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The Wasps   


PHILOCLEON
Let down the barriers. The dance is now to begin.
(He begins to dance in a manner grotesquely parodying that of
Euripides.)

XANTHIAS
Or rather the madness.
PHILOCLEON
Impetuous movement already twists and racks my sides. How my
nostrils wheeze! how my back cracks!
XANTHIAS
Go and fill yourself with hellebore.
PHILOCLEON
Phrynichus is as bold as a cock and terrifies his rivals.
XANTHIAS
He'll be stoned.
PHILOCLEON
His leg kicks out sky-high....
XANTHIAS
....and his arse gapes open.
PHILOCLEON
Mind your own business. Look how easily my leg-joints move.
Isn't that good?
XANTHIAS
God, no, it's merely insane!
PHILOCLEON
And now I summon and challenge my rivals. It there be a tragic
poet who pretends to be a skilful dancer, let him come and contest the
matter with me. Is there one? Is there not one?
XANTHIAS
Here comes one, and one only.
(A very small dancer, costumed as a crab, enters.)
PHILOCLEON
Who is the wretch?
XANTHIAS
The younger son of Carcinus.
PHILOCLEON
I will crush him to nothing; in point of keeping time, I will
knock him out, for he knows nothing of rhythm.
XANTHIAS
Ah! ah! here comes his brother too, another tragedian, and another
son of Carcinus.
(Another dancer, hardly larger than the first, and similarly
costumed, enters.)

PHILOCLEON
Him I will devour for my dinner.
XANTHIAS
Oh! ye gods! I see nothing but crabs. Here is yet another son of
Carcinus.
(A third dancer enters, likewise resembling a crab, but smaller
than either of the others.)

PHILOCLEON
What's this? A shrimp or a spider?
XANTHIAS
It's a crab,-a hermit-crab, the smallest of its kind; it writes
tragedies.
PHILOCLEON
Oh! Carcinus, how proud you should be of your brood! What a
crowd of kinglets have come swooping down here! But we shall have to
measure ourselves against them. Have marinade prepared for seasoning
them, in case I prove the victor.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Let us stand out of the way a little, so that they may twirl at
their ease.
CHORUS

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