Learning Something for Old Age

Euripides Suppliants, 187-189 (Full Greek text on the Scaife Viewer)

“Sparta is savage and duplicitous.
The rest of the states are small and weak.
Only your city could take up this task.”

Σπάρτη μὲν ὠμὴ καὶ πεποίκιλται τρόπους,
τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα μικρὰ κἀσθενῆ· πόλις δὲ σὴ
μόνη δύναιτ᾿ ἂν τόνδ᾿ ὑποστῆναι πόνον·

Euripides Suppliants, 846-852

“I will not ask about one thing, to avoid being a joke,
Whom each of these men stood to oppose in battle
Or from which enemy’s lance he received his wound.
For these words are hollow to those who hear them
And those who repeat them: who can stand in a battle
And then report truly who was brave or not
As the lance went passing before his eyes?”

ἓν δ᾿ οὐκ ἐρήσομαί σε, μὴ γέλωτ᾿ ὄφλω,
ὅτῳ ξυνέστη τῶνδ᾿ ἕκαστος ἐν μάχῃ
ἢ τραῦμα λόγχης πολεμίων ἐδέξατο.
κενοὶ γὰρ οὗτοι τῶν τ᾿ ἀκουόντων λόγοι
καὶ τοῦ λέγοντος, ὅστις ἐν μάχῃ βεβὼς
λόγχης ἰούσης πρόσθεν ὀμμάτων πυκνῆς
σαφῶς ἀπήγγειλ᾿ ὅστις ἐστὶν ἁγαθός.

Euripides Suppliants, 916-917

“Whatever someone learns, they are careful to preserve
Into old age. For this reason, teach your children well.”

ἃ δ᾿ ἂν μάθῃ τις, ταῦτα σῴζεσθαι φιλεῖ
ἐς γῆρας. οὕτω παῖδας εὖ παιδεύετε.

Euripides Suppliants, 1108-1113

“Old age, hard to wrangle, how much I hate you!
And I hate all those people who try to lengthen life
By feeding it with foοd and drink and medicine,
Turning aside the force so they might not die.
It is better—since they don’t help the world at all—
For them to die and go away, making space for the young.”

ὦ δυσπάλαιστον γῆρας, ὡς μισῶ σ᾿ ἔχων,
μισῶ δ᾿ ὅσοι χρῄζουσιν ἐκτείνειν βίον,
βρωτοῖσι καὶ ποτοῖσι καὶ μαγεύμασιν
παρεκτρέποντες ὀχετὸν ὥστε μὴ θανεῖν·
οὓς χρῆν, ἐπειδὰν μηδὲν ὠφελῶσι γῆν,
θανόντας ἔρρειν κἀκποδὼν εἶναι νέοις.

Heracles and Geras, son of Nyx and the personification of old age. Attic  red-figure pelike, ca. 480–470 BC. | Middle eastern art, Eastern art,  Ancient romans
Herakles, beating Old Age

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