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Enter the Chorus, composed of old men costumed as wasps.

Leader of the Chorus
[230] March on, advance boldly and bravely! Comias, your feet are dragging; once you were as tough as a dog-skin strap and now even Charinades walks better than you. Ha! Strymodorus of Conthyle, you best of mates, where is Euergides and where is Chabes of Phlya? [235] Ha, ha, bravo! there you are, the last of the lads with whom we mounted guard together at Byzantium. Do you remember how, one night, prowling round, we noiselessly stole the kneading-trough of a baker's wife; we split it in two and cooked our green-stuff with it.— [240] But let us hasten, for the case of Laches comes on to-day, and they all say he has embezzled a pot of money. Hence Cleon, our protector, advised us yesterday to come early and with a three days' stock of fiery rage so as to chastise him for his crimes. [245] Let us hurry, comrades, before it is light; come, let us search every nook with our lanterns to see whether those who wish us ill have not set us some trap.

Father, father, watch out for the mud.

Leader of the Chorus
Pick up a blade of straw and trim your lamp.

[250] No, I can trim it quite well with my finger.

Leader of the Chorus
Why do you pull out the wick, you little dolt? Oil is scarce, and it's not you who suffer when it has to be paid for.

Strikes him.

If you teach us again with your fists, [255] we shall put out the lamps and go home; then you will have no light and will squatter about in the mud like ducks in the dark.

Leader of the Chorus
I know how to punish offenders bigger than you. But I think I am treading in some mud. Oh! [260] it's certain it will rain in torrents for four days at least; look at the snuff in our lamps; that is always a sign of heavy rain; [265] but the rain and the north wind will be good for the crops that are still standing. Why, what can have happened to our mate, who lives here? Why does he not come to join our party? There used to be no need to haul him in our wake, for he would march at our head singing the verses of Phrynichus; [270] he was a lover of singing. Should we not, friends, make a halt here and sing to call him out? The charm of my voice will fetch him out, if he hears it.

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