Friday, June 05, 2020


Public Disorder

Thucydides 3.84.2-3 (tr. Rex Warner; "c. 84 damnaverunt grammatici apud Schol." according to Hude's Oxford Classical Text edition):
Then, with the ordinary conventions of civilized life thrown into confusion, human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colours, as something incapable of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself; for, if it had not been for the pernicious power of envy, men would not so have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice. Indeed, it is true that in these acts of revenge on others men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws in existence, remembering that there may come a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection.

ξυνταραχθέντος τε τοῦ βίου ἐς τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον τῇ πόλει καὶ τῶν νόμων κρατήσασα ἡ ἀνθρωπεία φύσις, εἰωθυῖα καὶ παρὰ τοὺς νόμους ἀδικεῖν, ἀσμένη ἐδήλωσεν ἀκρατὴς μὲν ὀργῆς οὖσα, κρείσσων δὲ τοῦ δικαίου, πολεμία δὲ τοῦ προύχοντος. οὐ γὰρ ἂν τοῦ τε ὁσίου τὸ τιμωρεῖσθαι προυτίθεσαν τοῦ τε μὴ ἀδικεῖν τὸ κερδαίνειν, ἐν ᾧ μὴ βλάπτουσαν ἰσχὺν εἶχε τὸ φθονεῖν. ἀξιοῦσί τε τοὺς κοινοὺς περὶ τῶν τοιούτων οἱ ἄνθρωποι νόμους, ἀφ᾿ ὧν ἅπασιν ἐλπὶς ὑπόκειται σφαλεῖσι κἂν αὐτοὺς διασῴζεσθαι, ἐν ἄλλων τιμωρίαις προκαταλύειν καὶ μὴ ὑπολείπεσθαι, εἴ ποτε ἄρα τις κινδυνεύσας τινὸς δεήσεται αὐτῶν.
Richard Crawley's translation:
In the confusion into which life was now thrown in the cities, human nature, always rebelling against the law and now its master, gladly showed itself ungoverned in passion, above respect for justice, and the enemy of all superiority; since revenge would not have been set above religion, and gain above justice, had it not been for the fatal power of envy. Indeed men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.
Latin translation by Friedrich Haase:
Atque quum perturbata esset id temporis vita omnis in illa urbe, et natura humana legum vim fregisset, quae solet vel praeter leges injuste facere, lubenter declaravit, se irae quidem impotentem, at jure potentiorem, omnisque ejus, quod emineret, hostem esse. Aliter enim profecto homines pietati vindictam non anteponerent, neque innocentiae quaestum, si quando non nocentem potentiam haberet invidia. Et volunt homines communes leges de talibus rebus latas, in quibus spes omnibus est reposita, si ipsi in calamitates aliquas inciderint, fore ut et ipsi conserventur, in vindicandis aliis ante evertere, nec relinquere, si quis forte in periculum adductus aliqua illarum indigeat.
See Matthew R. Christ, "The Authenticity of Thucydides 3.84," Transactions of the American Philological Association 119 (1989) 137-148, not mentioned by Simon Hornblower in his commentary.

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