From The Clouds:

UNJUST DISCOURSE
I shall retort and shall very soon have the better of you. First, maintain that justice has no existence.
JUST DISCOURSE
Has no existence?
UNJUST DISCOURSE
No existence! Why, where is it?
JUST DISCOURSE
With the gods.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
How then, if justice exists, was Zeus not put to death for having put his father in chains?
JUST DISCOURSE
Bah! this is enough to turn my stomach! A basin, quick!
UNJUST DISCOURSE
You are an old driveller and stupid withal.
JUST DISCOURSE
And you a degenerate and shameless fellow.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Hah! What sweet expressions!
JUST DISCOURSE
An impious buffoon.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
You crown me with roses and with lilies.
JUST DISCOURSE
A parricide.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Why, you shower gold upon me.
JUST DISCOURSE
Formerly it was a hailstorm of blows.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
I deck myself with your abuse.
JUST DISCOURSE
What impudence!
UNJUST DISCOURSE
What tomfoolery!
JUST DISCOURSE
It is because of you that the youth no longer attends the schools. The Athenians will soon recognize what lessons you teach those who are fools enough to believe you.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
You are overwhelmed with wretchedness.
JUST DISCOURSE
And you, you prosper. Yet you were poor when you said, "I am the Mysian Telephus," and used to stuff your wallet with maxims of Pandeletus to nibble at.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Oh! the beautiful wisdom, of which you are now boasting!
JUST DISCOURSE
Madman! But yet madder the city that keeps you, you, the corrupter of its youth!
UNJUST DISCOURSE
It is not you who will teach this young man; you are as old and out of date at Cronus.
JUST DISCOURSE
Nay, it will certainly be I, if he does not wish to be lost and to practise verbosity only.
UNJUST DISCOURSE (to PHIDIPPIDES)
Come here and leave him to beat the air.
JUST DISCOURSE
You'll regret it, if you touch him.
CHORUS-LEADER (stepping between them as they are about to come to blows)
A truce to your quarrellings and abuse! But you expound what you taught us formerly, and you, your new doctrine. Thus, after hearing each of you argue, he will be able to choose betwixt the two schools.
JUST DISCOURSE
I am quite agreeable.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
And I too.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Who is to speak first?
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Let it be my opponent, he has my full consent; then I shall follow upon the very ground he shall have chosen and shall shatter him with a hail of new ideas and subtle fancies; if after that he dares to breathe another word, I shall sting him in the face and in the eyes with our maxims, which are as keen as the sting of a wasp, and he will die.
CHORUS (singing)
Here are two rivals confident in their powers of oratory and in the thoughts over which they have pondered so long. Let us see which will come triumphant out of the contest. This wisdom, for which my friends maintain such a persistent fight, is in great danger.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Come then, you, who crowned men of other days with so many virtues, plead the cause dear to you, make yourself known to us.
JUST DISCOURSE
Very well, I will tell you what was the old education, when I used to teach justice with so much success and when modesty was held in veneration. Firstly, it was required of a child, that it should not utter a word. In the street, when they went to the music-school, all the youths of the same district marched lightly clad and ranged in good order, even when the snow was falling in great flakes. At the master's house they had to stand with their legs apart and they were taught to sing either, "Pallas, the Terrible, who overturneth cities," or "A noise resounded from afar" in the solemn tones of the ancient harmony. If anyone indulged in buffoonery or lent his voice any of the soft inflexions, like those which to-day the disciples of Phrynis take so much pains to form, he was treated as an enemy of the Muses and belaboured with blows. In the wrestling school they would sit with outstretched legs and without display of any indecency to the curious. When they rose, they would smooth over the sand, so as to leave no trace to excite obscene thoughts. Never was a child rubbed with oil below the belt; the rest of their bodies thus retained its fresh bloom and down, like a velvety peach. They were not to be seen approaching a lover and themselves rousing his passion by soft modulation of the voice and lustful gaze. At table, they would not have dared, before those older than themselves, to have taken a radish, an aniseed or a leaf of parsley, and much less eat fish or thrushes or cross their legs.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
What antiquated rubbish! Have we got back to the days of the festivals of Zeus Polieus, to the Buphonia, to the time of the poet Cecides and the golden cicadas?
