Lust, Longing, and Laughter

Anacreonta 57

“Who shaped the sea?
What maddened craft
Poured waves on its platter?
Who was it over the water’s back
That sketched the shape of soft,
shining Kypris, after turning thoughts
To the gods, the beginning of divine creation?

He made her naked,
Cloaking only as much as it is improper
To see, with the waves.

And she wanders over them,
Like seaweed, pressing
Her soft-skinned body in a voyage
Over the calm white waves,
And shapes a wake in her passing.

A huge wave marks the place
Where her neck meets
Rosy breasts and there
Kypris shines bright amid the calm
In the water’s furrow, like
A lily twisted in the violets.

On the silver surface
Upon dancing dolphins,
Lust, Longing, and Laughter
Ride, sorrowful thoughts for mortals at times,
Along with a curved chorus of fish
Diving into the waves
At play in the very place
Where the Paphian swims while laughing.”

ἄρα τίς τόρευσε πόντον;
ἄρα τίς μανεῖσα τέχνα
ἀνέχευε κῦμα δίσκῳ;
ἐπὶ νῶτα τῆς θαλάττης
ἄρα τίς ὕπερθε λευκὰν
ἁπαλὰν χάραξε Κύπριν
νόον ἐς θεοὺς ἀερθείς,
μακάρων φύσιος ἀρχάν;
ὁ δέ νιν ἔδειξε γυμνάν,
ὅσα μὴ θέμις δ᾿ ὁρᾶσθαι
μόνα κύμασιν καλύπτει.

ἀλαλημένη δ᾿ ἐπ᾿ αὐτὰ
βρύον ὥς, ὕπερθε λευκᾶς
ἁπαλόχροον γαλήνας
δέμας εἰς πλόον φέρουσα,
ῥόθιον παρ᾿ οἶμον ἕλκει.

ῥοδέων δ᾿ ὕπερθε μαζῶν
ἁπαλῆς ἔνερθε δειρῆς
μέγα κῦμα χρῶτα τέμνει.
μέσον αὔλακος δὲ Κύπρις
κρίνον ὣς ἴοις ἑλιχθὲν
διαφαίνεται γαλήνας.

ὑπὲρ ἀργύρου δ᾿ ὀχοῦνται
ἐπὶ δελφῖσι χορευταῖς
† δολερὸν νόον μερόπων †
Ἔρος Ἵμερος γελῶν τε,
χορὸς ἰχθύων τε κυρτὸς
ἐπὶ κυμάτων κυβιστῶν
† Παφίης τε σῶμα † παίζει,
ἵνα νήχεται γελῶσα.

Wall painting. A naked Venus lies in repose on a giant oyster shell over a blue background. Little naked cherubs are on either side
Fresco from Pompei, Casa di Venus, 1st century CE

One thought on “Lust, Longing, and Laughter

  1. Thank you for the Anacreonta poems. I am not a great classics scholar. I have done a few Moocs. But it has been good being introduced to thesevpoems

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