RICHARD A. VOGEL
By Nathan Haskell Dole
Digitized by the Internet Archive
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
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
Will you be sold abroad, or starve at
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
Disguised as pigs, with artificial pettitoes.
Here, take them, and put them on.
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-
Meg. [sneakingly]. Yes — We're come
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
Die. But salt ? You've salt, I
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
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
But I'll be judged ; I'll bet ye a bushel
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
Remember what I told ye — squeak
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,
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
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,
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
How they do munch and crunch ! in the
name of heaven,
Why, sure they can't have eaten 'em all
Meg. \sneakingly]. Not all, there's this
one here, I took myself.
Die. Well, faith, they're clever comi-
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
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
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,
Die. Get out ! what wind has brought
'em here, I wonder ?
A parcel of hornets buzzing about the
You humble-bumble drones — Get out!
Get out !
Theb. As Iolaus shall help me, that's
Friend, and I thank you; — coming out
They blew me away the blossom of all
You've sarved 'em right. So now would
you please to buy,
What likes you best, of all my chaffer
All kinds, four-footed things and feath-
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
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
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
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-
* 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 . . .
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
These other things of course are meant
Theb. Yes, sure. I sell 'em all.
Die. Well, what do you ask ?
Or would you take commodities in ex-
Theb. Ay; think of something of
your country produce,
That's plentiful down here, and scarce
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
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
He'd bring in money, I warrant, money
Amongst our folks at home, with show-
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
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 ?
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
And if once the fire caught hold of a
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 ;
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,
Chor. Have you stowed him safe
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 !
A DEBATER DESCRIBED
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
And lying long awake o' nights, compos-
ing and repeating,
And studying as you walked the streets,
and wearing out the patience
PEACE vs. PILCHARDS
Chor. [to the Sausage -Seller].
O best of men ! thou tightest heartiest
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
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
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
We're all delighted with you — let us
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,
Like stones from a hill-top ; calling them
Conspirators — what not ? There sat
With their arms folded, and their eye-
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
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-
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-
I burst among the crowd, and bustled
And bolted in at the wicket, and bawled
" 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
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
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-
With a festival moreover, and a sacri-
Of a hundred head of oxen ; to the
Then seeing he meant to drive me to
With his hundred oxen, I overbid him
at once ;
And said "two hundred," and proposed
For a thousand goats to be offered to
Whenever sprats should fall to forty a
With that the Senate smiled upon me
And he grew stupefied and lost, and
And attempting to interrupt the current
Was called to order, and silenced and
Then they were breaking up to buy
their pilchards :
But he must needs persist, and beg for a
" 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
" 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
And scrambled over the railing and dis-
And I dasht down to the market-place
And bought up all the fennel, and be-
As donative, for garnish to their pil-
Among the poorer class of Senators ;
And they so thankt and praised me, that
For twenty-pence, I've purchased and
— From " The Knights."
IN HOOPOE LAND
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
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
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-
" 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 !
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
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-
Just as you do the grasshoppers and
And if the gods offend you, you'll block-
And starve 'em to a surrender.
Peis. Why thus. Your atmosphere is
placed, you see,
•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
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
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-
And when they hear her voice, I prom-
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-
— From " The Birds."
THE CALL TO THE NIGHT-
[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 ;
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
Peis. O Jupiter ! the dear, delicious
With what a lovely tone she swells and
Sweetening the wilderness with delicate
Peis. What ?
Eu. Be quiet, can't ye ?
Peis. What's the matter ?
Eu. The Hoopoe is just preparing for
Hoo. Hoop ! hoop !
Come in a troop,
Come at a call,
One and all,
Birds of a feather,
Birds of a humble, gentle bill,
Smooth and shrill,
Dieted on seeds and grain,
Rioting on the furrowed plain,
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.
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."
THE KINGDOM OF THE BIRDS
Peis. I move, that the birds shall in
To a centrical point, and encamp in the
And intrench and enclose it, and fortify
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
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-
And if he refuses, or shows hesitation,
Or evades the demand ; we shall further
With legitimate warfare avowed and
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
With orders in future, that every suitor,
Who applies to the gods with an offer-
Shall begin, with a previous offering paid
To a suitable bird ; of a kind and degree
That accords with the god, whosoever
In Venus's fane, if a victim is slain,
First let a sparrow be feasted with
When gifts and oblations to Neptune
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
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
They will reckon us merely as magpies
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
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
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
All their hopes of a crop, when the vines
are in bloom,
A squadron of owls may demolish them
The midges moreover, which canker
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
Their voyages all will be easily made,
With a saving of time, and a saving of
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
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
'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
And none are in health, that are going
Hoo. But then for longevity ; that is
Of the gods.
