Type 3071
(formerly typ/1184)

Ψήγματα χρυσᾶ τοῖς Λυδοῖς αἱρεῖ λόγος
Πακτωλὸν ἐκρεῖν, ὄντα τοῦ Τμώλου κάτω·
ὑφ’ ὧν Κροῖσος ὤγκωτο πεπλανημένος,
βλακάς, ἄνους ὤν, ψαφαροῖς ἠρεισμένος·
ὡς τοῦδε ῥεῦσις, ὕστερον παρεφθάρη.
Καὶ τὴν γενειάδα δὲ Περσῶν ὁ κράτωρ
ἔχων χρυσείων ἐκ πετάλων χρυσίνην,
ἔχειν ἑαυτὸν δόξαν ᾖδε μακάρων.
Μύρμηκες ἐπλούτιζον, ἀπὸ βαθέων
ψάμμων, μελανῶν Ἰνδικῶν βροτῶν γένος.
Ἐπιρρέων ὁ Νεῖλος ὥριος τόποις
Αἰγυπτιακοῖς πλοῦτον ἐκ τῶν ὡρίων
πολὺν ἐποίει Φαραωνίτας ἔχειν.
Ἀγάλλεταί τις ὄρνισιν, ἄλλος φυτοῖς,
λίθοις τιμίοις ἄλλος, ἄλλος μαργάροις·
σοί δ’ οὐ φθιτόν τι καὶ διαρρέον χρόνῳ
περιφιλεῖται, στέργεται, πεπνυμένε,
ἀλλ’ ἄφθιτον καὶ κρεῖττον ὧν ἄν τις φράσοι.
“Ὁποῖον;” ἴσως ἀγνοῶν ἔροιτό τις.
λόγος· τὸ μεῖζον ὧν παρέσχε σοι Λόγος·
ὃν νοῦς βρότειος, καὶ πολὺς ἱδρώς, πόνος
καὶ πίστις ἐκράτυνε καθαρωτάτη·
τὸ τῶν παθῶν ἴαμα τῶν ἑκατέρων,
τὸ φῶς τὸ φαῖνον, φῶς ὑπέρτατον λίαν
φωτίζον ἅπαν ἀμέσως φῶς ἐμμέσως·
δι’ οὗ τὸ δισσὸν ἔργον ἔγνως τοῦ φάους·
κόσμον παραρρέοντα καὶ παρηγμένον,
κόσμον διαμένοντα καὶ πεπηγμένον·
τὴν φύσιν αὐτῶν, ποῖα τὰ τούτων τέλη
ἤ, μᾶλλον εἰπεῖν, τέκμαρ, ἀρχὴν τῶν δύο·
δι’ οὗ τὰ συμφέροντα ταῖς εὐπραξίαις
ἐν ὀρθότητι τῶν νοὸς κινημάτων
ἔμαθες, ἠγάπησας αὐτὰ προκρίνων.
Αἴγυπτον ἐξέφυγες ἐσκοτισμένην,
ἡδυπάθειαν, ἀνάπαυσιν σαρκίου
καὶ Φαραώ, τύραννον αὐτῆς τὸν μέγαν,
τὸ σαρκικὸν φρόνημα, τὸν κενὸν βίον
ἐπιστάτας τε τοὺς βαρεῖς ἔργων δότας,
λογισμορέκτας, παθοσυγκαταθέσεις.
Οὐ πρὶν μισήσας, ὕστερον μεταμέλῃ,
ὡς Λὼτ γύναιον· κἂν γὰρ ἐν μέσοις στρέφῃ,
ἄκραν ἀπροσπάθειαν ἐν μέσοις ἔχεις.
Ἐγκάρδιον λείψανον οὐκ ἔστι λύπης
ἐπὶ στερήσει πραγμάτων μοχθηρίας
καὶ τὰ προσόντα παρέχεις χωρὶς βίας.
Ἀλλοτριοῖς πως σαυτὸν ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων,
ἀποξενοῖς πως σαυτὸν ἐξ ἀλλοτρίων
ὅπως ξενισθῇς ἐν ξένοις, ξένος γίνῃ
ἀποξενούντων τοὺς ξένους σφῶν ἐκ ξένων
ἄγνωστον, ἀπόκρυφον εὖ βιοὺς βίον,
δυσδιάκριτον, λανθάνοντα μυρίους.
