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Aristophanes (c.448 B.C.–c.388 B.C.).  The Frogs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Lines 1–499
 
 
XANTHIAS.  SHALL I crack any of those old jokes, master,
At which the audience never fail to laugh?
 
DIONYSUS.  Aye, what you will, except I’m getting crushed:
Fight shy of that: I’m sick of that already.        4
 
XAN.  Nothing else smart?
 
DIO.  Aye, save my shoulder’s aching.
 
XAN.  Come now, that comical joke?
 
DIO.  With all my heart.        8
Only be careful not to shift your pole.
And—  XAN. What?  DIO. And vow that you’ve a belly-ache.
 
XAN.  May I not say I’m overburdened so
That if none ease me, I must ease myself?        12
 
DIO.  For mercy’s sake, not till I’m going to vomit.
 
XAN.  What! must I bear these burdens, and not make
One of the jokes Ameipsias and Lycis
And Phrynichus, in every play they write,        16
Put in the mouths of all their burden-bearers?
 
DIO.  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.        20
 
XAN.  O, thrice unlucky neck of mine, which now
Is getting crushed, yet must not crack its joke!
 
DIO.  Now is not this fine pampered insolence
When I myself, Dionysus, son of—Pipkin,        24
Toil on afoot, and let this fellow ride,
Taking no trouble, and no burden bearing?
 
XAN.  What, don’t I bear?  DIO. How can you when you’re riding?
 
XAN.  Why, I bear these.  DIO. How?  XAN. Most unwillingly.        28
 
DIO.  Does not the donkey bear the load you’re bearing?
 
XAN.  Not what I bear myself: by Zeus, not he.
 
DIO.  How can you bear, when you are borne yourself?
 
XAN.  Don’t know: but anyhow my shoulder’s aching.        32
 
DIO.  Then since you say the donkey helps you not,
You lift him up and carry him in turn.
 
XAN.  O, hang it all! why didn’t I fight at sea?
You should have smarted bitterly for this.        36
 
DIO.  Get down, you rascal; I’ve been trudging on
Till now I’ve reached the portal, where I’m going
First to turn in. Boy! Boy! I say there, Boy!
 
HERACLES. Who banged the door? How like a prancing Centaur        40
He drove against it! Mercy o’ me, what’s this?
 
DIO.  Boy.  XAN. Yes.  DIO. Did you observe?  XAN. What?  DIO. How alarmed
He is.  XAN. Aye, truly, lest you’ve lost your wits.
 
HER.  O, by Demeter, I can’t choose but laugh.        44
Biting my lips won’t stop me. Ha! ha! ha!
 
DIO.  Pray you, come hither, I have need of you.
 
HER.  I vow I can’t help laughing, I can’t help it.
A lion’s hide upon a yellow silk,        48
A club and buskin! What’s it all about?
Where were you going?  DIO. I was serving lately
Aboard the—Cleisthenes.  HER. And fought?  DIO. And sank
More than a dozen of the enemy’s ships.        52
 
HER.  You two?  DIO. We two.  HER. And then I awoke, and lo!
 
DIO.  There as, on deck, I’m reading to myself
The “Andromeda,” a sudden pang of longing
Shoots through my heart, you can’t conceive how keenly.        56
 
HER.  How big a pang?  DIO. A small one, Molon’s size.
 
HER.  Caused by a woman?  DIO. No.  HER. A boy?  DIO. No, no.
 
HER.  A man?  DIO. Ah! ah!  HER. Was it for Cleisthenes?
 
DIO.  Don’t mock me, brother; on my life I am        60
In a bad way: such fierce desire consumes me.
 
HER.  Aye, little brother? how?  DIO. I can’t describe it.
But yet I’ll tell you in a riddling way.
Have you e’er felt a sudden lust for soup?        64
 
HER.  Soup! Zeus-a-mercy, yes, ten thousand times.
 
