Aeschylus Agamemnon 72-82 (contributed by Zachary McGar)

“Gorgeous” is not likely to be the first adjective that one would use to describe either Aeschylus or his work, but his writing exhibits a staggering, almost uncalled-for beauty. If I were to judge a competition between him and Euripides, Euripides wouldn’t make it past the first round. In this passage the old men of the Chorus lament their own infirmity in the wake of the signal-fire announcing the sack of Troy.

Zachary McGar



ἡμεῖς δ᾽ ἀτίται σαρκὶ παλαιᾷ

τῆς τότ᾽ ἀρωγῆς ὑπολειφθέντες

μίμνομεν ἰσχὺν

ἰσόπαιδα νέμοντες ἐπὶ σκήπτροις.

ὅ τε γὰρ νεαρὸς μυελὸς στέρνων

ἐντὸς ἀνᾴσσων

ἰσόπρεσβυς, Ἄρης δ᾽ οὐκ ἔνι χώρᾳ,

τό θ᾽ ὑπέργηρων φυλλάδος ἤδη

κατακαρφομένης τρίποδας μὲν ὁδοὺς

στείχει, παιδὸς δ᾽ οὐδὲν ἀρείων

ὄναρ ἡμερόφαντον ἀλαίνει.


We remain, unhonored in our ancient skins,

Left out of the auxiliary all those years ago,

Shepherding childlike strength on walking sticks.

New blood leaps in the heart just as old,

But there’s no Ares in it, not a trace:

When his leaves wither, the old man walks

The path with his two feet and a cane,

No more than a child, a daydream astray.

Chosen and translated by Zachary McGar.

The text is from the Perseus Digital Library.

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