Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ACHARNIANS: A PLEA FOR THE ENEMY, by ARISTOPHANES

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ACHARNIANS: A PLEA FOR THE ENEMY, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Bear me no grudge, spectators, if, a beggar
Last Line: Think we, do this? We've got no brains at all.
Subject(s): Enemies

BEAR me no grudge, spectators, if, a beggar,
I dare to speak before the Athenian people
About the city in a Comic Play.
For what is true even Comedy can tell.
And I shall utter startling things but true.
Nor now can Cleon slander me because,
With strangers present, I defame the State.
'Tis the Lenaea, and we're all alone;
No strangers yet have come; nor from the states
Have yet arrived the tribute and allies.
We're quite alone clean-winnowed: for I count
Our alien residents the civic bran.
The Lacedaemonians I detest entirely;
And may Poseidon, Lord of Taenarum,
Shake all their houses down about their ears:
For I, like you, have had my vines cut down.
But after all -- for none but friends are here --
Why the Laconians do we blame for this?
For men of ours, I do not say the State,
Remember this, I do not say the State,
But worthless fellows of a worthless stamp,
Ill-coined, ill-minted, spurious little chaps,
Kept on denouncing Megara's little coats.
And if a cucumber or hare they saw,
Or sucking-pig, or garlic, or lump-salt,
All were Megarian, and were sold off-hand.
Still these were trifles, and our country's way.
But some young tipsy cottabus-players went
And stole from Megara-town the fair Simaetha.
Then the Megarians, garlicked with the smart,
Stole, in return, two of Aspasia's hussies.
From these three wantons o'er the Hellenic race
Burst forth the first beginnings of the War.
For then, in wrath, the Olympian Pericles
Thundered and lightened, and confounded Hellas,
Enacting laws which ran like drinking-songs,
That the Megarians presently depart
From earth and sea, the mainland, and the mart.
Then the Megarians, slowly famishing,
Besought their Spartan friends to get the Law
Of the three Wantons cancelled and withdrawn.
And oft they asked us, but we yielded not.
Then followed instantly the clash of shields.
Ye'll say They should not; but what should they, then?
Come now, had some Laconian, sailing out,
Denounced and sold a small Seriphian dog,
Would you have sat unmoved? Far, far from that!
Ye would have launched three hundred ships of war,
And all the City had at once been full
Of shouting troops, of fuss with trierarchs,
Of paying wages, gilding Pallases,
Of rations measured, roaring colonnades,
Of wineskins, oar-loops, bargaining for casks,
Of nets of onions, olives, garlic-heads,
Of chaplets, pilchards, flute-girls, and black eyes.
And all the Arsenal had rung with noise
Of oar-spars planed, pegs hammered, oar-loops fitted,
Of boatswains' calls, and flutes, and trills, and whistles.
This had ye done; and shall not Telephus,
Think we, do this? we've got no brains at all.

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