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Project Gutenberg etext, adapted for E2
Aristophanes: Peace—Scene 8
Ah! 'tis a rough job getting to the gods! my legs are as good as
broken through it. How small you were, to be sure, when seen from
heaven! you had all the appearance too of being great rascals; but seen
close, you look even worse.
Is that you, master?
So I've been told.
What has happened to you?
My legs pain me; it is such a plaguey long journey.
Oh! tell me...
Did you see any other man besides yourself strolling about in
No, only the souls of two or three dithyrambic poets.
What were they doing up there?
They were seeking to catch some lyric exordia as they flew by
immersed in the billows of the air.
Is it true, what they tell us, that men are turned into stars after death?
Then who is that star I see over yonder?
That is Ion of Chios,1 the author of an ode beginning "Morning"; as soon
as ever he got to heaven, they called him "the Morning Star."
f1 A tragic and dithyrambic poet, who had written many pieces, which
had met with great success at Athens.
And those stars like sparks, that plough up the air as they dart
across the sky?1
f1 The shooting stars.
They are the rich leaving the feast with a lantern and a light inside it.
--But hurry up, show this young girl into my house, clean out the bath,
heat some water and prepare the nuptial couch for herself and me.
When 'tis done, come back here; meanwhile I am off to present this one
to the Senate.
But where then did you get these pretty chattels?
Where? why in heaven.
I would not give more than an obolus for gods who have got to
keeping brothels like us mere mortals.
They are not all so, but there are some up there too who live by this trade.
Come, that's rich! But I bethink me, shall I give her something to eat?
No, for she would neither touch bread nor cake; she is used to
licking ambrosia at the table of the gods.
Well, we can give her something to lick down here too.
Here is a truly happy old man, as far as I can judge.
Ah! but what shall I be, when you see me presently dressed for
Made young again by love and scented with perfumes, your lot
will be one we all shall envy.
And when I lie beside her and caress her bosoms?
Oh! then you will be happier than those spinning-tops who call
Carcinus their father.1
f1 It has already been mentioned that the sons of Carcinus were dancers.
And I well deserve it; have I not bestridden a beetle to save
the Greeks, who now, thanks to me, can make love at their ease and
sleep peacefully on their farms?
The girl has quitted the bath; she is charming from head to foot,
both belly and buttocks; the cake is baked and they are kneading
the sesame-biscuit;1 nothing is lacking but the bridegroom's virility.
f1 It was customary at weddings, says Menander, to give the bride
a sesame-caked as an emblem of fruitfulness, because sesame is the most
fruitful of all seeds.
Let us first hasten to lodge Theoria in the hands of the Senate.
But tell me, who is this woman?
Why, 'tis Theoria, with whom we used formerly to go to Brauron,1
to get tipsy and frolic. I had the greatest trouble to get hold of her.
f1 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.
Ah! you charmer! what pleasure your pretty bottom will afford me
every four years!
Let us see, who of you is steady enough to be trusted by the Senate
with the care of this charming wench? Hi! you, friend! what are you
I am drawing the plan of the tent I wish to erect for myself on
f1 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 a gesture.