Have You Tried Sending Out Your Resume? Xenophon on Job Hunting

Xenophon, Memorabilia 2.9.5

“Really, Euthêrus, it is not at all easy to find work where you won’t face some responsibility. It is hard to work at all without making some mistakes and hard still not to meet silly criticism even when you haven’t screwed up. I’d be surprised if you said that you end up complaint-free from those you work for currently.

Therefore, you should try to avoid complainers and cultivate people of good judgement.  Take on tasks you’re capable of doing and avoid those you’re not. Whatever you do, take care to do your best and do it willingly. I think you’ll find yourself least criticized this way and that you will find solution for your trouble, you will live in great east and safety, and save enough for retirement.

Καὶ μήν, ἔφη, Εὔθηρε, οὐ πάνυ γε ῥᾴδιόν ἐστιν εὑρεῖν ἔργον, ἐφ᾿ ᾧ οὐκ ἄν τις αἰτίαν ἔχοι. χαλεπὸν γὰρ οὕτω τι ποιῆσαι, ὥστε μηδὲν ἁμαρτεῖν, χαλεπὸν δὲ καὶ ἀναμαρτήτως τι ποιήσαντα μὴ ἀγνώμονι κριτῇ περιτυχεῖν· ἐπεὶ καὶ οἷς νῦν ἐργάζεσθαι φὴς θαυμάζω εἰ ῥᾴδιόν ἐστιν ἀνέγκλητον διαγίγνεσθαι. χρὴ οὖν πειρᾶσθαι τούς τε φιλαιτίους φεύγειν καὶ τοὺς εὐγνώμονας διώκειν καὶ τῶν πραγμάτων ὅσα μὲν δύνασαι ποιεῖν ὑπομένειν, ὅσα δὲ μὴ δύνασαι φυλλάττεσθαι, ὅ τι δ᾿ ἂν πράττῃς, τούτου ὡς κάλλιστα καὶ προθυμότατα ἐπιμελεῖσθαι. οὕτω γὰρ ἥκιστ᾿ ἂν μέν σε οἶμαι ἐν αἰτίᾳ εἶναι, μάλιστα δὲ τῇ ἀπορίᾳ βοήθειαν εὑρεῖν, ῥᾷστα δὲ καὶ ἀκινδυνότατα ζῆν καὶ εἰς τὸ γῆρας διαρκέστατα.

image from here: http://www.arch.mcgill.ca/prof/sijpkes/abc-structures-2005/Lectures-2005/lecture-8/iron/Greek-iron.html

No Greener Grass: Life is Painful Everywhere

Plutarch, On the Tranquility of Mind, 466

“Menander addresses those who believe that some kind of life is singularly free of pain, as some people think about the life of farmers, or of bachelors, or of kings. He reminds rightly (Men. Fr. 281):

‘I once thought, Phanias, that rich men,
who are not pressed to borrow money, do not groan
During the night, don’t turn over and over mumbling
“Alas”, and are able to sleep a sweet and
calm sleep.’

He then proceeds to describe how he has noted that the wealthy suffer the same things as the poor:

‘Is there some relation between life and pain?
Pain abides in a rich life; it’s in a famous one,
It grows old alongside a poor life too.’

But just as, while sailing, cowards and the sick believe that they would fare more easily if they moved from a skiff to a larger boat, or again if they went from there to a trireme, they achieve nothing since they carry their sickness and their cowardice with them. Changing your lifestyle doesn’t separate pains and troubles from the soul. These things come from inexperience in affairs, lack of reason, and an inability or ignorance concerning approaching the present circumstances correctly.

These things storm around the rich and poor; they annoy the married and unmarried too. Men avoid appearing in public because of these things but then cannot endure their peaceful life; because of these things, men pursue advancement in the seats of power but when they get there, they are immediately bored.”

Τοὺς μὲν γὰρ ἀφωρισμένως ἕνα βίον ἄλυπον νομίζοντας, ὡς ἔνιοι τὸν τῶν γεωργῶν ἢ τὸν τῶν ἠιθέων ἢ τὸν τῶν βασιλέων, ἱκανῶς ὁ Μένανδρος ὑπομιμνήσκει λέγων (fr. 281)

‘ᾤμην ἐγὼ τοὺς πλουσίους, ὦ Φανία,
οἷς μὴ τὸ δανείζεσθαι πρόσεστιν, οὐ στένειν
τὰς νύκτας οὐδὲ στρεφομένους ἄνω κάτω
‘οἴμοι’ λέγειν, ἡδὺν δὲ καὶ πρᾶόν τινα
ὕπνον καθεύδειν•’

εἶτα προσδιελθὼν ὡς καὶ τοὺς πλουσίους ὁρᾷ ταὐτὰ πάσχοντας τοῖς πένησιν

‘ἆρ’ ἐστί’ φησί ‘συγγενές τι λύπη καὶ βίος;
τρυφερῷ βίῳ σύνεστιν, ἐνδόξῳ βίῳ
πάρεστιν, ἀπόρῳ συγκαταγηράσκει βίῳ.’

ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ οἱ δειλοὶ καὶ ναυτιῶντες ἐν τῷ πλεῖν, εἶτα ῥᾷον οἰόμενοι διάξειν, ἐὰν εἰς γαῦλον ἐξ ἀκάτου καὶ πάλιν ἐὰν εἰς τριήρη μεταβῶσιν, οὐδὲν περαίνουσι τὴν χολὴν καὶ τὴν δειλίαν συμμεταφέροντες αὑτοῖς, οὕτως αἱ τῶν βίων ἀντιμεταλήψεις οὐκ ἐξαιροῦσι τῆς ψυχῆς τὰ λυποῦντα καὶ ταράττοντα• ταῦτα δ’ ἐστὶν ἀπειρία πραγμάτων, ἀλογιστία, τὸ μὴ δύνασθαι μηδ’ ἐπίστασθαι χρῆσθαι τοῖς παροῦσιν ὀρθῶς. ταῦτα καὶ πλουσίους χειμάζει καὶ πένητας, ταῦτα καὶ γεγαμηκότας ἀνιᾷ καὶ ἀγάμους• διὰ ταῦτα φεύγουσι τὴν ἀγορὰν εἶτα τὴν ἡσυχίαν οὐ φέρουσι, διὰ ταῦτα προαγωγὰς ἐν αὐλαῖς διώκουσι καὶ παρελθόντες εὐθὺς βαρύνονται.

We Need a Kinder, Gentler Hostlity!

Hesiod. Works & Days, 11-26.

Listen, there is not a single species of Strife. On the earth there are actually two. The perceptive person would applaud one, but the other is reprehensible. Each has a spirit thoroughly distinct from the other. One always propagates evil war and battle, being merciless. No one has affection for this oppressive Strife, but compelled by the will of the gods, people honor her.   

Still, it was the other Strife dark Night birthed first. The son of Cronos, seated on high in the ether where he dwells, worked her into the roots of the earth. She’s the gentler one with mankind, and yet this Strife motivates even a totally good-for-nothing man to work. It’s on account of this Strife that when someone habitually sees a rich man who is still desirous of work–eager to plow and plant and set his house in order–then neighbor becomes envious of neighbor and hurries after riches of his own. 

Therefore, this Strife is good for mankind: potter begrudges potter; carpenter feels rancor toward carpenter; beggar envies beggar; and, singer is jealous of singer. 

οὐκ ἄρα μοῦνον ἔην Ἐρίδων γένος, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ γαῖαν
εἰσὶ δύω: τὴν μέν κεν ἐπαινέσσειε νοήσας,
ἣ δ᾽ ἐπιμωμητή: διὰ δ᾽ ἄνδιχα θυμὸν ἔχουσιν.
ἣ μὲν γὰρ πόλεμόν τε κακὸν καὶ δῆριν ὀφέλλει,
15σχετλίη: οὔτις τήν γε φιλεῖ βροτός, ἀλλ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἀνάγκης
ἀθανάτων βουλῇσιν Ἔριν τιμῶσι βαρεῖαν.
τὴν δ᾽ ἑτέρην προτέρην μὲν ἐγείνατο Νὺξ ἐρεβεννή,
θῆκε δέ μιν Κρονίδης ὑψίζυγος, αἰθέρι ναίων,
γαίης ἐν ῥίζῃσι, καὶ ἀνδράσι πολλὸν ἀμείνω:
20ἥτε καὶ ἀπάλαμόν περ ὁμῶς ἐπὶ ἔργον ἔγειρεν.
εἰς ἕτερον γάρ τίς τε ἰδὼν ἔργοιο χατίζει
πλούσιον, ὃς σπεύδει μὲν ἀρώμεναι ἠδὲ φυτεύειν
οἶκόν τ᾽ εὖ θέσθαι: ζηλοῖ δέ τε γείτονα γείτων
εἰς ἄφενος σπεύδοντ᾽: ἀγαθὴ δ᾽ Ἔρις ἥδε βροτοῖσιν.
25καὶ κεραμεὺς κεραμεῖ κοτέει καὶ τέκτονι τέκτων,
καὶ πτωχὸς πτωχῷ φθονέει καὶ ἀοιδὸς ἀοιδῷ.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

Thunderous-Mouth-Milling and Petty-Bragging: Some Words for a Thursday

The Suda has the following anecdote which seems to be taken and altered from Diogenes Laertius or something similar.

