Aristophanes, Clouds 518-562
m = reading of part of the MS tradition
P = reading on a papyrus
ὦ θεώμενοι, κατερῶ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλευθέρως
τἀληθῆ, νὴ τὸν Διόνυσον τὸν ἐκθρέψαντά με.
οὕτω νικήσαιμί τ’ ἐγὼ νικήσαιμί τ’ ἐγὼ Bentley: νικήσαιμ’ ἔγωγε M καὶ νομιζοίμην σοφός,520
ὡς ὑμᾶς ἡγούμενος εἶναι θεατὰς δεξιοὺς
καὶ ταύτην σοφώτατ’ ἔχειν τῶν ἐμῶν κωμωιδιῶν,
πρώτους ἠξίωσ’ ἀναγεῦσ’ ὑμᾶς, ἣ παρέσχε μοι
ἔργον πλεῖστον· εἶτ’ ἀνεχώρουν ὑπ’ ἀνδρῶν φορτικῶν
ἡττηθεὶς οὐκ ἄξιος ὤν· ταῦτ’ οὖν ὑμῖν μέμφομαι525
τοῖς σοφοῖς, ὧν οὕνεκ’ ἐγὼ ταῦτ’ ἐπραγματευόμην.
ἀλλ’ οὐδ’ ὣς ὑμῶν ποθ’ ἑκὼν προδώσω τοὺς δεξιούς.
ἐξ ὅτου γὰρ ἐνθάδ’ ὑπ’ ἀνδρῶν, οὓς οὓς Blaydes: οἷς M ἡδὺ καὶ λέγειν λέγειν M: ψέγειν van Herwerden,
ὁ σώφρων τε χὠ καταπύγων ἄριστ’ ἠκουσάτην,
κἀγώ, παρθένος γὰρ ἔτ’ ἦν, κοὐκ ἐξῆν πώ μοι τεκεῖν,530
ἐξέθηκα, παῖς δ’ ἑτέρα τις λαβοῦσ’ ἀνείλετο,
ὑμεῖς δ’ ἐξεθρέψατε γενναίως κἀπαιδεύσατε·
ἐκ τούτου μοι πιστὰ παρ’ ὑμῶν γνώμης ἔσθ’ ὅρκια.
νῦν οὖν Ἠλέκτραν κατ’ ἐκείνην ἥδ’ ἡ κωμωιδία
ζητοῦσ’ ἦλθ’, ἤν που ’πιτύχηι θεαταῖς οὕτω σοφοῖς.535
γνώσεται γάρ, ἤνπερ ἴδηι, τἀδελφοῦ τὸν βόστρυχον.
ὡς δὲ σώφρων ἐστὶ φύσει σκέψασθ’· ἥτις πρῶτα μὲν
οὐδὲν ἦλθε ῥαψαμένη σκύτινον καθειμένον,
ἐρυθρὸν ἐξ’ ἄκρου, παχύ, τοῖς παιδίοις ἵν’ ἦι γέλως·
οὔδ’ ἔσκωψεν τοὺς φαλακρούς, οὐδὲ κόρδαχ’ εἵλκυσεν,540
οὐδὲ πρεσβύτης ὁ λέγων τἄπη τῆι βακτηρίαι
τύπτει τὸν παρόντ’, ἀφανίζων πονηρὰ σκώμματα,
οὐδ’ εἰσῆιξε δᾶιδας ἔχουσ’ οὐδ’ “ἰοὺ ἰού” βοᾶι,
ἀλλ’ αὑτῆι καὶ τοῖς ἔπεσιν πιστεύουσ’ ἐλήλυθεν.
