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Peace by Aristophanes - an excerpt

Peace by Aristophanes

Dramatis Personae


FIRST SERVANT: a slave belonging to Trygaeus
SECOND SERVANT: a slave belonging to Trygaeus
DAUGHTERS: two daughters of Trygaeus
TRYGAEUS: a middle-aged farmer
HERMES: a god, divine son of Zeus
WAR: a god
UPROAR: a young servant to War
CHORUS: farmers and servants from different city states
HIEROCLES: a seller of oracles
BOY, a son of Lamachus
BOY, a son of Cleonymus
PEACE, a young lady
THEORIA: a young female attendant on Peace
OPORA: a young female attendant on Peace

[Across the back of the flat open front of the stage, the Orchestra, are four structures: the farm house belonging to Trygaeus, a stable beside or in front of it, a cave whose opening is blocked in with rocks, and the palace of Zeus. Two of Trygaeus’ slaves are in front of the stable. One is on his knees before a shallow tub preparing balls of dung taken from a pile in the yard, and the other is carrying these balls of dung into the stable.]

FIRST SERVANT [coming from the stable door]
    Come on, bring us a cake for the beetle.
    Get a move on! Hurry up.

SECOND SERVANT [on his knees kneading dung into cakes]
                                                                        There you go.
    Give him that. May it kill the wretched beast!                                                                    
    I hope he never swallows anything
    more delicious than that ball of shit.

[First servant takes the cake, goes into the stable, and returns.]

    Give him another one. And make this cake
    out of pounded donkey dung.

                                                                                        Back again?
    Where’s the one you took in there just now?
    He can’t have eaten it.

                                                                                        Eaten it? By Zeus,
    he grabbed it, rolled it round between his feet,                                                    
    and then swallowed it—the whole damn thing.
    Hurry up and pound out more, lots of them—
    and pack them tight.

[First Servant carries another cake into the stable and returns.]

SECOND SERVANT [looking at the audience]
                                    You dung collectors out there,
    in the name of the gods, give me a hand,
    unless you want to see me choke.                                                                          

                                                    Hand me another cake—
    from a boy prostitute. He says he needs
    something made from shit that’s been well pounded.

SECOND SERVANT [tossing him a cake]
There you go.

[First Servant returns to the stable. The Second Servant addresses the audience.]
                            Gentlemen, there’s one thing
    I think I’ll never be found guilty of.                                                                            
    No one will claim that as I pound this muck                                                            
    I help myself and eat the stuff.1

1Stealing food from the kitchen was a common complaint against slaves.

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