Monday, January 30, 2017


Messages from Beyond the Grave

Lucian, Dialogues of the Dead 1.2-3 (Diogenes and Pollux speaking; tr. H.W. Fowler):
Diog. May I give you another message to those same philosophers?

Pol. Oh, I don't mind; go on.

Diog. Charge them generally to give up playing the fool, quarrelling over metaphysics, tricking each other with horn and crocodile puzzles and teaching people to waste wit on such absurdities.

Pol. Oh, but if I say anything against their wisdom, they will call me an ignorant blockhead.

Diog. Then tell them from me to go to the devil.

Pol. Very well; rely upon me.

Diog. And then, my most obliging of Polluxes, there is this for the rich:—O vain fools, why hoard gold? why all these pains over interest sums and the adding of hundred to hundred, when you must shortly come to us with nothing beyond the dead-penny?

Pol. They shall have their message too.

Diog. Ah, and a word to the handsome and strong; Megillus of Corinth, and Damoxenus the wrestler will do. Inform them that auburn locks, eyes bright or black, rosy cheeks, are as little in fashion here as tense muscles or mighty shoulders; man and man are as like as two peas, tell them, when it comes to bare skull and no beauty.

βούλει καὶ πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἐκείνους ἐντείλωμαί τι τοὺς φιλοσόφους;

λέγε· οὐ βαρὺ γὰρ οὐδὲ τοῦτο.

τὸ μὲν ὅλον παύσασθαι αὐτοῖς παρεγγύα ληροῦσι καὶ περὶ τῶν ὅλων ἐρίζουσιν καὶ κέρατα φύουσιν ἀλλήλοις καὶ κροκοδείλους ποιοῦσι καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἄπορα ἐρωτᾶν διδάσκουσι τὸν νοῦν.

ἀλλὰ ἐμὲ ἀμαθῆ καὶ ἀπαίδευτον εἶναι φάσκουσι κατηγοροῦντα τῆς σοφίας αὐτῶν.

σὺ δὲ οἰμώζειν αὐτοὺς παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ λέγε.

καὶ ταῦτα, ὦ Διόγενες, ἀπαγγελῶ.

τοῖς πλουσίοις δ᾿, ὦ φίλτατον Πολυδεύκιον, ἀπάγγελλε ταῦτα παρ᾿ ἡμῶν· τί, ὦ μάταιοι, τὸν χρυσὸν φυλάττετε; τί δὲ τιμωρεῖσθε ἑαυτοὺς λογιζόμενοι τοὺς τόκους καὶ τάλαντα ἐπὶ ταλάντοις συντιθέντες, οὓς χρὴ ἕνα ὀβολὸν ἔχοντας ἥκειν μετ᾿ ὀλίγον;

εἰρήσεται καὶ ταῦτα πρὸς ἐκείνους.

ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς καλοῖς τε καὶ ἰσχυροῖς λέγε, Μεγίλλῳ τε τῷ Κορινθίῳ καὶ Δαμοξένῳ τῷ παλαιστῇ, ὅτι παρ᾿ ἡμῖν οὔτε ἡ ξανθὴ κόμη οὔτε τὰ χαροπὰ ἢ μέλανα ὄμματα ἢ ἐρύθημα ἐπὶ τοῦ προσώπου ἔτι ἔστιν ἢ νεῦρα εὔτονα ἢ ὦμοι καρτεροί, ἀλλὰ πάντα μία ἡμῖν κόνις, φασί, κρανία γυμνὰ τοῦ κάλλους.
The Greek is fairly straightforward and is made even easier thanks to Evan Hayes and Stephen Nimis, Lucian's Dialogues of the Gods. An Intermediate Greek Reader. Greek Text with Running Vocabulary and Commentary (Oxford: Faenum Publishing, 2015), where this passage appears on pp. 7-9.

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