03 October 2006

Quotable Euripides

I've been reading Medea recently. As I read (slowly), I keep coming across tidbits that recommend themselves for memorization. My pocket Moleskine now has quite a few lines from the play, and I use that to memorize from while on the bus. It turns out books of quotations were popular even in ancient times, and quotations from plays, especially Euripides and Menander, seem to have been especially popular.

Last week, during a review, I noticed a few lines of anapests that I decided I should be able to recite:

δεινὰ τυράννων λήματα καί πως—
ὀλίγ’ ἀρχόμενοι, πολλὰ κρατοῦντες —     120
χαλεπῶς ὀργὰς μεταβάλλουσιν.

The wants of despots are terrible and —
since they are ruled little and command much —
only (πως) with difficulty do they change their impulses.

Suddenly it's completely current.

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