Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Whence We Come, and Whither We Go

An Anthology of Sanskrit Court Poetry: Vidyākara's "Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa" translated by Daniel H.H. Ingalls (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965 = Harvard Oriental Series, 44), p. 427 (number 1634):
The body is but the product of semen and of blood,
which then becomes a meal for death, a dwelling place for suffering,
a tavern for disease. A man may know all this
and yet, perforce, from lack of judgment,
drowning in the sea of ignorance,
he yearns for love, for sons, for women and for land.

                                      [ŚILHAṆA COLLECTION]
Greek Anthology 10.45 (by Palladas; tr. W.R. Paton:
If thou rememberest, O man, how thy father sowed thee, thou shalt cease from thy proud thoughts. But dreaming Plato hath engendered pride in thee, calling thee immortal and a "heavenly plant." "Of dust thou art made. Why dost thou think proudly?" So one might speak, clothing the fact in more grandiloquent fiction; but if thou seekest the truth, thou art sprung from incontinent lust and a filthy drop.

Ἄν μνήμην, ἄνθρωπε, λάβῃς ὁ πατήρ σε τί ποιῶν
  ἔσπειρεν, παύσῃ τῆς μεγαοφροσύνης.
ἀλλ᾽ ὁ Πλάτων σοὶ τῦφον ὀνειρώσσων ἐνέφυσεν,
  ἀθάνατόν σε λέγων καὶ φυτὸν οὐράνιον.
ἐκ πηλοῦ γέγονας· τί φρονεῖς μέγα; τοῦτο μὲν οὕτως
  εἶπ’ ἄν τις, κοσμῶν πλάσματι σεμνοτέρῳ.
εἰ δὲ λόγον ζητεῖς τὸν ἀληθινόν, ἐξ ἀκολάστου
  λαγνείας γέγονας καὶ μιαρᾶς ῥανίδος.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.48.2 (tr. Gregory Hays):
Yesterday a blob of semen; tomorrow, embalming fluid, ash.

ἐχθὲς μὲν μυξάριον, αὔριον δὲ τάριχος ἢ τέφρα.
Pirke Aboth 3 (tr. Michael L. Rodkinson):
Aqabia b. Mahalallel used to say: "Consider three things, and thou wilt not fall into transgression: know whence thou comest, whither thou art going, and before whom thou art about to give account and reckoning; know whence thou comest — from a fetid drop, and whither thou art going — to worm and maggot; and before whom thou art about to give account and reckoning: before the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He."

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