The Eleven Comedies - Vol. I
by Aristophanes et al
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CHORUS. Such a man as you assures the happiness of all his fellow-citizens.

TRYGAEUS. When you are gathering your vintages you will prize me even better.

CHORUS. E'en from to-day we hail you as the deliverer of mankind.

TRYGAEUS. Wait until you have drunk a beaker of new wine, before you appraise my true merits.

CHORUS. Excepting the gods, there is none greater than yourself, and that will ever be our opinion.

TRYGAEUS. Yea, Trygaeus of Athmonia has deserved well of you, he has freed both husbandman and craftsman from the most cruel ills; he has vanquished Hyperbolus.

CHORUS. Well then, what must we do now?

TRYGAEUS. You must offer pots of green-stuff to the goddess to consecrate her altars.

CHORUS. Pots of green-stuff[354] as we do to poor Hermes—and even he thinks the fare but mean?

TRYGAEUS. What will you offer then? A fatted bull?

CHORUS. Oh, no! I don't want to start bellowing the battle-cry.[355]

TRYGAEUS. A great fat swine then?

CHORUS. No, no.

TRYGAEUS. Why not?

CHORUS. We don't want any of the swinishness of Theagenes.[356]

TRYGAEUS. What other victim do you prefer then?

CHORUS. A sheep.

TRYGAEUS. A sheep?


TRYGAEUS. But you must give the word the Ionic form.

CHORUS. Purposely. So that if anyone in the assembly says, "We must go to war," all may start bleating in alarm, "O, o."[357]

TRYGAEUS. A brilliant idea.

CHORUS. And we shall all be lambs one toward the other, yea, 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.

CHORUS. How everything succeeds to our wish, when the gods are willing and Fortune favours us! how opportunely everything falls out.

TRYGAEUS. Nothing could be truer, for look! here stands the altar all ready at my door.

CHORUS. 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.

TRYGAEUS. 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. 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. Come, seize the basket and take the lustral water and hurry to circle round the altar to the right.

SERVANT. There! 'tis done. What is your next bidding?

TRYGAEUS. Hold! I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the water.

SERVANT. Be quick! be quick! Sprinkle the altar.

TRYGAEUS. Give me some barley-seed, purify yourself and hand me the basin; then scatter the rest of the barley among the audience.

SERVANT. 'Tis done.

TRYGAEUS. You have thrown it?

SERVANT. Yes, by Hermes! and all the spectators have had their share.

TRYGAEUS. But not the women?

SERVANT. Oh! their husbands will give it them this evening.[358]

TRYGAEUS. Let us pray! Who is here? Are there any good men?[359]

SERVANT. Come, give, so that I may sprinkle these. Faith! they are indeed good, brave men.

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.[360]

TRYGAEUS. Come then, to prayers; to prayers, quick!—Oh! Peace, mighty queen, venerated goddess, thou, who presidest over choruses and at nuptials, deign to accept the sacrifices we offer thee.

SERVANT. Receive it, greatly honoured mistress, and behave not like the coquettes, 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 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.[361] 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 Copas; we shall all rush to buy them, disputing their possession with Morychus, Teleas, Glaucetes and every other glutton. Melanthius[362] will arrive on the market last of all; 'twill be, "no more eels, all sold!" and then he'll start a-groaning and exclaiming as in his monologue of Medea,[363] "I am dying, I am dying! Alas! I have let those hidden in the beet escape me!"[364] And won't we laugh? These are the wishes, mighty goddess, which we pray thee to grant.

SERVANT. Take the knife and slaughter the sheep like a finished cook.

TRYGAEUS. No, the goddess does not wish it.[365]

SERVANT. And why not?

TRYGAEUS. Blood cannot please Peace, so let us spill none upon her altar. Therefore go and sacrifice the sheep in the house, cut off the legs and bring them here; thus the carcase will be saved for the choragus.

CHORUS. 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. Undoubtedly. Will anything that it behoves a wise man 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.[366] I am now going to bring the table and thus be my own slave.

CHORUS. You have braved a thousand dangers to save your sacred town. All honour to you! your glory will be ever envied.

SERVANT. Hold! here are the legs, place them upon the altar. For myself, I mean to go back to the entrails and the cakes.

TRYGAEUS. I'll see to those; I want you here.

SERVANT. Well then, here I am. Do you think I have been long?

TRYGAEUS. Just get this roasted. Ah! 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, i' faith! 'tis Hierocles.

SERVANT. Ah! that oracle-monger from Oreus.[367] What is he going to tell us?

TRYGAEUS. Evidently he is coming to oppose the peace.

SERVANT. No, 'tis the odour of the fat that attracts him.

TRYGAEUS. Let us appear not to see him.

SERVANT. Very well.

HIEROCLES. What sacrifice is this? to what god are you offering it?

TRYGAEUS (to the servant). Silence!—(Aloud.) Look after the roasting and keep your hands off the meat.

HIEROCLES. To whom are you sacrificing? Answer me. Ah! the tail[368] is showing favourable omens.

SERVANT. Aye, very favourable, oh, loved and mighty Peace!

HIEROCLES. Come, cut off the first offering[369] and make the oblation.

TRYGAEUS. 'Tis not roasted enough.

HIEROCLES. Yea, truly, 'tis done to a turn.

TRYGAEUS. Mind your own business, friend! (To the servant.) Cut away. Where is the table? Bring the libations.

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 'tis divine Peace to whom we are sacrificing.

HIEROCLES. Oh! wretched mortals, oh, you idiots!

TRYGAEUS. Keep such ugly terms for yourself.

HIEROCLES. 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![370]

TRYGAEUS. Ha, ha, ha!

HIEROCLES. What are you laughing at?

TRYGAEUS. Ha, ha! your apes amuse me!

HIEROCLES. 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 meat!

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 time[371]....

TRYGAEUS. May the plague seize you, if you won't stop wearying us with your Bacis!

HIEROCLES. ... it would not have been written in the book of Fate that the bonds 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.

TRYGAEUS. How, you cursed animal, could the wolf ever unite with the sheep?

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 the 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 Greece.

HIEROCLES. You will never make the crab walk straight.

TRYGAEUS. You shall no longer be fed at the Prytaneum; the war done, 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.[372]

HIEROCLES. I care little for that. 'Tis not the Sibyl who spoke it.[373]

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. 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. 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 'tis 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 (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 take; 'tis common property.

TRYGAEUS (to the servant). Strike, strike this Bacis, this humbugging soothsayer.

HIEROCLES. I take to witness....

TRYGAEUS. And I also, that you are a glutton and an impostor. Hold him tight and beat the impostor with a stick.

SERVANT. You look to that; I will snatch the skin from him, which he has stolen from us.[374] Are you going to 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.[375]

CHORUS. Oh! joy, joy! no more helmet, no more cheese nor onions![376] 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; 'tis to kiss our pretty Thracian[377] while my wife is at the bath. 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, 'tis 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 'tis the same road, you will invite Charinades to come and drink with me to the honour of the gods who watch over our crops."

When the grasshopper sings its dulcet tune, I love to see the Lemnian vines beginning to ripen, for 'tis the earliest plant of all. I love likewise to watch the fig filling out, and when it has reached maturity I eat with appreciation and exclaim, "Oh! delightful season!" Then too I bruise some thyme and infuse it in water. Indeed I grow a great deal fatter passing the summer this way than in watching a cursed captain with his three plumes and his military cloak of a startling crimson (he calls it true Sardian purple), which he takes care to dye himself with Cyzicus saffron in a battle; then he is the first to run away, shaking his plumes like a great yellow prancing cock,[378] while I am left to watch the nets.[379] 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,[380] 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. 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. 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 drachmas 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; 'tis 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?

A CREST-MAKER. Alas! alas! Trygaeus, you have ruined me utterly.

TRYGAEUS. What! won't the crests go any more, friend?

CREST-MAKER. 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?

CREST-MAKER. 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 'em for dusting the table.

CREST-MAKER. All right, tell them to bring me the dried figs; 'tis always better than nothing.

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.

A BREASTPLATE-MAKER. Good gods, what am I going to do with this fine ten-minae breast-plate, which is so splendidly made?

TRYGAEUS. Oh, you will lose nothing over it.

BREASTPLATE-MAKER. I will sell it you at cost price.

TRYGAEUS. 'Twould be very useful as a night-stool....

BREASTPLATE-MAKER. Cease your insults, both to me and my wares.

TRYGAEUS. ... if propped on three stones. Look, 'tis admirable.

BREASTPLATE-MAKER. But how can you wipe, idiot?

TRYGAEUS. I can pass one hand through here, and the other there, and so....

BREASTPLATE-MAKER. What! do you wipe 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.[381]

BREASTPLATE-MAKER. So you would pay ten minae[382] for a night-stool?

TRYGAEUS. Undoubtedly, you rascal. Do you think I would sell my rump for a thousand drachmae?[383]

BREASTPLATE-MAKER. Come, have the money paid over to me.

