Two epigrams by Palladas (c. 4th century CE), one a nocturnal sentiment, and the other a morning song:
In tears I was born, and after tears I die.
I found all of life in a river of tears.
O race of men: tearful, feeble, pitiful—
You appear on earth, and fast you melt away.
With night’s passing, we’re born anew, day after day.
Nothing remains of our former life.
Estranged from yesterday’s experiences,
Today we start on what life lies ahead.
So don’t speak of your years, old man, as too many–
You have no part today in days already past.
δακρυχέων γενόμην, καὶ δακρύσας ἀποθνῄσκω:
δάκρυσι δ᾽ ἐν πολλοῖς τὸν βίον εὗρον ὅλον.
ὦ γένος ἀνθρώπων πολυδάκρυτον, ἀσθενές, οἰκτρόν,
φαινόμενον κατὰ γῆς, καὶ διαλυόμενον.
νυκτὸς ἀπερχομένης γεννώμεθα ἦμαρ ἐπ᾽ ἦμαρ,
τοῦ προτέρου βιότου μηδὲν ἔχοντες ἔτι,
ἀλλοτριωθέντες τῆς ἐχθεσινῆς διαγωγῆς,
τοῦ λοιποῦ δὲ βίου σήμερον ἀρχόμενοι.
μὴ τοίνυν λέγε σαυτὸν ἐτῶν, πρεσβῦτα, περισσῶν
τῶν γὰρ ἀπελθόντων σήμερον οὐ μετέχεις.
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 featsofgreek.blogspot.com.