Skorpios

Nicolas Poussin, Le Temps soustrait la Vérité aux attaques de l'Envie et de la Discorde, 1641
Nicolas Poussin, Le Temps soustrait la Vérité aux attaques de l’Envie et de la Discorde (1641)

Σκοπεῖτε γάρ. εἰσὶν ὁμοῦ δισμύριοι πάντες Ἀθηναῖοι. τούτων ἕκαστος ἕν γέ τι πράττων κατὰ τὴν ἀγορὰν περιέρχεται, ἤτοι νὴ τὸν Ἡρακλέα τῶν κοινῶν ἢ τῶν ἰδίων. ἀλλ’ οὐχ οὗτος οὐδέν, οὐδ’ ἂν ἔχοι δεῖξαι πρὸς ὅτῳ τὸν βίον ἐστὶ τῶν μετρίων ἢ καλῶν. οὐχὶ τῶν πολιτικῶν ἀγαθῶν ἐπ’ οὐδενὶ τῇ ψυχῇ διατρίβει· οὐ τέχνης, οὐ γεωργίας, οὐκ ἄλλης ἐργασίας οὐδεμιᾶς ἐπιμελεῖται· οὐ φιλανθρωπίας, οὐχ ὁμιλίας οὐδεμιᾶς οὐδενὶ κοινωνεῖ· ἀλλὰ πορεύεται διὰ τῆς ἀγορᾶς, ὥσπερ ἔχις ἢ σκορπίος ἠρκὼς τὸ κέντρον, ᾄττων δεῦρο κἀκεῖσε, σκοπῶν τίνι συμφορὰν ἢ βλασφημίαν ἢ κακόν τι προστριψάμενος καὶ καταστήσας εἰς φόβον ἀργύριον εἰσπράξεται. οὐδὲ προσφοιτᾷ πρός τι τούτων τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει κουρείων ἢ μυροπωλίων ἢ τῶν ἄλλων ἐργαστηρίων οὐδὲ πρὸς ἕν· ἀλλ’ ἄσπειστος, ἀνίδρυτος, ἄμεικτος, οὐ χάριν, οὐ φιλίαν, οὐκ ἄλλ’ οὐδὲν ὧν ἄνθρωπος μέτριος γιγνώσκων· μεθ’ ὧν δ’ οἱ ζωγράφοι τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς ἐν Ἅϊδου γράφουσιν, μετὰ τούτων, μετ’ ἀρᾶς καὶ βλασφημίας καὶ φθόνου καὶ στάσεως καὶ νείκους, περιέρχεται.
(Demosthenes, Or. 25.51-52)

Think about it. There are about twenty thousand Athenians in all. Each of them does some private or public business, by Heracles, as he walks around the Agora. But this man does not do any such business, nor could he point to any moderate or respectable activity he has spent his life pursuing. He does not spend his time thinking about what is good for the state. He practices no skill, neither farming or any other occupation; he shares no kindness, no company with anyone. But he moves through the Agora like a viper or a scorpion with his sting erect, leaping here and there, looking for someone on whom to inflict disaster or slander or some disaster or to extort money by terrifying him. He does not frequent any of the barbershops or perfume shops or any other workshops in the city, not even one. Pitiless, without a fixed residence, antisocial, he knows nothing of gratitude, friendship, or any of the other qualities a decent man knows. Joined by those whom the painters depict in the company of the impious in Hades, he walks around with Curse, Slander, Envy, Discord, and Quarrel. (tr. Edward M. Harris)

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