Tuesday, January 11, 2022


Here's a Text for You

John Buchan (1875-1940), The Island of Sheep, chapter VI:
I found Macgillivray reading Greek with his feet on the mantelpiece and the fire out. He was a bit of a scholar and kept up his classics.
He picked up the book he had been reading.

'Here's a text for you,' he said. 'It is Herodotus. This is the advice he makes Amasis give to his friend Polycrates. I'll translate. "I know that the Gods are jealous, for I cannot remember that I ever heard of any man who, having been constantly successful, did not at last utterly perish." That's worth thinking about. You've been amazingly lucky, but you mustn't press your luck too far. Remember, the Gods are jealous.'
Herodotus 3.40.2-3 (tr. A.D. Godley):
But I like not these great successes of yours; for I know how jealous are the gods; and I do in some sort desire for myself and my friends a mingling of prosperity and mishap, and a life of weal and woe thus chequered, rather than unbroken good fortune. For from all I have heard I know of no man whom continual good fortune did not bring in the end to evil, and utter destruction.

ἐμοὶ δὲ αἱ σαὶ μεγάλαι εὐτυχίαι οὐκ ἀρέσκουσι, τὸ θεῖον ἐπισταμένῳ ὡς ἔστι φθονερόν· καί κως βούλομαι καὶ αὐτὸς καὶ τῶν ἂν κήδωμαι τὸ μέν τι εὐτυχέειν τῶν πρηγμάτων τὸ δὲ προσπταίειν, καὶ οὕτω διαφέρειν τὸν αἰῶνα ἐναλλὰξ πρήσσων ἢ εὐτυχέειν τὰ πάντα. οὐδένα γάρ κω λόγῳ οἶδα ἀκούσας ὅστις ἐς τέλος οὐ κακῶς ἐτελεύτησε πρόρριζος, εὐτυχέων τὰ πάντα.
Related post: Variations on a Theme.

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