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The Wasps   


precisely to the minute. "He who presents himself after the opening of
the Court," says he, "will not get the triobolus." But he himself,
though he arrives late, will nevertheless get his drachma as a
public advocate. If an accused man makes him some present, he shares
it with a colleague and the pair agree to arrange the matter like
two sawyers, one of whom pulls and the other pushes. As for you, you
have only eyes for the public pay-clerk, and you see nothing.
PHILOCLEON
Can it be I am treated thus? Oh! what is it you are saying? You
stir me to the bottom of my heart! I am all ears! I cannot express
what I feel.
BDELYCLEON
Consider then; you might be rich, both you and all the others; I
know not why you let yourself be fooled by these folk who call
themselves the people's friends. A myriad of towns obey you, from
the Euxine to Sardis. What do you gain thereby? Nothing but this
miserable pay, and even that is like the oil with which the flock of
wool is impregnated and is doled to you drop by drop, just enough to
keep you from dying of hunger. They want you to be poor, and I will
tell you why. It is so that you may know only those who nourish you,
and so that, if it pleases them to loose you against one of their
foes, you shall leap upon him with fury. If they wished to assure
the well-being of the people, nothing would be easier for them. We
have now a thousand towns that pay us tribute; let them comand each of
these to feed twenty Athenians; then twenty thousand of our citizens
would be eating nothing but hare, would drink nothing but the purest
of milk, and always crowned with garlands, would be enjoying the
delights to which the great name of their country and the trophies
of Marathon give them the right; whereas to-day you are like the hired
labourers who gather the olives; you follow him who pays you.
PHILOCLEON
Alas! my hand is benumbed; I can no longer draw my sword. What has
become of my strength?
BDELYCLEON
When they are afraid, they promise to divide Euboea among you
and to give each fifty bushels of wheat, but what have they given you?
Nothing excepting, quite recently, five bushels of barley, and even
these you have only obtained with great difficulty, on proving you
were not aliens, and then choenix by choenix. (With increasing
excitement)
That is why I always kept you shut in; I wanted you to
be fed by me and no longer at the beck of these blustering
braggarts. Even now I am ready to let you have all you want,
provided you no longer let yourself be suckled by the payclerk.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to BDELYCLEON)
He was right who said, "Decide nothing till you have heard both
sides," for now it seems to me that you are the one who gains the
complete victory. My wrath is appeased and I throw away my sticks. (To
PHILOCLEON)
But, you, our comrade and contemporary....
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (taking this up in song)
.... let yourself be won over by his words; come, be not too
obstinate or too perverse. Would that I had a relative or kinsman to
correct me thus! Clearly some god is at hand and is now protecting you
and loading you with benefits. Accept them.
BDELYCLEON
I will feed him, I will give him everything that is suitable for
an old man; oatmeal gruel, a cloak, soft furs, and a wench to rub
his tool and his loins. But he keeps silent and will not utter a
sound; that's a bad sign.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
He has thought the thing over and has recognized his folly; he
is reproaching himself for not having followed your advice always. But
there he is, converted by your words, and wiser now, so that he will
no doubt alter his ways in the future and always believe in none but
you.

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