Τίς γὰρ τῶν ὁπόσοι γλαυκὰν ναίουσιν ὑπ’ ἠῶ
ἡμετέρας Χάριτας πετάσας ὑποδέξεται οἴκῳ
ἀσπασίως, οὐδ’ αὖθις ἀδωρήτους ἀποπέμψει;
αἳ δὲ σκυζόμεναι γυμνοῖς ποσὶν οἴκαδ’ ἴασι,
πολλά με τωθάζοισαι, ὅτ’ ἀλιθίην ὁδὸν ἦλθον,
ὀκνηραὶ δὲ πάλιν κενεᾶς ἐν πυθμένι χηλοῦ
ψυχροῖς ἐν γονάτεσσι κάρη μίμνοντι βαλοῖσαι,
ἔνθ’ αἰεί σφισιν ἕδρη, ἐπὴν ἄπρακτοι ἵκωνται.
τίς τῶν νῦν τοιόσδε; τίς εὖ εἰπόντα φιλήσει;
οὐκ οἶδ’· οὐ γὰρ ἔτ’ ἄνδρες ἐπ᾽ ἔργμασιν ὡς πάρος ἐσθλοῖς
αἰνεῖσθαι σπεύδοντι, νενίκηνται δ’ ὑπὸ κερδέων.
πᾶς δ’ ὑπὸ κόλπου χεῖρας ἔχων πόθεν οἴσεται ἀθρεῖ
ἄργυρον, οὐδέ κεν ἰὸν ἀποτρίψας τινὶ δοίη,
ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς μυθεῖται· “ἀπωτέρω ἢ γόνυ κνάμα·
αὐτῷ μοί τι γένοιτο.”—”θεοὶ τιμῶσιν ἀοιδούς.”—
“τίς δέ κεν ἄλλου ἀκούσαι; ἅλις πάντεσσιν Ὅμηρος.”—
“οὗτος ἀοιδῶν λῷστος, ὃς ἐξ ἐμεῦ οἴσεται οὐδέν.”
(Theocritus, Id. 16.5-21)
Now who of all those who live beneath the bright daylight will open up his house to give a glad welcome to my Graces*, and will not send them away unrewarded? They come home then barefoot and glum, with many a complaint that their journey has been in vain; they stay cowering at the bottom of their box once more with their heads always drooping on their chilly knees, in the place where they are always to be found after they have come back with no success. But who is hospitable nowadays? Who will be generous in return for praise? I do not know; men are no longer eager, as they once were, to be praised for their glorious deeds, but instead they are obsessed by profit. Each person keeps his hand in his pocket and is on the lookout for a chance to make money; he would not even rub off the rust and give it to someone, but has a ready excuse: “Charity begins at home”**; “”If only I had some money myself!”; “It’s the gods who reward poets”***; “Who would wish to listen to anyone else? Homer’s enough for everyone”; “The best poet is the one who will get nothing from me.”
* I.e., the graceful poems I can compose for patrons.
** Lit., “the knee is closer than the shin.”
*** Allusion to an anecdote about Simonides, who was told by the tyrant Scopas to seek half his fee from the Dioscuri, whom he had praised in half of a poem commissioned as praise of Scopas. The palace collapsed and killed Scopas, but the poet escaped, having been summoned outside by “two men” (Cic. De or. 2.352, Callim. Fr. 64.11).
(tr. Neil Hopkinson, with his notes)