Rhetoric and Power: The Drama of Classical Greece

By Nathan Crick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Aristophanes’s Birds and the
Corrective of Comedy

INFORMER: Listen, Buster: / my business is the indictment of islands for sub-
versive activities. / You see in me a professional informer.

PISTHETAIROS: A splendid calling.

INFORMER: Also an agent provocateur of lawsuits and investigations. / That’s
why I want the wings. They come in handy / for whizzing around the
islands delivering my indictments / and handing out subpoenas in per-
son …

PISTHETAIROS: Great Zeus Almighty, / Aren’t there enough honest means of
earning a living / without this dirty little dodge of hatching suits?

INFORMER: Listen, mister: it’s wings I want, not words.

PISTHETAIROS: But my words are wings.

INFORMER: Your words are wings?

PISTHETAIROS: Wings from words. You know the old men, how they roll
around the barbershop / grousing and bitching about the younger gener-
ation?— / “Thanks to that damned Dieitrephes and his damned advice,” /
growls one, “my boy has flown the family nest / to take a flier on the
horses.” / “Hell,” pipes another, “you should see that kid of mine: / he’s
gone so damn batty over those tragic plays, / he flies into fits of ecstasy
and gets goosebumps all over.”

INFORMER: And that’s how words give wings?

PISTHETAIROS: Right. / Through dialectic the mind of man takes wing and
soars; / he is morally and spiritually uplifted. And so I hoped / with words
of good advice to win you on your way / toward some honest trade.

-118-

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