Monday, June 03, 2019


A Change of Heart

Aristophanes, Wasps 1449-1460 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
I do envy the old man
his luck; what a turn-around
from his arid habits and lifestyle!
Now he's learned different ways,
and he'll make a really great change
to a life of delicate luxury.
But maybe he'll not want that;
it's hard for anyone to depart
from his normal and natural character.
Yet many have had this experience;
when exposed to others' ideas,
they have changed their habits.

ζηλῶ γε τῆς εὐτυχίας
τὸν πρέσβυν, οἷ μετέστη        1450
ξηρῶν τρόπων καὶ βιοτῆς.
ἕτερα δὲ νῦν ἀντιμαθὼν
ἦ μέγα τι μεταπεσεῖται
ἐπὶ τὸ τρυφῶν καὶ μαλακόν.
τάχα δ᾿ ἂν ἴσως οὐκ ἐθέλοι·        1455
τὸ γὰρ ἀποστῆναι χαλεπὸν
φύσεως, ἣν ἔχοι τις ἀεί.
καίτοι πολλοὶ ταῦτ᾿ ἔπαθον·
ξυνόντες γνώμαις ἑτέρων
μετεβάλοντο τοὺς τρόπους.        1460
Terence, The Brothers 855-861 (tr. John Sargeaunt):
However well a man may have calculated his scheme of life, still circumstances, years, experience, always introduce a new element and teach new lessons. You find that you don't know what you thought you did know, and what you thought of primary importance that in practice you reject. That's what has happened to me. The hard life, which up to now I have lived, now that my race is almost run I renounce. And why? Hard facts have taught me that a man can have no better qualities than mildness and complaisance.

numquam ita quisquam bene subducta ratione ad vitam fuit,        855
quin res aetas usus semper aliquid adportet novi,
aliquid moneat: ut illa quae te scisse credas nescias,
et quae tibi putaris primat in experiundo ut repudies.
quod nunc mi evenit: nam ego vitam duram, quam vixi usque adhuc,
prope iam excurso spatio omitto. id quam ob rem? re eapse repperi        860
facilitate nihil esse homini melius neque clementia.

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