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The Clouds   


STREPSIADES
I have found a very clever way to annul that conviction; you
will admit that much yourself.
SOCRATES
What is it?
STREPSIADES
Have you ever seen a beautiful, transparent stone at the
druggists', with which you may kindle fire?
SOCRATES
You mean a crystal lens.
STREPSIADES
That's right. Well, now if I placed myself with this stone in
the sun and a long way off from the clerk, while he was writing out
the conviction, I could make all the wax, upon which the words were
written, melt.
SOCRATES
Well thought out, by the Graces!
STREPSIADES
Ah! I am delighted to have annulled the decree that was to cost me
five talents.
SOCRATES
Come, take up this next question quickly.
STREPSIADES
Which?
SOCRATES
If, when summoned to court, you were in danger of losing your case
for want of witnesses, how would you make the conviction fall upon
your opponent?
STREPSIADES
That's very simple and easy.
SOCRATES
Let me hear.
STREPSIADES
This way. If another case had to be pleaded before mine was
called, I should run and hang myself.
SOCRATES
You talk rubbish!
STREPSIADES
Not so, by the gods! if I were dead, no action could lie against
me.
SOCRATES
You are merely beating the air. Get out! I will give you no more
lessons.
STREPSIADES (imploringly)
Why not? Oh! Socrates! in the name of the gods!
SOCRATES
But you forget as fast as you learn. Come, what was the thing I
taught you first? Tell me.
STREPSIADES
Ah let me see. What was the first thing? What was it then? Ah!
that thing in which we knead the bread, oh! my god! what do you call
it?
SOCRATES
Plague take the most forgetful and silliest of old addlepates!
STREPSIADES
Alas! what a calamity! what will become of me? I am undone if I do
not learn how to ply my tongue. Oh! Clouds! give me good advice.
CHORUS-LEADER
Old man, we counsel you, if you have brought up a son, to send him
to learn in your stead.
STREPSIADES
Undoubtedly I have a son, as well endowed as the best, but he is
unwilling to learn. What will become of me?
CHORUS-LEADER

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