6 Lysistrata – Part II
But won’t the men
March straight against us?
And what if they do?
No threat shall creak our hinges wide, no torch
Shall light a fear in us; we will come out
To Peace alone.
That’s it, by Aphrodite!
As of old let us seem hard and obdurate.
LAMPITO and some go off; the others go up into the Acropolis.
Chorus of OLD MEN enter to attack the captured Acropolis.
Make room, Draces, move ahead; why your shoulder’s chafed, I see,
With lugging uphill these lopped branches of the olive-tree.
How upside-down and wrong-way-round a long life sees things grow.
Ah, Strymodorus, who’d have thought affairs could tangle so?
The women whom at home we fed,
Like witless fools, with fostering bread,
Have impiously come to this–
They’ve stolen the Acropolis,
With bolts and bars our orders flout
And shut us out.
Come, Philurgus, bustle thither; lay our faggots on the ground,
In neat stacks beleaguering the insurgents all around;
And the vile conspiratresses, plotters of such mischief dire,
Pile and burn them all together in one vast and righteous pyre:
Fling with our own hands Lycon’s wife to fry in the thickest fire.
By Demeter, they’ll get no brag while I’ve a vein to beat!
Cleomenes himself was hurtled out in sore defeat.
His stiff-backed Spartan pride was bent.
Out, stripped of all his arms, he went:
A pigmy cloak that would not stretch
To hide his rump (the draggled wretch),
Six sprouting years of beard, the spilth
Of six years’ filth.
That was a siege! Our men were ranged in lines of seventeen deep
Before the gates, and never left their posts there, even to sleep.
Shall I not smite the rash presumption then of foes like these,
Detested both of all the gods and of Euripides–
Else, may the Marathon-plain not boast my trophied victories!
Ah, now, there’s but a little space
To reach the place!
A deadly climb it is, a tricky road
With all this bumping load:
A pack-ass soon would tire….
How these logs bruise my shoulders! further still
Jog up the hill,
And puff the fire inside,
Or just as we reach the top we’ll find it’s died.
I choke with the smoke.
Lord Heracles, how acrid-hot
Out of the pot
This mad-dog smoke leaps, worrying me
And biting angrily….
‘Tis Lemnian fire that smokes,
Or else it would not sting my eyelids thus….
Haste, all of us;
Athene invokes our aid.
Laches, now or never the assault must be made!
I choke with the smoke. ..
Thanked be the gods! The fire peeps up and crackles as it should.
Now why not first slide off our backs these weary loads of wood
And dip a vine-branch in the brazier till it glows, then straight
Hurl it at the battering-ram against the stubborn gate?
If they refuse to draw the bolts in immediate compliance,
We’ll set fire to the wood, and smoke will strangle their defiance.
Phew, what a spluttering drench of smoke! Come, now from off my back….
Is there no Samos-general to help me to unpack?
Ah there, that’s over! For the last time now it’s galled my shoulder.
Flare up thine embers, brazier, and dutifully smoulder,
To kindle a brand, that I the first may strike the citadel.
Aid me, Lady Victory, that a triumph-trophy may tell
How we did anciently this insane audacity quell!
Chorus of WOMEN.
What’s that rising yonder? That ruddy glare, that smoky skurry?
O is it something in a blaze? Quick, quick, my comrades, hurry!
Or poor Calyce’s in flames
And Cratylla’s stifled in the welter.
O these dreadful old men
And their dark laws of hate!
There, I’m all of a tremble lest I turn out to be too late.
I could scarcely get near to the spring though I rose before dawn,
What with tattling of tongues and rattling of pitchers in one jostling din
With slaves pushing in!….
Still here at last the water’s drawn
And with it eagerly I run
To help those of my friends who stand
In danger of being burned alive.
For I am told a dribbling band
Of greybeards hobble to the field,
Great faggots in each palsied hand,
As if a hot bath to prepare,
And threatening that out they’ll drive
These wicked women or soon leave them charring into ashes
O Goddess, suffer not, I pray, this harsh deed to be done,
But show us Greece and Athens with their warlike acts repealed!
