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Copyright, 1904 
By Nathan Haskell Dole 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 


According to Homer, the Immortal 
Gods had occasional opportunity for 
indulging in merriment. The serious 
side of human life or their own affairs 
did not entirely occupy them. It might 
be imagined that they regarded men and 
women as enacting tragedies and come- 
dies for their delectation. Perhaps the 
tragedy preponderates ; it certainly does 
for the actors. Even those of us who 
recognize that we are performing come- 
dies and farces, and who, by the very 
fact that we are selected for such parts, 
must see the fun of it, else we should act 
them as dully as " Bottom the Weaver " 
and the other clowns in " Pyramus and 
Thisbe " — even we, I say, use our for- 
tunate sense of humour as a palliative to 
the pathos of our real existence. Blessed 
indeed is the sense of humour. It is a 
balm, a cordial. Great men who lack it 
are vastly less great because they lack it. 

Certain nations characteristically lean 

to the serious or the comic. One 
searches with great expenditure of labour 
for humourous orwitty literature delivered 
to us by the Romans. What there is 
will probably send a tap-root into Greek 
soil. Plautus and Terence were at most 
adapters if not translators. The Coli- 
seum and the rule of the pollice verso 
were not keyed to Comedy. No doubt 
in the cultivated and brilliant society 
which Maecenas and Augustus gathered 
around them there was display of wit. 
Horace was gifted with it. Catullus 
showed sparks of it. But the satirists 
were too grim and savage to observe the 
amenities. Not until Martial do we 
find much scope for citation. 

With the Greeks, on the other hand, 
wit and humour were spontaneous and 
indigenous. It begins with Homer. 
Aristophanes is full of quotable passages. 
There are hundreds of witty sayings that 
have come down to our day and passed 
current in every age and still go from 
hand to hand. The whole field of 
Greek literature is rich in epigrammatic 

The present volume is devoted almost 
wholly to brief selected passages from 
Aristophanes and Lucian. Aristoph- 
anes's life covered the last half of 
the fourth century b. c, and he died in 
388. Lucian was born in Syria and 
lived from 125 until 180 a. d. In 
their treatment of the Gods they are 
surprisingly similar. The skeptical in- 
solence of their arraignment is only 
equalled by the keenness of their satire. 
Both of them wonderfully combine wit 
and humour. There is the flash and 
also the radiance. Consequently, even 
under the veil of a translation, much of 
what they wrote is as perennially young 
and as modern as if written for the men 
of our day. A few of the best epigrams 
of Martial, a Spaniard, whose life covered 
the last half of the first century of our 
era, are added. 

These three authors, thus brought into 
comparison, show Greek and classic wit 
and humour to the highest advantage. 

N. H. D. 






Scenes from Aristophanes 

(From the translation of Thomas Hookham Frere) 

DICjEOPOLIS and the mega- 

Enter a Megarian with his two little 

Megarian. Ah, there's the Athenian 
market ! Heaven bless it, 
I say ; the welcomest sight to a Mega- 

I've looked for it, and longed for it, like 

a child 
For its own mother. You, my daughters 

Disastrous offspring of a dismal sire, 
List to my words ; and let them sink 

Upon your empty stomachs; now's the 

That you must seek a livelihood for 

Therefore resolve at once, and answer 

me ; 
Will you be sold abroad, or starve at 

home ? 
Both. Let us be sold, papa ! Let us 

be sold ! 
Meg. I say so too ; but who do ye 

think will purchase 
Such useless mischievous commodities ? 
However, I have a notion of my own, 
A true Megarian scheme; I mean to 

sell ye 

Disguised as pigs, with artificial pettitoes. 
Here, take them, and put them on. 

Remember now, 
Show yourselves off; do credit to your 

Like decent pigs ; or else, by Mercury, 
If I'm obliged to take you back to 

There you shall starve, far worse than 


— This pair of masks too — fasten 'em 

on your faces, 
And crawl into the sack there on the 

Mind ye — Remember — you must 

squeak and whine, 
And racket about like little roasting pigs. 

— And I'll call out for Dicjeopolis. 
Ho, Dicseopolis, Dicsopolis ! 

I say, would you please to buy some 
pigs of mine ? 
Diceopolis. What's there ? a Mega- 
rian ? 

Meg. [sneakingly]. Yes — We're come 

to market. 
Die. How goes it with you ? 
Meg. We're all like to starve. 

Die. Well, liking is everything. If 
you have your liking, 
That's all in all : the likeness is a good 

A pretty likeness ! like to starve, you 

But what else are you doing ? 

Meg. What we're doing ? 

I left our governing people all contriv- 
To ruin us utterly without loss of time. 
Die. It's the only way : it will keep 
you out of mischief, 
Meddling and getting into scrapes. 

Meg. Ay, yes. 

Die. Well, what's your other news ? 

How's corn ? What price ? 
Meg. Corn ? it's above all price ; we 
worship it. 

Die. But salt ? You've salt, I 
reckon — 

Meg. Salt ? how should we ? 

Have not you seized the salt pans ? 

Die. No ! nor garlic ? 

Have not ye garlic ? 

Meg. What do ye talk of garlic ? 

As if you had not wasted and destroyed 

And grubbed the very roots out of the 

Die. Well, what have you got then ? 

Tell us ! Can't ye ! 
Meg. [in the tone of a sturdy resolute 

lie']. Pigs — 

Pigs truly — pigs forsooth, for sacrifice. 
Die. That's well, let's look at 'em. 
Meg. Ay, they're handsome ones ; 
You may feel how heavy they are, if ye 

hold 'em up. 
Die. Hey-day ! What's this ? What's 

here ? 
Meg. A pig, to be sure. 

Die. Do ye say so ? Where does it 

come from ? 
Meg. Come ? from Megara. 

What, ain't it a pig ? 

Die. No truly, it does not seem so. 
Meg. Did you ever hear the like ? 
Such an unaccountable 
Suspicious fellow ! it is not a pig, he 

says ! 
But I'll be judged ; I'll bet ye a bushel 

of salt, 
It's what we call a natural proper pig. 
Die. Perhaps it may, but it's a human 

Meg. Human ! I'm human ; and 
they're mine, that's all. 
Whose should they be, do ye think ? so 

far they're human. 
But come, will you hear 'em squeak ? 

Die. Ay, yes, by Jove, 
With all my heart. 

Meg. Come now, pig ! now's the 
time : 





Remember what I told ye — squeak 

directly ! 
Squeak, can't ye ? Curse ye, what's the 

matter with ye ? 
Squeak when I bid you, I say ; by Mer- 
I'll carry you back to Megara if you 
Daugh. Wee wee. 
Meg. Do ye hear the pig ? 

Die. The pig, do ye call it ? 

It will be a different creature before long. 
Meg. It will take after the mother, 

like enough. 
Die. Ay, but this pig won't do for 

Meg. Why not ? Why won't it do 

for sacrifice ? 
Die. Imperfect ! here's no tail ! 
Meg. Poh, never mind ; 

It will have a tail in time, like all the 

But feel this other, just the fellow to it ; 




With a little further keeping, it would 

For a pretty dainty sacrifice to Venus. 
Die. You warrant 'em weaned ? they'll 
l?3a£&£»l ^ ee ^ without the mother ; 

Meg. Without the mother or the 

father either. 
Die. But what do they like to eat ? 
Meg. Just what ye give 'em; 

You may ask 'em if you will. 
Die. Pig, Pig ! 

ist Daugh. Wee wee. 

Die. Pig, are ye fond of peas ? 
ist Daugh. Wee wee, Wee wee. 
Die. Are ye fond of figs ? 
ist Daugh. Wee wee, Wee wee, 

Wee wee. 
Die. You little one, are you fond of 

2D Daugh. Wee wee. 

Die. What a squeak was there ! 
they're ravenous for the figs ; 
Go somebody, fetch out a parcel of figs 


For the little pigs ! Heh, what, they'll 

eat, I warrant. 
Lawk there, look at 'em racketing and 

bustling ! 
How they do munch and crunch ! in the 

name of heaven, 
Why, sure they can't have eaten 'em all 
already ! 
Meg. \sneakingly]. Not all, there's this 

one here, I took myself. 
Die. Well, faith, they're clever comi- 
cal animals. 
What shall I give you for 'em ? What 
do ye ask ? 
Meg. I must have a gross of onions 
for this here ; 
And the other you may take for a peck 
of salt. 
Die. I'll keep 'em ; wait a moment. 

Meg. Heaven be praised ! 

O blessed Mercury, if I could but man- 





Enter a Theban with his attendants, all 
bearing burdens ; followed by a train 
»f bagpipers. 

Theban. Good troth, I'm right down 

shoulder-galled ; my lads, 
Set down your bundles. You, take care 

o' the herbs. 
Gently, be sure don't bruise 'em ; and 

now, you minstrels, 
That needs would follow us all the way 

from Thebes ; 
Blow wind i' the tail of your bagpipes, 

puff away. 
Die. Get out ! what wind has brought 

'em here, I wonder ? 
A parcel of hornets buzzing about the 

door ! 
You humble-bumble drones — Get out! 

Get out ! 


Theb. As Iolaus shall help me, that's 
well done, 

Friend, and I thank you; — coming out 
of Thebes, 

They blew me away the blossom of all 
these herbs. 

You've sarved 'em right. So now would 
you please to buy, 

What likes you best, of all my chaffer 
here ; 

All kinds, four-footed things and feath- 
ered fowl. 
Die. [suddenly, with the common trick 
of condescension, as if he had not ob- 
served him before\. 

My little tight Boeotian ! Welcome 

My little pudding-eater ! What have 
you brought ? 
Theb. In a manner, everything, as a 
body may say ; 

All the good cheer of Thebes, and the 
primest wares, 




Mats, trefoil, wicks for lamps, sweet 

Coots, didappers, and water-hens — 

what not ? 
Widgeon and teal. 

Die. Why, you're come here amongst 

Like a north wind in winter, with your 

wild fowl. 
Theb. Moreover I've brought geese, 

and hares moreover, 
And eels from the lake Copais, which is 

Die. O thou bestower of the best 

That ever yet were given to mortal man, 
Permit me to salute those charming 

Theb. [addressing the eel, and deliver- 
ing it to DlCffOPOLIs]. 

Daughter, come forth, and greet the 

courteous stranger, 
First-born of fifty damsels of the lake ! 








Die. O long regretted and recovered 

Welcome, thrice welcome to the Comic 

Welcome to me, to Morychus,' and all. 
(Ye slaves prepare the chafing dish and 

Children, behold her here, the best of 

The loveliest and the best, at length 

After six years of absence. I myself 
Will furnish you with charcoal for her 

Salute her with respect, and wait upon 
Her entrance there within, with due con- 
[The eel is here carried off by Dicffi- 
opolis's servants.'] 

* At the close of the play, a splendid supper 
was given by the choregus to the whole Comic 
Choir; authors, actors, and judges. Morychus 
was a noted epicure. 


Grant me, ye gods ! so to possess thee 

While my life lasts, and at my latest 

Fresh even and sweet as now, with . . . 
savoury sauce. 
Theb. But how am I to be paid for 

it ? Won't you tell me ? 
Die. Why, with respect to the eel, in 
the present instance, 
I mean to take it as a perquisite, 
As a kind of toll to the market ; you 

understand me. 
These other things of course are meant 
for sale. 
Theb. Yes, sure. I sell 'em all. 
Die. Well, what do you ask ? 

Or would you take commodities in ex- 
change ? 
Theb. Ay; think of something of 
your country produce, 
That's plentiful down here, and scarce 
up there. 






Die. Well, you shall take our pilchards 

or our pottery. 
Theb. Pilchards and pottery ! Naugh, 
we've plenty of they. 
But think of something, as I said be- 
That's plentiful down here, and scarce 
up there. 
Die. [after a moment 's refection]. 
I have it ! A true-bred sycophant and 

I'll give you one, tied neatly and corded 

Like an oil-jar. 

Theb. Ay; that's fair; by the holy 
twins ! 
He'd bring in money, I warrant, money 

Amongst our folks at home, with show- 
ing him, 
Like a mischief-full kind of foreign ape. 
Die. Well, there's Nicarchus moving 
down this way, 



Laying his informations. There he 
Theb. [contemplating him with the eye 
of a purchaser]. 
'A seems but a small one to look at. 

Die. Ay, but I promise ye, 

He's full of tricks and roguery, every inch 
of him. 

Enter Nicarchus, an informer. 

Nicarchus [in the pert peremptory tone 
of his profession] . 
Whose goods are these ? these articles ? 
Theb. Mine, sure; 

We be come here from Thebes. 

Nic. Then I denounce them 

As enemies' property. 

Theb. [with an immediate outcry] . 

Why, what harm have they done, 

The birds and creatures ? Why do you 

quarrel with 'em ? 

Nic. And I'll denounce you too. 

Theb. What, me ? What for ? 



Nic. To satisfy the bystanders, I'll 
You've brought in wicks of lamps from 
an enemy's country. 
Die [ironically] . And so, you bring 

'em to light? 
Nic. I bring to light 

A plot ! — a plot to burn the arsenal ! 
Die. [ironically] . With the wick of 

a lamp ? 
Nic. Undoubtedly. 

Die. In what way ? 

Nic. [with great gravity] . A Boeo- 
tian might be capable of fixing it 
On the back of a cockroach, who might 

float with it 
Into the arsenal, with a north-east 

wind ; 
And if once the fire caught hold of a 

single vessel, 
The whole would be in a blaze. 

Die. [seizing bold of him]. You dog ! 
You villain ! 


Would a cockroach burn the ships and 
the arsenal ? 
Nic. Bear witness all of ye. 
Die. There, stop his mouth ; 

And bring me a band of straw to bind 

him up ; 
And send him safely away, for fear of 

Gently and steadily, like a potter's jar. 
Chorus. To preserve him safe and 
You must have him fairly bound, 
With a cordage nicely wound, 
Up and down, and round and round ; 
Securely packed. 
Die. I shall have a special care, 
For he's a piece of paltry ware ; 
And as you strike him, here — or 
there — [Striking him] 

The noises he returns declare — 

[ The informer screaming] 
He's partly cracked. 
Chor. How then is he fit for use ? 



Die. As a store-jar of abuse. 
Plots and lies he cooks and brews, 
Slander and seditious news, 
Or anything. 
Chor. Have you stowed him safe 

enough ? 
Die. Never fear, he's hearty stuff; 
Fit for usage hard and rough, 
Fit to beat and fit to cuff, 

To toss and fling. 
You can hang him up or down, 
By the heels or by the crown. 

Theb. I'm for harvest business bown. 
Chor. Fare ye well, my jolly 

We wish ye joy. 
You've a purchase tight and neat ; 
A rogue, a sycophant complete ; 
Fit to bang about and beat, 
Fit to stand the cold and heat, 
And all employ. 
Die. I'd a hard job with the rascal, 
tying him up ! 





Cleon. Ay ! You're a speaker, I 
suppose ! I should enjoy to see 

Like a pert scullion set to cook — to 
see your talents fairly 

Put to the test, with hot blood-raw dis- 
jointed news arriving, 

Obliged to hash and season it, and dish 
it in an instant. 
You're like the rest of 'em — the 
swarm of paltry weak pretenders. 

You've made your pretty speech perhaps, 
and gained a little lawsuit 

Against a merchant foreigner, by dint 
of water-drinking 

And lying long awake o' nights, compos- 
ing and repeating, 

And studying as you walked the streets, 
and wearing out the patience 



X ^M: 


Chor. [to the Sausage -Seller]. 

O best of men ! thou tightest heartiest 
fellow ! 

What a terror and alarm had you cre- 

In the hearts of all your friends by this 

But since at length in safety you return, 

Say what was the result of your attempt. 
Sausage - Seller. The result is ; you 
may call me Nickoboulus ; 

For I've nicked the Boule there, the 
Senate, capitally. 

