Such references as there are to Cleon in this play are noteworthy.
The great Demagogue was now dead having fallen in the same action as
the rival Spartan general the renowned Brasidas before Amphipolis
and whatever Aristophanes says here of his old enemy is conceived in
the spirit of 'de mortuis nil nisi bonum.' In one scene Hermes is descanting
on the evils which had nearly ruined Athens and declares that
'The Tanner' was the cause of them all. But Trygaeus interrupts him
with the words:
"Hold-say not so good master Hermes;
Let the man rest in peace where now he lies.
He is no longer of our world but yours."
Here surely we have a trait of magnanimity on the author's part as
admirable in its way as the wit and boldness of his former attacks
had been in theirs.
TWO SERVANTS OF TRYGAEUS
MAIDENS DAUGHTERS OF TRYGAEUS
HIEROCLES a Soothsayer
SON OF LAMACHUS
SON OF CLEONYMUS
CHORUS OF HUSBANDMEN
SCENE: A farmyard two slaves busy beside a dungheap; afterwards in Olympus.
Quick quick bring the dung-beetle his cake.
Give it to him and may it kill him!
May he never eat a better.
Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.
There! I've done that too.
And where's what you gave him just now; surely he can't have devoured
Indeed he has; he snatched it rolled it between his feet and
Come hurry up knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.
Oh scavengers help me in the name of the gods if you do not
wish to see me fall down choked.
Come come another made from the stool of a young scapegrace catamite.
'Twill be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.
There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of
tasting what I mix.
Faugh! come now another! keep on mixing with all your might.
I' faith no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no longer so I
bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.
Pitch it down the sewer sooner and yourself with it.
Maybe one of you can tell me where I can buy a stopped-up nose
for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food for a
beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least pounce
upon our excrement without more ado but this foul wretch
affects the disdainful the spoilt mistress and won't eat unless I
offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let
us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating?
Come pluck up courage cram yourself till you burst! The cursed
creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between its claws like a
wrestler clutching his opponent and with head and feet together rolls
up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser. What an indecent
stinking gluttonous beast! I know not what angry god let this
monster loose upon us but of a certainty it was neither Aphrodite nor
Who was it then?
No doubt the Thunderer Zeus.
But perhaps some spectator some beardless youth who thinks
himself a sage will say "What is this? What does the beetle mean?"
And then an Ionian sitting next him will add "I think 'tis an
allusion to Cleon who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by
himself."--But now I'm going indoors to fetch the beetle a drink.
f 'Peace' was no doubt produced at the festival of the Apaturia which
was kept at the end of October a period when strangers were numerous in
As for me I will explain the matter to you all children youths
grownups and old men aye even to the decrepit dotards. My master
is mad not as you are but with another sort of madness quite a
new kind. The livelong day he looks open-mouthed towards heaven and
never stops addressing Zeus. "Ah! Zeus" he cries "what are thy
intentions? Lay aside thy besom; do not sweep Greece away!"
Ah! ah! ah!
Hush hush! Mehinks I hear his voice!
Oh! Zeus what art thou going to do for our people? Dost thou
not see this that our cities will soon be but empty husks?
As I told you that is his form of madness. There you have a
sample of his follies. When his trouble first began to seize him he
said to himself "By what means could I go straight to Zeus?" Then he
made himself very slender little ladders and so clambered up towards
heaven; but he soon came hurtling down again and broke his head.
Yesterday to our misfortune he went out and brought us back this
thoroughbred but from where I know not this great beetle whose
groom he has forced me to become. He himself caresses it as though
it were a horse saying "Oh! my little Pegasus my noble aerial
steed may your wings soon bear me straight to Zeus!" But what is my
master doing? I must stoop down to look through this hole. Oh! great
gods! Here! neighbours run here quick! here is my master flying off