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I am indignant at this encounter, and it gripes my guts,
if I have to argue against this fellow—but so that he can't say I was helpless,—
Answer me, why should one admire a poet?
For cleverness, and giving good advice, since we improve
the people in the cities.
So if you haven't done this,
but turned them from fine and decent types into villains,
what will you say you deserve to suffer?
Death: don't ask him.
Consider now what kind of men he first received from me
if they were generous and six feet tall, no runaway citizens,
no loafers, rascals, like now, nor miscreants,
but men who breathed spears and lances, white-crested helmets,
and headgear, and greaves and sevenfold oxhide tempers.
This is really getting bad: he'll crush me with his helmet-making.
And what did you do to teach men to be so noble?
Speak, Aeschylus; don't be a stubborn highfalutin' sorehead.
I composed a drama filled with Mars.
The Seven against Thebes.
Everyone who saw it fell in love with being fierce.
That was a bad thing you did, since you made the Thebans
more courageous in war. For that at least get whacked.
You could have trained for this as well, but you weren't so inclined.
Then, producing The Persians after that, I taught them to yearn
to beat the enemy; this finest feat did I honor.
Well, I rejoiced when you lamented for the death of Darius,
and the chorus straightway clapped their hands like this and said, “Ee-ow!”
This is the stuff poets should work on. Just look right from the start
how useful the noble race of poets has been.
For Orpheus taught us rites and to refrain from killing,
And Musaeus taught the cures of illness and oracles, and Hesiod
the working of the land, harvest seasons, plowing. Divine Homer,
Where did he get honor and glory if not from teaching useful things,
battle lines, courageous deeds, men's armory?
But I bet he didn't
teach Pantacles, that clumsy oaf. The other day, when he was parading,
He fastened his helmet on first and then was going to tie on the crest!
And many other brave men too, of which the hero Lamachos was one;
from Homer, my brain composed many great feats of valor,
of Patrocluses, lion-hearted Teucrians, so I could rouse the citizenry
to strive to equal them, when it hears the call to arms.
But by God, I never created whores like Phaedra and Sthenoboea
No one's ever known me to write about any woman in love.