Friday, October 20, 2017


Leave the Rest to Fate

Greek Anthology 11.62 (by Palladas, tr. Tony Harrison):
Death's a debt that everybody owes,
and if you'll last the night out no-one knows.

Learn your lesson then, and thank your stars
for wine and company and all-night bars.

Life careers gravewards at a breakneck rate,
so drink and love, and leave the rest to Fate.

πᾶσι θανεῖν μερόπεσσιν ὀφείλεται, οὐδέ τις ἐστὶν
    αὔριον εἰ ζήσει θνητὸς ἐπιστάμενος.
τοῦτο σαφῶς, ἄνθρωπε, μαθὼν εὔφραινε σεαυτόν,
    λήθην τοῦ θανάτου τὸν Βρόμιον κατέχων.
τέρπεο καὶ Παφίῃ, τὸν ἐφημέριον βίον ἕλκων·
    τἄλλα δὲ πάντα Τύχῃ πράγματα δὸς διέπειν.
R. Kassel, "Dichterspiele," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 42 (1981) 11-20 (at 17, n. 34), regards this as a paraphrase of Euripides, Alcestis 782-789, here in the translation of Moses Hadas and John McLean:
All men have to pay the debt of death,
and there is not a mortal who knows
whether he is going to be alive on the morrow.
The outcome of things that depend on fortune cannot be foreseen;
they can neither be learnt nor discovered by any art.
Hearken to this and learn of me,
cheer up, drink, reckon the days
yours as you live them; the rest belongs to fortune.

βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·
τὸ τῆς τύχης γὰρ ἀφανὲς οἷ προβήσεται,        785
κἄστ᾿ οὐ διδακτὸν οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ.
ταῦτ᾿ οὖν ἀκούσας καὶ μαθὼν ἐμοῦ πάρα
εὔφραινε σαυτόν, πῖνε, τὸν καθ᾿ ἡμέραν
βίον λογίζου σόν, τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα τῆς τύχης.
The similarity was also noticed by others, e.g. Bruno Lier, "Topica carminum sepulcralium latinorum. Pars II," Philologus 62 (1903) 563-603 (at 582-583).

Related post: Make Thee Merry.

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