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The Knights   


glorious triumphs we love to extol unceasingly, look, he cares
little whether he sees you seated uncomfortably upon a stone;
whereas I, I bring you this cushion, which I have sewn with my own
hands. Rise and try this nice soft seat. Did you not put enough strain
on your bottom at Salamis?
(He gives DEMOS the cushion; DEMOS sits on it.)
DEMOS
Who are you then? Can you be of the race of Harmodius? Upon my
faith, that is nobly done and like a true friend of Demos.
CLEON
Petty flattery to prove him your goodwill!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
But you have caught him with even smaller baits!
CLEON
Never had Demos a defender or a friend more devoted than myself;
on my head, on my life, I swear it!
SAUSAGE-SELLER
You pretend to love him and for eight years you have seen him
housed in casks, in crevices and dovecots, where he is blinded with
the smoke, and you lock him in without pity; Archeptolemus brought
peace and you tore it to ribbons; the envoys who come to propose a
truce you drive from the city with kicks in their arses.
CLEON
The purpose of this is that Demos may rule over all the Greeks;
for the oracles predict that, if he is patient, he must one day sit as
judge in Arcadia at five obols per day. Meanwhile, I will nourish him,
look after him and, above all, I will ensure to him his three obols.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
No, little you care for his reigning in Arcadia, it's to pillage
and impose on the allies at will that you reckon; you wish the war
to conceal your rogueries as in a mist, that Demos may see nothing
of them, and harassed by cares, may only depend on yourself for his
bread. But if ever peace is restored to him, if ever he returns to his
lands to comfort himself once more with good cakes, to greet his
cherished olives, he will know the blessings you have kept him out of,
even though paying him a salary; and, filled with hatred and rage,
he will rise, burning with desire to vote against you. You know this
only too well; it is for this you rock him to sleep with your lies.
CLEON
Is it not shameful, that you should dare thus to calumniate me
before Demos, me, to whom Athens, I swear it by Demeter, already
owes more than it ever did to Themistocles?
SAUSAGE-SELLER (declaiming)
Oh! citizens of Argos, do you hear what he says? (to CLEON) You
dare to compare yourself to Themistocles, who found our city half
empty and left it full to overflowing, who one day gave us the Piraeus
for dinner, and added fresh fish to all our usual meals. You, on the
contrary, you, who compare yourself with Themistocles, have only
sought to reduce our city in size, to shut it within its walls, to
chant oracles to us. And Themistocles goes into exile, while you gorge
yourself on the most excellent fare.
CLEON
Oh! Demos! Am I compelled to hear myself thus abused, and merely
because I love you?
DEMOS
Silence! stop your abuse! All too long have I been your dupe.
SAUSAGE-SELLER
Ah! my dear little Demos, he is a rogue who has played you many
a scurvy trick; when your back is turned, he taps at the root the
lawsuits initiated by the peculators, swallows the proceeds
wholesale and helps himself with both hands from the public funds.
CLEON
Tremble, knave; I will convict you of having stolen thirty
thousand drachmae.

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