Quotations by Sophocles


TECMESSA: Kindness gives birth to kindness.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax

Alt. trans.:
  • "For it is always kindness which breeds kindness." [tr. Garvie (1998), ll. 522-23]
  • "Kindness begets kindness." [tr. Golder & Pevear (1999), l. 584]
  • "'Tis kindness that still begets kindness." [tr. Jebb (1917), ll. 521-22]
  • "For kindness begets kindness evermore." [tr. Trevelyan (1919)]
Added on 8-Oct-20 | Last updated 8-Oct-20
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If you have done terrible things, you must endure terrible things; for thus the sacred light of injustice shines bright.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax, l. 11
Added on 22-Sep-08 | Last updated 22-Sep-08
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Hush! Check those words. Do not cure ill with ill and make your pain still heavier than it is.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax, l. 362
Added on 8-Sep-08 | Last updated 8-Sep-08
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A wise doctor does not mutter incantations over a sore that needs the knife.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax, l. 581.
Added on 24-Nov-08 | Last updated 24-Nov-08
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TECMESSA: Ignorant men
Don’t know what good they hold in their hands until
They’ve flung it away.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax, l. 964 [tr. Moore (1959)]

Alt trans.:
  • “Men of perverse opinion do not know / The excellence of what is in their hands, / Till some one dash it from them.” [George Young (1888)]
  • "Men of ill judgement oft ignore the good / That lies within their hands, till they have lost it."
  • "For those who are base in judgement do not know the good they hold in their hands until they cast it off."
Added on 2-Jun-08 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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No other touchstone can test the heart of a man,
The temper of his mind and spirit, till he be tried
In the practice of authority and rule.

[ἀμήχανον δὲ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἐκμαθεῖν
ψυχήν τε καὶ φρόνημα καὶ γνώμην, πρὶν ἂν
ἀρχαῖς τε καὶ νόμοισιν ἐντριβὴς φανῇ.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 175ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

There is no man whose soul and will and meaning
Stand forth as outward things for all to see,
'Till he has shown himself by practice versed
In ruling under law and making laws.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

But hard it is to learn
The mind of any mortal or the heart,
Till he be tried in chief authority.
Power shows the man.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Yet 'tis no easy matter to discern
The temper of a man, his mind and will,
Till he be proved by exercise of power.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Now, it is impossible to know fully any man's character, will, or judgment, until he has been proved by the test of rule and law-giving.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Never can man be known.
His mind, his will, his passion ne'er appear,
Till power and office call them forth.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

No man can be fully known, in soul and spirit and mind, until he hath been seen versed in rule and law-giving.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

I am aware, of course, that no Ruler can expect complete loyalty from his subjects until he has been tested in office.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

You cannot learn of any man the soul,
the mind, and the intent until he shows
his practice of the government and law.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

There is no art that teaches us to know
The temper, mind, or spirit of any man
Until he has been proved by government
And lawgiving.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Of course you cannot know a man completely,
his character, his principles, sense of judgment,
not till he's shown his colors, ruling the people,
making laws. Experience, there's the test.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 194ff]

No man has a mind that can be fully known,
In character or judgment, till he rules and makes law.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Now, there is no way to learn thoroughly the essence
of the whole man as well as his thought and judgment
until he has been seen engaged in ruling and making laws.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

It’s impossible
to really know a man, to know his soul,
his mind and will, before one witnesses
his skill in governing and making laws.
[tr. Johnston (2005), ll. 198-201]

It is impossible to really learn a man’s
mind, thought and opinion before he’s been initiated
into the offices and laws of the state.
[tr. @sentantiq (2020)]
Added on 30-Jun-08 | Last updated 21-Dec-20
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There is always someone ready to be lured to ruin by hope of gain.

[ἀλλ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἐλπίδων ἄνδρας τὸ κέρδος πολλάκις διώλεσεν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 221ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

  • "But backed by hope, lucre has ruined many." [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
  • "Yet hope of gain hath lured men to their ruin oftentimes." [tr. Storr (1859)]
  • "But hope of gain full oft ere now hath been the ruin of men." [tr. Campbell (1873)]
  • "Yet by just the hope of it, money has many times corrupted men." [tr. Jebb (1891)]
  • "Yet lucre hath oft ruined men through their hopes." [tr. Jebb (1917)]
  • "Yet money talks, and the wisest have sometimes been known to count a few coins too many." [tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]
  • "But often we have known men to be ruined by the hope of profit." [tr. Wyckoff (1954)]
  • "But love of gain has often lured a man to his destruction." [tr. Kitto (1962)]
  • "But all too often the mere hope of money has ruined many men." [tr. Fagles (1982)]
  • "But hope -- and bribery -- often have led men to destruction." [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
  • "But profit with its hopes often destroys men." [tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)] https://diotima-doctafemina.org/translations/greek/sophocles-antigone/#post-1273:~:text=But%20profit,with%20its%20hopes%20often%20destroys%20men.
  • "Yet there are men who the mere hope of winning has killed them." [tr. Theodoridis (2004)]
  • "And yet men have often been destroyed because they hoped to profit in some way." [tr. Johnston (2005)]
  • "But often profit has destroyed men through their hopes." [tr. Thomas (2005)]
  • "But the profit-motive has destroyed many people in their hope for gain." [tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
Added on 1-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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WATCHMAN:
Sir, I am here. I can’t say I am out of breath.
I have not exactly been “running on light feet.”
I halted many times along the road so I could think,
And I almost turned around and marched right back.
My mind kept talking to me. It said, “You poor guy,
Why are you going there? You’ll just get your ass kicked.”
Then it said, “Are you stopping again, you damn fool?
If Creon hears this from another man, he’ll give you hell.”
Well, I turned this idea up and down like that,
And I hurried along, real slow. Made a short trip long.

[Φύλαξ:
ἄναξ, ἐρῶ μὲν οὐχ ὅπως τάχους ὕπο
δύσπνους ἱκάνω κοῦφον ἐξάρας πόδα.
πολλὰς γὰρ ἔσχον φροντίδων ἐπιστάσεις,
ὁδοῖς κυκλῶν ἐμαυτὸν εἰς ἀναστροφήν:
ψυχὴ γὰρ ηὔδα πολλά μοι μυθουμένη:
τάλας, τί χωρεῖς οἷ μολὼν δώσεις δίκην;
τλήμων, μενεῖς αὖ; κεἰ τάδ᾽ εἴσεται Κρέων
ἄλλου παρ᾽ ἀνδρός; πῶς σὺ δῆτ᾽ οὐκ ἀλγύνει;
τοιαῦθ᾽ ἑλίσσων ἤνυτον σχολῇ βραδύς.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 223ff (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

SENTINEL:
My liege, I cannot say that from very haste I come panting for breath, having stept out with nimble paces. Troth: I have had many half-way houses of cogitation, wheeling about after every fresh start as though I would return. In fact, my soul often addressed me with some such tale as this: Why goest, simpleton, where to be come is to be punished?" then again: "What! wilt not away, poor wretch? and if Kreon shall learn these tidings from some one else, how then wilt thou escape the penalty?" While thus my mind revolved, the speed I made was tardy in its swiftness: and so a short road is made long.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

GUARD:
My lord, I will not make pretense to pant
And puff as some light-footed messenger.
In sooth my soul beneath its pack of thought
Made many a halt and turned and turned again;
For conscience plied her spur and curb by turns.
"Why hurry headlong to thy fate, poor fool?"
She whispered. Then again, "If Creon learn
This from another, thou wilt rue it worse."
Thus leisurely I hastened on my road;
Much thought extends a furlong to a league.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

WATCHMAN:
My lord, I am out of breath, but not with speed.
I will not say my foot was fleet. My thoughts
Cried halt unto me ever as I came
And wheeled me to return. My mind discoursed
Most volubly within my breast, and said--
Fond wretch! why go where thou wilt find thy bane?
Unhappy wight! say, wilt thou bide aloof?
Then if the king shall hear this from another,
How shalt thou 'scape for 't? Winding thus about
I hasted, but I could not speed, and so
Made a long journey of a little way.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

GUARD:
My king, I will not say that I arrive breathless because of speed, or from the action of a swift foot. For often I brought myself to a stop because of my thoughts, and wheeled round in my path to return. My mind was telling me many things: “Fool, why do you go to where your arrival will mean your punishment?” “Idiot, are you dallying again? If Creon learns it from another, must you not suffer for it?” So debating, I made my way unhurriedly, slow, and thus a short road was made long.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

MESSENGER:
O King, I cannot boast that, hither sent,
I came with speed, for oft my troubled thoughts
Have driven me back; oft to myself I said,
Why dost thou seek destruction?
With doubts like these oppressed, slowly I came,
And the short way seemed like a tedious journey.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

GUARD:
My liege, I will not say that I come breathless from speed, or that I have plied a nimble foot; for often did my thoughts make me pause, and wheel round in my path, to return. My mind was holding large discourse with me; "Fool, why goest thou to thy certain doom?" "Wretch, tarrying again? And if Creon hears this from another, must not thou smart for it?" So debating, I went on my way with lagging steps, and thus a short road was made long.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

SENTRY:
I'll not say that I'm out of breath from running, King, because every time I stopped to think about what I have to tell you, I felt like going back. And all the time a voice kept saying, "You fool, don't you know you're walking straight into trouble?"; and then another voice: "Yes, but if you let somebody else get the news to Creon first, it will be even worse than that for you!"
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

SENTRY:
My lord: if I am out of breath, it is not from haste.
I have not been running. On the contrary, many a time
I stopped to think and loitered on the way,
Saying to myself “Why hurry to your doom,
Poor fool?” and then I said, “Hurry, you fool.
If Creon hears this from another man,
Your head’s as good as off.” So here I am,
As quick as my unwilling haste could bring me;
In no great hurry, in fact.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 183ff]

GUARD:
Lord, I can't claim that I am out of breath
from rushing here with light and hasty step,
for I had many haltings in my thought
making me double back upon my road.
My mind kept saying many things to me:
"Why go where you will surely pay the price?"
"Fool, are you halting? And if Creon learns
from someone else, how shall you not be hurt?"
Turning this over, on I dilly-dallied.
And so a short trip turns itself to long.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

GUARD:
My lord: I cannot say that I am come
All out of breath with running. More than once
I stopped and thought and turned round in my path
And started to go back. My mind had much
To say to me. One time it said "You fool!
Why do you go to certain punishment?"
Another time "What? Standing still, you wretch?
You'll smart for it, if Creon comes to hear
From someone else." And so I went along
Debating with myself, not swift nor sure.
This way, a short road soon becomes a long one.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

SENTRY:
My lord,
I can't say I'm winded from running, or set out
with any spring in my legs either -- no sir,
I was lost in thought, and it made me stop, often,
dead in my tracks, wheeling, turning back,
and all the time a voice inside me muttering,
"Idiot, why? You're going straight to your death."
Then muttering, "Stopped again, poor fool?
If somebody gets the news to Creon first,
what's to save your neck?" And so,
mulling it over, on I trudged, dragging my feet,
you can make a short road take forever ...
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 248ff]

WATCHMAN:
Lord, I cannot say that I arrive breathless
from quickly lifting nimble feet.
In fact, I stopped many times to think,
whirling around on the roads to turn back.
My spirit kept talking to me and saying:
“Poor fool, why are you going to a place where
you will pay the penalty when you arrive? Wretch, are you
dawdling along again? If Creon learns about this
from someone else, how then will you not feel pain?”
As I rolled around such thoughts, I was gradually and
slowly completing the journey, and so a short road
became a long one.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

GUARD: My King, I can’t really say that I’ve lost my breath by running my feet to the ground so as to get here as quickly as I could! No, I tarried. God knows I’ve stopped myself often enough, on the way here and I’ve almost turned back many times.

My soul, you see, was talking to me all the while and all the while it kept changing its mind: “poor man,” it would say one minute, “Why are you rushing to your suffering?” Or again, “Stupid man,” it would say, “why are you hanging about like this? What if the king hears it from someone else? What a mess you’d get yourself into then!”

Stuff like that was spinning about in my head and it made this small road so much longer!

