Monday, July 18, 2016


Excess and Moderation in Love

Euripides, Medea 627-641 (tr. David Kovacs):
Loves that come to us in excess bring no good name or goodness to men. If Aphrodite comes in moderation, no other goddess brings such happiness. Never, O goddess, may you smear with desire one of your ineluctable arrows and let it fly against my heart from your golden bow!

May moderation attend me, fairest gift of the gods! May dread Aphrodite never cast contentious wrath and insatiate quarreling upon me and madden my heart with love for a stranger's bed! But may she honor marriages that are peaceful and wisely determine whom we are to wed!

ἔρωτες ὑπὲρ μὲν ἄγαν
ἐλθόντες οὐκ εὐδοξίαν
οὐδ᾿ ἀρετὰν παρέδωκαν
ἀνδράσιν· εἰ δ᾿ ἅλις ἔλθοι        630
Κύπρις, οὐκ ἄλλα θεὸς εὔχαρις οὕτως.
μήποτ᾿, ὦ δέσποιν᾿, ἐπ᾿ ἐμοὶ χρυσέων τόξων ἀφείης
ἱμέρῳ χρίσασ᾿ ἄφυκτον οἰστόν.

στέργοι δέ με σωφροσύνα,        635
δώρημα κάλλιστον θεῶν·
μηδέ ποτ᾿ ἀμφιλόγους ὀρ-
γὰς ἀκόρεστά τε νείκη
θυμὸν ἐκπλήξασ᾿ ἑτέροις ἐπὶ λέκτροις
προσβάλοι δεινὰ Κύπρις, ἀπτολέμους δ᾿ εὐνὰς σεβίζουσ᾿        640
ὀξύφρων κρίνοι λέχη γυναικῶν.
Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis 543-557 (tr. David Kovacs):
Blessed are they who with moderation
and self-control where the goddess is concerned
share in the couch of Aphrodite,
experiencing the calm absence
of mad passion's sting. In love
twofold are the arrows of pleasure
golden-haired Eros sets on his bowstring,
the one to give us a blessed fate,
the other to confound our life.
I forbid him, O Cypris most lovely,
to come to my bedchamber!
May my joy be moderate,
my desires godly,
may I have a share in Aphrodite
but send her away when she is excessive!

μάκαρες οἳ μετρίας θεοῦ
μετά τε σωφροσύνας μετέ-
σχον λέκτρων Ἀφροδίτας,        545
γαλανείᾳ χρησάμενοι
μανιάδων οἴστρων· ὅθι δὴ
δίδυμ᾿ Ἔρως ὁ χρυσοκόμας
τόξ᾿ ἐντείνεται χαρίτων,
τὸ μὲν ἐπ᾿ εὐαίωνι πότμῳ,        550
τὸ δ᾿ ἐπὶ συγχύσει βιοτᾶς.
ἀπενέπω νιν ἁμετέρων,
ὦ Κύπρι καλλίστα, θαλάμων.
εἴη δέ μοι μετρία
μὲν χάρις, πόθοι δ᾿ ὅσιοι,        555
καὶ μετέχοιμι τᾶς Ἀφροδί-
τας, πολλὰν δ᾿ ἀποθείμαν.

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