Chor. Then we may chant amain 
In an exulting strain, 
With ecstasy triumphant bold and high, 

O thou ! 
That not in words alone, or subtle 



But more in manly deed, 
Hast merited, and to fair achievement 
brought ! 
Relate at length and tell 
The event as it befell : 
So would I gladly pass a weary way ; 
Nor weary would it seem, 
Attending to the theme, 
Of all the glories of this happy day. 
[In a familiar tone, as if clapping him 
on the shoulder.] 
Come, my jolly worthy fellow, never 

fear ! 
We're all delighted with you — let us 
hear ! 
S. S. Ay, ay — It's well worth hear- 
ing, I can tell ye : 
I followed after him to the Senate House ; 
And there was he, storming, and roaring, 

His thunderbolts about him, bowling 

His biggest words to crush the cavaliers, 


,-H >I 


Like stones from a hill-top ; calling them 

Conspirators — what not ? There sat 
the Senate 

With their arms folded, and their eye- 
brows bent, 

And their lips puckered, with the grave 

Of persons utterly humbugged and bam- 
Seeing the state of things, I paused 

Praying in secret with an under voice : 
" Ye influential impudential powers 

Of sauciness and jabber, slang and 
jaw ! 

Ye spirits of the market-place and street, 

Where I was reared and bred — befriend 
me now ! 

Grant me a voluble utterance, and a 

Unbounded voice, and steadfast impu- 
dence! " 



Whilst I thus thought and prayed, on 
the right hand, 

I heard a sound of wind distinctly broken ! 

I seized the omen at once ; and bounc- 
ing up, 

I burst among the crowd, and bustled 

And bolted in at the wicket, and bawled 
out : 

" News ! news ! I've brought you 
news ! the best of news ! 

Yes, Senators, since first the war be- 

There never has been known, till now 
this morning, 

Such a haul of pilchards." Then they 
smiled and seemed 

All tranquillized and placid at the pros- 

Of pilchards being likely to be cheap. 

I then proceeded and proposed a vote 

To meet the emergence secretly and 
suddenly : 


To seize at once the trays of all the 

And go with them to market to buy 

Before the price was raised. Imme- 

They applauded, and sat gaping all to- 

Attentive and admiring. He perceived 

And framed a motion, suited as he 

To the temper of the Assembly. " I 
move," says he, 

" That on occasion of this happy news, 

We should proclaim a general thanks- 
giving ; 

With a festival moreover, and a sacri- 

Of a hundred head of oxen ; to the 
Then seeing he meant to drive me to 
the wall 


With his hundred oxen, I overbid him 

at once ; 
And said "two hundred," and proposed 

a vow, 
For a thousand goats to be offered to 

Whenever sprats should fall to forty a 

With that the Senate smiled upon me 

again ; 
And he grew stupefied and lost, and 

stammering ; 
And attempting to interrupt the current 

Was called to order, and silenced and 

put down. 
Then they were breaking up to buy 

their pilchards : 
But he must needs persist, and beg for a 

hearing — 
" For a single moment — for a messen- 
For a herald that was come from 



With an offer of peace — for an au- 
dience to be given him." 

But they broke out in an uproar all 
together : 

" Peace truly ! Peace forsooth ! Yes, 
now's their time ; 

I warrant 'em ; when pilchards are so 

They've heard of it ; and now they come 
for peace ! 

No ! No ! No peace ! The war must 
take its course." 

Then they called out to the Presidents to 
adjourn ; 

And scrambled over the railing and dis- 
persed ; 

And I dasht down to the market-place 
headlong ; 

And bought up all the fennel, and be- 
stowed it 

As donative, for garnish to their pil- 

Among the poorer class of Senators ; 




And they so thankt and praised me, that 

in short, 
For twenty-pence, I've purchased and 

secured them. 

— From " The Knights." 



Euelpides. But tell me among the 
birds here, how do ye find it ? 
What kind of an existence ? 

Hoopoe. Pretty fair ; 

Not much amiss. Time passes smoothly 

enough ; 
And money is out of the question. We 
don't use it. 
Eu. You've freed yourselves from a 

great load of dross. 
Hoo. We've our field sports. We 
spend our idle mornings 
With banqueting and collations in the 

With poppy-seeds and myrtle. 

Eu. So your time 

Is passed like a perpetual wedding-day. 

[PEISTHETAIRUS, who has hitherto felt 
his way by putting Euelpides 

forward, and allowing him to take 
the lead, and who has paid no at- 
tention to this trifling inconclusive 
conversation, breaks out as from a 
profound reflective reverie.] 

Peisthetairus. Ha ! What a power 
is here ! What opportunities ! 

If I could only advise you. I see it all ! 

The means for an infinite empire and 
command ! 
Hoo. And what would you have us 

do ? What's your advice ? 
Peis. Do ? What would I have ye 
do ? Why first of all 

Don't flutter and hurry about all open- 

In that undignified way. With us, for 

At home, we should cry out " What crea- 
ture's that ? " 

And Teleas would be the first to an- 


y' • 


" A mere poor creature, a weak restless 

A silly bird, that's neither here nor there." 
Hoo. Yes, Teleas might say so. It 
would be like him. 
But tell me, what would you have us do ? 
Peis. [emphatically]. Concentrate ! 

Bring all your birds together. Build a 
Hoo. The birds ! How could we 

build a city ? Where ? 
Peis. Nonsense. You can't be serious. 
What a question ! 
Look down. 
Hoo. I do. 
Peis. Look up now. 

Hoo. So I do. 

Peis. Now turn your neck round. 
Hoo. I should sprain it though. 

Peis. Come, what d'ye see ? 
Hoo. The clouds and sky ; that's all. 
Peis. Well, that we call the pole and 
the atmosphere ; 


And would it not serve you birds for a 
metropole ? 
Hoo. Pole ? Is it called a pole ? 
Peis. Yes, that's the name. 

Philosophers of late call it the pole ; 

Because it wheels and rolls itself about, 

As it were, in a kind of a roly-poly way. 

Well, there then, you may build and 

And call it your Metropolis — your 

From that position you'll command man- 

And keep them in utter, thoro' subjuga- 
tion : 

Just as you do the grasshoppers and 

And if the gods offend you, you'll block- 
ade 'em, 

And starve 'em to a surrender. 

Peis. Why thus. Your atmosphere is 
placed, you see, 

"£V ■ 


•5#. : :*l, 



In a middle point, just betwixt earth and 
A case of the same kind occurs with 

Our people in Athens, if thev send to 

With deputations, offerings, or what not, 

Are forced to obtain a pass from the 
Boeotians : 

Thus when mankind on earth are sacri- 

If you should find the gods grown muti- 

And insubordinate, you could intercept 

All their supplies of sacrificial smoke. 
Hoo. By the earth and all its springs ! 
springes and nooses ! 

Odds, nets and snares ! This is the 
cleverest notion : 

And I could find it in my heart to ven- 

If the other birds agree to the proposal. 
Peis. But who must state it to them ? 


Hoo. You yourself, 

They'll understand ye, I found them mere 

But living here a length of time amongst 

I have taught them to converse and 
speak correctly. 
Peis. How will you summon them ? 
Hoo. That's easy enough ; 

I'll just step into the thicket here hard by, 
And call mv nightingale. She'll sum- 
mon them. 
And when they hear her voice, I prom- 
ise you 
You'll see them all come running here 
Peis. My dearest, best of birds ! don't 
lose a moment, 
I beg, but go directly into the thicket ; 
Nay, don't stand here, go call your night- 

[Exit Hoopoe. 
— From " The Birds." 




[Song from behind the scene, supposed to 
be sung by the Hoopoe.] 

Awake ! awake ! 
Sleep no more, my gentle mate ! 
With your tiny tawny bill, 
Wake the tuneful echo shrill, 

On vale or hill ; 
Or in her airy, rocky seat, 
Let her listen and repeat 

The tender ditty that you tell, 
The sad lament, 
The dire event, 
To luckless Itys that befell. 
Thence the strain 
Shall rise again, 
And soar amain, 
Up to the lofty palace gate ; 
Where mighty Apollo sits in state ; 


/' I. 

In Jove's abode, with his ivory lyre, 
Hymning aloud to the heavenly choir. 
While all the gods shall join with thee 
In a celestial symphony. 

[A solo on the flute, supposed to be the 
nightingale's call.] 

Peis. O Jupiter ! the dear, delicious 
bird ! 
With what a lovely tone she swells and 

Sweetening the wilderness with delicate 
Eu. Hist! 
Peis. What ? 

Eu. Be quiet, can't ye ? 

Peis. What's the matter ? 

Eu. The Hoopoe is just preparing for 

a song. 
Hoo. Hoop ! hoop ! 

Come in a troop, 
Come at a call, 
One and all, 





Birds of a feather, 
All together. 
Birds of a humble, gentle bill, 
Smooth and shrill, 
Dieted on seeds and grain, 
Rioting on the furrowed plain, 
Pecking, hopping, 
Picking, popping, 
Among the barley newly sown. 
Birds of bolder, louder tone, 
Lodging in the shrubs and bushes, 
Mavises and thrushes, 
On the summer berries brousing, 
On the garden fruits carousing, 
All the grubs and vermin smousing. 
You that in a humbler station, 
With an active occupation, 
Haunt the lowly watery mead, 
Warring against the native breed, 

The gnats and flies, your enemies ; 
In the level marshy plain 
Of Marathon, pursued and slain. 



£ -hM 



You that in a squadron driving 
From the seas are seen arriving, 

With the cormorants and mews 
Haste to land and hear the news ! 

All the feathered airy nation, 
Birds of every size and station, 
Are convened in convocation. 

For an envoy, queer and shrewd, 

Means to address the multitude, 
And submit to their decision 
A surprising proposition, 
For the welfare of the State. 

Come in a flurry, 

With a hurry-scurry, 
Hurry to the meeting and attend to the 


— From "-The Birds." 

!Ht>s Jtl 




Peis. I move, that the birds shall in 

common repair 
To a centrical point, and encamp in the 

air ; 
And intrench and enclose it, and fortify 

there : 
And build up a rampart, impregnably 

Enormous in thickness, enormously long ; 
Bigger than Babylon ; solid and tall, 
With bricks and bitumen, a wonderful 

Eu. Bricks and bitumen ! I'm longing 

to see 
What a daub of a building the city will 

Peis. As soon as the fabric is brought 

to an end, 
A herald or envoy to Jove we shall 




To require his immediate prompt abdica- 
tion ; 

And if he refuses, or shows hesitation, 

Or evades the demand ; we shall further 

With legitimate warfare avowed and 
decreed : 

With a warning and notices, formally 

To Jove, and all others residing in 

Forbidding them ever to venture again 

To trespass on our atmospheric domain, 

With scandalous journeys, to visif a list 

Of Alcmenas and Semeles ; if they per- 

We warn them, that means will be taken 

To stop their gallanting and acting the 
Another ambassador also will go 

Despatched upon earth, to the people 



To notify briefly the fact of accession ; 

And enforcing our claims upon taking 
possession : 

With orders in future, that every suitor, 

Who applies to the gods with an offer- 
ing made, 

Shall begin, with a previous offering paid 

To a suitable bird ; of a kind and degree 

That accords with the god, whosoever 
he be. 

In Venus's fane, if a victim is slain, 

First let a sparrow be feasted with 

When gifts and oblations to Neptune 
are made, 

To the drake let a tribute of barley be 

Let the cormorant's appetite first be ap- 

And let Hercules then have an ox for his 

If you offer to Jove, as the sovereign 

A ram for his own ; let the golden- 
As a sovereign bird, be duly preferred, 
Feasted and honoured, in right of his 

reign ; 
With a jolly fat pismire offered and 

Eu. A pismire, how droll ! I shall 

laugh till I burst ! 
Let Jupiter thunder, and threaten his 

Hoo. But mankind, will they, 

think ye, respect and adore, 
If they see us all flying the same as 

before ? 
They will reckon us merely as magpies 

and crows. 
Peis. Poh ! nonsense, I tell ye — no 

blockhead but knows 
That Mercury flies ; there is Iris too ; 
Homer informs us how she flew : 
" Smooth as a dove, she went sailing 



And pinions of gold, both in picture and 

To Cupid and Victory fairly belong. 
Hoo. But Jove's thunder has wings ; 
if he send but a volley, 

Mankind for a time may abandon us 
Peis. What then ? we shall raise a 
granivorous troop, 

To sweep their whole crops with a raven- 
ous swoop : 

If Ceres is able, perhaps she may 

To assist their distress, with a largess 
of grain. . . . 
Eu. No ! no ! she'll be making ex- 
cuses, I warrant. 
Peis. Then the crows will be sent on 
a different errand, 

To pounce all at once, with a sudden 

On their oxen and sheep, to peck out 
their eyes, 





And leave them stone blind for Apollo 

to cure : 
He'll try it ; he'll work for his salary sure ! 
Eu. Let the cattle alone ; I've two 

beeves of my own : 
Let me part with them first ; and then 

do your worst. 
Peis. But, if men shall acknowledge 

your merit and worth, 
As equal to Saturn, to Neptune, and 

And to everything else ; we shall freely 

All manner of blessings. 

Hoo. Explain them and show. 

Peis. For instance : if locusts arrive 

to consume 
All their hopes of a crop, when the vines 

are in bloom, 
A squadron of owls may demolish them 

The midges moreover, which canker 

and gall 




The figs and the fruit, if the thrush is 

By a single battalion will soon be des- 
Hoo. But wealth is their object ; and 

how can we grant it ? 
Peis. We can point them out mines ; 
and our help will be wanted 
To inspect, and direct navigation and 

trade ; 
Their voyages all will be easily made, 
With a saving of time, and a saving of 

cost ; 
And a seaman in future will never be lost. 
Hoo. How so ? 

Peis. We shall warn them ; " Now 
hasten to sail, 
Now keep within harbour ; your voyage 
will fail." 
Eu. How readily then will a fortune 
be made ! 
I'll purchase a vessel and venture on 



Peis. And old treasure concealed will 
again be revealed ; 
The birds as they know it, will readily 

show it. 
'Tis a saying of old, " My silver and gold 
Are so safely secreted, and closely in- 
No creature can know it, excepting a 
Eu. I'll part with my vessel, I'll not 
go aboard ; 
I'll purchase a mattock and dig up a 
Hoo. We're clear as to wealth ; but 
the blessing of health, 
Is the gift of the gods. 

Peis. It will make so such odds : 
If they're going on well, they'll be 

healthy still, 
And none are in health, that are going 
on ill. 
Hoo. But then for longevity ; that is 
the gift 

V P»V 





Of the gods. 

Peis. But the birds can afford them 
a lift, 
And allow them a century, less or more. 

Hoo. How so ? 

Peis. From their own individual store : 
They may reckon it fair, to allot them 

a share ; 
For old proverbs affirm, that the final 

Of a raven's life exceeds the space 
Of five generations of human race. 

Hoo. What need have we then for 
Jove as a king ? 
Surely the bipds are a better thing ! 

Peis. Surely ! surely ! First and most, 
We shall economize the cost 
Of marble domes and gilded gates. 
The birds will live at cheaper rates, 
Lodging, without shame or scorn, 
In a maple or a thorn ; 
The most exalted and divine 
Will have an olive for his shrine. 


We need not run to foreign lands, 
Or Amnion's temple in the sands ; 
But perform our easy vows, 
Among the neighbouring shrubs and 

boughs ; 
Paying our oblations fairly, 
With a pennyworth of barley. 

Chor. O best of all envoys, suspected 

Now known and approved, and respected 

the more -, 
To you we resign the political lead, 
Our worthy director in council and deed. 

Elated with your bold design 

I swear and vow : 

If resolutely you combine 

Your views and interest with mine ; 

In steadfast councils as a trusty friend, 

Without deceit, or guile or fraudful 

end : 
They that rule in haughty state, 
The gods ere long shall abdicate 



Their high command ; 
And yield the sceptre to my rightful 

Then reckon on us for a number and 

force ; 
As on you we rely for a ready resource, 
In council and policy, trusting to you, 
To direct the design we resolve to 
Hoo. That's well, but we've no time, 
by Jove, to loiter, 
And dawdle and postpone like Nicias. 
We should be doing something. First, 

I must invite you to my roosting place, 
This nest of mine, with its poor twigs 

and leaves. 
And tell me what your names are ? 

Peis. Certainly j 

My name is Peisthetairus. 

Hoo. And your friend ? 

Eu. Euelpides from Thria. 


• 1 ,Mk0\/J 

A^^r- V 

Hoo. Well, you're welcome — 

Both of ye. 

Peis. We're obliged. 
Hoo. Walk in together. 

Peis. Go first then, if you please. 
Hoo. No, pray move forward. 

Peis. But bless me — stop, pray — 
just for a single moment — 
Let's see — do tell me — explain — 

how shall we manage 
To live with you — with a person wear- 
ing wings ? 
Being both of us unfledged ? 

