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    Lysistrata

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    Chapter 1
    Dramatis Personae:

    LYSISTRATA
    CALONICE
    MYRRHINE
    LAMPITO
    Stratyllis, etc.
    Chorus of Women.
    MAGISTRATE
    CINESIAS
    SPARTAN HERALD
    ENVOYS
    ATHENIANS
    Porter, Market Idlers, etc.
    Chorus of old Men.

    LYSISTRATA _stands alone with the Propylaea at her back._

    LYSISTRATA

    If they were trysting for a Bacchanal,
    A feast of Pan or Colias or Genetyllis,
    The tambourines would block the rowdy streets,
    But now there's not a woman to be seen
    Except--ah, yes--this neighbour of mine yonder.

    _Enter_ CALONICE.

    Good day Calonice.

    CALONICE

    Good day Lysistrata.
    But what has vexed you so? Tell me, child.
    What are these black looks for? It doesn't suit you
    To knit your eyebrows up glumly like that.

    LYSISTRATA

    Calonice, it's more than I can bear,
    I am hot all over with blushes for our sex.
    Men say we're slippery rogues--

    CALONICE

    And aren't they right?

    LYSISTRATA

    Yet summoned on the most tremendous business
    For deliberation, still they snuggle in bed.

    CALONICE

    My dear, they'll come. It's hard for women, you know,
    To get away. There's so much to do;
    Husbands to be patted and put in good tempers:
    Servants to be poked out: children washed
    Or soothed with lullays or fed with mouthfuls of pap.

    LYSISTRATA

    But I tell you, here's a far more weighty object.

    CALONICE

    What is it all about, dear Lysistrata,
    That you've called the women hither in a troop?
    What kind of an object is it?

    LYSISTRATA

    A tremendous thing!

    CALONICE

    And long?

    LYSISTRATA

    Indeed, it may be very lengthy.

    CALONICE

    Then why aren't they here?

    LYSISTRATA

    No man's connected with it;
    If that was the case, they'd soon come fluttering along.
    No, no. It concerns an object I've felt over
    And turned this way and that for sleepless nights.

    CALONICE

    It must be fine to stand such long attention.

    LYSISTRATA

    So fine it comes to this--Greece saved by Woman!

    CALONICE

    By Woman? Wretched thing, I'm sorry for it.

    LYSISTRATA

    Our country's fate is henceforth in our hands:
    To destroy the Peloponnesians root and branch--

    CALONICE

    What could be nobler!

    LYSISTRATA

    Wipe out the Boeotians--

    CALONICE

    Not utterly. Have mercy on the eels!
    [Footnote: The Boeotian eels were highly esteemed delicacies in Athens.]

    LYSISTRATA

    But with regard to Athens, note I'm careful
    Not to say any of these nasty things;
    Still, thought is free.... But if the women join us
    From Peloponnesus and Boeotia, then
    Hand in hand we'll rescue Greece.

    CALONICE

    How could we do
    Such a big wise deed? We women who dwell
    Quietly adorning ourselves in a back-room
    With gowns of lucid gold and gawdy toilets
    Of stately silk and dainty little slippers....

    LYSISTRATA

    These are the very armaments of the rescue.
    These crocus-gowns, this outlay of the best myrrh,
    Slippers, cosmetics dusting beauty, and robes
    With rippling creases of light.

    CALONICE

    Yes, but how?

    LYSISTRATA

    No man will lift a lance against another--

    CALONICE

    I'll run to have my tunic dyed crocus.

    LYSISTRATA

    Or take a shield--

    CALONICE

    I'll get a stately gown.

    LYSISTRATA

    Or unscabbard a sword--

    CALONICE

    Let me buy a pair of slipper.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now, tell me, are the women right to lag?

    CALONICE

    They should have turned birds, they should have grown
    wings and flown.

    LYSISTRATA

    My friend, you'll see that they are true Athenians:
    Always too late. Why, there's not a woman
    From the shoreward demes arrived, not one from Salamis.

    CALONICE

    I know for certain they awoke at dawn,
    And got their husbands up if not their boat sails.

    LYSISTRATA

    And I'd have staked my life the Acharnian dames
    Would be here first, yet they haven't come either!

    CALONICE

    Well anyhow there is Theagenes' wife
    We can expect--she consulted Hecate.
    But look, here are some at last, and more behind them.
    See ... where are they from?

    CALONICE

    From Anagyra they come.

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes, they generally manage to come first.

    _Enter_ MYRRHINE.

    MYRRHINE

    Are we late, Lysistrata? ... What is that?
    Nothing to say?

    LYSISTRATA

    I've not much to say for you,
    Myrrhine, dawdling on so vast an affair.

    MYRRHINE

    I couldn't find my girdle in the dark.
    But if the affair's so wonderfull, tell us, what is it?

    LYSISTRATA

    No, let us stay a little longer till
    The Peloponnesian girls and the girls of Bocotia
    Are here to listen.

    MYRRHINE

    That's the best advice.
    Ah, there comes Lampito.

    _Enter_ LAMPITO.

    LYSISTRATA

    Welcome Lampito!
    Dear Spartan girl with a delightful face,
    Washed with the rosy spring, how fresh you look
    In the easy stride of your sleek slenderness,
    Why you could strangle a bull!

    LAMPITO

    I think I could.
    It's frae exercise and kicking high behint.

    [Footnote: The translator has put the speech of the Spartan characters
    in Scotch dialect which is related to English about as was the Spartan
    dialect to the speech of Athens. The Spartans, in their character,
    anticipated the shrewd, canny, uncouth Scotch highlander of modern
    times.]

    LYSISTRATA

    What lovely breasts to own!

    LAMPITO

    Oo ... your fingers
    Assess them, ye tickler, wi' such tender chucks
    I feel as if I were an altar-victim.

    LYSISTRATA

    Who is this youngster?

    LAMPITO

    A Boeotian lady.

    LYSISTRATA

    There never was much undergrowth in Boeotia,
    Such a smooth place, and this girl takes after it.

    CALONICE

    Yes, I never saw a skin so primly kept.

    LYSISTRATA

    This girl?

    LAMPITO

    A sonsie open-looking jinker!
    She's a Corinthian.

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes, isn't she
    Very open, in some ways particularly.

    LAMPITO

    But who's garred this Council o' Women to meet here?

    LYSISTRATA

    I have.

    LAMPITO

    Propound then what you want o' us.

    MYRRHINE

    What is the amazing news you have to tell?

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll tell you, but first answer one small question.

    MYRRHINE

    As you like.

    LYSISTRATA

    Are you not sad your children's fathers
    Go endlessly off soldiering afar
    In this plodding war? I am willing to wager
    There's not one here whose husband is at home.

