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The Birds   


By Hermes! but indeed you shall. (He sings.) "I shall travel
through thine ethereal empire like a winged bird, who cleaveth space
with his long neck..."
PITHETAERUS
Stop! Way enough!
CINESIAS
"...as I soar over the seas, carried by the breath of the
winds..."
PITHETAERUS
By Zeus! I'll cut your breath short.
(He picks up a pair of wings and begins trying to stop CINESIAS'
mouth with them.)

CINESIAS (running away)
"...now rushing along the tracks of Notus, now nearing Boreas
across the infinite wastes of the ether." Ah! old man, that's a pretty
and clever idea truly!
PITHETAERUS
What! are you not delighted to be cleaving the air?
CINESIAS
To treat a dithyrambic poet, for whom the tribes dispute with each
other, in this style!
PITHETAERUS
Will you stay with us and form a chorus of winged birds as slender
as Leotrophides for the Cecropid tribe?
CINESIAS
You are making game of me, that's clear; but know that I shall
never leave you in peace if I do not have wings wherewith to
traverse the air.
(CINESIAS departs and an INFORMER arrives.)
INFORMER
What are these birds with downy feathers, who look so pitiable
to me? Tell me, oh swallow with the long dappled wings.
PITHETAERUS
Oh! it's a regular invasion that threatens us. Here comes
another one, humming along.
INFORMER
Swallow with the long dappled wings, once more I summon you.
PITHETAERUS
It's his cloak I believe he's addressing; it stands in great
need of the swallows' return.
INFORMER
Where is he who gives out wings to all comers?
PITHETAERUS
Here I am, but you must tell me for what purpose you want them.
INFORMER
Ask no questions. I want wings, and wings I must have.
PITHETAERUS
Do you want to fly straight to Pellene?
INFORMER
I? Why, I am an accuser of the islands, an informer...
PITHETAERUS
A fine trade, truly!
INFORMER
...a hatcher of lawsuits. Hence I have great need of wings to
prowl round the cities and drag them before justice.
PITHETAERUS
Would you do this better if you had wings?
INFORMER
No, but I should no longer fear the pirates; I should return
with the cranes, loaded with a supply of lawsuits by way of ballast.
PITHETAERUS
So it seems, despite all your youthful vigour, you make it your
trade to denounce strangers?
INFORMER

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