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I in the place of fire will give thee a bane, so that all men

May in spirit exult, and find in their misery comfort!"

Speaking thus, loud laughed he, the father of gods and
of mortals.

Then he commanded Hephaistos, the cunning artificer,

Mixing water and earth, with speech and force to endow it,

Making it like in face to the gods whose life is eternal.

Virginal, winning and fair, was the shape, and he ordered

Skillful devices to teach her, the beautiful works of the

Then did he bid Aphrodite, the golden, endow her with

Eager desire, and passion that wasteth the bodies of mor-

Hermes, guider of men,the destroyer of Argus, he ordered.

Lastly, a shameless mind to accord her, and treacherous
So did bespeak. They obeyed lord Zeus, who is off-
spring of Kronos.

Straightway out of the earth the renowned Artificer

One like a shamefaced maid, at the will of the Ruler of

Girdle and ornament added the bright-eyed goddess

Over her body the Graces divine, and noble Perauasion,
Hung their golden chains, and the Hours, with beautiful

Wove her garlands of flowers, that bloom in the season of


46 Ideals in Greek Literature

All her adornment Pallas Athene fitted upon her;

Into her bosom Hermes the guide, the destroyer of Argus,

Falsehood, treacherous thoughts, and a thievish nature

imparted —
Such was the will of Zeus, who heavily thunders; and

Hermes, herald of gods, endowed her with speech, and

the woman
Named Pandora, because all gods who dwell in Olympus
Gave to her gifts that would make her a fatal bane unto


When now Zeus had finished the snare so deadly and

Famous Argus-slayer, the herald of gods, he commanded.
Leading her thence, as a gift to bestow her upon Epi-

He, then, failed to remember Prometheus had bidden him

Gifts to accept from Olympian Zeus, but still to return

Straightway, lest some evil befall thereby unto mortals.
So he received her — and then, when the evil befell, he

Till that time, upon earth were dwelling the races of

Free and secure from trouble, and free from wearisome

Safe from painful diseases, that bring mankind to destruc-
(Since full swiftly in misery age unto mortals approacheth.)
Now with her hands Pandora the great lid raised from the

Letting them loose; and grievous the evil for men she

Only Hope was left, in the dwelling securely imprisoned.
Since she under the edge of the cover had lingered, and

flew not
Forth; too soon Pandora had fastened the lid of the vessel.

Hesiod's Works and Days 47

Such was the will of Zeus, cloudgatherer, lord of the gegis.
Numberless evils beside to the haunts of men had departed;
Full is the earth of ills, and full no less are the waters.
Freely diseases among mankind, by day and in darkness.
Hither and thither may pass, and bring much woe upon

mortals, —
Voiceless, since of speech high-counselling Zeus has

bereft them.

Rustic Maxims

From ^'Works and Days^^

Never a man hath won him a nobler prize than a woman,
If she be good ; but again, there is naught else worse than
a bad one.

But do thou store these matters away in thy memory,

Let not contention, the lover of mischief, withhold thee

from labor.
While in the market-place thou art hearkening, eager for


Once we our heritage shared already. Cajoling the

rulers, —
Men who were greedy for bribes, and were willing to

grant you the judgment —
You then plundered and carried away far more than your

Fools were they, unaware how the whole by a half is

exceeded :
Little they know how great is the blessing with mallow

and lentils.

Truly the gods keep hid from mortals the means of sub-
sistence ;

Else in a single day thou mightst well win from thy labor

What would suffice for a year, although thou idle remain-

Ended then were the labors of toilsome mules and of oxen.

4B Ideals in Greek Literature

Evil he worketh himself who worketh ill to another.

But remembering still my injunction,
Work, O Perses, sprung from the gods, that Famine may

Hate you, and dear may you be to Demeter of beautiful

garlands —
Awesome one — and still may she fill thy gamers with


Work is no disgrace; but the shame is, not to be working:
If you but work, then he who works not will envy you

Seeing your wealth increase ; with wealth come honor and


Summon the man who loves thee to banquet ; thy enemy

bid not.
Summon him most of all who dwells most closely beside

Since if all that is strange or evil chance to befall thee,
Neighbors come ungirt, but kinsmen wait to be girded.

Take your fill when the cask is broached, and when it is

Midway spare; at the lees it is not worth while to be


Call — with a smile — for a witness, although 'tis your
brother you deal with.

