LUCIAN, DIAL. OF THE DEAD
 

LUCIAN INDEX

DIALOGUES OF THE GODS

DIALOGUES OF SEA GODS

DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD

1. Diogenes & Pollux
2. Charon & Menippus
3. Shades, Pluto & Menippus
4. Menippus & Cerberus
5. Menippus & Hermes
6. Menippus & Aeacus
7. Menippus & Tantalus
8. Menippus & Chiron
9. Menippus & Tiresias
10. Menippus & Trophonius
11. Diogenes & Heracles
12. Philip & Alexander
13. Diogenes & Alexander
14. Hermes & Charon
15. Pluto & Hermes
16. Terpsion & Pluto
17. Zenophatus & Callidemides
18. Cnemon & Damnippus
19. Simylus & Polystratus
20. Charon & Hermes

DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD

21. Crates & Diogenes
22. Diogenes & Antisthenes
23. Ajax & Agamemnon
24. Minos & Sostratus
25. Alexander & Hannibal
26. Achilles & Antilochus
27. Aeacus & Protesilaus
28. Protesilaus & Pluto
29. Diogenes & Mausolus
30. Nireus & Menippus
A. A Necromantic Experiment

DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD, TRANSLATED BY H. W. & F. G. FOWLER

I (1). DIOGENES AND POLLUX

DIOGENES
Pollux, I have a commission for you; next time you go up—and I think it is your turn for earth to-morrow—if you come across Menippus the Cynic—you will find him about the Craneum at Corinth, or in the Lyceum, laughing at the philosophers' disputes—well, give him this message:—Menippus, Diogenes advises you, if mortal subjects for laughter begin to pall, to come down below, and find much richer material; where you are now, there is always a dash of uncertainty in it; the question will always intrude—who can be quite sure about the hereafter? Here, you can have your laugh out in security, like me; it is the best of sport to see millionaires, governors, despots, now mean and insignificant; you can only tell them by their lamentations, and the spiritless despondency which is the legacy of better days. Tell him this, and mention that he had better stuff his wallet with plenty of lupines, and any un-considered trifles he can snap up in the way of pauper doles1 or lustral eggs.2

POLLUX
I will tell him, Diogenes. But give me some idea of his appearance.

DIOGENES
Old, bald, with a cloak that allows him plenty of light and ventilation, and is patched all colours of the rainbow; always laughing, and usually gibing at pretentious philosophers.

POLLUX
Ah, I cannot mistake him now.

DIOGENES
May I give you another message to those same philosophers?

POLLUX
Oh, I don't mind; go on.

DIOGENES
Charge them generally to give up playing the fool, quarrelling over metaphysics, tricking each other with horn and crocodile puzzles and teaching people to waste wit on such absurdities.

POLLUX
Oh, but if I say anything against their wisdom, they will call me an ignorant blockhead.

DIOGENES
Then tell them from me to go to the devil.

POLLUX
Very well; rely upon me.

DIOGENES
And then, my most obliging of Polluxes, there is this for the rich:—O vain fools, why hoard gold? why all these pains over interest sums and the adding of hundred to hundred, when you must shortly come to us with nothing beyond the dead-penny?

POLLUX
They shall have their message too.

DIOGENES
Ah, and a word to the handsome and strong; Megillus of Corinth, and Damoxenus the wrestler will do. Inform them that auburn locks, eyes bright or black, rosy cheeks, are as little in fashion here as tense muscles or mighty shoulders; man and man are as like as two peas, tell them, when it comes to bare skull and no beauty.

POLLUX
That is to the handsome and strong; yes, I can manage that.

DIOGENES
Yes, my Spartan, and here is for the poor. There are a great many of them, very sorry for themselves and resentful of their helplessness. Tell them to dry their tears and cease their cries; explain to them that here one man is as good as another, and they will find those who were rich on earth no better than themselves. As for your Spartans, you will not mind scolding them, from me, upon their present degeneracy?

POLLUX
No, no, Diogenes; leave Sparta alone; that is going too far; your other commissions I will execute.

DIOGENES
Oh, well, let them off, if you care about it; but tell all the others what I said.

1. In the Greek, "a Hecate's repast lying at a street corner." "Rich men used to make offerings to Hecate on the 30th of every month as Goddess of roads at street corners; and these offerings were at once pounced upon by the poor, or, as here, the Cynics." Jacobitz.
2. "Eggs were often used as purificatory offerings and set out in front of the house purified." Id.


2 (22). CHARON AND MENIPPUS

CHARON
Your fare, you rascal.

MENIPPUS
Bawl away, Charon, if it gives you any pleasure.

CHARON
I brought you across: give me my fare.

MENIPPUS
I can't, if I haven't got it.

CHARON
And who is so poor that he has not got a penny?

MENIPPUS
I for one; I don't know who else.

CHARON
Pay: or, by Pluto, I'll strangle you.

MENIPPUS
And I'll crack your skull with this stick.

CHARON
So you are to come all that way for nothing?

MENIPPUS
Let Hermes pay for me: he put me on board.

HERMES
I dare say! A fine time I shall have of it, if I am to pay for the shades.

CHARON
I'm not going to let you off.

MENIPPUS
You can haul up your ship and wait, for all I care. If I have not got the money, I can't pay you, can I?

CHARON
You knew you ought to bring it?

MENIPPUS
I knew that: but I hadn't got it. What would you have? I ought not to have died, I suppose?

CHARON
So you are to have the distinction of being the only passenger that ever crossed gratis?

MENIPPUS
Oh, come now: gratis! I took an oar, and I baled; and I didn't cry, which is more than can be said for any of the others.

CHARON
That's neither here nor there. I must have my penny; it's only right.

MENIPPUS
Well, you had better take me back again to life.

CHARON
Yes, and get a thrashing from Aeacus for my pains! I like that.

MENIPPUS
Well, don't bother me.

CHARON
Let me see what you have got in that wallet.

MENIPPUS
Beans: have some?—and a Hecate's supper.

CHARON
Where did you pick up this Cynic, Hermes? The noise he made on the crossing, too! laughing and jeering at all the rest, and singing, when every one else was at his lamentations.