TRYGAEUS. No, friend; I find it hurts me to sit on. Take it away, I won't buy.

A TRUMPET-MAKER. 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 cottabos.[384]

TRUMPET-MAKER. Ha! would you mock me?

TRYGAEUS. Well, here's another notion. 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.

A HELMET-MAKER. Cursed fate! I am ruined. Here are helmets, for which I gave a mina each. What am I to do with them? who will buy them?

TRYGAEUS. Go and sell them to the Egyptians; they will do for measuring loosening medicines.[385]

A SPEAR-MAKER. Ah! poor helmet-maker, things are indeed in a bad way.

TRYGAEUS. That man has no cause for complaint.

SPEAR-MAKER. 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.[386]

SPEAR-MAKER. Let us be off, comrade.

TRYGAEUS. No, I want to buy these spears.

SPEAR-MAKER. 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.

SPEAR-MAKER. The insolent dog! Let us go, friend.

TRYGAEUS. Ah! here come the guests, children from the table to relieve themselves; 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.

THE SON OF LAMACHUS. "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.

SON OF LAMACHUS. "The skirmish begins, the hollow bucklers clash against each other."[387]

TRYGAEUS. Bucklers! Leave me in peace with your bucklers.

SON OF LAMACHUS. "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 bucklers.

SON OF LAMACHUS. 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."

SON OF LAMACHUS. "'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, sing to us how they still go on eating after they are satiated.

SON OF LAMACHUS. "The meal over, they girded themselves ..."

TRYGAEUS. With good wine, no doubt?

SON OF LAMACHUS. "... with armour and rushed forth from the towers, and a terrible shout arose."

TRYGAEUS. Get you gone, you little scapegrace, you and your battles! You sing of nothing but warfare. Who is your father then?


TRYGAEUS. Why yes, your father.

SON OF LAMACHUS. 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 Boulomachus or Clausimachus;[388] 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. "An inhabitant of Sas is parading with the spotless shield which I regret to say I have thrown into a thicket."[389]

TRYGAEUS. Tell me, you little good-for-nothing, are you singing that for your father?

SON or 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. You, who remain to the feast, 'tis 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.

CHORUS. Never fear; thanks all the same for your good advice.

TRYGAEUS. You, who yesterday were dying of hunger, come, stuff yourselves with this fine hare-stew; 'tis not every day that we find cakes lying neglected. Eat, eat, or I predict you will soon regret it.

CHORUS. 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.

TRYGAEUS. Come, wife, to the fields and seek, my beauty, to brighten and enliven my nights. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

CHORUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus! oh! thrice happy man, who so well deserve your good fortune!

TRYGAEUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

CHORUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS. What shall we do to her?

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS. What shall we do to her?

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS. We will gather her kisses.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS. We will gather her kisses.

CHORUS. Come, comrades, we who are in the first row, let us pick up the bridegroom and carry him in triumph. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

TRYGAEUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

CHORUS. You shall have a fine house, no cares and the finest of figs. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

TRYGAEUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

CHORUS. The bridegroom's fig is great and thick; the bride's is very soft and tender.

TRYGAEUS. While eating and drinking deep draughts of wine, continue to repeat: Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

CHORUS. Oh! Hymen! oh! Hymenaeus!

TRYGAEUS. Farewell, farewell, my friends. All who come with me shall have cakes galore.

* * * * *


* * * * *


[262] An obscene allusion, the faeces of catamites being 'well ground' from the treatment they are in the habit of submitting to.

[263] 'Peace' was no doubt produced at the festival of the Apaturia, which was kept at the end of October, a period when strangers were numerous in Athens.

[264] The winged steed of Perseus—an allusion to a lost tragedy of Euripides, in which Bellerophon was introduced riding on Pegasus.

[265] Fearing that if it caught a whiff from earth to its liking, the beetle might descend from the highest heaven to satisfy itself.

[266] The Persians and the Spartans were not then allied as the Scholiast states, since a treaty between them was only concluded in 412 B.C., i.e. eight years after the production of 'Peace'; the great king, however, was trying to derive advantages out of the dissensions in Greece.

[267] Go to the crows, a proverbial expression equivalent to our Go to the devil.

[268] Aesop tells us that the eagle and the beetle were at war; the eagle devoured the beetle's young and the latter got into its nest and tumbled out its eggs. On this the eagle complained to Zeus, who advised it to lay its eggs in his bosom; but the beetle flew up to the abode of Zeus, who, forgetful of the eagle's eggs, at once rose to chase off the objectionable insect. The eggs fell to earth and were smashed to bits.

[269] Pegasus is introduced by Euripides both in his 'Andromeda' and his 'Bellerophon.'

[270] Boats, called 'beetles,' doubtless because in form they resembled these insects, were built at Naxos.

[271] Nature had divided the Piraeus into three basins—Cantharos, Aphrodisium and Zea; [Greek: kntharos] is Greek for a dung-beetle.

[272] In allusion to Euripides' fondness for introducing lame heroes in his plays.

[273] An allusion to the proverbial nickname applied to the Chians—[Greek: Chios apopat_on], "shitting Chian." On account of their notoriously pederastic habits, the inhabitants of this island were known throughout Greece as '_loose-arsed_' Chians, and therefore always on the point of voiding their faeces. There is a further joke, of course, in connection with the hundred and one frivolous pretexts which the Athenians invented for exacting contributions from the maritime allies.

[274] Masters of Pylos and Sphacteria, the Athenians had brought home the three hundred prisoners taken in the latter place in 425 B.C.; the Spartans had several times sent envoys to offer peace and to demand back both Pylos and the prisoners, but the Athenian pride had caused these proposals to be long refused. Finally the prisoners had been given up in 423 B.C., but the War was continued nevertheless.

[275] An important town in Eastern Laconia on the Argolic gulf, celebrated for a temple where a festival was held annually in honour of Achilles. It had been taken and pillaged by the Athenians in the second year of the Peloponnesian War, 430 B.C. As he utters this imprecation, War throws some leeks, [Greek: prasa], the root-word of the name Prasiae, into his mortar.

[276] War throws some garlic into his mortar as emblematical of the city of Megara, where it was grown in abundance.

[277] Because the smell of bruised garlic causes the eyes to water.

[278] He throws cheese into the mortar as emblematical of Sicily, on account of its rich pastures.

[279] Emblematical of Athens. The honey of Mount Hymettus was famous.

[280] Cleon, who had lately fallen before Amphipolis, in 422 B.C.

[281] An island in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Thrace and opposite the mouth of the Hebrus; the Mysteries are said to have found their first home in this island, where the Cabirian gods were worshipped; this cult, shrouded in deep mystery to even the initiates themselves, has remained an almost insoluble problem for the modern critic. It was said that the wishes of the initiates were always granted, and they were feared as to-day the jettatori (spell-throwers, casters of the evil eye) in Sicily are feared.

[282] Brasidas perished in Thrace in the same battle as Cleon at Amphipolis, 422 B.C.

[283] An Athenian general as ambitious as he was brave. In 423 B.C. he had failed in an enterprise against Heraclea, a storm having destroyed his fleet. Since then he had distinguished himself in several actions, and was destined, some years later, to share the command of the expedition to Sicily with Alcibiades and Nicias.

[284] Meaning, to start on a military expedition.

[285] Cleon.

[286] The Chorus insist on the conventional choric dance.

[287] One of the most favourite games with the Greeks. A stick was set upright in the ground and to this the beam of a balance was attached by its centre. Two vessels were hung from the extremities of the beam so as to balance; beneath these two other and larger dishes were placed and filled with water, and in the middle of each a brazen figure, called Manes, was stood. The game consisted in throwing drops of wine from an agreed distance into one or the other vessel, so that, dragged downwards by the weight of the liquor, it bumped against Manes.

[288] A general of austere habits; he disposed of all his property to pay the cost of a naval expedition, in which he beat the fleet of the foe off the promontory of Rhium in 429 B.C.

[289] The Lyceum was a portico ornamented with paintings and surrounded with gardens, in which military exercises took place.

[290] A citizen of Miletus, who betrayed his country to the people of Prien. When asked what he purposed, he replied, "Nothing bad," which expression had therefore passed into a proverb.

[291] Hermes was the god of chance.

[292] As the soldiers had to do when starting on an expedition.

[293] That is, you are pedicated.

[294] The initiated were thought to enjoy greater happiness after death.

[295] He summons Zeus to reveal Trygaeus' conspiracy.

[296] An Athenian captain, who later had the recall of Alcibiades decreed by the Athenian people; in 'The Birds' Aristophanes represents him as a cowardly braggart. He was the reactionary leader who established the Oligarchical Government of the Four Hundred, 411 B.C., after the failure of the Syracusan expedition.

[297] Among other attributes, Hermes was the god of thieves.

[298] Alluding to the eclipses of the sun and the moon.

[299] The Panathenaea were dedicated to Athen, the Mysteries to Demeter, the Dipolia to Zeus, the Adonia to Aphrodit and Adonis. Trygaeus promises Hermes that he shall be worshipped in the place of all the other gods.