[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

GUARD:
My lord, I can’t say I’ve come out of breath
by running here, making my feet move fast.
Many times I stopped to think things over --
and then I’d turn around, retrace my steps.
My mind was saying many things to me,
“You fool, why go to where you know for sure
your punishment awaits?” -- “And now, poor man,
why are you hesitating yet again?
If Creon finds this out from someone else,
how will you escape being hurt?” Such matters
kept my mind preoccupied. And so I went,
slowly and reluctantly, and thus made
a short road turn into a lengthy one.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 256ff]

GUARD:
My lord, I will not say that I come breathless
from rushing or quickly moving my feet,
for often my thoughts stopped me in my place,
and I'd wheel around on the road back where I came.
My heart kept talking to me, telling me,
"Poor fool, why are you going where you're sure
to be punished?" "Idiot, you stopping
again? If Creon hears it from someone else,
then you'll really pay for it!" Twisting like this
I made my way, the opposite of hate,
and thus a short road became a long one.
[tr. Thomas (2005), l. 226ff]

Added on 15-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Many wonders, many terrors,
But none more wonderful than the human race
Or more dangerous.
This creature travels on a winter gale
Across the silver sea,
Shadowed by high-surging waves,
While on Earth, grandest of the gods,
He grinds the deathless, tireless land away,
Turning and turning the plow
From year to year, behind driven horses.

[πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει.
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ᾽ οἴδμασιν.
θεῶν τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 332ff, Stasimon 1, Strophe 1 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Many the things that mighty be,
And nought is more might than -- MAN.
For he can cross the foaming ocean,
What time the stormy South is blowing,
Steering amid the mantling waves that roar around him.
And for his uses he wearieth
Earth, the highest Deity,
The immortal, the untiring one,
As year by year the ploughs are drawn
Up and down the furrow'd field,
To and fro his harness'd teams --
The seed of horses -- driving.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Many wonders there be, but naught more wondrous than man;
Over the surging sea, with a whitening south wind wan,
Through the foam of the firth, man makes his perilous way;
And the eldest of deities Earth that knows not toil nor decay
Ever he furrows and scores, as his team, year in year out,
With breed of the yoked horse, the ploughshare turneth about.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Many a wonder lives and moves, but the wonder of all is man,
That courseth over the grey ocean, carried of Southern gale,
Faring amidst high-swelling seas that rudely surge around,
And Earth, supreme of mighty Gods, eldest, imperishable,
Eternal, he with patient furrow wears and wears away
As year by year the plough-shares turn and turn, --
Subduing her unwearied strength with children of the steed.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man. This power spans the sea, even when it surges white before the gales of the south-wind, and makes a path under swells that threaten to engulf him. Earth, too, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, he wears away to his own ends, turning the soil with the offspring of horses as the plows weave to and fro year after year.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man; the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy south-wind, making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him; and Earth, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, doth he wear, turning the soil with the offspring of horses,as the ploughs go to and fro from year to year.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none
More wonderful than man; the stormgray sea
Yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his plows have gone
Year after year, the timeless labor of stallions.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

Wonders are many on earth, and the greatest of these
Is man, who rides the ocean and takes his way
Through the deeps, though wide-swept valleys of perilous seas
That surge and sway.
He is master of ageless Earth, to his own will bending
The immortal mother of gods by the sweat of his brow,
As year succeeds to year, with toil unending
Of mule and plough.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 279ff]

Many the wonders, but nothing walks stranger than man.
This thing crosses the sea in the winter's storm,
making his path through the roaring waves.
And she, the greatest of gods, the earth --
ageless she is, and unwearied -- he wars her away
as the ploughts go up and down from year to year
and his mules turn up the soil.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Wonders are many, yet of all
Things is Man the most wonderful.
He can sail on the stormy sea
Through tempest rage, and the loud
Waves roar around, as he makes his
Path amid the towering surge.
Earth inexhaustible, ageless, he wearies, as
Backwards and forwards, from season to season, his
Ox-team drives along the ploughshare.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Numberless wonders
terrible wonders walk the world but none the match for man --
that great wonder crossing the heaving gray sea,
driven on by the blasts of winter
on through breakers crashing left and right,
holds his steady course
and the oldest of the gods he wears away --
the Earth, the immortal, the inexhaustible --
as his plows go back and forth, year in, year out
with the breed of stallions turning up the furrows.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 376ff]

Many things cause terror and wonder, yet nothing
is more terrifying and wonderful than man.
This thing goes across the gray
sea on the blasts of winter
storms, passing beneath
waters towering ’round him. The Earth,
eldest of the gods,
unwithering and untiring, this thing wears down
as his plows go back and forth year after year
furrowing her with the issue of horses.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Wonders abound in this world yet no wonder is greater than man. None!
Through the wild white of a frenzied sea and through the screaming northerlies beneath him and through all the furious storms around him, through all this, man can pass!
And Gods’ most glorious Earth, the imperishable, untiring Earth, this man works with his horses and ploughs, year in, year out.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

There are many strange and wonderful things,
but nothing more strangely wonderful than man.
He moves across the white-capped ocean seas
blasted by winter storms, carving his way
under the surging waves engulfing him.
With his teams of horses he wears down
the unwearied and immortal earth,
the oldest of the gods, harassing her,
as year by year his ploughs move back and forth.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 388ff]

This world has many wonders, but nothing is more wondrous than humanity. It crosses even the grey sea with a stormy south wind, passing under churning waves in open water; and the oldest of the gods, immortal, inexhaustible Earth, it wears away. With ploughs it winds back and forth, year after year, turning up the soil with the offspring of horses.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

There are many wonders and none
is more surprising than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Added on 22-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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And speech he has learned, and thought
So swift, and the temper of mind
To dwell within cities, and not to lie bare
Amid the keen, biting frosts
Or cower beneath pelting rain;
Full of resource against all that comes to him
is Man. Against Death alone
He is left with no defence.

[καὶ φθέγμα καὶ ἀνεμόεν φρόνημα καὶ ἀστυνόμους
ὀργὰς ἐδιδάξατο καὶ δυσαύλων
πάγων ὑπαίθρεια καὶ δύσομβρα φεύγειν βέλη
παντοπόρος: ἄπορος ἐπ᾽ οὐδὲν ἔρχεται
τὸ μέλλον: Ἅιδα μόνον φεῦξιν οὐκ ἐπάξεται.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 354ff, Stasimon 1, Strophe 2 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Kitto (1962)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Language and lofty thought,
And dispositions meet for order'd cities,
These he hath taught himself; -- and how to shun
The shafts of comfortless winter, --
Both those which smite when the sky is clear,
And those which fall in showers; --
with plans for all things,
Planless in nothing, meets he the future!
Of death alone the avoidance
No foreign aid will bring.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Speech and the wind-swift speed of counsel and civic wit,
He hath learnt for himself all these; and the arrowy rain to fly
And the nipping airs that freeze, 'neath the open winter sky.
He hath provision for all: fell plague he hath learnt to endure;
Safe whate'er may befall: yet for death he hath found no cure.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise utterance and wind-swift thought, and city-moulding mind,
And shelter from the clear-eyed power of biting frost,
He hath taught him, and to shun the sharp, roof-penetrating rain, --
Full of resource, without device he meets no coming time;
From Death alone he shall not find reprieve;
No league may gain him that relief.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Speech and thought fast as the wind and the moods that give order to a city he has taught himself, and how to flee the arrows of the inhospitable frost under clear skies and the arrows of the storming rain. He has resource for everything. Lacking resource in nothing he strides towards what must come. From Death alone he shall procure no escape.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

And speech, and wind-swift thought, and all the moods that mould a state, hath he taught himself; and how to flee the arrows of the frost, when 'tis hard lodging under the clear sky, and the arrows of the rushing rain; yea, he hath resource for all; without resource he meets nothing that must come: only against Death shall he call for aid in vain.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Words also, and thought as rapid as air,
He fashions to his good use; statecraft is his,
And his the skill that deflects the arrows of snow,
The spears of winter rain: from every wind
He has made himself secure -- from all but one:
In the late wind of death he cannot stand.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

The use of language, the wind-swift motion of brain
He learnt; found out the laws of living together
In cities, building him shelter against the rain
And wintry weather.
There is nothing beyond his power. His subtlety
Meeteth all chance, all danger conquereth.
For every ill he hath found its remedy,
Save only death.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 295ff]

Language, and thought like the wind
and the feelings that make the town,
he has taught himself, and shelter against the cold,
refuge from rain. He can always help himself.
He faces no future helpless. There's only death
that he cannot find an escape from.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

And speech and thought, quick as the wind
and the mood and mind for law that rules the city --
all these he has taught himself
and shelter from the arrows of the frost
when there's rough lodging under the cold clear sky
and the shafts of lashing rain --
ready, resourceful man!
Never without resources
never an impasse as he marches on the future --
only Death, from Death alone he will find no rescue.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

Language and a mind swift as the wind
For making plans --
These he has taught himself --
And the character to live in cities under law.
He's learned to take cover from a frost
And escape sharp arrows of sleet.
He has the means to handle every need,
Never steps toward the future without the means.
Except for Death: He's got no relief from that.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Both language and thought swift as wind
and impulses that govern cities,
he has taught himself, as well as how
to escape the shafts of rain
while encamped beneath open skies.
All resourceful, he approaches no future thing
to come without resource. From Hades alone
he will not contrive escape.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And man has learnt speech and thought, swifter than the wind he mastered
And learnt to govern his cities well
And this omniscient being has learnt how to avoid the blasts of the wild open air: the arrows of the freezing night, the dreadful wind driven piercing gale!
He’s prepared for all events bar Death and from Death he can find no escape.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

He’s taught himself speech and wind-swift thought,
trained his feelings for communal civic life,
learning to escape the icy shafts of frost,
volleys of pelting rain in winter storms,
the harsh life lived under the open sky.
That’s man -- so resourceful in all he does.
There’s no event his skill cannot confront --
other than death -- that alone he cannot shun.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 405ff]

He taught himself language and wind-like thought and city-ruling urges, how to flee the slings of frost under winter's clear sky and the arrows of stormy rain, ever-resourceful. Against no possibility is he at a loss. For death alone he finds no aid.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

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Man the master, ingenious past all measure,
past all dreams the skills within his grasp —
   he forges on, now to destruction,
now again to greatness. When he weaves in
the laws of the land, and the justice of the gods
that bind his oaths together
   he and his city rise high —
      but the city casts out
that man who weds himself to inhumanity
thanks to reckless daring. Never share my hearth,
never think my thoughts, whoever does such things.

[σοφόν τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ᾽ ἔχων
τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει,
νόμους γεραίρων χθονὸς θεῶν τ᾽ ἔνορκον δίκαν,
370ὑψίπολις: ἄπολις ὅτῳ τὸ μὴ καλὸν
ξύνεστι τόλμας χάριν. μήτ᾽ ἐμοὶ παρέστιος
γένοιτο μήτ᾽ ἴσον φρονῶν ὃς τάδ᾽ ἔρδει.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 365ff, Stasimon 1, Antistrophe 2 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wise in his craft of art
Beyond the bounds of expectation,
The while to good he goes, the while to evil.
Honouring his country's laws and heaven's oathbound right,
High is he in the state!
But cityless is he with whom inherent baseness dwells;
When boldness dares so much,
No seat by me at festive hearth,
No seat by me in sect or party,
For him that sinneth!
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Passing the wildest flight thought are the cunning and skill,
That guide man now to the light, but now to counsels of ill.
If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State
Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate
Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart;
Ne'er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Inventive beyond wildest hope, endowed with boundless skill,
One while he moves toward evil, and one while toward good,
According as he loves his land and fears the Gods above.
Weaving the laws into his life and steadfast oath of Heaven,
High in the State he moves but outcast he,
Who hugs dishonour to his heart and follows paths of crime
Ne'er may he come beneath my roof, nor think like thoughts with me.v [tr. Campbell (1873)]

Possessing resourceful skill, a subtlety beyond expectation he moves now to evil, now to good. When he honors the laws of the land and the justice of the gods to which he is bound by oath, his city prospers. But banned from his city is he who, thanks to his rashness, couples with disgrace. Never may he share my home, never think my thoughts, who does these things!
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Cunning beyond fancy's dream is the fertile skill which brings him, now to evil, now to good. When he honours the laws of the land, and that justice which he hath sworn by the gods to uphold, proudly stands his city: no city hath he who, for his rashness, dwells with sin. Never may he share my hearth, never think my thoughts, who doth these things!
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

