Fragmentary Friday: A Poem of (Life’s) Mixed Evils

Archilochus, fr. 13

 “Neither citizen nor city, Perikles, will delight in the feast
And find fault in the pain of our mourning
For the waves of the much-resounding sea consumed
Such great men, and we have lungs swollen
With pain. But the gods, dear friend, have set
Powerful endurance as our medicine for untreatable
Evils. Different people have this at different times.
Now it has fallen to us and we lament a blooded wound,
But it will go to others in turn. Now, bear up quickly
Once you have pushed away womanly grief.”

κήδεα μὲν στονόεντα Περίκλεες οὔτέ τις ἀστῶν
μεμφόμενος θαλίηις τέρψεται οὐδὲ πόλις·
τοίους γὰρ κατὰ κῦμα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης
ἔκλυσεν, οἰδαλέους δ’ ἀμφ’ ὀδύνηις ἔχομεν
πνεύμονας. ἀλλὰ θεοὶ γὰρ ἀνηκέστοισι κακοῖσιν
ὦ φίλ’ ἐπὶ κρατερὴν τλημοσύνην ἔθεσαν
φάρμακον. ἄλλοτε ἄλλος ἔχει τόδε· νῦν μὲν ἐς ἡμέας
ἐτράπεθ’, αἱματόεν δ’ ἕλκος ἀναστένομεν,
ἐξαῦτις δ’ ἑτέρους ἐπαμείψεται. ἀλλὰ τάχιστα
τλῆτε, γυναικεῖον πένθος ἀπωσάμενοι.

 

Image result for greek mourning vase
Corinthian Black Figure Hydra

Forget the Fountain of Youth–We Need the Stone of Relief

Pseudo-Plutarch, On Rivers, 11.1-2

“The Strymon is a Thracian River by the city Edonis. Previously, it was called Palaistinos after the son of Poseidon, Palaistinos. That one, when he was warring with his neighbors and got sick, sent his son Haliakmôn as general. But he was rather impetuous and was killed while fighting.

Once Palaistinos heard this and escaped his bodyguards, he hurled himself into the river Konozos because of his extreme grief. Then Strymon, the child of Ares and Helike, once he heard about the death of Rhesus and was overcome by sorrow, hurled himself into the river Palaistinos whose name was changed to Strymon because of this.

A stone created by this river is called the pausilypos [“grief-stopper”]. Anyone grieving who finds this stone is immediately relieved of the pain which holds him.  That’s the story Jason of Byzantion tells in his Tragika.”

Στρυμὼν ποταμός ἐστι τῆς Θρᾴκης κατὰ πόλιν Ἠδωνίδα· προσηγορεύετο δὲπρότερον Παλαιστῖνος ἀπὸ Παλαιστίνου τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος. οὗτος γὰρ πρὸς τοὺς ἀστυγείτονας ἔχων πόλεμον καὶ εἰς ἀσθένειαν ἐμπεσὼν τὸν υἱὸν Ἁλιάκμονα στρατηγὸν ἔπεμψεν· ὁ δὲ προπετέστερον μαχόμενος ἀνῃρέθη. περὶ δὲ τῶν συμβεβηκότων ἀκούσας Παλαιστῖνος καὶ λαθὼν τοὺς δορυφόρους, διὰ λύπης ὑπερβολὴν ἑαυτὸν ἔρριψεν εἰς ποταμὸν Κόνοζον, ὃς ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ Παλαιστῖνος ὠνομάσθη. Στρυμὼν δὲ, Ἄρεως παῖς καὶ Ἡλίκης, ἀκούσας περὶ τῆς Ῥήσου τελευτῆς καὶ ἀθυμίᾳ συσχεθεὶς ἑαυτὸν ἔρριψεν εἰς ποταμὸν Παλαιστῖνον, ὃς ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ Στρυμὼν μετωνομάσθη. γεννᾶται δ’ ἐν αὐτῷ λίθος παυσίλυπος καλούμενος· ὃν ἐὰν εὕρῃ τις πενθῶν, παύεται παραχρῆμα τῆς κατεχούσης αὐτὸν συμφορᾶς, καθὼς ἱστορεῖ Ἰάσων Βυζάντιος ἐν τοῖς Τραγικοῖς.