Hoo. Perfectly well ! 

Peis. Yes, but I must observe, that 
.flisop's fables 
Report a case in point ; the fox and 

eagle : 
The fox repented of his fellowship j 
And with good cause ; you recollect the 
Hoo. Oh ! don't be alarmed ! we'll 
give you a certain root 



That immediately promotes the growth 
of wings. 
Peis. Come, let's go in then ; Xan- 
thias, do you mind, 
And Manodorus follow with the bundles. 
Chor. Holloh! 
Hoo. What's the matter ? 

Chor. Go in with your partv, 

And give them a jolly collation and 

But the bird, to the Muses and Graces 

so dear, 
The lovely sweet nightingale, bid her 

And leave her amongst us, to sport with 
us here. 
Peis. O yes, by Jove, indeed you 
must indulge them ; 
Do, do me the favour, call her from the 

j,'1It^\^\u F° r heaven's sake — let me entreat you 
— bring her here, 
And let us have a sight of her ourselves. 




m *;mm> 

Hoo. Since it is your wish and pleas- 
ure it must be so ; 
Come here to the strangers, Procne ! 
show yourself! 
Peis. O Jupiter, what a graceful, 
charming bird ! 
What a beautiful creature it is ! 

Eu. I'll tell you what ; 

I could find in my heart to rumple her 
Peis. And what an attire she wears, 
all bright with gold ! 

— From " The Birds." 





Nothing can be more delightful than 

the having wings to wear! 
A spectator sitting here, accommodated 

with a pair, 
Might for instance (if he found a tragic 

chorus dull and heavy) 
Take his flight, and dine at home ; and 

if he did not choose to leave ye, 
Might return in better humour, when 

the weary drawl was ended. 
Introduce then wings in use — believe 

ne, rr 11 be mended 


Trust me wings are all in all ! 
trephes has mounted quicker 

Than the rest of our aspirants, soaring 
on his wings of wicker : 

Basket work, and crates, and hampers, 
first enabled him to fly ; 

First a captain, then promoted to com- 
mand the cavalry ; 


With his fortunes daily rising, office and 

preferment new, 
An illustrious, enterprising, airy, gallant 
Peis. Well, there it is ! Such a com- 
ical set out, 
By Jove, I never saw ! 

Eu. Why, what's the matter ? 

What are you laughing at ? 

Peis. At your pen feathers : 

I'll tell ye exactly now, the thing you're 

You're just the perfect image of a goose, 
Drawn with a pen in a writing master's 
Eu. And you're like a plucked black- 
bird to a tittle. 
Peis. Well then, according to the 
line in iEschylus, 
" It's our own fault, the feathers are 
our own." 
Eu. Come, what's to be done ? 
Hoo. First, we must choose a name, 

' 7 


M K h 

Some grand sonorous name, for our new 

city : 
Then we must sacrifice. 

Eu. I think so too. 

Peis. Let's see — let's think of a 
name — what shall it be ? 
What say ye, to the Lacedaemonian 

name ? 
Sparta sounds well — suppose we call it 
Eu. Sparta ! What Sparto ? — 
Rushes ! — no, not I, 
I'd not put up with Sparto for a mat- 
Much less for a city — we're not come 
to that. 
Peis. Come then, what name shall it 

Eu. Something appropriate, 
Something that sounds majestic, striking 

and grand, 
Alluding to the clouds and the upper 


Peis. What think ye of clouds and 
cuckoos ? Cuckoo-cloudlands 
Or Nephelococcugia ? 

Hoo. That will do ; 

A truly noble and sonorous name. 

Eu. I wonder, if that Nephelococ- 
Is the same place I've heard of: people 

tell me, 
That all Theagenes's rich possessions 
Lie there •, and ./Eschines's whole estate. 
Peis. Yes ! and a better country it is 
by far, 
Than all that land in Thrace, the fabu- 
lous plain 
Of Phlegra ; where those earthborn 

landed giants 
Were bullied and out-vapoured by the 
Eu. It will be a genteelish, smart 
concern, I reckon, 
This city of ours . . . Which of the 



Shall we have for a patron ? We must 
weave our mantle, 

Our sacred mantle of course . . . the 
yearly mantle 

To one or other of 'em. 

Peis. Well, Minerva ? 

Why should not we have Minerva ? she's 

Let her continue; she'll do mighty 
Eu. No — there I object ; for a well- 
ordered city, 

The example would be scandalous ; to 

The goddess, a female born, in com- 
plete armour 

From head to foot ; and Cleisthenes with 
a distaff. 
Peis. What warden will ye appoint 
for the Eagle tower, 

Your citadel, the fort upon the rock ? 
Hoo. That charge will rest with a 
chief of our own choice, 



Of Persian race, a chicken of the game, 
An eminent warrior. 

Eu. Oh my chicky-biddy — 

My little master. I should like to see 

Strutting about and roosting on the 

Peis. Come, you now ! please to step 

to the atmosphere ; 
And give a look to the work, and help 

the workmen ; 
And between whiles fetch brick and tiles, 

and such like ; 
Draw water, stamp the mortar — do it 

barefoot ; 
Climb up the ladders ; tumble down 

again : 
Keep constant watch and ward ; conceal 

your watch lights ; 
Then go the rounds, and give the coun- 
Till you fall fast asleep. Send heralds 






A brace of them — one to the gods 

above ; 
And another, down below there, to 

Bid them, when they return, inquire 

for me. 
Eu. For me ! for me ! You may be 

hanged for me. 
Peis. Come, friend, go where I bid 

you ; never mind ; 
The business can't go on without vou, 

It's just a sacrifice to these new deities, 
That I must wait for ; and the priest 

that's coming. 
Holloh, you boy there ! bring the basin 

and ewer ! 

— From « The Birds." 






Enter a Poet, very ragged and shabby, with a 
very mellifluous submissive mendicatory de- 
meanour. Peisthetairus, the essential man 
of business and activity, entertaining a su- 
preme contempt for his profession and per- 
son, is at no great pains to conceal it ; but 
recollecting at the same time, that it is advis- 
able to secure the suffrages of the literary 
world, and that the character of a patron is 
creditable to a great man, he patronizes him 
accordingly, not at his own expense, but by 
bestowing upon him certain articles of apparel 
put in requisition for that purpose. This first 
act of confiscation is directed against the 
property of the Church ; the Scholiast in- 
forms us, that he begins by stripping the 

Poet. " For the festive, happy day, 
Must prepare an early lay, 
To Nephelococcugia." 
Peis. What's here to do ? What 
are vou ? Where do you come 
from ? 

6 7 


Poet. An humble menial of the 
Muses' train, 
As Homer expresses it. 

Peis. A menial, are you ? 

With your long hair ? A menial ? 

Poet. 'Tis not that, 

No ! but professors of the poetical 

Are simply styled, the " Menials of the 

As Homer expresses it. 

Peis. Ay, the Muse has given you 
A ragged livery. Well, but friend, I 

say — 
Friend ! — Poet ! — What the plague 
has brought you here ? 
Poet. I've made an ode upon your 
new built city, 
And a charming composition for a 

And another, in Simonides's manner. 
Peis. When were they made ? What 
time ? How long ago ? 


Poet. From early date, I celebrate in 

The noble Nephelococcugian State. 
Peis. That's strange, when I'm just 

sacrificing here, 
For the first time, to give the town a name. 
Poet. Intimations, swift as air, 
To the Muses' ear, are carried, 
Swifter than the speed and force, 
Of the fiery-footed horse, 

Hence, the tidings never tarried ; 

Father, patron, mighty lord, 

Founder of the rising State, 
What thy bounty can afford, 

Be it little, be it great, 
With a quick resolve, incline 
To bestow on me and mine. 
Peis. This fellow will breed a bustle, 

and make mischief, 
If we don't give him a trifle, and get rid 

of him. 
You there, you've a spare waistcoat ; 

pull it off! 


6 9 


•..;•.: iSw3>.^' 

And give it this same clever, ingenious 

poet — 
There, take the waistcoat, friend ! Ye 
seem to want it ! 
Poet. Freely, with a thankful heart, 
What a bounteous hand bestows, 
Is received in friendlv part ; 

But amid the Thracian snows, 
Or the chilly Scvthian plain, 

He the wanderer, cold and lonely, 
With an under-waistcoat only, 
Must a further wish retain ; 

Which the Muse averse to mention, 
To your gentle comprehension, 
Trusts her enigmatic strain. 
Peis. I comprehend it enough ; you 
want a jerkin ; 
Here, give him yours ; one ought to 

encourage genius. 
There, take it, and good-by to ye ! 

Poet. Well, I'm going ; 

And as soon as I get to the town, I'll set 
to work ; 



And finish something, in this kind of 

" Seated on your golden throne, 
Muse, prepare a solemn ditty, 

To the mighty, 

To the flighty, 
To the cloudy, quivering, shivering, 
To the lofty-seated city." [Exit. 

Peis. Well, I should have thought, 

that jerkin might have cured him 

Of his "quiverings and shiverings." 

How the plague ! 
Did the fellow find us out ? I should 
not have thought it. 
Come, once again, go round with the 
basin and ewer. 
Peace ! Silence ! Silence ! 

— From "The Birds." 



Enter a Messenger, quite out of breath ; 
and speaking in short snatches. 

Messenger. Where is he ? Where ? 
Where is he ? Where ? Where is 
he? — 
The president Peisthetairus ? 

Peis. [*•««//>•] . Here am I. 

Mess, [in a gasp of breath~\ . Your 

fortification's finished. 
Peis. Well ! that's well. 

Mess. A most amazing, astonishing 
work it is ! 
So, that Theagenes and Proxenides 
Might flourish and gasconade and prance 

Quite at their ease, both of them four- 
Driving abreast upon the breadth of the 


Each in his own new chariot. 

Peis. You surprise me. 

Mess. And the height (for I made the 
measurement myself) 
Is exactly a hundred fathoms. 

Peis. Heaven and earth ! 

How could it be ? such a mass ! who 
could have built it ? 
Mess. The Birds ; no creature else, 
no foreigners, 
Egyptian bricklayers, workmen or ma- 
But, they themselves, alone, by their 

own efforts, 
(Even to my surprise, as an eye-wit- 
ness) — 
The Birds, I say, completed everything : 
There came a body of thirty thousand 
(I won't be positive, there might be 

With stones from Africa, in their craws 
and gizzards, 


hk** m 

Which the stone-curlews and stone- 

Worked into shape and finisht. The 

And mud-larks, too, were busy in their 

Mixing the mortar, while the water 

As fast as it was wanted, brought the 

To temper, and work it. 

Peis. [in a fidget]. But, who served 
the masons ? 

Who did you get to carry it ? 

Mess. To carry it ? 

Of course, the carrion crows and carry- 
ing pigeons. 
Peis. [in a fuss, which he endeavours to 

Yes ! yes ! But after all, to load your 

How did you manage that ? 

Mess. Oh capitally, 





\ J >~ 


I promise you. There were the geese, 
all barefoot 

Trampling the mortar, and, when all was 

They handed it into the hods, so cleverly, 

With their flat feet ! 

Peis. [J bad joke, as a vent for irrita- 

They footed it, you mean — 

Come ; it was handily done though, I 
Mess. Indeed, I assure you, it was a 
sight to see them ; 

And trains of ducks, there were, clamber- 
ing the ladders, 

With their duck legs, like bricklayer's 

All dapper and handy, with their little 
Peis. In fact, then, it's no use engag- 
ing foreigners, 

Mere folly and waste, we've all within 







Ah, well now, come ! But about the 
woodwork ? Heh ! 

Who were the carpenters ? Answer me 
Mess. The woodpeckers, of course : 
and there they were, 

Labouring upon the gates, driving and 

With their hard hatchet beaks, and such 
a din, 

Such a clatter, as they made, hammering 
and hacking, 

In a perpetual peal, pelting away 

Like shipwrights, hard at work in the 
And now their work is finished, gates 
and all, 

Staples and bolts, and bars and every- 
thing ; 

The sentries at their posts ; patrols ap- 
pointed ; 

The watchmen in the barbican ; the 




7£* Watchman enters, with a shout of 

Peis. Well, what's the matter ? 
Watchman. A most dreadful ' busi- 
ness : 
One of the gods, just now — Jupiter's 

gods — 
Has bolted thro' the gates, and driven on 
Right into the atmosphere, in spite of us, 
And all the jackdaws, that were mount- 
ing guard. 
Peis. [animated at the prospect of hav- 
ing something to manage~\. 
What an outrage ! what an insult ! 

Which of 'em? 
Which of the gods ? 

W. We can't pretend to say ; 

We just could ascertain that he wore 


We're clear upon that point. 

Peis. But a light party 

Ought surely to have been sent in such 

a case ; 
A detachment — 

W. A detachment has been sent 

Already : a squadron of ten thousand 

Besides a corps of twenty thousand 

hobby hawks, 
As a light cavalry, to scour the country : 
Vultures and falcons, ospreys, eagles, all 
Have sallied forth ; the sound of wings is 

Rushing and whizzing round on every 

In eager search. The fugitive divinity 
Is not far off, and soon must be dis- 
Peis. Did nobody think of slingers ? 

Where are they ? 
Where are the slingers got to ? Give me 

a sling. 



Peis. Holloh you ! Where are ye fly- 
ing ? Where are ye going ? 
Hold ! Halt ! Stop there, I tell ye ! — 

Stop this instant ! 
What are ye ? Where do you come 
from ? Speak, explain. 
Iris. Me ? From the gods, to be sure ! 

the Olympian gods. 
Peis. [pointing to the flaunting append- 
ages of her dress\. 
What are ye ? With all your flying 

trumpery ! 
A helmet ? or a galley ? What's your 
name ? 
Iris. Iris, the messenger of the gods. 

Oh ! you're a naval messenger, I reckon, 
The Salaminian galley, or the Para- 

lian ? 
You're in full sail, I see. 

Iris. What's here to do ? 

Peis. Are there no birds in wait- 
ing ? Nobody 


To take her into custody ? 

Iris. Me, to custody ? 

Why, what's all this ? 

Peis. You'll find to your cost, I 

promise ye. 
Iris. Well, this seems quite unac- 
countable ! 
Peis. Which of the gates 

Did ye enter at, ye jade ? How came 
you here ? 
Iris. Gates ! — I know nothing about 

your gates, not I. 
Peis. Fine innocent ignorant airs, she 
gives herself! 
You applied to the pelicans, I suppose ? 

— The captain 
Of the cormorants on guard admitted 
you ? 
Iris. Why, what the plague ! what's 

Peis. So you confess ! 
You come without permission ! 

Iris. Are you mad ? 


Peis. Did neither the sitting magis- 
trates nor bird-masters 
Examine and pass you ? 

Iris. Examine me, forsooth ! 

Peis. This is the way then ! — with- 
out thanks or leave 
You ramble and fly, committing tres- 
In an atmosphere belonging to your 
neighbours ! 
Iris. And where would you have us 

fly then ? Us, the gods ! 
Peis. I neither know nor care. But, 
I know this, 
They sha'n't fly here. And another 

thing, I know. 
I know — that, if there ever was an in- 
Of an Iris or a rainbow, such as you, 
Detected in the fact, fairly condemned, 
And justly put to death — it would be 
Iris. But, I'm immortal. 




Peis. [coolly and peremptorily]. That 

would make no difference : 
We should be strangely circumstanced 

indeed ; 
With the possession of a sovereign 

And you, the gods, in no subordination, 
No kind of order ! fairly mutinying, 
Infringing and disputing our commands. 
— Now then, you'll please to tell me 

— where you're going ? 
Which way you're steering with those 

wings of yours ? 
Iris. I ? . . . I'm commissioned 

from my father Jove, 
To summon human mortals to perform 
Their rites and offerings and oblations, 

To the powers above. 

Peis. And who do you mean ? what 

powers ? • 

Iris. What powers ? Ourselves, the 

Olympian deities ! 


Peis. So then ! you're deities, the rest 

of ye ? 
Iris. Yes, to be sure. What others 

should there be ? 
Peis. Remember — ! once for all — ! 
that we, the Birds, 
Are the only deities, from this time forth ; 
And, not your father Jove. By Jove ! 
not he ! 
Iris. Oh ! rash, presumptuous wretch ! 
Incense no more 
The wrath of the angry gods ! lest ruin 

Her ploughshare o'er thy mansion ; and 

With hasty besom sweep thee to the 

dust ; 
Or flaming lightning smite thee with a 

Left in an instant smouldering and ex- 
Peis. Do ye hear her? — Quite in 
tragedy ! — quite sublime ! 