JUST DISCOURSE
Nevertheless by suchlike teaching I built up the men of Marathon-But you, you teach the children of to-day to bundle themselves quickly into their clothes, and I am enraged when I see them at the Panathenaea forgetting Athene while they dance, and covering their tools with their bucklers. Hence, young man, dare to range yourself beside me, who follow justice and truth; you will then be able to shun the public place, to refrain from the baths, to blush at all that is shameful, to fire up if your virtue is mocked at, to give place to your elders, to honour your parents, in short, to avoid all that is evil. Be modesty itself, and do not run to applaud the dancing girls; if you delight in such scenes, some courtesan will cast you her apple and your reputation will be done for. Do not bandy words with your father, nor treat him as a dotard, nor reproach the old man, who has cherished you, with his age.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
If you listen to him, by Bacchus! you will be the image of the sons of Hippocrates and will be called mother's big ninny.
JUST DISCOURSE
No, but you will pass your days at the gymnasia, glowing with strength and health; you will not go to the public place to cackle and wrangle as is done nowadays; you will not live in fear that you may be dragged before the courts for some trifle exaggerated by quibbling. But you will go down to the Academy to run beneath the sacred olives with some virtuous friend of your own age, your head encircled with the white reed, enjoying your ease and breathing the perfume of the yew and of the fresh sprouts of the poplar, rejoicing in the return of springtide and gladly listening to the gentle rustle of the plane tree and the elm. (With greater warmth from here on) If you devote yourself to practising my precepts, your chest will be stout, your colour glowing, your shoulders broad, your tongue short, your hips muscular, but your tool small. But if you follow the fashions of the day, you will be pallid in hue, have narrow shoulders, a narrow chest, a long tongue, small hips and a big thing; you will know how to spin forth long-winded arguments on law. You will be persuaded also to regard as splendid everything that is shameful and as shameful everything that is honourable; in a word, you will wallow in degeneracy like Antimachus.
CHORUS (singing)
How beautiful, high-souled, brilliant is this wisdom that you practise! What a sweet odour of honesty is emitted by your discourse! Happy were those men of other days who lived when you were honoured! And you, seductive talker, come, find some fresh arguments, for your rival has done wonders.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
You will have to bring out against him all the battery of your wit, it you desire to beat him and not to be laughed out of court.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
At last! I was choking with impatience, I was burning to upset his arguments! If I am called the Weaker Reasoning in the schools, it is just because I was the first to discover the means to confute the laws and the decrees of justice. To invoke solely the weaker arguments and yet triumph is an art worth more than a hundred thousand drachmae. But see how I shall batter down the sort of education of which he is so proud. Firstly, he forbids you to bathe in hot water. What grounds have you for condemning hot baths?
JUST DISCOURSE
Because they are baneful and enervate men.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Enough said! Oh! you poor wrestler! From the very outset I have seized you and hold you round the middle; you cannot escape me. Tell me, of all the sons of Zeus, who had the stoutest heart, who performed the most doughty deeds?
JUST DISCOURSE
None, in my opinion, surpassed Heracles.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Where have you ever seen cold baths called 'Bath of Heracles'? And yet who was braver than he?
JUST DISCOURSE
It is because of such quibbles, that the baths are seen crowded with young folk, who chatter there the livelong day while the gymnasia remain empty.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Next you condemn the habit of frequenting the market-place, while I approve this. If it were wrong Homer would never have made Nestor speak in public as well as all his wise heroes. As for the art of speaking, he tells you, young men should not practise it; I hold the contrary. Furthermore he preaches chastity to them. Both precepts are equally harmful. Have you ever seen chastity of any use to anyone? Answer and try to confute me.
JUST DISCOURSE
To many; for instance, Peleus won a sword thereby.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
A sword! Ah! what a fine present to make him! Poor wretch! Hyperbolus, the lamp-seller, thanks to his villainy, has gained more than....do not know how many talents, but certainly no sword.
