Ancient Advice for a Rich Woman

Solon Fr. 24

listen up:
equal in riches to the woman
who has piles of silver and gold,
fields of wheat-bearing land,
and horses and mules to boot,
is the woman who has only this:
nice things for her belly, sides, and feet—
and also a season with a lover-boy and a spouse,
while she’s got the necessary vigor,
when it comes around, that season.
this is riches to mortals.
after all, nobody goes into Hades
lugging all her countless stuff.
add to that, she can’t hope to escape
death, or unbearable sickness,
or the coming of awful old age,
by paying a fee.

ἶσόν τοι πλουτοῦσιν ὅτῳ πολὺς ἄργυρός ἐστι
καὶ χρυσὸς καὶ γῆς πυροφόρου πεδία
ἵπποι θ᾽ ἡμίονοί τε, καὶ ᾧ μόνα τ᾽αῦτα πάρεστι,
γαστρί τε καὶ πλευρῇς καὶ ποσὶν ἁβρὰ παθεῖν:
παιδός τ᾿ ἠδὲ γυναικός, ἐπὴν καὶ ταῦτ᾿ ἀφίκηται,
ὥρη, σὺν δ᾿ ἥβη γίνεται ἁρμοδίη.
ταῦτ᾽ ἄφενος θνητοῖσι: τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα
χρήματ᾽ ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς Ἀΐδεω:
οὐδ᾽ ἂν ἄποινα διδοὺς θάνατον φύγοι οὐδὲ βαρείας
νούσους οὐδὲ κακὸν γῆρας ἐπερχόμενον.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

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