Not This, But That

“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want”
-Spice Girls, “Wannabe,” 1996 A.D.

Philodemus 11.34 (Greek Anthology)

White violets and songs to the lyre,
Wines from Chios and myrrh from Syria,
Drinking parties and writhing harlots—
No thanks. Not again. I would lose my mind.
But wreaths of narcissus, put ‘em ‘round me.
Give me a taste of what the flute can do.
Rub my limbs with crocus-scented oils,
And soak my pipes with Mytilene wine.
Oh, and bring me a wife, a virgin and shy.

Λευκοΐνους πάλι δὴ καὶ ψάλματα, καὶ πάλι Χίους
οἴνους, καὶ πάλι δὴ σμύρναν ἔχειν Συρίην,
καὶ πάλι κωμάζειν, καὶ ἔχειν πάλι διψάδα πόρνην
οὐκ ἐθέλω: μισῶ ταὺτα τὰ πρὸς μανίην.
ἀλλά με ναρκίσσοις ἀναδήσατε, καὶ πλαγιαύλων
γεύσατε, καὶ κροκίνοις χρίσατε γυῖα μύροις,
καὶ Μυτιληναίῳ τὸν πνεύμονα τέγξατε Βάκχῳ,
καὶ συζεύξατέ μοι φωλάδα παρθενικήν.

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.

Money or The Muses?

Perhaps it will be the case that you’re called to be an artist. If so, take that fate upon yourself and bear it–its weight and its greatness.

–Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Crinagoras 9.234 (Greek Anthology)

“Tormented soul, how long will you put off
All your dreams except your dreams of riches?
Empty hopes wing you to the closest cold cloud.
Know this: things worth having don’t just come to man.
You must pursue the gifts of the Muses!
And as for your mind’s dim fancies,
Leave them to crazy people.”

ἄχρι τεῦ, ἆ δείλαιε, κεναῖσιν ἐπ᾽ ἐλπίσι, θυμέ,
πωτηθεὶς ψυχρῶν ἀσσοτάτω νεφέων,
ἄλλοις ἄλλ᾽ ἔπ᾽ ὄνειρα διαγράψεις ἀφένοιο;
κτητὸν γὰρ θνητοῖς οὐδὲ ἓν αὐτόματον.
Μουσέων ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ δῶρα μετέρχεο: ταῦτα δ᾽ ἀμυδρὰ
εἴδωλα ψυχῆς ἠλεμάτοισι μέθες.

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.

How Not to Remember the Dead

The Greek Anthology records fifty-one poems by the versatile Crinagoras of Mytilene (c. 1st century BC – 1st century AD). Here are 2 uncharitable epigrams of his regarding the tomb and decaying remains of one Eunicides:

7.380 (Greek Anthology)

Though the tomb’s been cut from a block of white marble,
And it’s been made fine with a mason’s straight rule,
It does not belong to a good man.
Do not appraise the dead, my friend, based on stone.
Stone is witless: this is how it covers
Even a corpse already turned black.
Here lies that limp rag, Eunicides,
Rotting away under the ashes.

7.401 (Greek Anthology)

The tomb atop his odious head
Crushes the bones of the reprobate
Who lies beneath the accursed dirt:
It crushes his jutting chest,
His foul-smelling row of teeth,
His legs bandaged like a slave’s,
And his hairless head as well.
Eunicides’ half-burnt remains, these,
And they’re still full of greenish pus.
Earth, you’ve made an unfortunate marriage;
Don’t now lie lightly, or even slightly,
On this misshapen man’s ashes.