DIO.  Is the thing clear, or must I speak again?
 
HER.  Not of the soup: I’m clear about the soup.
 
DIO.  Well, just that sort of pang devours my heart        68
For lost Euripides.  HER. A dead man too.
 
DIO.  And no one shall persuade me not to go
After the man.  HER. Do you mean below, to Hades?
 
DIO.  And lower still, if there’s a lower still.        72
 
HER.  What on earth for?  DIO. I want a genuine poet,
“For some are not, and those that are, are bad.”
 
HER.  What! does not Iophon live?  DIO. Well, he’s the sole
Good thing remaining, if even he is good.        76
For even of that I’m not exactly certain.
 
HER.  If go you must, there’s Sophocles—he comes
Before Euripides—why not take him?
 
DIO.  Not till I’ve tried if Iophon’s coin rings true        80
When he’s alone, apart from Sophocles.
Besides, Euripides, the crafty rogue,
Will find a thousand shifts to get away,
But he was easy here, is easy there.        84
 
HER.  But Agathon, where is he?  DIO. He has gone and left us.
A genial poet, by his friends much missed.
 
HER.  Gone where?  DIO. To join the blessed in their banquets.
 
HER.  But what of Xenocles?  DIO. O, he be hanged!        88
 
HER.  Pythangelus?  XAN. But never a word of me,
Not though my shoulder’s chafed so terribly.
 
HER.  But have you not a shoal of little songsters,
Tragedians by the myriad, who can chatter        92
A furlong faster than Euripides?
 
DIO.  Those be mere vintage-leavings, jabberers, choirs
Of swallow-broods, degraders of their art,
Who get one chorus, and are seen no more,        96
The Muses’ love once gained. But, O my friend,
Search where you will, you’ll never find a true
Creative genius, uttering startling things.
 
HER.  Creative? how do you mean?  DIO. I mean a man        100
Who’ll dare some novel venturesome conceit,
Air, Zeus’ chamber, or Time’s foot, or this:
’Twas not my mind that swore: my tongue committed
A little perjury on its own account.        104
 
HER.  You like that style?  DIO. Like it? I dote upon it.
 
HER.  I vow it’s ribald nonsense, and you know it.
 
DIO.  “Rule not my mind”: you’ve got a house to mind.
 
HER.  Really and truly, though, ’tis paltry stuff.        108
 
DIO.  Teach me to dine!  XAN. But never a word of me.
 
DIO.  But tell me truly—’twas for this I came
Dressed up to mimic you—what friends received
And entertained you when you went below        112
To bring back Cerberus, in case I need them.
And tell me too the havens, fountains, shops,
Roads, resting-places, stews, refreshment rooms,
Towns, lodgings, hostesses, with whom were found        116
The fewest bugs.  XAN. But never a word of me.
 
HER.  You are really game to go?
 
DIO.  O, drop that, can’t you?
And tell me this: of all the roads you know,        120
Which is the quickest way to get to Hades?
I want one not too warm, nor yet too cold.
 
HER.  Which shall I tell you first? which shall it be?
There’s one by rope and bench: you launch away        124
And—hang yourself.  DIO. No, thank you: that’s too stifling.
 
HER.  Then there’s a track, a short and beaten cut,
By pestle and mortar.  DIO. Hemlock, do you mean?
 
HER.  Just so.  DIO. No, that’s too deathly cold a way;        128
You have hardly started ere your shins get numbed.
 
HER.  Well, would you like a steep and swift descent?
 
DIO.  Aye, that’s the style: my walking powers are small.
 
HER.  Go down to the Cerameicus.  DIO. And do what?        132
 
HER.  Climb to the tower’s top pinnacle—  DIO. And then?
 
