Aristophanes, Wasps 1015-59
m = reading of part of the MS tradition
P = reading on a papyrus
νῦν αὖτε, λεώι, προσέχετε τὸν νοῦν, εἴπερ καθαρόν τι φιλεῖτε.1015
μέμψασθαι γὰρ τοῖσι θεαταῖς ὁ ποιητὴς νῦν ἐπιθυμεῖ.
ἀδικεῖσθαι γάρ φησιν πρότερος πόλλ’ αὐτοὺς εὖ πεποιηκώς·
τὰ μὲν οὐ φανερῶς ἀλλ’ ἐπικουρῶν κρύβδην ἐτέροισι ποιηταῖς,
μιμησάμενος τὴν Εὐρυκλέους μαντείαν καὶ διάνοιαν,
εἰς ἀλλοτρίας γαστέρας ἐνδὺς κωμωιδικὰ πολλὰ χέασθαι·1020
μετὰ τοῦτο δὲ καὶ φανερῶς ἤδη κινδυνεύων καθ’ ἑαυτόν,
οὐκ ἀλλοτρίων ἀλλ’ οἰκείων Μουσῶν στόμαθ’ ἡνιοχήσας.
ἀρθεὶς δὲ μέγας καὶ τιμηθεὶς ὡς οὐδεὶς πώποτ’ ἐν ὑμῖν,
οὐκ ἐκχαλάσαι ἐκχαλάσαι Wilson: ἐκτελέσαι M φησὶν ἐπαρθεὶς οὐδ’ ὀγκῶσαι τὸ φρόνημα,
οὐδὲ παλαίστρας περικωμάζειν πειρῶν πειρῶν Brunck: περιών m: περιιών m· οὐδ’ εἴ τις ἐραστὴς1025
κωμωιδεῖσθαι παιδίχ’ ἑαυτοῦ μισῶν ἔσπευσε πρὸς αὐτόν,
οὐδενὶ πώποτέ φησι πιθέσθαι, γνώμην τιν’ ἔχων ἐπιεικῆ,
ἵνα τὰς Μούσας αἷσιν χρῆται μὴ προαγωγοὺς ἀποφήνηι.
οὐδ’, ὅτε πρῶτόν γ’ ἦρξε διδάσκειν, ἀνθρώποις φήσ’ ἐπιθέσθαι,
ἀλλ’ Ἡρακλέους ὀργήν τιν’ ἔχων τοῖσι μεγίστοις ἐπιχειρεῖν ἐπιχειρεῖν M: ἐπιχείρει Meineke,1030
θρασέως ξυστὰς εὐθὺς ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς αὐτῶι τῶι καρχαρόδοντι,
οὗ δεινόταται μὲν ἀπ’ ὀφθαλμῶν Κύννης ἀκτῖνες ἔλαμπον,
ἑκατὸν δὲ κύκλωι κεφαλαὶ κολάκων οἰμωξομένων ἐλιχμῶντο
περὶ τὴν κεφαλήν, φωνὴν δ’ εἶχεν χαράδρας ὄλεθρον τετοκυίας,
φώκης δ’ ὀσμήν, Λαμίας δ’ ὄρχεις ἀπλύτους, πρωκτὸν δὲ καμήλου.1035
τοιοῦτον ἰδὼν τέρας οὔ φησιν δείσας καταδωροδοκῆσαι,
ἀλλ’ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἔτι καὶ νυνὶ πολεμεῖ· φησίν τε μετ’ αὐτὸν αὐτὸν Bentley: αὐτοῦ M
τοῖς ἠπιάλοις ἐπιχειρῆσαι πέρυσιν καὶ τοῖς πυρετοῖσιν,
οἳ τοὺς πατέρας τ’ ἦγχον νύκτωρ καὶ τοὺς πάππους ἀπέπνιγον
κατακλινόμενοί τ’ ἐπὶ ταῖς κοίταις, ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ἀπράγμοσιν ὑμῶν1040
ἀντωμοσίας καὶ προσκλήσεις καὶ μαρτυρίας συνεκόλλων,
ὥστ’ ἀναπηδᾶν δειμαίνοντας πολλοὺς ὡς τὸν πολέμαρχον.
