The Nature of a Kind

Pindar, Olympian 11: For Hagêsidamos, Winner of Boy’s Boxing, 476BCE

“There is a season when people have the greatest need
For winds and there is a season for water from the sky,
The pouring offspring of clouds.
But if someone should ever find success through toil,
Then honey-sweet hymns form the foundation
For future tales and offer certain promise for great accomplishments.

The praise for Olympic victors is not limited
By envy. My tongue is ready to shepherd
These words. A man similarly prospers through wise thoughts
thanks to divine assistance.
Know this now, son of Arkhestratos,
Hagêsidamos: thanks to your boxing
I will sing a sweet-songed adornment
For your crown of golden olive,
Without neglecting the race of Western Lokrians.

Join us in the revel there—Muses, I pledge
That you will visit no country who rejects a guest
a people who are ignorant of noble things,
But you will find wise spearmen there.
For not even the fire-red fox nor the roaring lions
Could change the nature of their kind.”

Ἔστιν ἀνθρώποις ἀνέμων ὅτε πλείστα
χρῆσις· ἔστιν δ᾿ οὐρανίων ὑδάτων,
ὀμβρίων παίδων νεφέλας·
εἰ δὲ σὺν πόνῳ τις εὖ πράσσοι,
μελιγάρυες ὕμνοι
ὑστέρων ἀρχὰ λόγων
τέλλεται καὶ πιστὸν ὅρκιον μεγάλαις ἀρεταῖς.

ἀφθόνητος δ᾿ αἶνος Ὀλυμπιονίκαις
οὗτος ἄγκειται. τὰ μὲν ἁμετέρα
γλῶσσα ποιμαίνειν ἐθέλει,
ἐκ θεοῦ δ᾿ ἀνὴρ σοφαῖς ἀνθεῖ
πραπίδεσσιν ὁμοίως.
ἵσθι νῦν, Ἀρχεστράτου
παῖ, τεᾶς, Ἁγησίδαμε, πυγμαχίας ἕνεκεν
κόσμον ἐπὶ στεφάνῳ χρυσέας ἐλαίας
ἁδυμελῆ κελαδήσω,
Ζεφυρίων Λοκρῶν γενεὰν ἀλέγων.
ἔνθα συγκωμάξατ᾿· ἐγγυάσομαι
μή μιν, ὦ Μοῖσαι, φυγόξεινον στρατόν
μηδ᾿ ἀπείρατον καλῶν
ἀκρόσοφόν τε καὶ αἰχματὰν ἀφίξε-
σθαι. τὸ γὰρ ἐμφυὲς οὔτ᾿ αἴθων ἀλώπηξ
οὔτ᾿ ἐρίβρομοι λέοντες διαλλάξαιντο ἦθος.

Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1462, Folio 50v

Some Victories Persist Through Defeat

Solon Fr. 34

If I spared my fatherland,
And I wasn’t criticized for tyranny and unending violence,
And my reputation wasn’t tarnished and dishonored,
I have no cause for shame, then.
In this regard, I think I’ll rank above everyone.

εἰ δὲ γῆς ἐφεισάμην
πατρίδος, τυραννίδος δὲ καὶ βίης ἀμειλίχου
οὐ καθηψάμην, μιάνας καὶ καταισχύνας κλέος,
οὐδὲν αἰδεῦμαι: πλέον γὰρ ὧδε νικήσειν δοκέω
πάντας ἀνθρώπους.

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.

Life After Insurrection

“This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that.” – Nancy Pelosi

Is there life after political excommunication in the wake of a failed insurrection (particularly for a man who likes beauty pageants)?

Alcaeus 130B

. . . I’m a wretched man.
I’m living the lot of a rustic
But yearning to hear the assembly
Called, O Agesilaidas, and the council—

Privileges my father and my father’s father
Grew old having, even among countrymen
Who were wicked to one another,
And of which I’m now dispossessed.

I’ve fled to the hinterlands, like Onymakles.
And although I’m alone, a wolf-man,
I’ve made a home here after quitting the fight.
After all, isn’t it better to put an end to insurrection?

In the precinct of the blessed gods
I’ve made a home and tread the black earth.
In these gatherings I’ve found a place.
And here I’m keeping my feet out of trouble—

Here where the women of Lesbos judged on beauty
Parade, their robes trailing,
And the divine sound of the women’s holy ululations
rings out from every quarter—
a yearly affair.

