All That Is Happening Has Happened Before

A translation for a memorial service.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 (Based on the Greek Koinê)

“What does someone gain from the work of their toil?
I have seen the weight which God gives to burden the children of the human race.
He made everything beautiful in its own season.
But he also put time in the human heart
so that no person can discover creation, what god made, from the beginning to its end.

I know that there is nothing good for people
except from being happy and doing good in life.
So it is God’s gift
that every person eats and drinks and sees the good in their own toil.

I know that everything which god has done will last this lifetime.
It is not possible to add anything to it,
It is not possible to take anything away.

God did this so we might turn from his face.
What is, has happened already.
All that may happen, has happened before.
God will find the place where they meet.”

τίς περισσεία τοῦ ποιοῦντος ἐν οἷς αὐτὸς μοχθεῖ;
εἶδον σὺν τὸν περισπασμόν, ὃν ἔδωκεν ὁ θεὸς
τοῖς υἱοῖς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοῦ περισπᾶσθαι ἐν αὐτῷ.
σὺν τὰ πάντα ἐποίησεν καλὰ ἐν καιρῷ αὐτοῦ
καί γε σὺν τὸν αἰῶνα ἔδωκεν ἐν καρδίᾳ αὐτῶν,
ὅπως μὴ εὕρῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος
τὸ ποίημα, ὃ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεός, ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς καὶ μέχρι τέλους.
ἔγνων ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀγαθὸν ἐν αὐτοῖς
εἰ μὴ τοῦ εὐφρανθῆναι καὶ τοῦ ποιεῖν ἀγαθὸν ἐν ζωῇ αὐτοῦ·
καί γε πᾶς ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ὃς φάγεται καὶ πίεται
καὶ ἴδῃ ἀγαθὸν ἐν παντὶ μόχθῳ αὐτοῦ,
δόμα θεοῦ ἐστιν.
ἔγνων ὅτι πάντα, ὅσα ἐποίησεν ὁ θεός,
αὐτὰ ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·
ἐπ’ αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν προσθεῖναι,
καὶ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀφελεῖν,
καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἐποίησεν, ἵνα φοβηθῶσιν ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ.
τὸ γενόμενον ἤδη ἐστίν,
καὶ ὅσα τοῦ γίνεσθαι, ἤδη γέγονεν,
καὶ ὁ θεὸς ζητήσει τὸν διωκόμενον.

The Latin Vulgate

9 [Quid habet amplius homo de labore suo?
10 Vidi afflictionem quam dedit Deus filiis hominum,
ut distendantur in ea.
11 Cuncta fecit bona in tempore suo,
et mundum tradidit disputationi eorum,
ut non inveniat homo opus
quod operatus est Deus ab initio usque ad finem.
12 Et cognovi quod non esset melius nisi lætari,
et facere bene in vita sua;
13 omnis enim homo qui comedit et bibit,
et videt bonum de labore suo,
hoc donum Dei est.
14 Didici quod omnia opera quæ fecit Deus perseverent in perpetuum;
non possumus eis quidquam addere, nec auferre,
quæ fecit Deus ut timeatur.
15 Quod factum est, ipsum permanet;
quæ futura sunt iam fuerunt,
et Deus instaurat quod abiit.


The Hebrew for 3:15

 מַה־שֶּֽׁהָיָה כְּבָר הוּא וַאֲשֶׁר לִהְיֹות כְּבָר הָיָה וְהָאֱלֹהִים

יְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת־נִרְדָּֽף׃

This site provides the Hebrew, parsing, and other languages.


Image result for Ancient Greek funerary monument


“Teaching The Living By the Deeds of the Dead” – Epitaphioi


Epitaphios: A speech performed annually in honor of those who have died in war. The most famous that remains is Thucydides’ version of Perikles’ funeral oration (2.35-46). The following was allegedly given by Lysias in 394 BCE for those who died in the Corinthian War.


Lysias, Epitaphios 1-3

“If I believed it were possible, men in attendance, to make clear in this speech the virtue of the men who lie here, I would complain to those who summoned me to speak after only a few days. But since the whole of time would not be enough for all men together to prepare a speech worthy of these deeds, for this reason the city seems to take pity on those who speak here in making their assignment late–since it knows that the speakers will have the pardon of their audiences.

