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IV.23. De Simonide


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 519.


Homo doctus in se semper divitias habet.

Simonides, qui scripsit egregium melos,

quo paupertatem sustineret facilius,

circum ire coepit urbes Asiae nobiles,

mercede accepta laudem victorum canens.

Hoc genere quaestus postquam locuples factus est,

redire in patriam voluit cursu pelagio;

erat autem, ut aiunt, natus in Cia insula.

ascendit navem; quam tempestas horrida

simul et vetustas medio dissolvit mari.

Hi zonas, illi res pretiosas colligunt,

subsidium vitae. Quidam curiosior:

"Simonide, tu ex opibus nil sumis tuis?"

"Mecum" inquit "mea sunt cuncta."Tunc pauci enatant,

quia plures onere degravati perierant.

Praedones adsunt, rapiunt quod quisque extulit,

nudos relinquunt. Forte Clazomenae prope

antiqua fuit urbs, quam petierunt naufragi.

Hic litterarum quidam studio deditus,

Simonidis qui saepe versus legerat,

eratque absentis admirator maximus,

sermone ab ipso cognitum cupidissime

ad se recepit; veste, nummis, familia

hominem exornavit. Ceteri tabulam suam

portant, rogantes victum. Quos casu obvios

Simonides ut vidit: "Dixi" inquit "mea

mecum esse cuncta; vos quod rapuistis perit."


Here is the poem in a more prose-like word order for easy reading:


Homo doctus semper habet divitias in se.

Simonides, qui egregium scripsit melos,

quo facilius sustineret paupertatem,

coepit ire circum urbes Asiae nobiles,

canens laudem victorum, mercede accepta.

Postquam factus est locuples hoc genere quaestus,

voluit redire in patriam pelagio cursu;

ut aiunt autem natus erat in Cia insula.

ascendit navem;

horrida tempestas

simul et vetustas

dissolvit navem medio mari.

Hi colligunt zonas,

illi colligunt res pretiosas,

subsidium vitae.

Quidam curiosior dixit:

"Simonide, tu sumis nil ex tuis opibus?"

Simonides inquit:

"Cuncta mea sunt mecum."

Tunc pauci enatant,

quia plures perierant, degravati onere.

Praedones adsunt, rapiunt quod quisque extulit,

relinquunt nudos.

Forte antiqua urbs Clazomenae fuit prope;

naufragi petierunt urbem.

Hic quidam deditus studio litterarum,

qui saepe legerat versus Simonidis,

et erat maximus admirator absentis,

cupidissime recepit ad se cognitum ab ipso sermone;

exornavit hominem veste, nummis, familia.

Ceteri portant tabulam suam, rogantes victum.

Simonides, ut casu vidit eos obvios, inquit:

"Dix cuncta mea esse mecum;

quod vos rapuistis, perit."


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Hom' doc~tus in ~ se sem~per di~vitjas ~ habet.

Simo~nides, ~ qui scrip~sit e~gregjum ~ melos,

quo pau~perta~tem sus~tine~ret fac'~lius,

circ(um) i~re coe~pit ur~bes As~jae no~biles,

merce~d(e) accep~ta lau~dem vic~torum ~ canens.

Hoc gen'~re quaes~tus post~quam loc'~ples fac~tus est,

redi~r(e) in ~ patrjam ~ voluit ~ cursu ~ pela~gio;

erat au~t(em), ut aj~unt, na~tus in ~ Ci(a) in~sula.

ascen~dit na~vem; quam ~ tempes~tas hor~rida

sim'l et ~ vetus~tas med~jo dis~solvit ~ mari.

Hi zo~nas, il~li res ~ pretjo~sas col~ligunt,

subsid~jum vi~tae. Qui~dam cu~rio~sior:

"Simo~nide, ~ t(u) ex op'bus nil ~ sumis ~ tuis?"

"Mec(um)" in~quit "mea ~ sunt cunc~ta."Tunc ~ pauc(i) e~natant,

quja plu~res on'~re de~grava~ti per~jerant.