Μάρπτεις, διώκεις τὴν ἀνυποταξίαν,
καθυποτάττων σάρκα τῷ πνεύματί σου.
Ἔχεις ἔλεγχον τὴν συνείδησιν μόνην·
πρὸ τοῦ βαδίσαι τήνδε τὴν ὁρωμένην
ὑπακοήν, ἔφθασας εἰς νοουμένην.
Τρέχεις ἀδήλως· ἑσταὼς ἄνω τρέχεις.
Ἐπιγινώσκεις τῶν παθῶν τὰς αἰτίας,
καταγινώσκεις Ναυάτου φλυαρίας,
καταισχύνεις ἐκεῖνον ἐν ταῖς αἰσχύναις
καὶ ταύτας αὐτὰς αἰσχύνεις ἐν αἰσχύνῃ,
διαδιδράσκων τὴν μένουσαν αἰσχύνην
ᾗ πᾶσι πάντα φαίνεται κεκρυμμένα.
Τέγγεις, ὑγραίνεις, τὰς παρειάς σου βρέχεις,
μνήμῃ θανάτου καὶ τελευταίᾳ κρίσει,
καὶ τονθορύζεις ἠρέμα σαυτῷ, λέγων·
“νῦν εὐτρεπίζου πάντοτε πρὸς τὸν τάφον”·
καὶ γὰρ προπέμπων τὴν ἀναπνοὴν ἔτι
οὐκ οἶδας εἰ σπάσειας ἄλλην συρμάδα.
Στένεις βύθιον, ἀνατυποῖς κραδίῃ
χάος καταχθόνιον, ἄποσον βάθος,
ἄσβεστον, ἀφώτιστον, ἄπλετον φλόγα
καὶ καταδύσεις ὑπογείων σχισμάτων,
οἰκτράς, σκοτεινάς, χαλεπάς, τεθλιμμένας
πασῶν βασάνων εἰκόνας αἰωνίων.
Ὀξυχολίας καὶ θυμοῦ δι’ ὧν φλόγα
καταπραΰνεις καὶ μαραίνεις, σβεννύεις.
Ἐν οἷς ἀκούεις, οὐ θυμαλγεῖς ὡς Νάβαλ·
ἐν οἷς σὺ λαλεῖς, ὡς Ἀβιγαία λέγεις.
Οὐδέν τι δυσάντητον, ἐστυγημένον
λαλεῖς καχλάζων, εἰσορᾷς ἀναζέων.
Ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ κρύπτεις ὡς κάμηλος κακίαν,
ἐν κῳδίῳ τὸν λύκον, ἐν κόλποις ὄφιν,
ξύλῳ σαθρῷ σκώληκα, τὴν μῆνιν πράῳ·
κεύθων μὲν ἄλλα καρδίας ἐν τῷ βάθει,
ἄλλα δὲ βάζων γλυκέροισι χειλέοις,
ἐν ἡδύτητι πικρίας ἁμαρτάνων.
Λαλεῖς δὲ λοιπὸν ὡς ἔχεις ἐν κρυφίῳ,
κἂν μικρὸν ἐκστῇς, συντόμως ἐπανάγῃ,
οὐκ ἐκδαπανῶν ἐν νόθοις ἡσυχίοις
τὴν ἀγκαλίδα, τὴν μερίδα τοῦ Λόγου,
εἴτ’ αὖ μιαίνων ἀγάπης ὑποκρίσει
καὶ τῇ μελήσει τοῦ καταλαλουμένου.
Εὐτράπελόν τι, λαμυρὸν πλέκων ἔπος,
λαρόν, προσηνές, ἡδὺ καὶ μεμιγμένον,
αὐτὸ πλατύνων κρασπέδοις τοῖς ἐκ λίνου,
εἰ μὴ γὰρ ἔξω νοῦς γένηται τῆς ἕδρας
παρεκτροπὰς ἐάσας ἰδίας βλέπειν,
ἄλλως ἐς ἄλλων οὐ παρακύπτει κρίσιν.
Τὸ ψεῦδος ἐξ ὧν λαμβάνει παρρησίαν,
ὃ τὴν ἀγάπην ἀποκόπτει ῥιζόθεν·
ἐγκρίς, γλύκασμα, δόρπος, ἀπάτη, βέλος.
