Wet your lungs with wine: the star* is coming round, the season is harsh, everything is thirsty under the heat, the cicada sings sweetly from the leaves . . . the artichoke is in flower; now are women most pestilential, but men are feeble, since Sirius parches their heads and knees . . .
* The dogstar, Sirius, which brings the heat of the dog days.
Drink and get drunk, Melanippus, with me. Why do you suppose that when you have crossed the great river of eddying (?) Acheron you will see again the sun’s pure light? Come, do not aim at great things: why, king Sisyphus*, son of Aeolus, wisest of men, supposed that he (was master of Death?); but despite his cunning he crossed eddying Acheron twice at fate’s command, and king Zeus, son of Cronus, devised a toil for him to have under the black earth. Come, do not hope for these things; now if ever, while we are young, it is fit to endure whatever of these things God may give us to suffer.
* Sisyphus told his wife to omit his funeral rites and was allowed to return from the underworld to take her to task. Once back, he stayed until he died of old age. When he reached Hades for the second time, he was condemned to push a boulder to the top of a hill from which it always rolled down again.
…and fluttered the heart of Argive Helen in her breast; driven mad by the man from Troy, who betrayed his host, she followed in a ship over the sea, leaving her child desolate at home, and her husband’s richly decked bed, since her heart persuaded her to yield to love because of the son of Dione and Zeus. . . . Many of his brothers the dark earth holds, laid low on the Trojan plain for her sake, and many chariots fell in the dust . . . and many dark-eyed men were trampled as they lay on their backs, and god-like Achilles delighted in the slaughter. (tr. Cecil Maurice Bowra)