JUST DISCOURSE
Peleus owed it to his chastity that he became the husband of Thetis.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
.... who left him in the lurch, for he was not the most ardent; in those nocturnal sports between the sheets, which so please women, he possessed but little merit. Get you gone, you are but an old fool. But you, young man, just consider a little what this temperance means and the delights of which it deprives you-young fellows, women, play, dainty dishes, wine, boisterous laughter. And what is life worth without these? Then, if you happen to commit one of these faults inherent in human weakness, some seduction or adultery, and you are caught in the act, you are lost, if you cannot speak. But follow my teaching and you will be able to satisfy your passions, to dance, to laugh, to blush at nothing. Suppose you are caught in the act of adultery. Then up and tell the husband you are not guilty, and recall to him the example of Zeus, who allowed himself to be conquered by love and by women. Being but a mortal, can you be stronger than a god?
JUST DISCOURSE
Suppose your pupil, following your advice, gets the radish rammed up his arse and then is depilated with a hot coal; how are you going to prove to him that he is not a broad-arse?
UNJUST DISCOURSE
What's the matter with being a broad-arse?
JUST DISCOURSE
Is there anything worse than that?
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Now what will you say, if I beat you even on this point?
JUST DISCOURSE
I should certainly have to be silent then.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well then, reply! Our advocates, what are they?
JUST DISCOURSE
Sons of broad-arses.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Nothing is more true. And our tragic poets?
JUST DISCOURSE
Sons of broad-arses.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well said again. And our demagogues?
JUST DISCOURSE
Sons of broad-arses.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
You admit that you have spoken nonsense. And the spectators, what are they for the most part? Look at them.
JUST DISCOURSE
I am looking at them.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well! What do you see?
JUST DISCOURSE
By the gods, they are nearly all broad-arses. (pointing) See, this one I know to be such and that one and that other with the long hair.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
What have you to say, then?
JUST DISCOURSE
I am beaten. Debauchees! in the name of the gods, receive my cloak; I pass over to your ranks.
(He goes back into the Thoughtery.)
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Well then! Are you going to take away your son or do you wish me to teach him how to speak?
STREPSIADES
Teach him, chastise him and do not fail to sharpen his tongue well, on one side for petty law-suits and on the other for important cases.
UNJUST DISCOURSE
Don't worry, I shall return him to you an accomplished sophist.
PHIDIPPIDES
Very pale then and thoroughly hang-dog-looking.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Take him with you. (The UNJUST DISCOURSE and PHIDIPPIDES go into the THOUGHTERY. To STREPSIADES, who is just going into his own house.) I think you will regret this. (The CHORUS turns and faces the audience.) judges, we are all about to tell you what you will gain by awarding us the crown as equity requires of you. In spring, when you wish to give your fields the first dressing, we will rain upon you first; the others shall wait. Then we will watch over your corn and over your vinestocks; they will have no excess to fear, neither of heat nor of wet. But if a mortal dares to insult the goddesses of the Clouds, let him think of the ills we shall pour upon him. For him neither wine nor any harvest at all! Our terrible slings will mow down his young olive plants and his vines. If he is making bricks, it will rain, and our round hailstones will break the tiles of his roof. If he himself marries or any of his relations or friends, we shall cause rain to fall the whole night long. Verily, he would prefer to live in Egypt than to have given this iniquitous verdict.
STREPSIADES (coming out again)
Another four, three, two days, then the eve, then the day, the fatal day of payment! I tremble, I quake, I shudder, for it's the day of the old moon and the new. Then all my creditors take the oath, pay their deposits, I swear my downfall and my ruin. As for me, I beseech them to be reasonable, to be just, "My friend, do not demand this sum, wait a little for this other and give me time for this third one." Then they will pretend that at this rate they will never be repaid, will accuse me of bad faith and will threaten me with the law. Well then, let them sue me! I care nothing for that, if only Phidippides has learnt to speak fluently. I am going to find out; I'll knock at the door of the school. (He knocks.).... Ho! slave, slave!
SOCRATES (coming out)
Welcome! Strepsiades!
