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2.6: Section 6

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    (Some LOUNGERS from the Market with torches approach the Banqueting hall. The PORTER bars their entrance).


    Open the door.


    Here move along.


    What's this?
    You're sitting down. Shall I singe you with my torch?
    That's vulgar! O I couldn't do it ... yet
    If it would gratify the audience, [1]
    I'll mortify myself.


    And I will too.
    We'll both be crude and vulgar, yes we will.


    Be off at once now or you'll be wailing
    Dirges for your hair. Get off at once,
    And see you don't disturb the Spartan envoys
    Just coming out from the splendid feast they've had.

    (The banqueters begin to come out).


    I've never known such a pleasant banquet before,
    And what delightful fellows the Spartans are.
    When we are warm with wine, how wise we grow.


    That's only fair, since sober we're such fools:
    This is the advice I'd give the Athenians--
    See our ambassadors are always drunk.
    For when we visit Sparta sober, then
    We're on the alert for trickery all the while
    So that we miss half of the things they say,
    And misinterpret things that were never said,
    And then report the muddle back to Athens.
    But now we're charmed with each other. They might cap
    With the Telamon-catch instead of the Cleitagora, [2]
    And we'd applaud and praise them just the same;
    We're not too scrupulous in weighing words.


    Why, here the rascals come again to plague me.
    Won't you move on, you sorry loafers there!


    Yes, by Zeus, they're already coming out.


    Now honey dearest, please take up your pipe
    That I may try a spring and sing my best
    In honor of the Athenians and ourselves.


    Aye, take your pipe. By all the gods, there's nothing
    Could glad my heart more than to watch you dance.


    Mnemosyne, [3]
    Let thy fire storm these youngsters,
    O tongue with stormy ecstasy
    My Muse [4] that knows
    Our deeds and theirs, how when at sea
    Their navies swooped upon
    The Medes [5] at Artemision-- [6]
    Gods for their courage, did they strike
    Wrenching a triumph from their foes;
    While at Thermopylae [7]
    Leonidas' [8] army stood: wild-boars they were like
    Wild-boars that with fierce threat
    Their terrible tusks whet;
    The sweat ran streaming down each twisted face,
    Glad blossoming in strange petals of death
    Panted from mortal breath,
    The sweat drenched and their bodies in that place,
    For the hurly-burly of Persians glittered more
    Than the sands on the shore.

    Come, Hunting Girl, [9] and hear my prayer--
    You whose arrows whizz in woodlands, come and bless
    This peace we swear.
    Let us be fenced with age-long amity,
    O let this bond stick ever firm through thee
    In friendly happiness.
    Henceforth no guileful perjury be seen!
    O hither, hither O
    Thou wildwood queen.


    Earth is delighted now, peace is the voice of earth.
    Spartans, sort out your wives: Athenians, yours.
    Let each catch hands with his wife and dance his joy, [10]
    Dance out his thanks, be grateful in music,
    And promise reformation with his heels.


    O Dancers, forward. Lead out the Graces, [11]
    Call Artemis [12] out;
    Then her brother, the Dancer of Skies,
    That gracious Apollo. [13]
    Invoke with a shout
    Dionysus out of whose eyes
    Breaks fire on the maenads that follow; [14]
    And Zeus [15] with his flares of quick lightning, and call,
    Happy Hera, [16] Queen of all,
    And all the Daimons [17] summon hither to be
    Witnesses of our revelry
    And of the noble peace we have made,
    Aphrodite our aid. [18]
    Io Paieon, Io, cry--
    For victory, leap!
    Attained by me, leap!
    Euoi Euoi Euai Euai.


    Piper, give us the music for a new sang.


    Leaving again lovely lofty Taygetus [19]
    Hither O Spartan Muse, hither to greet us,
    And with our choric voice to raise
    To Amyclean Apollo [20] praise,
    And Tyndareus' [21] gallant sons whose days
    Along Eurotas' banks merrily pass,
    And Athena of the House of Brass. [22]

    Now the dance begin;
    Dance, making swirl your fringe of wooly skin,
    While we join voices
    To hymn dear Sparta that rejoices
    In a beautiful song,
    And loves to see
    Dancers tangled beautifully;
    For the girls in tumbled ranks
    Along Eurotas' banks
    Like wanton fillies throng,
    Frolicking there
    And like Bacchantes shaking the wild air
    To comb a giddy laughter through the hair,
    Bacchantes that clench thyrsi as they sweep
    To the ecstatic leap. [23]

    And Helen, child of Leda, [24] come
    O holy, nimble, graceful Queen,
    Lead the dance, gather your joyous tresses up in bands
    And play like a fawn. To madden them, clap your hands,
    And sing praise to the warrior goddess templed in our lands,
    Her of the House of Brass.


    [1] Comedic plays often included scenes with slapstick chases and beatings, often involving actors playing slaves.

    [2] Raucous songs sung while drunk about Greek myths.

    [3] The goddess Memory, mother of the Muses.

    [4] Bards traditionally invoked the Muses, goddesses believed to inspire all creative efforts.

    [5] Persians.

    [6] The Athenian navy fought that of Persia off Artemisium in 480 BCE.

    [7] The Spartans were trapped in this pass, holding off the Persian field army.

    [8] A famed Spartan general.

    [9] Artemis, goddess of the hunt.

    [10] Dance was part of many sacred religious rituals and celebrations.

    [11] Goddesses typically depicted as dancing.

    [12] Goddess of the hunt and virgins.

    [13] God of the sun, archery, and plague.

    [14] God of wine with a complex mystery cult attached to his worship which focused on him as a figure of resurrection. The maenads were his occasionally frenzied female followers.

    [15] Head and father of the Olympian gods.

    [16] Zeus's sister and wife, goddess of marriage.

    [17] Minor deities, often viewed as the equivalent of guardian angels.

    [18] Goddess of love.

    [19] A mountain in Sparta. 

    [20] A shrine was dedicated to Apollo near the city of Sparta.

    [21] Castor and Polydeuces, twin brothers of Helen, deified heroes.

    [22] Another temple in Sparta.

    [23] Female followers of Dionysus who engaged in ecstatic dancing. The thyrsi were sacred wands or staffs.

    [24] Helen was supposedly born of Leda's coupling with Zeus in the form of a swan.

    2.6: Section 6 is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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