Archive for October 10th, 2017

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Life to be Enjoyed by Bion of Smyrna

If sweet my songs, or these sufficient be
Which I have sung to give renown to me,
I know not: but it misbeseems to strain
At things we have not learned, and toil in vain.
If sweet these songs are not, what profit more
Have I to labour at them o’er and o’er?
If Saturn’s son, and changeful Fate, assigned
A double life-time to our mortal kind,
That one in joys and one in woes be past,
Who had his woes first would have joys at last.
But since Heaven wills one life to man should fall,
And this is very brief — too brief for all
We think to do, why should we fret and moil,
And vex ourselves with never-ending toil?
To what end waste we life, exhaust our health
On gainful arts and sigh for greater wealth?
We surely all forget our mortal state —
How brief the life allotted us by Fate!

From: Chapman, M. J. (transl.), The Greek Pastoral Poets, Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus. Done into English, 1836, James Fraser: London, pp. 273-274.
(https://archive.org/details/greekpastoralpo00biongoog)

Date: c100 BCE (original in Greek); 1836 (translation in English)

By: Bion of Smyrna (fl. c100 BCE)

Translated by: Matthew James Chapman (1796-1865)