STREPSIADES
Welcome! Socrates! But first take this sack (offers him a sack of flour); it is right to reward the master with some present. And my son, whom you took off lately, has he learnt this famous reasoning? Tell me.
SOCRATES
He has learnt it.
STREPSIADES
Wonderful! Oh! divine Knavery!
SOCRATES
You will win just as many causes as you choose.
STREPSIADES
Even if I have borrowed before witnesses?
SOCRATES
So much the better, even if there are a thousand of them!
STREPSIADES (bursting into song)
Then I am going to shout with all my might. "Woe to the usurers, woe to their capital and their interest and their compound interest! You shall play me no more bad turns. My son is being taught there, his tongue is being sharpened into a double-edged weapon; he is my defender, the saviour of my house, the ruin of my foes! His poor father was crushed down with misfortune and he delivers him." Go and call him to me quickly. Oh! my child! my dear little one! run forward to your father's voice!
SOCRATES (singing)
Lo, the man himself!
STREPSIADES (singing)
Oh, my friend, my dearest friend!
SOCRATES (singing)
Take your son, and get you gone.
STREPSIADES (as PHIDIPPIDES appears)
Oh, my son! oh! oh! what a pleasure to see your pallor! You are ready first to deny and then to contradict; it's as clear as noon. What a child of your country you are! How your lips quiver with the famous, "What have you to say now?" How well you know, I am certain, to put on the look of a victim, when it is you who are making both victims and dupes! And what a truly Attic glance! Come, it's for you to save me, seeing it is you who have ruined me.
PHIDIPPIDES
What is it you fear then?
STREPSIADES
The day of the old and the new.
PHIDIPPIDES
Is there then a day of the old and the new?
STREPSIADES
The day on which they threaten to pay deposit against me.
PHIDIPPIDES
Then so much the worse for those who have deposited! for it's not possible for one day to be two.
STREPSIADES
What?
PHIDIPPIDES
Why, undoubtedly, unless a woman can be both old and young at the same time.
STREPSIADES
But so runs the law.
PHIDIPPIDES
I think the meaning of the law is quite misunderstood.
STREPSIADES
What does it mean?
PHIDIPPIDES
Old Solon loved the people.
STREPSIADES
What has that to do with the old day and the new?
PHIDIPPIDES
He has fixed two days for the summons, the last day of the old moon and the first day of the new; but the deposits must only be paid on the first day of the new moon.
STREPSIADES
And why did he also name the last day of the old?
PHIDIPPIDES
So, my dear sir, that the debtors, being there the day before, might free themselves by mutual agreement, or that else, if not, the creditor might begin his action on the morning of the new moon.
STREPSIADES
Why then do the magistrates have the deposits paid on the last of the month and not the next day?
PHIDIPPIDES
I think they do as the gluttons do, who are the first to pounce upon the dishes. Being eager to carry off these deposits, they have them paid in a day too soon.
STREPSIADES
Splendid! (to the audience) Ah! you poor brutes, who serve for food to us clever folk! You are only down here to swell the number, true blockheads, sheep for shearing, heap of empty pots! Hence I will sing a song of victory for my son and myself. "Oh! happy, Strepsiades! what cleverness is thine! and what a son thou hast here!" Thus my friends and my neighbours will say, jealous at seeing me gain all my suits. But come in, I wish to regale you first.
(They both go in. A moment later a creditor arrives, with his witness.)
PASIAS (to the WITNESS)
A man should never lend a single obolus. It would be better to put on a brazen face at the outset than to get entangled in such matters. I want to see my money again and I bring you here to-day to attest the loan. I am going to make a foe of a neighbour; but, as long as I live, I do not wish my country to have to blush for me. Come, I am going to summon Strepsiades....
STREPSIADES (coming out of his house)
Who is this?
PASIAS
....for the old day and the new.
STREPSIADES (to the WITNESS)
I call you to witness, that he has named two days. What do you want of me?
PASIAS
I claim of you the twelve minae, which you borrowed from me to buy the dapple-grey horse.
STREPSIADES
A horse! do you hear him? I, who detest horses, as is well known.
PASIAS
I call Zeus to witness, that you swore by the gods to return them to me.
