Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE KNIGHTS: DEMOS AND HIS FLATTERER, by ARISTOPHANES



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THE KNIGHTS: DEMOS AND HIS FLATTERER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: With reverence to your worships, 'tis our fate
Last Line: That flogging is a jest to't, a mere flea-bite.
Subject(s): Flattery


WITH reverence to your worships, 'tis our fate
To have a testy, cross-grain'd, bilious, sour
Old fellow for our master; one much giv'n
To a bean-diet; somewhat hard of hearing:
Demos his name, sirs, of the parish Pnyx here.
Some three weeks back or so, this lord of ours
Brought home a lusty slave from Paphlagonia,
Fresh from the tan-yard, tight and yare, and with
As nimble fingers and as foul a mouth
As ever yet paid tribute to the gallows.
This tanner-Paphlagonian (for the fellow
Wanted not penetration) bow'd and scraped,
And fawn'd and wagg'd his ears and tail, dog-fashion:
And thus soon slipp'd into the old man's graces.
Occasional douceurs of leather-parings,
With speeches to this tune, made all his own.
'Good sir, the court is up, -- you've judg'd one cause,
'Tis time to take the bath: allow me, sir, --
This cake is excellent -- pray sup this broth --
This soup will not offend you, tho' cropfull --
You love an obolus: pray take these three --
Honour me, sir, with your commands for supper.'
Sad times meanwhile for us! -- with prying looks,
Round comes my man of hides, and if he finds us
Cooking a little something for our master,
Incontinently lays his paw upon it,
And modestly in his own name presents it!
It was but t'other day these hands had mixt
A Spartan pudding for him: there -- at Pylos:
Slily and craftily the knave stole on me,
Ravish'd the feast and to my master bore it.
Then none but he, forsooth, must wait at table:
(We dare not come in sight) but there he stands
All supper-time, and with a leathern fly-lap
Whisks off the advocates: anon the knave
Chants out his oracles, and when he sees
The old man plung'd in mysteries to the ears,
And scared from his few senses, marks his time,
And enters on his tricks. False accusations
Now come in troops; and at their heels the whip.
Meanwhile the rascal shuffles in among us,
And begs of one, -- browbeats another, -- cheats
A third, and frightens all. 'My honest friends,
These cords cut deep, you'll find it -- I say nothing, --
Judge you between your purses and your backs:
I could perhaps' -- We take the gentle hint,
And give him all: if not, the old man's foot
Plays such a tune upon our hinder parts,
That flogging is a jest to't, a mere flea-bite.





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