The Elegiac Poems of Theognis
1-4O Lord Thou Son of Leto, Offspring of Zeus, neither beginning will I forget Thee ever nor ending, but sing Thee alway both first and last and in between; and Thou give ear unto me and grant me good.2
5-105Great Phoebus, when Our Lady Leto with her slender arms about the palm-tree brought Thee forth beside the Round Water to be fairest of the Immortals, round Delos was all filled with odour ambrosial, the huge Earth laughed, and the deep waters of the hoary brine rejoiced.
11-14Artemis, Slayer of Wild Beasts, Daughter of Zeus, whose image was set up3 of Agamemnon when he sailed on swift shipboard for Troy, give Thou ear unto my prayer, and ward off the Spirits of Ill, a thing small, O Goddess, for Thee, but great for me.4
15-1815Muses and Graces, Daughters of Zeus, who came of yore to the wedding of Cadmus and sang so fair a song, ‘What is fair is dear, and not dear what is not fair,’ —such was the song that passed your immortal lips.5
19-38Let the seal of the wise man, Cyrnus, be set6 upon these lines, and they shall never be filched from him, nor shall evil ever be changed with their good, but every man shall say ‘These are the lines of Theognis of Megara, famous throughout the world,’7 albeit I have not yet been able to please all my fellow-towns-men8 —nor is that to be marvelled at, thou son of Polypaus, seeing that Zeus himself pleaseth not every man neither in the sending of the rain nor in the withholding of it. But 'tis with good intent to thee, Cyrnus,9 that I shall give thee the counsels which I learnt from good men in my own childhood. Be thou wise and draw to thyself neither honours nor virtues10 nor substance on account of dishonourable or unrighteous deeds. This then I would have thee to know, nor to consort with the bad but ever to cleave unto the good, and at their tables to eat and to drink, and with them to sit,11 and them to please, for their power is great.12 Of good men shalt thou learn good, but if thou mingle with the bad, thou shalt e'en lose the wit thou hast already. Consort therefore with the good, and someday thou'lt say that I counsel my friends aright.13
39-42Cyrnus, this city is in travail, and I fear she may14 give birth to a corrector of our evil pride15; for though these her citizens are still discreet, their guides are heading for much mischief.16
43-52Never yet, Cyrnus, have good men ruined a city; but when it pleases the bad to do the works of pride and corrupt the common folk and give judgment for the unrighteous for the sake of private gain and power, then expect not that city to be long quiet, for all she be now in great tranquillity, ay, then when these things become dear to the bad —to wit, gains that bring with them public ill. For of such come discords and internecine slaughter, and of such come tyrants; which things I pray may never please this city.
53-60Cyrnus, this city is a city still, but lo! her people are other men, who of old knew neither judgments nor laws, but wore goatskins to pieces about their sides, and had their pasture like deer without this city; and now they be good men, O son of Polypaus, and they that were high be now of low estate.17 Who can bear to behold such things? Yet they deceive one another even while they smile at one another, knowing the marks neither of the bad nor of the good.18
61-68Make not friends, son of Polypaus, with any of these thy townsmen from the heart and not for need19; but let thy tongue give all men to think thou art their friend, while in act thou mingle with no man any sober business whatsoever: for thou shalt know the minds of the miserable sort, and that there's no trusting them in what they do, but they have come to love wiles and deceits and cozenings like men no longer sure of life.20
69-72Never take confident counsel, Cyrnus, with a bad man when thou wouldst accomplish a grave matter, but seek the counsel of the good, Cyrnus, even if it mean much labour and a long journey.21
73-74Share not thy device wholly with all thy friends; few among many, for sure, have a mind that may be trusted.22
75-7675Make but few privy to it when thou takest in hand great matters, or else, Cyrnus, thou mayest well find trouble without cure.
77-78In a sore dissension, Cyrnus, a trusty man is to be reckoned against gold and silver.23
79-82Few comrades, son of Polypaus, wilt thou find worthy thy trust in difficulties, such, to wit, as would be of one mind with thee and suffer to share evenpoise in thy good fortune and thy bad.24
83-86Thou shalt not find, nay, not in all the world, more than one ship's company of such as be modest of tongue and eye, and are not led by lucre to do what is vile.
87-92If thou lovest me and the heart within thee is loyal, be not my friend but in word, with heart and mind turned contrary; either love me with a whole heart, or disown me and hate me in open quarrel.25 Whosoever is in two minds with one tongue, he, Cyrnus, is a dangerous comrade, better as foe than friend.
93-100If one praise thee so long as he see thee, and speak ill of thee behind thy back, such a comrade, for sure, is no very good friend —the man, to wit, whose tongue speaks fair and his mind thinks ill. But I would be friends with him that seeketh to know his comrade's temper and beareth with him like a brother. And thou, friend, consider this well, and someday hereafter thou'lt remember me.26
101-104May no mortal man persuade thee, Cyrnus, to love a bad man; what advantage is a friend from among the baser sort? He would neither save thee from sore trouble and ruin, nor wish to share with thee any good thing he had.
105-112105He that doeth good to the baser sort getteth him little thanks; as well might he sow the waters of the hoary brine. Thou wouldst no more receive good again if thou didst good unto the bad, than reap long straw if thou sowedst the waters. For the mind of the bad is insatiable; make thou but one mistake,27 and the friendship is poured out and lost from all the past. But the good are fain to blot out28 the worst of wrongs when they suffer it, whereas they keep remembrance29 afterward of good that is done them and abide grateful for it.30
113-114Never make thou the bad thy friend, but flee him ever like an evil anchorage.
115-116115Many, for sure, are cup-and-trencher friends, but few a man's comrades in a grave matter.31
117-118Nothing is harder to know, Cyrnus, than a counterfeit man, nor is aught worth more heed.
119-128The loss of counterfeit gold or silver, Cyrnus, is easily endured, nor hard is it for a man of skill to find them out; but if the mind of a friend be false within him32 unbeknown, and the heart in his breast deceitful, this hath God made most counterfeit for mankind, this is most grievous hard of all things to discover; for mind of man nor yet of woman shalt thou know till thou hast made trial of it like a beast of burden, nor shalt thou ever guess it as when thou comest to buy,33 because outward shapes do so often cheat the understanding.34
129-130Pray not for exceeding virtue35 nor wealth, son of Polypaus; all a man can get him is fortune.
131-132There's nothing better in the world, Cyrnus, than a father and mother who care for holy Right.36
133-142No man is himself the cause of loss and gain, Cyrnus; the Gods are the givers of them both: nor doth any that laboureth know in his heart whether he moveth to a good end or a bad. For often when he thinketh he will make bad he maketh good, and maketh bad when he thinketh he will make good. Nor doth any man get what he wisheth; for his desires hold the ends of sore perplexity.37 We men practise vain things, knowing nought, while the Gods accomplish all to their mind.
143-144No mortal man, son of Polypaus, ever deceived a stranger or suppliant unbeknown to the Gods.
145-148145Choose rather to dwell with little wealth a pious man, than to be rich with possessions ill-gotten. Righteousness containeth the sum of all virtue; and every righteous man, Cyrnus, is good.38
149-150Possessions doth Heaven give even to the wicked, Cyrnus, but the gift of virtue39 cometh to but few.
