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Section 1

  • Page ID
    55001
  • The Persons of the drama.

    LYSISTRATA
    CALONICE
    MYRRHINE
    LAMPITO
    Stratyllis, etc.
    Chorus of Women.
    MAGISTRATE
    CINESIAS
    SPARTAN HERALD
    ENVOYS
    ATHENIANS
    Porter, Market Idlers, etc.
    Chorus of old Men.

    LYSISTRATA _stands alone with the Propylaea at her back._

    LYSISTRATA

    If they were trysting for a Bacchanal,
    A feast of Pan or Colias or Genetyllis,
    The tambourines would block the rowdy streets,
    But now there's not a woman to be seen
    Except--ah, yes--this neighbour of mine yonder.

    Enter CALONICE.

    Good day Calonice.

    CALONICE

    Good day Lysistrata.
    But what has vexed you so? Tell me, child.
    What are these black looks for? It doesn't suit you
    To knit your eyebrows up glumly like that.

    LYSISTRATA

    Calonice, it's more than I can bear,
    I am hot all over with blushes for our sex.
    Men say we're slippery rogues--

    CALONICE

    And aren't they right?

    LYSISTRATA

    Yet summoned on the most tremendous business
    For deliberation, still they snuggle in bed.

    CALONICE

    My dear, they'll come. It's hard for women, you know,
    To get away. There's so much to do;
    Husbands to be patted and put in good tempers:
    Servants to be poked out: children washed
    Or soothed with lullays or fed with mouthfuls of pap.

    LYSISTRATA

    But I tell you, here's a far more weighty object.

    CALONICE

    What is it all about, dear Lysistrata,
    That you've called the women hither in a troop?
    What kind of an object is it?

    LYSISTRATA

    A tremendous thing!

    CALONICE

    And long?

    LYSISTRATA

    Indeed, it may be very lengthy.

    CALONICE

    Then why aren't they here?

    LYSISTRATA

    No man's connected with it;
    If that was the case, they'd soon come fluttering along.
    No, no. It concerns an object I've felt over
    And turned this way and that for sleepless nights.

    CALONICE

    It must be fine to stand such long attention.

    LYSISTRATA

    So fine it comes to this--Greece saved by Woman!

    CALONICE

    By Woman? Wretched thing, I'm sorry for it.

    LYSISTRATA

    Our country's fate is henceforth in our hands:
    To destroy the Peloponnesians root and branch--

    CALONICE

    What could be nobler!

    LYSISTRATA

    Wipe out the Boeotians--

    CALONICE

    Not utterly. Have mercy on the eels!
    [Footnote: The Boeotian eels were highly esteemed delicacies in Athens.]

    LYSISTRATA

    But with regard to Athens, note I'm careful
    Not to say any of these nasty things;
    Still, thought is free.... But if the women join us
    From Peloponnesus and Boeotia, then
    Hand in hand we'll rescue Greece.

    CALONICE

    How could we do
    Such a big wise deed? We women who dwell
    Quietly adorning ourselves in a back-room
    With gowns of lucid gold and gawdy toilets
    Of stately silk and dainty little slippers....

    LYSISTRATA

    These are the very armaments of the rescue.
    These crocus-gowns, this outlay of the best myrrh,
    Slippers, cosmetics dusting beauty, and robes
    With rippling creases of light.

    CALONICE

    Yes, but how?

    LYSISTRATA

    No man will lift a lance against another--

    CALONICE

    I'll run to have my tunic dyed crocus.

    LYSISTRATA

    Or take a shield--

    CALONICE

    I'll get a stately gown.

    LYSISTRATA

    Or unscabbard a sword--

    CALONICE

    Let me buy a pair of slipper.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now, tell me, are the women right to lag?

    CALONICE

    They should have turned birds, they should have grown
    wings and flown.

    LYSISTRATA

    My friend, you'll see that they are true Athenians:
    Always too late. Why, there's not a woman
    From the shoreward demes arrived, not one from Salamis.

