The Knights

Aristophanes

 

 

https://i2.wp.com/salempress.com/store/images/editorial/aristophanes.jpg420 BC
THE KNIGHTS
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

DEMOSTHENES
NICIAS
AGORACRITUS, a Sausage-Seller
CLEON
DEMOS
CHORUS OF KNIGHTS
KNIGHTS
(SCENE:-The Orchestra represents the Pnyx at Athens; in the back-
ground is the house of DEMOS.)

DEMOSTHENES
Oh! alas! alas! alas! Oh! woe! oh! woe! Miserable Paphlagonian!
may the gods destroy both him and his cursed advice! Since that evil
day when this new slave entered the house he has never ceased
belabouring us with blows.
NICIAS
May the plague seize him, the arch-fiend-him and his lying tales!
DEMOSTHENES
Hah! my poor fellow, what is your condition?
NICIAS
Very wretched, just like your own.
DEMOSTHENES
Then come, let us sing a duet of groans in the style of Olympus.
DEMOSTHENES AND NICIAS
Boo, hoo! boo, hoo! boo, hoo! boo, hoo! boo, hoo! boo, hoo!!
DEMOSTHENES
Bah! it’s lost labour to weep! Enough of groaning! Let us consider
now to save our pelts.
NICIAS
But how to do it! Can you suggest anything?
DEMOSTHENES
No, you begin. I cede you the honour.
NICIAS
By Apollo! no, not I. Come, have courage! Speak, and then I will
say what I think.
DEMOSTHENES (in tragic style)
“Ah! would you but tell me what I should tell you!
NICIAS
I dare not. How could I express my thoughts with the pomp of
Euripides?
DEMOSTHENES
Oh! please spare me! Do not pelt me with those vegetables, but
find some way of leaving our master.
NICIAS
Well, then! Say “Let-us-bolt,” like this, in one breath.
DEMOSTHENES
I follow you-‘Let-us-bolt.”
NICIAS
Now after “Let-us-bolt” say “at-top-speed
DEMOSTHENES
“At-top-speed!
NICIAS
Splendid! just as if you were masturbating; first slowly,
“Let-us-bolt”; then quick and firmly, “at-top-speed!”
DEMOSTHENES
Let-us-bolt, let-us-bolt-at-top-speed!
NICIAS
Hah! does that not please you?
DEMOSTHENES
Yes, indeed, yet I fear your omen bodes no good to my hide.
NICIAS
How so?
DEMOSTHENES
Because masturbation chafes the skin.
NICIAS
The best thing we can do for the moment is to throw ourselves at
the feet of the statue of some god.
DEMOSTHENES
Of which statue? Any statue? Do you then believe there are gods?
NICIAS
Certainly.
DEMOSTHENES
What proof have you?

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