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Unread 04-21-2019, 09:22 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,343
Default Going to the Birds with Aristophanes

What terrible frustration! Though we want to
go to the buzzards, through we’ve brought along
ample provisions, we can’t find the way!
Yes, members of the audience, we’re sick
with just the opposite of the disease
that Sacas has: He’s not a citizen
but tries to force his way in. We, in contrast,
true-blue Athenians, though we were born
into a noble tribe and family,
though no one wants to drive us out, are running
with both feet flying to escape our country.
It’s not that we hate Athens. No, it’s not
as if it weren’t a great and prosperous place
for everyone to go broke paying fines in.
It’s just that, though the crickets only chirp
a month or two among the fig-tree boughs,
the men of Athens spend their whole lives chirping
over their lawsuits.
over their lawsuits. So we’ve started walking
with basket, cooking pot and myrtle boughs
in search of some relaxing land to settle
and pass our lives in. Tereus the Hoopoe—
he’s what we’re after, so that he can tell us
if he's ever seen this sort of place
while flying through the sky.

. . . . .

Prose Translation, Eugene O’Neill Jr.

What misfortune is ours! we strain every nerve to get to the crows, do everything we can to that end, and we cannot find our way! [30] Yes, spectators, our madness is quite different from that of Sacas. He is not a citizen, and would fain be one at any cost; we, on the contrary, born of an honorable tribe and family and living in the midst of our fellow-citizens, [35] we have fled from our country as hard as ever we could go. It's not that we hate it; we recognize it to be great and rich, likewise that everyone has the right to ruin himself paying taxes; but the crickets only chirrup among the fig-trees for a month or two, [40] whereas the Athenians spend their whole lives in chanting forth judgments from their law-courts. That is why we started off with a basket, a stew-pot and some myrtle boughs and have come to seek a quiet country [45] in which to settle. We are going to Tereus, the Epops, to learn from him, whether, in his aerial flights, he has noticed some town of this kind.

. . . . .

Original Text:/


οὐ δεινὸν οὖν δῆτ᾽ ἐστὶν ἡμᾶς δεομένους
ἐς κόρακας ἐλθεῖν καὶ παρεσκευασμένους
ἔπειτα μὴ 'ξευρεῖν δύνασθαι τὴν ὁδόν;
30ἡμεῖς γάρ, ὦνδρες οἱ παρόντες ἐν λόγῳ,
νόσον νοσοῦμεν τὴν ἐναντίαν Σάκᾳ:
ὁ μὲν γὰρ ὢν οὐκ ἀστὸς ἐσβιάζεται,
ἡμεῖς δὲ φυλῇ καὶ γένει τιμώμενοι,
ἀστοὶ μετ᾽ ἀστῶν, οὐ σοβοῦντος οὐδενὸς
35ἀνεπτόμεσθ᾽ ἐκ τῆς πατρίδος ἀμφοῖν ποδοῖν,
αὐτὴν μὲν οὐ μισοῦντ᾽ ἐκείνην τὴν πόλιν
τὸ μὴ οὐ μεγάλην εἶναι φύσει κεὐδαίμονα
καὶ πᾶσι κοινὴν ἐναποτεῖσαι χρήματα.
οἱ μὲν γὰρ οὖν τέττιγες ἕνα μῆν᾽ ἢ δύο
40ἐπὶ τῶν κραδῶν ᾁδουσ᾽, Ἀθηναῖοι δ᾽ ἀεὶ
ἐπὶ τῶν δικῶν ᾁδουσι πάντα τὸν βίον.
διὰ ταῦτα τόνδε τὸν βάδον βαδίζομεν,
κανοῦν δ᾽ ἔχοντε καὶ χύτραν καὶ μυρρίνας
πλανώμεθα ζητοῦντε τόπον ἀπράγμονα,
45ὅποι καθιδρυθέντε διαγενοίμεθ᾽ ἄν.
ὁ δὲ στόλος νῷν ἐστι παρὰ τὸν Τηρέα
τὸν ἔποπα, παρ᾽ ἐκείνου πυθέσθαι δεομἐνω,
εἴ που τοιαύτην εἶδε πόλιν ᾗ 'πέπτετο.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 04-21-2019 at 10:35 AM.
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Unread 04-22-2019, 02:07 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 6,127

Hey, Aaron!

Three nits:

The bird-themed idiomatic expression in L2 (in imprecations, ἐς κόρακας 'go and be hanged') seems equivalent to the expression "go to the dogs," but I think the word "buzzards" does not connote scavengers (vultures) to all English speakers. If you want to avoid saying "ravens" or "crows," maybe switch directly to "vultures." in imprecations, ἐς κόρακας 'go and be hanged', Ar.V.852, 982; or if it doesn't bother you, do nothing.

There seems to be a missing beat in L3.

I would prefer "cicadas" to "crickets" for τέττιγες. I think of crickets as more nocturnal and ground-dwelling, while cicadas are tree-dwelling and make racket during the day, too.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-22-2019 at 02:10 AM.
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