See more monologues from Aristophanes
The Leader of the Chorus - one of the many birds in the court of the
READ MORE - PRO MEMBERS ONLY
Join the StageAgent community to learn more about this monologue from The Birds and unlock other amazing theatre resources!
Already a member? Log in
READ MORE - PRO MEMBERS ONLY
Upgrade to PRO to learn more about this monologue from The Birds and unlock other amazing theatre resources!
Weak mortals, chained to the earth, creatures
of clay as frail as the foliage of the woods, you unfortunate race,
whose life is but darkness, as unreal as a shadow, the illusion of
a dream, hearken to us, who are immortal beings, ethereal, ever young
and occupied with eternal thoughts, for we shall teach you about all
celestial matters; you shall know thoroughly what is the nature of
the birds, what the origin of the gods, of the rivers, of Erebus,
and Chaos; thanks to us, even Prodicus will envy you your knowledge.
At the beginning there was only Chaos, Night, dark Erebus, and deep
Tartarus. Earth, the air and heaven had no existence. Firstly, black-winged
Night laid a germless egg in the bosom of the infinite deeps of Erebus,
and from this, after the revolution of long ages, sprang the graceful
Eros with his glittering golden wings, swift as the whirlwinds of
the tempest. He mated in deep Tartarus with dark Chaos, winged like
himself, and thus hatched forth our race, which was the first to see
the light. That of the Immortals did not exist until Eros had brought
together all the ingredients of the world, and from their marriage
Heaven, Ocean, Earth and the imperishable race of blessed gods sprang
into being. Thus our origin is very much older than that of the dwellers
in Olympus. We are the offspring of Eros; there are a thousand proofs
to show it. We have wings and we lend assistance to lovers. How many
handsome youths, who had sworn to remain insensible, have opened their
thighs because of our power and have yielded themselves to their lovers
when almost at the end of their youth, being led away by the gift
of a quail, a waterfowl, a goose, or a cock.
And what important services do not the birds render to mortals! First
of all, they mark the seasons for them, springtime, winter, and autumn.
Does the screaming crane migrate to Libya,-it warns the husbandman
to sow, the pilot to take his ease beside his tiller hung up in his
dwelling, and Orestes to weave a tunic, so that the rigorous cold
may not drive him any more to strip other folk. When the kite reappears,
he tells of the return of spring and of the period when the fleece
of the sheep must be clipped. Is the swallow in sight? All hasten
to sell their warm tunic and to buy some light clothing. We are your
Ammon, Delphi, Dodona, your Phoebus Apollo. Before undertaking anything,
whether a business transaction, a marriage, or the purchase of food,
you consult the birds by reading the omens, and you give this name
of omen to all signs that tell of the future. With you a word is an
omen, you call a sneeze an omen, a meeting an omen, an unknown sound
an omen, a slave or an ass an omen. Is it not clear that we are a
prophetic Apollo to you? (More and more rapidly from here on.) If
you recognize us as gods, we shall be your divining Muses, through
us you will know the winds and the seasons, summer, winter, and the
temperate months. We shall not withdraw ourselves to the highest clouds
like Zeus, but shall be among you and shall give to you and to your
children and the children of your children, health and wealth, long
life, peace, youth, laughter, songs and feasts; in short, you will
all be so well off, that you will be weary and cloyed with enjoyment.
Aristophanes, The Birds.
More about this monologue