next scene · introduction, dramatis personae
Project Gutenberg etext, adapted for E2
Aristophanes: Peace—Scene 1
SCENE: A farmyard, two slaves busy beside a dungheap; afterwards,
Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.
Give it to him, and may it kill him!
May he never eat a better.
Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.
There! I've done that too.
And where's what you gave him just now; surely he can't have devoured
Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet and
Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.
Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you do not
wish to see me fall down choked.
Come, come, another made from the stool of a young scapegrace catamite.
'Twill be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.
There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of
tasting what I mix.
Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your might.
I' faith, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no longer, so I
bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.
Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with it.
Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can buy a stopped-up nose,
for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food for a
beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least pounce
upon our excrement without more ado, but this foul wretch
affects the disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't eat unless I
offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let
us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating?
Come, pluck up courage, cram yourself till you burst! The cursed
creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between its claws like a
wrestler clutching his opponent, and with head and feet together rolls
up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser. What an indecent,
stinking, gluttonous beast! I know not what angry god let this
monster loose upon us, but of a certainty it was neither Aphrodite nor
Who was it then?
No doubt the Thunderer, Zeus.
But perhaps some spectator, some beardless youth, who thinks
himself a sage, will say, "What is this? What does the beetle mean?"
And then an Ionian,1 sitting next him, will add, "I think 'tis an
allusion to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by
himself."--But now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.
f1 '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