Nay, you’ll see there, I engage,
All is well kept despite my age,
And tended smooth enough to slip
From any adversary’s grip.
Hollo there, hasten hither to me
Skip fast along.
What is this? Why the noise?
A man, a man! I spy a frenzied man!
He carries Love upon him like a staff.
O Lady of Cyprus, and Cythera, and Paphos,
I beseech you, keep our minds and hands to the oath.
Where is he, whoever he is?
By the Temple of Chloe.
Yes, now I see him, but who can he be?
Look at him. Does anyone recognise his face?
I do. He is my husband, Cinesias.
You know how to work. Play with him, lead him on,
Seduce him to the cozening-point–kiss him, kiss him,
Then slip your mouth aside just as he’s sure of it,
Ungirdle every caress his mouth feels at
Save that the oath upon the bowl has locked.
You can rely on me.
I’ll stay here to help
In working up his ardor to its height
Of vain magnificence…. The rest to their quarters.
Who is this that stands within our lines?
Too much a man!
Then be off at once.
Who are you that thus eject me?
Guard for the day.
By all the gods, then call Myrrhine hither.
So, call Myrrhine hither! Who are you?
I am her husband Cinesias, son of Anthros.
Welcome, dear friend! That glorious name of yours
Is quite familiar in our ranks. Your wife
Continually has it in her mouth.
She cannot touch an apple or an egg
But she must say, “This to Cinesias!”
O is that true?
By Aphrodite, it is.
If the conversation strikes on men, your wife
Cuts in with, “All are boobies by Cinesias.”
Then call her here.
And what am I to get?
This, if you want it…. See, what I have here.
But not to take away.
Then I’ll call her.
Be quick, be quick. All grace is wiped from life
Since she went away. O sad, sad am I
When there I enter on that loneliness,
And wine is unvintaged of the sun’s flavour.
And food is tasteless. But I’ve put on weight.
I love him O so much! but he won’t have it.
Don’t call me down to him.
Sweet little Myrrhine!
What do you mean? Come here.
O no I won’t.
Why are you calling me? You don’t want me.
Not want you! with this week-old strength of love.
Don’t go, please don’t go, Myrrhine.
At least you’ll hear our child. Call your mother, lad.
Mummy … mummy … mummy!
There now, don’t you feel pity for the child?
He’s not been fed or washed now for six days.
I certainly pity him with so heartless a father.
Come down, my sweetest, come for the child’s sake.
A trying life it is to be a mother!
I suppose I’d better go. She comes down.
How much younger she looks,
How fresher and how prettier! Myrrhine,
Lift up your lovely face, your disdainful face;
And your ankle … let your scorn step out its worst;
It only rubs me to more ardor here.
MYRRHINE (playing with the child)
You’re as innocent as he’s iniquitous.
Let me kiss you, honey-petting, mother’s darling.
How wrong to follow other women’s counsel
And let loose all these throbbing voids in yourself
As well as in me. Don’t you go throb-throb?
Take away your hands.
Everything in the house
Is being ruined.
I don’t care at all.
The roosters are picking all your web to rags.
Do you mind that?
What time we’ve wasted
We might have drenched with Paphian laughter, flung
On Aphrodite’s Mysteries. O come here.
Not till a treaty finishes the war.
If you must have it, then we’ll get it done.
Do it and I’ll come home. Till then I am bound.
Well, can’t your oath perhaps be got around?
No … no … still I’ll not say that I don’t love you.
You love me! Then dear girl, let me also love you.
You must be joking. The boy’s looking on.
Here, Manes, take the child home!… There, he’s gone.
There’s nothing in the way now. Come to the point.
Here in the open! In plain sight?
In Pan’s cave.
A splendid place.
Where shall I dress my hair again
Before returning to the citadel?
You can easily primp yourself in the Clepsydra.
But how can I break my oath?
Leave that to me,
I’ll take all risk.
Well, I’ll make you comfortable.
Don’t worry. I’d as soon lie on the grass.
No, by Apollo, in spite of all your faults
I won’t have you lying on the nasty earth.
(From here MYRRHINE keeps on going off to fetch things.)
Ah, how she loves me.