Get thee a dwelling first, and a woman, and ox for the

Buy thou a woman, not wed her, that she may follow the


This shall remedy be, if thou art belated in ploughing:
When in the leaves of the oak is heard the voice of the

First, that across the unbounded earth brings pleasure to


Hesiod*s Works and Days 49

Three days long let Zeus pour down his rains without

So that the ox-hoof's print it fills, yet not overflows it.
Then may the ploughman belated be equal with him who

was timely.

Pass by the seat at the forge, and the well-warmed tavern,

in winter.
This is the time when a man not slothful increases his


Shun thou seats in the shade, nor sleep till the dawn in the

When it is harvest time, and your skin is parched in the


Seek thou a homeless thrall, and a serving-maid who is

Praise thou a little vessel; bestow thou thy goods in a
large one.

Do not stow in the hollowed vessel the whole of thy sub-

Leave thou more behind, and carry the less for a cargo.

Hateful it is to meet with a loss on the watery billows;

Hateful too if, loading excessive weight on a wagon.

Thou shouldst crush thine axle, and so thy burden be

Keep thou due moderation; all things have a fitting occa-

(Closing Lines)

Different men praise different days: they are rare who do
know them.

Often a day may prove as a stepmother, oft as a mother:

Blessed and happy is he who, aware of all that concerns

Wisely works at his task, unblamed in the sight of

Judging the omens aright, and succeeds in avoiding trans-

50 Ideals in Greek Literature


The rather old-fashioned metrical versions of Hesiod's two
chief works by Elton, closer and more recent prose versions, and
copious notes, are all contained in a most useful volume of Bohn's
Classical Library. The metrical extracts here given appeared
first in the volume "Successors of Homer," where the present
writer's fullest treatment of Hesiod will be found.



Lyric poetry is probably the earliest form of literature.
In almost any race or clan, the war chant, marching
chorus, dirge, rhythmic prayer, song of victory, must be
needed, and created, long before any sustained epic
becomes possible. The "IHad" has allusions to such
earlier songs and singers. Yet we first hear of actual
Greek lyric poets, by name, from the seventh century B.C.
From 700 to 500 is especially the lyric epoch. Compara-
tively little has survived. In no field of Greek letters are
our losses so fatal, or so much to be deplored. A few
selections from this and later periods are given here,
especially those that touch more earnestly the chief chords
of life. A great part of the little lyrics collected in the
* 'Anthology" are anonymous, and most of them are also
post-classical in date; but they are often truly Greek in
grace and finish.

A Patriot Soldier

Verily glorious is it, and sweet, to contend with the foe-
Fighting for children and wife, in the defence of our
Holding the spear on high, and a stout heart under the
Throbbing, when at the first cometh the shock of the

— KallinoSf yoo B.C.


52 Ideals in Greek Literature

A Hero's Choice

How glorious fall the valiant, sword in hand,

In front of battle for their native land!

But oh! what ills await the wretch that yields,

A recreant outcast from his country's fields!

The mother whom he loves shall quit her home,

An aged father at his side shall roam;

His little ones shall weeping with him go.

And a young wife participate his woe;

While scorned and scowled upon by every face.

They pine for food, and beg from place to place.

Stain of his breed! dishonouring manhood's form.

All ills shall cleave to him, affliction's storm

Shall blind him wandering in the vale of years.

Till, lost to all but ignominious fears.

He shall not blush to leave a recreant's name.

And children hke himself, inured to shame.

But we will combat for our father's land.

And we will drain the lifeblood where we stand.

To save our children: — fight ye side by side.

And serried close, ye men of youthful pride.

Disdaining fear, and dreaming light the cost

Of life itself in glorious battle lost.

Leave not our sires to stem the unequal fight.

Whose limbs are nerved no more with buoyant might ;

Nor, lagging backward, let the younger breast

Permit the man of age (a sight unblest)

To welter in the combat's foremost thrust.

His hoary head dishevelled in the dust.

And venerable bosom bleeding bare.

But youth's fair form, though fallen, is ever fair.

And beautiful in death the boy appears.

The hero boy, that dies in blooming years:

In man's regret he lives, and woman's tears,*

More sacred than in life, and lovelier far,

For having perished in the front of war.

— Tyrtaeus, 6j^ B.C. Translated by Campbell.

Lyric Poetry 53

Crabbed Age and Youth
What's life or pleasure wanting Aphrodite?

When to the gold-haired goddess cold am I,
When love and love's soft gifts no more delight me,

Nor stolen dalliance, then I fain would die.
Ah! fair and lovely bloom the flowers of youth.

On men and maids they beautifully smile :
But soon comes doleful eld, who, void of ruth.

