Κάλλιστον τὸ δικαιότατον· λῷστον δ’ ὑγιαίνειν·
πρᾶγμα δὲ τερπνότατον, τοῦ τις ἐρᾷ, τὸ τυχεῖν.
(Theognis, Eleg. 255-256)
Fairest is that which is most just, best is health, and the most pleasurable thing is to obtain what one loves. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)
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)
Λὰξ ἐπίβα δήμῳ κενεόφρονι, τύπτε δὲ κέντρῳ
ὀξέϊ καὶ ζεύγλην δύσλοφον ἀμφιτίθει·
οὐ γὰρ ἔθ’ εὑρήσεις δῆμον φιλοδέσποτον ὧδε
ἀνθρώπων ὁπόσους ἠέλιος καθορᾷ.
(Theognis, Eleg. 847-850)
Trample the empty-headed people, jab them with a sharp goad, and place a painful yoke round their necks. For among the people whom the sun looks down upon you’ll find none so much in love with tyranny. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)
Σοὶ μὲν ἐγὼ πτέρ’ ἔδωκα, σὺν οἷς ἐπ’ ἀπείρονα πόντον
πωτήσῃ καὶ γῆν πᾶσαν ἀειρόμενος
ῥηϊδίως· θοίνῃς δὲ καὶ εἰλαπίνῃσι παρέσσῃ
ἐν πάσαις, πολλῶν κείμενος ἐν στόμασιν,
καί σε σὺν αὐλίσκοισι λιγυφθόγγοις νέοι ἄνδρες
εὐκόσμως ἐρατοὶ καλά τε καὶ λιγέα
ᾄσονται. καὶ ὅταν δνοφερῆς ὑπὸ κεύθεσι γαίης
βῇς πολυκωκύτους εἰς Ἀΐδαο δόμους,
οὐδέποτ’ οὐδὲ θανὼν ἀπολεῖς κλέος, ἀλλὰ μελήσεις
ἄφθιτον ἀνθρώποις αἰὲν ἔχων ὄνομα,
Κύρνε, καθ’ Ἑλλάδα γῆν στρωφώμενος ἠδ’ ἀνὰ νήσους
ἰχθυόεντα περῶν πόντον ἐπ’ ἀτρύγετον,
οὐχ ἵππων νώτοισιν ἐφήμενος, ἀλλά σε πέμψει
ἀγλαὰ Μουσάων δῶρα ἰοστεφάνων·
πᾶσι δ’ ὅσοισι μέμηλε καὶ ἐσσομένοισιν ἀοιδὴ
ἔσσῃ ὁμῶς, ὄφρ’ ἂν γῆ τε καὶ ἠέλιος·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ὀλίγης παρὰ σεῦ οὐ τυγχάνω αἰδοῦς,
ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ μικρὸν παῖδα λόγοις μ᾽ ἀπατᾷς.
(Theognis, Eleg. 237-254)
I have given you wings with which you will fly, soaring easily, over the boundless sea and all the land. You will be present at every dinner and feast, lying on the lips of many, and lovely youths accompanied by the clear sounds of pipes will sing of you in orderly fashion with beautiful, clear voices. And whenever you go to Hades’ house of wailing, down in the dark earth’s depths, never even in death you will lose your fame, but you will be in men’s thoughts, your name ever immortal, Cyrnus, as you roam throughout the land of Greece and among the islands, crossing over the fish-filled, undraining(?) sea, not riding on the backs of horses, but it is the splendid gifts of the violet-wreathed Muses that will escort you. For all who care about their gifts, even for future generations, you will be alike the subject of song, as long as earth and sun exist. And yet I do not meet with a slight respect from you, but you deceive me with your words, as if I were a small child. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)
Ἐν δ’ ἥβῃ πάρα μὲν ξὺν ὁμήλικι πάννυχον εὕδειν,
ἱμερτῶν ἔργων ἐξ ἔρον ἱέμενον·
ἔστι δὲ κωμάζοντα μετ’ αὐλητῆρος ἀείδειν·
τούτων οὐδὲν †τι† ἄλλ’ ἐπιτερπνότερον
ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ γυναιξί. τί μοι πλοῦτός τε καὶ αἰδώς;
τερπωλὴ νικᾷ πάντα σὺν εὐφροσύνῃ.
(Theognis, Eleg. 1063-1068)
In youth you are free to sleep all night with an agemate and satisfy your craving for lovemaking; you may carouse and sing with a piper. No other pleasure compares with these for men and women. What are wealth and respect to me? Pleasure combined with good cheer surpasses everything. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)
Κυπρογενὲς Κυθέρεια δολοπλόκε, σοὶ τί περισσὸν
Ζεὺς τόδε τιμήσας δῶρον ἔδωκεν ἔχειν;
δαμνᾷς δ’ ἀνθρώπων πυκινὰς φρένας, οὐδέ τίς ἐστιν
οὕτως ἴφθιμος καὶ σοφὸς ὥστε φυγεῖν.
(Theognis, Eleg. 1386-1389)
Bred on Cyprus, Cytherean, weaver of deceptions, what is this extraordinary gift that Zeus, showing you honour, has bestowed upon you? You overwhelm the high-mindedness of mankind and there is no one in existence who has the strength or wisdom enough to elude you. (tr. Marguerite Johnson & Terry Ryan)
Νεβρὸν ὑπὲξ ἐλάφοιο λέων ὣς ἀλκὶ πεποιθὼς
ποσσὶ καταμάρψας αἵματος οὐκ ἔπιον·
τειχέων δ’ ὑψηλῶν ἐπιβὰς πόλιν οὐκ ἀλάπαξα·
ζευξάμενος δ’ ἵππους ἅρματος οὐκ ἐπέβην·
πρήξας δ’ οὐκ ἔπρηξα, καὶ οὐκ ἐτέλεσσα τελέσσας,
δρήσας δ’ οὐκ ἔδρησ’, ἤνυσα δ’ οὐκ ἀνύσας.
(Theognis, Eleg. 949-954)
Like a lion trusting in its might, I snatched a fawn from the doe with my claws, and did not drink its blood; I scaled the city’s high walls, and did not sack it; I yoked a team, and did not mount the chariot; I have done, and not done; completed, and not completed; performed, and not performed; accomplished, and not accomplished. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)