Date of 1st production 424 BC
Awarded the 1st prize at the Lenea Festival
‘Aristophanes’ - "Greek Dramas" (p355, 1900): Internet Archive Book Images
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Demos (An elder representing Democracy)
Demosthenes (Slave of the House)
Nikias (Slave of the House)
Paphlagon (Boss of the house slaves)
Sausage Seller (Eventually revealed as Agorakritos)
Chorus (Of Athenian Knights, led by Panaetius and Simon. Long-haired, fashion-conscious, young aristocrats.)
Peace Treaty 1 (Young girl)
Peace Treaty 2 (Young girl)
More slaves of the House
In front of Demos’ house which symbolises the Athenian Parliament. A garland of wheat hangs on the door.
Across the stage from that door is a huge rock, which will later (l. 763ff) be used to represent the Pnyx (the official meeting place of the Athenian democratic assembly). Perhaps some writing on the rock could announce that.
Demosthenes and Nikias rush out of the house, in pain and both farting loudly and relentlessly. They’ve been beaten severely by their immediate boss, Paphlagon and so they are hopping about and nursing their aches and pains. The loud farting goes on through their dialogue and intensifies during lines 8-12.
Demosthenes Ouuuuuuuuch! Fuuuuuuck! Zeuuuus! Bloody Hades! Ouuuuuch!
Damn this new boss from Paphlagonia! What a bastard! Kill him, Zeus! Kill him all you gods! All these damned orders and commands of his! All this beating!
Didn’t waste one second, the bastard! One minute the chief hires him and the next he has all the slaves rounded up and have the crap beaten out of them! They’re all running around with huge sores all over their bodies! (Yells towards the house)
Nikias Crap on all the Paphlagonians and heaps more crap and stink on our Paphlagonian boss! Him and all his hellish tricks!
Demosthenes (Examining Nikias’ wounds. Sympathetically)
Poor man! Poor, poor man! How are you coping with it all, ey Nikias, old pal?
Nikias I’m not! Not at all and by the looks of it, Demosthenes, I’m coping about as badly as you are.
Demosthenes Come here then and let’s send the bastard an airy tune.
Their wailing is accompanied by their farting
Together Wooooo…. Woooo… waooooo… ooooo…. Waooo… 10
Demosthenes Stop! Hang on! Hang on a minute there Nikias, my pal! What’s the point of all this wailing, mate? We should be putting our heads together to find a way of getting out of this predicament! Escaping. Crying won’t do us any good.
Nikias Escaping… Yes… I concur… We should be escaping… How? Any ideas? Speak Demosthenes!
Demosthenes Who me? No, you speak first my dear Nikias… Come, let’s not pull ranks on each other!
Nikias Nah, not me, mate! By Apollo, I’d never speak before you do. No, no, no! You go first!
Demosthenes Oh, come on man! Speak! You tell us your idea first and then I’ll tell you mine!
Nikias All right, then. To quote, Euripides, “Speak thou the speech I must bespeak!”
Huh? I’ve got no idea what you’re on about! What speech should I bespeak?
Nikias Hmmm… let’s see, how can I put this more clearly… more… poetically… how would Euripides put it? I know, I know:
He kneels before Demosthenes
Demosthenes (Shocked at the gesture)
Oh, no, no, no, no! Stop that! Don’t do the herb-seller’s prayer to me, Nikias, please! Euripides’ mummy would be most upset. Say what you want to say… heroically, like the brave soldier that you are… or was! Like the general that you are… or was! Tell us how to get out of this Paphlagonian’s grips!
Nikias (Gets up) 21
Fine. All right… Let’s see… I know, say quickly, “off pee.”
Nikias Now, straight after that say, quickly, “souta here!”
Demosthenes (Puzzled again)
Nikias Wonderful! Now, pretend you’re wanking and talking at the same time and with the same rhythm… like, start slowly and then go faster and faster, putting the two phrases together: “off pee” and “souta here.”
Demosthenes (Lifts his phallus up and pretends to be wanking)
Off pee souta here, off pee souta here, off pee souta here, piss off outa here, piss off outa here, piss off outa here…
Nikias Perfect, isn’t it? Let’s just piss off outa here!
Demosthenes Hehehe, sure is but I’m afraid doing this is going to get me… excoriated! No, no, it won’t do; it’s a bad omen, this!
Nikias Excoriated? What are you on about, man?
Demosthenes Excoriation; it’s the wanker’s curse, Nikias! Can’t do that for ever.
Nikias Hmmm… only one thing left to do then, I reckon: Go and pray to the gods. Go kneel before their statues and pray like buggery! 30
Demosthenes Statues? What statues? You don’t believe in the gods, do you, man?
Nikias Yeah, of course I do! I believe in the gods! All of them!
Demosthenes Do you? But what evidence is there that they even exist?
Nikias Evidence? Evidence? The evidence is that all of the holy buggers up there hate me! Isn’t that evidence enough for you?
Demosthenes Indeed! I must admit, yes, that is absolute proof they exist! But we still have to think of something! Something… different.
(Indicating the audience)
Look, shall I explain our situation to the good folk out there?
Nikias Good idea, Demosthenes but, before we do that, let’s ask them something. Let’s ask them if they’re enjoying our words and deeds so far in the proceedings. (Turning to the audience) Just look like you’re happy, folks!
(Both encourage the audience to look happy)
Demosthenes Right. Now I’ll tell them all about it, right?
Nikias nods in agreement
You see, folks, we two are the servants of a man called Mr Demos. He lives here, in Parliament Lane. Uncivilised old prick. Likes chewing his beans raw. Half deaf and fully grumpy.
Well, this old man went to the market, last market day and came back with this new slave. A tanner, a leather beater, Paphlagon by name. A real crim. A slimy, sleazy con artist. Well, this leather beater took the measure of our boss in no time! He knew exactly what our master loved –loved it more than anything else on earth, so… he, the new boss, started kneeling before him, flattering him, conning him, licking his bum… yum, yum, yum… tricking the old codger, twisting and turning his little brain, making it soft with little offerings of his little off-cut bits of scrap leather.
“Oh, dear mister Demos! Come,” he’d tell him, “Come, Mr Demos, be the judge on one more case and then I’ll draw you a nice warm bath. Just one more case. Look, here’s your fee. Gone up to three obols now, isn’t that nice? Come, take it! You can gobble it all up in one mouthful, if you like, or just nibble at it, a bite at a time… make it last… shall I serve it up to you as a little snack?” And immediately the slimy bastard grabs all of our hard work, everything we had prepared for the boss and offers it to him as if it was his own work! 50
Just a few days ago I had created for him a lovely, yummy little morsel: the whole victory of Pylos, stuffed full of Spartan soldiers with their hands up. Had it all ready to present to our boss but what did this new sly shit-slave do? He tricks me into looking the other way, slips behind me, snatches the dish right off my table and in seconds he delivers it to the boss! “Here, Master, look what I’ve cooked for you!” He says to him grinning.
My own dish, my own hard-won victory, my own doing!
Bloody Paphlagonian leather beater!
He keeps us all out of the house and away from the boss so we won’t be able to speak to him, advise him, give him any clues… and so, now he’s the only one who can whisper in his ear. Walks behind Mister Demos all day long. Everywhere.
Stands around his dinner table with a leather swatter and wacks the crap out of every lobbyist that comes near him. No one else can get to our Mister Demos, no one! 60
And then, this slimy thug finds out our boss is a superstitious old fool so he goes and concocts all sorts of oracles for him. Sings to him a whole lot of bullshit prophesies and oracles to keep him happy and quiet. This bloody leather-beater spins lies about all of us. Then he chases us all around the place and whips us mercilessly! He blackmails, us, intimidates us, frightens us, takes bribes from us, terrifies the crap out of us. “See how I got your little mate, Hylas, whipped? Obey me or else you’ll cop it, too! Today will be you last day!” So, we obey. We say, “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full of shit sir,” because if we don’t, the boss will beat us so hard, we’ll be filling up not three but eight bags of it… shit that is.
(Takes Nikias by the hand and walks a couple of steps. He whispers to him so as not to be heard by anyone in the house.)
So, mate, let’s work out our options. Where do we go from here? Whom do we see?
Nikias (Thinks for little while, counting his options in the fingers of both hands and his toes. Finally he points towards the crowd) 73
The best option, as I see it, is to run off in there…
Demosthenes In there where? Paphlagon’s got the whole ground covered. The whole earth, even. He’ll get us wherever we go. He’s everywhere. One foot in Pylos and the other in Parliament. He’s everywhere I tell you! I can see his bumhole in the sky when I’m walking the streets of Queer-land and I can see him in the streets of Bribe-ronia and I can see his brain checking wildly the streets of Klepto-mania! He’s omnipresent I tell you! Omni-blood-everywhere!
Nikias Well, then, next best option is suicide.
Demosthenes Agree. Work out now, dear Nikias, the best way to do that… the most heroic way of doing it. 80
Nikias (After a short time of thinking)
Got it! We’ll choose the most heroic of them all: We’ll do it the way Themistocles, Greece’s greatest Naval Commander did it! We shall drink bull’s blood!
Demosthenes (Shakes his head violently)
Oh, no, no, no! No bull’s blood for me! Forget it. Let’s just go and drink a lovely glass of wine and toast to the benevolent spirits… perhaps they’ll send us some good ideas.
Nikias (To the audience)
Hahaha! That’s my mate, Demosthenes, all right! Any excuse to get pissed!
Listen, my good lad: How’s a drunk supposed to be able to come up with a good idea? Can’t ever been done!
Demosthenes (Outraged at the suggestion) 89
Is that right? Is THAT right? You… you horrible little globule of slime! You… you dare deny the spiritual inspiration of wine?
Can’t you see? It’s with wine that the poor become rich, gain success in business and in court, enjoy life, help their mates… Go on, off with you! Go and get me a jug of wine to wet my wit, help it come up with something… witty! Go on!
Nikias Damn it! You and your drinking are going to get us and into an awful lot of trouble one of these days!
Demosthenes Into an awful lot of joy, you mean! Go on, off you go! Get me the wine, now!
(Nikias exits into the house)
Now, let’s see… (looking around him on the floor) I’m going to lay myself down right here so that when I do get pissed -I mean when the ideas start flowing- I’ll have all this place around me to spread out all my plans and designs and thoughts and schemes.
Demosthenes lies down for a few seconds before Nikias comes in. He is holding a wine jug, a cup and a garland.
Nikias Just as well I didn’t get caught pinching this stuff for you! 101
Demosthenes Yeah? What’s Paphlagon up to in there?
Nikias Sloshed to the eyeballs! Stretched out on his wide arse and he’s snoring away. Stuffed himself with all the salty morsels and then drunk himself into a stupor. Bastard!
Demosthenes Go on, then, pour me some wine… make it a double!
Nikias (Pours some wine into the cup and offers it to Demosthenes)
Here you are mate. Sink one for the good spirits. And put this on. (Offers him the garland which Demosthenes dons.)
Demosthenes (Drinks a gulp)
Mmmm, yes! Good stuff this. Pramnian wine! From Pramnia! Unbeatable! Here’s to the good ol’ Pramnian Spirit! (Suddenly a thought occurs to him. Looks up into the sky.) Good Lord! Hey, Spirit, was that your idea or mine? I don’t think it was mine!
Nikias What? What idea? Tell me!
Demosthenes Quick, Nikias, run and pinch all of Paphlagon’s oracles while he’s asleep! Bring them all out here! 110
Nikias (Reluctant. Leaves the jug on the ground)
But… Oh, all right, then but I hope we don’t turn this good spirit of yours into something nasty!
Demosthenes Right then! Time now to lubricate my wit and help it produce some more clever thoughts… (drinks a little more and contemplates for a while.)
Enter Nikias brandishing a scroll and chuckling
Nikias By Zeus! How that Paphlagon snores and farts! Loud enough to rise the heavens even higher! No wonder he didn’t notice me when I snatched this from under his armpit! This is his proudest oracle, this one! Guards it with his life.
Demosthenes O, wise friend! Mate! How clever you are! Let me have it. I want to see what it says… (He hands Nikias his cup) Quickly, pour me another drink! Now… let’s see… what have we got here… Oh! What devastating prophesies! Oh what stirring oracles! Hurry up! Give me the wine!
Nikias obeys and Demosthenes guzzles down the wine
Nikias Here you are… what’s in the oracle? 121
Demosthenes … Pour me another wine!
Nikias “Pour me another wine?” Is that what’s in there? All that writing?
Demosthenes Oh, holy Bakis, Lord of the prophets!
Nikias What? What does it say?
Demosthenes Quick, another drink!
Nikias Goodness! What a piss pot that Bakis is!
Demosthenes Aha! You shitbag! You nasty little shitbag, Paphlagon! No wonder you were hiding this so tightly! You… you rotten… He was packing his daks with fear, the old bastard. You should see what the oracle says about him!
Nikias What? What’s it say?
Demosthenes It tells about our scumbag’s death!
Nikias It does? How will it happen?
Demosthenes It’ll happen like this: first a rope seller will come into focus… he’ll manage all the affairs of Greece…
Nikias That’ll be seller number one. Then what happens? Tell us! 131
Demosthenes (searches the scroll again)
Then… then another seller will arrive. This one sells sheep.
Nikias That’s two of them now. What’s this one going to do?
Demosthenes Well, he’s going to take over from the rope seller and then someone else is going to take over from him… someone even more of a shitbag than this one and then… then that’ll be the end of him… eh… of the new seller that is. Then that new seller will be succeeded by a… why, look! He’ll be followed by our very own leather seller, our very own hide beater, the disreputable thief and squealer, Mister Paphlagon himself! Voice as loud as a thunderous, chunderous torrential cataract!