Praedo~nes ad~sunt, rap~junt quod ~ quisqu(e) ex~tulit,

nudos ~ relin~quunt. Fort' ~ Clazo~menae ~ prope

anti~qua fuit ~ urbs, quam ~ petje~runt nau~fragi.

Hic lit~tera~rum qui~dam stud~jo de~ditus,

Simo~nidis ~ qui sae~pe ver~sus le~gerat,

erat~qu(e) absen~tis ad~mira~tor max~imus,

sermo~n(e) ab ip~so cog~nitum ~ cup'dis~sime

ad se ~ rece~pit; ves~te, num~mis, fam'~lia

hom'n(em) ex~orna~vit. Cet'~ri ta~bulam ~ suam

portant, ~ rogan~tes vic~tum. Quos ~ cas(u) ob~vios

Simo~nides ~ ut vi~dit: "Dix~(i)" inquit ~ "mea

mec(um) es~se cunc~ta; vos ~ quod rap~vistis ~ perit."




A learned man always has riches in himself. Simonides was an extraordinary author of lyric poems and in this way he quite easily endured poverty. He had begun to travel around the great cities of Asia, singing the praises of victorious athletes in exchange for a fee. When he had grown wealthy in this venture, he was ready to take a sea voyage and go back to his native land (he was born, so they say, on the island of Ceos). He boarded a ship, but a terrible storm (plus the sheer age of the ship) caused it to break apart in the middle of the sea. Some of the passengers grabbed their money belts, while others held onto their valuables as a means of subsistence. A passenger who was rather curious said, 'Simonides, are you taking nothing of your wealth?' He replied, 'All that is mine is right here with me.' It turned out that only a few were able to swim ashore, while the majority drowned, weighed down by what they were carrying. Then bandits arrived and took from the survivors whatever they had brought ashore, stripping them naked. As it happened, the ancient city of Clazomenae was not far off, so the shipwrecked people sought it out. In this city there lived a man inclined to literary pursuits who had often read Simonides's compositions and who was his great admirer from afar. He recognized Simonides simply from his manner of speaking and eagerly invited him to his house, regaling him with clothes and money and servants. Meanwhile, the rest of the survivors carried around placards, begging for food. When Simonides happened to run into them, he took one look and exclaimed, 'Just as I said: all that is mine is right here with me, but everything that you took with you is lost."


[This translation is meant as a help in understanding the story, not as a "crib" for the Latin. I have not hesitated to change the syntax to make it flow more smoothly in English, altering the verb tense consistently to narrative past tense, etc.]


The Shipwreck of Simonides (trans. C. Smart)

A man, whose learned worth is known,

Has always riches of his own.

Simonides, who was the head

Of lyric bards, yet wrote for bread,

His circuit took through every town

In Asia of the first renown,

The praise of heroes to rehearse,

Who gave him money for his verse.

When by this trade much wealth was earn'd,

Homewards by shipping he return'd

(A Cean born, as some suppose):

On board he went, a tempest rose,

Which shook th' old ship to that degree,

She founder'd soon as out at sea.

Some purses, some their jewels tie

About them for a sure supply;

But one more curious, ask'd the seer,

"Poet, have you got nothing here ?"

"My all," says he, "is what I am."-

On this some few for safety swam

(For most o'erburden'd by their goods,

Were smother'd in the whelming floods).

The spoilers came, the wealth demand,

And leave them naked on the strand.

It happen'd for the shipwreck'd crew

An ancient city was in view,

By name Clazomena, in which

There lived a scholar learned and rich,

Who often read, his cares to ease,

The verses of Simonides,

And was a vast admirer grown

Of this great poet, though unknown.

Him by his converse when he traced,

He with much heartiness embraced,

And soon equipp'd the bard anew,

With servants, clothes, and money too

The rest benevolence implored,

With case depicted on a board:

Which when Simonides espied,

"I plainly told you all," he cried,

"That all my wealth was in myself;

As for your chattels and your pelf.

On which ye did so much depend,

They're come to nothing in the end."




Here is an illustration from an early printed edition; click on the image for a larger view.




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