Death Takes No Bribes

Anacreonta 36

“If wealth could give mortals life
in exchange for gold,
I would work hard on saving it,
So when Death came for me,
It could take payment and move on.

But if it is impossible for mortals
To purchase any more of life,
Why do I groan pointlessly?
And why do I mourn out loud?

Since death cannot be bought,
What use is gold to me?

I want to drink,
To drink sweet wine,
To spend time with my friends
And to honor Aphrodite
On downy beds.”

ὁ Πλοῦτος εἴ γε χρυσοῦ
τὸ ζῆν παρεῖχε θνητοῖς,
ἐκαρτέρουν φυλάττων,
ἵν᾿, ἂν Θάνατος ἐπέλθῃ,
λάβῃ τι καὶ παρέλθῃ.
εἰ δ᾿ οὖν μὴ τὸ πρίασθαι
τὸ ζῆν ἔνεστι θνητοῖς,
τί καὶ μάτην στενάζω;
τί καὶ γόους προπέμπω;
θανεῖν γὰρ εἰ πέπρωται,
τί χρυσὸς ὠφελεῖ με;
ἐμοὶ γένοιτο πίνειν,
πιόντι δ᾿ οἶνον ἡδὺν
ἐμοῖς φίλοις συνεῖναι,
ἐν δ᾿ ἁπαλαῖσι κοίταις
τελεῖν τὰν Ἀφροδίταν.

A still life oil painting. There is a skull prominently in the center, on top of money bags with documents protuding from below. on the left is a violin
N. L. Peschier, “Skull, Money Bags, and Documents” 1661

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