7.380

εἰ καὶ τὸ σῆμα λυγδίνης ἀπὸ πλακὸς
καὶ ξεστὸν ὀρθῇ λαοτέκτονος στάθμῃ,
οὐκ ἀνδρὸς ἐσθλοῦ. μὴ λίθῳ τεκμαίρεο,
ὦ λῷστε, τὸν θανόντα. κωφὸν ἡ λίθος,
τῇ καὶ ζοφώδης ἀμφιέννυται νέκυς.
κεῖται δὲ τῇδε τὠλιγηπελὲς ῥάκος
Εὐνικίδαο, σήπεται δ᾽ ὑπὸ σποδῷ

7.401

τήνδ᾽ ὑπὸ δύσβωλον θλίβει χθόνα φωτὸς ἀλιτροῦ
ὀστέα μισητῆς τύμβος ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς,
στέρνα τ᾽ ἐποκριόεντα, καὶ οὐκ εὔοδμον ὀδόντων
πρίονα, καὶ κώλων δούλιον οἰοπέδην,
ἄτριχα καὶ κόρσην, Εὐνικίδου ἡμιπύρωτα
λείψαν᾽, ἔτι χλωρῆς ἔμπλεα τηκεδόνος.
χθὼν ὦ δυσνύμφευτε, κακοσκήνευς ἐπὶ τέφρης
ἀνδρὸς μὴ κούφη κέκλισο, μηδ᾽ ὀλίγη.

This is an image by the surrealist photographer Hans Bellmer (1902-1975). It depicts the life-like (or rather, death-like) doll he built and set in poses before his camera.

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.

A Commencement Address

Theognis 1007-1012

I give the same advice to everyone
so that someone young,
someone still possessing the splendid bloom,
thinks over in his mind what is good
but all the while enjoys his wealth.
for there is no growing young again
—twice is for the gods—
and there is no release from death for people.
rather, devastating old age shames the beautiful man–
it takes him by the crown of his head.

†ξυνὸν δ᾽ ἀνθρώποις ὑποθήσομαι, ὄφρα τις ἡβᾷ
ἀγλαὸν ἄνθος ἔχων καὶ φρεσὶν ἐσθλὰ νοῇ,
τῶν αὐτοῦ κτεάνων εὖ πάσχεμεν: οὐ γὰρ ἀνηβᾶν
δὶς πέλεται πρὸς θεῶν οὐδὲ λύσις θανάτου
θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποισι: καλὸν δ᾽ ἐπὶ γῆρας ἐλέγχει
οὐλόμενον, κεφαλῆς δ᾽ ἅπτεται ἀκροτάτης.

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.

Mood Swings

Two epigrams by Palladas (c. 4th century CE), one a nocturnal sentiment, and the other a morning song:

10.84

In tears I was born, and after tears I die.
I found all of life in a river of tears.
O race of men: tearful, feeble, pitiful—
You appear on earth, and fast you melt away.

10.79

With night’s passing, we’re born anew, day after day.
Nothing remains of our former life.
Estranged from yesterday’s experiences,
Today we start on what life lies ahead.
So don’t speak of your years, old man, as too many–
You have no part today in days already past.

10.84

δακρυχέων γενόμην, καὶ δακρύσας ἀποθνῄσκω:
δάκρυσι δ᾽ ἐν πολλοῖς τὸν βίον εὗρον ὅλον.
ὦ γένος ἀνθρώπων πολυδάκρυτον, ἀσθενές, οἰκτρόν,
φαινόμενον κατὰ γῆς, καὶ διαλυόμενον.

10.79

νυκτὸς ἀπερχομένης γεννώμεθα ἦμαρ ἐπ᾽ ἦμαρ,
τοῦ προτέρου βιότου μηδὲν ἔχοντες ἔτι,
ἀλλοτριωθέντες τῆς ἐχθεσινῆς διαγωγῆς,
τοῦ λοιποῦ δὲ βίου σήμερον ἀρχόμενοι.
μὴ τοίνυν λέγε σαυτὸν ἐτῶν, πρεσβῦτα, περισσῶν
τῶν γὰρ ἀπελθόντων σήμερον οὐ μετέχεις.

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.

Battle Royale of the Bitter

Some unvarnished views on life, as expressed by the epigramist Palladas (c. 4th century CE) and the French moralist La Rochefoucauld (17th century):

[1] Wickedness

Palladas 10.95

I hate the man whose nature is two-fold:
Kind in words, but hostile in his actions.

La Rochefoucauld #197

There are people in whom one couldn’t expect evil without having seen it, but there’s no one in whom it ought to surprise us when we do see it.

[2] Death

Palladas 10.59

The fear of death is quite a painful grief,
And a mortal profits when freed from it.
So don’t lament a man’s exit from life:
There’s no further suffering after death.

