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PLUTUS

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                        CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY



    CHREMYLUS

    CARIO, Servant of Chremylus

    PLUTUS, God of Riches

    BLEPSIDEMUS, friend of Chremylus

    POVERTY

    WIFE OF CHREMYLUS

    A JUST MAN

    AN INFORMER

    AN OLD WOMAN

    A YOUTH

    HERMES

    A PRIEST OF ZEUS

    CHORUS OF RUSTICS

PLUTUS





                                PLUTUS





      (SCENE:-The Orchestra represents a public square in Athens.

      In the background is the house of CHREMYLUS. A ragged old

      blind man enters, followed by CHREMYLUS and his slave CARIO.)



  CARIO

    What an unhappy fate, great gods, to be the slave of a fool! A

servant may give the best of advice, but if his master does not follow

it, the pool slave must inevitably have his share in the disaster; for

fortune does not allow him to dispose of his own body, it belongs to

his master who has bought it. Alas! 'tis the way of the world. But the

god, Apollo  (in tragic style),  whose oracles the Pythian priestess

on her golden tripod makes known to us, deserves my censure, for

surely he is a physician and a cunning diviner; and yet my master is

leaving his temple infected with mere madness and insists on following

a blind man. Is this not opposed to all good sense? It is for us,

who see clearly, to guide those who don't; whereas he clings to the

trail of a blind fellow and compels me to do the same without

answering my questions with ever a word.  (To CHREMYLUS)  Aye, master,

unless you tell me why we are following this unknown fellow, I will

not be silent, but I will worry and torment you, for you cannot beat

me because of my sacred chaplet of laurel.

  CHREMYLUS

    No, but if you worry me I will take off your chaplets, and then

you will only get a sounder thrashing.

  CARIO

    That's an old song! I am going to leave you no peace till you have

told me who this man is; and if I ask it, it's entirely because of

my interest in you.

  CHREMYLUS

    Well, be it so. I will reveal it to you as being the most faithful

and the most rascally of all my servants. I honoured the gods and

did what was right, and yet I was none the less poor and unfortunate.

  CARIO

    I know it but too well.

  CHREMYLUS

    Others amassed wealth-the sacrilegious, the demagogues, the

informers, indeed every sort of rascal.

  CARIO

    I believe you.

  CHREMYLUS

    Therefore I came to consult the oracle of the god, not on my own

account, for my unfortunate life is nearing its end, but for my only

son; I wanted to ask Apollo if it was necessary for him to become a

thorough knave and renounce his virtuous principles, since that seemed

to me to be the only way to succeed in life.

  CARIO  (with ironic gravity)

    And with what responding tones did the sacred tripod resound?

  CHREMYLUS

    You shall know. The god ordered me in plain terms to follow the

first man I should meet upon leaving the temple and to persuade him to

accompany me Home.

  CARIO

    And who was the first one you met?

  CHREMYLUS

    This blind man.

  CARIO

    And you are stupid enough not to understand the meaning of such an

answer! Why, the god was advising you thereby, and that in the

clearest possible way, to bring up your son according to the fashion

of your country.

  CHREMYLUS

    What makes you think that?

  CARIO

    Is it not evident to the blind, that nowadays to do nothing that

is right is the best way to get on?

  CHREMYLUS

    No, that is not the meaning of the oracle; there must be another

that is nobler. If this blind man would tell us who he is and why

and with what object he has led us here, we should no doubt understand

what our oracle really does mean.

  CARIO  (to PLUTUS)

    Come, tell us at once who you are, or I shall give effect to my

threat.  (He menaces him.)  And quick too, be quick, I say.

  PLUTUS

    I'll thrash you.

  CARIO  (to CHREMYLUS)

    Do you understand who he says he is?

  CHREMYLUS

    It's to you and not to me that he replies thus: your mode of

questioning him was ill-advised.  (To PLUTUS)  Come, friend, if you

care to oblige an honest man, answer me.

  PLUTUS

    I'll knock you down.

  CARIO  (sarcastically)

    Ah! what a pleasant fellow and what a delightful prophecy the

god has given you!

  CHREMYLUS  (to PLUTUS)

    By Demeter, you'll have no reason to laugh presently.

  CARIO

    If you don't speak, you wretch, I will surely do you an ill turn.

  PLUTUS

    Friends, take yourselves off and leave me.

  CHREMYLUS

    That we very certainly shan't.

  CARIO

    This, master, is the best thing to do. I'll undertake to secure

him the most frightful death; I will lead him to the verge of a

precipice and then leave him there, so that he'll break his neck

when he pitches over.

  CHREMYLUS

    Well then, seize him right away.

                                                      (CARIO does so.)

  PLUTUS

    Oh, no! Have mercy!

  CHREMYLUS

    Will thou speak then?

  PLUTUS

    But if you learn who I am, I know well that you will ill-use me

and will let me go again.

  CHREMYLUS

    I call the gods to witness that you have naught to fear if you

will only speak.

  PLUTUS

    Well then, first unhand me.

  CHREMYLUS

    There! we set you free.

  PLUTUS

    Listen then, since I must reveal what I had intended to keep a

secret. I am Plutus.

  CARIO

    Oh! you wretched rascal! You Plutus all the while, and you never

said so!

  CHREMYLUS

    You, Plutus, and in this piteous guise! Oh, Phoebus Apollo! oh, ye

gods of heaven and hell! Oh, Zeus! is it really and truly as you say?

  PLUTUS

    Yes.

  CHREMYLUS

    Plutus' very own self?

  PLUTUS

    His own very self and none other.

  CHREMYLUS

    But tell me, how come you're so squalid?

  PLUTUS

    I have just left Patrocles' house, who has not had a bath since

his birth.

  CHREMYLUS

    But your infirmity; how did that happen? Tell me.

  PLUTUS

    Zeus inflicted it on me, because of his jealousy of-mankind.

When I was young, I threatened him that I would only go to the just,

the wise, the men of ordered life; to prevent my distinguishing these,

he struck me with blindness' so much does he envy the good!

  CHREMYLUS

    And yet, it's only the upright and just who honour him.

  PLUTUS

    Quite true.

  CHREMYLUS

    Therefore, if ever you recovered your sight, you would shun the

wicked?

  PLUTUS

    Undoubtedly.

  CHREMYLUS

    You would visit the good?

  PLUTUS

    Assuredly. It is a very long time since I saw them.

  CARIO  (to the audience)

    That's not astonishing. I, who see clearly, don't see a single

one.

  PLUTUS

    Now let me leave you, for I have told you everything.

  CHREMYLUS

    No, certainly not! we shall fasten ourselves on to you faster than

ever.

  PLUTUS

    Did I not tell you, you were going to plague me?

  CHREMYLUS

    Oh! I adjure you, believe what I say and don't leave me; for you

will seek in vain for a more honest man than myself.

  CARIO

    There is only one man more worthy; and that is I.

  PLUTUS

    All talk like this, but as soon as they secure my favours and grow

rich, their wickedness knows no bounds.

  CHREMYLUS

    And yet all men are not wicked.

  PLUTUS

    All. There's no exception.

  CARIO

    You shall pay for that opinion.

  CHREMYLUS

    Listen to what Happiness there is in store for you, if you but

stay with us. I have hope; aye, I have good hope with the god's help

to deliver you from that blindness, in fact to restore your sight.

  PLUTUS

    Oh! do nothing of the kind, for I don't wish to recover it.

  CHREMYLUS

    What's that you say?

  CARIO

    This fellow hugs his own misery.

  PLUTUS

    If you were mad enough to cure me, and Zeus heard of it, he

would overwhelm me with his anger.

  CHREMYLUS

    And is he not doing this now by leaving you to grope your

wandering way?

  PLUTUS

    I don't know; but I'm horribly afraid of him.

  CHREMYLUS

    Indeed? Ah! you are the biggest poltroon of all the gods! Why,

Zeus with his throne and his lightnings would not be worth an obolus

if you recovered your sight, were it but for a few moments.

  PLUTUS

    Impious man, don't talk like that.

  CHREMYLUS

    Fear nothing! I will prove to you that you are far more powerful

and mightier than he.

  PLUTUS

    I mightier than he?

  CHREMYLUS

    Aye, by heaven!  (To CARIO)  For instance, what is the basis of

the power that Zeus wields over the other gods?

