Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WASPS: THE TRIAL OF THE DOG, by ARISTOPHANES



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WASPS: THE TRIAL OF THE DOG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Defendant? / here he is
Last Line: Then am I laid low.
Subject(s): Trials


PHILOCLEON. BDELYCLEON. DOG. SOSIAS

PH.

Defendant?

BD.

Here he is.

PH.

He'll get it hot.

BD.

Now hear the charge: -- A dog from Cydathen
Accuses Labes of Aixone here
Of being sole consumer of the cheese
Of our Sicilian branch. He thus incurs
The grafter's collar, snapt about his neck.

PH.

He'll die a dog's death, if we find him guilty.

BD.

Here Labes stands, defendant in this case.

PH.

What a bounder! look, he's got a burglar's mug,
Thinking he'll fix me with that toothy grin.
But where is he who prosecutes the charge,
The dog from Cydathen?

DOG.

Auw-wuff, auw-wuff.

BD.

He stands.

PH.

But this is Labes' absolute double.

BD.

He's guaranteed to bark and lick the dishes.
(to dog) Ssh, down sir! (to Sosias) You there, rise and bring your
charge.

PH.

Give me a helping of the lentil-soup.

SO.

Gentlemen of the jury, you have listened
Attentively to this the charge preferred
Against the prisoner: -- In the fo'c'sle mess
He did the dirty by the boys and me;
For running off to a corner in the dark
He lined his person with Sicilian cheese --

PH.

Yes, that he did; at any rate, just now
He broke his nasty cheesy breath on me,
The beast.

SO.

I said 'please pass the cheese,' -- he wouldn't.

BD.

For god's sake, father, don't prejudge the case
Until you've heard both sides.

PH.

But don't you see
The matter's obvious? it speaks for itself.

SO.

And don't acquit him, either; of all dogs
That man's the most unsociable at meals.
And round and round he licked the platter clean,
Scraping the cities even of their rind.

PH.

I'm even out of paste to mend my pots.

SO.

Then punish him. Two burglars of a feather
Can't feed together on one currant bush.
(earnestly, to Philocleon) I think my prosecution should not prove
Useless; for if it does, from that day on
I'll never bark again.

PH.

(really shocked) Perish the thought!
The crimes the prosecution charged him with!
The man's a mass of theft. (to his cock) Hey, Cockadoodle,
Don't you agree? (to the court) You see, it's blinking 'yes'.

BD.

(to Philocleon) For a change you might stop being surly now
And nasty, especially at defendants' heels.
Why must you fix your teeth in them? (to Labes) Get up,
And plead you case! Why are you dumb, sir? Speak!

PH.

He doesn't seem to have a word to say.

BD.

No, but the way it seems to be with him
Reminds me of Thucydides' bad luck
In court. He got paralysis of the jaws
Suddenly. (to Labes) Well, stand down. I'll plead myself.
(to the court) It is not easy, gentlemen, to speak
Considering my client is a dog
With a bad name; but speak for him I will.
He's a good dog and scares the wolves away.

PH.

A burglar's what he is, one of the gang.

BD.

No, of contemporary dogs my client
Ranks first, considering the flocks he can guard.

PH.

What is the use of that, if he eats cheese?

BD.

What use? to fight for you and guard the door,
And good all round. And if he did take pickings,
Be kind; he's had no Higher Education.

PH.

Tut, tut. What's this damned feeling making me soft?
There's something coming over me, I'm yielding.

BD.

O I beseech you, father, pity him
And do not drag him down! Where are his pups?
Get up, you poor little things, and whimper there,
Just supplicate and obsecrate and cry.

PH.

(overcome) Down, down; you've won; down, down, sir!

BD.

I'll get down.
And yet that 'down, you've won' has up to date
Diddled a lot of us -- but I'll get down.

PH.

O hell! It isn't good to gulp like this.
To think I've cried away my purpose, just
Because of being full of lentil-soup.

BD.

Is he Not Guilty then?

PH.

It's hard to say.

BD.

My dearest Pa, to better courses turn;
Just put your ballot in the second box
And shut your eyes, slip through, and vote Not Guilty.

PH.

Not me! I lack the Higher Education.

BD.

Well, hurry. I'll take you round the quickest way.

PH.

Is that box first, for 'Guilty'?

BD.

(ambiguously, his father pointing to the wrong box first)
That's the first.

PH.

Well, there's my vote.

BD.

(to himself) Father's been taken in,
Voting Not Guilty unawares. (to the court) Allow me
To draw the votes.

PH.

How has the battle been?

BD.

The event will tell. Not Guilty, Labes! Father!
Father! What is the matter? Water, ho!
Be very brave now.

PH.

Tell me then just this,
Is he in actual fact Not Guilty?

BD.

Yes.
He is Not Guilty.

PH.

Then am I laid low.





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