Soooo, the sheep seller man is slaughtered by the leather seller man?
Nikias Oh, poor us! Couldn’t you find another seller somewhere, to slaughter this one?
Demosthenes Well, I can see another one here… one whose trade is very… inspiring! 140
Nikias Who? Tell me, please!
Demosthenes You want me to tell you, do you?
Nikias Of course I do. Who is it?
Demosthenes Well then, let me tell you. The seller who’ll slaughter our Mister Paphlagon is a… he’s… another seller… he’s a sausage seller!
Nikias Good Lord, Poseidon! A sausage seller! A sausage seller, ey? And where do we find one of them? Where do we find a sausage seller?
Demosthenes Don’t know but let’s go look for him…
Suddenly the sausage seller is heard in the wings plying his trade
Sausage Seller (Within)
Sausages! Buy your lovely sausages here! Sausages, cow’s tripe, hog’s guts and bellies, morsels of all sorts!
Nikias sees him in the distance.
Nikias Hang on… Talk of divine intervention! Here’s the boy himself. Looks like he’s on his way to the meat market.
Enter Sausage Seller carrying his box of sausages and strings of them around his neck. On his belt there is an array of butcher’s knives and cleavers.
Demosthenes Gets up and takes sausage seller by the hand.
Oh my good, good man! Blessed boy! Come, come this way, matey…
You! You, my dear man are our saviour! Ours and our city’s! Come!
Sausage Seller What? You talking to me? What d’you want?
Demosthenes Come over here mate. Come! Let me tell you just how fortunate you are, young man! How very, very lucky, how blessed by the very Heavens you are! 150
Nikias Right! Take that box off him, Demosthenes and explain to him what the gods say in that oracle. In the meantime, I’ll go and check what Paphlagon is up to.
Exit Nikias into the House.
Demosthenes Now, mister sausage seller man, first, put down this box of yours. Sausage Seller obeys. Now, kneel down and thank mother Earth and all the gods above. Sausage Seller hesitates but finally obeys.
Sausage Seller Right! What’s all this about, then?
Demosthenes This, young man, is all about you getting filthy rich! It’s about you being in a whole lot of very good luck. You might not account for much right now but by tomorrow, mister sausage seller man, you’ll be a very great man! A very great, super great man! Immensely big! Enormous! You’ll be the head of this great city of ours. You’ll be the Supreme Leader of Athens!
Sausage Seller Highly annoyed 160
Look, mate, can you stop this bullshit and let me do my work? Pointing at his box I’ve gotta wash these guts here and go sell all these snags! I got no time to waste on this sort of dumb piss-farting around!
Demosthenes Wash guts? Wash guts? You fool! Pointing into the audience. Look there! There! See? See all those… that crowd in there?
Sausage Seller After peering into the audience and showing distaste.
Demosthenes They’re all yours! Every single one of them! You’ll be able to do anything you want with them! You’ll be the boss of the market, the chief of the harbour, the Lord of our Parliament. You’ll be able to shove it up the Council, lock up the generals, tie chains around anyone you want and throw them in the clink for ever. Choose the best fucks in the Senate! All yours, mate!
Sausage Seller Who, me? You talking about me?
Demosthenes Of course, I’m talking about you! Here! Climb on this box of yours. Sausage seller obeys. Now look out there… far as you can… check out all the islands out there!
Sausage Seller Oh, yeah! I can see them! 171
Demosthenes Yeah? And do you see all the ports and all those cargo ships?
Sausage Seller Yeah…
Demosthenes See how well you’re doing already? Now swing one of your eyes –the right one- over towards Caria… that way…. And then the other one –the left one- towardsCarthage… that way.
Sausage Seller By Zeusy Zeus! I’m doing so well I’m going cross-eyed!
Demosthenes No, you’re not. You’re going to be rich! All this stuff will be yours to buy and sell; to trade with, to make money with, to become the biggest man in town. Waves the scroll at him. It says so in here, in this oracle. It’s a prophesy, sausage man. You can’ go wrong!
Sausage Seller Oh yeah? So give us a clue: how does a humble little snag monger like me gets to become a big boss like the one you’re talking about?
Demosthenes Easy! You’ve got all the credentials! Rude, crude and shameless! Perfect for becoming big and powerful! The most important qualifications for a politician. 180
Sausage Seller Nah… Don’t reckon I could take it on… don’t reckon I’m good enough, being such an important man, I mean!
Demosthenes Oh no! Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me you’ve come from some highly cultivated and noble family and you’ve got a bit of a conscience in you… have you? What makes you say you’re not good enough?
Sausage Seller Cultivated and noble family? Hell no! Nah, my whole family is a bunch of no-hopers. The lot of them.
Demosthenes Phew! You got me worried there for a second. Well then, that’s perfect! Congratulations. You’ve got the job. Your background is a fertile ground for politics! You’re one lucky boy!
Sausage Seller Mate, I can barely read or write, let alone educated! I know nothing about nothing!
Demosthenes Please! Don’t toss away what gifts the gods have conferred upon you, gifts that are inscribed here in this oracle! Ignorance is bliss, snag man! Ignorance and uselessness! Perfect for a politician’s job! The rest, honesty and education are distinct impediments. Be thankful for your qualities. Only slight problem here is your abject poverty. 190
Sausage Seller So… what does that oracle of yours really say about me?
Demosthenes Ah, it’s a beauty, my friend! By all the mighty gods in Heaven! Very nicely worded, very… very wisely enigmatic. Look: Unrolls the scroll and reads from it
“And so, I say, when the starving leather-beating, humungous eagle grabs with its hooked talons the dumb and blood-thirsty serpent and gobbles it up in its crooked beak, then, indeed, it shall be when the garlic-stinking puke of Paphlagon shall be spilled about us, ay, yes, indeedee, and when the Gods shall endow the seller of guts with great powers, unless he chooses to eschew this benefit and continue selling his sad snags.”
Sausage Seller Looking terribly puzzled 201
Ah… yeah… right. Please explain? What’s it really saying about me?
Demosthenes Pointing at someone in the audience
See that guy there? There! Over there. That’s Paphlagon, over there. He’s the huge leather-beating eagle.
Sausage Seller Oh, yeah… what about the “hooked talons?”
Demosthenes The “hooked talons?” That’s obvious. He’s got hands the shape of hooks and he uses them to snatch and grab stuff from people’s pockets and from tables and…
Sausage Seller I see… what about the serpent thing you sad?
Demosthenes The serpent? Eh… see, the serpent is long, right? Long like a sausage and… and both, serpents and sausages gobble up blood, right? They’re blood thirsty things. And that’s what’s in the oracle: the dumb serpent will gobble up the humungous eagle… (realises he’s got it back-to-front) that’s if it’s not gobbled up by all these weasel-words I’m babbling… see what I mean?
Sausage Seller Yeah, I see. All them words are good but, still, it sounds a bit dodgy to me, amazing really, me being the boss of all them people out there. 211
Demosthenes No probs, mate! Easy work for someone like you. Just do what you do well, boy! Just do what you do well! Shove all their businesses in a big bowl, mash them all up, slop in a bit of butter and make the people happy with a few sweet little words cooked up in the Parliament’s oven. No probs, mate! You’ve got all the ingredients and condiments you need to become a tyrant: You’ve got vulgarity, you’ve got a crass voice, shit family background, the cunning of a market place rat… you’re a fully baked politician, mate! And, what’s more, you’ve got the backing of the oracle of Delphi!
Here! Take this garland and put it on your head. Sausage Seller obeys. Now take this cup and pour a libation to the god… God Dickhead… and go defend us against that idiot in there.
Sausage Seller Oh yeah? Me and what army? That man in there terrifies the rich and makes the poor shit themselves! 223
Demosthenes What army? What army? The army of a thousand noble Knights, my boy! One thousand Knights will be right behind you. Brave warriors the lot of them. They hate that bastard. They’ll be right behind you. Them and all the good, intelligent folk and those in that crowd out there who are honest and noble and me and the god… we’ll all help you. What more do you want? He looks gruesome, by the way, because our mask makers didn’t want to make a mask for him and because no actor wanted to take on his role, but don’t be afraid because our audience here is very clever and they’ll recognise him immediately.
Nikias Within 234
Oh, Lord! Oh, no! Help! Paphlagon is going out!
Enter Paphlagon, followed by Nikias. Paphlagon is wearing the wreath of high office.
Paphlagon By the dozen gods of Mount Olympus! You two bastards won’t get away with scheming all these plots against our boss! Indicating the cup in the sausage seller’s hand. What’s that Chalcidian cup doing out here, ey? This can only mean one thing: You’re plotting with them. You’re getting the Chalcidians to start up an insurrection! A rebellion! That’s it for you two! Now you’re stuffed! Sprung! You’re both dead meat! Pissy little shit bags the two of you!
The sausage seller becomes extremely frightened and turns to run away.
Nikias Hey! Hey, mister sausage seller man! Hey, my noble friend! Don’t run away! What are you frightened of? Come back! Don’t leave us. Don’t turn your back upon this worthy battle! 240
(Suddenly a cloud of dust is bellowing in from the wings: Stage Left)
(Nikias calls out into the wings)
Hey, Simon, Panaetius, gallant knights, come, rush out over here to our aid. We need you! The time has come. Take over the right wing! Sausage seller, no! Don’t run away, come back and let’s stand fast. Our cavalry is here. Look over there. You can see the clouds of dust they’re raising from here. Look! They’re rushing in to help with our battle. Come, men, chase the bastard! Fight him, turn the nasty shit back!
Enter the Knights, (members of the Athenian aristocracy) headed by Simon and Panaetius.
Simon To the sausage seller
Go for it, sausage man!
Beat the crap out of the rotten bastard!
Rotten, rotten shit of a man!
He’s the one who spins our cavalry into a chaotic confusion.
Beat this bloodsucking tax collector,
Beat this gloated, bloated beast,
Beat this nightmare of voracious avarice!
Beat this shit,
Beat this shit,
Panaetius Let me repeat this, let me repeat this, let me repeat this again
‘Cause he repeats his nasty deeds over and over every day: I said,
Beat this shit of a man!
(The sausage seller takes the chain of sausages off his neck and pursues Paphlagon, occasionally beating him with them. The chorus of Knights, along with Nikias and Demosthenes, surround Paphlagon and adds to the mallee.)
Simon Beat the bastard well and proper! 250
Chase him all around!
Yeae, that’s it! Fuck the bastard!
Shove it right up him!
Beat him with your snags, snag man!
Abhor him like we do!
Yell out a fierce war cry! Attack! Attack! Attack!
This shit of a man!
Panaetius Careful! Don’t let him run away now!
The sly bastard knows all the streets the cowards use to escape.
He’s another Eucrates, this one: Down with his spear and off to the market to sell his wares!
Leave the battle for the brave! That’s our Eucrates!
Paphlagon Ouch, ouch! Ohhhh! Help!
To the audience
Friends, elder jurors, brothers of the courts, whose wages I’ve increased to three obols a day –three!- and whose business I’ve helped grow with lots and lots of judgements. Good judgements or bad, it made no difference to me! Just shouted them out and passed them on to you!
Come, help me! The conspirators are beating me up!
Ouch, ouch, Oh!
Panaetius Too right! Of course we are! You’re a thief, a crook, an embezzler! You strip the public purse bare even before you get elected. You’re just another mongrel who squeezes all the prospective magistrates for bribes… 258
Simon … like a fig picker squeezes his figs, checking them all out: Is this one ripe? Is this one green? Is this one still raw?
Panaetius Same with all the poor folk out there. You go round checking every single one of them out. Spy on them. Are they rich? Are they innocent, are they dumb little sheep? Do they shake and tremble with fear in the courts? Then, when you find your mark, some poor, ignorant suck who doesn’t give a stuff about politics, you drag him from whatever colony he lives in –Gallipoli or wherever, hook him up with all the defamations you can, drop him to his knees, rip his arm off and let him cop it from behind.
Paphlagon You! You Knights! What are you attacking me for? Can’t you see? It’s for you lot that I’m getting beaten! They’re beating me up because I was about to move a motion in Parliament to have a monument erected in your honour. To acknowledge your bravery! That’s why they’re beating me up!
Simon Liar! Bloody liar! Slippery sleazebag! Oh, the lengths this prick will go to, to screw us! Thinks we’re all senile old men!
Paphlagon tries to run away.
Panaetius Wow there! You trying to escape this way, are you? Well, just try and you’ll cop this (swings his phallus threateningly)
Paphlagon tries the other side
Simon O, no, you don’t! Come this way and you’ll cop this between your legs! (Also swings his phallus threateningly)
Everyone is beating Paphlagon
Paphlagon Shouting at the audience. Pleading.
Ouch! Ouch! Ah! Come on, folks! Citizens of Athens! Look! Look at the sort of wild beasts that are bashing me up!
Sausage Seller Always shouting, your bastard! Always shouting and always stuffing up our city! Destructive mongrel!
Paphlagon And I’ll aim my loud voice to you first…
Panaetius Ha! You? You think you can outshout a sausage seller? Good luck! Go on, have a go! We’ll give you first prize if you do but I bet he’ll get the first prize in vulgarity! Beat the bullshit out of you!
I… accuse… this… man… of… of… of… stealing the… stealing the… decking planks of our fighting ships and… and… selling them to… selling them to the Spaaaartans! For them to build their triremes and attack us! 280
Sausage Seller Trying to outshout Paphlagon
By Zeus! And I… I… accuse… this… man of… of… of… trotting off into Parliament with an empty gut and trotting back out of it with a stuffed one!
Demosthenes By Zeus, that’s right! Not only stuffed his guts but also ran off with all sorts of goodies: bread, meat, fish, you name it! Even Pericles wasn’t allowed to get to that stuff!
