Monday, August 03, 2009


You Can't Take It With You

Palladas, Greek Anthology 10.60, tr. W.R. Paton:
You are wealthy. And what is the end of it? When you depart do you trail your riches after you as you are pulled to your tomb? You gather wealth spending time, but you cannot pile up a heavier measure of life.
The same, tr. J.W. Mackail:
Thou art rich, and what of it in the end? as thou departest, dost thou drag thy riches with thee, pulling them into the coffin? Thou gatherest riches at expense of time, and thou canst not heap up more exceeding measures of life.
The same, tr. T.R. Glover:
Get riches, and what then? the coffin's lid
The company of thy coffer will forbid;
Add wealth and time subtract; and what remains?
Life not an hour longer for thy pains.
The same, tr. Tony Harrison:
So, Mr. Moneybags, you're loaded? So?
You'll never take it with you when you go.

You've made your pile but squandered time. Grown old
you can't gloat over age like hoarded gold.
The original Greek:
Πλουτεῖς· καὶ τί τὸ λοιπόν; ἀπερχόμενος μετὰ σαυτοῦ
  τὸν πλοῦτον σύρεις, εἰς σορὸν ἑλκόμενος;
τὸν πλοῦτον συνάγεις δαπανῶν χρόνον· οὐ δύνασαι δὲ
  ζωῆς σωρεῦσαι μέτρα περισσότερα.
A commonplace, but a true one, worth keeping in mind. Here are some parallels from other ancient writers:

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