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Jupiter may make him, unless he will consent to restore to the birds their ancient power, and give him in marriage his favorite attendant, Basilea. This said, he slips back again to heaven, as he came. The Chorus continue an account of their travels.
“ An embassy arrives from heaven, consisting of Hercules, Neptune, and a certain Triballian god. As they approach the city walls, Neptune is dressing and scolding at the outlandish divinity, and teaching him how to carry himself a little decently. They find Pisthetærus busy in giving orders about a dish of wild fowl, (i. e. of birds which had been guilty of high misdemeanours, and condemned to die by the public,) which are dressing for his dinner. Hercules, who before was for bringing off the head of this audacious mortal without further conference, finds himself insensibly relent, as he snuffs the savory steam.
He salutes Pisthetærus, who receives them very coldly, and is more attentive to his kitchen than to their compliment. Neptune opens his commission; owns that his nation (the gods) are not the better for this war, and on reasonable terms would be glad of a peace. Pisthetærus, according to the advice of Prometheus, proposes (as if to try them) the first condition, namely, that of Jupiter's restoring to the birds their ancient power; and, if this should be agreed to, he says that he hopes to entertain my lords the ambassadors at dinner. Hercules, pleased with this last compliment, so agreeable to his appetite, comes readily into all he asks; but is severely reproved by Neptune for his gluttony. Pisthetærus argues the point, and shows how much it would be for the mutual interest of both nations; and Neptune is hungry enough to be glad of some reasonable pretence to give the thing up. The Triballian god is asked his opinion for form : he mutters somewhat, which nobody understands, and so it passes for his consent. Here they
are going in to dinner, and all is well ; when Pisthetærus bethinks himself of the match with Basilea. This makes Neptune fly out again : he will not hear of it; he will return home instantly; but Hercules cannot think of leaving a good meal so; he is ready to acquiesce in any conditions. His colleague attempts to show him that he is giving up his patrimony for a dinner; and what will be. come of him after Jupiter's death, if the birds are to have every thing during his lifetime. Pisthetærus clearly proves to Hercules that this is a mere imposition ; that by the laws of Solon a bastard has no inheritance; that if Jove died without legitimate issue, his brothers would succeed to his estate, and that he speaks only out of interest. Now the Triballian god is again to determine the matter; they interpret his jargon as favorable to them; so Neptune is forced to give up the point, and Pisthetærus goes with him and the barbarian to heaven to fetch his bride, while Hercules stays behind to take care that the roast meat is not spoiled.
“A messenger returns with the news of the approach of Pisthetærus and his bride; and accordingly they appear in the air in a splendid machine, he with Jove's thunderbolt in his hand, and by his side Basilea, magnificently adorned : the birds break out in loud songs of exul. tation, and conclude the drama with their hymeneal."
The play was performed in the Archonship of Chabrias, B. C. 414. Ameipsias was first, with the Revellers ; Aristophanes second, with the Birds ; Phrynichus third, with the Monotropos, or Recluse.
ΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΔΡΑΜΑΤΟΣ ΠΡΟΣΩΠΑ.