    CALONICE

    Mine's been in Thrace, keeping an eye on Eucrates
    For five months past.

    MYRRHINE

    And mine left me for Pylos
    Seven months ago at least.

    LAMPITO

    And as for mine
    No sooner has he slipped out frae the line
    He straps his shield and he's snickt off again.

    LYSISTRATA

    And not the slightest glitter of a lover!
    And since the Milesians betrayed us, I've not seen
    The image of a single upright man
    To be a marble consolation to us.
    Now will you help me, if I find a means
    To stamp the war out.

    MYRRHINE

    By the two Goddesses, Yes!
    I will though I've to pawn this very dress
    And drink the barter-money the same day.

    CALONICE

    And I too though I'm split up like a turbot
    And half is hackt off as the price of peace.

    LAMPITO

    And I too! Why, to get a peep at the shy thing
    I'd clamber up to the tip-top o' Taygetus.

    LYSISTRATA

    Then I'll expose my mighty mystery.
    O women, if we would compel the men
    To bow to Peace, we must refrain--

    MYRRHINE

    From what?
    O tell us!

    LYSISTRATA

    Will you truly do it then?

    MYRRHINE

    We will, we will, if we must die for it.

    LYSISTRATA

    We must refrain from every depth of love....
    Why do you turn your backs? Where are you going?
    Why do you bite your lips and shake your heads?
    Why are your faces blanched? Why do you weep?
    Will you or won't you, or what do you mean?

    MYRRHINE

    No, I won't do it. Let the war proceed.

    CALONICE

    No, I won't do it. Let the war proceed.

    LYSISTRATA

    You too, dear turbot, you that said just now
    You didn't mind being split right up in the least?

    CALONICE

    Anything else? O bid me walk in fire
    But do not rob us of that darling joy.
    What else is like it, dearest Lysistrata?

    LYSISTRATA

    And you?

    MYRRHINE

    O please give me the fire instead.

    LYSISTRATA

    Lewd to the least drop in the tiniest vein,
    Our sex is fitly food for Tragic Poets,
    Our whole life's but a pile of kisses apd babies.
    But, hardy Spartan, if you join with me
    All may be righted yet. O help me, help me.

    LAMPITO

    It's a sair, sair thing to ask of us, by the Twa,
    A lass to sleep her lane and never fill
    Love's lack except wi' makeshifts.... But let it be.
    Peace maun be thought of first.

    LYSISTRATA

    My friend, my friend!
    The only one amid this herd of weaklings.

    CALONICE

    But if--which heaven forbid--we should refrain
    As you would have us, how is Peace induced?

    LYSISTRATA

    By the two Goddesses, now can't you see
    All we have to do is idly sit indoors
    With smooth roses powdered on our cheeks,
    Our bodies burning naked through the folds
    Of shining Amorgos' silk, and meet the men
    With our dear Venus-plats plucked trim and neat.
    Their stirring love will rise up furiously,
    They'll beg our arms to open. That's our time!
    We'll disregard their knocking, beat them off--
    And they will soon be rabid for a Peace.
    I'm sure of it.

    LAMPITO

    Just as Menelaus, they say,
    Seeing the bosom of his naked Helen
    Flang down the sword.

    CALONICE

    But we'll be tearful fools
    If our husbands take us at our word and leave us.

    LYSISTRATA

    There's only left then, in Pherecrates' phrase,
    _To flay a skinned dog_--flay more our flayed desires.

    CALONICE

    Bah, proverbs will never warm a celibate.
    But what avail will your scheme be if the men
    Drag us for all our kicking on to the couch?

    LYSISTRATA

    Cling to the doorposts.

    CALONICE

    But if they should force us?

    LYSISTRATA

    Yield then, but with a sluggish, cold indifference.
    There is no joy to them in sullen mating.
    Besides we have other ways to madden them;
    They cannot stand up long, and they've no delight
    Unless we fit their aim with merry succour.

    CALONICE

    Well if you must have it so, we'll all agree.

    LAMPITO

    For us I ha' no doubt. We can persuade
    Our men to strike a fair an' decent Peace,
    But how will ye pitch out the battle-frenzy
    O' the Athenian populace?

    LYSISTRATA

    I promise you
    We'll wither up that curse.

    LAMPITO

    I don't believe it.
    Not while they own ane trireme oared an' rigged,
    Or a' those stacks an' stacks an' stacks O' siller.

    LYSISTRATA

    I've thought the whole thing out till there's no flaw.
    We shall surprise the Acropolis today:
    That is the duty set the older dames.
    While we sit here talking, they are to go
    And under pretence of sacrificing, seize it.

    LAMPITO

    Certie, that's fine; all's warking for the best.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now quickly, Lampito, let us tie ourselves
    To this high purpose as tightly as the hemp of words
    Can knot together.

    LAMPITO

    Set out the terms in detail
    And we'll a' swear to them.

    LYSISTRATA

    Of course.... Well then
    Where is our Scythianess? Why are you staring?
    First lay the shield, boss downward, on the floor
    And bring the victim's inwards.

    CAILONICE

    But, Lysistrata,
    What is this oath that we're to swear?

    LYSISTRATA

    What oath!
    In Aeschylus they take a slaughtered sheep
    And swear upon a buckler. Why not we?

    CALONICE

    O Lysistrata, Peace sworn on a buckler!

    LYSISTRATA

    What oath would suit us then?

    CALONICE

    Something burden bearing
    Would be our best insignia.... A white horse!
    Let's swear upon its entrails.

    LYSISTRATA

    A horse indeed!

    CALONICE

    Then what will symbolise us?

    LYSISTRATA

    This, as I tell you--
    First set a great dark bowl upon the ground
    And disembowel a skin of Thasian wine,
    Then swear that we'll not add a drop of water.

    LAMPITO
    Ah, what aith could clink pleasanter than that!

    LYSISTRATA
    Bring me a bowl then and a skin of wine.

    CALONICE
    My dears, see what a splendid bowl it is;
    I'd not say No if asked to sip it off.

    LYSISTRATA
    Put down the bowl. Lay hands, all, on the victim.
    Skiey Queen who givest the last word in arguments,
    And thee, O Bowl, dear comrade, we beseech:
    Accept our oblation and be propitious to us.

    CALONICE
    What healthy blood, la, how it gushes out!

    LAMPITO
    An' what a leesome fragrance through the air.

    LYSISTRATA
    Now, dears, if you will let me, I'll speak first.

    CALONICE
    Only if you draw the lot, by Aphrodite!

    LYSISTRATA
    SO, grasp the brim, you, Lampito, and all.
    You, Calonice, repeat for the rest
    Each word I say. Then you must all take oath
    And pledge your arms to the same stern conditions--

    LYSISTRATA
    To husband or lover I'll not open arms

    CALONICE

    _To husband or lover I'll not open arms_

    LYSISTRATA

    Though love and denial may enlarge his charms.

