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- The Acharnians - 3/12 -


We should not have remained long in Thrace...

DICAEOPOLIS Forsooth, no, if you had not been well paid.

THEORUS ...if the country had not been covered with snow; the rivers were ice-bound at the time that Theognis[1] brought out his tragedy here; during the whole of that time I was holding my own with Sitalces, cup in hand; and, in truth, he adored you to such a degree, that he wrote on the walls, "How beautiful are the Athenians!" His son, to whom we gave the freedom of the city, burned with desire to come here and eat chitterlings at the feast of the Apaturia;[2] he prayed his father to come to the aid of his new country and Sitalces swore on his goblet that he would succour us with such a host that the Athenians would exclaim, "What a cloud of grasshoppers!"

f[1] The tragic poet. f[2] A feast lasting three days and celebrated during the month Pyanepsion (November). The Greek word contains the suggestion of fraud.

DICAEOPOLIS May I die if I believe a word of what you tell us! Excepting the grasshoppers, there is not a grain of truth in it all!

THEORUS And he has sent you the most warlike soldiers of all Thrace.

DICAEOPOLIS Now we shall begin to see clearly.

HERALD Come hither, Thracians, whom Theorus brought.

DICAEOPOLIS What plague have we here?

THEORUS 'Tis the host of the Odomanti.[1]

f[1] A Thracian tribe from the right bank of the Strymon.

DICAEOPOLIS Of the Odomanti? Tell me what it means. Who has mutilated them like this?

THEORUS If they are given a wage of two drachmae, they will put all Boeotia[1] to fire and sword.

f[1] The Boeotians were the allies of Sparta.

DICAEOPOLIS Two drachmae to those circumcised hounds! Groan aloud, ye people of rowers, bulwark of Athens! Ah! great gods! I am undone; these Odomanti are robbing me of my garlic![1] Will you give me back my garlic?

f[1] Dicaeopolis had brought a clove of garlic with him to eat during the Assembly.

THEORUS Oh! wretched man! do not go near them; they have eaten garlic[1].

f[1] Garlic was given to game-cocks, before setting them at each other, to give them pluck for the fight.

DICAEOPOLIS Prytanes, will you let me be treated in this manner, in my own country and by barbarians? But I oppose the discussion of paying a wage to the Thracians; I announce an omen; I have just felt a drop of rain.[1]

f[1] At the lest unfavourable omen, the sitting of the Assembly was declared at an end.

HERALD Let the Thracians withdraw and return the day after tomorrow; the Prytanes declare the sitting at an end.

DICAEOPOLIS Ye gods, what garlic I have lost! But here comes Amphitheus returned from Lacedaemon. Welcome, Amphitheus.

AMPHITHEUS No, there is no welcome for me and I fly as fast as I can, for I am pursued by the Acharnians.

DICAEOPOLIS Why, what has happened?

AMPHITHEUS I was hurrying to bring your treaty of truce, but some old dotards from Acharnae[1] got scent of the thing; they are veterans of Marathon, tough as oak or maple, of which they are made for sure--rough and ruthless. They all started a-crying: "Wretch! you are the bearer of a treaty, and the enemy has only just cut our vines!" Meanwhile they were gathering stones in their cloaks, so I fled and they ran after me shouting.

f[1] The deme of Acharnae was largely inhabited by charcoal-burners, who supplied the city with fuel.

DICAEOPOLIS Let 'em shout as much as they please! But HAVE you brought me a treaty?

AMPHITHEUS Most certainly, here are three samples to select from,[1] this one is five years old; take it and taste.

f[1] He presents them in the form of wines contained in three separate skins.

DICAEOPOLIS Faugh!

AMPHITHEUS Well?

DICAEOPOLIS It does not please me; it smells of pitch and of the ships they are fitting out.[1]

f[1] Meaning, preparations for war.

AMPHITHEUS Here is another, ten years old; taste it.

DICAEOPOLIS It smells strongly of the delegates, who go around the towns to chide the allies for their slowness.[1]

f[1] Meaning, securing allies for the continuance of the war.

AMPHITHEUS This last is a truce of thirty years, both on sea and land.

DICAEOPOLIS Oh! by Bacchus! what a bouquet! It has the aroma of nectar and ambrosia; this does not say to us, "Provision yourselves for three days." But it lisps the gentle numbers, "Go whither you will."[1] I accept it, ratify it, drink it at one draught and consign the Acharnians to limbo. Freed from the war and its ills, I shall keep the Dionysia[2] in the country.

f[1] When Athens sent forth an army, the soldiers were usually ordered to assemble at some particular spot with provisions for three days. f[2] These feasts were also called the Anthesteria or Lenaea; the Lenaem was a temple to Bacchus, erected outside the city. They took place during the month Anthesterion (February).

AMPHITHEUS And I shall run away, for I'm mortally afraid of the Acharnians.

CHORUS This way all! Let us follow our man; we will demand him of everyone we meet; the public weal makes his seizure imperative. Ho, there! tell me which way the bearer of the truce has gone; he has escaped us, he has disappeared. Curse old age! When I was young, in the days when I followed Phayllus,[1] running with a sack of coals on my back, this wretch would not have eluded my pursuit, let him be as swift as he will; but now my limbs are stiff; old Lacratides[2] feels his legs are weighty and the traitor escapes me. No, no, let us follow him; old Acharnians like ourselves shall not be set at naught by a scoundrel, who has dared, great gods! to conclude a truce, when I wanted the war continued with double fury in order to avenge my ruined lands. No mercy for our foes until I have pierced their hearts like sharp reed, so that they dare never again ravage my vineyards. Come, let us seek the rascal; let us look everywhere, carrying our stones in our hands; let us hunt him from place to place until we trap him; I could never, never tire of the delight of stoning him.

f[1] A celebrated athlete from Croton and a victor at Olympia; he was equally good as a runner and at the 'five exercises.' f[2] He had been Archon at the time of the battle of Marathon.

DICAEOPOLIS Peace! profane men![1]

f[1] A sacred formula, pronounced by the priest before offering the sacrifice.

CHORUS Silence all! Friends, do you hear the sacred formula? Here is he, whom we seek! This way, all! Get out of his way, surely he comes to offer an oblation.

DICAEOPOLIS Peace, profane men! Let the basket-bearer[1] come forward, and thou Xanthias, hold the phallus well upright.[2]

f[1] The maiden who carried the basket filled with fruits at the Dionysia in honour of Bacchus. f[2] The emblem of the fecundity of nature; it consisted of a representation, generally grotesquely exaggerated, of the male genital organs; the phallophori crowned with violets and ivy and their faces shaded with green foliage, sang improvised airs, call 'Phallics,' full of obscenity and suggestive 'double entendres.'


The Acharnians - 3/12

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