lines 176–183, as translated by Ian Johnston
Zeus has led us on to know,
the Helmsman lays it down as law
that we must suffer, suffer into truth.
We cannot sleep, and drop by drop at the heart
the pain of pain remembered comes again,
and we resist, but ripeness comes as well.
From the gods enthroned on the awesome rowing-bench
there comes a violent love.
Robert Fagles, The Oresteia (1975)
God, whose law it is
that he who learns must suffer.
And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despite, against our will,
comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.<!-- "despite" rather than "despair" is correct here -->
Edith Hamilton, The Greek Way (1930), pp. 61 and 194
Robert F. Kennedy quoted these lines in his speech announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on 4 April 1968. His version http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/rfkonmlkdeath.html:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
Variant translations of πάθει μάθος:
By suffering comes wisdom.
The reward of suffering is experience.
Wisdom comes alone through suffering.