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Old 12-03-2018, 10:28 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Choral Ode, Women, "Lysistrata" 319-349

(A Chorus of Old Women enters from stage-left. They are carrying jugs full of water. They are desperate to stop the Chorus of Old Men from starting a fire that will force their fellow females from the Acropolis of Athens.)

Chorus of Old Women:
I think that I see smoke and ash, like something is aflame.
Faster now, O ye ranks of females. Hurry. Double time.

Strophe 1
Soar, women, soar up there before
our fighting sisters have been set on fire.
Look how the fierce winds fan the blaze!
Those old men would commit atrocities
against us. I am very much afraid
we are too late to do the others any good.

I’ve just come from the well
where I had trouble filling up this water jug.
Yes, in the pre-dawn ruckus and the glug-glug-glug
and clay-pot clash and shatter of it all,
I fought a tattooed slave and serving maid
and boldly set this vessel on my head
and now, to save my sister rebels from
the threatened fiery demise, have come,
bringing all this liquid aid.

Antistrophe 1
I’ve heard that homicidal old
fogeys have been let loose into the wild.
Dragging a superhuman weight
of firewood up the slope, they shout and shout,
like stokers in a bathhouse steamroom, rash
threats like “we’re gonna turn those nasty broads to ash.”

Goddess Athena, please,
let me not see my sisters roasting in the fire.
I want to see them save from craziness and war
our fellows citizens and all of Greece.
Yes, Golden-Crested Fortress Guardian,
that is why we have occupied your shrine.
Tritogeneia, aid us in this fight
and, if a man’s hand sets your house alight,
help us pour the water on.

. . . . .


(link to online Greek text, starting at line 319: 6

Χορὸς Γυναικῶν
λιγνὺν δοκῶ μοι καθορᾶν καὶ καπνὸν ὦ γυναῖκες
320ὥσπερ πυρὸς καομένου: σπευστέον ἐστὶ θᾶττον.

Χορὸς Γυναικῶν

πέτου πέτου Νικοδίκη,
πρὶν ἐμπεπρῆσθαι Καλύκην
τε καὶ Κρίτυλλαν περιφυσήτω
†ὑπό τε νόμων † ἀργαλέων
325ὑπό τε γερόντων ὀλέθρων.
ἀλλὰ φοβοῦμαι τόδε, μῶν ὑστερόπους βοηθῶ.
νῦν δὴ γὰρ ἐμπλησαμένη τὴν ὑδρίαν κνεφαία
μόλις ἀπὸ κρήνης ὑπ᾽ ὄχλου καὶ θορύβου καὶ πατάγου
330δούλαισιν ὠστιζομένη

στιγματίαις θ᾽, ἁρπαλέως
ἀραμένη ταῖσιν ἐμαῖς
δημότισιν καομέναις
φέρουσ᾽ ὕδωρ βοηθῶ.

Χορὸς Γυναικῶν

ἤκουσα γὰρ τυφογέροντας
ἄνδρας ἔρρειν, στελέχη
φέροντας ὥσπερ βαλανεύσοντας
ἐς πόλιν ὡς τριτάλαντον βάρος,
δεινότατ᾽ ἀπειλοῦντας ἐπῶν
340ὡς πυρὶ χρὴ τὰς μυσαρὰς γυναῖκας ἀνθρακεύειν:
ἃς ὦ θεὰ μή ποτ᾽ ἐγὼ πιμπραμένας ἴδοιμι,
ἀλλὰ πολέμου καὶ μανιῶν ῥυσαμένας Ἑλλάδα καὶ
ἐφ᾽ οἷσπερ ὦ χρυσολόφα
345πολιοῦχε σὰς ἔσχον ἕδρας.
καί σε καλῶ ξύμμαχον ὦ
Τριτογένει᾽, εἴ τις ἐκείνας
ὑποπίμπρησιν ἀνήρ,
φέρειν ὕδωρ μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν.

. . . . .

Translation (Hall and Geldart):
Chorus of WOMEN.
What's that rising yonder? That ruddy glare, that smoky skurry?
O is it something in a blaze? Quick, quick, my comrades, hurry!

Chorus of WOMEN.
Nicodice, helter-skelter!
Or poor Calyce's in flames
And Cratylla's stifled in the welter.
O these dreadful old men
And their dark laws of hate!
There, I'm all of a tremble lest I turn out to be too late.
I could scarcely get near to the spring though I rose before dawn,
What with tattling of tongues and rattling of pitchers in one jostling din
With slaves pushing in!....
Still here at last the water's drawn
And with it eagerly I run
To help those of my friends who stand
In danger of being burned alive.

Chorus of WOMEN.
For I am told a dribbling band
Of greybeards hobble to the field,
Great faggots in each palsied hand,
As if a hot bath to prepare,
And threatening that out they'll drive
These wicked women or soon leave them charring into ashes
O Goddess, suffer not, I pray, this harsh deed to be done,
But show us Greece and Athens with their warlike acts repealed!
For this alone, in this thy hold,
Thou Goddess with the helm of gold,
We laid hands on thy sanctuary,
Athene.... Then our ally be
And where they cast their fires of slaughter
Direct our water!

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 12-04-2018 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:28 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is online now
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 5,493

Hey, Aaron!

A few quick comments before I'll be able to find time take a more careful look at this:

I think you lose a lot of emotional urgency by trimming the women's names. Those aren't just generic people on our side who need our immediate generic help: you, Nikodike, you need to shake a leg to save Calyce and Cratylla!

"Faster now, O ye ranks of females" strikes me as a bit too formal and stilted for the circumstances. "I am entirely focused on one dread" is not something that I would expect to hear someone say in an emergency, and the elevated "fracas" also seems an odd bedfellow with "glug-glug-glug."

Lowering the register a bit would let you have more fun conveying all this action and emotion.
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Old 12-03-2018, 01:01 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 3,869

Thank you, Julie. I have decided to cut out the specific names on both sides (the male and female). They are more trouble than they are worth. (They are never mentioned again and do not become real "characters.") The stiffness in the beginning conveys the military movements of the females (a running joke throughout this scene). I do agree that "fracas" is wrong--I'll go for "ruckus".

For Strophe 1,

would you prefer

Those old men would commit atrocities
against us. I am very much afraid
we are too late to do the others any good.


Those old men would commit atrocities.
I am entirely focused on one dread:
Are we too late to do the others any good?


The register is not particularly low here. The formal prayer to Athena is sincere.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 12-03-2018 at 01:46 PM.
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