In late 2011, a tattered parchment was found lodged within an Internet server which happened to host a wiki site of little note and less repute. When examined, this parchment was found to contain a previously unsuspected play written by that great Ancient Greek comedian, Aristophanes. Here is an English translation of the play in question, with stage directions and artificial act divisions added for clarity.
THE SOCKS by Aristophanes
Presented at the Great Dionysia in 2011 BC
Twelvenes, a young Internet user
Somedudenos, a friend of Twelvenes
Adminenes, a website master
An unnamed sales representative, a sales representative
The Chorus, a group of sockpuppets
As the play begins, we see two boys, each approximately at the edge of puberty, sitting on the stage, each at a desktop computer. The one on the far left is TWELVENES and the one on the far right is SOMEDUDENOS. They speak aloud as they type.
Twelvenes: oh man i h8 my life
Somedudenos: What's the problem, Twelvenes?
Twelvenes: n1 likz me
Somedudenos: That's not true. I like you, and so does your mother. No wait, do you mean "like" like? Because you're right, nobody "like" likes you.
Twelvenes: dude lemm3 tel u wat hapend 2day
Somedudenos: Okay, but please speak decent English, so the audience has a chance to understand what you say.
TWELVENES gets up, turns toward the audience, and begins to talk. SOMEDUDENOS likewise dispenses with the Instant Messaging illusion.
Twelvenes: You remember that site I showed you the other day, Somedudenos? I decided to grace them with my awesome sense of humor.
Somedudenos: Yes, what was it now? Some sort of wikipedia where nobody has to pretend to get anything right. So you wrote something for it? That is so cool! What did you write about? Did you talk about how stupid basketball is?
Twelvenes: No, that would be too easy, man.
Somedudenos: Did you just type a lot of nonsense like that one page?
Twelvenes: Nope! I might do that later, though. After all, the only thing more enjoyable than hitting random keys is showing someone else the results.
Somedudenos: You didn't tell everyone about the time we snuck into the mall after curfew, did you?
Twelvenes: I keep telling you, Dude, I'm saving that for a big book deal!
Somedudenos: Well, I think this conversation is boring everyone else by now, so just tell us what you wrote about.
Twelvenes: I wrote about poop.
Somedudenos: Really? Let me see!
SOMEDUDENOS gets up and crosses the stage to where TWELVENES stands by his own computer.
Twelvenes: See? It's hilarious!
SOMEDUDENOS laughs long and loud as he looks at the screen.
Somedudenos: That's the funniest thing I've ever seen! It's genius, Twelvenes! Far better than anything that, say, Theognis could write! I hear the undertakers' work doubles every time he puts on a play, because he kills so many with boredom.
Twelvenes: Yeah, it's a great page about a great subject, but nobody likes it. Look at this page over here.
Somedudenos: What? Twenty-seven people said they hated it? Wow, the human race really is made up of morons.
Twelvenes: Just look at what this guy said!
Somedudenos: Too listy? Dude, the part where you listed all the synonyms for poop was the best part! I killed myself laughing at that!
Twelvenes: I even put all the cusses in caps and copy-pasted them fifteen times! How is that not the funniest thing you can do?
Somedudenos: Weiner jokes.
Twelvenes: Second-funniest, then.
Somedudenos: I can't argue with that. Hey, I didn't know the Chinese called poop "cow".
Twelvenes: Of course they don't, Dude. Who cares what they call it? It's just funnier to think everyone who says cow is secretly saying poop than that the actual Chinese word is, I dunno, ya-zow-pow-ito.
Somedudenos: Haha, you're quite right there. But wait, look! Three people said they loved it!
Twelvenes: Yeah, but they're anonymous, so they don't count. What am I to do, Somedudenos? There are zillions of people on the Internet who don't like my sense of humor! I'm a total failure!
Somedudenos: Never fear, Twelvenos, for the goddess of wisdom herself, our beloved Athena, has graced me with an idea! Indeed, it grows to full stature and becomes a plan even as I watch!
Twelvenes: Is it a cunning plan?