La Rochefoucauld #23

Few people know death. One doesn’t ordinarily suffer it in accordance with a resolution, but in keeping with stupidity and custom; what’s more, most men die because they can’t stop themselves dying.

[3] Love

Palladas 11.385

Your love is a sham:
You do it out of fear and need.
Nothing is more untrue than love like that.

La Rochefoucauld #76

True love is like a spiritual apparition: everybody talks about it, but few people have seen it.

[4] Advice

Palladas 10.91

Whenever someone hates a man god loves,
He does something truly absurd:
Manifestly, he arms himself for battle
Against god himself!
From his envy he reaps immense bitterness.
One must love that man whom god loves.

La Rochefoucauld #93

Old people love to dole out good precepts in order to console themselves for no longer being able to set bad examples.

Palladas10.95

μισῶ τὸν ἄνδρα τὸν διπλοῦν πεφυκότα,
χρηστὸν λόγοισι, πολέμιον δὲ τοῖς τρόποις.

10.59

Προσδοκίη θανάτου πολυώδυνός ἐστιν ἀνίη:
τοῦτο δὲ κερδαίνει θνητὸς ἀπολλύμενος.
μὴ τοίνυν κλαύσῃς τὸν ἀπερχόμενον βιότοιο:
οὐδὲν γὰρ θανάτου δεύτερόν ἐστι πάθος.

11.385

πλαστὸν ἔχεις τὸν ἔρωτα, φόβῳ δὲ φιλεῖς καὶ ἀνάγκῃ:
τοῦ δὲ φιλεῖν οὕτως οὐδὲν ἀπιστότερον.

10.91

ὅταν στυγῇ τις ἄνδρα, τὸν θεὸς φιλεῖ,
οὗτος μεγίστην μωρίαν κατεισάγει:
φανερῶς γάρ αὐτῷ τῷ θεῷ κορύσσεται,
χόλον μέγιστον ἐκ φθόνου δεδεγμένος,
δεῖ γὰρ φιλεῖν ἐκεῖνον, ὃν θεὸς φιλεῖ.

La Rochefoucauld #197

Il y a des gens de qui l’on peut ne jamais croire du mal sans l’avoir vu; mais il n’y en a point en qui il nous doive surprendre en le voyant.

#23

Peu de gens connaissent la mort. On ne la souffre pas ordinairement par résolution, mais par stupidité et par coutume; et la plupart des hommes meurent parce qu’on ne peut s’empêcher de mourir.

#76

Il est du véritable amour comme de l’apparition des esprits: tout le monde en parle, mais peu de gens en ont vu.

#93

Les vieillards aiment à donner de bons préceptes, pour se consoler de n’être plus en état de donner de mauvais exemples.

Detail of a print of Francois de La Rochefoucauld.
Credit: Getty Images/Hulton Archive.

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.

For Those In the Know

Anonymous Epigram (Greek Anthology 7.128)

I am Heraclitus. Why do you buffoons
Wrestle with me? It was not for you
I labored, but for those in the know.
To me, one man is worth thirty thousand,
And an infinite number not worth one man.
This I would say even in Persephone’s house.

For those in the know, here are some fragments of Heraclitus to wrestle with:

Fr.7
If all that exists should become smoke, nostrils would pick out one thing from the other.

Fr.26
A man in the night kindles a light in himself after his sight is extinguished. A living man, but he engages with a dead man when he sleeps. And when he wakes, he understands sleeping man.

Fr.36
For souls, it’s death to become water, and for water, it’s death to become earth. But from earth water is born, and from water, a soul.

Fr.48
In any event, the name of the bow is life but its work is death

Fr.90
The exchange: all things for fire and fire for all things; and in like manner, goods for gold and gold for goods.

Epigram 7.128
Ἡράκλειτος ἐγώ: τί μ᾽ ἄνω κάτω ἕλκετ᾽ ἄμουσοι;
οὐχ ὑμῖν ἐπόνουν, τοῖς δ᾽ ἔμ᾽ ἐπισταμένοις.
εἷς ἐμοὶ ἄνθρωπος τρισμύριοι, οἱ δ᾽ ἀνάριθμοι
οὐδείς. ταῦτ᾽ αὐδῶ καὶ παρὰ Περσεφόνῃ.

