The Comedies of Aristophanes (Hickie 1853)/Wasps
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|SOSIAS,||Two Slaves of Philocleon.|
|PHILOCLEON, an Athenian Dicast.|
|BDELYCLEON, his Son.|
|CHORUS, Athenian Dicasts habited as Wasps.|
|FLUTE-GIRL (χρυσομηλολόνθιον, vs. 1341).|
|DOGS, Plaintiff and Defendant.|
|BOYS (dressed as crabs).|
|SLAVE (attending the Chorus).|
|CHÆREPHON (as a mute).|
The Scene lies at Athens, in the house of Philocleon.
For the date and other particulars relative to the performance of this Comedy I give the words of Clinton, in the Fast. Hell. p. 69, 2nd edit.
"Aristophanis Σφῆκες. Arg. Vesp. ἐδιδάχθη ἐπὶ ἄρχοντος Ἀμυνίου (sic) διὰ Φιλωνίδου—εἰς Λήναια. (Anthesterion, or Feb. B. C. 422, Ol. iii. 89,) καὶ ἐνίκα πρῶτος Φιλωνίδης [δεύτερος] . . . . . . Προάγωνι· Λεύκων Πρέσβεσι τρίτος (sic legendum e cod. Rav.). Ed. Ald. et Kuster. Φιλωνίδης προάγων. Γλαύκων πρέσβεσι, τρίτος. Cod. Brunckii, Φιλωνίδης . . . . . . . προάγων. Γλευκεῖς Πρεσβεῖς τρεῖς . . . . . . . Cod. Ravenn. Φιλωνίδης προάγωνι Λευκῶν πρέσβεσι Γ. The name of Leucon was corrupted, because the first letter of Προἀγωνι adhered to the following word, ΠΡΟΑΓΩΝΙΛΕΥΚΩΝ; hence the corruption of the word into ΓΛΕΥΚΩΝ and ΓΛΑΥΚΩΝ. Leucon, the comic poet, is acknowledged by various testimonies: Athen. viii. p. 343, c. Phot. Lex. v. Τίβιοι. Hesych. v. Παάπις·—and flourished in these times.—Vide Suid. Λεύκων. Philonides, therefore, obtained the prize with the Σφῆκες of Aristophanes: as he obtained the first with the Βάτραχοι (Φιλωνίδης ἐπεγράφη καὶ ἐνίκα) in B. C. 405, Ol. iv. 93."
In The Wasps, as in the two preceding Comedies, a knowledge of the jurisprudence of Athens is absolutely necessary and indispensable. This Drama is a satire on that litigious spirit so prevalent in every rank at the time of its representation. The plot is soon told. Philocleon (i. e. a partisan of Cleon) is represented as a bigoted devotee to that malady most incident to his countrymen. Bdelycleon, his son, (i. e. an opposer of Cleon,) endeavours to persuade him, by every means in ins power, to change his present mode of life for one of a more noble cast. Every thing fails. At last, he proposes to convert his own house into a court of justice, and to remunerate Philocleon for his absence from the public suits. This succeeds, and the theft of a Sicilian cheese, by a house dog, soon gives the old gentleman a means of exercising his old craft as dicast. By an inadvertency he acquits the defendant—ἀπατηθεὶς ἄκων τὴν ἀποδικάζουσαν φέρει ψῆφον. The Parabasis follows. Afterwards Philocleon is brought forward in a different point of view, to use Mr. Mitchell's words, as, "The dicast turned gentleman;" or, as the Greek has it, ὁ δὲ γέρων πρὸς αὐλὸν καὶ ὄρχησιν τρέπεται, καὶ γελωτοποιεῖ τὸ δρᾶμα. "The Wasps is, in my opinion, the feeblest of Aristophanes' plays. The subject is too limited, the folly it ridicules appears a disease of too singular a description, without a sufficient universality of application, and the action is too much drawn out. The poet himself speaks this time in very modest language of his means of entertainment, and does not even promise us immoderate laughter." Schlegel.
[Scene—the front of Bdelycleon's house.]
Sos. You there, what ails you, O wretched Xanthias?
Xan. I am learning to get rid of the nocturnal watch.
Sos. Then you owe your ribs a great mischief. Do you know what a monster we are guarding?
Xan. I know; but I am desirous of sleeping without cares for a short while.
Sos. Do you run the risk, at any rate; since some sweet drowsiness is poured over my own pupils too.
Xan. What, are you mad, pray? or are you frenzied?
Sos. No; but a species of Sabazian sleep possesses me.
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 had thrown it away.
Sos. Cleonymus, then, differs in no wise from a riddle. "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 seen such a vision?
Sos. Do not be concerned, for nothing strange will happen; no, by the gods.
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 of the state.
Xan. Then tell me quickly the keel of the matter.
Sos. About my first sleep, some sheep 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, having the voice of a bloated sow, made a speech to these sheep.
Sos. What's the matter?
Xan. Stop, Stop, don't tell any more: your vision stinks most abominably of rotten hide.
Sos. Then the accursed whale with a pair of scales was weighing bull's fat.
Xan. Ah me, wretched man! He wishes to create divisions amongst our people.
Sos. And methought Theorus sat near it, on the ground, with the head of a raven. And then Alcibiades lisped and said to me, "Do you see? Theorus has the head of a flatterer."
Xan. Rightly did Alcibiades lisp this.
Sos. Is not that strange, then—Theorus becoming a raven?
Xan. By no means, but most proper.
Xan. How? Being a man, he then suddenly became a raven. Is not this, therefore, clear to conjecture, that he will be raised aloft from us, and go to the ravens?
Sos. Shall I not then give two obols and hire a person, who interprets dreams so cleverly?
Xan. Come now, let me declare the argument to the audience; first having premised to them some few matters as follows,—to expect nothing very great from us, nor yet, on the other hand, jokes stolen from Megara. For we have neither two slaves throwing about nuts from a basket amongst the spectators, nor a Hercules defrauded of his dinner, nor yet is Euripides again treated with insult; nor if Cleon even has become conspicuous on account of his good fortune, will we again make mincemeat of the same person. We have a little tale with a moral in it, than you yourselves not more clever, but wiser than vulgar comedy. For we have a master there asleep above, the mighty one, he in the highest floor. He commanded us two to keep guard over his father, having confined him within, in order that he may not go forth out of doors. For his father is indisposed with a strange disease, which no one could ever hit upon or conjecture, unless he were to hear it from us. For guess! Amynias here, the son of Pronapus, says he is a lover of dice; but he says nothing to the purpose.