O clear intelligence, force beyond all measure!
O fate of man, working both good and evil!
When the laws are kept, how proudly his city stands!
When the laws are broken, what of his city then?
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth,
Never be it said that my thoughts are his thoughts.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 285ff]

O wondrous subtlety of man, that draws
To good or evil ways! Great honor is given
And power to him who upholdeth his country’s laws
And the justice of heaven.
But he that, too rashly daring, walks in sin
In solitary pride to his life’s end.
At door of mine shall never enter in
To call me friend.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

Clever beyond all dreams
the inventive crat that he has
which may drive him one time or another to well or ill.
When he honors the laws of the land and the gods' sworn right
high indeed is his city; but stateless is the man
who dares to dwell with dishonor. Not by my fire,
never to share my thoughts, who does these things.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Surpassing belief, the device and
Cunning that Man has attained,
And it bringeth him now to evil, now to good.
If he observe Law, and tread
The righteous path God ordained,
Honored is he; dishonored, the man whose reckless heart
Shall make him join hands with sin:
May I not think like him,
Nor may such an impious man
Dwell in my house.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

He has cunning contrivance,
Skill surpassing hope,
And so he slithers into wickedness sometimes,
Other times into doing good.
If he honors the law of the land
And the oath-bound justice of the gods,
Then his city shall stand high.
But no city for him if he turns shameless out of daring.
He will be no guest of mine,
He will never share my thoughts,
If he goes wrong.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Possessing a means of invention, a skillfulness beyond expectation,
now toward evil he moves, now toward good.
By integrating the laws of the earth
and justice under oath sworn to the gods,
he is lofty of city. Citiless is the man with whom ignobility
because of his daring dwells.
May he never reside at my hearth
or think like me,
whoever does such things.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And though his wisdom is great in discovery -- wisdom beyond all imaginings!
Yet one minute it turns to ill the next again to good.
But whoever honours the laws of his land and his sworn oaths to the gods, he’ll bring glory to his city.
The arrogant man, on the other hand, the man who strays from the righteous path is lost to his city. Let that man never stay under the same roof as me or even be acquainted by me!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The qualities of his inventive skills
bring arts beyond his dreams and lead him on,
sometimes to evil and sometimes to good.
If he treats his country’s laws with due respect
and honours justice by swearing on the gods,
he wins high honours in his city.
But when he grows bold and turns to evil,
then he has no city. A man like that --
let him not share my home or know my mind.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 415ff]

With clever creativity beyond expectation, he moves now to evil, now to good. The one who observes the laws of the land and justice, our compat with the gods, is honored in the city, but there is no city for one who participates in what is wrong for the sake of daring. Let him not share my hearth, nor let me share his ideas who had done these things.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

Added on 7-May-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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But if I am to die before my time, I count that a gain. When anyone lives as I do, surrounded by evils, how can he not carry off gain by dying?

[εἰ δὲ τοῦ χρόνου
πρόσθεν θανοῦμαι, κέρδος αὔτ᾽ ἐγὼ λέγω.
ὅστις γὰρ ἐν πολλοῖσιν ὡς ἐγὼ κακοῖς
ζῇ, πῶς ὅδ᾽ Οὐχὶ κατθανὼν κέρδος φέρει]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 460 ff [Antigone] (441 BC) [tr. Jebb (1891)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

But if I am to die before my time, I count that a gain: for when any one lives, as I do, compassed about with evils, can such an one find aught but gain in death?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

And if my time is shortened, this to me
Is gain indeed. For whoso lives, as I live,
Beset with many sorrows, how does he
Not win by dying?
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

If death
Is thereby hastened, I shall count it gain
For death is gain to him whose life, like mine,
Is full of misery.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

And now, if I fall
A little sooner, 'tis the thing I wish.
To thou, who live in misery like me,
Believe me, King, 'tis happiness to die.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

But if I die young, all the better:
People who live in misery like mine
Are better dead.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

I knew that my death was imminent, of course I did, and even if it came sooner, I would still think it a good thing because when one lives in such a dreadful misery why should he not think death to be a good thing?
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

And if I have to die
before my time, well, I count that a gain.
When someone has to live the way I do,
surrounded by so many evil things,
how can she fail to find a benefit
in death?
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 521ff]

If I die
before my time, I say it is a gain.
Who lives in sorrows many as are mine
how shall he not be glad to gain his death?
[tr. Wyckoff]

But if
I shall die before my time, I declare it a profit,
for whoever lives beset, as I do, by many things evil,
how does he not gain profit by dying?
[tr. Tyrrell/Bennett]
Added on 13-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-May-21
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For thee — if this my deed seems foolishness,
The fool has caught the foolish in her folly.

[σοὶ δ᾽ εἰ δοκῶ νῦν μῶρα δρῶσα τυγχάνειν,
σχεδόν τι μώρῳ μωρίαν ὀφλισκάνω.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 469ff [Antigone] (441 BC) [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

And if my present actions are foolish in your sight, it may be that it is a fool who accuses me of folly.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

And if in this thou judgest me a fool,
Methinks the judge of folly's not acquit.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

This to thee may seem
Madness and folly; if it be, 'tis fit
I should act thus; it but resembles thee.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

But you! You think
I've been a fool? It takes a fool to think that.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

If you think I’m a mindless woman then perhaps it's a mindless man who recognises a mindless woman.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

If you think what I’m doing now is stupid,
perhaps I’m being charged with foolishness
by someone who’s a fool.
[tr. Johnston (2005), ll. 531-33]

And if you think my acts are foolishness
the foolishness may be in a fool's eye.
[tr. Wyckoff]
Added on 19-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Oh, but I hate it more
when a traitor, caught red-handed,
tries to glorify his crimes.

[μισῶ γε μέντοι χὤταν ἐν κακοῖσί τις
ἁλοὺς ἔπειτα τοῦτο καλλύνειν θέλῃ.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 495ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 552ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Howbeit, to me it is no less abhorrent,
When, caught in criminality, the culprit
Seeks with fine words to beautify his deed.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

More hateful still the miscreant who seeks
When caught, to make a virtue of a crime.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

But not less hateful
Seems it to me, when one that hath been caught
In wickedness would give it a brave show.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

But, truly, I detest it, too, when one who has been caught in treachery then seeks to make the crime a glory.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

I cannot bear to see the guilty stand
Convicted of their crimes, and yet pretend
To gloss them o'er with specious names of virtue.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

But verily this, too, is hateful, -- when one who hath been caught in wickedness then seeks to make the crime a glory.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

But now much worse than this
Is brazen boasting of barefaced anarchy.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 390ff]

The criminal who being caught still tries.
To make a fair excuse , is damned indeed.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 414ff]

I hate it too when someone caught in crime
then wants to make it seem a lovely thing.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

But this is worst of all: to be convicted
And then to glorify the name as virtue.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

But how I hate it when she's caught in the act, And the criminal still glories in her crime. [tr. Woodruff (2001)]

I hate it when someone, caught in ugliness, afterwards wants to make it look pretty. [tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And there’s nothing I hate more than when someone is caught committing a crime and tries to hide it by embellishing it with sweet words.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

How I despise
a person caught committing evil acts
who then desires to glorify the crime.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 562ff]

I, for my part, hate anyone caught in the act who tries to beautify his crimes thereupon.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

I hate it when someone is caught in the midst of their evil deeds and tries to gloss over them.
[tr. @sentantiq (2020)]

Added on 18-Mar-21 | Last updated 18-Mar-21
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CREON: A foe, though dead, should as a foe be treated still.
ANTIGONE: My love shall go with them, but not my hate.

Κρέων: οὔτοι ποθ᾽ οὑχθρός, οὐδ᾽ ὅταν θάνῃ, φίλος.
Ἀντιγόνη: οὔτοι συνέχθειν, ἀλλὰ συμφιλεῖν ἔφυν.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 522ff (441 BC) [tr. Werner (1892)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

KREON: The foe is ne'er a friend -- not e'en in death.
ANTIGONE: My heart is love's co-mate, not hatred's partner.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

CREON: Not even death can make a foe a friend.
ANTIGONE: My nature is for mutual love, not hate.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

CREON: You do not love someone you have hated, not even after death.
ANTIGONE: It is not my nature to join in hate, but in love.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

CREON: A foe is never a friend -- not even in death.
ANTIGONE: 'Tis not my nature to join in hating, but in loving.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

CREON: An enemy is an enemy, even dead.
ANTIGONE: It is may nature to join in love, not hate.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

CREON: An enemy can't be a friend, even when dead.
ANTIGONE: My way is to share my love, not share my hate.
[tr. Watling (1947), ll. 441-42]

CREON: No enemy will become a friend in the Underworld.
ANTIGONE: I am for sharing love, not hatred.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

CREON: An enemy
can never be a friend, not even in death.
ANTIGONE: But my nature is to love. I cannot hate.
[tr. Johnston (2005), ll. 596-98]

CREON: An enemy is not a friend, even when dead.
ANTIGONE: I cannot share their hate, only their love.
[tr. Thomas]
Added on 12-Dec-20 | Last updated 9-May-21
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ISMENE: What? You will kill your own son’s bride?
CREON: Why not? There are other fields for him to plough.

[Ἰσμήνη: ἀλλὰ κτενεῖς νυμφεῖα τοῦ σαυτοῦ τέκνου;
Κρέων: ἀρώσιμοι γὰρ χἀτέρων εἰσὶν γύαι.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 568ff (441 BC) [tr. Jebb (1891)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

ISMENE: What! wilt though slay thine own son's bridal hopes!
KREON: The glebes of other women may be ploughed.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

ISMENE: What, wilt thou slay thy own son's plighted bride?
CREON: Aye, let him raise him seed from other fields.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

ISMENE: But your own son’s bride!
CREON: There are places enough for him to push his plow.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), c. l. 455]

ISMENE: But she is Haemon's bride -- and can you kill her?
CREON: Is she the only woman he can bed with?
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

ISMENE: But will you really kill the bride of your son?
CREON: There's other ground for him to plow, you know.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

ISMENE: Will you kill your son’s bride-to-be?
CREON: There is much more fertile land in the world for my son, Haemon.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

ISMENE: But will you kill your own son's promised bride?
CREON: Oh, there are other furrows for his plough.
[tr. Wyckoff]

ISMENE: You would kill the bride of your own son?
CREON: There are other fields just as fertile.
[tr. Thomas]

ISMENE: But in that case you will kill your own son’s nuptial rites?
CREON: Yes, the fields of others are fit for the plow.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett]
Added on 3-Dec-20 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Fine, Haemon.
That’s how you ought to feel within your heart,
subordinate to your father’s will in every way.
That’s what a man prays for: to produce good sons —
a household full of them, dutiful and attentive,
so they can pay his enemy back with interest
and match the respect their father shows his friend.
But the man who rears a brood of useless children,
what has he brought into the world, I ask you?
Nothing but trouble for himself, and mockery
from his enemies laughing in his face.

