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I have no time to waste. DICAEOPOLIS
Very well, have yourself wheeled out here.1 EURIPIDES
Well, let them roll me out; as to coming down, I have not the time. DICAEOPOLIS
What words strike my ear? DICAEOPOLIS
You perch aloft to compose tragedies, when you might just as well do them on the ground. I am not astonished at your introducing cripples on the stage.2 And why dress in these miserable tragic rags? I do not wonder that your heroes are beggars. But, Euripides, on my knees I beseech you, give me the tatters of some old piece; for I have to treat the Chorus to a long speech, and if I do it ill it is all over with me. EURIPIDES
What rags do you prefer? Those in which I rigged out Aeneus3 on the stage, that unhappy, miserable old man? DICAEOPOLIS
No, I want those of some hero still more unfortunate. EURIPIDES
Of Phoenix, the blind man? DICAEOPOLIS
No, not of Phoenix, you have another hero more unfortunate than him. EURIPIDES
Now, what tatters DOES he want? Do you mean those of the beggar Philoctetes? DICAEOPOLIS
No, of another far more the mendicant. EURIPIDES
Is it the filthy dress of the lame fellow, Bellerophon? DICAEOPOLIS
No, 'tis not Bellerophon; he, whom I mean, was not only lame and a beggar, but boastful and a fine speaker. EURIPIDES
Ah! I know, it is Telephus, the Mysian. DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, Telephus. Give me his rags, I beg of you. EURIPIDES
Slave! give him Telephus' tatters; they are on top of the rags of Thyestes and mixed with those of Ino. SLAVE
Catch hold! here they are. DICAEOPOLIS
Oh! Zeus, whose eye pierces everywhere and embraces all, permit me to assume the most wretched dress on earth. Euripides, cap your kindness by giving me the little Mysian hat, that goes so well with these tatters. I must to-day have the look of a beggar; “be what I am, but not appear to be”;4 the audience will know well who I am, but the Chorus will be fools enough not to, and I shall dupe 'em with my subtle phrases. EURIPIDES
I will give you the hat; I love the clever tricks of an ingenious brain like yours. DICAEOPOLIS
Rest happy, and may it befall Telephus as I wish. Ah! I already feel myself filled with quibbles. But I must have a beggar's staff. EURIPIDES
Here you are, and now get you gone from this porch. DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, my soul! You see how you are driven from this house, when I still need so many accessories. But let us be pressing, obstinate, importunate. Euripides, give me a little basket with a lamp alight inside.
1 "Wheeled out"—that is, by means of a mechanical contrivance of the Greek stage, by which an interior was shown, the set scene with performers, etc., all complete, being in some way, which cannot be clearly made out from the descriptions, swung out or wheeled out on to the main stage.
2 Having been lamed, it is of course implied, by tumbling from the lofty apparatus on which the Author sat perched to write his tragedies.
3 Euripides delighted, or was supposed by his critic Aristophanes to delight, in the representation of misery and wretchedness on the stage. Aeneus, Phoenix, Philoctetes, Bellerophon, Telephus, Ino are titles of six tragedies of his in this genre of which fragments are extant.
4 Line borrowed from Euripides. A great number of verses are similarly parodied in this scene.