Gēras

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Le guêpier, 1892
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Le guêpier (1892)

Τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσέης Ἀφροδίτης;
τεθναίην, ὅτε μοι μηκέτι ταῦτα μέλοι,
κρυπταδίη φιλότης καὶ μείλιχα δῶρα καὶ εὐνή,
οἷ’ ἥβης ἄνθεα γίγνεται ἁρπαλέα
ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ γυναιξίν· ἐπεὶ δ’ ὀδυνηρὸν ἐπέλθῃ
γῆρας, ὅ τ’ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ,
αἰεί μιν φρένας ἀμφὶ κακαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι,
οὐδ’ αὐγὰς προσορέων τέρπεται ἠελίου,
ἀλλ’ ἐχθρὸς μὲν παισίν, ἀτίμαστος δὲ γυναιξίν·
οὕτως ἀργαλέον γῆρας ἔθηκε θεός.
(Mimnermus, fr. 1)

What’s life, what’s joy, without love’s heavenly gold?
I hope I die when I no longer care
for secret closeness, tender favours, bed,
which are the rapturous flowers that grace youth’s prime
for men and women. But when painful age
comes on, that makes a man loathsome and vile,
malignant troubles ever vex his heart;
seeing the sunlight gives him joy no more.
He is abhorred by boys, by women scorned;
so hard a thing God made old age to be.
(tr. Martin Litchfield West)

Muthos

Lirica-a-danca-da-lingua-2

Ψευδὴς καὶ ὁ περὶ τοῦ Ὀρφέως μῦθος, ὅτι κιθαρίζοντι αὐτῷ ἐφείπετο τετράποδα καὶ ἑρπετὰ καὶ ὄρνεα καὶ δένδρα. δοκεῖ δέ μοι ταῦτα εἶναι. Βάκχαι μανεῖσαι πρόβατα διέσπασαν ἐν τῇ Πιερίᾳ, πολλὰ δὲ καὶ ἄλλα βιαίως εἰργάζοντο τρεπόμεναί τε εἰς τὸ ὄρος διέτριβον ἐκεῖ τὰς ἡμέρας. ὡς δὲ ἔμειναν, οἱ πολῖται, δεδιότες περὶ τῶν γυναικῶν καὶ θυγατέρων, μεταμπεμψάμενοι τὸν Ὀρφέα μηχανήσασθαι ἐδέοντο, ὃν τρόπον καταγάγοι ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄρους αὐτάς. ὁ δὲ θυσάμενος τῷ Διονύσῳ ὄργια κατάγει αὐτὰς βακχευούσας κιθαρίζων. αἱ δὲ νάρθηκας τότε πρῶτον ἔχουσαι κατέβαινον ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους καὶ κλῶνας δένδρων παντοδαπῶν· τοῖς δὲ ἀνθρώποις τότε θεασαμένοις τὰ ξύλα θαυμαστὰ ἐφαίνετο, καὶ ἔφασαν “Ὀρφεὺς κιθαρίζων ἄγει ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους καὶ τὴν ὕλην.” καὶ ἐκ τούτου ὁ μῦθος ἐπλάσθη.
(Palaephatus, Peri Apistōn 33)

Also fake is the myth about Orpheus—that four-footed animals, snakes, birds and trees followed him as he played his lyre. Here is what I think happened: in Pieria frenzied female worshippers of Dionysus were tearing apart the bodies of sheep and goats and performing many other violent acts; they turned to the mountains to spend their days there. When they failed to return to their homes, the townspeople, fearing for the safety of their wives and daughters, summoned Orpheus and asked him to devise a plan to get the women down from the mountain. Orpheus performed appropriate sacrificial rites to the god Dionysus and then by playing his lyre led the frenzied Bacchants down from the mountain. But as the women descended they held in their hands for the first time in Bacchic worship stalks of fennel and branches of various kinds of trees*. To the men who watched on that occasion the pieces of wood seemed wondrous. So they said: “By playing his lyre Orpheus is bringing the very forest down from the mountain.” And from this the myth was created.

