Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Hymn of Zeus," lines 160-182 from Agamemnon by Aeschylus

"Hymn of Zeus," lines 160-182 from Agamemnon
[spoken by Chorus of old men]

Original Greek text:

Text translated by Richmond Lattimore:

Zeus: whatever he may be, if this name
pleases him in invocation,
thus I call upon him.
I have pondered everything
yet I cannot find a way,
only Zeus, to cast this dead weight of ignorance
finally from out my brain.

He who in time long ago was great,
throbbing with gigantic strength,
shall be as if he never were, unspoken.
He who followed him has found
his master, and is gone.
Cry aloud without fear the victory of Zeus,
you will not have failed the truth:

Zeus, who guided men to think,
who has laid it down that wisdom
comes alone through suffering.
Still there drips in sleep against the heart
grief of memory; against
our pleasure we are temperate
From the gods who sit in grandeur
grace comes somehow violent.

Source of the text in Greek - Aeschylus, The Agememnon of Aeschylus: A Revised Text and a Translation, by William W. Goodwin.  Boston: Ginn & Company, 1906, pp.13-15.

Source of the translated text - Aeschylus I: Oresteia, Translated and with an Introduction by Richmond Lattimore.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1953, pp. 39-40.

TJB: RFK’s favorite. Zeus is praised (incomparable, victorious & insistent on us suffering) best by the drips-sleep-heart-memory image sequence.

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