Heraclitus:
Fr.7
εἰ πάντα τὰ ὄντα καπνὸς γένοιτο, ῥῖνες ἂν διαγνοῖεν

Fr.26
ἄνθρωπος ἐν εὐφρόνῃ φάος ἅπτεται ἑαυτῷ ἀποσβεσθείς ὄψεις, ζῶν δὲ ἅπτεται τεθνεῶτος εὕδων, ἐγρηγορὼς ἅπτεται εὕδοντος.

Fr.36
ψυχῇσιν θάνατος ὕδωρ γενέσθαι, ὕδατι δὲ θάνατος γῆν γενέσθαι, ἐκ γῆς δὲ ὕδωρ γίνεται, ἐξ ὕδατος δὲ ψυχή

Fr.48
τῷ οὖν τόξῳ ὄνομα βίος, ἔργον δὲ θάνατος

Fr.90
πυρός τε ἀνταμοιβὴ τὰ πάντα καὶ πῦρ ἁπάντων ὅκωσπερ χρυσοῦ χρήματα καὶ χρημάτων χρυσός.

Stay Home, Philocomus!

Alciphron (ca. 170-220 CE) wrote fictional prose letters depicting scenes from the lives of ordinary people. Like the epigrams on which they were modeled, the letters offer snapshots of experience, portraits of vivid emotions. They are pictures rather than meditations. 

I’ve paired Alciphron’s letter about a rural youth’s desire to travel to the city with a letter from an 18th century epistolary novel about an urban youth’s move to the country. Alciphron’s letter is a portrait of naive yearning; and Goethe’s, a portrait of sober reflection. 

Alciphron: Letter 2.28

From Philocomus to Astyllus

Since I’ve never yet gone into town, I don’t know what this thing called “a city” is. I so want to see the fresh spectacle of people living close together, as if in a web; and I want to learn the many other ways city and country life differ. If you should have occasion to go into town, do go, and take me along this time. I’ll surely experience to the full what it has to offer. After all, my first beard is coming out! And really, is there anyone more qualified to introduce me to the multitude of city things than you, one who wanders about inside its gates?

Goethe: The Sorrows of Young Werther June 21

Dear Wilhelm,

I have thought over all kinds of things: about man’s desire to spread himself, make new discoveries, wander about. And then also about his inner impulse to willingly surrender himself to his limitations, to continue on with the same habits, and not to worry about what’s to his left or right . . . O, distance is like the future! Something enormous and dark rises before our soul, our emotions become blurred, and our eyes too . . . And alas! When we hurry to it, when the “there” becomes “here,” everything is just as before, and we stand there in our poverty, in our limitation, and our soul thirsts for an elusive balm.

Alciphron, Φιλόκωμος Ἀστύλλῳ

Οὐπώποτε εἰς ἄστυ καταβὰς οὐδὲ εἰδὼς ὅ τί ποτε ἐστὶν ἡ λεγομένη πόλις, ποθῶ τὸ καινὸν τοῦτο θέαμα ἰδεῖν, ὑφʼ ἐνὶ περιβόλῳ κατοικοῦντας ἀνθρώπους, καὶ τἆλλα ὅσα διαφέρει πόλις ἀγροικίας μαθεῖν. εἰ οὖν σοι πρόφασις ὁδοῦ ἄστυδε γένοιτο, ἧκε ἀπάξων νῦν κἀμέ. καὶ γὰρ ἔγωγε ἄγειν οἶμαι τοῦ πλέον τι μαθεῖν, ἤδη μοι βρύειν θριξὶ τῆς ὑπήνης ἀρχομένης. τίς οὖν δή με τἀκεῖθι μυσταγωγεῖν ἐπιτηδειό<τερο>ς ἢ σὺ ὁ τὰ πολλὰ εἴσω πυλῶν ἀλινδούμενος;

Goethe, Am 21. Junius.

