Wednesday, July 08, 2015



Sophocles, Women of Trachis 127-135 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
Not even the son of Cronos, who ordains all things, has given mortals a fate free from pain; but as it were the revolving paths of the Bear bring to all suffering and joy in turn. For neither spangled Night nor spirits of death nor riches abide for mortals, but joy or loss at once is gone, and then comes back.

ἀνάλγητα γὰρ οὐδ᾿
ὁ πάντα κραίνων βασιλεὺς
ἐπέβαλε θνατοῖς Κρονίδας·
ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ πῆμα καὶ χαρὰν
πᾶσι κυκλοῦσιν οἷον Ἄρ-        130
κτου στροφάδες κέλευθοι.
μένει γὰρ οὔτ᾿ αἰόλα
νὺξ βροτοῖσιν οὔτε κῆ-
ρες οὔτε πλοῦτος, ἀλλ᾿ ἄφαρ
βέβακε, τῷ δ᾿ ἐπέρχεται
χαίρειν τε καὶ στέρεσθαι.        135
Jebb on 129-130:
As the Great Bear moves ever round the pole, so joy and sorrow come round in unceasing rotation.
Greek ἀνάλγητα (análgēta, line 126) and English analgesic (pain reliever) are related.

The adjective αἰόλος (aiólos), meaning changeful of hue, versicolor, occurs four times in the play, twice describing a serpent (lines 11, 834), twice describing night (lines 94, 131).

In lines 131-133 there is an example of triple correlative conjunctions (οὔτε). For more examples see:
Ezra Pound's translation of these lines:
Thinkst thou that man who dies,
Shall from King Chronos take
    unvaried happiness?
Nor yet's all pain.
The shifty Night delays not,
Nor fates of men, nor yet rich goods and spoil.
Be swift to enjoy, what thou art swift to lose.
King Chronos! Admirers of Pound will say that this is intentional, creative translation (cf. χρόνος = time), not a howler. On the other hand Pound does translate βασιλεύς, which Lloyd-Jones does not. The king who ordains all things, the son of Kronos, is of course Zeus.

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