Elegiac Dream Girls

Two poems from from the erotic book 5 of the Greek Anthology.

Kephalas, On the Prostitute Sthenalais (5.2)

“The city-burning Stenelais, the high priced girl,
Dripped out gold for those who wanted it,
But a dream put her naked next to me all night,
All the way to lovely dawn, for free.
I will no longer kneel for the barbarian lady
Or mourn for myself, when I have sleep to give these things for free.”

Τὴν καταφλεξίπολιν Σθενελαΐδα τὴν βαρύμισθον,
τὴν τοῖς βουλομένοις χρυσὸν ἀμεργομένην,
γυμνήν μοι διὰ νυκτὸς ὅλης παρέκλινεν ὄνειρος
ἄχρι φίλης ἠοῦς προῖκα χαριζομένην.
οὐκέτι γουνάσομαι τὴν βάρβαρον οὐδ’ ἐπ’ ἐμαυτῷ
κλαύσομαι ὕπνον ἔχων κεῖνα χαριζόμενον.


Agathias Scholasticus (5.237)

“I was crying all night long. And when dawn
Came to allow me a rest for a little while
The swallows chirped around until tears
Came over me again, banishing sweet sleep.
My darting eyes keep watch; and Rhodanthê
Turns over the thoughts in my heart again.
Silence, you jealous gossips! I wasn’t the one
Who went and cut out Philomela’s tongue!
Go weep for Itylos in the mountains and mourn
As you sit in the ragged front yard of the hoopoe—
Let me get a little sleep and perhaps some dream will come
And embrace me with Rhodanthê’s arms.”

Πᾶσαν ἐγὼ τὴν νύκτα κινύρομαι· εὖτε δ’ ἐπέλθῃ
ὄρθρος ἐλινῦσαι μικρὰ χαριζόμενος,
ἀμφιπεριτρύζουσι χελιδόνες, ἐς δέ με δάκρυ
βάλλουσιν, γλυκερὸν κῶμα παρωσάμεναι.
ὄμματα δ’ οὐ λάοντα φυλάσσεται· ἡ δὲ ῾Ροδάνθης
αὖθις ἐμοῖς στέρνοις φροντὶς ἀναστρέφεται.
ὦ φθονεραὶ παύσασθε λαλητρίδες· οὐ γὰρ ἔγωγε
τὴν Φιλομηλείην γλῶσσαν ἀπεθρισάμην·
ἀλλ’ ῎Ιτυλον κλαίοιτε κατ’ οὔρεα καὶ γοάοιτε
εἰς ἔποπος κραναὴν αὖλιν ἐφεζόμεναι,
βαιὸν ἵνα κνώσσοιμεν· ἴσως δέ τις ἥξει ὄνειρος,
ὅς με ῾Ροδανθείοις πήχεσιν ἀμφιβάλοι.

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