Thursday, March 04, 2021


At the Grocery Store

Aristophanes, fragment 581, lines 1-10 (tr. S. Douglas Olson):
(A.) In mid-winter you'll see cucumbers, grapes, fruit of all kinds,
garlands of violets— (B.) Also a blinding duststorm, I expect!
(A.) The same man will be selling thrushes, pears, honey-comb, olives,
beestings, after-birth pudding, swallow-figs, cicadas, still-born kids;
and you'd see harvest-baskets pouring out a mix of figs and myrtle-berries as thick as snow.
(B.) So they're going to sow gourds along with their turnips,
with the result that no one knows what time of year it is any more?
(A.) Isn't this the best possible situation—
if a person can buy whatever he wants anytime of year?
(B.) No—it's the greatest disaster possible!
Because otherwise they wouldn't desire things or spend their money.

(A.) ὄψει δὲ χειμῶνος μέσου σικυούς, βότρυς, ὀπώραν,
στεφάνους ἴων <(Β.) οἶμαι δὲ καὶ> κονιορτὸν ἐκτυφλοῦντα.
(Α.) αὑτὸς δ᾿ ἀνὴρ πλωλεῖ κίχλας, ἀπίους, σχαδόνας, ἐλάας,
πυόν, χόρια, χελιδόνας, τέττιγας, ἐμβρύεια.
ὑρίσους δ᾿ ἴδοις ἂν νειφομένους σύκων ὁμοῦ τε μύρτων.        5
(Β.) ἔπειτα κολοκύντας ὁμοῦ ταῖς γογγυλίσιν ἀροῦσιν,
ὥστ᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ οὐδεὶς οἶδ᾿ ὁπηνίκ᾿ ἐστι τοὐνιαυτοῦ;
(Α.) <ἆρ᾿ οὐ> μέγιστον ἀγαθόν, εἴπερ ἔστι δι᾿ ἐνιαυτοῦ
του τις ἐπιθυμεῖ λαβεῖν; (Β.) κακὸν μὲν οὖν μέγιστον·
εἰ μὴ γὰρ ἦν, οὐκ ἂν ἐπεθύμουν οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἐδαπανῶντο.        10
R. Kassel and C. Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci, Vol. III 2: Aristophanes, Testimonia et Fragmenta (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984), pp. 298-299:

See the commentary in S. Douglas Olson, Broken Laughter. Select Fragments of Greek Comedy. Edited with Introduction, Commentary, and Translation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 105-107.

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