[οὕτω γάρ, ὦ παῖ, χρὴ διὰ στέρνων ἔχειν,
γνώμης πατρῴας πάντ᾽ ὄπισθεν ἑστάναι.
τούτου γὰρ οὕνεκ᾽ ἄνδρες εὔχονται γονὰς
κατηκόους φύσαντες ἐν δόμοις ἔχειν,
ὡς καὶ τὸν ἐχθρὸν ἀνταμύνωνται κακοῖς
καὶ τὸν φίλον τιμῶσιν ἐξ ἴσου πατρί.
ὅστις δ᾽ ἀνωφέλητα φιτύει τέκνα,
τί τόνδ᾽ ἂν εἴποις ἄλλο πλὴν αὑτῷ πόνους
φῦσαι, πολὺν δὲ τοῖσιν ἐχθροῖσιν γέλων]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 639 ff (Act 3) [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 712ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Well spoken: so right-minded sons should feel,
In all deferring to a father's will.
For 'tis the hope of parents they may rear
A brood of sons submissive, keen to avenge
Their father's wrongs, and count his friends their own.
But who begets unprofitable sons,
He verily breeds trouble for himself,
And for his foes much laughter.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

That, O my son! should be thy constant mind,
In all to bend thee to thy father's will.
Therefore men pray to have around their hearths
Obedient offspring, to requite their foes
With harm, and honour whom their father loves;
But he whose issue proves unprofitable,
Begets what else but sorrow to himself
And store of laughter to his enemies?
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Yes, my son, this is the spirit you should maintain in your heart -- to stand behind your father's will in all things. It is for this that men pray: to sire and raise in their homes children who are obedient, that they may requite their father's enemy with evil and honor his friend, just as their father does. But the man who begets unhelpful children -- what would you say that he has sown except miseries for himself and abundant exultation for his enemies?
[tr. Jebb (1891), l. 640ff]

Yea, this, my son, should be thy heart's fixed law, -- in all things to obey thy father's will. 'Tis for this that men pray to see dutiful children grow up around them in their homes, -- that such may requite their father's foe with evil, and honour, as their father doth, his friend. But he who begets unprofitable children -- what shall we say that he hath sown, but troubles for himself, and much triumph for his foes?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Good. That is the way to behave: subordinate
Everything else, my son, to your father’s will
This is what a man prays for, that he may get
Sons attentive and dutiful in his house,
Each one hating his father’s enemies,
Honoring his father’s friends. But if his sons
Fail him, if they turn out unprofitably,
What has he fathered but trouble for himself
And amusement for the malicious?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 503ff]

Rightly said.
Your father’s will should have your heart’s first place.
Only for this do fathers pray for sons
Obedient, loyal, ready to strike down
Their father’s foes, and love their father’s friends.
To be the father of unprofitable sons
Is to be the father of sorrows, a laughingstock
To all one’s enemies.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 540ff]

And that’s how it should always be, my son! Everything should give way to a father’s wish because that’s why a father hopes to have many children: so that they can inflict upon his enemies whatever hard punishment they can and treat his friends with the same honour as he does. Whereas the father who brings to the world worthless children, well, how would that be different to having brought about the birth of innumerable pains and cause for his enemies to ridicule him?
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

Indeed, my son,
that’s how your heart should always be resolved,
to stand behind your father’s judgment
on every issue. That’s what men pray for --
obedient children growing up at home
who will pay back their father’s enemies,
evil to them for evil done to him,
while honouring his friends as much as he does.
A man who fathers useless children --
what can one say of him except he’s bred
troubles for himself, and much to laugh at
for those who fight against him?
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 724ff]

There's a good boy. So should you hold at heart
and stand behind your father all the way.
It is for this men pray they may beget
households of dutiful obedient sons,
who share alike in punishing enemies,
and give due honor to their father's friends.
Whoever breeds a child that will not help
what has he sown but trouble for himself,
and for his enemies laughter full and free?
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Yes, you should always be disposed this way in your breast, boy,
to assume your post behind your father’s judgments
in all things. For this reason, men pray to beget
and have sons in their households who listen,
that they may both repay an enemy with evils
and honor the philos equally with the father.
Whoever produces useless children,
what could you say about him except that he begets
hardship for himself and great mockery for his enemies.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]
Added on 17-Dec-20 | Last updated 21-Dec-20
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I’ll have no dealings
With law-breakers, critics of the government:
Whoever is chosen to govern should be obeyed ––
Must be obeyed, in all things, great and small,
Just and unjust! O Haimon,
The man who knows how to obey, and that man only,
Knows how to give commands when the time comes.
You can depend on him, no matter how fast
The spears come: he’s a good soldier, he’ll stick it out.
Anarchy, anarchy! Show me a greater evil!
This is why cities tumble and the great houses rain down,
This is what scatters armies!
No, no: good lives are made so by discipline.
We keep the laws then, and the lawmakers.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 665ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 525ff]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

But whoso wantonly
Or strains the laws or sets about dictating
To those who rule, it is not possible
That such a one should ever earn my praise.
No! when a city constitutes a chief,
It well befitteth all men to obey
His great or small, just or unjust behests.
And I should confidently trust that he,
Whose law is such, would from fixed habitude
Both wisely rule and loyally obey.
he too, when posted in the battled line,
Amid the storm of fight, would keep his ground,
Brave and unswerving by his comrade's side.
There is no greater ill than disobedience.
'Tis this which ruins cities: this it is
Which works the downfall of a noble house.
And when, in battle, spear is locked with spear,
'Tis this again which breaks and routes the phalanx.
But when men keep the line, their discipline
For the most part ensures their safety. Thus,
It is our duty still to aid the laws.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

But he who overbears the laws, or thinks
To overrule his rulers, such as one
I never will allow. Whome'er the State
Appoints must be obeyed in everything,
But small and great, just and unjust alike.
I warrant such a one in either case
Would shine, as King or subject; such a man
Would in the storm of battle stand his ground,
A comrade leal and true; but Anarchy --
What evils are not wrought by Anarchy!
She ruins States, and overthrows the home,
She dissipates and routs the embattled host;
While discipline preserves the ordered ranks.
Therefore we must maintain authority.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

But he that wantonly defies the law,
Or thinks to dictate to authority,
Shall have no praise from me. What power soe'er
The city hath ordained, must be obeyed
In little things and great things, right or wrong.
The man who so obeys, I have good hope
Will govern and be governed as he ought,
And in the storm of battle at my side
Will stand a faithful and a trusty comrade.
But what more fatal than the lapse of rule?
This ruins cities, this lays houses waste,
This joins with the assault of war to break
Full numbered armies into hopeless rout;
And in the unbroken host 'tis nought but rule
That keeps those many bodies from defeat,
I must be zealous to defend the law.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

But if anyone oversteps and does violence to the laws, or thinks to dictate to those in power, such a one will never win praise from me. No, whomever the city may appoint, that man must be obeyed in matters small and great and in matters just and unjust. And I would feel confident that such a man would be a fine ruler no less than a good and willing subject, and that beneath a hail of spears he would stand his ground where posted, a loyal and brave comrade in the battle line. But there is no evil worse than disobedience. This destroys cities; this overturns homes; this breaks the ranks of allied spears into headlong rout. But the lives of men who prosper upright, of these obedience has saved the greatest part. Therefore we must defend those who respect order.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

But if any one transgresses, and does violence to the laws, or thinks to dictate to his rulers, such an on can win no praise from me. No, whomsoever the city may appoint, that man must be obeyed, in little things and great, in just things and unjust; and I should feel sure that one who thus obey would be a good ruler no less than a good subject, and in the storm of spears would stand his ground where he was set, loyal and dauntless at his comrade's side. But disobedience is the worst of evils. This it is that ruins cities; this makes homes desolate; by this, the ranks of allies are broken into headlong rout; but, of the lives whose course is fair, the greater part owes safety to obedience. Therefore we must support the cause of order.
[tr. Jebb (1917), l. 661ff]

To transgress
Or twist the law to one’s own pleasure, presume
To order where one should obey, is sinful,
And I will have none of it.
He whom the State appoints must be obeyed
To the smallest matter, be it right -- or wrong.
And he that rules his household, without a doubt,
Will make the wisest king, or, for that matter,
The staunchest subject. He will be the man
You can depend on in the storm of war,
The faithfullest comrade in the day of battle.
There is no more deadly peril than disobedience;
States are devoured by it, homes laid in ruins,
Armies defeated, victory turned to rout.
While simple obedience saves the lives of hundreds
Of honest folk. Therefore, I hold to the law,
And will never betray it.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 559ff]

But whoever steps out of line, violates the laws
or presumes to hand out orders to his superiors,
he'll win no praise from me. But that man
the city places in authority, his orders
must be obeyed, large and small,
right and wrong. Anarchy --
show me a greater crime in all the earth!
She, she destroys cities, rips up houses,
breaks the ranks of spearmen into headlong rout.
But the ones who last it out, the great mass of them
owe their lives to discipline. Therefore
we must defend the men who live by law.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 741ff]

So, if someone goes too far and breaks the law,
Or tries to tell his masters what to do,
He will have nothing but contempt from me.
But when a city takes a leader, you must obey,
Whether his commands are trivial, or right, or wrong.
But reject one man ruling another, and that's the worst.
Anarchy tears up a city, divides a home,
Defeats an alliance of spears.
But when people stay in line and obey,
Their lives and everything else are safe.
For this reason, order must be maintained.
[tr. Woodruff (2001), l. 662ff]

He who violates the laws of the gods and his city, or wants to command its leaders, will never gain my respect. We must obey those whom the city has ordained to be its leaders. We should obey them, unquestioningly, in all things, minor or great, those we agree with and those we oppose. I believe such a man would govern well and he’d also be an obedient servant; and he’d stay at his post even in the hurricane of war, honourably, bravely defending his country. There’s no worse evil than anarchy. Anarchy destroys nations, my son. Anarchy destroys homes. Anarchy turns the spears of allies into fleeing cowards. Those men left standing, the survivors, have been saved by discipline. That’s why each man must protect, with all his might, law and order.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

But anyone who’s proud
and violates our laws or thinks he’ll tell
our leaders what to do, a man like that
wins no praise from me. No. We must obey
whatever man the city puts in charge,
no matter what the issue -- great or small,
just or unjust. For there’s no greater evil
than a lack of leadership. That destroys
whole cities, turns households into ruins,
and in war makes soldiers break and run away.
When men succeed, what keeps their lives secure
in almost every case is their obedience.
That’s why they must support those in control.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 757ff ]
Added on 7-Jan-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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More quotes by Sophocles

And power must ne’er be yielded to a woman.
For if we must succumb, ’twere better far
To crouch before a man; and thus at least
No one could taunt us with a woman’s rule.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 679ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

And yield to title to a woman's will.
Better, if needs be, men should cast us out
Than hear it said, a woman proved his match.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

And not go down before a woman's will.
Else, if I fall, 'twere best a man should strike me;
Lest one should say, 'a woman worsted him.'
[tr. Storr (1859)]

And in no way can we let a woman defeat us. It is better to fall from power, if it is fated, by a man's hand, than that we be called weaker than women.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

We will not yield
To a weak woman; if we must submit,
At least we will be conquered by a man,
Nor by a female arm thus fall inglorious.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

In no wise suffer a woman to worst us. Better to fall from power, if we must, by a man's hand; then we should not be called weaker than a woman.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

And no woman shall seduce us. If we must lose,
Let's lose to a man, at least! Is a woman stronger than we?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 539-40]

... not let myself be beaten by a woman.
Better, if it must happen, that a man
should overset me.
I won't be called weaker than womankind.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

We must not be
Defeated by a woman. Better far
Be overthrown, if need be, by a man
Than to be called the victim of a woman.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Never let some woman triumph over us.
Better to fall from power, if fall we must,
at the hands of a man -- never be rated
inferior to a woman, never.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

And there must be no surrender to a woman.
No! If we call, better a man should take us down.
Never say that a woman bested us!
[tr. Woodruff (2001), l. 669 ff]

Defeat by a woman must never happen.
It is better, if it is bound to happen, to be expelled by a man.
We could not be called "defeated by women" -- could not.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002), l. 678ff]

Under no circumstances must he allow a woman to defeat him. It would be best -- if needs be -- to be defeated by a man, rather then allow it to be said that women have taken over.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

And never let some woman beat us down.
If we must fall from power, let that come
at some man's hand -- at least, we won't be called
inferior to any woman.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 770ff]
Added on 14-Jan-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Then, do not have one mind, and one alone
that only your opinion can be right.
Whoever thinks that he alone is wise,
his eloquence, his mind, above the rest,
come the unfolding, shows his emptiness.