HER.  Observe the torch-race started, and when all
The multitude is shouting Let them go,
Let yourself go.  DIO. Go whither?  HER. To the ground.        136
 
DIO.  O, that would break my brain’s two envelopes.
I’ll not try that.  HER. Which will you try?  DIO. The way
You went yourself.  HER. A parlous voyage that,
For first you’ll come to an enormous lake        140
Of fathomless depth.  DIO. And how and I to cross?
 
HER.  An ancient mariner will row you over
In a wee boat, so big. The fare’s two obols.
 
DIO.  Fie! The power two obols have, the whole world through!        144
How came they thither?  HER. Theseus took them down.
And next you’ll see great snakes and savage monsters
In tens of thousands.  DIO. You needn’t try to scare me,
I’m going to go.  HER. Then weltering seas of filth        148
And ever-rippling dung: and plunged therein,
Whoso has wronged the stranger here on earth,
Or robbed his boylove of the promised pay,
Or swinged his mother, or profanely smitten        152
His father’s cheek, or sworn an oath forsworn,
Or copied out a speech of Morsimus.
 
DIO.  There too, perdie, should he be plunged, whoe’er
Has danced the sword-dance of Cinesias.        156
 
HER.  And next the breath of flutes will float around you,
And glorious sunshine, such as ours, you’ll see,
And myrtle groves, and happy bands who clap
Their hands in triumph, men and women too.        160
 
DIO.  And who are they?  HER. The happy mystic bands,
 
XAN.  And I’m the donkey in the mystery show.
But I’ll not stand it, not one instant longer.
 
HER.  Who’ll tell you everything you want to know.        164
You’ll find them dwelling close beside the road
You are going to travel, just at Pluto’s gate.
And fare thee well, my brother.  DIO. And to you
Good cheer. (To Xan.) Now, sirrah, pick you up the traps.        168
 
XAN.  Before I’ve put them down?  DIO. And quickly too.
 
XAN.  No, prithee, no; but hire a body, one
They’re carrying out, on purpose for the trip.
 
DIO.  If I can’t find one?  XAN. Then I’ll take them.  DIO. Good.        172
And see! they are carrying out a body now.
Hallo! you there, you deadman, are you willing
To carry down our little traps to Hades?
 
CORPSE. What are they?  DIO. These.  CORP. Two drachmas for the job?        176
 
DIO.  Nay, that’s too much.  CORP. Out of the pathway, you!
 
DIO.  Beshrew thee, stop: maybe we’ll strike a bargain.
 
CORP.  Pay me two drachmas, or it’s no use talking.
 
DIO.  One and a half.  CORP. I’d liefer live again!        180
 
XAN.  How absolute the knave is! He be hanged!
I’ll go myself.  DIO. You’re the right sort, my man.
Now to the ferry.  CHARON. Yoh, up! lay her to.
 
XAN.  Whatever’s that?  DIO. Why, that’s the lake, by Zeus,        184
Whereof he spake, and yon’s the ferry-boat.
 
XAN.  Poseidon, yes, and that old fellow’s Charon.
 
DIO.  Charon! O welcome, Charon! welcome, Charon!
 
CHAR.  Who’s for the Rest from every pain and ill?        188
Who’s for the Lethe’s plain? the Donkey-shearings?
Who’s for Cerberia? Taenarum? or the Ravens?
 
DIO.  I.  CHAR. Hurry in.  DIO. But where are you going really?
In truth to the Ravens?  CHAR. Aye, for your behoof.        192
Step in.  DIO. (To Xan.) Now, lad.  CHAR. A slave? I take no slave,
Unless he has fought for his bodyrights at sea.
 
XAN.  I couldn’t go. I’d got the eye-disease.
 
CHAR.  Then fetch a circuit round about the lake.        196
 
XAN.  Where must I wait?  CHAR. Beside the Withering stone,
Hard by the Rest.  DIO. You understand?  XAN. Too well.
O, what ill omen crossed me as I started!
 
CHAR.  (To Dio.) Sit to the oar. (Calling.) Who else for the boat? Be quick.        200
(To Dio.) Hi! What are you doing?  DIO. What am I doing? Sitting
On to the oar. You told me to, yourself.
 