Sos. By Jove, he judges of the disease from his own case.
Xan. No; yet "love" is the beginning of the evil. This Sosias here says to Dercylus that he is a lover of wine.
Sos. By no means; for this is a gentleman's disease.
Xan. Nicostratus, of Scambonis, on the other, hand, says that he is fond of sacrificing or fond of hospitality.
Sos. By the Dog, Nicostratus, not fond of hospitality, since Philoxenus is a blackguard.
Xan. You talk nonsense to no purpose, for you will not find it out. If you are truly desirous to know, be silent now; for I will now declare the disease of our master. He is fond of the Heliæa, as never man was; and he loves this acting the dicast, and groans unless he sit upon the first seat. And during the night he sees not even a morsel of sleep. But in fact, if he close his eyes, if it were but a little bit, nevertheless his thoughts flit thither during the night around the clepsydra. And through being accustomed to hold the pebble, he gets up holding together his three fingers, as if offering frankincense at the New Moon. And, by Jove, if he should behold written any where on a door, "Pretty Demus, son of Pyrilampes," he'd go and write close by the side of it, "Pretty Cemus." And he said that the cock which used to crow at even, waked him late, having been prevailed upon, receiving money from those under acount. And immediately after supper he bawls for his slippers; and then, having gone there very early, he sleeps first, sticking to the column like a limpet. And through moroseness awarding to all the long line, he enters his house like a bee, or a bumble-bee, having wax stuffed under his nails. And having feared he might sometime want for pebbles, he keeps a shingle within, in order that he may be able to act the dicast. In such sort does he rave: and being admonished, he always acts the dicast the more. Him, therefore, we are guarding, having shut him in with bars, that he may not get out; for his son is grieved at his distemper. And at first he appeased him with words, and tried to persuade him not to wear the cloak, and not to go forth out of doors; but he used not to obey. Next he washed him and cleansed him. But he did not much heed it. After this he purified him by Corybantic rites. But he rushed out together with the kettle-drum, and rushed into the New Court, and began to judicate. But when now he did not profit aught by these ceremonies, he sailed over to Ægina. And then he seized him, and made him lie down by night in the temple of Æsculapius: but he appeared at early dawn at the bar. From that time we no longer let him out. But he used to escape through the sewers and chimneys. And we stuffed up with rags every crevice there was, and made them fast. But he, like a jackdaw, used to hammer in pegs for himself into the wall, and then used to leap out. So we covered the whole hall with nets round about, and keep guard. Now the name of the old man is Philocleon, by Jove; but of his son here, Bdelycleon, having wanton and haughty manners.
Bdelycleon. (from within). O Xanthias and Sosias, are you asleep?
Xan. Ah me!
Sos. What is the matter?
Xan. Bdelycleon is getting up. [Enter Bdelycleon.]
Bdel. Will not one of you quickly run round hither? for my father has entered into the furnace, and is running about like a mouse, having crept in. But look about, that he may not escape through the hole of the kitchen-boiler. And do you press against the door.
Sos. Aye, Aye, master. [Sets his back against the door.]
Bdel. King Neptune! why in the world, then, does the chimney rumble? Hollo you! who are you?
Phil. I am smoke coming out.
Bdel. Smoke? Come, let me see of what wood you are.
Phil. Of fig.
Bdel. Aye, by Jove, which is the most pungent of smokes. But,—for you will not go in, where is the chimney-board? Go in again! [Philocleon is driven in again.] Come, let me also lay a lump of wood on you. There now seek some other device. But I am wretched, as no other man is, who shall now be called the son of father Capnius.
Sos. Push against the door; now press against it very vigorously, and like a man, for I am coming there. And take care of the lock and of the bar. Watch that he do not gnaw through the peg.
Phil. (from within). What are you going to do? Will you not let me out, O most abominable, to judicate, but shall Dracontides escape?
Bdel. Would you be vexed at this?
Phil. Yes, for the god at Delphi once upon a time responded to me, consulting him, that I should then pine away, when any one shall have escaped me.
Bdel. O Apollo, averter of ill, what an oracle!
Phil. Come, I entreat you, let me out, lest I burst.
Bdel. Never, O Philocleon, by Neptune!
Phil. Then I will gnaw through your net with my teeth.
Bdel. But you have no teeth.
Phil. Ah me, miserable man! Would I could kill you! would I could! Give me a sword as quick as possible, or a tablet of assessment.
Bdel. This man desires to do some great mischief.
Phil. No, by Jove, certainly not; but I wish to take and sell my ass together with his panniers, for it is the New Moon.
Bdel. Pray, could not I then sell it as well?
Phil. Not as I could.
Bdel. No, by Jove, better. Come, bring forth the ass.
Xan. What a pretext he has put forward! how dissemblingly! that you might let him out.
Bdel. Yes. but he did not draw up his hook in this way; for I perceived him contriving. I have a mind to go in and bring out the ass, that the old man may not even peep out again. [Goes in and returns leading the ass.] Ass, why do you weep? because you are to be sold to-day? Walk quicker. Why do you groan, if you are not carrying any Ulysses?
Xan. But, by Jove, he is carrying some one here below, who has crept under him.
Bdel. Of what sort? Let me see.
Xan. This here. [Points to Philocleon, who is hidden under the ass's belly.]
Bdel. What is this? Pray, who in the world are you, fellow?
Phil. Nobody, by Jove.
Bdel. You Nobody? Of what country?
Phil. Of Ithaca; son of Runaway.
Bdel. In no respect, by Jove, shall you go off with impunity, you Nobody! Draw him quickly from beneath. O most abominable! See where he's crept to! so that he seems to me most like the foal of a summons-witness. [Xanthias and Sosias drag him from under the ass.]
