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AN AMBASSADOR
During the archonship of Euthymenes, you sent us to the Great King on a salary of two drachmae per diem.

DICAEOPOLIS
Ah! those poor drachmae!

AMBASSADOR
We suffered horribly on the plains of the Cayster, sleeping under a tent, stretched deliciously on fine chariots, half dead with weariness.

DICAEOPOLIS
And I was very much at ease, lying on the straw along the battlements!1

AMBASSADOR
Everywhere we were well received and forced to drink delicious wine out of golden or crystal flagons....

DICAEOPOLIS
Oh, city of Cranaus,2 thy ambassadors are laughing at thee!

AMBASSADOR
For great feeders and heavy drinkers are alone esteemed as men by the barbarians.

DICAEOPOLIS
Just as here in Athens, we only esteem the most drunken debauchees.

AMBASSADOR
At the end of the fourth year we reached the King's Court, but he had left with his whole army to ease himself, and for the space of eight months he was thus easing himself in the midst of the golden mountains.3

DICAEOPOLIS
And how long was he replacing his dress?

AMBASSADOR
The whole period of a full moon; after which he returned to his palace; then he entertained us and had us served with oxen roasted whole in an oven.

DICAEOPOLIS
Who ever saw an oxen baked in an oven? What a lie!

AMBASSADOR
On my honour, he also had us served with a bird three times as large as Cleonymus,4 and called the Boaster.

DICAEOPOLIS
And do we give you two drachmae, that you should treat us to all this humbug?

AMBASSADOR
We are bringing to you Pseudartabas5, the King's Eye.

DICAEOPOLIS
I would a crow might pluck out thine with his beak, you cursed ambassador!

HERALD
The King's Eye!

DICAEOPOLIS
Eh! Great Gods! Friend, with thy great eye, round like the hole through which the oarsman passes his sweep, you have the air of a galley doubling a cape to gain port.

AMBASSADOR
Come, Pseudartabas, give forth the message for the Athenians with which you were charged by the Great King.

1 Referring to the hardships he had endured garrisoning the walls of Athens during the Lacedaemonian invasions early in the War.

2 Cranaus, the second king of Athens, the successor of Cecrops.

3 Lucian, in his Hermotimus, speaks of these golden mountains as an apocryphal land of wonders and prodigies.

4 Cleonymus was an Athenian general of exceptionally tall stature; Aristophanes incessantly rallies him for his cowardice; he had cast away his buckler in a fight.

5 A name borne by certain officials of the King of Persia. The actor of this part wore a mask, fitted with a single eye of great size.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 966
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), A´SIA
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
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