Friday, May 18, 2012

Duel of Abuse 2012 ~ Prologue

(Déjà vu characters from 424 BC ~ courtesy of ARISTOPHANES[1] with some names slightly amended for clarity.)

[DIMISTHENES:] I will begin then. We have a very brutal master, a perfect glutton for bean[counting], and most bad-tempered; 'tis Demos of [DC], an intolerable old man and half deaf. The beginning of last month he bought a [sidekick], a … tanner [called, “Clecon”], an arrant rogue, the incarnation of calumny. This man of leather knows his old master thoroughly; he plays the fawning cur, flatters, cajoles; wheedles, and dupes him at will with little scraps of leavings, which he allows him to get. "Dear Demos," he will say, "try a single case and you will have done enough; then take your bath, eat, swallow and devour; here are three [more profit points]." Then [this Clecon] filches from one of us what we have prepared and makes a present of it to our old man. T'other day I had just kneaded a Spartan cake …; the cunning rogue came behind my back, sneaked it and offered the cake, which was my invention, in his own name. He keeps us at a distance and suffers none but himself to wait upon the master; when Demos is dining, he keeps close to his side with a thong in his hand and puts the orators to flight. He keeps singing oracles to him, so that the old man now thinks of nothing but the [futures]. Then, when he sees him thoroughly obfuscated, he uses all his cunning and piles up lies and calumnies against the household; then we are scourged and [Clecon] runs about among the slaves to demand contributions with threats and gathers 'em in with both hands. He will say, "You see how I have had [upstarts] beaten! Either content me or die at once!" We are forced to give, for else the old man tramples on us and makes us spew forth all our body contains. There must be an end to it, friend. Let us see! what can be done? Who will get us out of this mess?

[2012 Study Questions: Who/What is Dimisthenes? Who/What is Demos? Who/What is Clecon? Hint: perhaps begin with the recent Republican primaries; and/or economic theories.]


[1] “Duel of Abuse” comes from p. 14 (CHORUS) of Aristophanes' (circa 444 –385 BC)  play, “The Knights,” from The Eleven Comedies, Volume 1, Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition, 2005-08-01. The text of this post is from p. 4 with a 2012 update by SMS.
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