[300] The pun here cannot be kept. The word [Greek: paian], Paean, resembles [Greek: paiein], to strike; hence the word, as recalling the blows and wounds of the war, seems of ill omen to Trygaeus.

[301] The device on his shield was a Gorgon's head. (See 'The Acharnians.')

[302] Both Sparta and Athens had sought the alliance of the Argives; they had kept themselves strictly neutral and had received pay from both sides. But, the year after the production of 'The Wasps,' they openly joined Athens, had attacked Epidaurus and got cut to pieces by the Spartans.

[303] These are the Spartan prisoners from Sphacteria, who were lying in gaol at Athens. They were chained fast to large beams of wood.

[304] 'Twas want of force, not want of will. They had suffered more than any other people from the war. (See 'The Acharnians.')

[305] Meaning, look chiefly to your fleet. This was the counsel that Themistocles frequently gave the Athenians.

[306] A metaphor referring to the abundant vintages that peace would assure.

[307] The goddess of fruits.

[308] Aristophanes personifies under this name the sacred ceremonies in general which peace would allow to be celebrated with due pomp. Opora and Theoria come on the stage in the wake of Peace, clothed and decked out as courtesans.

[309] Aristophanes has already shown us the husbandmen and workers in peaceful trades pulling at the rope to extricate Peace, while the armourers hindered them by pulling the other way.

[310] An allusion to Lamachus' shield.

[311] Having been commissioned to execute a statue of Athen, Phidias was accused of having stolen part of the gold given him out of the public treasury for its decoration. Rewarded for his work by calumny and banishment, he resolved to make a finer statue than his Athen, and executed one for the temple of Elis, that of the Olympian Zeus, which was considered one of the wonders of the world.

[312] He had issued a decree, which forbade the admission of any Megarian on Attic soil, and also all trade with that people. The Megarians, who obtained all their provisions from Athens, were thus almost reduced to starvation.

[313] That is, the vineyards were ravaged from the very outset of the war, and this increased the animosity.

[314] Driven in from the country parts by the Lacedaemonian invaders.

[315] The demagogues, who distributed the slender dole given to the poor, and by that means exercised undue power over them.

[316] Meaning, the side of the Spartans.

[317] Cleon.

[318] It was Hermes who conducted the souls of the dead down to the lower regions.

[319] The Spartans had thrice offered to make peace after the Pylos disaster.

[320] i.e. dominated by Cleon.

[321] There is a pun here, that cannot be rendered, between [Greek: apobolimaios], which means, one who throws away his weapons, and [Greek: upobolimaios], which signifies, a supposititious child.

[322] Simonides was very avaricious, and sold his pen to the highest bidder. It seems that Sophocles had also started writing for gain.

[323] i.e. he would recoil from no risk to turn an honest penny.

[324] A comic poet as well known for his love of wine as for his writings; he died in 431 B.C., the first year of the war, at the age of ninety-seven.

[325] Opora was the goddess of fruits.

[326] The Scholiast says fruit may be eaten with impunity in great quantities if care is taken to drink a decoction of this herb afterwards.

[327] Theoria is confided to the care of the Senate, because it was this body who named the [Greek: The_orhoi], deputies appointed to go and consult the oracles beyond the Attic borders or to be present at feasts and games.

[328] The great festivals, e.g. the Dionysia, lasted three days. Those in honour of the return of Peace, which was so much desired, could not last a shorter time.

[329] In spite of what he says, Aristophanes has not always disdained this sort of low comedy—for instance, his Heracles in 'The Birds.'

[330] A celebrated Athenian courtesan of Aristophanes' day.

[331] Cleon. These four verses are here repeated from the parabasis of 'The Wasps,' produced 423 B.C., the year before this play.

[332] Shafts aimed at certain poets, who used their renown as a means of seducing young men to grant them pederastic favours.

[333] The poet supplied everything needful for the production of his piece—vases, dresses, masks, etc.

[334] Aristophanes was bald himself, it would seem.

[335] Carcinus and his three sons were both poets and dancers. (See the closing scene of 'The Wasps.') Perhaps relying little on the literary value of their work, it seems that they sought to please the people by the magnificence of its staging.

[336] He had written a piece called 'The Mice,' which he succeeded with great difficulty in getting played, but it met with no success.

[337] This passage really follows on the invocation, "Oh, Muse! drive the War," etc., from which indeed it is only divided by the interpolated criticism aimed at Carcinus.

[338] The Scholiast informs us that these verses are borrowed from a poet of the sixth century B.C.

[339] Sons of Philocles, of the family of Aeschylus, tragic writers, derided by Aristophanes as bad poets and notorious gluttons.

[340] The Gorgons were represented with great teeth, and therefore the same name was given to gluttons. The Harpies, to whom the two voracious poets are also compared, were monsters with the face of a woman, the body of a vulture and hooked beak and claws.

[341] A tragic and dithyrambic poet, who had written many pieces, which had met with great success at Athens.

[342] The shooting stars.

[343] That is, men's tools;—we can set her to 'fellate.'

[344] It has already been mentioned that the sons of Carcinus were dancers.

[345] It was customary at weddings, says Menander, to give the bride a sesame-cake as an emblem of fruitfulness, because sesame is the most fruitful of all seeds.

[346] An Attic town on the east coast, noted for a magnificent temple, in which stood the statue of Artemis, which Orestes and Iphigenia had brought from the Tauric Chersonese and also for the Brauronia, festivals that were celebrated every four years in honour of the goddess. This was one of the festivals which the Attic people kept with the greatest pomp, and was an occasion for debauchery.

[347] Competitors intending to take part in the great Olympic, Isthmian and other games took with them a tent, wherein to camp in the open. Further, there is an obscene allusion which the actor indicates by gesture, pointing to the girl's privates, signifying there is the lodging where he would fain find a delightful abode. The 'Isthmus' is the perineum, the narrow space betwixt anus and cunnus.

[348] He was a 'cunnilingue,' as we gather also from what Aristophanes says of his infamous habits in the 'Knights.'

[349] Doubtless the vessels and other sacrificial objects and implements with which Theoria was laden in her character of presiding deity at religious ceremonies.

[350] The whole passage is full of obscene double entendres. Theoria throughout is spoken of in words applicable to either of her twofold character—as a sacred, religious feast, and as a lady of pleasure.

[351] Where the meats were cooked after sacrifice; Trygaeus points to Theoria's privates, marking the secondary obscene sense he means to convey.

[352] "Or otherwise"—that is, with the standing penis. The whole sentence contains a series of allusions to different 'modes of love.'

[353] One of the offices of the Prytanes was to introduce those who asked admission to the Senate, but it would seem that none could obtain this favour without payment. Without this, a thousand excuses would be made; for instance, it would be a public holiday, and consequently the Senate could receive no one. As there was some festival nearly every day, he whose purse would not open might have to wait a very long while.

[354] This was only offered to lesser deities.

[355] In the Greek we have a play upon the similarity of the words, [Greek: bous], a bull, and [Greek: boan], to shout the battle cry.

[356] Theagenes, of the Piraeus, a hideous, coarse, debauched and evil-living character of the day.

[357] That is the vocative of [Greek: os], [Greek: oos], the Ionic form of the word; in Attic Greek it is contracted throughout—[Greek: ois], [Greek: oios], etc.

[358] An obscene jest. The Greek word, says the Scholiast, means both barley and the male organ.

[359] Before sacrificing, the officiating person asked, "Who is here?" and those present answered, "Many good men."

[360] The actors forming the chorus are meant here.

[361] Lysimacha is derived from [Greek: luein], to put an end to, and [Greek: mach_e], fight.

[362] A tragic poet, reputed a great gourmand.

[363] A tragedy by Melanthius.

[364] Eels were cooked with beet.—A parody on some verses in the 'Medea' of Melanthius.

[365] As a matter of fact, the Sicyonians, who celebrated the festival of Peace on the sixteenth day of the month of hecatombeon (July), spilled no blood upon her altar.

[366] A celebrated diviner, who had accompanied the Athenians on their expedition to Sicily. Thus the War was necessary to make his calling pay and the smoke of the sacrifice offered to Peace must therefore be unpleasant to him.

[367] A town in Euboea on the channel which separated that island from Thessaly.

[368] When sacrificing, the tail was cut off the victim and thrown into the fire. From the way in which it burnt the inference was drawn as to whether or not the sacrifice was agreeable to the deity.

[369] This was the part that belonged to the priests and diviners. As one of the latter class, Hierocles is in haste to see this piece cut off.

[370] The Spartans.

[371] Emphatic pathos, incomprehensible even to the diviner himself; this is a satire on the obscure style of the oracles. Bacis was a famous Boeotian diviner.

[372] Of course this is not a bona fide quotation, but a whimsical adaptation of various Homeric verses; the last is a coinage of his own, and means, that he is to have no part, either in the flesh of the victim or in the wine of the libations.

