The campaign which followed the production
of the Acharnians greatly encouraged the war party, and
the hopes of the advocates of peace. The most important victory of the
year is referred to in the story about
to be told, and must be briefly described. As the result of a series of
operations, which it is needless to
relate in detail, a body of four hundred and twenty Spartan soldiers
were blockaded in Sphacteria, an island
close to Pylos on the western coast of the Peloponnesus (near the modern
Navarino). For some time the siege
dragged on, the Athenian generals seeming unable to bring it to a
successful issue. The demagogue, Cleon,
censured their incompetency in the Assembly at Athens, and declared that
were he in command, he would bring the
Spartans to Athens within a few days. He was taken at his word, almost
compelled to go, and, strange to say,
whether from trick, skill, or the audacity of ignorance, accomplished
his task. Such a disaster had never
before happened to Sparta. The men whose lives were in danger were a
considerable part of the fighting power of
the state. The Spartan authorities at once asked for an armistice, and
to secure it consented to hand over
their fleet to the Athenian admiral in command on the spot. This done,
they sent an embassy to Athens and
opened negotiations for peace, offering most favourable terms, all, in
fact, that could reasonably have been
expected. These, however, were rejected, and the war went on.
Aristophanes exhibited the play of the Knights
(so called from the chorus, which was supposed to consist of the
"Gentlemen" of Athens, a class next to the
wealthiest). We are told that Cleon was at this time so powerful and so
much dreaded that the people who
manufactured masks for the theatre refused to make one that would
represent the demagogue's features.
Aristophanes, who acted the character himself, possibly because he could
not find an actor willing to undertake
it, had to "make up" for the part by smearing his face with the lees of
 It is only fair to say that a view of Cleon's character and policy very
different from that which we get from
Aristophanes, and, it may be added, from Thucydides, may be found in
some modern writers, notably In Mr. Grote
and Sir George Cox. ("Greek Statesmen," second Series.)
It should be explained that, there are five characters in the story:
1. Demos (people), who is represented as a
selfish old man, of a very uncertain and fickle temper, very hard on old
servants who have done well for him
for years, and taking up with new favourites who humour his caprices and
minister to his appetites. The
original of this is the Athenian people.
2 and 3. Two old servants whom I call Victor and Hearty. They are now
out of favour with their master, thanks
to the interference of a new-comer, Bluster (or the Tanner), and look
about for some means of getting rid of
their oppressor. The originals are two well-known Athenian soldiers and
statesmen, Nicias (nikÚ—victory) and
Demosthenes (sthenos—strength, and demos—the
people). These names nowhere occur in the play, but the characters
were doubtless recognized at once by the resemblance of their masks to
the features of the originals.
4. Bluster (or the Tanner) = Cleon.
5. The Sausage-seller, destined to be Demos's new favourite.
A body of "Knights" or "Gentlemen" is present, and takes the part of
 "WHAT a scandal and a shame it is!" cried Hearty, coming out of Demos's house,
followed by Victor; "ever since
Master brought home that scoundrel Bluster, not a day passes without his
thrashing us unmercifully; confound
him, I say!"
"And I say so, too," cried Victor, rubbing his arms and shoulders.
Hearty. "Well, it is no good cursing and crying. We must do
something. What do you propose?"
Victor. "Can't you propose something yourself?"
H. "No, no! I look to you."
 V. "Well, I have thought of something. Say 'run.' "
H. "Very good. I say it: 'run.' "
V. "Now say 'away.' "
H. "Quite so: 'away.' "
V. "Now both together very quick: first 'run,' then 'away.' "
H. "Here you have it: 'run away.' "
V. "Well, doesn't that sound sweet?"
H. "I don't know. I seem to hear the crack of a whip somewhere
V. "Then we must think of something else."
H. "Shall I tell the state of things to our friends here?"
pointing to a little crowd of people that had
V. "You could not do better."
H. "Listen, then, my good friends. We have a master at home here,
a rough, passionate old gentleman, and
just a little deaf. The first of last month he bought a new slave,
Bluster by name, who had worked in a
tanner's yard. A more wicked, lying fellow there never was. Well, he got
to know our master's ways, and
flattered and wheedled him with this kind of thing—'You'll take a
bath, sir; you've done business enough for
one day, and here's a little trifle of money that has just come in for
and, 'Can I serve you with anything, sir?' And as sure
 as any one of us got something nice ready for the old gentleman, he
would lay hands on it and give it to him.
