Excerpts from Lysistrata by Aristophanes

[Excerpted from Aristophanes, "Lysistrata," in The Eleven Comedies, vol. 1 (London: Athenian Society, 1912), pp. 254ff]

CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

LYSISTRATA

CLEONICÉ

MYRRHINÉ

LAMPITO

MAGISTRATES

CINESIAS

HERALD OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS

ENVOYS OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS

AN ATHENIAN CITIZEN

CHORUS OF OLD MEN

CHORUS OF WOMEN

----SCENE:-In a public square at Athens; afterward before the gates of the Acropolis, and afterward within the precincts of the citadel.

LYSISTRATA---Ah! if only they had been invited to a Bacchic revelling, or a feast of Pan or Aphrodite or Genetyllis,[1] why! the streets would have been impassable for the thronging tambourines! Now there's never a woman here-ah! except my neighbour CLEONICÉ, whom I see approaching yonder.... Good day, CLEONICÉ.

CLEONICÉ---Good day, Lysistrata; but pray, why this dark, forbidding face, my dear? Believe me, you don't look a bit pretty with those black lowering brows.

LYSISTRATA---Oh, CLEONICÉ, my heart is on fire; I blush for our sex. Men will have it we are tricky and sly....

CLEONICÉ---And they are quite right, upon my word!

LYSISTRATA---Yet, look you, when the women are summoned to meet for a matter of the greatest importance, they lie abed instead of coming.

CLEONICÉ---Oh! they will come, my dear; but 'tis not easy, you know, for women to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband; another is getting the servant up; a third is putting her child asleep or washing the brat or feeding it.

LYSISTRATA---But I tell you, the business that calls them here is far and away more urgent.

CLEONICÉ---And why do you summon us, dear Lysistrata? What is it all about?

LYSISTRATA---About a big affair.

CLEONICÉ And is it thick too?

LYSISTRATA---Yes, both big and great.

CLEONICÉ---And we are not all on the spot!

LYSISTRATA---Oh! if it were what you suppose, there would be never an absentee. No, no, it concerns a thing I have turned about and about this way and that of many sleepless nights.

CLEONICÉ---It must be something mighty fine and subtle for you to have turned it about so!

LYSISTRATA---So fine, it means just this, Greece saved by the women!

CLEONICÉ---By the women! Why, its salvation hangs on a poor thread then!

LYSISTRATA---Our country's fortunes depend on us--it is with us to undo utterly the Peloponnesians.

CLEONICÉ---That would be a noble deed truly!

LYSISTRATA---To exterminate the Boeotians to a man!

CLEONICÉ---But surely you would spare the eels.[2]

LYSISTRATA---For Athens' sake I will never threaten so fell a doom; trust me for that. However, if the Boeotian and Peloponnesian women join us, Greece is saved.

CLEONICÉ---But how should women perform so wise and glorious an achievement, we women who dwell in the retirement of the household, clad in diaphanous garments of yellow silk and long flowing gowns, decked out with flowers and shod with dainty little slippers?

LYSISTRATA---Ah, but those are the very sheet-anchors of our salvation--those yellow tunics, those scents and slippers, those cosmetics and transparent robes.

CLEONICÉ---How so, pray?

LYSISTRATA---There is not a man will wield a lance against another...

CLEONICÉ---Quick, I will get me a yellow tunic from the dyer's.

LYSISTRATA---...or want a shield.

CLEONICÉ---I'll run and put on a flowing gown.

LYSISTRATA---...or draw a sword.

CLEONICÉ---I'll haste and buy a pair of slippers this instant.

LYSISTRATA---Now tell me, would not the women have done best to come?

CLEONICÉ---Why, they should have flown here!

LYSISTRATA---Ah! my dear, you'll see that like true Athenians, they will do everything too late[3].... Why, there's not a woman come from the shore, not one from Salamis.[4]

CLEONICÉ---But I know for certain they embarked at daybreak.

LYSISTRATA---And the dames from Acharnae![5] why, I thought they would have been the very first to arrive.

CLEONICÉ---Theagenes' wife[6] at any rate is sure to come; she has actually been to consult Hecaté.... But look! here are some arrivals-and there are more behind. Ah! ha! now what countrywomen may they be?

LYSISTRATA---They are from Anagyra.[7]

CLEONICÉ---Yes! upon my word, 'tis a levy en masse of all the female population of Anagyra!

-----(MYRRHINÉ enters, followed by other women.)

MYRRHINÉ---Are we late, Lysistrata? Tell us, pray; what, not a word?

LYSISTRATA---I cannot say much for you, MYRRHINÉ! you have not bestirred yourself overmuch for an affair of such urgency.

MYRRHINÉ---I could not find my girdle in the dark. However, if the matter is so pressing, here we are; so speak.

CLEONICÉ---No, let's wait a moment more, till the women of Boeotia arrive and those from the Peloponnese.

MYRRHINÉ---Yes, that is best.... Ah! here comes Lampito.

LYSISTRATA---Good day, Lampito, dear friend from Lacedaemon. How well and handsome you look! what a rosy complexion! and how strong you seem; why, you could strangle a bull surely!

LAMPITO---Yes, indeed, I really think I could. It's because I do gymnastics and practise the kick dance.[8]

LYSISTRATA---And what superb bosoms!

LAMPITO---La! you are feeling me as if I were a beast for sacrifice.

LYSISTRATA---And this young woman, where countrywoman is she?

LAMPITO---She is a noble lady from Boeotia.

LYSISTRATA---Ah! my pretty Boeotian friend, you are as blooming as a garden.

CHORUS---Yes, on my word! and her "garden" is so prettily weeded too![9]

LYSISTRATA---And who is this?

LAMPITO---'Tis an honest woman, by my faith! she comes from Corinth.

LYSISTRATA---Oh! honest, no doubt then-as honesty goes at Corinth.

LAMPITO---But who has called together this council of women, pray?

LYSISTRATA---I have.

LAMPITO---Well then, tell us what you want of us.

LYSISTRATA---I will tell you. But first answer me one question.

MYRRHINÉ---What is that?

LYSISTRATA---Don't you feel sad and sorry because the fathers of your children are far away from you with the army? For I'll wager there is not one of you whose husband is not abroad at this moment.

CLEONICÉ---Mine has been the last five months in Thrace--looking after Eucrates.

MYRRHINÉ---It's seven long months since mine left me for Pylos.[10]

LAMPITO---As for mine, if he ever does return from service, he's no sooner home than he takes down his shield again and flies back to the wars.

LYSISTRATA---And not so much as the shadow of a lover! Since the day the Milesians betrayed us, I have never once seen an eight-inch godemiche[11] even, to be a leathern consolation to us poor widows.... Now tell me, if I have discovered a means of ending the war, will you all second me?

MYRRHINÉ---Yes verily, by all the goddesses, I swear I will, though I have to put my gown in pawn, and drink the money the same day.[12]

CLEONICÉ---And so will I, though I must be split in two like a flat-fish, and have half myself removed.