    CALONICE

    _Though love and denial may enlarge his charms._
    O, O, my knees are failing me, Lysistrata!

    LYSISTRATA

    But still at home, ignoring him, I'll stay,

    CALONICE

    _But still at home, ignoring him, I'll stay,_

    LYSISTRATA

    Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day.

    CALONICE

    _Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day._

    LYSISTRATA

    If then he seizes me by dint of force,

    CALONICE

    _If then he seizes me by dint of force,_

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll give him reason for a long remorse.

    CALONICE

    _I'll give him reason for a long remorse._

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll never lie and stare up at the ceiling,

    CALONICE

    _I'll never lie and stare up at the ceiling,_

    LYSISTRATA

    Nor like a lion on all fours go kneeling.

    CALONICE

    _Nor like a lion on all fours go kneeling._

    LYSISTRATA

    If I keep faith, then bounteous cups be mine.

    CALONICE

    _If I keep faith, then bounteous cups be mine._

    LYSISTRATA

    If not, to nauseous water change this wine.

    CALONICE
    _If not, to nauseous water change this wine._

    LYSISTRATA

    Do you all swear to this?

    MYRRHINE

    We do, we do.

    LYSISTRATA

    Then I shall immolate the victim thus.
    _She drinks._

    CALONICE

    Here now, share fair, haven't we made a pact?
    Let's all quaff down that friendship in our turn.

    LAMPITO

    Hark, what caterwauling hubbub's that?

    LYSISTRATA

    As I told you,
    The women have appropriated the citadel.
    So, Lampito, dash off to your own land
    And raise the rebels there. These will serve as hostages,
    While we ourselves take our places in the ranks
    And drive the bolts right home.

    CALONICE

    But won't the men
    March straight against us?

    LYSISTRATA

    And what if they do?
    No threat shall creak our hinges wide, no torch
    Shall light a fear in us; we will come out
    To Peace alone.

    CALONICE

    That's it, by Aphrodite!
    As of old let us seem hard and obdurate.

    LAMPITO _and some go off; the others go up into the Acropolis._

    _Chorus of_ OLD MEN _enter to attack the captured Acropolis_.

    Make room, Draces, move ahead; why your shoulder's chafed, I see,
    With lugging uphill these lopped branches of the olive-tree.
    How upside-down and wrong-way-round a long life sees things grow.
    Ah, Strymodorus, who'd have thought affairs could tangle so?

    The women whom at home we fed,
    Like witless fools, with fostering bread,
    Have impiously come to this--
    They've stolen the Acropolis,
    With bolts and bars our orders flout
    And shut us out.

    Come, Philurgus, bustle thither; lay our faggots on the ground,
    In neat stacks beleaguering the insurgents all around;
    And the vile conspiratresses, plotters of such mischief dire,
    Pile and burn them all together in one vast and righteous pyre:
    Fling with our own hands Lycon's wife to fry in the thickest fire.
    By Demeter, they'll get no brag while I've a vein to beat!
    Cleomenes himself was hurtled out in sore defeat.
    His stiff-backed Spartan pride was bent.
    Out, stripped of all his arms, he went:
    A pigmy cloak that would not stretch
    To hide his rump (the draggled wretch),
    Six sprouting years of beard, the spilth
    Of six years' filth.

    That was a siege! Our men were ranged in lines of seventeen deep
    Before the gates, and never left their posts there, even to sleep.
    Shall I not smite the rash presumption then of foes like these,
    Detested both of all the gods and of Euripides--
    Else, may the Marathon-plain not boast my trophied victories!

    Ah, now, there's but a little space
    To reach the place!
    A deadly climb it is, a tricky road
    With all this bumping load:
    A pack-ass soon would tire....
    How these logs bruise my shoulders! further still
    Jog up the hill,
    And puff the fire inside,
    Or just as we reach the top we'll find it's died.
    Ough, phew!
    I choke with the smoke.

    Lord Heracles, how acrid-hot
    Out of the pot
    This mad-dog smoke leaps, worrying me
    And biting angrily....
    'Tis Lemnian fire that smokes,
    Or else it would not sting my eyelids thus....
    Haste, all of us;
    Athene invokes our aid.
    Laches, now or never the assault must be made!
    Ough, phew!
    I choke with the smoke. ..

    Thanked be the gods! The fire peeps up and crackles as it should.
    Now why not first slide off our backs these weary loads of wood
    And dip a vine-branch in the brazier till it glows, then straight
    Hurl it at the battering-ram against the stubborn gate?
    If they refuse to draw the bolts in immediate compliance,
    We'll set fire to the wood, and smoke will strangle their defiance.

    Phew, what a spluttering drench of smoke! Come, now from off my back....
    Is there no Samos-general to help me to unpack?
    Ah there, that's over! For the last time now it's galled my shoulder.
    Flare up thine embers, brazier, and dutifully smoulder,
    To kindle a brand, that I the first may strike the citadel.
    Aid me, Lady Victory, that a triumph-trophy may tell
    How we did anciently this insane audacity quell!

    _Chorus of_ WOMEN.

    What's that rising yonder? That ruddy glare, that smoky skurry?
    O is it something in a blaze? Quick, quick, my comrades, hurry!
    Nicodice, helter-skelter!
    Or poor Calyce's in flames
    And Cratylla's stifled in the welter.
    O these dreadful old men
    And their dark laws of hate!
    There, I'm all of a tremble lest I turn out to be too late.
    I could scarcely get near to the spring though I rose before dawn,
    What with tattling of tongues and rattling of pitchers in one jostling din
    With slaves pushing in!....

    Still here at last the water's drawn
    And with it eagerly I run
    To help those of my friends who stand
    In danger of being burned alive.
    For I am told a dribbling band
    Of greybeards hobble to the field,
    Great faggots in each palsied hand,
    As if a hot bath to prepare,
    And threatening that out they'll drive
    These wicked women or soon leave them charring into ashes
    there.
    O Goddess, suffer not, I pray, this harsh deed to be done,
    But show us Greece and Athens with their warlike acts repealed!
    For this alone, in this thy hold,
    Thou Goddess with the helm of gold,
    We laid hands on thy sanctuary,
    Athene.... Then our ally be
    And where they cast their fires of slaughter
    Direct our water!

    STRATYLLIS (_caught_)

    Let me go!

    WOMEN

    You villainous old men, what's this you do?
    No honest man, no pious man, could do such things as you.

    MEN

    Ah ha, here's something most original, I have no doubt:
    A swarm of women sentinels to man the walls without.

    WOMEN

    So then we scare you, do we? Do we seem a fearful host?
    You only see the smallest fraction mustered at this post.

