TROCHILUS, Servant to Epops
Epops (the Hoopoe)
METON, a Geometrician
A DEALER IN DECREES
CINESIAS, a Dithyrambic Poet
SLAVES OF PITHETAERUS
CHORUS OF BIRDS
A wild and desolate region; only thickets, rocks, and a single
tree are seen. EUELPIDES and PITHETAERUS enter, each with a bird in
EUELPIDES to his jay
Do you think I should walk straight for yon tree?
PITHETAERUS to his crow
Cursed beast, what are you croaking to me?...to retrace my
Why, you wretch, we are wandering at random, we are exerting
ourselves only to return to the same spot; we're wasting our
To think that I should trust to this crow, which has made me
cover more than a thousand furlongs!
And that I, in obedience to this jay, should have worn my toes
down to the nails!
If only I knew where we were....
Could you find your country again from here?
No, I feel quite sure I could not, any more than could
Execestides find his.
Aye, aye, my friend, it's surely the road of "alases" we are
That Philocrates, the bird-seller, played us a scurvy trick,
when he pretended these two guides could help us to find Tereus,
the Epops, who is a bird, without being born of one. He has indeed
sold us this jay, a true son of Tharrhelides, for an obolus, and
this crow for three, but what can they do? Why, nothing whatever
but bite and scratch!
To his jay
What's the matter with you then, that you keep opening your
beak? Do you want us to fling ourselves headlong down these rocks?
There is no road that way.
Not even the vestige of a trail in any direction
And what does the crow say about the road to follow?
By Zeus, it no longer croaks the same thing it did.
And which way does it tell us to go now?
It says that, by dint of gnawing, it will devour my
What misfortune is ours! we strain every nerve to get to the
crows, do everything we can to that end, and we cannot find our
way! Yes, spectators, our madness is quite different from that of
Sacas. He is not a citizen, and would fain be one at any cost; we,
on the contrary, born of an honourable tribe and family and living
in the midst of our fellow-citizens, we have fled from our country
as hard as ever we could go. It's not that we hate it; we recognize
it to be great and rich, likewise that everyone has the right to
ruin himself paying taxes; but the crickets only chirrup among the
fig-trees for a month or two, whereas the Athenians spend their
whole lives in chanting forth judgments from their law-courts. That
is why we started off with a basket, a stew-pot and some myrtle
boughs! and have come to seek a quiet country in which to settle.
We are going to Tereus, the Epops, to learn from him, whether, in
his aerial flights, he has noticed some town of this kind.
What's the matter?
Why, the crow has been directing me to something up there for
some time now.
And the jay is also opening it beak and craning its neck to
show me I know not what. Clearly, there are some birds about here.
We shall soon know, if we kick up a noise to start them.
Do you know what to do? Knock your leg against this
And you your head to double the noise.
Well then use a stone instead; take one and hammer with
He does so.
Ho there, within! Slave! slave!
What's that, friend! You say, "slave," to summon Epops? It
would be much better to shout, "Epops, Epops!
Well then, Epops! Must I knock again? Epops!
TROCHILUS rushing out of a thicket
Who's there? Who calls my master?
PITHETAERUS in terror
Apollo the Deliverer! what an enormous beak!
He defecates. In the confusion both the jay and the crow fly
TROCHILUS equally frightened
Good god! they are bird-catchers.
EUELPIDES reassuring himself
But is it so terrible? Wouldn't it be better to explain
TROCHILUS also reassuring himself
You're done for.
But we are not men.
What are you, then?
EUELPIDES defecating also
I am the Fearling, an African bird.
You talk nonsense.
Well, then, just ask it of my feet.
And this other one, what bird is it?
I? I am a Crapple, from the land of the pheasants.
But you yourself, in the name of the gods! what animal are
Why, I am a slave-bird.
Why, have you been conquered by a cock?
No, but when my master was turned into a hoopoe, he begged me
to become a bird also, to follow and to serve him.
Does a bird need a servant, then?
That's no doubt because he was once a man. At times he wants
to eat a dish of sardines from Phalerum; I seize my dish and fly to
fetch him some. Again he wants some pea-soup; I seize a ladle and a
pot and run to get it.
This is, then, truly a running-bird. Come, Trochilus, do us
the kindness to call your master.
Why, he has just fallen asleep after a feed of myrtle-berries
and a few grubs.
Never mind; wake him up.
I an; certain he will be angry. However, I will wake him to
He goes back into the thicket.
PITHETAERUS as soon as TROCHILUS is out of sight
You cursed brute! why, I am almost dead with terror!