CHORUS OF KNIGHTS
The Orchestra represents the Pnyx
at Athens; in the back- ground is the house of DEMOS.
Oh! alas! alas! alas! Oh! woe!
oh! woe! Miserable Paphlagonian! may the gods destroy both him and
his cursed advice! Since that evil day when this new slave entered
the house he has never ceased belabouring us with blows.
May the plague seize him, the
arch-fiend-him and his lying tales!
Hah! my poor fellow, what is your
Very wretched, just like your
Then come, let us sing a duet of
groans in the style of Olympus.
DEMOSTHENES AND NICIAS
Boo, hoo! boo, hoo! boo, hoo!
boo, hoo! boo, hoo! boo, hoo!!
Bah! it's lost labour to weep!
Enough of groaning! Let us consider now to save our pelts.
But how to do it! Can you suggest
No, you begin. I cede you the
By Apollo! no, not I. Come, have
courage! Speak, and then I will say what I think.
DEMOSTHENES in tragic style
"Ah! would you but tell me what I
should tell you!
I dare not. How could I express
my thoughts with the pomp of Euripides?
Oh! please spare me! Do not pelt
me with those vegetables, but find some way of leaving our
Well, then! Say "Let-us-bolt,"
like this, in one breath.
I follow you-'Let-us-bolt."
Now after "Let-us-bolt" say
Splendid! just as if you were
masturbating; first slowly, "Let-us-bolt"; then quick and firmly,
Hah! does that not please
Yes, indeed, yet I fear your omen
bodes no good to my hide.
Because masturbation chafes the
The best thing we can do for the
moment is to throw ourselves at the feet of the statue of some
Of which statue? Any statue? Do
you then believe there are gods?
What proof have you?
The proof that they have taken a
grudge against me. Is that not enough?
I'm convinced it is. But to pass
on. Do you consent to my telling the spectators of our
There's nothing wrong with that,
and we might ask them to show us by their manner, whether our facts
and actions are to their liking.
I will begin then. We have a very
brutal master, a perfect glutton for beans, and most bad-tempered;
it's Demos of the Pnyx, an intolerable old man and half deaf. The
beginning of last month he bought a slave, a Paphlagonian tanner,
an arrant rogue, the incarnation of calumny. This man of leather
knows his old master thoroughly; he plays the fawning cur,
flatters, cajoles, wheedles, and dupes him at will with little
scraps of leavings, which he allows him to get. "Dear Demos," he
will say, "try a single case and you will have done enough; then
take your bath, eat, swallow and devour; here are three obols."
Then the Paphlagonian filches from one of us what we have prepared
and makes a present of it to our old man. The other day I had just
kneaded a Spartan cake at Pylos, the cunning rogue came behind my
back, sneaked it and offered the cake, which was my invention, in
his own name. He keeps us at a distance and suffers none but
himself to wait upon the master; when Demos is dining, he keeps
close to his side with a thong in his hand and puts the orators to
flight. He keeps singing oracles to him, so that the old man now
thinks of nothing but the Sibyl. Then, when he sees him thoroughly
obfuscated, he uses all his cunning and piles up lies and calumnies
against the household; then we are scourged and the Paphlagonian
runs about among the slaves to demand contributions with threats
and gathers them in with both hands. He will say, "You see how I
have had Hylas beaten! Either content me or die at once!" We are
forced to give, for otherwise the old man tramples on us and makes
us crap forth all our body contains.
There must be an end to it,
friend Let us see! what can be done? Who will get us out of this
The best thing, friend, is our
But none can escape the
Paphlagonian, his eye is everywhere. And what a stride! He has one
leg on Pylos and the other in the Assembly; his arse gapes exactly
over the land of the Chaonians, his hands are with the Aetolians
and his mind with the Clopidians.
It's best then to die; but let us
seek the most heroic death.
Let me think, what is the most
Let us drink the blood of a bull;
that's the death Themistocles chose.
No, not that, but a bumper of
good unmixed wine in honour of the Good Genius; perchance we may
stumble on a happy thought.
Look at him! "Unmixed wine!" Your
mind is on drink intent? Can a man strike out a brilliant thought
Without question. Go, ninny, blow
yourself out with water; do you dare to accuse wine of clouding the
reason? Quote me more marvellous effects than those of wine. Look!
when a man drinks, he is rich, everything he touches succeeds, he
gains lawsuits, is happy and helps his friends. Come, bring hither
quick a flagon of wine, that I may soak my brain and get an
My God! What can your drinking do
to help us?
Much. But bring it to me, while I
take my seat. Once drunk, I shall strew little ideas, little
phrases, little reasonings everywhere.
NICIAS enters the house and
returns almost immediately with a bottle.
It is lucky I was not caught in
the house stealing the wine.
Tell me, what is the Paphlagonian