Come, let me try for a bouncer in re- 

Let's see. Let's recollect. " Me dost 
thou deem, 

Like a base Lydian or a Phrygian slave, 

With hyperbolical bombast to scare ? " 

I tell ye, and you may tell him. Jupi- 
ter — 

If he provokes me, and pushes things 
too far — 

Will see some eagles of mine, to out- 
number his, 

With firebrands in their claws about his 
And, I shall send a flight of my Por- 

A hundred covey or more, armed cap-a- 

To assault him in his sublime celestial 
towers : 

Perhaps, he may remember in old times, 

He found enough to do with one Por- 


And for you, Madam Iris, I shall 
Your rainbow-shanks, if you're imperti- 
Depend upon it, and I myself, in person 
Will ruin you, myself! — Old as I 
Iris. Curse ye, you wretch, and all 

your filthy words. 
Peis. Come, scuttle away; convey 
your person elsewhere ; 
Be brisk, and leave a vacancy. Brush 
Iris. I shall inform my father.' He 
shall know 
Your rudeness and impertinence. He 

1 Iris, in her rage, unwittingly makes use of 
the same sort of phrase with which a young girl 
at Athens would repel, or affect to repel, im- 
proper familiarities. Peisthetairus, taking advan- 
tage of this, pretends to consider her indignation 
as a mere coquettish artifice intended to inveigle 
and allure him. 



He'll settle ye and keep ye in order. 
You shall see. 
Peis. Oh, dear ! is it come to that ! 
No, you're mistaken, 

Young woman, upon that point, I'm not 
your man, 

I'm an old fellow grown ; I'm thunder- 

Proof against flames and darts and fe- 
male arts : 

You'd best look out for a younger 

Chor. Notice is hereby given, 
To the deities of heaven j 
Not to trespass here, 
Upon our atmosphere ; 
Take notice ; from the present day, 
No smoke or incense is allowed 
To pass this way. 

— From » The Birds." 



O most noble founder 
Of this supereminent celestial city, 
You can't conceive the clamour of 

The enthusiastic popularity, 
That attends upon your name ; the im- 
pulse and stir, 
That moves among mankind, to colonize 
And migrate hither. In the time be- 
There was a Spartan mania, and people 

Stalking about the streets, with Spartan 

With their long hair, unwashed and 

Like so many Socrateses : but, of late, 
Birds are the fashion — Birds are all in 
all — 


Their modes of life are grown to be 
rising with the 

mere copies 

Of the birds' habits ; 

Scratching and scrabbling suits and in- 
formations ; 

Picking and pecking upon points of law ; 

Brooding and hatching evidence. In 

It has grown to such a pitch, that names 
of birds 

Are given to individuals ; Chjerephon 

Is called an owl, Theagenes, a goose, 

Philocles, a cock sparrow, Midias, 

A dunghill cock. And all the songs in 

Have something about birds ; swallows 
or doves ; 

Or about flying, or a wish for wings. 
Such is the state of things, and I must 
warn you, 

That you may expect to see some thou- 
sands of them 






We have flown, and we have run, 
Viewing marvels, many a one ; 
In every land beneath the sun. 

But, the strangest sight to see, 
Was a huge exotic tree, 
Growing, without heart or pith, 
Weak and sappy, like a withe ; 
But, with leaves and boughs withal, 
Comely, flourishing and tall. 

This the learned all ascribe 
To the sycophantic tribe ; 
But the natives there, like us, 
Call it a Cleonymus. 
In the spring's delightful hours, 
It blossoms with rhetoric flowers ; 
I saw it standing in the field, 
With leaves, in figure like a shield ; 
On the first tempestuous day, 
I saw it cast those leaves away. 



Viim%\ } 

There lies a region out of sight, 
Far within the realm of night, 
Far from torch and candle light. 
There in feasts of meal and wine, 
Men and demigods may join, 
There thev banquet, and they dine, 
Whilst the light of day prevails ; 
At sunset, their assurance fails. 
If any mortal then presumes, 
Orestes, sallying from the tombs, 
Like a fierce heroic sprite, 
Assaults and strips the lonely wight. 

Beyond the navigable seas, 
Amongst the fierce Antipodes, 
There lies a lake, obscure and holy, 
Lazy, deep, melancholy, 
Solitary, secret, hidden, 
Where baths and washing are for- 
Socrates, beside the brink, 
Summons from the murky sink 
Many a disembodied ghost ; 

'^m*mU*l • 






Neptune, the Triballian Envoy, 

Neptune. There's Nephelococcugia, 
that's the town, 

The point we're bound to, with our em- 
[Turning to the Triballian Deity] 

But you ! What a figure have ye made 

What a way to wear a mantle ! slouch- 
ing off 

From the left shoulder ! hitch it round, I 
tell ye, 

On the right side. For shame — come 
— so ; that's better, 

These folds, too, bundled up. There, 
throw them round 

Even and easy — so. Why, you're a 



A natural born savage. Oh ! democ- 

What will it bring us to ? When such 
a ruffian 

Is voted into an embassy ! 

Triballian [to Neptune, who is 
pulling his dress about\. 

Come, hands off! 

Hands off! 

Nep. Keep quiet, I tell ye, and hold 
your tongue, 

For a very beast : in all my life in 

I never saw such another — Hercu- 

I say, what shall we do ? What should 
you think ? 
Hercules. What would I do ? What 
do I think ? I've told you 

Already ... I think to throttle him — 
the fellow, 

Whoever he is, that's keeping us block- 


^mmmi '■ 


Nep. Yes, my good friend ; but we 
were sent, you know, 
To treat for a peace. Our embassy is 
for peace. 
Her. That makes no difference ; or 
if it does, 
It makes me long to throttle him the 
Peis. [very busy, affecting not to see 
Give me the Silphium spice. Where's 

the cheese-grater ? 
Bring cheese here, somebody ! Mend 
the charcoal fire. 
Her. Mortal, we greet you and hail 






Peis. [without looting up]. Some in- 
dividual birds, 
Opposed to the popular democratic birds, 
Rendered themselves obnoxious. 

Her. So, you've pluckt them, 

And put them into sauce, provisionally ? 

Peis. [looking up~\. Oh! bless me, 

Hercules, I'm quite glad to see you. 

What brings you here r 

Her. We're come upon an embassy 
From heaven, to put an end to this same 
war . . . 
Servant [to Peisthetairus]. 
The cruet's empty, our oil is out. 

Peis. No matter, 

Fetch more, fetch plenty, I tell ye. We 

shall want it. 

Her. For, in fact it brings no benefit 

to us, 

The continuance of the war prolonging 

And you yourselves, by being on good 


Of harmony with the gods . . . why, 

for the future, 
You'd never need to know, the want of 

For water in your tanks ; and we could 

serve ye 
With reasonable, seasonable weather, 
According as you wished it, wet or dry. 
And this is our commission coming here, 
As envoys, with authority to treat. 
Peis. Well, the dispute, you know, 

from the beginning, 
Did not originate with us. The war 
(If we could hope in any way to bring 

To reasonable terms) might be con- 
Our wishes, I declare it, are for peace. 
If the same wish prevails upon your 

The arrangement in itself, is obvious. 
A retrocession on the part of Jupiter. 
The birds, again to be reintegrated 



In their estate of sovereignty. This 

The fair result ; and if we can con- 

I shall hope to see the ambassadors to 
Her. Well, this seems satisfactory ; 

I consent. 
Nep. [to Hercules]. What's come 
to ye ? What do ye mean ? Are 
ye gone mad ? 

You glutton ; would you ruin your own 

Depriving him of his ancient sover- 
eignty ? 
Peis. [to Neptune]. Indeed ! And 
would not it be a better method 

For all you deities, and confirm your 

To leave the birds to manage things 
below ? 

You sit there, muffled in your clouds 


While all mankind are shifting, skulk- 
ing, lurking, 
And perjuring themselves here out of 

Whereas, if you would form a steady 

Alliance with the Birds, when any 

(Using the common old familiar oath — 
" By Jupiter and the crow " ) forswore 

The crow would pick his eyes out, for 
his pains. 
Nep. Well, that seems plausible — 

that's fairly put. 
Her. I think so, too. 
Peis. [to the Triballian]. Well, what 

say you ? 
Trib. Say true. 

Peis. Yes. He consents, you see ! 
But I'll explain now 
The services and good offices we could 
do you. 


Suppose a mortal made a vow, for 

To any of you ; then he delays and 

And says " the gods are easy creditors." 
In such a case, we could assist ye, I 

To levy a fine. 

Nep. [open to conviction, but anxious 

to proceed on sure ground~\ . 
How would you do it ? Tell me. 

Peis. Why, for example, when he's 

counting money, 
Or sitting in the bath, we give the 

To a pursuivant of ours, a kite or mag- 
pie ; 
And they pounce down immediately, 

and distrain 
Cash or apparel, money or money's 

To twice the amount of your demand 

upon him. 


v v x 

Her. Well, I'm for giving up 
For my part. 

Nep. [convinced, but wishing to avoid 
responsibility, by voting last]. 

The Triballian, what says he ? 
Her. [aside to the Triballian, show- 
ing his fist]. 
You, sir ; do you want to be well banged 

or not ? 
Mind, how you vote ! Take care how 
you provoke me. 
Trib. Yaw, yaw. Goot, goot. 
Her. He's of the same opinion. 
Nep. Then, since you're both agreed, 

I must agree. 
Her. [shouting to Peisthetairus, 
negotiators having withdrawn 
consult at the extremity of 
Well, you ! we've settled this concern, 

you see, 
About the sovereignty ; we're all agreed. 





Peis. Oh faith, there's one thing 
more, I recollect, 

Before we part ; a point that I must 
As for dame Juno, we'll not speak of 
her ; 

I've no pretensions, Jupiter may keep 
her ; 

But, for that other queen, his man- 

The sovereign goddess, her surrender to 

Is quite an article indispensable. 

Nep. Your views, I find, are not dis- 
posed for peace : 
We must turn homewards. 

Peis. As you please, so be it. 
Cook, mind what you're about there 

with the sauce ; 
Let's have it rich and savoury, thicken 
it up ! 
Her. How now, man ? Neptune ! 
are you flying off? 



Must we remain at war, here, for a 
woman ? 
Nep. But, what are we to do ? 
Her. Do ? Why, make peace. 
Nep. I pity you really ! I feel quite 
And sorry to see you ; ruining your- 
self ! 
If anything should happen to your 

After surrendering the sovereignty, 
What's to become of you ? When you 

Have voted away your whole inherit- 
ance : 
At his decease, you must remain a 
Peis. [aside to Hercules]. Ah, there ! 
I thought so ; he's coming over ye ; 
Step here a moment ! Let me speak 
to ye ! 
Your uncle's chousing you, my poor 
dear friend, 





You've not a farthing's worth of expec- 
From what your father leaves. Ye 

can't inherit 
By law : ye're illegitimate, ye know. 
Her. Hey-day ! Why, what do you 

mean ? 
Peis. I mean the fact ! 
Your mother was a foreigner; Minerva 
Is counted an heiress, everybody knows ; 
How could that be, supposing her own 

To have had a lawful heir ? 

Her. But, if my father 
Should choose to leave the property to 

In his last will. 

Peis. The law would cancel it ! 
And Neptune, he that's using all his 
To work upon ye, he'd be the very first 
To oppose ye, and oust ye, as the tes- 
tator's brother. 





'Tis I must make your fortune after 
If you'll reside and settle amongst us 
I'll make you chief commander among 

the birds, 
Captain, and Autocrat and everything. 
Here you shall domineer and rule the 

With splendour and opulence and 
pigeon's milk. 
Her. [in a more audible voice, and in 
a formal decided tone]. 
I agreed with you before : I think your 

Unanswerable. I shall vote for the sur- 
Peis. [to Neptune]. And what say 

you ? 
Nep. [firmly and vehemently]. De- 
cidedly I dissent. 
Peis. Then it depends upon our other 


It rests with the Triballian, what say 
you ? 
Trib. Me tell you ; pretty girl, grand 
beautiful queen, 
Give him to birds. 

Her. Ay, give her up, you mean. 

Nep. Mean! He knows nothing about 
it. He means nothing 
But chattering like a magpie. 

Peis. Well " the magpies." 

He means, the magpies or the birds in 

The republic of the birds — their gov- 
ernment — 
That the surrender should be made to 
Nep. [in great wrath]. Well, settle it 
yourselves ; amongst yourselves ; 
In your own style : I've nothing more 
to say. 
Her. [to Peisthetairus]. 
Come, we're agreed in fact, to grant 
your terms ; 



But you must come, to accompany us to 

the sky ; 
To take back this same queen, and the 
other matters. 
Peis. [very quietly]. It happens lucky 
enough, with this provision 
For a marriage feast. It seems prepared 
on purpose. 
Her. Indeed, and it does. Suppose 
in the meanwhile, 
I superintend the cookery, and turn the 

While you go back together. 

Nep. [with a start of surprise and dis- 
gust]. Turn the roast ! 
A pretty employment ! Won't you go 
with us ? 
Her. No, thank ye ; I'm mighty com- 
fortable here. 
Peis. Come, give me a marriage robe ; 
I must be going. 

— From " The Birds." 

I 10 


Along the Sycophantic shore, 
And where the savage tribes adore 

The waters of the Clepsydra, 
There dwells a nation, stern and strong, 
Armed with an enormous tongue, 

Wherewith they smite and slay : 

With their tongues, they reap and sow, 
And gather all the fruits that grow, 

The vintage and the grain ; 
Gorgias is their chief of pride, 
And many more there be beside 

Of mickle might and main. 

Good they never teach, nor show 
But how to work men harm and woe, 


Unrighteousness and wrong ; 
And hence the custom doth arise, 
When beasts are slain in sacrifice, 

We sever out the tongue. 

— From « The Birds." 



Harbinger or Herald, announcing the 
approach of Peisthetairus. 

O fortunate ! O triumphant ! O be- | 

All power of speech or thought, su- 
premely blest, 
Prosperous happy birds ! Behold your 

Here in his glorious palace ! Mark his 

Dazzling all eyes, resplendent as a star ; 
Outshining all the golden lights, that 

From the rich roof, even as a summer 

Or brighter than the sun, blazing at 

He comes ; and at his side a female 



Of beauty ineffable ; wielding on high, 

In his right hand, the winged thunder- 

Jove's weapon. While the fumes of 
incense spread 

Circling around, and subtle odours 

Upon the senses from the wreathed 

Curling and rising in the tranquil air. 
See, there he stands ! Now must the 
sacred Muse 

Give with auspicious words her welcome 


Semichorus. Stand aside and clear the 

Spreading in a circle round 
With a worthy welcoming; 
To salute our noble king 
In his splendour and his pride, 
Coming hither, side by side, 
With his happy lovely bride. 



ii 4 




O the fair delightful face ! 
What a figure ! What a grace ! 
What a presence ! What a carriage ! 
What a noble worthy marriage. 

Let the birds rejoice and sing, 
At the wedding of the king : 
Happy to congratulate 
Such a blessing to the State. 

Hymen, Hymen, Ho ! 

Jupiter, that god sublime, 
When the Fates, in former time, 
Matched him with the Queen of Heaven, 
At a solemn banquet given, 
Such a feast was held above , 
And the charming God of Love, 
Being present in command, 
As a Bridesman took his stand, 
With the golden reins in hand. 

Hymen, Hymen, Ho ! 

Peis. I accept and approve the marks 
of your love, 






Your music and verse I applaud and ad- 

But rouse your invention, and raising it 

Describe me the terrible engine of Jove, 

The thunder of earth and the thunder 

Chor. O dreaded bolt of heaven, 
The clouds with horror cleaving, 
And ye terrestrial thunders deep and low 
Closed in the subterranean caves below, 
That even at this instant growl and 

Shaking with awful sound this earthly 

stage ; 
Our king by you has gained his due; 
By your assistance, yours alone, 
Everything is made his own, 
Jove's dominion and his throne; 
And his happiness and pride, 
His delightful lovely bride. 

Hymen, Hymen, Ho ! 