Phil. If you won't let me alone, we will do battle.
Bdel. About what, pray, will you fight with us?
Phil. About the shade of an ass.
Bdel. You are a knave far advanced in artifice, and reckless.
Phil. I a knave? No, by Jove. You are not now aware that I am most excellent. But you will know it, perhaps, when you eat the paunch of an old Heliast.
Bdel. Push the ass and yourself into the house.
Phil. O fellow-dicasts, and Cleon, assist me. [Exit Philocleon with the ass.]
Bdel. Bawl within, now the door has been shut. Do you shove many stones against the door, and thrust in the peg again into the bar, and put the great kneading-trough against the beam, and roll it quickly against it. [Exit Bdelycleon.]
Sos. (scratching his head and looking towards the roof). Ah me, wretched man! Whence in the world has the little clod fallen upon me?
Xan. Perhaps from above a mouse has cast it upon you from some quarter.
Sos. A mouse! No, by Jove, but some roof-haunting Heliast here, creeping from under the tiles.
Xan. (spying Philocleon upon the roof). Ah me, miserable! the man is becoming a sparrow: he will fly off. Where, where is the net? Shoo, shoo! shoo, back again! [Re-enter Bdelycleon: Philocleon retires again.]
Bdel. By Jove, in truth it were better for me to keep guard over Scione, instead of this my father.
Sos. Come now, since we have scared him away, and since it is not possible that he can ever give us the slip without our perceiving it, why don't we lie down only a little bit?
Bdel. Nay, you wretch, his fellow-dicasts will come ere long, to summon this my father.
Sos. What do you say? Nay, it is now early dawn.
Bdel. Yes, by Jove; for they have got up late to-day; since they always summon him at mid-night, with lamps in their hands, and humming dear old songs from Phrynichus' Phœnissae, with which they summon him.
Sos. Therefore, if need requires, we will pelt them at once with stones.
Bdel. Nay, you wretch, if any one irritate the race of old men, it is like to a wasps' nest; for they have also a very sharp sting in their loins with which they sting; they buz and bounce and strike like sparks. [Exit Bdelycleon.]
Sos. Do not heed it. If I have stones, I will disperse a nest of many dicasts. [Xanthias and Sosias lie down and fall asleep.]
Cho. Proceed, advance vigorously. Comias, do you tarry? By Jove, you used not, however, to do so formerly; but you were as tough as a piece of dog's skin. But now Charinades is better than you at walking. Strymodorus of Conthyle, best of fellow-dicasts, is Evergides any where here, or Chabes of Phlya? There is present what still remains, papæ! papæax! of that youth, when at Byzantium we were fellow-soldiers keeping guard, both you and I. And then we two, while taking our rounds by night, stole, unobserved, the baker-woman's kneading-trough; and then split it up and cooked some pimpernel. Come, let us hasten, my friends, since it will be now Laches' turn; and they all say that he has a hive of money. Therefore Cleon our guardian ordered us yesterday to be there in good time with bitter anger for three days against him, to punish him for his misdeeds. Come, let us hasten, O companions in age, before it be day. Let us proceed, and at the same time let us look about with the lamp on every side, lest perchance some one in our way privily do us some mischief.
Boy. Father, father, beware of this mud here.
Cho. Take you then a chip from the ground, and trim the lamp.
Boy. No; but methinks I'll trim it with this.
Cho. What has come into your head, pray, that you push up the wick with your finger, and that too when the oil is getting scarce, you dolt? for it gives you no uneasiness when one is obliged to buy it at a high price.
Boy. If, by Jove, you shall admonish, us again with your knuckles, we will extinguish the lamps, and go away home by ourselves; and then, perhaps, in the dark, deprived of this, you will stir up the mud as you walk, like a snipe.
Cho. Assuredly I punish even others greater than you. But this here, as I tread on it, seems to be mud; and it is certainly inevitable that the god rain within four days at the utmost. At any rate there are these here funguses upon the lamps; and he is wont, when this is the case, to rain most of all. And whatever fruits are not early have need that there should be rain, and that the north wind blow upon them. What is the matter, then, with our fellow-dicast in this house, that he does not come forward hither to our company? Assuredly he used not to be a laggard formerly, but used to lead the way in front of us, singing the songs of Phrynichus; for the man is fond of singing. Come, I vote we stand here, my friends, and call him out by singing, if by any means, having heard my song, he should creep out of doors under the influence of pleasure. Why in the world, then, does the old man not show himself to us before the doors, nor answer? Has he lost his slippers, or some where in the dark hit his toe against any thing; and then has his ancle become inflamed, being an old man? And perhaps he may have a swelling in his groin. Assuredly he used to be far the fiercest of our company, and alone used not to be persuaded; but whenever any one supplicated him, he used to bend his head down in this way and say, "You are boiling a stone." And perhaps on account of the fellow of yesterday, who escaped us by deceit by affirming, "That he was a friend of the Athenians, and was the first who gave information of the affairs at Samos,"—on this account having been grieved, he then perhaps lies sick of a fever. For the man is just that sort of a person. Come, my good sir, get up, nor thus torment yourself, nor be angry; for a wealthy individual of those who betrayed our interests in Thrace has come; whom take care that you disgrace and make an end of. Lead on, my boy, lead on.
Boy. Will you be willing, therefore, to grant me a favour, father, if I ask any thing of you?
Cho. Certainly, my little boy. Tell me what pretty thing you wish me to buy. I suppose you will doubtless say dice, my boy.
Boy. No, by Jove, but dried figs, my dear little papa, for they are sweeter.
Cho. I would not, by Jove, if you were even to hang!
Boy. Then, by Jove, I will not conduct you any longer.
Cho. For from this small pay I with two others am obliged to get my barley-meal, and wood, and provision: while you ask me for figs!
Boy. Come now, father, if the Archon should not hold his court of justice to-day, whence shall we buy a breakfast? Are you able to mention any good hope for us two, or "Helle's sacred strait?"
Cho. Apapæ! alas! apapæ! alas! by Jove, I do not know whence we shall have a dinner.
Boy. "Why then, wretched mother, did you bring me forth, in order that you may give me troubles to feed upon?"
