DICAEOPOLIS

Of what King? I am sick of all those fine birds, the peacock

ambassadors and their swagger.

HERALD

Silence!

DICAEOPOLIS

Oh! oh! by Ecbatana,[1] what a costume!

f[1] The summer residence of the Great King.

AN AMBASSADOR

During the archonship of Euthymenes, you sent us to the Great King

on a salary of two drachmae per diem.

DICAEOPOLIS

Ah! those poor drachmae!

AMBASSADOR

We suffered horribly on the plains of the Cayster, sleeping under a tent,

stretched deliciously on fine chariots, half dead with weariness.

DICAEOPOLIS

And I was very much at ease, lying on the straw along the

battlements![1]

f[1] Referring to the hardships he had endured garrisoning the walls of

Athens during the Lacedaemonian invasions early in the War.

AMBASSADOR

Everywhere we were well received and forced to drink delicious

wine out of golden or crystal flagons....

DICAEOPOLIS

Oh, city of Cranaus,[1] thy ambassadors are laughing at thee!

f[1] Cranaus, the second king of Athens, the successor of Cecrops.

AMBASSADOR

For great feeders and heavy drinkers are alone esteemed as men

by the barbarians.

DICAEOPOLIS

Just as here in Athens, we only esteem the most drunken debauchees.

AMBASSADOR

At the end of the fourth year we reached the King's Court, but

he had left with his whole army to ease himself, and for the space of

eight months he was thus easing himself in the midst of the golden

mountains.[1]

f[1] Lucian, in his 'Hermotimus,' speaks of these golden mountains as an

apocryphal land of wonders and prodigies.

DICAEOPOLIS

And how long was he replacing his dress?

AMBASSADOR

The whole period of a full moon; after which he returned to his palace;

then he entertained us and had us served with oxen roasted whole

in an oven.

DICAEOPOLIS

Who ever saw an oxen baked in an oven? What a lie!

AMBASSADOR

On my honour, he also had us served with a bird three

times as large as Cleonymus,[1] and called the Boaster.

f[1] Cleonymus was an Athenian general of exceptionally tall stature;

Aristophanes incessantly rallies him for his cowardice; he had cast away

his buckler in a fight.

DICAEOPOLIS

And do we give you two drachmae, that you should treat us to all

this humbug?

AMBASSADOR

We are bringing to you Pseudartabas[1], the King's Eye.

f[1] A name borne by certain officials of the King of Persia. The actor of

this part wore a mask, fitted with a single eye of great size.

DICAEOPOLIS

I would a crow might pluck out thine with his beak, you cursed

ambassador!

HERALD

The King's Eye!

DICAEOPOLIS

Eh! Great Gods! Friend, with thy great eye, round like the hole through

which the oarsman passes his sweep, you have the air of a galley

doubling a cape to gain port.

AMBASSADOR

Come, Pseudartabas, give forth the message for the Athenians

with which you were charged by the Great King.

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