Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Semonides, Fragment 1

Semonides, Fragment 1 (tr. M.L. West):
Loud-thundering Zeus controls the outcome, lad,
in everything, and makes it how he wants.

ὦ παῖ, τέλος μὲν Ζεὺς ἔχει βαρύκτυπος
πάντων ὅσ' ἐστὶ καὶ τίθησ' ὅκῃ θέλει,

Men have no foresight, but from day to day
they live like cattle, knowing not at all
how God will bring each matter to its end;

νοῦς δ' οὐκ ἐπ' ἀνθρώποισιν, ἀλλ' ἐπήμεροι
ἃ δὴ βοτὰ ζόουσιν, οὐδὲν εἰδότες
ὅκως ἕκαστον ἐκτελευτήσει θεός.

yet everybody feeds on hope and trust
throughout his vain endeavours. Some await
tomorrow, some the turning of the seasons;

ἐλπὶς δὲ πάντας κἀπιπειθείη τρέφει
ἄπρηκτον ὁρμαίνοντας· οἳ μὲν ἡμέρην
μένουσιν ἐλθεῖν, οἳ δ' ἐτέων περιτροπάς·

there's no man does not think he'll reach next year
the Wealth-god's darling, and society's.

νέωτα δ' οὐδεὶς ὅστις οὐ δοκεῖ βροτῶν
Πλούτῳ τε κἀγαθοῖσιν ἵξεσθαι φίλος.

But one is overtaken by old age
before he makes his goal, others succumb
to grim diseases, others slain in war
Hades escorts below dark earth, while some
die out at sea, by tempests buffeted
and the salt purple deep's unending waves,
when they can make no living on the land;

φθάνει δὲ τὸν μὲν γῆρας ἄζηλον λαβὸν
πρὶν τέρμ' ἵκηται, τοὺς δὲ δύστηνοι βροτῶν
φθείρουσ' νοῦσοι, τοὺς δ' Ἄρει δεδμημένους
πέμπει μελαίνης Ἀΐδης ὑπὸ χθονός·
οἳ δ' ἐν θαλάσσῃ λαίλαπι κλονεόμενοι
καὶ κύμασιν πολλοῖσι πορφυρῆς ἁλὸς
θνήσκουσιν, εὖτ' ἂν μὴ δυνήσωνται ζόειν.

others again fasten themselves a noose
and leave the sunlight by their own grim choice.

οἳ δ' ἀγχόνην ἅψαντο δυστήνῳ μόρῳ
καὐτάγρετοι λείπουσιν ἡλίου φάος.

So we are spared no ill, but numberless
dangers and hurts for which we cannot plan
exist for mortals. If I had my way,
we would not cling to sorrow, or so long
torment ourselves by dwelling on our woes.

οὕτω κακῶν ἄπ' οὐδέν, ἀλλὰ μυρίαι
βροτοῖσι κῆρες κἀνεπίφραστοι δύαι
καὶ πήματ' ἐστίν. εἰ δ' ἐμοὶ πιθοίατο,
οὐκ ἂν κακῶν ἐρῷμεν, οὐδ' ἐπ' ἄλγεσι
κακοῖv ἔχοντες θυμὸν αἰκιζοίμεθα.

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