Artist, Paint My Girlfriend. Then My Boyfriend Too.

Anacreonta 16

“Come on, best of the painters,
Paint! Best of the Painters,
Expert in the Rhoadian art,
Paint my girlfriend who is away
Just as I tell you to.

First, paint her hair
Soft and black as it is.
As much as the wax can handle,
Make it smell of perfume.
Then make her whole cheek
Beneath her dark hair
Her ivory forehead.

Don’t separate her eyebrows
Or let them touch
Leave them as they are
Touching almost without notice,
The dark circles of her lashes.

Make her glance true
Bright like fire, flashing
Like Athena’s gaze,
But wet like Cythera’s
Color her nose and cheeks,
Mixing milk together with rose.

Dye her lips like Persuasion’s,
Just begging for kisses.
Have all the Graces fly
Beneath her chin
Around her marble smooth neck.

Dress the rest of her
In purple robes
But leave a little skin to see
Proof of her body below.

Stop! I am looking at her.
Wax–you’ll be chatting me up soon!”

ἄγε, ζωγράφων ἄριστε,
γράφε, ζωγράφων ἄριστε,
Ῥοδίης κοίρανε τέχνης,
ἀπεοῦσαν, ὡς ἂν εἴπω,
γράφε τὴν ἐμὴν ἑταίρην.

γράφε μοι τρίχας τὸ πρῶτον
ἁπαλάς τε καὶ μελαίνας·
ὁ δὲ κηρὸς ἂν δύνηται,
γράφε καὶ μύρου πνεούσας.

γράφε δ᾿ ἐξ ὅλης παρειῆς
ὑπὸ πορφυραῖσι χαίταις
ἐλεφάντινον μέτωπον.
τὸ μεσόφρυον δὲ μή μοι
διάκοπτε μήτε μίσγε,

ἐχέτω δ᾿, ὅπως ἐκείνη,
τὸ λεληθότως σύνοφρυ,
βλεφάρων ἴτυν κελαινήν.

τὸ δὲ βλέμμα νῦν ἀληθῶς
ἀπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς ποίησον,
ἅμα γλαυκόν, ὡς Ἀθήνης,
ἅμα δ᾿ ὑγρόν, ὡς Κυθήρης.
γράφε ῥῖνα καὶ παρειὰς
ῥόδα τῷ γάλακτι μίξας·

γράφε χεῖλος, οἷα Πειθοῦς,
προκαλούμενον φίλημα.
τρυφεροῦ δ᾿ ἔσω γενείου
περὶ λυγδίνῳ τραχήλῳ
Χάριτες πέτοιντο πᾶσαι.
στόλισον τὸ λοιπὸν αὐτὴν
ὑποπορφύροισι πέπλοις,
διαφαινέτω δὲ σαρκῶν
ὀλίγον, τὸ σῶμ᾿ ἐλέγχον.
ἀπέχει· βλέπω γὰρ αὐτήν·
τάχα, κηρέ, καὶ λαλήσεις.

Anacreonta 17

“Paint my dear Bathullos,
My boyfriend, as I instruct.
Make his hair bright–
Dark underneath,
But sun-brightened on top.
Add his curls free
Of the rest, set in a mess
As they wish.

Make his forehead crowned
With eyebrows, darker than serpents.
Leave his eyes black, fierce
Mixed with peace.
Their ferocity is from Ares
Their peace is from Cythera–
He uses them to frighten at times
And to dangle hope in others.

Give his tender cheek
And apple’s red glow–
And, if you can manage,
Add Modesty’s light blush.

I don’t know how you can make his lips
Gentle yet still compelling.
So let the wax itself
Hold it all, chatting in silence.

Below his face give him a neck
Nicer ivory than Adonis had.
Provide him with Hermes’ chest
And his two hands.
Grant him Polydeuces’ thighs
and Dionysus’ belly.
Above his tender thighs,
Thighs holding roiling fire,
Give him a sufficient penis,
Already longing for the Paphian.

Unfortunately, your art begrudges:
It is incapable of showing his
Back. That would have been nicer.

Why do I need to tell you about his feet?
Take my money, however much you say.
Record this Apollo and
Make me a Bathullos.

And if you ever visit Samos,
Paint an Apollo after my Bathyllos.”