Paphlagon Right! That’s it, you two! You’re gonna die!
Sausage Seller Even louder
I can shout three times louder than you!
Paphlagon Continues the shouting contest
Oh, yeah? You haven’t heard me using my lungs yet! I’ll… I’ll outlung you!
Sausage Seller Is that right? And I’ll crow you down with my crow’s crow!
Paphlagon I’ll shout out slander, if you ever become a general!
Sausage Seller You do that and I’ll do you doggy style!
Paphlagon I’ll tie you up with a web of lies! 290
Sausage Seller You won’t be able to escape me, boy!
Paphlagon Oh, yeah? Look me in the eye and say that! Go on!
Sausage Seller brings his face close to Paphlagon’s. A staring contest begins
Sausage Seller I’m a market boy meself, you know! Born and raised in it!
Paphlagon One word from you and I’ll turn you into a sack of minced meat!
Sausage Seller Ha! One word from you and I’ll turn you into a sack of shit!
Paphlagon At least, I admit that I’m a crook. You don’t even do that!
Sausage Seller By Hermes, the guardian god of the marketplace! So do I!
Paphlagon And when I get caught –if I get caught- I go ahead and perjure myself. Swear black and blue I didn’t do it!
Sausage Seller You’re a crook, all right! Perjury is a tool that belongs to others.
Paphlagon Listen, mate! I’ll have you before the judges for stealing all the gizzards from the sacrifices and you don’t give them their tithe. It’s ten percent you know! It should go to the judges. You take it all and keep it for yourself.
Simon To Paphlagon
You! You disgusting loud mouth! You’ve flooded the whole city with your stinking sleaze! Parliament, Tax Office, the whole Bureaucracy, all our courts! You destroyed them all with all your shit-stirring. Our whole country is fucked up because of you. You shout down anyone and everyone who stands in your way. You get up onto the high cliffs of our city and watch the tax collectors like fishermen watch the tuna.
Paphlagon Oh, I know! I know how all this shit got started! 312
Sausage Seller Sure you do. You know all about shit, just like I know all about making snags. You’re the cleverest shit in town. You used to slice up ox hide so cleverly, fluffed it up so well, that when the poor farmers bought your stupid shoes they thought they bought shoes with a thick sole on them but by the end of the day, the bloody things flattened out to two hands wide!
Demosthenes Exactly! Bastard did it to me once! Zeus knows it! Same shit job. The whole town laughed at me and those stupid shoes! All my friends made fun of me. By the time I got to the market, my feet were swimming in those shoes.
Panaetius To Paphlagon 322
Admit it! You have the gift of bullshit! Bullshit, the single protector of orators and politicians! That’s what you’re relying on to harvest the grapes picked by the wealthy foreigners. You’re the first in line to rip them off. Poor sucks like Hippadamus’ son haven’t got a chance in the world because of you. The son of the greatest architect on earth can only sit by the side lines and cry at the injustice. Ah, but now I feel much better. Indicating the sausage seller. Now I know there’s someone who’s a better crook than you. Better in chicanery, more bold, a better rip off merchant!
Simon To Paphlagon
Come, my friend! You’re a man born and raised in the marketplace, the place where the great men are made! Come now, show this bastard that noble upbringing is worth nothing!
Sausage Seller Now let me tell you what sort of a man this one is! 335
Paphlagon What? Shouldn’t I be allowed to speak first?
Sausage Seller Zeus, no! I’m a crook as well, you know!
Demosthenes To sausage seller
Pssst! And if that won’t knock him out, tell him that you’ve come from a whole line of crooks.
Come on! Let me speak now!
Sausage Seller No way!
Paphlagon Yes way!
Sausage Seller Let you speak before me? By Poseidon, no way! I’ll fight you for it right now.
Paphlagon Oh, I’m going to blow up!
Sausage Seller And I still won’t let you speak first. 340
Demosthenes To the sausage seller
Yeah, let him blow himself right up! By all the gods!
Paphlagon What the hell makes you think you’ve got any hope of arguing against someone like me?
Sausage Seller Because I too, am an orator… and I, too can sleaze everything up!
Paphlagon Ha! You? You an orator? I can just hear the lovely oration you’d be making at the sight of a freshly slaughtered plaintiff! I know how you’d be handling the poor bastard. I know what must have happened to you to make you so cocky: You’ve most probably gone and done what many others have gone and done before you: won some minor case against some poor migrant and then started walking around the city, gloating over that tiny case, thinking about it and blurting out your speech over and over again, drinking gallons of water and annoying your poor friends with your boasting about being the world’s greatest orator! Stupid fool! Madman!
Demosthenes And you? What sort of drink have you drunk to get the whole city stunned into silence with your endless blather? 350
Paphlagon Me? I’m inimitable! Incomparable! Mate, I could just sit me down, right now, eat a whole plate of hot tuna, guzzle down a whole jug of strong, undiluted wine and then go and screw the whole herd of the generals in Pylos… all without blinking an eyelid!
Sausage Seller Oh, yeah? Mate… mate… I could just sit me down right now and after wolfing down a whole cow’s tripe and a whole hog’s belly… complete with all their gravy and juice and… I could… I could –without bothering to wash my hands, mind- I could de-throat all the politicians and orators in town and… and sexually molest Nikias!
Nikias shocked at the suggestion
Oi! I… I liked all the other stuff about the cow’s tripe and the pig’s belly and de-throating the politicians but I’m worried about you sucking up all the city’s gravy… all on your own, I mean.
Paphlagon To the sausage seller 361
Oh, yeah? But you’re not going to eat all of the Milesians’ big fish and then turn them round and fuck ‘em like you did last time!
Sausage Seller …and then I’ll eat half a bull and buy myself some metal mines!
Paphlagon Listen, mate! I can jump into the Council and while it’s still sitting, screw every one of them! Bugger the whole lot of them!
Sausage Seller I’ll… I’ll… I’ll spin you round and stuff your arsehole full of meat, like I do me snag skins!
Paphlagon Oh yeah? And I’ll pick you up by your bum, tip you upside down and drag you, head down outa of here!
Demosthenes Oh, how delightful! Poseidon, my god! Me, too, me too! Lift me up by the bum, please!
Paphlagon To the pillory, with you! Oh, I’d love to lock your head into one of those stocks in the market place!
Sausage Seller I’ll… I’ll… I’ll drag you to the courts and charge you with cowardice!
Paphlagon I’ll stretch your hide across my tanning bench!
Sausage Seller Oh, yeah? And I’ll… I’ll… I’ll… skin you alive and make a thief’s pouch out of you! 370
Paphlagon I’ll rip your eyebrows off… one by single one!
Sausage Seller Oh yeah? And I’ll…. I’ll… I’ll make minced meat out of your whole body!
Paphlagon I’ll rip your eyelashes off… one by one!
Sausage Seller I’ll rip your guts out!
Demosthenes And! And what’s more, we’re going to do to him what the cooks do to their animals before they slaughter them, ey? We’ll shove a pole down his throat, pull his tongue right out and while he’s gaping we’ll go round the back and thoroughly check his bumhole for worms! Good and proper!
Panaetius Oh, yes, my friends! There are things in the world that are hotter than fire itself and there are words that are more disgusting than the most disgusting acts on earth! 381
Now this matter here isn’t a small one at all! Not very small at all!
Simon To the sausage seller
Come on then, my good man! Grab him, grab him hard and spin him round. You’ve already got him by the waist. Put your heart into it. Charge, man! Toss him about, drop him on the ground. Then you’ll see what a coward he is! I know what he’s really like! I know this bastard well!
Sausage Seller That’s the way he’s been all his life! A hero in his own image. He’s a crook, a thief! 389
Someone else’s harvest somehow always ends up being his own crop.
Like… first he steals all that Spartan wheat in Pylos, then he brings it over here to dry and then he sells it all back to the Spartans! Disgusting!
Paphlagon I’m not worried about you lot! So long as the politicians sit in the Council and the people sit gawking stupidly out there, indicating the audience I fear nobody!
Simon Disgusting creature! Callous, crass, reckless and shameless! Doesn’t even blush any more! By the gods, I hate you! I swear I hate you and if I don’t hate you enough, may I be reborn as a rug in pisser Cratinus’ house, or as one of those chorus women in a Morsimus tragedy.
You’ve got your fingers in everyone’s pie, Mister Paphlagon! Inside everybody’s business! There you are, gobbling up its profits with bribes. By Hermes! I hope you puke up all those profits, puke them up as quick as you pluck them out! That’ll be the moment I’ll be able to sing, “Drink, drink and drown your misfortune!”
Panaetius Ha! And I can just see Ulius’ old son, the tax inspector who chases bits of crumbs everywhere, sing heartily, an ode to Bacchus, the god of the drunks.
Paphlagon By Zeusy, Zeus! Zeus help me! There’s no way I’m going to let you beat me in sleazemanship! Lose this contest and I’ll ban my own self from sharing the morsels dished out at Zeus’ Feast Of Market Fatsos! 409
Sausage Seller No way! All the beating and the knife wounds I’ve received ever since I was a toddler will be for nothing if I can’t beat you in this little game! No way! Look at me! I’ve grown this big on simple table scraps, table crap that was tossed away. I’m a hardened man! Well trained as a sleazebag!
Paphlagon Table scraps, ey, dog food, ey? You grew up on dog food, you sad sod but you don’t have the face to beat someone with the face of a dog, not a baboon, like me!
Sausage Seller Monkey, ey? I swear that I was the biggest monkey in the world, when I was a kid! Full of monkey tricks, I was. I’d go over to the butchers’ and I’d make them look up into the sky, saying, “look, guys, Spring’s here! Look, there’s a swallow up there!” And the moment they raised their heads up, I’d nip around and steal a sausage!
Demosthenes Well done, my boy! What clever cleaver tactics! Brilliant planning! There you were, getting your meals ahead of everyone else: nettles while they’re still tender, at the first sighting of a swallow! At the break of Spring. 421
Sausage Seller Ha! And I’d never get caught in the act, either, ‘cause the moment someone saw me, I’d shove the meat between my legs and swear black and blue that I’d done nothing! I’d say I was fully and totally innocent! One day a politician saw me going through the motions and said, “No question about it! This boy will rule the city one day!”
Demosthenes That politician was a prophet! Still, he saw what you did: you told lies and you took meat up your bum!
Paphlagon I’ll get you! I’ll get you, you two! I’ll crap on this… this nonsense! Sleazebags, my arse! I’ll fall on you like a ton of bricks! Like a hurricane! I’ll spin the whole world around and upside down! The whole lot: Earth, sea, everything. I’ll have it shaken all up! 429
Sausage Seller Oh, yeah? Oh, yeah? Well, let me tell you, I’m gonna… I’m gonna pick all my snags up, wrap them around my neck, surf the waves and yell back at you: Suck that, you bastard!
Nikias And I’ll keep my eyes on the pumps… in case we take in water!
Paphlagon By Demeter! No way! You’re not going to escape that easily with all that cash you’ve pinched from the Athenian folk!
Demosthenes To the sausage seller:
Ahoy there, sausage man! Loosen your sails a bit now! I can see one hell of a freezing wind blowing up a crook’s storm!
Sausage Seller To Paphlagon
Listen, you! I know all about the ten talents you stole from the city on that Potidea siege thing we did.
Paphlagon Whispering slyly
Oi, you… you want one of them talents to shut your trap?
Nikias Who had overheard 440
Yeap! Our man here will accept your bribe, sir. Right! Loosen your ropes, now, the wind’s dying.
Paphlagon Ha! Gotsa! You’ll be charged with bribery! Four of them! Four charges at one hundred talents each!
Sausage Seller And you! You’ll… you’ll… cop twenty charges for draft-dodging and more than a thousand charges for stealing funds!
Paphlagon I’ll bring charges against your heritage! You’re from a family that committed sacrilege against our goddess. Your people had killed people in Athena’s temple!
Sausage Seller And I’ll dob you in because your grand pappy was one of the bodyguards that…
Paphlagon Bodyguard? Whose bodyguard? What are you on about, sausage man? Go on, tell us! This’ll be good!
Sausage Seller Yeah, he was one of the bodyguards of the wife of one of our tyrants. Hippias. Byrsine.
Paphlagon You dirty snotbag!
Sausage Seller Sleazebag, scumbag! 450
Demosthenes To the sausage seller
Go on! Clobber him, like a man!
Sausage Seller does so. The rest of the chorus joins in
Paphlagon Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I’m being clobbered by the conspirators! Help!
Nikias Go for it man! Give him a man’s beating! Harder! Hit him, sausage man! Hit him with your snags and with your tripe! Make him puke out all his nastiness!
Simon Yeah, that’s it, sausage man! What a lovely cut of meat you’ve turned out to be! More guts than all the men in town! You’re our hero! You’ve saved Athens and all her citizens! What a brave – what a manly attack you’ve launched against him with your verbiage!
Panaetius With what words can we praise you, to thank you for the joy you’ve given us? Words fail us!
Paphlagon By Demeter, I wasn’t wrong! Not wrong at all! I knew what you were all up to straight from the start! I knew straight from the start how you had all glued and nailed this scheme together! I had it worked out it all along! 461
Sausage Seller And I… -don’t you worry, I… I know all about your underhanded work at Argos. There you were, pretending to be building an alliance with the Argives while, all along you were doing your own wheeling and dealing with our arch-enemy, the Spartans!
Demosthenes To sausage seller
Oh no, sausage man! Did you hear that? I think you’d better use one of those… technical words the cart makers use in their workshop, now!
Sausage Seller Answering Paphlagon
“Glued and nailed this scheme, ey?” And I know exactly why your bellows were working: to weld together the shackles of the prisoners!
