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2.4: Section 4

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    82637
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    (Enter CINESIAS).

    Who is this that stands within our lines?

    CINESIAS

    I.

    LYSISTRATA

    A man?

    CINESIAS

    Too much a man!

    LYSISTRATA

    Then be off at once.

    CINESIAS

    Who are you that thus eject me?

    LYSISTRATA

    Guard for the day.

    CINESIAS

    By all the gods, then call Myrrhine hither.

    LYSISTRATA

    So, call Myrrhine hither! Who are you?

    CINESIAS

    I am her husband Cinesias, son of Anthros. [1]

    LYSISTRATA

    Welcome, dear friend! That glorious name of yours
    Is quite familiar in our ranks. Your wife
    Continually has it in her mouth.
    She cannot touch an apple or an egg
    But she must say, "This to Cinesias!"

    CINESIAS

    O is that true?

    LYSISTRATA

    By Aphrodite, it is.
    If the conversation strikes on men, your wife
    Cuts in with, "All are boobies by Cinesias."

    CINESIAS

    Then call her here.

    LYSISTRATA

    And what am I to get?

    CINESIAS

    This, if you want it.... See, what I have here.
    But not to take away.

    LYSISTRATA

    Then I'll call her.

    CINESIAS

    Be quick, be quick. All grace is wiped from life
    Since she went away. O sad, sad am I
    When there I enter on that loneliness,
    And wine is unvintaged of the sun's flavor.
    And food is tasteless. But I've put on weight.

    MYRRHINE (above)

    I love him O so much! but he won't have it.
    Don't call me down to him.

    CINESIAS

    Sweet little Myrrhine!
    What do you mean? Come here.

    MYRRHINE

    O no I won't.
    Why are you calling me? You don't want me.

    CINESIAS

    Not want you! with this week-old strength of love.

    MYRRHINE

    Farewell.

    CINESIAS

    Don't go, please don't go, Myrrhine.
    At least you'll hear our child. Call your mother, lad.

    CHILD

    Mummy ... mummy ... mummy!

    CINESIAS

    There now, don't you feel pity for the child?
    He's not been fed or washed now for six days.

    MYRRHINE

    I certainly pity him with so heartless a father.

    CINESIAS

    Come down, my sweetest, come for the child's sake.

    MYRRHINE

    A trying life it is to be a mother!
    I suppose I'd better go. (She comes down).

    CINESIAS

    How much younger she looks,
    How fresher and how prettier! Myrrhine,
    Lift up your lovely face, your disdainful face;
    And your ankle ... let your scorn step out its worst;
    It only rubs me to more ardor here.

    MYRRHINE (playing with the child)

    You're as innocent as he's iniquitous.
    Let me kiss you, honey-petting, mother's darling.

    CINESIAS

    How wrong to follow other women's counsel
    And let loose all these throbbing voids in yourself
    As well as in me. Don't you go throb-throb?

    MYRRHINE

    Take away your hands.

    CINESIAS

    Everything in the house
    Is being ruined.

    MYRRHINE

    I don't care at all.

    CINESIAS

    The roosters are picking all your web to rags.
    Do you mind that?

    MYRRHINE

    Not I.

    CINESIAS

    What time we've wasted
    We might have drenched with Paphian laughter, flung
    On Aphrodite's Mysteries. O come here.

    MYRRHINE

    Not till a treaty finishes the war.

    CINESIAS

    If you must have it, then we'll get it done.

    MYRRHINE

    Do it and I'll come home. Till then I am bound.

    CINESIAS

    Well, can't your oath perhaps be got around?

    MYRRHINE

    No ... no ... still I'll not say that I don't love you.

    CINESIAS

    You love me! Then dear girl, let me also love you.

    MYRRHINE

    You must be joking. The boy's looking on.

    CINESIAS

    Here, Manes, [2] take the child home!... There, he's gone.
    There's nothing in the way now. Come to the point.

    MYRRHINE

    Here in the open! In plain sight?

    CINESIAS

    In Pan's cave. [3]
    A splendid place.

    MYRRHINE

    Where shall I dress my hair again
    Before returning to the citadel?

    CINESIAS

    You can easily primp yourself in the Clepsydra. [4]

    MYRRHINE

    But how can I break my oath?

    CINESIAS

    Leave that to me,
    I'll take all risk.

    MYRRHINE

    Well, I'll make you comfortable.

    CINESIAS

    Don't worry. I'd as soon lie on the grass.

    MYRRHINE

    No, by Apollo, in spite of all your faults
    I won't have you lying on the nasty earth.
    (From here MYRRHINE keeps on going off to fetch things.)

    CINESIAS

    Ah, how she loves me.

    MYRRHINE

    Rest there on the bench,
    While I arrange my clothes. O what a nuisance,
    I must find some cushions first.

    CINESIAS

    Why some cushions?
    Please don't get them!

    MYRRHINE

    What? The plain, hard wood?
    Never, by Artemis! That would be too vulgar.

    CINESIAS

    Open your arms!

    MYRRHINE

    No. Wait a second.

    CINESIAS

    O....
    Then hurry back again.

    MYRRHINE

    Here the cushions are.
    Lie down while I--O dear! But what a shame,
    You need more pillows.

    CINESIAS

    I don't want them, dear.

    MYRRHINE

    But I do.

    CINESIAS

    Thwarted affection mine,
    They treat you just like Heracles at a feast
    With cheats of dainties, O disappointing arms! [5]

    MYRRHINE

    Raise up your head.

    CINESIAS

    There, that's everything at last.

    MYRRHINE

    Yes, all.

    CINESIAS

    Then run to my arms, you golden girl.

    MYRRHINE

    I'm loosening my girdle now. But you've not forgotten?
    You're not deceiving me about the treaty?