Why, this very morning I had made some Spartan pudding, and he comes in
the most rascally way and carries it
off, and serves it up as his own. Yes, the pudding that I had made. He
won't let one of us go near the old
gentleman, but stands behind him with a great flap of his own leather,
and keeps us all off like so many flies.
Then he tells lies about us and we get flogged. Or he goes round among
us and blackmails us. 'You know,' he
says, 'what a beating Barker got the other day. It was all through me;
and if you don't make it worth my while
you'll catch it ten times worse.' If we say no, then old Demos knocks us
down and tramples on us till we
haven't any breath left in us. That's about the state of
things—isn't it?" he went on, turning to Victor. "The
question is—what are we to do?"
V. "I see nothing so good as the runaway trick."
H. "Run away! It is impossible. The fellow has his eyes
V. "Then there is nothing left for it but to die. Only we must
die like men."
H. "Well, what is your idea?"
V. "I think that we should drink bull's blood. We can't do better
than follow Themistocles."
H. "Bull's blood indeed! the blood of the grape, I say! Then we
might have some happy inspiration."
 V. "What? Do you think getting tipsy will help us?"
H. "Yes, I do, you poor water-pitcher. Do you mean to doubt the
inspiration of wine? Where can you find
anything more potent? Is there anything that men can't do when they are
drunk? Wealth, prosperity, good luck,
helping their friends, every-thing is easy to them. Bring me a pitcher
of wine. I'll moisten my understanding
till the inspiration comes."
V. "You'll ruin us with your drink."
H. "Ruin you! Nothing of the kind. Off with you and bring the
Victor ran off and in a few minutes reappeared carrying a pitcher of
wine. "Well!" he said, "it was lucky that
I got it without any one seeing."
H. "Tell me, what was Bluster doing?"
V. "He had gorged himself with half-digested confiscations, and
was lying fast asleep and snoring on a
heap of his own hides."
Hearty went on drinking and thinking. At last he started up, crying:—
"Thine is the thought, good Genius, not mine own."
V. "What is it?"
H. "That you go and steal the prophecies that Bluster keeps
This was not really to Victor's liking. However, he went, and came back
with them. One he knew
 to be especially precious. Bluster, he explained, had been so fast
asleep that he knew nothing of what was
being done. Hearty took the writing and looked at it and asked for
another cup of wine. "Well," said his
companion after a pause, "what says the prophecy?"
H. "Another cup."
V. "Does it say 'another cup '?"
H. "O Bacis!"
V. "What is it?"
H. "Quick with the cup!"
V. "Bacis seems to have been very fond of cups."
H. "O scoundrel of a Bluster! I don't wonder you kept this
prophecy so close, for it shows how your fall
will be brought about."
V. "Quick, tell me—what does it say?"
H. "It says that it is ordained that first of all a hemp-jobber
shall rule the city."
V. "That's jobber number one. Go on."
H. "After him a calves-jobber."
V. "Jobber number two. But what is to happen to him?"
H. "He is to prosper till a greater scoundrel than he shall come,
a daring, thieving rascal, a tanner by
trade, and Bluster by name."
V. "And what of him? Is there another jobber to come? "
 H. "Yes; one with a noble business."
V. "What is it?"
H. "Must I tell you?"
H. "Then listen. A sausage-seller shall drive out the man of
V. "A sausage-seller! Good heavens! what a trade! where are we to
H. "We must look for him. And, as I am alive, there he comes just
in the nick of time.
"Blest sausage-seller, best and dearest, come,
Saviour of Athens, saviour of thy friends!"
The sausage-seller, greatly astonished at this address, wanted to know
what was meant, and was told to put down
his tray and then kiss the earth, and make a reverence to the gods.
Again he asked what they wanted, and was
again addressed with profound respect:—
"Thrice happy child of wealth, little to-day,
To-morrow growing great beyond compare,
Of Athens, dear to heaven, lord and chief."
Sausage-seller. "Come, come, don't make game of me; let me wash
my paunches and sell my sausages."
H. "Paunches indeed, and sausages! Look here. Do you see these
crowds of people?"
S.-s. "Yes, I see 'em."
H. "Well, you'll be their lord and master.
Everything—Assembly, Senate, admirals, generals—will be
 S.-s. "What? my heel?"