For this alone, in this thy hold,
Thou Goddess with the helm of gold,
We laid hands on thy sanctuary,
Athene…. Then our ally be
And where they cast their fires of slaughter
Direct our water!
Let me go!
You villainous old men, what’s this you do?
No honest man, no pious man, could do such things as you.
Ah ha, here’s something most original, I have no doubt:
A swarm of women sentinels to man the walls without.
So then we scare you, do we? Do we seem a fearful host?
You only see the smallest fraction mustered at this post.
Ho, Phaedrias, shall we put a stop to all these chattering tricks?
Suppose that now upon their backs we splintered these our sticks?
Let us lay down the pitchers, so our bodies will be free,
In case these lumping fellows try to cause some injury.
O hit them hard and hit again and hit until they run away,
And perhaps they’ll learn, like Bupalus, not to have too much to say.
Come on, then–do it! I won’t budge, but like a dog I’ll bite
At every little scrap of meat that dangles in my sight.
Be quiet, or I’ll bash you out of any years to come.
Now you just touch Stratyllis with the top-joint of your thumb.
What vengeance can you take if with my fists your face I beat?
I’ll rip you with my teeth and strew your entrails at your feet.
Now I appreciate Euripides’ strange subtlety:
Woman is the most shameless beast of all the beasts that be.
Rhodippe, come, and let’s pick up our water-jars once more.
Ah cursed drab, what have you brought this water for?
What is your fire for then, you smelly corpse? Yourself to burn?
To build a pyre and make your comrades ready for the urn.
And I’ve the water to put out your fire immediately.
What, you put out my fire?
Yes, sirrah, as you soon will see.
I don’t know why I hesitate to roast you with this flame.
If you have any soap you’ll go off cleaner than you came.
Cleaner, you dirty slut?
A nuptial-bath in which to lie!
Did you hear that insolence?
I’m a free woman, I.
I’ll make you hold your tongue.
Henceforth you’ll serve in no more juries.
Burn off her hair for her.
Now forward, water, quench their furies!
O dear, O dear!
So … was it hot?
Hot! … Enough, O hold.
Watered, perhaps you’ll bloom again–why not?
Brrr, I’m wrinkled up from shivering with cold.
Next time you’ve fire you’ll warm yourself and leave us to our lot.
MAGISTRATE enters with attendant SCYTHIANS.
Have the luxurious rites of the women glittered
Their libertine show, their drumming tapped out crowds,
The Sabazian Mysteries summoned their mob,
Adonis been wept to death on the terraces,
As I could hear the last day in the Assembly?
For Demostratus–let bad luck befoul him–
Was roaring, “We must sail for Sicily,”
While a woman, throwing herself about in a dance
Lopsided with drink, was shrilling out “Adonis,
Woe for Adonis.” Then Demostratus shouted,
“We must levy hoplites at Zacynthus,”
And there the woman, up to the ears in wine,
Was screaming “Weep for Adonis” on the house-top,
The scoundrelly politician, that lunatic ox,
Bellowing bad advice through tipsy shrieks:
Such are the follies wantoning in them.
O if you knew their full effrontery!
All of the insults they’ve done, besides sousing us
With water from their pots to our public disgrace
For we stand here wringing our clothes like grown-up infants.
By Poseidon, justly done! For in part with us
The blame must lie for dissolute behaviour
And for the pampered appetites they learn.
Thus grows the seedling lust to blossoming:
We go into a shop and say, “Here, goldsmith,
You remember the necklace that you wrought my wife;
Well, the other night in fervour of a dance
Her clasp broke open. Now I’m off for Salamis;
If you’ve the leisure, would you go tonight
And stick a bolt-pin into her opened clasp.”
Another goes to a cobbler; a soldierly fellow,
Always standing up erect, and says to him,
“Cobbler, a sandal-strap of my wife’s pinches her,
Hurts her little toe in a place where she’s sensitive.
Come at noon and see if you can stretch out wider
This thing that troubles her, loosen its tightness.”
