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The Wasps   


Islands of the Blest, so much was I taken with the charm of his words.
BDELYCLEON
How overjoyed they are! What extravagant delight! Ah! ah! you
are going to get a thrashing to-day.
CHORUS (singing)
Come, plot everything you can to beat him; 'tis not easy to soften
me if you do no talk on my side.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
If you have nothing but nonsense to spout, it's time to buy a good
millstone, freshly cut withal, to crush my anger.
BDELYCLEON
The cure of a disease, so inveterate and so widespread in
Athens, is a difficult task and of too great importance for the
scope of comedy. Nevertheless, my old father....
PHILOCLEON
Cease to call me by that name, for, if you do not prove me a slave
and that quickly too, you must die by my hand, even if I must be
deprived of my share in the sacred feasts.
BDELYCLEON
Listen to me, dear little father, unruffle that frowning brow
and reckon, you can do so without trouble, not with pebbles, but on
your fingers, what is the sum-total of the tribute paid by the
allied towns; besides this we have the direct imposts, a mass of
percentage dues, the fees of the courts of justice, the produce from
the mines, the markets, the harbours, tile public lands and the
confiscations. All these together amount to nearly two thousand
talents. Take from this sum the annual pay of the dicasts; they number
six thousand, and there have never been more in this town; so
therefore it is one hundred and fifty talents that come to you.
PHILOCLEON
What! our pay is not even a tithe of the state revenue?
BDELYCLEON
Why no, certainly not.
PHILOCLEON
And where does the rest go then?
BDELYCLEON
To those who say: "I shall never betray the interests of the
masses; I shall always fight for the people." And it is you, father,
who let yourself be caught with their fine talk, who give them all
power over yourself. They are the men who extort fifty talents at a
time by threat and intimidation from the allies. "Pay tribute to
me," they say, "or I shall loose the lightning on you-town and destroy
it." And you, you are content to gnaw the crumbs of your own might.
What do the allies do? They see that the Athenian mob lives on the
tribunal in niggard and miserable fashion, and they count you for
nothing, for not more than the vote of Connus; it is on those wretches
that they lavish everything, dishes of salt fish, wine, tapestries,
cheese, honey, chaplets, necklets, drinking-cups, all that yields
pleasure and health. And you, their master, to you as a reward for all
your toil both on land and sea, nothing is given, not even a clove
of garlic to eat with your little fish.
PHILOCLEON
No, undoubtedly not; I have had to send and buy some from
Eucharides. But you told me I was a slave. Prove it then, for I am
dying with impatience.
BDELYCLEON
Is it not the worst of all slaveries to see all these wretches and
their flatterers, whom they gorge with gold, at the head of affairs?
As for you, you are content with the three obols which they give you
and which you have so painfully earned in the galleys, in battles
and sieges. But what I stomach least is that you go to sit on the
tribunal by order. Some young fairy, the son of Chaereas, to wit,
enters your house wiggling his arse, foul with debauchery, on his
straddling legs and charges you to come and judge at daybreak, and

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