    MEN

    Ho, Phaedrias, shall we put a stop to all these chattering tricks?
    Suppose that now upon their backs we splintered these our sticks?

    WOMEN

    Let us lay down the pitchers, so our bodies will be free,
    In case these lumping fellows try to cause some injury.

    MEN

    O hit them hard and hit again and hit until they run away,
    And perhaps they'll learn, like Bupalus, not to have too much to say.

    WOMEN

    Come on, then--do it! I won't budge, but like a dog I'll bite
    At every little scrap of meat that dangles in my sight.

    MEN

    Be quiet, or I'll bash you out of any years to come.

    WOMEN

    Now you just touch Stratyllis with the top-joint of your thumb.

    MEN

    What vengeance can you take if with my fists your face I beat?

    WOMEN

    I'll rip you with my teeth and strew your entrails at your feet.

    MEN

    Now I appreciate Euripides' strange subtlety:
    Woman is the most shameless beast of all the beasts that be.

    WOMEN

    Rhodippe, come, and let's pick up our water-jars once more.

    MEN

    Ah cursed drab, what have you brought this water for?

    WOMEN

    What is your fire for then, you smelly corpse? Yourself to burn?

    MEN

    To build a pyre and make your comrades ready for the urn.

    WOMEN

    And I've the water to put out your fire immediately.

    MEN

    What, you put out my fire?

    WOMEN

    Yes, sirrah, as you soon will see.

    MEN

    I don't know why I hesitate to roast you with this flame.

    WOMEN

    If you have any soap you'll go off cleaner than you came.

    MEN

    Cleaner, you dirty slut?

    WOMEN

    A nuptial-bath in which to lie!

    MEN

    Did you hear that insolence?

    WOMEN

    I'm a free woman, I.

    MEN

    I'll make you hold your tongue.

    WOMEN

    Henceforth you'll serve in no more juries.

    MEN

    Burn off her hair for her.

    WOMEN

    Now forward, water, quench their furies!

    MEN

    O dear, O dear!

    WOMEN

    So ... was it hot?

    MEN

    Hot! ... Enough, O hold.

    WOMEN

    Watered, perhaps you'll bloom again--why not?

    MEN

    Brrr, I'm wrinkled up from shivering with cold.

    WOMEN

    Next time you've fire you'll warm yourself and leave us to our lot.

    MAGISTRATE _enters with attendant_ SCYTHIANS.

    MAGISTRATE

    Have the luxurious rites of the women glittered
    Their libertine show, their drumming tapped out crowds,
    The Sabazian Mysteries summoned their mob,
    Adonis been wept to death on the terraces,
    As I could hear the last day in the Assembly?
    For Demostratus--let bad luck befoul him--
    Was roaring, "We must sail for Sicily,"
    While a woman, throwing herself about in a dance
    Lopsided with drink, was shrilling out "Adonis,
    Woe for Adonis." Then Demostratus shouted,
    "We must levy hoplites at Zacynthus,"
    And there the woman, up to the ears in wine,
    Was screaming "Weep for Adonis" on the house-top,
    The scoundrelly politician, that lunatic ox,
    Bellowing bad advice through tipsy shrieks:
    Such are the follies wantoning in them.

    MEN

    O if you knew their full effronery!
    All of the insults they've done, besides sousing us
    With water from their pots to our public disgrace
    For we stand here wringing our clothes like grown-up infants.

    MAGISTRATE

    By Poseidon, justly done! For in part with us
    The blame must lie for dissolute behaviour
    And for the pampered appetites they learn.
    Thus grows the seedling lust to blossoming:
    We go into a shop and say, "Here, goldsmith,
    You remember the necklace that you wrought my wife;
    Well, the other night in fervour of a dance
    Her clasp broke open. Now I'm off for Salamis;
    If you've the leisure, would you go tonight
    And stick a bolt-pin into her opened clasp."
    Another goes to a cobbler; a soldierly fellow,
    Always standing up erect, and says to him,
    "Cobbler, a sandal-strap of my wife's pinches her,
    Hurts her little toe in a place where she's sensitive.
    Come at noon and see if you can stretch out wider
    This thing that troubles her, loosen its tightness."
    And so you view the result. Observe my case--
    I, a magistrate, come here to draw
    Money to buy oar-blades, and what happens?
    The women slam the door full in my face.
    But standing still's no use. Bring me a crowbar,
    And I'll chastise this their impertinence.
    What do you gape at, wretch, with dazzled eyes?
    Peering for a tavern, I suppose.
    Come, force the gates with crowbars, prise them apart!
    I'll prise away myself too.... (LYSISTRATA _appears._)

    LYSISTRATA

    Stop this banging.
    I'm coming of my own accord.... Why bars?
    It is not bars we need but common sense.

    MAGISTRATE

    Indeed, you slut! Where is the archer now?
    Arrest this woman, tie her hands behind.

    LYSISTRATA

    If he brushes me with a finger, by Artemis,
    The public menial, he'll be sorry for it.

    MAGISTRATE

    Are you afraid? Grab her about the middle.
    Two of you then, lay hands on her and end it.

    CALONICE

    By Pandrosos I if your hand touches her
    I'll spread you out and trample on your guts.

    MAGISTRATE

    My guts! Where is the other archer gone?
    Bind that minx there who talks so prettily.

    MYRRHINE

    By Phosphor, if your hand moves out her way
    You'd better have a surgeon somewhere handy.

    MAGISTRATE

    You too! Where is that archer? Take that woman.
    I'll put a stop to these surprise-parties.

    STRATYLLIS

    By the Tauric Artemis, one inch nearer
    My fingers, and it's a bald man that'll be yelling.

    MAGISTRATE

    Tut tut, what's here? Deserted by my archers....
    But surely women never can defeat us;
    Close up your ranks, my Scythians. Forward at them.

    LYSISTRATA

    By the Goddesses, you'll find that here await you
    Four companies of most pugnacious women
    Armed cap-a-pie from the topmost louring curl
    To the lowest angry dimple.

    MAGISTRATE

    On, Scythians, bind them.

    LYSISTRATA

    On, gallant allies of our high design,
    Vendors of grain-eggs-pulse-and-vegetables,
    Ye garlic-tavern-keepers of bakeries,
    Strike, batter, knock, hit, slap, and scratch our foes,
    Be finely imprudent, say what you think of them....
    Enough! retire and do not rob the dead.

    MAGISTRATE

    How basely did my archer-force come off.

    LYSISTRATA

    Ah, ha, you thought it was a herd of slaves
    You had to tackle, and you didn't guess
    The thirst for glory ardent in our blood.

    MAGISTRATE

    By Apollo, I know well the thirst that heats you--
    Especially when a wine-skin's close.