  CARIO

    Money; he has so much of it.

  CHREMYLUS

    And who gives it to him?

  CARIO  (pointing to Plutus)

    This fellow.

  CHREMYLUS

    If sacrifices are offered to him, is not Plutus their cause?

  CARIO

    Undoubtedly, for it's wealth that all demand and clamour most

loudly for.

  CHREMYLUS

    Thus it's Plutus who is the fount of all the honours rendered to

Zeus, whose worship he can wither up at the root, if it so pleases

him.

  PLUTUS

    And how so?

  CHREMYLUS

    Not an ox, nor a cake, nor indeed anything at all could be

offered, if you did not wish it.

  PLUTUS

    Why?

  CHREMYLUS

    Why? but what means are there to buy anything if you are not there

to give the money? Hence if Zeus should cause you any trouble, you

will destroy his power without other help.

  PLUTUS

    So it's because of me that sacrifices are offered to him?

  CHREMYLUS

    Most assuredly. Whatever is dazzling, beautiful or charming in the

eyes of mankind, comes from you. Does not everything depend on wealth?

  CARIO

    I myself was bought for a few coins; if I'm a slave, it's only

because I was not rich.

  CHREMYLUS

    And what of the Corinthian whores? If a poor man offers them

proposals, they do not listen; but if it be a rich one, instantly they

turn their arses to him.

  CARIO

    It's the same with the lads; they care not for love, to them money

means everything.

  CHREMYLUS

    You speak of male whores; yet some of them are honest, and it's

not money they ask of their patrons.

  CARIO

    What then?

  CHREMYLUS

    A fine horse, a pack of hounds.

  CARIO

    Yes, they would blush to ask for money and cleverly disguise their

shame.

  CHREMYLUS

    It is in you that every art, all human inventions, have had

their origin; it is through you that one man sits cutting leather in

his shop.

  CARIO

    That another fashions iron or wood.

  CHREMYLUS

    That yet another chases the gold he has received from you.

  CARIO

    That one is a fuller.

  CHREMYLUS

    That the other washes wool.

  CARIO

    That this one is a tanner.

  CHREMYLUS

    And that other sells onions.

  CARIO

    And if the adulterer, caught red-handed, is depilated, it's on

account of you.

  PLUTUS

    Oh! great gods! I knew naught of all this!

  CARIO  (to CHREMYLUS)

    Is it not he who lends the Great King all his pride? Is it not

he who draws the citizens to the Assembly?

  CHREMYLUS

    And tell me, is it not you who equip the triremes?

  CARIO

    And who feed our mercenaries at Corinth? Are not you the cause

of Pamphilus' sufferings?

  CHREMYLUS

    And of the needle-seller's with Pamphilus?

  CARIO

    It is not because of you that Agyrrhius farts so loudly?

  CHREMYLUS

    And that Philepsius rolls off his fables? That troops are sent

to succour the Egyptians? And that Lais is kept by Philonides?

  CARIO

    That the tower of Timotheus...

  CHREMYLUS

    ...(To CARIO)  May it fall upon your head!  (To PLUTUS)  In short,

Plutus, it is through you that everything is done; you must realize

that you are the sole cause both of good and evil.

  CARIO

    In war, it's the flag under which you serve that victory favours.

  PLUTUS

    What! I can do so many things by myself and unaided?

  CHREMYLUS

    And many others besides; wherefore men are never tired of your

gifts. They get weary of all else,-of love...

  CARIO

    Bread.

  CHREMYLUS

    music.

  CARIO

    Sweetmeats.

  CHREMYLUS

    Honours.

  CARIO

    Cakes.

  CHREMYLUS

    Battles.

  CARIO

    Figs.

  CHREMYLUS

    Ambition.

  CARIO

    Gruel.

  CHREMYLUS

    Military advancement.

  CARIO

    Lentil soup.

  CHREMYLUS

    But of you they never tire. If a man has thirteen talents, he

has all the greater ardour to possess sixteen; if that wish is

achieved, he will want forty or will complain that he knows not how to

make both ends meet.

  PLUTUS

    All this, I suppose, is very true; there is but one point that

makes me feel a bit uneasy.

  CHREMYLUS

    And that is?

  PLUTUS

    How could I use this power, which you say I have?

  CHREMYLUS

    Ah! they were quite right who said there's nothing more timorous

than Plutus

  PLUTUS

    No, no; it was a thief who calumniated me. Having broken into a

house, he found everything locked up and could take nothing, so he

dubbed my prudence fear.

  CHREMYLUS

    Don't be disturbed; if you support me zealously, I'll make you

more sharp-sighted than Lynceus.

  PLUTUS

    And how should you be able to do that, you. who are but a mortal?

  CHREMYLUS

    I have great hope, after the answer Apollo gave me, shaking his

sacred laurels the while.

  PLUTUS

    Is he in the plot then?

  CHREMYLUS

    Surely.

  PLUTUS

    Take care what you say.

  CHREMYLUS

    Never fear, friend; for, be well assured, that if it has to cost

me my life, I will carry out what I have in my head.

  CARIO

    And I will help you, if you permit it.

  CHREMYLUS

    We shall have many other helpers as well-all the worthy folk who

are wanting for bread.

  PLUTUS

    Ah! they'll prove sorry helpers.

  CHREMYLUS

    No, not so, once they've grown rich. But you, Cario, run quick...

  CARIO

    Where?

  CHREMYLUS

    ...to call my comrades, the other husbandmen  (you'll probably

find the poor fellows toiling away in the fields),  that each of

them may come here to take his share of the gifts of Plutus.

  CARIO

    I'm off. But let someone come from the house to take this morsel

of meat.

  CHREMYLUS

    I'll see to that; you run your hardest. As for you, Plutus, the

most excellent of all the gods, come in here with me; this is the

house you must fill with riches to-day, by fair means or foul.

  PLUTUS

    I don't at all like going into other folks' houses in this manner;

I have never got any good from it. If I got inside a miser's house,

straightway he would bury me deep underground; if some honest fellow

among his friends came to ask him for the smallest coin, he would deny

ever having seen me. Then if I went to a fool's house, he would

sacrifice in dicing and wenching, and very soon I should be completely

stripped and pitched out of doors.

  CHREMYLUS

    That's because you have never met a man who knew how to avoid

the two extremes; moderation is the strong point in my character. I

love saving as much as anybody, and I know how to spend, when it's

needed. But let us go in; I want to make you known to my wife and to

my only son, whom I love most of all after yourself.

  PLUTUS

    I'm quite sure of that.

  CHREMYLUS

    Why should I hide the truth from you?

                                        (They enter CHREMYLUS' house.)

  CARIO  (to the CHORUS, which has followed him in)

    Come, you active workers, who, like my master, eat nothing but

garlic and the poorest food, you who are his friends and his

neighbours, hasten your steps, hurry yourselves; there's not a

moment to lose; this is the critical hour, when your presence and your

support are needed by him.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    Why, don't you see we are speeding as fast as men can, who are

already enfeebled by age? But do you deem it fitting to make us run

like this before ever telling us why your master has called us?

  CARIO

    I've grown hoarse with the telling, but you won't listen. My

master is going to drag you all out of the stupid, sapless life you

are leading and ensure you, one full of all delights.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    And how is he going to manage that?

  CARIO

    My poor friends, he has brought with him a disgusting old

fellow, all bent and wrinkled, with a most pitiful appearance, bald

and toothless; upon my word, I even believe he is circumcised like

some vile barbarian.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    This news is worth its weight in gold! What are you saying? Repeat

it to me; no doubt it means he is bringing back a heap of wealth.

  CARIO

    No, but a heap of all the infirmities attendant on old age.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    If you are tricking us, you shall pay us for it. Beware of our

sticks!

  CARIO

    Do you deem me so brazen as all that, and my words mere lies?

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    What serious airs the rascal puts on! Look! his legs are already

shrieking, "oh! oh!" They are asking for the shackles and wedges.

  CARIO

    It's in the tomb that it's your lot to judge. Why don't you go

there? Charon has given you your ticket.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    Plague take you! you cursed rascal, who rail at us and have not

even the heart to tell us why your master has made us come. We were

pressed for time and tired out, yet we came with all haste, and in our

hurry we have passed by lots of wild onions without even gathering

them.