From the Satirical Dia- 
logues of Lucian 

(From the translation of Howard Williams) 



Hephaistos. Apollo, have you seen 
Maia's baby, which is just born ? What 
a pretty thing it is, and how it smiles on 
every one, and already plainly shows he 
is going to turn out some great treasure ! 

Apollo. That a baby, or a great treas- 


ure, who is older than Iapetus himself, 
as far as depends on rascality ! 

Heph. And what possible mischief 
could an infant just born be able to 

Ap. Ask Poseidon, whose trident he 
stole, or Ares ; for even from the latter 
he abstracted his sword from the sheath 
without being found out, not to speak 
of myself, whom he disarmed of my bow 
and arrows. 

Heph. The new-born brat did this, 
who hardly keeps on his feet, who is 
still in his long clothes ? 

Ap. You will know well enough, 
Hephaistos, if only he come near you. 

Heph. Indeed, he already has been 
near me. 

Ap. Well, have you all your tools, 
and is none of them missing ? 

Heph. All of them are safe, my dear 

Ap. All the same, examine carefully. 







Heph. By heaven ! I don't see my 

Ap. No, but you will probably see 
them among the infant's swaddling 

Heph. Is he so light-fingered, for all 
the world as though he had mastered 
the purloining art in his mother's 
womb ? 

Ap. No wonder you ask, for you have 
not heard his glib and voluble prattling. 
He is, besides, quite ready to wait upon 
us. And yesterday he challenged Eros, 
and wrestled with him and threw him, 
somehow tripping up his feet. Then, 
while he was getting praised for it, he 
stole Aphrodite's cestus, as she was fold- 
ing him to her breast on account of his 
victory ; and, while he was laughing, the 
sceptre of Zeus, also. And, if the thun- 
der-bolt were not a little too heavy, and 
had a good deal of fire in it, he would 
have filched that too. 

1 20 

Heph. The child you describe is a 
regular Gorgon. 

Ap. Not only so, but already he is a 
musical genius, also. 

Heph. From what can you draw your 
inference as to that ? 

Ap. Somewhere or other he found a 
dead tortoise, and from it formed a musi- 
cal instrument : for, having fitted in the 
side-pieces and joined them by a bar, 
he next fixed pegs, and inserted a bridge 
beneath them ; and, after stretching 
seven strings upon it, he set about 
playing a very pretty and harmonious 
tune, so that even I, practised as I have 
long been in playing the cithara, envied 
him. And Maia assured us that not 
even his nights would he pass in heaven, 
but from mere busybodyness he would 
descend as far as Hades, to steal some- 
thing from thence, I suppose. He is 
furnished with wings, and has made for 
himself a sort of staff" of wonderful vir- 










Hera. Fine creatures, indeed, are the 
children you have presented to Zeus, 
Leto ! 

Leto. It's not all of us, Hera, who 
can produce such progeny as your He- 

Hera. But this same cripple is, at all 
events, of some use. He is an excellent 
workman, and has decorated Heaven for 
us in a thoroughlv artistic fashion, and 
he married Aphrodite, and is made much 
of by her; while as for your children, 
one of them is beyond all measure, mas- 
culine, and mountainish, and to crown 


all, has made off to Scythia, and every- 
one knows what her diet is there, slaving 
strangers, and imitating the Scythians 
themselves, who are cannibals. As for 
Apollo, he makes pretence to universal 
knowledge — to shoot with the bow, to 
play the cithara, to be a doctor, and to 
prophesy — and having set up his oracle- 
shops, one at Delphi, another at Klaros 
and at Didyma, he juggles and cheats 
those who consult him, giving crooked 
answers, and double meanings, appli- 
cable to either side of the question, so 
that he runs no risk of failure, and from 
such trickery he makes his fortune : for 
numerous are the fools, and those who 
offer themselves willing victims to be 
cheated and imposed upon. But by the 
wiser part of men it is not unknown 
that he is, for the most part, a mere 
juggler in words. The prophet himself, 
at all events, did not know he would 
kill his favourite with the quoit, nor did 


he divine for his own advantage, that 
Daphne would flee from him ; and that, 
too, although he is so handsome and has 
such flowing locks. So I don't see why 
you thought you had finer children than 
poor Niobe. 

Leto. These same children, however 
— the murderer of strangers and the 
lying prophet — I am well aware how it 
vexes you to see them in the company 
of the gods ; and especially whenever 
the one is commended for her beauty, 
and the other performs on his cithara, to 
the admiration of all in the banqueting- 

Hera. I could not help laughing, 
Leto — he an object of admiration, 
whom, if the Muses had chosen to give 
a just decision, Marsyas would have 
flayed, as himself the conqueror in the 
musical contest. But, as it was, the poor 
man was overreached, and perished by 
an unjust doom. And, as for your beau- 


tiful virgin, she is so beautiful, that, 
when she found she had been seen by 
Actaion, from fear the youth might pro- 
claim her ugliness, she set on him his 
own dogs. I don't say all I might, for 
I omit to dwell on the fact, that, if she 
were really a virgin, she could not even 
assist ladies in the straw. 

Leto. You bear yourself supercili- 
ously, Hera, because you share the bed 
and throne of Zeus ; and for that reason, 
vou utter your insults without fear. 
But, however, I shall soon see you in 
tears again, when he deserts you and 
goes down to earth again in the form 
of a bull or a swan. 


r ^1 




Aphrodite. Pray, why in the world, 
my dear Eros, have you completely sub- 
dued to yourself all the rest of the 
Gods — Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Rhea, 
me, your mother — and kept your hands 
off Athena alone ; and why, as far as 
she is concerned, is your torch without 
a spark, your quiver empty of arrows, 
and yourself without a bow and without 
practice ? 

Eros. I am afraid of her, mother, for 
she is terrible, and her eyes burn with a 
fierce brightness, and she is dreadfully 
masculine. At all events, whenever I 



advance towards her with bent bow, she 
shakes her crest at me, and frightens me 
out of my wits, and I am all of a trem- 
ble, and my arrows slip from my hands. 

Aph. Why, was not Ares more alarm- 
ing ? and yet you disarmed him in a 
moment, and have conquered him. 

Eros. Yes, but he readily allows me 
to approach him, and invites me of his 
own accord, while Athena is always 
watching me suspiciously and secretly : 
and once I flew by her, casually, with 
my torch, and said she, " If you come 
near me, by my father, I will run you 
through in a moment with my pretty 
spear, or I will seize you by the foot 
and pitch you into Tartarus, or tear vou 
in pieces with my own hand, and be the 
death of you." Many such threats has 
she uttered, and she puts on sour looks, 
and has on her breast a frightful sort of 
face, with snakes all over for hair, which 
is my especial horror, for it frightens me 


like a very Mormo, and I flee whenever 
I catch a glimpse of it. 

Aph. But you fear Athena, as you 
say, and the Gorgon, and that, though 
you are not afraid of the thunderbolt 
of Zeus! And the Muses — why are 
they unwounded and out of reach of 
your darts ? Do they, too, shake 
crests, and exhibit Gorgons in front of 
them ? 

Eros. I have an awe of them, mother, 
for they are grave and respectable, and 
are always in some profound meditation 
or other, and are occupied in song, and 
I often stand by them, beguiled by their 

Aph. Well, leave them out of the 
question, too, as they are grave and 
respectable. But Artemis — why don't 
you inflict a wound on her ? 

Eros. In a word, it is impossible even 
to come up with her, as she is always 
fleeing through the mountains. Then, 



too, she has already her own peculiar 
kind of love. 

Aph. For what, child .' 

Eros. The hunting of stags and fawns, 
pursuing them for the purpose of captur- 
ing them or shooting them down, and 
she is entirely devoted to that sort of 
thing. When, however, her brother, 
although an archer himself and a far- 
shooter — 

Aph. I know, child, you have shot 
your arrow at him often enough. 




Panope. Did you see, Galene, yes- 
terday, what Eris did at the banquet in 
Thessaly, because she was not, also, 
invited to the feast ? 

Galene. I was not at the banquet 
with you, for Poseidon ordered me, 
Panope, to keep the sea unagitated 
meanwhile ; but, what, then, did Eris, 
for not being present as a guest ? 




Pan. Thetis and Peleus had already 
gone off to their bridal chamber, es- 
corted by Amphitrite and Poseidon. 
But Eris, meanwhile, unobserved by 
any — and she could easily be so, while 
some were drinking, others making a 
clatter, or giving all their attention to 
Apollo playing on the cithara, or to the 
Muses as they sang — threw into the 
midst of the banqueting-hall a certain 
very beautiful apple, all of gold, Galene. 
And it was inscribed : " Let the beauti- 
ful one have me." And rolling along, 
as if intentionally, it came where Hera 
and Aphrodite and Athena were reclin- 
ing ; and when Hermes, taking it up, 
read out the inscription, we Nereids 
held our tongues, for what were we to 
do, in the presence of those Goddesses ? 
Then they began to put forward each 
one her pretensions, and each claimed 
the apple to be her own. And had not 
Zeus separated them, the affair would 

' •$! 


have ended even in blows. But, says 
he, " I will not myself judge in the 
matter, although they earnestly called 
upon him to do so ; but go away with 
you to Ida to the presence of the youth 
Paris, who, as he is a connoisseur in 
female charms, knows how to distin- 
guish the superior beauty, and he would 
not give wrong judgment." 

Gal. What, pray, did the Goddesses 
do, Panope ? 

Pan. This very day, I believe, they 
are off to Ida, and somebody will come 
shortly to announce to us the winner. 

Gal. As I stand here now, I tell 
you, no other will be victorious, with 
Aphrodite for competitor, unless the 
umpire be altogether dull-eyed. 

■fiZ2£ •'•••' 



Zeus. Take this apple here, Hermes, 
and hie to Phrvgia, to the presence of 
the son of Priam, the cowherd — he is 
tending his cows on the Gargarus sum- 
mit of Ida — and say to him: "Paris, 
Zeus bids you, since you are yourself a 
■iv" ^SSbv good-looking youth, and clever in love- 
'^ ^aIi\tJ matters, to decide for the Goddesses here 
which is the most beautiful. And let 
the winner receive the apple as the prize 
of the contest." And now, Goddesses, 
it is quite time for yourselves to set off 
to the presence of your judge. For, for 
my part, I decline, for myself, the office 
of arbitrator, loving you, as I do, with 
equal affection ; and, if it were only 
possible, I would with pleasure see you 



all three winners. Especially do I decline, 
as in giving the prize of beauty to one, 
I must certainly incur the hatred of the 
rest. For this reason I am myself no 
suitable umpire for you — but this Phry- 
gian youth, to whom you are going, is 
of princely birth, and is a relative of 
Ganymedes here. In other respects he 
is simple and mountain-bred. No one 
would think him unworthy of such a 

Aph. As far as I am concerned, Zeus, 
even though you should appoint Momus 
himself our judge, I will cheerfully go to 
the exhibition ; for, indeed, what could 
he have to find fault with in me ? The 
man, however, will have to satisfy these 
goddesses, too. 

Hera. Oh ! it's not we, Aphrodite, 
who have to fear — no, not though your 
own Ares should be entrusted with the 
arbitration. May we, also, accept this 
Paris, whoever he may be. 




Zeus. And does this content ycu, 
daughter, too ? What say vou ? You 
turn away and blush ? It is the privi- 
lege of you virgins, indeed, to be shy s 
about such matters ; but you nod assent, 
however. Away with you all, then, and 
see that you are not hard upon your judge 
— you who have been vanquished, and 
don't have any mischief inflicted on the 
youth. For it's not possible for you to 
be all equally beauties. 

Hermes. Let us start off straight for 
Phrygia, I leading the way, and do you 
follow me without loitering, and keep 
up your spirits. I am personally ac- 
quainted with Paris ; he is a good-look- 
ing vouth, and amorous into the bargain, 
and very competent to judge in all such 
matters. He would not give a bad 

Aph. That is all fair, and you speak 
quite after my mind — that he is the 
right judge for us. [Confidentially] But 



is he a bachelor, or has he some wife or 
other living with him ? 

Her. Not absolutely a bachelor, Aph- 

Aph. How do you mean ? 

Her. Some lady of Ida ■ appears to 
be keeping company with him — well 
enough in her way, but countrified and 
dreadfully boorish. However, he does 
not seem to be excessively attached to 
her. But, pray, why do you put these 
questions ? 

Aph. I asked quite indifferently. 

Athena. Holloa ! you sir, there, you 
are exceeding your commission in com- 
municating with her in private. 

Her. It was nothing extraordinary, 
Athena, and nothing against you. She 
only asked me if Paris is a bachelor. 

Ath. And pray, why is she so inquis- 
itive about that ? 

Her. I don't know. But she says it 

1 CEnone, the Naiad or river-nymph. 





occurred to her quite casually, and she 
had no purpose in asking. 

Ath. Well, is he unmarried ? 

Her. I think not. 

Ath. What then ? Has he a desire 
for the military life, and is he at all am- 
bitious for glory, or is he altogether 
devoted to his herds ? 

Her. The exact truth I am unable to 
say : but one must suppose that a voung 
fellow like him would be eager to ac- 
quire fame in these things, and would 
like to be first in fighting. 

Aph. [pouting]. Do you see ? I don't 
find fault, or charge you with talking to 
her on the sly — for such sort of queru- 
lousness is peculiar to people not over 
much pleased with themselves : it's not 
Aphrodite's way. 

Her. Indeed she asked me almost 
exactly the same question as she did 
you : so don't be in a pet, and don't 
imagine you are worse treated, if I an- 


Xi". :i". 


swered her somewhat frankly and simply. 
But while we are talking, we have al- 
ready advanced far on our road, and 
taken leave of the stars, and, in fact, are 
almost opposite Phrygia. And now, in 
fact, I see Ida and the whole of Gar- 
garus distinctly, and, if I am not de- 
ceived, Paris himself, your umpire. 

Hera. But where is he ? For he is 
not visible to my eyes. 

Her. Look carefully there to the left, 
Hera — not near the top of the moun- 
tain, but along the flank, where the cave 
is; there, where you see the herd. 

Hera. But I don't see the herd. 

Her. How ? Do you not see tiny 
cows in the direction of my finger, so, 
— advancing from the midst of the rocks, 
and some one running down from the 
cliff with a shepherd's crook, and stop- 
ping them from scattering ahead ? 

Hera. Now I see, if it really is he. 

Her. But it is. And since we are 





now so near, let us, if you please, settle 
down on terra firma, and walk, that we 
may not quite disconcert him by flying 
down all on a sudden from the clouds. 

Hera. You are right ; so let us do — 
and now we have made our own descent, 
it is high time for you, Aphrodite, to 
advance and show us the way. For you, 
as is reasonable to expect, are well ac- 
quainted with the locality, having fre- 
quently, as report goes, come down here 
to Anchises. 

Aph. These sneers of yours, Hera, 
don't disturb me over much. 

Her. Well, I will act as your guide 
and chaperon ; for I myself, in fact, 
passed some time on Ida when Zeus, to 
be sure, was in love with the Phrygian 
boy ; and often have I come here, when 
sent down to look after the child. And 
when, at length, he was mounted on the 
eagle, I flew by his side with him, and 
helped to support my handsome charge : 



and, if I recollect aright, from this rock 
here he snatched him up — for the boy 
happened to be piping to his flock at the 
moment — and flying down himself, 
from behind, Zeus very lightly embraced 
him in his talons, and, grasping his tur- 
ban with his beak, bore the lad aloft in 
a terrible state of alarm, as he was gaz- 
ing on his ravisher with neck bent 
backwards. Then, picking up his shep- 
herd's pipe, for he had let it fall in his 
fright, I — but excuse me, for here is 
our umpire close at hand : so let us 
accost him. — Good day to you, herds- 

Paris. The same to you, young man. 
But who are you, and what is the pur- 
pose of your visit to us ? What ladies 
are these you are conducting ? For such 
town belles as they are, they are not 
fitted for roving over rough mountains. 

Her. But they are not women, Paris; 
but it is Hera, and Athena, and Aphro- 


dite you see ; and I, I am the God 
Hermes Zeus has sent with them. But 
why do you tremble and turn so pale ? 
Don't be frightened, for there is nothing 
to be afraid of. He only bids you to 
be the judge of their beauty : " for 
since," says he, " you are a handsome 
youth yourself, and clever in love-mat- 
ters, I entrust the judgment to you ; and 
when you have read the inscription on 
the apple, you will know the prize 
of the contest. 