STREPSIADES
Because at that time, by Zeus! Phidippides did not yet know the irrefutable argument.
PASIAS
Would you deny the debt on that account?
STREPSIADES
If not, what use is his science to me?
PASIAS
Will you dare to swear by the gods that you owe me nothing?
STREPSIADES
By which gods?
PASIAS
By Zeus, Hermes and Poseidon!
STREPSIADES
Why, I would give three obols for the pleasure of swearing by them.
PASIAS
Woe upon you, impudent knave!
STREPSIADES
Oh! what a fine wine-skin you would make if flayed!
PASIAS
Heaven! he jeers at me!
STREPSIADES
It would hold six gallons easily.
PASIAS
By great Zeus! by all the gods! you shall not scoff at me with impunity.
STREPSIADES
Ah! how you amuse me with your gods! how ridiculous it seems to a sage to hear Zeus invoked.
PASIAS
Your blasphemies will one day meet their reward. But, come, will you repay me my money, yes or no? Answer me, that I may go.
STREPSIADES
Wait a moment, I am going to give you a distinct answer. (He goes indoors and returns immediately with a kneading-trough.)
PASIAS (to the WITNESS)
What do you think he will do? Do you think he will pay?
STREPSIADES
Where is the man who demands money? Tell me, what is this?
PASIAS
Him? Why, he is your kneading-trough.
STREPSIADES
And you dare to demand money of me, when you are so ignorant? I will not return an obolus to anyone who says him instead of her for a kneading-trough.
PASIAS
You will not repay?
STREPSIADES
Not if I know it. Come, an end to this, pack off as quick as you can.
PASIAS
I go, but, may I die, if it be not to pay my deposit for a summons.
(Exit)
STREPSIADES
Very well! It will be so much more loss to add to the twelve minae. But truly it makes me sad, for I do pity a poor simpleton who says him for a kneading-trough.
(Another creditor arrives.)
AMYNIAS
Woe! ah woe is me!
STREPSIADES
Wait! who is this whining fellow? Can it be one of the gods of Carcinus?
AMYNIAS
Do you want to know who I am? I am a man of misfortune!
STREPSIADES
Get on your way then.
AMYNIAS (in tragic style)
Oh! cruel god! Oh Fate, who hast broken the wheels of my chariot! Oh, Pallas, thou hast undone me!
STREPSIADES
What ill has Tlepolemus done you?
AMYNIAS
Instead of jeering me, friend, make your son return me the money he has had of me; I am already unfortunate enough.
STREPSIADES
What money?
AMYNIAS
The money he borrowed of me.
STREPSIADES
You have indeed had misfortune, it seems to me.
AMYNIAS
Yes, by the gods! I have been thrown from a chariot.
STREPSIADES
Why then drivel as if you had fallen off an ass?
AMYNIAS
Am I drivelling because I demand my money?
STREPSIADES
No, no, you cannot be in your right senses.
AMYNIAS
Why?
STREPSIADES
No doubt your poor wits have had a shake.
AMYNIAS
But by Hermes! I will sue you at law, if you do not pay me.
STREPSIADES
Just tell me; do you think it is always fresh water that Zeus lets fall every time it rains, or is ill always the same water that the sun pumps over the earth?
AMYNIAS
I neither know, nor care.
STREPSIADES
And actually you would claim the right to demand your money, when you know not an iota of these celestial phenomena?
AMYNIAS
If you are short, pay me the interest anyway.
STREPSIADES
What kind of animal is interest?
AMYNIAS
What? Does not the sum borrowed go on growing, growing every month, each day as the time slips by?
STREPSIADES
Well put. But do you believe there is more water in the sea now than there was formerly?
AMYNIAS
No, it's just the same quantity. It cannot increase.
STREPSIADES
Thus, poor fool, the sea, that receives the rivers, never grows, and yet you would have your money grow? Get you gone, away with you, quick! Slave! bring me the ox-goad!
AMYNIAS
I have witnesses to this.
STREPSIADES
Come, what are you waiting for? Will you not budge, old nag!
AMYNIAS
What an insult!
