(SCENE:-The Orchestra represents the Pnyx at Athens; in the back-
ground are the usual houses, this time three in number, belonging
to Dicaeopolis, Euripides, and Lamachus respectively.)
What cares have not gnawed at my heart and how few have been the
pleasures in my life! Four, to be exact, while my troubles have been
as countless as the grains of sand on the shore! Let me see! of what
value to me have been these few pleasures? Ah! I remember that I was
delighted in soul when Cleon had to cough up those five talents; I was
in ecstasy and I love the Knights for this deed; "it is an honour to
Greece." But the day when I was impatiently awaiting a piece by
Aeschylus, what tragic despair it caused me when the herald called,
"Theognis, introduce your Chorus!" Just imagine how this blow struck
straight at my heart! On the other hand, what joy Dexitheus caused
me at the musical competition, when right after Moschus he played a
Boeotian melody on the lyre! But this year by contrast! Oh! what
deadly torture to hear Chaeris perform the prelude in the Orthian
mode!-Never, however, since I began to bathe, has the dust hurt my
eyes as it does to-day. Still it is the day of assembly; all should be
here at daybreak, and yet the Pnyx is still deserted. They are
gossiping in the market-place, slipping hither and thither to avoid
the vermilioned rope. The Prytanes even do not come; they will be
late, but when they come they will push and fight each other for a
seat in the front row. They will never trouble themselves with the
question of peace. Oh! Athens! Athens! As for myself, I do not fail to
come here before all the rest, and now, finding myself alone, I groan,
yawn, stretch, fart, and know not what to do; I make sketches in the
dust, pull out my loose hairs, muse, think of my fields, long for
peace, curse town life and regret my dear country home, which never
told me to "buy fuel, vinegar or oil"; there the word "buy," which
cuts me in two, was unknown; I harvested everything at will. Therefore
I have come to the assembly fully prepared to bawl, interrupt and
abuse the speakers, if they talk of anything but peace. (The Orchestra
begins to fill with people.) But here come the Prytanes, and high time
too, for it is midday! There, just as I said, they are pushing and
fighting for the front seats.
Step forward, step forward; get within the consecrated area.
Has anyone spoken yet?
Who asks to speak?
Are you not a man?
No! I am an immortal! Amphitheus was the son of Ceres and
Triptolemus; of him was born Celeus, Celeus wedded Phaenerete, my
grandmother, whose son was Lycinus, and, being born of him I am an
immortal; it is to me alone that the gods have entrusted the duty of
treating with the Lacedaemonians. But, citizens, though I am immortal,
I am dying of hunger; the Prytanes give me nothing.
AMPHITHEUS (as the Scythian policemen seize him)
Oh, Triptolemus and Celeus, do ye thus forsake your own blood?
Prytanes, in expelling this citizen, you are offering an outrage