[μή νυν ἓν ἦθος μοῦνον ἐν σαυτῷ φόρει,
ὡς φὴς σύ, κοὐδὲν ἄλλο, τοῦτ᾽ ὀρθῶς ἔχειν.
ὅστις γὰρ αὐτὸς ἢ φρονεῖν μόνος δοκεῖ,
ἢ γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἄλλος, ἢ ψυχὴν ἔχειν,
οὗτοι διαπτυχθέντες ὤφθησαν κενοί.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 705ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Wyckoff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Then cleave not solely to this principle --
Thy words, no other man's, are free from error.
For whoso thinks that he alone is wise,
That his discourse and reason are unmatched,
He, when unwrapt, displays his emptiness.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Therefore, my father, cling not to one mood,
And deem not thou art right, all others wrong.
For whoso thinks that wisdom dwells with him,
That he alone can speak or think aright,
Such oracles are empty breath when tried.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Do not, then, bear one mood only in yourself: do not think that your word and no other, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise -- that in speech or in mind he has no peer -- such a soul, when laid open, is always found empty.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Oh, do not, then, retain thy will
And still believe no sense but thine
Can judge aright; the man who proudly thinks
None but himself or eloquent or wise,
By time betrayed is branded for an idiot.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wear not, then, one mood only in thyself; think not that thy word, and thine alone, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise, -- that in speech, or in mind, he hath no peer, -- such a soul, when laid open, is ever found empty.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

I beg you, do not be unchangeable:
Do not believe that you alone can be right.
The man who thinks that,
The man who maintains that only he has the power
To reason correctly, the gift to speak, to soul ––
A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 564 ff]

Therefore I say,
Let not your first thought be your only thought.
Think if there cannot be some other way.
Surely, to think your own the only wisdom,
And yours the only word, the only will,
Betrays a shallow spirit, an empty heart.
[tr. Watling (1947), ll. 602 ff]

And now, don't always cling to the same anger,
Don't keep saying that this, and nothing else, is right.
If a man believes that he along has a sound mind,
And no one else can speak or think as well as he does,
Then, when people study him, they'll find an empty book.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

So, don’t be so single-minded. You said it yourself quite rightly: he who thinks that he’s the only one with a brain or a tongue or a soul, if you open him up you’ll find that he’s a hollow man.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

So don’t let your mind dwell on just one thought,
that what you say is right and nothing else.
A man who thinks that only he is wise,
that he can speak and think like no one else,
when such men are exposed, then all can see
their emptiness inside.
[tr. Johnston (2005), ll. 799 ff]

Do not wear one and only one frame of mind in yourself,
that what you say, and nothing else, is right.
Whoever imagines that he and he alone has sense
or has a tongue or an essence that no other has,
these men, when unfolded, are seen to be empty.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett]
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No,
it’s no disgrace for a man, even a wise man,
to learn many things and not to be too rigid.
You’ve seen trees by a raging winter torrent,
how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,
but not the stubborn — they’re ripped out, roots and all.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἄνδρα, κεἴ τις ᾖ σοφός, τὸ μανθάνειν
πόλλ᾽, αἰσχρὸν οὐδὲν καὶ τὸ μὴ τείνειν ἄγαν.
ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα
δένδρων ὑπείκει, κλῶνας ὡς ἐκσῴζεται,
τὰ δ᾽ ἀντιτείνοντ᾽ αὐτόπρεμν᾽ ἀπόλλυται.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 710ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 794ff]
    (Source)

Ancient Greek. Alternate translations:

But that a man, how wise soe'er, should learn
In many things and slack his stubborn will,
This is no derogation. When the streams
Are swollen by mountain-torrents, thou hast seen
That all the trees wich bend them to the flood
Preserve their branches from the angry current,
While those which stem it perish root and branch.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

The wisest man will let himself be swayed
By others' wisdom and relax in time.
See how the trees beside a stream in flood
Save, if they yield to force, each spray unharmed,
But by resisting perish root and branch.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

'Tis no disgrace even to the wise to learn
And lend an ear to reason. You may see
The plant that yields where torrent waters flow
Saves every little twig, when the stout tree
Is torn away and dies.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

No, even when a man is wise, it brings him no shame to learn many things, and not to be too rigid. You see how the trees that stand beside the torrential streams created by a winter storm yield to it and save their branches, while the stiff and rigid perish root and all?
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

True wisdom will be ever glad to learn,
And not too fond of power. Observe the trees,
That bend to wintry torrents, how their boughs
Unhurt remain; while those that brave the storm,
Uprooted torn, shall wither and decay.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

No, though a man be wise, 'tis no shame for him to learn many things, and to bend in season. Seest thou, beside the wintry torrent's course, how the trees that yield to it save every twig, while the stiff-necked perish root and branch?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

It is not reason never to yield to reason!
In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,
While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 570ff]

It is no weakness for the wisest man
To learn when he is wrong, know when to yield.
So, on the margin of a flooded river
Trees bending to the torrent live unbroken,
While those that strain against it are snapped off.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 608ff]

A man, though wise, should never be ashamed
of learning more, and must unbend his mind.
Have you not seen the trees beside the torrent,
the ones that bend them saving every leaf,
while the resistant perish root and branch?
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

There's no disgrace, even if one is wise,
In learning more, and knowing when to yield.
See how the trees that grow beside a torrent
Preserve their branches, if they bend; the others,
Those that resist, are torn out, root and branch.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

But a wise man can learn a lot and never be ashamed;
He knows he does not have to be rigid and close-hauled.
You've seen trees tossed by a torrent in a flash flood:
If they bend, they're saved, and every twig survives,
But if they stiffen up, they're washed out from the roots.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

But for a man, even if he is wise, to go on learning
many things and not to be drawn too taut is no shame.
You see how along streams swollen from winter floods
some trees yield and save their twigs,
but others resist and perish, root and branch.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

On the contrary, it is no shame for even a wise man to continue learning. Nor should a man be obstinate. One can see the trees on the heavy river-banks. Those that bend with the rushing current, survive, whereas those bent against it are torn, roots and all.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

For any man,
even if he’s wise, there’s nothing shameful
in learning many things, staying flexible.
You notice how in winter floods the trees
which bend before the storm preserve their twigs.
The ones who stand against it are destroyed,
root and branch.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 804ff]

No, it's no disgrace for a man, even a wise man, to learn many things and not to be too rigid. You see how, in the winter storms, the trees yield that save even their twigs, but those who oppose it are destroyed root and branch.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
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I think, for what my young opinion’s worth,
That good as it is to have infallible wisdom,
Since this is rarely found, the next best thing
Is to be willing to listen to wise advice.

[γνώμη γὰρ εἴ τις κἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ νεωτέρου
πρόσεστι, φήμ᾽ ἔγωγε πρεσβεύειν πολὺ
φῦναι τὸν ἄνδρα πάντ᾽ ἐπιστήμης πλέων:
εἰ δ᾽ οὖν, φιλεῖ γὰρ τοῦτο μὴ ταύτῃ ῥέπειν,
καὶ τῶν λεγόντων εὖ καλὸν τὸ μανθάνειν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 719ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

For, if grounded maxims
May find their utterance e'en in me your son,
I dare be bold to say 'tis better far
That understanding should be born in man:
But if this may not be: -- and, to say sooth,
The common scale inclines not thus, -- 'tis well
To learn from any one who reasons soundly.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

For, if one young in years may claim some sense,
I'll say 'tis best of all to be endowed
With absolute wisdom; but, if that's denied,
(And nature takes not readily that ply)
Next wise is he who lists to sage advice.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

If any judgement hath informed my youth,
I grant it noblest to be always wise,
But, -- for omniscience is denied to man --
Tis good to hearken to admonishment.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

For if even from me, a younger man, a worthy thought may be supplied, by far the best thing, I believe, would be for men to be all-wise by nature. Otherwise -- since most often it does not turn out that way -- it is good to learn in addition from those who advise you well.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

For if I, a younger man, may offer my thought, it were far best, I ween, that men should be all-wise by nature; but, otherwise -- and oft the scale inclines not so -- 'tis good also to learn from those who speak aright.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

I know I am young; but please let me say this: The ideal condition
Would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct;
But since we are all too likely to go astray,
The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 578ff]

Young as I am, if I may give advice,
I'd say it would be best if men were born
perfect in wisdom, but failing this
(which often fails) it can be no dishonor
to learn from others when they speak good sense.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

If one who is still young can speak with sense,
Then I would say that he does best who has
Most understanding; second best, the man
Who profits from the wisdom of another.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

I'm young, I know, but let me offer this:
it would be best by far, I admit,
if a man were born infallible, right by nature.
If not -- and things don't often go that way --
it's best to learn from those with good advice.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 805ff]

For if an opinion comes up from me, a younger person,
I say it is by far best that a man be born filled with
wisdom. If he is not, for the scale does not usually so incline,
to learn from those speaking competently is a noble thing.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

I’m younger, I know but I still might be able to judge what’s right and I say that it’s a good thing for a man to be born with all possible wisdom but still -- because it’s not such a common thing -- to be able to learn from others.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

For if I, as a younger man, may state
my views, I’d say it would be for the best
if men by nature understood all things --
if not, and that is usually the case,
when men speak well, it good to learn from them.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Even though I'm young, a good idea might come from me: It would be best by far that man be born full of all the knowledge there is, but, if it usually happens not to turn out that way, to learn from those who speak well is a good substitute.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

Added on 28-Jan-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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CHORUS: It won’t do you any harm, my Lord, to listen to him and see if what he says is wise. And you, too Haemon. Because both of you spoke well.
CREON: At our age? Should we allow a young little rooster to teach us wisdom?
HAEMON: Justice only. Young or old, one does not look at years but deeds.

Χορός: ἄναξ, σέ τ᾽ εἰκός, εἴ τι καίριον λέγει,
μαθεῖν, σέ τ᾽ αὖ τοῦδ᾽: εὖ γὰρ εἴρηται διπλῇ.
Κρέων: οἱ τηλικοίδε καὶ διδαξόμεσθα δὴ
φρονεῖν ὑπ᾽ ἀνδρὸς τηλικοῦδε τὴν φύσιν;
Αἵμων: μηδὲν τὸ μὴ δίκαιον: εἰ δ᾽ ἐγὼ νέος,
οὐ τὸν χρόνον χρὴ μᾶλλον ἢ τἄργα σκοπεῖν.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 724ff (441 BC) [tr. Theodoridis (2004)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

CHORUS: Sire, thou shouldst learn where he has hit the mark:
Thou too from him: for both have spoken well.
KREON: And shall we, in our riper age, receive
Lessons in prudence from his youthful mind?
HÆMON: Is nought but what is just. If I am young,
'Tis meet to scan my purpose, not my years.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

CHORUS: If he says aught in season, heed him, King.
Heed thou thy sire too; both have spoken well.
CREON: What, would you have us at our age be schooled,
Lessoned in prudence by a beardless boy?
HAEMON: I plead for justice, father, nothing more.
Weigh me upon my merit, not my years.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

CHORUS: My lord, 'twere wise, if thou wouldst learn of him
In reason; and thou, Haemon, from thy sire!
Truth lies between you.
CREON: Shall our age, forsooth,
Be taught discretion by a peevish boy?
HAEMON: Only in what is right. Respects of time
Must be outbalanced by the actual need.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

CHORUS: My king, it is right, if he speaks something appropriate, that you should learn from him and that you, in turn, Haemon, should learn from your father. On both sides there have been wise words.
CREON: Men of my age -- are we, then, to be schooled in wisdom by men of his?
HAEMON: Not in anything that is not right. But if I am young, you should look to my conduct, not to my years.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

CHORUS: O King! if right the youth advise, 'tis fit
That thou shouldst listen to hi: so to thee
Should he attend, as best may profit both.
CREON: And have we lived so long, then, to be taught,
At last, our duty by a boy like thee?
HÆMON: Young though I am, I still may judge aright;
Wisdom in action lies and not in years.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

CHORUS: Sire, 'tis meet that thou shouldest profit by his words, if he speaks aught in season, and thou, Haemon, by thy father's; for on both parts there hath been wise speech.
CREON: Men of my age -- are we indeed to be schooled, then, by men of his?
HAEMON: In nothing that is not right; but if I am young, thou shouldest look to my merits, not to my years.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

CHORAGOS: You will do well to listen to him, King,
If what he says is sensible. And you, Haimon,
Must listen to your father. -- Both speak well.
CREON: You consider it right for a man of my years and experience
To go to school to a boy?
HAIMON: It is not right
If I am wrong. But if I am young, and right,
What does my age matter?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

CHORUS: There is something to be said, my lord, for this point of view,
And for yours as well; there is so much to be said on both sides.
CREON: Indeed! Am I to take lessons at my time of life
From a fellow of his age?
HAEMON: No lesson you need to be ashamed of.
It isn’t a question of age, but of right and wrong.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 620ff]

CHORUS: Lord, if your son has spoken to the point
you should take his lesson. He should do the same.
Both sides have spoken well.
CREON: At my age I'm to school my mind by his?
This boy instructor is my master, then?
HAEMON: I urge no wrong. I'm young, but you should watch
my actions, not my years, to judge of me.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