Rest there on the bench,
While I arrange my clothes. O what a nuisance,
I must find some cushions first.
Why some cushions?
Please don’t get them!
What? The plain, hard wood?
Never, by Artemis! That would be too vulgar.
Open your arms!
No. Wait a second.
Then hurry back again.
Here the cushions are.
Lie down while I–O dear! But what a shame,
You need more pillows.
I don’t want them, dear.
But I do.
Thwarted affection mine,
They treat you just like Heracles at a feast
With cheats of dainties, O disappointing arms!
Raise up your head.
There, that’s everything at last.
Then run to my arms, you golden girl.
I’m loosening my girdle now. But you’ve not forgotten?
You’re not deceiving me about the Treaty?
No, by my life, I’m not.
Why, you’ve no blanket.
It’s not the silly blanket’s warmth but yours I want.
Never mind. You’ll soon have both. I’ll come straight back.
The woman will choke me with her coverlets.
Get up a moment.
I’m up high enough.
Would you like me to perfume you?
By Apollo, no!
By Aphrodite, I’ll do it anyway.
Lord Zeus, may she soon use up all the myrrh.
Stretch out your hand. Take it and rub it in.
Hmm, it’s not as fragrant as might be; that is,
Not before it’s smeared. It doesn’t smell of kisses.
How silly I am: I’ve brought you Rhodian scents.
It’s good enough, leave it, love.
You must be jesting.
Plague rack the man who first compounded scent!
Here, take this flask.
I’ve a far better one.
Don’t tease me, come here, and get nothing more.
I’m coming…. I’m just drawing off my shoes….
You’re sure you will vote for Peace?
I’ll think about it.
She runs off.
I’m dead: the woman’s worn me all away.
She’s gone and left me with an anguished pulse.
Baulked in your amorous delight
How melancholy is your plight.
With sympathy your case I view;
For I am sure it’s hard on you.
What human being could sustain
This unforeseen domestic strain,
And not a single trace
Of willing women in the place!
O Zeus, what throbbing suffering!
She did it all, the harlot, she
With her atrocious harlotry.
Nay, rather call her darling-sweet.
What, sweet? She’s a rude, wicked thing.
A wicked thing, as I repeat.
O Zeus, O Zeus,
Canst Thou not suddenly let loose
Some twirling hurricane to tear
Her flapping up along the air
And drop her, when she’s whirled around,
Here to the ground
Neatly impaled upon the stake
That’s ready upright for her sake.
He goes out.
Enter SPARTAN HERALD.
The MAGISTRATE comes forward.
What here gabs the Senate an’ the Prytanes?
I’ve fetcht despatches for them.
Are you a man
Or a monstrosity?
My scrimp-brained lad,
I’m a herald, as ye see, who hae come frae Sparta
Anent a Peace.
Then why do you hide that lance
That sticks out under your arms?
I’ve brought no lance.
Then why do you turn aside and hold your cloak
So far out from your body? Is your groin swollen
With stress of travelling?
By Castor, I’ll swear
The man is wud.
Indeed, your cloak is wide,
My rascal fellow.
But I tell ye No!
Enow o’ fleering!
Well, what is it then?
It’s my despatch cane.
Of course–a Spartan cane!
But speak right out. I know all this too well.
Are new privations springing up in Sparta?
Och, hard as could be: in lofty lusty columns
Our allies stand united. We maun get Pellene.
Whence has this evil come? Is it from Pan?
No. Lampito first ran asklent, then the others
Sprinted after her example, and blocked, the hizzies,
Their wames unskaithed against our every fleech.
What did you do?
We are broken, and bent double,
Limp like men carrying lanthorns in great winds
About the city. They winna let us even
Wi’ lightest neif skim their primsie pretties
Till we’ve concluded Peace-terms wi’ a’ Hellas.
So the conspiracy is universal;
This proves it. Then return to Sparta. Bid them
Send envoys with full powers to treat of Peace;
And I will urge the Senate here to choose
As argument adducing this connection.
I’m off. Your wisdom none could contravert.
There is no beast, no rush of fire, like woman so untamed.
She calmly goes her way where even panthers would be shamed.
And yet you are fool enough, it seems, to dare to war with me,
When for your faithful ally you might win me easily.
