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Ecclesiastes 7

 
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1 ὅτι τίς οἶδεν τί ἀγαθὸν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐν τῇ ζωῇ ἀριθμὸν ἡμερῶν ζωῆς ματαιότητος αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐποίησεν αὐτὰς ἐν σκιᾷ ὅτι τίς ἀπαγγελεῖ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τί ἔσται ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ ὑπὸ τὸν ἥλιον 1 What need for man to ask questions that are beyond his scope? There is no knowing how best his life should be spent, this brief pilgrimage that passes like a shadow, and is gone. And what will befall after his death, in this world beneath the sun, who can tell? 1

Quid necesse est homini majora se quærere,
cum ignoret quid conducat sibi in vita sua,
numero dierum peregrinationis suæ,
et tempore quod velut umbra præterit?
aut quis ei poterit indicare
quod post eum futurum sub sole sit?
2 ἀγαθὸν ὄνομα ὑπὲρ ἔλαιον ἀγαθὸν καὶ ἡμέρα τοῦ θανάτου ὑπὲρ ἡμέραν γενέσεως αὐτοῦ 2 There is no embalming like a good name left behind; man’s true birthday is the day of his death. 2
Melius est nomen bonum quam unguenta pretiosa,
et dies mortis die nativitatis.
3 ἀγαθὸν πορευθῆναι εἰς οἶκον πένθους ἢ ὅτι πορευθῆναι εἰς οἶκον πότου καθότι τοῦτο τέλος παντὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ ὁ ζῶν δώσει εἰς καρδίαν αὐτοῦ 4 ἀγαθὸν θυμὸς ὑπὲρ γέλωτα ὅτι ἐν κακίᾳ προσώπου ἀγαθυνθήσεται καρδία 5 καρδία σοφῶν ἐν οἴκῳ πένθους καὶ καρδία ἀφρόνων ἐν οἴκῳ εὐφροσύνης 3 Better a visit paid where men mourn, than where they feast; it will put thee in mind of the end that awaits us all, admonish the living with the foreknowledge of death. 4 Frown ere thou smile; the downcast look betokens a chastened heart. 5 Sadness, a home for the wise man’s thoughts, mirth for the fool’s. 3
Melius est ire ad domum luctus
quam ad domum convivii;
in illa enim finis cunctorum admonetur hominum,
et vivens cogitat quid futurum sit.
4
Melior est ira risu,
quia per tristitiam vultus corrigitur animus delinquentis.
5
Cor sapientium ubi tristitia est,
et cor stultorum ubi lætitia.
6 ἀγαθὸν τὸ ἀκοῦσαι ἐπιτίμησιν σοφοῦ ὑπὲρ ἄνδρα ἀκούοντα ᾆσμα ἀφρόνων 7 ὅτι ὡς φωνὴ τῶν ἀκανθῶν ὑπὸ τὸν λέβητα οὕτως γέλως τῶν ἀφρόνων καί γε τοῦτο ματαιότης 6 Better receive a wise man’s rebuke, than hear thy praises sung by fools. 7 Loud but not long the thorns crackle under the pot, and fools make merry; for them, too, frustration. 6
Melius est a sapiente corripi,
quam stultorum adulatione decipi;
7
quia sicut sonitus spinarum ardentium sub olla,
sic risus stulti.
Sed et hoc vanitas.
8 ὅτι ἡ συκοφαντία περιφέρει σοφὸν καὶ ἀπόλλυσι τὴν καρδίαν εὐτονίας αὐτοῦ 8 Oppression bewilders even a wise man’s wits, and undermines his courage. 8
Calumnia conturbat sapientem,
et perdet robur cordis illius.
9 ἀγαθὴ ἐσχάτη λόγων ὑπὲρ ἀρχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀγαθὸν μακρόθυμος ὑπὲρ ὑψηλὸν πνεύματι 10 μὴ σπεύσῃς ἐν πνεύματί σου τοῦ θυμοῦσθαι ὅτι θυμὸς ἐν κόλπῳ ἀφρόνων ἀναπαύσεται 9 Speech may end fair, that foul began; patience is better than a proud heart.[1] 10 Never be quick to take offence; it is a fool’s heart that harbours grudges. 9
Melior est finis orationis quam principium.
Melior est patiens arrogante.
10
Ne sis velox ad irascendum,
quia ira in sinu stulti requiescit.
11 μὴ εἴπῃς τί ἐγένετο ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι αἱ πρότεραι ἦσαν ἀγαθαὶ ὑπὲρ ταύτας ὅτι οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ ἐπηρώτησας περὶ τούτου 11 Never ask why the old times were better than ours; a fool’s question. 11
Ne dicas: Quid putas causæ est
quod priora tempora meliora fuere quam nunc sunt?
stulta enim est hujuscemodi interrogatio.
