Posts tagged ‘6th century bce’

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??- )

Friday, 5 April 2019

Skolion [Drinking Song] attributed to Hybrias the Cretan

I have great wealth: a spear and a sword
and a fine leather shield to protect my skin.
For with this I plough, with this I reap,
with this I trample the sweet wine from the vines,
with this I am called master of serfs.
Those who do not dare to have a spear and a sword
and a fine leather shield to protect their skin
all cower at my knee and prostrate themselves,
calling me master and great king.


Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 1927-1941 (translation in English)

By: Hybrias the Cretan (6th century BCE)

Translated by: Charles Burton Gulick (1868-1962)

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Tao Te Ching: 4 by Laozi (Lao Tzu)

Tao is empty—
Its use never exhausted.
The origin of all things.

It blunts sharp edges,
Unties knots,
Softens glare,
Becomes one with the dusty world.

Deeply subsistent—
I don’t know whose child it is.

It is older than the Ancestor.

From: Lao-Tzu, Addiss, Stephen and Lombardo, Stanley (transl.), Tao Te Ching, 2007, Shambhala: Boston and London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 6th century BCE (original); 2007 (translation)

By: Laozi (Lao Tzu) (601 BCE-c531 BCE)

Translated by: Stephen L. Addiss (1935- ) and Stanley F. Lombardo (1943- )

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Fragment 44: War by Heraclitus

War, as father
of all things, and king,
names few
to serve as gods,
and of the rest makes
these men slaves,
those free.

From: Heraclitus and Haxton, Brooks (transl.), Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus, 2001, Viking: New York, p. 44.

Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 2001 (translation in English)

By: Heraclitus (c535 BCE-c475 BCE)

Translated by: Brooks Haxton (1950- )

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The Grasshoppers by Stesichorus

Day after day, and year by year,
Chattering, chirping, far and near,
Some Grasshoppers a house surround
And din the owner with the sound.
These grasshoppers delight in trees
To chirp and chatter at their ease:
So quoth our friend, “You villain vermin!
This nuisance I’ll at once determine:
Your Trees I’ll fell, and then you may
In humbler quarters sing away!”

Hush, Locrians! or far and near
Dwellings and Trees may disappear;
Then Grasshoppers, ill-omen’d sound,
Shall sing to You,—and from the ground.

From: Stesichorus and Bromhead, Edward Ffrench (ed. and transl.), The Remains of Stesichorus, in an English Version, 1849,  p. 23.

Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 1849 (translation in English)

By: Stesichorus (c630 BCE-555 BCE)

Translated by: Edward Thomas Ffrench Bromhead (1789-1855)

Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Grapes are Sour by Aesop and interpreted by Jefferys Taylor

A monkey some charming ripe grapes once espied,
Which how to obtain, was the query;
For up to a trellis so high they were tied,
That he jump’d till he made himself weary.

So finding, at last, they were out of his power,
Said he, “Let them have them who will:
I see that they’re green, and don’t doubt that they’re sour,
And fruit that’s unripe makes me ill.”


Those will ne’er be believed by the world, it is plain,
Who pretend to despise what they cannot obtain.

From: Taylor, Jefferys, Æesop in Rhyme, with Some Originals, The Third Edition, 1828, Baldwin and Cradock: London, p. 20.

Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 1828 (interpretation in English)

By: Aesop (c620-564 BCE)

Interpreted by: Jefferys Taylor (1792-1853)

Monday, 5 March 2018

Keep Going, Monster by Hipponax

Keep going, monster, all the long way to Smyrna.
Pass through Lydia and past the tomb of Attales,
the grave of King of Gyges and the stele of Megastrys,
the funereal monument of Atys, and king of Attalyda,
and turn your belly toward the sinking sun.

Note by Translator: Attales: brother of Alyattes, King of Persia, whose tomb still exists. Megastrys: lover of Gyges. Atys: mythical lover of Kybeles. Attalyda: founder of the city of the same name. Text is corrupt and with many variations and interpretations.

From: Barnstone, Willis, Ancient Greek Lyrics, 2010, Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianapolis, p. 104.

Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 1962 (translation in English)

By: Hipponax (6th century BCE)

Translated by: Willis Barnstone (1927- )