Ὁ γοῦν ἀγάπην καὶ κατάνυξιν ἔχων
ψεῦδος τὸ κακὸν ὑπαλύξειν ἰσχύει,
ἐν οἷς ὅτε χρὴ πρὸς Ῥαὰβ ἀποβλέπων.
Ἐντεῦθεν εἰπὲ χρήσομαι πῶς τῷ λόγῳ
εἰς ἐξέτασιν τῆς ἀκηδίας φθάσας.
Πενθεῖς σὺ σαυτόν, ὡς ἔφην ἀνωτέρω.
Πενθικὸν ἦτορ οἶδε τὴν ἀκηδίαν,
μνήμῃ παλαῖον κρίσεως τῆς ἐσχάτης;
Ἥκιστα συμφήσειε πᾶς μνημημόρος.
Χαῦνον, πλαδαρόν, ὑγρόν, ἐκλελυμένον
βίον διώκεις, ἀπελαύνεις μακρόθεν
καὶ τὸν σκοτεινὸν ἐκτελοῦντα τὸν νόα
δειλόν τε δυσκίνητον ἐξ ἀσιτίας,
στυγνόν, κατηφῆ, δεινόν, ἄφιλον λόγοις.
Ἅπερ γινώσκων τὴν μέσην στείβεις στίβον.
Δηλοῖ δὲ ταύτην τὴν μεσόρροπον τρίβον
ἡ σωφροσύνη, σαρκίου καθαρότης,
ῥύψις τελεία σαρκικῶν μιασμάτων,
ἀφθαρτοσωμάτωσις, ἁγνείας κράτος
ἣ θλαδίαν δείκνυσι σιδήρου δίχα·
τὸ Λευϊτικὸν ἀξίωμα Κυρίου.
Ἆρ’ οὖν νικήσας τὴν φύσιν ὑπὲρ φύσιν,
τὸν φυσικὸν κίνδυνον ὑπαλυσκάσας
φιλαργυρίας ἀγχόνῃ καταπνίγῃ;
Οὐκ ἔστιν εἰπεῖν· μάρτυρές μοι μυρίοι
καὶ πρῶτος αὐτὸς τῆς ἀφιλαργυρίας,
κῆρυξ μέγιστος δωρεῶν ὑπερπόσων.
Οὐκ ἠγνόησα σὸν μακάριον πάθος,
φυλοκρινῶ σου φιλοτιμοδωρίας·
διδοὺς γέγηθας· μὴ διδοὺς ἀλγεῖς σφόδρα.
Πολλῶν ἐρᾷς, οὐχ’ ἵν’ ἀποκλείσῃς ἔσω,
ἀλλ’ ἵνα πολλοῖς πολλὰ πολλὰ σκορπίσῃς·
καὶ τοῦτο πολλῶν διολισθαίνει φρένας.
Ὥσπερ τὸ χαίρειν ἐν καλαῖς μελῳδίαις,
ψάλλειν, ἀνυμνεῖν, εὐλογεῖν τὸν δεσπότην
ἐν ἑσπεριναῖς, ἡμεριναῖς, ἐννύχοις
εὐχαῖς λιταῖς τε, παραστάσεσι ξέναις,
ὣς κορδακισμὸν οὐκ ἔχειν ἐν σοὶ τόπον,
ἀλλὰ μελισμὸν ἐν μελισμῷ Κυρίου.
Ἥγνισε νοῦν ἄγρυπνον ὄμμα καὶ φρένας
καὶ σάρκα δυσκάθεκτον εἶξε τῷ Λόγῳ,
λειτουργὸν εἰργάσατο καθηγνισμένον,
Θεοῦ τραπέζης δεξιὸν παραστάτην
ἄλλοις μεταδιδόντα τῶν μυστηρίων,
πολλοῖς σὲ μυστήριον εὖ δεδειγμένον.
Διὰ τελείας πίστεως, ὀρθοῦ λόγου,
δι’ εὐσεβείας ὑγιοῦς ἡδρασμένης,
δι’ ἧς δεδίττεις κοσμοκράτορας σκότους,
ἐχθρούς, ἀπίστους, δυσμενεῖς, ἀντιθέους,
τὸ νηπιῶδες ἦθος ἐν γηραλέῳ
ψυχῆς ἀναστήματι μὴ δεδεγμένος.
