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GLOUCESTER: As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods;
They kill us for their sport.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 4, sc. 1, l. 41ff (4.1.41-42) (1606)
Added on 13-Nov-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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There be many shapes of mystery.
And many things God makes to be,
Past hope or fear.
And the end men looked for cometh not,
And a path is there where no man thought.
So hath it fallen here.

[πολλαὶ μορφαὶ τῶν δαιμονίων,
πολλὰ δ᾿ ἀέλπτως κραίνουσι θεοί·
καὶ τὰ δοκηθέντ᾿ οὐκ ἐτελέσθη,
τῶν δ᾿ ἀδοκήτων πόρον ηὗρε θεός.
τοιόνδ᾿ ἀπέβη τόδε πρᾶγμα.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 1388ff, final lines [Chorus/Χορός] (405 BC) [tr. Murray (1902)]

This sort of exit coda, as the Chorus exits, was apparently normal with Euripides. In fact this same text shows up in five of his plays (Bacchae, Alcestis, Andromache, Helen, and slightly modified, Medea), all of which have to do with reversals of fortune. Still, the identical text has some scholars debating whether one or more might later additions. See Kirk, Esposito, Gibbons / Segal for more discussion.

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

A thousand shapes our varying Fates assume,
The Gods perform what least we could expect,
And oft the things for which we fondly hop'd
Come not to pass: Heaven finds a clue to guide
Our steps thro' the perplexing maze of life,
And thus doth this important business end.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Many are the forms of divine things, and the gods bring to pass many things unexpectedly; what is expected has not been accomplished, but the god has found out a means for doing things unthought of. So too has this event turned out.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Many the forms in which God is made manifest,
Often He orders what seemed unexpected,
Much men resolve on remains uneffected,
Such men can not do God finds a way for;
Such is the meaning of what ye see.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 1358ff]

Many are the forms the heavenly will assumes, and many a thing the gods fulfil contrary to all hope; that which was expected is not brought to pass, while for the unlooked-for Heaven finds out a way. E’en such hath been the issue here.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

O the works of the Gods -- in manifold wise they reveal them:
Manifold things unhoped-for the Gods to accomplishment bring.
And the things that we looked for, the Gods deign not to fulfil them;
And the paths undiscerned of our eyes, the Gods unseal them.
So fell this marvelous thing.
[tr. Way (1898)]

The gods have many shapes.
The gods bring many things
to their accomplishment.
And what was most expected
has not been accomplished.
But god has found his way
for what no man expected.
So ends the play.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

Many are the shapes of things divine;
much the gods achieve beyond expectation;
and what seems probable is not accomplished,
whereas for the improbable, god finds a way.
Such was the result of this affair.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

Gods manifest themselves in many forms,
Bring many matters to surprising ends;
The things we thought would happen do not happen;
The unexpected God makes possible:
And that is what has happened here to-day.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

Many the guises of the divine ones,
many surprises gods may accomplish'
and the expected finds no fruition,
all unexpected god finds a pathway.
Such was the outcome in this, our play.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

The Gods take many forms.
They manifest themselves in unpredictable ways.
What we most expect
does not happen.
And for the least expected
God finds a way.
This is what happened here today.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

Divinity takes many forms.
The gods accomplish many things beyond all hope.
What is expected is not brought to pass.
But god discovers means
To bring about the unexpected.
Such was the outcome here.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

Many are the shapes of divinity,
many the things the gods accomplish against our expectation.
What seems proper is not brought to pass,
whereas for the improbable god finds a way.
Such was the outcome of this story.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Many are the shapes the gods will take,
many the surprises they perform.
What was thought likely did not transpire,
and what was unlikely the god made easy.
That is how this matter ended.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

Many are the shapes of what's divine.
Many unforeseen events the gods design.
What seemed most likely was not fulfilled;
What was unlikely, the god has willed.
Such were the things that end in this decline.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 1609ff]

