Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ACHARNIANS: IN PRAISE OF THE POET, by ARISTOPHANES



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THE ACHARNIANS: IN PRAISE OF THE POET, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Since first to exhibit his plays began
Last Line: But teachings the things that are best.
Variant Title(s): Aristophane's Defence [or, The Poet And The People]
Subject(s): Athens, Greece; Authors & Authorship; Critics & Criticism


Since first to exhibit his plays began,
our chorus-instructor has never
Come forth to confess in this public address
how tactful he is and how clever.
But now that he knows he is slandered by foes
before Athens so quick to assent,
Pretending he jeers our City and sneers
at the people with evil intent,
He is ready and fain his cause to maintain
before Athens so quick to repent.
Let honour and praise be the guerdon, he says,
of the poet whose satire has stayed you
From believing the orators' novel conceits
wherewith they cajoled and betrayed you;
Who bids you despise adulation and lies
nor be citizens Vacant and Vain.
For before, when an embassy came from the states
intriguing your favour to gain,
And called you the town of the violet crown,
so grand and exalted ye grew,
That at once on your tiptails erect ye would sit,
those crowns were so pleasant to you.
And then, if they added the shiny, they got
whatever they asked for their praises,
Though apter, I ween, for an oily sardine
than for you and your City the phrase is,
By this he's a true benefactor to you,
and by showing with humour dramatic
The way that our wise democractic allies
are ruled by a state demoocratic.
And therefore their people will come oversea,
their tribute to bring to the City,
Consumed with desire to behold and admire
the poet so fearless and witty,
Who dared in the presence of Athens to speak
the thing that is rightful and true.
And truly the fame of his prowess, by this,
has been bruited the universe through,
When the Sovereign of Persia, desiring to test
what end of our warfare will be,
Inquired of the Spartan ambassadors, first,
which nation is queen of the sea,
And next, which the wonderful Poet has got,
as its stern and unsparing adviser;
For those who are lashed by his satire, he said,
must surely be better and wiser,
And they'll in the war be the stronger by far,
enjoying his counsel and skill.
And therefore the Spartans approach you to-day
with proffers of Peace and Goodwill,
Just asking indeed that Aegina ye cede;
and nought do they care for the isle,
But you of the Port who serves you so well
they fain would despoil and beguile.
But be you on your guard nor surrender to the bard;
for his Art shall be reighteous and true.
Rare blessings and great will he work for the State,
rare happiness shower upon you;
Nor fawning, or bribing, or striving to cheat
with an empty unprincipled jest;
Not seeking your favour to curry or nurse,
but teachings the things that are best.




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