Ἅπερ κυΐσκει τοὺς ἐχιδνώδεις τόκους·
τὴν τῶν κακῶν θάλασσαν ἢ τὴν πλημμύραν,
τὴν τοῦ Σατᾶν δίαιταν ἢ τὴν ἑστίαν,
τὸ ναυάγιον, τὸν κλύδωνα, τὸν στρόφον,
τὴν ἀπατουργὸν τῶν καλῶν ἀναιρέτιν,
τὴν ᾧ καλεῖται δεικνύουσαν τὴν φύσιν.
Ἐξ ἧς Θεοῦ ἄρνησις, ἀνθρώπων φθόνος,
ἐξουδένωσις κρειττόνων, οὐ κρειττόνων
ἐκστάσεώς τε πρόδρομος καὶ μανίας,
πηγὴ θυμοῦ καὶ ῥίζα τῆς βλασφημίας,
πικρὸς δικαστής, ὑποκρίσεως θύρα,
στήριγμα, πύργος, λαβύρινθος δαιμόνων.
Ῥίζης κακῆς ἤκουσας ὄρπηκας ἴσους,
καρποὺς ἀχρήστους καὶ σαπροὺς καὶ παγκάκους
τῆς ὑπερηφανίας· ἡ βλασφημία,
κρύψις ἁμαρτήματος, ἀπρεπεῖς λόγοι.
Οὐδὲν γὰρ οὕτω κρατύνει τοὺς δαίμονας
καὶ τοὺς λογισμοὺς ὡς τὸ λαθραίους ἔχειν.
Ἐντεῦθεν ὄντως τὴν πονηρίαν ἔγνων
ἰσχύν, δύναμιν λαμβάνουσαν καὶ κράτος,
ἀσχημοσύνην δαιμονιώδη, δόλον,
πένθους μακρυσμόν, πρόξενον συμπτωμάτων,
ἰδιογνωμόρυθμον, ἄφρονα τρόπον·
ἥτις ἄφαντος γίνεται ποίῳ τρόπῳ;
Πράῳ, ταπεινῷ, μετρίῳ τῇ καρδίᾳ
καὶ μισοθύμῳ καὶ μισοργιλοφθόνῳ,
εὐσυμπαθήτῳ καὶ κατανενυγμένῳ,
φαιδρῷ, γαληνῷ καὶ καθιλαρευμένῳ,
εὐηνίῳ, χαίροντι, μὴ ζοφουμένῳ,
περιμερίμνῳ σφαλμάτων τῶν ἰδίων.
Οὗτος λόγος σοι πνευμάτων, ὅρος, νόμος,
ἐν εὐσεβείᾳ σωμάτων πληρουμένων·
τὰ καθ’ ἑαυτοὺς ἀνακρίνειν καὶ μόνα,
ποιεῖν τὸ χρηστὸν εὐδιακρίτῳ κρίσει,
εὑρεῖν τὸ κακὸν καὶ μισεῖν ἐκ καρδίας,
ἀποστρέφεσθαι τὴν ἀνυποταξίαν.
Ἐπιστρέφεσθαι τῆς λόγων ἡσυχίας,
κλείειν θύραν φθέγματος ἢ γλώττης ὅλης,
ἔνδον πύλην πνεύματος ἢ ψυχῆς ὅλης·
αὕτη γὰρ ἡσυχία, ταῦτα κυρίως·
δι’ ἧς ὁ Παῦλος εἰς πόλεις διατρίβων
ἄτριπτον, ἀβάδιστον ἔτριψε τρίβον.
Ἣν τριὰς ἁπλῆ καὶ δυὰς συνιστάνει·
στάσις ἀκλινὴς σώματος κατακρίτου,
στεναγμὸς ἀλάλητος, εἷς βραχὺς λόγος,
νοὸς φυλακή, συνοχή τε καρδίας.
Ταύτην γὰρ οἶδα πνεύματος κραυγὴν μόνην,
οὐ τὴν διὰ στόματος, οὐ τῶν χειλέων.
Οὕτω σὺ ποιῶν εἰς ἀπάθειαν φθάσεις·
βαίης γὰρ ἐγκάρδιον ἐς νοὸς πόλον,
ἀθύρματα, παίγνια τὰς τῶν δαιμόνων
καλῶς νομίσεις μηχανοπλανουργίας,
καταπατήσεις λῖν, δράκοντα τὸν μέγαν,
ὄφιν, κεράστην, βασιλίσκον, ἀσπίδα.