Cho. "I wore thee, then, a useless ornament, my little wallet."
Boy. Alas! alas! "It is our fortune to groan."
Phil. (peeping out). My friends, I have been pining away this long while, as I listened to you through the crevice. But indeed I am not able any longer to sing. What shall I do? I am guarded by these; for I have been wishing this long while to go with you to the balloting urns and work some evil. O Zeus, Zeus, thunder greatly, and either suddenly make me smoke, or Proxenides, or the son of Sellus, this false tree-vine. Have the heart, O king, to grant me this favour, having pitied my sufferings; or with a red-hot thunderbolt quickly reduce me to ashes; and then take me up and blow me away and cast me into hot pickle; or make me, pray, the stone, upon which they count the shells.
Phil. My son; but do not bawl, for he is sleeping here in the front of the house. Lower the tone of your voice.
Cho. As a pretext for what, O foolish fellow, does he wish to treat you thus?
Phil. He suffers me not, my friends, to act the dicast, nor to do any ill, but he is ready to feast me. But I am not willing.
Cho. Has the wretch, the haranguing Cleon, dared to utter this? For this man would never have dared to say this, if he were not a conspirator. But in consequence of this, it is time for you to seek some new device, which will cause you to come down hither, without the knowledge of this man here.
Phil. What then can it be? Do ye seek it, since I would make every exertion; so much do I long to make a circuit of the tablets with the shell.
Cho. Is there, pray, a crevice which you might be able to dig through from within, and then to escape, disguised in rags, like the very prudent Ulysses?
Cho. Do you remember, pray, once upon a time, when you, being on service, stole the spits and let yourself down by the wall, when Naxos was taken.
Phil. I know, but what of this? for this is in no wise similar to that: for I was young, and was able to steal, and was master of my own actions, and no one kept watch over me, but I was permitted to fly without fear. But now hoplites with arms, drawn up in the passages, are on the lookout, while two of them at the doors with spits in their hands, watch me like a weasel that has stolen some meat.
Cho. But even now devise a plan as quick as possible, for it is morning, my little bee.
Phil. Therefore it is best for me to gnaw through the net But may Dictynna pardon me for the net.
Cho. These acts are in character with* a man, who is hastening to safety. Come, lay your jaw to it.
Phil. This has been gnawed through. Do not bawl by any means; but let us take care that Bdelyeleon shall not perceive us.
Cho. Fear nothing, my friend, nothing; since I will make him, if he grumble, gnaw his heart, and run the race for his life: that he may know not to trample upon the decrees of the two goddesses. But fasten the small cord through the window and then let yourself down, having fastened yourself to it, and haying filled your soul with Diopithes.
Phil. Come now, if these two perceive you and seek to fish me up, and to draw me within, what will you do? Tell me now.
Cho. We will defend you, all of us, having summoned a heart as tough as oak, so that it shall not be possible to confine you. Such deeds will we perform.
Phil. I will do it then, relying upon you: and remember, if I suffer aught, to take me up, and lament me, and bury me under the bar.
Cho. You shall suffer nought: fear nothing. Come, good sir, let yourself down with confidence, and with prayers to your country's gods.
Phil, (preparing to descend by the window). O master Lycus, neighbouring hero! for you delight in what I do, in the tears of the defendants on each occasion, and their lamentations. At any rate you came and fixed your residence here on purpose, that you might hear these things; and, alone of the heroes, you wished to sit beside the person who wept. Pity and save now your own neighbour, and I will never make water nor break wind near your reed-fence. [Re-enter Bdelycleon.]
Bdel. Ho you! get up!
Sos. What is the matter?
Bdel. A voice as it were has echoed round me.
Sos. Is the old man escaping again some whither?
Bdel. No, by Jove, certainly not; but is letting himself down, having fastened himself to a cord.
Bdel. Mount quickly to the other window, and beat him with the boughs, if by any means he will back astern, having been beaten with the harvest-wreaths.
Phil. Will you not assist me, as many as are going to have suits this year, Smicythion, and Tisiades, and Chremon, and Pheredipnus? When, if not now, will you aid me, ere that I be carried more in? [Philocleon is driven in.]
Cho. Tell me, why do we delay to rouse that wrath of ours, which we are wont to rouse, when any one irritates our wasps' nest? Now that, now that choleric sting, with which we punish— [To the boys in attendance.] Come, my lads, throw off your garments as quick as possible, and run and shout and tell this to Cleon, and bid him come against a man who is a hater of our commonwealth, and who shall perish, because he introduces this opinion, "not to try causes."
Bdel. My good sirs, hear the matter, and do not bawl.
Cho. Yea, by Jove, to heaven; since I will not let go this man. Are not these things terrible, pray, and manifest tyranny? O city, and impiety of Theorus, and whatever other flatterer presides over us!
Xan. Hercules! they have stings too! Do you not see, master?
Bdel. Aye, with which they destroyed Philippus, son of Gorgias, on his trial.
Cho. And in turn we will utterly destroy you too. But turn, each of you, hither, and put forth your sting, and then rush against him, all ready, in good order, full of anger and fury, that he may know well henceforth what a swarm he has enraged.
Xan. This, in truth, is now a hard case, by Jove, if we must fight; for I dread to behold their stings.
Cho. Come, let go the man; otherwise, I declare you shall bless the tortoises for their shells.
Bdel. Midas, and Phryx, and Masyntias, render assistance here! and lay ye hold on this fellow, and do not give him up to any one; otherwise, ye shall breakfast on nothing in stout fetters. For I, having heard the sound of many fig leaves, know it. [Philocleon is seized by the servants.]
Cho. (to Bdelycleon). If you will not let this man go, something shall be fixed in you.
Phil. O Cecrops, hero, king, serpent-like in your feet! dost thou suffer me to be overpowered in this way by barbarians, whom I have taught to weep four to the chœnix?
Cho. Then are there not, pray, many direful evils in old age? Doubtless there are. And now these two are forcibly overpowering their old master, having no recollection of the leather jackets of old, and the sleeveless frocks, which he used to purchase for them, and the caps, and used to benefit their feet when it was winter-time, so as not to be always shivering with cold. But in these there is not, not even in their eyes, any reverence for the old slippers.
