The Broken Hopes of a Once Prosperous Life

From “An Old Woman’s Lament” [=P. Oxy. xv. 1921, no. 1794, p. 110 = LCL 360 122] 7-21

“…My life’s hopes are shattered
My home makes a hollow sound.
Luck turns for different people at random.

Wealth’s ‘right’ is just like the fall of dice–
A toss brings people good fortune on different days.
They fall for a good man and make a poor man wealthy
And sometimes they make the rich man poor.

This is how fortune alights on turning wings
Bringing luck up and down the ranks of people.

You know that I have shared food and drink with many
And in days past I was not an outcast.
My field was deep with grain and so was the threshing floor;
We had many sheep, but this plague has destroyed it all.

And so I drag myself around this crowded city
A beggar with no one to care for me.”

] ἐλπωραὶ δ᾿ ἐάγησαν
ἡμετέρης βιοτῆ[ς, αὖ]ον δέ μοι οἶκος ἀυτεῖ.
ἄλλοτε γὰρ ἄλλο[ι]ς ὄλβ[ο]υ λάχος ἀνθρώποισιν·
οἵη τοι πεσσοῖο δίκη, το[ι]ήδε καὶ ὄλβου·
πεσσ[ὸ]ς ἀμειβόμενος [π]οτὲ μὲν το[ῖς, ἄ]λλοτετοῖσι[ν
εἰς ἀγαθὸν πίπ[τει] καὶ ἀφνεὸν αἶψα τίθησι
πρόσθεν ἀνολβείοντ᾿, εὐηφενεόντ[α] δ᾿ ἄνολβον·
τοῖος διν(η)τῆσι περ[ιστ]ρέφεται πτερύγεσσιν
ὄ]λβος ἐπ᾿ ἀνθρώπους [ἄλ]λον δ᾿ ἐξ ἄλ[λο]υ ὀφέλλει.
ἡ δ᾿ αὐ[τ]ὴ πολέεσσι π[οτὸ]ν καὶ σῖτον ὄρεξα
τὴν ὁράας, ἐπεὶ οὔτι λιπ[ερ]νῆτις πάρος ἦα,
ἔσκε δέ μοι νειὸς βαθυλ[ή]ιος, ἔσκεν ἀ[λ]ωή,
πολλὰ δέ μοι μῆλ᾿ ἔσκε, [τ]ὰ μὲν διὰ πάντα κέδασσεν
ἥδ᾿ ὀλοὴ βούβρωστις, ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἀκόμιστο[ς ἀ]λῆτις
ὧ]δέ ποθι πλήθουσαν ἀνὰ πτόλιν ε[. . . ἕ]ρπω

“The story of a fallen woman. IV.” Christoffer Vilhelm Eckersberg 1808

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