Θεῷ σχολάσεις καὶ παρεδρεύσεις μόνῳ,
Θεὸν κατίδοις ἐν σχολῇ τῇ βελτέρᾳ,
Θεῷ προσάψεις τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν εἰκόνα·
τὸν νοῦν, τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ παναχράντου Λόγου
οὐχὶ μερίσεις τῷ Θεῷ καὶ τῷ πλάνῳ,
τῇ δὲ Τριάδι τριάδα συναγάγοις.
Ἣ σήμερόν σοι κατὰ τόνδε τὸν βίον
ἵλαος ὀπτάνοιτο συμπαθεστάτη
πταίσμασι τριτάτοισι τριμεροῦς χρόνου,
κατευοδοῦσα τὰ διαβούλιά σου,
κατευθύνουσα τὰ διαβήματά σου,
διεκτελοῦσα τὰ προσαιτήματά σου
κἀκεῖ συνεντάττουσα Χριστοπατράσιν
εὐχαῖς πατρός μου τοῦ πανηγιασμένου,
τοῦ λαμπροπυρσομορφογλωττοεργάτου
καὶ πυρσολαμπρομορφορηματοτρόπου
καὶ χρυσολιθομαργαροστεφοπλόκου
νοΐ, λόγῳ, πνεύματι κατεστεμμένου.
Ἀμήν, ἀμήν, ἀμήν, γένοιτο καὶ πάλιν.
Title(s) Ἕτεροι στίχοι εἰς τὴν ἀρχὴν τοῦ αὐτοῦ Κλίμακος, ἐν σχήματι ἐγκωμίου, παραίνεσιν παρεισάγοντες καὶ κλίμακα παριστῶντες ἑτέραν, ἧς μία ἑκάστη ἀνάβασις δι’ ἓξ στίχων συνίσταται. Προοίμιον τῆς διὰ στίχων κλίμακος
Text source R. Meesters, R. Ricceri 2018, A Twelfth-Century Cycle of Four Poems on John Klimax. Editio princeps, in A. Rhoby, N. Zagklas (eds.), Middle and Late Byzantine Poetry. Texts and Contexts, Turnhout, 285-386: 322-343
Text status Text completely known
Editorial status Critical text
Genre(s)
Person(s)
Poet
John the writer (12th c.)
Metre(s) Dodecasyllable
Subject(s)
Tag(s)
Translation(s) Other verses on the opening of the same Ladder, in the form of an eulogy,
introducing an exhortation and presenting another ladder, of which each
single step consists of six verses.
Preface to the ladder in verses

The story goes that gold dust flowed for the Lydians
out of the Paktolos, the river lying at the base of Mount Tmolos.
Misled by the gold, Kroisos was puffed up with pride,
being foolish and stupid, leaning upon the sandy ground.
As the flux of the Paktolos, he perished later on.
The ruler of the Persians, having even a golden beard,
made of gold leaf,
praised himself to have the honour of the blessed ones.
Ants enriched the race of the black mortal Indians
from the sand from deep under the ground.
The Nile, flowing seasonally over
the Egyptian lands, made sure that the Pharaonic people
had a large richness from the granaries.
One exults in birds, another one in plants,
in precious stones another one, another one in pearls.
But you, wise man, do not love nor cherish
anything perishable or anything fleeting with time,
but something incorruptible and greater than anyone could put into words.
‘What?’, an ignorant might ask.
The word: the greatest thing of those things the Word granted you,
which was strengthened by the mortal mind,
by a lot of sweat, toil and by the purest faith.
Τhe cure for both passions:
the shining light, the very highest light,
the light that enlightens everything, immediately and mediately.
Through the Word you know the double result of the light:
the world which flows by and which passes away,
the world which remains and which is fixed,
their nature, their end
or rather, the goal, the origin of both.
Through the Word you have learned what is useful for good conduct
having a right attitude of mind,
you have learned and loved them, preferring those things.
Beginning of the ladder in verses
You escaped from darkened Egypt,
the luxurious life, the laziness of the flesh
and from the pharaoh, the great tyrant of Egypt,
the carnal mind, the vain life,
from the commanders, the brutal dispatchers of tasks,
those who arouse evil thoughts, those who assent to passions.
You do not first hate (the world), and then change your mind,
as Lot’s wife, because even when you turn back along the way,
you have, along your way, the highest dispassion.