And so you view the result. Observe my case–
I, a magistrate, come here to draw
Money to buy oar-blades, and what happens?
The women slam the door full in my face.
But standing still’s no use. Bring me a crowbar,
And I’ll chastise this their impertinence.
What do you gape at, wretch, with dazzled eyes?
Peering for a tavern, I suppose.
Come, force the gates with crowbars, prise them apart!
I’ll prise away myself too…. (LYSISTRATA appears.)
Stop this banging.
I’m coming of my own accord…. Why bars?
It is not bars we need but common sense.
Indeed, you slut! Where is the archer now?
Arrest this woman, tie her hands behind.
If he brushes me with a finger, by Artemis,
The public menial, he’ll be sorry for it.
Are you afraid? Grab her about the middle.
Two of you then, lay hands on her and end it.
By Pandrosos I if your hand touches her
I’ll spread you out and trample on your guts.
My guts! Where is the other archer gone?
Bind that minx there who talks so prettily.
By Phosphor, if your hand moves out her way
You’d better have a surgeon somewhere handy.
You too! Where is that archer? Take that woman.
I’ll put a stop to these surprise-parties.
By the Tauric Artemis, one inch nearer
My fingers, and it’s a bald man that’ll be yelling.
Tut tut, what’s here? Deserted by my archers….
But surely women never can defeat us;
Close up your ranks, my Scythians. Forward at them.
By the Goddesses, you’ll find that here await you
Four companies of most pugnacious women
Armed cap-a-pie from the topmost louring curl
To the lowest angry dimple.
On, Scythians, bind them.
On, gallant allies of our high design,
Vendors of grain-eggs-pulse-and-vegetables,
Ye garlic-tavern-keepers of bakeries,
Strike, batter, knock, hit, slap, and scratch our foes,
Be finely imprudent, say what you think of them….
Enough! retire and do not rob the dead.
How basely did my archer-force come off.
Ah, ha, you thought it was a herd of slaves
You had to tackle, and you didn’t guess
The thirst for glory ardent in our blood.
By Apollo, I know well the thirst that heats you–
Especially when a wine-skin’s close.
You waste your breath, dear magistrate, I fear, in answering back.
What’s the good of argument with such a rampageous pack?
Remember how they washed us down (these very clothes I wore)
With water that looked nasty and that smelt so even more.
What else to do, since you advanced too dangerously nigh.
If you should do the same again, I’ll punch you in the eye.
Though I’m a stay-at-home and most a quiet life enjoy,
Polite to all and every (for I’m naturally coy),
Still if you wake a wasps’ nest then of wasps you must beware.
How may this ferocity be tamed? It grows too great to bear.
Let us question them and find if they’ll perchance declare
The reason why they strangely dare
To seize on Cranaos’ citadel,
This eyrie inaccessible,
This shrine above the precipice,
Probe them and find what they mean with this idle talk; listen,
but watch they don’t try to deceive.
You’d be neglecting your duty most certainly if now this mystery
unplumbed you leave.
Women there! Tell what I ask you, directly….
Come, without rambling, I wish you to state
What’s your rebellious intention in barring up thus on our noses
our own temple-gate.
To take first the treasury out of your management, and so stop the war
through the absence of gold.
Is gold then the cause of the war?
Yes, gold caused it and miseries more, too many to be told.
‘Twas for money, and money alone, that Pisander with all of the army of
Raised up revolutions. But, as for the future, it won’t be worth while
to set up to be traitors.
Not an obol they’ll get as their loot, not an obol! while we have the
treasure-chest in our command.
What then is that you propose?
Just this–merely to take the exchequer henceforth in hand.
Yes, why not? Of our capabilities you have had various clear evidences.
Firstly remember we have always administered soundly the budget of all
But this matter’s different.
How is it different?
Why, it deals chiefly with war-time supplies.
But we abolish war straight by our policy.
What will you do if emergencies arise?
Face them our own way.
What you will?
Yes we will!
Then there’s no help for it; we’re all destroyed.
No, willy-nilly you must be safeguarded.
What madness is this?
