Friday, June 22, 2012


Like Lambs

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), On the Suffering of the World, from Parerga and Paralipomena, II, 12 § 151 (tr. T. Bailey Saunders):
We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey. So it is that in our good days we are all unconscious of the evil Fate may have presently in store for us — sickness, poverty, mutilation, loss of sight or reason.
Wir gleichen den Lämmern, die auf der Wiese spielen, während der Metzger schon eines und das andere von ihnen mit den Augen auswählt: denn wir wissen nicht, in unsern guten Tagen, welches Unheil eben jetzt das Schicksal uns bereitet, — Krankheit, Verfolgung, Verarmung, Verstümmelung, Erblindung, Wahnsinn u.s.w.
Saunders in his translation omits Verfolgung (persecution). The same in Schopenhauer's Senilia § 182, except that there he adds death at the end of the list.

I wonder if Schopenhauer might have had an epigram by Palladas in the back of his mind (Greek Anthology 10.85, tr. W.R. Paton):
We are all kept and fed for death, like a herd of swine to be slain without reason.

Πάντες τῷ θανάτῳ τηρούμεθα καὶ τρεφόμεσθα,
   ὡς ἀγέλη χοίρων σφαζομένων ἀλόγως.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson, who can always be relied on for a cheerful thought to start the day.

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