    MEN

    You waste your breath, dear magistrate, I fear, in answering back.
    What's the good of argument with such a rampageous pack?
    Remember how they washed us down (these very clothes I wore)
    With water that looked nasty and that smelt so even more.

    WOMEN

    What else to do, since you advanced too dangerously nigh.
    If you should do the same again, I'll punch you in the eye.
    Though I'm a stay-at-home and most a quiet life enjoy,
    Polite to all and every (for I'm naturally coy),
    Still if you wake a wasps' nest then of wasps you must beware.

    MEN

    How may this ferocity be tamed? It grows too great to bear.
    Let us question them and find if they'll perchance declare
    The reason why they strangely dare
    To seize on Cranaos' citadel,
    This eyrie inaccessible,
    This shrine above the precipice,
    The Acropolis.
    Probe them and find what they mean with this idle talk; listen,
    but watch they don't try to deceive.
    You'd be neglecting your duty most certainly if now this mystery
    unplumbed you leave.

    MAGISTRATE

    Women there! Tell what I ask you, directly....
    Come, without rambling, I wish you to state
    What's your rebellious intention in barring up thus on our noses
    our own temple-gate.

    LYSISTRATA

    To take first the treasury out of your management, and so stop the war
    through the absence of gold.

    MAGISTRATE

    Is gold then the cause of the war?

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes, gold caused it and miseries more, too many to be told.
    'Twas for money, and money alone, that Pisander with all of the army of
    mob-agitators.
    Raised up revolutions. But, as for the future, it won't be worth while
    to set up to be traitors.
    Not an obol they'll get as their loot, not an obol! while we have the
    treasure-chest in our command.

    MAGISTRATE

    What then is that you propose?

    LYSISTRATA

    Just this--merely to take the exchequer henceforth in hand.

    MAGISTRATE

    The exchequer!

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes, why not? Of our capabilities you have had various clear evidences.
    Firstly remember we have always administered soundly the budget of all
    home-expenses.

    MAGISTRATE

    But this matter's different.

    LYSISTRATA

    How is it different?

    MAGISTRATE

    Why, it deals chiefly with war-time supplies.

    LYSISTRATA

    But we abolish war straight by our policy.

    MAGISTRATE

    What will you do if emergencies arise?

    LYSISTRATA

    Face them our own way.

    MAGISTRATE

    What _you_ will?

    LYSISTRATA

    Yes _we_ will!

    MAGISTRATE

    Then there's no help for it; we're all destoryed.

    LYSISTRATA

    No, willy-nilly you must be safeguarded.

    MAGISTRATE

    What madness is this?

    LYSISTRATA

    Why, it seems you're annoyed.
    It must be done, that's all.

    MAGISTRATE

    Such awful oppression never,
    O never in the past yet I bore.

    LYSISTRATA

    You must be saved, sirrah--that's all there is to it.

    MAGISTRATE

    If we don't want to be saved?

    LYSISTRATA

    All the more.

    MAGISTRATE

    Why do you women come prying and meddling in matters of state touching
    war-time and peace?

    LYSISTRATA

    That I will tell you.

    MAGISTRATE

    O tell me or quickly I'll--

    LYSISTRATA

    Hearken awhile and from threatening cease.

    MAGISTRATE

    I cannot, I cannot; it's growing too insolent.

    WOMEN

    Come on; you've far more than we have to dread.

    MAGISTRATE

    Stop from your croaking, old carrion-crow there....
    Continue

    LYSISTRATA

    Be calm then and I'll go ahead.
    All the long years when the hopeless war dragged along we, unassuming,
    forgotten in quiet,
    Endured without question, endured in our loneliness all your incessant
    child's antics and riot.
    Our lips we kept tied, though aching with silence, though well all the
    while in our silence we knew
    How wretchedly everything still was progressing by listening dumbly the
    day long to you.
    For always at home you continued discussing the war and its politics
    loudly, and we
    Sometimes would ask you, our hearts deep with sorrowing though we spoke
    lightly, though happy to see,
    "What's to be inscribed on the side of the Treaty-stone
    What, dear, was said in the Assembly today?"
    "Mind your own business," he'd answer me growlingly
    "hold your tongue, woman, or else go away."
    And so I would hold it.

    WOMEN

    I'd not be silent for any man living on earth, no, not I!

    MAGISTRATE

    Not for a staff?

    LYSISTRATA

    Well, so I did nothing but sit in the house, feeling dreary, and sigh,
    While ever arrived some fresh tale of decisions more foolish by far and
    presaging disaster.
    Then I would say to him, "O my dear husband, why still do they rush on
    destructlon the faster?"
    At which he would look at me sideways, exclaiming, "Keep for your web
    and your shuttle your care,
    Or for some hours hence your cheeks will be sore and hot; leave this
    alone, war is Man's sole affair!"

    MAGISTRATE

    By Zeus, but a man of fine sense, he.

    LYSISTRATA

    How sensible?
    You dotard, because he at no time had lent
    His intractible ears to absorb from our counsel one temperate word of
    advice, kindly meant?
    But when at the last in the streets we heard shouted (everywhere ringing
    the ominous cry)
    "Is there no one to help us, no saviour in Athens?" and, "No, there is
    no one," come back in reply.
    At once a convention of all wives through Hellas here for a serious
    purpose was held,
    To determine how husbands might yet back to wisdom despite their
    reluctance in time be compelled.
    Why then delay any longer? It's settled. For the future you'll take
    up our old occupation.
    Now in turn you're to hold tongue, as we did, and listen while we show
    the way to recover the nation.

    MAGISTRATE

    _You_ talk to _us!_ Why, you're mad. I'll not stand it.

    LYSISTRATA

    Cease babbling, you fool; till I end, hold your tongue.

    MAGISTRATE

    If I should take orders from one who wears veils, may my
    neck straightaway be deservedly wrung.

    LYSISTRATA

    O if that keeps pestering you,
    I've a veil here for your hair,
    I'll fit you out in everything
    As is only fair.

    CALONICE

    Here's a spindle that will do.

    MYRRHINE

    I'll add a wool-basket too.

    LYSISTRATA

    Girdled now sit humbly at home,
    Munching beans, while you card wool and comb. For war from now on
    is the Women's affair.

    WOMEN.

    Come then, down pitchers, all,
    And on, courageous of heart,
    In our comradely venture
    Each taking her due part.

    I could dance, dance, dance, and be fresher after,
    I could dance away numberless suns,
    To no weariness let my knees bend.
    Earth I could brave with laughter,
    Having such wonderful girls here to friend.
    O the daring, the gracious, the beautiful ones!
    Their courage unswerving and witty
    Will rescue our city.