151-152To an evil man whose place he is about to remove, Cyrnus, God first giveth Pride.40
153-154Surfeit, for sure, begets pride41 when prosperity cometh to a bad man whose mind is not perfect.42
155-158155When thou art wroth with a man, never, I pray thee, reproach him with heartbreaking Penury nor deadly Need; for surely 'tis Zeus poiseth the scale at one time on this side and another on that, now to be rich and now again to have nothing.43
159-160Never boast thou, Cyrnus, in assembly; for no man living knoweth what a night and a day have to accomplish for us.44
161-164Many, for sure, have vile wits and a good fortune,45 and to these that which seemeth evil turneth to good; and some there be that labour under good counsel and vile fortune, and the end cometh not to what they do.46
165-166165No man living is rich or poor, bad or good, without fortune.47
167-168One man hath this ill, another that, and not one of all that the Sun beholdeth is happy in the strict truth of the word.48
169-170He whom the Gods honour hath the praise even of him that blameth him49; but the zeal of a man counteth for nought.
171-172Pray to the Gods; with the Gods is power; 'tis certain that without the Gods man getteth neither good nor ill.
173-178Penury subdueth a good man more than all else, more than hoary Age, Cyrnus, or ague50; to avoid Penury he should cast himself into the abysmal sea, or over a sheer precipice. For your victim of Penury can neither say nor do aught of any account, and his tongue, it is tied.51
179-180Upon land and eke upon the broad back of the sea, Cyrnus, shouldest thou seek deliverance from grievous Penury.
181-182To the needy, dear Cyrnus, death is better than a life oppressed with grievous Penury.
183-192In rams and asses and horses, Cyrnus, we seek the thoroughbred, and a man is concerned therein to get him offspring of good stock; yet in marriage a good man thinketh not twice of wedding the bad daughter of a bad sire if the father give him many possessions, nor doth a woman disdain the bed of a bad man if he be wealthy, but is fain rather to be rich than to be good. For 'tis possessions they prize; and a good man weddeth of bad stock and a bad man of good; race is confounded of riches. In like manner, son of Polypaus, marvel thou not that the race of thy townsmen is made obscure; 'tis because bad things are mingled with good.52
193-196Even he that knoweth her to be such, weddeth a low-born woman for pelf, albeit he be of good repute and she of ill; for he is urged by strong Necessity, who giveth a man hardihood.
197-208A possession53 that cometh from Zeus, and of right and in seemly wise, abideth evermore; but if one shall win it unrighteously and unduly with a covetous heart, or by unrighteous seizure upon an oath, at the first him seemeth to get him gain, but in the end it becometh bad likewise, and the mind of the Gods overcometh him. But these things deceive man's understanding, seeing that the Blessed Ones requite not wrongdoing at the moment; nay, albeit this man may pay his evil debt himself and not make ruin to overhang his dear children after him, that other man Retribution overtaketh not, because too soon did unconscionable Death settle upon his eyelids fraught with his Doom.
209-210Surely no man is friend and faithful comrade unto one that is in exile; and this is more grievous than the exile itself.54
211-212Surely to drink much wine is an ill; yet if one drink it with knowledge, wine is not bad but good.55
213-218Turn, my heart, towards all friends a changeful habit, mingling thy disposition to be like unto each.56 Be thy disposition that of the convolvad polyp, which taketh the semblance of the rock he hath converse with; now be guided this way,57 and now be of different hue. Surely skill is better than unchangeableness.58
219-220When thy fellow-townsmen are confounded, Cyrnus, be not thou too much vexed at aught they do, but walk the road, like me, in the middle.
221-226†Surely he that thinketh his neighbour knoweth nought and he alone hath subtle arts, he is a fool and his good wits attainted; truth to tell, we all alike have our wiles, but one is loath to follow base gain, while another taketh pleasure rather in false cozenings.59
227-232As for wealth, there's no end60 set clear for man; for such as have to-day the greatest riches among us, these have twice the eagerness that others have61; and who can satisfy all? 'Tis sure our possessions turn to folly, and a ruin is revealed thereout, which one man hath now and another then, whenever it be that Zeus send it him in his misery.62
233-234A good man that is tower and citadel, Cyrnus, unto an empty-minded people, Fate giveth him little honour.
235-236235Nothing beseems us any more as men sure of life, Cyrnus, but as a city that will assuredly be taken.
237-254I 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,63 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 mounted64 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.65
255-256255The fairest thing is the most righteous, the best thing health, and the sweetest to have our heart's desire.66
257-260I am a fair and champion steed, but my rider's a knave, and this grieveth me much; often have I almost taken the bit between my teeth,67 cast my evil rider, and run away.68
261-266'Tis not wine that's drunk to me, now that a man not near so good as I prevaileth with69 a tender lass; her parents drink to me in cold water before her, so that the pitcher wearies her, and she weeps for me as she carries it thither where I did put my arm about her waist and kiss her neck, and her lips murmured so soft and sweet.70
267-278'Tis sure that Penury is easily known even though she be not of ours, coming into neither marketplace nor lawcourt; for hers is everywhere the lesser part, scoffed at is she everywhere, and everywhere hated, wheresoever she be.
271-278'Tis sure that the Gods have given mortal man fair share of all else, given them both Youth and baleful Age; but the worst of all their gifts, worse than death and any disease, is when thou hast brought up children and supplied all their need, and with much labour and trouble laid up possessions for them, and they hate their father and curse him, loathe him as they might a beggarman that came among them.
279-282'Tis but likely that the bad man should think ill of what is right, and have no respect for any retribution to come; for easy is it for any miserable mortal to take up many wicked things from before his feet and think that he maketh all things fair.
283-292If thou be'st honest,71 go not a step to meet any of these thy fellow-townsmen, in reliance neither on oath nor friendliness, not though, willing to grant thee security, he give thee the Great King of the Immortals for his surety. A fault-finding city liketh nothing so well as that which shall make many men live more unhappily,72 and now the ills of the good become the joys of the bad, who rule with strange laws; for Honour is perished, and Shamelessness and Pride have conquered Right and prevail in the land.
293-294Not even a lion hath always flesh to his supper; for all his might he is sometimes at a loss to get him meat.
295-298295To a talkative man silence is a sore burden, and his speech a weariness to his company; all hate him, and the mingling of such a man in a carousal cometh only of necessity.73
299-300Nobody's lief to be a man's friend when evil befals him, nay, Cyrnus, not though he be born of the same womb.
301-302Be thou bitter and sweet, kind and harsh, to hireling and to slave and to the neighbour at thy gate.
303-304The good life should not be kept ever on the wag, but quiet rather; the evil life shouldest thou stir till thou drive it into safety.74
305-308305The bad are not all bad from the womb, but have learnt base works and unholy words and wanton outrage from friendship with the bad because they thought all they said was true.
309-312Your wise man seemeth to be one of his company and yet all they say or do seemeth to escape him as if he were not there; he contributes his jests and is outwardly patient, seeking to know75 the temper of each guest.
313-314Among the frenzied76 I am right frenzied, and among the righteous the most righteous man alive.
315-318315Many bad men, for sure, are rich, and many good men poor; yet will we not change our virtue for these men's wealth, seeing that virtue endureth but possessions belong now to this man and now to that.77
319-322A good man, Cyrnus, hath an understanding that abideth,78 and he beareth his hap well, be it good or ill; but if God bestow a living and wealth upon one that is bad, he is not wise enough to restrain his badness.79
323-324Be not persuaded by evil slander, Cyrnus, to bring a friend to ruin upon a slight pretext.
325-328325If a man grow always angry with a friend's offence, they will never be friends and at peace: for offences against men are natural80 to mortals, Cyrnus; 'tis the Gods that will not bear offences.