    CALONICE

    I know for certain they awoke at dawn,
    And got their husbands up if not their boat sails.

    LYSISTRATA

    And I'd have staked my life the Acharnian dames
    Would be here first, yet they haven't come either!

    CALONICE

    Well anyhow there is Theagenes' wife
    We can expect--she consulted Hecate.
    But look, here are some at last, and more behind them.
    See ... where are they from?

    CALONICE

    From Anagyra they come.

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes, they generally manage to come first.

    Enter MYRRHINE.

    MYRRHINE

    Are we late, Lysistrata? ... What is that?
    Nothing to say?

    LYSISTRATA

    I've not much to say for you,
    Myrrhine, dawdling on so vast an affair.

    MYRRHINE

    I couldn't find my girdle in the dark.
    But if the affair's so wonderful, tell us, what is it?

    LYSISTRATA

    No, let us stay a little longer till
    The Peloponnesian girls and the girls of Bocotia
    Are here to listen.

    MYRRHINE

    That's the best advice.
    Ah, there comes Lampito.

    Enter LAMPITO.

    LYSISTRATA

    Welcome Lampito!
    Dear Spartan girl with a delightful face,
    Washed with the rosy spring, how fresh you look
    In the easy stride of your sleek slenderness,
    Why you could strangle a bull!

    LAMPITO

    I think I could.
    It's frae exercise and kicking high behint.

    [Footnote: The translator has put the speech of the Spartan characters
    in Scotch dialect which is related to English about as was the Spartan
    dialect to the speech of Athens. The Spartans, in their character,
    anticipated the shrewd, canny, uncouth Scotch highlander of modern
    times.]

    LYSISTRATA

    What lovely breasts to own!

    LAMPITO

    Oo ... your fingers
    Assess them, ye tickler, wi' such tender chucks
    I feel as if I were an altar-victim.

    LYSISTRATA

    Who is this youngster?

    LAMPITO

    A Boeotian lady.

    LYSISTRATA

    There never was much undergrowth in Boeotia,
    Such a smooth place, and this girl takes after it.

    CALONICE

    Yes, I never saw a skin so primly kept.

    LYSISTRATA

    This girl?

    LAMPITO

    A sonsie open-looking jinker!
    She's a Corinthian.

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes, isn't she
    Very open, in some ways particularly.

    LAMPITO

    But who's garred this Council o' Women to meet here?

    LYSISTRATA

    I have.

    LAMPITO

    Propound then what you want o' us.

    MYRRHINE

    What is the amazing news you have to tell?

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll tell you, but first answer one small question.

    MYRRHINE

    As you like.

    LYSISTRATA

    Are you not sad your children's fathers
    Go endlessly off soldiering afar
    In this plodding war? I am willing to wager
    There's not one here whose husband is at home.

    CALONICE

    Mine's been in Thrace, keeping an eye on Eucrates
    For five months past.

    MYRRHINE

    And mine left me for Pylos
    Seven months ago at least.

    LAMPITO

    And as for mine
    No sooner has he slipped out frae the line
    He straps his shield and he's snickt off again.

    LYSISTRATA

    And not the slightest glitter of a lover!
    And since the Milesians betrayed us, I've not seen
    The image of a single upright man
    To be a marble consolation to us.
    Now will you help me, if I find a means
    To stamp the war out.

    MYRRHINE

    By the two Goddesses, Yes!
    I will though I've to pawn this very dress
    And drink the barter-money the same day.

    CALONICE

    And I too though I'm split up like a turbot
    And half is hackt off as the price of peace.

    LAMPITO

    And I too! Why, to get a peep at the shy thing
    I'd clamber up to the tip-top o' Taygetus.

    LYSISTRATA

    Then I'll expose my mighty mystery.
    O women, if we would compel the men
    To bow to Peace, we must refrain--

    MYRRHINE

    From what?
    O tell us!