Ἀγνοις . . σβιότοις . . ις ὀ τάλαις ἔγω
ζώω μοι̑ραν ἔχων ἀγροϊωτίκαν
ἰμέρρων ἀγόρας ἄκουσαι
καρυ[ζο]μένας ὠ̑ (᾿Α)γεσιλαΐδα

καὶ β[ό]λλας· τὰ πάτηρ καὶ πάτερος πάτηρ
κα<γ>γ[ε]γήρασ’ ἔχοντες πεδὰ τωνδέων
τὼν [ἀ]λλαλοκάκων πολίταν
ἔγ[ω ἀ]πὺ τούτων ἀπελήλαμαι

φεύγων ἐσχατίαισ’, ὠς δ᾿ Ὀνυμακλέης
ἔνθα[δ’] οἰ̑ος ἐοίκησα λυκαιχμίαις
[φεύγων t]ον [π]όλεμον· στάσιν γὰρ
πρὸς κρ . [. . . . ] . οὐκ †ἄμεινον† ὀννέλην·

. ] . [ . . . ] . [. . ] . μακάρων ἐς τέμ[ε]νος θέων
ἐοι[κησα] με[λ]αίνας ἐπίβαις χθόνος
χλι . [. ] . [ . ] . [.]ν συνόδοισί μ’ αὔταις
οἴκημι κ[ά]κων ἔκτος ἔχων πόδας,

ὄππαι Λ[εσβί]αδες κριννόμεναι φύαν
πώλεντ’ ἐλκεσίπεπλοι, περὶ δὲ βρέμει
ἄχω θεσπεσία γυναίκων
ἴρα[ς ὀ]λολύγας ἐνιαυσίας

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.

The Will to Dance: The Knees of Old Poets

Sappho 58

The heart in me is now a burden
The knees can’t carry.
They were once quite quick to dance,
The equal of fauns.
These are the things I grieve,
Time and again.
Yet, can I achieve anything,
Doing this?

An unaging mortal being—
This is not possible.
In the old times people said
Dawn with the roseate arms, for love,
Went to the ends of earth leading Tithonus,
A beautiful being,
And young!
But even him,
A man with an immortal wife,
Grey old age got hold of at last!

Alcman 26

O sweet-voiced girls with miraculous song,
these legs can carry me no longer.
How I wish I were a kingfisher,
One who flits across the flowering sea swell
In the company of halcyons,
Fearless in heart,
Sea-colored,
A divine bird.

Sappho 58

βάρυϲ δέ μ’ ὀ [θ]ῦμο̣ϲ̣ πεπόηται, γόνα δ’ [ο]ὐ φέροιϲι,
τὰ δή ποτα λαίψηρ’ ἔον ὄρχηϲθ’ ἴϲα νεβρίοιϲι.
τὰ ⟨μὲν⟩ ϲτεναχίϲδω θαμέωϲ· ἀλλὰ τί κεν ποείην;
ἀγήραον ἄνθρωπον ἔοντ’ οὐ δύνατον γένεϲθαι.
καὶ γάρ π̣[ο]τ̣α̣ Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν Αὔων
ἔρωι φ̣ ̣ ̣α̣θ̣ε̣ιϲαν βάμεν’ εἰϲ ἔϲχατα γᾶϲ φέροιϲα[ν,
ἔοντα̣ [κ]ά̣λ̣ο̣ν καὶ νέον, ἀλλ’ αὖτον ὔμωϲ ἔμαρψε
χρόνωι π̣ό̣λ̣ι̣ο̣ν̣ γῆραϲ, ἔχ̣[ο]ν̣τ̣’ ἀθανάταν ἄκοιτιν.

Alcman 26

οὔ μ᾿ ἔτι, παρσενικαὶ μελιγάρυες ἱαρόφωνοι,
γυῖα φέρην δύναται· βάλε δὴ βάλε κηρύλος εἴην,
ὅς τ᾿ ἐπὶ κύματος ἄνθος ἅμ᾿ ἀλκυόνεσσι ποτήται
νηδεὲς ἦτορ ἔχων, ἁλιπόρφυρος ἱαρὸς ὄρνις.

FILE — Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou dance on the 89th birthday of the poet Langston Hughes at the The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where Hughes’ ashes were buried beneath the floor, in New York, Feb. 22, 1991. Baraka, a poet and playwright of pulsating rage, whose long illumination of the black experience in America was called incandescent in some quarters and incendiary in others, died Jan. 9, 2014. He was 79. (Chester Higgins, Jr./The New York Times)

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.

