Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Icy Laughter

Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue 5 (tr. Walter Kaufmann):
And now they look at me and laugh: and as they laugh they even hate me. There is ice in their laughter.
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra 4.18 (tr. Walter Kaufmann):
Whoever would kill most thoroughly, laughs.

Athena to Odysseus, in Sophocles, Ajax 79 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
Is not laughing at one's enemies the most delighful sort of laughter?

οὔκουν γέλως ἥδιστος εἰς ἐχθροὺς γελᾶν;
If you keep your misfortunes hidden, you won't give occasion for your enemies to laugh at you. Euripides fr. 460 Nauck:
It is a painful thing for someone to fall into shameful ruin; but if this should happen, one should conceal and cover it up well, and not announce these things to the whole world; for such things become a source of laughter to enemies.

λύπη μὲν ἄτῃ περιπεσεῖν αἰσχρᾷ τινι·
εἰ δ᾽ οὖν γένοιτο, χρὴ περιστεῖλαι καλῶς
κρύπτοντα καὶ μὴ πᾶσι κηρύσσειν τάδε·
γέλως γὰρ ἐχθροῖς γίγνεται τὰ τοιάδε.
But if you have a trustworthy friend, you can tell him your misfortunes, and he won't laugh. Menander, fragment preserved by Stobaeus 4.48b.21, assigned by some to the play Encheiridion (tr. W.G. Arnott):
Derkippos and Mnesippos, all of us
Enduring injury or slander from
Some source, can find one haven—loyal friends.
The victim then may cry his eyes out free
From ridicule, and when he sees his comrade
Stand by and share his anger like a friend,
Then most of all each lulls his rage to rest.

Δέρκιππε καὶ Μνήσιππε, τοῖς εἰρημένοις
ἡμῶν ὑπό τινος ἢ πεπονθόσιν κακῶς
ἐστιν καταφυγὴ πᾶσιν, οἱ χρηστοὶ φίλοι.
καὶ γὰρ ἀποδύρασθ᾽ ἔστι μὴ γελώμενον,
καὶ συναγανακτοῦνθ᾽ ὁπόταν οἰκείως ὁρᾷ
ἕκαστος αὑτῷ τὸν παρόντα, παύεται
τοῦτον μάλιστα τὸν χρόνον τοῦ δυσφορεῖν.
Free from ridicule is literally not laughed at (μὴ γελώμενον).

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