HERMES
Ah, Charon, you little know your passenger! Independence, every inch of him: he cares for no one. ’Tis Menippus.

CHARON
Wait till I catch you—

MENIPPUS
Precisely; I'll wait—till you catch me again.


3 (2). SHADES TO PLUTO AGAINST MENIPPUS

CROESUS
Pluto, we can stand this snarling Cynic no longer in our neighbourhood; either you must transfer him to other quarters, or we are going to migrate.

PLUTO
Why, what harm does he do to your ghostly community?

CROESUS
Midas here, and Sardanapalus and I, can never get in a good cry over the old days of gold and luxury and treasure, but he must be laughing at us, and calling us rude names; `slaves' and `garbage,' he says we are. And then he sings; and that throws us out.—In short, he is a nuisance.

PLUTO
Menippus, what's this I hear?

MENIPPUS
All perfectly true, Pluto. I detest these abject rascals! Not content with having lived the abominable lives they did, they keep on talking about it now they are dead, and harping on the good old days. I take a positive pleasure in annoying them.

PLUTO
Yes, but you mustn't. They have had terrible losses; they feel it deeply.

MENIPPUS
Pluto! you are not going to lend your countenance to these whimpering fools?

PLUTO
It isn't that: but I won't have you quarrelling.

MENIPPUS
Well, you scum of your respective nations, let there be no misunderstanding; I am going on just the same. Wherever you are, there shall I be also; worrying, jeering, singing you down.

CROESUS
Presumption!

MENIPPUS
Not a bit of it. Yours was the presumption, when you expected men to fall down before you, when you trampled on men's liberty, and forgot there was such a thing as death. Now comes the weeping and gnashing of teeth: for all is lost!

CROESUS
Lost! Ah God! My treasure-heaps—

MIDAS
My gold—

SARDANAPALUS
My little comforts—

MENIPPUS
That's right: stick to it! You do the whining, and I'll chime in with a string of GNOTHI-SAUTONS, best of accompaniments.


4 (21). MENIPPUS AND CERBERUS

MENIPPUS
My dear coz—for Cerberus and Cynic are surely related through the dog—I adjure you by the Styx, tell me how Socrates behaved during the descent. A God like you can doubtless articulate instead of barking, if he chooses.

CERBERUS
Well, while he was some way off, he seemed quite unshaken; and I thought he was bent on letting the people outside realize the fact too. Then he passed into the opening and saw the gloom; I at the same time gave him a touch of the hemlock, and a pull by the leg, as he was rather slow. Then he squalled like a baby, whimpered about his children, and, oh, I don't know what he didn't do.

MENIPPUS
So he was one of the theorists, was he? His indifference was a sham?

CERBERUS
Yes; it was only that he accepted the inevitable, and put a bold face on it, pretending to welcome the universal fate, by way of impressing the bystanders. All that sort are the same, I tell you—bold resolute fellows as far as the entrance; it is inside that the real test comes.

MENIPPUS
What did you think of my performance?

CERBERUS
Ah, Menippus, you were the exception; you are a credit to the breed, and so was Diogenes before you. You two came in without any compulsion or pushing, of your own free will, with a laugh for yourselves and a curse for the rest.


5 (18). MENIPPUS AND HERMES

MENIPPUS
Where are all the beauties, Hermes? Show me round; I am a new-comer.

HERMES
I am busy, Menippus. But look over there to your right, and you will see Hyacinth, Narcissus, Nireus, Achilles, Tyro, Helen, Leda,—all the beauties of old.

MENIPPUS
I can only see bones, and bare skulls; most of them are exactly alike.

HERMES
Those bones, of which you seem to think so lightly, have been the theme of admiring poets.

MENIPPUS
Well, but show me Helen; I shall never be able to make her out by myself.

HERMES
This skull is Helen.

MENIPPUS
And for this a thousand ships carried warriors from every part of Greece; Greeks and barbarians were slain, and cities made desolate.

HERMES
Ah, Menippus, you never saw the living Helen; or you would have said with Homer,

Well might they suffer grievous years of toil
Who strove for such a prize.

We look at withered flowers, whose dye is gone from them, and what can we call them but unlovely things? Yet in the hour of their bloom these unlovely things were things of beauty.

MENIPPUS
Strange, that the Greeks could not realize what it was for which they laboured; how short-lived, how soon to fade.

HERMES
I have no time for moralizing. Choose your spot, where you will, and lie down. I must go to fetch new dead.


6 (20). MENIPPUS AND AEACUS

MENIPPUS
In Pluto's name, Aeacus, show me all the sights of Hades.

AEACUS
That would be rather an undertaking, Menippus. However, you shall see the principal things. Cerberus here you know already, and the ferryman who brought you over. And you saw the Styx on your way, and Pyriphlegethon.

MENIPPUS
Yes, and you are the gate-keeper; I know all that; and I have seen the King and the Furies. But show me the men of ancient days, especially the celebrities.

AEACUS
This is Agamemnon; this is Achilles; near him, Idomeneus; next comes Odysseus; then Ajax, Diomede, and all the great Greeks.

MENIPPUS
Why, Homer, Homer, what is this? All your great heroes flung down upon the earth, shapeless, undistinguishable; mere meaningless dust; 'strengthless heads,' and no mistake.—Who is this one, Aeacus?

AEACUS
That is Cyrus; and here is Croesus; beyond him Sardanapalus, and beyond him again Midas. And yonder is Xerxes.

MENIPPUS
Ha! and it was before this creature that Greece trembled? this is our yoker of Hellesponts, our designer of Athos-canals?—Croesus too! a sad spectacle! As to Sardanapalus, I will lend him a box on the ear, with your permission.

AEACUS
And crack his skull, poor dear! Certainly not.

MENIPPUS
Then I must content myself with spitting in his ladyship's face.

AEACUS
Would you like to see the philosophers?

MENIPPUS
I should like it of all things.

AEACUS
First comes Pythagoras.

MENIPPUS
Good-day, Euphorbus, alias Apollo, alias what you will.

PYTHAGORAS
Good-day, Menippus.

MENIPPUS
What, no golden thigh nowadays?