Somedudenos: Yes! It is more cunning than any plan that ever hatched deep within the breast of a cunning fox living on the estate of Sir Cunning, Duke of Cunningham!
Twelvenes: lol u said breast
Somedudenos: Twelvenos, remember the audience!
Twelvenes: Sorry, sorry. Ahem. Haha, you said breast.
Somedudenos: Much better.
Twelvenes: So what is your plan? Are we going to ride past the basketball court and tell everyone they're gay again, only this time pedal hard enough that they can't catch up?
Somedudenos: No, no, nothing like that. We're going to redeem you from the failure you are and make you into a success, a cultural sensation, even (dare I say it) an idol whom all shall fall down before and worship.
Twelvenes: Are you going to tell me to go outside and get some fresh air?
Twelvenes: Will you tell me to develop my writing skills, then talk to a publisher about that book deal?
Somedudenos: Not at all.
Twelvenes: Grow up and develop an original, unique sense of humor?
Somedudenos: Don't be silly.
Twelvenes: Good, because it wouldn't be much of a comedy if you gave me advice worth following, would it?
Somedudenos: We are going to talk to those people who squashed your dreams of Internet popularity and make them see sense. And I know just how to do it!
Twelvenes: Tell them all to die in a fire? I already tried that and it didn't work for some reason. I think they're too stupid to understand flames.
Somedudenos: Oh. Well, never mind, we'll figure something out. Come along now.
Twelvenes: That is the house where the webmaster lives. He was the meanest of all of them! He said so many nasty things about me!
Somedudenos: Give me an example of how he insulted you, that I may gain some insight into our adversary.
Twelvenes: Well, actually he only criticized my article . . . but I could tell he secretly meant for it all to apply to me personally!
Somedudenos: Let us speak to him first, anyway. If he could be turned to our side, he would make a powerful ally.
Twelvenes: Whatever, I just wanna tell him he's gay.
They knock on the door.
Adminenes: Go away, for Adminenes is busy.
Somedudenos: This is an important issue dealing with your website!
Adminenes: Very well, but it had better be worth Adminenes's while. My slave girls are waiting to administer my afternoon sponge bath.
ADMINENES appears at the door.
Adminenes: Hmm, two boys? You must be my dealer's latest shipment. I keep telling him I only want blonds, but does he listen? Go away.
Twelvenes: ur gay
Somedudenos: Comprehensible English, Twelvenes.
Twelvenes: Sorry, I got excited.
Somedudenos: Sir, my friend here wrote a very droll piece about human excrement for your website --
Twelvenes: Not just human. I mean, I guess I was mainly thinking human but there was a whole paragraph about monkeys.
Somedudenos: Right. About generalized excrement for your very worthy website, yet when it came time to bestow the appropriate laurels upon him, your membership failed to give credit where it was righteously due. Indeed, you lavished undue shame and cruelty upon my acquaintance's flawless masterpiece --
Twelvenes: Actually, no, I did make a mistake. I should have said the Iraq word for poop is Mandy.
Somedudenos: Look, you can't hold a life-long grudge against her just because she stole your cookie in second grade.
Adminenes: Besides, the time may come when you want to steal her cookie.
Somedudenos: Anyway, we're here to receive an apology.
Adminenes: Right, right. Um. Excuse me a moment, my personal chef is calling to me. (Calls back over his shoulder.) No, you've served pate de foie gras three times this week already. How about chicken marsala in that hundred-year-old wine? That was pretty good. (Turns back to the visitors.) Now, what did you want?
Twelvenes: say your sry or your a homo
Twelvenes: Sorry, sorry. I keep forgetting myself.
Somedudenos: To put it simply, earlier today Twelvenes contributed a very funny article about poop to your website and got mocked for his trouble. We want an apology.
Adminenes: Hmm, well, I'm just a simple administrator for a low-budget website, but I'll see what I can do. Moderatus! Bring me a list of all the new articles dealing with feces. Thank you, m'dear. Have a nickel and a pat on the head. Hmmm, well, there seem to be a few hundred articles matching your description. Could you be more precise? For example, were the Backstreet Boys or other boy bands mentioned?
