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Peace   By: (446? BC - 385? BC)

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PEACE

By Aristophanes

Original Transcriber's Note: Translator uncredited. Footnotes have been retained because they provide the meanings of Greek names, terms and ceremonies and explain puns and references otherwise lost in translation. Occasional Greek words in the footnotes have not been included. Footnote numbers, in brackets, start anew at (1) for each piece of dialogue, and each footnote follows immediately the dialogue to which it refers, labeled thus: f(1).

INTRODUCTION

The 'Peace' was brought out four years after 'The Acharnians' (422 B.C.), when the War had already lasted ten years. The leading motive is the same as in the former play the intense desire of the less excitable and more moderate minded citizens for relief from the miseries of war.

Trygaeus, a rustic patriot, finding no help in men, resolves to ascend to heaven to expostulate personally with Zeus for allowing this wretched state of things to continue. With this object he has fed and trained a gigantic dung beetle, which he mounts, and is carried, like Bellerophon on Pegasus, on an aerial journey. Eventually he reaches Olympus, only to find that the gods have gone elsewhere, and that the heavenly abode is occupied solely by the demon of War, who is busy pounding up the Greek States in a huge mortar. However, his benevolent purpose is not in vain; for learning from Hermes that the goddess Peace has been cast into a pit, where she is kept a fast prisoner, he calls upon the different peoples of Hellas to make a united effort and rescue her, and with their help drags her out and brings her back in triumph to earth. The play concludes with the restoration of the goddess to her ancient honours, the festivities of the rustic population and the nuptials of Trygaeus with Opora (Harvest), handmaiden of Peace, represented as a pretty courtesan.

Such references as there are to Cleon in this play are noteworthy. The great Demagogue was now dead, having fallen in the same action as the rival Spartan general, the renowned Brasidas, before Amphipolis, and whatever Aristophanes says here of his old enemy is conceived in the spirit of 'de mortuis nil nisi bonum.' In one scene Hermes is descanting on the evils which had nearly ruined Athens and declares that 'The Tanner' was the cause of them all. But Trygaeus interrupts him with the words:

"Hold say not so, good master Hermes; Let the man rest in peace where now he lies. He is no longer of our world, but yours."

Here surely we have a trait of magnanimity on the author's part as admirable in its way as the wit and boldness of his former attacks had been in theirs.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

TRYGAEUS TWO SERVANTS OF TRYGAEUS MAIDENS, DAUGHTERS OF TRYGAEUS HERMES WAR TUMULT HIEROCLES, a Soothsayer A SICKLE MAKER A CREST MAKER A TRUMPET MAKER A HELMET MAKER A SPEAR MAKER SON OF LAMACHUS SON OF CLEONYMUS CHORUS OF HUSBANDMEN

SCENE: A farmyard, two slaves busy beside a dungheap; afterwards, in Olympus.

FIRST SERVANT Quick, quick, bring the dung beetle his cake.

SECOND SERVANT Coming, coming.

FIRST SERVANT Give it to him, and may it kill him!

SECOND SERVANT May he never eat a better.

FIRST SERVANT Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.

SECOND SERVANT There! I've done that too.

FIRST SERVANT And where's what you gave him just now; surely he can't have devoured it yet!

SECOND SERVANT Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet and bolted it.

FIRST SERVANT Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.

SECOND SERVANT Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you do not wish to see me fall down choked.

FIRST SERVANT Come, come, another made from the stool of a young scapegrace catamite. 'Twill be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.

SECOND SERVANT There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of tasting what I mix.

FIRST SERVANT Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your might... Continue reading book >>






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