[373] Probably the Sibyl of Delphi is meant.

[374] The skin of the victim, that is to say.

[375] A temple of Euboea, close to Oreus. The servant means, "Return where you came from."

[376] This was the soldier's usual ration when on duty.

[377] Slaves often bore the name of the country of their birth.

[378] Because of the new colour which fear had lent his chlamys.

[379] Meaning, that he deserts his men in mid-campaign, leaving them to look after the enemy.

[380] Ancient King of Athens. This was one of the twelve statues, on the pedestals of which the names of the soldiers chosen for departure on service were written. The decrees were also placarded on them.

[381] The trierarchs stopped up some of the holes made for the oars, in order to reduce the number of rowers they had to supply for the galleys; they thus saved the wages of the rowers they dispensed with.

[382] The mina was equivalent to about 3 10s.

[383] Which is the same thing, since a mina was worth a hundred drachmae.

[384] For cottabos see note above, p. 177. [Footnote 287. Transcriber.]

[385] Syrmaea, a kind of purgative syrup much used by the Egyptians, made of antiscorbutic herbs, such as mustard, horse-radish, etc.

[386] As wine-pots or similar vessels.

[387] These verses and those which both Trygaeus and the son of Lamachus quote afterwards are borrowed from the 'Iliad.'

[388] Boulomachus is derived from [Greek: boulesthai] and [Greek: mach_e] to wish for battle; Clausimachus from [Greek: klaein] and [Greek: mach_e], the tears that battles cost. The same root, [Greek: mach_e], battle, is also contained in the name Lamachus.

[389] A distich borrowed from Archilochus, a celebrated poet of the seventh century B.C., born at Paros, and the author of odes, satires, epigrams and elegies. He sang his own shame. 'Twas in an expedition against Sas, not the town in Egypt as the similarity in name might lead one to believe, but in Thrace, that he had cast away his buckler. "A mighty calamity truly!" he says without shame. "I shall buy another."



The 'Lysistrata,' the third and concluding play of the War and Peace series, was not produced till ten years later than its predecessor, the 'Peace,' viz. in 411 B.C. It is now the twenty-first year of the War, and there seems as little prospect of peace as ever. A desperate state of things demands a desperate remedy, and the Poet proceeds to suggest a burlesque solution of the difficulty.

The women of Athens, led by Lysistrata and supported by female delegates from the other states of Hellas, determine to take matters into their own hands and force the men to stop the War. They meet in solemn conclave, and Lysistrata expounds her scheme, the rigorous application to husbands and lovers of a self-denying ordinance—"we must refrain from the male organ altogether." Every wife and mistress is to refuse all sexual favours whatsoever, till the men have come to terms of peace. In cases where the women must yield 'par force majeure,' then it is to be with an ill grace and in such a way as to afford the minimum of gratification to their partner; they are to lie passive and take no more part in the amorous game than they are absolutely obliged to. By these means Lysistrata assures them they will very soon gain their end. "If we sit indoors prettily dressed out in our best transparent silks and prettiest gewgaws, and with our 'mottes' all nicely depilated, their tools will stand up so stiff that they will be able to deny us nothing." Such is the burden of her advice.

After no little demur, this plan of campaign is adopted, and the assembled women take a solemn oath to observe the compact faithfully. Meantime as a precautionary measure they seize the Acropolis, where the State treasure is kept; the old men of the city assault the doors, but are repulsed by "the terrible regiment" of women. Before long the device of the bold Lysistrata proves entirely effective, Peace is concluded, and the play ends with the hilarious festivities of the Athenian and Spartan plenipotentiaries in celebration of the event.

This drama has a double Chorus—of women and of old men, and much excellent fooling is got out of the fight for possession of the citadel between the two hostile bands; while the broad jokes and decidedly suggestive situations arising out of the general idea of the plot outlined above may be "better imagined than described."

* * * * *




SCENE: In a public square at Athens; afterwards before the gates of the Acropolis, and finally within the precincts of the citadel.

* * * * *


LYSISTRATA (alone). Ah! if only they had been invited to a Bacchic revelling, or a feast of Pan or Aphrodit or Genetyllis,[390] why! the streets would have been impassable for the thronging tambourines! Now there's never a woman here-ah! except my neighbour Calonic, whom I see approaching yonder.... Good day, Calonic.

CALONIC. Good day, Lysistrata; but pray, why this dark, forbidding face, my dear? Believe me, you don't look a bit pretty with those black lowering brows.

LYSISTRATA. Oh! Calonic, my heart is on fire; I blush for our sex. Men will have it we are tricky and sly....

CALONIC. And they are quite right, upon my word!

LYSISTRATA. Yet, look you, when the women are summoned to meet for a matter of the last importance, they lie abed instead of coming.

CALONIC. Oh! they will come, my dear; but 'tis not easy, you know, for women to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband; another is getting the servant up; a third is putting her child asleep, or washing the brat or feeding it.

LYSISTRATA. But I tell you, the business that calls them here is far and away more urgent.

CALONIC. And why do you summon us, dear Lysistrata? What is it all about?

LYSISTRATA. About a big affair.[391]

CALONIC. And is it thick too?

LYSISTRATA. Yes indeed, both big and great.

CALONIC. And we are not all on the spot!

LYSISTRATA. Oh! if it were what you suppose, there would be never an absentee. No, no, it concerns a thing I have turned about and about this way and that of many sleepless nights.

CALONIC. It must be something mighty fine and subtle for you to have turned it about so!

LYSISTRATA. So fine, it means just this, Greece saved by the women!

CALONIC. By women! Why, its salvation hangs on a poor thread then!

LYSISTRATA. Our country's fortunes depend on us—it is with us to undo utterly the Peloponnesians....

CALONIC. That would be a noble deed truly!

LYSISTRATA. To exterminate the Boeotians to a man!

CALONIC. But surely you would spare the eels.[392]

LYSISTRATA. For Athens' sake I will never threaten so fell a doom; trust me for that. However, if the Boeotian and Peloponnesian women join us, Greece is saved.

CALONIC. But how should women perform so wise and glorious an achievement, we women who dwell in the retirement of the household, clad in diaphanous garments of yellow silk and long flowing gowns, decked out with flowers and shod with dainty little slippers?

LYSISTRATA. Nay, but those are the very sheet-anchors of our salvation—those yellow tunics, those scents and slippers, those cosmetics and transparent robes.

CALONIC. How so, pray?

LYSISTRATA. There is not a man will wield a lance against another ...

CALONIC. Quick, I will get me a yellow tunic from the dyer's.

LYSISTRATA. ... or want a shield.

CALONIC. I'll run and put on a flowing gown.

LYSISTRATA. ... or draw a sword.

CALONIC. I'll haste and buy a pair of slippers this instant.

LYSISTRATA. Now tell me, would not the women have done best to come?

CALONIC. Why, they should have flown here!

LYSISTRATA. Ah! my dear, you'll see that like true Athenians, they will do everything too late[393].... Why, there's not a woman come from the shoreward parts, not one from Salamis.[394]

CALONIC. But I know for certain they embarked at daybreak.

LYSISTRATA. And the dames from Acharnae![395] why, I thought they would have been the very first to arrive.

CALONIC. Theagenes wife[396] at any rate is sure to come; she has actually been to consult Hecat.... But look! here are some arrivals—and there are more behind. Ah! ha! now what countrywomen may they be?

LYSISTRATA. They are from Anagyra.[397]

CALONIC. Yes! upon my word, 'tis a levy en masse of all the female population of Anagyra!

MYRRHIN. Are we late, Lysistrata? Tell us, pray; what, not a word?

LYSISTRATA. I cannot say much for you, Myrrhin! you have not bestirred yourself overmuch for an affair of such urgency.

MYRRHIN I could not find my girdle in the dark. However, if the matter is so pressing, here we are; so speak.

LYSISTRATA. No, but let us wait a moment more, till the women of Boeotia arrive and those from the Peloponnese.

MYRRHIN Yes, that is best.... Ah! here comes Lampito.

LYSISTRATA. Good day, Lampito, dear friend from Lacedaemon. How well and handsome you look! what a rosy complexion! and how strong you seem; why, you could strangle a bull surely!

LAMPITO. Yes, indeed, I really think I could. 'Tis because I do gymnastics and practise the kick dance.[398]

LYSISTRATA. And what superb bosoms!

LAMPITO. La! you are feeling me as if I were a beast for sacrifice.

LYSISTRATA. And this young woman, what countrywoman is she?

LAMPITO. She is a noble lady from Boeotia.

LYSISTRATA. Ah! my pretty Boeotian friend, you are as blooming as a garden.

CALONIC. Yes, on my word! and the garden is so prettily weeded too![399]

LYSISTRATA. And who is this?

LAMPITO. 'Tis an honest woman, by my faith! she comes from Corinth.

LYSISTRATA. Oh! honest, no doubt then—as honesty goes at Corinth.[400]

LAMPITO. But who has called together this council of women, pray?


LAMPITO. Well then, tell us what you want of us.

