Doth any man assert that there are Gods
In Heaven? I answer there are none: let him
Who contradicts me like a fool, no longer
Quote ancient fables; but observe the fact,
Nor to my words give credence. Kings, I say.
Kill many, but rob more of their possessions.
And violating every sacred oath,
Lay waste whole cities; yet, tho’ they act thus,
Are more successful far than they who lead
In constant piety a tranquil life.

[φησίν τις εἶναι δῆτ’ ἐν οὐρανῷ θεούς;
οὐκ εἰσίν, οὐκ εἴσ’, εἴ τις ἀνθρώπων θέλει
μὴ τῷ παλαιῷ μῶρος ὢν χρῆσθαι λόγῳ.
σκέψασθε δ’ αὐτοί, μὴ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐμοῖς λόγοις
γνώμην ἔχοντες. φήμ’ ἐγὼ τυραννίδα
κτείνειν τε πλείστους κτημάτων τ’ ἀποστερεῖν
ὅρκους τε παραβαίνοντας ἐκπορθεῖν πόλεις·
καὶ ταῦτα δρῶντες μᾶλλόν εἰσ’ εὐδαίμονες
τῶν εὐσεβούντων ἡσυχῇ καθ’ ἡμέραν]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bellerophon [Βελλεροφῶν], frag. 286 (TGF) (c. 430 BC) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Nauck (TGF) frag. 286, Barnes frag. 8, Musgrave frag. 25. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Doth some one say that there be gods above?
There are not; no, there are not. Let no fool,
Led by the old false fable, thus deceive you.
Look at the facts themselves, yielding my words
No undue credence: for I say that kings
Kill, rob, break oaths, lay cities waste by fraud,
And doing thus are happier than those
Who live calm pious lives day after day. All divinity
Is built-up from our good and evil luck.
[tr. Symonds (1876)]

Does someone say there are indeed gods in heaven? There are not, there are not, if a man is willing not to rely foolishly on the antiquated reasoning. Consider for yourselves, do not base your opinion on words of mine. I say myself that tyranny kills very many men and dprives them of their possessions; and that tyrants break their oaths to ransack cities, and in doing this they are more prosperous under heaven than men who live quietly in reverence.
[tr. Collard, Hargreaves, Cropp (1995)]

Does anyone assert that there are gods in heaven? There are not, no, there are not, if a man is ready not to swallow whole the old tales. Think it through yourselves, do not make my words the foundation of your opinion. I declare that tyranny kills many, robs them, that tyrants break their oaths to plunder cities, yet in this they prosper more than those whose unassuming habit is true piety.
[tr. Stevens (2012)]

Does anyone say there are gods in heaven? There are not, there are not, unless one wishes to follow ancient wisdom like a fool. [...] I say that tyranny kills many people, deprives possessions, circumvents oaths, and plunders cities. And even though they do these things, they are more fortunate than those living piously day to day in peace.
[tr. Dixon (2014)]

Is there anyone who thinks there are gods in heaven?
There are not. There are not, for any man who wishes
Not to be a fool and trust some ancient story.
Look at it yourselves, don’t make up your mind
Because of my words. I think that tyranny
Kills so many men and steals their possessions
And that men break their oaths by sacking cities.
But the men who do such things are more fortunate
Than those who live each day piously, at peace.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

People ask: Do gods really exist in heaven? No, they do not exist, they really don’t; if any of mankind wishes to avoid being the sort of fool who follows the ancient story. Consider it for yourselves, don’t take my word for it. I say that tyranny destroys multitudes and confiscates their possessions; oath-breakers sack cities; and yet, those who do such things are far more prosperous than those who, day by day, live devoutly and in peace.
[tr. Emerson]

Added on 19-Sep-23 | Last updated 19-Sep-23
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