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Chremylus
[535] And what good thing can you give us, unless it be burns in the bath, and swarms of brats and old women who cry with hunger, and clouds uncountable of lice, gnats and flies, which hover about the wretch's head, trouble him, awake him and say, “You will be hungry, but get up!” [540] Besides, to possess a rag in place of a mantle, a pallet of rushes swarming with bugs, that do not let you close your eyes, for a bed; a rotten piece of matting for a coverlet; a big stone for a pillow, on which to lay your head; to eat mallow roots instead of bread, and leaves of withered radish instead of cake; [545] to have nothing but the cover of a broken jug for a stool, the stave of a cask, and broken at that, for a kneading-trough, that is the life you make for us! Are these the mighty benefits with which you pretend to load mankind?

Poverty
It's not my life that you describe; you are attacking the existence beggars lead.

Chremylus
Is Beggary not Poverty's sister?

Poverty
[550] Thrasybulus and Dionysius are one and the same according to you. No, my life is not like that and never will be. The beggar, whom you have depicted to us, never possesses anything. The poor man lives thriftily and attentive to his work; he has not got too much, but he does not lack what he really needs.

Chremylus
[555] Oh! what a happy life, by Demeter! to live sparingly, to toil incessantly and not to leave enough to pay for a tomb!

Poverty
That's it! Jest, jeer, and never talk seriously! But what you don't know is this, that men with me are worth more, both in mind and body, than with Plutus. With him they are gouty, [560] big-bellied, heavy of limb and scandalously stout; with me they are thin, wasp-waisted, and terrible to the foe.

Chremylus
No doubt it's by starving them that you give them that waspish waist.

Poverty
As for behavior, I will prove to you that modesty dwells with me and insolence with Plutus.

Chremylus
[565] Oh! the sweet modesty of stealing and burglary.

Blepsidemus
†By Zeus, how is it not modesty if you have to go unnoticed?

Poverty
Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, [570] plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.

Chremylus
That is absolutely true, although your tongue is very vile. But it matters not, so don't put on those triumphant airs; you shall not be punished any the less for having tried to persuade me that poverty is worth more than wealth.

Poverty
Not being able to refute my arguments, [575] you chatter at random and exert yourself to no purpose.

Chremylus
Then tell me this, why does all mankind flee from you?

Poverty
Because I make them better. Children do the very same; they flee from the wise counsels of their fathers. So difficult is it to see one's true interest.

Chremylus
Will you say that Zeus cannot discern what is best? [580] Well, he takes Plutus to himself ...

Blepsidemus
... and banishes Poverty to the earth.

Poverty
Ah me! how purblind you are, you old fellows of the days of Cronus! Why, Zeus is poor, and I will clearly prove it to you. In the Olympic games, which he founded, and to which he convokes the whole of Greece every four years, [585] why does he only crown the victorious athletes with wild olive? If he were rich he would give them gold.

Chremylus
That's the way he shows that he clings to his wealth; he is sparing with it, won't part with any portion of it, only bestows baubles on the victors and keeps his money for himself.

Poverty
[590] But wealth coupled to such sordid greed is yet more shameful than poverty.

Chremylus
May Zeus destroy you, both you and your chaplet of wild olive!

Poverty
Thus you dare to maintain that Poverty is not the fount of all blessings!

Chremylus
Ask Hecate [595] whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.

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