Baarlam and Iosaphat is a legendary tale of two Christian saints living in India. It is mostly a Christian retelling of the life of Buddha, which entered Europe through Arabic and Georgian intermediaries.
Barlaam and Ioasaph 12Edit
Greek translation (from Georgian?)Edit
Τοὺς μὲν οὖν τοιούτῳ δουλεύοντας ἀπηνεῖ καὶ πονηρῷ δεσπότῃ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ φιλανθρώπου φρενοβλαβῶς ἑαυτοὺς μακρύναντας, εἰς τὰ παρόντα δὲ κεχηνότας πράγματα καὶ τούτοις προστετηκότας, μηδόλως τῶν μελλόντων λαμβάνοντας ἔννοιαν, καὶ εἰς μὲν τὰς σωματικὰς ἀπολαύσεις ἀδιαλείπτως ἐπειγομένους, τὰς δὲ ψυχὰς ἐῶντας λιμῷ κατατήκεσθαι καὶ μυρίοις ταλαιπωρεῖσθαι κακοῖς, ὁμοίους εἶναι δοκῶ ἀνδρὶ φεύγοντι ἀπὸ προσώπου μαινομένου μονοκέρωτος, ὅς, μὴ φέρων τὸν ἦχον τῆς αὐτοῦ βοῆς καὶ τὸν φοβερὸν αὐτοῦ μυκηθμόν, ἀλλ' ἰσχυρῶς ἀποδιδράσκων τοῦ μὴ γενέσθαι τούτου κατάβρωμα, ἐν τῷ τρέχειν αὐτὸν ὀξέως μεγάλῳ τινὶ περιπέπτωκε βόθρῳ· ἐν δὲ τῷ ἐμπίπτειν αὐτῷ, τὰς χεῖρας ἐκτείνας, καὶ φυτοῦ τινος δραξάμενος, κραταιῶς τοῦτο κατέσχε, καὶ ἐπὶ βάσεώς τινος τοὺς πόδας στηρίξας, ἔδοξεν ἐν εἰρήνῃ λοιπὸν εἶναι καὶ ἀσφαλείᾳ. βλέψας δὲ ὁρᾷ δύο μῦας, λευκὸν μὲν τὸν ἕνα, μέλανα δὲ τὸν ἕτερον, διεσθίοντας ἀπαύστως τὴν ῥίζαν τοῦ φυτοῦ, οὗ ἦν ἐξηρτημένος, καὶ ὅσον οὔπω ἐγγίζοντας ταύτην ἐκτεμεῖν. κατανοήσας δὲ τὸν πυθμένα τοῦ βόθρου, δράκοντα εἶδε φοβερὸν τῇ θέᾳ, πῦρ πνέοντα καὶ δριμύτατα βλοσυροῦντα, τὸ στόμα τε δεινῶς περιχάσκοντα καὶ καταπιεῖν αὐτὸν ἐπειγόμενον. ἀτενίσας δὲ αὖθις τῇ βάσει ἐκείνῃ, ἐφ' ᾗ τοὺς πόδας εἶχεν ἐρηρεισμένους, τέσσαρας εἶδε κεφαλὰς ἀσπίδων τοῦ τοίχου προβεβληκυίας, ἐφ' οὗ ἐπεστήρικτο. ἀναβλέψας δὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, ὁρᾷ ἐκ τῶν κλάδων τοῦ φυτοῦ ἐκείνου μικρὸν ἀποστάζον μέλι. ἐάσας οὖν διασκέψασθαι περὶ τῶν περιεχουσῶν αὐτῷ συμφορῶν, ὅπως ἔξωθεν μὲν ὁ μονόκερως δεινῶς ἐκμανεὶς ζητεῖ τοῦτον καταφαγεῖν, κάτωθεν δὲ ὁ πικρὸς δράκων κέχηνε καταπιεῖν, τὸ δὲ φυτὸν ὃ περιεδέδρακτο ὅσον οὔπω ἐκκόπτεσθαι ἔμελλε, τούς τε πόδας ἐπ' ὀλισθηρᾷ καὶ ἀπίστῳ βάσει ἐπεστήρικτο· τῶν τοσούτων οὖν καὶ τοιούτων φρικτῶν θεαμάτων ἀλογίστως ἐπιλαθόμενος, ὅλῳ νοῒ μέλιτος ἐκείνου τοῦ μικροῦ γέγονε τῆς ἡδύτητος ἐκκρεμής.