  CARIO

    I will no longer conceal the truth from you. Friends, it's

Plutus whom my master brings, Plutus, who will give you riches.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    What! we shall really all become rich?

  CARIO

    Aye, certainly; you will then be Midases, provided you grow

ass's ears.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    What joy, what Happiness! If what you tell me is true, I long to

dance with delight.

  CARIO  (singing, with appropriate gestures)

    And I too, threttanelo! want to imitate the Cyclops and lead

your troop by stamping like this. Do you, my dear little ones, cry,

aye, cry again and bleat forth the plaintive song of the sheep and

of the stinking goats; follow me like lascivious goats with their

tools out.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

                  (Singing, to the same tune and with similar mimicry)

    As for us, threttanelo! we will seek you, dear Cyclops,

bleating, and if we find you with your wallet full of fresh herbs, all

disgusting in your filth, sodden with wine and sleeping in the midst

of your sheep, we will seize a great flaming stake and burn out your

eye.

  CARIO

    I will copy that Circe of Corinth, whose potent philtres compelled

the companions of Philonides like swine to swallow balls of dung,

which she herself had kneaded with her hands; and do you too grunt

with joy and follow your mother, my little pigs.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    Oh! Circe with the potent philtress, who besmear your companions

so filthily, what pleasure I shall have in imitating the son of

Laertes! I will hang you up by your balls, I will rub your nose with

dung like a goat, and like Aristyllus you shall say through your

half-opened lips, "Follow your mother, my little pigs."

  CARIO

    Enough of tomfoolery, assume a grave demeanour; unknown to my

master I am going to take bread and meat; and when I have fed well,

I shall resume my work.

                                 (Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)

  CHREMYLUS  (coming out of his house)

    To say, "Hail! my dear neighbours!" is an old form of greeting and

well worn with use; so therefore I embrace you, because you have not

crept like tortoises, but have come rushing here in all haste. Now

help me to watch carefully and closely over the god.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    Be at ease. You shall see with what martial zeal I will guard him.

What! we jostle each other at the Assembly for three obols, and am I

going to let Plutus in person be stolen from me?

  CHREMYLUS

    But I see Blepsidemus; by his bearing and his haste I can

readily see he knows or suspects something.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    What has happened then? Whence, how has Chremylus suddenly grown

rich? I don't believe a word of it. Nevertheless, nothing but his

sudden fortune was being talked about in the barber-shops. But I am

above all surprised that his good fortune has not made him forget

his friends; that is not the usual way!

  CHREMYLUS

    By the gods, Blepsidemus, I will hide nothing from you. To-day

things are better than yesterday; let us share, for are you not my

friend?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Have you really grown rich as they say?

  CHREMYLUS

    I shall be soon, if the god agrees to it. But there is still

some risk to run.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    What risk?

  CHREMYLUS

    Well...

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Tell me, quick!

  CHREMYLUS

    If we succeed, we are happy for ever, but if we fail, it is all

over with us.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    It's a bad Business, and one that doesn't please me! To grow

rich all at once and yet to be fearful! ah! I suspect something that's

little good.

  CHREMYLUS

    What do you mean?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    No doubt you have just stolen some gold and silver from some

temple and are repenting.

  CHREMYLUS

    Nay! heaven preserve me from that!

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    A truce to idle phrases! the thing is only too apparent, my

friend.

  CHREMYLUS

    Don't suspect such a thing of me.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Alas! then there is no honest man! not one, that can resist the

attraction of gold!

  CHREMYLUS

    By Demeter, you have no common sense.

  BLEPSIDEMUS  (aside)

    How he has changed!

  CHREMYLUS

    But, good gods, you are mad, my dear fellow!

  BLEPSIDEMUS  (aside)

    His very look is distraught; he has done some crime!

  CHREMYLUS

    Ah! I know the tune you are playing now; you think I have

stolen, and want your share.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    My share of what, pray?

  CHREMYLUS

    You are beside the mark; the thing is quite otherwise.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Perhaps it's not a theft, but some piece of knavery!

  CHREMYLUS

    You are insane!

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    What? You have done no man an injury?

  CHREMYLUS

    No! assuredly not I

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    But, great gods, what am I to think? You won't tell me the truth.

  CHREMYLUS

    You accuse me without really knowing anything.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Listen, friend, no doubt the matter can yet be hushed up, before

it gets noised abroad, at trifling expense; I will buy the orators'

silence.

  CHREMYLUS

    Aye, you will lay out three minae and, as my friend, you will

reckon twelve against me.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    I know someone who will come and seat himself at the foot of the

tribunal, holding a supplicant's bough in his hand and surrounded by

his wife and children, for all the world like the Heraclidae of

Pamphilus.

  CHREMYLUS

    Not at all, poor fool! But, thanks to me, worthy folk alone

shall be rich henceforth.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    What are you saying? Have you then stolen so much as all that?

  CHREMYLUS

    Oh your insults will be the death of me.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    You're the one who is courting death.

  CHREMYLUS

    Not so, you wretch, since I have Plutus.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    You have Plutus? Which one?

  CHREMYLUS

    The god himself.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    And where is he?

  CHREMYLUS

    There.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Where?

  CHREMYLUS

    Indoors.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Indoors?

  CHREMYLUS

    Aye, certainly.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Get you gone! Plutus in your house?

  CHREMYLUS

    Yes, by the gods I

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Are you telling the truth?

  CHREMYLUS

    I am.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Swear it by Hestia.

  CHREMYLUS

    I swear it by Posidon.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    The god of the sea?

  CHREMYLUS

    Yes, and by all the other Posidons, such there be.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    And you don't send him to us, to your friends?

  CHREMYLUS

    We've not got to that point yet.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    What do you say? Is there no chance of sharing?

  CHREMYLUS

    Why, no. We must first.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Do what?

  CHREMYLUS

    ...restore him his sight.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Restore whom his sight? Speak!

  CHREMYLUS

    Plutus. It must be done, no matter how.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Is he then really blind?

  CHREMYLUS

    Yes, undoubtedly.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    I am no longer surprised he never came to me.

  CHREMYLUS

    If it please the gods, he'll come there now.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Must we not go and seek a physician?

  CHREMYLUS

    Seek physicians at Athens? Nay! there's no art where there's no

fee.

  BLEPSIDEMUS  (running his eyes over the audience)

    Let's look carefully.

  CHREMYLUS  (after a thorough survey)

    There is not one.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    It's a positive fact; I don't know of one.

  CHREMYLUS

    But I have thought the matter well over, and the best thing is

to make Plutus lie in the Temple of Asclepius.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Unquestionably that's the very best thing. Hurry and lead him away

to the temple.

  CHREMYLUS

    I am going there.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Then hurry up.

  CHREMYLUS

    That's just what I am doing.



         (They are just leaving when POVERTY comes running in;



     she is a picture of squalor and the two men recoil in horror.)





  POVERTY

    Unwise, perverse, unholy men! What are you daring to do, you

pitiful, wretched mortals? Whither are you flying? Stop! I command it!

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Oh! great gods!

  POVERTY

    My arm shall destroy you, you infamous beings! Such an attempt

is not to be borne; neither man nor god has ever dared the like. You

shall die!

  CHREMYLUS

    And who are you? Oh! what a ghastly pallor!

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Perhaps it's some Erinys, some Fury, from the theatre; there's a

kind of wild tragic look in her eyes.

  CHREMYLUS

    But she has no torch.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Let's knock her down!

  POVERTY

    Who do you think I am?

  CHREMYLUS

    Some wine-shop keeper or egg-woman. Otherwise you would not have

shrieked so loud at us, who have done nothing to you.

  POVERTY

    Indeed? And have you not done me the most deadly injury by seeking

to banish me from every country?

  CHREMYLUS

    Why, have you not got the Barathrum left? But who are you?

Answer me quickly!

  POVERTY

    I am one that will punish you this very day for having wanted to

make me disappear from here.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Might it be the tavern-keeper in my neighbourhood, who is always

cheating me in measure?

  POVERTY

    I am Poverty, who have lived with you for so many years.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Oh! great Apollo! oh, ye gods! whither shall I fly?

                                              (He starts to run away.)

  CHREMYLUS

    Here! what are you doing! You coward! Are going to leave me here?

  BLEPSIDEMUS  (still running)

    Not I.

  CHREMYLUS

    Stop then! Are two men to run away from one woman?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    But, you wretch, it's Poverty, the most fearful monster that

ever drew breath.