H. "Yes; and that is not all. Get up on this stall and look at
The sausage-seller climbed on to the stall, which was supposed to command a view of the islands in the Ăgean
Sea, tributary to Athens, as members of the Delian Confederacy.
"Yes, I see them," he said.
H. "You see their ports and their merchant vessels?"
H. "And are you not a lucky man? Now look a little further; look
at Asia with your right eye, and
Carthage with your left."
S.-s. "I don't see much happiness in squinting."
H. "All this is yours to buy and sell. So the prophecy says."
S.-s. "What! mine, and I a sausage-seller?"
H. "That's the very thing that makes your title, because you are
a low-bred, vulgar, impudent fellow."
S.-s. "I don't see how I am fit for such a big thing."
H. "Not fit! What do you mean? I am afraid that you have
something good on your conscience. Are you by
any chance a gentleman by birth?"
 S.-s. "A gentleman? Bless me, no. I am come of as poor a lot as
any in the town."
H. "What luck! You could not have started better."
S.-s. "But I've got no education; just a little writing, and that
H. "Well, that's against you, that you can write at all.
Greatness here, you must understand, is not for
educated, respectable people. Dunces and blackguards get it. So don't
you let the chance slip. Now listen to
"Whene'er the eagle in his pride,
With crooked claws and leathern hide,
Shall seize the black, blood-eating snake,
Then shall great Bluster's tan-pits quake;
And Zeus shall give high rule and place
To men of sausage-selling race,
Unless, perchance, it please them more
To sell the sausage as before.
Do you understand all this? No? Well, listen: the leathern eagle is
Bluster. His claws are his way of pouncing
on people's money. The snake, of course, is a black pudding. Snakes are
long and black, so are black puddings;
snakes are full of blood, so are black puddings. There's a prophecy for
S.-s. "Yes, it sounds fine. But how shall I be able to manage the
H. "Manage the people? The easiest thing in
 the world. Do just as you have been doing. Mangle and mash everything.
Flavour and spice to suit the people's
taste. You have got every qualification for a demagogue. You have a vile
voice, you are low-born, you are
ill-bred. Absolutely nothing is wanting, and here are the prophecies
fitting in. So make your prayer to the god
of Boobydom, and tackle the fellow."
S.-s. "Yes; but who will be on my side? The rich are afraid of
him, and as for the poor, they shake in
H. "Who will be on your side? Why, a thousand gentlemen of Athens
who scorn and detest him, aye, and
every honest man in the city."
At this point there was a terrified cry from behind, "He's coming! he's
coming!" and Bluster rushed out of the
house, vowing vengeance against everybody. The sausage-seller was about
to take to his heels, when Hearty
entreated him to stand firm, as his friends were at hand. The next
moment the promised host of gentlemen
appeared on the scene, and gaining confidence by their support, the
sausage-seller came forward and confronted
his adversary. A fierce contest followed, in which each combatant sought
to overpower his adversary with abuse
Bluster. "I charge this man with treason. He sells sausages to
the Peloponnesian fleet."
S.-s. "I charge this man with worse than that.
 He runs into the Town Hall with his belly empty, and runs out with it
B. "Dog and villain, you shall die."
S.-s. "I can scream ten times as high."
B. "I'll o'erbear you and out-bawl you."
S.-s. "I'll out-scream you and out-squall you."
B. "Stare at me without a wink."
S.-s. "Never do I blush or blink."
B. "I can steal and own to stealing;
That's a thing I know you dare not."
S.-s. "That is nothing; when I'm dealing,
I can swear to things that are not,
And, though hundreds saw,I care not."
Bluster was still unconvinced that he had found his match and more; and
the sausage-seller related for the
encouragement of his backers incidents in his bringing up which fully
justified their hopes. "It is not for
nothing," he said, "that ever since I was a child I have been cuffed and
beaten, that I have been fed on
scraps, and yet grown to the big creature that I am. Oh! I used to play
rare tricks. I would say to a cook,
'See, there's a swallow, the spring is coming,' and when he looked away
I stole a bit of his meat. Mostly I got
clear off; but in case any one saw me, I swore that I had never taken
it. I remember a great politician in
those days, who saw me do it, saying, 'This child will be a great man
with the people some day.' "
After another fierce encounter of words, the two fell to blows, Bluster
getting the worst of it, especially
 when they closed, and the sausage-seller tripped him by a specially
nasty trick. Enraged at being thus worsted,
he rushed off to the Senate, threatening informations, charges of
treason, and other dreadful things.
