Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Content with Little

Greek Anthology 7.736 (Leonidas of Tarentum, tr. W.R. Paton):
Vex not thyself, O man, leading a vagrant life, rolled from one land to another. Vex not thyself if thou hast a little hut to cover thee, warmed by a little fire, if thou hast a poor cake of no fine meal kneaded by thy hands in a stone trough, if thou hast mint or thyme for a relish or even coarse salt not unsweetened.
The same, tr. N.M. Kay (commentary on Martial 11.32):
Don't wear yourself out pursuing the wandering life, migrating from land to land, don't wear yourself out, if a barn warmed by a small kindled fire be your shelter and the bread kneaded in your trough by your own hands be of plain, not good quality wheat, and you have pennyroyal, thyme and bitter, tasty salt to go with your bread.
The same, tr. Robert Bland:
Cling to thy home! if there the meanest shed
Yield thee a hearth and shelter for thy head,
And some poor plot, with vegetables stored,
Be all that Heaven allots thee for thy board,—
Unsavory bread, and herbs that scattered grow
Wild on the river brink or mountain brow,
Yet e'en this cheerless mansion shall provide
More heart's repose than all the world beside.
The same, tr. J.S. Phillimore:
O man of woman born, be not a rover!
  Each day a day's march spanned;
Ever a rolling stone the wide world over,
  Trundled from land to land!

Be not a rover—tho' the barest shanty
  Circle your bones about;
Fire on the hearth, and be it ne'er so scanty,
  To keep the winter out:

Altho' a bannock (dry and sorry feeding)
  Be all you call your own,
Meagre in meal, and that your own hands' kneading,
  Worked in a scoop of stone;

Altho' for kitchen herbs you find no flavours
  But common thyme and mint;
No sauce but salt that's tart in the lump, but savours
  Spiced in a dainty hint.
The same, tr. F.A. Wright:
I tramp the roads and wander far,
Yet know not want and know not care.
Flat stones for kneading trough I take,
And make myself an oaten cake.
Some mint or thyme serves me for meat,
Or lump of rock salt bitter-sweet;
And o'er my head a well thatched barn
With fire of sticks to keep me warm.
Greek original from Gow and Page, The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), vol. 1, p. 118:
Μὴ φθείρευ, ὤνθρωπε, περιπλάνιον βίον ἕλκων,
  ἄλλην ἐξ ἄλλης εἰς χθόν' ἀλινδόμενος·
μὴ φθείρευ· κενεή σε περιστέξαιτο καλιή
  ἣν θάλποι μικκὸν πῦρ ἀνακαιόμενον,
εἰ καί σοι λιτή τε καὶ οὐκ εὐάλφιτος εἴη    5
  φυστὴ ἐνὶ γρώνῃ μασσομένη παλάμαις,
εἰ καί σοι γλήχων ἢ καὶ θύμον ἢ καὶ ὁ πικρός
  ἁδυμιγὴς εἴη χόνδρος ἐποψίδιος.

3 φθείρευ κενεή Ap.B. φθείρ' ἐν κενεηῖ P | περιστέξαιτο Mein. -στέψ- P
7 εἰ Toup η P
Jan van Goyen, Peasant Huts with a Sweep Well

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