Monday, January 21, 2013


That's Life

Greek Anthology 10.123 (Aesop, tr. W.R. Paton):
Life, how shall one escape thee without death; for thou hast a myriad ills and neither to fly from them nor to bear them is easy. Sweet are thy natural beauties, the earth, the sea, the stars, the orbs of the sun and moon. But all the rest is fear and pain, and if some good befall a man, an answering Nemesis succeeds it.

Πῶς τις ἄνευ θανάτου σε φύγοι, βίε; μυρία γάρ σευ
    λυγρά· καὶ οὔτε φυγεῖν εὐμαρὲς, οὔτε φέρειν.
ἡδέα μὲν γάρ σου τὰ φύσει καλά, γαῖα, θάλασσα,
    ἄστρα, σεληναίης κύκλα καὶ ἠελίου·
τἆλλα δὲ πάντα φόβοι τε καὶ ἄλγεα· κἤν τι πάθῃ τις
    ἐσθλόν, ἀμοιβαίην ἐκδέχεται Νέμεσιν.
James Boswell,The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (A.D. 1784, aetat. 75):
During his sleepless nights he amused himself by translating into Latin verse, from the Greek, many of the epigrams in the Anthologia. These translations, with some other poems by him in Latin, he gave to his friend Mr. Langton, who, having added a few notes, sold them to the booksellers for a small sum, to be given to some of Johnson's relations, which was accordingly done; and they are printed in the collection of his works.
Among Johnson's translations is the following (Greek Anthology 10.123):
Quae sine morte fuga est vitae, quam turba malorum
    Non vitanda gravem, non toleranda facit?
Dulcia dat natura quidem, mare, sidera, terras,
    Lunaque quas et sol itque reditque vias.
Terror inest aliis moerorque, et siquid habebis
    Forte boni, ultrices experiere vices.

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