PYTHAGORAS
Why, no. I wonder if there is anything to eat in that wallet of yours?

MENIPPUS
Beans, friend; you don't like beans.

PYTHAGORAS
Try me. My principles have changed with my quarters. I find that down here our parents' heads are in no way connected with beans.

AEACUS
Here is Solon, the son of Execestides, and there is Thales. By them are Pittacus, and the rest of the sages, seven in all, as you see.

MENIPPUS
The only resigned and cheerful countenances yet. Who is the one covered with ashes, like a loaf baked in the embers? He is all over blisters.

AEACUS
That is Empedocles. He was half-roasted when he got here from Etna.

MENIPPUS
Tell me, my brazen-slippered friend, what induced you to jump into the crater?

EMPEDOCLES
I did it in a fit of melancholy.

MENIPPUS
Not you. Vanity, pride, folly; these were what burnt you up, slippers and all; and serve you right. All that ingenuity was thrown away, too: your death was detected.—Aeacus, where is Socrates?

AEACUS
He is generally talking nonsense with Nestor and Palamedes.

MENIPPUS
But I should like to see him, if he is anywhere about.

AEACUS
You see the bald one?

MENIPPUS
They are all bald; that is a distinction without a difference.

AEACUS
The snub-nosed one.

MENIPPUS
There again: they are all snub-nosed.

SOCRATES
Do you want me, Menippus?

MENIPPUS
The very man I am looking for.

SOCRATES
How goes it in Athens?

MENIPPUS
There are a great many young men there professing philosophy; and to judge from their dress and their walk, they should be perfect in it.

SOCRATES
I have seen many such.

MENIPPUS
For that matter, I suppose you saw Aristippus arrive, reeking with scent; and Plato, the polished flatterer from Sicilian courts?

SOCRATES
And what do they think about me in Athens?

MENIPPUS
Ah, you are fortunate in that respect. You pass for a most remarkable man, omniscient in fact. And all the time—if the truth must out—you know absolutely nothing.

SOCRATES
I told them that myself: but they would have it that that was my irony.

MENIPPUS
And who are your friends?

SOCRATES
Charmides; Phaedrus; the son of Clinias.

MENIPPUS
Ha, ha! still at your old trade; still an admirer of beauty.

SOCRATES
How could I be better occupied? Will you join us?

MENIPPUS
No, thank you; I am off, to take up my quarters by Croesus and Sardanapalus. I expect huge entertainment from their outcries.

AEACUS
I must be off, too; or some one may escape. You shall see the rest another day, Menippus.

MENIPPUS
I need not detain you. I have seen enough.


7 (17). MENIPPUS AND TANTALUS

MENIPPUS
What are you crying out about, Tantalus? standing at the edge and whining like that!

TANTALUS
Ah, Menippus, I thirst, I perish!

MENIPPUS
What, not enterprise enough to bend down to it, or scoop up some in your palm?

TANTALUS
It is no use bending down; the water shrinks away as soon as it sees me coming. And if I do scoop it up and get it to my mouth, the outside of my lips is hardly moist before it has managed to run through my fingers, and my hand is as dry as ever.

MENIPPUS
A very odd experience, that. But by the way, why do you want to drink? you have no body—the part of you that was liable to hunger and thirst is buried in Lydia somewhere; how can you, the spirit, hunger or thirst any more?

TANTALUS
Therein lies my punishment—soul thirsts as if it were body.

MENIPPUS
Well, let that pass, as you say thirst is your punishment. But why do you mind it? are you afraid of dying, for want of drink? I do not know of any second Hades; can you die to this one, and go further?

TANTALUS
No, that is quite true. But you see this is part of the sentence: I must long for drink, though I have no need of it.

MENIPPUS
There is no meaning in that. There is a draught you need, though; some neat hellebore is what you want; you are suffering from a converse hydrophobia; you are not afraid of water, but you are of thirst.

TANTALUS
I would as life drink hellebore as anything, if I could but drink.

MENIPPUS
Never fear, Tantalus; neither you nor any other ghost will ever do that; it is impossible, you see; just as well we have not all got a penal thirst like you, with the water running away from us.


8 (26). MENIPPUS AND CHIRON

MENIPPUS
I have heard that you were a god, Chiron, and that you died of your own choice?

CHIRON
You were rightly informed. I am dead, as you see, and might have been immortal.

MENIPPUS
And what should possess you, to be in love with Death? He has no charm for most people.

CHIRON
You are a sensible fellow; I will tell you. There was no further satisfaction to be had from immortality.

MENIPPUS
Was it not a pleasure merely to live and see the light?

CHIRON
No; it is variety, as I take it, and not monotony, that constitutes pleasure. Living on and on, everything always the same; sun, light, food, spring, summer, autumn, winter, one thing following another in unending sequence,—I sickened of it all. I found that enjoyment lay not in continual possession; that deprivation had its share therein.

MENIPPUS
Very true, Chiron. And how have you got on since you made Hades your home?

CHIRON
Not unpleasantly. I like the truly republican equality that prevails; and as to whether one is in light or darkness, that makes no difference at all. Then again there is no hunger or thirst here; one is independent of such things.

MENIPPUS
Take care, Chiron! You may be caught in the snare of your own reasonings.

CHIRON
How should that be?

MENIPPUS
Why, if the monotony of the other world brought on satiety, the monotony here may do the same. You will have to look about for a further change, and I fancy there is no third life procurable.

CHIRON
Then what is to be done, Menippus?

MENIPPUS
Take things as you find them, I suppose, like a sensible fellow, and make the best of everything.


9 (28). MENIPPUS AND TIRESIAS

MENIPPUS
Whether you are blind or not, Tiresias, would be a difficult question. Eyeless sockets are the rule among us; there is no telling Phineus from Lynceus nowadays. However, I know that you were a seer, and that you enjoy the unique distinction of having been both man and woman; I have it from the poets. Pray tell me which you found the more pleasant life, the man's or the woman's?

TIRESIAS
The woman's, by a long way; it was much less trouble. Women have the mastery of men; and there is no fighting for them, no manning of walls, no squabbling in the assembly, no cross-examination in the law-courts.