Indifferently afflicts the fair and vile;
Then cares wear out the heart; old eyes forlorn

Scarce reck the very sunshine to behold —
Unloved by youths, of every maid the scorn —

So hard a lot God lays upon the old.
— Mimnermus, 62 j B.C. Translated by J. A. SymondSj Sr.

A Soldier of Fortune
Gift of my own good spear is the wine and the bread well-
Leaning upon my lance quaff I Ismarian wine.
Bounden servant am I to Enyalios, ruler of battle :
Yea, and the Muses' gift glorious know I as well.

— Ar:hilochus, yth century B.C.

An Unconquerable Soul
Tossed on a sea of troubles, Soul, my Soul,
Thyself do thou control;
And to the weapons of advancing foes
A stubborn breast oppose;
Undaunted 'mid the hostile might
Of squadrons burning for the fight.
Thine be no boasting when the victor's crown
Wins thee deserved renown;
Thine no dejected sorrow, when defeat
Would urge a base retreat:
Rejoice in joyous things, nor overmuch
Let grief thy bosom touch
Midst evil, and still bear in mind
How changeful are the ways of humankind.

— Archilochus, translated by Wm. Hay.

54 Ideals in Greek Literature

"He Hath Put Down the Mighty"

All unto the Gods are subject: often out of wretchedness
Mortal men do they uplift who on the black earth prostrate

Often also overturning them that prosperously march,
Flat upon their faces lay them

A Womanly Retort

Something I fain would utter, yet am checked
By shame.

But if your wish were noble or virtuous.
If on your tongue naught ill had been quivering,
Then shame would not have closed your eyeHds,
Fitting the words you would utter fitly.

—Alcceus and Sappho, 600 B.C.


I have a child, a lovely one.

In beauty Hke the golden sun,

Or like sweet flowers that earliest bloom;

And Cleis is her name, for whom

I Lydia's treasures, were they mine,

Would glad resign.

— Sappho. Translated by Merivale.


Oh Hesperus ! Thou bringest all things home ;
All that the garish day hath scattered wide;
The sheep, the goat, back to the welcome fold;
Thou bring'st the child, too, to his mother's side.
— Sappho. Translated by Wm. H. Appleton.

Two Epitaphs for the Three Hundred Heroes
OF Thermopyl^

Go, tell the Spartans, thou that passest by.
That here obedient to their laws we die.
— Simonides, ^00 B.C. Translated by 7/

Lyric Poetry 55

Of those who at Thermopylae were slain,

Glorious the doom, and beautiful the lot;

Their tomb an altar; men from tears refrain

To honour them, and praise, but mourn them not.

Such sepulchre, nor drear decay

Nor all-destroying time shall waste; this right have they.

Within their grave the home-bred glory

Of Greece was laid: this witness gives

Leonidas the Spartan, in whose story

A wreath of famous virtue ever lives.

— Simonides, Translated by John Stirling.

Frailty of Man

Hard is it to become a good man truly.

Foursquare in heart and hands and feet,

Without a fault, complete.
Methought not duly

— Sage though he was — Pittacos' maxim ran:
"'Tis hard" quoth he, *'to be a noble man."
Only a god that prize may win.
Not wholly free is any one from sin,

For desperate disaster smites us still.
Each man is virtuous in his happy hours,

Evil in times of ill:
So most the mightiest men, dear to the heavenly powers.

— Simonides.

The Passing Hour

Take thy delight, my soul; another day
Another race shall see, and I be breathless clay.
Vain mortals, and unwise ! who mourn the hour
Of death, not that of youth's departing flower.
For all, whom once the earth hath covered o'er.
Go down to Erebus' unjoyous shore.
Delight no more to hear the lyre's soft sound.
Nor pass the jocund cups of Bacchus round.
So thou, my soul, shalt revel at thy will.
While light is yet my hand, my head untrembling still
— Theognisj 540 B.C. Translated by H. H. Milman.

56 Ideals in Greek Literature

The Best of Blessings

The best of gifts to mortal man is health;

The next the bloom of beauty's matchless flower;
The third is blameless and unfraudful wealth;

The fourth to waste with friends youth's joyful hour.

— Anonymous.

The Gifts of Peace

To mortal men peace giveth these good things:
Wealth and the flowers of honey-throated song;

The flame that springs
On carven altars from fat sheep and kine,

Slain to the gods in heaven; and, all day long,
Games for glad youths, and flutes, and wreaths, and

circling wine.
Then in the steely shield swart spiders weave

Their web and dusky woof:
Rust to the pointed spear and sword doth cleave;
The brazen trump sounds no alarms;

Nor is sleep harried from our eyes aloof.
But with sweet rest my bosom warms:
The streets are thronged with lovely men and young.
And hymns in praise of boys like flames to heaven are

— Bacchylides, 450 B.C. Translated by J. A. Symonds.

