If then my fortunes can delight my friend,
A story fruitful of events attend:
Another’s sorrow may thy ears enjoy,
And wine the lengthen’d intervals employ.
Long nights the now declining year bestows;
A part we consecrate to soft repose,
A part in pleasing talk we entertain;
For too much rest itself becomes a pain.
[ξεῖν᾽, ἐπεὶ ἂρ δὴ ταῦτά μ᾽ ἀνείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾷς,
σιγῇ νῦν ξυνίει καὶ τέρπεο, πῖνέ τε οἶνον
ἥμενος. αἵδε δὲ νύκτες ἀθέσφατοι: ἔστι μὲν εὕδειν,
ἔστι δὲ τερπομένοισιν ἀκούειν: οὐδέ τί σε χρή,
πρὶν ὥρη, καταλέχθαι: ἀνίη καὶ πολὺς ὕπνος.]
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 15, l. 390ff (15.390) [Eumæus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Pope (1725)]
(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:
Since thou enquir’st of that, my guest, said he,
Hear and be silent, and, mean space, sit free
In use of these cups to thy most delights;
Unspeakable in length now are the nights.
Those that affect sleep yet, to sleep have leave,
Those that affect to hear, their hearers give.
But sleep not ere your hour; much sleep doth grieve.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]
Since to hear the story
Of how I hither came it is your pleasure,
Sit patiently, the wine there stands before ye;
For sleep and joy the long nights give us leisure,
It is not good too soon to go to bed;
For too much sleep is but a weariness.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 349ff]
Stranger! since thou art curious to be told
My story, silent listen, and thy wine
At leisure quaff. The nights are longest now,
And such as time for sleep afford, and time
For pleasant conf’rence; neither were it good
That thou should’st to thy couch before thy hour,
Since even sleep is hurtful, in excess.
[tr. Cowper (1792)]
Since of these things thou askest, O my friend.
Sit here at ease delighted and drink wine,
And silently on this my tale attend.
For now the nights move slowly and scarce end;
Yeah, there is room for slumber, and to keep
Watch, and a listening ear to sweet words lend.
Needs not at all unto thy couch to creep
For some while yet. Harm comes from even too much sleep.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 54]
Stranger! since thus thou questionest, and fain
So much from me would'st learn, remain thou mute,
And, thy seat here maintaining, take thine ease
And drink that wine: The nights are lengthsome, now,
And we to slumber may betake ourselves,
As we may equally with raptur'd ears
To some recital listen. 'Tis not well
That thou before thy wonted hour the couch
Of rest should'st seek: for, slumber in excess
A hurt becomes.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 638ff]
Sir guest! since you thus ask and question me,
List to me now, and take your pleasure sitting
There at the wine: the nights are long; there's time
For sleep; and listening with delight to tales!
No need to lay thee down before the time;
And too much sleeping is a mere annoyance.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869), l. 389ff]
Stranger, since thou askest and questionest me hereof, give heed now in silence and make merry, and abide here drinking wine. Lo, the nights now are of length untold. Time is there to sleep, and time to listen and be glad; thou needest not turn to bed before the hour; even too much sleep is vexation of spirit.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]
O guest, since of these matters thou askest and seekest of me,
Sit on and drink and be merry, and hush thy voice, and heed:
For measureless long is the night-tide, and time is for sleep indeed,
And time too for the merry hearkening; nor before the hour is come
Is need to wend us bedward; and much sleep is wearisome.
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 390ff]
Stranger, since now you ask of this and question me, quietly listen; take your ease, and sit and drink your wine. These nights are vastly long. there is time enough to sleep, and time to cheer ourselves with hearing stories. You must not go to bed till bed-time; too much sleeping harms.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]
Stranger, replied Eumæus, as regards your question. Sit still, make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to me. The nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time both for sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not to go to bed till bed time, too much sleep is as bad as too little.
[tr. Butler (1898), l. 389ff]
Stranger, replied Eumaios, the swineherd and leader of men, as regards your question: sit still, make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to me. The nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time both for sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not to go to bed till it is time [hōrā], too much sleep is as bad as too little.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Kim/McCray/Nagy/Power (2018), ll. 390-95]
Stranger, since thou dost ask and question me of this, hearken now in silence, and take thy joy, and drink thy wine, as thou sittest here. These nights are wondrous long. There is time for sleep, and there is time to take joy in hearing tales; thou needest not lay thee down till it be time; there is weariness even in too much sleep.
[tr. Murray (1919), ll. 390-94]
Stranger, if you will open up that topic, settle yourself comfortably into your seat, refill your cup and listen to me closely. These nights are inordinately long and afford us time for diverting tales and for sleep too. Nor is there point in sleeping over soon: that way lies boredom.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]
My friend, replied the admirable swineherd, you have asked for the story of my capture. Very well, give me your ear and enjoy the tale as you sit there and drink your wine. There’s no end to these nights. They give one time to listen and be entertained as well as time to sleep. Nor is there any need for you to go early to bed. Even where sleep is concerned, too much is a bad thing.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]
Friend, now that you shown an interest in that matter, attend me quietly, be at your ease, and drink your wine. These autumn nights are long, ample for story-telling and sleep. You need not go to bed before the hour; sleeping from dusk to dawn's a dull affair.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
My guest, since indeed you are asking me all these questions,
listen in silence and take your pleasure, and sit there drinking
your wine. These nights are endless, and a man can sleep through them.
or he can enjoy listening to stories, and you have no need
to go to bed before it is time. Too much sleep is only
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]
Stranger, since you insist on asking this. Be silent as I tell my tale, just sip your wine and sit at ease. These are long nights: there's time for sleep and time to take delight in listening to tales; it is not right to shut one's eyes too early: there's fatigue even in too much sleep.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
My friend, the swineherd answered, foreman of men,
you really want my story? So many questions -- well,
listen in quiet, then, and take your ease, sit back
and drink your wine. The nights are endless now.
We've plenty of time to sleep or savor a long tale.
No need, you know, to turn in before the hour.
Even too much sleep can be a bore.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]
My friend, you have asked for my story. Very well, listen quietly and enjoy the tale as you sit there and drink your wine. These nights are very long. They give one time to listen and be entertained as well as time to sleep. Nor is there any need for you to go early to bed. Too much sleep is a bad thing.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]
Guest, you ask the question and seek to know all about this; so now be silent, listen and enjoy the tale, as you sit there and drink your wine. The nights are now very long; there is time enough to sleep, and to enjoy hearing a story. You do not need to go to bed before time; and too much sleep does you no good.
[tr. Verity (2016)]
Since you have asked this question, stranger, listen; enjoy my store, sitting quietly, drinking your wine. These nights are magical, with time enough to sleep and to enjoy hearing a tale. You need not sleep too early; it is unhealthy.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]
Stranger, since you're questioning me about these matters, listen in silence now, at your ease, and drink your wine while you sit here. These nights are endless: you can sleep, you can also listen for pleasure. No need to bed down before the time comes.
[tr. Green (2018)]
Stranger, since you ask questions about this,
stay quiet, enjoy yourself, drink your wine,
as you sit there, and listen to my tale.
These nights go on forever. There’s a time
to sleep, and there’s a time to take delight
in hearing stories. You don’t need to rest
before you’re ready, and excessive sleep
can leave one weary.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 498ff]
Added on 28-Jul-21 | Last updated 10-Jan-22
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