Friday, January 03, 2014


The Epitaph of Sardanapalus

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 8.335f-336b (tr. Charles Burton Gulick):
On his tomb, says Chrysippus, are inscribed these words: 'Though knowing full well that thou art but mortal, indulge thy desire, find joy in thy feasts. Dead, thou shalt have no delight. Yes, I am dust, though I was king of mighty Nineveh. I have only what I have eaten, what wantonness I have committed, what joys I received through passion; but my many rich possessions are now utterly dissolved. This is a wise counsel for living, and I shall forget it never. Let him who wants it, acquire gold without end.'

ἐφ᾽ οὗ τοῦ τάφου ἐπιγεγράφθαι φησὶ Χρύσιππος τάδε·
εὖ εἰδὼς ὅτι θνητὸς ἔφυς σὸν θυμὸν ἄεξε,
τερπόμενος θαλίῃσι· θανόντι σοι οὔτις ὄνησις.
καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ σποδός εἰμι, Νίνου μεγάλης βασιλεύσας·
κεῖν᾽ ἔχω ὅσσ᾽ ἔφαγον καὶ ἐφύβρισα καὶ σὺν ἔρωτι
τέρπν᾽ ἔπαθον· τὰ δὲ πολλὰ καὶ ὄλβια πάντα λέλυνται.
ἥδε σοφὴ βιότοιο παραίνεσις, οὐδέ ποτ᾽ αὐτῆς
λήσομαι· ἐκτήσθω δ᾽ ὁ θέλων τὸν ἀπείρονα χρυσόν.
The Greek verses are usually attributed to Choerilus. See Hugh Lloyd-Jones and Peter Parsons, edd., Supplementum Hellenisticum (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1983), no. 335 (pp. 155-158). There are parodies by Chrysippus (id., no. 338, pp. 158-159) and Crates (id., no. 355, p. 167).

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