  CHREMYLUS

    Stay where you are, I beg of you.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    No no! a thousand times, no!

  CHREMYLUS

    Could we do anything worse than leave the god in the lurch and fly

before this woman without so much as ever offering to fight?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    But what weapons have we? Are we in a condition to show fight?

Where is the breastplate, the buckler, that this wretch has not

pawned?

  CHREMYLUS

    Be at ease. Plutus will readily triumph over her threats unaided.

  POVERTY

    Dare you reply, you scoundrels, you who are caught red-handed at

the most horrible crime?

  CHREMYLUS

    As for you, you cursed jade, you pursue me with your abuse, though

I have never done you the slightest harm.

  POVERTY

    Do you think it is doing me no harm to restore Plutus to the use

of his eyes?

  CHREMYLUS

    Is this doing you harm, that we shower blessings on all men?

  POVERTY

    And what do you think will ensure their Happiness?

  CHREMYLUS

    Ah! first of all we shall drive you out of Greece.

  POVERTY

    Drive me out? Could you do mankind a greater harm?

  CHREMYLUS

    Yes-if I gave up my intention to deliver them from you.

  POVERTY

    Well, let us discuss this point first. I propose to show that I am

the sole cause of all your blessings, and that your safety depends

on me alone. If I don't succeed, then do what you like to me.

  CHREMYLUS

    How dare you talk like this, you impudent hussy?

  POVERTY

    Agree to hear me and I think it will be very easy for me to

prove that you are entirely on the wrong road, when you want to make

the just men wealthy.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Oh! cudgel and rope's end, come to my help!

  POVERTY

    Why such wrath and these shouts, before you hear my arguments?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    But who could listen to such words without exclaiming?

  POVERTY

    Any man of sense.

  CHREMYLUS

    But if you lose your case, what punishment will you submit to?

  POVERTY

    Choose what you will.

  CHREMYLUS

    That's all right.

  POVERTY

    You shall suffer the same if you are beaten!

  CHREMYLUS

    Do you think twenty deaths a sufficiently large stake?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Good enough for her, but for us two would suffice.

  POVERTY

    You won't escape, for is there indeed a single valid argument to

oppose me with?

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    To beat her in this debate, you must call upon all your wits. Make

no allowances and show no weakness!

  CHREMYLUS

    It is right that the good should be happy, that the wicked and the

impious, on the other hand, should be miserable; that is a truth, I

believe, which no one will gainsay. To realize this condition of

things is a proposal as great as it is noble and useful in every

respect, and we have found a means of attaining the object of our

wishes. If Plutus recovers his sight and ceases from wandering about

unseeing and at random, he will go to seek the just men and never

leave them again; he will shun the perverse and ungodly; so, thanks to

him, all men will become honest, rich and pious. Can anything better

be conceived for the public weal?

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Of a certainty, no! I bear witness to that. It is not even

necessary she should reply.

  CHREMYLUS

    Does it not seem that everything is extravagance in the world,

or rather madness, when you watch the way things go? A crowd of rogues

enjoy blessings they have won by sheer injustice, while more honest

folks are miserable, die of hunger, and spend their whole lives with

you. Now, if Plutus became clear-sighted again and drove out

Poverty, it would be the greatest blessing possible for the human

race.

  POVERTY

    Here are two old men, whose brains are easy to confuse, who assist

each other to talk rubbish and drivel to their hearts' content. But if

your wishes were realized, your profit would be great! Let Plutus

recover his sight and divide his favours out equally to all, and

none will ply either trade or art any longer; all toil would be done

away with. Who would wish to hammer iron, build ships, sew, turn,

cut up leather, bake bricks, bleach linen, tan hides, or break up

the soil of the earth with the plough and garner the gifts of Demeter,

if he could live in idleness and free from all this work?

  CHREMYLUS

    What nonsense all this is! All these trades which you just mention

will be plied by our slaves.

  POVERTY

    Your slaves! And by what means will these slaves be got?

  CHREMYLUS

    We will buy them.

  POVERTY

    But first say, who will sell them, if everyone is rich?

  CHREMYLUS

    Some greedy dealer from Thessaly-the land which supplies so many.

  POVERTY

    But if your system is applied, there won't be a single

slave-dealer left. What rich man would risk his life to devote himself

to this traffic? You will have to toil, to dig and submit yourself

to all kinds of hard labour; so that your life would be more

wretched even than it is now.

  CHREMYLUS

    May this prediction fall upon yourself!

  POVERTY

    You will not be able to sleep in a bed, for no more will ever be

manufactured; nor on carpets, for who would weave them, if he had

gold? When you bring a young bride to your dwelling, you will have

no essences wherewith to perfume her, nor rich embroidered cloaks dyed

with dazzling colours in which to clothe her. And yet what is the

use of being rich, if you are to be deprived of all these

enjoyments? On the other hand, you have all that you need in

abundance, thanks to me; to the artisan I am like a severe mistress,

who forces him by need and poverty to seek the means of earning his

livelihood.

  CHREMYLUS

    And what good thing can you give us, unless it be burns in the

bath, and swarms of brats and old women who cry with hunger, and

clouds uncountable of lice, gnats and flies, which hover about the

wretch's head, trouble him, awake him and say, "You will be hungry,

but get up!" Besides, to possess a rag in place of a mantle, a

pallet of rushes swarming with bugs, that do not let you close your

eyes, for a bed; a rotten piece of matting for a coverlet; a big stone

for a pillow, on which to lay your head; to eat mallow roots instead

of bread, and leaves of withered radish instead of cake; to have

nothing but the cover of a broken jug for a stool, the stave of a

cask, and broken at that, for a kneading-trough, that is the life

you make for us! Are these the mighty benefits with which you

pretend to load mankind?

  POVERTY

    It's not my life that you describe,; you are attacking the

existence beggars lead.

  CHREMYLUS

    Is Beggary not Poverty's sister?

  POVERTY

    Thrasybulus and Dionysius are one and the same according to you.

No, my life is not like that and never will be. The beggar, whom you

have depicted to us, never possesses anything. The poor man lives

thriftily and attentive to his work: he has not got too much, but he

does not lack what he really needs.

  CHREMYLUS

    Oh! what a happy life, by Demeter! to live sparingly, to toil

incessantly and not to leave enough to pay for a tomb!

  POVERTY

    That's it! jest, jeer, and never talk seriously! But what you

don't know is this, that men with me are worth more, both in mind

and body, than with Plutus. With him they are gouty, big-bellied,

heavy of limb and scandalously stout; with me they are thin,

wasp-waisted, and terrible to the foe.

  CHREMYLUS

    No doubt it's by starving them that you give them that waspish

waist.

  POVERTY

    As for behaviour, I will prove to you that modesty dwells with

me and insolence with Plutus.

  CHREMYLUS

    Oh the sweet modesty of stealing and burglary.

  POVERTY

    Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor,

both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they

are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for

justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.

  CHREMYLUS

    That is absolutely true, although your tongue is very vile. But it

matters not, so don't put on those triumphant airs; you shall not be

punished any the less for having tried to persuade me that poverty

is worth more than wealth.

  POVERTY

    Not being able to refute my arguments, you chatter at random and

exert yourself to no purpose.

  CHREMYLUS

    Then tell me this, why does all mankind flee from you?

  POVERTY

    Because I make them better. Children do the very same; they flee

from the wise counsels of their fathers. So difficult is it to see

one's true interest.

  CHREMYLUS

    Will you say that Zeus cannot discern what is best? Well, he takes

  Plutus to himself...

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    ...and banishes Poverty to the earth.

  POVERTY

    Ah me! how purblind you are, you old fellows of the days of

Cronus! Why, Zeus is poor, and I will clearly prove it to you. In

the Olympic games, which he founded, and to which he convokes the

whole of Greece every four years, why does he only crown the

victorious athletes with wild olive? If he were rich he would give

them gold.

  CHREMYLUS

    That's the way he shows that he clings to his wealth; he is

sparing with it, won't part with any portion of it, only bestows

baubles on the victors and keeps his money for himself.

  POVERTY

    But wealth coupled to such sordid greed is yet more shameful

than poverty.

  CHREMYLUS

    May Zeus destroy you, both you and your chaplet of wild olive!

  POVERTY

    Thus you dare to maintain that Poverty is not the fount of all

blessings!

