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The Clouds   


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.
SOCRATES
Well, look this way in the direction of Parnes; I already see
those who are slowly descending.
STREPSIADES
But where, where? Show them to me.
SOCRATES
They are advancing in a throng, following an oblique path across
the dales and thickets.
STREPSIADES
Strange! I can see nothing.
SOCRATES
There, close to the entrance.
STREPSIADES
Hardly, if at all, can I distinguish them.
SOCRATES
You must see them clearly now, unless your eyes are filled with
gum as thick as pumpkins.
STREPSIADES
Aye, undoubtedly! Oh! the venerable goddesses! Why, they fill up
the entire stage.
SOCRATES
And you did not know, you never suspected, that they were
goddesses?
STREPSIADES
No, indeed; I thought the Clouds were only fog, dew and vapour.
SOCRATES
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.
STREPSIADES
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.
SOCRATES
Yes, thanks to these. And is it not right and meet?
STREPSIADES
Tell me then why, if these really are the Clouds, they so very
much resemble mortals. This is not their usual form.
SOCRATES
What are they like then?
STREPSIADES
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.
SOCRATES
Answer my questions.
STREPSIADES
Willingly! Go on, I am listening.
SOCRATES
Have you not sometimes seen clouds in the sky like a centaur, a
leopard, a wolf or a bull?
STREPSIADES
Why, certainly I have, but what of that?

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