Demosthenes Hahaha! To the sausage seller Brilliant! Brilliant! Now give him a nailing for every one of his gluing! 470
Sausage Seller To Demosthenes
And he’s still got his little conspirators working those bellows for him on the side of our enemies, even now!
Back to Paphlagon: You can try and offer me all the bribes you want –silver, gold, anything, or you can even send your little mates around to pay me a visit, if you want but you’re not going to stop me from telling the Athenians all about your nasty deeds!
Paphlagon Who me? No way! I’m heading off to the Council right now, to tell them all about your little secret conspiratorial schemes, your little night meetings in the city, all those sly plans with the Persians and their King! And as for that sleazy, cheesy, business with the Boetians – mate!
Sausage Seller business-like 480
Oh yeah… eh… tell me, what does one pay for cheese in Boetia these days?
Paphlagon As he escapes and rushes out, to the sausage seller
I’ll have you skinned, alive! Stretch out your hide good and proper! By Heracles!
Nikias Now my friend, you’re going to show us just what sort of a brain you have, sharp or dull. You said you’ve shoved that piece of meat up your bum, well, you better run straight after him to the council because he’s going to dob us all in. He’ll outrage all the councillors with that screeching voice of his!
Sausage Seller Sure, I’m off right now. Ah… let me leave all my bellies and knives here with you first. Takes all his knives off his belt and places them on his meat box.
Demosthenes brings out a little flask of oil, tips some oil on his hands and tries to rub it into the sausage seller’s neck.
Demosthenes Here, sausage man. You better rub some of this around your neck, like the wrestlers do, so you’ll be able to slip away from all his sleazy tricks. 490
Sausage Seller Yeah, that’s great! What a good coach you’d make for a wrestler!
Nikias brings out of his cloak a handful of garlic and offers it to the sausage seller.
Nikias And this. Take this and gobble this up.
Sausage Seller Why? What is it?
Nikias It’s garlic. Come on, eat it! Fighting cocks can never win a match without it. It’ll improve your fighting no end.
Sausage seller wolfs it down
Sausage Seller Right then, I’m off!
Sausage Seller begins to exit
Demosthenes holds him back to give him his final advice
Demosthenes Don’t forget now! Show him your teeth! Bite him, bullshit him, rip his coxcomb off his stupid head and don’t come back here before you tear those… caruncles of his, right off his throat! Tear those turkey wattles off with your teeth!
Panaetius Go, go! The best of luck with you and I hope you succeed in achieving our goals. Let Zeus, the protector of the marketplace look over you and grant you victory! 497
Let us see you back here wearing the crowns of a victor!
Exit Sausage seller
Simon To the audience
Now, you lot! Connoisseurs of good poetry, one and all, listen to our own little verses!
Had one of the producers of comedy from the old school asked us to make this little speech, in the middle of this comedy, he’d have bugger all hope! But this time, we’ve got a poet who’s worthy of it and who deserves to be heard.
Panaetius He’s a brave boy, that one. He hates the same people we hate, he’s brave enough to tell the truth and brave enough to walk right up, dead against every typhoon and tempest, Paphlagon being one such example, and tell him to his face exactly what he thinks. That’s what our poet, the great Aristophanes is like and that’s why we’re going to make this speech. 510
Simon As for those of you who kept asking ask him why had he not written a play before, let us inform you that he has asked us to inform you that it wasn’t because he lacked the brains to do it but because, to bring a comedy onto the stage is an extremely difficult thing. It’s a job far more difficult than all the others!
Panaetius Many have tried and many have failed abysmally!
Simon And he knows very well just how unreliable you all are, out there! He saw all those other poor poets, totally abandoned by you the very moment they grew a little older!
Panaetius That’s what had happened to the late Magnes, poor man, whose hair grew white, waiting for your acclaim, even though he had beaten so many rivals and had won so many prizes in his earlier years. The poor bastard had given you his all! From him you heard every possible vocal style. 520
Simon All the humming, all those lovely sounds of birds on the wing, all those equally charming Lydian sounds and those enchanting sounds made by mozzies, all that beautiful work was all in vain! Poor bastard, he even painted himself green – made himself look like a frog, for you! All to no avail!
Of course, while he was young, he was everyone’s hero but then, when he grew a little old, you – you had completely abandoned him! Abandoned him just like his muse did.
Panaetius Then our poet’s mind also visits Cratinus. Now that was yet another poet who, with your backing and accolades used to glide along through peaceful glens like a happy river, uprooting whole forests of enemy oak trees and plane trees and taking them along with him. The boy was so famous that in every drinking party you’d hear people singing his very words:
Simon singing 530
“Oh, the sleaze that’s in my sleazebag will buy me a bribe…” or the other one, “Oh, craftsmen of crafty poems…” What a grand name Cratinus was once! Now, you can all see him, a pitiful sight, blabbering and muttering, blabbering and muttering in the street, his lyre’s strings worn out, his tuning keys all gone, harmony stuffed, all flats and no sharps, totally unbearable to the ear…
Panaetius …and still you feel no pity for the old bloke. You’ve abandoned him just like you did with that lovely flute player, Konnas. So now, we get to see poor old Cratinus, shuffling about our streets, wearing crowns of withered branches on his head, dying for a drink who, after all these victories, he should be drinking free at the Prytaneum and, instead of muttering and gibbering to himself, he should be sitting right here, in the front row, next to Dionysus himself!
Simon And then there was Crates! Poor bastard Crates! The crap he had to endure from you lot. He got the first prize three times –yes three bloody times- and you still poured the scorn and the verbal beatings on him! Shame, on you! What a lovely little oven that mouth of his was! He used to bake up the wittiest little cookies for you. All for free! Used to send you home with your bellies full of all those beautiful little jokes of his.
Panaetius Barely made a living out of it. Just managed to survive, that’s all. Win one day, lose the next… just barely made it! And that’s the sort of stuff that made our poet, our great Aristophanes, delay his outing. 540
Simon And then there’s the other thing. See, our poet reckons that one needs to do a stretch at the oars before one gets to steer the wheel. Then, only after he gets the oars and the wheel right, should he stand at the prow of his own ship, check out the ways of the winds and navigate the ship himself.
Panaetius So come on folks! Applaud the great man. He’s been circumspect, modest and he simply refused to jump onto the stage and start spewing out nonsensical verses like many others! Come on! Your applause, please folks and make it loud! Make it an eleven-oar applause, worthy of a victor of our Lenean Festival!
Folks, the Eleven-oar Salute, please!
Everyone on the stage applauds
We should send our poet from here, happy with success, joy glistening all the way to the bald patch on his head!
Simon Praying 551
Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord, protector and lover of horses!
Lover of the brazen clang and thud of the horses’ hooves, lover of the horses’ neighing. Lover, too, of the swift war ships with their blue emblems of rams at the prow!
Oh, God, whose heart gladdens at the sight of the rich booty those ships carry! A heart that also gladdens at the sight of young men in contest, particularly when they climb proudly upon their chariots chasing their Fate -victory or defeat, no matter!
Come, God of the horse, come now and join our dance!
Poseidon, God of the golden trident, come join us!
Panaetius God, chief of the dolphins! 561
God whose name is praised at Sounion!
God, son of Kronos, Geraestus!
God, most loved by the folk of Phormion to whom you granted a naval victory!
God most loved by all the citizens of Athens at this hour of their naval need!
Simon We, the city’s Knights are here to praise our forefathers, men, true and worthy of the goddess’s long temple robe. Men whose bravery on land and sea always brought victory to us and glory to our city!
Not one of them was a coward, like those who check fearfully the numbers on the enemy’s side but, instead, their brave heart always rose up in defiance!
You could see them in the battle: if any of them hit the dirt, they’d quickly get up, pretend nothing happened, dust their shoulder off and get back into the bloody thick of it.
And you wouldn’t see any of them running up to Cleainetus, Cleon’s father, begging for some subsidy or other. Not like the new lot of soldiers. You’d have to give this lot the best seats in the house here plus a free meal before they’d go off to war to fight for their country!
Our only wish is to be given the chance to fight the glorious fight to protect our gods and our city. No need for subsidies for us. We need nothing more…
Panaetius … that is to say, nothing except for this little bit: When we do bring Peace home, don’t go on at us about our long hair…
Simon Or our sweat scrapers and other beauty items we use.
Panaetius Praying 581
Oh, grand goddess Athena, protector of our city, Athens, the holiest land of them all! The land with the most victories, the most poets and the most power!
Come and bring with you our comrade in arms, in all our expeditions, in all our fights! Bring Victory with you!
She is our partner, too, in our plays. Victory joins us and helps us against our opponents.
Simon Come, Palas, Athena, manifest yourself before us and grand victory to these Knights, these gentle, gentle men! 590
Grand them victory now, just like you did before, dear Athena!
Panaetius And, us being Knights, we want to say a few good words in praise of our horses.
Praise the magnificent accomplishments of our very own cavalry. They certainly deserve it. They’ve been with us to every battle and expedition and showed their bravery. We know their deeds on land very well and we stand in absolute awe of them! And when we think of how those horses just jumped into the cargo ships –just like human soldiers- after first getting their rations organised and packing their sacks with garlic and onion. Then, there they were, just like us, their human partners, they took a hold of the oars and plunged them into the sea, all the while singing out “Hippo, hippo, heave! Hippo, hippo, heaaaaave! Come you lot! Heave I say, heave hard at your oars! What are you up to, Samfora? Plunge your stupid oar into the sea and heave harder!”
Simon Then, after that adventure in the sea, off they hop ashore, in Corinth and the younger colts straight away trotted off and with their hooves dug out trenches and rushed about to try and find food for us all. And the poor things, instead of chomping at that Persian dish, the clover, they ate the crabs that beached themselves, or they’d even fish them out of the ocean. I heard Theorus say that one of the crabs was so pissed off at getting plucked out of the sea that it prayed to Poseidon: “Oh, my god, Poseidon,” it said, “is there no way we can escape these awful Knights? They’re everywhere: in the deep, in the shallows and on land!”
Enter Sausage Seller, dusting himself off, the grin of victory on his face.
Panaetius Mate! Beloved buddy! Cobber! Digger, old pal! You’re back! Blessed be the gods for that! We were so worried about you! 611
Simon How did you go, sausage man?
Sausage Seller How’d you reckon I went? Henceforth call me… Victoropoulos!
Cheers all around
Simon Yeae! Hip pip, Hurray! Hip, pip, hurray! Thank you gods!
Joy, oh, joy!
What a great man you are! Great speaker, great doer! Great bloody everything!
Panaetius What happened? What did you do? 619
Tell us the full story, sausage man. I’d travel a long way to hear this, if I had to. Tell it all as it happened. Leave nothing. We all want to hear this!
Sausage Seller Sure is worth hearing this one!
Well, I left here straight after him, see? Hot on his heels, I was. Caught up with him at the Assembly. You should have heard the bastard! Shouting off, loud as loud can be, insulting you Knights with shrill and nightmarish words! He was pushing them all off the cliff, he was, with his disgusting rubbish about you lot being conspirators.
They nearly believed him. You should have seen the councillors. Their ears pricked and bulged by his words, lying bloody words shooting forth like weeds that take over the whole garden. And their eyes bulged and turned a sickly yellow, mustardy sort of colour. You should have seen them! They were on fire. Eyebrows all in knots! 630
Well, when I saw all this, when I saw that they were in his throes and believing all his bullshit, I got up and shouted out a prayer to my gods.
“You gods!” I prayed. “You Gods of Bragging! You, Gods of Bullshitry! You, Gods, the champions of all the idiots! You, Gods of Conartistry! Gods of Sleazemanship and you, Zeus, God of the marketplace where I was born and bred! Give me strength! Give me the filthiest tongue and the dirtiest possible mouth!” That’s how I prayed and, bugger me dead, if some bastard didn’t show his approval of my prayer by farting right there and then! On this side, of me. My right side. My lucky side! 640
Well, I bowed to the good man in acknowledgment and immediately swung my bum into action, pushing down all the little fence rails with it. Then I opened my mouth wide, like this and bellowed at the Assembly as loudly as I could: “You! You… Councillors! I’ve got good news for you!” I said to them. “News that are so good, I want to make sure that I’m the first to announce them to you. It’s the price of sardines, folks! It’s the best it’s ever been since the outbreak of the war!”
Well, you should have seen their faces then! Turned nice and happy right there and then. They wanted to give me a hero’s garland for telling the good news. So I gave them my advice. I said to them that if they wanted to get their fair share for the price of an obol, they should rush down the market and buy themselves all the plates they can. Corner the market. And keep it all a secret.
They applauded me loudly then and gawked at me awestruck. 650
But then, that bastard, Paphlagon, who knew how to press the Councillors’ buttons, got up and said, “Men, these auspicious news should move us to make a sacrifice to our goddess! I suggest we should slaughter one hundred cows!”
And damn it, all the damned Councillors agreed with him!
Of course, I didn’t want to be beaten by that pile of bull crap, so I suggested that we should really sacrifice two hundred cows and to promise a thousand goats to Artemis, the Goddess of the wild beasts, if the price of sardines falls to one hundred an obol.
That made all the councillors turn their heads to me again. 661
At which point, Paphlagon got totally angry and frustrated and completely lost it! Started waffling on and on about all sorts of stupid things, so the Magistrates and all the cops got up and started dragging his sorry bum out of the place. All the Councillors then began shouting about the price of fish. Poor Paphlagon kept yelling back at them, pleading with them, “Hang on! Hang on!” He was yelling at the op of his voice. “Let me tell you what the Spartan herald had to say, first! He wants to negotiate a Peace Treaty with us!” But, of course, the Councillors shouted him down.