Why, it seems you’re annoyed.
It must be done, that’s all.
Such awful oppression never,
O never in the past yet I bore.
You must be saved, sirrah–that’s all there is to it.
If we don’t want to be saved?
All the more.
Why do you women come prying and meddling in matters of state touching
war-time and peace?
That I will tell you.
O tell me or quickly I’ll–
Hearken awhile and from threatening cease.
I cannot, I cannot; it’s growing too insolent.
Come on; you’ve far more than we have to dread.
Stop from your croaking, old carrion-crow there….
Be calm then and I’ll go ahead.
All the long years when the hopeless war dragged along we, unassuming,
forgotten in quiet,
Endured without question, endured in our loneliness all your incessant
child’s antics and riot.
Our lips we kept tied, though aching with silence, though well all the
while in our silence we knew
How wretchedly everything still was progressing by listening dumbly the
day long to you.
For always at home you continued discussing the war and its politics
loudly, and we
Sometimes would ask you, our hearts deep with sorrowing though we spoke
lightly, though happy to see,
“What’s to be inscribed on the side of the Treaty-stone
What, dear, was said in the Assembly today?”
“Mind your own business,” he’d answer me growlingly
“hold your tongue, woman, or else go away.”
And so I would hold it.
I’d not be silent for any man living on earth, no, not I!
Not for a staff?
Well, so I did nothing but sit in the house, feeling dreary, and sigh,
While ever arrived some fresh tale of decisions more foolish by far and
Then I would say to him, “O my dear husband, why still do they rush on
destruction the faster?”
At which he would look at me sideways, exclaiming, “Keep for your web
and your shuttle your care,
Or for some hours hence your cheeks will be sore and hot; leave this
alone, war is Man’s sole affair!”
By Zeus, but a man of fine sense, he.
You dotard, because he at no time had lent
His intractable ears to absorb from our counsel one temperate word of
advice, kindly meant?
But when at the last in the streets we heard shouted (everywhere ringing
the ominous cry)
“Is there no one to help us, no saviour in Athens?” and, “No, there is
no one,” come back in reply.
At once a convention of all wives through Hellas here for a serious
purpose was held,
To determine how husbands might yet back to wisdom despite their
reluctance in time be compelled.
Why then delay any longer? It’s settled. For the future you’ll take
up our old occupation.
Now in turn you’re to hold tongue, as we did, and listen while we show
the way to recover the nation.
You talk to us! Why, you’re mad. I’ll not stand it.
Cease babbling, you fool; till I end, hold your tongue.
If I should take orders from one who wears veils, may my
neck straightaway be deservedly wrung.
O if that keeps pestering you,
I’ve a veil here for your hair,
I’ll fit you out in everything
As is only fair.
Here’s a spindle that will do.
I’ll add a wool-basket too.
Girdled now sit humbly at home,
Munching beans, while you card wool and comb. For war from now on
is the Women’s affair.
Come then, down pitchers, all,
And on, courageous of heart,
In our comradely venture
Each taking her due part.
I could dance, dance, dance, and be fresher after,
I could dance away numberless suns,
To no weariness let my knees bend.
Earth I could brave with laughter,
Having such wonderful girls here to friend.
O the daring, the gracious, the beautiful ones!
Their courage unswerving and witty
Will rescue our city.
O sprung from the seed of most valiant-wombed grand-mothers,
scions of savage and dangerous nettles!
Prepare for the battle, all. Gird up your angers. Our way
the wind of sweet victory settles.
O tender Eros and Lady of Cyprus, some flush of beauty I
pray you devise
To flash on our bosoms and, O Aphrodite, rosily gleam on
our valorous thighs!
Joy will raise up its head through the legions warring and
all of the far-serried ranks of mad-love
Bristle the earth to the pillared horizon, pointing in vain to
the heavens above.
I think that perhaps then they’ll give us our title–
What do you mean? Please explain.
First, we’ll not see you now flourishing arms about into the
Marketing-place clang again.
No, by the Paphian.