γράφε μοι Βάθυλλον οὕτω,
τὸν ἑταῖρον, ὡς διδάσκω·
λιπαρὰς κόμας ποίησον,
τὰ μὲν ἔνδοθεν μελαίνας,
τὰ δ᾿ ἐς ἄκρον ἡλιώσας·
ἕλικας δ᾿ ἐλευθέρους μοι
πλοκάμων ἄτακτα συνθεὶς
ἄφες, ὡς θέλωσι, κεῖσθαι.

ἁπαλὸν δὲ καὶ δροσῶδες
στεφέτω μέτωπον ὀφρὺς
κυανωτέρη δρακόντων.
μέλαν ὄμμα γοργὸν ἔστω
κεκερασμένον γαλήνῃ,
τὸ μὲν ἐξ Ἄρηος ἕλκον,
τὸ δὲ τῆς καλῆς Κυθήρης,
ἵνα τις τὸ μὲν φοβῆται,
τὸ δ᾿ ἀπ᾿ ἐλπίδος κρεμᾶται.

ῥοδέην δ᾿ ὁποῖα μῆλον
χνοΐην ποίει παρειήν·
ἐρύθημα δ᾿ ὡς ἂν Αἰδοῦς,
δύνασ᾿ εἰ βαλεῖν, ποίησον.
τὸ δὲ χεῖλος οὐκέτ᾿ οἶδα
τίνι μοι τρόπῳ ποιήσεις
ἁπαλὸν γέμον τε πειθοῦς·

τὸ δὲ πᾶν ὁ κηρὸς αὐτὸς
ἐχέτω λαλῶν σιωπῇ.
μετὰ δὲ πρόσωπον ἔστω
τὸν Ἀδώνιδος παρελθὼν
ἐλεφάντινος τράχηλος.

μεταμάζιον δὲ ποίει
διδύμας τε χεῖρας Ἑρμοῦ,
Πολυδεύκεος δὲ μηρούς,
Διονυσίην δὲ νηδύν·
ἁπαλῶν δ᾿ ὕπερθε μηρῶν,

μαλερὸν τὸ πῦρ ἐχόντων,
ἀφελῆ ποίησον αἰδῶ
Παφίην θέλουσαν ἤδη.
φθονερὴν ἔχεις δὲ τέχνην,
ὅτι μὴ τὰ νῶτα δεῖξαι

δύνασαι· τὰ δ᾿ ἦν ἀμείνω.
τί με δεῖ πόδας διδάσκειν;
λάβε μισθόν, ὅσσον εἴπῃς.
τὸν Ἀπόλλωνα δὲ τοῦτον
καθελὼν ποίει Βάθυλλον·

ἢν δ᾿ ἐς Σάμον ποτ᾿ ἔλθῃς,
γράφε Φοῖβον ἐκ Βαθύλλου.

17th century poretait of an artist looking at viewer while painting a woman. Everyone is clothed.

Self Portrait of the Artist Painting his Wife, Giulio Quaglio I 1628

Attacked by a Baby in a Dream

Anacreonta 33

“Once, in the middle of the night,
At that time when the bear
Is already turning round the Plowman’s hand,
And all mortal peoples lie
Overcome by exhaustion,
Love stationed himself outside
The bolts of my doors and was knocking.

I said, “who’s knocking at my door?
You’ve broken up my dreams!”
And Love said, “Open up!
I am just a baby, don’t be afraid.
I am getting damp as I wander
Through this moonless night.”

I felt pity when I heard this
And immediately grabbed my lamp.
I opened the door and saw
Baby there, wearing a quiver
With arrows and a bow.
I sat him down near my hearth
And I warmed his hands with mine
And pressed the gold water from his hair.

Once he shrugged off his shivers,
He said, “Come on, let’s try this bow,
Whether its string has been ruined from getting wet.

He drew and shot true,
In the middle of my heart, like a mosquito.
He jumped up and laughed out with a smile,
“Friend, celebrate with me!
My bow is unharmed,
Although your heart will hurt for a while!