    CINESIAS

    No, by my life, I'm not.

    MYRRHINE

    Why, you've no blanket.

    CINESIAS

    It's not the silly blanket's warmth but yours I want.

    MYRRHINE

    Never mind. You'll soon have both. I'll come straight back.

    CINESIAS

    The woman will choke me with her coverlets.

    MYRRHINE

    Get up a moment.

    CINESIAS

    I'm up high enough.

    MYRRHINE

    Would you like me to perfume you? [6]

    CINESIAS

    By Apollo, no!

    MYRRHINE

    By Aphrodite, I'll do it anyway.

    CINESIAS

    Lord Zeus, may she soon use up all the myrrh.

    MYRRHINE

    Stretch out your hand. Take it and rub it in.

    CINESIAS

    Hmm, it's not as fragrant as might be; that is,
    Not before it's smeared. It doesn't smell of kisses.

    MYRRHINE

    How silly I am: I've brought you Rhodian scents.

    CINESIAS

    It's good enough, leave it, love.

    MYRRHINE

    You must be jesting.

    CINESIAS

    Plague rack the man who first compounded scent!

    MYRRHINE

    Here, take this flask.

    CINESIAS

    I've a far better one.
    Don't tease me, come here, and get nothing more.

    MYRRHINE

    I'm coming.... I'm just drawing off my shoes....
    You're sure you will vote for peace?

    CINESIAS

    I'll think about it.
    (She runs off).
    I'm dead: the woman's worn me all away.
    She's gone and left me with an anguished pulse.

    MEN

    Balked in your amorous delight
    How melancholy is your plight.
    With sympathy your case I view;
    For I am sure it's hard on you.
    What human being could sustain
    This unforeseen domestic strain,
    And not a single trace
    Of willing women in the place!

    CINESIAS

    O Zeus, what throbbing suffering!

    MEN

    She did it all, the harlot, she
    With her atrocious harlotry.

    WOMEN

    Nay, rather call her darling-sweet.

    MEN

    What, sweet? She's a rude, wicked thing.

    CINESIAS

    A wicked thing, as I repeat.
    O Zeus, O Zeus,
    Can you not suddenly let loose
    Some twirling hurricane to tear
    Her flapping up along the air
    And drop her, when she's whirled around,
    Here to the ground
    Neatly impaled upon the stake
    That's ready upright for her sake.
    (He goes out).

    (Enter SPARTAN HERALD).

    (The MAGISTRATE comes forward).

    HERALD

    What here gabs the Senate and the Prytanes? [7]
    I've fetched despatches for them.

    MAGISTRATE

    Are you a man
    Or a monstrosity? [8]

    HERALD

    My scrimp-brained lad,
    I'm a herald, as you see, who have come from Sparta
    About a peace.

    MAGISTRATE

    Then why do you hide that lance
    That sticks out under your arms?

    HERALD.

    I've brought no lance.

    MAGISTRATE

    Then why do you turn aside and hold your cloak
    So far out from your body? Is your groin swollen
    With stress of traveling?

    HERALD

    By Castor, [9] I'll swear
    The man is crazy.

    MAGISTRATE

    Indeed, your cloak is wide,
    My rascal fellow.

    HERALD

    But I tell you no!
    Enough joking!

    MAGISTRATE

    Well, what is it then?

    HERALD

    It's my despatch cane. 

    MAGISTRATE

    Of course--a Spartan cane! [10]
    But speak right out. I know all this too well.
    Are new privations springing up in Sparta?

    HERALD

    Och, hard as could be: in lofty lusty columns
    Our allies stand united. We must get Pellene. [11]

    MAGISTRATE

    Whence has this evil come? Is it from Pan? [12]

    HERALD

    No. Lampito first ran amock, then the others
    Sprinted after her example, and blocked, the hussies,
    Their wombs up tight against our every entreaty.

    MAGISTRATE

    What did you do?

    HERALD

    We are broken, and bent double,
    Limp like men carrying lanterns in great winds
    About the city. They won't let us even
    With lightest finger skim their private pretties
    Until we've concluded peace-terms with Hellas.

    MAGISTRATE

    So the conspiracy is universal;
    This proves it. Then return to Sparta. Bid them
    Send envoys with full powers to treat of peace;
    And I will urge the Senate here to choose
    Plenipotentiary ambassadors,
    As argument adducing this connection.

    HERALD

    I'm off. Your wisdom none could contravert.
    (They retire).

     

    Footnotes:

    [1] Like saying: my name is "f--k", son of "man".

    [2] A slave attendant, probably.

    [3] A cave-shrine on the northern slope of the Acropolis hill.

    [4] A spring. Myrrhine has to ritually bathe to purify herself before she can re-enter the sacred precincts of the Acropolis.

    [5] Comedic plays often featured the deified hero Heracles/Hercules as a devious, unfaithful figure who is teased and duped.

    [6] Perfumes were oil-based in this period, and perfume flasks were phallus-shaped.

    [7] The herald is looking for the Spartan Council of Elders, then realizes he needs the Athenian equivalent, the Prytany Council (fifty men selected from the Council of Five Hundred who served for 1/10 of the calendar year).

    [8] Literally a "conisalus," a giant phallus representing a fertility spirit.

    [9] Castor and his twin brother Polydeuces were famous heroes and brothers of Helen of Sparta.

    [10] Spartan staffs were an encryption method used to send messages. They came in pairs--one was sent with the envoy, another stayed in Sparta. The message sent out was written on a strip of fabric wound around the home staff and would have been indecipherable unless wound around its matching staff.

    [11] Pellene was the name of a famous prostitute and a particular territory the Spartans wanted.

    [12] The god Pan was believed to inflict various disasters, hence our word "panic". Pan was also depicted as a satyr and satyrs were associated with lust.


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