Paris. Come, let me see what it all 
means — "Let the beautiful one 
take me," it says. How, pray, Sir 
Hermes, could I, a mere mortal myself, 
and a simple peasant, too, be a judge of 
so preternaturally wonderful a spectacle, 
and one too great for a poor herdsman 
to decide upon ? To judge in matters 
of such importance is rather for deli- 
cately-nurtured persons and courtiers : 
but, for my part, whether one she-goat 


be more beautiful than another she-goat, 
or one heifer surpasses another heifer 
in beauty I could perhaps decide secun- 
dum artem. But these ladies are all 
equally beautiful, and I don't know how 
a man could wrench away his gaze and 
transfer it from the one to the other; 
for it will not easily unfix itself, but 
where it first rests, to that part it clings, 
and commends what's immediately be- 
fore it. And even though it pass on to 
another part, that too it sees to be beau- 
tiful, and lingers, and is caught by the 
adjoining charms ; and, in short, their 
beauty has circumfused itself about me, 
and wholly taken possession of me, and 
I am vexed that I, too, cannot, like 
Argus, see with all my body. I think I 
should judge fairly, if I give the apple to 
all : for, indeed, there is this difficulty 
besides ; it happens that this lady is the 
sister and wife of Zeus, and that these 
are his daughters. How, I should like 



\^ h 

to know, is not the decision a hard one 
from this point of view, too ? 

Her. I don't know about that : but 
it's not possible to shirk the commands 
of Zeus, I know. 

Paris. This one thing, Hermes, per- 
suade them to — that the two defeated 
ladies be not angry with me, but con- 
sider the error to attach to my eyes 

Her. [confers with the Goddesses, apart\. 
They promise to comply with your re- 
quest. And now it is high time for you 
to proceed with your judgment. 

Paris. I will do my best endeavours, 
for how can one help it ? But this first 
I wish to know — will it be quite enough 
to view them as they are, or will it be 
necessary to make them undress for an 
accurate examination ? 

Her. That must be your part as judge 
to decide. Give your orders how and in 
what way you like. 

a .j-i 




Paris. How I like, really ? I wish to 
see them undressed. 

Her. Ho, you ladies there, off with 
your clothes. [ To Paris] For your part 
make a thorough survey — as for me, I 
avert mv face at once. 

Hera. Very well said, Paris, and I 
will be the first to undress, that you may 
perceive that I have not only " white 
arms," and that I am not proud of hav- 
ing " cow's-eyes " onlv, but that I am 
equally and proportionally beautiful all 

Paris. Off with your clothes, too, 

Ath. Don't let her undress, Paris, 
before she lays aside her cestus — for 
she is an enchantress — for fear she 
may bewitch you by its means. Indeed, 
she ought not either to have appeared 
here so meretriciously tricked out, nor 
painted up with so many dyes and cos- 
metics for all the world as if she were 




in fact some lady of the demi-monde, 
but have exhibited her beauty un- 

Paris [turning to Aphrodite] . They 
are quite right as to that cestus of yours : 
so you must e'en doff it. 

Aph. Why, then, do you not also, 
Athena, doff that helmet of yours, and 
display vour bare head, instead of shak- 
ing that plumed crest and terrifying your 
judge ? Are you afraid that fiercely- 
glaring look about your eyes, seen with- 
out that frightful object, may be set down 
to your discredit ? 

Ath. There, I have taken off this 
objectionable helmet, for your satisfac- 

Aph. There, too, is the cestus, for 

Hera. Well, let us undress. 

Paris [expressing in bis features the ut- 
most admiration]. O Zeus, worker of 
miracles ! the glorious vision ! the 


beautv ! the delight ! How superb is 
the Virgin-Goddess ! And how right 
royallv, and with what dignity does this 
Goddess [Hera] shine in all her splen- 
dour ! and how truly right worthy of 
Zeus ! But how sweetly does this God- 
dess here [Aphrodite] look ; and what a 
kind of pretty, seducing smile she has ! 
— Well, now I have enough of this 
felicity — but, if it is agreeable, I wish 
to have a look at each of them sepa- 
rately, in private ; as, at present, I am 
really in doubt, and don't know on what 
part to fix my gaze, for my eyes are dis- 
tracted in every direction. 

Aph. Let us do as he wishes. 

Paris. Withdraw then, you two, and 
do you, Hera, remain. 

Hera. I will do so — And, after you 
have had a good look at me, it will be 
time for you to consider other matters 
besides — whether the gifts at my dis- 
posal, in return for your vote, do not 



appear fair to you. For if, my dear 
Paris, you award me the prize of beauty, 
you shall be lord of all Asia. 

Paris. Our decision depends not on 
bribes. Now, withdraw, please ; for 
whatever seems proper will have to be 
done hereafter. And, now, Athena, do 
you approach. 

Ath. Here I am at your service. 
And, in my turn, Paris, if you award 
to me the prize of beauty, you shall 
never come out of battle worsted, but 
always victorious ; for I will make a 
warrior and a conqueror of you. 

Paris. I don't want war and fighting, 
Athena ; for peace, as you see, at pres- 
ent, prevails both in Phrygia and in 
Lydia, and my father's kingdom is free 
from war. But never mind, for you 
shall not be the worse for it, even 
though we do not give judgment for 
bribes. Well, now put on your clothes 
again, and replace the helmet on your 


head, for I have seen enough. It is 
now time for Aphrodite to appear. 

Aph. Here am I at your elbow, and 
examine carefully each part of me, one 
by one, passing over nothing, but dwell- 
ing upon every one of my charms ; and, 
if you will, my handsome vouth, listen to 
this from me. I have reason to ask you 
to do so ; for I have long ago observed 
you to be young and good-looking, of 
such sort, that I doubt if all Phrygia 
supports another like you, and I con- 
gratulate you on your good looks : but I 
blame you, that you do not leave these 
lonely cliffs and these rocks, and go and 
live in the city, instead of wasting your 
sweetness on the desert air. For what 
enjoyment can such as you obtain from 
the mountains ? And what satisfaction 
can your cows derive from your hand- 
some face ? You ought by this time to 
have married — not, however, some hoy- 
denish and rustic girl, such as are the 





women of Ida, but some girl out of 
Hellas, from Argos, or from Korinth, 
or a Spartan lady, such as Helen, young 
and beautiful, and in no way inferior to 
myself; and, what is, indeed, most to the 
point, of an amorous disposition. For, 
I tell you, if she were but only to see 
you, she would, I am sure, leave all and 
give herself up soul and body to you, and 
would follow your fortunes and live with 
you. But, surely, even you have heard 
something of her fame. 

Paris. Not a word, Aphrodite, and I 
should now be glad to hear from you a 
full account of her. 

Aph. She is the daughter of Leda, the 
famous beauty, to whom Zeus flew down 
in the shape of a swan. 

Paris. What is she like to look at ? 

Aph. Pale and fair, as the daughter 
of a swan might be expected to be, and 
delicate, like one bred in an egg; trained 
naked, for the most part, in the gymna- 


sium, and skilled in the art of wrestling. 
And she has been, in a manner, so much, 
indeed, in request that there has even been 
a war on her account, Theseus having 
run away with her when not yet in her 
teens: not, indeed, but that, since she 
arrived at her majority, all the greatest 
princes of the Achaeans met together to 
woo her, and Menelaus, of the family 
of the Pelopida, was preferred. If you 
wish it, I say, I will bring about the 
nuptials for you. 

Paris. What, with a girl already 
married ? 

Aph. You are young and countrified. 
I know, however, how affairs of this sort 
are to be managed. 

Paris. How ? For I should like to 
know, too, myself. 

Aph. You will set out on your travels, 
as if with the purpose of seeing Hellas, 
and, as soon as ever you arrive at Lace- 
daemon, Helen shall see you ; and from 


r** T 

that moment it would be my business 
that she shall fall in love, and run away 
with you. 

Paris. That's the very thing that to me 
seems hard to believe — that she should 
leave her husband, and be ready to sail 
off with a foreigner and a stranger. 

Aph. As far as that's concerned, have 
no fear, for I have two handsome boys, 
Desire and Love : them I will give vou 
to be guides of the way ; and Love, 
stealthily assailing her with all his might, 
will compel the lady to fall in love, 
while Desire, shedding his whole influ- 
ence over yourself, will render you what 
he is himself, an object of desire and of 
love — and I will be present in person 
to assist them. I will request of the 
Graces, also, to attend you, so that all 
of us together may persuade her. 

Paris. How it will all turn out, is not 
clear, Aphrodite. But I am already in 
love with this Helen, and I fancy, I 


don't know how, I even see her, and am 
on my voyage straight for Hellas, and 
am staying at Sparta — yes, and am now 
returning home with my wife, and I feel 
vexed I am not already engaged about 
all this. 

Aph. Don't fall in love, Paris, before 
you have rewarded your match-maker 
and the bridesmaid with your favourable 
sentence : for it would be proper for me, 
too, to be with you as the bringer of 
victory, and at once to celebrate your 
marriage and to sing your triumphal 
odes. For it is in your own power to 
purchase everything — love, beauty, mar- 
riage — with this apple here. 

Paris. I am afraid that, after the ver- 
dict, you may forget me. 

Aph. Would you have me, then, give 
you my oath upon it ? 

Paris. Not at all. But just promise 
me once again. 

Aph. I promise you, I say, to give 





over to you Helen for your wife, and 
that she shall run away with you and 
shall come to Ilium to you ; I myself 
will certainly be present, and will assist 
you in everything. 

Paris. And you will bring Love and 
Desire and the Graces ? 

Aph. Be sure of it, and I will take 
with me Passionate Longing and Hymen, 

Paris. On these conditions, then, I 
give the apple to you : on these condi- 
tions receive it. 









Her. [crying]. Why, mother, is 
any God in Heaven more thoroughly 
wretched than I ? 

Maia. Pray, don't talk in that way, 
my dear Hermes. 

Her. Why should not I talk so, who 
have such a number of duties to attend 
to ; toiling as I do all alone, and dis- 
tracted to so many services ? For, as 
soon as I am up at daybreak, I have 
to sweep out our banqueting-hall, and 
after carefully arranging the couches, 
and putting each particular thing in 






v \\ 

order, I have to take my place at the 
side of Zeus, and carry about in all 
directions the messages I receive from 
him, running up and down the whole 
day like a courier. And, as soon as I 
have returned up here again, while still 
covered with dust, I must hand him the 
ambrosia. Before, too, this lately pur- 
chased cupbearer arrived, it was my 
business to pour in the nectar, also. 
But, what is most dreadful of all, is, 
that I alone of all the Gods, get no sleep 
even at night: but I must needs, also, 
be then conducting souls to Pluto, and 
acting as marshal of dead men, and 
dance attendance in his Court of Justice. 
For my employments by day are not 
enough — to take my place in the Pa- 
laestra, and even to act as herald in the 
representative assemblies, and to train 
orators — but, parcelled out as I am 
already, for all these services, I must, 
also, take part in the affairs of the dead. 


And yet the sons of Leda take their 
places, each in turn, every other day in 
Heaven and in Hades: but I must per- 
force, be about my duties here and there. 
The sons of Alkmena and Semele, too, 
born of wretched women, though they 
be, feast without care ; whereas I, the 
son of Maia, the daughter of Atlas, wait 
upon them. And now, having but just 
come from Sidon, from the daughter of 
Kadmus, to whom he has sent me to see 
what the girl is about ; and, before even 
I have had time to get my breath, he 
packs me off again to Argos to look 
after Danae. " Then go from thence," 
says he, " into Boeotia, and have a look 
at Antiope by the way." In truth, I am 
quite done up, and give in. If I could, 
I vow I would gladly claim my right to 
be sold like those slaves on the earth 
who are vilely treated. 

Maia. Don't mind these things, child; 
for you must, perforce, be submissive to 


i S 8 



Zeus. What have you done, worst of 
Titans ? you have ruined everything on 
the Earth by trusting that chariot of yours 
to a foolish youth who has burned up 
the one half of the world by being car- 
ried too near the Earth, and the other 
half has caused to be utterly destroyed 
by cold, by withdrawing heat too far 
from it ; and, in fine, there is nothin 
whatever that he has not utterly thrown 
into disturbance and confusion. Indeed, 
if I had not perceived what had hap- 
pened, and hurled him down with my 




thunderbolt, there would have remained 
not even a remnant of the human species. 
Such an excellent driver and charioteer 
have you sent forth, in that fine son of 

Helios. I committed an error, Zeus ; 
but don't be hard upon me, since I was 
prevailed upon by my son with his fre- 
quent entreaties : for from whence could 
I have at all expected that so tremendous 
a mischief could come about ? 

Zeus. Did you not know what ex- 
treme caution the matter needed, and 
that if one swerved ever so little from 
the road, everything was ruined ? Were 
you ignorant, too, of the temper of the 
horses, and how absolutely necessary it 
is to hold a tight rein ? For, if one 
slackens it at all, they immediately take 
the bit in their mouths ; just as, in fact, 
they ran away with him, now to the left, 
and, after a space, to the right, and 
sometimes in the opposite direction to 

1 60 

their course, and upwards and down- 
wards, in fine, where they themselves 
had a mind to go ; while he did not 
know how to treat them. 

Helios. All this, indeed, I knew, and 
for that reason I for a long time re- 
sisted, and would not trust the driving 
to him : but, when he begged me over 
and over again with tears, and his 
mother Klymene with him, after mount- 
ing him on the chariot I cautioned him 
how he must stand firmly, and how far 
he should allow his horses to go into 
the higher regions, and be borne aloft ; 
then how far he must direct them down- 
wards again, and how he must have 
complete control of the reins, and not 
surrender them to the fieriness of his 
steeds. And I told him, too, how great 
was the peril, if he did not keep the 
straight road. Well, he — mere boy 
that he was — - taking his stand upon 
such a tremendous fire-chariot, and peer- 

P ^^ 

ing down into the yawning abyss, was 
seized with sudden terror, as was to be 
expected ; while the horses, when they 
perceived that it was not I who was 
mounted upon the vehicle, not heeding 
the youthful driver, swerved from their 
proper route, and caused this terrific 
calamity. Then he, letting go the reins 
from sheer fright, I suppose, lest he 
should be thrown out himself, clung to 
the front rail of the chariot — but he 
now has received the reward of his rash- 
ness, and for me, Zeus, the consequent 
grief ought to be enough punishment. 

Zeus. Enough punishment, do you 
say, you who have rashly risked all this ! 
However, I will grant your pardon now, 
for this time : but, for the future, if you 
transgress at all in a similar fashion, or 
despatch any similar substitute for your- 
self, you shall at once know of how 
much more fiery virtue is my thunderbolt 
than vour fire. So now let his sisters 



bun' him near the Eridanus, whereabouts 
he fell, when he was pitched out, weeping 
amber over him ; and let them become 
poplars out of their grief for him : but 
do you, for your part, put your chariot to 
pieces again — both its pole is broken in 
two, and one of the wheels is completely 
smashed — and yoking your horses drive 
on once more. Well, keep in mind all 
these injunctions. 






Doris. A handsome lover, my dear 
Galateia, that Sicilian shepherd they say 
is so madly in love with you ! 

Galateia. Don't sneer, Doris, for he 
is Poseidon's son, whatever he may be 

Doris. What then ? If he were even 
the son of Zeus himself, and showed so 
savage and uncouth a figure ; and, most 
unsightly of all his ugliness, possessed 
only one eye, do you imagine his birth 
would at all avail him, in comparison 
with his shape ? 

Gal. Not even his uncouthness and 


his savageness ("as you call it) is without 
its charm — for it gives him a manly 
air ; and his eye becomes his forehead, 
and sees not less than if there were 

Doris. You seem, Galateia, to con- 
sider your Polyphemos not as the court- 
ing, but as the courted, one, such are 
your praises of him. 

Gal. Courted, no, but I cannot en- 
dure that excessive proclivity of yourc. to 
finding fault, and you others seem to me 
to do it from envy ; because, when, some 
time ago, he was tending his flocks, and 
had a glimpse of us from his cliff", as we 
were sporting upon the shore, at the foot 
of ./Etna, where it extends between the 
mountain and the sea, he did not even 
look at you others, whereas I appeared 
to him as the most beautiful of all of us, 
and so he kept his eye upon me alone. 
It is this that vexes you, for it is a proof 
that I am superior, and deserving to be 


loved ; while you other nymphs have 
been neglected. 

