Archive for March 6th, 2021

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Fragment 4: Justice and the City by Solon

Our city will never perish because of Zeus,
Or through the plans of the happy immortal gods—
For our guardian is great of spirit: the one born of a mighty father,
Pallas Athena holds her hands over us.
But the very citizens plot to destroy this great city,
being dragged off by wealth in their folly.
The leaders of the people think unjustly, and
in their arrogance prepare to receive great pains:
For they do not know how to restrain themselves from excess,
or how to temper their present feasting in peaceful harmony,
But rather grow wealthy as they are persuaded of unjust deeds;
not sparing possessions sacred or civic, they steal,
snatching away left and right—
Nor do they heed the seeds of the foundations of Justice
who, silently, knows what happens and what has been,
and comes, in time, always, avenging.

There comes a wound, unavoidable, presently, to every city,
which goes quickly into wretched slavery—
which awakens civil discord, and sleeping war—
which destroys the lovely youth of many—
for in meetings that are dear to the unjust
a well-beloved city is swiftly laid waste by her enemies.
These evils then run among the citizenry: many of the needy
go into a foreign land, sold,
and bound with unseemly fetters,
and bear by force the shameful labors of slavery.
Thus this common evil enters every house,
nor are the outer doors still willing to hold it out.
It leaps a high fence, and even if a man should flee into the corner
of his inner chamber, by all means, it finds him.
These things my heart urges me to teach the Athenians:
how unsound governance gives greatest evils to a city,
sound governance shows everything orderly and suitable,
and often binds fetters around the unjust,
and levels off the unequal, arrests surfeit, tempers blazing arrogance,
withers the blooming flowers of ruin,
straightens crooked judgments, makes prideful deeds
to be mild, arrests the works of dissension,
stops the bile of torturous strife, and so it is that through it
everything concerning humans is made wise and harmonious.


Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 2019 (translation in English)

By: Solon (c630 BCE-c560 BCE)

Translated by: Joshua Anthony (19??- )