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The Birds   


PITHETAERUS
We ourselves asked for this transformation, and, as Aeschylus
has it, "These are no borrowed feathers, but truly our own."
EPOPS
Come now, what must be done?
PITHETAERUS
First give our city a great and famous name, then sacrifice to the
gods.
EUELPIDES
I think so too.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Let's see. What shall our city be called?
PITHETAERUS
Will you have a high-sounding Laconian name? Shall we call it
Sparta?
EUELPIDES
What! call my town Sparta? Why, I would not use esparto for my
bed, even though I had nothing but bands of rushes.
PITHETAERUS
Well then, what name can you suggest?
EUELPIDES
Some name borrowed from the clouds, from these lofty regions in
which we dwell-in short, some well-known name.
PITHETAERUS
Do you like Nephelococcygia?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! capital! truly that's a brilliant thought!
EUELPIDES
Is it in Nephelococcygia that all the wealth of Theogenes and most
of Aeschines' is?
PITHETAERUS
No, it's rather the plain of Phlegra, where the gods withered
the pride of the sons of the Earth with their shafts.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! what a splendid city! But what god shall be its patron? for
whom shall we weave the peplus?
EUELPIDES
Why not choose Athene Polias?
PITHETAERUS
Oh! what a well-ordered town it would be to have a female deity
armed from head to foot, while Clisthenes was spinning!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Who then shall guard the Pelargicon?
PITHETAERUS
A bird.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
One of us? What kind of bird?
PITHETAERUS
A bird of Persian strain, who is everywhere proclaimed to be the
bravest of all, a true chick of Ares.
EUELPIDES
Oh! noble chick!
PITHETAERUS
Because he is a god well suited to live on the rocks. Come! into
the air with you to help the workers who are building the wall;
carry up rubble, strip yourself to mix the mortar, take up the hod,
tumble down the ladder, if you like, post sentinels, keep the fire
smouldering beneath the ashes, go round the walls, bell in hand, and
go to sleep up there yourself then despatch two heralds, one to the
gods above, the other to mankind on earth and come back here.
EUELPIDES
As for yourself, remain here, and may the plague take you for a
troublesome fellow!
(He departs.)

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