Lieber Wilhelm, ich habe allerlei nachgedacht, über die Begier im Menschen, sich auszubreiten, neue Entdeckungen zu machen, herumzuschweifen; und dann wieder über den inneren Trieb, sich der Einschränkung willig zu ergeben, in dem Gleise der Gewohnheit so hinzufahren und sich weder um Rechts noch um Links zu bekümmern . . . O es ist mit der Ferne wie mit der Zukunft! Ein großes dämmerndes Ganze ruht vor unserer Seele, unsere Empfindung verschwimmt darin wie unser Auge . . . und ach! Wenn wir hinzueilen, wenn das Dort nun Hier wird, ist alles vor wie nach, und wir stehen in unserer Armut, in unserer Eingeschränktheit, und unsere Seele lechzt nach entschlüpftem Labsale.

The Acropolis and surrounding area, Athens.
Neil Beer/Getty Images

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.

Did You Say Love or Death?

Joel sings “love is a battlefield” at every department holiday party, and yet no general ever says at muster, “troops, war is loving.” We don’t, that is, ordinarily reverse the terms of a metaphor. In practice, one term stands still and the other term does the work of elucidating it. 

But what if metaphor flowed both ways (metaphorically speaking), such that on one occasion X elucidated Y, and on another occasion Y elucidated X? That is what we find in the Greek Anthology when we compare epigrams across their sepulchral and amatory boundaries. 

It’s a dissonant reading, but one we’re justified in making when topoi arranged to make a poem about death are rearranged to make an equally effective poem about love. Furthermore, I think we can say that when responsibility for clarifying terms (love, death) passes back and forth between the terms themselves, the end result is a body of poems whose referents are one another. 

Here are two pairings of an amatory and sepulchral epigram. In the first, it is the imagery of the sea, and in the second the imagery of robbery, that are employed to account for the phenomenologically distinct experiences of loving and dying. With each pairing, try to think not only of how death is a metaphor for love, but how love is a metaphor for death:

[1] The Sea

Meleager 5.190

Bitter wave of desire,
Restless winds of jealousy,
And a wintry sea of celebrations:
Where to, am I being carried?
Since my heart’s tiller swings this way and that,
Will I see that tender Scylla again?

Leonidas 5.273

The East wind’s savage, sudden gusts,
Night, and waves from Orion’s dark setting
Did me in: I, Callaeschrus, lost my hold on life
While sailing in the middle of the Libyan sea.
Tumbling about in the water, prey for fish,
I died. And so, this gravestone is a liar.

[2] Robbery

Anonymous 7.737

Here I am, a wretched man three times over:
Overpowered by a thief’s violence,
Prostrate, and wept for by no one.

Diophanes of Myrina 5.309

A thief three times over,
That’s what Desire should really be called:
He’s watchful, he’s brazen, he strips you bare.

Meleager 5.190

κῦμα τὸ πικρὸν Ἔρωτος, ἀκοίμητοί τε πνέοντες
ζῆλοι, καὶ κώμων χειμέριον πέλαγος,
ποῖ φέρομαι; πάντῃ δὲ φρενῶν οἴακες ἀφεῖνται,
ἦ πάλι τὴν τρυφερὴν Σκύλλαν ἐποψόμεθα;

Leonidas 5.273

Εὔρου με τρηχεῖα καὶ αἰπήεσσα καταιγίς,
καὶ νύξ, καὶ δνοφερῆς κύματα πανδυσίης [p. 150]
ἔβλαψ᾽ Ὠρίωνος: ἀπώλισθον δὲ βίοιο
Κάλλαισχρος, Λιβυκοῦ μέσσα θέων πελάγευς.
κἀγὼ μὲν πόντῳ δινεύμενος, ἰχθύσι κύρμα,
οἴχημαι: ψεύστης δ᾽ οὗτος ἔπεστι λίθος.

Anonymous 7.737

ἐνθάδ᾽ ἐγὼ λῃστῆρος ὁ τρισδείλαιος ἄρηι
ἐδμήθην κεῖμαι δ᾽ οὐδενὶ κλαιόμενος.

Diophanes of Myrina 5.309

τρὶς λῃστὴς ὁ Ἔρως καλοῖτ᾽ ἂν ὄντως:
ἀγρυπνεῖ, θρασύς ἐστιν, ἐκδιδύσκει.

