Menander: Omnia Vanitas (From Greek)

Omnia Vanitas
By Menander (Fragment 538)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

If you're out wondering who you really are,
Look at the tombs as you go wandering past.
For in them lie humbled bones, the air-emptied dust
Of men hailed as kings and overlords, who were
Great minds, and high and mighty with pedigreed wealth
And their vain glory and the body's gilded prime.
And none of it was armor enough against time.
Just watch it, watch the way things rot.
All mortals come down to one common holocaust.
Look at all this. Behold your one true self.


The Original:

Όταν εἰδέναι θέλῃς σεαυτὸν ὄστις εἶ,
ἔμβλεψον εἰς τὰ μνήμαθ' ὤς ὁδοιπορεῖς.
ἔνταῦθ' ἔνεστ' ὀστᾶ καὶ κούφη κόνις
ἀνδρῶν βασιλέων καὶ τυράννων καὶ σοφῶν
καὶ μέγα φρονούντων ἐπὶ γένει καὶ χρήμαστιν
αὐτῶν τε δόξῃ καπὶ κάλλει σωμάτων.
κᾷτ' οὐδὲν αὐτοῖς τῶνδ' ἐπήρχεσεν χρόνος.
κοινὸν τὸν Ἅιδην ἔσχον οἰ πάντες βροτοί.
πρὸς ταῦθ' ὁρῶν γίνωσκε σαυτὸν ὄστις εἶ

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