Pamphthartōi

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Oreste, 1862
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Oreste (1862)

[ΟΡΕΣΤΗΣ]

Οὔτοι προδώσει Λοξίου μεγασθενὴς
χρησμὸς κελεύων τόνδε κίνδυνον περᾶν,
κἀξορθιάζων πολλὰ καὶ δυσχειμέρους
ἄτας ὑφ’ ἧπαρ θερμὸν ἐξαυδώμενος,
εἰ μὴ μέτειμι τοῦ πατρὸς τοὺς αἰτίους
τρόπον τὸν αὐτόν, ἀνταποκτεῖναι λέγων·
αὐτὸν δ’ ἔφασκε τῇ φίλῃ ψυχῇ τάδε
τείσειν μ’ ἔχοντα πολλὰ δυστερπῆ κακά,
ἀποχρημάτοισι ζημίαις μαυρούμενον.
τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐκ γῆς δυσφρόνων μηνίματα
βροτοῖς πιφαύσκων εἶπε τάσδ’ αἰνὰς νόσους,
σαρκῶν ἐπαμβατῆρας ἀγρίαις γνάθοις,
λειχῆνας ἐξέσθοντας ἀρχαίαν φύσιν,
λευκὰς δὲ κόρσας τῇδ’ ἐπαντέλλειν νόσῳ·
ἄλλας τ’ ἐφώνει προσβολὰς Ἐρινύων
ἐκ τῶν πατρῴων αἱμάτων τελουμένας·
τὸ γὰρ σκοτεινὸν τῶν ἐνερτέρων βέλος
ἐκ προστροπαίων ἐν γένει πεπτωκότων
καὶ λύσσα καὶ μάταιος ἐκ νυκτῶν φόβος
κινεῖ, ταράσσει, καὶ διωκάθει πόλεως
χαλκηλάτῳ πλάστιγγι λυμανθὲν δέμας·
καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις οὔτε κρατῆρος μέρος
εἶναι μετασχεῖν, οὐ φιλοσπόνδου λιβός,
βωμῶν τ’ ἀπείργειν οὐχ ὁρωμένην πατρὸς
μῆνιν· δέχεσθαι δ’ οὔτε συλλύειν τινά,
πάντων δ’ ἄτιμον κἄφιλον θνῄσκειν χρόνῳ
κακῶς ταριχευθέντα παμφθάρτῳ μόρῳ.
τοιοῖσδε χρησμοῖς ἆρα χρὴ πεποιθέναι;
(Aeschylus, Choēphoroi 269-297)

[ORESTES]

The mighty oracle of Loxias will assuredly not betray me. It bade me brave this peril, it cried forth many things, and it spoke openly of catastrophes that will bring dire chill into my hot heart, if I do not pursue those guilty of my father’s death “in the same manner”—meaning, kill them in revenge. He said that I myself would pay for it with my own dear life, enduring many disagreeable sufferings, enfeebled by penalties that went beyond loss of property. He revealed the effects of the wrath of hostile powers from under the earth against mortals, and spoke of these dreadful afflictions—leprous ulcers attacking the flesh, eating away its pristine appearance with savage jaws, and short white hairs arising on the disease site. He spoke too of other assaults of Furies, generated by the blood of a father: the dark weapon of the powers below, arising from those of one’s kin who have fallen and beg for justice, together with madness and empty night-time terrors, derange him, harry him, and chase him from his city, physically humiliated by a metal collar. And men such as this, he said, are not permitted to have a share in the mixing-bowl or int he pouring of a friendly libation; the father’s unseen wrath keeps him away from altars; no one will receive him as a host or lodge with him as a guest, and finally he will die, devoid of all respect and devoid of all friends, cruelly shrivelled in a death of total decay. Should I not believe such an oracle as that? (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein)

Apostatei

Marianne Stokes, Death and the Maiden, ca. 1908
Marianne Stokes, Death and the Maiden (ca. 1908)

Μόνος θεῶν γὰρ Θάνατος οὐ δώρων ἐρᾷ,
οὐδ’ ἄν τι θύων οὐδ’ ἐπισπένδων ἄνοις,
οὐδ’ ἔστι βωμὸς οὐδὲ παιωνίζεται·
μόνου δὲ Πειθὼ δαιμόνων ἀποστατεῖ
(Aeschylus, Niobe, fr. 161)

Alone of the gods, Death desires no gifts; one can gain nothing by making sacrifice or pouring libation to him, nor has he any altar, nor is he addressed in songs of praise; from him, alone among divinities, Persuasion stands aloof. (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein)