LAMPITO---And I too; why to secure peace, I would climb to the top of Mount Taygetus.[13]

LYSISTRATA---Then I will out with it at last, my mighty secret! Oh! sister women, if we would compel our husbands to make peace, we must refrain...

MYRRHINÉ---Refrain from what? tell us, tell us!

LYSISTRATA---But will you do it?

MYRRHINÉ---We will, we will, though we should die of it.

LYSISTRATA---We must refrain from the male altogether.... Nay, why do you turn your backs on me? Where are you going? So, you bite your lips, and shake your heads, eh? Why these pale, sad looks? why these tears? Come, will you do it-yes or no? Do you hesitate?

MYRRHINÉ---I will not do it, let the war go on.

LYSISTRATA---And you say this, my pretty flat-fish, who declared just now they might split you in two?

CLEONICÉ---Anything, anything but that! Bid me go through the fire, if you will,-but to rob us of the sweetest thing in all the world, Lysistrata darling!

LYSISTRATA---And you?

MYRRHINÉ---Yes, I agree with the others; I too would sooner go through the fire.

LYSISTRATA---Oh, wanton, vicious sex! the poets have done well to make tragedies upon us; we are good for nothing then but love and lewdness! But you, my dear, you from hardy Sparta, if you join me, all may yet be well; help me, second me, I conjure you.

LAMPITO---'Tis a hard thing, by the two goddesses[14] it is! for a woman to sleep alone without ever a strong male in her bed. But there, peace must come first.

LYSISTRATA---Oh, my dear, my dearest, best friend, you are the only one deserving the name of woman!

CLEONICÉ---But if--which the gods forbid--we do refrain altogether from what you say, should we get peace any sooner?

LYSISTRATA---Of course we should, by the goddesses twain! We need only sit indoors with painted cheeks, and meet our mates lightly clad in transparent gowns of Amorgos[15] silk, and perfectly depilated; they will get their tools up and be wild to lie with us. That will be the time to refuse, and they will hasten to make peace, I am convinced of that!

LAMPITO---Yes, just as Menelaus, when he saw Helen's naked bosom, threw away his sword, they say.

CLEONICÉ---But, poor devils, suppose our husbands go away and leave us.

LYSISTRATA---Then, as Pherecrates says, we must "flay a skinned dog,"[16] that's all.

CLEONICÉ---Bah! these proverbs are all idle talk.... But if our husbands drag us by main force into the bedchamber?

LYSISTRATA---Hold on to the door posts.

CLEONICÉ---But if they beat us?

LYSISTRATA---Then yield to their wishes, but with a bad grace; there is no pleasure in it for them, when they do it by force. Besides, there are a thousand ways of tormenting them. Never fear, they'll soon tire of the game; there's no satisfaction for a man, unless the woman shares it.

CLEONICÉ---Very well, if you must have it so, we agree.

LAMPITO---For ourselves, no doubt we shall persuade our husbands to conclude a fair and honest peace; but there is the Athenian populace, how are we to cure these folk of their warlike frenzy?

LYSISTRATA---Have no fear; we undertake to make our own people listen to reason.

LAMPITO---Nay impossible, so long as they have their trusty ships and the vast treasures stored in the temple of Athené.

LYSISTRATA---Ah! but we have seen to that; this very day the Acropolis will be in our hands. That is the task assigned to the older women; while we are here in council, they are going, under pretence of offering sacrifice, to seize the citadel.

LAMPITO---Well said indeed! everything is going for the best.

LYSISTRATA---Come, quick, Lampito, and let us bind ourselves by an inviolable oath.

LAMPITO---Recite the terms; we will swear to them.

LYSISTRATA---With pleasure. Where is our Usheress?[17] Now, what are you staring at, pray? Lay this shield on the earth before us, its hollow upwards, and someone bring me the victim's inwards.

CLEONICÉ---Lysistrata, say, what oath are we to swear?

LYSISTRATA---What oath? Why, in Aeschylus, they sacrifice a sheep, and swear over a buckler;[18] we will do the same.

CLEONICÉ---No, Lysistrata, one cannot swear peace over a buckler, surely.

LYSISTRATA---What other oath do you prefer?

CLEONICÉ---Let's take a white horse, and sacrifice it, and swear on its entrails.

LYSISTRATA---But where get a white horse from?

CLEONICÉ---Well, what oath shall we take then?

LYSISTRATA---Listen to me. Let's set a great black bowl on the ground; let's sacrifice a skin of Thasian[19] wine into it, and take oath not to add one single drop of water.

LAMPITO---Ah! that's an oath pleases me more than I can say.

LYSISTRATA---Let them bring me a bowl and a skin of wine.

CLEONICÉ---Ah! my dears, what a noble big bowl! what fun 'twill be to empty it

LYSISTRATA---Set the bowl down on the ground, and lay your hands on the victim. ....Almighty goddess, Persuasion, and thou, bowl, boon comrade of joy and merriment, receive this our sacrifice, and be propitious to us poor women!

CLEONICÉ---Oh! the fine red blood! how well it flows!

LAMPITO---And what a delicious savour, by the goddesses twain!

LYSISTRATA---Now, my dears, let me swear first, if you please.

CLEONICÉ---No, by the goddess of love, let us decide that by lot.

LYSISTRATA---Come, then, Lampito, and all of you, put your hands to the bowl; and do you, CLEONICÉ, repeat for all the name of all the solemn terms I am going to recite. Then you must all swear, and pledge yourselves by the same promises,-I will have naught to do whether with lover or husband...

CLEONICÉ---I will have naught to do whether with lover or husband...

LYSISTRATA---Albeit he come to me with strength and passion...[20]

CLEONICÉ---Albeit he come to me with strength and passion... Oh! Lysistrata, I cannot bear it!

LYSISTRATA---I will live at home in perfect chastity...

CLEONICÉ---I will live at home in perfect chastity...

LYSISTRATA---Beautifully dressed and wearing a saffron-coloured gown...

CLEONICÉ---Beautifully dressed and wearing a saffron-coloured gown...

LYSISTRATA---To the end I may inspire my husband with the most ardent longings.

CLEONICÉ---To the end I may inspire my husband with the most ardent longings.

LYSISTRATA---Never will I give myself voluntarily...

CLEONICÉ---Never will I give myself voluntarily...

LYSISTRATA---And if he has me by force...

CLEONICÉ---And if he has me by force...

LYSISTRATA---I will be cold as ice, and never stir a limb...

CLEONICÉ---I will be cold as ice, and never stir a limb...

LYSISTRATA---I will not aid him in any way..[21].

CLEONICÉ---I will not aid him in any way...

LYSISTRATA---Nor will I crouch like carven lions on a knife-handle.

CLEONICÉ---Nor will I crouch like carven lions on a knife-handle.

LYSISTRATA---And if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this wine.

CLEONICÉ---And if I keep my oath, may I be suffered to drink of this wine.

LYSISTRATA---But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water.

CLEONICÉ---But if I break it, let my bowl be filled with water.

