Pindar

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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.

Quotes[edit]

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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