 

Tharsei

Ἐπιρρητέον δὲ καὶ τῷ τοῦ Αἰσχύλου
θάρσει· πόνου γὰρ ἄκρον οὐκ ἔχει χρόνον [fr. 352]
ὅτι τοῦτ’ ἐστὶ τὸ παρ’ Ἐπικούρου θρυλούμενον ἀεὶ καὶ θαυμαζόμενον, ὡς “οἱ μεγάλοι πόνοι συντόμως ἐξάγουσιν, οἱ δὲ χρόνιοι μέγεθος οὐκ ἔχουσιν.” ὧν τὸ μὲν εἴρηκεν ὁ Αἰσχύλος ἐναργῶς, τὸ δὲ τῷ εἰρημένῳ παρακείμενόν ἐστιν· εἰ γὰρ ὁ μέγας καὶ σύντονος οὐ παραμένει πόνος, οὐκ ἔστι μέγας ὁ παραμένων οὐδὲ δυσκαρτέρητος.
(Plutarch, Pōs dei ton neon poiēmatōn akouein 36B)

And on the words of Aeschylus,
Fear not; great stress of pain is not for long,
we ought to remark that this is the oft repeated and much admired statement originating with Epicurus, namely “that great pains have no magnitude.” Of these two ideas Aeschylus has perspicuously stated the one and the other is a corollary thereto; for if great and intense pain is not lasting, then that which does not last is not great or hard to endure. (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt)

Gera

prometheus_bound_by_mopeydecker
mopeydecker, Prometheus Bound

[ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΥΣ]

Μήτοι χλιδῇ δοκεῖτε μήτ’ αὐθαδίᾳ
σιγᾶν με· συννοίᾳ δὲ δάπτομαι κέαρ
ὁρῶν ἐμαυτὸν ὧδε προυσελόυμενον.
καίτοι θεοῖσι τοῖς νέοις τούτοις γέρα
τίς ἄλλος ἢ ‘γὼ παντελῶς διώρισεν;
ἀλλ’ αὐτὰ σιγῶ· καὶ γὰρ εἰδυίαισιν ἂν
ὑμῖν λέγοιμι. τἀν βροτοῖς δὲ πήματα
ἀκούσαθ’, ὥς σφας νηπίους ὄντας τὸ πρὶν
ἔννους ἔθηκα καὶ φρενῶν ἐπηβόλους.
λέξω δὲ μέμψιν οὔτιν’ ἀνθρώποις ἔχων,
ἀλλ’ ὧν δέδωκ’ εὔνοιαν ἐξηγούμενος·
οἳ πρῶτα μὲν βλέποντες ἔβλεπον μάτην,
κλύοντες οὐκ ἤκουον, ἀλλ’ ὀνειράτων
ἁλίγκιοι μορφαῖσι τὸν μακρὸν βίον
ἔφυρον εἰκῇ πάντα, κοὔτε πλινθυφεῖς
δόμους προσείλους ᾖσαν, οὐ ξυλουργίαν,
κατωρύχες δ’ ἔναιον ὥστ’ ἀήσυροι
μύρμηκες ἄντρων ἐν μυχοῖς ἀνηλίοις.
ἦν δ’ οὐδὲν αὐτοῖς οὔτε χείματος τέκμαρ
οὔτ’ ἀνθεμώδους ἦρος οὔτε καρπίμου
θέρους βέβαιον, ἀλλ’ ἄτερ γνώμης τὸ πᾶν
ἔπρασσον, ἔστε δή σφιν ἀντολὰς ἐγὼ
ἄστρων ἔδειξα τάς τε δυσκρίτους δύσεις.
καὶ μὴν ἀριθμόν, ἔξοχον σοφισμάτων,
ἐξηῦρον αὐτοῖς, γραμμάτων τε συνθέσεις,
μνήμην ἁπάντων, μουσομήτορ’ ἐργάνην·
κἄζευξα πρῶτος ἐν ζυγοῖσι κνώδαλα,
ζεύγλαισι δουλεύοντα σάγμασίν θ’, ὅπως
θνητοῖς μεγίστων διάδοχοι μοχθημάτων
γένοινθ’, ὑφ’ ἅρμα τ’ ἤγαγον φιληνίους
ἵππους, ἄγαλμα τῆς ὑπερπλούτου χλιδῆς.
θαλασσόπλαγκτα δ’ οὔτις ἄλλος ἀντ’ εμοῦ
λινόπτερ’ ηὗρε ναυτίλων ὀχήματα.
τοιαῦτα μηχανήματ’ ἐξευρὼν τάλας
βροτοῖσιν αὐτὸς οὐκ ἔχω σόφισμ’ ὅτῳ
τῆς νῦν παρούσης πημονῆς ἀπαλλαγῶ.
(Aeschylus, Prom. Desm. 436-471)

