Archive for February 6th, 2018

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Pandora: Lines 102-175 from “Works and Days” by Hesiod

Thus spake and laugh’d of Gods and Men the Sire,
And straight enjoin’d the famous God of Fire
To mingle, instantly, with water earth;
The voice and vigour of a human birth
Imposing in it, and so fair a face
As match’d th’ Immortal Goddesses in grace,
Her form presenting a most lovely maid.
Then on Minerva his command he laid
To make her work, and wield the witty loom.
And, for her beauty, such as might become
The golden Venus, he commanded her
Upon her brows and countenance to confer
Her own bewitchings; stuffing all her breast
With wild desires incapable of rest,
And cares that feed to all satiety
All human lineaments. The crafty Spy
And Messenger of Godheads, Mercury,
He charg’d t’ inform her with a dogged mind,
And thievish manners. All as he design’d
Was put in act. A creature straight had frame
Like to a virgin, mild and full of shame;
Which Jove’s suggestion made the Both-foot-lame
Form so deceitfully, and all of earth
To forge the living matter of her birth.
Grey-eyed Minerva put her girdle on,
And show’d how loose parts, well composed, shone.
The deified Graces, and the Dame that sets
Sweet words in chief form, golden carquenets
Embrac’d her neck withal. The fair-hair’d Hours
Her gracious temples crown’ d with fresh spring-flowers.
But of all these, employ’ d in several place,
Pallas gave order the impulsive grace.
Her bosom Hermes, the great God of spies,
With subtle fashions fill’d, fair words, and lies;
Jove prompting still. But all the voice she us’d
The vocal herald of the Gods infus’d,
And call’d her name Pandora, since on her
The Gods did all their several gifts confer;
Who made her such, in every moving strain,
To he the bane of curious-minded men.

Her harmful and inevitable frame
At all parts perfect, Jove dismiss’d the Dame
To Epimetheus, in his herald’s guide,
With all the Gods’ plagues in a box beside.
Nor Epimetheus kept one word in store
Of what Prometheus had advised before,
Which was: That Jove should fasten on his hand
No gift at all, but he his wile withstand,
And back return it, lest with instant ill
To mortal men he all the world did fill.
But he first took the gift, and after griev’d.
For first the families of mortals:
Without and free from ill: harsh labour then,
Nor sickness, hasting timeless age on men,
Their hard and wretched tasks impos’d on them
For manv years; but now a violent stream
Of all afflictions in an instant came,
And quench’d life’s light that shin’d before in flame.
For when the woman the unwieldy lid
Had once discover’d, all the miseries hid
In that curs’d cabinet dispers’d and flew
About the world; joys pined, and sorrows grew.
Hope only rested in the box’s brim,
And took not wing from thence. Jove prompted him
That ow’d the cabinet to clap it close
Before she parted; but unnumber’d woes
Besides encount’red men in all their ways;
Full were all shores of them, and full all seas.
Diseases, day and night, with natural wings
And silent entries stole on men their stings;
The great in counsels, Jove, their voices reft,
That not the truest might avoid their theft,
Nor any ‘scape the ill, in any kind,
Resolv’d at first in his almighty mind.

From: Chapman, George (transl.) and Hooper, Richard (ed.), Homer’s Batrachomyomachia, Hymns and Epigrams. Hesiod’s Works and Days. Musæus’ Hero and Leander. Juvenal’s Fifth Satire, 1858, John Russell Smith: London, pp. 153-157.
(https://archive.org/details/homersbatrachomy00chap

Date: c700 BCE (original in Greek); 1618 (translation in English)

By: Hesiod (c750 BCE-c650 BCE)

Translated by: George Chapman (c1559-1634)