“Everything Can Happen Now”: Aristophanes, Archilochus and Wyclef

I don’t often get requests, but when I do, I think about honoring them.

Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 524-30

“I could not have believed
That one among us would ever be
so wicked to dare
To say these things
So shamefully in public.
But everything can happen now,
And I praise the ancient proverb:
One must look carefully
under every stone
to avoid the bite
of a politician”

Τάδε γὰρ εἰπεῖν τὴν πανοῦργον
κατὰ τὸ φανερὸν ὧδ’ ἀναιδῶς
οὐκ ἂν ᾠόμην ἐν ἡμῖν
οὐδὲ τολμῆσαί ποτ’ ἄν.
᾿Αλλὰ πᾶν γένοιτ’ ἂν ἤδη.
Τὴν παροιμίαν δ’ ἐπαινῶ
τὴν παλαιάν· ὑπὸ λίθῳ γὰρ
παντί που χρὴ
μὴ δάκῃ ῥήτωρ ἀθρεῖν.

[The material that follows is full of typical Greek misogyny and I have had my fill of that of late]

The scholion for this passage credits Praxilla (fr. 750) with the proverb:

“Friend, protect yourself against the scorpion under every stone.”

ὑπὸ παντὶ λίθῳ σκορπίον ὦ ἑταῖρε φυλάσσεο

And thinking that anything can happen makes me think of Archilochus:

Archilochus, fr. 122

“Nothing is unexpected, nothing can be sworn untrue,
and nothing amazes since father Zeus the Olympian
veiled the light to make it night at midday
even as the sun was shining: now dread fear has overtaken men.
From this time on everything that men believe
will be doubted: may none of us who see this be surprised
when we see forest beasts taking turns in the salted field
with dolphins, when the echoing waves of the sea become
Dearer to them than the sand, and the dolphins love the wooded glen…”

χρημάτων ἄελπτον οὐδέν ἐστιν οὐδ’ ἀπώμοτον
οὐδὲ θαυμάσιον, ἐπειδὴ Ζεὺς πατὴρ ᾿Ολυμπίων
ἐκ μεσαμβρίης ἔθηκε νύκτ’, ἀποκρύψας φάος
ἡλίου †λάμποντος, λυγρὸν† δ’ ἦλθ’ ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπους δέος.
ἐκ δὲ τοῦ καὶ πιστὰ πάντα κἀπίελπτα γίνεται
ἀνδράσιν• μηδεὶς ἔθ’ ὑμέων εἰσορέων θαυμαζέτω
μηδ’ ἐὰν δελφῖσι θῆρες ἀνταμείψωνται νομὸν
ἐνάλιον, καί σφιν θαλάσσης ἠχέεντα κύματα
φίλτερ’ ἠπείρου γένηται, τοῖσι δ’ ὑλέειν ὄρος.

Oh, and also Wyclef Jean:

Mile-By-Mile Quotes for a Marathon


Sentantiae Antiquae is running a Marathon today (For real, Rock N’ Roll San Antonio). Here’s a quote for every mile.


Mile 1: Feeling Irrational Noble Thoughts


Hesiod Works and Days, 289-90

“The gods made sweat the price for virtue.”

τῆς δ’ ἀρετῆς ἱδρῶτα θεοὶ προπάροιθεν ἔθηκαν



Actual Shirt Worn During Marathon
Actual Shirt Worn During Marathon Last Year


Mile 2: Positive Feelings Continue


Horace, Epistles 1.4.12-14

“Amidst hope and anxiety, fear and rage, believe that every day has risen as your last: pleasant is the arrival of the hour which was never expected”.

inter spem curamque, timores inter et iras omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum: grata superveniet quae non sperabitur hora


Mile 3: When I try to Check Myself

Plutarch, Agesilaos 2.2

“His weakness made his desire for glory manifest: he would refuse no labor and shirk no deed.”

ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν φιλοτιμίαν ἐκδηλοτέραν ἐποίει, πρὸς μηδένα πόνον μηδὲ πρᾶξιν ἀπαγορεύοντος αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν χωλότητα.

Mile 4: Self-Righteous Thoughts Get Delirious

Cicero, Pro Sestio 143

“Let us spurn the rewards of today and look to future glory; let us deem best what is most honorable; let us hope for what we want, but bear what befalls us; finally, let us consider that even the bodies of brave men and great citizens are mortal; but that activity of the mind and the glory of virtue are forever.”

praesentis fructus neglegamus, posteritatis gloriae serviamus; id esse optimum putemus quod erit rectissimum; speremus quae volumus, sed quod acciderit feramus; cogitemus denique corpus virorum fortium magnorum hominum esse mortale, animi vero motus et virtutis gloriam sempiternam

Mile 5: When I start to Make Jokes to Myself about Pheidippides

Lucian, On Mistakes in Greeting

“After saying ‘hello’ he died with his greeting a gasped out a final farewell”

καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν συναποθανεῖν τῇ ἀγγελίᾳ καὶ τῷ χαίρειν συνεκπνεῦσαι

Continue reading “Mile-By-Mile Quotes for a Marathon”

Praxilla, fr. 750 (Schol. Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 528ff.)


“Friend, protect yourself against the scorpion under every stone.”


ὑπὸ παντὶ λίθῳ σκορπίον ὦ ἑταῖρε φυλάσσεο



This is cited by the scholiast when discussing the following passage, quite clearly about politicians (Ar. Thesm. 528-31)


τὴν παροιμίαν δ᾽ ἐπαινῶ

τὴν παλαιάν: ὑπὸ λίθῳ γὰρ

παντί νου χρὴ

μὴ δάκῃ ῥητωρ ἀθρεῖν.

Praxilla, Frag 1 (747; Zenobius Proverbs 4.21)

Most beautiful of what I leave is the light of the sun
Second: bright stars and the face of the moon
But also: ripe cucumbers, apples, and pears.

κάλλιστον μὲν ἐγὼ λείπω φάος ἠελίοιο
δευτερον ἄστρα φαεινὰ σεληναίης τε πρόσωπον
ἠδὲ καὶ ὡραίους σικύους καὶ μῆλα καὶ ὄχνας;

Hope you didn’t think Sappho was the only female lyric poet. Praxilla survives, mocked by Aristophanes but quoted by Zenobius.

(Yeah, Zenobius. We all know him.)