MENIPPUS
Well, but you have heard how Medea, in Euripides, compassionates her sex on their hard lot—on the intolerable pangs they endure in travail? And by the way—Medea's words remind me did you ever have a child, when you were a woman, or were you barren?

TIRESIAS
What do you mean by that question, Menippus?

MENIPPUS
Oh, nothing; but I should like to know, if it is no trouble to you.

TIRESIAS
I was not barren: but I did not have a child, exactly.

MENIPPUS
No; but you might have had. That's all I wanted to know.

TIRESIAS
Certainly.

MENIPPUS
And your feminine characteristics gradually vanished, and you developed a beard, and became a man? Or did the change take place in a moment?

TIRESIAS
Whither does your question tend? One would think you doubted the fact.

MENIPPUS
And what should I do but doubt such a story? Am I to take it in, like a nincompoop, without asking myself whether it is possible or not?

TIRESIAS
At that rate, I suppose you are equally incredulous when you hear of women being turned into birds or trees or beasts,—Aëdon for instance, or Daphne, or Callisto?

MENIPPUS
If I fall in with any of these ladies, I will see what they have to say about it. But to return, friend, to your own case: were you a prophet even in the days of your femininity? or did manhood and prophecy come together?

TIRESIAS
Pooh, you know nothing of the matter. I once settled a dispute among the Gods, and was blinded by Hera for my pains; whereupon Zeus consoled me with the gift of prophecy.

MENIPPUS
Ah, you love a lie still, Tiresias. But there, ’tis your trade. You prophets! There is no truth in you.


10 (3). MENIPPUS, AMPHILOCHUS AND TROPHONIUS

MENIPPUS
Now I wonder how it is that you two dead men have been honoured with temples and taken for prophets; those silly mortals imagine you are Gods.

AMPHILOCHUS
How can we help it, if they are fools enough to have such fancies about the dead?

MENIPPUS
Ah, they would never have had them, though, if you had not been charlatans in your lifetime, and pretended to know the future and be able to foretell it to your clients.

TROPHONIUS
Well, Menippus, Amphilochus can take his own line, if he likes; as for me, I am a Hero, and do give oracles to any one who comes down to me. It is pretty clear you were never at Lebadea, or you would not be so incredulous.

MENIPPUS
What do you mean? I must go to Lebadea, swaddle myself up in absurd linen, take a cake in my hand, and crawl through a narrow passage into a cave, before I could tell that you are a dead man, with nothing but knavery to differentiate you from the rest of us? Now, on your seer-ship, what is a Hero? I am sure I don't know.

TROPHONIUS
He is half God, and half man.

MENIPPUS
So what is neither man (as you imply) nor God, is both at once? Well, at present what has become of your diviner half?

TROPHONIUS
He gives oracles in Boeotia.

MENIPPUS
What you may mean is quite beyond me; the one thing I know for certain is that you are dead—the whole of you.


11 (16). DIOGENES AND HERACLES

DIOGENES
Surely this is Heracles I see? By his godhead, ’tis no other! The bow, the club, the lion's-skin, the giant frame; ’tis Heracles complete. Yet how should this be?—a son of Zeus, and mortal? I say, Mighty Conqueror, are you dead? I used to sacrifice to you in the other world; I understood you were a God!

HERACLES
Thou didst well. Heracles is with the Gods in Heaven, and hath white-ankled Hebe there to wife. I am his phantom.

DIOGENES
His phantom! What then, can one half of any one be a God, and the other half mortal?

HERACLES
Even so. The God still lives. ’Tis I, his counterpart, am dead.

DIOGENES
I see. You're a dummy; he palms you off upon Pluto, instead of coming himself. And here are you, enjoying his mortality!

HERACLES
’Tis somewhat as thou hast said.

DIOGENES
Well, but where were Aeacus's keen eyes, that he let a counterfeit Heracles pass under his very nose, and never knew the difference?

HERACLES
I was made very like to him.

DIOGENES
I believe you! Very like indeed, no difference at all! Why, we may find it's the other way round, that you are Heracles, and the phantom is in Heaven, married to Hebe!

HERACLES
Prating knave, no more of thy gibes; else thou shalt presently learn how great a God calls me phantom.

DIOGENES
H’m. That bow looks as if it meant business. And yet,—what have I to fear now? A man can die but once. Tell me, phantom,—by your great Substance I adjure you—did you serve him in your present capacity in the upper world? Perhaps you were one individual during your lives, the separation taking place only at your deaths, when he, the God, soared heavenwards, and you, the phantom, very properly made your appearance here?

HERACLES
Thy ribald questions were best unanswered. Yet thus much thou shalt know.—All that was Amphitryon in Heracles, is dead; I am that mortal part. The Zeus in him lives, and is with the Gods in Heaven.

DIOGENES
Ah, now I see! Alcmena had twins, you mean,—Heracles the son of Zeus, and Heracles the son of Amphitryon? You were really half-bothers all the time?

HERACLES
Fool! not so. We twain were one Heracles.

DIOGENES
It's a little difficult to grasp, the two Heracleses packed into one. I suppose you must have been like a sort of Centaur, man and God all mixed together?

HERACLES
And are not all thus composed of two elements,—the body and the soul? What then should hinder the soul from being in Heaven, with Zeus who gave it, and the mortal part—myself—among the dead?

DIOGENES
Yes, yes, my esteemed son of Amphitryon,—that would be all very well if you were a body; but you see you are a phantom, you have no body. At this rate we shall get three Heracleses.

HERACLES
Three?

DIOGENES
Yes; look here. One in Heaven: one in Hades, that's you, the phantom: and lastly the body, which by this time has returned to dust. That makes three. Can you think of a good father for number Three?

HERACLES
Impudent quibbler! And who art thou?

DIOGENES
I am Diogenes's phantom, late of Sinope. But my original, I assure you, is not `among th' immortal Gods,' but here among dead men; where he enjoys the best of company, and snaps my ringers at Homer and all hair-splitting.


12 (14). PHILIP AND ALEXANDER

PHILIP
You cannot deny that you are my son this time, Alexander; you would not have died if you had been Ammon's.