* The reference is to the thyrsos, the sacred wand twined with ivy and topped with a pine-cone, which was carried in Dionysiac worship and which is here apparently used for the first time. For the motif compare Birnam wood.

(tr. Jacob Stern, with his note)

Kēdea

John William Waterhouse, Pandora, 1896
John William Waterhouse, Pandora (1896)

Αὐτίκα δ’ ἐκ γαίης πλάσσε κλυτὸς Ἀμφιγυήεις
παρθένῳ αἰδοίῃ ἴκελον Κρονίδεω διὰ βουλάς·
ζῶσε δὲ καὶ κόσμησε θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη·
ἀμφὶ δέ οἱ Χάριτές τε θεαὶ καὶ πότνια Πειθὼ
ὅρμους χρυσείους ἔθεσαν χροΐ, ἀμφὶ δὲ τήν γε
Ὧραι καλλίκομοι στέφον ἄνθεσιν εἰαρινοῖσιν·
πάντα δέ οἱ χροῒ κόσμον ἐφήρμοσε Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη.
ἐν δ’ ἄρα οἱ στήθεσσι διάκτορος Ἀργειφόντης
ψεύδεά θ’ αἱμυλίους τε λόγους καὶ ἐπίκλοπον ἦθος
τεῦξε Διὸς βουλῇσι βαρυκτύπου· ἐν δ’ ἄρα φωνὴν
θῆκε θεῶν κῆρυξ, ὀνόμηνε δὲ τήνδε γυναῖκα
Πανδώρην, ὅτι πάντες Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες
δῶρον ἐδώρησαν, πῆμ’ ἀνδράσιν ἀλφηστῇσιν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δόλον αἰπὺν ἀμήχανον ἐξετέλεσσεν,
εἰς Ἐπιμηθέα πέμπε πατὴρ κλυτὸν Ἀργειφόντην
δῶρον ἄγοντα, θεῶν ταχὺν ἄγγελον· οὐδ’ Ἐπιμηθεὺς
ἐφράσαθ’, ὥς οἱ ἔειπε Προμηθεὺς μή ποτε δῶρον
δέξασθαι πὰρ Ζηνὸς Ὀλυμπίου, ἀλλ’ ἀποπέμπειν
ἐξοπίσω, μή πού τι κακὸν θνητοῖσι γένηται.
αὐτὰρ ὁ δεξάμενος, ὅτε δὴ κακὸν εἶχ’, ἐνόησεν.
πρὶν μὲν γὰρ ζώεσκον ἐπὶ χθονὶ φῦλ’ ἀνθρώπων
νόσφιν ἄτερ τε κακῶν καὶ ἄτερ χαλεποῖο πόνοιο
νούσων τ’ ἀργαλέων, αἵ τ’ ἀνδράσι κῆρας ἔδωκαν.
ἀλλὰ γυνὴ χείρεσσι πίθου μέγα πῶμ’ ἀφελοῦσα
ἐσκέδασ’· ἀνθρώποισι δ’ ἐμήσατο κήδεα λυγρά.
μούνη δ’ αὐτόθι Ἐλπὶς ἐν ἀρρήκτοισι δόμοισιν
ἔνδον ἔμιμνε πίθου ὑπὸ χείλεσιν, οὐδὲ θύραζε
ἐξέπτη· πρόσθεν γὰρ ἐπέλλαβε πῶμα πίθοιο
αἰγιόχου βουλῇσι Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο.
ἄλλα δὲ μυρία λυγρὰ κατ’ ἀνθρώπους ἀλάληται·
πλείη μὲν γὰρ γαῖα κακῶν, πλείη δὲ θάλασσα·
νοῦσοι δ’ ἀνθρώποισιν ἐφ’ ἡμέρῃ, αἱ δ’ ἐπὶ νυκτὶ
αὐτόματοι φοιτῶσι κακὰ θνητοῖσι φέρουσαι
σιγῇ, ἐπεὶ φωνὴν ἐξείλετο μητίετα Ζεύς.
οὕτως οὔ τί πῃ ἔστι Διὸς νόον ἐξαλέασθαι.
(Hesiod, Erga kai Hēmerai 70-105)

