Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Anacreon 358

Yet again, hitting me with his bright ball,
Golden-haired Eros calls me out to play
With a girl in richly spangled sandals.
But she—because she’s from fancy Lesbos—
Of my hair—because it’s white—disapproves.
And so, at some other girl, she gapes!

Catullus 43

Howdy, girl with the not-small nose,
Feet not beautiful, eyes not black,
Fingers not long, the lips not dry,
A tongue not quite so elegant,
“Friend” of a Formian bankrupt.
The sticks proclaim you’re beautiful?
With you our Lesbia is compared?
O times, unthinking and vulgar!


σφαίρῃ δηὖτέ με πορφυρέῃ
βάλλων χρυσοκόμης Ἔρως,
νήνι ποικιλοσαμβάλῳ
συμπαίζειν προκαλεῖται.

ἣ δ’, ἐστὶν γὰρ ἀπ’ εὐκτίτου
Λέσβου, τὴν μὲν ἐμὴν κόμην,
λευκὴ γάρ, καταμέμφεται,
πρὸς δ’ ἄλλην τινὰ χάσκει.


Salve, nec minimo puella naso
nec bello pede nec nigris ocellis
nec longis digitis nec ore sicco
nec sane nimis elegante lingua,
decoctoris amica Formiani.
ten provincia narrat esse bellam?
tecum Lesbia nostra comparatur?
o saeclum insapiens et infacetum!

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

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