Αὕτη ἡ ὁμοίωσις τῶν τῇ ἀπάτῃ τοῦ παρόντος προστετηκότων βίου, ἧσπερ τὴν σαφήνειαν αὐτίκα λέξω σοι. ὁ μὲν μονόκερως τύπος ἂν εἴη τοῦ θανάτου, τοῦ διώκοντος ἀεὶ καὶ καταλαβεῖν ἐπειγομένου τὸ Ἀδαμιαῖον γένος· ὁ δὲ βόθρος ὁ κόσμος ἐστὶ πλήρης ὑπάρχων παντοίων κακῶν καὶ θανατηφόρων παγίδων· τὸ φυτὸν δὲ τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν δύο μυῶν ἀπαύστως συγκοπτόμενον, ὃ περιεδέδρακτο, ὁ δίαυλος ὑπάρχει τῆς ἑκάστου ζωῆς, ὁ δαπανώμενος καὶ ἀναλισκόμενος διὰ τῶν ὡρῶν τοῦ ἡμερονυκτίου καὶ τῇ ἐκτομῇ κατὰ μικρὸν προσεγγίζων· αἱ δὲ τέσσαρες ἀσπίδες τὴν ἐπὶ τεσσάρων σφαλερῶν καὶ ἀστάτων στοιχείων σύστασιν τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου σώματος αἰνίττονται, ὧν ἀτακτούντων καὶ ταραττομένων ἡ τοῦ σώματος καταλύεται σύστασις· πρὸς τούτοις καὶ ὁ πυρώδης ἐκεῖνος καὶ ἀπηνὴς δράκων τὴν φοβερὰν εἰκονίζει τοῦ ᾅδου γαστέρα, τὴν μαιμάσσουσαν ὑποδέξασθαι τοὺς τὰ παρόντα τερπνὰ τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν προκρίνοντας. ὁ δὲ τοῦ μέλιτος σταλαγμὸς τὴν γλυκύτητα ἐμφαίνει τῶν τοῦ κόσμου ἡδέων, δι' ἧς ἐκεῖνος ἀπατῶν τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ φίλους οὐκ ἐᾷ τῆς σφῶν προνοήσασθαι σωτηρίας.
English translation (G.R. Woodward, H. Mattingly, 1914)Edit
"These men that have foolishly alienated themselves from a good and kind master, to seek the service of so harsh and savage a lord, that are all agog for present joys and are glued thereto, that take never a thought for the future, that always grasp after bodily enjoyments, but suffer their souls to waste with hunger, and to be worn with myriad ills, these I consider to be like a man flying before the face of a rampant unicorn, who, unable to endure the sound of the beast's cry, and its terrible bellowing, to avoid being devoured, ran away at full speed. But while he ran hastily, he fell into a great pit; and as he fell, he stretched forth his hands, and laid hold on a tree, to which he held tightly. There he established some sort of foot-hold and thought himself from that moment in peace and safety. But he looked and descried two mice, the one white, the other black, that never ceased to gnaw the root of the tree whereon he hung, and were all but on the point of severing it. Then he looked down to the bottom of the pit and espied below a dragon, breathing fire, fearful for eye to see, exceeding fierce and grim, with terrible wide jaws, all agape to swallow him. Again looking closely at the ledge whereon his feet rested, he discerned four heads of asps projecting from the wall whereon he was perched. Then he lift up his eyes and saw that from the branches of the tree there dropped a little honey. And thereat he ceased to think of the troubles whereby he was surrounded; how, outside, the unicorn was madly raging to devour him: how, below, the fierce dragon was yawning to swallow him: how the tree, which he had clutched, was all but severed; and how his feet rested on slippery, treacherous ground. Yea, he forgat, without care, all those sights of awe and terror, and his whole mind hung on the sweetness of that tiny drop of honey.
"This is the likeness of those who cleave to the deceitfulness of this present life, – the interpretation whereof I will declare to thee anon. The unicorn is the type of death, ever in eager pursuit to overtake the race of Adam. The pit is the world, full of all manner of ills and deadly snares. The tree, which was being continually fretted by the two mice, to which the man clung, is the course of every man's life, that spendeth and consuming itself hour by hour, day and night, and gradually draweth nigh its severance. The fourfold asps signify the structure of man's body upon four treacherous and unstable elements which, being disordered and disturbed, bring that body to destruction. Furthermore, the fiery cruel dragon betokeneth the maw of hell that is hungry to receive those who choose present pleasures rather than future blessings. The dropping of honey denoteth the sweetness of the delights of the world, whereby it deceiveth its own friends, nor suffereth them to take timely thought for their salvation."