ALEXANDER
I knew all the time that you, Philip, son of Amyntas, were my father. I only accepted the statement of the oracle because I thought it was good policy.

PHILIP
What, to suffer yourself to be fooled by lying priests?

ALEXANDER
No, but it had an awe-inspiring effect upon the barbarians. When they thought they had a God to deal with, they gave up the struggle; which made their conquest a simple matter.

PHILIP
And whom did you ever conquer that was worth conquering? Your adversaries were ever timid creatures, with their bows and their targets and their wicker shields. It was other work conquering the Greeks: Boeotians, Phocians, Athenians; Arcadian hoplites, Thessalian cavalry, javelin-men from Elis, peltasts of Mantinea; Thracians, Illyrians, Paeonians; to subdue these was something. But for gold-laced womanish Medes and Persians and Chaldaeans,—why, it had been done before: did you never hear of the expedition of the Ten Thousand under Clearchus? and how the enemy would not even come to blows with them, but ran away before they were within bow-shot?

ALEXANDER
Still, there were the Scythians, father, and the Indian elephants; they were no joke. And my conquests were not gained by dissension or treachery; I broke no oath, no promise, nor ever purchased victory at the expense of honour. As to the Greeks, most of them joined me without a struggle; and I dare say you have heard how I handled Thebes.

PHILIP
I know all about that; I had it from Clitus, whom you ran through the body, in the middle of dinner, because he presumed to mention my achievements in the same breath with yours. They tell me too that you took to aping the manners of your conquered Medes; abandoned the Macedonian cloak in favour of the candys, assumed the upright tiara, and exacted oriental prostrations from Macedonian freemen! This is delicious. As to your brilliant matches, and your beloved Hephaestion, and your scholars in lions' cages,--the less said the better. I have only heard one thing to your credit: you respected the person of Darius's beautiful wife, and you provided for his mother and daughters; there you acted like a king.

ALEXANDER
And have you nothing to say of my adventurous spirit, father, when I was the first to leap down within the ramparts of Oxydracae, and was covered with wounds?

PHILIP
Not a word. Not that it is a bad thing, in my opinion, for a king to get wounded occasionally, and to face danger at the head of his troops: but this was the last thing that you were called upon to do. You were passing for a God; and your being wounded, and carried off the field on a litter, bleeding and groaning, could only excite the ridicule of the spectators: Ammon stood convicted of quackery, his oracle of falsehood, his priests of flattery. The son of Zeus in a swoon, requiring medical assistance! who could help laughing at the sight? And now that you have died, can you doubt that many a jest is being cracked on the subject of your divinity, as men contemplate the God's corpse laid out for burial, and already going the way of all flesh? Besides, your achievements lose half their credit from this very circumstance which you say was so useful in facilitating your conquests: nothing you did could come up to your divine reputation.

ALEXANDER
The world thinks otherwise. I am ranked with Heracles and Dionysus; and, for that matter, I took Aornos, which was more than either of them could do.

PHILIP
There spoke the son of Ammon. Heracles and Dionysus, indeed! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Alexander; when will you learn to drop that bombast, and know yourself for the shade that you are?


13 (13). DIOGENES AND ALEXANDER

DIOGENES
Dear me, Alexander, you dead like the rest of us?

ALEXANDER
As you see, sir; is there anything extraordinary in a mortal's dying?

DIOGENES
So Ammon lied when he said you were his son; you were Philip's after all.

ALEXANDER
Apparently; if I had been Ammon's, I should not have died.

DIOGENES
Strange! there were tales of the same order about Olympias too. A serpent visited her, and was seen in her bed; we were given to understand that that was how you came into the world, and Philip made a mistake when he took you for his.

ALEXANDER
Yes, I was told all that myself; however, I know now that my mother's and the Ammon stories were all moonshine.

DIOGENES
Their lies were of some practical value to you, though; your divinity brought a good many people to their knees. But now, whom did you leave your great empire to?

ALEXANDER
Diogenes, I cannot tell you. I had no time to leave any directions about it, beyond just giving Perdiccas my ring as I died. Why are you laughing?

DIOGENES
Oh, I was only thinking of the Greeks' behaviour; directly you succeeded, how they flattered you! their elected patron, generalissimo against the barbarian; one of the twelve Gods according to some; temples built and sacrifices offered to the Serpent's son! If I may ask, where did your Macedonians bury you?

ALEXANDER
I have lain in Babylon a full month to-day; and Ptolemy of the Guards is pledged, as soon as he can get a moment's respite from present disturbances, to take and bury me in Egypt, there to be reckoned among the Gods.

DIOGENES
I have some reason to laugh, you see; still nursing vain hopes of developing into an Osiris or Anubis! Pray, your Godhead, put these expectations from you; none may re-ascend who has once sailed the lake and penetrated our entrance; Aeacus is watchful, and Cerberus an awkward customer. But there is one thing I wish you would tell me: how do you like thinking over all the earthly bliss you left to come here—your guards and armour-bearers and lieutenant-governors, your heaps of gold and adoring peoples, Babylon and Bactria, your huge elephants, your honour and glory, those conspicuous drives with white-cinctured locks and clasped purple cloak? does the thought of them hurt? What, crying? silly fellow! did not your wise Aristotle include in his instructions any hint of the insecurity of fortune's favours?

ALEXANDER
Wise? call him the craftiest of all flatterers. Allow me to know a little more than other people about Aristotle; his requests and his letters came to my address; I know how he profited by my passion for culture; how he would toady and compliment me, to be sure! now it was my beauty—that too is included under The Good; now it was my deeds and my money; for money too he called a Good—he meant that he was not going to be ashamed of taking it. Ah, Diogenes, an impostor; and a past master at it too. For me, the result of his wisdom is that I am distressed for the things you catalogued just now, as if I had lost in them the chief Goods.

DIOGENES
Wouldst know thy course? I will prescribe for your distress. Our flora, unfortunately, does not include hellebore; but you take plenty of Lethe-water—good, deep, repeated draughts; that will relieve your distress over the Aristotelian Goods. Quick; here are Clitus, Callisthenes, and a lot of others making for you; they mean to tear you in pieces and pay you out. Here, go the opposite way; and remember, repeated draughts.


