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The Birds   


My glance embraces the universe, I preserve the fruit in the flower by
destroying the thousand kinds of voracious insects the soil
produces, which attack the trees and feed on the germ when it has
scarcely formed in the calyx; I destroy those who ravage the balmy
terrace gardens like a deadly plague; all these gnawing crawling
creatures perish beneath the lash of my wing.
LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS
I hear it proclaimed everywhere: "A talent for him who shall
kill Diagoras of Melos, and a talent for him who destroys one of the
dead tyrants." We likewise wish to make our proclamation: "A talent to
him among you who shall kill Philocrates, the Struthian; four, if he
brings him to us alive. For this Philocrates skewers the finches
together and sells them at the rate of an obolus for seven. He
tortures the thrushes by blowing them out, so that they may look
bigger, sticks their own feathers into the nostrils of blackbirds, and
collects pigeons, which he shuts up and forces them, fastened in a
net, to decoy others." That is what we wish to proclaim. And if anyone
is keeping birds shut up in his yard, let him hasten to let them
loose; those who disobey shall be seized by the birds and we shall put
them in chains, so that in their turn they may decoy other men.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Happy indeed is the race of winged birds who need no cloak in
winter! Neither do I fear the relentless rays of the fiery dog-days;
when the divine grasshopper, intoxicated with the sunlight, as noon is
burning the ground, is breaking out into shrill melody; my home is
beneath the foliage in the flowery meadows. I winter in deep
caverns, where I frolic with the mountain nymphs, while in spring I
despoil the gardens of the Graces and gather the white, virgin berry
on the myrtle bushes.
LEADER OF SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
I want now to speak to the judges about the prize they are going
to award; if they are favourable to us, we will load them with
benefits far greater than those Paris received. Firstly, the owls of
Laurium, which every judge desires above all things, shall never be
wanting to you; you shall see them homing with you, building their
nests in your money-bags and laying coins. Besides, you shall be
housed like the gods, for we shall erect gables over your dwellings;
if you hold some public post and want to do a little pilfering, we
will give you the sharp claws of a hawk. Are you dining in town, we
will provide you with stomachs as capacious as a bird's crop. But,
if your award is against us, don't fail to have metal covers fashioned
for yourselves, like those they place over statues; else, look out!
for the day you wear a white tunic all the birds will soil it with
their droppings.
PITHETAERUS
Birds! the sacrifice is propitious. But I see no messenger
coming from the wall to tell us what is happening. Ah! here comes
one running himself out of breath as though he were in the Olympic
stadium.
MESSENGER (running back and forth)
Where, where, where is he? Where, where, where is he? Where,
where, where is he? Where is Pithetaerus, our leader?
PITHETAERUS
Here am I.
MESSENGER
The wall is finished.
PITHETAERUS
That's good news.
MESSENGER
It's a most beautiful, a most magnificent work of art. The wall is
so broad that Proxenides, the Braggartian, and Theogenes could pass
each other in their chariots, even if they were drawn by steeds as big
as the Trojan horse.
PITHETAERUS

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