Still I can conjure them as past were the herbs stand or crockery’s sold
Like Corybants jingling (poor sots) fully armoured, they noisily round
on their promenade strolled.
And rightly; that’s discipline, they–
But what’s sillier than to go on an errand of buying a fish
Carrying along an immense. Gorgon-buckler instead the usual platter
A phylarch I lately saw, mounted on horse-back, dressed for the part
with long ringlets and all,
Stow in his helmet the omelet bought steaming from an old woman who
kept a food-stall.
Nearby a soldier, a Thracian, was shaking wildly his spear like Tereus
in the play,
To frighten a fig-girl while unseen the ruffian filched from her
fruit-trays the ripest away.
How, may I ask, will your rule re-establish order and justice in lands
Nothing is easier.
Out with it speedily–what is this plan that you boast you’ve invented?
If, when yarn we are winding, It chances to tangle, then, as perchance you
may know, through the skein
This way and that still the spool we keep passing till it is finally clear
So to untangle the War and its errors, ambassadors out on all sides we will
This way and that, here, there and round about–soon you will find that the
War has an end.
So with these trivial tricks of the household, domestic analogies of
threads, skeins and spools,
You think that you’ll solve such a bitter complexity, unwind such political
problems, you fools!
Well, first as we wash dirty wool so’s to cleanse it, so with a pitiless
zeal we will scrub
Through the whole city for all greasy fellows; burrs too, the parasites,
off we will rub.
That verminous plague of insensate place-seekers soon between thumb and
forefinger we’ll crack.
All who inside Athens’ walls have their dwelling into one great common
basket we’ll pack.
Disenfranchised or citizens, allies or aliens, pell-mell the lot of them
in we will squeeze.
Till they discover humanity’s meaning…. As for disjointed and far
Them you must never from this time imagine as scattered about just like
lost hanks of wool.
Each portion we’ll take and wind in to this centre, inward to Athens
each loyalty pull,
Till from the vast heap where all’s piled together at last can be woven
a strong Cloak of State.
How terrible is it to stand here and watch them carding and winding at
will with our fate,
Witless in war as they are.
What of us then, who ever in vain for our children must weep
Borne but to perish afar and in vain?
Not that, O let that one memory sleep!
Then while we should be companioned still merrily, happy as brides may,
the livelong night,
Kissing youth by, we are forced to lie single…. But leave for a moment
our pitiful plight,
It hurts even more to behold the poor maidens helpless wrinkling in
Does not a man age?
Not in the same way. Not as a woman grows withered, grows he.
He, when returned from the war, though grey-headed, yet
if he wishes can choose out a wife.
But she has no solace save peering for omens, wretched and
lonely the rest of her life.
But the old man will often select–
O why not finish and die?
A bier is easy to buy,
A honey-cake I’ll knead you with joy,
This garland will see you are decked.
I’ve a wreath for you too.
I also will fillet you.
What more is lacking? Step aboard the boat.
See, Charon shouts ahoy.
You’re keeping him, he wants to shove afloat.
Outrageous insults! Thus my place to flout!
Now to my fellow-magistrates I’ll go
And what you’ve perpetrated on me show.
Why are you blaming us for laying you out?
Assure yourself we’ll not forget to make
The third day offering early for your sake.
MAGISTRATE retires, LYSISTRATA returns within.
All men who call your loins your own, awake at last, arise
And strip to stand in readiness. For as it seems to me
Some more perilous offensive in their heads they now devise.
I’m sure a Tyranny
Like that of Hippias
In this I detect….
They mean to put us under
Themselves I suspect,
And that Laconians assembling
At Cleisthenes’ house have played
A trick-of-war and provoked them
Madly to raid
The Treasury, in which term I include
The Pay for my food.
For is it not preposterous
They should talk this way to us
On a subject such as battle!
And, women as they are, about bronze bucklers dare prattle–
Make alliance with the Spartans–people I for one
Like very hungry wolves would always most sincere shun….
Some dirty game is up their sleeve,
A Tyranny, no doubt… but they won’t catch me, that know.
