Trans. William James Hickie
* All Greek from the original edition has been
transliterated into Roman characters.
Servant of Strepsiades
Disciples of Socrates
Chorus of Clouds
Scene: The interior of a sleeping-apartment: Strepsiades Phidippides and two servants are in their
beds; a small house is seen at a distance. Time:
Strepsiades (sitting up in his bed). Ah me! Ah me! O
King Jupiter of what a terrible length the nights are!
Will it never be day? And yet long since I heard the
cock. My domestics are snoring; but they would not have
done so heretofore! May you perish then O war! For many
reasons; because I may not even punish my domestics.
Neither does this excellent youth awake through the
night; but takes his ease wrapped up in five blankets.
Well if it is the fashion let us snore wrapped up.
[Lies down and then almost immediately starts up
But I am not able miserable man to sleep being
tormented by my expenses and my stud of horses and my
debts through this son of mine. He with his long hair
is riding horses and driving curricles and dreaming of
horses; while I am driven to distraction as I see the
moon bringing on the twentieths; for the interest is
running on. Boy! Light a lamp and bring forth my
tablets that I may take them and read to how many I am
indebted and calculate the interest.
[Enter boy with a light and tablets.]
Come let me see; what do I owe? Twelve minae to
Pasias. Why twelve minae to Pasias? Why did I borrow
them? When I bought the blood-horse. Ah me unhappy!
Would that it had had its eye knocked out with a stone
Phidippides (talking in his sleep). You are acting
unfairly Philo! Drive on your own course.
Strep. This is the bane that has destroyed me; for even
in his sleep he dreams about horsemanship.
Phid. How many courses will the war-chariots run?
Strep. Many courses do you drive me your father. But
what debt came upon me after Pasias? Three minae to
Amynias for a little chariot and pair of wheels.
Phid. Lead the horse home after having given him a good
Strep. O foolish youth you have rolled me out of my
possessions; since I have been cast in suits and others
say that they will have surety given them for the
Phid. (awakening) Pray father why are you peevish and
toss about the whole night?
Strep. A bailiff out of the bedclothes is biting
Phid. Suffer me good sir to sleep a little.
Strep. Then do you sleep on; but know that all these
debts will turn on your head.
[Phidippides falls asleep again.]
Alas! Would that the match-maker had perished miserably
who induced me to marry your mother. For a country life
used to be most agreeable to me dirty untrimmed
reclining at random abounding in bees and sheep and
oil-cake. Then I a rustic married a niece of Megacles
the son of Megacles from the city haughty luxurious
and Coesyrafied. When I married her I lay with her
redolent of new wine of the cheese-crate and abundance
of wool; but she on the contrary of ointment saffron
wanton-kisses extravagance gluttony and of Colias and
Genetyllis. I will not indeed say that she was idle;
but she wove. And I used to show her this cloak by way
of a pretext and say "Wife you weave at a great
Servant. We have no oil in the lamp.
Strep. Ah me! Why did you light the thirsty lamp? Come
hither that you may weep!
Ser. For what pray shall I weep?
Strep. Because you put in one of the thick wicks.
[Servant runs out]
After this when this son was born to us to me
forsooth and to my excellent wife we squabbled then
about the name: for she was for adding hippos to the
name Xanthippus or Charippus or Callipides; but I was
for giving him the name of his grandfather Phidonides.
For a time therefore we disputed; and then at length we
agreed and called him Phidippides. She used to take
this son and fondle him saying "When you being grown
up shall drive your chariot to the city like Megacles
with a xystis." But I used to say "Nay rather when
dressed in a leathern jerkin you shall drive goats from
Phelleus like your father." He paid no attention to my
words but poured a horse-fever over my property. Now
therefore by meditating the whole night I have
discovered one path for my course extraordinarily
excellent; to which if I persuade this youth I shall be
saved. But first I wish to awake him. How then can I
awake him in the most agreeable manner? How?
Phidippides my little Phidippides?
Phid. What father?
Strep. Kiss me and give me your right hand!
Phid. There. What's the matter?
Strep. Tell me do you love me?
Phid. Yes by this Equestrian Neptune.
Strep. Nay do not by any means mention this Equestrian
to me for this god is the author of my misfortunes.
But if you really love me from your heart my son obey
Phid. In what then pray shall I obey you?
Strep. Reform your habits as quickly as possible and go
and learn what I advise.
Phid. Tell me now what do you prescribe?
Strep. And will you obey me at all?
Phid. By Bacchus I will obey you.
Strep. Look this way then! Do you see this little door
and little house?
Phid. I see it. What then pray is this father?
Strep. This is a thinking-shop of wise spirits. There
dwell men who in speaking of the heavens persuade people
that it is an oven and that it encompasses us and that
we are the embers. These men teach if one give them
money to conquer in speaking right or wrong.
Phid. Who are they?
Strep. I do not know the name accurately. They are
minute philosophers noble and excellent.
Phid. Bah! They are rogues; I know them. You mean the
quacks the pale-faced wretches the bare-footed
fellows of whose numbers are the miserable Socrates and
Strep. Hold! Hold! Be silent! Do not say anything
foolish. But if you have any concern for your father's
patrimony become one of them having given up your
Phid. I would not by Bacchus even if you were to give
me the pheasants which Leogoras rears!
Strep. Go I entreat you dearest of men go and be
Phid. Why what shall I learn?
Strep. They say that among them are both the two
causes--the better cause whichever that is and the
worse: they say that the one of these two causes the
worse prevails though it speaks on the unjust side.
If therefore you learn for me this unjust cause I