Twelvenes: Whoops, I knew I was leaving something out.
Adminenes: That removes quite a few from consideration. Hmmm. How many pictures of turds did you inflict upon the reader?
Twelvenes: Coding is hard.
Adminenes: I shall take that to mean none. Hmmm. That leaves us with over a hundred possibilities still --
Twelvenes: its called poop iz funny and its the funniest thing i ever rote and i put it up 4 honors and u ppl *#@$ed all over it!!!!
Adminenes: Ah, that narrows it down considerably. Yes, here it is. Just a minute. Slavia, could you hold off on vacuuming the front hall? I am attempting to have a conversation with two visitors. Now now, there's no need to go to pieces like that. I still love you. Run along now and wax the silver Mercedes, there's a good girl. Sorry about that, slaves can be so excitable when they think they've fallen in one's regard, have you noticed?
Somedudenos: Silver Mercedes?
Adminenes: It's a terrible economy, isn't it? I'm afraid I simply could not scrape enough money together to buy a gold car this year.
Somedudenos: That certainly is terrible economy.
Adminenes: I might even have to let one of my slaves -- I mean, moderators -- go if things keep up like this. That would be terrible. I do like having exactly twenty-four sl -- moderators. It's such a lovely round number.
Somedudenos: Now that you mention it, I noticed Slavia had a lovely round --
Adminenes: Hmmm, yes, I remember this article. Terrible formatting, too much list and too little prose, and the only words not misspelled were all the synonyms for, ahem, feces. It needs a great deal of work.
Twelvenes: You think my writing isn't perfect? @!#% U U LITTLE --
Somedudenos: Quiet, Twelvenes, there's no need to insult Adminenes like that. As for you, sir, you are a miserable, misguided, misbegotten little tyrant, if you go around imposing your tasteless whims on others like this! Shame on you!
Adminenes: You call me tasteless?
Somedudenos: You're wearing actual bunny slippers! Pink bunny slippers! With googly eyes on!
Adminenes: Gold-leaf pink bunny slippers with googly eyes on, thank you very much. And you're one to talk -- you're wearing an Insane Clown Posse T-shirt.
Somedudenos: What's your point?
Adminenes: Never mind. So, do you think I unilaterally deemed your friend's article to be unworthy of our illustrious front page? Nonsense. We are a pure democracy here, the noblest, best form of government there is -- just ask anyone out there (he gestures to the audience) and they will tell you so. I merely oversee the running of the website. I assure you, I have no more sway over the hoi polloi than you do over a carrot.
Somedudenos: (looking at the audience) Well put -- I can see the hoi polloi have about the same intelligence as a carrot, too.
Adminenes: Yes, yes, Slavia, I've forgiven you for your mistake. Stop kissing my foot for now and go wax that car. Alas, Somedudenos, I am a mere figurehead, with no more power than anyone else here.
Somedudenos: I'd like to exert a little power over Slavia, if you don't mind. But that can wait. You say that you have no power to grant the honor that my friend seeks. How can this be achieved, then?
Adminenes: Very simple. He must win the vote before the day is up. The vote is currently 4 for, 29 against, so he has a long way to go.
Somedudenos: Who are the four who show such wisdom?
Adminenes: One is your friend. Another is Cleisthenes, who, may I mention, puts even the girliest of women to shame with his unbridled girliness. The third is Cleonymus, who is so uproariously fat that he gets two votes.
Somedudenos: Well, I cast my vote in favor.
Twelvenes: O thank you, thank you, dear friend! Truly a friend in need is a friend indeed!
Adminenes: Your score is now -24. A lovely round number, but not so lovely as the ladies waiting feverishly to give me my sponge bath. I must bid you adieu.
Somedudenos: Now where will we find enough people to counteract twenty-odd nincompoops?
Twelvenes: lol u s -- I mean, you said poops.
Somedudenos: Most of our friends are out of town, and there is no time to create an Internet petition.