329-330Even the slow, if he be well advised, overtaketh the swift, Cyrnus, with aid of the straight judgment of the Immortal Gods.
331-332Walk gently, as I, in the midst of the way, Cyrnus, and never give one man's goods to another.81
332A-332BThere's no friend and faithful comrade to one in exile, and this is exile's most grievous part.82
333-334Never make friends with a man in exile, Cyrnus, with an eye to the future, for when he is come home he becometh quite another man.
335-336335Be not over-eager in any matter —midst is best in everything —and thus shalt thou have virtue,83 Cyrnus, which is a thing hard to come by.
337-340Zeus grant me to repay the friends that love me,84 and mine enemies that have proved stronger than I; then shall I seem a God among men, if the destiny of death overtake me with all paid.
341-350Fulfill my prayer, O Olympian Zeus, and grant me good hap instead of ill. May I die if I find no surcease of evil cares in the giving of pain for pain. For this wise is my due; yet no vengeance appeareth unto me upon the men that took my possessions by force and have them still, while I am the dog that crossed the water but lost all in the torrent stream.85 Whose red blood be it mine to drink, and may a good Spirit arise86 to accomplish this as I would have it done.
351-354O thou miserable Penury, why delayest thou to leave me for some other man? I prithee love me not against my will, but away and begone to another house, and share not evermore this wretched life with me.
355-360355Bear up, Cyrnus, in ill fortune, because once thou rejoicedst in good when Fate enjoined that thou shouldest share in that; and even as thou didst receive evil of good men, so again strive thou rather to be quit thereof by prayer unto the Gods, than bring it too much into the light; the displaying of misfortune, Cyrnus, meaneth few comforters in misery.
361-362'Tis certain the heart of a man shrinketh small in great trouble, Cyrnus, and thereafter increaseth when he taketh requital of it.
363-364Speak thy enemy fair; but when thou hast him in thy power be avenged without pretext.
365-366365Be firm in thy mind, but let gentleness be ever upon thy tongue; 'tis sure the heart of the baser sort is quicker to wrath.
367-370I cannot read the disposition of my fellow-townsmen, for I please them no more by any good I do them than by any harm.87 Many find fault with me, as well bad men as good, but none of the unlearned can imitate me.88
371-372Drive me not, with overmuch goading, under the yoke against my will, Cyrnus, by drawing me into friendship perforce.
373-392†Dear Zeus! I marvel at Thee. Thou art lord of all, alone having honour and great power; well knowest Thou the heart and mind of every man alive; and Thy might, O King, is above all things. How then is it, Son of Cronus, that Thy mind can bear to hold the wicked and the righteous89 in the same esteem, whether a man's mind be turned to temperateness, or, unrighteous works persuading, to wanton outrage? Nor is aught fixed for us men by Fortune, nor the way a man must go to please the Immortals. Yet the wicked90 enjoy untroubled prosperity, whereas such as keep their hearts from base deeds, nevertheless, for all they may love what is righteous, receive Penury the mother of perplexity, Penury that misleadeth a man's heart to evil-doing, corrupting his wits91 by strong necessity, till perforce he endureth much shame and yieldeth to Want who teacheth all evil, both lies and deceits and baleful contentions, even to him that will not and to whom no ill is fitting92; for hard is the perplexity that cometh of her.93
393-398In Penury both the man of the baser sort and he that is much better are shown for what they are when Want restraineth. For the mind of him in whose breast ever springeth straight judgment thinketh righteous thoughts; the other's mind accepteth neither good hap nor ill, whereas your good man should bear a diverse lot with hardihood.
399-400Give heed that thou honour and respect thy friends and shun oaths that destroy men,94 avoiding the wrath of the Immortals.
401-406Be not over-eager in any matter; due measure's best in all human works; and often a man is eager of virtue95 in his pursuit of gain, only to be misled into great wrong-doing by a favouring Spirit,96 which so easily maketh what is evil seem to him good, and what is good seem evil.
407-408Thou'rt wrong to be so dear to me; yet 'tis not my fault, 'tis rather that thou thyself hast misjudged.
409-410No better treasure shalt thou lay by for thy children, Cyrnus, than the respect which followeth97 good men.98
411-412Better comrade than all besides, Cyrnus, seemeth he that is endowed with judgment or with power.
413-414Yet not so far shall I go in my cups, nor shall wine so far carry me away, as that I shall complain of thee.
415-418415Seek as I will, I can find no man like myself that is a true comrade free of guile99; and when I am put to the test and tried even as gold is tried beside lead100 the mark of pre-eminence is upon me.101
419-420Many things pass by me that I nevertheless perceive; I am silent of necessity, knowing my own power.
421-424The doors of many a man's lips do not meet, and many men are concerned with much that should not be spoken; for often that which is evil is better within, and that which is good was better before it came out.102
425-428425The best lot of all for man is never to have been born nor seen the beams of the burning Sun; this failing, to pass the gates of Hades as soon as one may, and lie under a goodly heap of earth.103
429-438†To beget and breed a man is easier than to put into him good wits; none hath ever devised means whereby he hath made a fool wise and a bad man good.104 If God had given the Children of Asclepius the art of healing a man's evil nature and infatuate wit, they would receive wages much and great; and if thought could be made and put into us, the son of a good father would never become bad, because he would be persuaded by good counsel. But by teaching never shalt thou make the bad man good.105
439-440Foolish the man that hath my mind in keeping yet payeth no regard to his own things.
441-446Nobody is all-happy in all things; rather doth the good endure to have evil albeit men know it not, whereas the bad man knoweth not how to abide and restrain his heart either in106 good hap or in bad; of all sorts are the gifts that come of the Gods to man, yet must we endure to keep the gifts they send, of whatsoever sort they be.107
447-452If thou wilt fain wash me, the water will ever flow unsullied from my head; thou wilt find me in all matters as it were refined gold, red to the view when I be rubbed with the touchstone; the surface of me is untainted of black mould or rust, its bloom ever pure and clean.108
453-456†If thou hadst thy portion of judgment, man, as of folly, and wert as wise as thou art witless, thou wouldst seem to many of these thy fellow-townsmen as much to be envied as now thou art to be despised.
457-460A young wife is not proper to an old husband; she is a boat that answereth not the helm, nor do her anchors hold, but she slippeth her moorings often overnight to make another haven.109
461-462Never give thou thy mind to the impracticable, nor desire things whereof there cometh no accomplishment.
463-464'Tis certain the Gods bestow neither a good thing nor a bad thing easily; fame belongeth to a deed that is hard.110
465-466465Busy thyself with virtue and set thy affection upon what is right, nor let thyself be overcome by gain that is dishonourable.
