Legislation, For Drunks

Aristophanes, Acharnians 532-534

“[Perikles] used to make laws written like drinking songs:
That the Megarians were not to stay in the market
Nor the sea nor the beach in between”

ἐτίθει νόμους ὥσπερ σκόλια γεγραμμένους,
ὡς χρὴ Μεγαρέας μήτε γῇ μήτ’ ἐν ἀγορᾷ
μήτ’ ἐν θαλάττῃ μήτ’ ἐν ἠπείρῳ μένειν.

Schol. Ar. Ach. 532 

“[Perikles] used to make laws written like drinking songs”:

Timokreon of Rhodes, the lyric poet, wrote a drinking song like this against Wealth, which begins:

“Blind Wealth, I wish you had shown yourself
Neither on land nor on sea
Nor the beach in between.

You should have stayed underneath
living in Hell—thanks to you
all these evils for humans never cease.”

ἐτίθει νόμους· μιμούμενος τὸν τῶν σκολίων ποιητήν. Τιμοκρέων δὲ ὁ Ῥόδιος μελοποιὸς τοιοῦτον ἔγραψε σκόλιον κατὰ τοῦ Πλούτου, οὗ ἡ ἀρχή·

ὤφελέν σ᾿ ὦ τυφλὲ Πλοῦτε
μήτε γῇ μήτ᾿ ἐν θαλάσσῃ
μήτ᾿ ἐν ἠπείρῳ φανῆμεν,
ἀλλὰ Τάρταρόν τε ναίειν
κ᾿ Αχέροντα· διὰ σὲ γὰρ πάντ᾿
αἰὲν ἀνθρώποις κακά.

Mihály Zichy, “Drinking Song” 1874

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