A Mind Devouring Sickness

Sophocles, Ajax, 621–635 (go here for the full text on the Scaife viewer)

“His mother, old age’s roommate
And pale in old age
When she hears he is afflicted with a mind-devouring sickness
Will not hold back her mourning,
Her mourning nor the pitiful lament of the nightingale
But she will wail the sharp funereal tones.
Strikes will sound as they fall on her breasts
And she will rip out her white hair.

Anyone who is pointlessly sick is better off
When he lies down with Hades.”

ἦ που παλαιᾷ μὲν σύντροφος ἁμέρᾳ,
λευκῷ τε γήρᾳ μάτηρ νιν ὅταν νοσοῦν-
τα φρενοβόρως ἀκούσῃ,
αἴλινον αἴλινον
οὐδ᾿ οἰκτρᾶς γόον ὄρνιθος ἀηδοῦς
σχήσει δύσμορος, ἀλλ᾿ ὀξυτόνους μὲν ᾠδὰς
θρηνήσει, χερόπληκτοι δ᾿
ἐν στέρνοισι πεσοῦνται
δοῦποι καὶ πολιᾶς ἄμυγμα χαίτας.
κρείσσων γὰρ Ἅιδᾳ κεύθων ὁ νοσῶν


“Someone who is pointlessly sick
Is better when lying in Hades.
Look—one who came from one of the best lines
Of the much suffering Achaeans
Is no longer secure
In his childhood’s mind.
He wanders outside of it.
Miserable parent, what kind of a fate
remains for you to learn of your child,
the kind of life no other the descendants of Aiakos
faced before now.”

κρείσσων γὰρ Ἅιδᾳ κεύθων ὁ νοσῶν
ὃς εἷς πατρῴας ἥκων γενεᾶς ἄρι-
στα πολυπόνων Ἀχαιῶν,
οὐκέτι συντρόφοις
ὀργαῖς ἔμπεδος, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκτὸς ὁμιλεῖ.
ὦ τλᾶμον πάτερ, οἵαν σε μένει πυθέσθαι
παιδὸς δύσφορον ἄταν,
ἃν οὔπω τις ἔθρεψεν
αἰὼν Αἰακιδᾶν ἄτερθε τοῦδε.

Aelian Varia Historia, 9. 6-7

“Perikles, when he lost his sons in the plague, took their deaths most bravely and persuaded the Athenians to endure the deaths of their closest friends more graciously.

Xanthippe was in the habit of saying that even through endless troubles had afflicted Athens and themselves, she always saw the same expression on Socrates’ face when he left the home and returned. He kept a level response to all things and was always pleasant in attitude, above any kind of grief, and entirely stronger than fear.”

Ὅτι Περικλῆς ἐν τῷ λοιμῷ τοὺς παῖδας ἀποβαλὼν ἀνδρειότατα τὸν θάνατον αὐτῶν ἤνεγκε καὶ πάντας Ἀθηναίους εὐθυμότερον ἔπεισε τοὺς τῶν φιλτάτων θανάτους φέρειν.

Ἡ Ξανθίππη ἔφη μυρίων μεταβολῶν τὴν πόλιν <καὶ αὐτοὺς> κατασχουσῶν ἐν πάσαις ὅμοιον τὸ Σωκράτους πρόσωπον καὶ προϊόντος ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας καὶ ἐπανιόντος ἀεὶ θεᾶσθαι·ἥρμοστο γὰρ πρὸς πάντα ἐπιεικῶς, καὶ ἦν ἵλεως ἀεὶ τὴν διάνοιαν καὶ λύπης ὑπεράνω πάσης καὶ φόβου κρείττων παντὸς ὤν.

Three Sophoklean Fragments on Parents and Children

Fr. 567 (Those Who Dine Together)
“Oh, you have your hands in everything, so much like
Sisyphus in you, and much of your mother’s father.”

ὦ πάντα πράσσων, ὡς ὁ Σίσυφος πολὺς
ἔνδηλος ἐν σοὶ πάντα χὠ μητρὸς πατήρ

Fr. 685 (Phaedra)

“Children are the anchors of a mother’s life”

ἀλλ’ εἰσὶ μητρὶ παῖδες ἄγκυραι βίου

Fr. 932

“A women flees the sharp pains of child birth
On oaths. But when she has stopped feeling the pain,
She is caught in those same nets, conquered
By desires’ present tense”

ὅρκοισι γάρ τοι καὶ γυνὴ φεύγει πικρὰν
ὠδῖνα παίδων• ἀλλ’ ἐπεὶ λήξῃ κακοῦ,
ἐν τοῖσιν αὐτοῖς δικτύοις ἁλίσκεται
πρὸς τοῦ παρόντος ἱμέρου νικωμένη

Macrobius, Saturnalia (Preface, 1-4): Nature, Education and the Original Helicopter Parent

“My child Eustathius: nature has imbued our life with many different instincts, but none is greater than the force which binds us to our own children. She has made our need to educate you and raise you so powerful that parents can gain no greater pleasure–if everything goes according to plan–and feel no more savage sorrow, than when they fail. For this reason I have valued nothing more than your education and, because I believe that focused work should be preferred to prolonged diversion–I am intolerant of delays: I cannot wait for you to advance through only the studies you make tirelessly on your own, so I have also made an effort to read for you and to put together whatever I have read spread out among various volumes of Greek and Latin, before and since you were born as a total supplement of knowledge. And, just as if from your own pantry of culture, whenever you need some fact from history which evades other men by hiding in books, or you need to remember some famous deed or saying, it will be easy and efficient for you to find it.”

Multas variasque res in hac vita nobis, Eustachi fili, natura conciliavit: sed nulla nos magis quam eorum qui e nobis essent procreati caritate devinxit, eamque nostram in his educandis atque erudiendis curam esse voluit, ut parentes neque, si id quod cuperent ex sententia cederet, tantum ulla alia ex re voluptatis, neque, si contra eveniret, tantum maeroris capere possent.Hinc est quod mihi quoque institutione tua nihil antiquius aestimatur, ad cuius perfectionem compendia longis amfractibus anteponenda ducens moraeque omnis inpatiens non opperior ut per haec sola promoveas quibus ediscendis naviter ipse invigilas, sed ago ut ego quoque tibi legerim, et quicquid mihi, vel te iam in lucem edito vel antequam nascereris, in diversis seu Graecae seu Romanae linguae voluminibus elaboratum est, id totum sit tibi scientiae supellex, et quasi de quodam litterarum peno, si quando usus venerit aut historiae quae in librorum strue latens clam vulgo est aut dicti factive memorabilis reminiscendi, facile id tibi inventu atque depromptu sit.

The full text.

Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius. His friends just called him Mat.