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.

Just the Facts

Here is a pairing of Hellenistic sepulchral epigrams with Felix Feneon’s 1906 “news in three lines” (nouvelles en trois lignes).

Feneon’s journalistic task was to relay a factual incident in no more than 130 characters. Perhaps we can look at the epigrams through Feneon’s “epigrammatic” style and see certain things more clearly than we otherwise might:  the uncomplicated X-happened-because-of-Y logic; the invitation to pure spectation and foreclosure of emotional involvement; and certainly, the foregrounding of the writerly discipline such productions require.

[1] The Roof’s Gone!

Antipater of Thessalonica 7.402 (Greek Anthology)

Because of winter snow melting on its roof,
The house fell down, killing the old woman, Lysidike.
Neighbors did not build a tomb with dug-up earth,
But made the house itself her grave.

Feneon 156.

Gas explosion in the home of Larrieu from Bordeaux.
He was injured. His mother-in-law’s hair caught fire.
The ceiling blew open.

 

[2] One Bad Step

Antipater of Thessalonica 7.398 (Greek Anthology)

I don’t know whether to fault Dionysus
Or blame Zeus’ rain, but both are tricky
For feet: once, coming down from the country
After a banquet, the grave seized Polyxenos
When he fell from a slippery hilltop.
Now he lies far from Aeolian Smyrna.
Take my advice, a drunk person in the dark
Should fear a wet path.

Feneon 688.

A misstep, at dusk, on the bridge
in Rue du Moulin, in Dontilly,
and Madame Louis Nourry drowned.

[3] Despair

Eutolmius Scholasticus 7.608 (Greek Anthology)

Mourning the death of her short-lived son,
Menippa poured out her life breath
Along with her booming dirge.
She would not have it back again
To weep when she drew breath.
No, she ended her lament and her life
At the same time.

Feneon 963.

Her daughter dead, her son far away,
Madame Boulet, from Buchet (commune of Buhy),
hanged herself in despair.

Antipater of Thessalonica 7.402 (Greek Anthology)

χειμερίου νιφετοῖο περὶ θριγκοῖσι τακέντος
δῶμα πεσὸν τὴν γραῦν ἔκτανε Λυσιδίκην
σῆμα δέ οἱ κωμῆται ὁμώλακες οὐκ ἀπ᾽ ὀρυκτῆς
γαίης, ἀλλ᾽ αὐτὸν πύργον ἔθεντο τάφον.

Feneon 156

Explosion de gaz chez le Bordelais Larrieu. Il fut blessé. Les cheveux de sa belle-mère flambèrent. Le plafond creva.

Antipater of Thessalonica 7.398 (Greek Anthology)

οὐκ οἶδ᾽ εἰ Διόνυσον ὀνόσσομαι, ἢ Διὸς ὄμβρον
μέμψομ᾽ ὀλισθηροὶ δ᾽ εἰς πόδας ἀμφότεροι.
ἀγρόθε γὰρ κατιόντα Πολύξενον ἔκ ποτε δαιτὸς
τύμβος ἔχει γλίσχρων ἐξεριπόντα λόφων
κεῖται δ᾽ Αἰολίδος Σμύρνης ἑκάς. ἀλλά τις ὄρφνης
δειμαίνοι μεθύων ἀτραπὸν ὑετίην.

Feneon 688

Un faux pas, à la brune, sur la passerelle du ru du Moulin, à Dontilly, et Mme Louis Nourry se noya.

Eutolmius Scholasticus 7.608 (Greek Anthology)

υἱέος ὠκυμόρου θάνατον πενθοῦσα Μενίππη
κωκυτῷ μεγάλῳ πνεῦμα συνεξέχεεν,
οὐδ᾽ ἔσχεν παλίνορσον ἀναπνεύσασα γοῆσαι:
ἀλλ᾽ ἅμα καὶ θρήνου παύσατο καὶ βιότου.

Feneon 963

Sa fille morte, son fils loin, Mme Boulet,du Buchet (commune de Buhy), s’est pendue de désespoir.

The suicide of Ajax. Detail from a red-figure krater at the British Museum.

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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