Peis. But the birds can afford them
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
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
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
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 tell me what your names are ?
Peis. Certainly j
My name is Peisthetairus.
Hoo. And your friend ?
Eu. Euelpides from Thria.
• 1 ,Mk0\/J
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
Report a case in point ; the fox and
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
Peis. Come, let's go in then ; Xan-
thias, do you mind,
And Manodorus follow with the bundles.
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
The lovely sweet nightingale, bid her
And leave her amongst us, to sport with
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.
Hoo. Since it is your wish and pleas-
ure it must be so ;
Come here to the strangers, Procne !
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."
THE ADVANTAGE OF WINGS
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
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
Eu. Come, what's to be done ?
Hoo. First, we must choose a name,
M K h
Some grand sonorous name, for our new
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
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
Peis. Come then, what name shall it
Eu. Something appropriate,
Something that sounds majestic, striking
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
That all Theagenes's rich possessions
Lie there •, and ./Eschines's whole estate.
Peis. Yes ! and a better country it is
Than all that land in Thrace, the fabu-
Of Phlegra ; where those earthborn
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
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-
The example would be scandalous ; to
The goddess, a female born, in com-
From head to foot ; and Cleisthenes with
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
Climb up the ladders ; tumble down
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
And another, down below there, to
Bid them, when they return, inquire
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
Holloh, you boy there ! bring the basin
and ewer !
— From « The Birds."
THE POET AND THE
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,
Peis. What's here to do ? What
are vou ? Where do you come
Poet. An humble menial of the
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
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
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
You there, you've a spare waistcoat ;
pull it off!
And give it this same clever, ingenious
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
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."
THE BUILDING OF THE
Enter a Messenger, quite out of breath ;
and speaking in short snatches.
Messenger. Where is he ? Where ?
Where is he ? Where ? Where is
The president Peisthetairus ?
Peis. [*•««//>•] . Here am I.
Mess, [in a gasp of breath~\ . Your
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
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,
Egyptian bricklayers, workmen or ma-
But, they themselves, alone, by their
(Even to my surprise, as an eye-wit-
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
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-
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,
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-
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
Such a clatter, as they made, hammering
In a perpetual peal, pelting away
Like shipwrights, hard at work in the
And now their work is finished, gates
Staples and bolts, and bars and every-
The sentries at their posts ; patrols ap-
The watchmen in the barbican ; the
IRIS AND THE BIRDS
7£* Watchman enters, with a shout of
Peis. Well, what's the matter ?
Watchman. A most dreadful ' busi-
One of the gods, just now — Jupiter's
Has bolted thro' the gates, and driven on
Right into the atmosphere, in spite of us,
And all the jackdaws, that were mount-
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
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
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
A helmet ? or a galley ? What's your
Iris. Iris, the messenger of the gods.
Oh ! you're a naval messenger, I reckon,
The Salaminian galley, or the Para-
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
Iris. Well, this seems quite unac-
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
You applied to the pelicans, I suppose ?
— The captain
Of the cormorants on guard admitted
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
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
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
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
Like a base Lydian or a Phrygian slave,
With hyperbolical bombast to scare ? "
I tell ye, and you may tell him. Jupi-
If he provokes me, and pushes things
too far —
Will see some eagles of mine, to out-
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
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
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
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."
APOSTROPHE TO PEISTHE-
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
Their modes of life are grown to be
rising with the
Of the birds' habits ;
Scratching and scrabbling suits and in-
Picking and pecking upon points of law ;
Brooding and hatching evidence. In
It has grown to such a pitch, that names
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
That you may expect to see some thou-
sands of them
THE MARVELS OF DISTANT
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.
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 ;
NEPTUNE IN NEPHELOCOC-
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-
From the left shoulder ! hitch it round, I
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
Is voted into an embassy !
Triballian [to Neptune, who is
pulling his dress about\.
Come, hands off!
Nep. Keep quiet, I tell ye, and hold
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 —
Whoever he is, that's keeping us block-
Nep. Yes, my good friend ; but we
were sent, you know,
To treat for a peace. Our embassy is
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-
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
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
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 ;
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-
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
You sit there, muffled in your clouds
While all mankind are shifting, skulk-
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
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
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
Or sitting in the bath, we give the
To a pursuivant of ours, a kite or mag-
And they pounce down immediately,
Cash or apparel, money or money's
To twice the amount of your demand
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,
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
I've no pretensions, Jupiter may keep
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
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-
If anything should happen to your
After surrendering the sovereignty,
What's to become of you ? When you
Have voted away your whole inherit-
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
You've not a farthing's worth of expec-
From what your father leaves. Ye
By law : ye're illegitimate, ye know.
