Page:Comedies of Aristophanes (Hickie 1853) vol1.djvu/200

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184
14—37.
THE WASPS.

Sos. And I too, verily, such a one as I never beheld before. But do you tell yours first.

Xan. Methought an eagle, very large, flew down into the forum, and snatched up in its talons a shield covered with brass, and bore it aloft towards heaven. And then methought Cleonymus[1] had thrown it away.

Sos. Cleonymus, then, differs in no wise from a riddle.[2] "How, pray," some one will say to his drinking companions, "happens it that the same beast on the earth, and in heaven, and in the sea, threw away his shield?"

Xan. Ah me! What evil then will happen to me, who have[3] seen such a vision?

Sos. Do not be concerned, for nothing strange will happen; no, by the gods.[4]

Xan. Yet, in truth, a man who has cast away his arms, is a strange thing. Come, tell yours, in return.

Sos. Why, it is important; for it relates to the whole of the hull[5] of the state.

Xan. Then tell me quickly the keel of the matter.

Sos. About my first sleep, some sheep[6] sitting together with staffs and cloaks, appeared to me to be holding an assembly in the Pnyx. And then, methought a whale, a receiveress-general,[7] having the voice of a bloated sow, made a speech to these sheep.

Xan. Faugh!

Sos. What's the matter?

  1. Cleonymus frequently falls under the lash of comic satire. Vide Nub. v. 352, Κλεώνυμον τὸν ῥίψασπιν. Pac. 446—673.
  2. Vide Athen. lib. x. 448, C.
  3. Similar to this is Falstaff's alarm, Merry Wives of Windsor:

    They are the fairies: he, that speaks to them, shall die:
    I'll wink and couch: no man their works must eye."
    Act v. sc. 5.

  4. See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 69, 34.
  5. A hit at the tragedians, who were very fond of naval metaphors. See Soph. Ant. 711. Eur. Med. 522. Crest. 705. Arist. Eq. 760.
  6. Aristophanes often derides what he calls the sheepishness of the Athenians. The βακτήριον and τριβώνιον were badges of the Dicast's office.
  7. An allusion to Cleon's rapacity in receiving bribes from all quarters, natives as well as foreigners.