At once the renowned Ambidexter moulded from earth the likeness of a modest maiden by Kronos’ son’s design, and the pale-eyed goddess Athene dressed and adorned her. The Graces and the lady Temptation put necklaces of gold about her body, and the lovely-haired spirits of ripeness garlanded her about with spring flowers. Pallas Athene arranged all the adornments on her body. In her breast the Go-Between, the dog-killer*, fashioned lies and wily pretences and a knavish nature by deep-thundering Zeus’s design; and he put in a voice, did the herald of the gods, and he named this woman Pandora, Allgift, because all the dwellers on Olympus made her a gift—a calamity for men who live by bread. When he had completed the precipitous, unmanageable trap, the father sent the renowned dog-killer* to Epimetheus taking the gift, swift messenger of the gods. Epimetheus gave no thought to what Prometheus had told him, never to accept a gift from Olympian Zeus but to send it back lest some afflication befall mortals: he accepted, and had the bane before he realized it. For formerly, the tribes of men on earth lived remote from ills, without harsh toil and the grievous sicknesses that are deadly to men. But the woman unstopped the jar and let it all out, and brought grim cares upon mankind. Only Hope remained there** inside in her secure dwelling, under the lip of the jar, and did not fly out, because the woman put the lid back in time by the providence of Zeus the cloud-gatherer who bears the aegis. But for the rest, countless troubles roam among men: full of ills is the earth, and full the sea. Sicknesses visit men by day, and others by night, uninvited, bringing ill to mortals, silently, because Zeus the resourceful deprived them of voice. Thus there is no way to evade the purpose of Zeus.

* Hermes was the patron of thieves, who sometimes find it expedient to eliminate watch-dogs.
** Hesiod has not given his jar a consistent symbolic meaning. He means that hope remains among men as the one antidote to suffering.

(tr. Martin Litchfield West, with his notes)

Subulam

Angelico,_san_romulado_dalla_pala_di_san_marco,_Minneapolis

Inde vero progrediens, non longe ab Appennino monte in loco qui dicitur Aquabella manere constituit. illic sane dum saeculares quidam cum discipulis eius habitationum tecta construerent, Romualdus autem, quia iam prae senectute laborare non poterat, et solus hospitium custodiret, presbyter quidam intolerabilem dolorem in dentibus sentiens, opus aedificii invitus reliquit, et postulata a fratribus licentia redire domum miserabiliter eiulans coepit. cumque per Romualdum transitum reversionis haberet, interrogatus cur abscederet, mox casum suae passionis innotuit. huic Romualdus hianti locum ubi patiebatur digito tetigit, dicens: “Ignitam”, inquit, “subulam, ne labrum laedat, in calamum mitte et hic pone: sic dolor aufugiet.” vix presbyter unius iugeris spatio ultra progressus est, et confestim omni dolore deposito, ad opus quod reliquerat, sanus et incolumis repedavit, claris nimirum vocibus exclamans, et dicens: “gratias tibi agimus, omnipotens Deus, qui regionem nostram splendore tanti sideris illustrare dignatus es. vere angelus Dei, vere propheta sanctus et lux magna occulta mundo in finibus nostris apparuit.” haec et alia multa in Dei laude vociferans, vix a beati viri discipulis tacere compulsus est. nam si talia verba ad Romualdi aures qualibet occasione pertingerent, gravissima cor eius indignatione ferirent.
(Petrus Damianus, Vita Sancti Romualdi 46)

