From The Thesmophoriazus.

SECOND WOMAN

By bright Hecate, you're a cunning varlet.
MNESILOCHUS
"Glorious Sparta is my country and Tyndareus is my father."
SECOND WOMAN
He your father, you rascal! Why, it's Phrynondas.
MNESILOCHUS
"I was given the name of Helen."
SECOND WOMAN
What! you are again becoming a woman, before we have punished you for having pretended it the first time?
MNESILOCHUS
"A thousand warriors have died on my account on the banks of the Scamander."
SECOND WOMAN
Would that you had done the same!
MNESILOCHUS
"And here I am upon these shores; Menelaus, my unhappy husband, does not yet come. Ah! Why do I still live?"
SECOND WOMAN
Because of the criminal negligence of the crows!
MNESILOCHUS
"But what sweet hope is this that sets my heart a-throb? Oh, Zeus! grant it may not prove a lying one!"
(EURIPIDES enters.)
EURIPIDES (as Menelaus)
"To what master does this splendid palace belong? Will he welcome strangers who have been tried on the billows of the sea by storm and shipwreck?"
MNESILOCHUS
"This is the palace of Proteus."
SECOND WOMAN
Of what Proteus? you thrice cursed rascal! how he lies! By the goddesses, it's ten years since Proteas died.
EURIPIDES
"What is this shore whither the wind has driven our boat?"
MNESILOCHUS
"'Tis Egypt."
EURIPIDES
"Alas! how far we are from own country!
SECOND WOMAN
Don't believe that cursed fool. This is Demeter's Temple.
EURIPIDES
"Is Proteus in these parts?"
SECOND WOMAN
Ah, now, stranger, it must be sea-sickness that makes you so distraught! You have been told that Proteas is dead, and yet you ask if he is in these parts.
EURIPIDES
"He is no more! Oh! woe! where lie his ashes?"
MNESILOCHUS
"'Tis on his tomb you see me sitting."
SECOND WOMAN
You call an altar a tomb! Beware of the rope!
EURIPIDES
"And why remain sitting on this tomb, wrapped in this long veil, oh, stranger lady?"
MNESILOCHUS
"They want to force me to marry a son of Proteus."
SECOND WOMAN
Ah! wretch, why tell such shameful lies? Stranger, this is a rascal who has slipped in amongst us women to rob us of our trinkets.
MNESILOCHUS (to SECOND WOMAN)
"Shout! load me with your insults, for little care I."
EURIPIDES
"Who is the old woman who reviles you, stranger lady?
MNESILOCHUS
"'Tis Theonoe, the daughter of Proteus."
SECOND WOMAN
I! Why, my name's Critylle, the daughter of Antitheus, of the deme of Gargettus; as for you, you are a rogue.
MNESILOCHUS
"Your entreaties are vain. Never shall I wed your brother; never shall I betray the faith I owe my husband, Menelaus, who is fighting before Troy."
EURIPIDES
"What are you saying? Turn your face towards me."
MNESILOCHUS
"I dare not; my cheeks show the marks of the insults I have been forced to suffer."
EURIPIDES
"Oh! great gods! I cannot speak, for very emotion.... Ah! what do I see? Who are you?"
MNESILOCHUS
"And you, what is your name? for my surprise is as great as yours."
EURIPIDES
"Are you Grecian or born in this country?"
MNESILOCHUS
"I am Grecian. But now your name, what is it?"
EURIPIDES
"Oh how you resemble Helen!
MNESILOCHUS
"And you Menelaus, if I can judge by these pot-herbs."
EURIPIDES
"You are not mistaken, 'tis none other than that unfortunate mortal who stands before you."
MNESILOCHUS
"Ah! how you have delayed coming to your wife's arms! Press me to your heart, throw your arms about me, for I wish to cover you with kisses. Carry me away, carry me away, quick, quick, far, very far from here."
SECOND WOMAN
By the goddesses, woe to him who would carry you away! I should thrash him with my torch.
