The power of love

I have a few anthologies of Greek verse on my bookshelf. One of them is a “Garden of Greek Verse” collected by Frances Lincoln. It has a fairly small selection of Greek poetry together with translations from a variety of translators and illustrations from vases or frescos.

The following is a fragment of Sophocles not attributable to any play. The translation is by Sir Richard Livingstone (1880 to 1960). I like the both the Greek and the translation. If the last few lines of the translation seem very prosaic, that is because the book and translation does not contain the complete fragment so the final bit of the translation is my own.

My children, know Love is not Love alone,
But in her name lie many names concealed:
For she is Death, imperishable Force,
Desire unmixed , wild frenzy, Lamentation;
In her are summed all impulses that drive
To Violence, Energy, Tranquillity.
Deep in each living breast the Goddess sinks,
And all become her prey; the tribes that swims,
The fourfoot tribes that pace upon the earth,
Harbour her; and in birds her wing is sovereign,
In beasts, in mortal men, in gods above.

What god, when she wrestles, does she not throw three times.
If it is right for me to say
And it is right to tell the truth
She rules the heart of Zeus without a spear,
Without any weapon. Love cuts short
All the plans of men and gods.

ὦ παῖδες, ἤτοι Κύπρις οὐ Κύπρις μόνον
ἀλλ’ ἐστὶ πολλῶν ὀνομάτων ἐπώνυμος.
ἔστιν μὲν Ἅιδης, ἔστι δ’ ἄφθιτος βία,
ἔστιν δὲ λύσσα μανιάς, ἔστι δ’ ἵμερος
ἄκρατος,  ἔστ’ οἰμωγμός. ἐν κείνῃ τὸ πᾶν
σπουδαῖον, ἡσυχαῖον, ἐκ βίας ἄγον.
ἐντήκεται γἀρ πλευμόνων ὅσοις ἔνι
ψυχή· τίς οὐχὶ τῆσδε τῆς θεοῦ πόρος;
εἰσέρχεται μὲν ἰχθύων πλωτῷ γένει,
ἔνεστι δ’ ἐν χέρσου τετρασκελεῖ γονῇ,
νωμᾷ δ’ ἐν οἰωνοῖσι τοὐκείνης πτερόν.
ἐν θηρσίν, ἐν βροτοῖσιν, ἐν θεοῖς ἄνω
. . . . . .
τίν’ οὐ παλαίουσ’ ἐς τρὶς ἐκβἀλλει θεῶν;
εἴ μοι θέμις, θέμις δὲ τἀληθῆ λέγειν,
Διὸς τυραννεῖ πλευμόνων, ἄνευ δορός,
ἄνευ σιδήρου. πάντα τοι συντέμνεται
Κύπρις τἀ θνητῶν καὶ θεῶν βουλεύματα.

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One Response to The power of love

  1. “…without any weapon. Love cuts short All the plans of men and gods.”

    That, my friend, is epic. Not Euripides epic, Homer epic.

    Liked by 1 person

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