    O sprung from the seed of most valiant-wombed grand-
    mothers, scions of savage and dangerous nettles!
    Prepare for the battle, all. Gird up your angers. Our way
    the wind of sweet victory settles.

    LYSISTRATA

    O tender Eros and Lady of Cyprus, some flush of beauty I
    pray you devise
    To flash on our bosoms and, O Aphrodite, rosily gleam on
    our valorous thighs!
    Joy will raise up its head through the legions warring and
    all of the far-serried ranks of mad-love
    Bristle the earth to the pillared horizon, pointing in vain to
    the heavens above.
    I think that perhaps then they'll give us our title--
    Peace-makers.

    MAGISTRATE

    What do you mean? Please explain.

    LYSISTRATA

    First, we'll not see you now flourishing arms about into the
    Marketing-place clang again.

    WOMEN
    No, by the Paphian.

    LYSISTRATA

    Still I can conjure them as past were the herbs stand or crockery's sold
    Like Corybants jingling (poor sots) fully armoured, they noisily round
    on their promenade strolled.

    MAGISTRATE

    And rightly; that's discipline, they--

    LYSISTRATA

    But what's sillier than to go on an errand of buying a fish
    Carrying along an immense. Gorgon-buckler instead the usual platter
    or dish?
    A phylarch I lately saw, mounted on horse-back, dressed for the part
    with long ringlets and all,
    Stow in his helmet the omelet bought steaming from an old woman who
    kept a food-stall.
    Nearby a soldier, a Thracian, was shaking wildly his spear like Tereus
    in the play,
    To frighten a fig-girl while unseen the ruffian filched from her
    fruit-trays the ripest away.

    MAGISTRATE

    How, may I ask, will your rule re-establish order and justice in lands
    so tormented?

    LYSISTRATA

    Nothing is easier.

    MAGISTRATE

    Out with it speedily--what is this plan that you boast you've invented?

    LYSISTRATA

    If, when yarn we are winding, It chances to tangle, then, as perchance you
    may know, through the skein
    This way and that still the spool we keep passing till it is finally clear
    all again:
    So to untangle the War and its errors, ambassadors out on all sides we will
    send
    This way and that, here, there and round about--soon you will find that the
    War has an end.

    MAGISTRATE

    So with these trivial tricks of the household, domestic analogies of
    threads, skeins and spools,
    You think that you'll solve such a bitter complexity, unwind such political
    problems, you fools!

    LYSISTRATA

    Well, first as we wash dirty wool so's to cleanse it, so with a pitiless
    zeal we will scrub
    Through the whole city for all greasy fellows; burrs too, the parasites,
    off we will rub.
    That verminous plague of insensate place-seekers soon between thumb and
    forefinger we'll crack.
    All who inside Athens' walls have their dwelling into one great common
    basket we'll pack.
    Disenfranchised or citizens, allies or aliens, pell-mell the lot of them
    in we will squeeze.
    Till they discover humanity's meaning.... As for disjointed and far
    colonies,
    Them you must never from this time imagine as scattered about just like
    lost hanks of wool.
    Each portion we'll take and wind in to this centre, inward to Athens
    each loyalty pull,
    Till from the vast heap where all's piled together at last can be woven
    a strong Cloak of State.

    MAGISTRATE

    How terrible is it to stand here and watch them carding and winding at
    will with our fate,
    Witless in war as they are.

    LYSISTRATA

    What of us then, who ever in vain for our children must weep
    Borne but to perish afar and in vain?

    MAGISTRATE

    Not that, O let that one memory sleep!

    LYSISTRATA

    Then while we should be companioned still merrily, happy as brides may,
    the livelong night,
    Kissing youth by, we are forced to lie single.... But leave for a moment
    our pitiful plight,
    It hurts even more to behold the poor maidens helpless wrinkling in
    staler virginity.

    MAGISTRATE

    Does not a man age?

    LYSISTRATA

    Not in the same way. Not as a woman grows withered, grows he.
    He, when returned from the war, though grey-headed, yet
    if he wishes can choose out a wife.
    But she has no solace save peering for omens, wretched and
    lonely the rest of her life.

    MAGISTRATE

    But the old man will often select--

    LYSISTRATA

    O why not finish and die?
    A bier is easy to buy,
    A honey-cake I'll knead you with joy,
    This garland will see you are decked.

    CALONICE

    I've a wreath for you too.

    MYRRHINE

    I also will fillet you.

    LYSISTRATA

    What more is lacking? Step aboard the boat.
    See, Charon shouts ahoy.
    You're keeping him, he wants to shove afloat.

    MAGISTRATE

    Outrageous insults! Thus my place to flout!
    Now to my fellow-magistrates I'll go
    And what you've perpetrated on me show.

    LYSISTRATA

    Why are you blaming us for laying you out?
    Assure yourself we'll not forget to make
    The third day offering early for your sake.

    MAGISTRATE _retires_, LYSISTRATA _returns within_.

    OLD MEN.

    All men who call your loins your own, awake at last, arise
    And strip to stand in readiness. For as it seems to me
    Some more perilous offensive in their heads they now devise.
    I'm sure a Tyranny
    Like that of Hippias
    In this I detect....
    They mean to put us under
    Themselves I suspect,
    And that Laconians assembling
    At Cleisthenes' house have played
    A trick-of-war and provoked them
    Madly to raid
    The Treasury, in which term I include
    The Pay for my food.

    For is it not preposterous
    They should talk this way to us
    On a subject such as battle!

    And, women as they are, about bronze bucklers dare prattle--
    Make alliance with the Spartans--people I for one
    Like very hungry wolves would always most sincere shun....
    Some dirty game is up their sleeve,
    I believe.
    A Tyranny, no doubt... but they won't catch me, that know.
    Henceforth on my guard I'll go,
    A sword with myrtle-branches wreathed for ever in my hand,
    And under arms in the Public Place I'll take my watchful stand,
    Shoulder to shoulder with Aristogeiton. Now my staff I'll draw
    And start at once by knocking
    that shocking
    Hag upon the jaw.

    WOMEN.

    Your own mother will not know you when you get back to the town.
    But first, my friends and allies, let us lay these garments down,
    And all ye fellow-citizens, hark to me while I tell
    What will aid Athens well.
    Just as is right, for I
    Have been a sharer
    In all the lavish splendour
    Of the proud city.
    I bore the holy vessels
    At seven, then
    I pounded barley
    At the age of ten,
    And clad in yellow robes,
    Soon after this,
    I was Little Bear to
    Brauronian Artemis;
    Then neckletted with figs,
    Grown tall and pretty,
    I was a Basket-bearer,
    And so it's obvious I should
    Give you advice that I think good,
    The very best I can.
    It should not prejudice my voice that I'm not born a man,
    If I say something advantageous to the present situation.
    For I'm taxed too, and as a toll provide men for the nation
    While, miserable greybeards, you,
    It is true,
    Contribute nothing of any importance whatever to our needs;
    But the treasure raised against the Medes
    You've squandered, and do nothing in return, save that you make
    Our lives and persons hazardous by some imbecile mistakes
    What can you answer? Now be careful, don't arouse my spite,
    Or with my slipper I'll take you napping,
    faces slapping
    Left and right.