μεσονυκτίοις ποτ᾿ ὥραις,
στρέφετ᾿ ἡνίκ᾿ Ἄρκτος ἤδη
κατὰ χεῖρα τὴν Βοώτου,
μερόπων δὲ φῦλα πάντα
κέαται κόπῳ δαμέντα,
τότ᾿ Ἔρως ἐπισταθείς μευ
θυρέων ἔκοπτ᾿ ὀχῆας.

῾τίς᾿ ἔφην ῾θύρας ἀράσσει
κατά μευ σχίσας ὀνείρους;’
ὁ δ᾿ Ἔρως ῾ἄνοιγε’ φησίν·
῾βρέφος εἰμί, μὴ φόβησαι·
βρέχομαι δὲ κἀσέληνον
κατὰ νύκτα πεπλάνημαι.’
ἐλέησα ταῦτ᾿ ἀκούσας,

ἀνὰ δ᾿ εὐθὺ λύχνον ἅψας
ἀνέῳξα καὶ βρέφος μὲν
ἐσορῶ φέροντα τόξον
πτέρυγάς τε καὶ φαρέτρην·
παρὰ δ᾿ ἱστίην καθίξας

παλάμαισι χεῖρας αὐτοῦ
ἀνέθαλπον, ἐκ δὲ χαίτης
ἀπέθλιβον ὑγρὸν ὕδωρ.
ὁ δ᾿, ἐπεὶ κρύος μεθῆκε,
῾φέρε᾿ φησί ῾πειράσωμεν
τόδε τόξον, εἴ τι μοι νῦν
βλάβεται βραχεῖσα νευρή.’

τανύει δὲ καί με τύπτει
μέσον ἧπαρ, ὥσπερ οἶστρος.
ἀνὰ δ᾿ ἅλλεται καχάζων·
῾ξένε᾿ δ᾿ εἶπε ῾συγχάρηθι·
κέρας ἀβλαβὲς μὲν ἡμῖν,
σὺ δὲ καρδίαν πονήσεις.’

Black-and-white photo of a marble baby cupid with wings and a bow
Duquesnoy Cupid prewar photo

Love’s Pains and Worse

Anacreonta 29

“Not falling in love hurts.
Yet falling in love hurts too.
But more painful than everything
Is to fail at loving completely.

Family means nothing to love.
Wisdom, manner are crushed.
Only money matters.
I wish the first person who loved money
Would have died.

Because of it, no brother matters
Because of it, no parents matter.
Wars, murders–because of money.
And this is worse. Those of us who love
Lose because of money.”

χαλεπὸν τὸ μὴ φιλῆσαι,
χαλεπὸν δὲ καὶ φιλῆσαι,
χαλεπώτερον δὲ πάντων
ἀποτυγχάνειν φιλοῦντα.

γένος οὐδὲν εἰς Ἔρωτα·
σοφίη, τρόπος πατεῖται·
μόνον ἄργυρον βλέπουσιν.

διὰ τοῦτον οὐκ ἀδελφός,
διὰ τοῦτον οὐ τοκῆες·
πόλεμοι, φόνοι δι᾿ αὐτόν.
τὸ δὲ χεῖρον· ὀλλύμεσθα
διὰ τοῦτον οἱ φιλοῦντες

Anacreonta 30

“I imagined I was running in a dream,,
But on my shoulders wearing wings.
Love dragged lead somehow
On his pretty feet,
As he was pursuing, almost catching me.

What does this dream want to mean?
I imagine that while I
Have been wrapped up in many
Loves and have slipped away from some
I am caught, stuck, in this one.”

ἐδόκουν ὄναρ τροχάζειν
πτέρυγας φέρων ἐπ᾿ ὤμων·
ὁ δ᾿ Ἔρως ἔχων μόλιβδον
περὶ τοῖς καλοῖς ποδίσκοις
ἐδίωκε καὶ κίχανεν.

τί θέλει δ᾿ ὄναρ τόδ᾿ εἶναι;
δοκέω δ᾿ ἔγωγε πολλοῖς
ἐν ἔρωσί με πλακέντα
διολισθάνειν μὲν ἄλλους,
ἑνὶ τῷδε συνδεθῆναι.

Jacob Jordaens - A bearded man and a woman with a parrot, allegory of unrequited love
Jacob Jordaens, “A bearded man and a woman with a parrot: “Unrequited Love”” 1640 (?)

