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Pisthetaerus
Formerly also the kite was ruler and king over the Greeks.

Leader of the Chorus
[500] The Greeks?

Pisthetaerus
And when he was king, he was the one who first taught them to fall on their knees before the kites.

Euelpides
By Zeus! that's what I did myself one day on seeing a kite; but at the moment I was on my knees, and leaning backwards with mouth agape, I bolted an obolus and was forced to carry my meal-sack home empty.

Pisthetaerus
The cuckoo was king of Egypt and of the whole of Phoenicia. [505] When he called out “cuckoo,” all the Phoenicians hurried to the fields to reap their wheat and their barley.

Euelpides
Hence no doubt the proverb, “Cuckoo! cuckoo! go to the fields, ye circumcised.”

Pisthetaerus
So powerful were the birds that the kings of Grecian cities, Agamemnon, Menelaus, for instance, [510] carried a bird on the tip of their scepters, who had his share of all presents.

Euelpides
That I didn't know and was much astonished when I saw Priam come upon the stage in the tragedies with a bird, which kept watching Lysicrates to see if he got any present.

Pisthetaerus
But the strongest proof of all is that Zeus, who now reigns, [515] is represented as standing with an eagle on his head as a symbol of his royalty; his daughter has an owl, and Phoebus, as his servant, has a hawk.

Euelpides
By Demeter, the point is well taken. But what are all these birds doing in heaven?

Pisthetaerus
When anyone sacrifices and, according to the rite, offers the entrails to the gods, these birds take their share before Zeus. [520] Formerly men always swore by the birds and never by the gods. And even now Lampon swears by the goose whenever he wishes to deceive someone. Thus it is clear that you were once great and sacred,

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 9.21
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), JUSJURANDUM
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
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