LYSISTRATA. With pleasure, my dear.

MYRRHIN. What is the most important business you wish to inform us about?

LYSISTRATA. I will tell you. But first answer me one question.

MYRRHIN. What is that?

LYSISTRATA. Don't you feel sad and sorry because the fathers of your children are far away from you with the army? For I'll undertake, there is not one of you whose husband is not abroad at this moment.

CALONIC. Mine has been the last five months in Thrace—looking after Eucrates.[401]

LYSISTRATA. 'Tis seven long months since mine left me for Pylos.[402]

LAMPITO. As for mine, if he ever does return from service, he's no sooner back than he takes down his shield again and flies back to the wars.

LYSISTRATA. And not so much as the shadow of a lover! Since the day the Milesians betrayed us, I have never once seen an eight-inch-long godemiche even, to be a leathern consolation to us poor widows.... Now tell me, if I have discovered a means of ending the war, will you all second me?

MYRRHIN. Yes verily, by all the goddesses, I swear I will, though I have to put my gown in pawn, and drink the money the same day.[403]

CALONIC. And so will I, though I must be split in two like a flat-fish, and have half myself removed.

LAMPITO. And I too; why, to secure Peace, I would climb to the top of Mount Taygetus.[404]

LYSISTRATA. Then I will out with it at last, my mighty secret! Oh! sister women, if we would compel our husbands to make peace, we must refrain....

MYRRHIN. Refrain from what? tell us, tell us!

LYSISTRATA. But will you do it?

MYRRHIN. We will, we will, though we should die of it.

LYSISTRATA. We must refrain from the male organ altogether.... Nay, why do you turn your backs on me? Where are you going? So, you bite your lips, and shake your heads, eh? Why these pale, sad looks? why these tears? Come, will you do it—yes or no? Do you hesitate?

MYRRHIN. No, I will not do it; let the War go on.

LYSISTRATA. And you, my pretty flat-fish, who declared just now they might split you in two?

CALONIC. Anything, anything but that! Bid me go through the fire, if you will; but to rob us of the sweetest thing in all the world, my dear, dear Lysistrata!


MYRRHIN. Yes, I agree with the others; I too would sooner go through the fire.

LYSISTRATA. Oh, wanton, vicious sex! the poets have done well to make tragedies upon us; we are good for nothing then but love and lewdness![405] But you, my dear, you from hardy Sparta, if you join me, all may yet be well; help me, second me, I conjure you.

LAMPITO. 'Tis a hard thing, by the two goddesses[406] it is! for a woman to sleep alone without ever a standing weapon in her bed. But there, Peace must come first.

LYSISTRATA. Oh, my dear, my dearest, best friend, you are the only one deserving the name of woman!

CALONIC. But if—which the gods forbid—we do refrain altogether from what you say, should we get peace any sooner?

LYSISTRATA. Of course we should, by the goddesses twain! We need only sit indoors with painted cheeks, and meet our mates lightly clad in transparent gowns of Amorgos[407] silk, and with our "mottes" nicely plucked smooth; then their tools will stand like mad and they will be wild to lie with us. That will be the time to refuse, and they will hasten to make peace, I am convinced of that!

LAMPITO. Yes, just as Menelaus, when he saw Helen's naked bosom, threw away his sword, they say.

CALONIC. But, poor devils, suppose our husbands go away and leave us.

LYSISTRATA. Then, as Pherecrates says, we must "flay a skinned dog,"[408] that's all.

CALONIC. Bah! these proverbs are all idle talk.... But if our husbands drag us by main force into the bedchamber?

LYSISTRATA. Hold on to the door posts.

CALONIC. But if they beat us?

LYSISTRATA. Then yield to their wishes, but with a bad grace; there is no pleasure for them, when they do it by force. Besides, there are a thousand ways of tormenting them. Never fear, they'll soon tire of the game; there's no satisfaction for a man, unless the woman shares it.

CALONIC. Very well, if you will have it so, we agree.

LAMPITO. For ourselves, no doubt we shall persuade our husbands to conclude a fair and honest peace; but there is the Athenian populace, how are we to cure these folk of their warlike frenzy?

LYSISTRATA. Have no fear; we undertake to make our own people hear reason.

LAMPITO. Nay, impossible, so long as they have their trusty ships and the vast treasures stored in the temple of Athen.

LYSISTRATA. Ah! but we have seen to that; this very day the Acropolis will be in our hands. That is the task assigned to the older women; while we are here in council, they are going, under pretence of offering sacrifice, to seize the citadel.

LAMPITO. Well said indeed! so everything is going for the best.

LYSISTRATA. Come, quick, Lampito, and let us bind ourselves by an inviolable oath.

LAMPITO. Recite the terms; we will swear to them.

LYSISTRATA. With pleasure. Where is our Usheress?[409] Now, what are you staring at, pray? Lay this shield on the earth before us, its hollow upwards, and someone bring me the victim's inwards.

CALONIC. Lysistrata, say, what oath are we to swear?

LYSISTRATA. What oath? Why, in Aeschylus, they sacrifice a sheep, and swear over a buckler;[410] we will do the same.

CALONIC. No, Lysistrata, one cannot swear peace over a buckler, surely.

LYSISTRATA. What other oath do you prefer?

CALONIC. Let's take a white horse, and sacrifice it, and swear on its entrails.

LYSISTRATA. But where get a white horse from?

CALONIC. Well, what oath shall we take then?

LYSISTRATA. Listen to me. Let's set a great black bowl on the ground; let's sacrifice a skin of Thasian[411] wine into it, and take oath not to add one single drop of water.

LAMPITO. Ah! that's an oath pleases me more than I can say.

LYSISTRATA. Let them bring me a bowl and a skin of wine.

CALONIC. Ah! my dears, what a noble big bowl! what a delight 'twill be to empty it!

LYSISTRATA. Set the bowl down on the ground, and lay your hands on the victim.... Almighty goddess, Persuasion, and thou, bowl, boon comrade of joy and merriment, receive this our sacrifice, and be propitious to us poor women!

CALONIC. Oh! the fine red blood! how well it flows!

LAMPITO. And what a delicious savour, by the goddesses twain!

LYSISTRATA. Now, my dears, let me swear first, if you please.

CALONIC. No, by the goddess of love, let us decide that by lot.

LYSISTRATA. Come then, Lampito, and all of you, put your hands to the bowl; and do you, Calonic, repeat in the name of all the solemn terms I am going to recite. Then you must all swear, and pledge yourselves by the same promises.—"I will have naught to do whether with lover or husband...."

CALONIC. I will have naught to do whether with lover or husband....

LYSISTRATA. Albeit he come to me with stiff and standing tool....

CALONIC. Albeit he come to me with stiff and standing tool.... Oh! Lysistrata, I cannot bear it!

LYSISTRATA. I will live at home in perfect chastity....

CALONIC. I will live at home in perfect chastity....

LYSISTRATA. Beautifully dressed and wearing a saffron-coloured gown....

CALONIC. Beautifully dressed and wearing a saffron-coloured gown....

LYSISTRATA. To the end I may inspire my husband with the most ardent longings.

CALONIC. To the end I may inspire my husband with the most ardent longings.

LYSISTRATA. Never will I give myself voluntarily....

CALONIC. Never will I give myself voluntarily....

LYSISTRATA. And if he has me by force....

CALONIC. And if he has me by force....

LYSISTRATA. I will be cold as ice, and never stir a limb....

CALONIC. I will be cold as ice, and never stir a limb....

LYSISTRATA. I will not lift my legs in air....

CALONIC. I will not lift my legs in air....

LYSISTRATA. Nor will I crouch with bottom upraised, like carven lions on a knife-handle.

CALONIC. Nor will I crouch with bottom upraised, like carven lions on a knife-handle.

LYSISTRATA. An if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this wine.

CALONIC. An if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this wine.

LYSISTRATA. But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water.

CALONIC. But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water.

LYSISTRATA. Will ye all take this oath?

MYRRHIN. Yes, yes!

LYSISTRATA. Then lo! I immolate the victim. (She drinks.)

CALONIC. Enough, enough, my dear; now let us all drink in turn to cement our friendship.

LAMPITO. Hark! what do those cries mean?

LYSISTRATA. 'Tis what I was telling you; the women have just occupied the Acropolis. So now, Lampito, do you return to Sparta to organize the plot, while your comrades here remain as hostages. For ourselves, let us away to join the rest in the citadel, and let us push the bolts well home.

CALONIC. But don't you think the men will march up against us?

LYSISTRATA. I laugh at them. Neither threats nor flames shall force our doors; they shall open only on the conditions I have named.