"He's gone to the Senate," said the sausage-seller's backers to him.
"Now's your time to show your mettle, if
you are the mighty thief and liar that you pretend to be."
"I'm after him," said the fellow, and off he went, having been duly
rubbed with grease to make him slippery,
and primed with garlic, like a fighting-cock, to give him courage.
Before very long he was back, and told his
backers, who had been getting a little anxious about him, the story of
how he had fared.
"I followed him," he said, "close upon his heels to the Senate House.
There he was storming and roaring,
bellowing out words like thunderbolts, raving against the aristocrats,
calling them traitors and what not, and
the Senate sat listening, looking sharp as mustard. And when I saw they
took in all his lies, and how he was
cheating them, I muttered a prayer, 'Hear me, Powers of Fraud, and
Boobydom, and ye Spirits of the Market and
the Street, the places where I was bred, and thou, great Impudence, hear
me, and help, giving me courage, and a
ready tongue, and a shameless voice.' And when I had ended my prayer, I
took courage, for I knew that the Great
Spirits had heard me, and cried aloud, 'O Senators,
 I have come with good news, for I was resolved that none should hear
them before you. Never since the war broke
upon us, no, never have I seen anchovies cheaper.' Their faces changed
in a moment; it was like a calm after a
storm. Then I moved that they should lay hands on all the bowls in the
town, and go to buy the anchovies before
the price went up. At that they shouted and clapped their hands. Then
Bluster, seeing what a hit I had made,
and knowing of old how to deal with them, said, 'I propose, gentlemen,
that in consideration of the happy event
that has been reported to the Senate, we have a good-news sacrifice to
the goddess of a hundred oxen.' That
took the Senate, you may be sure. Well, I wasn't going to be outdone
with his oxen; so I bid over him. 'I
propose,' I said, 'that the sacrifice be of two hundred oxen! And
furthermore, that we sacrifice a thousand
goats to Artemis, if sprats should be fifty a penny.' That brought the
Senate round to me again. And when he
saw it he lost his head, and began to stammer out some nonsense, till
the archers dragged him away. And what
did he, when the Senators were just off after their anchovies, but try
to keep them. 'Stop a moment,
gentlemen,' he said, 'to hear what the herald from Sparta has got to
say; he has come about peace.' 'Peace!'
they all cried with one voice (that's because they knew that anchovies
were cheap), 'we don't want peace; let
the war go on.' Then they
 bellowed to the magistrate to dismiss the Senate, and leapt over the
railings. But meanwhile I got down to the
market and bought up all the fennel, and gave it to them for sauce, when
they were at their wits' end where to
find any. How much they made of me, to be sure! I bought the whole
Senate, you may believe me, for three
ha'porth of fennel!"
His backers, delighted at the story, greeted him with a song of triumph:—
"You have managed our task on an excellent
You certainly are a most fortunate man;
Soon the villain shall meet
A more excellent cheat,
Of devices more various,
Of tricks more nefarious.
But gird up your loins for another endeavour,
And be sure you will find us as faithful as
And, indeed, the man had need of all his courage; for the next moment
Bluster arrived, furious at his defeat,
and swelling, as his adversaries said, like a wave of the sea. "Ah!" he
cried, "you contrived to get the better
of me in the Senate; but come along to the Assembly, and you shall see.—Pray come out, my dear Demos," he
went on, for they were just in front of Demos's house; "pray come out
for a moment." The sausage-seller joined
in, "Yes, father, come out by all means."—"Come, dearest Demos,"
said Bluster, "come and see how they are
 The old man bounced out in a rage. "What is all this noise about? Get
away with you! See what a disturbance you
have made. Well, Bluster, who has been hurting you?"
B. "This fellow, with his young bloods, has been beating me."
D. "And why?"
B. "Only because I love you."
D. (turning to the sausage-seller). "And who are you, sir?"
S.-s. "One who loves you far better than this fellow. Aye, that I
do, and so do other good men and true;
only, unhappily, you won't have anything to do with them, but give
yourself up to lamp-sellers, and cobblers,
and tanners, and such low folk."
B. "But I have done Demos good service."
S.-s. "How, pray?"