12 ἀγαθὴ σοφία μετὰ κληροδοσίας καὶ περισσεία τοῖς θεωροῦσιν τὸν ἥλιον 13 ὅτι ἐν σκιᾷ αὐτῆς ἡ σοφία ὡς σκιὰ τοῦ ἀργυρίου καὶ περισσεία γνώσεως τῆς σοφίας ζωοποιήσει τὸν πα{R'} αὐτῆς 12 Great worth has wisdom matched with good endowment; more advantage it shall bring thee than all the rest, here under the sun. 13 Wealth befriends whom wisdom befriends; better still, who learns wisdom wins life. 12
Utilior est sapientia cum divitiis,
et magis prodest videntibus solem.
13
Sicut enim protegit sapientia, sic protegit pecunia;
hoc autem plus habet eruditio et sapientia,
quod vitam tribuunt possessori suo.
14 ἰδὲ τὰ ποιήματα τοῦ θεοῦ ὅτι τίς δυνήσεται τοῦ κοσμῆσαι ὃν ἂν ὁ θεὸς διαστρέψῃ αὐτόν 14 Mark well God’s doings; where he looks askance, none may set the crooked straight. 14
Considera opera Dei,
quod nemo possit corrigere quem ille despexerit.
15 ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἀγαθωσύνης ζῆθι ἐν ἀγαθῷ καὶ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κακίας ἰδέ καί γε σὺν τοῦτο σύμφωνον τούτῳ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς περὶ λαλιᾶς ἵνα μὴ εὕρῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ μηδέν 15 Come good times, accept the good they bring; come evil, let them never take thee unawares; bethink thee, that God has balanced these against those, and will have no man repine over his lot. 15
In die bona fruere bonis,
et malam diem præcave;
sicut enim hanc, sic et illam fecit Deus,
ut non inveniat homo contra eum justas querimonias.
16 σὺν τὰ πάντα εἶδον ἐν ἡμέραις ματαιότητός μου ἔστιν δίκαιος ἀπολλύμενος ἐν δικαίῳ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔστιν ἀσεβὴς μένων ἐν κακίᾳ αὐτοῦ 17 μὴ γίνου δίκαιος πολὺ καὶ μὴ σοφίζου περισσά μήποτε ἐκπλαγῇς 18 μὴ ἀσεβήσῃς πολὺ καὶ μὴ γίνου σκληρός ἵνα μὴ ἀποθάνῃς ἐν οὐ καιρῷ σου 19 ἀγαθὸν τὸ ἀντέχεσθαί σε ἐν τούτῳ καί γε ἀπὸ τούτου μὴ ἀνῇς τὴν χεῖρά σου ὅτι φοβούμενος τὸν θεὸν ἐξελεύσεται τὰ πάντα 16 In my days of baffled enquiry, I have seen pious men ruined for all their piety, and evil-doers live long in all their wickedness. 17 Why then, do not set too much store by piety, nor play the wise man to excess, if thou wouldst not be bewildered over thy lot. 18 Yet plunge not deep in evil-doing; folly eschew; else thou shalt perish before thy time. 19 To piety thou must needs cling, yet live by that other caution too; fear God, and thou hast left no duty unfulfilled.[2] 16
Hæc quoque vidi in diebus vanitatis meæ:
justus perit in justitia sua,
et impius multo vivit tempore in malitia sua.
17
Noli esse justus multum,
neque plus sapias quam necesse est,
ne obstupescas.
18
Ne impie agas multum,
et noli esse stultus,
ne moriaris in tempore non tuo.
19
Bonum est te sustentare justum:
sed et ab illo ne subtrahas manum tuam;
quia qui timet Deum nihil negligit.
20 ἡ σοφία βοηθήσει τῷ σοφῷ ὑπὲρ δέκα ἐξουσιάζοντας τοὺς ὄντας ἐν τῇ πόλει 21 ὅτι ἄνθρωπος οὐκ ἔστιν δίκαιος ἐν τῇ γῇ ὃς ποιήσει ἀγαθὸν καὶ οὐχ ἁμαρτήσεται 20 Wisdom is a surer ally than ten city magistrates; 21 there is no man on earth so exact over his duties that he does ever the right, never commits a fault. 20
Sapientia confortavit sapientem
super decem principes civitatis;
21
non est enim homo justus in terra
qui faciat bonum et non peccet.