EURIPIDES
"Do you propose to prevent me from taking my wife, the daughter of Tyndareus, to Sparta?"
SECOND WOMAN
You seem to me to be a cunning rascal too; you are in collusion with this man, and it wasn't for nothing that you kept babbling about Egypt. But the hour for punishment has come; here is the Magistrate with his Scythian.
EURIPIDES
This is getting awkward. Let me hide myself.
MNESILOCHUS
And what is to become of me, poor unfortunate man that I am?
EURIPIDES
Don't worry. I shall never abandon you, as long as I draw breath and one of my numberless artifices remains untried.
MNESILOCHUS
The fish has not bitten this time.
(A MAGISTRATE enters, accompanied by a Scythian policeman.)
MAGISTRATE
Is this the rascal Clisthenes told us about? Why are you trying to make yourself so small? Officer, arrest him, fasten him to the post, then take up your position there and keep guard over him. Let none approach him. A sound lash with your whip for him who attempts to break the order.
SECOND WOMAN
Excellent, for just now a rogue almost took him from me.
MNESILOCHUS
Magistrate, in the name of that hand which you know so well how to bend when money is placed in it, grant me a slight favour before I die.
MAGISTRATE
What favour?
MNESILOCHUS
Order the archer to strip me before lashing me to the post; the crows, when they make their meal on the poor old man, would laugh too much at this robe and head-dress,
MAGISTRATE
It is in that gear that you must be exposed by order of the Senate, so that your crime may be patent to the passers-by.
(He departs.)
MNESILOCHUS (as the SCYTHIAN seizes him)
Oh! cursed robe, the cause of all my misfortune! My last hope is thus destroyed!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Let us now devote ourselves to the sports which the women are accustomed to celebrate here, when time has again brought round the mighty Mysteries of the great goddesses, the sacred days which Pauson himself honours by fasting and would wish feast to succeed feast, that he might keep them all holy. Spring forward with a light step, whirling in mazy circles; let your hands interlace, let the eager and rapid dancers sway to the music and glance on every side as they move.
CHORUS (singing)
Let the chorus sing likewise and praise the Olympian gods in their pious transport. It's wrong to suppose that, because I am a woman and in this temple, I am going to speak ill of men; but since we want something fresh, we are going through the rhythmic steps of the round dance for the first time.

Start off while you sing to the god of the lyre and to the chaste goddess armed with the bow. Hail I thou god who flingest thy darts so far, grant us the victory! The homage of our song is also due to Here, the goddess of marriage, who interests herself in every chorus and guards the approach to the nuptial couch. I also pray Hermes, the god of the shepherds, and Pan and the beloved Graces to bestow a benevolent smile upon our songs.

Let us lead off anew, let us double our zeal during our solemn days, and especially let us observe a close fast; let us form fresh measures that keep good time, and may our songs resound to the very heavens. Do thou, oh divine Bacchus, who art crowned with ivy, direct our chorus; 'tis to thee that both my hymns and my dances are dedicated; oh, Evius, oh, Bromius, oh, thou son of Semeld, oh, Bacchus, who delightest to mingle with the dear choruses of the nymphs upon the mountains, and who repeatest, while dancing with them, the sacred hymn, Euios, Euios, Euoi! Echo, the nymph of Cithaeron, returns thy words, which resound beneath the dark vaults of the thick foliage and in the midst of the rocks of the forest; the ivy enlaces thy brow with its tendrils charged with flowers.

SCYTHIAN (he speaks with a heavy foreign accent)
You shall stay here in the open air to wail.
MNESILOCHUS
Archer, I adjure you.
SCYTHIAN
You're wasting your breath.
MNESILOCHUS
Loosen the wedge a little.
SCYTHIAN
Aye, certainly.
MNESILOCHUS
Oh by the gods! why, you are driving it in tighter.
SCYTHIAN
Is that enough?
MNESILOCHUS
Oh! Oh! Ow! Ow! May the plague take you!
SCYTHIAN
Silence! you cursed old wretch! I am going to get a mat to lie upon, so as to watch you close at hand at my ease.
