The Ship of State, Run Aground

Theognis, Elegies 797-798

“One man strongly condemns our betters; another praises them.
But of the commoners, there’s no mention at all”

-τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς ἄλλος μάλα μέμφεται, ἄλλος ἐπαινεῖ,
τῶν δὲ κακῶν μνήμη γίνεται οὐδεμία.


“Kick the empty-minded people in the ass, smack them with a sharp goad,
Put an uncomfortable yoke over their neck.
For no matter how many people the are under the sun
You will find none more in love with a despot.”

λὰξ ἐπίβα δήμῳ κενεόφρονι, τύπτε δὲ κέντρῳ
ὀξέι καὶ ζεύγλην δύσλοφον ἀμφιτίθει·
οὐ γὰρ ἔθ᾿ εὑρήσεις δῆμον φιλοδέσποτον ὧδε
ἀνθρώπων ὁπόσους ἠέλιος καθορᾷ.


“This state has often run to ground like a failing ship
Thanks to the wickedness of its leaders.”

πολλάκις ἡ πόλις ἥδε δι᾿ ἡγεμόνων κακότητα
ὥσπερ κεκλιμένη ναῦς παρὰ γῆν ἔδραμεν.

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