PISTHETAERUS Ha! I am beginning to see a great plan, which will transfer the supreme power to the birds, if you will but take my advice.
EPOPS Take your advice? In what way?
PISTHETAERUS In what way? Well, firstly, do not fly in all directions with open beak; it is not dignified. Among us, when we see a thoughtless man, we ask, "What sort of bird is this?" and Teleas answers, "'Tis a man who has no brain, a bird that has lost his head, a creature you cannot catch, for it never remains in any one place."
EPOPS By Zeus himself! your jest hits the mark. What then is to be done?
PISTHETAERUS Found a city.
EPOPS We birds? But what sort of city should we build?
PISTHETAERUS Oh, really, really! 'tis spoken like a fool! Look down.
EPOPS I am looking.
PISTHETAERUS Now look upwards.
EPOPS I am looking.
PISTHETAERUS Turn your head round.
EPOPS Ah! 'twill be pleasant for me, if I end in twisting my neck!
PISTHETAERUS What have you seen?
EPOPS The clouds and the sky.
PISTHETAERUS Very well! is not this the pole of the birds then?
EPOPS How their pole?
PISTHETAERUS Or, if you like it, the land. And since it turns and passes through the whole universe, it is called, 'pole.' If you build and fortify it, you will turn your pole into a fortified city. In this way you will reign over mankind as you do over the grasshoppers and cause the gods to die of rabid hunger.
EPOPS How so?
PISTHETAERUS The air is 'twixt earth and heaven. When we want to go to Delphi, we ask the Boeotians for leave of passage; in the same way, when men sacrifice to the gods, unless the latter pay you tribute, you exercise the right of every nation towards strangers and don't allow the smoke of the sacrifices to pass through your city and territory.
EPOPS By earth! by snares! by network! I never heard of anything more cleverly conceived; and, if the other birds approve, I am going to build the city along with you.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Coeus' New Medium
Aristophanes, "The Birds"