The scene shows the house of HERACLES in the background. There enter two travellers: DIONYSUS on foot, in his customary yellow robe and buskins but also with the club and lion's skin of Heracles, and his servant XANTHIAS on a donkey, carrying the luggage on a pole over his shoulder.
Shall I crack any of those old jokes, master,
At which the audience never fail to laugh?
Aye, what you will, except "I'm getting crushed":
Fight shy of that: I'm sick of that already.
Nothing else smart?
Aye, save "my shoulder's aching."
Come now, that comical joke?
With all my heart.
Only be careful not to shift your pole,
And vow that you've a belly-ache.
May I not say I'm overburdened so
That if none ease me, I must ease myself?
For mercy's sake, not till I'm going to vomit.
What! must I bear these burdens, and not make
One of the jokes Ameipsias and Lycis
And Phrynichus, in every play they write,
Put in the mouths of their burden-bearers?
Don't make them; no! I tell you when I see
Their plays, and hear those jokes, I come away
More than a twelvemonth older than I went.
O thrice unlucky neck of mine, which now
Is getting crushed, yet must not crack its joke!
Now is not this fine pampered insolence
When I myself, Dionysus, son of-Pipkin,
Toil on afoot, and let this fellow ride,
Taking no trouble, and no burden bearing?
What, don't I bear?
How can you when you're riding?
Why, I bear these.
The Frogs is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed at the Lenaia, one of the Festivals of Dionysus in Athens, in 405 BC, and received first place.
The breath of flutes.
Aye, and a whiff of torches
Breathed o'er me too; a very mystic whiff.
Then crouch we down, and mark what's going on.
CHORUS (in the distance)
O lacchus! O lacchus! O Iacchus!
I have it, master: 'tis those blessed Mystics,
Of whom he told us, sporting hereabouts.
They sing the Iacchus which Diagoras made.
I think so too: we had better both keep quiet
And so find out exactly what it is.
Enter CHORUS, who had chanted the songs of the FROGS, as initiates.
O Iacchus! power excelling,
here in stately temples dwelling.
O Iacchus! O lacchus!
Come to tread this verdant level,
Come to dance in mystic revel,
Come whilst round thy forehead hurtles
Many a wreath of fruitful myrtles,
Come with wild and saucy paces
Mingling in our joyous dance,
Pure and holy, which embraces
all the charms of all the Graces,
When the mystic choirs advance.
Holy and sacred queen, Demeter's daughter,
O, what a jolly whiff of pork breathed o'er me!
Friends, success has crowned our plans. But off with these cloaks and these boots quick, before any man sees you; unbuckle the Laconian straps and get rid of your staffs; (to the LEADER) and you help them with their toilet. As for myself, I am going to slip quietly into the house and replace my husband's cloak and other gear where I took them from, before he can suspect anything.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
There! it's done according to your bidding. Now tell us how we can be of service to you, so that we may show you our obedience, for we have never seen a cleverer woman than you.
Wait! I only wish to use the power given me in accordance with your wishes; for, in the market-place, in the midst of the shouts and danger, I appreciated your indomitable courage.
(Just as she is about to enter the house BLEPYRUS appears in the
Eh, Praxagora! where are you coming from?
How does that concern you, dear?
Why, greatly! what a silly question!
You don't think I have come from a lover's?
No, perhaps not from only one.
You can make yourself sure of that.
You can see whether my hair smells of perfume.
What? cannot a woman possibly be laid without perfume, eh!
The gods forfend, as far as I am concerned.