“Peace Treaty?” they asked scornfully. “A Peace Treaty now? Yeah, right! What convenient timing! A Peace Treaty now that they’ve heard the price of fish has plummeted? How bloody wonderfully convenient of them! No way! Let the war drag on!” 670
Then they told the Magistrates to adjourn the meeting and they ran off in all directions trying to get out of the place, jumping over all the little fence rails in the process. Myself, I ran across the city and got to the market first where I bought all the coriander and the leeks, which I handed out to the Councillors as gifts to garnish their sardines with… the sardines they’d never find! Hahaha!
The fools, they all cheered and praised me to high heaven! I’ve got all them Councillors in my pocket, I tell you, every one of them! Every one of them, bought for the mighty price of an obol’s worth of coriander! Hahahaha! 680
Simon Your deeds are worthy of your good luck!
That degenerate has found his match: another man even more degenerate than him, capable of even more sleazemanship.
Panaetius Now be careful my sausage man. There are more battles ahead. Fight like a hero. We’re right behind you – but then you already knew that.
Sausage Seller Looking into the distance within 691
Ah, there he is! I can see our leather beater coming now. Look at him! Looks just like a hurricane that’s about to burst. Full to the brim with angry wind and blustering devastation. Ready to spin me about, I guess. Knock me off me feet. What a frightful sight!
Enter Paphlagon fuming with anger.
Paphlagon To the Sausage Seller
Oh! Oh! Damn! If there’s any hint of my old gift to lie is left in me I’m going to destroy you! And if I can’t destroy you, then… cut me up into little pieces!
Sausage Seller Hahaha! What a joke all your blustering is! It sure makes me laugh! Hahahaha! You’re sooooo funny! All your lovely threats! Dance music to my ears, it is! Look! He begins to “dance” I’m dancing, I’m hopping, I’m… cups his hands around his mouth and calls out, Cock a doodle doooooo! Hahahha!
Paphlagon By the goddess Demeter! Let me die if I don’t destroy you once and for all! Let me die! Get rid of you from the face of this earth! Devour you whole!
Sausage Seller Oh yeah? It’ll be me who’ll be doing the devouring! I’ll gobble you all up –even if it means I’ll burst my guts doing it! 700
Paphlagon By the gods! By the honorary theatre seat I was given after my efforts in the battle of Pylos! By the… I’m going to have you disappear! You’re going to vanish, snag man!
Sausage Seller Oooooh! The honorary theatre seat! Oooh!
By the gods, how I wish you lose that front row seat and be made to sit in the last row!
Paphlagon By all the heavens! I’ll have you locked up in a pillory for this!
Sausage Seller Temper, temper, now! Goes to his box of sausages. Now what could I give you to gobble up and relax, ey? Now let’s see… what would wet your appetite now…Pulls out a pig’s ear Here we are. A pig’s skin wallet?
Paphlagon I’ll tear your guts out with my own fingernails!
Sausage Seller And I’ll… I’ll… I’ll tear away all the fine dinners you get for free at the Council… with my own fingernails!
Paphlagon I’ll drag you before our boss in there, Mr Demos! He’ll give me my justice! 710
Sausage Seller And I’ll drag you there, too, and tell him even more lies about you!
Paphlagon The boss doesn’t listen to the likes of you, you snagshit, whereas he listens to my every word. I can run rings around his little brain!
Sausage Seller Ha! You’re that certain you’ve got our boss completely in you grubby little pocket, are you?
Paphlagon You bet, I am! I know exactly what little morsels his heart desires.
Sausage Seller Yeah, you certainly do! And you feed him just like a nanny feeds someone else’s baby! Disgustingly! You pick up a bit of food, chew it thoroughly first and then stick a bit of it in his mouth! You wolf down three spoonfuls to his one!
Paphlagon That’s me, all right! I can make Democracy fat OR lean! That’s where my expertise is.
Sausage Seller Identical expertise to that of my bum hole!
Mocking laughter from everyone else on the stage which angers Paphlagon
Paphlagon Oh yeah? Oh, yeah? Right! Let’s go! Let’s go before the Demos right now! You’re not going to beat me at this, you… you snag seller!
Sausage Seller No objections here! Come on, let’s go! Move! Addressing the audience Clear the way, please! Don’t anyone hold us back! We’re going to the big boss!
They walk over to the house and Paphlagon bangs at the door. As they do the Harvest Wreath falls to the ground.
Paphlagon Oh, Mister Deeeeemos! Come on out here, please, dearie!
Sausage Seller Also bangs at the door
Yes, Mister Demos, please do come out here! Please… dearest!
Paphlagon Please do come out here, Mister Demos! Come and see what insults I’ve got to endure out here. Unbearable stuff!
What? What on earth is going on? Who’s banging at my door? All this noise! Go away! Appears at the door. He is an old, grouchy man, bald, with a bent back and walking with the aid of a walking stick. What do you want? Looks at the wreath on the ground. Oh, damn you! Look at what you’ve done! You’ve completely destroyed my New Harvest garland! What is it, ey? Paphlagon, what’s wrong? Who’s insulting you, ey?
Paphlagon He is, boss! He and these young thugs are beating me up… and it’s all because of you! 730
Demos Because of me? What on earth do you mean?
Paphlagon Yes, because of you! Because I love you, boss and because… because I fuck you!
Demos To the sausage seller
And you! Who are you?
Paphlagon Me? I… I… I’m his rival. I want to fuck you, too! I’ve been in love with you for a long time now. Lusted after you for years. Indicating the audience Just like every other honest and virtuous citizen out there. We all want what’s best for you, Mister Demos but this bastard here constantly prevents us from doing anything about it.
And you! You behave just like the young boys behave, Mister Demos. They always turn their bum away from the fine and virtuous men but they give it readily and happily to all the lamp sellers and all the cobblers and all the shoe makers and all the leather beaters…
Paphlagon That’s because I look after our him! 741
Sausage Seller Is that right? And, tell me, how exactly do you do that?
Paphlagon How? How do you mean, “how?”
Pylos, that’s how! The moment our generals shot off out of the battlefield down there, I dashed over to that island in my ship and came back home dragging all with all the Spartans behind me! That’s how!
Sausage Seller Ha! And I… I was casually walking around one day, when, suddenly, I dashed into a shop and pinched a pot of food someone else was cooking. Get it? Someone ELSE was cooking!
Paphlagon Boss, I reckon you should get the Assembly together for them to judge which one of us loves you the most.
Sausage Seller I agree, Mister Demos. Get them to sit in judgement but not at the Pnyx, though…
Demos Absolutely not! I would never call on the Assembly to sit anywhere else. 750
To the Pnyx everyone! We’re all going to the Pnyx!
Demos walks over to the great rock of the Pnyx and sits on it.
Exit Demosthenes and Nikias into the house. The rest gather around Demos.
Sausage Seller Quietly to Panaetius
What crappy luck! When the old man is at home he’s the sharpest wit on earth but when he goes and sits himself on that throne, listening to petitions, he’s… he’s an absolute dork! Gawks and gapes like someone chewing on dried figs!
Panaetius To the sausage seller
It’s now or never, sausage man! Show him what you’ve got. Spread all your wears in front him. Set all your sails up, get all your gear together, arm yourself for victory! Use clever, unbeatable and brave stratagems. He’s a sly bastard, our Paphlagon is! Finds pathways where no pathways exists. Rat cunning! Jump on him with all your might!
Simon And listen! Jump on him before he’s got time to jump on you! Bring your ship right next to his and drop your iron balls into it! Sink it! 761
Paphlagon Falls to his knees and prays
Oh, Lady Athena! Oh, Protector of our city!
Next, after our city’s most famous bum beaters and whores -these being, the boy Lysicles and the girls, Cynna and Salabaccho, I am the best at that occupation and, being the best, dear goddess, grand me that I go on having my meals free at the expense of the taxpayer at the great Prytaneum. Free and without having to do anything for the city in return.
Turning to Demos
As for you, Mister Demos, if you ever happen to get the slightest inkling of a thought that I hate you or that I no longer stand alone – at the head of the battle line!- to fight for your greater glory, then do let me die! No, indeed, you can have me be sawn up into many, many little strips. Turn me into horse harnesses, if you want!
Sausage Seller Me too, me too, Mister Demos! If you ever think that I don’t love you and adore you, cut me up into little pieces and turn me into a souvlaki! True! If you don’t believe me then, let them pound me onto that rock, turn me into mince, add a bit of cheese, shove a long hook between my balls and drag me all the way to the Potter’s District, where all the whores hang out. 769
Paphlagon No way, boss! It’s impossible for anyone to love you as much as I do. Can’t happen! To begin with, while I was your Councillor, I increased the country’s wealth heaps… either by shackling some men on the pillories, or by hanging others or by torturing some… couldn’t give a stuff about their individual situations or their needs. All I cared about was your coffers. To make you happy!
Sausage Seller What’s so special about that? I can do all that, for you also! Easy. Just grab the loaves of bread that others have cooked and pass them on to you.
Now let me prove to you that this man neither loves you nor is he faithful to you.
He tells you all this bullshit so he can warm his bum at your fireplace. 780
Look at him! There you are, a true hero, defender of your country, victor over the Persians, a man who made us all boast grandiloquently about our glorious heroism… One of the chorus shoves a cushion in the sausage seller’s hand …there you are, boss, still sitting on a hard rock; but does he care? No, not even a tiny bit. Whereas I, I, Mister Demos have made a special cushion just for you… and offering the cushion here it is. Hold on, stand up a minute… now you can sit down again. There you go! That will protect that lovely bum of yours that had to sit by the oars at the sea battle in Salamis.
Demos To the sausage seller
And who are you, my fine young man? You’re not one of the descendants of the lovely, famous Harmodius clan, are you? Your behaviour here today shows an excellent, public-spirited soul. A very Democratic mind, indeed! Remarkable stuff!
Paphlagon What? To the sausage seller: One bit of woeful arse-licking and you’ve won him over! That’s not fair!
Sausage Seller “Woeful?” You had him won over with even more woeful little tricks! Pitiful stuff!
Paphlagon To Demos 790
Boss, I stick my head on the line and say that no one loves you more than me. No one! And no one fought more bravely for you than me!
Sausage Seller Yeah right! You love our Mister Demos? You had the poor bugger living in barrels and birds’ nests and shacks for the last eight years. Wouldn’t give a stuff about his living conditions all that time. You had him locked up and bled to death! And then, when a Peace treaty was proposed to you by Archeptolemus, you tore the thing up into little pieces and kicked the bums of all his emissaries out of town!
Paphlagon Sure I did! I wanted our Mister Demos to rule over all of Greece. I’m only practicing what was said in the oracle, Takes out of his pocket a scroll which he unfolds and reads… right here. Here it is: “Mister Demos will be hearing cases in Arcadia for five obols a piece, if he stays as leader.” See? In any case, I’ll be making sure he gets fed well and looked after and that he gets his three obols… by hook or by crook. I’ll get it for him!
Sausage Seller By Zeus! That’s bullshit! You’re not interested in making our boss here ruler of all Greece! You’re only worried about how you can rip all our allies off with more levies and taxes and bribes, without him being able to detect your sleazy work, because of all the turmoil the war is causing. You’re after praise and respect from him by making sure he suffers through poverty and deprivation and with your three damned obols! 800
But when the war is over and Mister Demos is sitting peacefully at his farm, his soul rejuvenated with some good bread made out of real wheat, when he’s out there, chatting away with his mates while sucking on some juicy olives, he’ll get to do some thinking. And he’ll work out just how much stuff you stole from him, just how much you’ve tricked him out of with those damned three obols of yours. And then… that’s when he’ll turn around and, with that true farmer’s anger of his, he’ll run after you and, when elections come, he’ll slap you with a vote against you!
You know all this. You know well that that’s what he’s going to do and that’s why you want to trick him with all this bum-licking and pampering and conjuring of fancy dreams.
Paphlagon Oh! You disgusting little man! How awful! What a terrible thing it is for you to say all these lies about me! In front of everyone, too –the whole city of Athens- and in front of our good Mister Demos! All this awful stuff even though I’ve served him so well! Let me tell you, sausage man, I’ve served him even better than our esteemed General Themistocles. I’ve done more good work for our city even than Themistocles himself! 810
Sausage Seller Oh, dear ME! Now I’ve heard everything! Let me quote Euripides: “Oh, dear Argives, listen to his words!” Dear, dear, dear ME! To the audience
The stupid leather beater is comparing himself to Themistocles! Dear, dear, DEAR!
Listen you! Themistocles came into Athens when Athens’ table was full but he got that table even fuller –spilling over the sides with food, it was, when he came round! Piraeus was one of them things he added to it and… and without touching any of the old fish on it, he added some new ones. But what did you do? Your achievement was to put up little walls everywhere in the city, chant little oracles to them and turn them all into small-minded little villagers!
Wow! What a match you’d make with Themistocles! And that poor bastard is exiled while you - You… you’re still here, licking your fingers, smothered in the delicious Achilles Cakes!
Paphlagon To Demos 820
Listen to him, Mister Demos! He’s saying all this stuff about me because he’s jealous. Jealous of my love for you!
Demos To Paphlagon
Enough! Enough crap out of you! You’ve been ripping me off with your shameful ways for far too long!
Sausage Seller Oh, my darling, Mister Demos! He’s such a nasty, nasty piece of work, this man is! Full of shameless deeds. The moment he sees you yawn a bit, for example, off he goes to the government’s auditors and treats them like he treats his cabbages: rips out their hearts and gobbles them all down. Then, he sponges off all the people’s gravy with both his hands. Result? Our Treasury is empty!
Paphlagon You’re not going to get any joy out of this! I’m going to charge you with having stolen thirty thousand drachmas!
Sausage Seller Ooooh! Thirty thousand drachs! Look at you, big boy!
