Last modified on 9 April 2014, at 13:36

Pindar

War is sweet to those who have no experience of it.

Pindar (518 BC438 BC) was a Boeotian poet, counted as one of the nine lyric poets of Greece. The only works of his to have survived complete are a series of odes written to celebrate the victors in athletic games.

QuotesEdit

Days to come will prove the surest witness.
Unless otherwise stated the translations used here are by Richard Stoneman, and are taken from Pindar The Odes and Selected Fragments (London: Everyman Library, 1997)
If a man shall hope in aught he does
To escape the eyes of god, he makes an error.
Man is a dream about a shadow. But when some splendour falls upon him from God, a glory comes to him and his life is sweet.
  • οὔ τοι ἅπασα κερδίων
    φαίνοισα πρόσωπον ἀλάθει᾽ ἀτρεκής·
    καὶ τὸ σιγᾶν πολλάκις ἐστὶ σοφώτατον ἀνθρώπῳ νοῆσαι.
    • Here profits not
      To tell the whole truth with clear face unveiled.
      Often is man's best wisdom to be silent.
    • Nemean 5, line 16-8; page 222. (483 BC?)
  • ῥῆμα δ᾽ ἑργμάτων χρονιώτερον βιοτεύει
    • For words
      Live longer down the years than deeds.
    • Nemean 4, line 6; page 213. (473 BC?)
  • ἐπάμεροι: τί δέ τις;
    τί δ᾽ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ
    ἄνθρωπος. ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν αἴγλα διόσδοτος ἔλθῃ,
    λαμπρὸν φέγγος ἔπεστιν ἀνδρῶν καὶ μείλιχος αἰών
    • Creatures of a day! What is a man?
      What is he not? A dream of a shadow
      Is our mortal being.
      But when there comes to men
      A gleam of splendour given of Heaven,
      Then rests on them a light of glory
      And blesséd are their days.
    • Pythian 8, line 95-8; pages 162-3. (446 BC)
Cf. Man is a dream about a shadow.
But when some splendour falls upon him from God,
a glory comes to him and his life is sweet.
As quoted in No-one (1985) by R. S. Thomas; also in R.S. Thomas : Identity, Environment, and Deity (2003) by Christopher Morgan, p. 27
  • γλυκύ δ᾽ἀπείρῳ πόλεμος.
    πεπειραμένων δέ τις ταρβεῖ προσιόντα νιν καρδία περισσῶς.
    • War is sweet to those who have no experience of it,
      but the experienced man trembles exceedingly at heart on its approach.
    • Fragment 110; page 377.
    • Variant translations: This phrase is the origin of the Latin proverb "Dulce bellum inexpertis" which is sometimes misattributed to Desiderius Erasmus‎.
    • War is sweet to them that know it not.
    • War is sweet to those not acquainted with it
    • War is sweet to those who do not know it.
    • War is sweet to those that never have experienced it.
    • War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.
  • γένοι' οἷος ἐσσὶ μαθών
    • Become such as you are, having learned what that is
    • Pythian 2, line 72.
    • Variant translations:
    • Be what you know you are
    • Be true to thyself now that thou hast learnt what manner of man thou art
    • Having learned, become who you are
  • μή, φίλα ψυχά, βίον ἀθάνατον
    σπεῦδε, τὰν δ᾿ ἔμπρακτον ἄντλει μαχανάν.
    • Do not yearn, O my soul, for immortal life!
      Use to the utmost
      the skill that is yours.
    • Pythian 3, line 109-10.
    • Variant translation: Seek not, my soul, immortal life, but make the most of the resources that are within your reach.
  • A good deed hidden in silence dies.
    • Fragment 121; page 387
  • Time is the best preserver of righteous men.
    • Fragment 159; page 387
  • Law, the king of all mortals and immortals.
    • As quoted in Plato's Gorgias, 484b.

Olympian Odes (476 BC)Edit

  • Ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ ἅτε διαπρέπει
    νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου.
    • Best blessing of all is water, And gold like a fiery flame gleaming at night,
      Supreme amidst the pride of lordly wealth.
      • Olympian 1, line 1-2; page 1
    • Closer translation:
  • Best is water, but gold stands out blazing like fire
    at night beyond haughty wealth.
  • ἁμέραι δ᾽ ἐπίλοιποι
    μάρτυρες σοφώτατοι.
    • Days to come will prove the surest witness.
      • Olympian 1, line 33-4; page 4
  • εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί τι λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει.
    • But if a man shall hope in aught he does
      To escape the eyes of god, he makes an error.
      • Olympian 1, line 63; page 6
  • σοφὸς ὁ πολλὰ εἰδὼς φυᾷ.
    • Whoever knows many things
      By nature is a poet.
      • Olympian 2, line 87; page 16; the Greek simply says:
        "wise is one who knows much by nature," but σοφός is Pindar's usual word for poet.
    • Variant translations:

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