The Last Infirmity

Here are two lyric expressions (Sappho and Callimachus) of the Greek idea that poetry in some fashion bestows immortality, or at least compensates for the ineluctable fact of mortality.

(Milton, for all his attachment to Greek things, dismissed the desire for poetic fame as “that last infirmity of noble mind.”)

Sappho Fr. 55.

Once you die, there you will lie, forgotten.
There will be no lasting longing for you.
The Pierian roses were not your thing;
So, as a no-body in Hades’ demesne
You will move among the obscure dead–
Once, as I say, you have flown away.

κατθάνοισα δὲ κείσῃ οὐδέ ποτα μναμοσύνα σέθεν
ἔσσετ’ οὐδὲ πόθα εἰς ὔστερον· οὐ γὰρ πεδέχῃς βρόδων
τὼν ἐκ Πιερίας, ἀλλ’ ἀφάνης κἀν Ἀίδα δόμῳ
φοιτάσῃς πεδ’ ἀμαύρων νεκύων ἐκπεποταμένα.

Callimachus 2. (Gow-Page 34)

Heraclitus, someone spoke of your death.
It made me cry to recall all the times
Our tête-à-têtes brought on sunset.
O my Halicarnassian friend,
You have been ashes a long long while,
But your nightingales still live!
Hades (Universal Thief) will not touch them.

εἶπέ τις, Ἡράκλειτε, τεὸν μόρον, ἐς δέ με δάκρυ
ἤγαγεν, ἐμνήσθην δ᾽ ὁσσάκις ἀμφότεροι
ἥλιον ἐν λέσχῃ κατεδύσαμεν: ἀλλὰ σὺ μέν που,
ξεῖν᾽ Ἁλικαρνησεῦ, τετράπαλαι σποδιή:
αἱ δὲ τεαὶ ζώουσιν ἀηδόνες, ᾗσιν ὁ πάντων
ἁρπακτὴς Ἀίδης οὐκ ἐπὶ χεῖρα βαλεῖ.

“Remember my name!
I’m going to live forever!
I’m going to learn how to fly!”

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

Lost Treasures Department: Mother with Baby Centaurs

Lucian, Zeuxis or Antiochus 4

“I want now to explain about this painter too. That Zeuxis was the best painter at the time and didn’t illustrate common and cliched things or did make heroes, gods, and wars as little as possible. Instead he was always trying to make something new and whenever he conceived of something different or odd, he demonstrated the brilliance of his skill in its execution. Among his many audacious images, that Zeuxis painted a female Hippocentaur and depicted her feeding twin Hippocentaur babies.

There’s a copy of that image precisely modeled on the original in Athens. The first copy, however, the general Sulla selected to send to Italy with other things, but I guess that the ship carrying it sank outside of Malea, destroying the painting and everything else.”

Ἐθέλω γοῦν ὑμῖν καὶ τὸ τοῦ γραφέως διηγήσασθαι. ὁ Ζεῦξις ἐκεῖνος ἄριστος γραφέων γενόμενος τὰ δημώδη καὶ τὰ κοινὰ ταῦτα οὐκ ἔγραφεν, ἢ ὅσα πάνυ ὀλίγα, ἥρωας ἢ θεοὺς ἢ πολέμους, ἀεὶ δὲ καινοποιεῖν ἐπειρᾶτο καί τι ἀλλόκοτον ἂν καὶ ξένον ἐπινοήσας ἐπ᾿ ἐκείνῳ τὴν ἀκρίβειαν τῆς τέχνης ἐπεδείκνυτο. ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις τολμήμασι καὶ θήλειαν Ἱπποκένταυρον ὁ Ζεῦξις οὗτος ἐποίησεν, ἀνατρέφουσάν γε προσέτι παιδίω Ἱπποκενταύρω διδύμω κομιδῇ νηπίω. τῆς εἰκόνος ταύτης ἀντίγραφός ἐστι νῦν Ἀθήνησι πρὸς αὐτὴν ἐκείνην ἀκριβεῖ τῇ στάθμῃ μετενηνεγμένη. τὸ ἀρχέτυπον δὲ αὐτὸ Σύλλας ὁ Ῥωμαίων στρατηγὸς ἐλέγετο μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων εἰς Ἰταλίαν πεπομφέναι, εἶτα περὶ Μαλέαν οἶμαι καταδύσης τῆς ὁλκάδος ἀπολέσθαι ἅπαντα καὶ τὴν γραφήν.