There you go doing useless stuff again! Slapping the sea with the flat of your oars, you are now! Bloody useless! You disgusting little wretch, you… you… you’re the most despicable man in Athens!
May Demetre be my witness and may I fall down and die if I don’t get to prove that you ripped off Mytilene of more than forty minas in bribes!
Panaetius To the sausage seller
O, brave man, you! You’ve shown yourself to be a true philanthropist! How I envy your eloquence! If you can continue your attack in this way you’ll be the greatest man of all the Greeks. You’ll be able to rule Greece all on your own and you’d be using a trident to govern our allies –stirring them and shaking them out of their money!
Simon And, listen: don’t let go of him! He’s given you something to grab him by. With arms like yours it shouldn’t be too difficult. 841
Paphlagon To Panaetius and Simon
Oh, no, no, no, my dear nobles! By Poseidon! Things haven’t got to that point yet! No way! Because, I, personally, have committed such a great and wonderful deed that if I say it, it will shut the mouths of all my enemies! World wide! At least, while those shields I brought from Pylos are still on display.
Sausage Seller Aha! Gotsya! The shields! Now I’ve got something to really kick your bum with!
If you really loved Mister Demos you would have thought more about how you should have those shields displayed at the temple. It was a sneaky thing, Mister Demos, hanging those shields up there, complete with their handle straps. He did that so as to stop you from punishing him.
Did you notice all those other tanners and honey makers and cheese sellers, hanging around him? They’re a notorious band of crooks, Mister Demos and, if you ever think of punishing this guy with ostracism and the like, all those crooks will run into the temple one fine night, pull down those shields and take over all the gates to our grain stores. 850
Demos Is that so? Dear, dear! Poor me! Are the straps still on the shields, are they?
To Paphlagon So, how long have you been ripping our citizens off at the scales, ey? You, sneaky little thief!
Paphlagon My Lord, don’t listen to him! Never believe that you can find a better friend than me, here. It was I, alone who quashed a whole uprising against you! All those conspirators were stopped by me and me alone! There’s nothing underhanded that’s going on in our city that I don’t know about! I bang it on the head the very moment it appears. Stop it dead on its tracks! 860
Sausage Seller Ha! Just like one of those fishermen who catch eels: While the waters are all calm and still they catch nothing, so they stir the waters, make them all dirty and muddy and up come the eels! And that’s how you get to make your catch, as well. You stir the city, make it all dirty and muddy and then you grab the conspirators.
Listen! Here you are, making all this money from your leather beating and your shoe making – all this money! But have you ever given our Chief, here, even a small patch of leather for his shoes? No! And then you say you love him! Yeah, right!
Demos Too true, by Apollo! Too true! Not a single patch of leather! 870
Sausage Seller Now do you see what’s he really like Mister Demos? But look! Takes a pair of shoes out of his clothes and offers them to Demos. Look here. Look what I bought for you! A pair of shoes! My gift to you, Mister Demos!
Demos Takes the shoes and admires them. Puts them on, walks about and is pleased with them. Sits back down onto the rock.
Why thank you, sausage seller! Thank you, indeed! And I find you, you of all other men, the most devoted and loving friend of the Athenian People and of my toes!
Paphlagon What an awful world we live in when a pair of shoes can have so much sway over our Democracy! Did you forget all the really important stuff I did for you, boss? Did you forget that I got rid of all the queers from the city and that I had that hook-nose, Grypus written off our Citizen Rolls?
Sausage Seller What IS awful is the fact that you’ve made yourself the city’s Chief Examiner of Bumholes so that you can judge who’s a bugger and who’s not and then send them out of our city! Even that job you took on because of fear that these buggers would become politicians!
You wanted to become a politician yourself, so you’ve cut down the opposition… all the while, of course, you were paying no attention to the fact that our old Mister Demos, here, doesn’t even have a cape to his name! At his age, without a cape and in the middle of Winter! You couldn’t give a stuff about his suffering, whereas I… I brought him this: Pulls out a cape and puts it around Demos’ shoulders 880
There you go, Mister Demos! Wear it in good health.
Demos Ohhhh! Even Themistocles never thought of this! Sure, handing me the city of Piraeus was a grand thing he did but this… this lovely cape is, to my mind, an even better initiative.
Paphlagon Damn you, you bastard! You’re beating me with these bloody monkey tricks of yours!
Sausage Seller Hahaha! No, I’m only doing what a man does when he’s in a party and he’s got to go out for a shit: he borrows someone’s slippers, so, I just borrowed your own tricks.
Paphlagon Takes off his leather overcoat 890
Oh yeah? Well you can’t beat me when it comes to licking bums! I’m going to put this over his shoulders, so suffer, you stupid bastard.
Paphlagon goes to Demos and offers his overcoat. Demos is repulsed by its stench
Demos Poh! Get away from here! Poh! Take that stinking old hide away from me!
Sausage Seller You see? You see that, Mister Demos? He’s trying to suffocate you by wrapping you up in this stinking piece of skin. It’s not the first time, either. Remember when the price of fennel fell?
Demos Sure, I remember.
Sausage Seller Well, he was the cause of that fall in the price of fennel! He did it so that all the jurors would eat tons of it and when they’d be sitting in court, they’d fart each other to death!
Demos That’s exactly right! That’s what I was told, too, by a man from Turd City, in Sicily!
Sausage Seller To the audience 900
And you all farted that much… you all farted that much… that much, that your bum holes turned fire red! Bright red, like a fireplace!
Demos A blushing trick that one!
Paphlagon You rotten piece of shit! You… you upset me so much with your disgusting fucking swearing!
Sausage Seller That’s because the goddess herself has called on me – ordered me to beat you at bum-licking!
Paphlagon No way! You’re not beating me at this game…
Turns to Demos
Boss, just for you, just to show you how much I love you… I’ll serve you up –for free, mind, for free – a bowl of… a full bowl of money. Public Servants’ wages. All for you to slurp it all up! All for free!
Sausage Seller Pulls out a little jar and offers it to Demos
And I, I’ll give you this, boss. It’s a jar of medicinal ointment for you to rub over all those blisters you get on your shins.
Paphlagon Here! Let me pluck out all of your grey hairs, boss. Make you look all young and handsome again.
Sausage Seller Pulls out a rabbit’s tail and hands it to Demos.
Here, Mister Demos! Look at what I’ve got for you! A bunny’s little tail to pat your little eyes with.
Paphlagon Offers his head 910
Here, boss! Blow your nose and wipe it on my head! Right here. Come on, blow your nose on my head!
Sausage Seller Tries to outbid Paphlagon
Me, too! Me too! Here, wipe your nose on my head, instead!
Paphlagon To the sausage seller. Fuming with anger.
Listen you! I’ll make a captain out of you! The captain of an old, dilapidated trireme that you’d have to spend buckets of money on to fix it and refurbish it… and I’ll make sure, also, that you’re given rotten sails!
Sausage Seller Appealing to the audience 919
Ohhhh! Look at this! Look at this, folks! Stop him! Stop him, somebody! The guy’s gone off his head! Lost it! I can see the bubbles rising to the surface. He’s going to boil over! Quick, someone! Get a couple of sticks and skim off some of those threats he’s making.
Paphlagon Oh! You… you… you’re going to pay me back for this. Big time! I’m going to squeeze the crap out of you with taxes. I’m going to register you as a rich man!
Sausage Seller Well, myself, I won’t be making any threats to you, mate! On the contrary, I’ll make a wish for you:
May you rejoice at the sight of a sizzling squid in your frying pan and may you sit down to enjoy that meal.
May your thoughts go to the gathering of all the folk from Miletus of whom you’ll order an increase in their taxes, which, your thoughts will conclude, you will achieve and that you’ll make lots of rip-off money. 930
May you get a visitor while you’re enjoying your meal of that squid and may that visitor tell you that you must hurry to the Assembly to collect your money…
And… while you’re rushing to get the meal down, you choke to death!
Simon Hahaha! Now that’s a beauty! By Zeus! By Apollo! By Demeter! That’s a great wish! 941
Demos Hahaha! That’s what I reckon, too! Makes a good wish, that sausage seller man! And he looks like a good chappy in all other aspects, too. No one of his ilk, no one of that low, down market lot of commoners can match him.
And you, Paphlagon, all this bullshit about how much you love me has given me the utter shits! Hand me back my ring! You won’t be my treasurer.
Paphlagon Hands Demos the ring 949
Here! Take the bloody ring! Take it but remember: If I’m not going to be your treasurer any more, then the man who’ll replace me will be an even greater crook!
Demos Examines the ring carefully, suspiciously.
Hang on! This doesn’t look like my ring! The seal is different. I suppose it could be my eyesight…
Sausage Seller Let me have a look, Mister Demos. Takes ring from Demos and examines it. What was engraved on your seal?
Stuffed cabbage leaf… with beef dripping.
Sausage Seller Nope. Can’t see that on this ring.
Demos Are you sure? You can’t see the stuffed cabbage leaf on there? Well, what can you see on it?
Sausage Seller I see a huge Stork, Mister Demos. Standing on a rock squawking just like a mad politician.
Demos Oh, no! Good grief!
Sausage Seller What’s up, Mister Demos?
Demos Hell! Take it away! Take it away. I don’t want to see it. The bastard! That’s not my ring! That’s my enemy’s ring! That’s Cleonymus’ ring that one! Here! Searches through his clothes and finds another ring which he offers to the sausage seller. Here, take this one. You wear it! You’ll be my treasurer from now on!
Paphlagon Wow, there! Hold on a minute! Not so fast, boss! Wait. Wait till you hear my oracles first! 960
Sausage Seller Then he’ll have to hear mine, too.
Paphlagon Looks skyward and pretends to have received divine inspiration
If you heed the words of a sausage seller, you’ll… you’ll become a skinful of wind!
Sausage Seller Also pretends to have received divine inspiration from above
If Mister Demos heeds the words of a leather beater he’ll get his dick’s skin chopped off… all the way up to his short and curlies. Chop, chop, chop!
Paphlagon No, boss! I’ve got oracles at home that tell me that you’ll be wearing a wreath of roses and… and you’ll be the ruler of every country on earth!
Sausage Seller That’s nothing, Mister Demos! I’ve got prophesies at home that paint you on a golden chariot, wearing a golden and bejewelled crown and a huge crimson gown, driving Athens’ toy boy –and his pimp- straight into court!
Demos To the sausage seller 970
Proof, please! Go and get those oracles of yours so this man can hear them.
Sausage Seller Done!
Demos To Paphlagon
You, too! Off you go!
Paphlagon No probs!
Sausage Seller Right! Off we go then!
Exit Sausage Seller and Paphlagon
Panaetius What a brilliant day that would be for us and for our visitors when Cleon gets his arse kicked in! But, damn it!
There are still all these old stodgy legal types out there, that hang around in the courts, crapping on about Cleon, saying things like, “If we hadn’t made Cleon a big knob then we’d still be missing out on the two most useful kitchen implements, the pestle and the shit-stirring spoon!” 980
But the thing that astonishes me is his swinish education! Real pig pen stuff!
His classmates used to say that Cleon could only tune his little lyre up to play Dorian music. He refused to learn how to tune it up for other styles of music, so his music teacher expelled the idiot from his school, saying “this boy can only play the songs of ‘Bribery.’” 990
Enter Paphlagon, carrying a basket full of scrolls
Paphlagon Here boss! Look at all these oracles… and there’s lots more where these came from!
Enter Sausage Seller carrying an even bigger basket full of scrolls
Sausage Seller Damn it, Mister Demos! I need a shit, after carrying this lot! And that’s not all of them, either!
Demos What’s all this stuff?
Paphlagon Oracles, boss.
Demos All of them?
Paphlagon Ha! You look surprised, boss! By Zeus, I can tell you: back home I’ve got a huge box that’s spilling over with them!
Sausage Seller But I’ve got a whole loft and two houses besides, all full to the brim with them! 1001
Demos Let me see them. Who wrote this stuff?
Paphlagon A very famous prophet… Backis.
Demos And yours?
Sausage Seller Eh… Glanis, boss. Backis’ older brother.
Demos So, what are they all about then?
Paphlagon Everything, boss: They’re about Athens, about Pylos, about you, about me… about everything!
Demos And yours?
Sausage Seller Mine, Mister Demos? Mine are about Athens… and about lentils… and about the Spartans… and about the new mackerel… and about all those bastards in the market who sell us short with the flour… about you… about me… Aside Oh, damn all this bullshit! I had enough of this. Let him go and suck his own dick!
Demos Well then, get ready to read them to me, especially the ones that talk about me. I enjoy them a lot… the bit about me becoming a great eagle in the great clouds! 1011
Paphlagon Sure, boss. Now listen very carefully. Opens one of the scrolls and reads.
“Mark well, Erechtheus’ son, and know the prophesies that Apollo has uttered for you from deep within his shrine and from his divine tripod. The god orders you to protect the holy, sharp-toothed dog, Cleon, who now stands and gawks before you and who protects you with his loud bark. It is he who will bring your much profit.
And if you do not do Apollo’s bidding and protect this dog, he’ll be destroyed by the many ravens who croak endless insults against him!”
Demos By holy Demeter! Now that’s one prophesy I don’t get. What’s with Erectheus and the ravens and the dog? 1021
Paphlagon Rolls his eyes at Demos’ idiocy
I’m the dog, boss! Me! I’m the dog because I bark away your enemies. Phoebus Apollo is telling you to look after me, protect me!
Sausage Seller Rubbish! That’s not what the oracle is saying! This mangy dog here is munching up your prophesies like he munches up your breakfast! I can tell you exactly what that dog is all about!
Demos All right, then. Tell me! Hang on a minute, I’ll get a rock first, just in case that oracle dog tries to bite me!