467-496Stay none of our company, Simonides, that is unwilling to abide with us, nor bid to the door any that would not go, nay, nor wake thou any that gentle Sleep hath o'ertaken in his cups, nor yet bid the waking slumber if he would not; for all that is forced is painful.111 Him that would drink, let the lad stand by and pour him a cupful. Good cheer cometh not every night. But as for me, I keep to my measure of honey-sweet Wine, and so I shall go home ere I bethink me of care-easing Sleep112; I shall have reached the top of wine's pleasure,113 seeing that I shall go neither sober nor over-drunken; whereas he that overpasseth the due measure of drinking is no longer master either of his tongue or his mind, but telleth reckless things disgraceful to sober ears, and hath no shame in what he doeth in his cups, a wise man once, but now a fool. Knowing this, drink not thou to excess, but either arise thou and go out privily before thou be drunken —let not thy belly constrain thee as if thou wert a bad day-labourer —or else abide and drink not. But nay, this vain Pour me a cup is thy continual chatter; therefore thou art drunken. For there's one cup cometh for friendship, another for a wager, another for libation, and another's kept in hand; and thou knowest not how to say no. He surely is invincible114 who shall say no vain thing when he hath drunken deep. But speak ye wisely albeit ye abide beside the bowl, withholding yourselves far115 from mutual strife, and speaking, whether ye address one or all, that any may hear; in this wise is a carousal a right pleasant thing.116
497-498Wine maketh light the mind of wise and foolish alike, when they drink beyond their measure.117
499-502†Cunning men know gold and silver in the fire; and the mind of a man, e'en though he be very knowing, is shown by wine which he taketh, at a carousal, beyond his measure, so that it putteth to shame even one that was wise before.118
503-508My head is heavy with drink, Onomacritus, and wine constraineth me; I am no longer the dispenser of my own judgment, and the room runneth round. Come, let me rise and try if haply wine possess my feet as well as my wits.119 I fear I may do some vain thing in my cups and have great reproach to bear.120
509-510The drinking of much wine is an ill; but if one drink it with knowledge, it is not an ill but a good.121
511-522†Thou hast accomplished, Clearistus, thy journey o'er the deep, and come, my poor friend, penniless hither unto one that is without a penny. We will put 'neath the sides of thy beached ship, Clearistus, such props as we have and the Gods do give; I will neither withhold aught that is in the house, nor fetch from without any finer fare for the sake of thy friendship; we will furnish thee with the best of what we have. And if any friend of thine come, tell him plain what great friends we are; and if it be asked thee of my living, say that for a good living 'tis bad and for a bad good, so that, whereas I need not fail one friend of my father's, I cannot entertain more.
523-524With good reason, O Wealth, doth man honour thee above all, for how easily dost thou tolerate badness!122
525-526525'Tis sure that it becometh the good to have riches, and 'tis proper to a bad man to suffer penury.123
527-528Alas for Youth and alas for baleful Age! the one that it goeth and the other that it cometh.124
529-530Never have I betrayed a dear and loyal comrade, nor is there aught of the slavish in my soul.
531-532My heart is ever warmed within me when I hear the delightful voice of the babbling flute.
533-534I rejoice to drink deep and sing to the pipes, I rejoice to have in hand the tuneful lyre.
535-538535Never is slavery straight of head, but ever crooked and keepeth her neck askew; for the child of a bondwoman is never free in spirit, any more than a rose or hyacinth groweth upon a squill.125
539-540This man,126 dear Cyrnus, forgeth himself fetters, if the Gods beguile not my judgment.
541-542I fear me, son of Polypaus, lest this city be destroyed by pride like the Centaurs that devoured raw flesh.
543-546I must decide this suit by ruddle and square, Cyrnus, and be fair to both parties, [on the one side ...] and on the other prophets and omens and burnt-offerings, or else I shall bear the foul reproach of wrong-doing.
547-548Force no man ever by badness; to the righteous there's nothing better than the doing of good.
549-554The voiceless messenger127 shineth from the farseen watching-place and rouseth lamentable War, Cyrnus. Bridle the swift-foot horses; methinks they will meet a foe; not far will they go ere they reach him, if the Gods beguile not my judgment.128
555-556555He that lieth in sore trouble must be patient and ask deliverance of the Immortal Gods.129
557-560Beware; the chances, for sure, are balanced very fine130; one day thou shalt have much and another little131; it behoveth thee, then, neither to become too rich nor to ride into great want.
561-562Be it mine to possess some of my enemies' goods myself and to give thereof much also to my friends to possess.
563-566'Tis well to be guest at a feast and sit beside a good man132 that knoweth all learning; him thou shouldst mark when he saith any wit, so that thou mayst learn and go home with so much gained.
567-570I play rejoicing in Youth; for long's the time I shall lie underground without life like a dumb stone and leave the pleasant light of the Sun; and for all I be a good man, shall see nothing any more.
571-572Repute is a great ill, trial is best; many have repute for good, that have never been tried.133
573-574Be well done by because thou doest good; why send another to tell thy tale? tidings of well-doing spread easily.134
575-576575My friends it is that betray me; for mine enemy can I shun as the steersman the rock upstanding from the sea.
577-578'Tis easier to make bad of good than good of bad; teach me not, for in sooth I am too old to learn.
579-584She. I hate a bad man and veil my face as I pass him, keeping my heart light as a little bird's. He. And I hate both a gadabout woman and a lustful man that chooseth to plough another's land. Both. But what's done cannot be undone: 'tis the future that needs watch and ward.
585-590585Surely there's risk in every sort of business, nor know we at the beginning of a matter where we shall come to shore; nay, sometimes he that striveth to be of good repute falleth unawares into ruin great and sore, whereas for the doer of good God maketh good hap in all things, to be his deliverance from folly.135
591-592We ought to put up with that which the Gods give to man, and bear in patience either lot.
593-594Neither make thy heart too sick with evil things nor too quickly glad of good, ere thou see the final end.
595-602595Let us be comrades apart, man; of all save riches there's apt to be too much: we have long been friends, I know,136 but seek thou now the company of others, who know thy mind better than I. I know well enough thou wast a-coming and a-going by the road it seems thou hadst trod before,137 cheating my friendship. Go with a curse, hated of God and untrustworthy for man, thou chill and wily snake that I cherished in my bosom.
603-604Such deeds, such pride, destroyed the Magnesians, as now prevail in this sacred city.
605-606605'Tis sure that of all that ever wished to overreach their destiny, surfeit hath slain many more than hunger.138
607-610At the beginning of a lie there's but little pleasure, and at the end the gain becometh both dishonourable and bad; nor is there ought honourable for him that is attended of a lie, when once it hath passed his lips.139
611-614'Tis not hard to blame thy neighbour nor yet to praise thyself; such things are the care of the baser sort; the bad will not hold their tongues concerning bad things where men resort for talk, but the good know how to keep due measure in every matter.
615-616615Of the men of our time the Sun beholdeth140 none that is altogether good and reasonable.
617-618By no means all is accomplished to man's liking; Immortals are much stronger than mortals.141
619-620Troubled in heart I roll in the trough amid perplexities; for we have not surmounted the crest142 of the wave of Penury.143
621-622Every man honoureth a rich man and despiseth a poor; the mind that is in all men is the same.144
623-624In man there are badnesses of every sort, and virtues145 and means-to-living of every kind.
625-626625'Tis painful for a wise man to say much among fools, or yet to hold his peace, for silent he cannot be.146
627-628Assuredly 'tis a disgrace to be drunken among the sober, but disgraceful is it also to abide sober among the drunken.147
629-630Youth and vigour make light a man's head,148 and urge the heart of many a man to wrong-doing.149
631-632He whose head is not stronger than his heart, Cyrnus, lieth ever in miseries and in great perplexities.
633-634Take counsel twice and thrice concerning aught that cometh into thy mind to do; for 'tis sure a headstrong man becometh infatuate.
635-636635Judgment and respect for right are the portion of the good, and of such there are now but few, truth to tell, among many.150
637-638Hope and Risk151 in the world are alike; they are both Spirits difficult to do with.152
639-640Often it cometh about that men's works flow fair and full, contrary to belief and expectation, whereas their devices come not to accomplishment.153
641-642'Tis sure thou shalt not know either friend or foe unless thou encounter him in a grave matter.
