But what is there in man’s precarious life
To be relied on? o’er the foamy deep
Rides the swift vessel by the wind impell’d:
But as to human fortunes, Time reduces
The great to nothing, and augments the small.

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bellerophon [Βελλεροφῶν], frag. 304 (TGF) (c. 430 BC) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Barnes frag. 117, Musgrave frag. 20. Alternate translations:

Where indeed is there sureness in man's life? For swift ships the winds drive a straight path on the ocean deep, but men's fortunes are changed by the largeness of time, their greatness to nothing, while with increase for the lesser ....
[tr. Collard, Hargreaves, Cropp (1995)]

Where -- where --
for those that die
life’s sure foundation? If we were ships
over the depths of ocean
winds would drive us
But those that die
their fortune shifts, it veers
in twists of fate -- as Time
(slowly --– slowly) generates itself
at its own leisure
reducing what was great
to nothing – raising up
another ....
[tr. Stevens (2012)]

Added on 12-Sep-23 | Last updated 12-Sep-23
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