CALONIC. Yes, yes, by the goddess of love! let us keep up our old-time repute for obstinacy and spite.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN.[412] Go easy, Draces, go easy; why, your shoulder is all chafed by these plaguey heavy olive stocks. But forward still, forward, man, as needs must. What unlooked-for things do happen, to be sure, in a long life! Ah! Strymodorus, who would ever have thought it? Here we have the women, who used, for our misfortune, to eat our bread and live in our houses, daring nowadays to lay hands on the holy image of the goddess, to seize the Acropolis and draw bars and bolts to keep any from entering! Come, Philurgus man, let's hurry thither; let's lay our faggots all about the citadel, and on the blazing pile burn with our hands these vile conspiratresses, one and all—and Lycon's wife, Lysistrata, first and foremost! Nay, by Demeter, never will I let 'em laugh at me, whiles I have a breath left in my body. Cleomenes himself,[413] the first who ever seized our citadel, had to quit it to his sore dishonour; spite his Lacedaemonian pride, he had to deliver me up his arms and slink off with a single garment to his back. My word! but he was filthy and ragged! and what an unkempt beard, to be sure! He had not had a bath for six long years! Oh! but that was a mighty siege! Our men were ranged seventeen deep before the gate, and never left their posts, even to sleep. These women, these enemies of Euripides and all the gods, shall I do nothing to hinder their inordinate insolence? else let them tear down my trophies of Marathon. But look ye, to finish our toilsome climb, we have only this last steep bit left to mount. Verily 'tis no easy job without beasts of burden, and how these logs do bruise my shoulder! Still let us on, and blow up our fire and see it does not go out just as we reach our destination. Phew! phew! (blows the fire). Oh! dear! what a dreadful smoke! it bites my eyes like a mad dog. It is Lemnos[414] fire for sure, or it would never devour my eyelids like this. Come on, Laches, let's hurry, let's bring succour to the goddess; it's now or never! Phew! phew! (blows the fire). Oh! dear! what a confounded smoke!—There now, there's our fire all bright and burning, thank the gods! Now, why not first put down our loads here, then take a vine-branch, light it at the brazier and hurl it at the gate by way of battering-ram? If they don't answer our summons by pulling back the bolts, then we set fire to the woodwork, and the smoke will choke 'em. Ye gods! what a smoke! Pfaugh! Is there never a Samos general will help me unload my burden?[415]—Ah! it shall not gall my shoulder any more. (Tosses down his wood.) Come, brazier, do your duty, make the embers flare, that I may kindle a brand; I want to be the first to hurl one. Aid me, heavenly Victory; let us punish for their insolent audacity the women who have seized our citadel, and may we raise a trophy of triumph for success!

CHORUS OF WOMEN.[416] Oh! my dears, methinks I see fire and smoke; can it be a conflagration? Let us hurry all we can. Fly, fly, Nicodic, ere Calyc and Crityll perish in the fire, or are stifled in the smoke raised by these accursed old men and their pitiless laws. But, great gods, can it be I come too late? Rising at dawn, I had the utmost trouble to fill this vessel at the fountain. Oh! what a crowd there was, and what a din! What a rattling of water-pots! Servants and slave-girls pushed and thronged me! However, here I have it full at last; and I am running to carry the water to my fellow townswomen, whom our foes are plotting to burn alive. News has been brought us that a company of old, doddering greybeards, loaded with enormous faggots, as if they wanted to heat a furnace, have taken the field, vomiting dreadful threats, crying that they must reduce to ashes these horrible women. Suffer them not, oh! goddess, but, of thy grace, may I see Athens and Greece cured of their warlike folly. 'Tis to this end, oh! thou guardian deity of our city, goddess of the golden crest, that they have seized thy sanctuary. Be their friend and ally, Athen, and if any man hurl against them lighted firebrands, aid us to carry water to extinguish them.

STRATYLLIS. Let me be, I say. Oh! oh! (She calls for help.)

CHORUS OF WOMEN. What is this I see, ye wretched old men? Honest and pious folk ye cannot be who act so vilely.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ah, ha! here's something new! a swarm of women stand posted outside to defend the gates!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Ah! ah! we frighten you, do we; we seem a mighty host, yet you do not see the ten-thousandth part of our sex.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ho, Phaedrias! shall we stop their cackle? Suppose one of us were to break a stick across their backs, eh?

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Let us set down our water-pots on the ground, to be out of the way, if they should dare to offer us violence.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Let someone knock out two or three teeth for them, as they did to Bupalus;[417] they won't talk so loud then.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Come on then; I wait you with unflinching foot, and I will snap off your testicles like a bitch.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Silence! ere my stick has cut short your days.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Now, just you dare to touch Stratyllis with the tip of your finger!

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. And if I batter you to pieces with my fists, what will you do?

CHORUS OF WOMEN. I will tear out your lungs and entrails with my teeth.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Oh! what a clever poet is Euripides! how well he says that woman is the most shameless of animals.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Let's pick up our water-jars again, Rhodipp.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ah! accursed harlot, what do you mean to do here with your water?

CHORUS OF WOMEN. And you, old death-in-life, with your fire? Is it to cremate yourself?

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I am going to build you a pyre to roast your female friends upon.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. And I,—I am going to put out your fire.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. You put out my fire—you!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Yes, you shall soon see.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I don't know what prevents me from roasting you with this torch.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. I am getting you a bath ready to clean off the filth.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. A bath for me, you dirty slut, you!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Yes, indeed, a nuptial bath—he, he!

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Do you hear that? What insolence!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. I am a free woman, I tell you.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I will make you hold your tongue, never fear!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Ah, ha! you shall never sit more amongst the heliasts.[418]

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Burn off her hair for her!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Water, do your office! (The women pitch the water in their water-pots over the old men.)

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Was it hot?

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Hot, great gods! Enough, enough!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. I'm watering you, to make you bloom afresh.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Alas! I am too dry! Ah, me! how I am trembling with cold!

MAGISTRATE. These women, have they made din enough, I wonder, with their tambourines? bewept Adonis enough upon their terraces?[419] I was listening to the speeches last assembly day,[420] and Demostratus,[421] whom heaven confound! was saying we must all go over to Sicily—and lo! his wife was dancing round repeating: Alas! alas! Adonis, woe is me for Adonis!

Demostratus was saying we must levy hoplites at Zacynthus[422]—and lo! his wife, more than half drunk, was screaming on the house-roof: "Weep, weep for Adonis!"—while that infamous Mad Ox[423] was bellowing away on his side.—Do ye not blush, ye women, for your wild and uproarious doings?

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. But you don't know all their effrontery yet! They abused and insulted us; then soused us with the water in their water-pots, and have set us wringing out our clothes, for all the world as if we had bepissed ourselves.

MAGISTRATE. And 'tis well done too, by Poseidon! We men must share the blame of their ill conduct; it is we who teach them to love riot and dissoluteness and sow the seeds of wickedness in their hearts. You see a husband go into a shop: "Look you, jeweller," says he, "you remember the necklace you made for my wife. Well, t'other evening, when she was dancing, the catch came open. Now, I am bound to start for Salamis; will you make it convenient to go up to-night to make her fastening secure?" Another will go to a cobbler, a great, strong fellow, with a great, long tool, and tell him: "The strap of one of my wife's sandals presses her little toe, which is extremely sensitive; come in about midday to supple the thing and stretch it." Now see the results. Take my own case—as a Magistrate I have enlisted rowers; I want money to pay 'em, and lo! the women clap to the door in my face.[424] But why do we stand here with arms crossed? Bring me a crowbar; I'll chastise their insolence!—Ho! there, my fine fellow! (addressing one of his attendant officers) what are you gaping at the crows about? looking for a tavern, I suppose, eh? Come, crowbars here, and force open the gates. I will put a hand to the work myself.

LYSISTRATA. No need to force the gates; I am coming out—here I am. And why bolts and bars? What we want here is not bolts and bars and locks, but common sense.

MAGISTRATE. Really, my fine lady! Where is my officer? I want him to tie that woman's hands behind her back.

LYSISTRATA. By Artemis, the virgin goddess! if he touches me with the tip of his finger, officer of the public peace though he be, let him look out for himself!

MAGISTRATE (to the officer). How now, are you afraid? Seize her, I tell you, round the body. Two of you at her, and have done with it!

FIRST WOMAN. By Pandrosos! if you lay a hand on her, I'll trample you underfoot till you shit your guts!

MAGISTRATE. Oh, there! my guts! Where is my other officer? Bind that minx first, who speaks so prettily!

SECOND WOMAN. By Phoeb, if you touch her with one finger, you'd better call quick for a surgeon!

MAGISTRATE. What do you mean? Officer, where are you got to? Lay hold of her. Oh! but I'm going to stop your foolishness for you all!

THIRD WOMAN. By the Tauric Artemis, if you go near her, I'll pull out your hair, scream as you like.

MAGISTRATE. Ah! miserable man that I am! My own officers desert me. What ho! are we to let ourselves be bested by a mob of women? Ho! Scythians mine, close up your ranks, and forward!

LYSISTRATA. By the holy goddesses! you'll have to make acquaintance with four companies of women, ready for the fray and well armed to boot.

MAGISTRATE. Forward, Scythians, and bind them!