643-644Many become comrades dear beside the bowl, but few in a grave matter.
645-646645When thy heart lieth in great perplexity, thou'lt find few of thy kin true comrades.
647-648Now is Respect for Right perished among men, whereas Shamelessness walketh to and fro upon the earth.154
649-652Fie, miserable Penury, why liest thou upon my shoulders and puttest both my body and mind to shame, and teachest me perforce things dishonourable and mean, albeit I know what is good and honourable among men?155
653-654May I be happy and beloved of the Immortal Gods, Cyrnus; that is the only achievement I desire.156
655-656655We all feel sorry, Cyrnus, for thy trouble, yet remember thou that pain for another is pain for a day.
657-658Never be thou too sick at heart in ill fortune nor rejoice overmuch in good, for it becometh a good man to bear all things.
659-666†Neither shouldst thou swear that a thing157 can never be —for the Gods resent it and the end is theirs —albeit thou shouldst do something . Good may come of bad, and bad of good; a poor man may very quickly become rich, and he that hath very great possessions lose them all suddenly in one night; the wise may err, and fame often cometh to the fool and honour to the bad.158
667-682Had I wealth, Simonides, equal to my character,159 I should not be so sad as I am in the company of the good. But alas! Wealth passeth by one that he knoweth,160 and I am speechless for want, albeit I should have seen161 better than many of my fellow-townsmen that now, with our white sails lowered,162 we are carried through the murky night from out the Melian Sea,163 and bale they will not, though the sea washeth over both gunwales; O but great is our jeopardy that they do what they do! —they have stayed the hand of a good steersman who had them in the keeping of his skill, and they seize the cargo perforce; order there is none, and fair division for all is no more164; the menial porters165 are in command, and the bad above the good; I fear me lest the ship be swallowed of the waves. Such be my riddling oracle for the good, but a bad man will understand it also, if he have wit.
683-686Many that have riches are ignorant, and others that seek things beautiful are worn with sore penury; and for doing aught, Perplexity sitteth beside either sort,166 seeing that the one kind is constrained in the matter of wits, the other of possessions.167
687-688'Tis not for mortals to fight Immortals, nor yet to give them judgment; this is not right for any man.
689-690We should not make ruin where ruin should not be made,168 nor yet do what it is not better to do.169
691-692Mayst thou safely accomplish thy journey across the great sea, and Poseidon take thee to be a delight unto thy friends.170
693-694Surfeit, 'tis sure, destroyeth many a fool, because it is hard to know the due measure when good things are to thy hand.171
695-696695I cannot furnish thee, my soul, with all things meet for thee: be patient; thou art not the only lover of things beautiful.172
697-698When I am in good plight my friends are many; if aught ill befall, there's but few whose hearts are true.
699-718†To the more part of men this is the one virtue, to be rich; all else, it would seem, is nothing worth, not though thou hadst the wisdom of great Rhadamanthus, and wert more knowing than Aeolus' son Sisyphus, whose wheedling words persuaded Persephone who giveth men forgetfulness by doing despite to their wits, so that through his wilinesses he returned even from Hades, a thing which hath been contrived of none other, whosoever hath once been veiled in the black cloud of Death and gone to the shadowy place of the departed, passing the black portal which for all their denial of guilt prisoneth the souls of the dead; yet e'en thence, 't would seem, to the light of the Sun came hero Sisyphus back by his own great cunning; —nor yet though thou madest lies like true words with the good tongue of godlike Nestor, and wert nimbler of foot than the swift Harpies and the Children of Boreas173 whose feet are so forthright. Nay, every man should lay to heart this saying: What hath most power for all is wealth.174
719-728Equal, for sure, is the wealth of him that hath much silver and gold and fields of wheatland and horses and mules, to that of him that hath what him needeth for comfort of belly and sides and feet.175 This is abundance unto men; for no man taketh all his exceeding riches with him when he goeth below, nor shall he for a price escape death, nor yet sore disease nor the evil approach of Age.176
729-730Cares of motley plumage have their portion in mankind, wailing for life and substance.177
731-752†Father Zeus, I would it were the Gods' pleasure that wanton outrage should delight the wicked if so they choose, but that whosoever did acts abominable and of intent, disdainfully,178 with no regard for the Gods, should thereafter pay penalty himself, and the ill-doing of the father become no misfortune unto the children after him; and that such children of an unrighteous sire as act with righteous intent, standing in awe of thy wrath, O Son of Cronus, and from the beginning have loved the right179 among their fellow-townsmen, these should not pay requital for the transgression of a parent. I say, would that this were the Gods' pleasure; but alas, the doer escapeth and another beareth the misfortune afterward. Yet how can it be rightful, O King of the Immortals, that a man that hath no part in unrighteous deeds, committing no transgression nor any perjury, but is a righteous man, should not fare aright? What other man living, or in what spirit, seeing this man, would thereafter stand in awe of the Immortals, when one unrighteous and wicked that avoideth not the wrath of God or man, indulgeth wanton outrage in the fulness of his wealth, whereas the righteous be worn and wasted with grievous Penury?
753-756Knowing this, dear comrade, gather thyself riches by rightful ways, keeping a sober heart outside of wickedness, ever mindful of these words; and at the last thou wilt approve them, persuaded by their sober tale.180
757-768May Zeus that dwelleth in the sky ever keep his right arm over this city for her safety's sake, and with him the other Blessed Immortals; may Apollo set straight both our tonque and our wits; and may harp and pipe sound holy music; and let us conciliate the Gods with a libation, and drink in pleasant converse one with another, fearing no whit the war of the Medes. 'Twere better thus, 'twere better to spend our days in jolly revelry, of one accord and cares apart, and to keep far away those evil Spirits, baleful Eld and the end that is Death.
769-772A servant and messenger of the Muses, even if he know exceeding much, should not be grudging of his lore, but seek out this, illumine that, invent the other; what use can he make of this if none know it but he?
773-782†Lord Apollo, Thou Thyself didst fence this city's heights, to please Alcathous181 son of Pelops; Thou Thyself protect this city from the wanton outrage of the host of the Medes, so that in glad revelry at the coming-in of Spring the people should give Thee splendid hecatombs, rejoicing with lute and pleasant feast, with dance and cry of Paeans about Thy altar. For verily I fear me when I see the heedlessness and people-destroying discord of the Greeks. But do Thou, O Phoebus, be gracious and guard this our city.
783-788†For I have been ere now to the land of Sicily, ere now to the vine-clad lowlands of Euboea, and to Sparta the glorious town of reedy Eurotas, and all made me welcome in right friendly wise; but not one of them came as a joy to my heart, so true is it after all that there's no place like home.182
789-792I would not have any new pursuit arise for me in the stead of delightful art; rather may I have this for mine, evermore rejoicing in lyre and dance and song, and keeping my wit high in the company of the good.
793-796Harming neither sojourner nor citizen with deeds of mischief, but living a righteous man, rejoice your own heart; of your pitiless fellow-townsmen assuredly some will speak ill of you and some good.183
797-798Of the good, one man is loud in blame, another in praise; of the bad there's no mention whatsoever.
799-800No man on earth is without blame; yet even so 'tis better not to be too much spoken of.
801-804No man ever was or ever will be, who leaveth all men content when he goeth below, seeing that not even Cronus' Son, the Ruler of both Gods and men, can please all mankind.
805-810805Nearer to the line184 than compasses, ruddle, or square, Cyrnus, must that enquirer be diligent to be, to whom the priestess of the God declareth her answer from the rich shrine of Pytho, because neither by adding aught canst thou find any remedy, nor in taking-away escape offence in the eyes of Heaven.
