Type 31767

Ἔδει μὲν εἰς γόργυραν, ὦ Θουκυδίδη,
τοὺς Ἀττικοὺς ῥῖψαί σε σὺν τῷ βιβλίῳ,
οὐκ ὀστρακίζειν Θρᾳκικοῖς γε τοῖς ὅροις.
Οὐχ ἱστορῶν φαίνῃ γὰρ ἃ προύβη πάλαι,
κρύπτων δὲ μᾶλλον ἃ παρῆξεν ὁ χρόνος
τῷ σῷ σκοτεινῷ καὶ ξυλώδει τοῦ λόγου.
Ἐγὼ γὰρ αὐτός, ὅσπερ ἐγγράφω τάδε,
Τζέτζης κατειδὼς ἵστορας πόσας βίβλους
πράξεις τε πάσας, ἃς τὰ νῦν αὐτὸς γράφεις,
ὥσπερ διοβλὴς καὶ κατεβροντημένος
τοῖς οἷς ἔγραψας λοξοσυστρόφοις λόγοις,
μνήμης ἁπασῶν ἐστερήθην ἀθρόως.
Τί δ’ ἄν τις ἄλλος τῶν ἀνιστόρων πάθοι;
Τῶν ἱστορούντων τεχνικὸν λόγον νόει
σαφῆ μετ’ ὄγκου, πειστικόν, γλυκὺν ἅμα
καὶ γοργὸν οὗ χρή, πῇ δὲ καὶ μῆκος φέρειν.
Text source M. Luzzatto, 1999, Tzetzes lettore di Tucidide: note autografe sul Codice Heidelberg Palatino Greco 252, Bari: 134-136
Text status Text completely known
Editorial status Not a critical text
Genre(s)
Person(s)
Poet
John Tzetzes (12th c.) - PBW: Ioannes/459/
Metre(s) Dodecasyllable
Subject(s)
Tag(s)
Translation(s)
  • The people of Attica should have thrown you, Thucydides,
    into a dark pit, along with your book,
    and not merely ostracized you to Thrace.
    For it appears that you have not recounted what happened in the past
    so much as you have hidden what time wrought
    by writing your obscure and wooden prose.
    Indeed, I myself who in person write these things,
    Tzetzes, with my profound knowledge of so many books
    and of all the events that you yourself recount here,
    feel that I have been stripped of my memory of them all,
    as if struck from above and totally stunned
    by your convoluted and twisted prose.
    So what might someone else suffer, who doesn’t know his history?
    Understand the kind of speech that is appropriate for historians:
    clear with grandeur, persuasive, and sweet at the same time,
    dense where necessary, even if drawn out in some places.
    Language
    English
    Source(s)
    A. Kaldellis, 2015, Byzantine Readings of Ancient Historians, Abingdon and New York: 78
  • Thucydides, Athens had served you more fit
    If they’d thrown both yourself and your book in the pit,
    Instead of just banishing you into Thrace.
    An historian’s job ’s to recount what took place
    In the passage of time, but you simply daze us
    With wooden constructions and smoke–screen–like phrases.
    For if I, the bold fellow inditing these rhymes,
    I, Tzetzes (who’ve read many books on your times,
    And knew all the matters you try to explain)
    Have found the whole scheme of them lost from my brain
    Thanks to your crooked clauses, you Zeus–stricken dolt,
    You distorted remains of a swift thunderbolt –
    Then what’ll become of one less learned ’s a mystery!
    Now hear the best method of writing a history:
    Be grave and be clear, be persuasive and bland
    Be fierce when it’s needed, and sometimes expand.
    Language
    English
    Source(s)
    W. Stanford 1941, Tzetzes' Farewell to Thucydides, Greece & Rome, 11(31), 40-41: 41
  • Gli Attici, o Tucidide, avrebbero dovuto gettare te ed il tuo libro in una prigione sotterranea piuttosto che ostracizzarti ai confini della Tracia! È evidente infatti che tu non racconti quello che è successo nei tempi antichi ma piuttosto nascondi col tuo parlare oscuro e legnoso le testimonianze che il Tempo ha prodotto. Infatti io stesso, proprio io, Tzetzes in persona, che scrivo qui queste cose, pur conoscendo a fondo le testimonianze di tanti libri e tutti gli avvenimenti che tu ora descrivi, tutt' ad un tratto mi son perso la memoria di ogni cosa, fulminato dall’alto e rintronato da codesti discorsi ambigui e contorti che hai scritto. Cosa non succederà ad un altro, ad uno di quelli che non sono preparati? Sappi (o Tucidide) che la prosa, normativamente corretta, di coloro che narrano eventi storici, è chiara con gravitas, persuasiva, dolce nello stesso tempo e densa ove occorra, e sopporta, ma solo in qualche caso, il protrarsi senza sosta.
    Language
    Italian
    Source(s)
    M. Luzzatto, 1999, Tzetzes lettore di Tucidide: note autografe sul Codice Heidelberg Palatino Greco 252, Bari: 135-136
Comment Text of Luzzatto (1999: 134-135) modified by DBBE.
Bibliography
Number of verses 16
Occurrence(s) [31770] ἔδει μ(ὲν) (...) γόργυρ(αν) ὦ θουκυδίδη [1146-1155]
HEIDELBERG - Universitätsbibliothek - Palat. gr. 252 [851-950] (f. 326v)
(16 verses)
Acknowledgements
Identification Vassis ICB 2005, 169: "Ioann. Tzetzes, In Thucydidem"
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Last modified: 2021-11-18.