Sausage Seller Unfolds a scroll and reads. 1030
“Mark well Erechtheus’ son the dog called Cerberus who makes slaves out of men! While you are having you supper, he watches, wagging his tail, until he finds you looking the other way, he snatches your food and, at night while you’re deep in your slumber, he secretly glides along into you kitchen, just like a dog and licks all your plates and runs off with your islands!”
Demos Ah, now, by Divine Poseidon, that’s much better,!
Paphlagon No, mate, no! Listen to this first and then make up your mind. Listen:
Reads “A birth will take place in our holy city. The birth of the lion that will fight for the people of Athens as if they were the lion’s very own cubs. It will fight bravely the huge horde of gnats that will attack them. And if you want to protect that lion, build a huge wooden wall with iron towers all around the city.”
Now do you know what all that means, boss?
Demos No, by Apollo, I don’t! 1041
Paphlagon Rolls his eyes again, in frustration
It’s Apollo, boss! Apollo is telling you that you’ve got to protect me because I’m the lion he’s promised you! Me!
Demos Yeah? Is that right? Lion, lying, who’s the lion and who’s the liar, ey? One and the same?
Sausage Seller Ha! He’s neglected to tell you a bit more about that oracle, Mister Demos. What Apollo meant was that you should protect this guy inside a wall made of wood and iron!
Demos What? What does Apollo mean by that?
Sausage Seller The god is ordering you to put him in the public pillory, Mister Demos. Wood and iron with five holes in it, see? Demonstrates someone being in a pillory.
The pillory. Lock him up in one of those. That should keep the bastard… safe!
Demos Hahaha! I believe that this is one prophesy that has imminent and immediate potential! 1050
Paphlagon Quickly opens a scroll and reads from it
Nah, don’t trust him, boss! Listen Reads
“Envious crows crow but you must keep your love for the hawk who delivered into your hands the Spartan ravens… in shackles.”
Sausage Seller Yeah, he was pissed as a fart when he tried that one! Reads from a scroll
“Oh, son of Cecrops! You’ve been given such bad counsel! Think not that this achievement is a great one. Would not a woman bear a burden if the burden was put upon her by her husband? But put her into battle with an enemy and she’ll shit herself.”
Paphlagon Another scroll
Hang on, boss! Look at what Apollo is saying about Pylos: “Pylos in front of Pylos…”
Demos Ey? What’s he mean by “Pylos in front of Pylos?”
Sausage Seller Hahaha! Brandishing his phallus The god is saying that the leather beater will be ravishing a whole lot of pylons in the bath houses! 1060
Demos What? So… am I going to miss out on my pylon tonight?
Sausage Seller Yeap! He’s run off with all of them. No pylons for you tonight, Mister Demos but listen to this. Listen to it carefully because it’s about our fleet…
Demos Go ahead but read how my sailors are going to get their wages.
Sausage Seller Reads from scroll
“Oh, Aegeus’ son! Beware of the foxdog who’ll try to outfox you! He is a conman, fast-footed and totally conniving. His treachery is lethal.”
Did you get that, Mister Demos?
Demos The foxdog is our famous pimp, Philostratus, right?
Sausage Seller No, Mister Demos. That’s not what the oracle is about. This one is telling you not to keep giving in to this leather beater’s constant demands about more swift ships. He uses them to go and harass our island allies for more revenue and bribes. Apollo is telling you not to give him those ships! 1070
Huh? What’s a trireme got to do with a foxdog?
Sausage Seller His turn to roll his eyes
Because, Mister Demos, both, the trireme and the foxdog are very fast: Fleetfooted foxdog, a fleet of triremes, see?
Demos Still puzzled
But… how did the dog get attached to the fox?
Sausage Seller Apollo says that the soldiers are like foxes, they eat all our grapes, out in the paddocks.
Demos I see… and where are all the wages for these foxes… I mean, soldiers?
Sausage Seller I’ll have it here for you in three days, Mister Demos but lend your ear to this oracle Reads “Apollo, the son of Leto orders you to beware of the tricks of the trickster, Palmolene!”
Demos Palmolene? Who or what is Palmolene? 1082
Sausage Seller This man’s hand, Mister Demos. Paphlagon’s hand. That’s what Palmolene is! Because he’s always nattering on about “put some money in the palm of my hand!”
Paphlagon No, no, no, boss! He’s got the whole oracle wrong! By Palmolene, Apollo means the hand of Diopeithes. His hand is crippled and he’s always barking against atheists and philosophers. But hang on, let me read you what this oracle here says… it’s a flighty one this one. Talks about you being a soaring eagle –king of the whole earth.
Sausage Seller Brandishes another scroll
I’ve got one too! One that says you’ll be king of the whole earth and the Red Sea, too. You’ll be judging cases in places as far as Ecbatana, munching on some lovely salted bikkies.
Paphlagon Wait! Wait a minute! I had a dream! I had a dream! I dreamed that our goddess, Athena was pouring health and wealth all over Mister Demos’ head! With a huge ladle! 1090
Sausage Seller Me, too! I dreamed a dream, too, Mister Demos! The goddess herself appeared. The very one, Athena! She came out of the Acropolis with an owl on her shoulder and she poured a whole jug of ambrosia on your head and a jug of garlic dip over his!
Demos Hahaha! That Glanis! No one sharper than that man!
Now, sausage man, I make you my Chief Adviser and give you the responsibility of looking after me in my old age and the duty of teaching me all about the new ways of the world.
Paphlagon Nooooo! Not yet, boss, not yet! Let me be the one who serves you your daily barley and looks after your affairs. 1100
Demos No! No, I don’t want to hear the word “barley” ever again! You and your little boyfriend, Thufanes have cheated me for long enough.
Paphlagon Alright, alright! I’ll supply you with fully processed barley flour!
Sausage Seller Barley cakes from me! Splendidly turned… as well as a full meal, fully prepared for you. The only work you’ll ever need to do from now on is to move your jaws up and down.
Demos Right then you two! Go do your stuff and do it quickly because the one who looks after me the best will get to hold the reins of Government.
Paphlagon Rushing to the doors of Parliament
I’m running in first!
Sausage Seller No you don’t! I’m going in first! 1110
Sausage Seller and Paphlagon fight each other to enter Parliament. The Sausage Seller wins.
Panaetius What power you have Mister Demos! The whole world fears you like they fear a Dictator! They tremble at your feet!
But, alas, Mister Demos! How easily you’re tricked! You love praise so much that people use it on you to get their way with you. You stand around, gawking like an idiot and listening to every politician! Your head is here but your brain is on a journey!
Demos You are stupid, the lot of you! You and your long hair. No brains!
See, you think that I’m dumb but I put that act on, on purpose. I’m not dumb! I just pretend to be dumb.
I love my daily mash –love it to death and to get it, well, in order to get my lovely mash every day, I just fatten up some fool of a politician who’ll take care of that and who’ll take care of my safety as well. And then, when I’ve fattened him up enough, I simply bash the crap out of him and send him off on his way. I’m not dumb, you dummies!
Simon If that’s the case, Mister Demos, if you’re really just feeding them in the Prytaneum as if they’re public sacrifices so they can look after you, then good on you. Well done. That way, if one day you happen not to have anything to eat, you simply slaughter one of them –the fattest of the lot- and there’s your dinner! 1131
Demos They think they’re smart and can trick this old codger but you just watch me. Watch with what cleverness I reel them in. I spy on them constantly. My eyes are upon them all the time and when they do rip me off, I get them to spew it all out again at the polling booth. That’s where all things are measured and weighed. The ballot box is my justice calculator. 1141
Paphlagon and Sausage Seller enter arguing.
Paphlagon Get out of the bloody way, you!
Sausage Seller No, you bumhole, you get out of the bloody way!
Paphlagon I’ve been trying to serve you for the last three terms, boss! Three terms!
Sausage Seller Me? I’ve been at it for the last ten terms –no, the last twelve terms No, wait! The last thousand terms… thousands and thousands of terms…
Demos And I’ve been sitting here waiting for you for the last million and bzillion terms. Sick of waiting for you two. Sick and tired of waiting!
Sausage Seller You know what you should do, Mister Demos?
Demos Whether I do or not I can see you’re going to tell me anyway.
Sausage Seller I reckon you should put both of us at the starting line and let us run. Give us both an equal go at serving you.
Demos I agree! We should do just that. Off you go then. 1160
Sausage Seller and Paphlagon place themselves side by side.
Both Ready, steady…
Sausage Seller Hey, no cheating!
The two rush back into the house.
Demos By Zeus! These two are going to make a very happy man out of me today… if I play hard-to-get!
Enter Sausage Seller and Paphlagon each carrying a basket. Paphlagon also a stool and Sausage Seller, a table.
Paphlagon Brandishing a stool
Here, boss! Look, I’m the first one to bring something for you. Look, a stool for you!
Sausage Seller Brandishing a table
Yeah, but I’m the firstest to bring you a table! Here!
Paphlagon From the basket takes out a cookie.
Look here, boss. What do you see? Yeas, that’s right, boss. It’s a cookie. Just for you! It’s made from special barley grain imported from Pylos.
Sausage Seller Offering a pastry sweet the shape of a long finger.
Here Mister Demos. I’ve brought you some crusty sweets. Baked by the goddess’ very hands. Her own beautiful, ivory hands made them. Look. Here you can see her finger.
Demos Good, gracious goddess! What an enormous finger you’ve got! 1170
Paphlagon Here, boss. A pea soup for you. Look! Stirred by Athena, protector of our soldiers who defeated the Spartans at Pylos. Mmmm, the aroma! Mmmm delicious!
Sausage Seller Mister Demos! I can tell how much the goddess loves you and wants to protect you. See? She’s holding a huge pot of beef stew over your head!
Demos But of course she is. Of course she is! If our goddess wasn’t holding pots over our heads, there wouldn’t be a city here!
Paphlagon Ah… look, here boss! A filet of fish. Courtesy of Athena, the terror of armies!
Sausage Seller And here, we have beef soup, with a chunky piece of tripe and gut. With the compliments of Athena, daughter of Almighty Zeus.
Demos How nice of the goddess to remember the lovely big robe we gave her! 1180
Paphlagon The goddess of the Spinning Plumes bids you to take a bite of this here fine rolling roll, so that our rowers can row well on the rolling waves of the sea.
Sausage Seller Hands him a bulging bag.
Then you’d better take these too, Mister Demos.
Demos Looks into the bag
What? What am I supposed to do with all this belly tripe?
Sausage seller Our goddess is obviously watching over or triremes, Mister Demos. And she wants you to fill the ships’ belies with them. Here, take this drink, too. It’s two parts wine, three parts water.
Demos Takes a sip
Mmmm, by Zeus, it’s good! The three parts of water fit in very nicely.
Sausage Seller Sure it is. Athena was born at Third Island and so she thirded the wine.
Paphlagon Ah, but now you must have a piece of this here lovely cake… made by my own hands. 1190
Sausage Seller No, no, no! Take this one. It’s a whole cake! Take it all!
Paphlagon Ah, but you haven’t got a rabbit for him! I do! Here, boss! Pulls a cooked rabbit out of the basket and offers it to Demos
Sausage Seller Aside
Damn it! A rabbit! Now where can I get a rabbit? Hmmm, I think it’s time for some real magic!
Paphlagon Brandishing the rabbit at the Sausage Seller
Hahaha! Are you watching, you fool? Look! A rabbit!
Sausage Seller feigning scorn
Ha! Who cares? Indicating the wings Look! I can see some ambassadors bringing me bags and bags of silver!
Paphlagon Drops the rabbit as he tries to look for the ambassadors
Sausage Seller Snatches the rabbit
What does it matter where? Nothing to do with you… Offering the rabbit to Demos. Hey, darling Demos, look what I’ve got for you!
Paphlagon Oi! You bastard! You’ve pinched my rabbit! That’s not fair! 1200
Sausage Seller Quite fair, quite fair! You did the same with the Spartan captives at Pylos!
Demos To the sausage seller
Hahahaha! How the hell did you get the idea to pinch his rabbit?
Sausage Seller Inspired by the goddess herself, Mister Demos. I was just her… instrument of theft.
Paphlagon Yeah, but it was I who took the risk and I who cooked it!
Demos To Paphlagon
Piss off! I only ever thank the man who serves things up to me.
Paphlagon Bloody Hell! I’m going to get beaten at my own game of sleazemanship! Can’t have that!
Sausage Seller Well, now, Mister Demos. Why not make a decision right here and now? Decide who’s the best man to serve you and your guts.
Demos Hmm… but what should I use as criteria? How can I prove to the people that I made the right decision here?
Sausage Seller I reckon if you just go to our baskets and examine each of them carefully, the criteria will be clear and obvious to you. No need for you to say a word, just examine the baskets! 1211
Demos Opens Sausage Seller’s basket
Hmm… lets see… what have we got here?
Sausage Seller See, daddy? It’s empty! Nothing there ‘cause I gave it all to you already! It’s on your table there!
Demos By Zeus, that’s right! Now, I can see that this is a basket that thinks well of Demos.
Sausage Seller Walks over to Paphlagon’s basket and opens it for Demos
Now look in here, Mister Demos. What do you see?
Demos By Zeusey, Zeus! The damned think is clogged with stuff! Lord! Look at all this huge cake he put aside for himself! And the bastard only gave me thiiiiis much! A tiny, tiny bit!
Sausage Seller That’s the sort of work he’s been up to for a long time. He’d cut a little bit of the treasury for you and then he’d pocket all the rest for himself. 1221
Demos To Paphlagon
You! You rotten slime bag! You rob me left, right and centre, even though I’ve put a crown on your head and showered you with gifts!