There are no remains of sorrow in your heart
because of the deprivation of matters of depravity
and you offer your belongings voluntarily.
You alienate yourself from what is yours;
you estrange yourself from what is extraneous;
in order to become a stranger amongst strangers, you become a stranger
to those who estrange strangers from their own strangers.
You live an unknown, hidden life in a good way,
a life difficult to discern, which escapes from the notice of numberless people.
You catch and banish disobedience,
subjugating the flesh to your spirit.
You have only your consciousness as control.
Even before you walk the road of visible obedience,
you have reached that of mental obedience.
You run secretly, you climb firmly.
You recognise the causes of the passions,
you condemn Novatian’s foolery,
you put him to shame, into deep shame
and you put his foolery to shame by shame,
while you escape from the persistent shame,
because of which all hidden things are disclosed to all.
You wet, moisten and soak your cheeks,
because of the remembrance of death and the last judgment,
and you mumble softly to yourself, saying:
“Now be prepared at any moment for the grave”,
because even though you are still breathing,
you do not know if you might take another breath.
You moan deeply, you picture in your heart
the subterranean chaos, the unquantifiable depth,
the inextinguishable, unilluminated, boundless flame,
the descent into the underground fissures
the pitiable, obscure, painful and tormented
images of all the eternal tortures.
By these (moans) you appease, quench and extinguish
the flame of irascibility and anger.
When you give ear, you do not rage as Nabal,
when you talk, you speak like Abigail.
Nothing unpleasant, nothing resentful
you say when you seethe, you put in your gaze when you boil.
Neither do you keep inside, like a camel, evil,
which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a snake at your breast,
a worm in rotten wood, resentment in a mild person,
concealing something in the depth of the heart,
saying something else with sweet lips,
sinning in the sweetness of bitterness.
So, what you say corresponds with what you have inside,
and if you slip a little bit, you get it right immediately,
not wasting in false silence
the bundle, the part of the Word,
nor staining it by the simulation of love
or by the care for the person whom you slander.
Weaving a jesting, wanton,
delightful, pleasant, sweet and varied word,
you do not broaden it with fringes of linen.
Unless your mind is removed from its seat,
permitting to see one’s own deviations,
it is not inclined to judge others.
From talkativeness the lie receives boldness in speech,
which destroys love from the roots.
It is a honey cake, sweets, dinner: deceit and arrow.
The one who has love and compunction
is able to avoid the bad lie;
while, if need be, looking at Rahab.
Now, tell me how I shall use the word,
now that I come to the examination of despondency.
You mourn for yourself, as I said before.
Does the mournful heart know despondency,
as it wrestles with the remembrance of the last judgment?
Anyone who remembers death would firmly deny this.
You banish the languid, flabby, flaccid, relaxed
life and far away you chase
also the life which makes your mind dark,
cowardly and grumpy because of fasting,
gloomy, depressed, terrifying, hostile towards words.
Knowing these things, you walk the middle path.
This well-balanced road is revealed
by chastity, by the purity of the flesh,
by the perfect purification of carnal pollutions,
by the incorruptibility of the body, by the strength of purity,
which demonstrates the eunuch even without the sword:
the Levitical dignity of the Lord.
Well then, after having prevailed, supernaturally, over nature,
after having escaped from the physical danger,
you are not suffocated by the strangling of avarice, are you?
It is possible to deny. I have many witnesses,
in particular that forerunner of freedom from avarice,
the great proclaimer of numberless gifts.
I have come to know well your blessed passion,
I classify your forms of generosity:
when you give, you rejoice; when you do not give, you suffer deeply.
You are fond of many goods, not to lock them up inside,
but to scatter many goods among many people.
And this escapes the mind of many.
Likewise you enjoy beautiful chant,
to sing psalms, to chant hymns, to praise the Lord,
in evening-, day - and nocturnal
prayers and supplications, in extraordinary standings,
so a licentious dance does not have place in you,
but a song sung for the Lord.
The wakeful eye purified the mind and the heart
and subjugates the indomitable flesh to the Word,
makes it (i.e. the body) into a pure servant,
a dextrous attendant of God’s table,
who shares the mysteries with others,
rightly showing to many people that you are a mystery.
By perfect faith and the orthodox dogma,
by the established sound devotion;
hereby you frighten the earthly rulers of darkness,
who are hostile, unfaithful, malevolent, opposed to God,
while you do not accept childish behaviour
in an old soul.
