Pindar, Pythian 1.85

 

“Envy is stronger than pity”

κρέσσον γὰρ οἰκτιρμοῦ φθόνος

 

 

Pindar reflects on human nature. But he might not be lamenting. As Hesiod says, the ‘good’ type of strife makes a man envy his neighbor’s goods–and work harder as a consequence (Works and Days, 21-26):

 

εἰς ἕτερον γάρ τίς τε ἴδεν ἔργοιο χατίζων

πλούσιον, ὃς σπεύδει μὲν ἀρόμεναι ἠδὲ φυτεύειν

οἶκόν τ’ εὖ θέσθαι· ζηλοῖ δέ τε γείτονα γείτων

εἰς ἄφενος σπεύδοντ’· ἀγαθὴ δ’ ῎Ερις ἥδε βροτοῖσιν.

καὶ κεραμεὺς κεραμεῖ κοτέει καὶ τέκτονι τέκτων,

καὶ πτωχὸς πτωχῷ φθονέει καὶ ἀοιδὸς ἀοιδῷ. 

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