14 (4). HERMES AND CHARON

HERMES
Ferryman, what do you say to settling up accounts? It will prevent any unpleasantness later on.

CHARON
Very good. It does save trouble to get these things straight.

HERMES
One anchor, to your order, five shillings.

CHARON
That is a lot of money.

HERMES
So help me Pluto, it is what I had to pay. One rowlock-strap, fourpence.

CHARON
Five and four; put that down.

HERMES
Then there was a needle, for mending the sail; tenpence.

CHARON
Down with it.

HERMES
Caulking-wax; nails; and cord for the brace. Two shillings the lot.

CHARON
They were worth the money.

HERMES
That's all; unless I have forgotten anything. When will you pay it?

CHARON
I can't just now, Hermes; we shall have a war or a plague presently, and then the passengers will come shoaling in, and I shall be able to make a little by jobbing the fares.

HERMES
So for the present I have nothing to do but sit down, and pray for the worst, as my only chance of getting paid?

CHARON
There is nothing else for it;—very little business doing just now, as you see, owing to the peace.

HERMES
That is just as well, though it does keep me waiting for my money. After all, though, Charon, in old days men were men; you remember the state they used to come down in,—all blood and wounds generally. Nowadays, a man is poisoned by his slave or his wife; or gets dropsy from overfeeding; a pale, spiritless lot, nothing like the men of old. Most of them seem to meet their end in some plot that has money for its object.

CHARON
Ah; money is in great request.

HERMES
Yes; you can't blame me if I am somewhat urgent for payment.


15 (5). PLUTO AND HERMES

PLUTO
You know that old, old fellow, Eucrates the millionaire—no children, but a few thousand would-be heirs?

HERMES
Yes—lives at Sicyon. Well?

PLUTO
Well, Hermes, he is ninety now; let him live as much longer, please; I should like it to be more still, if possible; and bring me down his toadies one by one, that young Charinus, Damon, and the rest of them.

HERMES
It would seem so strange, wouldn't it?

PLUTO
On the contrary, it would be ideal justice. What business have they to pray for his death, or pretend to his money? they are no relations. The most abominable thing about it is that they vary these prayers with every public attention; when he is ill, every one knows what they are after, and yet they vow offerings if he recovers; talk of versatility! So let him be immortal, and bring them away before him with their mouths still open for the fruit that never drops.

HERMES
Well, they are rascals, and it would be a comic ending. He leads them a pretty life too, on hope gruel; he always looks more dead than alive, but he is tougher than a young man. They have divided up the inheritance among them, and feed on imaginary bliss.

PLUTO
Just so; now he is to throw off his years like Iolaus, and rejuvenate, while they in the middle of their hopes find themselves here with their dream-wealth left behind them. Nothing like making the punishment fit the crime.

HERMES
Say no more, Pluto; I will fetch you them one after another; seven of them, is it?

PLUTO
Down with them; and he shall change from an old man to a blooming youth, and attend their funerals.


16 (6). TERPSION AND PLUTO

TERPSION
Now is this fair, Pluto,—that I should die at the age of thirty, and that old Thucritus go on living past ninety?

PLUTO
Nothing could be fairer. Thucritus lives and is in no hurry for his neighbours to die; whereas you always had some design against him; you were waiting to step into his shoes.

TERPSION
Well, an old man like that is past getting any enjoyment out of his money; he ought to die, and make room for younger men.

PLUTO
This is a novel principle: the man who can no longer derive pleasure from his money is to die!—Fate and Nature have ordered it otherwise.

TERPSION
Then they have ordered it wrongly. There ought to be a proper sequence according to seniority. Things are turned upside down, if an old man is to go on living with only three teeth in his head, half blind, tottering about with a pair of slaves on each side to hold him up, drivelling and rheumy-eyed, having no joy of life, a living tomb, the derision of his juniors,—and young men are to die in the prime of their strength and beauty. ’Tis contrary to nature. At any rate the young men have a right to know when the old are going to die, so that they may not throw away their attentions on them for nothing, as is sometimes the case. The present arrangement is a putting of the cart before the horse.

PLUTO
There is a great deal more sound sense in it than you suppose, Terpsion. Besides, what right have you young fellows got to be prying after other men's goods, and thrusting yourselves upon your childless elders? You look rather foolish, when you get buried first; it tickles people immensely; the more fervent your prayers for the death of your aged friend, the greater is the general exultation when you precede him. It has become quite a profession lately, this amorous devotion to old men and women,—childless, of course; children destroy the illusion. By the way though, some of the beloved objects see through your dirty motives well enough by now; they have children, but they pretend to hate them, and so have lovers all the same. When their wills come to be read, their faithful bodyguard is not included: nature asserts itself, the children get their rights, and the lovers realize, with gnashings of teeth, that they have been taken in.

TERPSION
Too true! The luxuries that Thucritus has enjoyed at my expense! He always looked as if he were at the point of death. I never went to see him, but he would groan and squeak like a chicken barely out of the shell: I considered that he might step into his coffin at any moment, and heaped gift upon gift, for fear of being outdone in generosity by my rivals; I passed anxious, sleepless nights, reckoning and arranging all; ’twas this, the sleeplessness and the anxiety, that brought me to my death. And he swallows my bait whole, and attends my funeral chuckling.

PLUTO
Well done, Thucritus! Long may you live to enjoy your wealth,—and your joke at the youngsters' expense; many a toady may you send hither before your own time comes!

TERPSION
Now I think of it, it would be a satisfaction if Charoeades were to die before him.

PLUTO
Charoeades! My dear Terpsion, Phido, Melanthus,—every one of them will be here before Thucritus,—all victims of this same anxiety!

TERPSION
That is as it should be. Hold on, Thucritus!


17 (7). ZENOPHANTUS AND CALLIDEMIDES

ZENOPHANTUS
Ah, Callidemides, and how did you come by your end? As for me, I was free of Dinias's table, and there died of a surfeit; but that is stale news; you were there, of course.

CALLIDEMIDES
Yes, I was. Now there was an element of surprise about my fate. I suppose you know that old Ptoeodorus?

