The Web Classics Archive | The Birds by Aristophanes

EUELPIDES
PITHETAERUS
TROCHILUS, Servant to Epops
Epops (the Hoopoe)
A BIRD
A HERALD
A PRIEST
A POET
AN ORACLE-MONGER
METON, a Geometrician
AN INSPECTOR
A DEALER IN DECREES
IRIS
A PARRICIDE
CINESIAS, a Dithyrambic Poet
AN INFORMER
PROMETHEUS
POSIDON
TRIBALLUS
HERACLES
SLAVES OF PITHETAERUS
MESSENGERS
CHORUS OF BIRDS

A wild and desolate area; solely thickets, rocks, and a single tree are seen. EUELPIDES and PITHETAERUS enter, every with a chook in his hand.

Weak mortals, chained to the earth, creatures of clay as frail because the foliage of the woods, you unlucky race, whose life is however darkness, as unreal as a shadow, the phantasm of a dream, be all ears to us, who’re immortal beings, ethereal, ever younger and occupied with everlasting ideas, for we will train you about all celestial issues; you shall know totally what’s the nature of the birds, what the origin of the gods, of the rivers, of Erebus, and Chaos; because of us, even Prodicus will envy you your data.

At the start there was solely Chaos, Evening, darkish Erebus, and deep Tartarus. Earth, the air and heaven had no existence. Firstly, black-winged Evening laid a germless egg within the bosom of the infinite deeps of Erebus, and from this, after the revolution of lengthy ages, sprang the sleek Eros along with his glittering golden wings, swift because the whirlwinds of the tempest. He mated in deep Tartarus with darkish Chaos, winged like himself, and thus hatched forth our race, which was the primary to see the sunshine. That of the Immortals didn’t exist till Eros had introduced collectively all of the substances of the world, and from their marriage Heaven, Ocean, Earth and the imperishable race of blessed gods sprang into being. Thus our origin may be very a lot older than that of the dwellers in Olympus. We’re the offspring of Eros; there are a thousand proofs to indicate it. Now we have wings and we lend help to lovers. What number of good-looking youths, who had sworn to stay insensible, have opened their thighs due to our energy and have yielded themselves to their lovers when nearly on the finish of their youth, being led away by the reward of a quail, a waterfowl, a goose, or a cock.

And what essential companies don’t the birds render to mortals! To start with, they mark the seasons for them, springtime, winter, and autumn. Does the screaming crane migrate to Libya,-it warns the husbandman to sow, the pilot to take his ease beside his tiller hung up in his dwelling, and Orestes to weave a tunic, in order that the rigorous chilly might not drive him any extra to strip different folks. When the kite reappears, he tells of the return of spring and of the interval when the fleece of the sheep should be clipped. Is the swallow in sight? All hasten to promote their heat tunic and to purchase some gentle clothes. We’re your Ammon, Delphi, Dodona, your Phoebus Apollo. Earlier than enterprise something, whether or not a enterprise transaction, a wedding, or the acquisition of meals, you seek the advice of the birds by studying the omens, and you give this identify of omen to all indicators that inform of the long run. With you a phrase is an omen, you name a sneeze an omen, a gathering an omen, an unknown sound an omen, a slave or an ass an omen. Is it not clear that we’re a prophetic Apollo to you?

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