Sleep Tight With Simonides: Don’t Say Anything About Tomorrow

Simonides, Fr. 17: 

“Since you are a human being, never mention what happens tomorrow
Nor, if you see a lucky man, say how long he will be so.
For not even the flick of a wide-winged fly
Is as swift as this

[in some texts the following is added]

Everything comes to a single, dreadful Charybis—
The great virtues and wealth the same.”

ἄνθρωπος ἐὼν μή ποτε φάσηις ὅ τι γίνεται 〚αὔριον〛,
μηδ’ ἄνδρα ἰδὼν ὄλβιον ὅσσον χρόνον ἔσσεται·
ὠκεῖα γὰρ οὐδὲ τανυπτερύγου μυίας
οὕτως ἁ μετάστασις.
πάντα γὰρ μίαν ἱκνεῖται δασπλῆτα Χάρυβδιν,
αἱ μεγάλαι τ’ ἀρεταὶ καὶ ὁ πλοῦτος.

If only Fleetwood Mac had read this poem, we might have been spared this:

One thought on “Sleep Tight With Simonides: Don’t Say Anything About Tomorrow

  1. Simonides, fragment 521 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):

    You are man: then never say what will happen tomorrow, nor, when you see a prosperous man, how long he will prosper; for not even the movement of a long-winged fly is so swift.

    If you are a simple mortal, do not speak
    of tomorrow or how long this man may be
    among the happy, for change comes suddenly
    like the shifting flight of a dragonfly. (tr. Willis Barnstone):

    Being human never say what will happen tomorrow nor how long a happy man will remain so. For not even of a long-winged fly is the change so swift. (tr. Charles Segal):

    As you are mortal, don’t ever affirm what tomorrow will bring,
    or how long the man that you see in good fortune will keep it:
    not even the wing-spreading house-fly
    changes perch so fast. (tr. M.L. West):

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