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The Knights   


DEMOSTHENES
It means to say, that he robs and pillages us with his claw-like
hands.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
And the dragon?
DEMOSTHENES
That is quite clear. The dragon is long and so also is the
sausage; the sausage like the dragon is a drinker of blood.
Therefore the oracle says, that the dragon will triumph over the
eagle-tanner, if he does not let himself be cajoled with words.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
The oracles of the gods flatter me! Faith! I do not at all
understand how I can be capable of governing the people.
DEMOSTHENES
Nothing simpler. Continue your trade. Mix and knead together all
the state business as you do for your sausages. To win the people,
always cook them some savoury that pleases them. Besides, you
possess all the attributes of a demagogue; a screeching, horrible
voice, a perverse, cross-grained nature and the language of the
market-place. In you all is united which is needful for governing. The
oracles are in your favour, even including that of Delphi. Come,
take a chaplet, offer a libation to the god of Stupidity and take care
to fight vigorously.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Who will be my ally? for the rich fear the Paphlagonian and the
poor shudder at the sight of him.
DEMOSTHENES
You will have a thousand brave Knights, who detest him, on your
side; also the honest citizens amongst the spectators, those who are
men of brave hearts, and finally myself and the god. Fear not, you
will not see his features, for none have dared to make a mask
resembling him. But the public have wit enough to recognize him.
NICIAS (from within)
Oh! mercy! here comes the Paphlagonian!
(CLEON rushes out of the house.)
CLEON
By the twelve gods! Woe betide you, who have too long been
conspiring against Demos. What means this Chalcidian cup? No doubt you
are provoking the Chalcidians to revolt. You shall be killed and
butchered, you brace of rogues.
DEMOSTHENES (to the SAUSAGE-SELLER)
What! are you for running away? Come, come, stand firm, bold
Sausage-seller, do not betray us. To the rescue, oh, Knights. Now is
the time. Simon, Panaetius, get you to the right wing; they are coming
on; hold tight and return to the charge. I can see the dust of their
horses' hoofs; they are galloping to our aid. (To the
SAUSAGE-SELLER)
Courage! Attack him, put him to flight.
(The CHORUS OF KNIGHTS enters at top speed.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Strike, strike the villain, who has spread confusion amongst the
ranks of the Knights, this public robber, this yawning gulf of
plunder, this devouring Charybdis, this villain, this villain, this
villain! I cannot say the word too often, for he is a villain a
thousand times a day. Come, strike, drive, hurl him over and crush him
to pieces; hate him as we hate him: stun him with your blows and
your shouts. And beware lest he escape you; he knows the way
Eucrates took straight to a bran sack for concealment.
CLEON
Oh! veteran Heliasts, brotherhood of the three obols, whom I
fostered by bawling at random, help me; I am being beaten to death
by rebels.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
And justly too; you devour the public funds that all should
share in; you treat the treasury officials like the fruit of the fig

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