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Section 5

  • Page ID
    55005
  • MEN

    There is no beast, no rush of fire, like woman so untamed.
    She calmly goes her way where even panthers would be shamed.

    WOMEN

    And yet you are fool enough, it seems, to dare to war with me,
    When for your faithful ally you might win me easily.

    MEN

    Never could the hate I feel for womankind grow less.

    WOMEN

    Then have your will. But I'll take pity on your nakedness.
    For I can see just how ridiculous you look, and so
    Will help you with your tunic if close up I now may go.

    MEN

    Well, that, by Zeus, is no scoundrel-deed, I frankly will admit.
    I only took them off myself in a scoundrel raging-fit.

    WOMEN

    Now you look sensible, and that you're men no one could doubt.
    If you were but good friends again, I'd take the insect out
    That hurts your eye.

    MEN

    Is that what's wrong? That nasty bitie thing.
    Please squeeze it out, and show me what it is that makes this sting.
    It's been paining me a long while now.

    WOMEN

    Well I'll agree to that,
    Although you're most unmannerly. O what a giant gnat.
    Here, look! It comes from marshy Tricorysus, I can tell.

    MEN

    O thank you. It was digging out a veritable well.
    Now that it's gone, I can't hold back my tears. See how they fall.

    WOMEN

    I'll wipe them off, bad as you are, and kiss you after all.

    MEN

    I won't be kissed.

    WOMEN

    O yes, you will. Your wishes do not matter.

    MEN

    O botheration take you all! How you cajole and flatter.
    A hell it is to live with you; to live without, a hell:
    How truly was that said. But come, these enmities let's quell.
    You stop from giving orders and I'll stop from doing wrong.
    So let's join ranks and seal our bargain with a choric song.

    CHORUS.

    Athenians, it's not our intention
    To sow political dissension
    By giving any scandal mention;
    But on the contrary to promote good feeling in the state
    By word and deed. We've had enough calamities of late.
    So let a man or woman but divulge
    They need a trifle, say,
    Two minas, three or four,
    I've purses here that bulge.
    There's only one condition made
    (Indulge my whim in this I pray)--
    When Peace is signed once more,
    On no account am I to be repaid.

    And I'm making preparation
    For a gay select collation
    With some youths of reputation.
    I've managed to produce some soup and they're slaughtering for me
    A sucking-pig: its flesh should taste as tender as could be.
    I shall expect you at my house today.
    To the baths make an early visit,
    And bring your children along;
    Don't dawdle on the way.
    Ask no one; enter as if the place
    Was all your own--yours henceforth is it.
    If nothing chances wrong,
    The door will then be shut bang in your face.

    _The_ SPARTAN AMBASSADORS _approach_.

    CHORUS

    Here come the Spartan envoys with long, worried beards.
    Hail, Spartans how do you fare?
    Did anything new arise?

    SPARTANS

    No need for a clutter o' words. Do ye see our condition?

    CHORUS

    The situation swells to greater tension.
    Something will explode soon.

    SPARTANS

    It's awfu' truly.
    But come, let us wi' the best speed we may
    Scribble a Peace.

    CHORUS

    I notice that our men
    Like wrestlers poised for contest, hold their clothes
    Out from their bellies. An athlete's malady!
    Since exercise alone can bring relief.

    ATHENIANS

    Can anyone tell us where Lysistrata is?
    There is no need to describe our men's condition,
    It shows up plainly enough.

    CHORUS

    It's the same disease.
    Do you feel a jerking throbbing in the morning?

    ATHENIANS

    By Zeus, yes! In these straits, I'm racked all through.
    Unless Peace is soon declared, we shall be driven
    In the void of women to try Cleisthenes.

    CHORUS

    Be wise and cover those things with your tunics.
    Who knows what kind of person may perceive you?

    ATHENIANS

    By Zeus, you're right.

    SPARTANS

    By the Twa Goddesses,
    Indeed ye are. Let's put our tunics on.

    ATHENIANS

    Hail O my fellow-sufferers, hail Spartans.

    SPARTANS

    O hinnie darling, what a waefu' thing!
    If they had seen us wi' our lunging waddies!

    ATHENIANS

    Tell us then, Spartans, what has brought you here?

    SPARTANS

    We come to treat o' Peace.

    ATHENIANS

    Well spoken there!
    And we the same. Let us callout Lysistrata
    Since she alone can settle the Peace-terms.

    SPARTANS

    Callout Lysistratus too if ye don't mind.

    CHORUS

    No indeed. She hears your voices and she comes.

    _Enter LYSISTRATA_

    Hail, Wonder of all women! Now you must be in turn
    Hard, shifting, clear, deceitful, noble, crafty, sweet, and stern.
    The foremost men of Hellas, smitten by your fascination,
    Have brought their tangled quarrels here for your sole arbitration.