    LYSISTRATA

    Will you truly do it then?

    MYRRHINE

    We will, we will, if we must die for it.

    LYSISTRATA

    We must refrain from every depth of love....
    Why do you turn your backs? Where are you going?
    Why do you bite your lips and shake your heads?
    Why are your faces blanched? Why do you weep?
    Will you or won't you, or what do you mean?

    MYRRHINE

    No, I won't do it. Let the war proceed.

    CALONICE

    No, I won't do it. Let the war proceed.

    LYSISTRATA

    You too, dear turbot, you that said just now
    You didn't mind being split right up in the least?

    CALONICE

    Anything else? O bid me walk in fire
    But do not rob us of that darling joy.
    What else is like it, dearest Lysistrata?

    LYSISTRATA

    And you?

    MYRRHINE

    O please give me the fire instead.

    LYSISTRATA

    Lewd to the least drop in the tiniest vein,
    Our sex is fitly food for Tragic Poets,
    Our whole life's but a pile of kisses and babies.
    But, hardy Spartan, if you join with me
    All may be righted yet. O help me, help me.

    LAMPITO

    It's a sair, sair thing to ask of us, by the Twa,
    A lass to sleep her lane and never fill
    Love's lack except wi' makeshifts.... But let it be.
    Peace maun be thought of first.

    LYSISTRATA

    My friend, my friend!
    The only one amid this herd of weaklings.

    CALONICE

    But if--which heaven forbid--we should refrain
    As you would have us, how is Peace induced?

    LYSISTRATA

    By the two Goddesses, now can't you see
    All we have to do is idly sit indoors
    With smooth roses powdered on our cheeks,
    Our bodies burning naked through the folds
    Of shining Amorgos' silk, and meet the men
    With our dear Venus-plats plucked trim and neat.
    Their stirring love will rise up furiously,
    They'll beg our arms to open. That's our time!
    We'll disregard their knocking, beat them off--
    And they will soon be rabid for a Peace.
    I'm sure of it.

    LAMPITO

    Just as Menelaus, they say,
    Seeing the bosom of his naked Helen
    Flang down the sword.

    CALONICE

    But we'll be tearful fools
    If our husbands take us at our word and leave us.

    LYSISTRATA

    There's only left then, in Pherecrates' phrase,
    _To flay a skinned dog_--flay more our flayed desires.

    CALONICE

    Bah, proverbs will never warm a celibate.
    But what avail will your scheme be if the men
    Drag us for all our kicking on to the couch?

    LYSISTRATA

    Cling to the doorposts.

    CALONICE

    But if they should force us?

    LYSISTRATA

    Yield then, but with a sluggish, cold indifference.
    There is no joy to them in sullen mating.
    Besides we have other ways to madden them;
    They cannot stand up long, and they've no delight
    Unless we fit their aim with merry succour.

    CALONICE

    Well if you must have it so, we'll all agree.

    LAMPITO

    For us I ha' no doubt. We can persuade
    Our men to strike a fair an' decent Peace,
    But how will ye pitch out the battle-frenzy
    O' the Athenian populace?

    LYSISTRATA

    I promise you
    We'll wither up that curse.

    LAMPITO

    I don't believe it.
    Not while they own ane trireme oared an' rigged,
    Or a' those stacks an' stacks an' stacks O' siller.

    LYSISTRATA

    I've thought the whole thing out till there's no flaw.
    We shall surprise the Acropolis today:
    That is the duty set the older dames.
    While we sit here talking, they are to go
    And under pretence of sacrificing, seize it.

    LAMPITO

    Certie, that's fine; all's working for the best.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now quickly, Lampito, let us tie ourselves
    To this high purpose as tightly as the hemp of words
    Can knot together.

    LAMPITO

    Set out the terms in detail
    And we'll a' swear to them.

    LYSISTRATA

    Of course.... Well then
    Where is our Scythianess? Why are you staring?
    First lay the shield, boss downward, on the floor
    And bring the victim's inwards.