CHORUS: My lord, he has not spoken foolishly;
You each can learn something from the other.
CREON: What? Men of our age go to school again
And take a lesson from a very boy?
HAEMON: If it is worth the taking. I am young,
But think what should be done, not of my age.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

LEADER: You'd do well, my lord, if he's speaking to the point,
to learn from him, and you, my boy, from him.
You are both talking sense.
CREON: So,
men our age, we're to be lectured, are we? --
schooled by a boy his age?
HAEMON: Only in what is right. But if I seem young,
look less to my years and more to what I do.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

CHORUS: Sir, you should learn from him, if he is on the mark.
And you, Haemon, learn from your father. Both sides spoke well.
CREON: Do you really think, at our age,
We should be taught by a boy like him?
HAEMON: No. Not if I am in the wrong. I admit I'm young;
That's why you should look at what I do, not my age.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

CORYPHAEUS: Lord, it is fair, if he says something to the point, for you to learn,
and in turn for you from him. It has been well said well twice.
CREON: Are we at our age to be taught
in exercising good sense by a man of his age?
HAEMON: Yes, in nothing that is not just. Even if I am young,
you should not see my years more than my deeds.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

CHORUS LEADER: My lord, if what he’s said is relevant,
it seems appropriate to learn from him,
and you too, Haemon, listen to the king.
The things which you both said were excellent.
CREON: And men my age -- are we then going to school
to learn what’s wise from men as young as him?
HAEMON: There’s nothing wrong in that. And if I’m young,
don’t think about my age -- look at what I do.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 820ff]

CHORUS: My lord, if someone speaks in season, you should learn, and you also, for both sides have spoken well.
CREON: At our age, taught reason by a man so young?
HAEMON: Taught nothing that is not just! If I am young, I do not need more time to study what's right.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
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CREON: Am I to rule for others, or myself?
HAEMON: A State for one man is no State at all.
CREON: The State is his who rules it, so ’tis held.
HAEMON: As monarch of a desert thou wouldst shine.

Κρέων: ἄλλῳ γὰρ ἢ ‘μοὶ χρή με τῆσδ᾽ ἄρχειν χθονός;
Αἵμων: πόλις γὰρ οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ἥτις ἀνδρός ἐσθ᾽ ἑνός.
Κρέων: οὐ τοῦ κρατοῦντος ἡ πόλις νομίζεται;
Αἵμων: καλῶς γ᾽ ἐρήμης ἂν σὺ γῆς ἄρχοις μόνος.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 736 ff (441 BC) [tr. Storr (1859)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

CREON: Shall other men prescribe my government?
HAEMON: One only makes not up a city, father.
CREON: Is not the city in the sovereign's hand?
HAEMON: Nobly you'd govern as the desert's king.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

CREON: Am I to rule this land by the will of another than myself?
HAEMON: That is no city, which belongs to one man.
CREON: Does not the city by tradition belong to the man in power?
HAEMON: You would make a fine monarch in a desert.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

CREON: My voice is the one voice giving orders in this City!
HAIMON: It is no City if it takes orders from one voice.
CREON: The State is the King!
HAIMON: Yes, if the State is a desert.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

CREON: No, I am king, and responsible only to myself.
HAEMON: A one-man state? What sort of state is that?
CREON: Why, does not every state belong to its ruler?
HAEMON: You’d be an excellent king -- on a desert island.
[tr. Watling (1947), ll. 632 ff]

CREON: Am I to rule by other mind than mine?
HAEMON: No city is property of a single man.
CREON: But custom gives possession to the ruler.
HAEMON: You'd rule a desert beautifully alone.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

CREON: Am I to rule for them, not for myself?
HAEMON: That is not government, but tyranny.
CREON: The king is lord and master of his city.
HAEMON: Then you had better rule a desert island!
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

CREON: Am I to rule this land for others -- or myself?
HAEMON: It's no city at all, owned by one man alone.
CREON: What? The city is the king's -- that's the law!
HAEMON: What a splendid king you'd make of a desert island --
you and you alone.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

CREON: So I should rule this country for someone other than myself?
HAEMON: A place for one man alone is not a city.
CREON: A city belongs to its master. Isn't that the rule?
HAEMON: Then go be ruler of a desert, all alone. You'd do it well.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

CREON: Should I govern the city for others and not for me?
HAEMON: There is no city that belongs to one man.
CREON: So a city does not belong to the man who governs it?
HAEMON: One man alone can only govern an empty city.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

CREON: Am I to rule this land at someone else’s whim or by myself?
HAEMON: A city which belongs to just one man is no true city.
CREON: According to our laws, does not the ruler own the city?
HAEMON: By yourself you’d make an excellent king but in a desert.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

CREON: Should I rule the land for anyone other than myself?
HAEMON: There is no city that is one man’s.
CREON: Is not the city considered to belong to the ruling man?
HAEMON: Nobly you could rule an empty land, alone.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Also:
  • "The state which belongs to one man is no state at all." [tr. @sentantiq (2020)]
  • "A state is not a state if it belongs to one man."
Added on 5-Jan-09 | Last updated 22-Dec-20
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In battle the victory goes to Love;
Prizes and properties fall to Love.
Love dallies the night
On a girl’s soft cheeks,
Ranges across the sea,
Lodges in wild meadows.
O Love, no one can hide from you:
You take gods who live forever,
You take humans who die in a day,
And they take you and go mad.

[Ἔρως ἀνίκατε μάχαν, Ἔρως, ὃς ἐν κτήμασι πίπτεις,
ὃς ἐν μαλακαῖς παρειαῖς νεάνιδος ἐννυχεύεις,
φοιτᾷς δ᾽ ὑπερπόντιος ἔν τ᾽ ἀγρονόμοις αὐλαῖς:
καί σ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἀθανάτων φύξιμος οὐδεὶς
οὔθ᾽ ἁμερίων σέ γ᾽ ἀνθρώπων. ὁ δ᾽ ἔχων μέμηνεν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 781ff [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Love! in the fight invincible:
Love! whose attacks at once enslave:
Who on the young maid's delicate cheeks thy nightly vigils keepest:
Who roamest o'er the main and mid the rustic cots!
None can escape thee, -- neither Gods immortal,
Nor men whose lives are fleeting as the day:
He raves whom thou possessest.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Love resistless in fight, all yield at a glance of thine eye,
Love who pillowed all night on a maiden's cheek dost lie,
Over the upland holds. Shall mortals not yield to thee?
Mad are thy subjects all.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Love, never foiled in fight!
1 Warrior Love, that on Wealth workest havoc!
Love, who in ambush of young maid's soft cheek
All night keep'st watch!--Thou roamest over seas.
In lonely forest homes thou harbourest.
Who may avoid thee? None!
Mortal, Immortal,
All are o'erthrown by thee, all feel thy frenzy.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Love, the unconquered in battle, Love, you who descend upon riches, and watch the night through on a girl's soft cheek, you roam over the sea and among the homes of men in the wilds. Neither can any immortal escape you, nor any man whose life lasts for a day. He who has known you is driven to madness.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Love, unconquered in the fight, Love, who makest havoc of wealth, who keepest thy vigil on the soft cheek of a maiden; thou roamest over the sea, and among the homes of dwellers in the wilds; no immortal can escape thee, nor any among men whose life is for a day; and he to whom thou hast come is mad.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Love, unconquerable
Waster of rich men, keeper
Of warm lights and all-night vigil
In the soft face of a girl:
Sea-wanderer, forest-visitor!
Even the pure Immortals cannot escape you,
And mortal man, in his one day’s dusk,
Trembles before your glory.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

Where is the equal of Love?
Where is the battle he cannot win,
The power he cannot outmatch?
In the farthest corners of earth, in the midst of the sea,
He is there; he is here
In the bloom of a fair face
Lying in wait;
And the grip of his madness
Spares not god or man.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 675ff]

Love unconquered in fight, love who falls on our havings.
You rest in the bloom of a girl's unwithered face.
You cross the sea, you are known in the wildest lairs.
Not the immortal gods can fly,
nor men of a day. Who has you within him is mad.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Invincible, implacable Love,
O Love, that makes havoc of all wealth;
That peacefully keeps his night-watch
On tender cheek of a maiden:
The Sea is no barrier, nor
Mountainous waste to Love's flight; for
No one can escape Love's domination,
Man, no, nor immortal god.
Love's Prey is possessed by madness.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Love, never conquered in battle
Love the plunderer laying waste the rich!
Love standing the night-watch
guarding a girl's soft cheek,
you range the seas, the shepherds' steadings off in the wilds --
not even the deathless gods can flee your onset,
nothing human born for a day --
whoever feels your grip is driven mad.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 879ff]

Eros, undefeated in battle,
Eros, who falls upon possessions,
who, in the soft cheeks of a young girl,
stays the night vigil,
who traverses over seas
and among pastoral dwellings,
you none of the immortals can escape,
none of the day-long mortals, and
he who has you is maddened.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Love! You are beyond wars, beyond any place you fall!
You make nests out of the soft cheeks of young girls for your slumber
and you hover over the oceans and distant lands
and no immortal god, nor mortal man with his measured days escapes you!
And then, you catch and your catch becomes insane!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

O Eros, the conqueror in every fight,
Eros, who squanders all men’s wealth,
who sleeps at night on girls’ soft cheeks,
and roams across the ocean seas
and through the shepherd’s hut --
no immortal god escapes from you,
nor any man, who lives but for a day.
And the one whom you possess goes mad.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 894]

Love, unconquered in battle, Love, who attacks wealth, who sleeps on a young girl's soft cheek and wanders beyond the sea and in the wilderness: There is no escape from you for immortals or men who live but for a day; he who has you is mad. [tr. Thomas (2005)]
Added on 11-Feb-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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And the winner will be desire,
Shining in the eyes of a bride,
An invitation to bed,
A power to sweep across the bounds of what is Right.
For we are only toys in your hands,
Divine, unbeatable Aphrodite.

[νικᾷ δ᾽ ἐναργὴς βλεφάρων ἵμερος εὐλέκτρου
νύμφας, τῶν μεγάλων πάρεδρος ἐν ἀρχαῖς
θεσμῶν. ἄμαχος γὰρ ἐμπαίζει θεὸς, Ἀφροδίτα.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 795ff [Chorus, Antistrophe] (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Triumphantly prevails
The heart-compelling eye of winsome bride,
Compeer of mighty Law
Thronèd, commanding.
Madly thou mockest men, dread Aphrodite.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

But victory belongs to radiant Desire swelling from the eyes of the sweet-bedded bride. Desire sits enthroned in power beside the mighty laws. For in all this divine Aphrodite plays her irresistible game.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Victorious is the love-kindling light from the eyes of the fair bride; it is a power enthroned in sway beside the eternal laws; for there the goddess Aphrodite is working her unconquerable will.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

And none has conquered but Love!
A girl’s glance working the will of heaven:
Pleasure to her alone who mock us,
Merciless Aphrodite.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 653ff]

For the light that burns in the eyes of a bride of desire
Is a fire that consumes.
At the side of the great gods
Aphrodite immortal
Works her will upon all.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 687ff]

Desire looks clear from the eyes of a lovely bride:
power as strong as the founded world.
For there is the goddess at play whom no man can fight.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

The kindling light of Love in the soft
Eye of a bride conquers, for Love sits on his
throne, one of the great Powers;
Nought else can prevail against
Invincible Aphrodite.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Love alone the victor --
warm glance of the bride triumphant, burning with desire!
Throned in power, side-by-side with the mighty laws!
Irresistible Aphrodite, never conquered --
Love, you mock us for your sport.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 890ff]

Desire radiant from the eyelids
of a well-bedded bride prevails,
companion in rule with the gods’ great
ordinances. She against whom none may battle,
the goddess Aphrodite, plays her games.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

You, Love!
Through the lashes of a lusty bride, Passion, you win the day, scorning the great laws which hold sway over the whole world.
Because Aphrodite is invincible!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The bride’s desire seen glittering in her eyes --
that conquers everything, its power
enthroned beside eternal laws, for there
the goddess Aphrodite works her will,
whose ways are irresistible.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 905ff]