811-814I have suffered a thing not worse, it may be, Cyrnus, than direful Death, but more painful than all else: I am betrayed by my friends. And now, brought nigh to mine enemies, of them also I shall know what wits they have.
815-816815An ox that setteth his strong hoof upon my tongue restraineth me from blabbing albeit I know.
817-818'Tis past all possibility, Cyrnus, to avoid what it is our lot to suffer; and what is my lot to suffer, that to suffer I fear not.
819-820We have come into a much-desired mischief,185 Cyrnus, where best the fate of Death would take us both together.
821-822'Tis sure there's little place, Cyrnus, for them that dishonour their aged parents.186
823-824Neither exalt a man to be despot on expectation, yielding to gain, nor slay him when thou hast taken an oath to him by the Gods.
825-830825How do your hearts endure to sing to the pipes, when the bounds of the land which feedeth with her fruits you that guttle at feasts and make your hair to blossom with gay chaplets, can be seen from the marketplace? Come, thou Scythian,187 shear thy locks188 and give over merrymaking, and mourn for sweet-scented189 lands that are lost to you.
831-832I lost my possessions through honour, and through dishonour have I recovered them; of both these things the knowledge is bitter.190
833-836All things here are among the crows and perdition, and none of the Blest Immortals, Cyrnus, is to blame; nay, the violence of men and their base gains and their pride have cast us from much good into evil.
837-840'Tis sure there are two evil Spirits of drinking among miserable men, Thirst that looseth our limbs and grievous Drunkennes; I shall go to and fro between these twain, nor wilt thou persuade me either not to drink or to drink too much.
841-844Wine giveth me pleasure in all things save this, when it armeth me191 and leadeth me against mine enemy. But when that which is above cometh to be below, then will we give over drinking and go home.
845-846845'Tis easy to make a city's good plight ill, but hard to make a city's ill plight good.192
847-850Kick thou the empty-headed commons, prick them with a sharp goad, and put a galling yoke upon their neck; thou shalt not find among all the men that the Sun beholdeth,193 commons that so love their master.194
851-852Olympian Zeus destroy the man that is willing to deceive his comrade with the babbling of soft words.
853-854I knew before, but I know better now, that there's no gratitude in the baser sort.195
855-856855†Often and often through the worthlessness of her leaders this city, like a ship out of her course, hath run too nigh the shore.
857-860If any friend of mine see me in evil plight, he turneth away his head and will not so much as look at me; but if perchance he see me196 in good hap, the which is a rare thing, then have I many salutations and signs of friendship.
861-864My friends betray me and will give me nothing when men appear197; verily of my own accord I will go out at eventide and return at dawn with the crowing of the new-awakened cocks.198
865-868865God giveth prosperity to many useless men199 such as being of no worth are of no service to themselves nor to their friends. But the great fame of valour will never perish, for a man-at-arms saveth both soil and city.200
869-872May the great wide brazen sky fall upon me —that dread of earthborn men —if I aid not such as love me, and become not a pain and great grief unto such as hate.
873-876O Wine, in part I praise thee, and in part blame; never can I either hate thee or love thee altogether. Thou art both a good thing and a bad. Who would blame thee and who praise, that had due measure of wisdom?
877-878Play and be young, my heart; there'll be other men soon, but I shall be dead and become dark earth.
879-884†Drink the wine which came to me of the vines that were planted in the mountain dells 'neath topmost Taygetus by that friend of the Gods old Theotimus, who led cool water for them from Platanistus' spring. If thou drink of this thou'lt scatter troublous cares, and when thou hast well drunken201 be greatly lightened.
885-886885May Peace and Wealth possess the city, so that I may make merry with other men; I love not evil War.
887-888And lend thou not too ready an ear to the loud cry of the herald; we are not fighting for our own country.202
889-890But it would be dishonourable for me not to mount behind swift steeds and look lamentable War in the face.203
891-894Alas for weakness! Cerinthus is destroyed, and the good vinelands of Lelantus are laid waste; the good men are banished and evil persons order the city. O that Zeus would destroy the race of the Cypselids!204
895-896895There's nothing a man possesseth of himself better than understanding, Cyrnus, nor bitterer than lack of understanding.
897-900If Zeus were wroth alway with mortal men, knowing as he doth the mind of each man in his breast and the deeds alike of righteous and unrighteous, great would be the woe of man.
901-902At each and every thing one man is better and another worse; no man alive is skilled in all things.
903-930†If a man keep a watch on the spending of his coffers according to his possessions, that is the finest virtue to them that understand. For were it possible for us to see the end of our life, and know with how much accomplished we were to pass over into Hades, 'twould be in reason that he who expected the lot of longer life should be more sparing, so that he should have wherewithal to live. But it is not so, and that it is not I am very sad and sore at heart, and am in two minds. I stand at the crossways; there are two paths before me; I consider with myself whether of the twain to take, whether to spend nothing and wear out my life in evil plight,205 or to live happily accomplishing but little. For I have seen one that was sparing and, for all his wealth, never gave his belly the sustenance of a freeman, yet went below ere he filled the measure of life,206 and whosoever it might be received his possessions, so that his labour was vain and he gave not to whom he would. And I have seen another who, to please his belly, first wasted his substance and then said I have had my fling ,207 and beggeth208 of all his friends wheresoever he may set eyes upon them. So true is it, Democles, that 'tis best of all to spend and practise209 according to our possessions. Thus wilt thou neither toil only to give another of the fruits of thy labour, nor win to servitude210 by beggary, nor yet if thou come to old age will all thy possessions be run away.211 Nay, 'tis best in such a generation as ours to have possessions; for if thou be rich, thy friends are many, and if poor, they are few, and a good man is no longer what he was.
931-932'Tis better to be sparing; for no man bewails the dead except he see possessions left behind.
933-938Virtue212 and beauty fall to but few; happy he that hath share of both.213 He is honoured of all; alike younger and elder yield him place, and the men of his age; when he groweth old he is conspicuous among his townsmen, and no man will do him harm either in honour or in right.214
939-942I cannot sing sweet and clear like the nightingale, for last night I went to a revel; I do not make the piper215 my excuse, but 'tis that my voice, which is not without skill, hath left me.
943-944Here will I stand nigh to the piper's right hand216 and sing, when I have made my prayer to the Immortal Gods.217
945-946945I'll walk a path straight as a line, bending to neither side; for all my thoughts should be right and true.
947-948I'll govern my glorious country neither turning towards the commons nor yet persuaded of unrighteous persons.218
949-954Like a lion sure of his strength, I have drunk not the blood of the fawn my claws seized away from his dam;219 I have climbed the high walls and yet not sacked the city; I have yoked the horses and not mounted the chariot; I have done and yet not done, and achieved and yet not achieved, accomplished yet not accomplished, finished yet not finished.220
955-956955He that doeth good to the baser sort suffereth two ills —deprivation of goods and no thanks.221
957-958If thou be not thankful for a great good I have done thee, may it be in need that thou comest next to my house.
959-962So long as I alone drank of the black-watered222 spring, the water thereof methought was sweet and good; but now 'tis all fouled and the water mixed with mud. I'll drink from another and a purer spring.223
963-970†Never praise a man ere thou know him for certain, what he is in disposition, in feeling, and in character. Many, for sure, that are of a tricksy counterfeit turn of mind, hide it, putting into themselves a temper224 that is ordinary;225 yet Time exposeth the nature of each and all of them. I too, it seems, have gone far beyond good sense; I praised thee ere I knew all thy ways; and now I give thee a wide berth.226
971-972What virtue is there in the winning of a tippler's prize? surely a good man often loseth it even to a bad.