Lover's Bliss

Sweet in summer is snow for the thirsty drink; for the

After the winter is past, sweet is the garland of spring:
Sweetest of all when two underneath one mantle are

While by the twain at once told is the story of love.

— From the Anthology.

The miscellaneous collection of brief poems known as

Lyric Poetry 57

the Greek Anthology is evidently gathered from many
centuries of Hellenic song. So too the lighter verses
known as the Anacreontics were composed by various
later imitators of the real Anacreon, who sang of wine,
passion, and song in the sixth century B.C.

The Cicada

Happy insect! what can be

In happiness compared to thee.?

Fed with nourishment divine.

The dewy morning's gentle wine!

Nature waits upon thee still,

And thy verdant cup does fill;

'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread.

Nature's self's thy Ganymede.

Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing;

Happier than the happiest king!

All the fields which thou dost see,
; All the plants, belong to thee;

I All that summer hours produce,

; Fertile made with early juice.

Man for thee does sow and plow;

Farmer he, and landlord thou!
• Thou dost innocently joy;

Nor does thy luxury destroy;

The shepherd gladly heareth thee.

More harmonious than he.

Thee country hinds with gladness hear.

Prophet of the ripened year!

Thee Phoebus loves, and does inspire;

Phoebus is himself thy sire.
\ To thee, of all things upon Earth,

! Life's no longer than thy mirth.

i Happy insect, happy thou!

Dost neither age nor winter know;

But when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung

Thy fill, the flowery leaves among.

58 Ideals in Greek Literature

(Voluptuous, and wise withal,
Epicurean animal!)
Sated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir'st to endless rest.

— Cowley s translation.

Greek lyric culminated in Pindar, a Theban poet who
lived through the Persian wars. His chief contemporary
rivals were the two great poets born in the island of Keos,
Simonides and Bacchyhdes, uncle and nephew. All
three wrote, as a rule, not very brief personal lyrics, but
sustained poems for choral performance. From Simon-
ides we have only fragments, or short complete poems,
such as were quoted above. Of Pindar's work we pos-
sess one large section, those choral songs, namely, that
immortalize athletic victors in any of the four great
national contests, the most famous of all being the quad-
rennial Olympic games. All such strife for excellence
and victory was accounted especially pleasing to the gods.

Beside these eighty Pindaric odes, a happy discovery
in Egypt set, a few years ago, a score of Bacchylides'
chief poems. Curiously enough, of these also fourteen
are **Epinikia," songs for the triumph of athletes. Our
own athletic revival in recent years gives an especial inter-
est to this phase of Greek Hfe.

Pindar's most famous prelude runs:

As he that with a lavish hand a cup doth lift
Plashing with dew of grapes within,
And proffers it, a gift.
To him who newly with his child is wed:
A pledge from home to home 'tis sped.
All-golden, of his treasure the most choice,
Wherewith the banquet shall rejoice.
And honors so his kin, —

Lyric Poetry 59

Because the youth is made among his friends
Envied for marriage that such largess sends, —
So I the outpoured nectar which the Muses gave,
Sweet fruitage of the poet's soul, my lay,
Sending to them that bear the prize away.
Honor the heroes brave
Who at Olympia and Pytho win.

As to the dignity of his own task Pindar has no doubts.

His masterpiece, the first *' Olympian," ends with

these proud words to Hiero, the great lord of Syracuse:

Men in various paths are great:

By kings the crest supreme is won; look not beyond.

Be thine aloft to tread thy space of time.

Mine ever with the victors to commune.

Myself among Hellenes everywhere

For skill in song illustrious.

The occasion of all this proud and lofty utterance is
merely the victory of a saddle horse from Hiero's stables!

It would be doubly interesting if we could gather from
these poets a truthful picture of such national Greek con-
tests early in the glorious fifth century B.C. Each ode is
largely taken up, however, with praise of the victor's
ancestors or native city, and with a myth whose appli-
cation we can usually only surmise. We do gain, at least,
a lively general impression of the religious and patriotic
fervor, the enthusiastic eagerness for success, displayed
in these contests. Statues, gifts of money and other
treasures, political and social distinction in the home
city, were showered on the successful athlete. Yet the
poet seems not to doubt that his own song is the most
precious boon of all.