MNESILOCHUS
Ah! what exquisite pleasures Euripides is securing for me! But, oh, ye gods! oh, Zeus the Deliverer, all is not yet lost! I don't believe him the man to break his word; I just caught sight of him appearing in the form of Perseus, and he told me with a mysterious sign to turn myself into Andromeda. And in truth am I not really bound? It's certain, then, that be is coming to my rescue; for otherwise he would not have steered his flight this way.
(As Andromeda, singing)
Oh Nymphs, ye virgins who are so dear to me, how am I to approach him? how can I escape the sight of this Scythian? And Echo, thou who reignest in the inmost recesses of the caves, oh! favour my cause and permit me to approach my spouse. A pitiless ruffian has chained up the most unfortunate of mortal maids. Alas! I bad barely escaped the filthy claws of an old fury, when another mischance overtook me! This Scythian does not take his eye off me and he has exposed me as food for the crows. Alas! what is to become of me, alone here and without friends! I am not seen mingling in the dances nor in the games of my companions, but heavily loaded with fetters I am given over to the voracity of a Glaucetes. Sing no bridal hymn for me, oh women, but rather the hymn of captivity, and in tears. Ah! how I suffer! great gods! how I suffer! Alas! alas! and through my own relatives too! My misery would make Tartarus dissolve into tears! Alas! in my terrible distress, I implore the mortal who first shaved me and depilated me, then dressed me in this long robe, and then sent me to this Temple into the midst of the women, to save me. Oh! thou pitiless Fate! I am then accursed, great gods! Ah! who would not be moved at the sight of the appalling tortures under which I succumb? Would that the blazing shaft of the lightning would wither.... this barbarian for me! The immortal light has no further charm for my eyes since I have been descending the shortest path to the dead, tied up, strangled, and maddened with pain.
(In the following scene EURIPIDES, from off stage, impersonates Echo.)
EURIPIDES
Hail! beloved girl. As for your father, Cepheus, who has exposed you in this guise, may the gods annihilate him.
MNESILOCHUS
And who are you whom my misfortunes have moved to pity?
EURIPIDES
I am Echo, the nymph who repeats all she hears. It was I, who last year lent my help to Euripides in this very place. But, my child, give yourself up to the sad laments that belong to your pitiful condition.
MNESILOCHUS
And you will repeat them?
EURIPIDES
I will not fail you. Begin.
MNESILOCHUS (singing)
"Oh! thou divine Night! how slowly thy chariot threads its way through the starry vault, across the sacred realms of the Air and mighty Olympus."
EURIPIDES (singing)
Mighty Olympus.
MNESILOCHUS (singing)
"Why is it necessary that Andromeda should have all the woes for her share?
EURIPIDES (singing)
For her share.
MNESILOCHUS (speaking)
"Sad death!
EURIPIDES
Sad death!
MNESILOCHUS
You weary me, old babbler.
EURIPIDES
Old babbler.
MNESILOCHUS
Oh! you are too unbearable.
EURIPIDES
Unbearable.
MNESILOCHUS
Friend, let me talk by myself. Do please let me. Come, that's enough.
EURIPIDES
That's enough.
MNESILOCHUS
Go and hang yourself!
EURIPIDES
Go and hang yourself!
MNESILOCHUS
What a plague!
EURIPIDES
What a plague!
MNESILOCHUS
Cursed brute!
EURIPIDES
Cursed brute!
MNESILOCHUS
Beware of blows!
EURIPIDES
Beware of blows!
SCYTHIAN
Hullo! what are you jabbering about?
EURIPIDES
What are you jabbering about?
SCYTHIAN
I shall go and call the Magistrates.
EURIPIDES
I shall go and call the Magistrates.
SCYTHIAN
This is odd!
EURIPIDES
This is odd!
SCYTHIAN
Whence comes this voice?
EURIPIDES
Whence comes this voice?
SCYTHIAN
You are mad.
EURIPIDES
You are mad.
SCYTHIAN
Ah! beware!
