Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 770
Being tired of the wars and hungry, Trygaeus, like most Athenian citizens, calls upon the gods for aid. Unlike the others, however, Trygaeus searches for a way to gain entrance to the heavens so that he might make a personal plea to Zeus and thus save himself, his family, and his country. He tried climbing ladders but succeeded only in falling and breaking his head. He decided to ride to heaven on the back of a dung beetle, in the manner of Bellerophon on Pegasus.
This attempt to make his way to heaven succeeds, but when Trygaeus arrives at the house of Zeus he finds that the gods moved to that point farthest away from Greece so that they need see no more of the fighting among those peoples and hear no more prayers from them. Affording the Greeks an opportunity for peace, which they ignore, the gods now abandon them and give the god War, aided by his slave Tumult, full power to do with them as he pleases.
Trygaeus soon finds out that War already begins to carry out his plans. He casts Peace into a deep pit and is now preparing to pound up all the cities of Greece in a mortar. Trygaeus watches him as he throws in leeks representing the Laconians, garlic for the Megarians, cheese for the Sicilians, and honey for the Athenians. Fortunately, this deed of destruction is momentarily postponed because War cannot find a pestle. After several unsuccessful attempts on the part of Tumult to find one for him, War himself has to leave the mortar and go make one.
His departure gives Trygaeus the chance he needs to save Peace, and immediately he calls on all the states of Greece to come to his aid. All come, but with noise enough to bring Zeus himself back from his retreat. Hermes, who was left in the house of Zeus, is aroused and angered by the noise and can be cajoled into allowing them to go on with their work only after many promises of future glorification.
Even at such a crucial moment the people refuse to work together. The Boeotians only pretend to work; Lamachus is in the way of everyone; the Argives laugh at the others but profit from their mistakes; the Megarians try hard but do not have enough strength to do very much. The Laconians and the Athenians work earnestly and seriously, but it is primarily through the efforts of the farmers that Peace is finally freed. With her in the pit are Opora and Theoria. Everyone is now apparently happy, and to ensure the peace Opora is given to Trygaeus as a wife, and Theoria is sent to the Senate. All then descended to earth, where preparations for the wedding begin.
Before going on with the wedding, Trygaeus decides to make a sacrifice to Peace. During his preparations he is interrupted by Hierocles, a prophet from Areus. Trygaeus and his servant both try to ignore the prophet because they feel he is attracted only by the smell of cooking meat, but he is not to be put off so easily. When Hierocles learns to whom the sacrifice is being made, he begins to berate them and give them many oracles to show that this is not a lasting peace and that such cannot be achieved. When they are ready to eat the meat, however, he is prepared to agree with anything they say in order that he might satisfy his own hunger. Trygaeus, wishing to have nothing to do with the soothsayer, beats Hierocles and drives him away.
With peace newly restored to the country, the people of Athens seem to enjoy the feasting and mirth before the wedding. A sickle-maker approaches Trygaeus and praises him for bringing back peace and prosperity, but he is followed by an armorer and various other personages representing those trades that profit by the war. These people are unable to join in the festivities; theirs is not so happy a lot. Trygaeus, however, has no sympathy for them and offers only scorn. When they ask what they can do with their wares in order to regain at least the cost of manufacturing them, he mocks them. He offers to buy their crests and use them to dust the tables, and he offers to buy their breastplates for use as privies. He tells them to sell their helmets to the Egyptians who can use them for measuring laxatives, and he tells them to sell their spears as vine-props. When Opora appears, the whole party goes off to the wedding singing the Hymen Hymenaeus.
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