Paphlagon Yes but I was stealing for the benefit of Athens!
Demos Take off that crown immediately. Give it to me. I’m going to give it to this man here!
Sausage Seller Immediately, he said, you crook!
Paphlagon No way! I’ve got an oracle here, a Pythian one that says exactly who’s going to beat me in this contest! 1229
Sausage Seller And it’s my name that it clearly mentions!
Paphlagon Let’s check to see if what you’re right. Let me ask you a few questions, see if your answers confirm the oracle’s words. Firstly: As a kid, whose school did you attend?
Sausage Seller I was brought up in the huge cooking pots in the district of the cooking houses. Taught by Mr Punchinthemouth!
Damn, this oracle is very disturbing!
Regaining his cool
Right. All right. All right, then. Tell me: What about wrestling? Were you taught any wrestling in the gymnasia? And what style?
Sausage Seller The style that says that if you’re caught red-handed pinching something, you must look them in the eye and say you’re innocent!
Paphlagon Aside, praying: 1240
Damn, it, Apollo! What are you trying to do to me?
Back to the Sausage Seller
Ahem! So… when you were growing up, what trade did you take up?
Sausage Seller Trade? Me? Well, sometimes I sold snags and sometimes I sold my bum!
Paphlagon To the audience
Right! This looks like it’s the end for me. I’m thoroughly stuffed. Just the tiniest hope on the horizon by the looks of things…
Back to the sausage seller:
Tell me then, snag man: Were you selling your snags at the market or by the city’s gates?
Sausage Seller By the gates, of course. Where they also sell the cheap fish.
Paphlagon Bugger it! Oh ill-fated Paphlagon! The oracle comes true: “Roll away this poor wretch,” it says. “Roll away!” Takes off his wreath. Oh dear wreath! I bid you farewell with great reluctance. You’re off to other hands… hands the wreath to Demos who places it onto the Sausage Seller’s head. The hands of another man who’s no better thief than me but more fortunate, it seems.
Sausage Seller Exultant 1253
Oh, Zeus of Greece! This is your prize!
Enter Demosthenes and Nikias from the house
Demosthenes Greetings and well done, victor of the crown!
Nikias Now don’t forget who it was who made you one of the big boys. It was me, remember? So I’ve got a small favour to ask of you. Just one, just a small one: Make me your Phanos. Let me be the one who signs all the court documents.
Demos And now, sausage man, tell me your name.
Sausage Seller My name Mister Demos is Agorakritos. “Market’s Choice.” I’ve got that name given to me because I grew up grazing in the market place.
Demos Well then, I hereby commit myself to Agorakritos’ supervision and he is henceforth, to be in charge of this man here, Paphlagon.
Sausage Seller Have no fear boss! I’ll look after you real well, you’ll see! You’ll realise that you’ve got the best man to lead this country of suckers! 1261
Exit all but the chorus into Demos’ house
Panaetius There’s no greater joy than that derived when the riders of swift steeds sing, both at the beginning and at the end of a race, songs that are not taking the piss out of poor old Lysistratus’ dick and not mocking the old codger, Theomantis just because he hasn’t got a roof over his head! Poor bastard, he’s always hungry!
Simon Dear Apollo, you can see the poor man in your holy shrine at Delphi. There he is, every day, clutching your… holy quiver for dear life and crying the saddest tears as he prays to you, “Save me, dear God, save me from hunger!” 1270
When you come to think about it, there’s nothing wrong with mocking the crooks, really. It’s actually quite an honourable thing for the virtuous folk to do, to mock them.
Panaetius Now, if the man who’s about to hear harsh words from me, knew who I was talking about, there’d be no need for me to speak his name, would there? I love that man! Good mate of mine.
Now, those of you who can tell the difference between black and white and have some understanding of melody, would know Arignotus well and they can tell him apart from his brother who, of course, is of a totally different sort.
Simon Now, his brother, unlike him, is an absolutely abominable, loathsome creature. His name is Arifradis and Arifradis just loves being a disgraceful loathsome creep. The worst creep of them all. Loves it! He’s an absolute shocker! 1280
Panaetius And, believe me, I wouldn’t be talking about this sleazebag if he was merely a common old sleazebag but he is disgusting! The pits! Horrible! Beyond disgusting and beyond the pits and beyond horrible!
Simon Grrr! He lathers up his tongue by conducting the most disgraceful fucking acts imaginable–unimaginable, really, and gets his beard all filthy by licking up the most disgusting… fluids in the brothels! You should see him sticking his eager nose into every whore’s cunt! Filthy bastard. Slime bucket. Just like Polymnestus and a close pal of Oinichus!
And, I can tell you, the man who doesn’t think that this Arifradis is the most disgusting, foul creature on earth, won’t be invited to drink out of my cup! That’s for sure!
Panaetius I get this worrying thought very often in the dark of the night: What on earth could be the cause of Cleonymos’ unfathomable gluttony? I was told once that the guy often visits the houses of the rich and there he eats and eats and eats until they have to fall to their knees and beg him: “Great man,” they cry, “pleeeease, we beg of you, we’re on our knees, pleeeease leave! Leave before you eat everything, including our table!” 1290
Simon They reckon that one day all our war ships got together for a big meeting. The oldest and wisest of them all, a lovely old trireme got up and said to the rest of them, “now, young ladies, have you heard the news that’s come out of the city? They’re saying that Hyperbolus -that horrible, little war mongering drop of sour vinegar- has put in an order for one hundred of us, to be send off on an expedition to Carhydon!” 1300
Panaetius Well, I am told, all the young triremes screamed with horror at the sound of that! “That’s just awful! Intolerable! We won’t do it!” One of them, a virgin still and yet to be touched by a male, yelled, “Lord, god who wards off all evil, I won’t let Hyperbolus ride me! Never! If it comes to that, I’d rather stay here and rot, die an old maid, eaten away by termites!”
Simon And another called out, “If I’m truly made of pine planks then I won’t let him ride Nauphante, Nauson’s daughter, either! By Zeus, I won’t! If that’s what turns the Athenians on, then, I suggest we all sail off to Theseum or find a haven in the shrine of the Holy Goddesses of Catastrophe! I won’t let that bastard mock our city by becoming our captain! 1311
Panaetius She said that if Hyperbolus wanted to go sailing then he should float himself off on those little platters of his, the ones he uses to show off his lamps in the market! He can go sailing off all alone, if he wants, all the way to buggery!
Enter Sausage Seller from Demos’ house, now wearing a wreath and richly adorned clothes. He is parading proudly and feigns dignity.
Sausage Seller In a solemn, serious tone
Ahem! Now, dear citizens, keep your selves and your vocabulary clean, please.
Keep it pure, for the gods. In fact, keep your mouths shut. No more swearing, please!
And have all these law courts that this city loves so much shut down for the day.
Good! And now, let the audience sing joyfully to our extraordinarily splendid luck!
Simon Oh, brilliant light of the goddess Athena! Protector of our islands! What good tidings do you bring for us? What will cause the air in the streets to be cluttered by the smells of roasting sacrifices?
Sausage Seller I have “roasted” Demos and thereby I have turned an ugly man into a handsome one! 1321
Panaetius What brilliant tricks you come up with, sausage man! Where is Demos now?
Sausage Seller He now lives in the old, violet-crowned Athens.
Simon How can we see him? What clothes does he wear now? What sort of man have you made of him?
Sausage Seller What sort of man is he? Well, he’s just like he was when our great Generals, Aristeidis and Miltiades were his battle buddies.
A noise of gates opening within.
Ah! I think you’ll see him now. I can hear the front gates of the Acropolis opening. Now, when you see him, I want you to cheer and applaud loudly.
Folks, here comes the Athens of old. The good old Athens. The delightful Athens, the Athens about which people sang many songs! The Athens that everyone praised! The Athens that was the home of Demos!
Panaetius Oh, sparkling and startling, violet-crowned, envy of the world, Athens! Show us your leader and the leader of your people!
Demos appears through fanfare and light effects from the rear of the sage. No longer bald, and now looking very young and handsome. On his flowing robe we can see a sparkling golden pin in the shape of a cricket.
His clothes are even more extravagant and youthful than those of the Sausage Seller and his face is lit up with joy.
He is accompanied by Nikias and Demosthenes. Nikias is respectfully carrying a long cape in his hands.
Sausage Seller And here is the man himself! Look at him! A golden cricket on his lovely robe and looking absolutely gorgeous in his clothes, in the fashion of the days of his youth. 1331
The smell you smell on him is not that of ballot shells but of peace treaties. The man has been bathed in myrrh!
Simon Glorious king of the Greeks! We congratulate you! Your deeds are worthy of our city and of the trophy of Marathon!
Demos Oh, most beloved Agorakritos! Come here to me! What a wonderful job you’ve done with me when you… roasted me!
Sausage Seller Who me? Well, mate! If only you knew what you looked like before and how you acted before and what I’ve managed to do with you… you’d be calling me God!
Demos Tell me, please. What was I like before? What did I used to do?
Sausage Seller Well, to begin with, if someone at the council said to you, “Oh, Mister Demos, I love you so much, I adore you so much, I care for you so much…” if anyone ever started with words like that, man! You’d flap your hands about like a rooster, stick your horns high, like a stag and… 1340
Demos Who, me?
Sausage Seller Yes you, boss. And that’s how the scoundrel would trick you. Ran rings around you.
Demos You are joking! And I didn’t catch on? They tricked me that easily?
Sausage Seller Sure did, boss! Your ears would flap open wide one minute, then shut tight the next, open wide and shut tight, open wide… they flapped about like little umbrellas! By Zeus, that was funny!
Demos Was I that stupid? Was I that slow?
Sausage Seller Absolutely, boss! 1350
And if, say a couple of politicians argued and one of them wanted you to built some long boats whereas the other wanted you to use the money to pay the State’s wages, well, the wages man would win hands down!
What’s up, boss? What’s with the sad looks?
Demos I am ashamed of my past deeds. The errors of my old ways…
Sausage Seller No need to feel bad, boss. It wasn’t your fault! It was the fault of all those crooks that tricked you.
Now let’s try again. Suppose some foul dick-wick of a prosecutor says to you, “Judges, unless you convict this man, there’ll be no flour for you,” what will you say to him?
Demos I’ll grab him by the throat, lift him high up into the air, hang Hyperbolos around his neck and chuck him down the hell hole! 1362
Sausage Seller Now you’re talking! That’s the way. Now tell me a bit about what sort of policies you’re going to put to work.
Demos First thing first. All those oarsmen who are working on our long ships, well, when they return, they get their pay in full.
Sausage Seller Great! Now that’ll make a lot of battered bums happy!
Demos Then, once a soldier gets put on a list, he stays on that list. No list-hopping because of who you know! He’ll stay on his original list. 1369
Sausage Seller Now that’ll take care of Kleonymus’ shield!
Demos And I won’t have any beardless men turning the market place into a lovers’ meeting quarters!
Sausage Seller Is that right? What will our poor little darlings, Kleisthenes and Stratonas do then?
Demos All those bloody little kids who hang around the perfumeries all day long, twaddling on like… Mockingly “oh, that dear, sweet, dahhhling, genius Phaeax! What a sharp, sentient mortal he is, escaping his death sentence like that! What an eloquent, forcefully oratorical creature! A true intellectually verbose wordsmith! Effectively syllogistical, strikingly sententious and, oh, how he silences all his noisy detractors! Pure genius, dahhling!” Zeus, how I hate that lot!
Sausage Seller Hahaha! But when these kids get all loquacious you don’t become all… digitalius, do you? 1381
Demos No but, don’t you worry! I’ll put a stop to their petitions and all their decree writing! I’ll make them all go hunting!
Sausage Seller Great!
Claps his hands and signals a boy, a slave, in the wings who enters carrying a folding chair. The boy has a particularly long phallus.
Now boss, take this little folding chair and this… big boy to carry it for you and, whenever you feel like it, you can get the boy to be your folding chair!
Demos Oh, what joy! I’m back into my old world!
Sausage Seller Well then, what would you say if I shoved a couple of thirty-year peace treaties in your hot little hands?
Claps his hands and shouts into the wings
Come! Come here, girls! Run, girls, run! Two lovely… treaties coming up!
Two beautiful, provocatively dressed young women, representing Treaties, enter. They approach Demos and give him a hug.
Demos Oh, glorious Zeusey, Zeus! Oh my! Oh, my darling gods and gorgeous goddesses! Oh… can I lay them down flat right now and… thirtyfy them? Where on earth did you find them? 1390
Sausage Seller Where do you think, boss? Paphlagon was hiding them in your house so you couldn’t get to them. Now, here they are, standing right in front of you! A present from me, for you to take them back home with you, to your farms, to enjoy for ever!
Demos What about that nasty Paphlagon, over there, ey? Tell me how you’re going to punish him for all the evil things he’s done to everyone.
Sausage Seller Oh, nothing too drastic, really. Just give him my old job. Instead of stuffing up all our political affairs, he’ll be stuffing dog meat and donkey meat into sausage skins. I’ll get him his own snag stall by the city gates and there he can swear at all the whores he wants, get himself pissed as a fart and gulp down all the sewage from the public baths.
Demos Great idea! Good stuff. Right up his alley. Shouting matches with all the whores and all the public bath types. Perfect stuff and as a reward, I’m inviting you to be my guest at the Prytaneum. Sit where that bilious bastard used to sit and eat the free meals he used to eat. 1402
Takes a cape from Nikias and hands it to the Sausage Seller
Now take this frog-coloured cape and put it on. Sausage Seller obeys. Now follow me, young man and indicating Paphlagon, someone please lead this prick to his new business address. Let our foreign friends whom he ripped off, see him for what he is!
End of Aristophanes’ “KNIGHTS”