ZENOPHANTUS
The rich man with no children, to whom you gave most of your company?

CALLIDEMIDES
That is the man; he had promised to leave me his heir, and I used to show my appreciation. However, it went on such a time; Tithonus was a juvenile to him; so I found a short cut to my property. I bought a potion, and agreed with the butler that next time his master called for wine (he is a pretty stiff drinker) he should have this ready in a cup and present it; and I was pledged to reward the man with his freedom.

ZENOPHANTUS
And what happened? this is interesting.

CALLIDEMIDES
When we came from bath, the young fellow had two cups ready, one with the poison for Ptoeodorus, and the other for me; but by some blunder he handed me the poisoned cup, and Ptoeodorus the plain; and behold, before he had done drinking, there was I sprawling on the ground, a vicarious corpse! Why are you laughing so, Zenophantus? I am your friend; such mirth is unseemly.

ZENOPHANTUS
Well, it was such a humorous exit. And how did the old man behave?

CALLIDEMIDES
He was dreadfully distressed for the moment; then he saw, I suppose, and laughed as much as you over the butler's trick.

ZENOPHANTUS
Ah, short cuts are no better for you than for other people, you see; the high road would have been safer, if not quite so quick.


18 (8). CNEMON AND DAMNIPPUS

CNEMON
Why, ’tis the proverb fulfilled! The fawn hath taken the lion.

DAMNIPPUS
What's the matter, Cnemon?

CNEMON
The matter! I have been fooled, miserably fooled. I have passed over all whom I should have liked to make my heirs, and left my money to the wrong man.

DAMNIPPUS
How was that?

CNEMON
I had been speculating on the death of Hermolaus, the millionaire. He had no children, and my attentions had been well received by him. I thought it would be a good idea to let him know that I had made my will in his favour, on the chance of its exciting his emulation.

DAMNIPPUS
Yes; and Hermolaus?

CNEMON
What his will was, I don't know. I died suddenly,—the roof came down about my ears; and now Hermolaus is my heir. The pike has swallowed hook and bait.

DAMNIPPUS
And your anglership into the bargain. The pit that you digged for other. . . .

CNEMON
That's about the truth of the matter, confound it.


19 (9). SIMYLUS AND POLYSTRATUS

SIMYLUS
So here you are at last, Polystratus; you must be something very like a centenarian.

POLYSTRATUS
Ninety-eight.

SIMYLUS
And what sort of a life have you had of it, these thirty years? you were about seventy when I died.

POLYSTRATUS
Delightful, though you may find it hard to believe.

SIMYLUS
It is surprising that you could have any joy of your life—old, weak, and childless, moreover.

POLYSTRATUS
In the first place, I could do just what I liked; there were still plenty of handsome boys and dainty women; perfumes were sweet, wine kept its bouquet, Sicilian feasts were nothing to mine.

SIMYLUS
This is a change, to be sure; you were very economical in my day.

POLYSTRATUS
Ah, but, my simple friend, these good things were presents—came in streams. From dawn my doors were thronged with visitors, and in the day it was a procession of the fairest gifts of earth.

SIMYLUS
Why, you must have seized the crown after my death.

POLYSTRATUS
Oh no, it was only that I inspired a number of tender passions.

SIMYLUS
Tender passions, indeed! what, you, an old man with hardly a tooth left in your head!

POLYSTRATUS
Certainly; the first of our townsmen were in love with me. Such as you see me, old, bald, blear-eyed, rheumy, they delighted to do me honour; happy was the man on whom my glance rested a moment.

SIMYLUS
Well, then, you had some adventure like Phaon's, when he rowed Aphrodite across from Chios; your God granted your prayer and made you young and fair and lovely again.

POLYSTRATUS
No, no; I was as you see me, and I was the object of all desire.

SIMYLUS
Oh, I give it up.

POLYSTRATUS
Why, I should have thought you knew the violent passion for old men who have plenty of money and no children.

SIMYLUS
Ah, now I comprehend your beauty, old fellow; it was the Golden Aphrodite bestowed it.

POLYSTRATUS
I assure you, Simylus, I had a good deal of satisfaction out of my lovers; they idolized me, almost. Often I would be coy and shut some of them out. Such rivalries! such jealous emulations!

SIMYLUS
And how did you dispose of your fortune in the end?

POLYSTRATUS
I gave each an express promise to make him my heir; he believed, and treated me to more attentions than ever; meanwhile I had another genuine will, which was the one I left, with a message to them all to go hang.

SIMYLUS
Who was the heir by this one? one of your relations, I suppose.

POLYSTRATUS
Not likely; it was a handsome young Phrygian I had lately bought.

SIMYLUS
Age?

POLYSTRATUS
About twenty.

SIMYLUS
Ah, I can guess his office.

POLYSTRATUS
Well, you know, he deserved the inheritance much better than they did; he was a barbarian and a rascal; but by this time he has the best of society at his beck. So he inherited; and now he is one of the aristocracy; his smooth chin and his foreign accent are no bars to his being called nobler than Codrus, handsomer than Nireus, wiser than Odysseus.

SIMYLUS
Well, I don't mind; let him be Emperor of Greece, if he likes, so long as he keeps the property away from that other crew.


20 (10). CHARON AND HERMES

CHARON
I'll tell you how things stand. Our craft, as you see, is small, and leaky, and three-parts rotten; a single lurch, and she will capsize without more ado. And here are all you passengers, each with his luggage. If you come on board like that, I am afraid you may have cause to repent it; especially those who have not learnt to swim.

HERMES
Then how are we to make a trip of it?

CHARON
I'll tell you. They must leave all this nonsense behind them on shore, and come aboard in their skins. As it is, there will be no room to spare. And in future, Hermes, mind you admit no one till he has cleared himself of encumbrances, as I say. Stand by the gangway, and keep an eye on them, and make them strip before you let them pass.

HERMES
Very good. Well, Number One, who are you?

MENIPPUS
Menippus. Here are my wallet and staff; overboard with them. I had the sense not to bring my cloak.

HERMES
Pass on, Menippus; you're a good fellow; you shall have the seat of honour, up by the pilot, where you can see every one.—ere is a handsome person; who is he?