Added on 18-Feb-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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But dreadful is the mysterious power of fate — there is no deliverance from it by wealth or by war, by towered city, or dark, sea-beaten ships.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἁ μοιριδία τις δύνασις δεινά:
οὔτ᾽ ἄν νιν ὄλβος οὔτ᾽ Ἄρης, οὐ πύργος, οὐχ ἁλίκτυποι
κελαιναὶ νᾶες ἐκφύγοιεν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 951, Strophe 1 (Stasimon 4) [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Jebb (1891)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Strange are the ways of Fate, her power
Nor wealth, nor arms withstand, nor tower;
Nor brass-prowed ships, that breast the sea
From Fate can flee.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

No power in wealth or war
Or tough sea-blackened ships
Can prevail against untiring Destiny!
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 744-46]

There is no tower.
So high, no armory so great,
No ship so swift, as is the power
Of man's inexorable fate.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

Mysterious, overmastering, is the power of Fate,
From this, nor wealth nor force of arms
Nor strong encircling city-walls
Nor storm-tossed ship can give deliverance.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Fate has a terrible power
That nothing escapes, not wealth,
Not warfare, not a fortress tower,
Not even black ships beating against the sea.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Fate's power, though, is mighty, and neither Lords of lands nor Ares nor castles nor flighty ships well-beaten by the waves can escape her.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

But the power of fate is full of mystery.
There’s no evading it, no, not with wealth,
or war, or walls, or black sea-beaten ships.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

But the power of fate (whatever it may be) is terrible and wonderful.
Neither wealth nor Ares,
no tower, no dark ships
beaten by the sea can escape it.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett]
Added on 27-Jul-08 | Last updated 9-May-21
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O my son!
These are no trifles! Think: all men make mistakes,
But a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong,
And repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1022ff [Tiresias] (441 BC) [tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 803ff]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

Then take these things to heart, my son: for error
Is as the universal lot of man;
But whenso'er he errs, that man no longer
Is witless or unblessed, who, having fallen
Into misfortune, seeks to mend his ways
And is not obstinate: the stiffneckt temper
Must oft plead guilty to the charge of folly.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Now, then, my son, take thought. A man may err;
But he is not insensate or foredoomed
To ruin, who, when he hath lapsed to evil,
Stands not inflexible, but heals the harm.
The obstinate man still earns the name of fool.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

O ponder this, my son. To err is common
To all men, but the man who having erred
Hugs not his errors, but repents and seeks
The cure, is not a wastrel nor unwise.
No fool, the saw goes, like the obstinate fool.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Think, therefore, on these things, my son. All men are liable to err. But when an error is made, that man is no longer unwise or unblessed who heals the evil into which he has fallen and does not remain stubborn. Self-will, we know, invites the charge of foolishness.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Consider this, my son! and, O remember,
To err is human; 'tis the common lot
Of frail mortality; and he alone
Is wise and happy, who, when ills are done,
Persists not, but would heal the wound he made.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Think, then, on these things, my son. All men are liable to err; but when an error hath been made, that man is no longer witless or unblest who heals the ill into which he hath fallen, and remains not stubborn. Self-will, we know, incurs the charge of folly.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Mark this, my son: all men fall into sin.
But sinning, he is not forever lost
Hapless and helpless, who can make amends
And has not set his face against repentance.
Only a fool is governed by self-will.
[tr. Watling (1939)]

Think of these things, my son. All men may err
but error once committed, he's no fool
nor yet unfortunate, who gives up his stiffness
ad cures the trouble he has fallen in.
Stubbornness and stupidity are twins.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Be warned, my son, No man alive is free
From error, but the wise and prudent man
When he has fallen into evil courses
Does not persist, but tries to find amendment ....
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Take these things to heart, my son, I warn you.
All men make mistakes, it is only human.
But once the wrong is done, a man
can turn his back on folly, misfortune too,
if he tries to make amends, however low he's fallen,
and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness
brands you for stupidity -- pride is a crime
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1131ff]

Therefore, think about this, child. For men,
all of them, it is common to make mistakes.
Whenever he does make a mistake, that man is still not
foolish or unhappy who, fallen into evil,
applies a remedy and does not become immovable.
Stubborn self-will incurs a charge of stupidity.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Understand this: All men make mistakes. But when they do, it would be a wise and well acting man who corrected that mistake and moved on rather than stayed there stubbornly and unrepentant. The stubborn man is rewarded with more errors.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

Consider this, my son.
All men make mistakes -- that's not uncommon.
But when they do, they’re no longer foolish
or subject to bad luck if they try to fix
the evil into which they’ve fallen,
once they give up their intransigence.
Men who put their stubbornness on show
invite accusations of stupidity.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 1138ff]

Therefore, think on these things, my child; for every human being makes mistakes, but when he has made a mistake, that man is no longer foolish and unhappy who remedies the evil into which he has fallen and is not stubborn. Obstinacy brings the charge of stupidity.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

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TIRESIAS: Oh god, is there a man alive who knows, who actually believes …
CREON: What now? What earth-shattering truth are you about to utter?
TIRESIAS: … just how much a sense of judgment, wisdom is the greatest gift we have?
CREON: Just as much, I’d say, as a twisted mind is the worst affliction known.
TIRESIAS: You’re the one who’s sick, Creon, sick to death.

[Τειρεσίας: φεῦ. ἆρ᾽ οἶδεν ἀνθρώπων τις, ἆρα φράζεται,
Κρέων: τί χρῆμα; ποῖον τοῦτο πάγκοινον λέγεις;
Τειρεσίας: ὅσῳ κράτιστον κτημάτων εὐβουλία;
Κρέων: ὅσῳπερ, οἶμαι, μὴ φρονεῖν πλείστη βλάβη.
Τειρεσίας: ταύτης σὺ μέντοι τῆς νόσου πλήρης ἔφυς.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1048ff (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1162ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

TEIRESIAS: Oh! What man is there that knows? who that considers --
KREON: In what? thou askest comprehensive questions.
TEIRESIAS: How far the best of goods good counsel is?
KREON: As far as folly is the greatest loss.
TEIRESIAS: Well, though, at least hast caught that grievous ailment.
[tr. Donaldson (1848), l. 1015]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! doth any know and lay to heart --
CREON: Is this the prelude to some hackneyed saw?
TEIRESIAS: How far good counsel is the best of goods?
CREON: True, as unwisdom is the worst of ills.
TEIRESIAS: Thou art infected with that ill thyself.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

TIRESIAS: Ah! where is wisdom? who considereth?
CREON: Wherefore? what means this universal doubt?
TIRESIAS: How far the best of riches is good counsel!
CREON: As far as folly is the mightiest bane.
TIRESIAS: Yet thou art sick of that same pestilence.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! Does any man know, does any consider --
CREON: What is this? What universal truth are you announcing?
TEIRESIAS: -- by how much the most precious of our possessions is the power to reason wisely?
CREON: By as much, I think, as senselessness is the greatest affliction.
TEIRESIAS: Yet you came into being full of that disease.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! Doth any man know, doth any consider ...
CREON: Whereof? What general truth dost thou announce?
TEIRESIAS: How precious, above all wealth, is good counsel.
CREON: As folly, I think, is the worst mischief.
TEIRESIAS: Yet thou art tainted with that distemper.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

TEIRESIAS: Ah Creon! Is there no man left in the world --
CREON: To do what? -- Come, let’s have the aphorism!
TEIRESIAS: No man who knows that wisdom outweighs any wealth?
CREON: As surely as bribes are baser than any baseness.
TEIRESIAS: You are sick, Creon! You are deathly sick!
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 825ff]

TEIRESIAS: Ah, is there any wisdom in the world?
CREON: Why, what is the meaning of that wide-flung taunt?
TEIRESIAS: What prize outweighs the priceless worth of prudence?
CREON: Ay, what indeed? What mischief matches the lack of it?
TEIRESIAS: And there you speak of your own symptom, sir.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! What man can tell me, has he thought at all ...
CREON: What hackneyed saw is coming from your lips?
TEIRESIAS: How better than all wealth is sound good counsel.
CREON: And so folly worse than anything.
TEIRESIAS: And you're infected with that same disease.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

TEIRESIAS: Does any man reflect, does any know ...
CREON: Know what? Why do you preach at me like this?
TEIRESIAS: How much the greatest blessing is good counsel?
CREON: As much, I think, as folly is his plague.
TEIRESIAS: Yet with this plague you are yourself infected.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

TIRESIAS: This is very sad: Does any human being know, or even question ...
CREON: What's this? More of your great "common knowledge"?
TIRESIAS: How powerful good judgment is, compared to wealth.
CREON: Exactly. And no harm compares with heedlessness.
TIRESIAS: Which runs through you like the plague.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

TIRESIAS: Pheu, does any man know, does he consider ...
CREON: Just what? What old saw are you saying?
TIRESIAS: by how much the best of possessions is good counsel?
CREON: By as much, I suppose, as not to have sense is the greatest harm.
TIRESIAS: You certainly were full of this sickness.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

TEIRESIAS: Is there no one who ... does no one know ... Speak up! Speak up!
CREON: What? What are you trying to say to us?
TEIRESIAS: What? What I’m trying to tell you, Creon, is that man’s best endowment is wisdom.
CREON: Just as idiocy is our worst curse.
TEIRESIAS: You’re possessed by this illness to the full.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas, does any man know or think about ...
CREON: Think what? What sort of pithy common thought are you about to utter?
TEIRESIAS: ... how good advice is valuable -- worth more than all possessions.
CREON: I think that’s true, as much as foolishness is what harms us most.
TEIRESIAS: Yet that’s the sickness now infecting you.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

TIRESIAS: Does any man know, does any consider ...
CREON: What thing? What great aphorism will you speak?
TIRESIAS: ... how much prudence is the greatest of possessions?
CREON: As much as stupidity is the worst hurt?
TIRESIAS: You certainly seem full of this disease.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
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CREON: Prophecies? All your tribe wants is to make money.
TIRESIAS: And what about tyrants? Filthy lucre is all you want!

[Κρέων: τὸ μαντικὸν γὰρ πᾶν φιλάργυρον γένος.
Τειρεσίας: τὸ δ᾽ ἐκ τυράννων αἰσχροκέρδειαν φιλεῖ.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1055ff (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Argument between Creon, the king, and Teiresias, his seer. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

KREON: The race of seers is wholly given to pelf.
TEIRESIAS: The tyrant-race is given to filthy lucre.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

CREON: Prophets are all a money-getting tribe.
TEIRESIAS: And kings are all a lucre-loving race.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

CREON: Desire of money is the prophet's plague.
TIRESIAS: And ill-sought lucre is the curse of kings.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

CREON: Yes, for the prophet-clan was ever fond of money.
TEIRESIAS: And the race sprung from tyrants loves shameful gain.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

CREON: Your prophetic race are lovers all of gold.
TIRESIAS: Tyrants are so, howe'er illgotten.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

CREON: Well, the prophet-tribe was ever fond of money.
TEIRESIAS: And the race bred of tyrants loves base gain.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

CREON: The generation of prophets has always loved gold.
TEIRESIAS: The generation of kings has always loved brass.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

CREON: I say all prophets seek their own advantage.
TEIRESIAS: All kings, I say, seek gain unrighteously.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

CREON: Well, the whole crew of seers are money-mad.
TEIRESIAS: And the whole tribe of tyrants grab at gain.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

CREON: Prophets have always been too fond of gold.
TEIRESIAS: And tyrants, of the shameful use of power.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

CREON: You and the whole breed of seers are mad for money!
TIRESIAS: And the whole race of tyrants lusts for filthy gain.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1171ff]

CREON: Yes, for the whole family of prophets is philos to silver.
TIRESIAS: And the family of absolute rulers holds disgraceful profits as philoi.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

CREON: The whole race of prophets loves money.
TEIRESIAS: And the kings love their shameful profits.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

CREON: The tribe of prophets --
all of them -- are fond of money.
TEIRESIAS: And kings?
Their tribe loves to benefit dishonestly.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 1180ff]

TEIRESIAS: The race of tyrants loves shameful profit.
[tr. @senstantiq (2018)]
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For life without life’s joys
Is living death; and such a life is his.
Riches and rank and show of majesty
And state, where no joy is, are empty, vain
And unsubstantial shadows, of no weight
To be compared with happiness of heart.