    MEN.

    What villainies they contrive!
    Come, let vengeance fall,
    You that below the waist are still alive,
    Off with your tunics at my call--
    Naked, all.
    For a man must strip to battle like a man.
    No quaking, brave steps taking, careless what's ahead, white shoed,
    in the nude, onward bold,
    All ye who garrisoned Leipsidrion of old....
    Let each one wag
    As youthfully as he can,
    And if he has the cause at heart
    Rise at least a span.

    We must take a stand and keep to it,
    For if we yield the smallest bit
    To their importunity.
    Then nowhere from their inroads will be left to us immunity.
    But they'll be building ships and soon their navies will attack us,
    As Artemisia did, and seek to fight us and to sack us.
    And if they mount, the Knights they'll rob
    Of a job,
    For everyone knows how talented they all are in the saddle,
    Having long practised how to straddle;
    No matter how they're jogged there up and down, they're never thrown.
    Then think of Myron's painting, and each horse-backed Amazon
    In combat hand-to-hand with men.... Come, on these women fall,
    And in pierced wood-collars let's stick
    quick
    The necks of one and all.

    WOMEN.

    Don't cross me or I'll loose
    The Beast that's kennelled here....
    And soon you will be howling for a truce,
    Howling out with fear.
    But my dear,
    Strip also, that women may battle unhindered....
    But you, you'll be too sore to eat garlic more, or one black bean,
    I really mean, so great's my spleen, to kick you black and blue
    With these my dangerous legs.
    I'll hatch the lot of you,
    If my rage you dash on,
    The way the relentless Beetle
    Hatched the Eagle's eggs.

    Scornfully aside I set
    Every silly old-man threat
    While Lampito's with me.
    Or dear Ismenia, the noble Theban girl. Then let decree
    Be hotly piled upon decree; in vain will be your labours,
    You futile rogue abominated by your suffering neighbour
    To Hecate's feast I yesterday went-
    Off I sent
    To our neighbours in Boeotia, asking as a gift to me
    For them to pack immediately
    That darling dainty thing ... a good fat eel [1] I meant of course;

    [Footnote 1:_Vide supra_, p. 23.]

    But they refused because some idiotic old decree's in force.
    O this strange passion for decrees nothing on earth can check,
    Till someone puts a foot out tripping you,
    and slipping you
    Break your neck.

    LYSISTRATA _enters in dismay_.

    WOMEN

    Dear Mistress of our martial enterprise,
    Why do you come with sorrow in your eyes?

    LYSISTRATA

    O 'tis our naughty femininity,
    So weak in one spot, that hath saddened me.

    WOMEN

    What's this? Please speak.

    LYSISTRATA

    Poor women, O so weak!

    WOMEN

    What can it be? Surely your friends may know.

    LYSISTRATA

    Yea, I must speak it though it hurt me so.

    WOMEN

    Speak; can we help? Don't stand there mute in need.

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll blurt it out then--our women's army's mutinied.

    WOMEN

    O Zeus!

    LYSISTRATA

    What use is Zeus to our anatomy?
    Here is the gaping calamity I meant:
    I cannot shut their ravenous appetites
    A moment more now. They are all deserting.
    The first I caught was sidling through the postern
    Close by the Cave of Pan: the next hoisting herself
    With rope and pulley down: a third on the point
    Of slipping past: while a fourth malcontent, seated
    For instant flight to visit Orsilochus
    On bird-back, I dragged off by the hair in time....
    They are all snatching excuses to sneak home.
    Look, there goes one.... Hey, what's the hurry?

    1ST WOMAN

    I must get home. I've some Milesian wool
    Packed wasting away, and moths are pushing through it.

    LYSISTRATA

    Fine moths indeed, I know. Get back within.

    1ST WOMAN

    By the Goddesses, I'll return instantly.
    I only want to stretch it on my bed.

    LYSISTRATA

    You shall stretch nothing and go nowhere either.

    1ST WOMAN

    Must I never use my wool then?

    LYSISTRATA

    If needs be.

    2ND WOMAN

    How unfortunate I am! O my poor flax!
    It's left at home unstript.

    LYSISTRATA

    So here's another
    That wishes to go home and strip her flax.
    Inside again!

    2ND WOMAN

    No, by the Goddess of Light,
    I'll be back as soon as I have flayed it properly.

    LYSISTRATA

    You'll not flay anything. For if you begin
    There'll not be one here but has a patch to be flayed.

    3RD WOMAN

    O holy Eilithyia, stay this birth
    Till I have left the precincts of the place!

    LYSISTRATA

    What nonsense is this?

    3RD WOMAN

    I'll drop it any minute.

    LYSISTRATA

    Yesterday you weren't with child.

    3RD WOMAN

    But I am today.
    O let me find a midwife, Lysistrata.
    O quickly!

    LYSISTRATA

    Now what story is this you tell?
    What is this hard lump here?

    3RD WOMAN

    It's a male child.

    LYSISTRATA

    By Aphrodite, it isn't. Your belly's hollow,
    And it has the feel of metal.... Well, I soon can see.
    You hussy, it's Athene's sacred helm,
    And you said you were with child.

    3RD WOMAN

    And so I am.

    LYSISTRATA

    Then why the helm?

    3RD WOMAN

    So if the throes should take me
    Still in these grounds I could use it like a dove
    As a laying-nest in which to drop the child.

    LYSISTRATA

    More pretexts! You can't hide your clear intent,
    And anyway why not wait till the tenth day
    Meditating a brazen name for your brass brat?

    WOMAN

    And I can't sleep a wink. My nerve is gone
    Since I saw that snake-sentinel of the shrine.

    WOMAN

    And all those dreadful owls with their weird hooting!
    Though I'm wearied out, I can't close an eye.

    LYSISTRATA

    You wicked women, cease from juggling lies.
    You want your men. But what of them as well?
    They toss as sleepless in the lonely night,
    I'm sure of it. Hold out awhile, hold out,
    But persevere a teeny-weeny longer.
    An oracle has promised Victory
    If we don't wrangle. Would you hear the words?

    WOMEN

    Yes, yes, what is it?

    LYSISTRATA

    Silence then, you chatterboxes.
    Here--
    _Whenas the swallows flocking in one place from the hoopoes
    Deny themselves love's gambols any more,
    All woes shall then have ending and great Zeus the Thunderer
    Shall put above what was below before._

    WOMEN

    Will the men then always be kept under us?