Doris. If you appear beautiful to the 
eyes of a keeper of sheep and to a fellow 
who wants an eye, do you suppose you 
are an object of envy ? and, besides, what 
else had he to commend in you than your 
white skin ? and that, I suppose, because 
he is accustomed to cheese and milk : 
everything, therefore, resembling those 
things he considers beautiful. For as to 
other charms, whenever you wish to dis- 
cover what you are really like, stoop from 
some rock, when the sea is calm, over 
the water, and behold yourself to be 
nothing else than an exceedingly white 
skin ; and that is not commended unless, 
too, there is colour to set it off. 

Gal. Yet I, so purely white as I am, 
nevertheless have a lover, though it's 
only he ; whereas there is not one of 
you whom either shepherd, or sailor, or 
boatman praises. And my Polvphe- 


mos, among other merits, is also musi- 

Doris. Hold your tongue, Galateia ; 
we heard his singing, when but now he 
came serenading to you. So may Aphro- 
dite be my friend, one would have imag- 
ined an ass was braying. And his very 
lyre — what a thing it was ! The bare 
skull of a stag, and the horns served as 
the handles, and he bridged them, and 
fitted in the strings, without even twist- 
ing them round a peg, and then began to 
perform some horribly unmusical and un- 
melodious melody ; himself roaring out 
one thing, and his lyre accompanying him 
to something else, so that we could not 
even restrain our laughter at that fine 
love ditty. Why, Echo would not even 
return any reply to his bellowing, loqua- 
cious as she is ; but was ashamed to 
appear to imitate his uncouth, ridiculous 
music. And, then, the amiable creature 
was carrying in his arms, for a play- 



thing, a bear's cub, resembling himself in 
shagginess. Who, pray, would not envy 
you, my Galateia, such a lover ? 

Gal. Do you then, my dear Doris, 
show us your own adorer, who is, doubt- 
less, handsomer, and more of a musician, 
and better skilled in performing on the 

Doris. Nay, I have no adorer, nor 
do I pride myself on being admired. But 
as for your Cyclops, such as he is, with 
the rank odour of a he-goat — a cannibal, 
as thev say, and who feeds upon strangers 
who come to his country — may he be 
yours and welcome, and may you fully 
return his affection ! 

1 68 



Her. Let us reckon up, Mr. Ferry- 
man, if you please, how much you now 
owe me, so that we may not hereafter 
quarrel at all about it. 

Charon. Let us do so, Hermes ; for 


it is better to come to a definite under- 
standing about it between ourselves, and 
less likely to cause trouble. 

Her. I procured to your order an 
anchor at five drachms. 

Cha. A high price ! 

Her. By Pluto, I purchased them at 
the full sum of the five pieces, and a 
leathern thong for the oar for two oboli. 

Cha. Set down five drachmae and two 

Her. And a darning-needle for mend- 
ing the sail. Five oboli I paid down for 

Cha. Set down those, too. 

Her. And bees'-wax to fill up the 
chinks in our little craft, and nails, too, 
and a small rope, of which you made 
the brace — two drachms in all. 

Cha. And you made a good bargain 

Her. That is the whole sum, unless 
something else has altogether escaped me 





in the reckoning. And when, then, do 
you say that you will repay me this ? 

Cha. Just now, my dear Hermes, it 
is quite impossible. But if some pesti- 
lence or war should send us down some 
shoals of men, it will then be in my 
power to make profits by cooking the 
accounts of the fares. 

Her. Am I, then, now to take my 
seat, praying for the worst to happen, 
with the mere chance that I may get 
something from it ? 

Cha. There is nothing for you, 
otherwise, Hermes. Just now, as you 
see, few come to us : peace prevails. 

Her. Better so, even though payment 
of your debt due to me must be post- 
poned by you. But, however, the men 
of former times, Charon — you know in 
what sort they used to come to us, 
nearly all of them, covered all over with 
blood, and riddled with wounds, the ma- 
jority of them. But, nowadays, it is 




either some one who has died by poison 
at the hands of his son or of his wife ; 
or who is swollen out in his stomach and 
legs by gluttony — pallid and paltry — 
not at all like their predecessors. The 
most of them come here, by plotting one 
against the other for the sake of money, 
to judge by their appearance. 

Cha. Yes, for that is an article ex- 
ceedingly much loved. 

Her. Then, surely, neither could I be 
thought to be wrong in so keenly de- 
manding payment of your debt. 





Cha. Just hear a moment how mat- 
ters stand with us. Our little craft, as 
you observe, is a small one, and it is 




-* v ! 


] *m 




somewhat rotten, and leaks in most 
parts ; and, were it to incline to either 
side, it would completely overturn and 
go to the bottom ; and yet you come 
crowding together at the same time, each 
of you carrying a lot of luggage. If, 
then, you were to embark with all this, 
I am afraid that you may have reason to 
repent later, and especially as many of 
you as don't know how to swim. 

Dead Men. What shall we do, then, 
to secure a safe passage ? 

Cha. I will tell you. You must em- 
bark stripped of everything, and leave 
all these superfluous things upon the 
shore : for scarcjly even so will the 
ferry-boat receive you. — But it will be 
your care, Hermes, from this moment, 
to receive none of them who should not 
come in light marching order, and throw 
away, as I said, his furniture and mov- 
able property. Now, take your stand 
near the gangway, and narrowly examine 



them, and help them up, compelling 
them to embark stripped of everything. 

Her. You say well, and so let us do. 
— Who is this first man here ? 

Menippos. It is I, Menippos. There, 
see, Hermes, let my wallet-bag and my 
staff be both tossed away for good into 
your lake ; and as for my tattered cloak, 
I have obligingly not even brought it. 

Her. Come on board, friend Menip- 
pos, best of men, and take the place of 
precedence, by the side of the helmsman, 
on deck, that you may supervise the 
whole of them. But this handsome fel- 
low, who is he ? 

Charmolaos. Charmolaos, of Meg- 
ara, he who was so much run after, 
whose kiss was worth two talents. 

Her. So, then, pray, off" with your 
good looks and your lips with their 
kisses and all, and that long, flowing 
hair, and the blush on your cheeks, and 
your entire hide. 'Tis well ; you are 





now succinctly equipped : come on board 
now. And you there, the gentleman 
with the purple robe and the diadem, you 
with the grim countenance — who may 
you be ? 

Lampichos. Lampichos, autocrat of 
the Gelensians. 

Her. Why, pray, Lampichos, are you 
here with so many valuables ? 

Lam. What, then ? Ought a prince 
to come stripped of everything ? 

Her. A prince, of course not — a 
dead man, certainly. So divest yourself 
of these things at once. 

Lam. There, my wealth has been 
cast aside, at your pleasure. 

Her. Cast off at once, too, your 
bloated pride, Lampichos, and your su- 
perciliousness ; for, if they be shipped 
with you, they will weigh the boat 

Lam. Permit me, at all events, pray, 
to keep my diadem and my royal mantle. 


Her. By no means — but leave them 
behind, too. 

Lam. Well, what more ? for I have 
abandoned everything, as you see. 

Her. Your cruelty and your folly, 
and your insolence and your rage, these 
you must abandon as well. 

Lam. See, I am bare of everything, at 
your service. 

Her. Come on board now. — Well, 
you fat, gross fellow, you with the loads 
of flesh, who may you be ? 

Damasias. Damasias, the athlete. 

Her. Yes, so it seems ; for I know 
you from having frequently had a look 
at you in the Gymnasia. 

Dam. Yes, Hermes ; but take me in, 
now that I am stripped and bare. 

Her. Not stripped and bare, my fine 
sir, as long as you are clothed in such 
lumps of flesh. So put them ofF, since 
you will sink our craft if you put but 
one foot on board. Yes, toss away at 





K> ^^=« 

once, also, those crowns, and the records 
of your publicly-proclaimed victories. 

Dam. See, I am truly and actually 
stripped, at your service, as you see, and of 
equal weight with the rest of the dead men. 

Her. It is better to be thus un- 
weighted. So come on board. — And as 
for you, Kraton, strip yourself at once 
of your riches, and your effeminacy be- 
sides, and your luxury, and bring neither 
your funeral-robes nor your ancestral dig- 
nities, but leave behind both your pride 
of birth and vain-glory, and if ever the 
State by public proclamation has allowed 
you inscriptions on your statues, leave 
them behind, too ; nor bring us any 
story of their having piled a huge tomb 
over you. For even the very mention 
of these things makes a difference in the 

Kraton. It's against my will ; how- 
ever, I will cast them off; for what can 
I do? 


1 7 8 

VI ','1 1 

k\ I .11, 


Her. [k«'h£ a general in full accoutre- 
ments]. Bless me ! And you gentleman 
armed cap-a-pied, what do you want ? 
or why are you carrying this trophy ? 

General. Because I gained a battle, 
and won the prize of valour, and the 
State did me that honour. 

Her. Leave your trophy upon Earth ; 
for in Hades reigns peace, and there will 
be no need of weapons. — But this gen- 
tleman, so majestic in his dress, and who 
gives himself such airs in it, who elevates 
his eyebrows, who is wrapped in medi- 
tation, who is he — he, I mean, who 
wears the long, thick beard ? 

Men. A species of philosopher (so- 
called), Hermes, but rather (in fact) a 
juggler and a fellow stuffed full of pre- 
ternatural pretensions. So strip him 
too ; for you will see many and truly 
ridiculous things stowed away under his 

Her. Off you, in the first place, with 





your clothes ; next, with all those things 
there. O Zeus ! what arrogance he 
bears about him, and what ignorance, 
and disputation, and vain-glory, and use- 
less questions, and thorny argumenta- 
tions, and intricate conceits ! Yes, and 
a vast amount of vain labour, and trifling 
not a little, and nonsense, and frivolous 
talk, by heaven ! [producing the treasures 
concealed under the sophist's cloak] and 
gold coin here, and hedonism, and shame- 
lessness, and passion, and luxury and 
effeminacy. For they don't escape my 
observation, however well you conceal 
them about your person. Now, off this 
instant with your lying, and your swollen 
pride, and the notion that you are better 
than the rest of the world ; since, if you 
were to :ome on board with all this, 
what ordinary ship of war would ever 
take you ? 

Philosopher. I divest myself of them, 
then, since you so order. 

1 80 

Men. Nay, but let him put off, too, 
that beard, Hermes, heavy and shaggy, 
as you observe. There are, at the least, 
five pounds of hair. 

Her. You are right. Off with that 

Phil. And who will be the barber ? 

Her. Menippos here will take the 
ship-carpenter's axe and will chop it 
off, making use of the gangway as a 

Men. No, Hermes ; but hand me up 
a saw — for that will be more entertain- 

Her. The axe will do. — Well done ! 
Now that you have divested yourself of 
your he-goatish odours, you turn out 
more like a man. 

Men. Do you want me to remove a 
little from his eyebrows ? 

Her. By all means ; for he raises 
them ever above his forehead, stretch- 
ing himself upwards — why, I don't 


know. — What's this ? Do you, indeed, 
weep, vile scum ! and grow cowardly in 
face of death ? Embark, now, immedi- 

Men. One thing — the heaviest of 
all — he is keeping under his arm-pits. 

Her. What is it, Menippos ? 

Men. Fawning flattery, Hermes, 
which has much served him in his life. 

Phil. Do you too, then, Menippos, 
put off your freedom, and assurance, and 
unconcern, and self-satisfaction, and ridi- 
cule. Indeed, you are the only one of 
us all to laugh. 

Her. Don't do anything of the kind : 
on the contrary retain them, for they are 
light and very portable, and serviceable 
for the passage. — And the orator, you 
there, off" with that so enormous a quan- 
tity of words and verbiage, and antith- 
eses, and nice balancing of clauses, and 
periods, and barbarisms, and the rest of 
the heavy trappings of your orations. 


Orator. Well, see, I am stripping 
myself of them. 

Her. It's well. So loose the cables ; 
let us haul up the gangway, let the 
anchors be weighed, unfurl the sail ; 
take the helm, ferryman. May we 
have a prosperous voyage ! — What are 
you groaning and lamenting about, fools ; 
and you philosopher, in particular, who 
just now have had your beard chopped 

Phil. Because, Hermes, I used to 
think that the soul was immortal. 

Men. He lies ; for other matters 
obviously afflict him. 

Her. What sort ? 

Men. That no longer he will partake 
of costly dinners, nor go out at night 
without anyone's knowing it, with his 
head enveloped in his cloak, and go the 
round of the public stews; and, from 
an early hour in the morning, take the 
fees of the youths for lessons in philos- 


I M 


ophy, deceiving them all the while. It 
is this that afflicts him. 

Phil. Why, you, Menippos, are you 
not grieved at being dead ? 

Men. How ? I, who hurried to death 
without anyone's summons ? But, while 
we are chattering, is that not some cry 
I hear as if of people shouting from 
Earth ? 

Her. Yes, Menippos, not from one 
region only ; but those who have met 
together in conclave, with pleased looks, 
are all laughing at the death of Lam- 
pichos, while his wife is seized hold of 
by the women, and her infants likewise, 
young and tender as they are, are being 
assailed by the boys with quantities of 
stones ; and others are applauding Dio- 
phantos, the orator, at Sikyon, who is 
declaiming funeral eulogies over Kraton 
here — and, by heaven, the mother of 
Damasias, with wailing, is now leading 
off the dirge for him with the women. 


But as for you, friend Menippos, no one 
sheds a tear over you, and you are all 
alone in perfect peace. 

Men. By no means so ; you will 
shortly hear the dogs howling most pit- 
eously over me ; and the crows flapping 
with their wings, when they collect to- 
gether to bury me. 

Her. You are a fine fellow, Menip- 
pos. — Well, since we have made the 
passage [addressing the passengers], do 
you pack off" to the judge's tribunal, 
proceeding by that straight road there ; 
while I and the ferryman will go for 

Men. A good voyage to you, Hermes ! 
— Well, let us, too, go our way. Why, 
pray, are you still lingering ? You will 
most certainly have to be judged, and 
they say that the sentences are severe — 
wheels, and rocks, and vultures. And 
each one's life will be clearly revealed. 


Zeus, Cyniskos 

Cyniskos. [with wallet and tattered 
cloak~\. I will not trouble you, Zeus, about 
such matters — asking for wealth, gold, 
and kingdoms, which are objects most 
fervently prayed for by the rest of the 
world, and which are not altogether 
easy for you to grant. I observe, in- 
deed, that you generally turn a deaf 
ear to their prayers. But there is 
one thing, and that a very easy thing to 
grant, I did wish to obtain from you. 

Zeus. What is that, Cyniskos ? For 
you shall not fail to get it, especially since, 
as you say, it is a modest favour you ask. 

Cyn. Just give me an answer in re- 
gard to a certain not difficult question. 

Zeus. Your petition, of a truth, is a 
small matter and soon settled : so ask 
whatever vou have a mind to ask. 

1 86 

Cyn. Here it is then, Zeus. You 
read, doubtless, you as well as the 
rest, the poems of Homer and Hesiod. 
Tell me, pray, are those things true 
which these poets have so magnificently 
declaimed about Destiny and the Fates — 
that whatever lot thev spin out for each 
mortal, at his birth, is not possible to 
be avoided ? 

Zeus. Indeed, all that is quite true : 
for there is nothing that the Fates do 
not ordain ; but all things that happen, 
whatever they are, are turned upon their 
spindle ; and they have, each one of them, 
their final event, from the very first, 
strictly determined : nor is it possible or 
right for it to be otherwise. 

Cyn. Then, when the same Homer, 
in another part of his poem, says : 

" Lest to the house of Aides, despite of Fate, 
he send thee," 

and that sort of thing, we must say, I 
suppose, that he is then talking nonsense ? 



Zeus. Certainly. For nothing could 
happen so, independently of the law of 
the Fates — nothing beyond the stretch 
of their thread. But, as for the poets, 
whatever they sing under the constrain- 
ing inspiration of the Muses, that is truth : 
when, however, the Goddesses desert 
them, and they poetize of themselves, 
on such occasions, I say, they are liable 
indeed to error, and are apt to contradict 
their former assertions. And they may 
be pardoned, if, as they are but men, 
they don't know the truth, after it has 
left them, which, as long as it was present, 
poured forth its strains through them. 