Phil. (to one of the servants.) Will you not let me go, not even now, O beast most vile? not even remembering when I found you stealing the clusters of grapes, and brought you to the olive, and cudgelled you well and manfully, so that you were an enviable object. It appears then you are ungrateful. But let me go, you, and you, ere that my son run out.
Cho. You shall speedily give us proper satisfaction for these things, at no distant period; that you may know what is the disposition of men passionate, and just, and looking sour.
Bbel. Beat, beat the wasps from the house, Xanthias!
Xan. Nay, I am doing so; but do you also stifle them with smoke in abundance.
Sos. Will you not fly? Will you not to the crows? Will you not depart? Beat them with the lump of wood.
Xan. And do you add Æschines, the son of Sellus, and smoke him. [The Chorus give way and retire a few steps.] I thought I should drive you away some time at length.
Bbel. But, by Jove, you would not have got rid of them so easily, if they had happened to have fed on the songs of Philocles.
Cho. Is it not, then, self-evident to the poor, how tyranny imperceptibly seized upon me, stealing upon me? if you, laboriously-wicked, you Pride-Amynias, exclude us from the laws which the city has enacted, neither having any pretence for so doing nor any well-turned plea, though you bear rule alone by yourself.
Bdel. Is it possible that without fight and piercing cry we might come to a conference with one another, and to a reconciliation?
Cho. A conference with thee thou hater of the democratic party, and loving absolutism, and siding with Brasidas, and wearing fringes of wool, and keeping your mustache unshaven?
Bdel. By Jove, in truth it were better for me to give up my father altogether, rather than daily contend with so great ills.
Cho. The matter has not yet arrived either at the parsley or the rue, for this most capacious word will we interpolate. Now, however, you are no way grieved, but you will be, when the public accuser asperses you with the self-same accusations, and summons your fellow-conspirators.
Bdel. Oh, by the gods, will you get away from me? or I am determined to be beaten and to beat the day through.
Cho. Never! no, as long as any part of me be left! you, who have thus set out for a tyranny over us!
Bdel. How every thing with you is tyranny and conspirators, whether the accuser's charge be great or small, the name of which I have not heard, not even for these fifty years: but now it is cheaper by far than salted fish; so that now the name of it is much talked of in the market-place. If any one purchase anchovies, and do not choose to purchase sprats, forthwith the man who is selling the sprats hard by says, "This fellow seems to be Buying relishes to his tyranny." But if any one ask for a leek, as a sauce for his anchovies, the woman that sells herbs, winking with one eye, says, "Tell
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Phil. Then, by Jove, I have bought fish.
Bdel. Nay, by Jove, nothing else but crabs; for here approaches another again of the sons of Carcinus. [Enter a third boy dressed like a crab.]
Phil. What is this which approaches? a shrimp, or a spider?
Bdel. This is the pinna-guard of the race, the youngest that makes tragedy.
Phil. O Carcinus! happy in your possession of fine children. What a multitude of wrens has fallen down! But I must go down against them, wretch! Mix brine-pickle for these, if I conquer.
Cho. Come now, let us all make a little room for them, that in quiet before us they may whirl themselves about. [Philocleon and the sons of Carcinus dance.] Come, O celebrated offspring of your marine sire, skip along the sand and the shore of the barren sea, ye brothers of shrimps. Whirl round the foot swiftly, and let every one fling up his heels in the manner of Phrynichus, so that the spectators, having seen your legs aloft, may cry out "O!" Whirl round, advance in a circle, and punch yourself in the belly, fling your leg sky-high, let gyrations be made; for the king himself who rules the sea, your father, approaches, delighted with his own children, the noble trio. [Carcinus enters and joins the dance.]
But quickly lead us out of doors, if at all you like to dance; for no one has ever done this before—dismissed a chorus of comedians dancing. [Exeunt omnes.]
END OF THE WASPS.
- See Lidd. Lex. in voc. καταλύω.
- In Brunck οἶϑας, which is sometimes used in the Attic poets. See Pierson ad Moerid. p. 283. Cf. Jelf, § 735, 2.
- Gr. ἀπομερμηρίσαι. Vide Eur. (ut aiunt) Rhes. vs. 550.
- δ᾽ οὖν, at any rate. See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 69, 52, obs. 2, and note on Thesm. 612.
- Arist. Fragm. 178, ἀλλ᾽ ἦ παραφρονεῖς; Soph. Electr. 879, ἀλλ᾽ ἦ μέμηνας; Cf. Æsch. Choeph. 762. Elmsley on Heracl. 426.
- Sabazius is the Phrygian name for Bacchus. The root of it is said to be "Sebs," a Persian word, which signifies "omnia viriditate induens." M6unt Dindymis was the fertile nurse of the superstitious rites which deluged Greece and Italy. For the dative after ὁ αὐτὸς, see Jelf, § 594, 2. Cf. Eq. 610. Ran. 1158.
- See Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 20.
- Cleonymus frequently falls under the lash of comic satire. Vide Nub. v. 352, Κλεώνυμον τὸν ῥίψασπιν. Pac. 446—673.
- Vide Athen. lib. x. 448, C.
- 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.
- See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 69, 34.
- A hit at the tragedians, who were very fond of naval metaphors. See Soph. Ant. 711. Eur. Med. 522. Crest. 705. Arist. Eq. 760.
- Aristophanes often derides what he calls the sheepishness of the Athenians. The βακτήριον and τριβώνιον were badges of the Dicast's office.
- An allusion to Cleon's rapacity in receiving bribes from all quarters, natives as well as foreigners.
- Vide Equit. vs. 887, αἰβοῖ·
οὐκ ἐς κόρακας ἀποφθερεῖ, βύρσης κάκιστον ὄζων;
- There is a play on δημὸς fat, and δῆμος, people.
- ὁλᾷς (ὁρᾷς) Θέωλος (Θέωρος) κόλακος (κόρακος), for an Athenian lisper would substitute λ for ρ. See Plutarch, Alcib. c. i. Süvern, Clouds, p. 47. Mitchell compares,—
Ῥῶ καὶ λάμβδα μόνον κόρακασ κολάκων διορίζει.