“thunderous-mouth-milling”: Eubulides says this “the eristic, asking his horn questions and discombobulating the orators with his falsely-intellectual arguments, taking with him the “thunderous-mouth-milling” of Demosthenes.

Ῥομβοστωμυλήθρα: Εὐβουλίδης φησίν: οὑριστικὸς κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων ἀπῆλθ’, ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥομβοστωμυλήθραν.

ῥομβοστωμυλήθρη (lit. “thunderous-mouth-milling” (?) seems to be a misunderstanding or humorous take on ῥωποπερπερήθρη, usually translated as “braggadocio” but is more like “cheap/petty bragging”
From Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 2.10

“The eristic Euboulides, asking questions about horns
And discombobulating the speakers with his falsely-intellectual arguments
Has gone off, taking the petty self regard of Demosthenes with him

For it seems that Demosthenes was a student of Eubulides and was able to stop his problems with the letter ‘r’ because of it. Eubulides was also in conflict with Aristotle and undermined him a lot.

οὑριστικὸς δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν
καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων
ἀπῆλθ᾿ ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥωποπερπερήθραν.

ἐῴκει γὰρ αὐτοῦ καὶ Δημοσθένης ἀκηκοέναι καὶ ῥωβικώτερος ὢν παύσασθαι. ὁ δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης καὶ πρὸς Ἀριστοτέλην διεφέρετο, καὶ πολλὰ αὐτὸν διαβέβληκε.

Eubulides is now known for some interesting paradoxes.

Image result for ancient greek eubulides
Demosthenes, no longer thunderous-mouth-milling.

Variation on Heraclitus

“You cannot step into the same river twice.” δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.

– Heraclitus

Louis MacNeice, Variation on Heraclitus:

Even the walls are flowing, even the ceiling,

Nor only in terms of physics; the pictures

Bob on each picture rail like floats on a line

While the books on the shelves keep reeling

Their titles out into space and the carpet

Keeps flying away to Arabia nor can this be where I stood —

Where I shot the rapids I mean — when I signed

On a line that rippled away with a pen that melted

Nor can this now be the chair — the chairoplane of a chair —

That I sat in the day that I thought I had made up my mind

And as for that standard lamp it too keeps waltzing away

Down an unbridgeable Ganges where nothing is standard

And lights are but lit to be drowned in honour and spite of some dark

And vanishing goddess. No, whatever you say,

Reappearance presumes disappearance, it may not be nice

Or proper or easily analysed not to be static

But none of your slide snide rules can catch what is sliding so fast

And, all you advisers on this by the time it is that,

I just do not want your advice

Nor need you be troubled to pin me down in my room

Since the room and I will escape for I tell you flat:

One cannot live in the same room twice.


Nothing of the Facts Themselves

Plato, Gorgias 459b7-c2

Socrates: “So, the politician and the art of rhetoric are also the same regarding the rest of the arts: it isn’t necessary for the speaker to know how the facts themselves stand, but he need only to have found some persuasive device so he seems to those who don’t know anything to know more than those who actually know.”

ΣΩ. Οὐκοῦν καὶ περὶ τὰς ἄλλας ἁπάσας τέχνας ὡσαύτως ἔχει ὁ ῥήτωρ καὶ ἡ ῥητορική· αὐτὰ μὲν τὰ πράγματα οὐδὲν δεῖ αὐτὴν εἰδέναι ὅπως ἔχει, μηχανὴνδέ τινα πειθοῦς ηὑρηκέναι ὥστε φαίνεσθαι τοῖς οὐκ εἰδόσι μᾶλλον εἰδέναι τῶν εἰδότων.



Writing Biography is Like Being In Love

Eunapius, Live of the Philosophers 2.2.4

“Even though I have recorded these things faithfully, I do recognize that some things have probably escaped me. And if, although I have applied great thought and effort trying to compose a continuous and clear history of the lives of the best philosophers and rhetoricians, I did not obtain my goal, I have suffered much the same kind of thing as those who love madly and obsessively. For they, when they see the one they love and witness her overwhelming beauty in real life, they look down, too weak and dazed to gaze upon the one they desire.”