And moving on from there, he decided to stay not far from Monte Appennino in a place which is called Aquabella. Now, as certain laymen were building dwelling-houses there with his disciples, but Romuald was alone looking after the guest-house because he was already unable to work on account of his age, a certain priest felt an unbearable pain in the teeth, reluctantly left off the building work and, having requested permission from the brethren, began to return home, moaning miserably. And since in going back, he had to go over by Romuald, (he was) asked why he was going away (and) thereupon informed (Romuald) of the suffering that had befallen (him). (The priest) opening (his mouth), Romuald touched his finger to the place where he was suffering and said, “Put a red hot awl into a reed, so that it will not injure (your) lip, and place it here. This way the pain will go away.” The priest went on barely more than the length of one iugerum and (then), at once relieved of all pain, went back safe and sound to the work he had left, crying aloud in fact in a clear voice, “We give Thee thanks, almighty God, who has deigned to brighten our region with the brilliance of such a star. Truly an angel of God, truly a holy prophet and a great light hidden from the world has appeared in our region.” Shouting out these and many other things in God’s praise, he could scarcely be constrained by the blessed man’s disciples to be silent. For if such words should reach Romuald’s ears in any way at all, they would strike his heart with the severest vexation. (tr. Colin Ralph Phipps)

Eschatēn

Οὐκ ἔστι τὴν ἐνεστηκυῖαν ἡμέραν καλῶς βιῶναι μὴ προθέμενον αὐτὴν ὡς ἐσχάτην.
(Musonius Rufus, fr. 22)

It is not possible to live well today unless one thinks of it as his last. (tr. Cora E. Lutz)

Mulier

snake2

Fratres, mulier mali causa, peccati auctor, via mortis, sepulcri titulus, inferni ianua, lamenti necessitas tota: ob hoc nascuntur lacrimis, mancipantur maeroribus, gemitibus addicuntur, et in lamentis tantum fortes sunt, quantum viribus inveniuntur infirmae: et quantum imparatae sunt ad labores, tantum ad lacrimas sunt paratae: hinc est quod lacrimis arma vincunt, regna fletibus inclinant, lamentis totam fortitudinem virorum frangunt. non est ergo mirum, si ad lacrimas, ad funus, ad sepulcrum, ad obsequium Dominici corporis feminae ardentiores apostolis hic videntur; ubi mulier prima currit ad lacrimas, quae prima cucurrit ad lapsum; praecedit ad sepulcrum, quae praecessit ad mortem; fit resurrectionis nuntia, quae fuit mortis interpres; et quae viro porrexerat interitus tanti nuntium, viris ipsa porrigit magnae salutis auditum, ut compenset fidei nuntio quod perfidiae ademit auditu. non est hic praeposterus ordo, sed mysticus; non postponuntur apostoli feminis, sed ad maiora servantur; feminae obsequium Christi suscipiunt, apostoli Christi suscipiunt passiones; illae portant aromata, isti flagella; illae intrant sepulcrum, isti carcerem; illae ad obsequium festinant, isti pervolant ad catenas; infundunt illae oleum, isti sanguinem fundunt: mortem stupent illae, suscipiunt hi mortes. et quid multa? resident illae domi, ad acies isti tendunt, ut devoti milites probent adversis fidem, virtutem laboribus, iniuriis patientiam, periculis mortem, vulneribus tolerantiam, devotionem poenis, viscerum laceratione constantiam. mulieres ergo ferunt pro Christo lacrimas; apostoli, diabolo superato et victis hostibus, Christo et victoriam referunt, et triumphum.
(Petrus Chrysologus, Serm. 79.2-3)

Brothers, woman is the source of evil, the author of sin, the way of death, the reason for the grave, hell’s entryway, and the whole explanation of the need for lamentation. For this reason they are born with tears, they are delivered with sadness, they are brought forth with groans, and they are as strong in lamentation as they are found to be weak in strength; and they are as unequipped for labors as they are equipped for tears. Thus it is that they conquer arms with tears, they fell kingdoms with their weeping, and they break all the strength of men with their lamentation. And so it is no wonder if the women here* seem more ardent than the apostles for tears, the burial place, the grave, and for paying reverence to the Lord’s body, when a woman is the first to proceed to tears, since she was the first to fall into guilt; she leads the way to the grave, since she led the way to death; she becomes the messenger of the Resurrection, since she was the agent of death; and she who had brought the man the message of such destruction, herself brings men the announcement of great salvation, in order to compensate with her message of faith for what she took away by her faithless announcement.

* The author is discussing Luke 24:1-3: “The women went to the tomb in the very early morning of the first day of the week, carrying the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and when they went in they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.”

(tr. William B. Palardy)