You whom the ruler of land and sea
Gave great power over life and death,
Put away your haughty, pompous airs.
What an inferior man fears from you
You in turn fear from a higher master.
All power is under more grave power.
The rising day sees a man at peak pride,
And the departing day sees him ruined.
No one should be too sure of good fortune,
And no one should despair better won’t come.
Clotho mixes the two, stops Fortune
Standing still, and turns every destiny.
No one has had such propitious gods
That he can promise himself tomorrow.
A god turns and turns our lives, wheeling
Them about in a whirring whirlwind.
Vos quibus rector maris atque terrae
ius dedit magnum necis atque vitae,
ponite inflatos tumidosque vultus.
quicquid a vobis minor expavescit,
maior hoc vobis dominus minatur;
omne sub regno graviore regnum est.
quem dies vidit veniens superbum,
hunc dies vidit fugiens iacentem.
Nemo confidat nimium secundis,
nemo desperet meliora lassis:
miscet haec illis prohibetque Clotho
stare Fortunam, rotat omne fatum,
nemo tam divos habuit faventes,
crastinum ut posset sibi polliceri.
res deus nostras celeri citatas
“If you want a private passage at hand to soothe your heart, the knowledge of the world around you will give you some solace at death, the world you leave and the kind of people your soul will no longer be associated with…..”
“Hope is indeed a comfort in danger: it may harm people who use it from abundance it does not destroy them. But for those who risk everything on one chance—since hope is expensive by nature—they will only know her nature when they suffer…”
This last bit reminds me of Thetis’ words to Achilles (24.128-132)
“My child, how long will you consume your heart
Grieving and mourning, thinking little of food
Or of sleep? It is good too to join a woman in love—
For you will not live with me long, but already
Death and strong fate loom around you.”
“Conversation [ or ‘reason’] is the doctor for suffering in the soul”
Λόγος ἰατρὸς τοῦ κατὰ ψυχὴν πάθους.
Euripides, fr. 1079
“Mortals have no other medicine for pain
Like the advice of a good man, a friend
Who has experience with this sickness.
A man who troubles then calms his thoughts with drinking,
Finds immediate pleasure, but laments twice as much later on.”
“Any mortal is a fool who takes some pleasure
From imagining their good luck is safe: in its turns
Fortune’s like a crazed person leaping this way one day
And then another, no one ever keeps the same good luck.”
“I have been silent for a while, struck with pains
By these evils. The disaster runs over all bounds
of speaking or asking about its suffering.
Still, necessity forces mortals to endure the pains
The gods send us. Pull yourself together,
Tell us everything that happened…”
“Friends, whoever gains some practice in troubles
Understands that when a wave of troubles come
We mortals tend to fear everything.
But when a god makes things easy, you think
You’ll always sail under the same favorable wind.”
This week, we return to Euripides’ Ion, a play which centers around Apollo’s rape of Creusa, her exposure of the child, and the events which bring about the reunion of mother and child outside the Delphic oracle. In and amidst this plot, we witness reflections on divine caprice, a woman’s sufferings, anxiety about foreign nobles and indigenous power, and deep interest in ritual places and the foundation myths of Athens. And, of course, we have politics and power: this play was performed during the Peloponnesian War, after Athens had suffered a terrible setback during the Sicilian Expedition.
Euripides, Ion 129-135
“Apollo, my work for you
Is noble as I honor the seat of your prophecy,
Toiling in front of your home.
Oh, to work as a slave for the gods
I never get tired pushing through
Labor of such good name.”
“Stranger, your way is not uncultured,
That you come into wonder at my tears.
Now that I look upon this home of Apollo’s
I have recalled some ancient memory.
While I was here, my mind remained someplace else.
Miserable women. Miserable deeds by the gods!
What do I do? To what court of appeal can I turn
When I’m ruined by the injustice of those who rule us?”
Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone
Euripides, Ion 1300
“You were trying to kill me because of fear of the future?”
κἄπειτα τοῦ μέλλειν μ᾿ ἀπέκτεινες φόβῳ;
Euripides, Ion 585-594
“Matters don’t have the same appearance
When seen from up close or from a distance.