Καὶ ταῦτά γε εἰς μνήμην ἐγὼ τίθεμαι, τοῦτο συνορῶν, ὅτι τὰ μὲν ἔλαθεν ἴσως ἡμᾶς, τὰ δὲ οὐκ ἔλαθεν. ἐκείνου δὲ καίπερ πολλὴν ποιούμενος φροντίδα καὶ σπουδήν, τοῦ συνεχῆ καὶ περιγεγραμμένην εἰς ἀκρίβειαν ἱστορίαν τινὰ λαβεῖν τοῦ φιλοσόφου καὶ ῥητορικοῦ βίου τῶν ἀρίστων ἀνδρῶν, εἶτα οὐ τυγχάνων τῆς ἐπιθυμίας, ταὐτόν τι τοῖς ἐρῶσιν ἐμμανῶς καὶ περιφλέκτως ἔπαθον. καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι, τὴν μὲν ἐρωμένην αὐτὴν ὁρῶντες καὶ τὸ περίψυκτον ἐν τῷ φαινομένῳ κάλλος, κάτω νεύουσιν, ὃ ζητοῦσιν ἰδεῖν ἐξασθενοῦντες, καὶ περιλαμπόμενοι•

Eunapius? A 5th century (CE) intellectual who wrote about sophists, picking up from Philostratus.

Image result for ancient greek and roman love

Only Humans Are Unlucky

Dio Chrysostom, 23rd Discourse on a Wise Man

[In response to Iliad 17.476-477]

“For there is nothing more pitiful than a human being
Of all the creatures who breathe and creep on the earth.”

οὐ μὲν γάρ τί πού ἐστιν ὀϊζυρώτερον ἀνδρὸς
πάντων, ὅσσά τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.

“Ah, but that poet seems to talk nonsense to me. Still, Homer’s line upsets me because, even though he is wise, he has this kind of opinion about mankind.

Response: Why is it strange? He does not claim that all human beings are terrible but that there is no creature more wretched than a human being when they are wretched, just we would say I think. For perhaps humans are not the only unlucky creatures, just as we are not the only lucky ones. But only a human is “senseless” just as only a human is “thoughtful”. Clearly, a horse can’t be unjust or immoderate and neither can a pig or a lion, just as they can’t lack culture or be illiterate.”

Ἀλλὰ οὗτός γε ὁ ποιητὴς ληρεῖν ἔμοιγε φαίνεται. τὸ δὲ τοῦ Ὁμήρου ταράττει με, ὅτι οὕτω σοφὸς ὢν1 ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ταύτην ἀπεφήνατο τὴν γνώμην.

Δ. Καὶ τί ἄτοπον εἴρηκεν; οὐ γὰρ ὡς ἅπαντες οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἄθλιοί εἰσί φησιν, ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι οὐθέν ἐστι ζῷον ἀνθρώπου ἀθλιώτερον τοῦ γε ἀθλίου, ὥσπερ ἀμέλει καὶ ἡμεῖς φαῖμεν ἄν. ἴσως γάρ τοι καὶ μόνος τῶν ἄλλων ὁ ἄνθρωπος κακοδαίμων ἐστίν, ὥσπερ καὶ εὐδαίμων· ἐπεί τοι καὶ μόνος ἄφρων, ὥσπερ καὶ φρόνιμος. οὔτε γὰρ ἄδικος οὔτε ἀκόλαστος εἴη ἂν ἵππος ἢ σῦς ἢ λέων, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ ἄμουσος οὐδὲ ἀγράμματος.

“I Saved the Republic, Everyone Agrees”

Res Gestae 1-2

Augustus composed (or had composed?) his public accomplishments before his death and they were published on his mausoleum and temples soon thereafter. We have Latin and Greek versions from  the Temple to Rome and Augustus in Ancyra (Modern Turkey).

(The Full text in Greek, English and Latin from the 1924 Loeb is made available by Lacus Curtius. A simpler Latin text is on The Latin Library.)

“1 When I was nineteen I raised an army on my own counsel and at my own expense, with which I restored the republic, then best by the oppression of a faction, to freedom. In recognition of this, the senate enrolled me in its order with honorific decrees during the consulship of Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, granting me as well the consular place in the declaration of opinion and they also gave me military command [imperium]. The senate ordered me, along with the consuls, to ensure that the Republic suffer no injury. When, in the same year, both consuls died in war, the People elected me consul and a triumvir, because I preserved the state.

2 I drove the men who murdered my father [Julius Caesar] into exile as a punishment for their crime according to legitimate legal judgments. And later when they waged war on the Republic, I defeated them twice.”

