We must look to the conclusion of every matter, and see how it shall end

From Book 1 ch 32 of Herodotus. I recently found a near full set of the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla text and commentary and to hindsight justify the purchase am now unexpectedly rereading Herodotus. Timeline mismatches aside, Solon’s visit to Croesus remains one of the most iconic summaries of Greek pessimism.

Thus then, Croesus, the whole of man is but chance. Now if I am to speak of you, I say that I see you very rich and the king of many men. But I cannot yet answer your question, before I hear that you have ended your life well. For he who is very rich is not more blest than he who has but enough for the day, unless fortune so attend him that he ends his life well, having all good things about him. Many men of great wealth are unblest, and many that have no great substance are fortunate. Now the very rich man who is yet unblest has but two advantages over the fortunate man, but the fortunate man has many advantages over the rich but unblest: for this latter is the stronger to accomplish his desire and to bear the stroke of great calamity; but these are the advantages of the fortunate man, that though he be not so strong as the other to deal with calamity and desire, yet these are kept far from him by his good fortune, and he is free from deformity, sickness, and all evil, and happy in his children and his comeliness. If then such a man besides all this shall also end his life well, then he is the man whom you seek, and is worthy to be called blest; but we must wait till he be dead, and call him not yet blest, but fortunate. Now no one (who is but man) can have all these good things together, just as no land is altogether self-sufficing in what it produces: one thing it has, another it lacks, and the best land is that which has most; so too no single person is sufficient for himself: one thing he has, another he lacks; but whoever continues in the possession of most things, and at last makes a gracious end of his life, such a man, O King, I deem worthy of this title. We must look to the conclusion of every matter, and see how it shall end, for there are many to whom heaven has given a vision of blessedness, and yet afterwards brought them to utter ruin.”

οὕτω ὦν Κροῖσε πᾶν ἐστὶ ἄνθρωπος συμφορή. ἐμοὶ δὲ σὺ καὶ πλουτέειν μέγα φαίνεαι καὶ βασιλεὺς πολλῶν εἶναι ἀνθρώπων· ἐκεῖνο δὲ τὸ εἴρεό με, οὔκω σε ἐγὼ λέγω, πρὶν τελευτήσαντα καλῶς τὸν αἰῶνα πύθωμαι. οὐ γάρ τι ὁ μέγα πλούσιος μᾶλλον τοῦ ἐπ᾿ ἡμέρην ἔχοντος ὀλβιώτερος ἐστί, εἰ μή οἱ τύχη ἐπίσποιτο πάντα καλὰ ἔχοντα εὖ τελευτῆσαι τὸν βίον. πολλοὶ μὲν γὰρ ζάπλουτοι ἀνθρώπων ἀνόλβιοι εἰσί, πολλοὶ δὲ μετρίως ἔχοντες βίου εὐτυχέες. ὁ μὲν δὴ μέγα πλούσιος ἀνόλβιος δὲ δυοῖσι προέχει τοῦ εὐτυχέος μοῦνον, οὗτος δὲ τοῦ πλουσίου καὶ ἀνόλβου πολλοῖσι· ὃ μὲν ἐπιθυμίην ἐκτελέσαι καὶ ἄτην μεγάλην προσπεσοῦσαν ἐνεῖκαι δυνατώτερος, ὃ δὲ τοῖσιδε προέχει ἐκείνου· ἄτην μὲν καὶ ἐπιθυμίην οὐκ ὁμοίως δυνατὸς ἐκείνῳ ἐνεῖκαι, ταῦτα δὲ ἡ εὐτυχίη οἱ ἀπερύκει, ἄπηρος δὲ ἐστί, ἄνουσος, ἀπαθὴς κακῶν, εὔπαις, εὐειδής. εἰ δὲ πρὸς τούτοισι ἔτι τελευτήσει τὸν βίον εὖ, οὗτος ἐκεῖνος τὸν σὺ ζητέεις, ὁ ὄλβιος κεκλῆσθαι ἄξιος ἐστί· πρὶν δ᾿ ἂν τελευτήσῃ, ἐπισχεῖν, μηδὲ καλέειν κω ὄλβιον ἀλλ᾿ εὐτυχέα. τὰ πάντα μέν νυν ταῦτα συλλαβεῖν ἄνθρωπον ἔοντα ἀδύνατον ἐστί, ὥσπερ χώρη οὐδεμία καταρκέει πάντα ἑωυτῇ παρέχουσα, ἀλλὰ ἄλλο μὲν ἔχει ἑτέρου δὲ ἐπιδέεται· ἣ δὲ ἂν τὰ πλεῖστα ἔχῃ, αὕτη ἀρίστη. ὣς δὲ καὶ ἀνθρώπου σῶμα ἓν οὐδὲν αὔταρκες ἐστί· τὸ μὲν γάρ ἔχει, ἄλλου δὲ ἐνδεές ἐστι· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν αὐτῶν πλεῖστα ἔχων διατελέῃ καὶ ἔπειτα τελευτήσῃ εὐχαρίστως τὸν βίον, οὗτος παρ᾿ ἐμοὶ τὸ οὔνομα τοῦτο ὦ βασιλεῦ δίκαιος ἐστὶ φέρεσθαι. σκοπέειν δὲ χρὴ παντὸς χρήματος τὴν τελευτήν, κῇ ἀποβήσεται· πολλοῖσι γὰρ δὴ ὑποδέξας ὄλβον ὁ θεὸς προρρίζους ἀνέτρεψε.”

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