Never could the hate I feel for womankind grow less.
Then have your will. But I’ll take pity on your nakedness.
For I can see just how ridiculous you look, and so
Will help you with your tunic if close up I now may go.
Well, that, by Zeus, is no scoundrel-deed, I frankly will admit.
I only took them off myself in a scoundrel raging-fit.
Now you look sensible, and that you’re men no one could doubt.
If you were but good friends again, I’d take the insect out
That hurts your eye.
Is that what’s wrong? That nasty bitie thing.
Please squeeze it out, and show me what it is that makes this sting.
It’s been paining me a long while now.
Well I’ll agree to that,
Although you’re most unmannerly. O what a giant gnat.
Here, look! It comes from marshy Tricorysus, I can tell.
O thank you. It was digging out a veritable well.
Now that it’s gone, I can’t hold back my tears. See how they fall.
I’ll wipe them off, bad as you are, and kiss you after all.
I won’t be kissed.
O yes, you will. Your wishes do not matter.
O botheration take you all! How you cajole and flatter.
A hell it is to live with you; to live without, a hell:
How truly was that said. But come, these enmities let’s quell.
You stop from giving orders and I’ll stop from doing wrong.
So let’s join ranks and seal our bargain with a choric song.
Athenians, it’s not our intention
To sow political dissension
By giving any scandal mention;
But on the contrary to promote good feeling in the state
By word and deed. We’ve had enough calamities of late.
So let a man or woman but divulge
They need a trifle, say,
Two minas, three or four,
I’ve purses here that bulge.
There’s only one condition made
(Indulge my whim in this I pray)–
When Peace is signed once more,
On no account am I to be repaid.
And I’m making preparation
For a gay select collation
With some youths of reputation.
I’ve managed to produce some soup and they’re slaughtering for me
A sucking-pig: its flesh should taste as tender as could be.
I shall expect you at my house today.
To the baths make an early visit,
And bring your children along;
Don’t dawdle on the way.
Ask no one; enter as if the place
Was all your own–yours henceforth is it.
If nothing chances wrong,
The door will then be shut bang in your face.
The SPARTAN AMBASSADORS approach.
Here come the Spartan envoys with long, worried beards.
Hail, Spartans how do you fare?
Did anything new arise?
No need for a clutter o’ words. Do ye see our condition?
The situation swells to greater tension.
Something will explode soon.
It’s awfu’ truly.
But come, let us wi’ the best speed we may
Scribble a Peace.
I notice that our men
Like wrestlers poised for contest, hold their clothes
Out from their bellies. An athlete’s malady!
Since exercise alone can bring relief.
Can anyone tell us where Lysistrata is?
There is no need to describe our men’s condition,
It shows up plainly enough.
It’s the same disease.
Do you feel a jerking throbbing in the morning?
By Zeus, yes! In these straits, I’m racked all through.
Unless Peace is soon declared, we shall be driven
In the void of women to try Cleisthenes.
Be wise and cover those things with your tunics.
Who knows what kind of person may perceive you?
By Zeus, you’re right.
By the Twa Goddesses,
Indeed ye are. Let’s put our tunics on.
Hail O my fellow-sufferers, hail Spartans.
O hinnie darling, what a waefu’ thing!
If they had seen us wi’ our lunging waddies!
Tell us then, Spartans, what has brought you here?
We come to treat o’ Peace.
Well spoken there!
And we the same. Let us callout Lysistrata
Since she alone can settle the Peace-terms.
Callout Lysistratus too if ye don’t mind.
No indeed. She hears your voices and she comes.
Hail, Wonder of all women! Now you must be in turn
Hard, shifting, clear, deceitful, noble, crafty, sweet, and stern.
The foremost men of Hellas, smitten by your fascination,
Have brought their tangled quarrels here for your sole arbitration.
An easy task if the love’s raging home-sickness
Doesn’t start trying out how well each other
Will serve instead of us. But I’ll know at once
If they do. O where’s that girl, Reconciliation?
Bring first before me the Spartan delegates,
And see you lift no rude or violent hands–
None of the churlish ways our husbands used.
But lead them courteously, as women should.
