an insult from Ceres herself! At that date he would have floored

ten orators, he would have terrified three thousand Archers with his

shouts; he would have pierced the whole line of the enemy with his shafts.

Ah! but if you will not leave the aged in peace, decree that the advocates

be matched; thus the old man will only be confronted with a toothless

greybeard, the young will fight with the braggart, the ignoble

with the son of Clinias;[8] make a law that in the future, the old man

can only be summoned and convicted at the courts by the aged

and the young man by the youth.

f[1] The 'parabasis' in the Old Comedy was a sort of address or topical

harangue addressed directly by the poet, speaking by the Chorus,

to the audience. It was nearly always political in bearing, and the subject

of the particular piece was for the time being set aside altogether.

f[2] It will be remembered that Aristophanes owned land in Aegina.

f[3] Everything was made the object of a law-suit in Athens. The old

soldiers, inexpert at speaking, often lost the day.

f[4] A water-clock used to limit the length of speeches in the courts.

f[5] A braggart speaker, fiery and pugnacious.

f[6] Cephisodemus was an Athenian, but through his mother possessed

Scythian blood.

f[7] The city of Athens was policed by Scythian archers.

f[8] Alcibiades.


These are the confines of my market-place. All Peloponnesians,

Megarians, Boeotians, have the right to come and trade here,

provided they sell their wares to me and not to Lamachus. As

market-inspectors I appoint these three whips of Leprean[1] leather,

chosen by lot. Warned away are all informers and all men of Phasis.[2]

They are bringing me the pillar on which the treaty is inscribed[3] and

I shall erect it in the centre of the market, well in sight of all.

f[1] The leather market was held in Lepros, outside the city.

f[2] Mean an informer ([from the Greek] 'to denounce').

f[3] According to the Athenian custom.


Hail! market of Athens, beloved of Megarians. Let Zeus, the patron

of friendship, witness, I regretted you as a mother mourns her son.

Come, poor little daughters of an unfortunate father, try to find

something to eat; listen to me with the full heed of an empty belly.

Which would you prefer? To be sold or to cry with hunger?


To be sold, to be sold!


That is my opinion too. But who would make so sorry a deal as to

buy you? Ah! I recall me a Megarian trick; I am going to disguise

you as little porkers, that I am offering for sale. Fit your hands

with these hoofs and take care to appear the issue of a sow of good

breed, for, if I am forced to take you back to the house, by Hermes!

you will suffer cruelly of hunger! Then fix on these snouts and cram

yourselves into this sack. Forget not to grunt and to say wee-wee like

the little pigs that are sacrificed in the Mysteries. I must summon

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