Twelvenes: Oh, you and your Internet petitions. You'd start one of those to get your shirt mended or change your parents' mind about which restaurant to eat at. You'd even try to use one to un-cancel a show if you cared about television beyond wrestling.
Somedudenos: I have it! I will pretend to be other people and thus gain additional votes for myself to cast!
Twelvenes: Are you sure that will work?
Somedudenos: Of course! They do it all the time in Chicago, don't they? As soon as Joe Schmoe is in the grave, there he is at the ballot box, voting for the worst candidate available.
Twelvenes: You know, in ancient Greece they didn't even wait to be in the ground before voting.
Somedudenos: Is that supposed to be an allusion to nonexistent voter turnout in modern times or to The Wasps?
Twelvenes: Why not both?
Somedudenos: Anyway, this is bound to work. Did I ever tell you that, when I was eight years old, I was a shepherd in my church's Christmas play?
Twelvenes: Truly you have a dizzying acting ability.
Somedudenos: Off I go to get my costumes! Or props, as we actors say in the acting world.
Twelvenes: Where is he? It is late evening and that so-called friend of mine is nowhere to be found. Doubtless my plight has slipped his mind, and he is now playing Grand Theft Chariot: Sparta with his little sister.
Somedudenos: (entering) That's disgusting.
Twelvenes: What? No, that wasn't innuendo, you sicko! Never mind that! Where have you been? What took you so long?
Somedudenos: I was getting my props together. There was some difficulty with a hobo who didn't understand the importance of Internet fame to a twelve-year-old. You might say I wound up giving him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Twelvenes: D-did you try to k-k-kill him?
Somedudenos: Don't be ridiculous. I just gave him a moldy orange in exchange for some rags. Now let me step away and change into my first set of props while you call the administrator to the door.
Adminenes: Who knocks at Adminenes's door? Ah, it's you again. Have you and your friend come to your senses and realized how thoroughly worthless your article was, or have you found a birdbrain to give you one more vote? Actually, I doubt that even a sparrow would give its approval.
Somedudenos: (entering, dressed in rags) Woe is me, for my house has burned down, my family committed suicide, and my Bud Ice has been stolen by -- oh, hello. I am Eurepides, and I wish to give this young man's article my vote.
Adminenes: Are you sure you're Euripides? You can't even pronounce your own name properly.
Twelvenes: Euripides can't even write a proper tragedy. Do you really expect him to know his own name?
Adminenes: Hmm. Well, he is dressed in rags, and he was speaking in tragic tones when he arrived, so he probably is Euripides. But still, let's hear you say something Euripidic.
Adminenes: Very nice, very nice. Say something else.
Somedudenos: To vote or not to vote, that is the question. To stand by, and allow a brilliant young man to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of fools. I choose the latter, and vote Yea.
Adminenes: Quite Euripidic, indeed. But now that I stare at you, you look awfully like Twelvenes's friend.
Twelvenes: Of course he's my friend. Euripides has been my friend for years, isn't that so, old pal?
Somedudenos: Yup. I mean, uh, yea. Also, I approve of his article. The one on poop. Just so we're clear.
Adminenes: Very well, that is your sixth "for" vote. You are now 23 in the red. Alas, an ugly number, from which I too now suffer.
Twelvenes: What do you mean?
Adminenes: I gave Slavia her pink slip after dinner. O! but she was broken-hearted. She'll be down at the pub now, no doubt, crying her eyes out. Drinking herself senseless as women are wont to do and desperate for comfort.
Somedudenos: Er, where is this pub you speak of?
Adminenes: Down the road in that direction, three blocks. The one with the neon sign of a cow out front.
Twelvenes: lol he said cow
Somedudenos: Well, I must be going. That young lady could do with a few lines of high tragedy injected into her soul.
Twelvenes: Come back, Som -- er, Euripides! Come back!
Adminenes: I suspect your friend is about to suffer a bit of high tragedy himself. Slavia prefers her men considerably older.
