Euripides, fr. 910: A Lost Ode on the Virtue of an Inquiring Mind

“Happy is he who has learned from inquiry
Not because he searches for pain for his countrymen
Nor some other unjust deeds
But because he seeks out the ageless order
of immortal nature—where
it came together, where it came from
And how.
Such men never harbor
A love of shameful deeds.”


ὄλβιος ὅστις τῆς ἱστορίας
ἔσχε μάθησιν,
μήτε πολιτῶν ἐπὶ πημοσύνην
μήτ’ εἰς ἀδίκους πράξεις ὁρμῶν,
ἀλλ’ ἀθανάτου καθορῶν φύσεως
κόσμον ἀγήρων, πῇ τε συνέστη
καὶ ὅπῃ καὶ ὅπως.
τοῖς δὲ τοιούτοις οὐδέποτ’ αἰσχρῶν.


This great fragment is quoted in Clement’s Miscellanies and has been attributed to the plan Antiope (also fragmentary).  If this were post-Herodotean, I would dare translate the first line as “Happy is he who has learned from history…”