So Perses, you be heedful of what’s right;
Don’t nurture Arrogance—she’s a disaster
For lowly mortals; she will overmaster
Even noble men and crush them with her load
Once they encounter troubles. The better road
Is the one bypassing Arrogance to wend
To Justice; Justice triumphs in the end.
The fool learns this the hard way, for Oath hunts
Down crooked verdicts, dogging them at once,
And when Justice is dragged away to court
By swallowers of bribes, who make a sport
Of judgments, there’s an outcry. Then she’ll hide
Herself in mist, and roam where men abide,
Weeping through the city, and bringing trouble
To those who drove her out and who deal double.
But when men deal in justice straight and fair
Alike to citizen and foreigner
And do not overstep law or presume,
Their city flourishes, their people bloom,
Then Peace, who rears young men, on earth holds sway,
And Zeus, far-seer, keeps cruel War at bay.
Famine and folly pass the righteous by:
The just feast on what well-worked fields supply.
The earth abounds for them: the mountain oak
Is acorn-crowned, and bee-filled, for such folk.
Their sheep are heavy-laden with wool. Their wives
Bear children that favor fathers. Throughout their lives
They bloom with blessings. They need never sail:
The land provides for them and does not fail.
But Zeus marks evil-doers, who sow seeds
Of pride, and punishes their wicked deeds.
And often a whole city pays the price
For one bad man’s outrageousness and vice.
Zeus son of Kronos rains down woe like weather
Out of the sky, hunger and plague together.
Men die. Wives don’t give birth. Households reduce
According to the will of Olympian Zeus.
At other times, he mows broad armies down,
Or levels walls, or makes armadas drown.
So Judges, mind this judgment: understand
The deathless ones are always close at hand
Marking those crooked judges who have trod
On others, heedless men who fear no god.
Thrice myriad, the watchers over men
Who keep our courts and crimes within their ken,
This deathless host that wander everywhere
Over the earth, invisible as air.
There is a maiden, Justice, child of Zeus,
Revered by the gods. When men play fast and loose
With her good name, then straightaway she flies
To Daddy’s side and tells Him of their lies, 260
Until the city’s people make amends
For those who twisted justice to their ends,
Heedlessly. Therefore, bribe-eating judges,
Beware. Judge rightly, and forget your grudges.
He harms himself who harms another man;
The plotter is the worst hurt by the plan.