Friday, July 21, 2006


Make Thee Merry

Greek Anthology 11.62 (Palladas, tr. W.R. Paton):
Death is a debt due by all men and no mortal knows if he will be alive to-morrow. Take this well to heart, O man, and make thee merry, since thou possessest wine that is oblivion of death. Take joy too in Aphrodite whilst thou leadest this fleeting life, and give up all else to the control of Fortune.

Πᾶσι θανεῖν μερόπεσσιν ὀφείλεται, οὐδέ τις ἐστὶν
  αὔριον εἰ ζήσει θνητὸς ἐπιστάμενος.
τοῦτο σαφῶς, ἄνθρωπε, μαθὼν εὔφραινε σεαυτόν,
  λήθην τοῦ θανάτου τὸν Βρόμιον κατέχων.
τέρπεο καὶ Παφίῃ, τὸν ἐφημέριον βίον ἕλκων·
  τἄλλα δὲ πάντα Τύχῃ πράγματα δὸς διέπειν.
Paton's translation somewhat obscures Palladas' Holy Trinity in the last three lines:
  1. Bromius (aka Bacchus, the god of wine);
  2. the Paphian (Aphrodite, the goddess of love); and
  3. Tyche (the goddess Fortune).
Here is J. W. Mackail's translation of the same poem:
All human must pay the debt of death, nor is there any mortal who knows whether he shall be alive to-morrow; learning this clearly, O man, make thee merry, keeping the wine-god close by thee for oblivion of death, and take thy pleasure with the Paphian while thou drawest thy ephemeral life; but all else give to Fortune's control.

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