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The stage is dark and silent. A door is faintly visible stage left. A woman holds a lamp aloft and addresses it with exaggerated solemnity.3


O bright eye of clay-cast lamp, Grandest invention of artisans wise!
Allow your pedigree to be revealed:
The mighty potter threw you on his wheel
(squinting at the snout)
Your nostrils became a lighthouse of sun.
(waving it about)
Send out the secret signals of your flame.
'Tis you we trust in pursuit of Aphrodite's ways...
On the bedstand you sit while we try to get laid.
(bringing the lamp eye level, she chides it affectionately)
Your watchful eye cannot be banned From rooms with bodies banging.
You light up our thighs in bloom You singe hairs from our flow'ring hoo-hahs.4

She illustrates with appropriate gestures, ending with flourish.

You conspire to 'lift' the gifts of Bacchus, Springing wine jugs from pantry prison.

She pirouettes dramatically, bowing to the lamp.

She pulls the veil off her head and drops the tragic posturing --but she's still talking to the lamp.

(fondly) And you do all that without blabbing to the neighbors.

She puts down the wreath and walking stick as she cradles the lamp in her other hand.

For that, you get to know about the the plans we devised at the Scira festival.5 My friends should've been here by now, but not a single one has come and it's almost dawn already. Congress will convene any second now. We've got to get seats there, and --as Phyromachus6 once said --"ladies must be seated without attracting attention."


3) In the Greek, the lines that follow employ tragic diction and meter (Sommerstein 1), but are meant to parody tragic apostrophe by addressing mundane subject matter (Ussher 70). We have used quasi-Shakespearean diction to capture the somber form of the speech.

4) Ancient Greek women used lamp flames to remove hair from what we would now call the bikini line.

5) The Scira festival was held every June in honor of the goddess Demeter. Because only women were allowed to attend, it would have been a perfect place to begin a female conspiracy. In Thesmophoriazousai (another Aristophanes play) the women conspire at a different festival to Demeter called the Thesmophoria.

6) Fur-OH-mack-us. Nothing else is known about Phyromachus. Sommerstein (4) suggests that the following joke puns off of the dual meaning of "seat" as both "place to sit" and "rump".