Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ovid and Euripides: They've Done it Again


The weekend was spent buried deep in various texts, for various reasons; as I truffled through them I did come up with this:

'saepe pater dixit: 'studium quid inutile temptas?
Maeonides nullas ipse reliquit opes.'

Plus ├ža change
. It's from Ovid, Tristia (4.10), and its translation is as follows:

'Often my father said, 'Why are you hacking away at that pointless fad?
Homer himself didn't leave behind any money.'


It's Ovid's father, telling him off for wanting to be a poet. Ovid's brother, of course, is a sparky lawyer. (Maeonides is a name often used for Homer as he was thought to have been a native of Maeonia, or Lydia as it was otherwise called.)

It is so marvellous to hear the voice of the father roaring out across the centuries as his useless son potters about with ink and papyrus instead of swotting up on legal precedents. More proof, if any is needed, of the 'relevance' of classical studies...

Also, what could be more beautiful than this, from Euripides' Ajax?

'horo gar hemas ouden ontas allo plen
eidol' hosoiper zomen he kouphen skian'

Translated (poetically, in the Penguin translation) as

'Are we not all,
All living things, mere phantoms, shadows of nothing?'

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