EURIPIDES
Ah! beware!
SCYTHIAN (to MNESILOCHUS)
Are you mocking me?
EURIPIDES
Are you mocking me?
MNESILOCHUS
No, it's this woman, who stands near you.
EURIPIDES
Who stands near you.
SCYTHIAN
Where is the hussy!
MNESILOCHUS
She's running away.
SCYTHIAN
Where are you running to?
EURIPIDES
Where are you running to?
SCYTHIAN
You shall not get away.
EURIPIDES
You shall not get away.
SCYTHIAN
You are chattering still?
EURIPIDES
You are chattering still?
SCYTHIAN
Stop the hussy.
EURIPIDES
Stop the hussy.
SCYTHIAN
What a babbling, cursed woman!
(EURIPIDES now enters, costumed as Perseus.)
EURIPIDES
"Oh! ye gods! to what barbarian land has my swift flight taken me? I am Perseus; I cleave the plains of the air with my winged feet, and I am carrying the Gorgon's head to Argos."
SCYTHIAN
What, are you talking about the head of Gorgos, the scribe?
EURIPIDES
No, I am speaking of the head of the Gorgon.
SCYTHIAN
Why, yes! of Gorgos!
EURIPIDES
"But what do I behold? A young maiden, beautiful as the immortals, chained to this rock like a vessel in port?"
MNESILOCHUS
"Take pity on me, oh stranger! I am so unhappy and distraught! Free me from these bonds."
SCYTHIAN
You keep still! a curse upon your impudence! you are going to die, and yet you will be chattering!
EURIPIDES
"Oh! virgin! I take pity on your chains."
SCYTHIAN
But this is no virgin; he's an old rogue, a cheat and a thief.
EURIPIDES
You have lost your wits, Scythian. This is Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus.
SCYTHIAN (lifting up MNESILOCHUS' robe)
But look at his tool; it's pretty big.
EURIPIDES
Give me your hand, that I may descend near this young maiden. Each man has his own particular weakness; as for me I am aflame with love for this virgin.
SCYTHIAN
Oh! I'm not jealous; and as he has his arse turned this way, why, I don't care if you make love to him.
EURIPIDES
"Ah! let me release her, and hasten to join her on the bridal couch."
SCYTHIAN
If you are so eager to make the old man, you can bore through the plank, and so get at him.
EURIPIDES
No, I will break his bonds.
SCYTHIAN
Beware of my lash!
EURIPIDES
No matter.
SCYTHIAN
This blade shall cut off your head.
EURIPIDES
"Ah! what can be done? what arguments can I use? This savage will understand nothing! The newest and most cunning fancies are a dead letter to the ignorant. Let us invent some artifice to fit in with his coarse nature."
(He departs.)
SCYTHIAN
I can see the rascal is trying to outwit me.
MNESILOCHUS
Ah! Perseus! remember in what condition you are leaving me.
SCYTHIAN
Are you wanting to feel my lash again!
CHORUS (singing)
Oh! Pallas, who art fond of dances, hasten hither at my call. Oh! thou chaste virgin, the protectress of Athens, I call thee in accordance with the sacred rites, thee, whose evident protection we adore and who keepest the keys of our city in thy hands. Do thou appear, thou whose just hatred has overturned our tyrants. The womenfolk are calling thee; hasten hither at their bidding along with Peace, who shall restore the festivals. And ye, august goddesses, display a smiling and propitious countenance to our gaze; come into your sacred grove, the entry to which is forbidden to men; 'tis there in the midst of the sacred orgies that we contemplate your divine features. Come, appear, we pray it of you, oh, venerable Thesmophorae! Is you have ever answered our appeal, oh! come into our midst.
(During this ode the SCYTHIAN falls asleep. At the end of it EURIPIDES returns, thinly disguised as an old procuress; the CHORUS recognizes him, the SCYTHIAN does not; he carries a harp, and is followed by a dancing girl and a young flute-girl.)
EURIPIDES
Women, if you will be reconciled with me, I am willing, and I undertake never to say anything ill of you in future. Those are my proposals for peace.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
And what impels you to make these overtures?