LYSISTRATA. Forward, my gallant companions; march forth, ye vendors of grain and eggs, garlic and vegetables, keepers of taverns and bakeries, wrench and strike and tear; come, a torrent of invective and insult! (They beat the officers.) Enough, enough! now retire, never rob the vanquished!

MAGISTRATE. Here's a fine exploit for my officers!

LYSISTRATA. Ah, ha! so you thought you had only to do with a set of slave-women! you did not know the ardour that fills the bosom of free-born dames.

MAGISTRATE. Ardour! yes, by Apollo, ardour enough—especially for the wine-cup!

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Sir, sir! what use of words? they are of no avail with wild beasts of this sort. Don't you know how they have just washed us down—and with no very fragrant soap!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. What would you have? You should never have laid rash hands on us. If you start afresh, I'll knock your eyes out. My delight is to stay at home as coy as a young maid, without hurting anybody or moving any more than a milestone; but 'ware the wasps, if you go stirring up the wasps' nest!

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Ah! great gods! how get the better of these ferocious creatures? 'tis past all bearing! But come, let us try to find out the reason of the dreadful scourge. With what end in view have they seized the citadel of Cranaus,[425] the sacred shrine that is raised upon the inaccessible rock of the Acropolis? Question them; be cautious and not too credulous. 'Twould be culpable negligence not to pierce the mystery, if we may.

MAGISTRATE (addressing the women). I would ask you first why ye have barred our gates.

LYSISTRATA. To seize the treasury; no more money, no more war.

MAGISTRATE. Then money is the cause of the War?

LYSISTRATA. And of all our troubles. 'Twas to find occasion to steal that Pisander[426] and all the other agitators were for ever raising revolutions. Well and good! but they'll never get another drachma here.

MAGISTRATE. What do you propose to do then, pray?

LYSISTRATA. You ask me that! Why, we propose to administer the treasury ourselves.


LYSISTRATA. What is there in that to surprise you? Do we not administer the budget of household expenses?

MAGISTRATE. But that is not the same thing.

LYSISTRATA How so—not the same thing?

MAGISTRATE. It is the treasury supplies the expenses of the War.

LYSISTRATA. That's our first principle—no War!

MAGISTRATE. What! and the safety of the city?

LYSISTRATA. We will provide for that.


LYSISTRATA Yes, just we.

MAGISTRATE. What a sorry business!

LYSISTRATA. Yes, we're going to save you, whether you will or no.

MAGISTRATE. Oh! the impudence of the creatures!

LYSISTRATA. You seem annoyed! but there, you've got to come to it.

MAGISTRATE. But 'tis the very height of iniquity!

LYSISTRATA. We're going to save you, my man.

MAGISTRATE. But if I don't want to be saved?

LYSISTRATA. Why, all the more reason!

MAGISTRATE. But what a notion, to concern yourselves with questions of Peace and War!

LYSISTRATA. We will explain our idea.

MAGISTRATE. Out with it then; quick, or ... (threatening her).

LYSISTRATA. Listen, and never a movement, please!

MAGISTRATE. Oh! it is too much for me! I cannot keep my temper!

A WOMAN. Then look out for yourself; you have more to fear than we have.

MAGISTRATE. Stop your croaking, old crow, you! (To Lysistrata.) Now you, say your say.

LYSISTRATA. Willingly. All the long time the War has lasted, we have endured in modest silence all you men did; we never allowed ourselves to open our lips. We were far from satisfied, for we knew how things were going; often in our homes we would hear you discussing, upside down and inside out, some important turn of affairs. Then with sad hearts, but smiling lips, we would ask you: Well, in to-day's Assembly did they vote Peace?—But, "Mind your own business!" the husband would growl, "Hold your tongue, do!" And I would say no more.

A WOMAN. I would not have held my tongue though, not I!

MAGISTRATE. You would have been reduced to silence by blows then.

LYSISTRATA. Well, for my part, I would say no more. But presently I would come to know you had arrived at some fresh decision more fatally foolish than ever. "Ah! my dear man," I would say, "what madness next!" But he would only look at me askance and say: "Just weave your web, do; else your cheeks will smart for hours. War is men's business!"

MAGISTRATE. Bravo! well said indeed!

LYSISTRATA. How now, wretched man? not to let us contend against your follies, was bad enough! But presently we heard you asking out loud in the open street: "Is there never a man left in Athens?" and, "No, not one, not one," you were assured in reply. Then, then we made up our minds without more delay to make common cause to save Greece. Open your ears to our wise counsels and hold your tongues, and we may yet put things on a better footing.

MAGISTRATE. You put things indeed! Oh! 'tis too much! The insolence of the creatures! Silence, I say.

LYSISTRATA. Silence yourself!

MAGISTRATE. May I die a thousand deaths ere I obey one who wears a veil!

LYSISTRATA. If that's all that troubles you, here, take my veil, wrap it round your head, and hold your tongue. Then take this basket; put on a girdle, card wool, munch beans. The War shall be women's business.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Lay aside your water-pots, we will guard them, we will help our friends and companions. For myself, I will never weary of the dance; my knees will never grow stiff with fatigue. I will brave everything with my dear allies, on whom Nature has lavished virtue, grace, boldness, cleverness, and whose wisely directed energy is going to save the State. Oh! my good, gallant Lysistrata, and all my friends, be ever like a bundle of nettles; never let your anger slacken; the winds of fortune blow our way.

LYSISTRATA. May gentle Love and the sweet Cyprian Queen shower seductive charms on our bosoms and all our person. If only we may stir so amorous a lust among the men that their tools stand stiff as sticks, we shall indeed deserve the name of peace-makers among the Greeks.

MAGISTRATE. How will that be, pray?

LYSISTRATA. To begin with, we shall not see you any more running like mad fellows to the Market holding lance in fist.

A WOMAN. That will be something gained, anyway, by the Paphian goddess, it will!

LYSISTRATA. Now we see 'em, mixed up with saucepans and kitchen stuff, armed to the teeth, looking like wild Corybantes![427]

MAGISTRATE. Why, of course; that's how brave men should do.

LYSISTRATA. Oh! but what a funny sight, to behold a man wearing a Gorgon's-head buckler coming along to buy fish!

A WOMAN. 'Tother day in the Market I saw a phylarch[428] with flowing ringlets; he was a-horseback, and was pouring into his helmet the broth he had just bought at an old dame's stall. There was a Thracian warrior too, who was brandishing his lance like Tereus in the play;[429] he had scared a good woman selling figs into a perfect panic, and was gobbling up all her ripest fruit.

MAGISTRATE. And how, pray, would you propose to restore peace and order in all the countries of Greece?

LYSISTRATA. 'Tis the easiest thing in the world!

MAGISTRATE. Come, tell us how; I am curious to know.

LYSISTRATA. When we are winding thread, and it is tangled, we pass the spool across and through the skein, now this way, now that way; even so, to finish off the War, we shall send embassies hither and thither and everywhere, to disentangle matters.

MAGISTRATE. And 'tis with your yarn, and your skeins, and your spools, you think to appease so many bitter enmities, you silly women?

LYSISTRATA. If only you had common sense, you would always do in politics the same as we do with our yarn.

MAGISTRATE. Come, how is that, eh?

LYSISTRATA. First we wash the yarn to separate the grease and filth; do the same with all bad citizens, sort them out and drive them forth with rods—'tis the refuse of the city. Then for all such as come crowding up in search of employments and offices, we must card them thoroughly; then, to bring them all to the same standard, pitch them pell-mell into the same basket, resident aliens or no, allies, debtors to the State, all mixed up together. Then as for our Colonies, you must think of them as so many isolated hanks; find the ends of the separate threads, draw them to a centre here, wind them into one, make one great hank of the lot, out of which the Public can weave itself a good, stout tunic.

MAGISTRATE. Is it not a sin and a shame to see them carding and winding the State, these women who have neither art nor part in the burdens of the War?

LYSISTRATA. What! wretched man! why, 'tis a far heavier burden to us than to you. In the first place, we bear sons who go off to fight far away from Athens.

MAGISTRATE. Enough said! do not recall sad and sorry memories![430]

LYSISTRATA. Then secondly, instead of enjoying the pleasures of love and making the best of our youth and beauty, we are left to languish far from our husbands, who are all with the army. But say no more of ourselves; what afflicts me is to see our girls growing old in lonely grief.

MAGISTRATE. Don't the men grow old too?

LYSISTRATA. That is not the same thing. When the soldier returns from the wars, even though he has white hair, he very soon finds a young wife. But a woman has only one summer; if she does not make hay while the sun shines, no one will afterwards have anything to say to her, and she spends her days consulting oracles, that never send her a husband.

MAGISTRATE. But the old man who can still erect his organ ...

LYSISTRATA. But you, why don't you get done with it and die? You are rich; go buy yourself a bier, and I will knead you a honey-cake for Cerberus. Here, take this garland. (Drenching him with water.)

FIRST WOMAN. And this one too. (Drenching him with water.)

SECOND WOMAN. And these fillets. (Drenching him with water.)