STREPSIADES
Unless you start trotting, I shall catch you and stick this in your arse, you sorry packhorse! (AMYNIAS runs off.) Ah! you start, do you? I was about to drive you pretty fast, I tell you-you and your wheels and your chariot!
(He enters his house.)
CHORUS (singing)
Whither does the passion of evil lead! here is a perverse old man, who wants to cheat his creditors; but some mishap, which will speedily punish this rogue for his shameful schemings, cannot fail to overtake him from to-day. For a long time he has been burning to have his son know how to fight against all justice and right and to gain even the most iniquitous causes against his adversaries every one. I think this wish is going to be fulfilled. But mayhap, mayhap, will he soon wish his son were dumb rather!
STREPSIADES (rushing out With PHIDIPPIDES after him)
Oh! oh! neighbours, kinsmen, fellow-citizens, help! help! to the rescue, I am being beaten! Oh! my head! oh! my jaw! Scoundrel! Do you beat your own father?
PHIDIPPIDES (calmly)
Yes, father, I do.
STREPSIADES
See! he admits he is beating me.
PHIDIPPIDES
Of course I do.
STREPSIADES
You villain, you parricide, you gallows-bird!
PHIDIPPIDES
Go on, repeat your epithets, call me a thousand other names, if it please you. The more you curse, the greater my amusement!
STREPSIADES
Oh! you ditch-arsed cynic!
PHIDIPPIDES
How fragrant the perfume breathed forth in your words.
STREPSIADES
Do you beat your own father?
PHIDIPPIDES
Yes, by Zeus! and I am going to show you that I do right in beating you.
STREPSIADES
Oh, wretch! can it be right to beat a father?
PHIDIPPIDES
I will prove it to you, and you shall own yourself vanquished.
STREPSIADES
Own myself vanquished on a point like this?
PHIDIPPIDES
It's the easiest thing in the world. Choose whichever of the two reasonings you like.
STREPSIADES
Of which reasonings?
PHIDIPPIDES
The Stronger and the Weaker.
STREPSIADES
Miserable fellow! Why, I am the one who had you taught how to refute what is right. and now you would persuade me it is right a son should beat his father.
PHIDIPPIDES
I think I shall convince you so thoroughly that, when you have heard me, you will not have a word to say.
STREPSIADES
Well, I am curious to hear what you have to say.
CHORUS (singing)
Consider well, old man, how you can best triumph over him. His brazenness shows me that he thinks himself sure of his case; he has some argument which gives him nerve. Note the confidence in his look!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But how did the fight begin? tell the Chorus; you cannot help doing that much.
STREPSIADES
I will tell you what was the start of the quarrel. At the end of the meal, as you know, I bade him take his lyre and sing me the air of Simonides, which tells of the fleece of the ram. He replied bluntly, that it was stupid, while drinking, to play the lyre and sing, like a woman when she is grinding barley.
PHIDIPPIDES
Why, by rights I ought to have beaten and kicked you the very moment you told me to sing.
STREPSIADES
That is just how he spoke to me in the house, furthermore he added, that Simonides was a detestable poet. However, I mastered myself and for a while said nothing. Then I said to him, 'At least, take a myrtle branch and recite a passage from Aeschylus to me.'-'For my own part,' he at once replied, 'I look upon Aeschylus as the first of poets, for his verses roll superbly; they're nothing but incoherence, bombast and turgidity.' Yet still I smothered my wrath and said, 'Then recite one of the famous pieces from the modern poets.' Then he commenced a piece in which Euripides shows, oh! horror! a brother, who violates his own uterine sister. Then I could not longer restrain myself, and attacked him with the most injurious abuse; naturally he retorted; hard words were hurled on both sides, and finally he sprang at me, broke my bones, bore me to earth, strangled and started killing me!
PHIDIPPIDES
I was right. What! not praise Euripides, the greatest of our poets?
STREPSIADES
He the greatest of our poets? Ah! if I but dared to speak! but the blows would rain upon me harder than ever.
PHIDIPPIDES
Undoubtedly and rightly too.

The Clouds - Part 4

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