[1] Annos undeviginti natus exercitum privato consilio et privata impensa comparavi, per quem rem publicam a dominatione factionis oppressam in libertatem vindicavi. [Ob quae] senatus decretis honorificis in ordinem suum me adlegit, C. Pansa et A. Hirtio consulibus, consularem locum sententiae dicendae tribuens, et imperium mihi dedit. Res publica ne quid detrimenti caperet, me propraetore simul cum consulibus providere iussit. Populus autem eodem anno me consulem, cum cos. uterque bello cecidisset, et triumvirum rei publicae constituendae creavit.

Qui parentem meum trucidaverunt, eos in exilium expuli iudiciis legitimis ultus eorum facinus, et postea bellum inferentis rei publicae vici bis acie

1 Ἐτῶν δεκαεννέα ὢν τὸ στράτευμα ἐμῆι γνώμηι καὶ ἐμοῖς ἀναλώμασιν ἡτοίμασα, δι᾽ οὗ τὰ κοινὰ πράγματα ἐκ τῆς τῶν συνομοσαμένων δουλήας ἠλευθέρωσα. Ἐφ᾽ οἷς ἡ σύνκλητος ἐπαινέσασά  με ψηφίσμασι προκατέλεξε τῆι βουλῆι Γαϊωι Πάνσᾳ  Αὔλωι Ἱρτίωι ὑπάτοις, ἐν τῆι τάξει τῶν ὑπατικῶν 7 ἅμα τὸ συμβουλεύειν δοῦσα, ῥάβδους τ᾽ ἐμοὶ ἔδωκεν. Περὶ τὰ δημόσια πράγματα μή τι βλαβῆι, ἐμοὶ μετὰ τῶν ὑπάτων προνοεῖν ἐπέτρεψεν ἀντὶ στρατηγοῦ ὄντι. § Ὀδὲ δῆμος τῶι αὐτῶι ἐνιαυτῶι, ἀμφοτέρων τῶν ὑπάτων πολέωι πεπτωκότων, ἐμὲ ὕπατον ἀπέδειξεν καὶ τὴν τῶν τριῶν ἀνδρῶν ἔχοντα ἀρχὴν ἐπὶ τῆι καταστάσει τῶν δημοσίων πρα γμάτων εἵλατο.

2 Τοὺς τὸν πατέρα τὸν ἐμὸν φονεύσαντας ἐξώρισα κρίσεσιν ἐνδίκοις τειμωρησάμενος αὐτῶν τὸ 17 ἀσέβημα καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα αὐτοὺς πόλεμον ἐπιφέροντας τῆι πατρίδι δὶς ἐνείκησα παρατάξει.


Shining Fame and Deceptive Tales: Pindar’s First Olympian

N. B. This is a guest post from Larry Benn, who has a fine site already and offers translations and other posts.

Pindar, Olympian  1 (go here for original post)

water is best,
although gold is like fire blazing in the night:
it stands out, the most eye-catching of great-man wealth.
but if you wish to sing of the athletic games,
my dear heart, look no further than the sun for a more warming star
shining in the day through the lonely aether,

and let us not proclaim a contest greater than Olympia.
it is from there comes the famous ode encircling
the thoughts of the skillful artists
who have come to praise the son of Kronos
at the rich blessed hearth of Hieron,
the man who wields the scepter of law in sheep-rich Sicily,
plucking the best of every excellent thing,
and as such he delights in the best of music,
such as we men often play
around his welcoming table.

take the Dorian lyre from the peg
if the beauty of Pisa and Pherenicus
placed your mind under the sweetest musings
when his horse rushed along the Alpheus
giving itself to the race without need of the spur,
and it wedded victory to its master,
the horse-loving king of Syracuse!

fame shines for him in the populous colony of Lydian Pelops,
he for whom mighty Earth-bearer Poseidon lusted
when Klotho lifted him from the immaculate cauldron,
his shoulder, fitted with ivory, gleaming.
true, there are many wonders;
yet it cannot be doubted
what men say is also,
to some degree,
beyond the factual account.

stories embroidered with intricately woven falsehoods deceive.
but grace, which presents all things to mortals as pleasant,
by bestowing honor oftentimes makes even the unreliable become the trusted thing.
but, the days to come are the wisest witnesses.

it is proper for a man to speak well of the gods
as it lessens their negative judgment.
but son of Tantalus, contrary to my predecessors, I will tell you:
when your father summoned to that well-ordered feast and to dear Sipylus,
offering the gods a meal in return for theirs,
it was then that Radiant-Trident grabbed you,
overwhelmed by his soul’s desire
to carry you off on golden horses
up to the loftiest home of widely honored Zeus.
there, at a later time,
Ganymede also went to Zeus
for the same purpose.
but when you disappeared,
and the men searching hard did not fetch you to your mother,
one of the envious neighbors at once whispered
that with a knife they cut you limb from limb
into water at boil on the fire,
and around the tables,
for the last course,
they divided and ate your flesh.
impossible—for me to call any of the blessed ones gluttonous!
I will stay away from that.
privation often makes off with slanderous men.

