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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Fragments from Lost Plays
By Euripides (c. 480–406 B.C.)
 
Translation of John Addington Symonds

Professional Athletics

OF all the thousand ills that prey on Hellas,
Not one is greater than the tribe of athletes;
For, first, they never learn how to live well,—
Nor indeed could they; seeing that a man
Slave to his jaws and belly, cannot hope        5
To heap up wealth superior to his sire’s.
How to be poor and row in fortune’s boat
They know no better; for they have not learned
Manners that make men proof against ill luck.
Lustrous in youth, they lounge like living statues        10
Decking the streets; but when sad old age comes,
They fall and perish like a threadbare coat.
I’ve often blamed the customs of us Hellenes,
Who for the sake of such men meet together
To honor idle sport and feed our fill;        15
For who, I pray you, by his skill in wrestling,
Swiftness of foot, good boxing, strength at quoits,
Has served his city by the crown he gains?
Will they meet men in fight with quoits in hand,
Or in the press of shields drive forth the foeman        20
By force of fisticuffs from hearth and home?
Such follies are forgotten face to face
With steel. We therefore ought to crown with wreaths
Men wise and good, and him who guides the State,
A man well-tempered, just, and sound in counsel,        25
Or one who by his words averts ill deeds,
Warding off strife and warfare; for such things
Bring honor on the city and all Hellenes.
 
Children a Blessing

LADY, the sun’s light to our eyes is dear,
And fair the tranquil reaches of the sea,        30
And flowery earth in May, and bounding waters;
And so right many fair things I might praise;
Yet nothing is so radiant and so fair
As for souls childless, with desire sore smitten,
To see the light of babes about the house.        35
 
Resignation

THINK’ST thou that Death will heed thy tears at all,
Or send thy son back if thou wilt but groan?
Nay, cease; and gazing at thy neighbor’s grief,
Grow calm—if thou wilt take the pains to reckon
How many have toiled out their lives in bonds,        40
How many wear to old age, robbed of children,
And all who from the tyrant’s height of glory
Have sunk to nothing. These things shouldst thou heed.
 
No man was ever born who did not suffer:
He buries children, then begets new sons,        45
Then dies himself; and men forsooth are grieved,
Consigning dust to dust. Yet needs must be
Lives should be garnered like ripe harvest sheaves,
And one man live, another perish. Why
Mourn over that which nature puts upon us?        50
Naught that must be is terrible to mortals.
 
“Captive Good Attending Captain Ill”

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        55
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.
How many little States that serve the gods        60
Are subject to the godless but more strong,
Made slaves by might of a superior army!
 
 
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