Sunday, April 02, 2006


More Palladas

Recall from an earlier post what J.W. Mackail said about Palladas:
The lines on the Descent of Man (Anth. Pal. x.45), which unfortunately cannot be included in this selection, fall as heavily on the Neo-Platonic martyr as on the Christian persecutor, and remain even now among the most mordant and crushing sarcasms ever passed upon mankind.
Here is W.R. Paton's translation of the epigram, followed by the Greek:
If thou rememberest, O man, how thy father sowed thee, thou shalt cease from thy proud thoughts. But dreaming Plato hath engendered pride in thee, calling thee immortal and a "heavenly plant." "Of dust thou art made. Why dost thou think proudly?" So one might speak, clothing the fact in more grandiloquent fiction; but if thou seekest the truth, thou art sprung from incontinent lust and a filthy drop.

Ἄν μνήμην, ἄνθρωπε, λάβῃς ὁ πατήρ σε τί ποιῶν
  ἔσπειρεν, παύσῃ τῆς μεγαοφροσύνης.
ἀλλ᾽ ὁ Πλάτων σοὶ τῦφον ὀνειρώσσων ἐνέφυσεν,
  ἀθάνατόν σε λέγων καὶ φυτὸν οὐράνιον.
ἐκ πηλοῦ γέγονας· τί φρονεῖς μέγα; τοῦτο μὲν οὕτως
  εἶπ’ ἄν τις, κοσμῶν πλάσματι σεμνοτέρῳ.
εἰ δὲ λόγον ζητεῖς τὸν ἀληθινόν, ἐξ ἀκολάστου
  λαγνείας γέγονας καὶ μιαρᾶς ῥανίδος.
Compare Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.48 (tr. Gregory Hays):
In short, know this: Human lives are brief and trivial. Yesterday a blob of semen; tomorrow, embalming fluid, ash.
See also Pirke Aboth 3 (tr. Michael L. Rodkinson):
Aqabia b. Mahalallel used to say: "Consider three things, and thou wilt not fall into transgression: know whence thou comest, whither thou art going, and before whom thou art about to give account and reckoning; know whence thou comest -- from a fetid drop, and whither thou art going -- to worm and maggot; and before whom thou art about to give account and reckoning: before the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He."
It is clear from other epigrams that Palladas was unhappily married, so it is not altogether surprising that he also penned this misogynistic epigram (11.381, tr. W.R. Paton):
Every woman is a source of annoyance, but she has two good seasons, the one in her bridal chamber [en thalámō] and the other when she is dead [en thanátō].

Πᾶσα γυνὴ χόλος ἐστίν· ἔχει δ᾽ δύω ὥρας,
  τὴν μίαν ἐν θαλάμῳ, τὴν μίαν ἐν θανάτῳ.
Ezra Pound's translation is even harsher than the original:
Woman? Oh, woman is a consummate rage,
but dead, or asleep, she pleases.
Take her. She has two excellent seasons.
Mark Ynys-Mon's neat version has a clever pun on the seasons:
Unripe irritants.
When they Spring into the bedroom,
Or Fall into the grave,
Then they are in season...

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?