Polis

aristocrats

Κύρνε, πόλις μὲν ἔθ’ ἥδε πόλις, λαοὶ δὲ δὴ ἄλλοι,
οἳ πρόσθ’ οὔτε δίκας ᾔδεσαν οὔτε νόμους,
ἀλλ’ ἀμφὶ πλευραῖσι δορὰς αἰγῶν κατέτριβον,
ἔξω δ’ ὥστ’ ἔλαφοι τῆσδ’ ἐνεμοντο πόλεος.
καὶ νῦν εἰσ’ ἀγαθοί, Πολυπαΐδη· οἱ δὲ πρὶν ἐσθλοὶ
νῦν δειλοί. τίς κεν ταῦτ’ ἀνεχοιτ’ ἐσορῶν;
ἀλλήλους δ’ ἀπατῶσιν ἐπ’ ἀλλήλοισι γελῶντες,
οὔτε κακῶν γνώμας εἰδότες οὔτ’ ἀγαθῶν.
(Theognis, Eleg. 53-68)

Cyrnus, this city is still a city, but the people are different, people who formerly knew neither justice nor laws, but wore tattered goatskins about their sides and lived outside this city like deer. And now they are noble, Polypaïdes, while those who were noble before are now base. Who can endure the sight of this? They deceive one another and mock one another, knowing neither the distinctive marks of the base nor those of the noble. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)

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