CHAR.  Now sit you there, you little Potgut.  DIO. So?
 
CHAR.  Now stretch your arms full length before you.  DIO. So?        204
 
CHAR.  Come, don’t keep fooling; plant your feet, and now
Pull with a will.  DIO. Why, how am I to pull?
I’m not an oarsman, seaman, Salaminian.
I can’t!  CHAR. You can. Just dip your oar in once,        208
You’ll hear the loveliest timing songs.  DIO. What from?
 
CHAR.  Frog-swans, most wonderful.  DIO. Then give the word.
 
CHAR.  Heave ahoy! heave ahoy!
 
FROGS.  Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax!        212
Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax!
We children of the fountain and the lake,
      Let us wake
Our full choir-shout, as the flutes are ringing out,        216
Our symphony of clear-voiced song.
The song we used to love, in the Marshland up above,
  In praise of Dionysus to produce,
  Of Nysaean Dionysus, son of Zeus,        220
When the revel-tipsy throng, all crapulous and gay,
To our precinct reeled along on the holy
          Pitcher day.
Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.        224
 
DIO.  O, dear! O, dear! now I declare
I’ve got a bump upon my rump.
 
FR.  Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
 
DIO.  But you, perchance, don’t care.        228
 
FR.  Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
 
DIO.  Hang you, and your ko-axing too!
There’s nothing but ko-ax with you.
 
FR.  That is right, Mr. Busybody, right!        232
For the Muses of the lyre love us well;
And hornfoot Pan who plays on the pipe his jocund lays;
And Apollo, Harper bright, in our Chorus takes delight;
For the strong reed’s sake which I grow within my lake        236
      To be girdled in his lyre’s deep shell.
        Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
 
DIO.  My hands are blistered very sore;
My stern below is sweltering so,        240
’Twill soon, I know, upturn and roar
Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
O tuneful race, O, pray give o’er,
O, sing no more.  FR. Ah, no! ah, no!        244
Loud and louder our chant must flow.
Sing if ever ye sang of yore,
When in sunny and glorious days
Through the rushes and marsh-flags springing        248
On we swept, in the joy of singing
Myriad-diving roundelays.
Or when fleeing the storm, we went
Down to the depths, and our choral song        252
Wildly raised to a loud and long
Bubble-bursting accompaniment.
 
FR.  and DIO. Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
 
DIO.  This timing song I take from you.        256
 
FR.  That’s a dreadful thing to do.
 
DIO.  Much more dreadful, if I row
Till I burst myself, I trow.
 
FR.  and DIO. Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.        260
 
DIO.  Go, hang yourselves; for what care I?
 
FR.  All the same we’ll shout and cry,
Stretching all our throats with song,
Shouting, crying, all day long,        264
 
FR.  and DIO. Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
 
DIO.  In this you’ll never, never win.
 
FR.  This you shall not beat us in.
 
DIO.  No, nor ye prevail o’er me.        268
Never! never! I’ll my song
Shout, if need be, all day long,
Until I’ve learned to master your ko-ax.
Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.        272
I thought I’d put a stop to your ko-ax.
 
CHAR.  Stop! Easy! Take the oar and push her to.
Now pay your fare and go.  DIO. Here ’tis: two obols.
Xanthias! where’s Xanthias? Is it Xanthias there?        276
 
XAN.  Hoi, hoi!  DIO. Come hither.  XAN. Glad to meet you, master.
 
DIO.  What have you there?  XAN. Nothing but filth and darkness.
 
DIO.  But tell me, did you see the parricides
And perjured folk he mentioned?  XAN. Didn’t you?        280
 
DIO.  Poseidon, yes. Why, look! (Pointing to the audience.) I see them now.
What’s the next step?  XAN. We’d best be moving on.
This is the spot where Heracles declared
Those savage monsters dwell.  DIO. O, hang the fellow!        284
That’s all his bluff: he thought to scare me off,
The jealous dog, knowing my plucky ways.
There’s no such swaggerer lives as Heracles.
Why, I’d like nothing better than to achieve        288
Some bold adventure, worthy of our trip.
 
