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Whence comes this cry of battle? where must I bring my aid? where must I sow dread? who wants me to uncase my dreadful Gorgon's head?1 DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, Lamachus, great hero! Your plumes and your cohorts terrify me. CHORUS
This man, Lamachus, incessantly abuses Athens. LAMACHUS
You are but a mendicant and you dare to use language of this sort? DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, brave Lamachus, forgive a beggar who speaks at hazard. LAMACHUS
But what have you said? Let us hear. DICAEOPOLIS
I know nothing about it; the sight of weapons makes me dizzy. Oh! I adjure you, take that fearful Gorgon somewhat farther away. LAMACHUS
Now place it face downwards on the ground. LAMACHUS
It is done. DICAEOPOLIS
Give me a plume out of your helmet. LAMACHUS
Here is a feather. DICAEOPOLIS
And hold my head while I vomit; the plumes have turned my stomach. LAMACHUS
Hah! what are you proposing to do? do you want to make yourself vomit with this feather? DICAEOPOLIS
Is it a feather? what bird's? a braggart's? LAMACHUS
Ah! ah! I will rip you open. DICAEOPOLIS
No, no, Lamachus! Violence is out of place here! But as you are so strong, why did you not circumcise me? You have all the tools you want for the operation there. LAMACHUS
A beggar dares thus address a general! DICAEOPOLIS
How? Am I a beggar? LAMACHUS
What are you then? DICAEOPOLIS
Who am I? A good citizen, not ambitious; a soldier, who has fought well since the outbreak of the war, whereas you are but a vile mercenary. LAMACHUS
They elected me... DICAEOPOLIS
Yes, three cuckoos did!2 If I have concluded peace, 'twas disgust that drove me; for I see men with hoary heads in the ranks and young fellows of your age shirking service. Some are in Thrace getting an allowance of three drachmae, such fellows as Tisamenophoenippus and Panurgipparchides. The others are with Chares or in Chaonia, men like Geretotheodorus and Diomialazon; there are some of the same kidney, too, at Camarina and at Gela,3 the laughing-stock of all and sundry. LAMACHUS
They were elected. DICAEOPOLIS
And why do you always receive your pay, when none of these others ever gets any? Speak, Marilades, you have grey hair; well then, have you ever been entrusted with a mission? See! he shakes his head. Yet he is an active as well as a prudent man. And you, Dracyllus, Euphorides or Prinides, have you knowledge of Ecbatana or Chaonia? You say no, do you not? Such offices are good for the son of Caesyra4 and Lamachus, who, but yesterday ruined with debt, never pay their shot, and whom all their friends avoid as foot passengers dodge the folks who empty their slops out of window. LAMACHUS
Oh! in freedom's name! are such exaggerations to be borne? DICAEOPOLIS
Lamachus is well content; no doubt he is well paid, you know. LAMACHUS
But I propose always to war with the Peloponnesians, both at sea, on land and everywhere to make them tremble, and trounce them soundly. DICAEOPOLIS
For my own part, I make proclamation to all Peloponnesians, Megarians and Boeotians, that to them my markets are open; but I debar Lamachus from entering them.
1 A figure of Medusa's head, forming the centre of Lamachus' shield.
2 Indicates the character of his election, which was arranged, so Aristophanes implies, by his partisans.
3 Town in Sicily. There is a pun on the name Gela and ‘ridiculous’ which it is impossible to keep in English. Apparently the Athenians had sent embassies to all parts of the Greek world to arrange treaties of alliance in view of the struggle with the Lacedaemonians; but only young debauchees of aristocratic connections had been chosen as envoys.
4 A contemporary orator apparently, otherwise unknown.