Easier to Make Something Bad From Something Good

Theognis, Elegies 567-570

“I play, taking pleasure in youth—for I will lie
A long time under the earth once I die,
Like a voiceless stone, when I leave the sun’s lovely light.
No matter how good I was, I will see nothing again.”

ἥβῃ τερπόμενος παίζω· δηρὸν γὰρ ἔνερθεν
γῆς ὀλέσας ψυχὴν κείσομαι ὥστε λίθος
ἄφθογγος, λείψω δ᾿ ἐρατὸν φάος ἠελίοιο·
ἔμπης δ᾿ ἐσθλὸς ἐὼν ὄψομαι οὐδὲν ἔτι.

571-572

“A reputation alone is a great evil for people—an investigation is best.
Many who are unexamined have a reputation for good deeds.”

δόξα μὲν ἀνθρώποισι κακὸν μέγα, πεῖρα δ᾿ἄριστον·
πολλοὶ ἀπείρητοι δόξαν ἔχουσ᾿ ἀγαθῶν.

577-578

“It is easier to make something bad from good than good from bad.
Stop trying to teach me. I am not the right age to learn.”

“ῥήιον ἐξ ἀγαθοῦ θεῖναι κακὸν ἢ ᾿κ κακοῦ ἐσθλόν.”
—μή με δίδασκ᾿· οὔτοι τηλίκος εἰμὶ μαθεῖν.

583-584

“It is impossible to undo the things that have past
Let your worry be guarding what happens next.”

ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν προβέβηκεν, ἀμήχανόν ἐστι γενέσθαι
ἀργά· τὰ δ᾿ ἐξοπίσω, τῶν φυλακὴ μελέτω.

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