B. "Did I not sail to Pylos, and come back bringing my Spartan
S.-s. "Yes; and I, on my walks the other day, saw a dish of meat
that somebody else had cooked, and
B. "Well, Demos, call an assembly, and settle which is your best
S.-s. "Settle it by all means, but not in the Pnyx."
D. "I can't sit anywhere else."
S.-s. "Then I am a lost man. The old gentleman is sensible enough
at home; but once let him settle
 himself on those stone seats, and he takes leave of his senses."
However, his friends encouraged him; he plucked up spirit, and, when
Demos had taken his seat in the Pnyx,
boldly confronted his rival. "Demos," began Bluster, "now listen to me:—
"If I should despise you, or ever advise you
Against what is best for your comfort and rest,
Or neglect to attend you, defend you, befriend you,
May I perish and pine; may this carcase of mine
Be withered and dried, and curried beside,
And straps for your harness cut out from the hide."
The sausage-seller was not behindhand. "Listen to me," he said:—
"O Demos, if I tell one word of a lie,
If any man more can dote or adore,
With so tender a care, then I make it my
My prayer and my wish to be stewed in a dish,
To be sliced and be slashed, to be minced and be
And like offal remains that are left by the
To the place of the dead be dragged off on a
B. "Demos, had you ever a better friend than I have been? Haven't
I piled up heaps of money in your
treasury, torturing and squeezing and threatening, caring nothing for
any man, as long as I could do you a good
S.-s. "There is nothing wonderful about that. I can do all that
for you. I can filch another man's
loaves and serve them up at your table. But I have
 something better for you than that. Is it not a fact that you, who
fought the Persians at Marathon and
conquered them so gloriously, have been sitting here ever since with
nothing between you and the hard stone?
Look at this cushion that I have stitched together for you. Get up, my
dear sir; and now will you sit down
again? Never again will you have to rub what you made so sore at
D. "My dear sir, who are you? One of the family of Harmodius,
I fancy. I never saw a more truly patriotic thing."
B. "Well, that is a trumpery little thing to make so much of."
S.-s. "I dare say; but you have trapped him with baits five times
B. "Now, I'll wager my life that there never was a man who loved
Demos more than I."
S.-s. "You love him! and you have let him live now for eight
years in tubs
and crannies and turrets on the wall! Ah! you have shut him in, like
bees in a hive, and taken his honey, too.
And when the ambassadors brought proposals for peace,—and a very
good peace, too,—you kicked them out."
 B. "And quite right, too. It has all been done to make him lord
of Greece; for what do the prophecies
"If he still perseveres, for a period of
He shall sit in Arcadia, judging away,
In splendour and honour, for fivepence a day."
S.-s. Arcadia indeed! Much you thought about Arcadia! What you
are thinking about is how to make a purse
for yourself out of the tribute, while Demos—thanks to the dust
that you kick up—can see nothing of what is
going on. But let him once get back to his farm, and get up his courage
with a dish of porridge, and tackle an
olive cake, and he will make you pay for all your villainies."
B. "O my dear Demos! don't believe him. You have never had a
better friend, or a more watchful. Haven't
I kept you up? Haven't I watched night and day, and discovered treasons,
plots, and conspiracies without end?"
S.-s. "Oh, yes; we all know what you mean by your treasons and
plots. You are just like the fellows that
fish for eels. When the water is clear, they catch nothing; when they
stir up the mud, then they have excellent
sport. You confound everything with your talk about treason, and, when
nobody is looking, pocket your fees and
your bribes. But come; answer me this: you with all your leather, have
you ever given him a single skin to mend
his old boots with?"
 D. "That he hasn't, I swear."
S.-s. "Does not that show what sort of a fellow he is? Now, look
here at this nice pair of shoes; I
bought them on purpose for you to wear."
D. "This is the very best patriot I ever saw."
S.-s. "Look again. It's winter now, and this fellow knew that you
were getting on in years, and yet he
has never given you a tunic. Now, see this nice one with two sleeves
that I have bought you."
D. "Why, this is a better thing than even Themistocles ever
thought of; not that the PeirŠus
wasn't a good idea, but it wasn't so good as this warm tunic."
B. (offering a leather cloak). "Take this, my dear sir; it will
keep you admirably warm."
D. (turning up his nose). "Take it away; it smells most
abominably of hides."
