Spent with fatigue, and shrunk with pining fast,
My craving bowels still require repast.
Howe’er the noble, suffering mind may grieve
Its load of anguish, and disdain to live,
Necessity demands our daily bread;
Hunger is insolent, and will be fed.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἐμὲ μὲν δορπῆσαι ἐάσατε κηδόμενόν περ:
οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο
ἔπλετο, ἥ τ᾽ ἐκέλευσεν ἕο μνήσασθαι ἀνάγκῃ
καὶ μάλα τειρόμενον καὶ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ πένθος ἔχοντα,
ὡς καὶ ἐγὼ πένθος μὲν ἔχω φρεσίν, ἡ δὲ μάλ᾽ αἰεὶ
ἐσθέμεναι κέλεται καὶ πινέμεν, ἐκ δέ με πάντων
ληθάνει ὅσσ᾽ ἔπαθον, καὶ ἐνιπλησθῆναι ἀνώγει.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 7, l. 215ff (7.215) (c. 700 BC) [tr. Pope (1725)]

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Worse than an envious belly nothing is.
It will command his strict necessities,
Of men most griev’d in body or in mind,
That are in health, and will not give their kind
A desp’rate wound.
When most with cause I grieve,
It bids me still, Eat, man, and drink, and live;
And this makes all forgot. Whatever ill
I ever bear, it ever bids me fill.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

No creature is so fierce as is the gut,
And so loud barketh when it is forgot,
That out of mind it never can be put,
But will be heard whether one will or not.
So ’tis with me, that am afflicted sore,
Yet still my belly bids me eat and drink,
And forget all I had endured before,
And on my misery no more to think.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 201ff]

But let me eat, comfortless as I am,
Uninterrupted; for no call is loud
As that of hunger in the ears of man;
Importunate, unreas’nable, it constrains
His notice, more than all his woes beside.
So, I much sorrow feel, yet not the less
Hear I the blatant appetite demand
Due sustenance, and with a voice that drowns
E’en all my suff’rings, till itself be fill’d.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 266ff]

But let me feed in peace, though sore distressed.
Nothing more shameless is than Appetite,
Who still, whatever anguish load our breast,
Makes us remember in our own despite
Both food and drink. Thus I, thrice wretched wight,
Carry of inward grief surpassing store,
Yet she constrains me with superior might,
Wipes clean away the memory-written score,
And takes whate'er I give, and taking craveth more.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 29]

But let me now eat on, tho' sick at heart:
Nought is more shameless than a craving stomach,
Which bids remembrance of herself by force,
Tho' sorely worn the limbs, and sad the heart!
So I am sad at heart: but she for ever
Is bidding me eat and drink; and making forget
All I have borne; and still to gorge compels me!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

But as for me, suffer me to sup, afflicted as I am; for nought is there more shameless than a ravening belly, which biddeth a man perforce be mindful of him, though one be worn and sorrowful in spirit, even as I have sorrow of heart; yet evermore he biddeth me eat and drink and maketh me utterly to forget all my sufferings, and commandeth me to take my fill.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But I pray you amidst of my sorrow that ye suffer me supper to eat,
For nought indeed more shameless than the belly-beast may ye meet,
When need and he are bidding that we mind us of his part,
Although we be worn and wasted and have sorrow in the heart.
Thus I in my my heart have sorry, but the belly evermore
Will bid me to eat and to drink and forget my sorrow sore,
Whatso my soul may have suffered, and to filling forceth me.
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 215ff]

But let me now, though sick of heart, take supper; for nothing is more brutal than an angry belly. Perforce it bids a man attend, sadly though he be worn, though grief be on his mind. Even so, I too have grief upon my mind, and yet this ever more calls me to eat and drink; all I have borne it makes me quite forget, and bid me take my fill.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Nevertheless, let me sup in spite of sorrow, for an empty stomach is a very importunate thing, and thrusts itself on a man's notice no matter how dire is his distress. I am in great trouble, yet it insists that I shall eat and drink, bids me lay aside all memory of my sorrows and dwell only on the due replenishing of itself.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

But as for me, suffer me now to eat, despite my grief; for there is nothing more shameless than a hateful belly, which bids a man perforce take thought thereof, be he never so sore distressed and laden with grief at heart, even as I, too, am laden with grief at heart, yet ever does my belly bid me eat and drink, and makes me forget all that I have suffered, and commands me to eat my fill.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

But instead I will ask leave to obey my instincts and fall upon this supper, as I would do despite my burden of woe. See now, there is not anything so exigent as a man's ravening belly, which will not leave him alone to feel even so sore a grief as this grief in my heart, but prefers to overwhelm his misery with its needs for meat and drink, forcibly and shamelessly compelling him to put its replenishment above his soul's agony.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

But all I ask of you now is your leave to eat my supper, in spite of all my troubles. For nothing in the world is so incontinent as a man’s accursed appetite. However afflicted he may be and sick at heart, it calls for attention so loudly that he is bound to obey it. Such is my case: my heart is sick with grief, yet my hunger insists that I shall eat and drink. It makes me forget all I have suffered and forces me to take my fill.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

You will indulge me if I finish dinner--?
grieved though I am to say it. There's no part
of man more like a dog than brazen Belly,
crying to be remembered -- and it must be --
when we are mortal weary and sick at heart;
and that is my condition. Yet my hunger
drives me to take this food, and think no more
of my afflictions. Belly must be filled.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

But despite my misery, let me finish dinner.
The belly’s a shameless dog, there’s nothing worse.
Always insisting, pressing, it never lets us forget --
destroyed as I am, my heart racked with sadness,
sick with anguish, still it keeps demanding,
"Eat, drink!" It blots out all the memory
of my pain, commanding, "Fill me up!"
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

But all I want now is to be allowed to eat,
Despite my grief. There is nothing more shameless
Than this belly of ours, which forces a man
To pay attention to it, no matter how many
Troubles he has, how much pain is in his heart.
I have pain my heart, but my belly always
Makes me eat and drink and forget my troubles,
Pestering me to keep it filled.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 228ff]

But leave me now to eat my supper, distressed though I am; there is nothing more shameless than a man's wretched belly, which lays him under necessity to be mindful of it even when he is sorely troubled and nursing grief in his heart. This is my case: I am nursing grief in my heart, and yet it is forever urging me to eat and drink, making me forget all that I have suffered, always telling me to eat my fill.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

But let me have my meal, despite my grief.
The belly is just like a whining dog:
it begs and forces one to notice it,
despite exhaustion or depths of sorry.
My heart is full of sorrow, but my stomach
is always telling me to eat and drink.
It tells me to forget what I have suffered,
and fill it up.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Added on 28-Apr-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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