    LYSISTRATA

    An easy task if the love's raging home-sickness
    Doesn't start trying out how well each other
    Will serve instead of us. But I'll know at once
    If they do. O where's that girl, Reconciliation?
    Bring first before me the Spartan delegates,
    And see you lift no rude or violent hands--
    None of the churlish ways our husbands used.
    But lead them courteously, as women should.
    And if they grudge fingers, guide them by other methods,
    And introduce them with ready tact. The Athenians
    Draw by whatever offers you a grip.
    Now, Spartans, stay here facing me. Here you,
    Athenians. Both hearken to my words.
    I am a woman, but I'm not a fool.
    And what of natural intelligence I own
    Has been filled out with the remembered precepts
    My father and the city-elders taught me.
    First I reproach you both sides equally
    That when at Pylae and Olympia,
    At Pytho and the many other shrines
    That I could name, you sprinkle from one cup
    The altars common to all Hellenes, yet
    You wrack Hellenic cities, bloody Hellas
    With deaths of her own sons, while yonder clangs
    The gathering menace of barbarians.

    ATHENIANS

    We cannot hold it in much longer now.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now unto you, O Spartans, do I speak.
    Do you forget how your own countryman,
    Pericleidas, once came hither suppliant
    Before our altars, pale in his purple robes,
    Praying for an army when in Messenia
    Danger growled, and the Sea-god made earth quaver.
    Then with four thousand hoplites Cimon marched
    And saved all Sparta. Yet base ingrates now,
    You are ravaging the soil of your preservers.

    ATHENIANS

    By Zeus, they do great wrong, Lysistrata.

    SPARTANS

    Great wrong, indeed. O! What a luscious wench!

    LYSISTRATA

    And now I turn to the Athenians.
    Have you forgotten too how once the Spartans
    In days when you wore slavish tunics, came
    And with their spears broke a Thessalian host
    And all the partisans of Hippias?
    They alone stood by your shoulder on that day.
    They freed you, so that for the slave's short skirt
    You should wear the trailing cloak of liberty.

    SPARTANS

    I've never seen a nobler woman anywhere.

    ATHENIANS

    Nor I one with such prettily jointing hips.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now, brethren twined with mutual benefactions,
    Can you still war, can you suffer such disgrace?
    Why not be friends? What is there to prevent you?

    SPARTANS

    We're agreed, gin that we get this tempting Mole.

    LYSISTRATA

    Which one?

    SPARTANS

    That ane we've wanted to get into,
    O for sae lang.... Pylos, of course.

    ATHENIANS

    By Poseidon,
    Never!

    LYSISTRATA

    Give it up.

    ATHENIANS

    Then what will we do?
    We need that ticklish place united to us--

    LYSISTRATA

    Ask for some other lurking-hole in return.

    ATHENIANS

    Then, ah, we'll choose this snug thing here, Echinus,
    Shall we call the nestling spot? And this backside haven,
    These desirable twin promontories, the Maliac,
    And then of course these Megarean Legs.

    SPARTANS

    Not that, O surely not that, never that.

    LYSISTRATA

    Agree! Now what are two legs more or less?

    ATHENIANS

    I want to strip at once and plough my land.

    SPARTANS

    And mine I want to fertilize at once.

    LYSISTRATA

    And so you can, when Peace is once declared.
    If you mean it, get your allies' heads together
    And come to some decision.

    ATHENIANS

    What allies?
    There's no distinction in our politics:
    We've risen as one man to this conclusion;
    Every ally is jumping-mad to drive it home.

    SPARTANS

    And ours the same, for sure.

    ATHENIANS

    The Carystians first!
    I'll bet on that.

    LYSISTRATA

    I agree with all of you.
    Now off, and cleanse yourselves for the Acropolis,
    For we invite you all in to a supper
    From our commissariat baskets. There at table
    You will pledge good behaviour and uprightness;
    Then each man's wife is his to hustle home.

    ATHENIANS

    Come, as quickly as possible.

    SPARTANS

    As quick as ye like.
    Lead on.

    ATHENIANS

    O Zeus, quick, quick, lead quickly on.
    _They hurry off._

    CHORUS.

    Broidered stuffs on high I'm heaping,
    Fashionable cloaks and sweeping
    Trains, not even gold gawds keeping.
    Take them all, I pray you, take them all (I do not care)
    And deck your children--your daughter, if the Basket she's to bear.
    Come, everyone of you, come in and take
    Of this rich hoard a share.
    Nought's tied so skilfully
    But you its seal can break
    And plunder all you spy inside.
    I've laid out all that I can spare,
    And therefore you will see
    Nothing unless than I you're sharper-eyed.
    If lacking corn a man should be
    While his slaves clamour hungrily
    And his excessive progeny,
    Then I've a handfull of grain at home which is always to be had,
    And to which in fact a more-than-life-size loaf I'd gladly add.
    Then let the poor bring with them bag or sack
    And take this store of food.
    Manes, my man, I'll tell
    To help them all to pack
    Their wallets full. But O take care.
    I had forgotten; don't intrude,
    Or terrified you'll yell.
    My dog is hungry too, and bites--beware!

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