if indeed the keepers of Olympus
honored any mortal man, it was this Tantalus.
but as he was unable to stomach his great good fortune,
for his insolence a punishment seized on the overweening man
in the form of a huge stone which his father hung over him.
always needing to swat it away from his head,
he was banished from joy.
he bore this unmanageable, ever-distressing life with its three labors—
and a fourth: for stealing from the immortals nectar and ambrosia
with which they had made him deathless,
and which he gave to his drinking companions.
if any man supposes he conceals what he’s doing from the gods,
he’s mistaken.

this is why the immortals sent his son back
among the short-lived race of men again.
when nearing the age of youth’s blossoming,
the first showings of a beard covering his chin with black,
he, the son, pondered how to win marriage–
already planned by her Pisan father–
to famous Hippodameia.
drawing near the grey sea,
alone in the dark of night,
he called out to the loud-roaring Trident-Bearing One,
who then appeared, right by his foot.
he said to him: “if the beloved gifts of Cypris
end in any gratitude, Poseidon, come!
stay Oinomaos’s bronze spear;
carry me into Elis in the swiftest chariots;
and draw me close to victory.
seeing that he’s killed thirteen men (the suitors),
he’s putting off his daughter’s marriage.
the great undertaking does not possess a weak man.
but since to die is destiny for men,
why would one nurse an undistinguished old age,
idling in the shadow lacking purpose,
having no share in all that is noble?
no, this struggle will be my future.
bestow on me a pleasing success!”
thus he spoke and had not fixed on fruitless words.
indeed, honoring him,
the god bestowed a golden chariot
and untiring winged horses as well.

and so he defeated strong Oinomaos
and took the maiden as his consort.
he fathered sons striving for glory;
first in rank among men.
and now he is included in the splendid blood rites
as he reclines by the stream of the Alpheus.
his well-attended tomb is beside the altar most often visited by strangers.
the glory of Pelops shine from afar
in the racecourses of the Olympic festivals
where there are contests in swiftness of foot
and grueling efforts of strength.

for the remainder of his life the winner of the contests has sweet tranquility,
as far as games can provide.
in contrast, the highest blessing comes to all men,
all of the time in the daily course of things.
still, I’m obliged to crown that man
with the equine tune in Aeolian song.
I’m sure there isn’t some other host
experienced in noble things
and more distinguished in power (today at any rate)
to embroider in the splendid folds of hymns.
a god, being a guardian,
attends to your ambitions, Hieron.
this he has as a concern.
if, as I hope, he does not depart in a rush,
I expect to celebrate your even sweeter ambition with the swift chariot,
finding the road an ally of words as I come to the sunny hill of Kronos.
although the Muse jealously guards a most potent dart for me,
and different people are great at different things,
it is with kings the peak caps itself!
look no further.
may you walk your time on high
and may I consort with victors just as long,
far-famed for wisdom among the Hellenes everywhere.

File:Vatican G 23 Group - Black-figure Pseudo-Panathenaic Amphora - Walters 482105 - Detail B.jpg
Black-figure Pseudo-Panathenaic Amphora https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vatican_G_23_Group_-_Black-figure_Pseudo-Panathenaic_Amphora_-_Walters_482105_-_Detail_B.jpg


ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ
ἅτε διαπρέπει νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου:
εἰ δ᾽ ἄεθλα γαρύεν
ἔλδεαι, φίλον ἦτορ,
5μηκέθ᾽ ἁλίου σκόπει
[10] ἄλλο θαλπνότερον ἐν ἁμέρᾳ φαεννὸν ἄστρον ἐρήμας δι᾽ αἰθέρος,
μηδ᾽ Ὀλυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν:
ὅθεν ὁ πολύφατος ὕμνος ἀμφιβάλλεται
σοφῶν μητίεσσι, κελαδεῖν
10Κρόνου παῖδ᾽ ἐς ἀφνεὰν ἱκομένους
μάκαιραν Ἱέρωνος ἑστίαν,
θεμιστεῖον ὃς ἀμφέπει σκᾶπτον ἐν πολυμάλῳ
[20] Σικελίᾳ, δρέπων μὲν κορυφὰς ἀρετᾶν ἄπο πασᾶν,
ἀγλαΐζεται δὲ καὶ
15μουσικᾶς ἐν ἀώτῳ,
οἷα παίζομεν φίλαν
ἄνδρες ἀμφὶ θαμὰ τράπεζαν. ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρμιγγα πασσάλου
λάμβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις
[30] νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν,
20ὅτε παρ᾽ Ἀλφεῷ σύτο, δέμας
ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόμοισι παρέχων,
κράτει δὲ προσέμιξε δεσπόταν,
Συρακόσιον ἱπποχάρμαν βασιλῆα. λάμπει δέ οἱ κλέος

