Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PARLIAMENT OF WOMEN: PRAXAGORA REHEARSES, by ARISTOPHANES



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PARLIAMENT OF WOMEN: PRAXAGORA REHEARSES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You, too, retire and sit you down again
Last Line: Lodged in the pnyx, and there I heard the speakers.
Subject(s): Women


PRAXAGORA. WOMEN

PRAX.

You, too, retire and sit you down again,
For I myself will wear the chaplet now
Your cause to further: and I pray the gods
That I may haply prosper our design.
I have, my friends, an equal stake with you
In this our country, and I grieve to note
The sad condition of the state's affairs.
I see the state employing evermore
Unworthy ministers; if one do well
A single day, he'll act amiss for ten.
You trust another: he'll be ten times worse.
Hard, hard it is to counsel wayward men,
Always mistrusting those who love you best,
And paying court to those who love you not.
There was a time, my friends, we never came
To these Assemblies; then we knew full well
Agyrrhius was a rogue: we come here now,
And he who gets the cash applauds the man,
And he who gets it not, protests that they
Who come for payment ought to die the death.

1ST W.

By Aphrodite now, but that's well said!

PRAX.

Heavens! Aphrodite! 'Twere a pleasant jest,
If in the Assembly you should praise me so!

1ST W.

Ah, but I won't.

PRAX.

Then don't acquire the habit.
This League again, when first we talked it over,
It seemed the only thing to save the state.
Yet when they'd got it, they disliked it. He
Who pushed it through was forced to cut and run.
Ships must be launched; the poor men all approve,
The wealthy men and farmers disapprove. . . .

1ST W.

Here's a shrewd man!

PRAX.

Ah, now you praise me rightly.
Ye are to blame for this, Athenian people,
Ye draw your wages from the public purse,
Yet each man seeks his private gain alone.
So the state reels, like any AEsimus.
Still, if ye trust me, ye shall yet be saved.
I move that now the womankind be asked
To rule the state. In our own homes, ye know,
They are the managers and rule the house.

1ST W.

O good, good, good!

2ND W.

Speak on, speak on, dear man.

PRAX.

That they are better in their ways than we
I'll soon convince you. First, they dye their wools
With boiling tinctures, in the ancient style.
You won't find them, I warrant, in a hurry
Trying new plans. And would it not have saved
The Athenian city had she let alone
Things that worked well, nor idly sought things new?
They roast their barley, sitting, as of old:
They on their heads bear burdens, as of old:
They keep their Thesmophoria, as of old:
They bake their honied cheesecakes, as of old:
They victimize their husbands, as of old:
They still secrete their lovers, as of old:
They buy themselves sly dainties, as of old:
They love their wine unwatered, as of old:
They like a woman's pleasures, as of old:
Then let us, gentlemen, give up to them
The helm of state, and not concern ourselves,
Nor pry, nor question what they mean to do;
But let them really govern, knowing this,
The statesman-mothers never will neglect
Their soldier-sons. And then a soldier's rations,
Who will supply as well as she who bare him?
For ways and means none can excel a woman.
And there's no fear at all that they'll be cheated
When they're in power, for they're the cheats themselves.
Much I omit. But if you pass my motion,
You'll lead the happiest lives that e'er you dreamed of.

1ST W.

O, good! Praxagora. Well done, sweet wench.
However did you learn to speak so finely?

PRAX.

I and my husband in the general flight
Lodged in the Pnyx, and there I heard the speakers.





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