Happy Monday! Time for Ancient Greek, and our well-liked Aesop Series.
Aesop told the story of a farmer who had lazy kids (who cannot identify with that, right?) and, in order to make them work, he tells them there is a treasure hidden in their farmland. The kids, excited to find the treasure, leave no stone unturned; they clean what is dirty to make things more visible and organize the farmland from top to bottom to make sure they have covered the entire area. In the end, when the sons and daughters find nothing, the farmer makes them look at the field and tells them, with the expected coy smile, that they have found the treasure after all, for:
“Τὸ ἔργον θησαυρὸς τοῑς ἀνθρώποις.”
Work [is] a treasure to human beings.
El trabajo es un tesoro para los humanos.
You will immediately notice the absence of the verb “to be” in the A. Greek; to the speakers of the language ellipsis (omission) was a beautiful thing. After all, they thought, if you understood Ancient Greek then you will, de facto, know what the writer meant to write and say without having to really explain it. Further, Aesop’s fables have the connotation of a joke with a final punch line, and taking the verb “to be” out made it faster to deliver it. One can think of parents telling this fable to their kids at the table and, if one complained about having money or treasure, the pun would be delivered after the ironic tale.
Think about it this way: have you ever heard the term “it is funny because it is true”? The farmer would laugh, because the only treasure his kids would find, being peasants, would be in the work they did, not in meaningless day-dreaming. In that sad truth remained the pun that made the day-to-day worth living; if lived for the right reasons.