Saturday, July 23, 2005


Born Again

Menander, fragment 223 Kock (tr. Francis G. Allinson):
If some god should come up to me and say, "Crato, you, after your death, shall again have being anew and you shall be whatsoever you desire -- a dog, sheep, goat, man, horse -- for you have to live twice. That is decreed. Choose what you prefer."

Forthwith, methinks, I'd say: "Make me anything but human. That is the only living organism which unfairly gets its good or ill fortune. The best horse receives more careful grooming than others. If you are a good dog you are held in far greater esteem than a bad dog. A noble rooster exists on special diet, while the cock of low degree actually lives in fear of his superior. A human being, even if he is good, high-bred, very nobly-born, gets no good of that in this present day and generation! The flatterer fares best of all; the blackmailer comes next; the malignant man has the third place. 'Twere better to be born a jackass than to see one's inferiors living in greater splendour than oneself."

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