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Acharnians   


and then immediately demanded at which it was that the comic poet
directed his biting satire. "Happy that city," he added, "if it
listens to his counsel; it will grow in power, and its victory is
assured." This is why the Lacedaemonians offer you peace, if you
will cede them Aegina; not that they care for the isle, but they
wish to rob you of your poet. As for you, never lose him, who will
always fight for the cause of justice in his comedies; he promises you
that his precepts will lead you to happiness, though he uses neither
flattery, nor bribery, nor intrigue, nor deceit; instead of loading
you with praise, he will point you to the better way. I scoff at
Cleon's tricks and plotting; honesty and justice shall fight my cause;
never will you find me a political poltroon, a prostitute to the
highest bidder.
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing) I invoke thee, Acharnian Muse, fierce
and fell as the devouring fire; sudden as the spark that bursts from
the crackling oaken coal when roused by the quickening fan to fry
little fishes, while others knead the dough or whip the sharp
Thasian pickle with rapid hand, so break forth, my Muse, and inspire
thy tribesmen with rough, vigorous, stirring strains.
LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
We others, now old men and heavy with years, we reproach the city;
so many are the victories we have gained for the Athenian fleets
that we well deserve to be cared for in our declining life; yet far
from this, we are ill-used, harassed with law-suits, delivered over to
the scorn of stripling orators. Our minds and bodies being ravaged
with age, Posidon should protect us, yet we have no other support than
a staff. When standing before the judge, we can scarcely stammer forth
the fewest words, and of justice we see but its barest shadow, whereas
the accuser, desirous of conciliating the younger men, overwhelms us
with his ready rhetoric; he drags us before the judge, presses us with
questions, lays traps for us; the onslaught troubles, upsets and ruins
poor old Tithonus, who, crushed with age, stands tongue-tied;
sentenced to a fine, he weeps, he sobs and says to his friend, "This
fine robs me of the last trifle that was to have bought my coffin."
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Is this not a scandal? What! the clepsydra is to kill the
white-haired veteran, who, in fierce fighting, has so oft covered
himself with glorious sweat, whose valour at Marathon saved the
country! We were the ones who pursued on the field of Marathon,
whereas now it is wretches who pursue us to the death and crush us.
What would Marpsias reply to this?
LEADER OF SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
What an injustice that a man, bent with age like Thucydides,
should be brow-beaten by this braggart advocate, Cephisodemus, who
is as savage as the Scythian desert he was born in! I wept tears of
pity when I saw a Scythian maltreat this old man, who, by Ceres,
when he was young and the true Thucydides, would not have permitted an
insult from Ceres herself! At that date he would have floored ten
orators like Euathlus, he would have terrified three thousand
Scythians with his shouts; he would have pierced the whole line of the
enemy with his shafts. Ah! but if you will not leave the aged in
peace, decree that the advocates be matched; thus the old man will
only be confronted with a toothless greybeard, the young will fight
with the braggart, the ignoble with the son of Clinias; make law
that in the future, the old man can only be summoned and convicted
at the courts by the aged and the young man by the youth.
DICAEOPOLIS (coming out of his house and marking out a square in
front of it)

These are the confines of my market-place. All Peloponnesians,
Megarians, Boeotians, have the right to come and trade here,
provided they sell their wares to me and not to Lamachus. As
market-inspectors I appoint these three whips of Leprean leather,
chosen by lot. Warned away are all informers and all men of Phasis.
They are bringing me the pillar on which the treaty is inscribed and I

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