“Everything Can Happen Now”: Aristophanes, Archilochus and Wyclef

I don’t often get requests, but when I do, I think about honoring them.

Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 524-30

“I could not have believed
That one among us would ever be
so wicked to dare
To say these things
So shamefully in public.
But everything can happen now,
And I praise the ancient proverb:
One must look carefully
under every stone
to avoid the bite
of a politician”

Τάδε γὰρ εἰπεῖν τὴν πανοῦργον
κατὰ τὸ φανερὸν ὧδ’ ἀναιδῶς
οὐκ ἂν ᾠόμην ἐν ἡμῖν
οὐδὲ τολμῆσαί ποτ’ ἄν.
᾿Αλλὰ πᾶν γένοιτ’ ἂν ἤδη.
Τὴν παροιμίαν δ’ ἐπαινῶ
τὴν παλαιάν· ὑπὸ λίθῳ γὰρ
παντί που χρὴ
μὴ δάκῃ ῥήτωρ ἀθρεῖν.

[The material that follows is full of typical Greek misogyny and I have had my fill of that of late]

The scholion for this passage credits Praxilla (fr. 750) with the proverb:

“Friend, protect yourself against the scorpion under every stone.”

ὑπὸ παντὶ λίθῳ σκορπίον ὦ ἑταῖρε φυλάσσεο

And thinking that anything can happen makes me think of Archilochus:

Archilochus, fr. 122

“Nothing is unexpected, nothing can be sworn untrue,
and nothing amazes since father Zeus the Olympian
veiled the light to make it night at midday
even as the sun was shining: now dread fear has overtaken men.
From this time on everything that men believe
will be doubted: may none of us who see this be surprised
when we see forest beasts taking turns in the salted field
with dolphins, when the echoing waves of the sea become
Dearer to them than the sand, and the dolphins love the wooded glen…”

χρημάτων ἄελπτον οὐδέν ἐστιν οὐδ’ ἀπώμοτον
οὐδὲ θαυμάσιον, ἐπειδὴ Ζεὺς πατὴρ ᾿Ολυμπίων
ἐκ μεσαμβρίης ἔθηκε νύκτ’, ἀποκρύψας φάος
ἡλίου †λάμποντος, λυγρὸν† δ’ ἦλθ’ ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπους δέος.
ἐκ δὲ τοῦ καὶ πιστὰ πάντα κἀπίελπτα γίνεται
ἀνδράσιν• μηδεὶς ἔθ’ ὑμέων εἰσορέων θαυμαζέτω
μηδ’ ἐὰν δελφῖσι θῆρες ἀνταμείψωνται νομὸν
ἐνάλιον, καί σφιν θαλάσσης ἠχέεντα κύματα
φίλτερ’ ἠπείρου γένηται, τοῖσι δ’ ὑλέειν ὄρος.

Oh, and also Wyclef Jean:

One thought on ““Everything Can Happen Now”: Aristophanes, Archilochus and Wyclef

  1. Pingback: A Philosopher’s Guide to Handling Insults in the Theater | SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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