There is, however, no one of these songs for victors

6o Ideals in Greek Literature

which seems to make full and direct appeal to alien men.
We can more fully enjoy a poem evidently composed for
an Athenian audience, embodying one phase of that most
famous Attic tale, the Theseus-myth. In its own fashion,
or rather under true Hellenic forms, it seems to touch on
the fatherhood of the divinity, the certainty of answer to
the prayer of undoubting faith.

Athens is supposed, at the epoch here indicated, to be
helpless under the wrath of her overlord Minos of Crete,
and is compelled to send annual tribute of noble youths
and maidens, to be devoured by the monster Minotaur in
the famous labyrinth. Prince Theseus volunteers to share,
or avert, their doom. The intended victims are here de-
scribed as voyaging toward Crete on board the tyrant's
own ship, when a new lawless caprice seizes on him.
The courage of Prince Theseus on this occasion fore-
shadows his success in saving his comrades, and releasing
Athens from the hateful tribute.

The Youths, or Theseus
The vessel with the purple prow that bore
The steadfast Theseus and twice seven with him,
Beautiful youths and maids Ionian,
Was cutting Cretan waters; for the gusts
Of Boreas, sent by the illustrious
Athene of the warring aegis, ^ fell
On the far- shining sail. Then the dread boon
Of fair-crowned Cypris^ smote King Minos* heart.
His hand no more he from the maid withheld.
But touched her pale cheeks. Eriboia then
Upon Pandion's' gallant offspring called.

iThe divine shield borne by Pallas Athene in battle.
2 Aphrodite. Her dangerous gift is passionate love.
sPandion was an ancestor of Theseus.

Lyric Poetry 6 1

Theseus beheld it. Underneath his brow

Dark rolled his eye, his heart within was gnawed

By pain unbearable; and thus he spake:

''Son of high Zeus, no more a righteous heart

Thou rulest in thy breast! Hero, abstain

From violence. Whatever from the gods

On us resistless Destiny bestows.

And Justice in her balance weigheth out.

We will endure, when doom appointed comes;

But thou, restrain thy soul from lawless deeds.

Although of men the mightiest, and born

By Phoenix's fair-named daughter underneath

The crest of Ida, — and of Zeus begot:

Yet wealthy Pittheus' daughter's child am I,

She with Poseidon, the sea's lord, did wed,^

And dark-tressed Nereids gave her golden veil.

And therefore, warlord thou of Gnossian men,

I bid thee check thy grievous insolence.

May I behold no more the light divine

Of lovely dawn, if thou unwelcome hand

On one among our youthful band shalt lay.

Rather will we our strength of arm show forth.

— The issue the divinity shall judge."

So spake the hero, valiant with the spear.
At his audacious courage stood amazed
The sailors, wrath was in the heart of him
That wedded Helios' daughter.^ Then he planned
A strange device, and thus he spoke:

"O Zeus,
Omnipotent, my father, if in truth
White-armed Phoenissa bare me unto thee,
Send now from Heaven an undoubted sign.
Thy lightning fiery-maned! —

And if thee, too,
Unto Poseidon shaker of the world
Troezenian ^thra did indeed conceive,

1 Theseus, as son of Poseidon, claims to be of nearly equal birth with Minos,
the son of Zeus.

2 Minos had married Pasiphae, daughter of Helios the sungod.

62 Ideals in Greek Literature

Then cast thee boldly to thy father's halls,
And from the deep sea fetch this golden ring!
Thou'lt know if Kronos* son, the thunder's lord.
The monarch over all, hath heard my prayer."

That haughty prayer by Zeus supreme was heard,
And wondrous honor he to Minos gave.
Sending his child a signal clear to all.
He flashed the lightning; and his son beheld
The welcome marvel: toward the Heaven aloft
Both hands he raised, — and unto Theseus thus
The hero, steadfast in the combat, spake:
''Theseus, thou seest the undoubted sign
Of Zeus; and thou, to the deep- roaring sea
Betake thee, if thy father, Kronos' son
As well, accord thee honor more than all
That dwell on fertile earth."

Such were his words.
The Athenian's gallant heart was nowise quelled.
On the firm deck he took his stand, and plunged.
While eagerly the waters welcomed him.
Then melted was the son of Zeus in heart.
And bade them keep before the wind the ship
Fair- wrought.

The Fates devised another way.
Swift fared the vessel forward, and the blast
Of Boreas from behind her drove her on.
As seaward leaped the hero, terror fell
On all the band of young Athenians :
The tears were flowing from their tender eyes,
The while they waited for the heavy doom.

By dolphins, dwellers in the briny sea.
Great Theseus toward his knightly father's hall

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