  CHREMYLUS

    Ask Hecate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will

tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor

make it disappear before it is even served. But go and hang yourself

and don't breathe another syllable. I will not be convinced against my

will.

  POVERTY

    "Oh! citizens of Argos! do you hear what he says?"

  CHREMYLUS

    Invoke Pauson, your boon companion, rather.

    POVERTY

    Alas! what is to become of me?

  CHREMYLUS

    Get you gone, be off quick and a pleasant journey to you.

  POVERTY

    But where shall I go?

  CHREMYLUS

    To gaol; but hurry up, let us put an end to this.

  POVERTY  (as she departs)

    One day you will recall me.

  CHREMYLUS

    Then you can return; but disappear for the present. I prefer to be

rich; you are free to knock your head against the walls in your rage.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    And I too welcome wealth. I want, when I leave the bath all

perfumed with essences, to feast bravely with my wife and children and

to fart in the faces of toilers and Poverty.

  CHREMYLUS

    So that hussy has gone at last! But let us make haste to put

Plutus to bed in the Temple of Asclepius.

  BLEPSIDEMUS

    Let us make haste; else some bothering fellow may again come to

interrupt us.

  CREMYLUS  (loudly)

    Cario, bring the coverlets and all that I have got ready from

the house; let us conduct the god to the temple, taking care to

observe all the proper rites.



                 (CARIO comes out of the house with a

        bundle under one arm and leading PLUTUS with the other.

    CHREMYLUS and BLEPSIDEMUS join him and all four of them depart.)



                                 (Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)

  CARIO

    Oh! you old fellows, who used to dip out the broth served to the

poor at the festival of Theseus with little pieces of bread hollowed

like a spoon, how worthy of envy is your fate! How happy you are, both

you and all just men!

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    My good fellow, what has happened to your friends? You seem the

bearer of good tidings.

  CARIO

    What joy-for my master and even more for Plutus! The god has

regained his sight; his eyes sparkle with the greatest brilliancy,

thanks to the benevolent care of Asclepius.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    Oh! what transports of joy! oh! what shouts of gladness!

  CARIO

    Aye! one is compelled to rejoice, whether one will or not.

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    I will sing to the honour of Asclepius, the son of illustrious

Zeus, with a resounding voice; he is the beneficent star which men

adore.

  CHREMYLUS' WIFE  (coming out of the house)

    What mean these shouts? Is there good news? With what impatience

have I been waiting in the house, and for so long too!

  CARIO

    Quick! quick, some wine, mistress. And drink some yourself,

(aside)  it's much to your taste. I bring you all blessings in a lump.

  WIFE

    Where are they?

  CARIO

    In my words, as you are going to see.

  WIFE

    Have done with trifling! come, speak.

  CARIO

    Listen, I am going to tell you everything from the feet to the

head.

  WIFE

    Oh! don't throw anything at my head.

  CARIO

    Not even the Happiness that has come to you?

  WIFE

    No, no, nothing ... to annoy me.

  CARIO

    Having arrived near to the temple with our patient, then so

unfortunate, but now at the apex of Happiness, of blessedness, we

first led him down to the sea to purify him.

  WIFE

    Ah! what a singular pleasure for an old man to bathe in the cold

seawater!

  CARIO  (in the manner of the tragic messenger)

    Then we repaired to the temple of the god. Once the wafers and the

various offerings had been consecrated upon the altar, and the cake of

wheaten-meal had been banded over to the devouring Hephaestus, we made

Plutus lie on a couch according to the rite, and each of us prepared

himself a bed of leaves.

  WIFE

    Had any other folk come to beseech the deity?

  CARIO

    Yes. Firstly, Neoclides, who is blind, but steals much better than

those who see clearly; then many others attacked by complaints of

all kinds. The lights were put out and the priest enjoined us to

sleep, especially recommending us to keep silent should we hear any

noise. There we were all lying down quite quietly. I could not

sleep; I was thinking of a certain stew-pan full of pap placed close

to an old woman and just behind her head. I had a furious longing to

slip towards that side. But just as I was lifting my head, I noticed

the priest, who was sweeping off both the cakes and the figs on the

sacred table; then he made the round of the altars and sanctified

the cakes that remained, by stowing them away in a bag. I therefore

resolved to follow such a pious example and made straight for the pap.

  WIFE

    You rogue! and had you no fear of the god?

  CARIO

    Aye, indeed! I feared that the god with his crown on his head

might have been near the stew-pan before me. I said to myself, "Like

priest, like god." On hearing the noise I made the old woman put out

her hand, but I hissed and bit it, just as a sacred serpent might have

done. Quick she drew back her hand, slipped down into the bed with her

head beneath the coverlets and never moved again; only she let flee

a fart in her fear which stank worse than a weasel. As for myself, I

swallowed a goodly portion of the pap and, having made a good feed,

went back to bed.

  WIFE

    And did not the god come?

  CARIO

    He did not tarry; and when he was near us, oh! dear! such a good

joke happened. My belly was quite blown up, and I let a thunderous

fart!

  WIFE

    Doubtless the god pulled a wry face?

  CARIO

    No, but Iaso blushed a little and Panacea turned her head away,

holding her nose; my farts are not perfume.

  WIFE

    And what did the god do?

  CARIO

    He paid not the slightest heed.

  WIFE

    He must then be a pretty coarse kind of god?

  CARIO

    I don't say that, but he's used to tasting stools.

  WIFE

    Impudent knave, go on with you!

  CARIO

    Then I hid myself in my bed all a-tremble. Asclepius did the round

of the patients and examined them all with great attention; then a

slave placed beside him a stone mortar, a pestle and a little box.

  WIFE

    Of stone?

  CARIO

    No, not of stone.

  WIFE

    But how could you see all this, you arch-rascal, when you say

you were hiding all the time?

  CARIO

    Why, great gods, through my cloak, for it's not without holes!

He first prepared an ointment for Neoclides; he threw three heads of

Tenian garlic into the mortar, pounded them with an admixture of

fig-tree sap and lentisk, moistened the whole with Sphettian

vinegar, and, turning back the patient's eyelids, applied his salve to

the interior of the eyes, so that the pain might be more excruciating.

Neoclides shrieked, howled, sprang towards the foot of his bed and

wanted to bolt, but the god laughed and said to him, "Keep where you

are with your salve; by doing this you will not go and perjure

yourself before the Assembly."

  WIFE

    What a wise god and what a friend to our city

  CARIO

    Thereupon he came and seated himself at the head of Plutus' bed,

took a perfectly clean rag and wiped his eyelids; Panacea covered

his head and face with a purple cloth, while the god whistled, and two

enormous snakes came rushing from the sanctuary.

  WIFE

    Great gods!

  CARIO

    They slipped gently beneath the purple cloth and, as far as I

could judge, licked the patient's eyelids; for, in less time than even

you need, mistress, to drain down ten beakers of wine, Plutus rose up;

be could see. I clapped my hands with joy and awoke my master, and the

god immediately disappeared with the serpents into the sanctuary. As

for those who were lying near Plutus, you can imagine that they

embraced him tenderly. Dawn broke and not one of them had closed an

eye. As for myself, I did not cease thanking the god who had so

quickly restored to Plutus his sight and had made Neoclides blinder

than ever.

  WIFE

    Oh! thou great Asclepius! How mighty is thy power!  (To CARIO)

But tell me, where is Plutus now?

  CARIO

    He is approaching, escorted by an immense crowd. The rich, whose

wealth is ill-gotten, are knitting their brows and shooting at him

looks of fierce hate, while the just folk, who led a wretched

existence, embrace him and grasp his hand in the transport of their

joy; they follow in his wake, their heads wreathed with garlands,

laughing and blessing their deliverer; the old men make the earth

resound as they walk together keeping time. Come, all of you, all,

down to the very least, dance, leap and form yourselves into a chorus;

no longer do you risk being told, when you go Home. "There is no

meal in the bag."

  WIFE

    And I, by Hecate! I will string you a garland of cakes for the

good tidings you have brought me.

  CARIO

    Hurry, make haste then; our friends are close at hand.

  WIFE

    I will go indoors to fetch some gifts of welcome, to celebrate

these eyes that have just been opened.

                                       (She goes back into the house.)

  CARIO

    Meantime I am going forth to meet them.