τοιόνδ’ εὑρόντες ἀλεξίκακον τῆς χώρας τῆσδε καθαρτήν,
πέρυσιν καταπρούδοτε καινοτάτας σπείραντ’ αὐτὸν διανοίας καινοτάτας…διανοίας Bothe: καινοτάταις…διανοίαις M,
ἃς ὑπὸ τοῦ μὴ γνῶναι καθαρῶς ὑμεῖς ἐποιήσατ’ ἀναλδεῖς·1045
καίτοι σπένδων πόλλ’ ἐπὶ πολλοῖς ὄμνυσιν τὸν Διόνυσον
μὴ πωποτ’ ἀμείνον’ ἔπη τούτων κωμωιδικὰ μηδέν’ ακοῦσαι.
τοῦτο μὲν οὖν ἐσθ’ ὑμῖν αἰσχρὸν τοῖς μὴ γνοῦσιν παραχρῆμα·
ὁ δὲ ποιητὴς οὐδὲν χείρων παρὰ τοῖσι σοφοῖς νενόμισται,
εἰ παρελαύνων εἰ παρελαύνων Schol.: εἴπερ ἐλαύνων M τοὺς ἀντιπάλους τὴν ἐπίνοιαν ξυνέτριψεν.1050
ἀλλὰ τὸ λοιπὸν τῶν ποιητῶν,
ὦ δαιμόνιοι, τοὺς ζητοῦντας
καινόν τι λέγειν κἀξευρίσκειν
στέργετε μᾶλλον καὶ θεραπεύετε,
καὶ τὰ νοήματα σώιζεσθ’ αὐτῶν1055
εἰσβάλλετέ τ’ εἰς τὰς κιβωτοὺς
μετὰ τῶν μήλων.
κἂν ταῦτα ποιῆθ’, ὑμῖν δι’ ἔτους
Now, people, pay attention, if you cherish anything genuine. For the poet now desires to rebuke his audience. For he says that he has been wronged in return for the many good things he has done for them in the past, in some cases not openly, but assisting other poets in secret, imitating the contrivance of the seer Eurykles by slipping into other people’s stomachs, he poured out many comic things. After this openly as well, taking a risk by competing on his own, not holding the reins of other men’s Muses, but his own. Having been raised to greatness and honoured like no one ever before among you, he says that he did not slacken when he was raised up, nor did his head swell, nor did he carouse around the wrestling grounds looking for a pick-up. Nor, if a lover, now hating his beloved, urged him to make fun of the boy, did he ever comply, since he had a reasonable purpose, not to represent the Muses whom he employs as procurers.
Nor, he says, when first he began to produce plays, did he attack mere men, but having a spirit like that of Heracles, he went after the biggest prey, immediately from the start engaging boldly with the Sharp-toothed One himself, from whose eyes there flashed terrible rays, like Cynna. A hundred heads of wailing flatterers flickered their tongues in a circle around his head. He had the voice of a death-dealing torrent, the smell of a seal, the unwashed testicles of Lamia, and a camel’s anus. When he saw the monster, terrible though it was, he says he did not, in terror, take bribes to betray you, but even now wages war on your behalf. After the monster, last year, he attacked the Shivers and the Fevers, who strangle their fathers and suffocate their grandfathers by night, and who, lying down on the beds of those of you who were minding your own business, stuck together affidavits, summonses and statements of evidence, so that many leapt up in fear and ran to the Polemarch.
But although you had found him a defender against evils and a purifier of this land, last year you betrayed him when he sowed a crop of the novelest ideas, which you made barren because you didn’t understand them clearly. And yet, pouring libation upon libation, he swears by Dionysus that no one has ever heard better comic verses than those. So that is a source of shame to you, who did not recognize them immediately. But the poet has been judged no worse by the wise, even if he crashed and burned his idea when overtaking his rivals. But in future, my good people, be more affectionate and nurturing to those of the poets who seek to say something new and to innovate, and protect their thoughts and throw them in your clothes-boxes like apples. If you do this, within a year your cloaks will be scented with cleverness.