What Use is a Good Reputation?

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 141

“He is terrible to look at and terrible to hear”

δεινὸς μὲν ὁρᾶν, δεινὸς δὲ κλύειν


“What use is a good reputation? What good is
Fame flowing off to no end?”

τί δῆτα δόξης, ἢ τί κληδόνος καλῆς
μάτην ῥεούσης ὠφέλημα γίγνεται


“I know it and you will recognize it in time
That are are neither actly rightly now
Nor did you before, because in your love of your strength
You gave first place to your anger, the very thing that always ruins you.”

χρόνῳ γάρ, οἶδ᾿ ἐγώ, γνώσῃ τάδε,
ὁθούνεκ᾿ αὐτὸς αὐτὸν οὔτε νῦν καλὰ
δρᾷς οὔτε πρόσθεν εἰργάσω, βίᾳ φίλων
ὀργῇ χάριν δούς, ἥ σ᾿ ἀεὶ λυμαίνεται.


“Old age has nothing of rage except for dying
And no pain touches the dead.”

θυμοῦ γὰρ οὐδὲν γῆράς ἐστιν ἄλλο πλὴν
θανεῖν· θανόντων δ᾿ οὐδὲν ἄλγος ἅπτεται.


“We are beggars and strangers, but you are a stranger.
You and I both live thanks to the good will of others
Since we have met the same fate.
A tyrant is in our home—it is terrible—
And he laughs as he mocks us in common.”

πτωχοὶ μὲν ἡμεῖς καὶ ξένοι, ξένος δὲ σύ·
ἄλλους δὲ θωπεύοντες οἰκοῦμεν σύ τε
κἀγώ, τὸν αὐτὸν δαίμον᾿ ἐξειληχότες.
ὁ δ᾿ ἐν δόμοις τύραννος, ὢ τάλας ἐγώ,
κοινῇ καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐγγελῶν ἁβρύνεται·

By Fulchran-Jean Harriet, “Oedipus at Colonus” 1798. Now in the Cleveland Museum of Art


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