                                                                (Exit)



                                 (Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)

  PLUTUS

    I adore thee, oh! thou divine sun, and thee I greet, thou city,

the beloved of Pallas: be welcome, thou land of Cecrops, which hast

received me. Alas! what manner of men I associated with! I blush to

think of it. While, on the other hand, I shunned those who deserved my

friendship; I knew neither the vices of the ones nor the virtues of

the others. A two-fold mistake, and in both cases equally fatal! Ah!

what a misfortune was mine! But I want to change everything; and in

the future I mean to prove to mankind that, if I gave to the wicked,

it was against my will.

  CHREMYLUS  (to the wings)

    Get you gone! Oh! what a lot of friends spring into being when you

are fortunate! They dig me with their elbows and bruise my shins to

prove their affection. Each one wants to greet me. What a crowd of old

fellows thronged round me on the market-place!

  WIFE

    Oh! thou, who art dearest of all to me, and thou too, be

welcome! Allow me, Plutus, to shower these gifts of welcome over you

in due accord with custom.

    PLUTUS

    No. This is the first house I enter after having regained my

sight; I shall take nothing from it, for it is my place rather to

give.

  WIFE

    Do you refuse these gifts?

  PLUTUS

    I will accept them at your fireside, as custom requires.

Besides, we shall thus avoid a ridiculous scene; it is not meet that

the poet should throw dried figs and dainties to the spectators; it is

a vulgar trick to make them laugh.

  WIFE

    You are right. Look! yonder's Dexinicus, who was already getting

to his feet to catch the figs as they flew past him.

                                 (Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)

  CARIO

    How pleasant it is, friends, to live well, especially when it

costs nothing! What a deluge of blessings flood our household, and

that too without our having wronged a single soul! Ah! what a

delightful thing is wealth! The bin is full of white flour and the

wine-jars run over with fragrant liquor; all the chests are crammed

with gold and silver, it is a sight to see; the tank is full of oil,

the phials with perfumes, and the garret with dried figs. Vinegar

flasks, plates, stew-pots and all the platters are of brass; our

rotten old wooden trenchers for the fish have to-day become dishes

of silver; even the thunder-mug is of ivory. We others, the slaves, we

play at odd and even with gold pieces, and carry luxury so far that we

no longer wipe our arses with stones, but use garlic stalks instead.

My master, at this moment, is crowned with flowers and sacrificing a

pig, a goat and ram; it's the smoke that has driven me out, for I

could no longer endure it, it hurt my eyes so.



        (A JUST MAN enters, followed by a small slave-lad who

    carries a thread-bare cloak and a pair of badly worn sandals.)



  JUST MAN

    Come, my child, come with me. Let us go and find the god.

  CARIO

    Who's this?

  JUST MAN

    A man who was once wretched, but now is happy.

  CARIO

    A just man then?

  JUST MAN

    That's right.

  CARIO

    Well! what do you want?

  JUST MAN

    I come to thank the god for all the blessings he has showered on

me. My father had left me a fairly decent fortune, and I helped

those of my friends who were in want; it was, to my thinking, the most

useful thing I could do with my fortune.

  CARIO

    And you were quickly ruined?

  JUST MAN

    Quite.

  CARIO

    And since then you have been living in misery?

  JUST MAN

    Quite; I thought I could count, in case of need, upon the

friends whose property I had helped, but they turned their backs

upon me and pretended not to see me.

  CARIO

    They laughed at you, that's obvious.

  JUST MAN

    Quite. With my empty coffers, I had no more friends. But my lot

has changed, and so I come to the god to make him the acts of

gratitude that are his due.

  CARIO

    But why are you bringing this old cloak, which your slave is

carrying! Tell me.

  JUST MAN

    I wish to dedicate it to the god.

  CARIO

    Were you initiated into the Great Mysteries in that cloak?

  JUST MAN

    No, but I shivered in it for thirteen years.

  CARIO

    And this footwear?

  JUST MAN

    These also are my winter companions.

  CARIO

    And you wish to dedicate them too?

  JUST MAN

    Certainly.

  CARIO

    Fine presents to offer to the god!



                          (An INFORMER enters, followed by a witness.)



  INFORMER  (before he sees CARIO)

    Alas! alas! I am a lost man. Ah! thrice, four, five, twelve times,

or rather ten thousand times unhappy fate! Why, why must fortune

deal me such rough blows?

  CARIO

    Oh, Apollo, my tutelary! oh! ye favourable gods! what has

overtaken this man?

  INFORMER  (to CARIO)

    Ah! am I not deserving of pity? I have lost everything; this

cursed god has stripped me bare. Ah! if there be justice in heaven, he

shall be struck blind again,

  JUST MAN

    I think I know what's the matter. If this man is unfortunate, it's

because he's of little account and small honesty; and indeed he

looks it too.

  CARIO

    Then, by Zeus! his plight is but just.

  INFORMER

    He promised that if he recovered his sight, he would enrich us all

unaided; whereas he has ruined more than one.

  CARIO

    But whom has he thus ill-used?

  INFORMER

    Me.

  CARIO

    You were doubtless a villainous thief then.

  INFORMER

    No, it is rather you yourselves who were such wretches; I am

certain you have got my money.

  CARIO

    Ha! by Demeter! an informer! What impudence! He's ravenously

hungry, that's certain.

  INFORMER

    You shall follow me this very instant to the market-place, where

the torture of the wheel shall force the confession of your misdeeds

from you.

  CARIO  (with a threatening gesture)

    Watch out, now!

  JUST MAN

    By Zeus the Deliverer, what gratitude all Greeks owe to Plutus, if

he destroys these vile informers!

  INFORMER

    You are laughing at me. Well, then I denounce you as their

accomplice. Where did you steal that new cloak from? Yesterday I saw

you with one utterly worn out.

  JUST MAN

    I fear you not, thanks to this ring, for which I paid Eudemus a

drachma.

  CARIO

    Ah! there's no ring to preserve you from the informer's bite.

  INFORMER

    The insolent wretches! But, my fine jokers, you have not told me

what you are up to here. Nothing good, I'm sure of that.

  CARIO

    Nothing of any good for you, be sure of that.

  INFORMER

    By Zeus! it's at my expense that you are about to dine.

  CARIO

    You and your witness, I hope you both burst...

  JUST MAN

    With an empty belly.

  INFORMER

    You deny it? I reckon, you villains, that there is much salt

fish and roast meat in this house.  (He sniffs elaborately.)

  CARIO

    Can you smell anything, rascal?

  JUST MAN

    The cold, perhaps.

  INFORMER

    Can such outrages be Home, oh, Zeus! Ye gods! how cruel it is to

see me treated thus, when I am such an honest fellow and such a good

citizen!

  JUST MAN

    You an honest man! you a good citizen!

  INFORMER

    A better one than any.

  JUST MAN

    Ah! well then, answer my questions.

  INFORMER

    Concerning what?

  JUST MAN

    Are you a husbandman?

  INFORMER

    D'ye take me for a fool?

  JUST MAN

    A merchant?

  INFORMER

    I assume the title, when it serves me.

  JUST MAN

    Do you ply any trade?

  INFORMER

    No, most assuredly not!

  JUST MAN

    Then how do you live, if you do nothing?

  INFORMER

    I superintend public and private Business.

  JUST MAN

    You do? And by what right, pray?

  INFORMER

    Because it pleases me to do so.

  JUST MAN

    Like a thief you sneak yourself in where you have no Business. You

are hated by all and you claim to be an honest man.

  INFORMER

    What, you fool? I have not the right to dedicate myself entirely

to my country's service?

  JUST MAN

    Is the country served by vile intrigue?

  INFORMER

    It is served by watching that the established law is observed-by

allowing no one to violate it.

  JUST MAN

    That's the duty of the tribunals; they are established to that

end.

  INFORMER

    And who is the prosecutor before the dicasts?

  JUST MAN

    Whoever wishes to be.

  INFORMER

    Well then, it is I who choose to be prosecutor; and thus all

public affairs fall within my province.

  JUST MAN

    I pity Athens for being in such vile clutches. But would you not

prefer to live quietly and free from all care and anxiety?

  INFORMER

    To do nothing is to live an animal's life.

  JUST MAN

    Thus you will not change your mode of life?

  INFORMER

    No, though they gave me Plutus himself and the silphium of Battus.