XAN.  I know you would. Hallo! I hear a noise.
 
DIO.  Where? what?  XAN. Behind us, there.  DIO. Get you behind.
 
XAN.  No, it’s in front.  DIO. Get you in front directly.        292
 
XAN.  And now I see the most ferocious monster.
 
DIO.  O, what’s it like?  XAN. Like everything by turns.
Now it’s a bull: now it’s a mule: and now
The loveliest girl.  DIO. O, where? I’ll go and meet her.        296
 
XAN.  It’s ceased to be a girl: it’s a dog now.
 
DIO.  It is Empusa!  XAN. Well, its face is all
Ablaze with fire.  DIO. Has it a copper leg?
 
XAN.  A copper leg? yes, one; and one of cow dung.        300
 
DIO.  O, whither shall I flee?  XAN. O, whither I?
 
DIO.  My priest, protect me, and we’ll sup together.
 
XAN.  King Heracles, we’re done for.  DIO. O, forbear,
Good fellow, call me anything but that.        304
 
XAN.  Well, then, Dionysus.  DIO. O, that’s worse again.
 
XAN.  (To the Spectre.) Aye, go thy way. O master, here, come here.
 
DIO.  O, what’s up now?  XAN. Take courage; all’s serene.
And, like Hegelochus, we now may say,        308
“Out of the storm there comes a new fine wether.”
Empusa’s gone.  DIO. Swear it.  XAN. By Zeus she is.
 
DIO.  Swear it again.  XAN. By Zeus.  DIO. Again.  XAN. By Zeus.
O, dear, O, dear, how pale I grew to see her,        312
But he from fright has yellowed me all over.
 
DIO.  Ah me, whence fall these evils on my head?
Who is the god to blame for my destruction?
Air, Zeus’ chamber, or the Foot of Time?        316
 
(A flute is played behind the scenes.)


DIO.  Hist!  XAN. What’s the matter?  DIO. Didn’t you hear it?
 
XAN.  What?
 
DIO.  The breath of flutes.  XAN. Aye, and a whiff of torches
Breathed o’er me too; a very mystic whiff.        320
 
DIO.  Then crouch we down, and mark what’s going on.
 
CHORUS.  (In the distance.)  O Iacchus!
    O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
 
XAN.  O have it, master: ’tis those blessed Mystics,        324
Of whom he told us, sporting hereabouts.
They sing the Iacchus which Diagoras made.
 
DIO.  I think so too: we had better both keep quiet
And so find out exactly what it is.        328
 
(The calling forth of Iacchus.)


CHOR.  O Iacchus! power excelling, here in stately temples dwelling,
      O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
      Come to tread this verdant level,
      Come to dance in mystic revel,        332
      Come whilst round thy forehead hurtles
      Many a wreath of fruitful myrtles,
      Come with wild and saucy paces
      Mingling in our joyous dance,        336
Pure and holy, which embraces all the charms of all the Graces,
      When the mystic choirs advance.
 
XAN.  Holy and sacred queen, Demeter’s daughter,
O, what a jolly whiff of pork breathed o’er me!        340
 
DIO.  Hist! and perchance you’ll get some tripe yourself.
 
(The welcome to Iacchus.)


CHOR.  Come, arise, from sleep awaking, come the fiery torches shaking,
      O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
      Morning Star that shinest nightly.        344
      Lo, the mead is blazing brightly,
      Age forgets its years and sadness,
      Agèd knees curvet for gladness,
      Lift thy flashing torches o’er us,        348
      Marshal all thy blameless train,
Lead, O, lead the way before us; lead the lovely youthful Chorus
      To the marshy flowery plain.
 