    CAILONICE

    But, Lysistrata,
    What is this oath that we're to swear?

    LYSISTRATA

    What oath!
    In Aeschylus they take a slaughtered sheep
    And swear upon a buckler. Why not we?

    CALONICE

    O Lysistrata, Peace sworn on a buckler!

    LYSISTRATA

    What oath would suit us then?

    CALONICE

    Something burden bearing
    Would be our best insignia.... A white horse!
    Let's swear upon its entrails.

    LYSISTRATA

    A horse indeed!

    CALONICE

    Then what will symbolise us?

    LYSISTRATA

    This, as I tell you--
    First set a great dark bowl upon the ground
    And disembowel a skin of Thasian wine,
    Then swear that we'll not add a drop of water.

    LAMPITO
    Ah, what aith could clink pleasanter than that!

    LYSISTRATA
    Bring me a bowl then and a skin of wine.

    CALONICE
    My dears, see what a splendid bowl it is;
    I'd not say No if asked to sip it off.

    LYSISTRATA
    Put down the bowl. Lay hands, all, on the victim.
    Skiey Queen who givest the last word in arguments,
    And thee, O Bowl, dear comrade, we beseech:
    Accept our oblation and be propitious to us.

    CALONICE
    What healthy blood, la, how it gushes out!

    LAMPITO
    An' what a leesome fragrance through the air.

    LYSISTRATA
    Now, dears, if you will let me, I'll speak first.

    CALONICE
    Only if you draw the lot, by Aphrodite!

    LYSISTRATA
    SO, grasp the brim, you, Lampito, and all.
    You, Calonice, repeat for the rest
    Each word I say. Then you must all take oath
    And pledge your arms to the same stern conditions--

    LYSISTRATA
    To husband or lover I'll not open arms

    CALONICE

    _To husband or lover I'll not open arms_

    LYSISTRATA

    Though love and denial may enlarge his charms.

    CALONICE

    _Though love and denial may enlarge his charms._
    O, O, my knees are failing me, Lysistrata!

    LYSISTRATA

    But still at home, ignoring him, I'll stay,

    CALONICE

    _But still at home, ignoring him, I'll stay,_

    LYSISTRATA

    Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day.

    CALONICE

    _Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day._

    LYSISTRATA

    If then he seizes me by dint of force,

    CALONICE

    _If then he seizes me by dint of force,_

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll give him reason for a long remorse.

    CALONICE

    _I'll give him reason for a long remorse._

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll never lie and stare up at the ceiling,

    CALONICE

    _I'll never lie and stare up at the ceiling,_

    LYSISTRATA

    Nor like a lion on all fours go kneeling.

    CALONICE

    _Nor like a lion on all fours go kneeling._

    LYSISTRATA

    If I keep faith, then bounteous cups be mine.

    CALONICE

    _If I keep faith, then bounteous cups be mine._

    LYSISTRATA

    If not, to nauseous water change this wine.

    CALONICE
    _If not, to nauseous water change this wine._

    LYSISTRATA

    Do you all swear to this?

    MYRRHINE

    We do, we do.

    LYSISTRATA

    Then I shall immolate the victim thus.
    _She drinks._

    CALONICE

    Here now, share fair, haven't we made a pact?
    Let's all quaff down that friendship in our turn.

    LAMPITO

    Hark, what caterwauling hubbub's that?

    LYSISTRATA

    As I told you,
    The women have appropriated the citadel.
    So, Lampito, dash off to your own land
    And raise the rebels there. These will serve as hostages,
    While we ourselves take our places in the ranks
    And drive the bolts right home.

    CALONICE

    But won't the men
    March straight against us?

    LYSISTRATA

    And what if they do?
    No threat shall creak our hinges wide, no torch
    Shall light a fear in us; we will come out
    To Peace alone.

    CALONICE

    That's it, by Aphrodite!
    As of old let us seem hard and obdurate.

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