ἐν εὐάνορι Λυδοῦ Πέλοπος ἀποικίᾳ:
25τοῦ μεγασθενὴς ἐράσσατο γαιάοχος
[40] Ποσειδᾶν, ἐπεί νιν καθαροῦ λέβητος ἔξελε Κλωθὼ
ἐλέφαντι φαίδιμον ὦμον κεκαδμένον.
ἦ θαυματὰ πολλά, καί πού τι καὶ βροτῶν φάτις ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀλαθῆ λόγον
δεδαιδαλμένοι ψεύδεσι ποικίλοις ἐξαπατῶντι μῦθοι
30Χάρις δ᾽, ἅπερ ἅπαντα τεύχει τὰ μείλιχα θνατοῖς,
[50] ἐπιφέροισα τιμὰν καὶ ἄπιστον ἐμήσατο πιστὸν
ἔμμεναι τὸ πολλάκις:
ἁμέραι δ᾽ ἐπίλοιποι
μάρτυρες σοφώτατοι.
ἔστι δ᾽ ἀνδρὶ φάμεν ἐοικὸς ἀμφὶ δαιμόνων καλά: μείων γὰρ αἰτία.
υἱὲ Ταντάλου, σὲ δ᾽, ἀντία προτέρων, φθέγξομαι,
[60] ὁπότ᾽ ἐκάλεσε πατὴρ τὸν εὐνομώτατον
ἐς ἔρανον φίλαν τε Σίπυλον,
ἀμοιβαῖα θεοῖσι δεῖπνα παρέχων,
40τότ᾽ Ἀγλαοτρίαιναν ἁρπάσαι
δαμέντα φρένας ἱμέρῳ χρυσέαισί τ᾽ ἀν᾽ ἵπποις
ὕπατον εὐρυτίμου ποτὶ δῶμα Διὸς μεταβᾶσαι,
ἔνθα δευτέρῳ χρόνῳ
[70] ἦλθε καὶ Γανυμήδης
45Ζηνὶ τωὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ χρέος.
ὡς δ᾽ ἄφαντος ἔπελες, οὐδὲ ματρὶ πολλὰ μαιόμενοι φῶτες ἄγαγον,
ἔννεπε κρυφᾶ τις αὐτίκα φθονερῶν γειτόνων,
ὕδατος ὅτι σε πυρὶ ζέοισαν εἰς ἀκμὰν
μαχαίρᾳ τάμον κάτα μέλη,
50[80] τραπέζαισί τ᾽, ἀμφὶ δεύτατα, κρεῶν
σέθεν διεδάσαντο καὶ φάγον.

ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ἄπορα γαστρίμαργον μακάρων τιν᾽ εἰπεῖν. ἀφίσταμαι.
ἀκέρδεια λέλογχεν θαμινὰ κακαγόρους.
εἰ δὲ δή τιν᾽ ἄνδρα θνατὸν Ὀλύμπου σκοποὶ
55ἐτίμασαν, ἦν Τάνταλος οὗτος: ἀλλὰ γὰρ καταπέψαι
μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη, κόρῳ δ᾽ ἕλεν
[90] ἄταν ὑπέροπλον, ἅν οἱ πατὴρ ὑπερκρέμασε καρτερὸν αὐτῷ λίθον,
τὸν αἰεὶ μενοινῶν κεφαλᾶς βαλεῖν εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται.

ἔχει δ᾽ ἀπάλαμον βίον τοῦτον ἐμπεδόμοχθον,
60μετὰ τριῶν τέταρτον πόνον, ἀθανάτων ὅτι κλέψαις
ἁλίκεσσι συμπόταις
[100] νέκταρ ἀμβροσίαν τε
δῶκεν, οἷσιν ἄφθιτον
θῆκαν. εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί τι λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει.

τοὔνεκα προῆκαν υἱὸν ἀθάνατοί οἱ πάλιν
μετὰ τὸ ταχύποτμον αὖτις ἀνέρων ἔθνος.
πρὸς εὐάνθεμον δ᾽ ὅτε φυὰν
[110] λάχναι νιν μέλαν γένειον ἔρεφον.
ἑτοῖμον ἀνεφρόντισεν γάμον
70Πισάτα παρὰ πατρὸς εὔδοξον Ἱπποδάμειαν
σχεθέμεν. ἐγγὺς ἐλθὼν πολιᾶς ἁλὸς οἶος ἐν ὄρφνᾳ
ἄπυεν βαρύκτυπον
Εὐτρίαιναν: ὁ δ᾽ αὐτῷ
πὰρ ποδὶ σχεδὸν φάνη.