[PROMETHEUS]

Do not think that my silence is due to vanity or arrogance. No, my heart is eaten up with brooding, when I see myself treated so outrageously. After all, who was it but I that did all the distributing of privileges to these new gods? But I will say no more about that, because I would be telling you what you already know. Instead, listen to the miseries of mortals, how infantile they were before I made them intelligent and possessed of understanding. I shall say this, not because I have any desire to criticize humans, but to demonstrate the goodwill that inspired my gifts to them. In the beginning, though they had eyes and ears they could make nothing of what they saw and heard; like dream-figures they lived a life of utter random confusion all their days. They knew nothing of brick-built, sun-warmed houses, nor of wooden construction; they dwelt underground, like tiny ants, in the sunless recesses of caves. Nor had they any reliable indicator of winter, or of flowery spring, or of fruitful summer; they did everything without planning, until I showed them the hard-to-discern risings and settings of stars. I alone invented for them the art of number, supreme among all techniques, and that of combining letters into written words, the tool that enables all things to be remembered and is mother of the Muses. And I was the first to bring beasts under the yoke as slaves to the yoke-strap and the pack-saddle, so that they might relieve humans of their greatest labours; and I brought horses to love the rein and pull chariots, making them a luxurious ornament for men of great wealth. And it was no one other than me that invented the linen-winged vehicles in which sailors roam the seas. Such contrivances have I invented for mortals, yet, wretched that I am, I have no device by which I can escape from my present sufferings. (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein)

Ainōs

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[ΧΟΡ.]

Γᾶ δ’ αἰάζει τὰν ἐς τις ἐγγαίαν
ἥβαν Ξέρξᾳ κταμέναν, Ἅιδου
σάκτορι Περσᾶν· ἀγδαβάται γὰρ
πολλοὶ φῶτες, χώρας ἄνθος,
τοξοδάμαντες, πάνυ ταρφύς τις
μυριὰς ἀνδρῶν, ἐξέφθινται.
αἰαῖ αἰαῖ κεδνᾶς ἀλκᾶς·
Ἀσία δὲ χθών, βασιλεῦ γαίας,
αἰνῶς αἰνῶς ἐπὶ γόνυ κέκλιται.

(Aeschylus, Pers. 922-930)

The land laments its native youth
killed by Xerxes, who crammed Hades
with Persians: many men
who were marched away, the flower of the land,
slayers with the bow, thronging
myriads of men, have perished and gone.
Aiai, aiai, for our brave defenders!
King of our country, the land of Asia
is terribly, terribly down on her knees!
(tr. Alan H. Sommerstein)

Pempazete

image-2

Πεμπάζετ’ ὀρθῶς ἐκβολὰς ψήφων, ξένοι,
τὸ μὴ ἀδικεῖν σέβοντες ἐν διαιρέσει.
γνώμης ἀπούσης πῆμα γίγνεται μέγα . . .
(Aeschylus, Eum. 748-750)

Shake out the lots and count them fairly, friends. Honour justice. An error in judgement now can mean disaster. (tr. Robert Fagles)

Ouranēn

piss pot

[ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ]

Ὅδ’ ἐστίν, ὅς ποτ’ ἀμφ’ ἐμοὶ βέλος
γελωτοποιὸν, τὴν κάκοσμον οὐράνην,
ἔρριψεν οὐδ’ ἥμαρτε· περὶ δ’ ἐμῷ κάρᾳ
πληγεῖσ’ ἐναυάγησεν ὀστρακουμένη,
χωρὶς μυρηρῶν τευχέων πνέουσ’ ἐμοί

(Aeschylus, fr. 180)

[ODYSSEUS]

This* is the man who once threw in my direction an object designed to make me a laughing-stock, the evil-smelling chamber-pot, and he did not miss his aim; it struck me on the head and smashed into fragments, wafting over me an odour very unlike that of perfume-jars.

* Not certainly identifiable, but most likely Ctesippus, in the Odyssey (20.287-302) the only suitor other than Antinous and Eurymachus who throws an object (a cow’s hoof) at the disguised Odysseus; later he is appropriately killed by the oxherd Philoetius.

(tr. Alan H. Sommerstein, with his note)