LYSISTRATA---Will ye all take this oath?

MYRRHINÉ---Yes, yes!

LYSISTRATA---Then lo! I'll now consume this remnant.

-----(She drinks.)

CLEONICÉ---Enough, enough, my dear; now let us all drink in turn to cement our friendship.

LAMPITO---Hark! what do those cries mean?

LYSISTRATA---'Tis what I was telling you; the women have just occupied the Acropolis. So now, Lampito, you return to Sparta to organize the plot, while your comrades here remain as hostages. For ourselves, let us go and join the rest in the citadel, and let us push the bolts well home.

CLEONICÉ---But don't you think the men will march up against us?

LYSISTRATA---I laugh at them. Neither threats nor flames shall force our doors; they shall open only on the conditions I have named.

CLEONICÉ---Yes, yes, by Aphrodité; let us keep up our old-time repute for obstinacy and spite.

----SCENE: At the Acropolis Lysistrata and the other women confront a Magistrate and some Scythian policemen.

MAGISTRATE---These women, have they made din enough, I wonder, with their tambourines? bewept Adonis enough upon their terraces?[22] I was listening to the speeches last assembly day, and Demostratus,[23] whom heaven confound! was saying we must all go over to Sicily-and lo! his wife was dancing round repeating: "Alas! alas! Adonis, woe is me for Adonis!" Demostratus was saying we must levy hoplites at Zacynthus[24]--and there was his wife, more than half drunk, screaming on the house-roof: "Weep, weep for Adonis!"--while that infamous Mad Ox[25] was bellowing away on his side.--Do you not blush, ye women, for your wild and uproarious doings?

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---But you don't know all their effrontery yet! They abused and insulted us; then soused us with the water in their water-pots, and have set us wringing out our clothes, for all the world as if we had bepissed ourselves.

MAGISTRATE---And well done too, by Posidon! We men must share the blame of their ill conduct; it is we who teach them to love riot and dissoluteness and sow the seeds of wickedness in their hearts. You see a husband go into a shop: "Look you, jeweller," says he, "you remember the necklace you made for my wife. Well, t'other evening, when she was dancing, the catch came open. Now, I am bound to start for Salamis; will you make it convenient to go up to-night to make her fastening secure?" Another will go to the cobbler, a great, strong fellow, with a great, long tool, and tell him: "The strap of one of my wife's sandals presses her little toe, which is extremely sensitive; come in about midday to supple the thing and stretch it." Now see the results. Take my own case-as a Magistrate I have enlisted rowers; I want money to pay them, and the women clap the door in my face.[26] But why do we stand here with arms crossed? Bring me a crowbar; I'll chastise their insolence!-Ho! there, my fine fellow! (addressing one of his attendant officers[27]) what are, you gaping at the crows for? looking for a tavern, I suppose, eh? Come, crowbars here, and force open the gates. I will put a hand to the work myself.

LYSISTRATA---No need to force the gates; I am coming out-here I am. And why bolts and bars? What we want here is not bolts and bars and locks, but common sense.

MAGISTRATE---Really, my fine lady! Where is my officer? I want him to tie that woman's hands behind her back.

LYSISTRATA---By Artemis, the virgin goddess! if he touches me with the tip of his finger, officer of the public peace though he be, let him look out for himself![28]

MAGISTRATE (to the officer)---How now, are you afraid? Seize her, I tell you, round the body. Two of you at her, and have done with it!

CLEONICÉ---By Pandrosos! if you lay a hand on her, Ill trample you underfoot till you spill your guts![29]

MAGISTRATE---Oh, there! my guts![30] Where is there another officer? (To the third Scythian) Bind that minx first, the one who speaks so prettily!

MYRRHINÉ---By Phoebe, if you touch her with one finger, you'd better call quick for a surgeon!

MAGISTRATE---What's that? Officer, where are you got to? Lay hold of her. Oh! but I'm going to stop your foolishness for you all

CLEONICÉ---By the Tauric Artemis, if you go near her, I'll pull out your hair, scream as you like.

MAGISTRATE---Ah! miserable man that I am! My own officers desert me. What ho! are we to let ourselves be bested by a mob of women? Ho! Scythians mine, close up your ranks, and forward!

LYSISTRATA---By the holy goddesses! you'll have to make acquaintance with four companies of women, ready for the fray and well armed to boot.

MAGISTRATE---Forward, Scythians, and bind them!

LYSISTRATA---Forward, my gallant companions; march forth, ye vendors of grain and eggs, garlic and vegetables, keepers of taverns and bakeries, wrench and strike and tear; come, a torrent of invective and insult! (They beat the officers.) Enough, enough now retire, never rob the vanquished!

MAGISTRATE---Here's a fine exploit for my officers!

LYSISTRATA---Ah, ha! so you thought you had only to do with a set of slave-women! you did not know the ardour that fills the bosom of free-born dames.

MAGISTRATE---Ardour! yes, by Apollo, ardour enough-especially for the wine-cup!

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Sir, sir! what use of words? they are of no avail with wild beasts of this sort. Don't you know how they have just washed us down-and with no very fragrant soap!

LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN---What would you have? You should never have laid rash hands on us. If you start afresh, I'll knock your eyes out. My delight is to stay at home as coy as a young maid, without hurting anybody or moving any more than a milestone; but 'ware the wasps, if you go stirring up the wasps' nest!

CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Ah! great gods! how get the better of these ferocious creatures? 'tis past all bearing! But come, let us try to find out the reason of the dreadful scourge. With what end in view have they seized the citadel of Cranaus,[31] the sacred shrine that is raised upon the inaccessible rock of the Acropolis? Question them; be cautious and not too credulous. 'Twould be culpable negligence not to pierce the mystery, if we may.

MAGISTRATE (addressing the women)---I would ask you first why you have barred our gates.

LYSISTRATA---To seize the treasury; no more money, no more war.

MAGISTRATE---Then money is the cause of the war?

LYSISTRATA---And of all our troubles. It was to find occasion to steal that Pisander[32] and all the other agitators were forever raising revolutions. Well and good! but they'll never get another drachma here.

MAGISTRATE---What do you propose to do then, pray?

LYSISTRATA---You ask me that! Why, we propose to administer the treasury ourselves.

MAGISTRATE---You do?

LYSISTRATA---What is there in that to surprise you? Do we not administer the budget of household expenses?

MAGISTRATE---But that is not the same thing.

LYSISTRATA---How so--not the same thing?

MAGISTRATE---It is the treasury supplies the expenses of the war.

LYSISTRATA---That's our first principle--no war!

MAGISTRATE---What! and the safety of the city?

LYSISTRATA---We will provide for that.

MAGISTRATE---You?

LYSISTRATA---Yes, we!

MAGISTRATE---What a sorry business!

LYSISTRATA---Yes, we're going to save you, whether you will or no.

MAGISTRATE---Oh! the impudence of the creatures!

LYSISTRATA---You seem annoyed! but there, you've got to come to it.

MAGISTRATE---But it's the very height of iniquity!

