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The Birds   


talks of wings.
PARRICIDE
Nothing is more charming than to fly; I am bird-mad and fly
towards you, for I want to live with you and to obey your laws.
PITHETAERUS
Which laws? The birds have many laws.
PARRICIDE
All of them; but the one that pleases me most is that among the
birds it is considered a fine thing to peck and strangle one's father.
PITHETAERUS
Yes, by Zeus! according to us, he who dares to strike his
father, while still a chick, is a brave fellow.
PARRICIDE
And therefore I want to dwell here, for I want to strangle my
father and inherit his wealth.
PITHETAERUS
But we have also an ancient law written in the code of the storks,
which runs thus, "When the stork father has reared his young and has
taught them to fly, the young must in their turn support the father."
PARRICIDE (petulantly)
It's hardly worth while coming all this distance to be compelled
to keep my father!
PITHETAERUS
No, no, young friend, since you have come to us with such
willingness, I am going to give you these black wings, as though you
were an orphan bird; furthermore, some good advice, that I received
myself in infancy. Don't strike your father, but take these wings in
one hand and these spurs in the other; imagine you have a cock's crest
on your head and go and mount guard and fight; live on your pay and
respect your father's life. You're a gallant fellow! Very well,
then! Fly to Thrace and fight.
PARRICIDE
By Bacchus! You're right; I will follow your counsel.
PITHETAERUS
It's acting wisely, by Zeus.
(The PARRICIDE departs, and the dithyrambic poet CINESIAS
arrives.)

CINESIAS (singing)
"On my light pinions I soar off to Olympus; in its capricious
flight my Muse flutters along the thousand paths of poetry in turn..."
PITHETAERUS
This is a fellow will need a whole shipload of wings.
CINESIAS (singing)
"...and being fearless and vigorous, it is seeking fresh outlet."
PITHETAERUS
Welcome, Cinesias, you lime-wood man! Why have you come here
twisting your game leg in circles?
CINESIAS (singing)
"I want to become a bird, a tuneful nightingale."
PITHETAERUS
Enough of that sort of ditty. Tell me what you want.
CINESIAS
Give me wings and I will fly into the topmost airs to gather fresh
songs in the clouds, in the midst of the vapours and the fleecy snow.
PITHETAERUS
Gather songs in the clouds?
CINESIAS
'Tis on them the whole of our latter-day art depends. The most
brilliant dithyrambs are those that flap their wings in empty space
and are clothed in mist and dense obscurity. To appreciate this,
just listen.
PITHETAERUS
Oh! no, no, no!
CINESIAS

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