The Assembly Women (Ecclesiazusae)
by Aristophanes
Comparison of Four Translations
compiled by Tracy Marks    (Torrey Philemon)
Aristophanes book chat August 9, 2002 at Classica Book Discussions,
Greek classics at Webworkzone. For more information, please email Tracy Marks   

David Barrett, Translator, Penguin Edition -
Aristophanes; The Knights, Peace,
The Birds/The Assemblywomen, Wealth
Girl and Youth


Oh come, my heart's delight,
And share my bed tonight!
Strange passionate desires
Sweep through my body
Like a hundred fires.

My brain is in a whirl,
I love each single curl
Upon your head,
I want to be your girl.

This madness Eros sent:
O cruel god, relent
And set me free
Delight not to torment!
Bring him to me!

One detail you forget:
The door is bolted yet!
I lust with you to lie:
Admit me soon or I shall surely die.

Nothing can ease my mind
Until I have entwined
My limbs with yours
And squeezed your plump behind.

This madness Eros sent
O cruel, god, relent
And set me free!
Delight not to torment:
Bring her to me!

Girl and Youth

YOUNG GIRL: (She sings) 

This way, my love, this way,
come here and haste to rest
the whole night in my arms.
I worship your lovely curly hair;
I am consumed with ardent desire.
Oh! Eros, in thy mercy,
compel him to my bed.

YOUNG MAN: (standing beneath
the YOUNG GIRL'S window, singing)

Come down and haste to open the door
Unless you want to see me fall
Dead with desire.
Dearest treasure, I am burning
To yield myself to voluptuous sport,
Lying on your bosom,
To let my hands play with your bottom.

Aphrodite, why dost thou fire me
With such delight in her?
Oh! Eros, I beseech thee, have mercy
And make her share my couch.
Words cannot express the tortures
I am suffering. Oh! my adored one,
I adjure you, open your door for me
And press me to your heart;
'tis for you that I am suffering.

Blepyrus and Praxagora (624)

Won't the men all make for the prettiest one and want to sleep with her?

The plain unattractive girls will sit with the pretty ones; anyone who wants a pretty girl will have to lay one of the plain ones first.

Bit hard on some of us older men isn't it? If we've got to screw an ugly one first, how are we going to make it with a popsie?

Blepyrus and Praxagora

But all will go to the prettiest woman and try to lay her.

The ugliest and the most flat-nosed will be side by side with the most charming, and to win the latter's favours, a man will first have to get into the former.

But what about us oldsters? If we have to lay the old women first, how can we keep our tools from failing before we get into the Promised Land?

Youth and Hag (1052)

"Be it known that the women hereby enact as follows: If a young man desires a young woman, it shall not be lawful for him to screw the same unless and until he has pleasured an old one; and if he refuses so to pleasure her in due priority it shall be lawful for the older woman to seize him by the tool and drag him away forthwith.

Yow - I'm in for a long-drawn-out evening, I can see that.
Youth and Hag  (1018)


Listen. “The women have decreed that if a young man desires a young girl, he can only lay her after having satisfied an old woman; and if he refuses and goes to seek the maiden, the old women are authorized to seize him and drag him in.”

Alas! I shall become a Procrustes.

OTHER TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GREEK: Jeffrey Henderson    A.H. Sommerstein    R.G. Ussher

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