EURIPIDES (to the CHORUS)
This unfortunate man, who is chained to the post, is my father-in-law; if you will restore him to me, you will have no more cause to complain of me; but if not, I shall reveal your pranks to your husbands when they return from the war.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
We accept peace, but there is this barbarian whom you must buy over.
EURIPIDES
I'll take care of that. Come, my little wench, bear in mind what I told you on the road and do it well. Come, go past him and gird up your robe. And you, you little dear, play us the air of a Persian dance.
SCYTHIAN (waking)
What is this music that makes me so blithe?
EURIPIDES
Scythian, this young girl is going to practise some dances, which she has to perform at a feast presently.
SCYTHIAN
Very well! let her dance and practise; I won't hinder her. How nimbly she bounds! just like a flea on a fleece.
EURIPIDES
Come, my dear, off with your robe and seat yourself on the Scythian's knee; stretch forth your feet to me, that I may take off your slippers.
SCYTHIAN
Ah! yes, seat yourself, my little girl, ah! yes, to be sure. What a firm little titty! it's just like a turnip.
EURIPIDES (to the flute-girl)
An air on the flute, quick! Are you afraid of the Scythian?
SCYTHIAN
What a nice arse! Hold still, won't you? A nice twat, too.
EURIPIDES
That's so! (To the dancing girl) Resume your dress, it is time to be going.
SCYTHIAN
Give me a kiss.
EURIPIDES
Come, give him a kiss.
SCYTHIAN
Oh! oh! oh! my god, what soft lips! like Attic honey. But might she not stay with me?
EURIPIDES
Impossible, officer; good evening.
SCYTHIAN
Oh! oh! old woman, do me this pleasure.
EURIPIDES
Will you give a drachma?
SCYTHIAN
Aye, that I will.
EURIPIDES
Hand over the money.
SCYTHIAN
I have not got it, but take my quiver in pledge. I'll bring her back. (To the dancing girl) Follow me, my fine young wench. Old woman, you keep an eye on this man. But what's your name?
EURIPIDES
Artemisia.
SCYTHIAN
I'll remember it, Artemuxia.
(He takes the dancing girl away.)
EURIPIDES (aside)
Hermes, god of cunning, receive my thanks! everything is turning out for the best. (To the flute-girl) As for you, friend, go along with them. Now let me loose his bonds. (To MNESILOCHUS) And you, directly I have released you, take to your legs and run off full tilt to your home to find your wife and children.
MNESILOCHUS
I shall not fail in that as soon as I am free.
EURIPIDES (releasing MNESILOCHUS)
There! It's done. Come, fly, before the Scythian lays his hand on you again.
MNESILOCHUS
That's just what I am doing.
(Both depart in haste.)
SCYTHIAN (returning)
Ah! old woman! what a charming little girl! Not at all a prude, and so obliging! Eh! where is the old woman? Ah! I am undone! And the old man, where is he? Hi, old woman, old woman Ah! Ah! but this is a dirty trick! Artemuxia! she has tricked me, that's what the little old woman has done! Get clean out of my sight, you cursed quiver! (Picks it up and throws it across the stage.) Ha! you are well named quiver, for you have made me quiver indeed. Oh! what's to be done? Where is the old woman then? Artemuxia!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Are you asking for the old woman who carried the lyre?
SCYTHIAN
Yes, yes; have you seen her?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
She has gone that way along with the old man.
SCYTHIAN
Dressed in a long robe?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Yes; run quick, and you will overtake them.
SCYTHIAN
Ah! rascally old woman! Which way has she fled? Artemuxia!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Straight on; follow your nose. But, hi! where are you running to now? Come back, you are going exactly the wrong way.
SCYTHIAN
Ye gods! ye gods! and all this while Artemuxia is escaping.
(He runs off.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Go your way! and a pleasant journey to you! But our sports have lasted long enough; it is time for each of us to be off home; and may the two goddesses reward us for our labours!

THE END

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