A bare-chested centaur woman (long blond hair, motley brown hair on horse body) breastfeeding a centaur toddler (same coloring except for short hair) she holds to her human chest while a centaur man (short black hair and beard, grey hair on horse body) is sneaking under her and looking intently up at the two breasts on her horse hindquarters

Before I Join The Dance of the Dead

Anacreonta 32

“I want to lay out a seat
Of soft myrtle shoots
And lotus flowers to give a toast,
Once love binds his tunic
Right below his neck with papyrus
Have him pour me some wine.

Life races by, turning
like the wheel of a chariot.
Soon we will be stretched out,
dust from crumbling bones.
Why should you perfume a stone?
Why pour wine pointlessly on the earth?

Anoint me while I live instead.
Crown my head with roses.
Call my girlfriend to come..

Love, before I leave here
For the underworld dance,
I want to scatter my worries away.”

ἐπὶ μυρσίναις τερείναις
ἐπὶ λωτίναις τε ποίαις
στορέσας θέλω προπίνειν.
ὁ δ᾿ Ἔρως χιτῶνα δήσας
ὑπὲρ αὐχένος παπύρῳ
μέθυ μοι διακονείτω·

τροχὸς ἅρματος γὰρ οἷα
βίοτος τρέχει κυλισθείς,
ὀλίγη δὲ κεισόμεσθα
κόνις ὀστέων λυθέντων.

τί σε δεῖ λίθον μυρίζειν;
τί δὲ γῇ χέειν μάταια;
ἐμὲ μᾶλλον, ὡς ἔτι ζῶ,
μύρισον, ῥόδοις δὲ κρᾶτα
πύκασον, κάλει δ᾿ ἑταίρην·

πρίν, Ἔρως, ἐκεῖ μ᾿ ἀπελθεῖν
ὑπὸ νερτέρων χορείας,
σκεδάσαι θέλω μερίμνας.

Spreuerbrucke Panel 1, The Dance of Dead. between 1626 and 1635

Shot Through the Heart, Losing at Love

Anacreonta 13

“Oh, I want to love, I do.
Love told me to
But I was thoughtless
I was unpersuaded.
He immediately took his bow
And his golden quiver
And challenged me to duel.

I draped my breastplate
From my shoulders
Like Achilles with my two spears
And my ox-hide shield
I went one-on-one with love.

He shot, but I dodged!
And when his arrows were gone
He was forlorn.
So he threw himself at a javelin,
Shot me through the heart
And weakened all my limbs,

I hold a pointless shield.
Why aim at others
When the battle is inside of me?”

θέλω, θέλω φιλῆσαι.
ἔπειθ᾿ Ἔρως φιλεῖν με·
ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἔχων νόημα
ἄβουλον οὐκ ἐπείσθην.
ὁ δ᾿ εὐθὺ τόξον ἄρας
καὶ χρυσέην φαρέτρην
μάχῃ με προὐκαλεῖτο.
κἀγὼ λαβὼν ἐπ᾿ ὤμων
θώρηχ᾿, ὅπως Ἀχιλλεύς,
καὶ δοῦρα καὶ βοείην
ἐμαρνάμην Ἔρωτι.
ἔβαλλ᾿, ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἔφευγον.
ὡς δ᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ εἶχ᾿ ὀιστούς,
ἤσχαλλεν, εἶτ᾿ ἑαυτὸν
ἀφῆκεν εἰς βέλεμνον·
μέσος δὲ καρδίης μευ
ἔδυνε καὶ μ᾿ ἔλυσεν·
μάτην δ᾿ ἔχω βοείην·
τί γὰρ βάλωμεν ἔξω,
μάχης ἔσω μ᾿ ἐχούσης;

Polyxena Sarcophagus Now in Troy Museum

“You Give Love A Bad Name”

Shot through the heart
And you’re to blame
Darling, you give love a bad name

An angel’s smile is what you sell
You promise me heaven, then put me through hell
Chains of love got a hold on me
When passion’s a prison, you can’t break free

