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The Birds   


By Zeus! I know nothing about that, not I. But they won't pass
this way. And you still dare to complain? Why, if you were treated
according to your deserts, no Iris would ever have more justly
suffered death.
IRIS
I am immortal.
PITHETAERUS
You would have died nevertheless.-Oh! that would be truly
intolerable! What! should the universe obey us and the gods alone
continue their insolence and not understand that they must submit to
the law of the strongest in their due turn? But tell me, where are you
flying to?
IRIS
I? The messenger of Zeus to mankind, I am going to tell them to
sacrifice sheep and oxen on the altars and to fill their streets
with the rich smoke of burning fat.
PITHETAERUS
Of which gods are you speaking?
IRIS
Of which? Why, of ourselves, the gods of heaven.
PITHETAERUS
You, gods?
IRIS
Are there others then?
PITHETAERUS
Men now adore the birds as gods, and it's to them, by Zeus, that
they must offer sacrifices, and not to Zeus at all!
IRIS (in tragic style)
Oh! fool! fool! fool! Rouse not the wrath of the gods, for it is
terrible indeed. Armed with the brand of Zeus, justice would
annihilate your race; the lightning would strike you as it did
Licymnius and consume both your body and the porticos of your palace.
PITHETAERUS
Here! that's enough tall talk. Just you listen and keep quiet!
Do you take me for a Lydian or a Phrygian and think to frighten me
with your big words? Know, that if Zeus worries me again, I shall go
at the head of my eagles, who are armed with lightning, and reduce his
dwelling and that of Amphion to cinders. I shall send more than six
hundred porphyrions clothed in leopards' skins up to heaven against
him; and formerly a single Porphyrion gave him enough to do. As for
you, his messenger, if you annoy me, I shall begin by getting
between your thighs, and even though you are Iris, you will be
surprised at the erection the old man can produce; it's three times as
good as the ram on a ship's prow!
IRIS
May you perish, you wretch, you and your infamous words!
PITHETAERUS
Won't you get out of here quickly? Come, stretch your wings or
look out for squalls!
IRIS
If my father does not punish you for your insults...
(The Machine takes IRIS away.)
PITHETAERUS
Ha!... but just you be off elsewhere to roast younger folk than us
with your lightning.
CHORUS (singing)
We forbid the gods, the sons of Zeus, to pass through our city and
the mortals to send them the smoke of their sacrifices by this road.
PITHETAERUS
It's odd that the messenger we sent to the mortals has never
returned.
(The HERALD enters, wearing a golden garland on his head.)
HERALD
Oh! blessed Pithetaerus, very wise, very illustrious, very

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