Ah! that was why, as I listened to them, my mind spread out its
wings; it burns to babble about trifles, to maintain worthless
arguments, to voice its petty reasons, to contradict, to tease some
opponent. But are they not going to show themselves? I should like
to see them, were it possible.
Well, look this way in the direction of Parnes; I already see
those who are slowly descending.
But where, where? Show them to me.
They are advancing in a throng, following an oblique path across
the dales and thickets.
Strange! I can see nothing.
There, close to the entrance.
Hardly, if at all, can I distinguish them.
You must see them clearly now, unless your eyes are filled with
gum as thick as pumpkins.
Aye, undoubtedly! Oh! the venerable goddesses! Why, they fill up
the entire stage.
And you did not know, you never suspected, that they were
No, indeed; I thought the Clouds were only fog, dew and vapour.
But what you certainly do not know is that they are the support of
a crowd of quacks, the diviners, who were sent to Thurium, the
notorious physicians, the well-combed fops, who load their fingers
with rings down to the nails, and the braggarts, who write dithyrambic
verses, all these are idlers whom the Clouds provide a living for,
because they sing them in their verses.
It is then for this that they praise "the rapid flight of the
moist clouds, which veil the brightness of day" and "the waving
locks of the hundred-headed Typho" and "the impetuous tempests,
which float through the heavens, like birds of prey with aerial
wings loaded with mists" and "the rains, the dew, which the clouds
outpour." As a reward for these fine phrases they bolt well-grown,
tasty mullet and delicate thrushes.
Yes, thanks to these. And is it not right and meet?
Tell me then why, if these really are the Clouds, they so very
much resemble mortals. This is not their usual form.
What are they like then?
I don't know exactly; well, they are like great packs of wool, but
not like women-no, not in the least....And these have noses.
Answer my questions.
Willingly! Go on, I am listening.
Have you not sometimes seen clouds in the sky like a centaur, a
leopard, a wolf or a bull?
Why, certainly I have, but what of that?