LYSISTRATA---We're going to save you, my man.

MAGISTRATE---But if I don't want to be saved?

LYSISTRATA---Why, all the more reason!

MAGISTRATE---But what a notion, to concern yourselves with questions of peace and war!

LYSISTRATA---We will explain our idea.

MAGISTRATE---Out with it then; quick, or... (threatening her).

LYSISTRATA---Listen, and never a movement, please!

MAGISTRATE---Oh! it is too much for me! I cannot keep my temper!

LEADER OF CHORUS OF WOMEN---Then look out for yourself; you have more to fear than we have.

MAGISTRATE---Stop your croaking, you old crow! (To LYSISTRATA) Now you, say what you have to say.

LYSISTRATA---Willingly. All the long time the War has lasted, we have endured in modest silence all you men did; you never allowed us to open our lips. We were far from satisfied, for we knew how things were going; often in our homes we would hear you discussing, upside down and inside out, some important turn of affairs. Then with sad hearts, but smiling lips, we would ask you: Well, in today's Assembly did they vote peace?--But, "Mind your own business!" the husband would growl, "Hold your tongue, do!" And we would say no more.

A WOMAN---I would not have held my tongue though, not I!

MAGISTRATE---You would have been reduced to silence by blows then.

LYSISTRATA---Well, for my part, I would say no more. But presently I would come to know you had arrived at some fresh decision more fatally foolish than ever. "Ah! my dear man," I would say, "what madness next!" But he would only look at me askance and say: "Just weave your web, please; else your cheeks will smart for hours. War is men's business!"

MAGISTRATE---Bravo! well said indeed!

LYSISTRATA---How now, wretched man? not to let us contend against your follies was bad enough! But presently we heard you asking out loud in the open street: "Is there never a man left in Athens?" and, "No, not one, not one," you were assured in reply. Then, then we made up our minds without more delay to make common cause to save Greece. Open your ears to our wise counsels and hold your tongues, and we may yet put things on a better footing.

MAGISTRATE---You put things indeed! Oh! 'tis too much! The insolence of the creatures!

LYSISTRATA---Silence yourself!

MAGISTRATE---May I die a thousand deaths ere I obey one who wears a veil!

LYSISTRATA---If that's all that troubles you, here, take my veil, wrap it round your head, and hold your tongue. Then take this basket; put on a girdle, card wool, munch beans. The war shall be women's business.

CHORUS OF WOMEN---Lay aside your water-pots, we will guard them, we will help our friends and companions. For myself, I will never weary of the dance; my knees will never grow stiff with fatigue. I will brave everything with my dear allies, on whom Nature has lavished virtue, grace, boldness, cleverness, and whose wisely directed energy is going to save the State. Oh! my good, gallant Lysistrata, and all my friends, be ever like a bundle of nettles; never let your anger slacken; the winds of fortune blow our way.

LYSISTRATA---May gentle Love and the sweet Cyprian Queen shower seductive charms on our bosoms and all our person.[33] If only we may stir so amorous a feeling among the men that they stand as firm as sticks, we shall indeed deserve the name of peace-makers among the Greeks.

MAGISTRATE---How will that be, pray?

LYSISTRATA---To begin with, we shall not see you any more running like mad fellows to the Market holding lance in fist.

A WOMEN---That will be something gained, anyway, by the Paphian goddess, it will!

LYSISTRATA---Now we see them, mixed up with saucepans and kitchen stuff, armed to the teeth, looking like wild Corybantes![34]

MAGISTRATE---Why, of course; that's how brave men should do.

LYSISTRATA---Oh! but what a funny sight, to behold a man wearing a Gorgon's-bead buckler coming along to buy fish!

CLEONICÉ---T'other day in the Market I saw a phylarch[35] with flowing ringlets; he was a-horseback, and was pouring into his helmet the broth he had just bought at an old dame's still. There was a Thracian warrior too, who was brandishing his lance like Tereus in the play;[36] he had scared a good woman selling figs into a perfect panic, and was gobbling up all her ripest fruit.

MAGISTRATE---And how, pray, would you propose to restore peace and order in all the countries of Greece?

LYSISTRATA---'Tis the easiest thing in the world!

MAGISTRATE---Come, tell us how; I am curious to know.

LYSISTRATA---When we are winding thread, and it is tangled, we pass the spool across and through the skein, now this way, now that way; even so, to finish off the war, we shall send embassies hither and thither and everywhere, to disentangle matters.

MAGISTRATE---And 'tis with your yarn, and your skeins, and your spools, you think to appease so many bitter enmities, you silly women?

LYSISTRATA---If only you had common sense, you would always do in politics the same as we do with our yarn.

MAGISTRATE---Come, how is that, eh?

LYSISTRATA---First we wash the yarn to separate the grease and filth; do the same with all bad citizens, sort them out and drive them forth with rods--'tis the refuse of the city. Then for all such as come crowding up in search of employments and offices, we must card them thoroughly; then, to bring them all to the same standard, pitch them pell-mell into the same basket, resident aliens or no, allies, debtors to the State, all mixed up together. Then as for our Colonies, you must think of them as so many isolated hanks; find the ends of the separate threads, draw them to a centre here, wind them into one, make one great hank of the lot, out of which the Public can weave itself a good, stout tunic.

MAGISTRATE---Is it not a sin and a shame to see them carding and winding the State, these women who have neither art nor part in the burdens of the war?

LYSISTRATA---What! wretched man! why, it's a far heavier burden to us than to you. In the first place, we bear sons who go off to fight far away from Athens.

MAGISTRATE---Enough said! do not recall sad and sorry memories![37]

LYSISTRATA---Then secondly, instead of enjoying the pleasures of love and making the best of our youth and beauty, we are left to languish far from our husbands, who are all with the army. But say no more of ourselves; what afflicts me is to see our girls growing old in lonely grief.


LYSISTRATA---A man! a man! I see him approaching all afire with the flames of love. Oh! divine Queen of Cyprus, Paphos and Cythera, I pray you still be propitious to our enterprise.

WOMAN---Where is he, this unknown foe?

LYSISTRATA---Over there-beside the Temple of Demeter.

WOMAN---Yes, indeed, I see him; but who is he?

LYSISTRATA---Look, look! do any of you recognize him?

MYRRHINÉ ---I do, I do! 'Tis my husband Cinesias.

LYSISTRATA---To work then! Be it your task to inflame and torture and torment him. Seductions, caresses, provocations, refusals, try every means! Grant every favour,-always excepting what is forbidden by our oath on the wine-bowl.

MYRRHINÉ---Have no fear, I'll undertake the work.

LYSISTRATA---Well, I shall stay here to help you cajole the man and set his passions aflame. The rest of you, withdraw.

CINESIAS---Alas! alas! how I am tortured by spasm and rigid convulsion! Oh! I am racked on the wheel!

LYSISTRATA---Who is this that dares to pass our lines?

CINESIAS---It is I.

LYSISTRATA---What, a man?

CINESIAS---Yes, no doubt about it, a man!