22 καί γε εἰς πάντας τοὺς λόγους οὓς λαλήσουσιν μὴ θῇς καρδίαν σου ὅπως μὴ ἀκούσῃς τοῦ δούλου σου καταρωμένου σε 23 ὅτι πλειστάκις πονηρεύσεταί σε καὶ καθόδους πολλὰς κακώσει καρδίαν σου ὅπως καί γε σὺ κατηράσω ἑτέρους 22 The chance words men utter, heed but little; how if thou shouldst hear thy own servant speaking ill of thee? 23 Thy own conscience will tell thee how often thou too hast spoken ill of other men. 22
Sed et cunctis sermonibus qui dicuntur
ne accomodes cor tuum,
ne forte audias servum tuum maledicentem tibi;
23
scit enim conscientia tua
quia et tu crebro maledixisti aliis.
24 πάντα ταῦτα ἐπείρασα ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ εἶπα σοφισθήσομαι 25 καὶ αὐτὴ ἐμακρύνθη ἀ{P'} ἐμοῦ μακρὰν ὑπὲρ ὃ ἦν καὶ βαθὺ βάθος τίς εὑρήσει αὐτό 24 Thus, by the touchstone of my wisdom, I would test all things; Wisdom, cried I, I must have; yet all the while she withdrew from me, 25 further away than ever. Deep, deep is her secret; who shall read it? 24
Cuncta tentavi in sapientia.
Dixi: Sapiens efficiar:
et ipsa longius recessit a me,
25
multo magis quam erat.
Et alta profunditas, quis inveniet eam?
26 ἐκύκλωσα ἐγώ καὶ ἡ καρδία μου τοῦ γνῶναι καὶ τοῦ κατασκέψασθαι καὶ ζητῆσαι σοφίαν καὶ ψῆφον καὶ τοῦ γνῶναι ἀσεβοῦς ἀφροσύνην καὶ σκληρίαν καὶ περιφοράν 27 καὶ εὑρίσκω ἐγὼ πικρότερον ὑπὲρ θάνατον σὺν τὴν γυναῖκα ἥτις ἐστὶν θηρεύματα καὶ σαγῆναι καρδία αὐτῆς δεσμοὶ χεῖρες αὐτῆς ἀγαθὸς πρὸ προσώπου τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξαιρεθήσεται ἀ{P'} αὐτῆς καὶ ἁμαρτάνων συλλημφθήσεται ἐν αὐτῇ 28 ἰδὲ τοῦτο εὗρον εἶπεν ὁ Ἐκκλησιαστής μία τῇ μιᾷ τοῦ εὑρεῖν λογισμόν 29 ὃν ἔτι ἐζήτησεν ἡ ψυχή μου καὶ οὐχ εὗρον ἄνθρωπον ἕνα ἀπὸ χιλίων εὗρον καὶ γυναῖκα ἐν πᾶσι τούτοις οὐχ εὗρον 26 Here is a mind that has passed the whole world of things in review, examining everything, weighing everything, so as to have a wise estimation of them, eager to understand the fool’s rebelliousness, the false calculations of rash souls. 27 And this I have ascertained; death itself is not so cruel as woman’s heart that wheedles and beguiles, as woman’s clutches that release their captive never. God’s friends escape her; of sinners she makes an easy prey. 28 I weighed this against that (he, the Spokesman, tells us), and the sum of my enquiry was this. 29 One thing I ever longed to find, and found never, a true woman. One true man I might find among a thousand, but a woman never. 26

Lustravi universa animo meo,
ut scirem et considerarem,
et quærerem sapientiam, et rationem,
et ut cognoscerem impietatem stulti,
et errorem imprudentium:
27
et inveni amariorem morte mulierem,
quæ laqueus venatorum est,
et sagena cor ejus;
vincula sunt manus illius.
Qui placet Deo effugiet illam;
qui autem peccator est capietur ab illa.
28
Ecce hoc inveni, dixit Ecclesiastes,
unum et alterum ut invenirem rationem,
29
quam adhuc quærit anima mea,
et non inveni.
Virum de mille unum reperi;
mulierem ex omnibus non inveni.
30 πλὴν ἰδὲ τοῦτο εὗρον ὃ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς σὺν τὸν ἄνθρωπον εὐθῆ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐζήτησαν λογισμοὺς πολλούς 30 Of this, beyond all else, I have satisfied myself; man’s nature was simple enough when God made him, and these endless questions are of his own devising.

31 The wise man, there is none like him. O for one who should read the riddle!
30
Solummodo hoc inveni,
quod fecerit Deus hominem rectum,
et ipse se infinitis miscuerit quæstionibus.
Quis talis ut sapiens est?
et quis cognovit solutionem verbi?
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Copyright © 2013 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.