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Leader of the Chorus
But where was she then, I wonder, all the long time she spent away from us? Hermes, thou benevolent god, tell us!

Wise husbandmen, hearken to my words, if you want to know why she was lost to you. [605] The start of our misfortunes was the exile of Phidias; Pericles feared he might share his ill-luck, he mistrusted your peevish nature and, to prevent all danger to himself, he threw out that little spark, the Megarian decree, set the city aflame, [610] and blew up the conflagration with a hurricane of war, so that the smoke drew tears from all Greeks both here and over there. At the very outset of this fire our vines were a-crackle, our casks knocked together; it was beyond the power of any man to stop the disaster, and Peace disappeared.

[615] That, by Apollo! is what no one ever told me; I could not think what connection there could be between Phidias and Peace.

Leader of the Chorus
Nor I, until now. This accounts for her beauty, if she is related to him. There are so many things that escape us.

Then, when the towns subject to you saw [620] that you were angered one against the other and were showing each other your teeth like dogs, they hatched a thousand plots to pay you no more dues and gained over the chief citizens of Sparta at the price of gold. They, being as shamelessly greedy as they were faithless in diplomacy, chased off Peace with ignominy to let loose War. [625] Though this was profitable to them, it was the ruin of the husbandmen, who were innocent of all blame; for, in revenge, your galleys went out to devour their figs.

And with justice too; did they not break down my black fig tree, which I had planted and dunged with my own hands?

Leader of the Chorus
[630] Yes, by Zeus! yes, that was well done; the wretches broke a chest for me with stones, which held six medimni of corn.

Then the rural laborers flocked into the city and let themselves be bought over like the others. Not having even a grape-stone to munch and longing after their figs, [635] they looked towards the demagogues. These well knew that the poor were driven to extremity and lacked even bread; but they nevertheless drove away the Goddess, each time she reappeared in answer to the wish of the country, with their loud shrieks that were as sharp as pitchforks; furthermore, they attacked the well-filled purses of the richest among our allies [640] on the pretence that they belonged to Brasidas' party. And then you would tear the poor accused wretch to pieces with your teeth; for the city, all pale with hunger and cowed with terror, gladly snapped up any calumny that was thrown it to devour. So the strangers, seeing what terrible blows the informers dealt, [645] sealed their lips with gold. They grew rich, while you, alas! you could only see that Greece was going to ruin. It was the tanner who was the author of all this woe.

Enough said, Hermes leave that man in Hades, whither he has gone; [650] he no longer belongs to us, but rather to you.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PHOROS
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