A Lack of Brains, Pain, and Trash-Talking Neighbors

Theognis, Elegies 683–86

“Many stupid people have wealth. And others
Who are worn down by hard poverty pursue noble things.
But helplessness affects both groups:
A lack of money stops one; a lack of brains hurts the other.”

πολλοὶ πλοῦτον ἔχουσιν ἀίδριες· οἱ δὲ τὰ καλὰ
ζητοῦσιν χαλεπῇ τειρόμενοι πενίῃ.
ἔρδειν δ᾿ ἀμφοτέροισιν ἀμηχανίη παράκειται·
εἴργει γὰρ τοὺς μὲν χρήματα, τοὺς δὲ νόος.


“It isn’t right to cause pain, unless pain must be caused.
Nor is it right to do whatever is better not done.”

οὐ χρὴ πημαίνειν, ὅτε μὴ πημαντέον εἴη,
οὐδ᾿ ἔρδειν ὅ τι μὴ λώιον ᾖ τελέσαι.


“I cannot give you everything that is right, my heart
Be brave: you do not long for the finer things alone.”

οὐ δύναμαί σοι, θυμέ, παρασχεῖν ἄρμενα πάντα·
τέτλαθι· τῶν δὲ καλῶν οὔ τι σὺ μοῦνος ἐρᾷς.


“Find some joy for your heart: some of the trash-talking citizens
Will slander you, others will say better things.”

τὴν σαυτοῦ φρένα τέρπε· δυσηλεγέων δὲ πολιτῶν
ἄλλος τοί σε κακῶς, ἄλλος ἄμεινον ἐρεῖ.

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