I.Ξεῖνος Ἀταρνείτης τις ἀνείρετο Πιττακὸν οὕτω τὸν Μυτιληναῖον, παῖδα τὸν Ὑρράδιον1· “ἄττα γέρον, δοιός με καλεῖ γάμος· ἡ μία μὲν δὴ νύμφη καὶ πλούτῳ καὶ γενεῇ κατ᾿ ἐμέ, 5ἡ δ᾿ ἑτέρη προβέβηκε· τί λώιον; εἰ δ᾿ ἄγε σύμ μοι βούλευσον, ποτέρην εἰς ὑμέναιον ἄγω.” εἶπεν· ὁ δὲ σκίπωνα, γεροντικὸν ὅπλον, ἀείρας, “ἠνίδε, κεῖνοί σοι πᾶν ἐρέουσιν ἔπος.” οἱ δ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ὑπὸ πληγῇσι θοὰς βέμβικας ἔχοντες 10ἔστρεφον εὐρείῃ παῖδες ἐνὶ τριόδῳ. “κείνων ἔρχεο,” φησί, “μετ᾿ ἴχνια.” χὡ μὲν ἐπέστη πλησίον· οἱ δ᾿ ἔλεγον· “τὴν κατὰ σαυτὸν ἔλα.” ταῦτ᾿ ἀίων ὁ ξεῖνος ἐφείσατο μείζονος οἴκου δράξασθαι, παίδων κληδόνα2 συνθέμενος,
A stranger from Atarneusa thus asked Pittacusb of Mytilene, the son of Hyrrhasc: “Reverend Father, two marriages invite me. One lady is my equal in wealth and blood: the other is above my station. Which is better? Come advise me whether of those I should lead to the altar.”
So he spake: and Pittacus lifted up his staff, the old man’s weapon, and said: “Lo! these yonder shall tell thee all.” Now these were boys who at a wide crossing were spinning their swift tops with blows of the lash. “Follow their tracks,” saith he. And the stranger stood by them: and they were saying: “Keep your own rank!d” When the stranger heard the words, he laid to heart the saying of the boys and spared to grasp at the greater estate. Now,
- aIn Mysia.
- bOne of the Seven Wise Men.
- cThe peculiar Aeolic form of patronymic in -άδιος is attested by the Greek grammarians (Bekker, Anecd. ii. 634,Cramer, Anecd. Ox. iv. 326, etc.), who mention that Pittacus was called Hyrrhadius as son of Hyrrhas. But it is very likely that Ὑρραδίου is right here.
- dThe phrase τὴν κατὰ σαυτὸν ἔλα = “drive your own line,” or “path was a proverb. Suidas s.v., who gives not quite a correct rendering (“Seem to be what you are”), says some attributed it to the Pythian oracle, some to Solon, some to Chilon. It is hinted at by Aesch. Prom. v. 887 ff., where schol. A attributes it to Pittacus. It is imitated Aristoph. Clouds 25 ἔλαυνε τὸν σαυτοῦ δρόμον. A. Hauvette—“c’est-à-dire pousse la toupie qui est à ta portée, à ta hauteur”—quite misunderstands the phrase.