By Aristophanes, Translated by Ian Johnston
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CHORUS LEADER How could they ever teach us anything, or tell us something useful— they’re enemies, our feathered forefathers’ fierce foes. 1 Nikias: Athenian general famous for his tactical skill. 32 470  TEREUS But folks with fine minds find from foemen they can learn a lot. Caution saves us all. W e don’t learn that from friends. But enemies can force that truth upon us right away. That’s why cities learn, not from their allies, but from enemies, how to build high walls, assemble fleets of warships— in that way, their knowledge saves their children, homes, and goods.
PISTHETAIROS [to Euelpides] Come now, you must move up into the air and help the ones who’re building up the wall— hoist rubble for them, strip and mix the mortar, haul up the hod, and then fall off the ladder. Put guards in place, and keep all fires concealed. 1 Go to sleep up there. Then send out heralds— one to gods above, one down to men below. And then come back from there to me. 1110  EUELPIDES And you? You’ll stay here? W ell, to hell with you . . PISTHETAIROS Hey, my friend, you should go where I send you— without you none of that work I mentioned will get done.
Those who come to buy poke and prod your flesh. If you seem good to eat, 1 680  690  Lysicrates gets: a reference to a corrupt Athenian politician. 2 Lampon: a well known soothsayer in Athens. ” 41 they don’t simply roast you by yourself— no! They grate on cheese, mix oil and silphium with vinegar— and then whip up a sauce, oily and sweet, which they pour on you hot, as if you were a chunk of carrion meat. CHORUS This human speaks of our great pain our fathers’ sins we mourn again— born into rule, they threw away what they received, their fathers’ sway.