These things conceive a viper-like offspring:
the sea or the flood of evil,
the abode or the dwelling of Satan,
the shipwreck, the billow, the vortex,
the deceiving destroyer of virtues,
which shows its nature by its name.
From which derives the denial of God and the envy of men,
the contempt for stronger beings and for beings that are not stronger,
the precursor of foulness and madness,
the source of anger and the root of blasphemy,
the bitter judge, the door of hypocrisy,
the buttress, tower and labyrinth of demons.
You have heard that an evil root brings forth similar shoots,
useless, putrid and utterly evil fruits
of pride: blasphemy,
concealment of sin, indecent words.
Indeed, nothing strengthens the demons
and bad thoughts so much as having them in secret.
I realized that wickedness really took from there
its strength, power, and force;
demoniac deformity, cunning,
estrangement from mourning, agent of falls,
a self-opinionated, foolish way of life.
How does this wickedness disappear?
By being meek, humble and moderate at heart,
hating anger and hating irascible envy,
being compassionate and possessing compunction,
being bright, gentle and rejoicing,
docile, delighted and not darkened,
being very attentive towards your own faults.
This is for you a rule, a standard, a law for souls
and for those piously aiming at perfection of their bodies:
to judge those things which pertain to yourself, and only those things,
to do what is necessary with a well-considered judgement,
to find evil and to hate it with all your heart,
to turn yourself away from disobedience.
To turn to the stillness of words,
to close the door to speech or to the tongue entirely,
to close the gate within to the spirit or to the soul entirely:
that is stillness; precisely these things.
By this stillness Paul, travelling to several cities,
tread the untraveled, untrodden road.
This stillness is established by a single trinity and a pair:
an unshakeable standing of a condemned body,
an unutterable groaning, one short word,
a guard of the mind and anguish of the heart.
This is the only crying of the spirit I know,
not the one through the mouth, not the one through the lips.
When you act like this, you will attain dispassion:
you may reach a heaven of the mind within the heart,
you will correctly consider the wiles of the demons
as pranks, as trifles;
you will trample underfoot the lion, the big dragon,
the horned snake, the basilisk, the asp.
To God alone you will devote your time and you will be close.
You will see God in the better devotion
and to God you will attach the image of God.
The mind, the spirit of the immaculate Word
you will not divide between God and the deceiver
but, with the Trinity you will join your trinity.
May the Trinity, today, in this life,
appear to be benevolent and utterly compassionate to you
towards the threefold sins of the tripartite time,
bringing prosperity to your plans,
guiding your steps,
accomplishing your beggings
and uniting (you) in the world to come with Christ’s forefathers
thanks to the prayers of my very holy father,
who is a practitioner of a radiant and fiery shaped tongue
and who has a fiery, radiant way of speaking,
and who is a plaiter of a golden crown with precious stones and pearls,
who is adorned with the mind, the word and the spirit.
Amen, amen, amen, may it happen again and again.
Language: English
R. Meesters, R. Ricceri 2018, A Twelfth-Century Cycle of Four Poems on John Klimax. Editio princeps, in A. Rhoby, N. Zagklas (eds.), Middle and Late Byzantine Poetry. Texts and Contexts, Turnhout, 285-386: 323-343
Comment This is the longest book epigram in Byzantine literature known so far. It offers the readers a content-based preparation for the main text (cf. Meesters - Ricceri (2018: 293)).
Meesters - Ricceri (2018: 294): "Contrary to the actual number of verses in the manuscripts, a note in prose at the end of the poem, preserved in all five manuscripts, mentions that the poem consists of 222 vv. As the central section of the poem (vv. 34–213) is articulated in six lines per step, if four verses were indeed added, they should be either part of the praise of Klimax at the beginning (vv. 1–33), or of the epilogue at the end (vv. 214–226)."
On the authorship of this cycle of poems, see Meesters - Ricceri (2018: 299-303).
Bibliography
Number of verses 226
Occurrence(s)
Related type(s)
Acknowledgements
Contributor(s)
Identification Vassis ICB 2005, 876: "In gradus Scalae Paradisi Ioannis Climaci: cf. (...) [222]; (...) [324]"
Permalink https://www.dbbe.ugent.be/types/3071
Last modified: 2020-08-10.