Fox Temper Meet Hunting Wolf

Pindar, Pythian 2.77-89

“Slander merchants are an incurable headache for everyone–
They have tempers like foxes–
But what kind of profit does that cleverness produce?
It is just like when the rest of the equipment
Struggles in the the depth of the sea and I go
Floating untouched like a cork on the salty swell.

It’s impossible for a lying citizen to speak a strong word
Among good people–yet they’ll keep sucking up to everyone
To weave total ruin.
I don’t share his audacity! I want to love a friend
And be hateful to an enemy and
Run him to ground like a wolf does–

Creeping up on him by indirect paths.
Someone who speaks straight rises to the top
In any constitution–in a tyranny, when the mob rules or
When wise people oversee the state.
You shouldn’t fight with a god.”

ἄμαχον κακὸν ἀμφοτέροις διαβολιᾶν ὑποφάτιες,
ὀργαῖς ἀτενὲς ἀλωπέκων ἴκελοι.
κέρδει δὲ τί μάλα τοῦτο κερδαλέον τελέθει;
ἅτε γὰρ ἐννάλιον πόνον ἐχοίσας βαθύν
σκευᾶς ἑτέρας, ἀβάπτιστος εἶμι φελ-
λὸς ὣς ὑπὲρ ἕρκος ἅλμας.
ἀδύνατα δ᾿ ἔπος ἐκβαλεῖν κραταιὸν ἐν ἀγαθοῖς
δόλιον ἀστόν· ὅμως μὰν σαίνων ποτὶ πάντας ἄ-
ταν πάγχυ διαπλέκει.
οὔ οἱ μετέχω θράσεος. φίλον εἴη φιλεῖν·
ποτὶ δ᾿ ἐχθρὸν ἅτ᾿ ἐχθρὸς ἐὼν λύκοιο
δίκαν ὑποθεύσομαι,

ἄλλ᾿ ἄλλοτε πατέων ὁδοῖς σκολιαῖς.
ἐν πάντα δὲ νόμον εὐθύγλωσσος ἀνὴρ προφέρει,
παρὰ τυραννίδι, χὠπόταν ὁ λάβρος στρατός,
χὤταν πόλιν οἱ σοφοὶ τηρέωντι. χρὴ
δὲ πρὸς θεὸν οὐκ ἐρίζειν

Photograph of the inside of a red figure vase. A large headed figure sits and talks to a fox, who is gesticulating
Red Figure Vase c. 460 BCE Vatican Museum

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