Thursday, February 03, 2022


You Have the Qualifications for Political Leadership

Aristophanes, Knights 180-193 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
DEMOSTHENES: It's for exactly that reason, don't you see, that you are to become great, because you're low and from the Agora and bold as brass.

SAUSAGE-SELLER: I don't consider myself worthy to hold great power.

DEMOSTHENES: Heavens, whatever's the matter, that you should say you're not worthy? It seems to me you've something good on your conscience. You don't come of good, upright stock, do you?

SAUSAGE-SELLER: Good god, no! nothing but bad stock.

DEMOSTHENES: Oh, congratulations! what good luck! what an advantage you've got for political life!

SAUSAGE-SELLER: But, my good man. I've not even had any education, except for reading and writing, and I'm proper bad at that.

DEMOSTHENES: That's your only impediment, that you know them at all, even "proper bad". The leadership of the people is no longer a job for an educated man or one of good qualities, but for one who's ignorant and foul.

δι᾽ αὐτὸ γάρ τοι τοῦτο καὶ γίγνει μέγας,        180
ὁτιὴ πονηρὸς κἀξ ἀγορᾶς εἶ καὶ θρασύς.
οὐκ ἀξιῶ ᾽γὼ ᾽μαυτὸν ἰσχύειν μέγα.
οἴμοι, τί ποτ᾽ ἔσθ᾽ ὅτι σαυτὸν οὐ φῂς ἄξιον;
ξυνειδέναι τί μοι δοκεῖς σαυτῷ καλόν.
μῶν ἐκ καλῶν εἶ κἀγαθῶν;
                                                   μὰ τοὺς θεοὺς,        185
εἰ μὴ ᾽κ πονηρῶν γ᾽.
                                       ὦ μακάριε τῆς τύχης
ὅσον πέπονθας ἀγαθὸν ἐς τὰ πράγματα.
ἀλλ᾽, ὦγάθ᾽, οὐδὲ μουσικὴν ἐπίσταμαι
πλὴν γραμμάτων, καὶ ταῦτα μέντοι κακὰ κακῶς.
τουτὶ μόνον σ᾽ ἔβλαψεν, ὅτι καὶ κακὰ κακῶς.        190
ἡ δημαγωγία γὰρ οὐ πρὸς μουσικοῦ
ἔτ᾽ ἐστὶν ἀνδρὸς οὐδὲ χρηστοῦ τοὺς τρόπους,
ἀλλ᾽ εἰς ἀμαθῆ καὶ βδελυρόν.

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