Cheerful Thoughts from a Very Late Greek

An epigram of Palladas (A.P. 15.20):

Σιγῶν παρέρχου τὸν ταλαίπωρον βίον,
αὐτὸν σιωπῇ τὸν χρόνον μιμούμενος·
λαθὼν δὲ καὶ βίωσον, εἰ δὲ μή, θανών.

Pass by this miserable life in silence, imitating by your silence Time himself. Live likewise unnoticed; or if not, you will be so in death.

(translated by W. R. Paton, with archaic forms updated)

This entry was posted in - Epigrams, Ephemerides. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cheerful Thoughts from a Very Late Greek

  1. Bob Zisk says:

    Leonidas too was full of good humor:

    A.P. vii472 (Leonidas of Tarentum)

    Measureless, O Man, was the time before
    You came into the light, and measureless
    Will be the remainder of time in Hades.
    What scrap of life is left for you? Perhaps
    A needle’s prick? Maybe something more humble?
    A meager portion of days encapsulates
    You here, and what little that’s left is bitter
    And more to be despised than despised death.
    Crafted, O Men, from such a frame of bones,
    Do you reach the peaks, the air, the clouds?
    Mankind, behold your foolishness: a maggot,
    Perched at the end of fate’s unravelling cloth,
    Rots it to tatters, like a dry, stripped leaf,
    More loathesome than the parched ruin of a cobweb.
    Consider, then, each day, O Man, and seek
    Out what strength may be yours. Content yourself
    With a simple life: be mindful always,
    So long as you walk among the living,
    From what stubble your flesh is pieced together.

  2. Alfred M. Kriman says:

    General pessimism I can understand, but the specific pessimistic claim in the second part of this seems to require some argument. It’s parallel to a bit that Shakespeare puts in Marc Anthony’s eulogy of Caesar: "The evil that men do lives after them, / The good is oft interred with their bones," (from Suetonius?). Were, are, great villains better remembered than great, well– is that why we don’t have a good antonym of villain?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>