  CARIO  (to the INFORMER)

    Come, quick, off with your cloak.

                                         (The INFORMER does not move.)

  JUST MAN

    Hi! friend!  it's you they are speaking to.

  CARIO

    Off with your shoes.

                              (The INFORMER still remains motionless.)

  JUST MAN

    I say, all this is addressed to you.

  INFORMER  (defiantly)

    Very well! let one of you come near me, if he dares.

  CARIO

    I dare.



            (He strips the INFORMER of his cloak and shoes.

                        The witness runs away.)



  INFORMER

    Alas! I am robbed of my clothes in full daylight.

  CARIO

    That's what comes of meddling with other folk's Business and

living at their expense.

  INFORMER  (over his shoulder to the departing witness)

    You see what is happening; I call you to witness.

  CARIO  (laughing)

    Look how the witness whom you brought is taking to his heels.

  INFORMER

    Great gods! I am all alone and they assault me.

  CARIO

    Shout away!

  INFORMER

    Oh! woe, woe is me!

  CARIO

    Give me that old ragged cloak, that I may dress out the informer.

  JUST MAN

    No, no; I have dedicated it to Plutus.

  CARIO

    And where would your offering be better bestowed than on the

shoulders of a rascal and a thief? To Plutus fine, rich cloaks

should be given.

  JUST MAN

    And what then shall be done with these shoes? Tell me.

  CARIO

    I will nail them to his brow as gifts are nailed to the trunks

of the wild olive.

  INFORMER

    I'm off, for you are the strongest, I own. But if I find someone

to join me, let him be as weak as he will, I will summon this god, who

thinks himself so strong, before the court this very day, and denounce

him as manifestly guilty of overturning the democracy by his will

alone and without the consent of the Senate or the Assembly.

  JUST MAN

    Now that you are rigged out from head to foot with my old clothes,

hasten to the bath and stand there in the front row to warm yourself

better; that's the place I formerly had.

  CARIO

    Ah! the bath-man would grab you by the balls and fling you through

the door; he would only need to see you to appraise you at your true

value.... But let us go in, friend, that you may address your

thanksgivings to the god.

                                 (Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)



                        (An OLD WOMAN enters,

              dressed as a young girl and trying to walk

   in a youthful and alluring manner. She carries a plate of food.)



  OLD WOMAN  (coyly)

    My dear old men, am I near the house where the new god lives, or

have I missed the road?

  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    You are at his door, my pretty little maid, who question us so

sweetly.

  OLD WOMAN

    Then I will summon someone in the house.

  CHREMYLUS

    No need. I am here myself. But what brings you here?

  OLD WOMAN

    Ah! a cruel, unjust fate! My dear friend, this god has made life

unbearable to me through ceasing to be blind.

  CHREMYLUS

    What does this mean? Can you be a female informer?

  OLD WOMAN

    Most certainly not.

  CHREMYLUS

    Have you drunk up your money then?

  OLD WOMAN

    You are mocking me! No! I am being devoured with a consuming fire.

  CHREMYLUS

    Then tell me what is consuming you so fiercely.

  OLD WOMAN

    Listen! I loved a young man, who was poor, but so handsome, so

well-built, so honest! He readily gave way to all I desired and

acquitted himself so well! I, for my part, refused him nothing.

  CHREMYLUS

    And what did he generally ask of you?

  OLD WOMAN

    Very little; he bore himself towards me with astonishing

discretion! perchance twenty drachmae for a cloak or eight for

footwear; sometimes he begged me to buy tunics for his sisters or a

little mantle for his mother: at times he needed four bushels of corn.

  CHREMYLUS

    That's very little, in truth; I admire his modesty.

  OLD WOMAN

    And it wasn't as a reward for his complacency that he ever asked

me for anything, but as a matter of pure friendship; a cloak I had

given would remind him from whom he had got it.

  CHREMYLUS

    It was a fellow who loved you madly.

  OLD WOMAN

    But it's no longer so, for the faithless wretch has sadly altered!

I had sent him this cake with the sweetmeats you see here on this dish

and let him know that I would visit him in the evening...

  CHREMYLUS

    Well?

  OLD WOMAN

    He sent me back my presents and added this tart to them, on

condition that I never set foot in his house again. Besides, he sent

me this message, "Once upon a time the Milesians were brave."

  CHREMYLUS

    An honest lad, indeed What do you expect? When poor, he would

devour anything; now he is rich, he no longer cares for lentils.

  OLD WOMAN

    Formerly he came to me every day.

  CHREMYLUS

    To see if you were being buried?

  OLD WOMAN

    No! he longed to hear the sound of my voice.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    And to carry off some present.

  OLD WOMAN

    If I was downcast, he would call me his little duck or his

little dove in a most tender manner...

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    And then would ask for the money to buy a pair of sandals.

  OLD WOMAN

    When I was at the Mysteries of Eleusis in a carriage, someone made

eyes at me; he was so jealous that he beat me the whole of that day.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    That was because he liked to feed alone.

  OLD WOMAN

    He told me I had very beautiful hands.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    Aye, no doubt, when they handed him twenty drachmae.

  OLD WOMAN

    That my whole body breathed a sweet perfume.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    Yes, like enough, if you poured him out Thasian wine.

  OLD WOMAN

    That my glance was gentle and charming.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    He was no fool. He knew how to drag drachmae from a sex-starved

old woman.

  OLD WOMAN

    Ah! the god has done very, very wrong, saying he would support the

victims of injustice.

  CHREMYLUS

    Well, what should he do? Speak, and it shall be done.

  OLD WOMAN

    Compel him, whom I have loaded with benefits, to repay them in his

turn; if not, he does not merit the least of the god's favours.

  CHREMYLUS

    And did he not do this every night?

  OLD WOMAN

    He swore he would never leave me, as long as I lived.

  CHREMYLUS

    Aye, right but he thinks you are no longer alive.

  OLD WOMAN

    Ah! friend, I am pining away with grief.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    You are rotting away, it seems to me.

  OLD WOMAN

    I have grown so thin, I could slip through a ring.

  CHREMYLUS

    Yes, if it were as large as the hoop of a sieve.



                         (A young man enters,



                     wearing a garland on his head



                   and carrying a torch in his hand.)





  OLD WOMAN

    But here is the youth, the cause of my complaint; he looks as

though he were going to a, festival.

  CHREMYLUS

    Yes, if his chaplet and his torch are any guides.

  YOUTH  (to the OLD WOMAN, With cool politeness)

    Greeting to you.

  OLD WOMAN  (in a puzzled tone)

    What was that he said?

  YOUTH

    My ancient old dear, you have grown white very quickly, by heaven!

  OLD WOMAN

    Oh! what an insult!

  CHREMYLUS

    It is a long time, then, since he saw you?

  OLD WOMAN

    A long time? My god! he was with me yesterday.

  CHREMYLUS

    It must be, then, that, unlike other people, he sees more

clearly when he's drunk.

  OLD WOMAN

    No, but I have always known him for an insolent fellow.

  YOUTH

    Oh! divine Posidon! Oh, ye gods of old age! what wrinkles she

has on her face!  (He holds his torch close to her, in order to

inspect her more closely.)

  OLD WOMAN

    Oh! oh! keep your distance with that torch.

  CHREMYLUS  (aside)

    It's just as well; if a single spark were to reach her, she

would catch fire like an old olive branch.

  YOUTH

    I propose to have a game with you.

  OLD WOMAN  (eagerly)

    Where, naughty boy?

  YOUTH

    Here. Take some nuts in your hand.

  OLD WOMAN

    What game is this?

  YOUTH

    Let's play at guessing how many ... teeth you have.

  CHREMYLUS

    Ah! I'll tell you; she's got three, or perhaps four.

  YOUTH

    Pay up; you've lost! she has only one single grinder.

  OLD WOMAN

    You wretch! you're not in your right senses. Do you insult me thus

before this crowd?

  YOUTH

    I am washing you thoroughly; that's doing you a service.

  CHREMYLUS

    No, no! as she is there, she can still deceive; but if this

white-lead is washed off, her wrinkles will come out plainly.

  OLD WOMAN

    You are only an old fool!

  YOUTH

    Ah! he is playing the gallant, he is playing with your tits, and

thinks I do not see it.

  OLD WOMAN  (to CHREMYLUS)

    Oh! no, by Aphrodite, don't do that, you naughty jealous fellow.

