Don’t Worry About All the Ways We Can Die!

cw: suicide

Simonides Fr. 1 [= Stob. 4.34.15]

“Child, Zeus the lound-thunderer manages every ending
And makes everything turn out the way he wants.
People don’t have any sense, but we live for the day
Just like animals in the field who know nothing
About how the god will finish each thing.

Still, hope and belief feed us all,
Making us strive for what can’t be done.
Some of us wait for the coming day, others for seasons–
But every mortal expects the new year
to make them a friend to wealth and fortune.

But begrudging old age overtakes one person before
Before they finish their race and awful sicknesses
ruin others, and then Hades sends some,
under the dark earth overcome by Ares in war.

Others die whirled about by winds
And the crashing waves of the dark sea
When they go sailing because they can’t earn a living.
Others choose to leave the light of the sun,
Fitting themselves to a noose with a miserable fate.

And so there’s nothing free of evils! Instead mortals have
Endless ways to die and unexpected disasters and pain.

If you listen to me, we wouldn’t desire troubles at all,
Nor would we disfigure ourselves by
Focusing our hearts on grief and misfortune.”

ὦ παῖ, τέλος μὲν Ζεὺς ἔχει βαρύκτυπος
πάντων ὅσ᾿ ἐστὶ καὶ τίθησ᾿ ὅκῃ θέλει,
νοῦς δ᾿ οὐκ ἐπ᾿ ἀνθρώποισιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπήμεροι
ἃ δὴ βοτὰ ζώομεν, οὐδὲν εἰδότες
ὅκως ἕκαστον ἐκτελευτήσει θεός.

ἐλπὶς δὲ πάντας κἀπιπειθείη τρέφει
ἄπρηκτον ὁρμαίνοντας· οἱ μὲν ἡμέρην
μένουσιν ἐλθεῖν, οἱ δ᾿ ἐτέων περιτροπάς·
νέωτα δ᾿ οὐδεὶς ὅστις οὐ δοκεῖ βροτῶν
πλούτῳ τε κἀγαθοῖσιν ἵξεσθαι φίλος.

φθάνει δὲ τὸν μὲν γῆρας ἄζηλον λαβὸν
πρὶν τέρμ᾿ ἵκηται, τοὺς δὲ δύστηνοι βροτῶν
φθείρουσι νοῦσοι, τοὺς δ᾿ Ἄρει δεδμημένους
πέμπει μελαίνης Ἀΐδης ὑπὸ χθονός·

οἱ δ᾿ ἐν θαλάσσῃ λαίλαπι κλονεόμενοι
καὶ κύμασιν πολλοῖσι πορφυρῆς ἁλὸς
θνήσκουσιν, εὖτ᾿ ἂν μὴ δυνήσωνται ζόειν·
οἱ δ᾿ ἀγχόνην ἅψαντο δυστήνῳ μόρῳ
καὐτάγρετοι λείπουσιν ἡλίου φάος.

οὕτω κακῶν ἄπ᾿ οὐδέν, ἀλλὰ μυρίαι
βροτοῖσι κῆρες κἀνεπίφραστοι δύαι

καὶ πήματ᾿ ἐστίν. εἰ δ᾿ ἐμοὶ πιθοίατο,
οὐκ ἂν κακῶν ἐρῷμεν, οὐδ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἄλγεσιν
κακοῖς ἔχοντες θυμὸν αἰκιζοίμεθα.

A painting from a cathedral that has skeletons in black robes tending plants in pots on various tables
“The Garden of Death” Hugo Simberg (1906)

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