LYSISTRATA---Begone!

CINESIAS---But who are you that thus repulses me?

LYSISTRATA---The sentinel of the day.

CINESIAS---By all the gods, call MYRRHINÉ hither.

LYSISTRATA---Call MYRRHINÉ hither, quotha? And pray, who are you?

CINESIAS---I am her husband, Cinesias, son of Paeon.

LYSISTRATA---Ah! good day, my dear friend. Your name is not unknown amongst us. Your wife has it forever on her lips; and she never touches an egg or an apple without saying: "'Twill be for Cinesias."

CINESIAS---Really and truly?

LYSISTRATA---Yes, indeed, by Aphrodite! And if we fall to talking of men, quick your wife declares: "Oh! all the rest, they're good for nothing compared with Cinesias."

CINESIAS---Oh! I beseech you, go and call her to me.

LYSISTRATA---And what will you give me for my trouble?

CINESIAS---Anything I've got, if you like. I will give you what I have there!

LYSISTRATA---Well, well, I will tell her to come.

CINESIAS---Quick, oh! be quick! Life has no more charms for me since she left my house. I am sad, sad, when I go indoors; it all seems so empty; my victuals have lost their savour. Desire is eating my heart![38]

MYRRHINÉ---I love him, oh! I love him; but he won't let himself be loved. No! I shall not come.

CINESIAS---MYRRHINÉ, my little darling MYRRHINÉ, what are you saying? Come down to me quick.

MYRRHINÉ---No indeed, not I.

CINESIAS---I call you, MYRRHINÉ, MYRRHINÉ; won't you please come?

MYRRHINÉ---Why should you call me? You do not want me.

CINESIAS---Not want you! Why, here I stand, stiff with desire!

MYRRHINÉ---Good-bye.


CINESIAS---Ah! what a bad thing it is to let yourself be led away by other women! Why give me such pain and suffering, and yourself into the bargain?

MYRRHINÉ---Hands off, sir!

CINESIAS---Everything is going to rack and ruin in the house.

MYRRHINÉ---I don't care.

CINESIAS---But your web that's all being pecked to pieces by the cocks and hens, don't you care for that?

MYRRHINÉ---Precious little.

CINESIAS---And Aphrodité, whose mysteries you have not celebrated for so long? Oh! won't you please come back home?

MYRRHINÉ---No, least, not till a sound treaty puts an end to the war.

CINESIAS---Well, if you wish it so much, why, we'll make it, your treaty.

MYRRHINÉ---Well and good! When that's done, I will come home. Till then, I am bound by an oath.

CINESIAS---At any rate, let's have a short time together.

MYRRHINÉ---No, no, no! ... all the same I cannot say I don't love you.

CINESIAS---You love me? Then why refuse what I ask, my little girl, my sweet MYRRHINÉ?

MYRRHINÉ---You must be joking......!

CINESIAS---...let us to work!

MYRRHINÉ---But, miserable man, where, where?

CINESIAS---In the cave of Pan; nothing could be better.

MYRRHINÉ---But how shall I purify myself before going back into the citadel?

CINESIAS---Nothing easier! you can wash at the Clepsydra.[39]

MYRRHINÉ---But my oath? Do you want me to perjure myself?

CINESIAS---I'll take all responsibility; never make yourself anxious.

MYRRHINÉ---Well, I'll be off, then, and find a bed for us.

CINESIAS---'Tis not worth the while; we can lie on the ground surely.

MYRRHINÉ---No, no! bad man as you are, I don't like your lying on the bare earth.

CINESIAS ---Ah! how the dear girl loves me!

MYRRHINÉ (coming back with a bed)---Come, get to bed quick; I am going to undress. But, plague take it, we must get a mattress.

CINESIAS---A mattress? Oh! no, never mind!

MYRRHINÉ---No, by Artemis! lie on the bare sacking? never! That were too squalid.

CINESIAS---A kiss!

MYRRHINÉ---Wait a minute!

CINESIAS---Oh, by the great gods, be quick back!

MYRRHINÉ---Here is a mattress. Lie down, I am just going to undress. But you've got no pillow.

CINESIAS---I don't want one, no, no.

MYRRHINÉ---But I do.

CINESIAS---Oh dear, oh dear, they treat my poor self for all the world like Heracles![50]

MYRRHINÉ(coming back with the pillow)---There, lift your head, dear!

CINESIAS---That's really everything.

MYRRHINÉ---Is it everything, I wonder?

CINESIAS---Come, my treasure.

MYRRHINÉ---I am just unfastening my girdle. But remember what you promised me about making peace; mind you keep your word.

CINESIAS---Yes, yes, upon my life I will.

MYRRHINÉ---Why, you have no blanket!

CINESIAS---Great Zeus, what matter of that? 'tis you I want to love!

MYRRHINÉ---Never fear-directly, directly! I'll be back in no time.

CINESIAS---The woman will kill me with her blankets!

MYRRHINÉ (coming back with a blanket)---Now, get up for a moment.

CINESIAS---But I tell you, our friend here is all ready!

MYRRHINÉ---Would you like me to scent you?

CINESIAS---No, by Apollo, no, please!

MYRRHINÉ---Yes, by Aphrodite, but I will, whether you like it or no.

CINESIAS---Ah! great Zeus, may she soon be done!

MYRRHINÉ (coming back with a flask of perfume)---Hold out your hand; now rub it in.

CINESIAS---Oh! in Apollo's name, I don't much like the smell of it; but perhaps 'twill improve when it's well rubbed in. It does not somehow smack of the marriage bed!

MYRRHINÉ---Oh dear! what a scatterbrain I am; if I have not brought Rhodian perfumes![41]

CINESIAS---Never mind, dearest, let be now.

MYRRHINÉ--You are joking!

CINESIAS---Deuce take the man who invented perfumes!

MYRRHINÉ (coming back with another flask)---Here, take this bottle.

CINESIAS---I have a better all ready for you, darling. Come, you provoking creature, to bed with you, and don't bring another thing.

MYRRHINÉ---Coming, coming; I'm just slipping off my shoes. Dear boy, will you vote for peace?

CINESIAS---I'll think about it. (MYRRHINÉ runs away.) I'm a dead man, she is killing me! She has gone, and left me in torment! (in tragic style) I must have someone to love, I must! Ah me! the loveliest of women has choused and cheated me. Poor little lad, how am I to give you what you want so badly? Where is Cynalopex? quick, man, get him a nurse, do![42]

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Poor, miserable wretch, baulked in your amorousness! what tortures are yours! Ah! you fill me with pity. Could any man's back and loins stand such a strain. He stands stiff and rigid, and there's never a wench to help him!

CINESIAS---Ye gods in heaven, what pains I suffer!

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Well, there it is; 'tis her doing, that abandoned hussy!

CINESIAS---No, no! rather say that sweetest, dearest darling.

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---That dearest darling? no, no, that hussy, say I! Zeus, thou god of the skies, canst not let loose a hurricane, to sweep them all up into the air, and whirl 'em round, then drop 'em down crash! and impale them on the point of his weapon!

