previous next


Pisthetaerus
I am bursting with desire to speak; I have already mixed the dough of my address and nothing prevents me from kneading it.... Slave! bring the chaplet and water, which you must pour over my hands. Be quick!

Euelpides
Is it a question of feasting? What does it all mean?

Pisthetaerus
[465] By Zeus, no! but I am hunting for fine, tasty words to break down the hardness of their hearts. To the Chorus. I grieve so much for you, who at one time were kings...

Leader of the Chorus
We kings? Over whom?

Pisthetaerus
... of all that exists, firstly of me and of this man, even of Zeus himself. Your race is older than Saturn, the Titans and the Earth.

Leader of the Chorus
What, older than the Earth!

Pisthetaerus
By Phoebus, yes.

Leader of the Chorus
[470] By Zeus, but I never knew that before!

Pisthetaerus
That's because you are ignorant and heedless, and have never read your Aesop. He is the one who tells us that the lark was born before all other creatures, indeed before the Earth; his father died of sickness, but the Earth did not exist then; he remained unburied for five days, when the bird in its dilemma decided, [475] for want of a better place, to entomb its father in its own head.

Euelpides
So that the lark's father is buried at Cephalae.

Pisthetaerus
Hence, if they existed before the Earth, before the gods, the kingship belongs to them by right of priority.

Euelpides
Undoubtedly, but sharpen your beak well; [480] Zeus won't be in a hurry to hand over his scepter to the woodpecker.

Pisthetaerus
It was not the gods, but the birds, who were formerly the masters and kings over men; of this I have a thousand proofs. First of all, I will point you to the cock, who governed the Persians before all other monarchs, before Darius and Megabazus. [485] It's in memory of his reign that he is called the Persian bird.

Euelpides
For this reason also, even to-day, he alone of all the birds wears his tiara straight on his head, like the Great King.

Pisthetaerus
He was so strong, so great, so feared, that even now, on account of his ancient power, [490] everyone jumps out of bed as soon as ever he crows at daybreak. Blacksmiths, potters, tanners, shoemakers, bathmen, corn-dealers, lyre-makers and armorers, all put on their shoes and go to work before it is daylight.

Euelpides
I can tell you something about that. It was the cock's fault that I lost a splendid tunic of Phrygian wool. I was at a feast in town, given to celebrate the birth of a child; I had drunk pretty freely [495] and had just fallen asleep, when a cock, I suppose in a greater hurry than the rest, began to crow. I thought it was dawn and set out for Halimus. I had hardly got beyond the walls, when a footpad struck me in the back with his bludgeon; down I went and wanted to shout, but he had already made off with my mantle.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.49
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: