Hesiod: Cure for the Blues

Hesiod, Theogony 94-103.

“It is because of the Muses and far-shooting Apollo
Men on the earth are singers and players of the lyre,
And because of Zeus, they are kings. Whomever the Muses
Love is blessed: a sweet sound flows from his mouth.
Even if some fresh concern worries a man’s spirit,
And the affliction desiccates his heart, just let some singer,
the Muses’ servant, celebrate in song the glories of folks
From olden times and the blessed Olympian gods,
That man quickly forgets his blues, does not remember his cares–
Just like that, the Muses’ gifts change his disposition.”

ἐκ γάρ τοι Μουσέων καὶ ἑκηβόλου Ἀπόλλωνος
ἄνδρες ἀοιδοὶ ἔασιν ἐπὶ χθόνα καὶ κιθαρισταί,
ἐκ δὲ Διὸς βασιλῆες: ὃ δ᾽ ὄλβιος, ὅντινα Μοῦσαι
φίλωνται: γλυκερή οἱ ἀπὸ στόματος ῥέει αὐδή.
εἰ γάρ τις καὶ πένθος ἔχων νεοκηδέι θυμῷ
ἄζηται κραδίην ἀκαχήμενος, αὐτὰρ ἀοιδὸς
Μουσάων θεράπων κλέἱα προτέρων ἀνθρώπων
ὑμνήσῃ μάκαράς τε θεούς, οἳ Ὄλυμπον ἔχουσιν,
αἶψ᾽ ὅ γε δυσφροσυνέων ἐπιλήθεται οὐδέ τι κηδέων
μέμνηται: ταχέως δὲ παρέτραπε δῶρα θεάων.

B.B. King with his lyre-substitute, the guitar.
Image: Paul Natkin/Getty.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.