Sailing With Fortune to the Grave

Euripides, Trojan Women 102-105

“Sail following the stream, sail following fate,
Don’t set the prow of your life
Against the waves, sailing against fortune.”

πλεῖ κατὰ πορθμόν, πλεῖ κατὰ δαίμονα,
μηδὲ προσίστω πρῷραν βιότου
πρὸς κῦμα πλέουσα τύχαισιν.


“Don’t believe that anyone who is lucky is blessed
Before they’re dead.”

…τῶν δ᾽ εὐδαιμόνων
μηδένα νομίζετ᾽ εὐτυχεῖν, πρὶν ἂν θάνῃ.


“Any mortal is a fool who takes some pleasure
From imagining their good luck is safe: in its turns
Fortune’s like a crazed person leaping this way one day
And then another, no one ever keeps the same good luck.”

θνητῶν δὲ μῶρος ὅστις εὖ πράσσειν δοκῶν
βέβαια χαίρει: τοῖς τρόποις γὰρ αἱ τύχαι,
ἔμπληκτος ὡς ἄνθρωπος, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἄλλοσε
πηδῶσι, κοὐδεὶς αὐτὸς εὐτυχεῖ ποτε.


“I imagine it makes no difference to the dead
If they receive some rich funeral.
This is the source of silly pride for the living.”

δοκῶ δὲ τοῖς θανοῦσι διαφέρειν βραχύ,
εἰ πλουσίων τις τεύξεται κτερισμάτων:
κενὸν δὲ γαύρωμ᾽ ἐστὶ τῶν ζώντων τόδε.

Hecuba Kills Polymestor, by Giuseppe Maria Crespi

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