Epigram 9.482

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Codex Palatinus 23, p.440
Codex Palatinus 23, p.441


Οὐτιδανοὶ μερόπων, εἰ καὶ μέγα ῥέξαμεν ἔργον,
οὔτινος εἰς μνήμην δηρὸν ἐπερχόμεθα:
οἱ δ᾽ ἀγαθοί, κἢν μηδέν, ἀναπνεύσωσι δὲ μοῦνον,
ὡς Λίβυς εἶπεν ἀνήρ, τοῦτ᾽ ἀδάμαντι μένει.

δήποτε γὰρ Ζήνωνα πολισσοῦχον βασιλῆα,
παίγνιον ἀφράστων ἐκτελέοντα κύβων,
τοίη ποικιλότευκτος ἕλεν θέσις, εὖτ᾽ ἀπὸ λευκοῦ,
τοῦ καὶ ὀπισθιδίην εἰς ὁδὸν ἐρχομένου,
ἑπτὰ μὲν ἕκτος ἔχεν, μίαν εἴνατος: αὐτὰρ ὁ σοῦμμος

δισσὰς ἀμφιέπων ἶσος ἔην δεκάτῳ:
ὅς τε πέλει μετὰ σοῦμμον ἔχεν δύο, μουνάδα δ᾽ ἄλλην
ψῆφον τὴν πυμάτην ἀμφιέπεσκε δίβος.
ἀλλὰ μέλας δισσὰς μὲν ἐν ὀγδοάτῳ λίπε χώρῳ
καὶ τόσσας ἑτέρας ἐς θέσιν ἑνδεκάτην

ἀμφὶ δυωδέκατον δὲ διέπρεπον εἴκελοι ἄλλαι,
καὶ τρισκαιδεκάτῳ ψῆφος ἔκειτο μία:
δίζυγες Ἀντίγονον διεκόσμεον ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτῷ
ἶσος ἔμιμνε τύπος πεντεπικαιδεκάτῳ,
ὀκτωκαιδεκάτῳ πανομοίιος: εἰσέτι δ᾽ ἄλλας

εἶχεν διχθαδίας τέτρατος ἐκ πυμάτου.
αὐτάρ ἄναξ λευκοῖο λαχὼν σημήια πεσσοῦ,
καὶ τὴν ἐσσομένην οὐ νοέων παγίδα,
τριχθαδίας ἀδόκητα βαλὼν ψηφῖδας ἀπ᾽ ἠθμοῦ,
πύργου δουρατέου κλίμακι κευθομένῃ],

δοιὰ καὶ ἓξ καὶ πέντε κατήγαγεν αὐτίκα δ᾽ ὀκτὼ
ἄζυγας εἶχεν ὅλας πρόσθε μεριζομένας,
τάβλην φεύγετε πάντες, ἐπεὶ καὶ κοίρανος αὐτὸς
κείνης τὰς ἀλόγους οὐχ ὑπάλυξε τύχας.

— Paton edition

We Mortals of no account, even if we perform
great deeds, do not survive long in the memory of
anyone ; but as for the great, if they do nothing, if
they only breathe, as the Libyan said, it is engraved
in adamant. For instance Zeno, the lord and emperor
of our city, while in the middle of a game played
with the capricious dice, found himself in this com-
plicated position : when of the white men who were
on their way back, the sixth line contained seven,
the ninth one, and the tenth and summus two each,
while the line after the summus had two, and the last
piece was on the divus. Black had two on the eighth
line, and as many on the eleventh ; on the twelfth
were two, and one on the thirteenth. There were
two on Antigonus and also on the fifteenth and
eighteenth, and the fourth line from the last (the
twentieth) also had two. It was the king's turn to
play for White, and not seeing the trap in store for
him, he cast the three dice from the wooden box
with its hidden ladder, and threw two, six, and five,
so that at once he had eight single pieces in all
which had formerly been next others (?). Avoid
backgammon,¹ as the king himself did not escape
from its blind chance.

— Paton edition


Quoted poets (eng)
Famous or historical characters (eng)




Paton Edition: 1 The game seems to have borne some resemblance to this, but is obscure. White's eight singles are obviously produced by the break-up of the three pairs, the single on the " divus " for some reason not being moved forward.


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