Fame and the Dead

Simonides, Greek Anthology 7.301

Leonidas, the earth has covered her the well famed men
Who died there alongside you, king of wide-wayed Sparta,
After they met face to face the strength of the most bows
And swift-hooved horses and Persian men in war.

Εὐκλέας αἶα κέκευθε, Λεωνίδα, οἳ μετὰ σεῖο
τῇδ’ ἔθανον, Σπάρτης εὐρυχόρου βασιλεῦ,
πλείστων δὴ τόξων τε καὶ ὠκυπόδων σθένος ἵππων
Μηδείων τ’ ἀνδρῶν δεξάμενοι πολέμῳ.

Mimnermus, fr. 25 [=Stobaeus 4.57.11]

“We are all awfully predisposed to envying
A well-famed man when he’s alive, and praising him when he’s dead”

δεινοὶ γὰρ ἀνδρὶ πάντες ἐσμὲν εὐκλεεῖ
ζῶντι φθονῆσαι, κατθανόντα δ’ αἰνέσαι.

Euripides, Helen 966-8

“But this woman will not believe it right that her father,
Called upon from below, be talked badly about
When he was the most well-famed before. She is in control of this now.”

ἀλλ᾿ ἥδε πατέρα νέρθεν ἀνακαλούμενον
οὐκ ἀξιώσει τὸν πρὶν εὐκλεέστατον
κακῶς ἀκοῦσαι· κυρία γάρ ἐστι νῦν.

Cubist figure on brown background.
Ghost of a Genius by Paul Klee, 1922. Oil transfer and watercolour on paper laid on card, collection of the Scottish National Gallery.

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