Archilochus 7

Archilochus on endurance

by Archilochus

Around the middle of the seventh century BCE, the warrior-poet Archilochus offers comfort and tough love to those mourning his drowned brother-in-law. The metre – elegiac couplets – is more or less exactly the same as that used more than six hundred years later by Roman poets such as Ovid and Propertius.

See the illustrated blog post here.

Read more about Archilochus on his poet page here.

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κήδεα μὲν στονόεντα, Περίκλεες, οὔτε τις ἀστῶν
μεμφόμενος θαλίῃς τέρψεται οὔτε πόλις:
τοίους γὰρ κατὰ κῦμα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης
ἔκλυσεν, οἰδαλέους δ᾽ ἀμφ᾽ ὀδύνῃς ἔχομεν
πνεύμονας: ἀλλὰ θεοὶ γὰρ ἀνηκέστοισι κακοῖσιν,
ὦ φίλ᾽, ἐπὶ κρατερὴν τλημοσύνην ἔθεσαν
φάρμακον: ἄλλοτε δ᾽ ἄλλον ἔχει τάδε: νῦν μὲν ἐς ἡμέας
ἐτράπεθ᾽, αἱματόεν δ᾽ ἕλκος ἀναστένομεν,
ἐξαῦτις δ᾽ ἑτέρους ἐπαμείψεται: ἀλλὰ τάχιστα
τλῆτε γυναικεῖον πένθος ἀπωσάμενοι

Plainly, Perikles, no citizen, nor any city, who is still railing at the agonies of bereavement will take pleasure at the feast: for such were the men that the wave of the changing, raging sea has brought down and undone, our breath is choked with the pain. But when troubles are incurable, my friend, the remedy the Gods have put in the cup is endurance. Troubles take hold of different people at different times: now they have come our way and we are grieving for a bloody blow, but they will turn once more to others. As quick as you can, all of you, thrust away unmanly grief, and endure.


More Poems by Archilochus

  1. Archilochus, a soldier-poet