Λοιπὸν ταὐτὸ κόραξ βωμολόχος τε κόλαξ.
Τοὔνεκά μοι, βέλτιστε, τόδε ζῶον πεφύλαξο.
Εἰδῶς καὶ ζῶντων τοὺς κόλακας κόρακας.
Brunck's Anal. ii. 413.
- For the construction, cf. Nub. 381.
- Vide Elmsl. ad Heraclid. vs. 559; and Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 54, 2, obs. 1. Cf. note on Lys. 864.
- Vide Dawes, Miscell. Crit., ed. Kidd, pp. 550—554.
- Susarion was of Megara. Vide Bentley's Diss. upon Phalaris, pp. 202—211; Aristot. Ethic, lib. iv. 2.
- "Not so finely spun, that men of your ability will not be able to comprehend it, and yet cleverer than one of our ordinary vulgar comedies." Mitchell. Cf. Aves, 537, 730.
- See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 61, 7, obs. 2, who has fully explained and vindicated this idiom. He quotes from Plato ἡ ἀρχη αὕτη τοῦ ξύμπαντος κακοῦ ἐγένευο, This was the commencement, &c. Stallbaum has written (ad Plat. Apol. p. 18, A.) on this subject very ignorantly and dogmatically. Cf. Thuc. viii. 59, 90. Eur. Iph. Aul. 734. Ed. Hartung.
- Vide Athen. lib. ix. 370. b. Εὔπολις Βάπταις, "Ναὶ μὰ τὴν κράμβην." ἐδόκει δὲ Ἰωνικὸς εἶναι ὁ ὅρκος· καὶ οὐ παράδοξον εἰ κατὰ τῆς κράμβης τινὲς ὤμνυον, ὁπότε καὶ Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεὺς ὁ τῆς στοᾶς κτίστωρ μιμούμενος τὸν κατὰ τῆς κυνὸς ὅρκον Σωκράτους, καὶ αὐτὸς ὤμνυε τὴν κάππαριν ὡς Ἔμποδός φησιν ἐν Ἀπομνημονεύμασιν.
- See Ach. vs. 25.
- "οὖν, in der That." Krüger.
- On this position, see Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 68, 5, obs. 1, and the passages there cited.
- The beauty of Demus, the son of Pyrilampes, stands recorded in the pages of Plato. See his Gorgias. For the custom of thus writing up the beauties of the day, or other incidents of public attraction, vide Acharn. vs. 144.
- This was properly a funnel-shaped top to the voting urn, through which the votes were dropt into the κάδος.
- See Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 43, 3, obs. 3.
- Adapted from the Sthenobœa of Euripides. The same words are found also in the Electra of Sophocles.
- One of the ten civil courts at Athens. It was situated in the forum.
- See the Plutus, vss. 411, 621, 636, 640. Suet. in Vit. Claud. c. xxv.
- An Attic crasis for ὁ ἕτερος. This must not be confounded with ἅτερος, Doric form of ἕτερος. See Piers. ad Mœr. p. 432.
- "His verbis significat servus se heri jussa exsequi. Pax, 275." Brunck's Index. Cf. note on Ach. 815; and see Eq. 111; Vesp. 1008. Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 62, 3, obs. 5.
- Alluding to the word συκοφάντης. There is a similar play on words in the Plutus, vs. 946, where the Sycophant says—
ἐὰν δὲ σύζυγον λάβω τινὰ,
καὶ σύκινον, κ. τ. λ. See also Ach. 726, 916.
- See note on vs. 54.
- νῦν in Greek, as nunc in Latin, is frequently used with bitter irony. Vide Juv. Sat., "I nunc, et ventis vitam committe," &c.; and again, "I nunc, et sævas, curre per Alpes," &c. See note on Thesm. 1001.
- "So Σταμνίον, Ran. 22, Στρούθιος, Av. 1077, and numerous other places, where an imaginary δῆμος grows out of the circumstances." Mitch. Cf. Eccles. 356. Ran. 427. Aves, 1126.
- Vide Elmsl. Præf. ad Œd. Tyr. p. viii.
- Relates to the Attic divisions of actions at law into τιμητοὶ and ἀτίμητοι.
- Vide Equit. vs. 43, οὗτος τῇ προτέρᾳ νουμηνίᾳ
- The proverb occurs in full, Thesmoph. 928,
αὕτη μὲν ἡ μήρινθος οὑδὲν ἔσπασεν.
- The Attics use the form πεπράσομαι as a fut. pass.; not πραθήσομαι—
- Cf. vs. 205, infra. Pax, 840. Aves, 279, 287. Ran. 170.
- Comp. vs. 1509, infra. Aves, 859, 1030, 1495. Lys. 350, 445. Ran. 39, 1209. Plut. 1097. Fragm. 178. Schäfer on Theoc. xix. 8. Soph. Col. 1697.
- This is Elmsley's emendation, which has been admitted by Dindorf.
- "The text plays on the word κλητὴρ, which signifies equally a summons-witness and a packing-ass." Mitch. Liddell (voc. κλητὴρ) more correctly understands it as said παρὰ προσδοκίαν for foal of an ass.
- I have here adopted Mitchell's interpretation. Voss and Florentius Chretien follow the Scholiast, and make it = far from art, i. e. rudis.
- Philocleon understands πονηρὸς and ἅριστος of what is bad or good to eat. Accordingly, instead of paunch of an ass, he substitutes paunch of a Heliast, παρὰ προσδοκίαν.
- Imperative of σοῦμαι, used as an exclamation to scare away birds.
- In Pallene. Vide Cramer's Greece, vol. i. p. 248. It revolted in favour of Brasidas from Athens; was besieged and retaken by Cleon, when, by order of the Athenian people, all the men were put to death, and the women and children reduced to slavery; the town was then given to the Platæans who had survived the ruin of their own city. Thucyd. lib. v. 32. Compare a very similar line in Eccles. 145.
- Vide Elmsl. ad Heraclid. vs. 805. Harper's Powers of the Greek Tenses, p. 41. Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 53, 6, obs. 2. Cf. Lys. 181.