Cyn. Well, we will say so then. 
But further answer me this, too. Are 
there not three Fates — Klotho, Lach- 

esis, an 

d At 

ropos f 

Zeus. Of course. 

Cyn. Destiny, then, and Chance — 
for they, too, are much in every one's 
mouth — who ever are they, and what 


power does each of them exercise ? 
Have they a power equal to that of the 
Fates, or something even above them ? 
I hear, however, every one say that noth- 
ing is more powerful than Chance and 

Zeus. It is not permissible for you 
to know everything, Cyniskos. And 
with what purpose, pray, did you ask 
this question about the Fates ? 

Cyn. I will tell you, if you will tell 
me first, Zeus, this too — do they govern 
you, as well ; and is it, really, a matter 
of necessity for you to hang suspended 
by their thread ? 

Zeus. It is matter of necessity, 
Cyniskos. But why did you smile, pray ? 

Cyn. I called to mind those verses 
of Homer, in which you have been rep- 
resented by him as declaiming in the 
popular Assembly of Gods, when you 
threatened them to suspend the universe 
by a certain golden chain — for you as- 


serted that, of yourself, you would let 
down the chain in question from Heaven, 
and that all the Gods together, if they 
chose, might hang by it and use all their 
force to pull it down, but that they 
certainly would not drag the chain down, 
whereas you yourself, whenever you 
wished, easily 

" Aloft could draw the Earth itself, and Sea, 
and all within them." 


On those occasions, I confess, vou 
appeared to me to be admirable in your 
strength, and I used to shudder with 
terror while I listened to those verses ; 
whereas now I see that all this time you 
have been yourself suspended with your 
chain and all your threats, by a slight 
thread, as you admit. Klotho, it seems 
to me, according to this, might boast with 
far more justness, as it is she who drags 
up and hangs you in mid air by her 



spindle, for all the world as fishermen 
do their little fish from their rod and 

Zeus, [indignantly] . I don't know 
what these same questions of yours 

Cyn. This, Zeus — and, by the Fates 
and by Destiny, do not hear me with 
harsh or angry feeling, if I speak the truth 
with freedom. Why, if this is so, and 
the Fates rule all things, and nothing of 
what has once been decreed by them can 
be altered by any one, with what purpose 
do we men offer sacrifices and present 
whole hecatombs to you, with prayer 
for good things from you. For I don't 
see what advantage we could get from 
this piece of attention, if neither it is 
possible for us to find, through vows and 
prayers, means of averting evils, nor to 
obtain any heaven-given good. 

Zeus, [vehemently] . I know where you 
get those pretty questions from — from 


those cursed sophists, who assert that we 
don't even exercise any providential 
superintendence over men ; and without 
doubt, they ask such questions out of 
sheer impiety, diverting the rest of man- 
kind from sacrifice and vow-making, as 
being quite useless ; seeing, as they affirm, 
we neither pay any regard to what is done 
among you, nor, in fine, have any power 
at all in respect to earthly affairs. How- 
ever, they shall have no reason to be 
pleased by their pursuance of such in- 

Cyn. [calmly~\ . No, by the spindle of 
Klotho, I declare, Zeus, it was not 
from being influenced by those people 
that I put these questions to you ; but 
our line of discussion itself, I don't know 
how, has gone on till it ended in this — 
that sacrifices are supererogatory and 
superfluous. But again, if you please, I 
will put the question to you briefly, and 
do not shrink from answering me, and be 



so kind as to give a more candid reply 
than is your wont. 

Zeus. Ask away, if you have leisure 
to talk such trifling nonsense. 

Cyn. You affirm that everything is 
done by the Fates ? 

Zeus. Well, I do. 

Cyn. But that it is in your power to 
alter their decrees, and to spin them 
back ? 

Zeus. Not at all. 

Cyn. Would you have me, then, 
lead up to the necessary consequence, or 
is it plain enough without my mentioning 

Zeus. Oh, quite plain. But those 
who sacrifice, do so, not on account of 
any need for it — to make a return, and 
as it were, to purchase good things from 
us ; but, in a particular manner, out of 
honour for what is superior to themselves. 

Cyn. [triumphantly]. That's sufficient 
— since even you allow that the 



sacrifices are of no earthly use, but are 
offered simply by way of friendly feeling 
on the part of men, who honour the 
superior power. Yet if any one of those 
sophists you speak of were present, he 
would ask you why you affirm the Gods 
to be superior, and that, seeing they are 
fellow-slaves with men, and under subjec- 
tion to the same mistresses — the Fates. 
For the plea of immortality will not 
avail them, so as, on that account, to 
gain the reputation of superiority : be- 
cause that accident, in fact, makes it far 
worse for them, seeing that death would 
have removed them to a state of free- 
dom ; while, as it is, your business ends 
only with infinity, and your slavery, 
wound up with that long-reaching thread, 
is everlasting. 


Zeus. But, Cyniskos, that eternity 
and that infinity of ours is a blessed one 
for us, and we live in the enjoyment of 
all good things. 



Cyn. Not all of you, Zeus. On the 
contrary, even among you your concerns 
have been variously portioned out, and 
considerable confusion exists in your 
midst. You, indeed, are fortunate, for 
you are king, and can hoist up Earth and 
Sea by just letting down a bucket-rope, 
as it were. But Hephaistos now, he is 
lame, and a sort of mechanic and black- 
smith by trade ; as for Prometheus, he 
was once upon a time crucified — and as 
for your own father, what shall I say 
of him, who is still a prisoner in 
chains in Tartarus ? They do say that 
you Gods even play the gallant and get 
wounded in battle, and sometimes work 
with men as slaves, as certainly did your 
own brother with Laomedon, and Apollo 
with Admetos. These circumstances 
don't seem to me to be very happy ones ; 
on the contrary, some individuals among 
you appear to be fortunate and lucky, 
and others the opposite. I omit, in fact, 





to mention that you are apt to fall 
among thieves, just as we are, get robbed 
by plunderers of your temples, and from 
a state of the greatest wealth become 
paupers, in the twinkling of an eye. 
And many before now have been melted 
down, for all their being of gold or 
silver ; to whom, I presume, that fate 
had been destined. 

Zeus [frowning]. There ! These, 
now, are mere wanton insults of yours, 
Cyniskos. Indeed, you will repent of 
them some time or other. 

Cyn. Spare your threats, Zeus, as 
you know that I shall suffer nothing, 
which has not been determined by Fate 
before you had anything to do with it : 
since I notice that not even the robbers 
of your temples themselves are all pun- 
ished ; on the contrary, the majority of 
them get away from you scot-free. In 
fact, I suppose it had not been fated for 
them to be caught. 

Zeus. Did I not say that you are, 
without doubt, one of those fellows 
who are for doing away with providence 
by your style of argument ? 

Cyn. You are terribly afraid of 
them, Zeus, I don't know why. Every- 
thing, in fact, I say, whatever it may 
be, you suspect to be their teaching. 
But I — from whom else should I learn 
the truth rather than from you ? — I 
should be glad to ask you this, too, who 
is this " Providence " of yours ; is it 
some Fate, or a divinity even above her, 
as it were, ruling over the Gods them- 
selves ? 

Zeus. I told you already before that it 
is not lawful or proper for you to know 
everything. And you, although at the 
beginning you said you would ask a 
certain single question, don't stop a mo- 
ment, putting a number of hair-splitting 
subtleties to me ; and I see it is the 
chief aim of your discourse, to prove we 



exercise no providential care over human 
concerns in anything. 

Cyn. That is not my affair : but you 
affirmed, a little before, that they are the 
Fates that accomplish everything ; un- 
less, perchance, you repent of making 
those concessions, and recall again what 
you have said, and put in a chain for 
" Providence," and thrust Destiny aside 

Zeus. Bv no means ; on the contrary, 
it is Fate that brings each thing to pass 
through our agency. 

Cyn. I understand. You say you 
are a kind of agents and ministers of the 
Fates. But, however, even so, it would 
be they who exercise providence, while 
you are, as it were, a sort of tools and 
instruments of theirs. 

Zeus. How ? 

Cyn. How ? Why, just as, I sup- 
pose, the carpenter's axe and auger work 
together, in some sort, for the creation 



of the work : but no one would say that 
they are the workman himself, nor the 
ship the work of the axe or the auger, 
but of the shipwright. Analogously, 
then, Destiny is she who acts as the 
shipwright in regard to each particular, 
while you are, I presume, the axes and 
augers of the Fates : and, as it seems, 
men ought to offer their sacrifices to 
Destiny, and demand their good things 
from her ; whereas they approach you, 
honouring you with their processions 
and sacrifices. And yet they would not 
do it reasonably, even in honour of Des- 
tiny. For I don't suppose it to be pos- 
sible even for the Fates themselves to 
change or upset anything of what has 
been originally decreed respecting each 
several event. At all events, Atropos 
would not tolerate it, if any one were to 
turn back the spindle, and undo the work 
of Klotho. 

Zeus. And do you, Cyniskos, now 





require that not even the Fates be held 
in honour by men ? Well, you seem to 
have for your object to throw everything 
into confusion. We, however, if for 
nothing else, should be justly honoured, 
at least, for our giving out oracles 
and predicting every particular thing 
which has been determined by the Fates. 
Cyn. Upon a survey of the whole 
matter, it is useless, Zeus, for those to 
whom it is altogether impossible to guard 
themselves against them, to foreknow 
events that are to take place; unless you 
say this — that one who has learned before- 
hand that he will have to die by an iron 
spear-head, might be able to escape death 
by shutting himself up. But that is im- 
possible : for Fate will drag him out to 
set him hunting, and will deliver him up 
to the spear ; and an Adrastos will hurl 
his javelin against the wild boar, and 
will miss him, but will slay the son 
of Kroisos ; just as if the javelin had 


been carried against the youth by ir- 
resistible command of the Fates. The 
saying of Laios is, indeed, ridiculous, 
which says : — 

Sow not, in heaven's despite, a field of sons : 
Sure death you'll meet from vour own prog- 
eny. " 

For an exhortatory warning against 
events that will certainly so happen is, 
I imagine, superfluous. So, in fact, 
after the oracle, he did " sow," and 
" the progeny " slew him. Therefore, 
I don't see upon what pretence you de- 
mand pay for your oracular art. Why, 
I omit to mention that you Gods are 
accustomed to return to the majority of 
your clients oracular responses of double 
and ambiguous meaning, and don't 
make it over clear, whether the one who 
crosses the Halys will destroy his own 
kingdom, or that of Cyrus : for the oracle 
might be made to mean both. 

Zeus. Apollo, Cyniskos, had some 



cause for anger against Kroisos, inasmuch 
as he tempted him by boiling lamb's flesh 
and a tortoise together. 

Cyn. As a God, he ought not even to 
have been angry : but, however, it had 
been fated, I presume, for the Lydian 
that he should be deceived by the oracle ; 
and, besides, Destiny spun for him that 
he should not understand too clearly what 
was in store for him. So even your 
oracular art is her work. 

Zeus. And do you leave nothing for 
us, but are we Gods without anv purpose, 
and do we not import any sort of prov- 
idence into human affairs, and are we, 
like a lot of axes and augers, in actual 
fact, unworthy of sacrifices ? Indeed, 
I think you quite reasonably have a su- 
preme contempt for me, because, as you 
see, I forbear my hand, although ready 
to hurl my thunderbolt at you, all the 
time you are making all these cavillings 
against us. 




Cyn. Shoot away, Zeus, if it has 
been fated for me to be struck by a thun- 
derbolt ; and I will not blame you at all 
for the stroke, but Klotho, who wounds 
me by your agency : for I would not 
affirm even that the thunderbolt was the 
cause of the wound. However, I will 
ask this of you — yourself and Destiny 
— and do you answer me, also, on her 
behalf; for you reminded me by your 
threat : Why ever in the world do you 
leave alone robbers of your temples and 
pirates, and such a number of insolent 
wrong-doers, and men of outrage and 
violence, and perjurers, and frequently 
cast vour bolt against some poor oak, or 
rock, or mast of a ship that has done you 
no harm ; and, at times, against some 
good and just traveller? Why are you 
silent, Zeus ? Or is it not lawful and 
right for me to know even thus much ? 

Zeus. Why, no, Cyniskos ; and you 
are a meddlesome sort of fellow, and I 


) J M 



don't know where you come from with 
these jumbled-up arguments. 

Cyn. Then may I not even ask 
you this — you, I mean, and Providence 
and Destiny — why ever did Phokion, 
that good man, die in such poverty and 
want of the actual necessaries of life, 
and Aristeides before him ; while Kal- 
lias and Alkibiades, youths unbridled in 
their licentiousness, abounded in wealth, 
and Meidias, the insolent upstart, and 
Charops of Aigina, a man of infamous 
debauchery, who killed his mother by 
starvation. And, again, Sokrates, why 
was he handed over to the Eleven, while 
Meletos was not so ? and Sardanapalos, 
why had he kingly power, with his de- 
bauched character, and why were such a 
number of good and honourable Persians 
impaled or crucified by him, because they 
were not content with his proceedings ? 
Not to mention to you things of the 
present time, or further particularize — 



the wicked and the avaricious happy and 
fortunate, the good driven and carried off 
into captivity, oppressed through poverty, 
by diseases, and ten thousand evils. 

Zeus. Why, don't you know, Cynis- 
kos, what punishments the wicked endure 
after this life, or in how much happiness 
the good pass their time ? 

Cyn. You talk to me of Hades, and 
the Titvoses and Tantaloses. But, as 
far as I am concerned, whether there is 
anything at all of the sort I shall know 
clearly enough when I am dead : and, as 
for the present, I would prefer to pass 
my life happily during this life, as long 
as it might be, and, after death, to have 
my liver gnawed by sixteen vultures — 
but not, while here, to be as thirsty as 
Tantalos ; and in the Islands of the 
Blessed to drink, reclining in the Elysian 
meadows with the heroes. 

Zeus. What do you say ? Do you 
disbelieve or doubt that there are certain 


punishments and rewards, and a judg- 
ment-seat, where at length each one's 
life is inquired into ? 

Cyn. I hear that a certain Minos, a 
Kretan, acts as judge in such matters •, 
and answer me somewhat about him, 
too : for he is said to be your son. 

Zeus. And why do you ask about 
him, Cvniskos ? 

Cyn. Whom does he punish chiefly ? 

Zeus. The wicked, of course, such 
as murderers and temple robbers. 

Cyn. And whom does he despatch 
to the heroes ? 

Zeus. The good and holy, who have 
lived virtuously. 

Cyn. Why, Zeus ? 

Zeus. Because some deserve reward, 
others punishment. 

Cyn. And, if a man have done some 
dire action unwittingly, does he deem him 
deserving, too, of being punished ? 

Zeus. By no means. 



Cyn. Nor, I suppose, if a man does 
some good action against his will, would 
he think it proper to reward him either ? 

Zeus. Why, no, to be sure. 

Cyn. Then it befits him, Zeus, 
neither to punish nor to reward anybody. 

Zeus. How, not anybody ? 

Cyn. Because we men do nothing 
of our own wills, but are compelled by 
some inevitable necessity, if, at least, 
those things are true which have been 
before admitted — namely, that Fate is 
the cause of everything. In fact, if a 
man commit a murder, she is the real 
murderess ; and if he rob a temple, he 
does what it has been ordered him to do. 
So, if Minos intend to give just judg- 
ment, he will punish Destiny instead of 
Sisyphos, and Fate instead of Tantalos. 
For what wrong did they commit, since 
they obeyed their orders ? 

Zeus [in a towering rage]. It is no 
longer worth while even to reply to you 



and your questions — for you are an im- 
pudent fellow, and a sophist into the 
bargain ; and I will leave you and go 
away this moment. 

Cyn. [calling after him]-. I did want 
to put to you again this question, too — 
Where do the Fates spend their days, or 
how do they manage to reach to the 
superintendence, even to the smallest 
particular, of so many matters — and 
that, though they are only three ? For 
they seem to me to live a laborious and 
no enviable sort of existence, in having 
such a quantity of public business ; and, 
as it appears, they were born under a not 
altogether propitious Destiny, even they. 
I, at all events, if choice were given to 
me, would not exchange my own life 
with them, but would pass through life 
still poorer than I am rather than sit 
plying my spindle full of such a quantity 
of troublesome business, and looking 
after each particular item. However,