  CHREMYLUS

    Oh! most certainly not, by Hecate! Verily and indeed I would

need to be mad! But, young man, I cannot forgive you, if you cast

off this beautiful child.

  YOUTH

    Why, I adore her.

  CHREMYLUS

    But nevertheless she accuses you...

  YOUTH

    Accuses me of what?

  CHREMYLUS

    ...of having told her insolently, "Once upon a time the

Milesians were brave."

  YOUTH

    Oh! I shall not dispute with you about her.

  CHREMYLUS

    Why not?

  YOUTH

    Out of respect for your age; with anyone but you I should not be

so easy; come, take the girl and be happy.

  CHREMYLUS

    see, I see; you don't want her any more.

  OLD WOMAN

    Nay this is a thing that cannot be allowed.

  YOUTH

    I cannot argue with a woman who has been laid by every one of

these thirteen thousand men.

                                         (He points to the audience.)

  CHREMYLUS

    Yet, since you liked the wine, you should now consume the lees.

  YOUTH

    But these lees are quite rancid and fusty.

  CHREMYLUS

    Pass them through a straining-cloth; they'll clarify.

  YOUTH

    But I want to go in with you to offer these chaplets to the god.

  OLD WOMAN

    And I too have something to tell him.

  YOUTH

    Then I won't enter.

  CHREMYLUS

    Come, have no fear; she won't harm you.

  YOUTH

    That's true; I've been managing the old bark so long.

  OLD WOMAN

    Go in; Ill follow after you.

                                               (They enter the house.)

  CHREMYLUS

    Good gods! that old hag has fastened herself to her youth like a

limpet to its rock.

                                                 (He follows them in.)



                (Interlude of dancing by the CHORUS.)



                      (HERMES enters and begins knocking on the door.)

  CARIO  (opening the door)

    Who is knocking at the door? Halloa! I see no one; it was then

by chance it gave forth that plaintive tone.

  HERMES  (to CARIO, who is about to close the door)

    Cario! stop!

  CARIO

    Eh! friend, was it you who knocked so loudly? Tell me.

  HERMES

    No, I was going to knock and you forestalled me by opening.

Come, call your master quick, then his wife and his children, then his

slave and his dog, then yourself and his pig.

  CARIO

    And what's it all about?

  HERMES

    It's about this, rascal! Zeus wants to serve you all with the same

sauce and hurl the lot of you into the Barathrum.

  CARIO  (aside)

    Have a care for your tongue, you bearer of ill tidings!  (To

HERMES)  But why does he want to treat us in that scurvy fashion?

  HERMES

    Because you have committed the most dreadful crime. Since Plutus

has recovered his sight, there is nothing for us other gods, neither

incense, nor laurels, nor cakes, nor victims, nor anything in the

world.

  CARIO

    And you will never be offered anything more; you governed us too

ill

  HERMES

    I care nothing at all about the other gods, but it's myself. I

tell you I am dying of hunger.

  CARIO

    That's reasoning like a wise fellow.

  HERMES

    Formerly, from earliest dawn, I was offered all sorts of good

things in the wine-shops,-wine-cakes, honey, dried figs, in short,

dishes worthy of Hermes. Now, I lie the livelong day on my back,

with my legs in the air, famishing.

  CARIO

    And quite right too, for you often had them punished who treated

you so well.

  HERMES

    Ah! the lovely cake they used to knead for me on the fourth of the

month!

  CARIO

    You recall it vainly; your regrets are useless!

  HERMES

    Ah! the ham I was wont to devour!

  CARIO

    Well then! make use of your legs and hop on one leg upon the

wine-skin, to while away the time.

  HERMES

    Oh! the grilled entrails I used to swallow down!

  CARIO

    Your own have got the colic, I think

  HERMES

    Oh! the delicious tipple, half-wine, half-water!

  CARIO

    Here, take this and be off.  (He farts.)

  HERMES  (in tragic style)

    Would you render service to the friend that loves you?

  CARIO

    Willingly, if I can.

  HERMES

    Give me some well-baked bread and a big hunk of the victims they

are sacrificing in your house.

  CARIO

    That would be stealing.

  HERMES

    Do you forget, then, how I used to take care he knew nothing about

it when you were stealing something from your master?

  CARIO

    Because I used to share it with you, you rogue; some cake or other

always came your way,

  HERMES

    Which afterwards you ate up all by yourself.

  CARIO

    But then you did not share the blows when I was caught.

  HERMES

    Forget past injuries, now you have taken Phyle. Ah! how I should

like to live with you! Take pity and receive me.

  CARIO

    You would leave the gods to stop here?

  HERMES

    One is much better off among you.

  CARIO

    What! you would desert Do you think that is honest?

  HERMES

    "Where I live well, there is my country."

  CARIO

    But how could we employ you here?

  HERMES

    Place me near the door; I am the watchman god and would shift of

the robbers.

  CARIO

    Shift off! Ah! but we have no love for shifts.

  HERMES

    Entrust me with Business dealings.

  CARIO

    But we are rich; why should we keep a baggling Hermes?

  HERMES

    Let me intrigue for you.

  CARIO

    No, no, intrigues are forbidden; we believe in good faith.

  HERMES

    I will work for you as a guide.

  CARIO

    But the god sees clearly now, so we no longer want a guide.

  HERMES

    Well then, I will preside over the games. Ah! what can you

object to In that? Nothing is fitter for Plutus than to give scenic

and gymnastic games.

  CARIO

    How useful it is to have so many names Here you have found the

means of earning your bread. I don't wonder the jurymen so eagerly try

to get entered for many tribunals.

  HERMES

    So then, you admit me on these terms?

  CARIO

    Go and wash the entrails of the victims at the well, so that you

may show yourself serviceable at once.



   (They both enter the house. A PRIEST of ZEUS comes hurrying in.)



  PRIEST

    Can anyone tell me where Chremylus is?

  CHREMYLUS  (emerging from the house)

    What would you with him, friend?

  PRIEST

    Much ill. Since Plutus has recovered his sight, I am perishing

of starvation; I, the priest of Zeus the Deliverer, have nothing to

eat!

  CHREMYLUS

    And what is the cause of that, pray?

  PRIEST

    No one dreams of offering sacrifices.

  CHREMYLUS

    Why not?

  PRIEST

    Because all men are rich. Ah! when they had nothing, the

merchant who escaped from shipwreck, the accused who was acquitted,

all immolated victims; another would sacrifice for the success of some

wish and the priest joined in at the feast; but now there is not the

smallest victim, not one of the faithful in the temple, but

thousands who come there to take a crap.

  CHREMYLUS

    Why don't you take your share of those offerings?

  PRIEST  (ignoring this)

    Hence I think I too am going to say good-bye to Zeus the Deliverer

and stop here myself.

  CHREMYLUS

    Be at ease, all will go well, if it so please the god. Zeus the

Deliverer is here; he came of his own accord.

  PRIEST

    Ha! that's good news.

                                           (He moves toward the door.)

  CHREMYLUS

    Wait a little; we are going to install Plutus presently in the

place he formerly occupied behind the Temple of Athene; there he

will watch over our treasures for ever.  (Calling out)  Let lighted

torches be brought to the priest. Take these and walk in solemn

procession in front of the god.

  PRIEST

    That's magnificent!

  CHREMYLUS

    Let Plutus be summoned.



     (PLUTUS comes out of the house, followed by the OLD WOMAN.)



  OLD WOMAN

    And I, what am I to do?

  CHREMYLUS

    Take the pots of vegetables which we are going to offer to the god

in honour of his installation and carry them on your head; you just

happen luckily to be wearing, a beautiful embroidered robe.

  OLD WOMAN

    And what about the object of my coming?

  CHREMYLUS

    Everything shall be according to your wish. The young man will

be with you this evening.

  OLD WOMAN

    Oh! if you promise me his visit, I will right willingly carry

the pots.



                                          (She puts them on her head.)



  CHREMYLUS

    Those are strange pots indeed! Generally the scum rises to the,

top of the pots, but here the pots are raised to the top of the old

woman.



     (PLUTUS begins to march solemnly off the stage;

                                      the OLD WOMAN follows him.)





  LEADER OF THE CHORUS

    Let us withdraw without more tarrying, and follow the others,

singing as we go

                                                         (They do so.)





                             THE END
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