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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E8r p79]

INTERMINABILIS HUMANAE
VITAE LABOR.

THE SUFFERINGS OF HUMAN LIFE ARE ENDLESS

Sisyphon Aeoliden vates apud infera regna
Damnatum tali supplicio esse ferunt.
Urgeat ut celsam in rupem revolubile saxum.
Quod ruit in praeceps vix bene compositum.
Tollere rursus idem ruiturum cogitur: & sic
Scandens, descendens, irrequietus agit.
Sisyphus is mortalis homo est: revolubile saxum
Aeternùm durans durus adusque labor.
Quidam natus homo miser est apud infera regna,
Infima enim terra quid iacet inferius?
Tollere qui cassos noctésque, diésque labores
Cogitur: assiduas ítque redítque vices.
Vespere dúmque putat finem imposuisse labori:
Incipiendum iterum mane recurrit opus.

The poets say that Sisyphus, son of Aeolus, suffers this punishment, condemned in the infernal kingdom to force a backwards-rolling stone up a high cliff. It falls back down headlong, for it’s hardly stable. He’s forced again to raise it, though it will only rush back down again; and so he lives his life in climbing up and down without rest. Sisyphus is mortal man; the rolling stone hard labour, which lasts eternally.* And why does a mortal man born in regions infernal lie lower than the lowest earth? He is forced to push his vain labours forward night and day, and make and remake his constant shifts of purpose. And while he thinks in the evening that he has put an end to his work, the job returns to be taken up again in the morning.
* Note the consonance on the words duras and durans, which are etymologically related, the loss of one’s civil rights.



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