for your coals.

CHORUS

Great Gods! this basket is our fellow-citizen. Stop, stop,

in heaven's name!

DICAEOPOLIS

I shall dismember it despite your cries; I will listen to nothing.

CHORUS

How! will you kill this coal-basket, my beloved comrade?

DICAEOPOLIS

Just now, you would not listen to me.

CHORUS

Well, speak now, if you will; tell us, tell us you have a weakness

for the Lacedaemonians. I consent to anything; never will I forsake

this dear little basket.

DICAEOPOLIS

First, throw down your stones.

CHORUS

There! 'tis done. And you, do put away your sword.

DICAEOPOLIS

Let me see that no stones remain concealed in your cloaks.

CHORUS

They are all on the ground; see how we shake our garments. Come,

no haggling, lay down your sword; we threw away everything while

crossing from one side of the stage to the other.[1]

f[1] The stage of the Greek theatre was much broader, and at the same

time shallower, than in a modern playhouse.

DICAEOPOLIS

What cries of anguish you would have uttered had these coals of

Parnes[1] been dismembered, and yet it came very near it; had they

perished, their death would have been due to the folly of their

fellow-citizens. The poor basket was so frightened, look, it has

shed a thick black dust over me, the same as a cuttle-fish does.

What an irritable temper! You shout and throw stones, you will not

hear my arguments--not even when I propose to speak in favour of the

Lacedaemonians with my head on the block; and yet I cling to life.

f[1] A mountain in Attica, in the neighbourhood of Acharnae.

CHORUS

Well then, bring out a block before your door, scoundrel, and

let us hear the good grounds you can give us; I am curious to know

them. Now mind, as you proposed yourself, place your head on the block

and speak.

DICAEOPOLIS

Here is the block; and, though I am but a very sorry speaker, I

wish nevertheless to talk freely of the Lacedaemonians and without the

protection of my buckler. Yet I have many reasons for fear. I know our

rustics; they are delighted if some braggart comes, and rightly or

wrongly, loads both them and their city with praise and flattery; they

do not see that such toad-eaters[1] are traitors, who sell them for gain.

As for the old men, I know their weakness; they only seek to overwhelm

the accused with their votes.[2] Nor have I forgotten how Cleon treated

me because of my comedy last year;[3] he dragged me before the Senate

and there he uttered endless slanders against me; 'twas a tempest of

abuse, a deluge of lies. Through what a slough of mud he dragged me! I

almost perished. Permit me, therefore, before I speak, to dress in the

manner most likely to draw pity.

f[1] Orators in the pay of the enemy.

f[2] Satire on the Athenians' addiction to law-suits.

f[3] 'The Babylonians.' Cleon had denounced Aristophanes to the Senate for

having scoffed at Athens before strangers, many of whom were present at

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