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The Wasps   


CHORUS (singing)
More than once have I given proof of cunning and never of
stupidity, but how much more clever is Amynias, the son of Sellus
and of the race of forelock-wearers; him we saw one day coming to dine
with Leogaras, bringing as his share one apple and a pomegranate,
and bear in mind he was as hungry as Antiphon. He went on an embassy
to Pharsalus, and there he lived solely among the Thessalian
mercenaries; indeed, is he not the vilest of mercenaries himself?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Oh! blessed, oh! fortunate Automenes, how enviable is your
fortune! You have three sons, the most industrious in the world; one
is the friend of all, a very able man, the first among the
lyre-players, the favourite of the Graces. The second is an actor, and
his talent is beyond all praise. As for Ariphrades, he is by far the
most gifted; his father would swear to me, that without any master
whatever and solely through the spontaneous effort of his happy
nature, he taught himself to exercise his tongue in the whorehouses,
where he spends the whole of his time.
Some have said that I and Cleon were reconciled. This is the truth
of the matter: Cleon was harassing me, persecuting and belabouring
me in every way; and, when I was being fleeced, the public laughed
at seeing me uttering such loud cries; not that they cared about me,
but simply curious to know whether, when trodden down by my enemy, I
would not hurl at him some taunt. Noticing this, I have played the
wheedler a bit; but now, look! the prop is deceiving the vine!
(XANTHIAS enters, weeping and wailing and rubbing his sides.)
XANTHIAS
Oh! tortoises! happy to have so hard a skin! Oh! creatures full of
sense! what a happy thought to cover your bodies with this shell,
which shields it from blows! As for me, I can no longer move; the
stick has so belaboured my body.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Why, what's the matter, my child? for, old as he may be, one has
the right to call anyone a child who has let himself be beaten.
XANTHIAS
Alas! my master is really the worst of all plagues. He was the
most drunk of all the guests, and yet among them were Hippyllus,
Antiphon, Lycon, Lysistratus, Theophrastus and Phrynichus. But he
was hundred times more insolent than any. As soon as he had stuffed
himself with a host of good dishes, he began to leap and spring, to
laugh and to fart like a little ass well stuffed with barley. Then
he set to beating me with all his heart, shouting, "Slave! slave!"
Lysistratus, as soon as he saw him, let fly this comparison at him.
"Old fellow," said he, "you resemble one of the scum assuming the airs
of a rich man or a stupid ass that has broken loose from its
stable." "As for you," bawled the other at the top of his voice,
"you are like a grasshopper, whose cloak is worn to the thread, or
like Sthenelus after his clothes had been sold." All applauded
excepting Theophrastus, who made a grimace as behoved a well-bred
man like him. The old man called to him, "Hi! tell me then what you
have to be proud of? Not so much mouthing, you, who so well know how
to play the buffoon and to lick-spittle the rich!" In this way he
insulted each in turn with the grossest of jests, and he reeled off
a thousand of the most absurd and ridiculous speeches. At last, when
he was thoroughly drunk, he started towards here, striking everyone he
met. Wait, here he comes reeling along. I will be off for fear of
his blows.
(PHILOCLEON enters, inebriated and hilarious, carrying a torch;
his other hand is occupied with a wholly nude flute-girl; he is
followed by a group of angry victims of his exuberance.)

PHILOCLEON (singing)
Halt! and let everyone begone, or I shall do an evil turn to
some of those who insist on following me. Clear off, rascals, or I
shall roast you with this torch!

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