Henceforth on my guard I’ll go,
A sword with myrtle-branches wreathed for ever in my hand,
And under arms in the Public Place I’ll take my watchful stand,
Shoulder to shoulder with Aristogeiton. Now my staff I’ll draw
And start at once by knocking
Hag upon the jaw.
Your own mother will not know you when you get back to the town.
But first, my friends and allies, let us lay these garments down,
And all ye fellow-citizens, hark to me while I tell
What will aid Athens well.
Just as is right, for I
Have been a sharer
In all the lavish splendour
Of the proud city.
I bore the holy vessels
At seven, then
I pounded barley
At the age of ten,
And clad in yellow robes,
Soon after this,
I was Little Bear to
Then neckletted with figs,
Grown tall and pretty,
I was a Basket-bearer,
And so it’s obvious I should
Give you advice that I think good,
The very best I can.
It should not prejudice my voice that I’m not born a man,
If I say something advantageous to the present situation.
For I’m taxed too, and as a toll provide men for the nation
While, miserable greybeards, you,
It is true,
Contribute nothing of any importance whatever to our needs;
But the treasure raised against the Medes
You’ve squandered, and do nothing in return, save that you make
Our lives and persons hazardous by some imbecile mistakes
What can you answer? Now be careful, don’t arouse my spite,
Or with my slipper I’ll take you napping,
Left and right.
What villainies they contrive!
Come, let vengeance fall,
You that below the waist are still alive,
Off with your tunics at my call–
For a man must strip to battle like a man.
No quaking, brave steps taking, careless what’s ahead, white shoed,
in the nude, onward bold,
All ye who garrisoned Leipsidrion of old….
Let each one wag
As youthfully as he can,
And if he has the cause at heart
Rise at least a span.
We must take a stand and keep to it,
For if we yield the smallest bit
To their importunity.
Then nowhere from their inroads will be left to us immunity.
But they’ll be building ships and soon their navies will attack us,
As Artemisia did, and seek to fight us and to sack us.
And if they mount, the Knights they’ll rob
Of a job,
For everyone knows how talented they all are in the saddle,
Having long practised how to straddle;
No matter how they’re jogged there up and down, they’re never thrown.
Then think of Myron’s painting, and each horse-backed Amazon
In combat hand-to-hand with men…. Come, on these women fall,
And in pierced wood-collars let’s stick
The necks of one and all.
Don’t cross me or I’ll loose
The Beast that’s kennelled here….
And soon you will be howling for a truce,
Howling out with fear.
But my dear,
Strip also, that women may battle unhindered….
But you, you’ll be too sore to eat garlic more, or one black bean,
I really mean, so great’s my spleen, to kick you black and blue
With these my dangerous legs.
I’ll hatch the lot of you,
If my rage you dash on,
The way the relentless Beetle
Hatched the Eagle’s eggs.
Scornfully aside I set
Every silly old-man threat
While Lampito’s with me.
Or dear Ismenia, the noble Theban girl. Then let decree
Be hotly piled upon decree; in vain will be your labours,
You futile rogue abominated by your suffering neighbour
To Hecate’s feast I yesterday went.
Off I sent
To our neighbours in Boeotia, asking as a gift to me
For them to pack immediately
That darling dainty thing … a good fat eel  I meant of course;
[Footnote 1:Vide supra, p. 23.]
But they refused because some idiotic old decree’s in force.
O this strange passion for decrees nothing on earth can check,
Till someone puts a foot out tripping you,
and slipping you
Break your neck.
LYSISTRATA enters in dismay.
Dear Mistress of our martial enterprise,
Why do you come with sorrow in your eyes?
O ’tis our naughty femininity,
So weak in one spot, that hath saddened me.
What’s this? Please speak.
Poor women, O so weak!
What can it be? Surely your friends may know.
Yea, I must speak it though it hurt me so.
Speak; can we help? Don’t stand there mute in need.
I’ll blurt it out then–our women’s army’s mutinied.
What use is Zeus to our anatomy?
Here is the gaping calamity I meant:
I cannot shut their ravenous appetites
A moment more now. They are all deserting.