What heaven sends has many shapes, and many things the gods accomplish against our expectations. What men look for is not brought to pass, but a god finds a way to achieve the unexpected. Such was the outcome of this story.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

The gods take many forms,
The gods move in strange ways,
That which seemed, does not transpire
And that which did not, does.
That is what transpired here.
Turn out the lights.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

That which was expected in this story did not come to pass, and for that which was expected, the god found a way. Perhaps mortals can never really grasp the workings of gods, for they do not follow a human design. They are a power of life we do not know, nor can fully understand.
[tr. Rao/Wolf (2004)]

The Fates have many guises and the gods bring about many things unexpected by mortals.
Those things we expect do not necessarily happen.
So ends this play.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

Many are the forms of the Divine
And the gods brought to pass much unexpected,
And what was expected, not brought to pass;
And they did make possible th’impossible:
Thus did the affair turn out.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

The gods appear in many forms,
carrying with them unwelcome things.
What people thought would happen never did.
What they did not expect, the gods made happen.
That's what this story revealed.
[tr. Johnston (2008)]

The gods take many shapes,
accomplish many things beyond our expectations.
What we look for does not come to pass;
what we least expect is fashioned by the gods.
And that is what has happened here today.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

The shapes of god shift through many forms,
and lives are changed more than we could dream.
What we thought would happen did not,
but we have seen the god reveal
the true order of the world.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

Many are the forms of divine powers
Many are the acts the gods unexpectedly make.
The very things which seemed likely did not happen
but for the unlikely, some god found a way.
This turned out to be that kind of story.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Many are the forms of things of the daimones, and the gods bring many things to pass unexpectedly. What is expected does not come to telos, and a god finds a way for the unexpected. So too has this affair turned out.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 19-Jul-23 | Last updated 19-Jul-23
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It is slow to stir, but nonetheless
it never fails, the strength
of gods.

[ὁρμᾶται μόλις, ἀλλ᾽ ὅμως
πιστόν τι τὸ θεῖον

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 882ff (Stasimon 3 (Ode 4), Antistrophe 1) [Chorus/Χορός] (405 BC) [tr. Kirk (1970)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

The tardy God arrives at length
His steadfast promise to fulfil,
Exulting in immortal strength.
Tremble, ye ministers of ill!
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Divine strength is roused with difficulty, but still is sure.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Slow come, but come at length,
In their majestic strength
Faithful and true, the avenging deities.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

Although he slowly shews his might,
God ever steadfast is and sure.
[tr. Rogers (1872), ll. 844-45]

Though slow be its advance, yet surely moves the power of the gods.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

Slowly on-sweepeth, but unerringly,
The might of Heaven.
[tr. Way (1898)]

O Strength of God, slow art thou and still,
Yet failest never!
[tr. Murray (1902)]

Slow but unmistakable
the might of the gods moves on.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

Slow, yet unfailing, move the Powers
of heaven with the moving hours
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

Scarcely speeding, but all the same
the strength of the gods is certain.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

Slowly but implacably,
divine power moves.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

Scarcely it has started,
Yet still god's might is trust-
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

It starts out slowly
but still the strength of the gods
is trustworthy.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Never hurried, never
failing, a god's
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

The unremitting power
Of the divine begins only
Slowly to move, but
Always moves.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000)]

Slowly does heaven move, but still
its strength is [something] sure.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

Slow but unerring move the gods
Against the heedless man.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

God’s justice might be late arriving but it does arrive.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

Th'heavens might is scarcely set in
Motion, but it is not to be
doubted, a beacon to humans.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

The power of the gods is difficult to stir -- but it's a power we can count on.
[tr. Johnston (2008)]

The might of heaven moves slowly, inexorably.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

The strength of a god is not roused without need,
But when it is roused, it comes down.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

Slowly they begin, but always the powers of heaven punish ....
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

Divine strength is roused with difficulty, but is trustworthy nevertheless.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Slow but sure moves the might of the gods.

Added on 16-May-23 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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