This is a different type of relief from Grief

There’s always drugs too. Morphine, “Cure for Pain”

“Someday there’ll be a cure for pain
That’s the day I throw my drugs away”

 

Fragmentary Friday: A Poem of (Life’s) Mixed Evils

Archilochus, fr. 13

 “Neither citizen nor city, Perikles, will delight in the feast
And find fault in the pain of our mourning
For the waves of the much-resounding sea consumed
Such great men, and we have lungs swollen
With pain. But the gods, dear friend, have set
Powerful endurance as our medicine for untreatable
Evils. Different people have this at different times.
Now it has fallen to us and we lament a blooded wound,
But it will go to others in turn. Now, bear up quickly
Once you have pushed away womanly grief.”

κήδεα μὲν στονόεντα Περίκλεες οὔτέ τις ἀστῶν
μεμφόμενος θαλίηις τέρψεται οὐδὲ πόλις·
τοίους γὰρ κατὰ κῦμα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης
ἔκλυσεν, οἰδαλέους δ’ ἀμφ’ ὀδύνηις ἔχομεν
πνεύμονας. ἀλλὰ θεοὶ γὰρ ἀνηκέστοισι κακοῖσιν
ὦ φίλ’ ἐπὶ κρατερὴν τλημοσύνην ἔθεσαν
φάρμακον. ἄλλοτε ἄλλος ἔχει τόδε· νῦν μὲν ἐς ἡμέας
ἐτράπεθ’, αἱματόεν δ’ ἕλκος ἀναστένομεν,
ἐξαῦτις δ’ ἑτέρους ἐπαμείψεται. ἀλλὰ τάχιστα
τλῆτε, γυναικεῖον πένθος ἀπωσάμενοι.

 

Image result for greek mourning vase

Madness to Grieve for One Who Cannot Grieve

Seneca, De Consolatione ad Polybium 9

“Do I grieve for myself or the one who died? If I grieve for me, this torment of emotion is useless and sorrow—excused only because it is honorable—begins to depart from duty when it aims for advantage. Nothing fits a good person less than to make grief for a brother an issue of calculation.

If I grieve on his account, then one of the following two judgments must be true. For, if the dead have no feeling at all, then my brother has escaped the misfortunes of life and has returned to that place where he was before he was born where he is free of every evil, he fears nothing, desires nothing, endures nothing. What madness this is to never stop grieving for someone who will never grieve again?”

“Utrumne meo nomine doleo an eius qui decessit? Si meo, perit indulgentiae iactatio et incipit dolor hoc uno excusatus, quod honestus est, cum ad utilitatem respicit, a pietate desciscere; nihil autem minus bono viro convenit quam in fratris luctu calculos ponere. Si illius nomine doleo, necesse est alterutrum ex his duobus esse iudicem. Nam si nullus defunctis sensus superest, evasit omnia frater meus vitae incommoda et in eum restitutus est locum, in quo fuerat antequam nasceretur, et expers omnis mali nihil timet, nihil cupit, nihil patitur. Quis iste furor est pro eo me numquam dolere desinere, qui numquam doliturus est?

 

Talking Heads, “This Must be The Place (Naive Melody)

“…There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I’ll be…”

 

Image result for Ancient Greek hero vase

“No Help For the Man Who Grieves over What he Cannot Change” Bacchylides, Processions 1

“Men have one milestone, a single path for fortune:
To make it to life’s end with an unaggrieved heart.
And whoever harbors countless concerns in his thoughts
and wears down his spirit night and day over what’s to come
has a toil that bears no fruit.
What help is there for a man who drowns his heart
By grieving over the things he cannot change?”

 

Εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυ-
ρία μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ’ ἆμάρ τε <καὶ> νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον
τί γὰρ ἐλαφρὸν ἔτ’ ἐστὶν ἄ-
πρακτ’ ὀδυρόμενον δονεῖν
καρδίαν;