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The Wasps   


Perhaps a rat loosened it.
XANTHIAS
A rat? it's surely our gutter-judge, who has crept beneath the
tiles of the roof.
BDELYCLEON
Ah! woe to us! there he is, he has turned into a sparrow; he
will be flying off. Where is the net? where? Shoo! shoo! get back! Ah!
by Zeus! I would rather have to guard Scione than such a father.
XANTHIAS
And now that we have driven him in thoroughly and he can no longer
escape without our knowledge, can we not have a few winks of sleep, no
matter how few?
BDELYCLEON
Why, wretch! the other jurymen will be here almost directly to
summon my father!
XANTHIAS
Why, it's scarcely dawn yet!
BDELYCLEON
Ah, they must have risen late to-day. Generally it is the middle
of the night when they come to fetch him. They arrive here, carrying
lanterns in their hands and singing the charming old verses of
Phrynichus' Sidonian Women; it's their way of calling him.
XANTHIAS
Well, if need be, we will chase them off with stones.
BDELYCLEON
What! you dare to speak so? Why, this class of old men, if
irritated, becomes as terrible as a swarm of wasps. They carry below
their loins the sharpest of stings, with which to prick their foes;
they shout and leap and their stings burn like so many sparks.
XANTHIAS
Have no fear! If I can find stones to throw into this nest of
jurymen-wasps, I shall soon have them cleared off.
(Enter the CHORUS, composed of old men costumed as wasps.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
March on, advance boldly and bravely! Comias, your feet are
dragging; once you were as tough as a dog-skin strap and now even
Charinades walks better than you. Ha! Strymodorus of Conthyle, you
best of mates, where is Euergides and where is Chabes of Phlya? Ha,
ha, bravo! there you are, the last of the lads with whom we mounted
guard together at Byzantium. Do you remember how, one night,
prowling round, we noiselessly stole the kneading-trough of a
baker's wife; we split it in two and cooked our green-stuff with
it.-But let us hasten, for the case of Laches comes on to-day, and
they all say he has embezzled a pot of money. Hence Cleon, our
protector, advised us yesterday to come early and with a three days'
stock of fiery rage so as to chastise him for his crimes. Let us
hurry, comrades, before it is light; come, let us search every nook
with our lanterns to see whether those who wish us ill have not set us
some trap.
BOY
Father, father, watch out for the mud.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Pick up a blade of straw and trim your lamp.
BOY
No. I can trim it quite well with my finger.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why do you pull out the wick, you little dolt? Oil is scarce,
and it's not you who suffer when it has to be paid for. (Strikes him.)
BOY
If you teach us again with your fists, we shall put out the
lamps and go home; then you will have no light and will squatter about
in the mud like ducks in the dark.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
I know how to punish offenders bigger than you. But I think I am

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