Thursday, July 8, 2010

Greek Poetry

From Alcestis, by Euripides (ca. 480-406 BCE)

The Chorus bids a heartbroken farewell to Alcestis, who has volunteered to die in place of her husband.

©Marie-Lan Nguyen
CHORUS
Daughter of Pelias, farewell.
May you find contentment even in Hades' dark halls,
in a home with no sunlight.
May Hades the dark-haired god be aware
and may he whose hand is on the oar,
the old man who steers the dead on their way,
may he realize that by far, by far
the greatest of women has been in his boat
passing through the shallows of Acheron.

Poets from all around the world
will extol your name, plucking the seven-toned lyre--
from the shell of the mountain
tortoise -- and in unaccompanied hymns.
When the festive month Carneius comes
and the moon in Sparta shines all night long,
they will sing of you -- and in opulent
Athens. Your death leaves behind a rich song
for our poets to nurture and revere.

~~ Translated by Diane Arnson Svarlien

Image courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons
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