HERALD---Say, where shall I find the Senate and the Prytanes? I am bearer of despatches.

MAGISTRATE---Are you a man or a Priapus,[43] pray?

HERALD---Oh! but he's mighty simple! I am a herald, of course, I swear I am, and I come from Sparta about making peace.

MAGISTRATE ---But look, you are hiding a lance under your clothes, surely.

HERALD---No, nothing of the sort.

MAGISTRATE---Then why do you turn away like that, and hold your cloak out from your body? Have you gotten swellings in the groin with your journey?

HERALD---By the twin brethren! the man's an old maniac.

MAGISTRATE---Ah, ha! may fine lad, why I can see it standing, oh fie!

HERALD---I tell you no! but enough of this foolery.

MAGISTRATE---Well, what is it you have there then?

HERALD---A Lacedaemonian 'skytalé.'[44]

MAGISTRATE---Oh, indeed, a 'skytalé,' is it? Well, well, speak out frankly; I know all about these matters. How are things going at Sparta now?

HERALD---Why, everything is turned upside down at Sparta; and all the allies are half dead from lusting.[45] We simply must have Pellené.[45]

MAGISTRATE---What is the reason of it all? Is it the god Pan's doing?

HERALD---No, it's all the work of Lampito and the Spartan women's, acting at her instigation; they have denied the men all access to them.[47]

MAGISTRATE---But whatever do you do?

HERALD---We are at our wits' end; we walk bent double, just as if we were carrying lanterns in a wind. The jades have sworn we shall not so much as touch them till we have all agreed to conclude peace.

MAGISTRATE---Ah! I see now, it's a general conspiracy embracing all Greece. Go back to Sparta and bid them send envoys with plenary powers to treat for peace. I will urge our Senators myself to name plenipotentiaries from us; and to persuade them, why, I will show them something else.[48]

HERALD---What could be better? I fly at your command.


LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Ah! here come the envoys from Sparta with their long flowing beards; why, you would think they wore a cage[49] between their thighs. (Enter the LACONIAN ENVOYS) Hail to you, first of all, Laconians; then tell us how you fare.

LACONIAN ENVOY---No need for many words; you can see what a state we are in.

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Alas! the situation grows more and more strained! the intensity of the thing is just frightful.

LACONIAN ENVOY---'Tis beyond belief. But to work! summon your Commissioners, and let us patch up the best peace we may.

LEADER OF CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Ah! our men too, like wrestlers in the arena, cannot endure a rag over their bellies; 'tis an athlete's malady, which only exercise can remedy.

AN ATHENIAN---Oh! what a terrible state we are in! Greeting to you, Laconian fellow-sufferers.

LACONIAN ENVOY (addressing one of his countrymen)---Ah! my boy, what a thing it would have been if these fellows had seen us just now when we were on full stand!

ATHENIAN---Speak out, Laconians, what is it brings you here?

LACONIAN---We have come to treat for peace.

ATHENIAN---Well said; we are of the same mind. Better call Lysistrata, then; she is the only person will bring us to terms.

LACONIAN ENVOY---Yes, yes--and Lysistratus into the bargain, if you will.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN---Needless to call her; she has heard your voices, and here she comes.

ATHENIAN---Hail, boldest and bravest of womankind! The time is come to show yourself in turn uncompromising and conciliatory, exacting and yielding, haughty and condescending. Call up all your skill and artfulness. Lo! the foremost men in Hellas, seduced by your fascinations, are agreed to entrust you with the task of ending their quarrels.

LYSISTRATA---It will be an easy task--if only they refrain from mutual indulgence in masculine love; if they do, I shall know the fact at once. Now, where is the gentle goddess Peace? Lead hither the Laconian envoys. But, look you, no roughness or violence; our husbands always behaved so boorishly.[50] Bring them to me with smiles, as women should. If any refuse to give you his hand, catch him and draw him politely forward.[51] Bring up the Athenians too; you may take them just how you will. Laconians, approach; and you, Athenians, on my other side. Now hearken all! I am but a woman; but I have good common sense; Nature has endowed me with discriminating judgment, which I have yet further developed, thanks to the wise teachings of my father and the elders of the city. First I must bring a reproach against you that applies equally to both sides. At Olympia, and Thermopylae, and Delphi, and a score of other places too numerous to mention, you celebrate before the same altars ceremonies common to all Hellenes; yet you go cutting each other's throats, and sacking Hellenic cities, when all the while the barbarian yonder is threatening you! That is my first point.

ATHENIAN---Ah, ah! concupiscence is killing me![52]

LYSISTRATA---Now 'tis to you I address myself, Laconians. Have you forgotten how Periclides,[53] your own countryman, sat a suppliant before our altars? How pale he was in his purple robes! He had come to crave an army of us; it was the time when Messenia was pressing you sore, and the Sea-god was shaking the earth. Cimon marched to your aid at the head of four thousand hoplites, and saved Lacedaemon. And, after such a service as that, you ravage the soil of your benefactors!

ATHENIAN---They do wrong, very wrong, Lysistrata.

LACONIAN---We do wrong, very wrong. Ah! great gods! what a lovely thighs she has!

LYSISTRATA---And now a word to the Athenians. Have you no memory left of how, in the days when you wore the tunic of slaves, the Laconians came, spear in hand, and slew a host of Thessalians and partisans of Hippias the tyrant? They, and they only, fought on your side on that eventful day; they delivered you from despotism, and thanks to them our nation could change the short tunic of the slave for the long cloak of the free man.

LACONIAN---I have never see a woman of more gracious dignity.

ATHENIAN---I have never seen a woman with a finer body!

LYSISTRATA---Bound by such ties of mutual kindness, how can you bear to be at war? Stop, stay the hateful strife, be reconciled; what hinders you?

LACONIAN---We are quite ready, if they will give us back our rampart.

LYSISTRATA---What rampart, my dear man?

LACONIAN---Pylos, which we have been asking for and craving for ever so long.

ATHENIAN---In the Sea-god's name, you shall never have it!

LYSISTRATA---Agree, my friends, agree.

ATHENIAN---But then what city shall we be able to stir up trouble in?

LYSISTRATA---Ask for another place in exchange.

ATHENIAN---Ah! that's the ticket! Well, to begin with, give us Echinus, the Maliac gulf adjoining, and the two legs of Megara.[54]

LACONIAN---No, by the Dioscuri, surely not all that, my dear sir.

LYSISTRATA---Come to terms; never make a difficulty of two legs more or less!

ATHENIAN---Well, I'm ready now to off coat and cultivate my land.

LACONIAN---And I also, to dung it to start with.

LYSISTRATA---That's just what you shall do, once peace is signed. So, if you really want to make it, go consult your allies about the matter.

ATHENIAN---What allies, I should like to know? Why, we are all on the stand;[55] there's no one who is not mad to be mating. What we all want is to be abed with our wives; how should our allies fail to second our project?

LACONIAN---And ours too, for certain sure!

