Aristotle’s Hymn to Excellence Isn’t Completely Bad

Aristotle’s Hymn [D. L. 5.1.6]

“His hymn goes like this…”

“Excellence, very-hard-work for mortal races,
The finest catch in life
For your beautiful form, Maiden,
it is an enviable fate to die in Greece
and to suffer hard, relentless toils.

This is the kind of bravery you
Toss in the heart, an immortal thing better than gold,
Or parents, or soft-glancing sleep.

Isn’t it for you that Zeus’ Herakles and the sons of Leda
Labored in their deeds,
Trying to gather up your power?

Because of longing for you, Achilles
And Ajax came to Hades’ home.
For your love and beauty too,

The child of Atarneous lost the light of the sun.
For this reason the deeds get a song and the Muses,
Memory’s daughters, will make it immortal,
Shouting out the glory of Zeus the god of hospitality
And the gift of trustworthy friendship.”

Ὁ δὲ ὕμνος ἔχει τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον·
ἀρετά, πολύμοχθε γένει βροτείῳ,
θήραμα κάλλιστον βίῳ,
σᾶς πέρι, παρθένε, μορφᾶς
καὶ θανεῖν ζαλωτὸς ἐν Ἑλλάδι πότμος
καὶ πόνους τλῆναι μαλεροὺς ἀκάμαντας·
τοῖον ἐπὶ φρένα βάλλεις
κάρτος ἀθάνατον χρυσοῦ τε κρεῖσσον
καὶ γονέων μαλακαυγήτοιό θ᾿ ὕπνου.
σεῦ δ᾿ ἕνεχ᾿ οὑκ Διὸς Ἡρακλέης Λήδας τε κοῦροι
πόλλ᾿ ἀνέτλασαν ἔργοις
σὰν ἀγρεύοντες δύναμιν.
σοῖς δὲ πόθοις Ἀχιλεὺς
Αἴας τ᾿ Ἀΐδαο δόμους ἦλθον·
σᾶς δ᾿ ἕνεκεν φιλίου μορφᾶς καὶ Ἀταρνέος
ἔντροφος ἀελίου χήρωσεν αὐγάς.
τοιγὰρ ἀοίδιμος ἔργοις, ἀθάνατόν τε μιν αὐξήσουσι
Μοῦσαι
Μναμοσύνας θύγατρες, Διὸς ξενίου σέβας αὔξουσαι
φιλίας τε γέρας βεβαίου.

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