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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

Euripides Bilingual Anthology : BETTER STAY CHILDLESS

from Euripides' Medea, * Lines 1081-1115, * Translated by E.P.Coleridge, * Greek Fonts


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Page 2

The childless, because they have never proved whether children grow up to be a blessing or curse to men are removed from all share in many troubles; whilst those who have a sweet race of children growing up in their houses do wear away, as I perceive, their whole life through; first with the thought how they may train them up in virtue, next how they shall leave their sons the means to live; and after all this 'tis far from clear whether on good or bad children they bestow their toil. But one last crowning woe for every mortal man now will name; suppose that they have found sufficient means to live, and seen their children grow to man's estate and walk in virtue's path, still if fortune so befall, comes Death and bears the children's bodies off to Hades. Can it be any profit to the gods to heap upon us mortal men beside our other woes this further grief for children lost, a grief surpassing all?

οἱ μὲν ἄτεκνοι͵ δι΄ ἀπειροσύνην εἴθ΄ ἡδὺ βροτοῖς εἴτ΄ ἀνιαρὸν παῖδες τελέθουσ΄ οὐχὶ τυχόντες͵ πολλῶν μόχθων ἀπέχονται· οἷσι δὲ τέκνων ἔστιν ἐν οἴκοις γλυκερὸν βλάστημ΄͵ ἐσορῶ μελέτηι κατατρυχομένους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον͵ πρῶτον μὲν ὅπως θρέψουσι καλῶς βίοτόν θ΄ ὁπόθεν λείψουσι τέκνοις· ἔτι δ΄ ἐκ τούτων εἴτ΄ ἐπὶ φλαύροις εἴτ΄ ἐπὶ χρηστοῖς μοχθοῦσι͵ τόδ΄ ἐστὶν ἄδηλον. ἓν δὲ τὸ πάντων λοίσθιον ἤδη πᾶσιν κατερῶ θνητοῖσι κακόν· καὶ δὴ γὰρ ἅλις βίοτόν θ΄ ηὗρον σῶμά τ΄ ἐς ἥβην ἤλυθε τέκνων χρηστοί τ΄ ἐγένοντ΄· εἰ δὲ κυρήσαι δαίμων οὕτω͵ φροῦδος ἐς Ἅιδου θάνατος προφέρων σώματα τέκνων. πῶς οὖν λύει πρὸς τοῖς ἄλλοις τήνδ΄ ἔτι λύπην ἀνιαροτάτην παίδων ἕνεκεν θνητοῖσι θεοὺς ἐπιβάλλειν; 

Cf. HOMER : Achilles' Grief ||| PLATO : Studying Death ||| EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS : Τhe Christian way ||| IGNATIUS THEOPHORUS : Martyrdom ||| PETER DAMASCENE : What is true faith? 

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