[120] τῷ μὲν εἶπε: ‘φίλια δῶρα Κυπρίας ἄγ᾽ εἴ τι, Ποσείδαον, ἐς χάριν
τέλλεται, πέδασον ἔγχος Οἰνομάου χάλκεον,
ἐμὲ δ᾽ ἐπὶ ταχυτάτων πόρευσον ἁρμάτων
ἐς Ἆλιν, κράτει δὲ πέλασον.
ἐπεὶ τρεῖς τε καὶ δέκ᾽ ἄνδρας ὀλέσαις
80ἐρῶντας ἀναβάλλεται γάμον
[130] θυγατρός. ὁ μέγας δὲ κίνδυνος ἄναλκιν οὐ φῶτα λαμβάνει.
θανεῖν δ᾽ οἷσιν ἀνάγκα, τί κέ τις ἀνώνυμον
γῆρας ἐν σκότῳ καθήμενος ἕψοι μάταν,
ἁπάντων καλῶν ἄμμορος; ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοὶ μὲν οὗτος ἄεθλος
85ὑποκείσεται: τὺ δὲ πρᾶξιν φίλαν δίδοι.’

ὣς ἔννεπεν: οὐδ᾽ ἀκράντοις ἐφάψατ᾽ ὦν ἔπεσι. τὸν μὲν ἀγάλλων θεὸς
[140] ἔδωκεν δίφρον τε χρύσεον πτεροῖσίν τ᾽ ἀκάμαντας ἵππους.
ἕλεν δ᾽ Οἰνομάου βίαν παρθένον τε σύνευνον:
τέκε τε λαγέτας ἓξ ἀρεταῖσι μεμαότας υἱούς.
90νῦν δ᾽ ἐν αἱμακουρίαις
ἀγλααῖσι μέμικται,
Ἀλφεοῦ πόρῳ κλιθείς,
[150] τύμβον ἀμφίπολον ἔχων πολυξενωτάτῳ παρὰ βωμῷ. τὸ δὲ κλέος
τηλόθεν δέδορκε τᾶν Ὀλυμπιάδων ἐν δρόμοις
95Πέλοπος, ἵνα ταχυτὰς ποδῶν ἐρίζεται
ἀκμαί τ᾽ ἰσχύος θρασύπονοι:

ὁ νικῶν δὲ λοιπὸν ἀμφὶ βίοτον
ἔχει μελιτόεσσαν εὐδίαν
[160] ἀέθλων γ᾽ ἕνεκεν. τὸ δ᾽ αἰεὶ παράμερον ἐσλὸν
100ὕπατον ἔρχεται παντὶ βροτῶν. ἐμὲ δὲ στεφανῶσαι
κεῖνον ἱππίῳ νόμῳ
Αἰοληΐδι μολπᾷ
χρή: πέποιθα δὲ ξένον

μή τιν᾽, ἀμφότερα καλῶν τε ἴδριν ἁμᾷ καὶ δύναμιν κυριώτερον,
105τῶν γε νῦν κλυταῖσι δαιδαλωσέμεν ὕμνων πτυχαῖς.
[170] θεὸς ἐπίτροπος ἐὼν τεαῖσι μήδεται
ἔχων τοῦτο κᾶδος, Ἱέρων,
μερίμναισιν: εἰ δὲ μὴ ταχὺ λίποι,
ἔτι γλυκυτέραν κεν ἔλπομαι
110σὺν ἅρματι θοῷ κλεΐξειν, ἐπίκουρον εὑρὼν ὁδὸν λόγων
[180] παρ᾽ εὐδείελον ἐλθὼν Κρόνιον. ἐμοὶ μὲν ὦν
Μοῖσα καρτερώτατον βέλος ἀλκᾷ τρέφει:
ἐπ᾽ ἄλλοισι δ᾽ ἄλλοι μεγάλοι. τὸ δ᾽ ἔσχατον
κορυφοῦται βασιλεῦσι. μηκέτι πάπταινε πόρσιον.
115εἴη σέ τε τοῦτον ὑψοῦ χρόνον πατεῖν, ἐμέ τε τοσσάδε νικαφόροις
ὁμιλεῖν, πρόφαντον σοφίᾳ καθ᾽ Ἕλλανας ἐόντα παντᾷ.

Larry Benn as a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.