Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

( These selections from the most famous gnomic sayings of the great tragic writers of Greece - Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides — are chiefly from the fragments and not from their complete plays. The numbers of the fragments refer to the edition of Nauck. They are selected and translated by M. H. Morgan, Ph. D., of Harvard University.)

ÆSCHYLUS. 525–456 B. C.

I would far rather be ignorant than wise in the foreboding of evil.

Suppliants, 453. “ Honour thy father and thy mother” stands written among the three laws of most revered righteousness.?




Words are the physicians of a mind diseased.

Prometheus, 378. Time as he grows old teaches many lessons.

God's mouth knows not to utter falsehood, but he will perform each word.

Learning is ever in the freshness of its youth, even for the old.5

Agamemnon, 584. Few men have the natural strength to honour a friend's success without envy. ... I well know that mirror of friendship, shadow of a shade.



Exiles feed on hope.
Success is man's god.

Choephoræ, 59.

1 See Gray, page 382.
9. The three great laws ascribed to Triptolemus are referred to, – namely,
to honour parents ; to worship the gods with the fruits of the earth; to hurt
Do living creature. The first two laws are also ascribed to the centaur

8 Apt words have power to suage
The tumours of a troubl'd mind.

Milton: Samson Agonistes. * God is not a man that he should lie ; . . . hath he said, and shall he Dot do it? – Numbers xxiii. 19.

• See Shakespeare, page 64.

So in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
“ With our own feathers, not by others' hands,
Are we now smitten.” 1

Frag. 135 (trans. by Plumptre)
Of all the gods, Death only craves not gifts :
Nor sacrifice, nor yet drink-offering poured
Avails; no altars halh he, nor is soothed
By hymns of praise. From him alone of all
The powers of heaven Persuasion holds aloof.

Frag. 146 (trans. by Plumptre)
O Death the Healer, scorn thou not, I pray,
To come to me: of cureless ills thou art
The one physician. Pain lays not its touch
Upon a corpse.

Frag. 250 (trans. by Plumptre). A prosperous fool is a grievous burden.

Frag. 383. Bronze is the mirror of the form; wine, of the heart.

Frag. 384. It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.

Frag. 385.

SOPHOCLES. 496–406 B. C.

Think not that thy word and thine alone must be right.

Antigone, 706. Death is not the worst evil, but rather when we wish to die and cannot.

Electra, 2007. There is an ancient saying, famous among men, that thou shouldst not judge fully of a man's life before he dieth, whether it should be called blest or wretched.?

Trachinia, 1. In a just cause the weak o'ercome the strong. 8

Edipus Coloneus, 880, 1 See Waller, page 219. 2 The saying “Call no man happy before he dies” was ascribed 10 Solon Herodotus, i. 32.

8 See Marlowe, page 40.


A lie never lives to be old.

Acrisius. Fray. 59. Nobody loves life like an old man.

Frag. 63 A short saying oft contains much wisdom.

Aletes. Frag. 99. Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.

Hipponous. Frag. 280. It is better not to live at all than to live disgraced.

Peleus. Frag. 445. War loves to seek its victims in the young.

Scyrii. Frag. 507. If it were possible to heal sorrow by weeping and to raise the dead with tears, gold were less prized than grief.

Frag. 510. Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.

Phædra. Frag. 619. The truth is always the strongest argument. Frag. 737. The dice of Zeus fall ever luckily.

Frag. 809. Fortune is not on the side of the faint-hearted.

Frag. 842. No oath too binding for a lover.

Fray. 848 Thoughts are mightier than strength of hand.

Frag. 854. A wise player ought to accept his throws and score them, not bewail his luck.

Frag. 862. If I am Sophocles, I am not mad; and if I am mad, I

Vit. Anon. p. 64 (Plumptre's Trans.).

am not Sophocles.

EURIPIDES. 484-406 B. C. Old men's prayers for death are lying prayers, in which they abuse old age and long extent of life.

But when death draws near, not one is willing to die, and age no longer is a burden to them.

Alcestis. 669 1 See Shakespeare, page 133.

The gifts of a bad man bring no good with them.

Medea. 618


Moderation, the noblest gift of Heaven.

I know, indeed, the evil of that I purpose; but my inclination gets the better of my judgment."


There is in the worst of fortune the best of chances for a happy change.?

Iphigenia in Tauris. 721. Slowly but surely withal moveth, the might of the gods.

Bacchæ. 882.

Thou didst bring me forth for all the Greeks in common, not for thyself alone.

Iphigenia in Aulis. 1386. Slight not what's near through aiming at what's far.'

Rhesus. 482. The company of just and righteous men is better than wealth and a rich estate.

Ægeus. Frag. 7. A bad beginning makes a bad ending. Æolus. Frag. 32.

Time will explain it all. He is a talker, and needs no questioning before he speaks. Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.

Alexander. Frag. 44. The nobly born must nobly meet his fate.

Alcmene. Frag. 100. Woman is woman's natural ally. Alope. Frag. 109. Man's best possession is a sympathetic wife.

Antigone. Frag. 164. Ignorance of one's misfortunes is clear gain.

Antiope. Frag. 204

Frag. 38.

1 See Shakespeare, page 60. Also Garth, page 295. 2 The darkest hour is that before the dawn. — HAZLITT: English Proverbe 8 See Herbert, page 206. 4 See Heywood, page 15. 5 Noblesse oblige. - Bonn: Foreign Proverbs. 6 See Davenant, page 217.

[ocr errors]

Try first thyself, and after call in God;
For to the worker God himself lends aid.'

Hippolytus. Frag. 438. Second thoughts are ever wiser.

Frag. 436. Toil , says the proverb, is the sire of fame.

Licymnius. Frag. 4773 Cowards do not count in battle; they are there, but not in it.

Meleager. Frag. 523. A woman should be good for everything at home, but abroad good for nothing.

Frag. 525. Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too passes current all over the world.

(Edipus. Frag. 546. When good men die their goodness does not perish, But lives though they are gone. As for the bad, All that was theirs dies and is buried with them.

Temenidæ. Frag. 734, Every man is like the company he is wont to keep.

Phønix. Frag. 809. Who knows but life be that which men call death, And death what men call life? Phrixus. Frag. 830.

Whoso neglects learning in his youth, loses the past and is dead for the future.

Frag. 927. The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.

Frag. 970.

MIMNERMUS (TRAGEDIAN). We are all clever enough at envying a famous man while he is yet alive, and at praising him when he is dead.

Frag. 1. 1 See Herbert, page 206. 2 See Henry, page 283. 8 See Diogenes Laertius, page 766.

« AnteriorContinuar »