And if they grudge fingers, guide them by other methods,
And introduce them with ready tact. The Athenians
Draw by whatever offers you a grip.
Now, Spartans, stay here facing me. Here you,
Athenians. Both hearken to my words.
I am a woman, but I’m not a fool.
And what of natural intelligence I own
Has been filled out with the remembered precepts
My father and the city-elders taught me.
First I reproach you both sides equally
That when at Pylae and Olympia,
At Pytho and the many other shrines
That I could name, you sprinkle from one cup
The altars common to all Hellenes, yet
You wrack Hellenic cities, bloody Hellas
With deaths of her own sons, while yonder clangs
The gathering menace of barbarians.
We cannot hold it in much longer now.
Now unto you, O Spartans, do I speak.
Do you forget how your own countryman,
Pericleidas, once came hither suppliant
Before our altars, pale in his purple robes,
Praying for an army when in Messenia
Danger growled, and the Sea-god made earth quaver.
Then with four thousand hoplites Cimon marched
And saved all Sparta. Yet base ingrates now,
You are ravaging the soil of your preservers.
By Zeus, they do great wrong, Lysistrata.
Great wrong, indeed. O! What a luscious wench!
And now I turn to the Athenians.
Have you forgotten too how once the Spartans
In days when you wore slavish tunics, came
And with their spears broke a Thessalian host
And all the partisans of Hippias?
They alone stood by your shoulder on that day.
They freed you, so that for the slave’s short skirt
You should wear the trailing cloak of liberty.
I’ve never seen a nobler woman anywhere.
Nor I one with such prettily jointing hips.
Now, brethren twined with mutual benefactions,
Can you still war, can you suffer such disgrace?
Why not be friends? What is there to prevent you?
We’re agreed, gin that we get this tempting Mole.
That ane we’ve wanted to get into,
O for sae lang…. Pylos, of course.
Give it up.
Then what will we do?
We need that ticklish place united to us–
Ask for some other lurking-hole in return.
Then, ah, we’ll choose this snug thing here, Echinus,
Shall we call the nestling spot? And this backside haven,
These desirable twin promontories, the Maliac,
And then of course these Megarean Legs.
Not that, O surely not that, never that.
Agree! Now what are two legs more or less?
I want to strip at once and plough my land.
And mine I want to fertilize at once.
And so you can, when Peace is once declared.
If you mean it, get your allies’ heads together
And come to some decision.
There’s no distinction in our politics:
We’ve risen as one man to this conclusion;
Every ally is jumping-mad to drive it home.
And ours the same, for sure.
The Carystians first!
I’ll bet on that.
I agree with all of you.
Now off, and cleanse yourselves for the Acropolis,
For we invite you all in to a supper
From our commissariat baskets. There at table
You will pledge good behaviour and uprightness;
Then each man’s wife is his to hustle home.
Come, as quickly as possible.
As quick as ye like.
O Zeus, quick, quick, lead quickly on.
They hurry off.
Broidered stuffs on high I’m heaping,
Fashionable cloaks and sweeping
Trains, not even gold gawds keeping.
Take them all, I pray you, take them all (I do not care)
And deck your children–your daughter, if the Basket she’s to bear.
Come, everyone of you, come in and take
Of this rich hoard a share.
Nought’s tied so skilfully
But you its seal can break
And plunder all you spy inside.
I’ve laid out all that I can spare,
And therefore you will see
Nothing unless than I you’re sharper-eyed.
If lacking corn a man should be
While his slaves clamour hungrily
And his excessive progeny,
Then I’ve a handfull of grain at home which is always to be had,
And to which in fact a more-than-life-size loaf I’d gladly add.
Then let the poor bring with them bag or sack
And take this store of food.
Manes, my man, I’ll tell
To help them all to pack
Their wallets full. But O take care.
I had forgotten; don’t intrude,
Or terrified you’ll yell.
My dog is hungry too, and bites–beware!
Some LOUNGERS from the Market with torches approach
the Banqueting hall. The PORTER bars their entrance.
Open the door.
Here move along.
You’re sitting down. Shall I singe you with my torch?
That’s vulgar! O I couldn’t do it … yet
If it would gratify the audience,
I’ll mortify myself.
