The Two Thoughts All Mortals Must Have

Bacchylides, 3. 77-92

“Since you are mortal, you need to cultivate
Two concepts: that tomorrow is the only day
You will see the light of the sun
yet also that you will live fifty more years with overwhelming riches.

Bring joy to your heart by doing good deeds,
For this is the highest of profits.
If you know, you know what I am saying.

The heights of heaven are unpolluted
And sea’s water does not rot.
Gold can delight but
It is not permitted for a man
To put down his grey hair and
Return his flourishing youth.

The story of someone’s accomplishments,
Does not wither with the body–
No, the Muse helps it grow.”

‘θνατὸν εὖντα χρὴ διδύμους ἀέξειν
γνώμας, ὅτι τ᾿ αὔριον ὄψεαι
μοῦνον ἁλίου φάος,
χὤτι πεντήκοντ᾿ ἔτεα
ζωὰν βαθύπλουτον τελεῖς.
ὅσια δρῶν εὔφραινε θυμόν· τοῦτο γὰρ
κερδέων ὑπέρτατον.’
φρονέοντι συνετὰ γαρύω· βαθὺς μὲν
αἰθὴρ ἀμίαντος· ὕδωρ δὲ πόντου
οὐ σάπεται· εὐφροσύνα δ᾿ ὁ χρυσός·
ἀνδρὶ δ᾿ ο θέμις, πολιὸν [αρ]έντα
γῆρας, θάλ[εια]ν αὖτις ἀγκομίσσαι
ἥβαν. ἀρετᾶ[ς γε μ]ὲν οὐ μινύθει
βροτῶν ἅμα σ[ώμ]τι φέγγος, ἀλλὰ
Μοῦσά νιν τρ[έφει.]

Detail of Death and Life by Gustav Klimt, Nude mother holds nude child in the middle of two other stylized female figures. Her eyes are closed and cheeks are rosy

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