LYSISTRATA. What do you lack more? Step aboard the boat; Charon is waiting for you, you're keeping him from pushing off.

MAGISTRATE. To treat me so scurvily! What an insult! I will go show myself to my fellow-magistrates just as I am.

LYSISTRATA. What! are you blaming us for not having exposed you according to custom?[431] Nay, console yourself; we will not fail to offer up the third-day sacrifice for you, first thing in the morning.[432]

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Awake, friends of freedom; let us hold ourselves aye ready to act. I suspect a mighty peril; I foresee another Tyranny like Hippias'.[433] I am sore afraid the Laconians assembled here with Cleisthenes have, by a stratagem of war, stirred up these women, enemies of the gods, to seize upon our treasury and the funds whereby I lived.[434] Is it not a sin and a shame for them to interfere in advising the citizens, to prate of shields and lances, and to ally themselves with Laconians, fellows I trust no more than I would so many famished wolves? The whole thing, my friends, is nothing else but an attempt to re-establish Tyranny. But I will never submit; I will be on my guard for the future; I will always carry a blade hidden under myrtle boughs; I will post myself in the Public Square under arms, shoulder to shoulder with Aristogiton;[435] and now, to make a start, I must just break a few of that cursed old jade's teeth yonder.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Nay, never play the brave man, else when you go back home, your own mother won't know you. But, dear friends and allies, first let us lay our burdens down; then, citizens all, hear what I have to say. I have useful counsel to give our city, which deserves it well at my hands for the brilliant distinctions it has lavished on my girlhood. At seven years of age, I was bearer of the sacred vessels; at ten, I pounded barley for the altar of Athen; next, clad in a robe of yellow silk, I was little bear to Artemis at the Brauronia;[436] presently, grown a tall, handsome maiden, they put a necklace of dried figs about my neck, and I was Basket-Bearer.[437] So surely I am bound to give my best advice to Athens. What matters that I was born a woman, if I can cure your misfortunes? I pay my share of tolls and taxes, by giving men to the State. But you, you miserable greybeards, you contribute nothing to the public charges; on the contrary, you have wasted the treasure of our forefathers, as it was called, the treasure amassed in the days of the Persian Wars.[438] You pay nothing at all in return; and into the bargain you endanger our lives and liberties by your mistakes. Have you one word to say for yourselves? ... Ah! don't irritate me, you there, or I'll lay my slipper across your jaws; and it's pretty heavy.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. Outrage upon outrage! things are going from bad to worse. Let us punish the minxes, every one of us that has a man's appendages to boast of. Come, off with our tunics, for a man must savour of manhood; come, my friends, let us strip naked from head to foot. Courage, I say, we who in our day garrisoned Lipsydrion;[439] let us be young again, and shake off eld. If we give them the least hold over us, 'tis all up! their audacity will know no bounds! We shall see them building ships, and fighting sea-fights, like Artemisia;[440] nay, if they want to mount and ride as cavalry, we had best cashier the knights, for indeed women excel in riding, and have a fine, firm seat for the gallop.[441] Just think of all those squadrons of Amazons Micon has painted for us engaged in hand-to-hand combat with men.[442] Come then, we must e'en fit collars to all these willing necks.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. By the blessed goddesses, if you anger me, I will let loose the beast of my evil passions, and a very hailstorm of blows will set you yelling for help. Come, dames, off tunics, and quick's the word; women must scent the savour of women in the throes of passion.... Now just you dare to measure strength with me, old greybeard, and I warrant you you'll never eat garlic or black beans more. No, not a word! my anger is at boiling point, and I'll do with you what the beetle did with the eagle's eggs.[443] I laugh at your threats, so long as I have on my side Lampito here, and the noble Theban, my dear Ismenia.... Pass decree on decree, you can do us no hurt, you wretch abhorred of all your fellows. Why, only yesterday, on occasion of the feast of Hecat, I asked my neighbours of Boeotia for one of their daughters for whom my girls have a lively liking—a fine, fat eel to wit; and if they did not refuse, all along of your silly decrees! We shall never cease to suffer the like, till someone gives you a neat trip-up and breaks your neck for you!

CHORUS OF WOMEN (addressing Lysistrata). You, Lysistrata, you who are leader of our glorious enterprise, why do I see you coming towards me with so gloomy an air?

LYSISTRATA. 'Tis the behaviour of these naughty women, 'tis the female heart and female weakness so discourages me.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Tell us, tell us, what is it?

LYSISTRATA. I only tell the simple truth.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. What has happened so disconcerting; come, tell your friends.

LYSISTRATA. Oh! the thing is so hard to tell—yet so impossible to conceal.

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Nay, never seek to hide any ill that has befallen our cause.

LYSISTRATA. To blurt it out in a word—we are in heat!

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Oh! Zeus, oh! Zeus!

LYSISTRATA. What use calling upon Zeus? The thing is even as I say. I cannot stop them any longer from lusting after the men. They are all for deserting. The first I caught was slipping out by the postern gate near the cave of Pan; another was letting herself down by a rope and pulley; a third was busy preparing her escape; while a fourth, perched on a bird's back, was just taking wing for Orsilochus' house,[444] when I seized her by the hair. One and all, they are inventing excuses to be off home. Look! there goes one, trying to get out! Halloa there! whither away so fast?

FIRST WOMAN. I want to go home; I have some Miletus wool in the house, which is getting all eaten up by the worms.

LYSISTRATA. Bah! you and your worms! go back, I say!

FIRST WOMAN. I will return immediately, I swear I will by the two goddesses! I only have just to spread it out on the bed.

LYSISTRATA. You shall not do anything of the kind! I say, you shall not go.

FIRST WOMAN. Must I leave my wool to spoil then?

LYSISTRATA. Yes, if need be.

SECOND WOMAN. Unhappy woman that I am! Alas for my flax! I've left it at home unstript!

LYSISTRATA. So, here's another trying to escape to go home and strip her flax forsooth!

SECOND WOMAN. Oh! I swear by the goddess of light, the instant I have put it in condition I will come straight back.

LYSISTRATA. You shall do nothing of the kind! If once you began, others would want to follow suit.

THIRD WOMAN. Oh! goddess divine, Ilithyia, patroness of women in labour, stay, stay the birth, till I have reached a spot less hallowed than Athene's Mount!

LYSISTRATA. What mean you by these silly tales?

THIRD WOMAN. I am going to have a child—now, this minute.

LYSISTRATA. But you were not pregnant yesterday!

THIRD WOMAN. Well, I am to-day. Oh! let me go in search of the midwife, Lysistrata, quick, quick!

LYSISTRATA. What is this fable you are telling me? Ah! what have you got there so hard?

THIRD WOMAN. A male child.

LYSISTRATA. No, no, by Aphrodit! nothing of the sort! Why, it feels like something hollow—a pot or a kettle. Oh! you baggage, if you have not got the sacred helmet of Pallas—and you said you were with child!

THIRD WOMAN. And so I am, by Zeus, I am!

LYSISTRATA. Then why this helmet, pray?

THIRD WOMAN. For fear my pains should seize me in the Acropolis; I mean to lay my eggs in this helmet, as the doves do.

LYSISTRATA. Excuses and pretences every word! the thing's as clear as daylight. Anyway, you must stay here now till the fifth day, your day of purification.

THIRD WOMAN. I cannot sleep any more in the Acropolis, now I have seen the snake that guards the Temple.

FOURTH WOMAN. Ah! and those confounded owls with their dismal hooting! I cannot get a wink of rest, and I'm just dying of fatigue.

LYSISTRATA. You wicked women, have done with your falsehoods! You want your husbands, that's plain enough. But don't you think they want you just as badly? They are spending dreadful nights, oh! I know that well enough. But hold out, my dears, hold out! A little more patience, and the victory will be ours. An Oracle promises us success, if only we remain united. Shall I repeat the words?

FIRST WOMAN. Yes, tell us what the Oracle declares.

LYSISTRATA. Silence then! Now—"Whenas the swallows, fleeing before the hoopoes, shall have all flocked together in one place, and shall refrain them from all amorous commerce, then will be the end of all the ills of life; yea, and Zeus, which doth thunder in the skies, shall set above what was erst below...."

CHORUS OF WOMEN. What! shall the men be underneath?

LYSISTRATA. "But if dissension do arise among the swallows, and they take wing from the holy Temple, 'twill be said there is never a more wanton bird in all the world."

CHORUS OF WOMEN. Ye gods! the prophecy is clear. Nay, never let us be cast down by calamity! let us be brave to bear, and go back to our posts. 'Twere shameful indeed not to trust the promises of the Oracle.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN. I want to tell you a fable they used to relate to me when I was a little boy. This is it: Once upon a time there was a young man called Melanion, who hated the thought of marriage so sorely that he fled away to the wilds. So he dwelt in the mountains, wove himself nets, kept a dog and caught hares. He never, never came back, he had such a horror of women. As chaste as Melanion,[445] we loathe the jades just as much as he did.

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