And I will too.
We’ll both be crude and vulgar, yes we will.
Be off at once now or you’ll be wailing
Dirges for your hair. Get off at once,
And see you don’t disturb the Spartan envoys
Just coming out from the splendid feast they’ve had.
The banqueters begin to come out.
I’ve never known such a pleasant banquet before,
And what delightful fellows the Spartans are.
When we are warm with wine, how wise we grow.
That’s only fair, since sober we’re such fools:
This is the advice I’d give the Athenians–
See our ambassadors are always drunk.
For when we visit Sparta sober, then
We’re on the alert for trickery all the while
So that we miss half of the things they say,
And misinterpret things that were never said,
And then report the muddle back to Athens.
But now we’re charmed with each other. They might cap
With the Telamon-catch instead of the Cleitagora,
And we’d applaud and praise them just the same;
We’re not too scrupulous in weighing words.
Why, here the rascals come again to plague me.
Won’t you move on, you sorry loafers there!
Yes, by Zeus, they’re already coming out.
Now hinnie dearest, please tak’ up your pipe
That I may try a spring an’ sing my best
In honour o’ the Athenians an’ oursels.
Aye, take your pipe. By all the gods, there’s nothing
Could glad my heart more than to watch you dance.
Let thy fire storm these younkers,
O tongue wi’ stormy ecstasy
My Muse that knows
Our deeds and theirs, how when at sea
Their navies swooped upon
The Medes at Artemision–
Gods for their courage, did they strike
Wrenching a triumph frae their foes;
While at Thermopylae
Leonidas’ army stood: wild-boars they were like
Wild-boars that wi’ fierce threat
Their terrible tusks whet;
The sweat ran streaming down each twisted face,
Faen blossoming i’ strange petals o’ death
Panted frae mortal breath,
The sweat drenched a’ their bodies i’ that place,
For the hurly-burly o’ Persians glittered more
Than the sands on the shore.
Come, Hunting Girl, an’ hear my prayer–
You whose arrows whizz in woodlands, come an’ bless
This Peace we swear.
Let us be fenced wi’ age long amity,
O let this bond stick ever firm through thee
In friendly happiness.
Henceforth no guilefu’ perjury be seen!
O hither, hither O
Thou wildwood queen.
Earth is delighted now, peace is the voice of earth.
Spartans, sort out your wives: Athenians, yours.
Let each catch hands with his wife and dance his joy,
Dance out his thanks, be grateful in music,
And promise reformation with his heels.
O Dancers, forward. Lead out the Graces,
Call Artemis out;
Then her brother, the Dancer of Skies,
That gracious Apollo.
Invoke with a shout
Dionysus out of whose eyes
Breaks fire on the maenads that follow;
And Zeus with his flares of quick lightning, and call,
Happy Hera, Queen of all,
And all the Daimons summon hither to be
Witnesses of our revelry
And of the noble Peace we have made,
Aphrodite our aid.
Io Paieon, Io, cry–
For victory, leap!
Attained by me, leap!
Euoi Euoi Euai Euai.
Piper, gie us the music for a new sang.
Leaving again lovely lofty Taygetus
Hither O Spartan Muse, hither to greet us,
And wi’ our choric voice to raise
To Amyclean Apollo praise,
And Tyndareus’ gallant sons whose days
Alang Eurotas’ banks merrily pass,
An’ Athene o’ the House o’ Brass.
Now the dance begin;
Dance, making swirl your fringe o’ woolly skin,
While we join voices
To hymn dear Sparta that rejoices
I’ a beautifu’ sang,
An’ loves to see
Dancers tangled beautifully;
For the girls i’ tumbled ranks
Alang Eurotas’ banks
Like wanton fillies thrang,
An’ like Bacchantes shaking the wild air
To comb a giddy laughter through the hair,
Bacchantes that clench thyrsi as they sweep
To the ecstatic leap.
An’ Helen, Child o’ Leda, come
Thou holy, nimble, gracefu’ Queen,
Lead thou the dance, gather thy joyous tresses up i’ bands
An’ play like a fawn. To madden them, clap thy hands,
And sing praise to the warrior goddess templed i’ our lands,
Her o’ the House o’ Brass.