S.-s. "Of course it does; this is part of a regular plan to choke
Demos had sat awhile, buried in thought, and weighing against each other
the claims and services of the two
rival candidates for his favour. At last he roused himself from his
reverie and spoke.
"I have come to the conclusion that the sausage-seller is the best
friend that the workingman has ever had.
You, Bluster, have made great pretences,
 and done me nothing but mischief. Hand me over my ring. You shall not be
my steward any longer."
B. "Take it; take it; if you will not let me be your steward, you
will find a far worse."
Demos took the ring and examined it. "Why," he said, "this is not my
ring. The device is not the same, or I
have lost my eyesight."
S.-s. "What was the device?"
D. "A steak of beef ready cooked."
S.-s. "That is certainly not here."
D. "Not the steak? What is it, then?"
S.-s. "Why, a cormorant standing on a rock with his mouth wide
Demos was on the point of giving the sausage-seller another ring as the
sign of his appointment, when Bluster
entreated him to wait awhile, at least till he had heard the prophecies
that he (Bluster) had got at home
referring to him. There was a whole chestful, he declared, and they were
full of the most delightful things
that were to happen hereafter.
The sausage-seller was not to be outdone. He had prophecies, too, at
home; a whole attic and two flats were
full of them. Bluster boasted that his were by the famous prophet Bacis.
"Mine," retorted the sausage-seller,
"are by Bacis's elder brother, Glanis." Both of them went to fetch these
precious documents, and both returned
staggering under a load. "Now," said Demos to Bluster, "hand me
 that one that I like so much, of how I shall become an eagle in the
"Son of Erectheus, mark and ponder well
This holy warning from Apollo's cell.
He bids thee guard the sacred sharp-toothed
Who for thy sake doth bite and bark and yelp;
Guard and protect him from the chattering jay,
So shall thy juries all be kept in pay."
D. "What is all this about? What is meant by Erectheus and the
dog and the jay?"
B. "I am the dog; I bark for you, and Apollo says that you are to
take care of me."
S.-s. "It is nothing of the kind. I have got the true oracle
about the dog. Listen to this:
"Son of Erectheus, ever at thy feast
Beware the dog, the greedy, filching beast.
He wags his tail, still fawning as you eat,
But when you look away he steals the meat."
D. "That sounds much better, Glanis."
B. "Listen again to this:—
sacred Athens shall a woman dwell;
There shall she bear a lion fierce and fell;
With many gnats the noble beast shall fight,
Guarding, as dam her cubs, the people's right;
Him must thou shelter, for the public good,
With iron bulwarks and a wall of wood.
I am the lion; Apollo commands you to take care of me."
D. "You the lion? Why, a moment ago you were a dog."
S.-s. "Ah! sir, but he hides the true sense of the prophecy of
the lion and the wooden wall in which
Apollo says you are to keep him."
D. "What is it?"
S.-s. "Of course it is the stocks; you are to keep him in the
D. "Good! That is a prophecy that seems very likely to be
fulfilled. But I have not heard about the
B. "Listen then:
"Soon shalt thou soar aloft on eagle's wings,
Acknowledged lord of earth, and king of
S.-s. "And now hear mine:—
"Earth and the Red Sea shall your rule obey,
While comfit cake you munch from day to day,
Sitting on juries in Ecbatana."
D. "I think Glanis is a better prophet than Bacis. But now
listen, you two. Have done with your
 promises and prophecies. The man that serves me up the best dinner I
shall make manager-in-chief. Away with
you, and see what you can get for me."
The two competitors ran off in furious haste, and the gentlemen who had
been backing the sausage-seller took
the opportunity of reproaching the old man with his easy surrender to
"Worthy Demos, your estate
Is a glorious thing and great;
All men trembling bow them down,
As before a despot's frown;
But you're easy of belief,
So that every rogue and thief
Finds you ready to his hand.
Flattery you can't withstand;
What your last advisers say
Ever will your judgment sway."
Demos makes reply:—
"You're a fine set of sparks, but your wits are
What you think is a folly is only a freak;
Believe me, my friends, I am not what I seem,
I am quite wide awake, though you think that I
I pamper these thieves, but I smash them to
As soon as the right opportunity fits."
"If that's what you meant, we approve your intent;
If you keep them like beasts, fattened up for your feasts,
Fed high in the stall, till occasion shall call,
And a nice little vote puts a knife to their throat,
And your cook serves them up when you dine or you sup."
