Tuesday, August 04, 2015


Vain Thoughts

Theognis 133-142 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):
No one, Cyrnus, is responsible on his own for ruin or profit,
but it is the gods who give both.
Nor does anyone know in his heart whether his toil        135
will turn out well or badly in the end.
For often a man who thought he would fail succeeds
and a man who thought he would succeed fails.
No one has at hand everything he wants,
since the constraints of grievous helplessness hold him back.        140
We mortals have vain thoughts, not knowledge;
it is the gods who bring everything to pass according to their own intent.

οὐδείς, Κύρν᾿, ἄτης καὶ κέρδεος αἴτιος αὐτός,
    ἀλλὰ θεοὶ τούτων δώτορες ἀμφοτέρων·
οὐδέ τις ἀνθρώπων ἐργάζεται ἐν φρεσὶν εἰδὼς        135
    ἐς τέλος εἴτ᾿ ἀγαθὸν γίνεται εἴτε κακόν.
πολλάκι γὰρ δοκέων θήσειν κακὸν ἐσθλὸν ἔθηκεν,
    καί τε δοκῶν θήσειν ἐσθλὸν ἔθηκε κακόν.
οὐδέ τῳ ἀνθρώπων παραγίνεται ὅσσ᾿ ἐθέλῃσιν·
    ἴσχει γὰρ χαλεπῆς πείρατ᾿ ἀμηχανίης.        140
ἄνθρωποι δὲ μάταια νομίζομεν, εἰδότες οὐδέν·
    θεοὶ δὲ κατὰ σφέτερον πάντα τελοῦσι νόον.

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