    LYSISTRATA
    _But if the swallows squabble among themselves and fly away
    Out of the temple, refusing to agree,
    Then The Most Wanton Birds in all the World
    They shall be named for ever. That's his decree._

    WOMAN

    It's obvious what it means.

    LYSISTRATA

    Now by all the gods
    We must let no agony deter from duty,
    Back to your quarters. For we are base indeed,
    My friends, if we betray the oracle.

    _She goes out._

    OLD MEN.

    I'd like to remind you of a fable they used to employ,
    When I was a little boy:
    How once through fear of the marriage-bed a young man,
    Melanion by name, to the wilderness ran,
    And there on the hills he dwelt.
    For hares he wove a net
    Which with his dog he set--
    Most likely he's there yet.
    For he never came back home, so great was the fear he felt.
    I loathe the sex as much as he,
    And therefore I no less shall be
    As chaste as was Melanion.

    MAN

    Grann'am, do you much mind men?

    WOMAN

    Onions you won't need, to cry.

    MAN

    From my foot you shan't escape.

    WOMAN

    What thick forests I espy.

    MEN

    So much Myronides' fierce beard
    And thundering black back were feared,
    That the foe fled when they were shown--
    Brave he as Phormion.

    WOMEN.

    Well, I'll relate a rival fable just to show to you
    A different point of view:
    There was a rough-hewn fellow, Timon, with a face
    That glowered as through a thorn-bush in a wild, bleak place.
    He too decided on flight,
    This very Furies' son,
    All the world's ways to shun
    And hide from everyone,
    Spitting out curses on all knavish men to left and right.
    But though he reared this hate for men,
    He loved the women even then,
    And never thought them enemies.

    WOMAN

    O your jaw I'd like to break.

    MAN

    That I fear do you suppose?

    WOMAN

    Learn what kicks my legs can make.

    MAN

    Raise them up, and you'll expose--

    WOMAN

    Nay, you'll see there, I engage,
    All is well kept despite my age,
    And tended smooth enough to slip
    From any adversary's grip.

    LYSISTRATA _appears_.

    LYSISTRATA

    Hollo there, hasten hither to me
    Skip fast along.

    WOMAN

    What is this? Why the noise?

    LYSISTRATA

    A man, a man! I spy a frenzied man!
    He carries Love upon him like a staff.
    O Lady of Cyprus, and Cythera, and Paphos,
    I beseech you, keep our minds and hands to the oath.

    WOMAN

    Where is he, whoever he is?

    LYSISTRATA

    By the Temple of Chloe.

    WOMAN

    Yes, now I see him. but who can he be?

    LYSISTRATA

    Look at him. Does anyone recognise his face?

    MYRRHINE

    I do. He is my husband, Cinesias.

    LYSISTRATA

    You know how to work. Play with him, lead him on,
    Seduce him to the cozening-point--kiss him, kiss him,
    Then slip your mouth aside just as he's sure of it,
    Ungirdle every caress his mouth feels at
    Save that the oath upon the bowl has locked.

    MYRRHINE

    You can rely on me.

    LYSISTRATA

    I'll stay here to help
    In working up his ardor to its height
    Of vain magnificence.... The rest to their quarters.

    _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.

    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 flavour.
    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-petling, 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, 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.
    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.

    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!

    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?

    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

    Baulked 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,
    Canst Thou 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 an' the Prytanes?
    I've fetcht despatches for them.

    MAGISTRATE

    Are you a man
    Or a monstrosity?

    HERALD

    My scrimp-brained lad,
    I'm a herald, as ye see, who hae come frae Sparta
    Anent 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 travelling?

    HERALD

    By Castor, I'll swear
    The man is wud.

    MAGISTRATE

    Indeed, your cloak is wide,
    My rascal fellow.

    HERALD

    But I tell ye No!
    Enow o' fleering!

    MAGISTRATE

    Well, what is it then?

    HERALD

    It's my despatch cane.

    MAGISTRATE

    Of course--a Spartan cane!
    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 maun get Pellene.

    MAGISTRATE

    Whence has this evil come? Is it from Pan?

    HERALD

    No. Lampito first ran asklent, then the ithers
    Sprinted after her example, and blocked, the hizzies,
    Their wames unskaithed against our every fleech.

    MAGISTRATE

    What did you do?

    HERALD

    We are broken, and bent double,
    Limp like men carrying lanthorns in great winds
    About the city. They winna let us even
    Wi' lightest neif skim their primsie pretties
    Till we've concluded Peace-terms wi' a' 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 nane could contravert.
    _They retire._

    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 quayer.
    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 wrang, 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!

    _Some_ LOUNGERS _from the Market with torches approach
    the Banqueting hall. The_ PORTER_ bars their entrance.

    1ST MARKET-LOUNGER

    Open the door.

    PORTER

    Here move along.

    1ST MARKET-LOUNGER

    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,
    I'll mortify myself.

    2ND MARKET-LOUNGER

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

    PORTER

    Be off at o~ce 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._

    1ST ATHENIAN

    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.

    2ND ATHENIAN

    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,
    And we'd applaud and praise them just the same;
    We're not too scrupulous in weighing words.

    PORTER

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

    MARKET-LOUNGER

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

    SPARTANS

    Now hinnie dearest, please tak' up your pipe
    That I may try a spring an' sing my best
    In honour o' the Athenians an' oursels.

    ATHENIANS

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

    SPARTANS.

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

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

    LYSISTRATA

    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,
    Dance out his thanks, be grateful in music,
    And promise reformation with his heels.

    ATHENIANS.

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

    SPARTANS

    Piper, gie us the music for a new sang.

    SPARTANS.

    Leaving again lovely lofty Taygetus
    Hither O Spartan Muse, hither to greet us,
    And wi' our choric voice to raise
    To Amyclean Apollo praise,
    And Tyndareus' gallant sons whose days
    Alang Eurotas' banks merrily pass,
    An' Athene o' the House o' Brass.

    Now the dance begin;
    Dance, making swirl your fringe o' woolly skin,
    While we join voices
    To hymn dear Sparta that rejoices
    I' a beautifu' sang,
    An' loves to see
    Dancers tangled beautifully;
    For the girls i' tumbled ranks
    Alang Eurotas' banks
    Like wanton fillies thrang,
    Frolicking there
    An' 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.

    An' Helen, Child o' Leda, come
    Thou holy, nimble, gracefu' Queen,
    Lead thou the dance, gather thy joyous tresses up i' bands
    An' play like a fawn. To madden them, clap thy hands,
    And sing praise to the warrior goddess templed i' our lands,
    Her o' the House o' Brass.
    Chapter 1
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