CHARMOLEOS
Charmoleos of Megara; the irresistible, whose kiss was worth a thousand pounds.

HERMES
That beauty must come off,—lips, kisses, and all; the flowing locks, the blushing cheeks, the skin entire. That's right. Now we're in better trim;—you may pass on.—And who is the stunning gentleman in the purple and the diadem?

LAMPICHUS
I am Lampichus, tyrant of Gela.

HERMES
And what is all this splendour doing here, Lampichus?

LAMPICHUS
How! would you have a tyrant come hither stripped?

HERMES
A tyrant! That would be too much to expect. But with a shade we must insist. Off with these things.

LAMPICHUS
There, then: away goes my wealth.

HERMES
Pomp must go too, and pride; we shall be overfreighted else.

LAMPICHUS
At least let me keep my diadem and robes.

HERMES
No, no; off they come!

LAMPICHUS
Well? That is all, as you see for yourself.

HERMES
There is something more yet: cruelty, folly, insolence, hatred.

LAMPICHUS
There then: I am bare.

HERMES
Pass on.—And who may you be, my bulky friend?

DAMASIAS
Damasias the athlete.

HERMES
To be sure; many is the time I have seen you in the gymnasium.

DAMASIAS
You have. Well, I have peeled; let me pass.

HERMES
Peeled! my dear sir, what, with all this fleshy encumbrance? Come, off with it; we should go to the bottom if you put one foot aboard. And those crowns, those victories, remove them.

DAMASIAS
There; no mistake about it this time; I am as light as any shade among them.

HERMES
That's more the kind of thing. On with you.—Crato, you can take off that wealth and luxury and effeminacy; and we can't have that funeral pomp here, nor those ancestral glories either; down with your rank and reputation, and any votes of thanks or inscriptions you have about you; and you need not tell us what size your tomb was; remarks of that kind come heavy.

CRATON
Well, if I must, I must; there's no help for it.

HERMES
Hullo! in full armour? What does this mean? and why this trophy?

GENERAL
I am a great conqueror; a valiant warrior; my country's pride.

HERMES
The trophy may stop behind; we are at peace; there is no demand for arms.—Whom have we here? whose is this knitted brow, this flowing beard? ’Tis some reverend sage, if outside goes for anything; he mutters; he is wrapped in meditation.

MENIPPUS
That's a philosopher, Hermes; and an impudent quack not the bargain. Have him out of that cloak; you will find something to amuse you underneath it.

HERMES
Off with your clothes first; and then we will see to the rest. My goodness, what a bundle: quackery, ignorance, quarrelsomeness, vainglory; idle questionings, prickly arguments, intricate conceptions; humbug and gammon and wishy-washy hair-splittings without end; and hullo! why here's avarice, and self-indulgence, and impudence! luxury, effeminacy and peevishness!—Yes, I see them all; you need not try to hide them. Away with falsehood and swagger and superciliousness; why, the three-decker is not built that would hold you with all this luggage.

PHILOSOPHER
I resign them all, since such is your bidding.

MENIPPUS
Have his beard off too, Hermes; only look what a ponderous bush of a thing! There's a good five pounds' weight there.

HERMES
Yes; the beard must go.

PHILOSOPHER
And who shall shave me?

HERMES
Menippus here shall take it off with the carpenter's axe; the gangway will serve for a block.

MENIPPUS
Oh, can't I have a saw, Hermes? It would be much better fun.

HERMES
The axe must serve.—Shrewdly chopped!—Why, you look more like a man and less like a goat already.

MENIPPUS
A little off the eyebrows?

HERMES
Why, certainly; he has trained them up all over his forehead, for reasons best known to himself.—Worm! what, snivelling? afraid of death? Oh, get on board with you.

MENIPPUS
He has still got the biggest thumper of all under his arm.

HERMES
What's that?

MENIPPUS
Flattery; many is the good turn that has done him.

PHILOSOPHER
Oh, all right, Menippus; suppose you leave your independence behind you, and your plain—speaking, and your indifference, and your high spirit, and your jests!--No one else here has a jest about him.

HERMES
Don't you, Menippus! you stick to them; useful commodities, these, on shipboard; light and handy.—You rhetorician there, with your verbosities and your barbarisms, your antitheses and balances and periods, off with the whole pack of them.

RHETORICIAN
Away they go.

HERMES
All's ready. Loose the cable, and pull in the gangway; haul up the anchor; spread all sail; and, pilot, look to your helm. Good luck to our voyage!—What are you all whining about, you fools? You philosopher, late of the beard,—you're as bad as any of them.

PHILOSOPHER
Ah, Hermes: I had thought that the soul was immortal.

MENIPPUS
He lies: that is not the cause of his distress.

HERMES
What is it, then?

MENIPPUS
He knows that he will never have a good dinner again; never sneak about at night with his cloak over his head, going the round of the brothels; never spend his mornings in fooling boys out of their money, under the pretext of teaching them wisdom.

PHILOSOPHER
And pray are you content to be dead?

MENIPPUS
It may be presumed so, as I sought death of my own accord.—By the way, I surely heard a noise, as if people were shouting on the earth?

HERMES
You did; and from more than one quarter.—There are people running in a body to the Town-hall, exulting over the death of Lampichus; the women have got hold of his wife; his infant children fare no better,—the boys are giving them handsome pelting. Then again you hear the applause that greets the orator Diophantus, as he pronounces the funeral oration of our friend Crato. Ah yes, and that's Damasias's mother, with her women, striking up a dirge. No one has tear for you, Menippus; your remains are left in peace. Privileged person!

MENIPPUS
Wait a bit: before long you will hear the mournful howl of dogs, and the beating of crows' wings, as they gather to perform my funeral rites.

HERMES
I like your spirit.—However, here we are in port. Away with you all to the judgement-seat; it is straight ahead. The ferryman and I must go back for a fresh load.

MENIPPUS
Good voyage to you, Hermes.—Let us be getting on; what are you all waiting for? We have got to face the judge, sooner or later; and by all accounts his sentences are no joke; wheels, rocks, vultures are mentioned. Every detail of our lives will now come to light!

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