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- The Birds - 5/19 -


PISTHETAERUS Ah! that's curious. I say, Epops, you are not the only one of your kind then?

EPOPS This bird is the son of Philocles, who is the son of Epops;[1] so that, you see, I am his grandfather; just as one might say, Hipponicus,[2] the son of Callias, who is the son of Hipponicus.

f[1] Philocles, a tragic poet, had written a tragedy on Tereus, which was simply a plagiarism of the play of the same name by Sophocles. Philocles is the son of Epops, because he got his inspiration from Sophocles' Tereus, and at the same time is father to Epops, since he himself produced another Tereus. f[2] This Hipponicus is probably the orator whose ears Alcibiades boxed to gain a bet; he was a descendant of Callias, who was famous for his hatred of Pisistratus.

PISTHETAERUS Then this bird is Callias! Why, what a lot of his feathers he has lost![1]

f[1] This Callias, who must not be confounded with the foe of Pisistratus, had ruined himself.

EPOPS That's because he is honest; so the informers set upon him and the women too pluck out his feathers.

PISTHETAERUS By Posidon, do you see that many-coloured bird? What is his name?

EPOPS This one? 'Tis the glutton.

PISTHETAERUS Is there another glutton besides Cleonymus? But why, if he is Cleonymus, has he not thrown away his crest?[1] But what is the meaning of all these crests? Have these birds come to contend for the double stadium prize?[2]

f[1] Cleonymus had cast away his shield; he was as great a glutton as he was a coward. f[2] A race in which the track had to be circled twice.

EPOPS They are like the Carians, who cling to the crests of their mountains for greater safety.[1]

f[1] A people of Asia Minor; when pursued by the Ionians they took refuge in the mountains.

PISTHETAERUS Oh, Posidon! do you see what swarms of birds are gathering here?

EUELPIDES By Phoebus! what a cloud! The entrance to the stage is no longer visible, so closely do they fly together.

PISTHETAERUS Here is the partridge.

EUELPIDES Faith! there is the francolin.

PISTHETAERUS There is the poachard.

EUELPIDES Here is the kingfisher. And over yonder?

EPOPS 'Tis the barber.

EUELPIDES What? a bird a barber?

PISTHETAERUS Why, Sporgilus is one.[1] Here comes the owl.

f[1] An Athenian barber.

EUELPIDES And who is it brings an owl to Athens?[1]

f[1] The owl was dedicated to Athene, and being respected at Athens, it had greatly multiplied. Hence the proverb, 'taking owls to Athens,' similar to our English 'taking coals to Newcastle.'

PISTHETAERUS Here is the magpie, the turtle-dove, the swallow, the horned owl, the buzzard, the pigeon, the falcon, the ring-dove, the cuckoo, the red-foot, the red-cap, the purple-cap, the kestrel, the diver, the ousel, the osprey, the woodpecker.

EUELPIDES Oh! oh! what a lot of birds! what a quantity of blackbirds! how they scold, how they come rushing up! What a noise! what a noise! Can they be bearing us ill-will? Oh! there! there! they are opening their beaks and staring at us.

PISTHETAERUS Why, so they are.

CHORUS Popopopopopopopoi. Where is he who called me? Where am I to find him?

EPOPS I have been waiting for you this long while! I never fail in my word to my friends.

CHORUS Titititititititi. What good thing have you to tell me?

EPOPS Something that concerns our common safety, and that is just as pleasant as it is to the purpose. Two men, who are subtle reasoners, have come here to seek me.

CHORUS Where? What? What are you saying?

EPOPS I say, two old men have come from the abode of men to propose a vast and splendid scheme to us.

CHORUS Oh! 'tis a horrible, unheard-of crime! What are you saying?

EPOPS Nay! never let my words scare you.

CHORUS What have you done then?

EPOPS I have welcomed two men, who wish to live with us.

CHORUS And you have dared to do that!

EPOPS Aye, and am delighted at having done so.

CHORUS Where are they?

EPOPS In your midst, as I am.

CHORUS Ah! ah! we are betrayed; 'tis sacrilege! Our friend, he who picked up corn-seeds in the same plains as ourselves, has violated our ancient laws; he has broken the oaths that bind all birds; he has laid a snare for me, he has handed us over to the attacks of that impious race which, throughout all time, has never ceased to war against us. As for this traitorous bird, we will decide his case later, but the two old men shall be punished forthwith; we are going to tear them to pieces.

PISTHETAERUS 'Tis all over with us.

EUELPIDES You are the sole cause of all our trouble. Why did you bring me from down yonder?

PISTHETAERUS To have you with me.

EUELPIDES Say rather to have me melt into tears.

PISTHETAERUS Go to! you are talking nonsense.

EUELPIDES How so?

PISTHETAERUS How will you be able to cry when once your eyes are pecked out?

CHORUS Io! io! forward to the attack, throw yourselves upon the foe, spill his blood; take to your wings and surround them on all sides. Woe to them! let us get to work with our beaks, let us devour them. Nothing can save them from our wrath, neither the mountain forests, nor the clouds that float in the sky, nor the foaming deep. Come, peck, tear to ribbons. Where is the chief of the cohort? Let him engage the right wing.

EUELPIDES This is the fatal moment. Where shall I fly to, unfortunate wretch that I am?

PISTHETAERUS Stay! stop here!

EUELPIDES


The Birds - 5/19

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