Beauty and Love, A Wedding Song

Theognis, fr. 1-18

“Lord, son of Leto, child of Zeus, I will never
Forget you when beginning or ending my song.
But I sing you first and last and in the middle too
Hear me now and grant me good things.

Lord Phoebus, when the goddess Leto first gave birth to you,
The finest of the gods, she was holding close to the palm tree
with her slight arms, next to the curve of the lake—
and all of Delos was overwhelmed with a divine scent
as the expansive earth laughed beneath,
and the see delighted in its salty depths.

Artemis, slayer of beasts, daughter of Zeus, the one
Agamemnon honored with a temple as he sailed to Troy in swift ships
Hear me as I pray to you—ward off the evil spirts of death.
It is a minor thing for you, goddess; but a big deal for me.”

Muses and Graces, daughters of Zeus, who once
Went to the marriage of Kadmos and sang this beautiful line:
“Whatever is beautiful is loved; and what isn’t beautiful isn’t loved’
That’s the line that rang from your immortal mouths.”

῏Ω ἄνα, Λητοῦς υἱέ, Διὸς τέκος, οὔποτε σεῖο
λήσομαι ἀρχόμενος οὐδ’ ἀποπαυόμενος,
ἀλλ’ αἰεὶ πρῶτόν τε καὶ ὕστατον ἔν τε μέσοισιν
ἀείσω· σὺ δέ μοι κλῦθι καὶ ἐσθλὰ δίδου.

Φοῖβε ἄναξ, ὅτε μέν σε θεὰ τέκε πότνια Λητώ
φοίνικος ῥαδινῆις χερσὶν ἐφαψαμένη
ἀθανάτων κάλλιστον ἐπὶ τροχοειδέι λίμνηι,
πᾶσα μὲν ἐπλήσθη Δῆλος ἀπειρεσίη
ὀδμῆς ἀμβροσίης, ἐγέλασσε δὲ Γαῖα πελώρη,
γήθησεν δὲ βαθὺς πόντος ἁλὸς πολιῆς.

῎Αρτεμι θηροφόνη, θύγατερ Διός, ἣν ᾿Αγαμέμνων
εἵσαθ’, ὅτ’ ἐς Τροίην ἔπλεε νηυσὶ θοῆις,
εὐχομένωι μοι κλῦθι, κακὰς δ’ ἀπὸ κῆρας ἄλαλκε·
σοὶ μὲν τοῦτο, θεά, σμικρόν, ἐμοὶ δὲ μέγα.

Μοῦσαι καὶ Χάριτες, κοῦραι Διός, αἵ ποτε Κάδμου
ἐς γάμον ἐλθοῦσαι καλὸν ἀείσατ’ ἔπος,
‘ὅττι καλόν, φίλον ἐστί· τὸ δ’ οὐ καλὸν οὐ φίλον ἐστί,’
τοῦτ’ ἔπος ἀθανάτων ἦλθε διὰ στομάτων.

Small clay figure of larger divine woman holding human male in arms.
Artemis Kourotrophos. Small terracotta . 430-400 BC. Archaeological Museum of Brauron.

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