(The warning-off of the profane.)


All evil thoughts and profane be still: far hence, far hence from our choirs depart,
        352
Who knows not well what the Mystics tell, or is not holy and pure of heart;
Who ne’er has the noble revelry learned, or danced the dance of the Muses high;
Or shared in the Bacchic rites which old bull-eating Cratinus’ word supply;
Who vulgar coarse buffoonery loves, though all untimely the jests they make;        356
Or lives not easy and kind with all, or kindling faction forbears to slake,
But fans the fire, from a base desire some pitiful gain for himself to reap;
Or takes, in office, his gifts and bribes, while the city is tossed on the stormy deep;
Who fort or fleet to the foe betrays; or, a vile Thorycion, ships away        360
Forbidden stores from Aegina’s shores, to Epidaurus across the Bay
Transmitting oar-pads and sails and tar, that curst collector of five per cents;
The knave who tries to procure supplies for the use of the enemy’s armaments;
The Cyclian singer who dares befoul the Lady Hecate’s wayside shrine;        364
The public speaker who once lampooned in our Bacchic feasts would, with heart malign,
Keep nibbling away the Comedians’ pay;—to these I utter my warning cry,
I charge them once, I charge them twice, I charge them thrice, that they draw not nigh
To the sacred dance of the mystic choir. But YE, my comrades, awake the song,        368
The night-long revels of joy and mirth which ever of right to our feast belong.
 
(The start of the procession.)


Advance, true hearts, advance!
On to the gladsome bowers,
On to the sward, with flowers        372
    Embosomed bright!
March on with jest, and jeer, and dance,
Full well ye’ve supped to-night.
 
(The processional hymn to Persephone.)


              March, chanting loud your lays,
        376
              Your hearts and voices raising,
              The Saviour goddess praising
                  Who vows she’ll still
              Our city save to endless days,        380
              Whate’er Thorycion’s will.
 
Break off the measure, and change the time; and now with chanting and hymns adorn
Demeter, goddess mighty and high, the harvest-queen, the giver of corn.
 
(The processional hymn to Demeter.)


        O Lady, over our rites presiding,
        384
        Preserve and succour thy choral throng,
        And grant us all, in thy help confiding,
        To dance and revel the whole day long;
        AND MUCH in earnest, and much in jest,        388
        Worthy thy feast, may we speak therein.
        And when we have bantered and laughed our best,
        The victor’s wreath be it ours to win.
 
Call we now the youthful god, call him hither without delay,        392
Him who travels amongst his chorus, dancing along on the Sacred Way.
 
(The processional hymn to Iacchus.)


      O, come with the joy of thy festival song,
      O, come to the goddess, O, mix with our throng
      Untired, though the journey be never so long.        396
          O Lord of the frolic and dance,
          Iacchus, beside me advance!
      For fun, and for cheapness, our dress thou hast rent,
      Through thee we may dance to the top of our bent,        400
      Reviling, and jeering, and none will resent.
          O Lord of the frolic and dance,
          Iacchus, beside me advance!
      A sweet pretty girl I observed in the show,        404
      Her robe had been torn in the scuffle, and lo,
      There peeped through the tatters a bosom of snow.
          O Lord of the frolic and dance,
          Iacchus, beside me advance!        408
 
DIO.  Wouldn’t I like to follow on, and try
A little sport and dancing?  XAN. Wouldn’t I?
 
(The banter at the bridge of Cephisus.)


CHOR.      Shall we all a merry joke
              At Archedemus poke,        412
Who has not cut his guildsmen yet, though seven years old;
              Yet up among the dead
              He is demagogue and head,
And contrives the topmost place of the rascaldom to hold?        416
              And Cleisthenes, they say,
              Is among the tombs all day,
Bewailing for his lover with a lamentable whine.
              And Callias, I’m told,        420
              Has become a sailor bold,
And casts a lion’s hide o’er his members feminine.
 