- From this, and many other passages, we find that Salmasius "de Linguâ Hellenisticâ," was under an error when he said this word did not occur in approved classic authors.
- See Bentley's Phal. p. 263.
- This line, and 1491, infra, are the only known passages where this form of the future occurs.
- See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 68, 17, obs. 3.
- "Four and twenty persons here come upon the stage, preceded by a boy bearing a lantern. It is the Chorus of the piece. A mask made to resemble a wasp's head and mouth, a waist contracted into the narrowest possible point, and a sheath, from which a sting could be emitted, sheathed, erected, or lowered at will, apprize the spectators what their dramatic character is to be." Mitch.
- For Conthyle, vide Cram. Greece, vol. ii. 412; for Phlya, ii. 396.
- Vide Thucyd. lib. i. 94.
- "The relics of that youth, which in Byzantium
Erst signalized itself, when thou and I,
Prowling by night, stole from the baker's wife
Her mortar, cleft, and cook'd our potherbs with it."
- For his military services, see Thuc. iii. 86, 90, 103, 115. He was accused of peculation and bribery. See vs. 895, infra.
- In allusion to the proclamation before an expedition. Vide Acharn. 197; Pac. 312, 716. It is said παρὰ προσδοκίαν for ἡμερῶν τριῶν σῖτον.
- This is Porson's emendation adopted by Dindorf. It is a contraction of κολασομένους. See Krüger, Gr. Gr. p. 169, and § 31, 3, obs. 9. The old reading would be pres. part. mid. of κολούω. For ὧν ἠδίκησεν, see note on Nub. 589.
- Vide Athen. lib. ix. 388, F. Ἀλέξανδρος δ᾽ ὁ Μύνδιός φησιν ὅτι μικρῷ μὲν μείζων ἐστὶ πέρδικος, ὅλος δὲ κατάγραφος τὰ περὶ τὸ νῶτον, κεραμεοῦς τὴν χρόαν, ὑποπυῤῥίζων μᾶλλον. A few lines below we find it a granivorous (σπερμολόγος) bird. From lib. xiv. 652, C. we find it was a great delicacy:
κοὐδὲν ἦν τούτων ὅλως
πρὸς ἀτταγῆνα συμβαλεῖν τῶν βρωμάτων.
- See Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 69, 28, obs. 1.
- Vide Virg. Georg. i. 393,
"Nec nocturna quidem carpentes pensa puellæ
Nescivêre hyemem: testâ cum ardente viderent
Scintillare oleum, et putres concrescere fungos."
- See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 50, 1, obs. 19.
- Cf. vs. 1120, infra. Aves, 337. Equit. 654, 1311. Thesm. 428. Ran. 687, 1220.
- ἦν—κατείποι. Vide Heindorf ad Plat. Phæd. § 12. The person supposed to be alluded to here is Carystion. See Thuc. i. 115, 116, 117.
- κείται, i. e. cubat; Teutonicè "er ist bettlägerig." Vide Hor. Sat. I. ix. 18, "Trans Tiberim longè cubat is, propè Cæsaris hortos." lib. II. iii. 295; Epist. II. iii. 68; Blomf. ad Callim. in Lav. v. 82.
- Cf. Eq. 1189. Pax, 639.
- See note on vs. 145.
- "Every thing eaten, with the exception of what was prepared from corn, was originally comprehended under the name of opson. Plato expressly comprises under it salt, olives, cheese, onions, cabbage, figs, myrtle-berries, walnuts, and pulse; and it is evident that roots, such as radishes, turnips, &c., and all preparations of meat and fish, were also included. But by decrees the usage of this word was changed, so that at length it signified only fish, the favourite food of the Athenian epicures." Böckh.
- According to the Scholiast, from Pindar. The former part is a parody upon Soph. Ant. vs. 2. Compare also El. 958.
- This and the three following verses, according to the Scholiast, are from the Theseus of Euripides. They are supposed to be spoken by one of the boys about to be devoured by the Minotaur.
- ἀνόνητον ἄγαλμ᾽ οἴκοισι τεκὼν, Eur. Theseus, Fragm. iii. Cf. also Hec. 766.
- Adapted from Sophocles: see Col. 1672. Aj. 982. El. 959. "Although as a comic poet, Aristophanes is, generally speaking, in the relation of a parodist to the tragedians, yet he never attacks Sophocles." Schlegel. This dictum may be justly questioned. See vss. 111, 306, 335, 1297; Equit. 1234, 1249; Aves, 100, 1337; Eccles. 563.
- Vide Æschyl. Suppl. vs. 759, ed. Scholef.
"μέλας γενοίμαν κάπνος
νέφεσσι γειτονῶν Διὸς,
τὸ πᾶν δ᾽ ἄφαντος."
Καπνὸς was a nickname for Theogenes. See Av. 822, 1127.
- Proxenides is mentioned in The Birds, vs. 1126, and dignified by the epithet ὁ Κομπασεύς. Sellus occurs in this play, vs. 1242; Αἰσχίνης ὁ Σέλλου.
- Vide Monk ad Alc. vs. 287.
- The χοιρίνη was a small sea muscle. Perhaps the porcelain shell. It was occasionally used by Athenian dicasts m voting, instead of the regular ψῆφοι.
- "Qui te sic cohibet." Brunck. Mitchell mistranslates it.
- See note on Lys. 993. The verse is a quotation from the Electra of Sophocles.
- "Π. = ἐπισχεσία, a pretext, excuse, τοῦ δ᾽ ἔφεξιν; = τίνος χάριν; Ar. Vesp. 338." Liddell, Lex.
- There is considerable difficulty in this epithet. It would be well if it could be understood to mean, "aping the powerful eloquence of our Cleon." See Mitchell's note. For χανεῖν, see Lob. ad Aj. 1227. The next line is omitted in Dindorf's 3rd edition; as also 339, supra.
- "ἐκ τούτων = in consequence of this, on these grounds, for these reasons: also synonymous with μετὰ ταῦτα. On the contrary, ἐκ τούτου = hereupon, therefore." Krüger.
- See Liddell's Lex. voc. σανίς.
- In derision of Eur. Hec. 240.