Oh, oh, you’re a loaded gun
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run
No one can save me
The damage is done

Shot through the heart
And you’re to blame
You give love a bad name (bad name)
I play my part
And you play your game
You give love a bad name (bad name)
You give love
A bad name

Paint your smile on your lips
Blood red nails on your fingertips
A school boy’s dream, you act so shy
Your very first kiss was your first kiss goodbye

Oh, oh, you’re a loaded gun
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run
No one can save me
The damage is done

The Body that Is Our Home

Plotinus, Ennead 2.9

“This would be similar to two people who lived in the same house and one of them despises the structure and the person who built it but still stays there any way. The other does not hate it but claims that the builder made it most skillfully, even though he longs for the time when he can leave because he will no longer need a house.

The first person thinks he is wiser and more prepared to leave because he knows how to claim that the walls are made of lifeless stone and wood and lack much in comparison to the true home. He does not understand, however, that he is only special because he cannot endure what he must—unless he admits that he is upset even though he secretly delights in the beauty of the stone.

As long as we have a body, we must remain in the homes which have been made for us by that good sister of a soul who has the power to build without effort.”

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅμοιον ἂν εἴη, ὥσπερ ἂν εἰ δύο οἶκον 5καλὸν τὸν αὐτὸν οἰκούντων, τοῦ μὲν ψέγοντος τὴν κατασκευὴν καὶ τὸν ποιήσαντα καὶ μένοντος οὐχ ἧττον ἐν αὐτῷ, τοῦ δὲ μὴ ψέγοντος, ἀλλὰ τὸν ποιήσαντα τεχνικώτατα πεποιηκέναι λέγοντος, τὸν δὲ χρόνον ἀναμένοντος ἕως ἂν ἥκῃ, ἐν ᾧ ἀπαλλάξεται, οὗ μηκέτι οἴκου δεήσοιτο, ὁ δὲ 10σοφώτερος οἴοιτο εἶναι καὶ ἑτοιμότερος ἐξελθεῖν, ὅτι οἶδε λέγειν ἐκ λίθων ἀψύχων τοὺς τοίχους καὶ ξύλων συνεστάναι καὶ πολλοῦ δεῖν τῆς ἀληθινῆς οἰκήσεως, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι τῷ μὴ φέρειν τὰ ἀναγκαῖα διαφέρει, εἴπερ καὶ μὴ ποιεῖται δυσχεραίνειν ἀγαπῶν ἡσυχῇ τὸ κάλλος τῶν λίθων. Δεῖ δὲ 15μένειν μὲν ἐν οἴκοις σῶμα ἔχοντας κατασκευασθεῖσιν ὑπὸ ψυχῆς ἀδελφῆς ἀγαθῆς πολλὴν δύναμιν εἰς τὸ δημιουργεῖν ἀπόνως ἐχούσης.

Image result for medieval manuscript house
Landauer Twelve Brother’s House manuscript

The Frog-King

Aesop’s Fables, No. 44:

“The frogs, distressed by the anarchy prevailing among them, sent ambassadors to Zeus asking him to give them a king. He took note of their silliness and threw down a piece of wood into the pond. The frogs, terrified at first by the loud sound, submerged themselves in the depths of the pond.

Later, when the piece of wood was still, they came back up and rose to such a height of insolence that they mounted the wood and perched upon it. Deeming this king unworthy of them, they sent messengers to Zeus, asking him to change their king, because the first one was too lazy. Zeus was irritated by this, so he sent them a snake as king, by whom they were all snatched up and eaten.”

