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Acharnians   


sensible of the dangerous battle we are about to engage upon in
defending the Lacedaemonians? Courage, my soul, we must plunge into
the midst of it. Dost thou hesitate and art thou fully steeped in
Euripides? That's right! do not falter, my poor heart, and let us risk
our head to say what we hold for truth. Courage and boldly to the
front. I am astonished at my bravery.
(He approaches the block.)
CHORUS (singing; excitedly)
What do you purport doing? what are you going to say? What an
impudent fellow! what a brazen heart! to dare to stake his head and
uphold an opinion contrary to that of us all! And he does not
tremble to face this peril Come, it is you who desired it, speak!
DICAEOPOLIS
Spectators, be not angered if, although I am a beggar, I dare in
comedy to speak before the people of Athens of the public weal; even
Comedy can sometimes discern what is right. I shall not please, but
I shall say what is true. Besides, Cleon shall not be able to accuse
me of attacking Athens before strangers; we are by ourselves at the
festival of the Lenaea; the time when our allies send us their tribute
and their soldiers is not yet here. There is only the pure wheat
without the chaff; as to the resident aliens settled among us, they
and the citizens are one, like the straw and the ear.
I detest the Lacedaemonians with all my heart, and may Posidon,
the god of Taenarus, cause an earthquake and overturn their dwellings!
My vines too have been cut. But come (there are only friends who
hear me)
, why accuse the Laconians of all our woes? Some men (I do not
say the city, note particularly that I do not say the city)
, some
wretches, lost in vices, bereft of honour, who were not even
citizens of good stamp, but strangers, have accused the Megarians of
introducing their produce fraudulently, and not a cucumber, a leveret,
a suckling pig, a clove of garlic, a lump of salt was seen without its
being said, "Halloa! these come from Megara," and their being
instantly confiscated. Thus far the evil was not serious and we were
the only sufferers. But now some young drunkards go to Megara and
carry off the harlot Simaetha; the Megarians, hurt to the quick, run
off in turn with two harlots of the house of Aspasia; and so for three
whores Greece is set ablaze. Then Pericles, aflame with ire on his
Olympian height, let loose the lightning, caused the thunder to
roll, upset Greece and passed an edict, which ran like the song, "That
the Megarians be banished both from our land and from our markets
and from the sea and from the continent." Meanwhile the Megarians, who
were beginning to die of hunger, begged the Lacedaemonians to bring
about the abolition of the decree, of which those harlots were the
cause; several times we refused their demand; and from that time there
was horrible clatter of arms everywhere. You will say that Sparta
was wrong, but what should she have done? Answer that. Suppose that
a Lacedaemonian had seized a little Seriphian dog on any pretext and
had sold it, would you have endured it quietly? Far from it, you would
at once have sent three hundred vessels to sea, and what an uproar
there would have been through all the city I there it's a band of
noisy soldiery, here a brawl about the election of a Trierarch;
elsewhere pay is being distributed, the Pallas figure-heads are
being regilded, crowds are surging under the market porticos,
encumbered with wheat that is being measured, wine-skins,
oar-leathers, garlic, olives, onions in nets; everywhere are chaplets,
sprats, flute-girls, black eyes; in the arsenal bolts are being
noisily driven home, sweeps are being made and fitted with leathers;
we hear nothing but the sound of whistles, of flutes and fifes to
encourage the workers. That is what you assuredly would have done, and
would not Telephus have done the same? So I come to my general
conclusion; we have no common sense.
LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
Oh! wretch! oh! infamous man! You are naught but a beggar and
yet you dare to talk to us like this! you insult their worships the

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