ATHENIAN---The Carystians first and foremost, by the gods!

LYSISTRATA---Well said, indeed! Now go and purify yourselves for entering the Acropolis, where the women invite you to supper; we will empty our provision baskets to do you honour. At table, you will exchange oaths and pledges; then each man will go home with his wife.

ATHENIAN---Come along then, and as quick as may be.

LACONIAN---Lead on; I'm your man.

ATHENIAN---Quick, quick's the word, say I.

CHORUS OF WOMEN---Embroidered stuffs, and dainty tunics, and flowing gowns, and golden ornaments, everything I have, I offer them to you with all my heart; take them all for your children, for your girls, against they are chosen "basket bearers' to the goddess. I invite you every one to enter, come in and choose whatever you will; there is nothing so well fastened, you cannot break the seals, and carry away the contents. Look about you everywhere. . . you won't find a blessed thing, unless you have sharper eyes than mine. And if any of you lacks corn to feed his slaves and his young and numerous family, why, I have a few grains of wheat at home; let him take what I have to give, a big twelve-pound loaf included. So let my poorer neighbours all come with bags and wallets; my man, Manes, shall give them corn; but I warn them not to come near my door, or--beware the dog!

A MARKET-LOUNGER---I say, you, open the door!

A SLAVE---Go your way, I tell you. Why, bless me, they're sitting down now; I shall have to singe 'em with my torch to make 'em stir! What impudence!

MARKET-LOUNGER---I don't mean to budge.

A SLAVE---Well, as you must stop,and I don't want to offend you--but you'll see some queer sights.

MARKET-LOUNGER---Well and good, I've no objection

SLAVE---No, no, you must be off-or I'll tear your hair out, I will; be off, I say, and don't annoy the Laconian envoys; they're just coming out from the banquet-ball.

ATHENIAN---Such a merry banquet I've never seen before! The Laconians were simply charming. After the drink is in, why, we're all wise men, every one of us. It's only natural, to be sure, for sober, we're all fools. Take my advice, my fellow-countrymen, our envoys should always be drunk. We go to Sparta; we enter the city sober; why, we must be picking a quarrel directly. We don't understand what they say to us, we imagine a lot they don't say at all, and we report home all wrong, all topsy-urvy. But, look you, to-day it's quite different; we're enchanted whatever happens; instead of Clitagoras, they might sing us Telamon,[56] and we should clap our hands just the same. A perjury or two into the bargain, la! What does that matter to merry companions in their cups?

SLAVE---But here they are back again! Will you begone, you loafing scoundrels.

MARKET-LOUNGER---Ah ha! here's the company coming out already.

A LACONIAN---My dear, sweet friend, come, take your flute in hand; I would fain dance and sing my best in honour of the Athenians and our noble selves.

AN ATHENIAN---Yes, take your flute, i' the gods'name. What a delight to see him dance!

CHORUS OF LACONIANS---Oh! Mnemosyne! inspire these men, inspire my muse who knows our exploits and those of the Athenians. With what a god-like ardour did they swoop down at Artemisium on the ships of the Medes! What a glorious victory was that! For the soldiers of Leonidas, they were like fierce boars whetting their tusks. The sweat ran down their faces, and drenched all their limbs, for verily the Persians were as many as the sands of the seashore. Oh! Artemis, huntress queen, whose arrows pierce the denizens of the woods, virgin goddess, be thou favourable to the Peace we here conclude; through thee may our hearts be long united! May this treaty draw close for ever the bonds of a happy friendship! No more wiles and stratagems! Aid us, oh! aid us, maiden huntress!

LYSISTRATA---All is for the best; and now, Laconians, take your wives away home with you, and you, Athenians, yours. May husband live happily with wife, and wife with husband. Dance, dance, to celebrate our bliss, and let us be heedful to avoid like mistakes for the future.

CHORUS OF ATHENIANS (singing)---Appear, appear, dancers, and the Graces with you! Let us invoke, one and all, Artemis, and her heavenly brother, gracious Apollo, patron of the dance, and Dionysus, whose eye darts flame, as he steps forward surrounded by the Maenad maids, and Zeus, who wields the flashing lightning, and his august, thrice-blessed spouse, the Queen of Heaven! These let us invoke, and all the other gods, calling all the inhabitants of the skies to witness the noble Peace now concluded under the fond auspices of Aphrodité. Io Paean! Io Paean! dance, leap, as in honour of a victory won. Evoé! Evoé! And you, our Laconian guests, sing us a new and inspiring strain!

LACONIAN (singing)---Leave once more, oh! leave once more the noble height of Taygetus, oh! Muse of Lacedaemon, and join us in singing the praises of Apollo of Amyclae, and Athene of the Brazen House, and the gallant twin sons of Tyndareus, who practise arms on the banks of the Eurotas river.[57] Haste, haste hither with nimble-footed pace, let us sing Sparta, the city that delights in choruses divinely sweet and graceful dances, when our maidens bound lightly by the river side, like frolicsome fillies, beating the ground with rapid steps and shaking their long locks in the wind, as Bacchantes wave their wands in the wild revels of the Wine-god. At their head, oh! chaste and beauteous goddess, daughter of Leto, Artemis, do thou lead the song and dance. With a fillet binding thy waving tresses, appear in thy loveliness; leap like a fawn, strike thy divine hands together to animate the dance, and aid us to renown the valiant goddess of battles, great Athené of the Brazen House!

THE END

 


 

NOTES

1. At Athens more than anywhere the festivals of Bacchus (Dionysus) were celebrated with utmost pomp--and also with utmost licence, not to say licentiousness.
Pan--the rustic god and king of the Satyrs; his feast was similarly an occasion of much coarse self-indulgence.
Aphrodite Colias--under this name the goddess was invoked by courtesans as patroness of sensual, physical love. She had a temple on the promontory of Colias, on the Attic coast--whence the surname.
The Genetyllides were moinor dieties, presiding over the act of generation, as the name indicates. Dogs were offered in sacrifice to them--presumably because of the lubricity of that animal.
At the festivals of Dionysus, Pan and Aphrodite, women used to perform lascivious damces to the accompaniment of the beating of tambourines. Lysistrata implies that the women she had summoned to council cared really for nothing but wanton pleasures.

2. The eels from lake Copaïs in Boeotia were esteemed highly by epicures.

3. This is the reproach Demosthenes constantly leveled against his fellow-countrymen--their failure to seize opportunity.

4. An island of the Saronic Gulf lying between Megara and Attica. It was separated by a narrow strait--scene of the naval battle in which the Athenians defeated Xerxes--only from the Attic coast, and was subject to Athens.

5. A deme or township, of Attica, lying five or six miles north of Athens. The Acharnians were throughout the most extreme partisans of the warlike party during the Peloponnesian struggle.

6. The precise reference is uncertain, and where the joke exactly comes in. The scholiast says Theogenes was a rich, miserly and superstitious citizen, who never undertook any enterprise without first consulting an image of Hecaté, the distributor of honour and wealth according to popular belief; and his wife would naturally follow her husband's example.A deme of Attica, a small and insignificant community.