DIO.        Can any of you tell
              Where Pluto here may dwell?        424
For we, sirs, are two strangers who were never here before.
 
CHOR.      O, then no further stray,
              Nor again inquire the way,
For know that ye have journeyed to his very entrance-door.        428
 
  DIO.        Take up the wraps, my lad.
 
  XAN.        Now is not this too bad?
Like “Zeus’ Corinth,” he “the wraps” keeps saying o’er and o’er.
 
CHOR.  Now wheel your sacred dances through the glade with flowers bedight,        432
All ye who are partakers of the holy festal rite;
And I will with the women and the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious light to show.
 
(The departure for the Thriasian Plain)


                Now haste we to the roses,
        436
                And the meadows full of posies,
                Now haste we to the meadows
                    In our own old way,
                In choral dances blending,        440
                In dances never ending,
                Which only for the holy
                    The Destinies array.
                O happy mystic chorus,        444
                The blessed sunshine o’er us
                On us alone is smiling,
                    In its soft sweet light:
                On us who strove for ever        448
                With holy, pure endeavour,
                Alike by friend and stranger
                    To guide our steps aright.
 
DIO.  What’s the right way to knock? I wonder how        452
The natives here are wont to knock at doors.
 
XAN.  No dawdling: taste the door. You’ve got, remember,
The lion-hide and pride of Heracles.
 
DIO.  Boy! Boy!  AEACUS. Who’s there?  DIO. I, Heracles the strong!        456
 
AEAC.  O you most shameless desperate ruffian, you!
O villain, villain, arrant vilest villain!
Who seized our Cerberus by the throat, and fled,
And ran, and rushed, and bolted, haling off        460
The dog, my charge! But now I’ve got thee fast.
So close the Styx’s inky-hearted rock,
The blood-bedabbled peak of Acheron
Shall hem thee in: the hell-hounds of Cocytus        464
Prowl round thee; whilst the hundred-headed Asp
Shall rive thy heart-strings: the Tartesian Lamprey
Prey on thy lungs: and those Tithrasian Gorgons
Mangle and tear thy kidneys, mauling them,        468
Entrails and all, into one bloody mash.
I’ll speed a running foot to fetch them hither.
 
XAN.  Hallo! what now?  DIO. I’ve done it: call the god.
 
XAN.  Get up, you laughing-stock; get up directly,        472
Before you’re seen.  DIO. What, I get up? I’m fainting.
Please dab a sponge of water on my heart.
 
XAN.  Here!  DIO. Dab it, you.  XAN. Where? O ye golden gods,
Lies your heart there?  DIO. It got so terrified        476
It fluttered down into my stomach’s pit.
 
XAN.  Cowardliest of gods and men!  DIO. The cowardliest? I?
What, I, who asked you for a sponge, a thing
A coward never would have done!  XAN. What then?        480
 
DIO.  A coward would have lain there wallowing;
But I stood up, and wiped myself withal.
 
XAN.  Poseidon! quite heroic.  DIO. ’Deed I think so.
But weren’t you frightened at those dreadful threats        484
And shoutings?  XAN. Frightened? Not a bit. I cared not.
 
DIO.  Come then, if you’re so very brave a man,
Will you be I, and take the hero’s club
And lion’s skin, since you’re so monstrous plucky?        488
And I’ll be now the slave, and bear the luggage.
 
XAN.  Hand them across. I cannot choose but take them.
And now observe the Xanthio-heracles
If I’m a coward and a sneak like you.        492
 
DIO.  Nay, you’re the rogue from Melite’s own self.
And I’ll pick up and carry on the traps.
 
MAID.  O, welcome, Heracles! come in, sweetheart.
My Lady, when they told her, set to work,        496
Baked mighty loaves, boiled two or three tureens
Of lentil soup, roasted a prime ox whole,
Made rolls and honey-cakes. So come along.
 

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