Wednesday, January 23, 2013


The Root of All Evil

Timocreon, Poetae Melici Graeci, no. 731 (a drinking song, tr. M.L. West):
Blind god of wealth, you never ought
to have appeared on land or sea
or anywhere: you ought to stay
in Tartarus, by Acheron,
for all men's ills are due to you.

ώφελέν σ᾽, ὦ τυφλὲ Πλοῦτε,
μήτε γῇ μήτ' ἐν θαλάσσῃ
μήτ' ἐν ἠπείρῳ φανῆμεν,
ἀλλὰ Τάρταρόν τε ναίειν
κ᾽Αχέροντα· διὰ σὲ γὰρ πάντ᾽
  αἰὲν ἀνθρώποις κακά.
Aristophanes, Acharnians 532-534 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson), refers to Timocreon's verses:
[Pericles] started making decrees like drinking songs, that Megarians should abide neither on land nor in market nor on sea nor on shore.

ἐτίθει νόμους ὥσπερ σκόλια γεγραμμένους,
ὡς χρὴ Μεγαρέας μήτε γῇ μήτ᾽ ἐν ἀγορᾷ
μήτ᾽ ἐν θαλάττῃ μήτ᾽ ἐν οὐρανῷ μένειν.
A version of Timocreon by "Verbeianus" in Classical Journal XXX (June 1817) 313:
Blind Plutus, god of wealth! nor isle, nor sea,
    Nor continent were made for thee.
    Aroynt thee, imp! to Tart'rus go,—
To Stygian darkness, and the shades below.
    For sure, if aught upon this earth
    Savoureth of ill, thou gavest it birth:
    From thee all evil thoughts began,
    Thou great, first ruiner of man.
By Goldwin Smith:
Would thou'dst ne'er been by mortals seen,
  Blind wealth, on earth or sea;
But doom'd to dwell in deepest Hell:
  Our woes are all from thee.
By George Burges:
Blind Plutus, oh! I would that ne'er
Thou hadst been seen on earth, or air,
Or sea; but dwelt where Acheron flows;
For man to thee all mischief owes.
By John Addington Symonds:
Would, blind Wealth, that thou hadst been
Ne'er on land or ocean seen,
Nowhere on this upper earth!
Hell's black stream that gave thee birth
Is the proper haunt for thee,
Cause of all man's misery!

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