973-978†No mortal man so soon as he is covered with the earth and goeth down to the house of Persephone in Erebus is rejoiced any more with the sound either of lyre or piper or with receiving the gifts of Dionysus. Beholding this, I will make my heart merry while yet my limbs be light and I carry an unshaking head.
979-982I would have no man my friend with lips only, but also in deed; he must serve me willingly both with hands and with possessions;227 nor must he soothe my heart with words beside the mixing-bowl, but show himself a good man by act, if so he may.228
983-988Let us give our hearts to merriment while yet pleasant acts bring some joy. For splendid youth passeth quickly as a thought, nor swifter is the speed of the horses which carry a king so furiously to the labour of the lance, delighting in the level wheatland.229
989-990Drink thou when drinking 's toward; and when thy heart be grown sad, drink that no man know230 of thy sorrow.
991-992'Tis sure thou'lt be rejoiced sometimes by what thou shalt do, sometimes vexed by what thou shalt be done by; but to be able to do is now for one man and now for another.
993-996If thou shouldst challenge me, Academus, to sing a pretty song, and a lad of fair beauty were to stand for our prize in a contest of our art, thou wouldst learn how much better mules be than asses.231
997-1002But when the high Sun's team of whole-hoovad232 steeds shall pass beyond the mid of day, then forthwith would I that we set ourselves to as great a dinner as a man's heart shall bid, satisfying our bellies with all manner of good things, and water for the hands be brought quickly out and garlands set in place by the slender fingers of a comely Spartan lass.233
1003-1006This is virtue,234 this the noblest prize and the fairest for a wise man to win among men, a common good this for his city and all her people, when a man abideth firmly in the forefront.235
1007-1012†And a common counsel will I give to all men to enjoy their own goods while yet each hath the splendid bloom of youth236 and thinketh noble thoughts; for to be young twice cometh not of Heaven unto mortal man, nor yet deliverance from death; baleful Eld disgraceth him that is beautiful, and layeth hands upon the crown of his head.
1013-1016Ah, blessed and happy and fortunate is he that goeth down unto the black house of Death without knowing trouble, and ere he have bent before his foes, sinned of necessity, or tested the loyalty of his friends.
1017-1022A sudden copious sweat floweth down my flesh and I tremble, when I behold the lovely and pleasant flowering-time of my generation, for I would it were longer-lasting; but precious Youth is shortlived as a dream, and ugly baleful Eld is hanging plumb over our heads.237
1023-1024Never will I set my neck 'neath the galling yoke of mine enemies, nay, not though Tmolus be upon my head.
1025-10261025'Tis sure that the mind of the baser sort is the vainer for their badness, whereas the actions of the good are ever the more forthright.
1027-1028The doing of evil is easy, Cyrnus, among men, but the devising of a good deed hard.
1029-1036Be patient in misfortune, my soul, for all thou art suffering the intolerable; 'tis sure the heart of the baser sort is quicker to wrath. Be not heavy, thou, with pain and anger over deeds which cannot be done, nor be thou vexed thereat, nor grieve thy friends nor glad thy foes. Not easily shall mortal man escape the destined gifts of the Gods, neither if he sink to the bottom of the purple sea, nor when he be held in murky Tartarus.238
1037-1038'Tis sore difficult, verily, to deceive a good man, the which is a judgment long given, Cyrnus, in my mind.
1038A-1038BI knew before, but I know far better now, that there's no gratitude in the baser sort.239
1039-1040Fools are they and childish, that drink not wine when the Dog-Star beginneth.240
1041-1042Come thou hither with a piper; let us laugh and drink at a mourner's, rejoicing in his loss.
1043-1044Let us sleep; the guarding of our lovely city Astyphela241 her guardians shall see to.
1045-10461045By Zeus, even though one of these be abed and asleep, he will receive our serenade right gladly.
1047-1048Now let us rejoice over our cups, saying good things; what shall come after is for the Gods to look to.
1049-1054†To thee will I myself give good counsel as a father to his child, and this is what I would have thee cast into thy heart and mind:—Never be in haste to do an evil thing, but commune first in the depth of thy heart with a mind that keepeth the right; for the heart and mind of the fond are ever a-fluttering, but counsel is needed to lead even a fine wit to what is good.
1055-10581055But we will leave this tale, and do thou pipe unto me and we will both remember the Muses; for they it is, who have given these delightful gifts for us twain to have and our neighbours to hear.
1059-1062†'Tis hard even for a wise man, Timagoras, to find out the disposition of many if he see them from afar; for some keep badness hidden by wealth and others virtue hidden by baleful Penury.242
1063-1068In youth a man may sleep all night with one243 of his age and have his fill of delights, and may sing in revels to the pipe. 'Tis certain nothing is sweeter either to man or woman. What worth to me is wealth or honour?244 Gaiety and good cheer together surpass all things.
1069-1070Fools are they and childish who lament the dead rather than the loss of the flower of youth.
1070A-1070BBe gay, my soul; there will be other men soon, but I shall be dead and become black earth.245
1071-1074Turn to all men a changeful habit, Cyrnus, mingling thy disposition to the like of each;246 now imitate this man, and now make thy disposition of another sort; surely skill is a better thing even than great virtue.247
1075-10781075'Tis hard indeed to see how God will accomplish the end of a matter yet undone; for 'tis all dark, and the ending of perplexity is not for man to understand ere what is to be.
1079-1080I will blame no enemy that is a good man, nor yet praise a friend that is bad.
1081-1082BCyrnus, this city is in travail, and I fear me she may give birth to a proud and violent man, to be leader of sore discord;248 for albeit her citizens be discreet, their guides are heading for much mischief.249
1082C-1082FIf thou love me and the heart within the be true, be not my friend but in word, with heart and mind contrary; either love me with a whole heart or disown me and hate me in open quarrel.250
1083-1084So true is it that the good man, though he change his disposition, must for evermore keep it stedfast to his friend.
1085-10861085'Tis hard for thee, Demonax, to bear much trouble,251 because thou knowest not how to do what is not to thy mind.252
1087-1090O Castor and Polydeuces that dwell beside the fair-flowing river of Eurotas in holy Lacedaemon, if ever I give a friend ill counsel, grant I may have ill myself, and if he give the like to me, grant he may have it twice over.
1091-1094My heart is troubled for thy friendship; I can neither hate nor love, knowing that 'tis as hard to hate one that is become our friend as to be friends with one that wills it not.
1095-10961095Look thou now for another; for I am under no necessity to do this thing: be thou grateful for what I have done already.253
1097-1100Now wing I my way like a bird from the flaxen net, escaping an evil man by breaking the trammels; and as for thee, thou 'st lost my friendship and wilt learn my shrewdness too late.
1101-1104Whosoever hath given thee counsel concerning me and bidden thee abandon our friendship and begone254—pride destroyed the Magnesians and Colophon and Smyrna, and assuredly, Cyrnus, will destroy thee and thine.255
1104A-1106Repute is a great ill unto man, trial is best; many are reputed good that have never been tried.256 When thou shalt come to the test and be rubbed beside lead,257 it will be manifest to all men that thou art pure gold.258
1107-1108O miserable me! become I am a joy to mine enemies and a vexation to my friends because of my sufferings.259
1109-1114Cyrnus, they that were good are now become bad, and they that were bad good. Who can bear to behold such a thing—the good the unhonoured and the bad260 accorded honour? and the good seeketh marriage with the bad; deceiving one another they smile one at another,261 knowing no remembrance either of good things or of bad.
