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SCENE: —The Orchestra represents a public square in Athens; in the background are two houses with an alley between them.

Praxagora
Swinging the lantern, which is to be a signal for the other women; in high tragic style.
Oh! Thou shining light of my earthenware lamp, from this high spot shalt thou look abroad. Oh! lamp, I will tell thee thine origin and thy future; 'tis the rapid whirl of the potter's wheel that has lent thee thy shape, and [5] thy wick counterfeits the glory of the sun; mayst thou send the agreed signal flashing afar! In thee alone do we confide, and thou art worthy, for thou art near us when we practise the various postures in which Aphrodite [10] delights upon our couches, and none dreams even in the midst of her sports of seeking to avoid thine eye that watches us. Thou alone shinest into the secret recesses of our thighs and dost singe the hair that groweth there, and with thy flame dost light the actions of our loves. If we open some cellar [15] stored with fruits and wine, thou art our companion, and never dost thou betray or reveal to a neighbor the secrets thou hast learned about us. Therefore thou shalt know likewise the whole of the plot that I have planned with my friends, the women, at the festival of the Scirophoria. She pauses and looks about her. I see none of those I was expecting, [20] though dawn approaches; the Assembly is about to gather and we must take our seats in spite of Phyromachus, who forsooth would say, “It is meet the women sit apart and hidden from the eyes of the men.” Why, [25] have they not been able then to procure the false beards that they must wear, or to steal their husbands' cloaks? Ah! I see a light approaching; let us draw somewhat aside, for fear it should be a man.

She hides in the alley. From the right a woman enters, followed almost immediately by others. All are carrying staffs, men's sandals, and cloaks over their arms.

First Woman
[30] Let us start, it is high time; as we left our dwellings, the cock was crowing for the second time.

Praxagora
To herself.
And I have spent the whole night waiting for you.She emerges from the alley. But come, let us call our neighbor by scratching at her door; and gently too, [35] so that her husband may hear nothing.

Second Woman
Coming out of her house; she is dressed like a man, with a staff in her hand.
I was putting on my shoes, when I heard you scratching, for I was not asleep, so there! Oh! my dear, my husband (he is a Salaminian) never left me an instant's peace, but was at me, for ever at me, all night long, [40] so that it was only just now that I was able to filch his cloak.

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Athens (Greece) (1)

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER CXI
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