Goodbye, Muses!

Palladas of Alexandria, Greek Anthology 9.171

“I am selling my books, those woeful instruments of the Muses, for I am set upon a new profession. Goodbye, Muses! Farewell, Learned Words! Syntax is the death of me.”

῎Οργανα Μουσάων, τὰ πολύστονα βιβλία πωλῶ

εἰς ἑτέρας τέχνης ἔργα μετερχόμενος.

Πιερίδες, σῴζοισθε· λόγοι, συντάσσομαι ὑμῖν·

σύνταξις γὰρ ἐμοὶ καὶ θάνατον παρέχει.

*Autobiographical Note: I once owned a t-shirt inscribed with the phrase, σύνταξις γὰρ ἐμοὶ καὶ θάνατον παρέχει, but until yesterday had no idea that it was a direct quotation from this poem!

7 thoughts on “Goodbye, Muses!

    1. These poems are brilliant, that’s why! But we should also consider that they speak to us, and our experience, rather specifically. Similarly so, angst-ridden teenagers can’t come up with rational or even aesthetic reasons to explain their penchant for shitty music on the radio, but it speaks to their own personal experience so vividly!

      In fact, I’m sure that this is why we enjoy these poems so much more than others about, say, napkin thievery.

      1. I think you’re absolutely right If we weren’t philologists who had frequently wondered about the sanity of our occupations, Palladas would probably interested us a lot less.

        (But I like napkin thinking too!)

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