The first I caught was sidling through the postern
Close by the Cave of Pan: the next hoisting herself
With rope and pulley down: a third on the point
Of slipping past: while a fourth malcontent, seated
For instant flight to visit Orsilochus
On bird-back, I dragged off by the hair in time….
They are all snatching excuses to sneak home.
Look, there goes one…. Hey, what’s the hurry?
I must get home. I’ve some Milesian wool
Packed wasting away, and moths are pushing through it.
Fine moths indeed, I know. Get back within.
By the Goddesses, I’ll return instantly.
I only want to stretch it on my bed.
You shall stretch nothing and go nowhere either.
Must I never use my wool then?
If needs be.
How unfortunate I am! O my poor flax!
It’s left at home unstript.
So here’s another
That wishes to go home and strip her flax.
No, by the Goddess of Light,
I’ll be back as soon as I have flayed it properly.
You’ll not flay anything. For if you begin
There’ll not be one here but has a patch to be flayed.
O holy Eilithyia, stay this birth
Till I have left the precincts of the place!
What nonsense is this?
I’ll drop it any minute.
Yesterday you weren’t with child.
But I am today.
O let me find a midwife, Lysistrata.
Now what story is this you tell?
What is this hard lump here?
It’s a male child.
By Aphrodite, it isn’t. Your belly’s hollow,
And it has the feel of metal…. Well, I soon can see.
You hussy, it’s Athene’s sacred helm,
And you said you were with child.
And so I am.
Then why the helm?
So if the throes should take me
Still in these grounds I could use it like a dove
As a laying-nest in which to drop the child.
More pretexts! You can’t hide your clear intent,
And anyway why not wait till the tenth day
Meditating a brazen name for your brass brat?
And I can’t sleep a wink. My nerve is gone
Since I saw that snake-sentinel of the shrine.
And all those dreadful owls with their weird hooting!
Though I’m wearied out, I can’t close an eye.
You wicked women, cease from juggling lies.
You want your men. But what of them as well?
They toss as sleepless in the lonely night,
I’m sure of it. Hold out awhile, hold out,
But persevere a teeny-weeny longer.
An oracle has promised Victory
If we don’t wrangle. Would you hear the words?
Yes, yes, what is it?
Silence then, you chatterboxes.
Whenas the swallows flocking in one place from the hoopoes
Deny themselves love’s gambols any more,
All woes shall then have ending and great Zeus the Thunderer
Shall put above what was below before.
Will the men then always be kept under us?
But if the swallows squabble among themselves and fly away
Out of the temple, refusing to agree,
Then The Most Wanton Birds in all the World
They shall be named for ever. That’s his decree.
It’s obvious what it means.
Now by all the gods
We must let no agony deter from duty,
Back to your quarters. For we are base indeed,
My friends, if we betray the oracle.
She goes out.
I’d like to remind you of a fable they used to employ,
When I was a little boy:
How once through fear of the marriage-bed a young man,
Melanion by name, to the wilderness ran,
And there on the hills he dwelt.
For hares he wove a net
Which with his dog he set–
Most likely he’s there yet.
For he never came back home, so great was the fear he felt.
I loathe the sex as much as he,
And therefore I no less shall be
As chaste as was Melanion.
Grann’am, do you much mind men?
Onions you won’t need, to cry.
From my foot you shan’t escape.
What thick forests I espy.
So much Myronides’ fierce beard
And thundering black back were feared,
That the foe fled when they were shown–
Brave he as Phormion.
Well, I’ll relate a rival fable just to show to you
A different point of view:
There was a rough-hewn fellow, Timon, with a face
That glowered as through a thorn-bush in a wild, bleak place.
He too decided on flight,
This very Furies’ son,
All the world’s ways to shun
And hide from everyone,
Spitting out curses on all knavish men to left and right.
But though he reared this hate for men,
He loved the women even then,
And never thought them enemies.
O your jaw I’d like to break.
That I fear do you suppose?
Learn what kicks my legs can make.
Raise them up, and you’ll expose–