Xenophanes Elegy Fragment 1 Ath. 11462c
Translated by Steven Willett
Note: Xenophanes of Colophon c. 570~478BC was a philosopher and poet critical of polytheism.
For now the floor is spotless and spotless all our hands
and drinking cups; one crowns us with plaited wreathes,
another hands round a saucer of sweet-smelling perfume;
the mixing-bowl stands full of festivity;
still more wine is waiting, and says it won’t desert us,
mellow in earthen jars, redolent of flowers;
frankincense throws out, amid all this, its pure, holy aroma
and the water’s sweet and unsullied;
beside us golden loaves have been set and stately tables
sagging beneath heaped cheese and thick honey;
a central altar has vanished under thickening flowers,
and music and revelry hold sway about the room.
Men of good cheer should first should hymn the god
with auspicious tales and immaculate words,
after pouring libations and praying for the ability
to achieve just behavior—for this is more obvious,
not hubris—. Drink as much as you can sustain going
home without an attendant unless you’re very old;
and praise that man after drinking shows noble thoughts,
so that there’s memory of and straining for virtue;
it's worthless to marshal the wars of Titans or Giants
and Centaurs, affectations of our predecessors,
or furious factions—with them nothing useful exists—.
It is good to always hold regard for the gods.