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The Clouds   


I would not speak to the others, even if I met them in the street;
not a single sacrifice, not a libation, not a grain of incense for
them!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Tell us boldly then what you want of us; you cannot fail to
succeed. If you honour and revere us and if you are resolved to become
a clever man.
STREPSIADES
Oh, sovereign goddesses, it is only a very small favour that I ask
of you; grant that I may outdistance all the Greeks by a hundred
stadia in the art of speaking.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
We grant you this, and henceforward no eloquence shall more
often succeed with the people than your own.
STREPSIADES
May the gods shield me from possessing great eloquence! That's not
what I want. I want to be able to turn bad law-suits to my own
advantage and to slip through the fingers of my creditors.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
It shall be as you wish, for your ambitions are modest. Commit
yourself fearlessly to our ministers, the sophists.
STREPSIADES
This I will do, for I trust in you. Moreover there is no drawing
back, what with these cursed horses and this marriage, which has eaten
up my vitals. (More and more volubly from here to the end of speeck)
So let them do with me as they will; I yield my body to them. Come
blows, come hunger, thirst, heat or cold, little matters it to me;
they may flay me, if I only escape my debts, if only I win the
reputation of being a bold rascal, a fine speaker, impudent,
shameless, a braggart, and adept at stringing lies, an old stager at
quibbles, a complete table of laws, a thorough rattle, a fox to slip
through any hole; supple as a leathern strap, slippery as an eel, an
artful fellow, a blusterer, a villain; a knave with a hundred faces,
cunning, intolerable, a gluttonous dog. With such epithets do I seek
to be greeted; on these terms they can treat me as they choose, and,
if they wish, by Demeter! they can turn me into sausages and serve
me up to the philosophers.
CHORUS (singing)
Here have we a bold and well-disposed pupil indeed. When we have
taught you, your glory among the mortals will reach even to the skies.
STREPSIADES (singing)
Wherein will that profit me?
CHORUS (singing)
You will pass your whole life among us and will be the most envied
of men.
STREPSIADES (singing)
Shall I really ever see such happiness?
CHORUS (singing)
Clients will be everlastingly besieging your door in crowds,
burning to get at you, to explain their business to you and to consult
you about their suits, which, in return for your ability, will bring
you in great sums.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But, Socrates, begin the lessons you want to teach this old man;
rouse his mind, try the strength of his intelligence.
SOCRATES
Come, tell me the kind of mind you have; it's important that I
know this, that I may order my batteries against you in the right
fashion.
STREPSIADES
Eh, what! in the name of the gods, are you purposing to assault me
then?
SOCRATES
No. I only wish to ask you some questions. Have you any memory?

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