Her. Hey-day ! Why, what do you
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-
'Tis I must make your fortune after
If you'll reside and settle amongst us
I'll make you chief commander among
Captain, and Autocrat and everything.
Here you shall domineer and rule the
With splendour and opulence and
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
Nep. [firmly and vehemently]. De-
cidedly I dissent.
Peis. Then it depends upon our other
It rests with the Triballian, what say
Trib. Me tell you ; pretty girl, grand
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-
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
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
Peis. [very quietly]. It happens lucky
enough, with this provision
For a marriage feast. It seems prepared
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-
Peis. Come, give me a marriage robe ;
I must be going.
— From " The Birds."
THE TRIBE OF THE MIGHTY
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."
APOTHEOSIS OF PEISTHE-
Harbinger or Herald, announcing the
approach of Peisthetairus.
O fortunate ! O triumphant ! O be- |
All power of speech or thought, su-
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
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
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.
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
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)
A MISCHIEVOUS INFANT
HEPHAISTOS RECOUNTS TO APOLLO THE
ACTIONS OF THE INFANT PRODIGY,
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
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
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
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.
Heph. The child you describe is a
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 AND LETO DISPUTE
MERITS OF THEIR
Hera. Fine creatures, indeed, are the
children you have presented to Zeus,
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
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.
THE LIMITATIONS OF LOVE
EROS EXPLAINS TO HIS MOTHER WHY
HE DOES NOT ASSAIL ATHENA, THE
MUSiE, AND ARTEMIS
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
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
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-
Aph. I know, child, you have shot
your arrow at him often enough.
THE APPLE OF DISCORD
PANOPE RELATES TO GALENE THE SCENE
OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE
GOLDEN APPLE BY ERIS INTO THE
NUPTIAL FEAST OF PELEUS AND
THETIS, THE DISCORD BETWEEN
THE THREE RIVAL GODDESSES, AND
THEIR DISMISSAL TO MOUNT IDA
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.
THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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.
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
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
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
that moment it would be my business
that she shall fall in love, and run away
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
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.
AN OVERWORKED IM-
HERMES COMPLAINS TO HIS MOTHER OF
THE MULTIPLICITY OF HIS EMPLOY-
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
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
AN AMBITIOUS HORSEMAN
HELIOS, ACCUSED BY ZEUS OF RASH CON-
DUCT IN GIVING UP HIS CHARIOT TO
HIS SON, OBTAINS A CONDITIONAL
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
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-
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
A ONE-EYED LOVER
DORIS RIDICULES THE FIGURE AND MAN-
NERS OF POLYPHEMOS, THE LOVER
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
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 !
GRAFT IN HADES
HERMES DEMANDS FROM CHARON AR-
REARS OF PAYMENT DUE TO HIM
FOR HIS SERVICES ON THE STYX.
CHARON EXCUSES HIMSELF ON THE
PLEA OF BAD TIMES ; NO GREAT
WAR OR FAMINE, AS IT HAP-
PENED, RAVAGING THE EARTH AT
THAT MOMENT. HERMES MORAL-
ISES ON THE CAUSES OF DEATH,
DIFFERENT FROM THOSE OF OLD,
WHICH DESPATCH MEN IN CROWDS
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.
AN ALARMING NUMBER OF GHOSTS
CROWD TO THE STYX. CHARON,
FEARING FOR HIS BOAT, DIRECTS
HERMES TO SEE THAT THEY ARE
ENTIRELY STRIPPED OF THEIR VA-
RIOUS INSIGNIA OF POWER, RANK,
WEALTH, AND THE MIGHTY LOAD
OF VICES, BEFORE THEY ARE AD-
MITTED ON BOARD. MENIPPOS,
WHO IS ONE OF THE PASSENGERS,
AVAILS HIMSELF OF THE OPPOR-
TUNITY FOR RIDICULING AND
RAILING AT THE BEWAILING
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 !
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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-
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
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.
THE CONVICTED ZEUS
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.
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-
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
" 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
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,
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-
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
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-
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
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
Cyn. Why, Zeus ?
Zeus. Because some deserve reward,
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,