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The Birds   


We have despatched thirty thousand hawks of the legion of
Mounted Archers. All the hook-clawed birds are moving against him, the
kestrel, the buzzard, the vulture, the great-horned owl; they cleave
the air so that it resounds with the flapping of their wings; they are
looking everywhere for the god, who cannot be far away; indeed, if I
mistake not, he is coming from yonder side.
PITHETAERUS
To arms, all, with slings and bows! This way, all our soldiers;
shoot and strike! Some one give me a sling!
CHORUS (singing)
War, a terrible war is breaking out between us and the gods! Come,
let each one guard Air, the son of Erebus, in which the clouds
float. Take care no immortal enters it without your knowledge.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Scan all sides with your glance. Hark! methinks I can hear the
rustle of the swift wings of a god from heaven.
(The Machine brings in IRIS, in the form of a young girl.)
PITHETAERUS
Hi! you woman! where, where, are you flying to? Halt, don't
stir! keep motionless! not a beat of your wing! (She pauses in her
flight.)
Who are you and from what country? You must say whence you
come.
IRIS
I come from the abode of the Olympian gods.
PITHETAERUS
What's your name, ship or head-dress?
IRIS
I am swift Iris.
PITHETAERUS
Paralus or Salaminia?
IRIS
What do you mean?
PITHETAERUS
Let a buzzard rush at her and seize her.
IRIS
Seize me? But what do all these insults mean?
PITHETAERUS
Woe to you!
IRIS
I do not understand it.
PITHETAERUS
By which gate did you pass through the wall, wretched woman?
IRIS
By which gate? Why, great gods, I don't know.
PITHETAERUS
You hear how she holds us in derision. Did you present yourself to
the officers in command of the jays? You don't answer. Have you a
permit, bearing the seal of the storks?
IRIS
Am I dreaming?
PITHETAERUS
Did you get one?
IRIS
Are you mad?
PITHETAERUS
No head-bird gave you a safe-conduct?
IRIS
A safe-conduct to me. You poor fool!
PITHETAERUS
Ah! and so you slipped into this city on the sly and into these
realms of air-land that don't belong to you.
IRIS
And what other roads can the gods travel?
PITHETAERUS

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