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In vitam humanam.

On human life

Emblema cli.

Plus solito humanae nunc defle incommoda vitae
Heraclite: scatet pluribus illa malis.
Tu rursus, si quando aliàs, extolle cachinnum,
Democrite: illa magis ludicra facta fuit.
Interea haec cernens meditor, qua denique tecum
Fine fleam, aut tecum quo modò splene iocer.[1]

Weep now, Heraclitus, even more than you did, for the ills of human life. It teems with far more woes. And you, Democritus, if ever you laughed before, raise your cackle now. Life has become more of a joke. Meanwhile, seeing all this, I consider just how far I can weep with you, how laugh bitterly with you.

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SUmptum è Graeco. Democritus, domo egressus,
risu omnia solebat excipere, quòd omnia illi ri-
denda viderentur: contra Heraclitus deflebat, quòd
nihil non miserum & deplorandum intueri cogere-
tur. Ex quo opinionum conflictu incertum relin-
quitur utrum satius fit ridere ineptias, an deflere
miserias: & an alter fit altero sapientior, ut meritò
fit interponenda longa deliberandi mora.

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Sur la vie humaine.

Heraclite, c’est à ceste heure
Qu’il faut que tant de maux on pleure:
Pleures donq’ plus abondamment
Que ne faisois anciennement:
Mais ris, mais gausse, Democrite,
De tant de fols à l’opposite
Si tu les viens à attaquer,
Jamais n’y eut tant à moquer:
Plus qu’au passé il faut entendre
Ou à pleurer, ou à reprendre.
Ce pendant je m’adviseray
Si avec toy je pleureray
Ou si je doy plustost eslire
Avec toy me moquer & rire.

PRins du grec. Democrite, quand il sor-
toit de son logis, se mocquoit de toutes
choses, par ce que tout luy sembloit ridicule
& plein de moquerie: au contraire Heraclite
pleuroit, parce qu’il estoit contraint de ne
rien veoir qui ne fut deplorable & plein de
miseres. De laquelle diversité d’opinions
vient un doubte, sçavoir est s’il vaut mieux
rire les inepties, ou pleurer les miseres: & qui
a esté le plus-sage des deux, de maniere
que pour en arrester, fault deliberer plus
long temps.

Notes:

1.  This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 9.148. For Heraclitus, cf. [FALc016]. For the contrast between the despairing tears of Heraclitus (who withdrew from human society) and the sardonic laughter of Democritus when faced with the folly of men, see, among many sources, e.g. Juvenal, Satires 10, 28ff.


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