which it is impossible to keep in English. Apparently the Athenians
had sent embassies to all parts of the Greek world to arrange treaties
of alliance in view of the struggle with the Lacedaemonians; but only
young debauchees of aristocratic connections had been chosen as envoys.
They were elected.
And why do you always receive your pay, when none of these
others ever gets any? Speak, Marilades, you have grey hair; well then,
have you ever been entrusted with a mission? See! he shakes his
head. Yet he is an active as well as a prudent man. And you, Dracyllus,
Euphorides or Prinides, have you knowledge of Ecbatana or
Chaonia? You say no, do you not? Such offices are good for the son
of Caesyra and Lamachus, who, but yesterday ruined with debt, never
pay their shot, and whom all their friends avoid as foot passengers
dodge the folks who empty their slops out of window.
f A contemporary orator apparently, otherwise unknown.
Oh! in freedom's name! are such exaggerations to be borne?
Lamachus is well content; no doubt he is well paid, you know.
But I propose always to war with the Peloponnesians, both at sea, on land
and everywhere to make them tremble, and trounce them soundly.
For my own part, I make proclamation to all Peloponnesians,
Megarians and Boeotians, that to them my markets are open; but I debar
Lamachus from entering them.
Convinced by this man's speech, the folk have changed their view
and approve him for having concluded peace. But let us prepare for the
recital of the parabasis.
Never since our poet presented Comedies, has he praised himself
upon the stage; but, having been slandered by his enemies amongst
the volatile Athenians, accused of scoffing at his country and of
insulting the people, to-day he wishes to reply and regain for himself
the inconstant Athenians. He maintains that he has done much that is
good for you; if you no longer allow yourselves to be too much
hoodwinked by strangers or seduced by flattery, if in politics you are
no longer the ninnies you once were, it is thanks to him. Formerly,
when delegates from other cities wanted to deceive you, they had but
to style you, "the people crowned with violets," and at the word
"violets" you at once sat erect on the tips of your bums. Or if, to
tickle your vanity, someone spoke of "rich and sleek Athens," in
return for that "sleekness" he would get all, because he spoke of you
as he would have of anchovies in oil. In cautioning you against
such wiles, the poet has done you great service as well as
in forcing you to understand what is really the democratic
principle. Thus, the strangers, who came to pay their tributes,
wanted to see this great poet, who had dared to speak the truth to
Athens. And so far has the fame of his boldness reached that one day
the Great King, when questioning the Lacedaemonian delegates, firstDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>