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Page:Comedies of Aristophanes (Hickie 1853) vol1.djvu/139

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134—158.
123
THE CLOUDS.

Strep. Strepsiades,[1] the son of Phidon, of Cicynna.

Dis. You are a stupid fellow, by Jove! who have kicked against the door so very carelessly, and have caused the miscarriage[2] of an idea which I had conceived.

Strep. Pardon me; for I dwell afar in the country.[3] But tell me the thing which has been made to miscarry.

Dis. It is not lawful to mention it, except to disciples.

Strep. Tell it, then, to me without fear; for I here am come[4] as a disciple to the thinking-shop.

Dis. I will tell you; but you must regard these as mysteries. Socrates lately asked Chærephon about[5] a flea, how many of its own feet it jumped; for after having bit the eyebrow of Chærephon, it leapt away on to the head of Socrates.

Strep. How, then, did he measure this?

Dis. Most cleverly. He melted some wax, and then took the flea and dipped its feet in the wax; and then a pair of Persian slippers stuck to it when cooled. Having gently loosened these, he measured back the distance.

Strep. O king Jupiter! what[6] subtlety of thought!

Dis. What then would you say, if you heard another contrivance of Socrates?

Strep. Of what kind? Tell me, I beseech you!

Dis. Chærephon the Sphettian asked him whether he thought gnats buzzed through the mouth or the breech.

  1. i. e. Distorter. See vss. 434, 1455, 88. Cf. Süvern, Clouds, p. 41.

    "A citizen of the tribe of Acamas." Cumberland.

  2. "Allusio ad Socratis matrem, quæ obstetrix erat: ipse autem dicere solebat se eandem artem exercere, ὅτι τέχνην ἔχω τὴν μαιευτικὴν, καὶ διὰ ταύτης ποιῶ τοὺς νέους ἀποτίκτειν τὰ νοήματα ἐν τῇ ἐαυτῶν ψυχῇ. Schol." Brunck. See Plato, Theæt. p. 149, foll.
  3. As Strepsiades himself pleads his rusticity in excuse for the unmannerly vehemence with which he had assaulted the door of the Phrontisterium, Mr. Mitchell might have spared us the fanciful note, in which he reminds Schütz, "that Strepsiades is not a clown, but rather a country-gentleman, and that he approaches the door of Socrates with too deep a feeling of reverence to allow of any act of discourtesy on his part."
  4. See note on Equit. 1098.
  5. See Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 61, 6, obs. 2. "This flea's-foot geometry is noticed in Xenophon's Symposium; perhaps in reference to this very passage, or to some anecdote, to which Aristophanes also may have had access." Welcker.
  6. See note on Lys. 967.