Saturday, January 01, 2005



Andrew Lang, Death:
Of all Gods Death alone
Disdaineth sacrifice:
No man hath found or shown
The gift that Death would prize.
In vain are songs or sighs,
Paean, or praise, or moan,
Alone beneath the skies
Hath Death no altar-stone!

There is no head so dear
That men would grudge to Death;
Let Death but ask, we give
All gifts that we may live;
But though Death dwells so near,
We know not what he saith.
Lang's poem is inspired by Aeschylus, fragment 161 (from the play Niobe):
For alone of gods Death does not love gifts, nor by sacrificing or by pouring libations could you accomplish anything. He has no altar and the paean is not sung to him; of the gods, from him alone Persuasion stands apart.
Here are some other ancient expressions of the same sentiment:According to Pausanias (6.25.2-3), the Eleans were the only Greeks who worshipped Hades and had a temple dedicated to him. But even they opened the temple only once a year, and only the priest was allowed to enter.

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