Yet, though my speech is about those men, my struggle is not with their deeds but with those who have spoken for them before. For their virtue has provided such an abundance both in those able to compose poetry and those who are selected to speak, that even though many fine things have been said about them by my predecessors and many other things have been omitted by them, it is still the case that enough remains for those who follow them to say. For there is no land or sea unknown by these men; and in every direction among all peoples even those who suffered at their hands sing their praises.

First, therefore, I will recite the ancient trials of our forefathers, procuring for us a reminder from their fame. For it is right for all men to remember them, praising them in songs and recalling their names in the praise of good men, honoring them on occasions such as this, and teaching the living through the deeds of the dead.”


Εἰ μὲν ἡγούμην οἷόν τε εἶναι, ὦ ἄνδρες οἱ παρόντες ἐπὶ τῷδε τῷ τάφῳ, λόγῳ δηλῶσαι τὴν τῶν ἐνθάδε κειμένων [ἀνδρῶν] ἀρετήν, ἐμεμψάμην ἂν τοῖς ἐπαγγείλασιν ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὀλίγων ἡμερῶν λέγειν· ἐπειδὴ δὲ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ὁ πᾶς χρόνος οὐχ ἱκανὸς λόγον ἴσον παρασκευάσαι τοῖς τούτων ἔργοις, διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡ πόλις μοι δοκεῖ, προνοουμένη τῶν ἐνθάδε λεγόντων, ἐξ ὀλίγου τὴν πρόσταξιν ποιεῖσθαι, ἡγουμένη οὕτως ἂν μάλιστα συγγνώμης αὐτοὺς παρὰ τῶν ἀκουσάντων τυγχάνειν. ὅμως δὲ ὁ μὲν λόγος μοι περὶ τούτων, ὁ δ’ ἀγὼν οὐ πρὸς τὰ τούτων ἔργα ἀλλὰ πρὸς τοὺς πρότερον ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς εἰρηκότας. τοσαύτην γὰρ ἀφθονίαν παρεσκεύασεν ἡ τούτων ἀρετὴ καὶ τοῖς ποιεῖν δυναμένοις καὶ τοῖς εἰπεῖν βουληθεῖσιν, ὥστε καλὰ μὲν πολλὰ τοῖς προτέροις περὶ αὐτῶν εἰρῆσθαι, πολλὰ δὲ καὶ ἐκείνοις παραλελεῖφθαι, ἱκανὰ δὲ καὶ τοῖς ἐπιγιγνομένοις ἐξεῖναι εἰπεῖν·οὔτε γὰρ γῆς ἄπειροι οὔτε θαλάττης οὐδεμιᾶς, πανταχῇ δὲ καὶ παρὰ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις οἱ τὰ αὑτῶν πενθοῦντες κακὰ τὰς τούτων ἀρετὰς ὑμνοῦσι.

Πρῶτον μὲν οὖν τοὺς παλαιοὺς κινδύνους τῶν προγόνων δίειμι, μνήμην παρὰ τῆς φήμης λαβών· ἄξιον γὰρ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις κἀκείνων μεμνῆσθαι, ὑμνοῦντας μὲν ἐν ταῖς ᾠδαῖς, λέγοντας δ’ ἐν τοῖς τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἐγκωμίοις, τιμῶντας δ’ ἐν τοῖς καιροῖς τοῖς τοιούτοις, παιδεύοντας δ’ ἐν τοῖς τῶν τεθνεώτων ἔργοις τοὺς ζῶντας.





Thucydides, 2.43.3 (Perikles’ Funeral Oration)


“The whole earth is the tomb of heroes: their epitaph shines out not just for local attention, but their unwritten memory lives on in the esteem of each man more than on any monument.”


ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος, καὶ οὐ στηλῶν μόνον ἐν τῇ οἰκείᾳ σημαίνει ἐπιγραφή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ μὴ προσηκούσῃ ἄγραφος μνήμη παρ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τῆς γνώμης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ ἔργου ἐνδιαιτᾶται.