suffering terribly with colic," I told him, "and am going to the can."
"Go ahead," he replied, and started pounding together juniper berries,
aniseed, and sage. As for myself, I moistened the door-hinge and
went to find my lover, who laid me, half-reclining upon Apollo's altar
and holding on to the sacred laurel with one hand. Well now! Consider!
that is a thing of which Euripides has never spoken. And when we
bestow our favours on slaves and muleteers for want of better, does he
mention this? And when we eat garlic early in the morning after a
night of wantonness, so that our husband, who has been keeping guard
upon the city wall, may be reassured by the smell and suspect nothing,
has Euripides ever breathed a word of this? Tell me. Neither has he
spoken of the woman who spreads open a large cloak before her
husband's eyes to make him admire it in full daylight to conceal her
lover by so doing and afford him the means of making his escape. I
know another, who for ten whole days pretended to be suffering the
pains of labour until she had secured a child; the husband hurried
in all directions to buy drugs to hasten her deliverance, and
meanwhile an old woman brought the infant in a stew-pot; to prevent
its crying she had stopped up its mouth with honey. With a sign she
told the wife that she was bringing a child for her, who at once began
exclaiming, "Go away, friend, go away, I think I am going to be
delivered; I can feel him kicking his heels in the belly ....of the
stew-pot." The husband goes off full of joy, and the old wretch
quickly takes the honey out of the child's mouth, which starts crying;
then she seizes the baby, runs to the father and tells him with a
smile on her face, "It's a lion, a lion, that is born to you; it's
your very image. Everything about it is like you, even his little
tool, curved like the sky." Are these not our everyday tricks? Why
certainly, by Artemis, and we, are angry with Euripides, who assuredly
treats us no worse than we deserve!
Great gods! where has she unearthed all that? What country gave
birth to such an audacious woman? Oh! you wretch! I should not have
thought ever a one of us could have spoken in public with such
impudence. 'Tis clear, however, that we must expect everything and, as
the old proverb says, must look beneath every stone, lest it conceal
some orator ready to sting us.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
There is but one thing in the world worse than a shameless
woman, and that's another woman.
By Aglaurus! you have lost your wits, friends! You must be
bewitched to suffer this plague to belch forth insults against us all.
Is there no one has any spirit at all? If not, we and our
maid-servants will punish her. Run and fetch coals and let's
depilate her in proper style, to teach her not to speak ill of her
Oh no no! not that part of me, my friends. Have we not the right
to speak frankly at this gathering? And because I have uttered what
I thought right in favour of Euripides, do you want to depilate me for
What! we ought not to punish you, who alone have dared to defend
the man who has done so much harm, whom it pleases to put all the vile
women that ever were upon the stage, who only shows us Melanippes
and Phaedras? But of Penelope he has never said a word, because she
was reputed chaste and good.
I know the reason. It's because not a single Penelope exists among
the women of to-day, but all without exception are Phaedras.
Women, you hear how this creature still dares to speak of us all.