Friday, March 18, 2016


Inscription on a Gravestone

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 6.14672 = Inscriptiones Graecae 14.1746 = Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae 3.1245 (Rome, 3rd century A.D.; partly in Latin, partly in Greek; my translation of the Greek part only):
Don't pass by my inscription, traveler,
but stop and listen, learn and then go away.
There's no boat in Hades, no ferryman Charon,
no key-bearer Aeacus, no dog Cerberus.
But all of us, the dead here below,        5
have become bones and ashes, nothing else at all.
I've spoken to you truly; withdraw, traveller,
lest even though I'm dead I seem a babbler to you.
Don't give perfumes or garlands to my grave; it's just a stone.
And don't burn a fire; the expense is wasted.        10
While I'm alive, if you have anything, give me a share; but by giving my ashes a libation
you'll just produce mud, and one who's dead won't drink.
For this is what I'll be, and when you've thrown earth on my remains,
say that what I was when I didn't exist, I've become again.

μή μου παρέλθῃς τὸ ἐπίγραμμα, ὁδοιπόρε,
ἀλλὰ σταθεὶς ἄκουε καὶ μαθὼν ἄπι.
οὐκ ἔστι ἐν Ἅδου πλοῖον, οὐ πορθμεὺς Χάρων,
οὐκ Αἰακὸς κλειδοῦχος, οὐχὶ Κέρβελος κύων∙
ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες οἱ κάτω τεθνηκότες        5
ὀστέα τέφρα <γ>εγόναμεν, ἄλλο δὲ οὐδὲ ἕν.
εἴρηκά σοι ὀρθῶς· ὕπαγε, ὀδοιπόρε,
μὴ καὶ τεθνακὼς ἀδέλεσχός σοι φανῶ∙
μὴ μύρα, μὴ στεφάνους στήλλῃ χαρίσῃ· λίθος ἐστίν·
μηδὲ τὸ πῦρ φλέξεις· ἰς κενὸν ἡ δαπάνη.        10
ζῶντί μοι, εἴ τι ἔχεις, μετάδος· τέφραν δὲ μεθύσκων
πηλὸν ποιήσεις καὶ οὐκ ὁ θανὼν πίεται∙
τοῦτο ἔσομαι γὰρ ἐγώ, σὺ δὲ τούτοις γῆν ἐπιχώσας
εἰπέ∙ ὅτ<ι> οὐκ <ὢν> ἦν∙ τοῦτο πάλιν γέγονα.

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