Sunday, May 27, 2012


The Wisdom of Heracles

Euripides, Alcestis 779-802, tr. H.W. Garrod with the title The Wisdom of Heracles:
Come now, come hither and be wise in time.
Knowest thou the burden of the life of man?
How should'st thou know it? Therefore learn of me
We must all die: Death's debtors are we all:
The day and hour knows no man, but he dies
The fool of never-coming morrows. Dark
Are all the processes of doom: it comes
Neither with observation nor by art
Forecast to any. Therefore, wise in time,
Drink and be merry. Count to-day as thine,
And all things else permit to the world's whim.
Be thy religion Woman: sweet is Love:
There is no kinder goddess: worship Love.
And let the world go by.
                                       If this be wisdom,
If this be wisdom, and methinks it is,
Obey it and be done with sorrow, drink
Crowning thy hair with flowers, and conquer Fate.
Full soon the pulse o' the wine within the cup
Shall smooth a sullen care-contracted brow.
Men are we, and a man asks Life: and Life
Dwells not with sour and solemn looks: with them
Dwells death, not life. So have I learnt the world.

δεῦρ' ἔλθ', ὅπως ἂν καὶ σοφώτερος γένῃ.
τὰ θνητὰ πράγμαθ' ἣντιν' οἶσθ' ἔχει φύσιν;
οἶμαι μὲν οὔ· πόθεν γάρ; ἀλλ' ἄκουέ μου.
βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·
τὸ τῆς τύχης γὰρ ἀφανὲς οἷ προβήσεται,
κἄστ' οὐ διδακτὸν οὐδ' ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ.
ταῦτ' οὖν ἀκούσας καὶ μαθὼν ἐμοῦ πάρα
εὔφραινε σαυτόν, πῖνε, τὸν καθ' ἡμέραν
βίον λογίζου σόν, τὰ δ' ἄλλα τῆς τύχης.
τίμα δὲ καὶ τὴν πλεῖστον ἡδίστην θεῶν
Κύπριν βροτοῖσιν· εὐμενὴς γὰρ ἡ θεός.
τὰ δ' ἄλλ' ἔασον πάντα καὶ πιθοῦ λόγοις
ἐμοῖσιν, εἴπερ ὀρθά σοι δοκῶ λέγειν.
οἶμαι μέν. οὔκουν τὴν ἄγαν λύπην ἀφεὶς
πίῃ μεθ' ἡμῶν [τάσδ' ὑπερβαλὼν τύχας,
στεφάνοις πυκασθείς]; καὶ σάφ' οἶδ' ὁθούνεκα
τοῦ νῦν σκυθρωποῦ καὶ ξυνεστῶτος φρενῶν
μεθορμιεῖ σε πίτυλος ἐμπεσὼν σκύφου.
ὄντας δὲ θνητοὺς θνητὰ καὶ φρονεῖν χρεών·
ὡς τοῖς γε σεμνοῖς καὶ συνωφρυωμένοις
ἅπασίν ἐστιν, ὥς γ' ἐμοὶ χρῆσθαι κριτῇ,
οὐ βίος ἀληθῶς ὁ βίος ἀλλὰ συμφορά.
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