How Things Will Turn Out

Solon, fr.13 33-70

“And so as mortals whether we are noble or not
Each cling to the idea that life is going well
Until we suffer in some way. Then we mourn.
But until then we each take pleasure clutching at empty hopes.

Whoever is overcome by harsh disease
Thinks he will be healthy, he doesn’t take it seriously.
Another believes that he is noble when he’s not,
Or he’s pretty when his appearance has no charm.

Someone who lacks means and poverty wears down
Believes that he will somehow make a lot of money.
People hurry in different directions: one wanders over the sea
Hoping to bring home profit in ships,
Drawn across the harsh waves for fish
Giving almost no concern for his life.

Another carves up a land with many trees laboring
All year long, keeping the curved plow dear to his thoughts.
And another learns the works of Athena and crafty Hephaistos
To try to scrape together a living with his hands.

A different person has received the gifts of the Olympian Muses
And has learned the measure of longed-for wisdom.
Lord Apollo the far-shooter has made another person a prophet
to recognize disaster approaching someone for afar,
When the gods are at their side—but if things are wholly fated
No bird omen or sacrifice will keep them away.

Others—doctors—acquire the art of Paion, of many medicines,
And there is no real end to the work they do.
Often a great pain will develop from minor aches,
And they can’t even relieve the patient by giving them drugs.
Other times they can bring health suddenly with a touch
When someone is being tortured by evil, wretched diseases.

Fate brings good and ill to mortals, certainly,
And the gifts of the immortal gods must not be refused.
But in every act there is danger and no one knows
How it will turn out when each thing begins.

A person who tries to act well but does not think ahead
Falls into great and horrible ruin.
Then the god will give everything to someone who acts wrongly,
A great success, relief from his stupidity.”

θνητοὶ δ᾿ ὧδε νοέομεν ὁμῶς ἀγαθός τε κακός τε,
†ἐν δηνην† αὐτὸς δόξαν ἕκαστος ἔχει,
πρίν τι παθεῖν· τότε δ᾿ αὖτις ὀδύρεται· ἄχρι δὲ τούτου
χάσκοντες κούφαις ἐλπίσι τερπόμεθα.

χὤστις μὲν νούσοισιν ὑπ᾿ ἀργαλέῃσι πιεσθῇ,
ὡς ὑγιὴς ἔσται, τοῦτο κατεφράσατο·
ἄλλος δειλὸς ἐὼν ἀγαθὸς δοκεῖ ἔμμεναι ἀνήρ,
καὶ καλὸς μορφὴν οὐ χαρίεσσαν ἔχων·

εἰ δέ τις ἀχρήμων, πενίης δέ μιν ἔργα βιᾶται,
κτήσεσθαι πάντως χρήματα πολλὰ δοκεῖ.
σπεύδει δ᾿ ἄλλοθεν ἄλλος· ὁ μὲν κατὰ πόντον ἀλᾶται
ἐν νηυσὶν χρῄζων οἴκαδε κέρδος ἄγειν
ἰχθυόεντ᾿ ἀνέμοισι φορεόμενος ἀργαλέοισιν,
φειδωλὴν ψυχῆς οὐδεμίαν θέμενος·

ἄλλος γῆν τέμνων πολυδένδρεον εἰς ἐνιαυτὸν
λατρεύει, τοῖσιν καμπύλ᾿ ἄροτρα μέλει·
ἄλλος Ἀθηναίης τε καὶ Ἡφαίστου πολυτέχνεω
ἔργα δαεὶς χειροῖν ξυλλέγεται βίοτον,

ἄλλος Ὀλυμπιάδων Μουσέων πάρα δῶρα διδαχθείς,
ἱμερτῆς σοφίης μέτρον ἐπιστάμενος·
ἄλλον μάντιν ἔθηκεν ἄναξ ἑκάεργος Ἀπόλλων,
ἔγνω δ᾿ ἀνδρὶ κακὸν τηλόθεν ἐρχόμενον,
ᾧ συνομαρτήσωσι θεοί· τὰ δὲ μόρσιμα πάντως
οὔτε τις οἰωνὸς ῥύσεται οὔθ᾿ ἱερά·

ἄλλοι Παιῶνος πολυφαρμάκου ἔργον ἔχοντες
ἰητροί· καὶ τοῖς οὐδὲν ἔπεστι τέλος·
πολλάκι δ᾿ ἐξ ὀλίγης ὀδύνης μέγα γίγνεται ἄλγος,
κοὐκ ἄν τις λύσαιτ᾿ ἤπια φάρμακα δούς·
τὸν δὲ κακαῖς νούσοισι κυκώμενον ἀργαλέαις τε
ἁψάμενος χειροῖν αἶψα τίθησ᾿ ὑγιῆ.

Μοῖρα δέ τοι θνητοῖσι κακὸν φέρει ἠδὲ καὶ ἐσθλόν,
δῶρα δ᾿ ἄφυκτα θεῶν γίγνεται ἀθανάτων.
πᾶσι δέ τοι κίνδυνος ἐπ᾿ ἔργμασιν, οὐδέ τις οἶδεν
ᾗ μέλλει σχήσειν χρήματος ἀρχομένου·

ἀλλ᾿ ὁ μὲν εὖ ἔρδειν πειρώμενος οὐ προνοήσας
ἐς μεγάλην ἄτην καὶ χαλεπὴν ἔπεσεν,
τῷ δὲ κακῶς ἔρδοντι θεὸς περὶ πάντα δίδωσιν
συντυχίην ἀγαθήν, ἔκλυσιν ἀφροσύνης.

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