 At this point the two competitors returned and began their final
struggle. Bluster put a chair for his master,
but the sausage-seller outdid him by putting a table.
B. (handing a dish). "See, here's a pudding which I made at
S.-s. (handing another). "Here are some cheese-cakes which the
goddess has made with her own ivory
D. "Mighty goddess, what a big hand you have!"
B. "Here's some pease-pudding."
S.-s. "Here's a fine mess of porridge."
B. "Here's a batter pudding, also from the goddess."
S.-s. "And here's a savoury stew with sippets that she sends
B. "Taste this pancake."
S.-s. "Try these fritters and this cup of wine."
D. "The wine is excellent."
S.-s. "So it should be, for she mixed it herself."
B. "Here, I have got a slice of cake for you."
S.-s. "And here, I have got a whole cake."
B. (aside to the S.-s.) "Here is hare pie. When will you get hare pie?"
S.-s. (to himself) "How shall I get hare pie. O my soul, invent
some knavish trick!"
B. "Do you see the hare pie, you poor devil?"
S.-s. "Never mind (pretending to look away). They are
coming to me."
B. "Who? Who?"
 S.-s. "Some envoys with bags of silver."
B. (looking eagerly round) "Where? Where?"
S.-s. "Can't you let the strangers alone? (Snatches at the
hare pie while Bluster is looking about
him, and offers it to Demos.) See, my dear Demos, the hare pie I
have got for you."
B. "Why, the villain has taken my dish."
S.-s. "Just what you did at Pylos, my friend."
D. "Tell me, how did you think of stealing it?"
S.-s. (piously) "The thought was born of heaven, the theft was
B. "I took all the trouble."
S.-s. "But I served it up."
D. "Who hands it gets the thanks."
S.-s. "Come now, can't you decide, my dear sir, who treats you
D. "How am I to judge?"
S.-s. "I will tell you. Look at my basket and see what is in it,
and then look at his. That will
This Demos did. The sausage-seller's was found to be practically empty.
Bluster's had all kinds of good things
in it, especially the rest of the cake, of which he had only served up a
small slice to his master. This roused
Demos's wrath to the utmost. "O villain!" he cried, "and this is the way
you have been cheating me."
B. "I stole for my country's good."
D. "For your country's good indeed! Take away his crown."
 Bluster, seeing that it was all over with him, took it off with a
"Farewell, my crown, farewell!
I yield thee up Unwilling. Some new lord shall
wear thee now,
One not more thievish but more fortunate."
S.-s. "O Zeus of Hellas, thine the victory!"
And now it turned out that Demos had indeed made a most fortunate choice
in his new favourite. The
sausage-seller retired with his master, and after a short interval
appeared again, crying, "Silence! Have done
with your litigation; close the courts; I bring good news."
Kn. "Oh, glory of Athens, the holy, and help of our island allies,
For what happy event, thro' our streets, shall the steam of our sacrifice rise?"
S.-s. "I have given new youth to our Demos; I have made him all lovely and fair."
Kn. "O deviser of wondrous devices, now where may we see him, O where?"
S.-s. "'Tis the Athens of old where he dwelleth, the city with violets crowned."
Kn. "Oh, say how arrayed, with what aspect, henceforth shall our Demos be found?"
S.-s. "You shall see him again in his beauty, as he was when he sat at the board
Of old with the just Aristides and Miltiades, Marathon's lord."
 And so indeed it was. The old man came forward, changed to a handsome
youth, and wearing in his hair the
old-fashioned ornament of the grasshopper, symbol of the antiquity of
the Athenian race. Not a little ashamed
was he when his new adviser reminded him of the follies of the past; how
he would listen to any unprincipled
politician that proclaimed himself his friend; how he would spend the
public money, not in equipping fleets,
but in feeing the jurymen. But he is resolved to be wiser in the future.
Orators who appeal to his selfish
fears shall be tossed headlong into the pit.
The seamen shall have all their pay the very moment of their return to
port. No one whose name stands on the
roll for military service shall be permitted to evade the obligation.
"And now," said the new minister, when he had heard all these good
resolutions, "see what I have got for you!"
And he led out the lovely figure of Peace.
"Where did you find her?" cried Demos.
"Bluster hid her away in his house," replied the minister, "that you
might not catch sight of her. Take her;
she is yours; and live henceforth in the country home where you are
always so happy."