THEOGNIS of Megara
Overkomt mij onheil: waar zal ik ze vinden?
Bij een drinkgelag zijn ze allen daar;
Treft u onheil: zoek ze maar.
An Avenger For The State
Our state is pregnant; shortly to produce
A rude avenger of prolong'd abuse.
The commons hitherto seem sober-minded,
But their superiors are corrupt and blinded.
The rule of noble spirits, brave and high,
Never endanger'd peace and harmony.
The supercilious, arrogant pretence
Of feeble minds; weakness and insolence;
Justice and truth and law wrested aside
By crafty shifts of avarice and pride;
These are our ruins, Kurnus!-never dream
(Tranquil and undisturb'd as it may seem)
Of future peace or safety to the state;
Bloodshed and strife will follow soon or late.
Never imagine that a ruin'd land
Will trust her destiny to your command,
To be remodell'd by a single hand.
Rash, angry words, and spoken out of season,
When passion has usurp'd the throne of reason,
Have ruin'd many. Passion is unjust,
And for an idle, transitory gust
Of gratified revenge, dooms us to pay
With long repentence at a later day.
On Inborn Traits
To rear a child is easy, but to teach
Morals and manners is beyond our reach;
To make the foolish wise, the wicked good,
That science yet was never understood.
The sons of Esculapius, if their art
Could remedy a perverse and wicked heart,
Might earn enormous wages! But in fact
The mind is not compounded and compact
Of precept and example; human art
In human nature has no share or part.
Hatred of vice, the fear of shame and sin,
Are things of native growth, not grafted in:
Else wives and worthy parents might correct
In children's hearts each error and defect:
Whereas we see them disappointed still,
No scheme nor artifice of human skill
Can rectify the passions or the will.
No costly sacrifice nor offerings given
Can change the purpose of the powers of Heaven;
Whatever Fate ordains, danger or hurt,
Or death predestined, nothing can avert.
We struggle onward, ignorant and blind,
For a result unknown and undesign’d;
Avoiding seeming ills, misunderstood
Embracing evil as a seeming good.
Translation : J. BANKS
You also will be a song, while the earth and sun remain,
Yet I am treated by you without even the least mark of respect
And, as if I were a child, you have deceived me with words.
Nor ever to have set eyes on the bright light of the sun
But, since he is born, a man should make utmost haste through the gates of Death
And then repose, the earth piled into a mound round himself.
is nooit te zijn geboren
en nooit het zonnelicht te zien.
Maar is men toch op aard, dan is het best
vlug door Hades’ poort te gaan
en eeuwig te rusten in de schoot der aarde
met heel veel grond belaân
I have given thee wings to fly with ease aloft the boundless sea and all the land. No meal or feast but thou'lt be there, couched 'twixt the lips of many a guest, and lovely youths shall sing thee clear and well in orderly wise to the clear-voiced flute. And when thou comest to go down to the lamentable house of Hades in the depths of the gloomy earth, never, albeit thou be dead, shalt thou lose thy fame, but men will think of thee as one of immortal name, Cyrnus, who rangeth the land of Greece and the isles thereof —crossing the fishy unharvestable deep not upon horseback mounted but sped of the glorious gifts of the violet-crownad Muses unto all that care to receive thee; and living as they thou shalt be a song unto posterity so long as Earth and Sun abide. Yet as for me, thou hast no respect for me, great or small, but deceivest me with words as if I were a little child.
Translation: J.M. EDMONDS
Who came to men with the message to plow
In good season, and it wounded my heart black
That others own my flowering lands,
And not for me are mules dragging the curved plow,
Now, in my exile, on the wretched sea
die de landman riepen dat de zaaitijd kwam.
Droef en somber werd mij toen het hart,
want vreemden ploegen nu mijn land, dat zoveel bloemen biedt,
en de lastdieren, die nu het kromme ploeghout trekken door de voren, ken ik niet,
want ver over zee dreven mij mijn vijanden.