubling a cape to gain port.

AMBASSADOR Come, Pseudartabas, give forth the message for the Athenians with which you were charged by the Great King.

PSEUDARTABAS Jartaman exarx 'anapissonia satra.[1]

f[1] Jargon, no doubt meaningless in all languages.

AMBASSADOR Do you understand what he says?

DICAEOPOLIS By Apollo, not I!

AMBASSADOR (TO THE PRYTANES) He says that the Great King will send you gold. Come, utter the word 'gold' louder and more distinctly.

PSEUDARTABAS Thou shalt not have gold, thou gaping-arsed Ionian.[1]

f[1] The Persians styled all Greeks 'Ionians' without distinction; here the Athenians are intended.

DICAEOPOLIS Ah! may the gods forgive me, but that is clear enough!

AMBASSADOR What does he say?

DICAEOPOLIS That the Ionians are debauchees and idiots, if they expect to receive gold from the barbarians.

AMBASSADOR Not so, he speaks of medimni[1] of gold.

f[1] A Greek measure, containing about six modii.

DICAEOPOLIS What medimni? Thou are but a great braggart; but get your way; I will find out the truth by myself. Come now, answer me clearly, if you do not wish me to dye your skin red. Will the Great King send us gold? (PSEUDARTABAS MAKES A NEGATIVE SIGN.) Then our ambassadors are seeking to deceive us? (PSEUDARTABAS SIGNS AFFIRMATIVELY.) These fellows make signs like any Greek; I am sure that they are nothing but Athenians. Oh! ho! I recognize one of these eunuchs; it is Clisthenes, the son of Sibyrtius.[1] Behold the effrontery of this shaven rump! How! great baboon, with such a beard do you seek to play the eunuch to us? And this other one? Is it not Straton?

f[1] Noted for his extreme ugliness and his obscenity. Aristophanes frequently holds him to scorn in his comedies.

HERALD Silence! Let all be seated. The Senate invites the King's Eye to the Prytaneum.[1]

f[1] Ambassadors were entertained there at the public expense.

DICAEOPOLIS Is this not sufficient to drive one to hang oneself? Here I stand chilled to the bone, whilst the doors of the Prytaneum fly wide open to lodge such rascals. But I will do something great and bold. Where is Amphitheus? Come and speak with me.


DICAEOPOLIS Take these eight drachmae and go and conclude a truce with the Lacedaemonians for me, my wife and my children; I leave you free, my dear citizens, to send out embassies and to stand gaping in the air.

HERALD Bring in Theorus, who has returned from the Court of Sitalces.[1]

f[1] King of Thrace.

THEORUS I am here.

DICAEOPOLIS Another humbug!


The Acharnians - 2/12

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