βάτραχοι λυπούμενοι ἐπὶ τῇ ἑαυτῶν ἀναρχίᾳ πρέσβεις ἔπεμψαν πρὸς τὸν Δία δεόμενοι βασιλέααὐτοῖς παρασχεῖν. ὁ δὲ συνιδὼν αὐτῶν τὴν εὐήθειαν ξύλον εἰς τὴν λίμνην καθῆκε. καὶ οἱ βάτραχοι τὸ μὲν πρῶτον καταπλαγέντες τὸν ψόφον εἰς τὰ βάθη τῆς λίμνης ἐνέδυσαν, ὕστερον δέ, ὡς ἀκίνητον ἦν τὸ ξύλον, ἀναδύντες εἰς τοσοῦτο καταφρονήσεως ἦλθον ὡς καὶ ἐπιβαίνοντες αὐτῷ ἐπικαθέζεσθαι. ἀναξιοπαθοῦντες δὲ τοιοῦτον ἔχειν βασιλέα ἧκον ἐκ δευτέρου πρὸς τὸν Δία καὶ τοῦτον παρεκάλουν ἀλλάξαι αὐτοῖς τὸν ἄρχοντα. τὸν γὰρ πρῶτον λίαν εἶναι νωχελῆ. καὶ ὁ Ζεὺς ἀγανακτήσας κατ’ αὐτῶν ὕδραν αὐτοῖς ἔπεμψεν, ὑφ’ ἧς συλλαμβανόμενοι κατησθίοντο.

Image result for Fable frog and king medieval
“Frogs Desiring a King” by John Vernon Lord

Ignoring the Cause, Assailing the Symptoms

Euripides, Andromache 26-31

“Before, even though I was buried in sorrows
Hope always led me to this child who, if saved
Might provide some kind of defense or aid.

But once my husband married that Spartan Hermione
He has spurned my slave’s bed and I
Have been battered down by her evil tortures.”

καὶ πρὶν μὲν ἐν κακοῖσι κειμένην ὅμως
ἐλπίς μ᾿ ἀεὶ προσῆγε σωθέντος τέκνου
ἀλκήν τιν᾿ εὑρεῖν κἀπικούρησιν κακῶν·
ἐπεὶ δὲ τὴν Λάκαιναν Ἑρμιόνην γαμεῖ
τοὐμὸν παρώσας δεσπότης δοῦλον λέχος,
κακοῖς πρὸς αὐτῆς σχετλίοις ἐλαύνομαι.


“You do huge things for minor reasons—
Listen to me! Why are you hurting me? What’s the reason
What city did I betray? Which child of yours did I kill?
What home did I burn down? I was forced to bed
With my master. You’ll kill me and not him
When he is the cause of these things? You’ll ignore
The cause and just keep pounding on the symptom?”

ὦ μεγάλα πράσσων αἰτίας σμικρᾶς πέρι,
πιθοῦ· τί καίνεις μ᾿; ἀντὶ τοῦ; ποίαν πόλιν
προύδωκα; τίνα σῶν ἔκτανον παίδων ἐγώ;
ποῖον δ᾿ ἔπρησα δῶμ᾿; ἐκοιμήθην βίᾳ
σὺν δεσπόταισι· κᾆτ᾿ ἔμ᾿, οὐ κεῖνον κτενεῖς,
τὸν αἴτιον τῶνδ᾿, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀφεὶς
πρὸς τὴν τελευτὴν ὑστέραν οὖσαν φέρῃ;

Colin Morison (1732-1810) – Andromache Offering Sacrifice to Hector’s Shade


“Child, I who bore you go to Hades now
So you may not die. If you outrun this fate,
Remember your mother, all I suffered and how I died.
Go to your father and through kisses
Tell him what I died while shedding tears
And throwing your arms around him.
Children are the soul of all humankind—
Whoever has no children mocks them and
While they may feel less pain, feel sadder happiness too”

ὦ τέκνον, ἡ τεκοῦσά σ᾿, ὡς σὺ μὴ θάνῃς,
στείχω πρὸς Ἅιδην· ἢν δ᾿ ὑπεκδράμῃς μόρον,
μέμνησο μητρός, οἷα τλᾶσ᾿ ἀπωλόμην,
καὶ πατρὶ τῷ σῷ διὰ φιλημάτων ἰὼν
δάκρυά τε λείβων καὶ περιπτύσσων χέρας
λέγ᾿ οἷ᾿ ἔπραξα. πᾶσι δ᾿ ἀνθρώποις ἄρ᾿ ἦν
ψυχὴ τέκν᾿· ὅστις δ᾿ αὔτ᾿ ἄπειρος ὢν ψέγει,
ἧσσον μὲν ἀλγεῖ, δυστυχῶν δ᾿ εὐδαιμονεῖ.

Check out Tamieka Chavis’ fabulous reading as Andromache