Aesopic Proverbs 11-20

NOTE: I felt extremely uncertain about 12 and 14, and hope that this preemptive confession of my own ignorance will simultaneously save me from raillery and invite constructive suggestions on the best way to deal with this less than wholly lucid Greek.

11.
“The theft of insomnia is not worth it.”
Interpretation:
“Toil which does not bring a well-matched profit will always add despondency to one’s troubles.”
Οὐκ ἄξιον τὸ κλέμμα τῆς ἀγρυπνίας.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Κόπος οὐκ ἔχων ἰσόρροπον τὸ κέρδος
᾿Αθυμίαν δίδωσι τοῖς μόχθοις ἀεί.
12.
“All of life is a candle wick.”
Interpretation:
“In a brief phrase, delusion at last holds the entire observable part of life.
῞Ολος ὁ βίος ἐλλύχνιον.
῾Ερμηνεία.
῞Απαν τοῦ βίου τὸ περίβλεπτον τύφος
Βραχυτάτῳ ῥήματι τὸ πέρας ἔχει.

13.
“He who has pepper throws it even on lentils.”
Interpretation:
“Someone who has taken up liberality of goods will make use of strange preparations.”

῾Ο πέπερι ἔχων καὶ εἰς φακὸν βάλλει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Αφθονίαν χρημάτων ἄνθρωπος λαχὼν
᾿Αλλοκότοις κέχρηται παραρτύσεσιν.

14.
“He’s leading up the leader-down.”
Interpretation
“Poverty sometimes gets the better of wealth, which is struck and downcast by the verdict of justice.”
῾Ο ἀνάγων τὸν κατάγοντα.
῾Ερμηνεία.
῎Ηλεγξεν ἡ πενία τὸν πλοῦτόν ποτε
Κάτωπον κεκυφότα ψήφῳ / τῆς δίκης.

15.
“The ass and the man who needs to be whipped share the same fate.”
Interpretation:
“A man forced into slavery will bear misfortune better than one born into it.”

῎Ονος καὶ κοπίδερμος μίαν τύχην ἔχουσιν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Ανὴρ ἐκδουλωθεὶς <καὶ> μᾶλλον οἰκέτου
Οἴσει τὴν μοχθηρίαν ἡδονῆς χάριν.
16.
“Let there be skulls, lest we also destroy our brains.”
Interpretation:
“He who loses self-possession at the same time loses the ability to reason well.”

῎Εστω τὰ κρανία, μὴ καὶ τοὺς ἐγκεφάλους ἀπωλέσαμεν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
῞Οστις ἀφῃρέθη τὴν <ἑαυτοῦ> κτῆσιν,
Συναφῃρέθη καὶ <αὐτὸ> τὸ φρονεῖν καλῶς.

17.
“The thigh smells from within.”
Interpretation:
“I say that for the most part that misfortunes are born specifically from the intentions of evil-doers.”
῾Ο μηρὸς ἔσωθεν ὄζει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Τὰς συμφορὰς ἔσωθεν τὰ πλεῖστά φημι
Διαρρήδην τίκτεσθαι κακούργων γνώμαις.

18.
“What you hide will be announced to the agora.”
Interpretation:
“A bad man is forced to hide his notorious and much-discussed mistake.”
῝Ο σὺ κρύβεις εἰς τὴν ἀγορὰν κηρύσσεται.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Σφάλμα τὸ περίφημον καὶ πᾶσι ῥητὸν
᾿Ανὴρ κακὸς <συγ>κρύπτειν ἐκβιάζεται.

19.
“A father is the one who raised you, not the one who sired you.”
Interpretation:
“Let him be called ‘father’ who educated us; for the man who sired us was just a slave to pleasure.”
Πατὴρ μὲν ὁ θρέψας, οὐ μὴν δὲ ὁ γεννήσας.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πατὴρ καλοῖτο ἂν ὁ <τὰς> τροφὰς διδούς·
῾Ο γὰρ φυτεύσας ἡδονῇ δεδούλευκεν.

20.
“The baser things in life please the multitude.”
Interpretation:
“Few eagerly pursue virtue; the majority nod off toward its opposite.”
Πολλοῖς ἀρέσκει τὰ τοῦ βίου χείρονα.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Ολίγοις ἐσπούδασται τὰ τῆς ἀρετῆς·
Οἱ πλεῖστοι γὰρ νεύουσιν εἰς τἀναντία.

3 thoughts on “Aesopic Proverbs 11-20

  1. Great stuff. I am not troubled by 14, it looks fine.

    12’s interpretation is odd.

    ῞Απαν τοῦ βίου τὸ περίβλεπτον τύφος
    Βραχυτάτῳ ῥήματι τὸ πέρας ἔχει.

    Photios glosses τύφος as “fantasy”; Hesychius glosses τὸ περίβλεπτον as megiston. I am troubled by taking τύφος as neuter (which I want to do). I would also like to take τὸ πέρας adverbially. So, “in the end, the greatest obscurity covers life entire” or, perhaps, “in the end, smoke-to put it briefly-covers the greatest part of life”.

    I think I might have just messed it all up.

    1. I was somewhat inclined to do ῞Απαν τοῦ βίου τὸ περίβλεπτον as some kind of mixture of accusative of time/respect, along the lines of “Throughout the entire part of life which is seen…” but thought that it involved too much violent force upon the language. Here, I actually think that the Proverb itself is much more readily intelligible than the Interpretation.

      1. Yeah, your reading is eminently defensible and probably right. But why not keep the adverbial: “in the end, smoke covers the greatest part of life” vel sim? Either way, the explanatory Greek is degenerate nonsense.

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