According to a Hellenistic collection, the poet Alcaeus complained of the onslaught of the erotic god:
Greek Anthology, 5. 10 (Attributed to Alcaeus of Messene)
“I hate Love [Eros]. Why doesn’t the overwhelming god attack
wild beasts instead of shooting arrows at my heart?
What good is it for a god to burn out a man? What is the rite
that has him pin me and take a prize from my head?”
᾿Εχθαίρω τὸν ῎Ερωτα. τί γὰρ βαρὺς οὐκ ἐπὶ θῆρας
ὄρνυται, ἀλλ’ ἐπ’ ἐμὴν ἰοβολεῖ κραδίην;
τί πλέον, εἰ θεὸς ἄνδρα καταφλέγει; ἢ τί τὸ σεμνὸν
δῃώσας ἀπ’ ἐμῆς ἆθλον ἔχει κεφαλῆς;
Eros’ wings seem to have rather ancient provenance–the arrows may come in later:
Plato, Phaedrus 242b (= Fr. 1 of Homeric Epikikhlides?)
“I believe that some of the Homeridai quote from their epic repositories two lines concerning Eros—one of which is very offensive and not especially metrical. For they sing thus:
“The mortals call Eros the flying one and the gods
call him Pteros [Winged] because he makes you grow wings.”
It is just as easy to believe them as it is not….”
λέγουσι δὲ οἶμαί τινες ῾Ομηριδῶν ἐκ τῶν ἀποθέτων ἐπῶν δύο ἔπη εἰς τὸν ῎Ερωτα, ὧν τὸ ἕτερον ὑβριστικὸν πάνυ καὶ οὐ σφόδρα τι ἔμμετρον· ὑμνοῦσι δὲ ὧδε—
τὸν δ’ ἤτοι θνητοὶ μὲν ῎Ερωτα καλοῦσι ποτηνόν,
ἀθάνατοι δὲ Πτέρωτα, διὰ πτεροφύτορ’ ἀνάγκην.
τούτοις δὴ ἔξεστι μὲν πείθεσθαι, ἔξεστιν δὲ μή·
[The Epikikhlides is a hexameter poem attributed to Homer by Athenaeus 65a, 639a. The Pseudo-Herodotean Life of Homer numbers the Epikikhlides among Homer’s ‘playful’ poems (ta paignia)].
2 thoughts on “Before Redbull, Eros Gave You Wings: Alcaeus, Plato and Homer”
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