I welcome this change of events,
Discovering you as my father. But hear me out.
They claim that some of the famous Athenians
Are native born to the soil itself, not immigrants.
I would suffer from two diseases among them,
As the bastard song of a foreign father
Because of this very insult, I would remain weak,
I would be the nothing son of nobodies.”
“Look, mom, could it be that you slipped in that sickness
Which often afflicts maidens into hidden affairs
And then laid the blame on the good?
Did you try to flee my disgrace by saying
That you conceived me with Apollo when it really wasn’t a god?”
“I cannot answer what you ask me until I hear that you have ended your life well. Someone who is really rich is no more blessed than someone who has enough for just a day unless chance finds them keeping all the fine things and dying well. For many super wealthy people turnout unlucky and many of modest means fare well. The person who is really wealthy but unlucky is ahead of the merely lucky person in two ways but the lucky person has many advantages over the unlucky.
A wealthy person has the resources to do what they want and to hold out when disaster strikes. But a lucky person does not get disabled, sick, avoids suffering, has good children, and keeps looking good. If that person dies well in addition to these other things, well that’s the kind of person you’re looking for. Then someone is worthy of being called blessed.
But don’t call anyone blessed before they’re dead. Just lucky.”
“These things seem quite entertaining to me, but they are not true. I have also heard another reason for the bit, much more credible. I am happy with what is said by those who generally agree in Greece, who believe that the goddess is Hera and the work was made by Dionysus. For Dionysus went into Syria on the road that goes to Ethiopia. There are many signs left by Dionysus in the Shrine, among them are foreign clothing and Indian stones and Elephant horns which Dionysus brought from Ethiopia. There are also two really big phalluses that stand up at the entrance gates. This epigram has been inscribed upon them. ‘Dionysus dedicated these phalluses to Hera, his stepmother.’
This remains enough for me, but I will tell you of another oddity in the temple of Dionysus. The Greeks bear phalloi in honor of Dionysus, and they carry something in front of it, a little man carved out of wood which has huge genitals. These are called puppets. There is also one of these in the temple. On the right side of the temple, there is a small bronze man that has giant genitals.”
According to the Greek Anthology there was a temple to Apollônis, the mother of Attalos and Eumenes, at Cyzicos. The temple had at least nineteen epigrams inscribed on columns with accompanying relief images. All of the epigrams have mothers from myth and poetry as their subjects. The Eighth Epigram is on Odysseus’ mother Antikleia.
On the eighth tablet is the underworld visit of Odysseus. He addressed is own mother and asked her for news of his home (Greek Anthology 3.8)
“Wise-minded mother of Odysseus, Antikleia
You didn’t welcome your son home to Ithaka while alive.
Instead, he is shocked when his glance falls upon his sweet mother
Now wandering along the banks of Akheron.”
Of course, this scene plays upon book 11 of the Odyssey doubly: the image recalls Odysseus describing his mother in the Odyssey and it also plays upon the Odyssey’s catalogue of heroic mothers motif, which it in turn shares with the fragmentary Hesiodic Catalogue Of Women.
“Then came the spirit of my mother who had passed away,
The daughter of great-hearted Autolykos, Antikleia
Whom I left alive when I went to sacred Troy.
When I saw her I cried and pitied her in my heart,
But I could not allow her to come forward to touch
The blood before I had learned from Teiresias.”
If mortals continually nurse never-ending hate,
And anger once ignited never leaves their hearts,
But instead, the winning side maintains its arms
While the losing side readies its own,
Then wars will leave nothing standing.
The land will be neglected, the fields ravaged.
When the torch has been put to houses,
Deep ash will cover the inhabitants buried within.
It’s advantageous for the victor to wish
For the restoration of peace,
But for the defeated it’s a necessity.
si aeterna semper odia mortales gerant,
nec coeptus umquam cedat ex animis furor,
sed arma felix teneat infelix paret,
nihil relinquent bella; tum vastis ager
squalebit arvis, subdita tectis face
altus sepultas obruet gentes cinis.
pacem reduci velle victori expedit,
victo necesse est.