1114A-1114BI roll on the ground, sore troubled at heart with perplexities; for we have not outrun the beginning of Penury.262
1115-11161115With possessions of thy own thou upbraidest my penury; yet some things I have, and others with prayer to Heaven, I shall win.
1117-1118Wealth, fairest and most desirable of all the Gods, with thee a man becometh good even if he be bad.
1119-1122May I have due measure of youth, and Phoebus Apollo son of Leto love me, and Zeus the king of the Immortals, so that I may live aright beyond all misfortunes, warming my heart with youth and riches.
1123-1128Remind me not of misfortunes; for sure, I have suffered even as Odysseus, who escaped up out of the great house of Hades, he that so gladly and pitilessly slew the suitors of his wedded wife Penelope, who had so long awaited him in patience beside his dear son till he set foot on the land....263
1129-1132I'll drink my fill with never a thought of soul-destroying Penury, nor yet of the enemies that slander me so; but I bewail the lovely Youth that is leaving me, and lament the approach of grievous Age.264
1133-1134Cyrnus, let us make cease the beginning265 of evil for such friends as are yet with us, and seek medicine for a sore ere it come to a head.
1135-11501135†Hope is the one good God yet left among mankind; the rest have forsaken us and gone to Olympus. Gone ere this was the great Goddess Honesty, gone from the world was Self-Control; and the Graces, my friend, have left the earth. No more are righteous oaths kept among men, nor hath any man awe of the Immortal Gods; the generation of the pious is perished, and no longer are laws recognised, nor orderlinesses. Nay, so long as ever a man live and see the light of the Sun, let him with reverence to the Gods worship Hope also; let him pray to the Gods with splendid meat-offerings, and also make sacrifice first and last unto Hope. Let him beware alway of the crooked speech of the unrighteous, who having no respect for the Immortal Gods do ever set their heart upon other men's goods, making dishonourable covenants for evil deeds.266
1151-1152Never be thou persuaded by the words of men of the baser sort to leave the friend thou hast and seek another.267
1153-1154Be it mine to live rich without evil cares, unharmed,268 and with no misfortune.269
1155-11561155I desire not riches, nor pray for them, but mine be it to live on a little substance with no misfortune.270
1157-1160Riches and skill are ever the most irresistible of things to man; for thou canst not surfeit thy heart with riches, and in like manner he that is most skilled shunneth not skill,271 but desireth it and cannot have his fill.272
1160A(i)O young men, this generation....273
1160A(ii)-1160B. . . I am under no necessity to do these things; be thou grateful for what I have done already.274
1161-1162'Tis better to lay-by no treasure for thy children; rather give to good men, Cyrnus, when they ask it.275
1162A-1162FNobody is all-happy in all things; rather doth the good endure to have evil albeit men know it not, whereas the bad man knoweth not how to mingle his heart either with good hap or with bad; of all sorts are the gifts that come of the Gods to man, yet must we endure to keep the gifts They send, of whatsoever sort they be.276
1163-1164The eyes, tongue, ears, and mind of a discreet man grow in the midst of his breast.277
1164A-1164DLet such be thy friend as seeketh to know his comrade's temper and beareth with him like a brother. And thou, friend, consider this well, and some day hereafter thou 'lt remember me.278
1164E-1164HSeek as I will, I can find no man like myself that is a true comrade free of guide; yet when I am put to the test and tried even as gold is tried beside lead, the mark of pre-eminence is upon me.279
1165-11661165Mingle with the good and never accompany the bad, when thou comest to the end of a journey on business.
1167-1168The answer of a good man is good and his works good also, but the words of a bad man bad, and the wind carrieth them away.
1169-1170Ill-fellowship maketh misfortunes; and well shalt thou learn it thyself, for thou hast offended the great Immortals.
1171-1176The best thing the Gods give mortal man is judgment, Cyrnus; judgment hath the ends of everything. O happy he that hath it indeed! he is far stronger than baleful Pride and dolorous Surfeit; and these are of those mortal ills than which there 's none worse, for all evil, Cyrnus, comes from them.
1177-1178If thou shouldst never do nor suffer dishonourable acts, Cyrnus, thou wouldst have the greatest sum280 of virtue.
1178A-1178BHe whose heart is in sore trouble must be patient and ask deliverance of the Immortal Gods.281
1179-1182Honour and fear the Gods, Cyrnus; for this it is that stayeth a man from the doing or the saying of impious things; but a despot that devoureth the people, to lay him low by what means soever it please thee, is no cause for wrath from Heaven.282
1183-1184The beams of the world-illumining Sun look upon no man over whom there hangeth no reproach.
1184A-1184BBut I cannot read the disposition of my fellow-townsmen; for I please them neither by any good I do them nor by any harm.283
1185-11861185Mind is a good thing and so is speech, but they are found in few men that be stewards over them both.284
1187-1190For a price no man can escape Death, nor yet grievous Misfortune, unless Fate put an end to it; nor yet when God sendeth the pains of Care can mortal man escape by appeasing them with gifts.
1191-1194I desire not to be laid upon a royal couch when I be dead, but to enjoy some good thing while I live; thorns make as good lying for a corpse as carpets; the dead are comfortable, lie they hard or soft.
1195-11961195Swear no false oath by the Gods; for 'tis not possible to hide a debt from the Immortals.
1197-1202I have heard the shrill voice of the bird,285 son of Polypaus, which is come to tell mankind to plough in season; and it hath smitten my heart black286 to think that others possess my flowery fields, nor for me do the mules draw the yoke of the plough, by reason of this most hateful voyage.287
1203-1206I will not go,288nor shall a despot be mourned by me,289 nor go below ground bewailed by me at his grave, any more than if I were dead he would feel sorry or his eyelids shed hot tears.
1207-1208We neither stay thee from our revel nor bid thee to it, O thou that art troublesome to us present and dear to us absent.
1209-1210Aethon am I by race, but live in well-walled Thebes, forbidden my native town.290
1211-1216Taunt me not in such teasing wise with my parentage, Argyris; for thee there hath been a day of servitude,291 whereas we, madam, have suffered indeed from many other ills since we became exiles, but not from grievous slavery, nor do they put up for sale such folk as we; nay, we too have a city, and a fair city, one that bordereth on the plain of Letha.292
1217-1218Never let us laugh in the joy of our good fortune, Cyrnus, when we sit beside a mourner.
1219-1220'Tis hard in sooth for an enemy to deceive his foe, Cyrnus, but easy for a friend to deceive his friend.
“Theognis:” Stobaeus Anthology [on cowardice]
1221-1222Fear is wont to bring many a fall to mortal man, when his judgment, Cyrnus, is confounded.
“Theognis:” Stobaeus Anthology [on anger]
1223-1224Nothing, Cyrnus, is more unrighteous293 than a disposition294 which giveth misery to him that hath it by indulging his heart in what is mean and low.
“Theognis:” Stobaeus Anthology [that marriage is best]
1225-12261225Nothing, Cyrnus, is more delightful than a good wife; to the truth of this I am witness to thee and do thou become witness to me.295
“Such is the passage from the poet Theognis:” Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner [on enigmatic sayings]
1229-1230For I am e'en summoned home by a corpse from the sea which, dead though it be, speaketh with living lips.
“He means a conch.”