- Cf. Pax, 180, 1244.
- The pun is none of the brightest. It turns upon the similarity between ὀπίας, cheese made from milk curdled with ὀπὸς, fig-juice, (cf. συκοφάντης,) and ὀπὴ, a crevice.
- See Cramer's Greece, vol. iii. p. 408. "The inhabitants of Naxos were the first of the confederates whom the Athenians deprived of their independence. (Thucyd. i. 98, 137.) It appears from Herodotus that they had already been subject to that people in the time of Pisistratus (lib. i. 64)."
- See Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 62, 8, obs. 11.
- "ἴσχυον αὐτος ἐμαυτοῦ, i. e. ἰσχυρότερος ἦν." Liddell.
- For the article, see Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 50, 2, obs. 8.
- For this sense of πρὸς with a genitive, see Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 68, 37, obs. 1.
- Vide Æschyl. Ag. vs. 361,
οὐκ ἔφα τις θεοὺς βροτῶν
ὅσοις ἀθίκτων χάρις
πατοῖθ᾽. Ed. Scholef.
The deities meant are Ceres and Proserpine. For the article, see note on Lys. 981. Thesm. 295.
- "Mementote." Brunck.
- See Krüger's remark, as quoted on Ach. vs. 1000.
- For this. use of ἀεὶ, see Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 50, 8, obs. 9.
- "Cujus ad effigiem non tantùm mejere fas est." Juv. Sat.
- Cf. vs. 713. Aves, 181. Thesm. 869.
- Owing to the dactyl preceding the anapaest, Person reads ὦ μιάρ᾽ ἀνδρῶν.
- See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 53, 7, obs. 5. Dawes, M. C. p. 409.
- "Words ending in ὰς were more favoured by the tragic than the comic writers. Blomf. Theb. p. 122." Mitchell.
- Eccles. vs. 46, τὴν Σμικυθίωνος οὐχ ὁρᾶς Μελιστίχην
σπεύδουσαν ἐν ταῖς ἐμβάσιν.
- There is a lacuna here in Dindorf's edition, he having expunged the words ἐντέτατ᾽ ὀξὺ, which follow in most editions.
- These lines are wrongly distributed in Brunck's edition.
- i. e. κεκραξόμεθα, Vide Ran. vs. 787. In the latter part of the verse the Greek idiom requires τοῦδ᾽. Vide Dawes, p. 438, ed. Kidd; Liddell's Lex. voc. μεθίημι; Bernhardy, W. S. p. 180; Person, Med. 734; Valck. Phœn. 522. Dindorf, who with most German scholars rejects this rule, retains τόνδ᾽.
- See Av. 1701. Süvern, Clouds, p. 32.
- Cf. vs. 601.
- There is an equivoque here, since the word also means the dicast's stylus, with which the long mark of assessment was made. For δέδοικα with a participle, see Nub. 508.
- Vide Æschyl. Theb. 897, ed. Scholef.
ἐμοιράσαντο δ᾽ ὀξυκάρ—
διοι κτήμαθ᾽, ὥστ᾽ ἴσον λαχεῖν.
- Vide Elmsl. ad Acharn. 343. He reads οἱ δὲ τὠφθαλμὼ ᾽ν κύκλῶ· See note on Ran. 40.
- According to Hussey, the chœnix = three κοτύλαι. Philocleon therefore asserts that he has made them weep four κοτύλαι to the chœnix, i. e. one above the statute measure. For the participle, see note on Ran. 509.
- ἐμϐάδων. παρὰ προσδοκίαν for δεσπότων.
- "Very frequently the imperfect is used, especially in construction with ἄρα, (in poetry also accented ἆρα,) to denote that the speaker now recognises the truth of a proposition, which he was not certain of before." Krüger.
- Properly, "looking nasturtium." So βλέπειν ϑυμϐροφάγον, Ach. 254. βλέπειν νάπυ, Eq. βλ. ὀπὸν, Pax, 1184. Cf. vs. 900, infra. Hom. Il. ii. 269.
- Vide Nub. 1305, ἔμελλόν σ᾽ ἆρα κινήσειν ἐγὼ
αὐτοῖσι τροχοῖς τοῖς σοῖσι καὶ ξυνωρίσιν.
Ran. 268, ἔμελλον ἄρα παύσειν ποθ᾽ ὑμᾶς τοῦ κοάξ.
- Vide Thesmoph. 168; Av. 1295. Athen. lib. ix, 867, B.,
καὶ πῶς ἐγὼ Σθενέλου φάγοιμ᾽ ἂν ρἥματα;
εἰς ὅξος ἐμϐαπτόμενος ἢ λεπτοὺς ἅλας.
- ἆρα δὲτ᾽ οὐκ αὐτόδηλα . . . λάθρα γ᾽ ἐλάμϐαν᾽ ὑπιοῦσά με; Dindorf.
- Cf. Lys. 350.
- Vide Pac. 640 GREEK.
- "GREEK, Attic; GREEK, Hellenic." Mæris.
- See Krüger's Gr. Gr. § 68, 37, obs. 2.
- For GREEK, cf. vs. 517.
- The Scholiast's interpretation, GREEK, is evidently right. See note on Thesm. 876.
- Cf. Eq. 672. "GREEK, in the neuter, is exclusively Attic; in the masculine, common to all the Greeks." Pierson.
- See note on Plut. 314.
- See Liddell's Lex. voc. GREEK.
- There is a play upon his father's name, Carcinus, i. e. crab. Cf. vs. 1515. See notes on Nub. 1259. Thesm. 169, 440. The father's name was really Carcīnus, hut the comic writers converted it into Carcĭnus, in order to make a crab of him. He is mentioned by Athenæus (viii. p. 351, F. V. p. 189, D. xiii. p. 559, F.) as a tragic writer, quoting his Semele and his Achilles.
- Xenocles is meant. See note on Nub. 1259.
- See Krüger, Gr. Gr. § 56, 18, obs. 3.
- See Bentley's Phalaris, p. 269.
- There is also a pun on τρεῖς and ὀρχέομαι.
- "The Chorus enters dancing, but does not make its exit in that manner." Scholiast.