Take A Break, Just Don’t Look Up!

Pindar, Isthmian 8.12-15

“Let’s take a break from intractable evils
and make public something sweet, even after toil,
since some god has spared our heads
from Tantalos’ stone.

So my fear’s passing has
Given some rest to my worried thoughts.
It is better to always look to everything
Right in front of you,
Since a deceptive life hangs over humans
As life’s path unfolds.

Yet even these things can be healed
For mortals with freedom.
It is right for one to treasure good hope.”

παυσάμενοι δ᾿ ἀπράκτων κακῶν
γλυκύ τι δαμωσόμεθα καὶ μετὰ πόνον·
ἐπειδὴ τὸν ὑπὲρ κεφαλᾶς
λίθον γε Ταντάλου παρά
τις ἔτρεψεν ἄμμι θεός,
ἀλλ᾿ ἐμοὶ δεῖμα μὲν παροιχόμενον
καρτερὰν ἔπαυσε μέριμναν· τὸ δὲ πρὸ ποδός
ἄρειον ἀεὶ βλέπειν
χρῆμα πάν· δόλιος γὰρ αἰ-
ὼν ἐπ᾿ ἀνδράσι κρέμαται,
ἑλίσσων βίου πόρον· ἰ-
ατὰ δ᾿ ἐστὶ βροτοῖς σύν γ᾿ ἐλευθερίᾳ
καὶ τά. χρὴ δ᾿ ἀγαθὰν ἐλπίδ᾿ ἀνδρὶ μέλειν.

Schol ad. Pindar I 8 17b

“This victory song was written after the army of Xerxes and the Persians was defeated. He speaks of Tantalos’ stone metaphorically as the fear of that army hanging over and threatening the Greeks, because the stone was said in myth to threaten Tantalos, just as Euripides says in his Orestes: “[he] flies in the air, always fearing the rock hanging over his head; he pays this penalty…” (Or. 6-7).

ὅτι μετὰ τὴν ἧτταν τῶν Περσῶν καὶ τὴν Ξέρξου στρατείαν ἐπὶ τοὺς ῞Ελληνας ἐγράφη οὗτος ὁ ἐπίνικος· Ταντάλου γὰρ λίθον εἴρηκε μεταφορικῶς τὸν ἐπικρεμάμενον καὶ προσδοκώ-μενον τοῖς ῞Ελλησι φόβον τῆς προειρημένης στρατείας, διὰ τὸ μυθολογεῖσθαι τῷ Ταντάλῳ λίθον ἐπαιωρεῖσθαι, καθάπερ καὶ Εὐριπίδης εἴρηκε (Orest. 6. 7)·

κορυφῆς ὑπερτέλλοντα δειμαίνων πέτρον
ἀέρι ποτᾶται καὶ τίνει ταύτην δίκην.’

Marble releif sculpture with the first figure holding a stone, the second on a wheel, and the third doing something with what looks like a blanket
Marble relief of Sisyphus, Tantalos, and Ixion in their punishments

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