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I am prepared, and do not delay,
to bite, be bitten first, if that's his preference,
as to the lines and lyrics, the sinews of a tragedy,
I swear by Zeus, by Peleus, and by Aeolus,
by MeIeager too, and even more, by Telephus.
And what do you plan to do? Speak, Aeschylus.
I didn't want to join in battle here;
Our combat will not be on equal terms.
My Poetry did not die with me,
as his has died with him, so he'll have it to recite.
But nonetheless since you prefer, it must be done.
Come now, someone bring incense and fire,
So I can pray before the show of wits
to judge this contest most aesthetically.
And you, sing a song to the Muses.
Ye Nine virgin daughters of Zeus, blessed
Muses, who look down upon the subtle-speaking clever wits
of phrase-forging men, when to strife
they come, debating with fiercely studied, crooked wrestling holds,
come to observe the power
of most awesome mouths to provide
sayings and sawdust of words.
For now the great contest of skill is getting down to business.
Now, both say a prayer before speaking your verses.
Demeter, nourisher of my mind,
grant that I be worthy of thy mysteries!
Now you too take and offer incense.
but I have other gods I pray to.
Your own private ones, newly minted?
Well, pray away to these private Gods.
O air, my sustenance, and pivot of my tongue,
and intelligence, and olfactory nostrils,
may I stoutly refute whatever words I seize!