Wednesday, September 10, 2008


More on Aglaus of Psophis

Aglaus of Psophis was the ancient counterpart of Willy Lott, a man who hardly ever left his native ground. See here for some ancient testimonia about Aglaus. There is also a reference to Aglaus in Ausonius, Ludus Septem Sapientum 91-100. The only translation I could find of this passage from Ausonius is this quaint one by Edward Sherburne (Solon is speaking):
Croesus, the Tyrant King of Lydia,
Happy, and rich even to Excesse! (who wall'd
The Temples of his Gods with pure Gold) call'd
Me from my Country to him: We obey
His Royall Summons, went to Lydia,
Willing his Subjects by our means might find
Their King improv'd, and better'd in his Mind.
He asks Me whom I thought the happiest Man?
I said Telana the Athenian,
Who his life nobly for his Country gave;
He pishes at it, will another have.
I told him then Aglaus who the Bounds
Ne'r past in all his life of his own grounds.

Rex, an tyrannus, Lydiae Croesus fuit
his in beatis, dives insanum in modum,
lateribus aureis templa qui divis dabat.
Is me evocavit. Venio dicto oboediens,
meliore ut uti rege possint Lydii.
Rogat, beatum prodam, si quem noverim.
Tellum ne dico, civem non ignobilem:
pro patria pugnans iste vitam obiecerat.
Despexit, alium quaerit. Inveni Aglaum:
fines agelli proprii numquam excesserat.
A scholium on Juvenal 14.120 also mentions Aglaus:
For example, when the question was asked of the god, what person satisfied the reputation of true happiness, the happiest man was pronounced by Apollo's oracle to be Aglaus the Arcadian, who had never ventured away from his little ancestral farm.

qualis Apollinis oraculo declaratus est felicissimus Aglaus Arcas, qui numquam patrium agellum excesserat, cum a deo quaereretur, quis fidem verae felicitatis implesset.
Abraham Cowley, in The Country Life, mentions Aglaus (along with Abdalonymus and Vergil's old man of Corycia) as an example of the happy man:
Blest be the man (and blest he is) whom[e' re]
(Plac'd far out of the roads of Hope or Fear)
A little Field, and little Garden feeds;
The Field gives all that Frugal Nature needs,
The wealthy Garden liberally bestows
All she can ask, when she luxurious grows.
The specious inconveniences that wait
Upon a life of Business, and of State,
He sees (nor does the sight disturb his rest)
By Fools described, by wicked men possest.

Thus, thus (and this deserv'd great Virgils praise)
The old Corycian Yeom[a]n past his daies,
Thus his wise life Abdolonymus spent:
Th' Ambassadours which the great Emp'rour sent
To offer him a Crown, with wonder found
The reverend Gard'ner howing of his Ground.
Unwillingly and slow and discontent,
From his lov'd Cottage, to a Throne he went.
And oft he stopt in his tryumphant way,
And oft lookt back, and oft was heard to say
Not without sighs, Alas, I there forsake
A happier Kingdom then I go to take.

Thus Aglaüs (a man unknown to men,
But the gods knew and therefore lov'd him Then)
Thus liv'd obscurely then without a Name,
Aglaüs now consign'd t' eternal Fame.
For Gyges, the rich King, wicked and great,
Presum'd at wise Apollos Delphick seat
Presum'd to ask, Oh thou, the whole Worlds Eye,
See'st thou a Man, that Happier is then I?
The God, who scorn'd to flatter Man, reply'd,
Aglaüs Happier is. But Gyges cry'd,
In a proud rage, Who can that Aglaüs be?
We have heard as yet of no such King as Hee.
And true it was through the whole Earth around
No King of such a Name was to be found.
Is some old Hero of that name alive,
Who his high race does from the Gods derive?
Is it some mighty General that has done,
Wonders in fight, and God-like honours wone?
Is it some m[a]n of endless wealth, said he?
None, none of these; who can this Aglaüs bee?
After long search and vain inquiries past,
In an obscure Arcadian Vale at last,
(The Arcadian life has always shady been)
Near Sopho's Town (which he but once had seen)
This Aglaüs who Monarchs Envy drew,
Whose Happiness the Gods stood witness too,
This mighty Aglaüs was labouring found,
With his own Hands in his own little ground.

So, gracious God, (if it may lawful be,
Among those foolish gods to mention Thee)
So let me act, on such a private stage,
The last dull Scenes of my declining Age;
After long toiles and Voyages in vain,
This quiet Port let my tost Vessel gain,
Of Heavenly rest, this Earnest to me lend,
Let my Life sleep, and learn to love her End.
This is Cowley's translation of his own Latin verses in Libri Plantarum (1668) 4.1-48:
Felix, quem misera procul ambitione remotum
  Parvus ager placide parvus et hortus alit.
Praebet ager quicquid frugi Natura requirit,
  Hortus habet quicquid luxuriosa petit.
Caetera sollicitae speciosa incommoda vitae
  Permittit stultis quaerere, habere malis.

Talis erat magni memoratu digna Maronis
  Corycii quondam vita beata senis.
Talis (crediderim) tam laetus et impiger hortis
  Dives in exiguis Abdolonimus erat.
Illum damnosas runcantem gnaviter herbas
  Ecce ab Alexandro rege satelles adit.
Accipe Sidonii, vir magne, insignia regni
  Sceptrum, ait, et mitram Sidoniamque togam.
Missus in imperium tantum (quis credat?) amatam
  Dicitur invitus deseruisse casam.
Respicit ille gemens hortum: Meliora relinquo.
  Heu, ait, infelix deteriora sequor.

Talis erat generi humano vix nomine notus
  Aglaus, in parvo Dis bene notus agro.
Namque Gyges Lydas, regum ditissimus olim,
  Impius et scelerum prosperitate tumens,
Ecquis, ait, toto me fortunatior orbe est?
  Hic Clarium est ausus voce rogare deum.
Numen adulari nescit; felicior, inquit,
  Aglaus. Ille furens, Aglaus iste quis est?
An sit eo quisquam rex nomine quaerit? At illo
  Rex certe dictus nomine nullus erat.
An sit eo quisquam dux belli nomine clarus,
  Aut superis tracta nobilitate potens?
Anne aliquis praedives opum nulloque periclo
  Inter inexhaustas luxuriosus opes?
Nullus erat talis generis splendore, vel armis
  Divitiisve potens; Aglaus iste quis est?
At tandem Arcadiae vix nota in valle repertus
  (Arcadas alta quies umbraque densa tegit),
Strenuus exigui cultor prope Psophida fundi
  (Psophida sed tantum viderat ille semel.)
Invidia regum dignissimus ille repertus,
  Teste deo felix, Aglaus ille fuit.

Talis, magne deus, (si te mihi dicere fas sit
  Ridiculorum inter nomina vana deum),
Talis, vere deus, nunc inclinantibus annis
  Sit, precor, aetatis scena suprema meae,
Finis inutilium mihi sit, precor, illa laborum,
  Jactatae statio firma sit illa rati.
Sic mea caelestem praegustet vita quietem,
  Dormiat et mortem discat amare suam.
Related posts:

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

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