No One Can Please Everyone: Three Sophoklean Fragments on Politics

fr. 524 (Polyxena, Agamemnon speaking)

“No helmsman of any army is able
To yield to everyone, to please them all.
Indeed, not even Zeus, who is better than me as king,
pleases all when he sends out rain or withholds it.
If he entered a mortal court, he would end up owing a lot.
How can I, born a mortal son of a mortal mother,
Manage to be better at governing than Zeus?”

οὐ γάρ τις ἂν δύναιτο πρῳράτης στρατοῦ
τοῖς πᾶσιν εἶξαι καὶ προσαρκέσαι χάριν.
ἐπεὶ οὐδ’ ὁ κρείσσων Ζεὺς ἐμοῦ τυραννίδι
οὔτ’ ἐξεπομβρῶν οὔτ’ ἐπαυχμήσας φίλος•
βροτοῖς δ’ ἂν ἐλθὼν ἐς λόγον δίκην ὄφλοι.
πῶς δῆτ’ ἔγωγ’ ἂν θνητὸς ἐκ θνητῆς τε φὺς
Διὸς γενοίμην εὖ φρονεῖν σοφώτερος;

Fr. 554 (Men of Skyros)

“War loves to stalk young men.”
φιλεῖ γὰρ ἄνδρας πόλεμος ἀγρεύειν νέους

Fr. 565 (Those Who Dine Together)

But, in a rage, he hurled at me and did not miss
With the foul-smelling pisspot. Around my head
The side shattered, stinking not of myrrh.
I was frightened by the wretched smell.

ἀλλ’ ἀμφὶ θυμῷ τὴν κάκοσμον οὐράνην
ἔρριψεν οὐδ’ ἥμαρτε• περὶ δ’ ἐμῷ κάρᾳ
κατάγνυται τὸ τεῦχος οὐ μύρου πνέον•
ἐδειματούμην δ’ οὐ φίλης ὀσμῆς ὕπο

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