The Atheists (I. A. Krylov, “Bezbozhniki”)
In ancient times there was a race –
To all of mankind a disgrace –
Who were so wicked in their hearts,
As to declare a war on gods.
Without considering the odds
They started out with many darts,
With slings and arrows, stones and logs.
Some of their famous demagogues,
The more the rebels to incite,
Shout, that the gods do not judge right,
That they do not their duties keep,
Are either lazy or asleep,
And for that reason should be beat;
And that, besides, it’s no great feat
To get at them from any mountain-top.
This blasphemy is causing consternation
Among the gods: they send a deputation
To Jove and ask that he would stop
This outrage, or at least deter
This execution of the wicked plan.
In this opinion, or at least deter
The execution of the wicked plan.
In this opinion did all the gods concur
And were unanimous, all to a man,
That, for the gods their power to assert
It wouldn’t hurt
A minor wonder to unveil:
A quake with thunder, or a hail
Of stones, or something of that sort,
“Let’s rather wait” did Jove retort,
“Let them continue in their vices
And leave them to their own devices:
Then you will see a punishment
More dreadful, than you could invent.”
This prophecy was soon fulfilled,
For, as he spoke, the air was filled
With countless arrows, darts and stones
From the rebellious host: which, unrelenting
With countless deaths, both certain and tormenting,
Fell upon them, and crushed their skulls and bones.
Of all impiety there are the dreadful wages:
Ye mortals ought to comprehend,
That all the godless talk of the so-called sages
With which against your God to arm you they pretend,
Will only hasten your destruction and your end
And will, like thunderbolts, upon your heads descend.