“Helios was allotted labor for all days–
He and his horse never have
A break after rosy-toed Dawn
Leaves Ocean and ascends the Sky.
A curved, much-loved bed carries him
Across the waves, crafted by Hephaestus’ hands
Made of dear gold, with wings, he deeply sleeps
Above the water’s surface, from the land of the Hesperides
To the Ethiopians’ home, where his chariot and horses
Wait until dawn arrives, newly-born,
When Hyperion’s son climbs into his second car…
“I wouldn’t celebrate or even mention a man
For the strength of his feet or his wrestling,
Not even if he had a Cyclopean size and strength
And could conquer the gods’ Thracian Northwind
And not even if he were better looking than Tithonos
And wealthier than Midas and Kinyras,
Not even if he were more royal than the Tantalid Pelops
And had a tongue more persuasive than Adrastus
And possessed fame for everything except rushing courage.
No man proves good in a war
If he cannot endure seeing bloody murder,
And can strike out while standing near the enemy.
This is virtue, this is the best prize among human beings,
The noblest thing for a young man to win.
This is a shared good for the whole state and the people,
When a man stands firm among the front ranks,
Relentless, completely forgetful of shameful retreat,
Offering up his life and enduring heart,
Ready with an encouraging word for the man next to him.
This man proves to be good in war.
Then he quickly turns aside the threatening ranks
Of the enemy soldiers and the battle’s wave is fueled by his passion.
And should he fall among the first ranks, losing his life,
He brings fame to his city, people, and father,
Stabbed through many times around the chest
And embossed shield, straight through his armor.
The young and the old mourn for him alike
And the whole city feels harsh grief from longing,
Yet his grave and children are well known to all
Along with his children’s children and generations to come.
His noble fame will never die, nor his name
But he will be immortal even though under the earth,
Whoever the man is raging Ares slays in his moment of excellence
As he stands fast and struggles for his land and children.
But if he escapes the fate of a sorrowful death,
And claims victory to vouchsafe his boastful spear,
Everyone will honor him, the young and the old alike,
And he will go to Hades, after living life well.
He will be prominent among his people as he ages,
No one will dream of slighting his respect and due:
All the young men give their places at the bench to him,
And yield to him, along with his peers and elders.
May everyone now try to reach the peak
Of that virtue, never giving up in war.
“Kyrnos, this city is pregnant and I am afraid she will bear a man
Meant to correct our evil arrogance.
The citizens are still sane, but the leaders have changed
And have fallen into great evil.
Good people, Kyrnos, have never yet destroyed a city,
But whenever it pleases wicked men to commit outrage,
They corrupt the people and issue legal judgment in favor of the unjust,
For the sake of their own private profit and power.
Don’t expect this city to stay peaceful for very long
Even if it is not at a moment of great peace now,
When these deeds are dear to evil men,
As their profit accrues with public harm.
Civil conflicts and murder of kin comes from this,
And tyrants do too: may this never bring our city pleasure.”
“As long as any person holds on to the beloved flower of youth,
Their heart is light, because they imagine many things are endless.
No one young thinks they will grow old and die.
The healthy person doesn’t spare a thought for sickness either.
Fools have minds like this, because they don’t understand
That mortals have only a short time for youth and life too.
You, learn these things and hold on to the end of your time,
Taking pleasure in the good things in your mind.”
N.B.This fragment is preserved in Stobaeus’ Extracts, under a section entitled “Concerning life, that it is brief and cheap and full of worry” ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΒΙΟΥ, ΟΤΙ ΒΡΑΧΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΤΕΛΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΦΡΟΝΤΙΔΩΝ ΑΝΑΜΕΣΤΟΣ.
“Is the governor positioning himself for a White House run in 2024?”–Politico, June 23, 2022
Excellence and beauty attend few men.
Blessed is the one to whom fate grants both.
Everybody honors him: Gen Y, his peers,
And old boomers all make way for him.
With age he becomes more distinguished
Among his countrymen, and none of them
Wants to disrespect or cost him his due.
“Aristotle doesn’t merely praise Plate in the piece he wrote about him, but he also delivers praise in the elegies he composed for Eudemus, writing as follows:
[missing line of dactylic hexameter]
“Once he came to Kekrops’ famous plain
He reverently built an altar for the sacred friendship
Of a man whom it is not right for the evil to praise
Who alone or first of mortals demonstrated clearly
Through his own life and the practices of his words
That the good person and the happy person are the same.
And now there is no way for anyone to do the same things again.”
“Hope is the only noble god left among mortals:
The rest of have abandoned us to go to Olympos.
Trust, a great god, left; Prudence has left men.
The Graces, my friend, have surrendered the earth.
Oaths in a court of law can no longer be trusted;
And no one fears shame before the immortal gods
As the race of righteous men has disappeared.
People no longer recognize precedents or sacred duties.
But as long as someone lives and sees the light of the sun,
Let him foster Hope and act righteously before the gods.
Let him pray to the gods and, while burning shining thigh bones,
Sacrifice to Hope first and last.
And let each person always look out for the crooked word of unjust men:
Those men who do not fear the rage of the gods at all,
Who forever conspire in their thoughts against others’ property,
Men who make shameful agreements for future evil deeds.”
“Everything’s gone to hell and is in the shitter, Kyrnos,
And not even one of the blessed, immortal gods is to blame!
No, it’s the violence of men, their craven profits, and arrogance
That’s damned us to evil from bountiful good.”
“Theognis, the Megarian, from the Megarians in Sicily, lived around the time of the 59th Olympiad (544-541 BCE). He composed an elegy for those who were saved in the siege of the Syracusans and an additional collection of 2800 elegiac lines. Some were advice and traditional wisdom addressed to Kyrnos, his lover. All his work was in epic language. Note that Theognis composed useful advice, but mixed in with this are disgusting and pederastic love poems and other topics that a virtuous life turns away from.”
“Here is something from Xenophon’s work on Theognis. “These are the verses of Theognis of Megara. That poet composed about nothing other than human virtue and vice. His poetry is a theory about people, just as if some equestrian were to compose a work about horses. The first principle of his poetry is correct. For he begins by talking about good breeding, since he believed that no person nor any other creature could be good if its parents were not good.
It seemed best to him to use other animals as an example, not those who survive in nature, but those who are tended with skill by humans, to get a view of how creatures turn out best. He is very clear in his poems about this. His lines say that people don’t know how to breed properly with one another and because of this the human race is always deteriorating because the better lines are constantly mixed with the worse. But many other people think that in these verse, the poet is accusing and railing against people who use money to excuse low-breeding and bad behavior. He seems to me to be indicating their ignorance about their own lives.”
“We search for well-bred rams, horses, and donkeys, Kyrnos
And everyone wants to climb atop females from good stock
But an aristocrat doesn’t think twice about the wicked daughter
Of a bad man if her father gives him a load of cash,
Just as a woman won’t refuse a common man as a husband
If he’s rich—no, she wants wealth over nobility.
They worship money. A nobleman marries a commoner’s daughter
And a lowborn child comes from on high. Wealth has ruined class.
So don’t be amazed at how the stock of your citizens degrades
Polypaides—our finer things are all mixed up with the poor.”