[τὰς γὰρ ἡδονὰς
ὅταν προδῶσιν ἄνδρες, οὐ τίθημ᾽ ἐγὼ
ζῆν τοῦτον, ἀλλ᾽ ἔμψυχον ἡγοῦμαι νεκρόν.
πλούτει τε γὰρ κατ᾽ οἶκον, εἰ βούλει, μέγα
καὶ ζῆ τύραννον σχῆμ᾽ ἔχων: ἐὰν δ᾽ ἀπῇ
τούτων τὸ χαίρειν, τἄλλ᾽ ἐγὼ καπνοῦ σκιᾶς
οὐκ ἂν πριαίμην ἀνδρὶ πρὸς τὴν ἡδονήν]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1165ff [Messenger] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947), Epilogos, l. 977ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

For him I reckon but
An animate corpse, and not a living man,
Whose life's delights are cast away. Thy house,
I grant thee, may be richly stored with wealth;
And thou may'st live in royal pomp: but if
Joy is not there the while, and I must lose
All happiness thereby, I would not give
Smoke's shadow as the price of all the rest.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

For a life
Without life's joys I count a living death.
You'll tell me he has ample store of wealth,
The pomp and circumstance of kings; but if
These give no pleasure, all the rest I count
The shadow of a shade, nor would I weigh
His wealth and power 'gainst a dram of joy.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

For when a man is lost to joy,
I count him not to live, but reckon him
A living corse. Riches belike are his,
Great riches and the appearance of a King;
But if no gladness come to him, all else
Is shadow of a vapour, weighed with joy.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

When a man has forfeited his pleasures, I do not reckon his existence as life, but consider him just a breathing corpse. Heap up riches in your house, if you wish! Live with a tyrant's pomp! But if there is no joy along with all of that, I would not pay even the shadow of smoke for all the rest, compared with joy.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

For when a man hath forfeited his pleasures, I count him not as living, -- I hold him but a breathing corpse. Heap up riches in thy house, if thou wilt; live in kingly state; yet, if there be no gladness therewith, I would not give the shadow of a vapour for all the rest, compared with joy.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Who can say
That a man is still alive when his life’s joy fails?
He is a walking dead man. Grant him rich,
Let him live like a king in his great house:
If his pleasure is gone, I would not give
So much as the shadow of smoke for all he owns.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 910ff]

Yes, when a man has lost all happiness,
he's not alive. Call him a breathing corpse.
Be very rich at home. Live as a king.
But once your joy has gone, though these are left
they are smoke's shadow to lost happiness.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

He who forfeits joy
Forfeits his life; he is a breathing corpse.
Heap treasures in your palace, if you will,
And wear the pomp of royalty; but if
You have no happiness, I would not give
A straw for all of it, compared with joy.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Believe me,
when a man has squandered his true joys,
he's good as dead, I tell you, a living corpse.
Pile up riches in your house, as much as you like --
live like a king with a huge show of pomp,
but if real delight is missing from the lot,
I wouldn't give you a wisp of smoke for it,
not compared to joy. [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1284ff]

When every source of joy deserts a man,
I don't call him alive: he's an animated corpse.
For my money, you can get rich as you want,
You can wear the face of a tyrant,
But if you have no joy in this,
Your life's not worth the shadow of a puff of smoke.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Whenever men forfeit their pleasures, I do not regard
such a man as alive, but I consider him a living corpse.
Be very wealthy in your household, if you wish, and live
the style of absolute rulers, but should the enjoyment of these
depart, what is left, compared to pleasure,
I would not buy from a man for a shadow of smoke.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

When a man’s body has lost all sense of joy, you can say he’s not alive any more. He is a living corpse. You can have as much wealth in your house as you like and you can live like a king but when joy is missing then all those other things I wouldn’t exchange for the price of the shadow of smoke -- not against the sweetness of joy!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004), "Herald"]

For when a man has lost
what gives him pleasure, I don’t include him
among the living -- he’s a breathing corpse.
Pile up a massive fortune in your home,
if that’s what you want -- live like a king.
If there’s no pleasure in it, I’d not give
to any man a vapour’s shadow for it,
not compared to human joy.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 1296ff]

But when people lose their pleasures, I do not consider this life -- rather, it is just a corpse with a soul.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
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Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy,
and reverence toward the gods must be safeguarded.
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full
with mighty blows of fate, and at long last
those blows will teach us wisdom.

[πολλῷ τὸ φρονεῖν εὐδαιμονίας
πρῶτον ὑπάρχει. χρὴ δὲ τά γ᾽ εἰς θεοὺς
μηδὲν ἀσεπτεῖν. μεγάλοι δὲ λόγοι
μεγάλας πληγὰς τῶν ὑπεραύχων
ἀποτίσαντες
γήρᾳ τὸ φρονεῖν ἐδίδαξαν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1348ff [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1466ff]
    (Source)

Final lines of the play. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wisdom is first of the gifts of good fortune:
'Tis a duty, to be sure, the rites of the Gods
Duly to honor: but words without measure, the
Fruit of vain-glory, in woes without number their
Recompense finding,
Have lesson'd the agéd in wisdom.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Of happiness the chiefest part
Is a wise heart:
And to defraud the gods in aught
With peril's fraught.
Swelling words of high-flown might
Mightily the gods do smite.
Chastisement for errors past
Wisdom brings to age at last.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise conduct hath command of happiness
Before all else, and piety to Heaven
Must be preserved. High boastings of the proud
Bring sorrow to the height to punish pride: --
A lesson men shall learn when they are old.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wisdom is provided as the chief part of happiness, and our dealings with the gods must be in no way unholy. The great words of arrogant men have to make repayment with great blows, and in old age teach wisdom.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wisdom alone is man's true happiness.
We are not to dispute the will of heaven;
For ever are the boastings of the proud
By the just gods repaid, and man at last
Is taught to fear their anger and be wise.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished
And proud men in old age learn to be wise.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 1039ff]

Of happiness the crown
And chiefest part
Is wisdom, and to hold
The gods in awe.
This is the law
That, seeing the stricken heart
Of pride brought down,
We learn when we are old.
[tr. Watling (1947), Exodos, l. 1027ff]

Our happiness depends
on wisdom all the way.
The gods must have their due.
Great words by men of pride
bring greater blows upon them.
So wisdom comes to the old.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Of happiness, far the greatest part is wisdom,
and reverence towards the gods.
Proud words of arrogant man, in the end,
Meet punishment, great as his pride was great,
Till at last he is schooled in wisdom.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Wisdom is supreme for a blessed life,
And reference for the gods
Must never cease. Great words, sprung from arrogance.
Are punished by great blows.
So it is one learns, in old age, to be wise.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

By far is having sense the first part
of happiness. One must not act impiously toward
what pertains to gods. Big words
of boasting men,
paid for by big blows,
teach having sense in old age.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

The most important thing in man’s happiness is good judgement and he must not treat with disdain the works of the gods.
The arrogant pay for their big proud words with great downfalls and it’s only then, in their old age that they gain wisdom!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The most important part of true success
is wisdom -- not to act impiously
towards the gods, for boasts of arrogant men
bring on great blows of punishment --
so in old age men can discover wisdom.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Knowledge truly is by far the most important part of happiness, but one must neglect nothing that the gods demand. Great words of the over-proud balanced by great falls taught us knowledge in our old age.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
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Death is not the worst evil, but rather when we wish to die and cannot.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Electra, l. 1007

Alt. trans.: "For death is not the worst, but when one wants to die and is not able even to have that."
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Do not grieve yourself too much for those you hate, nor yet forget them utterly.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Electra, l. 177
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Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Hipponous, frag. 280

Alt. trans.: "Hide nothing, for time, which sees all and hears all, exposes all." (Cited as "Fragments, l. 284 (Hipponoos)")

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It was my care to make my life illustrious not by words more than by deeds.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Oedipus at Colonus, l. 1143
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One word
Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
That word is love.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Oedipus at Colonus, l. 1616
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What you cannot enforce,
Do not command!

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Oedipus at Colonus, l. 839 [tr. Fitzgerald (1941)]
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The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Oedipus Rex, l. 1231

Alt. trans. "The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves."
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Let every man in mankind’s frailty
Consider his last day; and let none
Presume on his good fortune until he find
Life, at his death, a memory without pain.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Oedipus Rex, l. 1529 (concluding words)

Young translation:
And of no moral say
"That man is happy," till
Vexed by no grievous ill
He pass Life's goal.
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Wisdom is a curse when wisdom does nothing for the man who has it.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Oedipus Rex, l. 316 [Teiresias]

Alt trans: "How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be When there's no help in truth!"
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The truth is always the strongest argument.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Phaedra, frag. 737
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Fortune is not on the side of the faint-hearted.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Phaedra, fragment 842

Also "Fortune never helps the fainthearted" [Fragments, l. 666]
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As many as are involved in misery of their own choosing, such as you, for them there is no forgiveness nor pity.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Philoctetes, l. 1319
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Sleep, ignorant of pain, sleep, ignorant of grief, may you come to us blowing softly, kindly, kindly come, king.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Philoctetes, l. 827.
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Come, blowing softly, Sleep, that know'st not pain, / Sleep, ignorant of grief, / Come softly, surely, kingly sleep, and bless ...." [E. H. Plumptre (1871)]
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I would rather miss the mark acting well than win the day acting basely.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Philoctetes, l. 94
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Well one must learn
By doing the thing; for though you think you know it
You have no certainty, until you try.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae [The Women of Trachis], [First Lady] [tr. Young]

Full text.
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Don’t you know that silence supports the accuser’s charge?

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae [The Women of Trachis], l. 813.
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Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae, l. 943
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Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae, l. 943
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So here I come,
Unwilling to the unwilling well I wot:
For no one loves the bearer of bad tidings.

[πάρειμι δ᾽ ἄκων οὐχ ἑκοῦσιν, οἶδ᾽ ὅτι:
στέργει γὰρ οὐδεὶς ἄγγελον κακῶν ἐπῶν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, ll. 276-277 [Guard] (441 BC) [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans:

So here I am unwilling and withal
Unwelcome; no man cares to hear ill news.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

So here I stand, as unwelcome to you as I am unwilling, I well know. For no man delights in the bearer of bad news.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

And I come
To pour my news, unwilling, into ears
Unwilling to receive it; for I know
None ever loved the messenger of ill.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

So here I am,
No happier to be here than you are to have me:
Nobody likes the man who brings bad news.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

So here I am,
As much against my will as yours, I’m sure;
A bringer of bad news expects no welcome.
[tr. Watling (1947), ll. 229ff]

And therefore I am come
Unwilling and, for certain, most unwelcome:
Nobody loves the bringer of bad news.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

I didn't want to come. And you sure didn't want to see me:
No one loves the man who brings bad news.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

That’s why I’m now here,
not of my own free will or by your choice.
I know that -- for no one likes a messenger
who comes bearing unwelcome news with him.
[tr. Johnston (2005), ll. 318 ff]

So here I am unwilling,
quite sure you people hardly want to see me.
Nobody likes the bearer of bad news.
[tr. Wyckoff]

So here I am, unwilling -- I know well -- among the unwilling, for no one cherishes the messenger of evil words.
[tr. Thomas]

I do not want to be here. Those here do not want me,
I know. Nobody loves the messenger of bad news.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett]
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The best, wherever we are, to follow still
The customs of the country.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, #674 [tr. E. Pumptre (1865)]
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Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 304 (Minos)
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A fearful man is always hearing things.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 58 (Acrisius)

Alt trans: "To the man who is afraid, everything rustles."
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No one who errs unwillingly is evil.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 582 [Tyro]
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It is the task of a good man to help those in misfortune.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 661.
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No treaty is ever an impediment to a cheat.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 671.
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If my body is enslaved, still my mind is free.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 677
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What house, bloated with luxury, ever became prosperous without a woman’s excellence?

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 679
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If you were to offer a thirsty man all wisdom, you would not please him more than if you gave him a drink.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 702
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If one begins all deeds well, it is likely that they will end well too.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 715.
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A soul that is kind and intends justice discovers more than any sophist.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 88 (Aletes)
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All a man’s affairs become diseased when he wishes to cure evils by evils.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Fragments, l. 98.
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