κἀγὼ μὲν τοιοῦτος ἀνὴρ ὢν ποιητὴς οὐ κομῶ,545
οὐδ’ ὑμᾶς ζητῶ ’ξαπατᾶν δὶς καὶ τρὶς ταὔτ’ εἰσάγων,
ἀλλ’ ἀεὶ καινὰς ἰδέας εἰσφέρων σοφίζομαι,
οὐδὲν ἀλλήλαισιν ὁμοίας καὶ πάσας δεξιάς·
ὃς μέγιστον ὄντα Κλέων’ ἔπαισ’ εἰς τὴν γαστέρα,
κοὐκ ἐτόλμησ’ αὖθις ἐπεμπηδῆσ’ αὐτῶι κειμένωι.550
οὗτοι δ’ ὡς ἅπαξ παρέδωκεν λαβὴν Ὑπέρβολος,
τοῦτον δείλαιον κολετρῶσ’ ἀεὶ καὶ τὴν μητέρα.
Εὔπολις μὲν τὸν Μαρικᾶν πρώτιστον παρείλκυσεν
ἐκστρέψας τοὺς ἡμετέρους Ἱππέας κακὸς κακῶς,
προσθεὶς αὐτῶι γραῦν μεθύσην τοῦ κόρδακος οὕνεχ’, ἣν555
Φρύνιχος πάλαι πεποίηχ’ ἣν τὸ κῆτος ἤσθιεν.
εἶθ’ Ἕρμιππος αὖθις ἐποίησεν ἐποίησεν Brunck: ἐποίησ’ m: πεποίηκεν m εἰς Ὑπέρβολον,
ἅλλοι ἅλλοι Meineke: ἄλλοι M τ’ ἤδη πάντες ἐρείδουσιν εἰς Ὑπέρβολον,
τὰς εἰκοὺς τῶν ἐγχέλεων τὰς ἐμὰς μιμούμενοι.
ὅστις οὖν τούτοισι γελᾶι, τοῖς ἐμοῖς μὴ χαιρέτω·560
ἢν δ’ ἐμοὶ καὶ τοῖσιν ἐμοῖς εὐφραίνησθ’ εὑρήμασιν,
εἰς τὰς ὥρας τὰς ἑτέρας εὖ φρονεῖν δοκήσετε.
Spectators, I will freely speak the truth to you, by Dionysus who nurtured me. So may I be victorious and be judged wise, as I, thinking that you were clever spectators and that this was the wisest of my comedies, thought it right to give you a first taste of it—and I took a great deal of trouble over it. Then I retreated after being defeated by vulgar men, although I did not deserve it. For this I blame you, wise though you may be, on whose behalf I took that trouble. But even so, I will not betray those of you who are clever.
For, ever since my virtuous boy and my buggered boy had an excellent reputation here among men whom it is a pleasure even to mention, and I, being still unmarried and not yet permitted to bear a child, exposed it—another girl took it up, and you nobly nurtured and educated it—from that time my pledges from you in matters of judgment have been secure. So now, like the famous Electra, this comedy has come a-seeking, in the hope that she can encounter spectators who are just as wise. For she will know them if she finds them—her brother’s lock. Consider how modest she is by nature: first of all, she did not come after stitching together a thick, red-tipped, dangling leather phallus, to raise a laugh from the children; nor did she mock the bald, nor dance a cordax; nor did an old man strike a passer-by with his stick while speaking his verses, to cover up the bad jokes; nor did she rush in with torches, nor did she shout ‘iou iou’. No: she came on trusting in herself and her verses.
And I being such a poet do not grow my hair pretentiously long, nor do I seek to cheat you by introducing the same material twice or three times, but, when I exercise my ingenuity, I always present brand-new ideas, like no-one else’s and all clever. I struck Cleon in the stomach when he was over-mighty and I did not have the audacity to pounce on him again when he was down. But they, when once Hyperbolus gave them an opportunity, trampled on the poor wretch and his mother ever after. Eupolis, first of all, dragged his Maricas onstage, basely turning our Knights inside out, base man that he is, sticking on a drunken old woman for the sake of the cordax, the one Phrynichus made long ago whom the sea-monster devoured. Then Hermippus once again launched his poetry against Hyperbolus, and now everyone else falls on top of Hyperbolus, imitating my eel similes. And so whoever laughs at these, may he not delight in my plays. But if you delight in me and my inventions, you will seem wise to future ages.