oratori minime convenit distortus vultus gestusque, quae in mimis rideri solent.
Not at all suitable for an orator is the distortion of face and of gesture; these things, done by actors of farces, are generally a source of laughter.
καρτερήσας δ’ οὖν καὶ παρακαθίσας διελέγετο, ἄλλοτε ἄλλα ῥήματα συνάπτων οὐκ ἔχοντα νοῦν. τοιοῦτοι γὰρ οἱ ἐρῶντες, ὅταν πρὸς τὰς ἐρωμένας ζητήσωσι λαλεῖν· οὐ γὰρ ἐπιστήσαντες τὸν λογισμὸν τοῖς λόγοις, ἀλλὰ τὴν ψυχὴν εἰς τὸ ἐρώμενον ἔχοντες, τῇ γλώττῃ μόνον χωρὶς ἡνιόχου τοῦ λογισμοῦ λαλοῦσιν.
So he exercised self-restraint, sat down by her side and conversed with her, stringing together at different moments different subjects which had no sense to them. For this is what lovers are like whenever they seek to chat with those they love. They put no logic in control of their words, but direct their whole soul towards the beloved; with their tongue alone they chatter away without reason holding the reins.
nec sic incipies, ut scriptor cyclicus olim:
‘fortunam Priami cantabo et nobile bellum.’
quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu?
parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.
quanto rectius hic, qui nil molitur inepte:
‘dic mihi, Musa, virum, captae post tempora Troiae
qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes.’
And you shouldn’t start, as a writer of cyclic epic once did, ‘Of Priam’s fate I sing and a famous war.’ What could he bring forth great enough to match such an opening promise? The mountains will go into labour and bring forth… a ridiculous mouse! How much better this man is, who doesn’t exert himself inappropriately: ‘Tell me, o Muse, of the man who, after the time of Troy’s capture, saw many men’s customs and cities.’
The final lines are, of course, a translation of the opening of the Odyssey.
One of a group of epigrams imagining the words of mythological characters. This one has the title
τίνας ἂν εἴποι λόγους Ἑλένη ὁρῶσα τὸν Μενέλαον καὶ τὸν Πάριδα μονομαχοῦντας.
What words Helen would say when she saw Menelaus and Paris fighting the duel,
referring to the duel at Iliad 3.324ff.
Εὐρώπης Ἀσίης τε δορισθενέες βασιλῆες,
ὑμῖν ἀμφοτέροισιν ἐπὶ ξυροῦ ἵσταται ἄκμῆς,
τίς κεν ἐμὲ τλήθυμος ἕλοι δύστηνον ἀκοίτης·
Ζεὺς δὲ πατὴρ δικάσειεν, ἄνευθε δὲ Κυπρογενείης,
μὴ πάλιν ἄλλος ἕλῃ με γαμοκλόπος, αἶσχος Ἀχαιοῖς.
You kings, mighty with the spear, of Europe and Asia, for both of you it stands on a razor’s edge which of you staunch-hearted men will take wretched me in marriage. Let Father Zeus decide, but without the Cyprus-born one [=Aphrodite], lest another marriage-thief take me, a disgrace to the Achaeans.
Because αἶσχος ‘disgrace’ is neuter, it’s actually ambiguous whether the word is nominative (referring to the ‘marriage-thief’) or accusative (referring to Helen), and I’ve kept that ambiguity in the translation. Presumably Helen is referring to herself, just as she uses derogatory words about herself in the Iliad. Note too the near-anagram in the final two words, which is not, I think, accidental.
Simonides vero poeta octogesimo anno et docuisse se carmina et in eorum certamen descendisse ipse gloriatur. nec fuit inicum illum voluptatem ex ingenio suo diu percipere, cum tantam omni aevo fruendam traditurus esset.
Simonides the poet himself boasts that in his eightieth year he both led rehearsals of his poems and entered a poetic competition. It was not unfair for him to take that delight in his genius for so long, since he was to hand on such great enjoyment to all future ages.
A complicated love quadrilateral.
ἤρατο Πὰν Ἀχῶς τᾶς γείτονος, ἤρατο δ’ Ἀχὼ
σκιρτατᾶ Σατύρω, Σάτυρος δ’ ἐπεμήνατο Λύδᾳ.
ὡς Ἀχὼ τὸν Πᾶνα, τόσον Σάτυρος φλέγεν Ἀχώ,
καὶ Λύδα Σατυρίσκον· Ἔρως δ’ ἐσμύχετ’ ἀμοιβᾷ.
ὅσσον γὰρ τήνων τις ἐμίσεε τὸν φιλέοντα,
τόσσον ὁμῶς φιλέων ἠχθαίρετο, πάσχε δ’ ἃ ποίει.
ταῦτα λέγω πᾶσιν τὰ διδάγματα τοῖς ἀνεράστοις·
στέργετε τὼς φιλέοντας, ἵν’ ἢν φιλέητε φιλῆσθε.
Pan loved Echo, his neighbour. Echo loved the skittish Satyr. The Satyr was madly in love with Lyda. As Echo inflamed Pan, so did Satyr Echo and Lyda Satyr. And they all felt love in turn. For just as much as each of them scorned their lover, so was each one detested, being such a lover: each one suffered the same things they were doing themselves. Here’s the lesson I tell to all who are without love: show affection to those who love you, if you would be loved where you feel love.
Atheniensium res gestae, sicuti ego aestumo, satis amplae magnificaeque fuere, verum aliquanto minores tamen quam fama feruntur. sed quia provenere ibi scriptorum magna ingenia, per terrarum orbem Atheniensium facta pro maxumis celebrantur. ita eorum, qui fecere, virtus tanta habetur, quantum eam verbis potuere extollere praeclara ingenia.
The achievements of the Athenians, as far as I can judge, were ample and distinguished enough, although they were in fact somewhat less than they are said to be by reputation. But because the great talents of the writers were produced in Athens, the Athenians’ deeds are celebrated throughout the world as the greatest. Thus the courage of those who have performed deeds is considered to have reached the heights to which illustrious talents have been able to elevate it in words.