Jul. 25th, 2002

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. . . or several. Our quote for today is taken from Lysistrata by Aristophanes (translated by Sommerstein) and its relevance is left as an exercise for the reader.

MAGISTRATE : But the international situation at present is in a hopeless muddle. How do you propose to unravel it?
LYSISTRATA : Oh, it's dead easy.
MAGISTRATE : Would you explain?
LYSISTRATA : Well, take a tangled skein of wool for example. We take it so, put it to the spindle, unwind it this way, now that way [miming with her fingers]. That's how we'll unravel this war, if you'll let us. Send ambassadors first to Sparta, this way, then to Thebes, that way --
MAGISTRATE : Are you such idiots as to think that you can solve serious problems with spindles and bits of wool?
LYSISTRATA : As a matter of fact, it might not be so idiotic as you think to run the whole City entirely on the model of the way we deal with wool.
MAGISTRATE : How d'you work that out?
LYSISTRATA : The first thing you do with wool is wash the grease out of it; you can do the same with the City. Then you stretch out the citizen body on a bench and pick out the burrs -- that is, the parasites. After that you prise apart the club-members who form themselves into knots and clots to get into power, and when you've separated them, pick them out one by one. Then you're ready for the carding: they can all go into the basket of Civic Goodwill -- including the resident aliens and any foreigners who are your friends -- yes, and even those who are in debt to the Treasury! Not only that. Athens has many colonies. At the moment these are lying around all over the place, like stray bits and pieces of the fleece. You should pick them up and bring them here, put them all together, and then out of all this make an enormous great ball of wool -- and from that you can make the People a coat.

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