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The Wasps   


man and rage distorting our lips. A hail of arrows hid the sky.
However, by the help of the gods, we drove off the foe to, wards
evening. Before the battle an owl had flown over our army. Then we
pursued them with our lance-point in their loins as one hunts the
tunny-fish; they fled and we stung them in the jaw and in the eyes, so
that even now the barbarians tell each other that there is nothing
in the world more to be feared than the Attic wasp.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Oh! at that time I was terrible, I feared nothing; forth on my
galleys I went in search of my foe and subjected him. Then we never
thought of rounding fine phrases, we never dreamt of calumny; it was
who should prove the strongest rower. And thus we took many a town
from the Medes, and 'tis to us that Athens owes the tributes that
our young men thieve to-day.
LEADER OF THE SECOND SEMI-CHORUS
Look well at us, and you will see that we have all the character
and habits of the wasp. Firstly, if roused, no beings are more
irascible, more relentless than we are. In all other things, too, we
act like wasps. We collect in swarms, in a kind of nests, and some
go judging with the Archon, some with the Eleven, others at the Odeon;
there are yet others, who hardly move at all, like the grubs in the
cells, but remain glued to the walls, and bent double to the ground.
We also pay full attention to the discovery of all sorts of means of
existing and sting the first who comes, so as to live at his
expense. Finally, we have among us drones, who have no sting and
who, without giving themselves the least trouble, seize on our
revenues as they flow past them and devour them. It's this that
grieves us most of all, to see men who have never served or held
either lance or oar in defence of their country, enriching
themselves at our expense without ever raising a blister on their
hands. In short, I give it as my deliberate opinion that in future
every citizen not possessed of a sting shall not receive the
triobolus.
(PHILOCLEON comes out of the house, followed by his son and a
slave. The CHORUS turns to face them.)

PHILOCLEON
As long as I live, I will never give up this cloak; it's the one I
wore in that battle when Boreas delivered us from such fierce attacks.
BDELYCLEON
You do not know what is good for you.
PHILOCLEON
Ah! I do not know how to use fine clothing! The other day, when
cramming myself with fried fish, I dropped so many grease spots that I
had to pay three obols to the cleaner.
BDELYCLEON
At least have a try, since you have once for all handed the care
for your well-being over to me.
PHILOCLEON
Very well then! what must I do?
BDELYCLEON
Take off your cloak, and put on this tunic in its stead.
PHILOCLEON
Was it worth while to beget and bring up children, so that this
one should now wish to choke me?
BDELYCLEON
Come, take this tunic and put it on without so much talk.
PHILOCLEON
Great gods! what sort of a cursed garment is this?
BDELYCLEON
Some call it a pelisse, others a Persian cloak.
PHILOCLEON
Ah! I thought it was a wraprascal like those made at Thymaetis.
BDELYCLEON
No wonder. It's only at Sardis you could have seen them, and you

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