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Project Gutenberg etext, adapted for E2
Aristophanes: Peace—Scene 10
How everything succeeds to our wish, when the gods are willing and
Fortune favours us! how opportunely everything falls out.
Nothing could be truer, for look! here stands the altar all
ready at my door.
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.
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.
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.
Come, seize the basket and take the lustral water and hurry to
circle round the altar to the right.
There! 'tis done. What is your next bidding?
Hold! I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the water.
Be quick! be quick! Sprinkle the altar.
Give me some barley-seed, purify yourself and hand me the basin;
then scatter the rest of the barley among the audience.
You have thrown it?
Yes, by Hermes! and all the spectators have had their share.
But not the women?
Oh! their husbands will give it them this evening.1
f1 An obscene jest.
Let us pray! Who is here? Are there any good men?1
f1 Before sacrificing, the officiating person asked, "Who is here?"
and those present answered, "Many good men."
Come, give, so that I may sprinkle these. Faith! they are indeed good,
You believe so?
I am sure, and the proof of it is that we have flooded them with
lustral water and they have not budged an inch.1
f1 The actors forming the chorus are meant here.
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.
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
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.1 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 Copais; we shall all rush to buy them,
disputing their possession with Morychus, Teleas, Glaucetes and every
other glutton. Melanthius2 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,3 "I am dying, I am dying! Alas!
I have let those hidden in the beet escape me!"4 And won't we laugh?
These are the wishes, mighty goddess, which we pray thee to grant.
f1 Lysimacha is derived from the Greek for put an end to, and
the Greek for fight.
f2 A tragic poet, reputed a great gourmand.
f3 A tragedy by Melanthius.
f4 Eels were cooked with beet.--A parody on some verses in the 'Medea'
Take the knife and slaughter the sheep like a finished cook.
No, the goddess does not wish it.1
f1 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.
And why not?
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 choregus.
You, who remain here, get chopped wood and everything needed for
the sacrifice ready.
Don't I look like a diviner preparing his mystic fire?
Undoubtedly. Will anything that it behooves 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?
There! the wood catches. Its smoke blinds poor Stilbides.1 I am now
going to bring the table and thus be my own slave.
f1 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.
You have braved a thousand dangers to save your sacred town. All
honour to you! your glory will be ever envied.
Hold! Here are the legs, place them upon the altar. For myself,
I mean to go back to the entrails and the cakes.
I'll see to those; I want you here.
Well then, here I am. Do you think I have been long?