7. In allusion to the gymnastic training which was de rigour at Sparta for the women no less for the men, and in particular to the dance of the Laceddaemonian girls, in which the performer was expected to kick the fundament with the heels--always a standing joke among the Athenians against their rivals and enemies, the Spartans.

8. The allusion, of course, is to the 'garden of love.' the female parts, which it was the custom with the Greek women, as with the ladies of the harem in Turkey to this day (1912), to depilate scrupulously, with the idea of making themselves more attractive to men.

9. A town and a fortress on the west coast of the Peloponnese, at the northern extremity of the bay of Sphacteria--the scene by the by of the modern naval battle of Navarino (1827)--in lacedaemonian territory; it had been siezed by the Athenian fleet, and it was still in their possession at the date, 412 B.C., of the representation of the 'Lysistrata,' though two years later, in the twenty-second year of the War, it was recovered by Sparta.

10. dildo

11. The Athenian women, rightly or wrongly, had the reputation of being over fond of wine. Aristophanes, here and elsewhere, makes many jests on this weakness of theirs.

12. The lofty range of hills overlooking Sparta from the west.

13. "By the two goddesses,"--a women's oath which, recurs constantly in this play; the two goddesses are always Demeter and Proserpine.

14. One of the Cyclades, between Naxos and Cos, celebrated, like the latter, for its manufacture of fine, almost transparent fabrics, worn in Greece, and later at Rome, by women of loose character. The Fredericks of Hollywood or Victoria's Secret of the ancient world.

15. The proverb, quoted by Pherecrates, is properly spoken oif those who go out of their way to do a thing already done--"to beat a dead horse," but here apparently is twisted by Aristophanes into an allusion to the leathern 'godemiche' mentioned a little above; if the worst comes to worst, we must use other means. Pherecrates was a comic playwright, a contemporary of Aristophanes.

16. Literally our "Scythian woman." At Athens, policemen and ushers in the courts were generally Scythians; so the revolting women must have their Scythian "Usheress" too. Could be translated as bailiff or sergeant-at-arms.

17. In allusion to the oath which the seven allied champions before Thebes take on a buckler (shield) in Aeschylus' tragedy of 'The Seven Against Thebes.'

18. A volcanic island in the northern part of the Aegean, celebrated for its vinyards.

19. A later version of this translation renders this line Albeit he come to me with an erection....

 

20. A later version of this translation renders this line I will neither extend my Persian slippers toward the ceiling....

21. Women only celebrated the festivals of Adonis. These rites were not performed in public, but on the terraces and flat roofs of the houses.

22. An orator and statesman who had first proposed the disastrous Sicilian Expedition, of 415-413 B.C. This was on the first day of the festival of Adonis--ever afterward regarded by the Athenians as a day of ill omen.

23. An island in the Ionian Sea, on the west of Greece, near Cephalenia, and an ally of Athens during the Peloponnesian War.

24. Cholozyges, a nickname for Demostratus.

25. The state treasure was kept in the Akropolis, which the women had siezed.

26. A subsequent version of this translation claims that the attendant officers were Scythian policemen.

27. A subsequent version of this translation claims that at this and each of the other confrontations that one of the Scythian policemen "defecates in terror"

28. A later version of this translation renders this line 'Ill trample you underfoot till the crap comes out of you!'

29. A later version of this translation renders this line 'What a mess!'

30. The second (mythical) king of Athens, successor of Cecrops.

31. the leader of the revolution which resulted in the temporary overthrow of the Democracy of Athens (413-412 B.C.), and the establishment of the Oligarchy of the 400.

32. A later version of this translation renders this line '...on our breasts and thighs.'

33. Priests of Cybelé, who indulged in wild frenzied dances, to the accompaniment of cymbals, in their celebrations in honour of the goddess.

34. Captain of a cavalry squadron; they were chosen from amongst the hippeis, or 'knights' of Athens.

35. In allusion to a play of Euripides, now lost, with this title. Tereus was sone of Ares and king of the Thracians in Daulis.

36. An allusion to the disastrous Sicilian Expedition (415-413 B.C.), in which many thousands of Athenians perished.

37. A later version of this translation renders this line, 'And all because of this erection that I can't get rid of!'

38. A spring so named within the precincts of the Acropolis.

39. The comic poets delighted in introducing Heracles (Hercules) on the stage as an insatiable glutton, whom the other characters were forever tantalizing by promising toothsome dished and then making him wait indefinitely for their arrival.

40. The Rhodian perfumes and unguents were less esteemed than the Syrian.

41. "Dog-fox,' nickname of a certain Philostratus, keeper of an Athenian brothel of note in Aristophanes' day.

42. phallus.

43. A staff in use among the Lacedaimonians for writing cipher dispatches. A strip of leather or paper was wound round the 'skytalé', on which the required message was written lengthwise, so that when unrolled it became unintelligible; the recipient abroad had a staff of the same thickness and pattern, and so was enabled by rewinding the document to decipher the words.

44. A later version of this translation renders this line, 'all the allies have erections.'

45. A city in Achaia, the acquisition of which had long been an object of Lacedaimonian ambition. To make the joke intelligible here, we must suppose Pellené was also the name of some notorious courtesan of the day.

46. A later version of this translation renders this line, 'they have kicked the men out from between their thighs.'

47. A later version of this translation renders this line, 'I will show them my own tool.'

48. A wattled cage or pen for pigs. A pigsty.

49. They had repeatedly dismissed successive Lacedaimonian embassies coming to propose terms of peace after the notable Athenian successes at Pylos, when the island of Sphacteria was captured and 600 Spartan citizens brought prisoners to Athens. Thsi was in 425 B.C., the seventh year of the war.

50. A later version of this translation renders this line, '...then take hold of his tool.'

51. A later version of this translation renders this line, 'Good Zeus, this erection is killing me!'

52. Chief of the Lacedaimonian embassy which came to Athens, after the earthquake of 464 B.C., which almost anihilated the town of Sparta, to invoke the help of the Athenians against the revolted Messenians and helots.

53. Echinus was a town on the Thessalian coast, at the entrance to the Maliac Gulf, near Thermopylae and opposite the northern end of the Athenian island of Euboea. By the 'legs of Megara' are meant the two 'long walls' or lines of fortifications connecting the city of Megara with its seaport Nisaea--in the same way as Piraeus was joined to Athens.

54. A later version of this translation renders this line, 'Why, we are all erected;'

55. Clitagoras was a composer of drinking songs, Telamon of war songs.

56. Amyclae, an ancient town on the Eurotas river within two or three miles of Sparta, the traditional birthplace of Castor and Pollux; here stood a famous and magnificent Temple of Apollo. "Of the Brazen House," a surname of Athené, from the temple dedicated to her worship at Chalcis in Euboea, the walls of which were covered with plates of brass. "Sons of Tyndarus," that is, Castor and Pollux, "the great twin brethren," held in peculiar revernce in Sparta.