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DICAEOPOLIS
Who are you? a Megarian?

MEGARIAN
I have come to your market.

DICAEOPOLIS
Well, how are things at Megara?1

MEGARIAN
We are crying with hunger at our firesides.

DICAEOPOLIS
The fireside is jolly enough with a piper. But what else is doing at Megara, eh?

MEGARIAN
What else? When I left for the market, the authorities were taking steps to let us die in the quickest manner.

DICAEOPOLIS
That is the best way to get you out of all your troubles.

MEGARIAN
True.

DICAEOPOLIS
What other news of Megara? What is wheat selling at?

MEGARIAN
With us it is valued as highly as the very gods in heaven!

DICAEOPOLIS
Is it salt that you are bringing?

MEGARIAN
Are you not holding back the salt?

DICAEOPOLIS
'Tis garlic then?

MEGARIAN
What! garlic! do you not at every raid grub up the ground with your pikes to pull out every single head?

DICAEOPOLIS
What DO you bring then?

MEGARIAN
Little sows, like those they immolate at the Mysteries.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! very well, show me them.

MEGARIAN
They are very fine; feel their weight. See! how fat and fine.

DICAEOPOLIS
But what is this?

MEGARIAN
A SOW, for a certainty.2

DICAEOPOLIS
You say a sow! Of what country, then?

MEGARIAN
From Megara. What! is it not a sow then?

DICAEOPOLIS
No, I don't believe it is.

MEGARIAN
This is too much! what an incredulous man! He says 'tis not a sow; but we will stake, an you will, a measure of salt ground up with thyme, that in good Greek this is called a sow and nothing else.

DICAEOPOLIS
But a sow of the human kind.

MEGARIAN
Without question, by Diocles! of my own breed! Well! What think you? will you hear them squeal?

DICAEOPOLIS
Well, yes, I' faith, I will.

MEGARIAN
Cry quickly, wee sowlet; squeak up, hussy, or by Hermes! I take you back to the house.

GIRL
Wee-wee, wee-wee!

MEGARIAN
Is that a little sow, or not?

DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, it seems so; but let it grow up, and it will be a fine fat bitch.

MEGARIAN
In five years it will be just like its mother.

DICAEOPOLIS
But it cannot be sacrificed.

MEGARIAN
And why not?

DICAEOPOLIS
It has no tail.3

MEGARIAN
Because it is quite young, but in good time it will have a big one, thick and red.

DICAEOPOLIS
The two are as like as two peas.

MEGARIAN
They are born of the same father and mother; let them be fattened, let them grow their bristles, and they will be the finest sows you can offer to Aphrodite.

DICAEOPOLIS
But sows are not immolated to Aphrodite.

MEGARIAN
Not sows to Aphrodite! Why, 'tis the only goddess to whom they are offered! the flesh of my sows will be excellent on the spit.

DICAEOPOLIS
Can they eat alone? They no longer need their mother!

MEGARIAN
Certainly not, nor their father.

1 Megara was allied to Sparta and suffered during the war more than any other city because of its proximity to Athens.

2 Throughout this whole scene there is an obscene play upon [a] word which means in Greek both ‘sow’ and ‘a woman's organs of generation.’

3 Sacrificial victims were bound to be perfect in every part; an animal, therefore, without a tail could not be offered.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 887
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