Twelvenes: O, what am I to do? My friend has deserted me, and I am left to my own meager resources. I have no choice but to attempt my last, most desperate plan, and if it fail, all is lost.
Adminenes: About time. The chorus isn't supposed to take this long to appear.
Twelvenes: Quiet, you. (He gets out a cellphone and a credit card. As he does so, a SALES REPRESENTATIVE, also holding a phone, appears at the edge of the stage.) Hello, Socks-R-Us? I'd like to place an order for fifty sock puppets.
Sales Representative: I'm sorry, we can only give you twenty-four.
Twelvenes: Why is that?
Sales Representative: That's the number of people in a chorus.
Twelvenes: Oh, right. Well, I'll have to make it work. Can I charge this to my mother's credit card?
Sales Representative: Of course. Your sock puppets are on their way.
Twelvenes: Will they get here in time? They have little more than four hours to arrive --
Adminenes: Ten minutes.
Twelvenes: What? It's 7:50. The day's not nearly over!
Adminenes: I close up at eight sharp. The days are long, exhausting, and demanding enough for we administrators without being on call around the clock. My foot actually fell asleep on me at one point today, can you believe it?
Twelvenes: O! Woe is me! The seconds speed away without sign of my salvation! Will my delivery never get here? If this scheme fails, how can I live with myself? How can I explain the charges to Mom? But hark, what is this I hear? Could it be a parabola?
The Chorus enters, singing their parabasis. They are dressed as various socks.
- We're knights of the Round Table
- We dance whene'er we're able
Twelvenes: Wrong song!
- This should be in some nice, Greek meter
- But who cares? Nothing could be sweeter
- Than having lots of friends on your side
- When there is a big case to be tried.
- Our dear Twelvenes, it seems, needs just that
- So we arrive, sold for five dollars flat
- Plus cost of delivery one-day.
- Now here we are, sent to have his say.
- It's getting harder for us to rhyme
- So we'll leave the rest for another time.
Twelvenes: Adminenes, these people all agree that my article deserves the honors.
Adminenes: All of them?
Chorus: All of us.
Adminenes: Hmm. Well, that gives you the majority of the votes, just at the stroke of eight, too. Your article has won by one vote, and will receive all the honor and glory due it for this achievement. So be it. I, poor and powerless site administrator that I am, have been defeated, and the worst article this site has ever seen has received its highest honor. I'm off to bed to sleep off my depression. Well, first I'll check that nobody else has been stealing from the cash register. And maybe try out my new platinum bowling ball . . .
Twelvenes: And I must go and tell Somedudenos the good news! (He exits.)
- O frabjous day!
- Callooh! Callay!
- We have indeed served our master well.
- What happens next, only time will tell.
- It is now customary, it is true,
- For the Chorus to give advice to you
- On some urgent matter of state.
- But in this play, though you threaten us with hammers
- We have just one word to relate:
- Mommas, don't let your sons grow up to be spammers.
TWELVENES re-enters the stage. His hair is tousled, his pockets are full, and he is skipping and dancing around.
Twelvenes: Wow! Now that my babble about poop has been validated by people on an obscure website, girls are all over me, guys all think I'm the coolest guy ever, and publishers are offering me sweet book deals left and right! This is the best five dollars I ever spent that didn't lead to a trash can exploding!
- Aristophanes is really neat!
- He is filled with turtle meat!
Twelvenes: Wrong song!
- Aristophanes is an awesome guy!
- He made Cleon and the Demagogues cry!
- So if you have any brain behind your eyes,
- You'll surely give him for this play the first prize.
- Obviously, this and other occurrences are "Greek" in the original.
- Breaking the fourth wall is hilarious if you're an Ancient Greek.
- Pop culture references and parodies are hilarious if you're an Ancient Greek.
- Pedophilia is hilarious if you're an Ancient Greek.
- For that matter, poop is hilarious if you're an Ancient Greek. If you are an Ancient Greek, in fact, pretty much anything is funny as long as it doesn't involve a young girl carrying a large phallic symbol through the streets.
- Ancient Greeks also liked to be made fun of.