asked them which of the two rival cities was the superior at sea,

and then immediately demanded at which it was that the comic poet

directed his biting satire. "Happy that city," he added, "if it

listens to his counsel; it will grow in power, and its victory is

assured." This is why the Lacedaemonians offer you peace, if you

will cede them Aegina; not that they care for the isle, but they

wish to rob you of your poet.[2] As for you, never lose him, who will

always fight for the cause of justice in his Comedies; he promises you

that his precepts will lead you to happiness, though he uses neither

flattery, nor bribery, nor intrigue, nor deceit; instead of loading

you with praise, he will point you to the better way. I scoff at

Cleon's tricks and plotting; honesty and justice shall fight my cause;

never will you find me a political poltroon, a prostitute to the

highest bidder.

I invoke thee, Acharnian Muse, fierce and fell as the devouring fire;

sudden as the spark that bursts from the crackling oaken coal when

roused by the quickening fan to fry little fishes, while others knead

the dough or whip the sharp Thasian pickle with rapid hand, so break

forth, my Muse, and inspire thy tribesmen with rough, vigorous,

stirring strains.

We others, now old men and heavy with years, we reproach the city;

so many are the victories we have gained for the Athenian fleets

that we well deserve to be cared for in our declining life; yet far

from this, we are ill-used, harassed with law-suits, delivered over to

the scorn of stripling orators. Our minds and bodies being ravaged

with age, Posidon should protect us, yet we have no other support than

a staff. When standing before the judge, we can scarcely stammer forth

the fewest words, and of justice we see but its barest shadow, whereas

the accuser, desirous of conciliating the younger men, overwhelms us

with his ready rhetoric; he drags us before the judge, presses us with

questions, lays traps for us; the onslaught troubles, upsets and ruins

poor old Tithonus, who, crushed with age, stands tongue-tied;

sentenced to a fine,[3] he weeps, he sobs and says to his friend,

"This fine robs me of the last trifle that was to have bought my coffin."

Is this not a scandal? What! the clepsydra[4] is to kill the

white-haired veteran, who, in fierce fighting, has so oft covered

himself with glorious sweat, whose valour at Marathon saved the

country! 'Twas we who pursued on the field of Marathon,

whereas now 'tis wretches who pursue us to the death and crush us!

What would Marpsias reply to this?[5] What an injustice that a man,

bent with age like Thucydides, should be brow-beaten by this braggart

advocate, Cephisodemus,[6] who is as savage as the Scythian desert

he was born in! Is it not to convict him from the outset? I wept tears

of pity when I saw an Archer[7] maltreat this old man, who, by Ceres,

when he was young and the true Thucydides, would not have permitted

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