More Good In Life than Evil

Euripides, Suppliants 196-204

“Indeed, I did debate other people once, arguing
This: Once someone said that humans have
A greater share of worse things than better.
I hold a belief in opposition to these,
That mortals have more good than evil.
If this were not the case, we would not live in the light.
I praise whoever of the gods balanced our lives
Away from the beasts and the wilds.
First, he put understanding within us, and then
Gave us a tongue as a marshal of words, to understand speeches.”

ἄλλοισι δὴ ’πόνησ’νησ᾿ ἁμιλληθεὶς λόγῳ
τοιῷδ᾿. ἔλεξε γάρ τις ὡς τὰ χείρονα
πλείω βροτοῖσίν ἐστι τῶν ἀμεινόνων.
ἐγὼ δὲ τούτοις ἀντίαν γνώμην ἔχω,
πλείω τὰ χρηστὰ τῶν κακῶν εἶναι βροτοῖς.
εἰ μὴ γὰρ ἦν τόδ᾿, οὐκ ἂν ἦμεν ἐν φάει.
αἰνῶ δ᾿ ὃς ἡμῖν βίοτον ἐκ πεφυρμένου
καὶ θηριώδους θεῶν διεσταθμήσατο,
πρῶτον μὲν ἐνθεὶς σύνεσιν, εἶτα δ᾿ ἄγγελον
γλῶσσαν λόγων δούς, ὥστε γιγνώσκειν ὄπα

506-510

“The wise should love their children first,
Then their parents, and then their country
Which they should improve not ruin.
A bold leader makes mistakes like a young sailor.
Wise is the one at peace at the right time: bravery, for me, is forethought.”

φιλεῖν μὲν οὖν χρὴ τοὺς σοφοὺς πρῶτον τέκνα,
ἔπειτα τοκέας πατρίδα θ᾿, ἣν αὔξειν χρεὼν
καὶ μὴ κατᾶξαι. σφαλερὸν ἡγεμὼν θρασὺς
νέος τε ναύτης· ἥσυχος καιρῷ σοφός.
καὶ τοῦτό μοι τἀνδρεῖον, ἡ προμηθία.

cient Greek gravestones now at the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum (Athens). Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, November 12 2009.

If you missed our performance of Euripides’ Suppliants, check it out (along with the rest of the soon to be 40 episodes)