Shining Fame and Deceptive Tales: Pindar’s First Olympian

N. B. This is a guest post from Larry Benn, who has a fine site already and offers translations and other posts.

Pindar, Olympian  1 (go here for original post)

water is best,
although gold is like fire blazing in the night:
it stands out, the most eye-catching of great-man wealth.
but if you wish to sing of the athletic games,
my dear heart, look no further than the sun for a more warming star
shining in the day through the lonely aether,

and let us not proclaim a contest greater than Olympia.
it is from there comes the famous ode encircling
the thoughts of the skillful artists
who have come to praise the son of Kronos
at the rich blessed hearth of Hieron,
the man who wields the scepter of law in sheep-rich Sicily,
plucking the best of every excellent thing,
and as such he delights in the best of music,
such as we men often play
around his welcoming table.

take the Dorian lyre from the peg
if the beauty of Pisa and Pherenicus
placed your mind under the sweetest musings
when his horse rushed along the Alpheus
giving itself to the race without need of the spur,
and it wedded victory to its master,
the horse-loving king of Syracuse!

fame shines for him in the populous colony of Lydian Pelops,
he for whom mighty Earth-bearer Poseidon lusted
when Klotho lifted him from the immaculate cauldron,
his shoulder, fitted with ivory, gleaming.
true, there are many wonders;
yet it cannot be doubted
what men say is also,
to some degree,
beyond the factual account.

stories embroidered with intricately woven falsehoods deceive.
but grace, which presents all things to mortals as pleasant,
by bestowing honor oftentimes makes even the unreliable become the trusted thing.
but, the days to come are the wisest witnesses.

it is proper for a man to speak well of the gods
as it lessens their negative judgment.
but son of Tantalus, contrary to my predecessors, I will tell you:
when your father summoned to that well-ordered feast and to dear Sipylus,
offering the gods a meal in return for theirs,
it was then that Radiant-Trident grabbed you,
overwhelmed by his soul’s desire
to carry you off on golden horses
up to the loftiest home of widely honored Zeus.
there, at a later time,
Ganymede also went to Zeus
for the same purpose.
but when you disappeared,
and the men searching hard did not fetch you to your mother,
one of the envious neighbors at once whispered
that with a knife they cut you limb from limb
into water at boil on the fire,
and around the tables,
for the last course,
they divided and ate your flesh.
impossible—for me to call any of the blessed ones gluttonous!
I will stay away from that.
privation often makes off with slanderous men.

if indeed the keepers of Olympus
honored any mortal man, it was this Tantalus.
but as he was unable to stomach his great good fortune,
for his insolence a punishment seized on the overweening man
in the form of a huge stone which his father hung over him.
always needing to swat it away from his head,
he was banished from joy.
he bore this unmanageable, ever-distressing life with its three labors—
and a fourth: for stealing from the immortals nectar and ambrosia
with which they had made him deathless,
and which he gave to his drinking companions.
if any man supposes he conceals what he’s doing from the gods,
he’s mistaken.

this is why the immortals sent his son back
among the short-lived race of men again.
when nearing the age of youth’s blossoming,
the first showings of a beard covering his chin with black,
he, the son, pondered how to win marriage–
already planned by her Pisan father–
to famous Hippodameia.
drawing near the grey sea,
alone in the dark of night,
he called out to the loud-roaring Trident-Bearing One,
who then appeared, right by his foot.
he said to him: “if the beloved gifts of Cypris
end in any gratitude, Poseidon, come!
stay Oinomaos’s bronze spear;
carry me into Elis in the swiftest chariots;
and draw me close to victory.
seeing that he’s killed thirteen men (the suitors),
he’s putting off his daughter’s marriage.
the great undertaking does not possess a weak man.
but since to die is destiny for men,
why would one nurse an undistinguished old age,
idling in the shadow lacking purpose,
having no share in all that is noble?
no, this struggle will be my future.
bestow on me a pleasing success!”
thus he spoke and had not fixed on fruitless words.
indeed, honoring him,
the god bestowed a golden chariot
and untiring winged horses as well.

and so he defeated strong Oinomaos
and took the maiden as his consort.
he fathered sons striving for glory;
first in rank among men.
and now he is included in the splendid blood rites
as he reclines by the stream of the Alpheus.
his well-attended tomb is beside the altar most often visited by strangers.
the glory of Pelops shine from afar
in the racecourses of the Olympic festivals
where there are contests in swiftness of foot
and grueling efforts of strength.

for the remainder of his life the winner of the contests has sweet tranquility,
as far as games can provide.
in contrast, the highest blessing comes to all men,
all of the time in the daily course of things.
still, I’m obliged to crown that man
with the equine tune in Aeolian song.
I’m sure there isn’t some other host
experienced in noble things
and more distinguished in power (today at any rate)
to embroider in the splendid folds of hymns.
a god, being a guardian,
attends to your ambitions, Hieron.
this he has as a concern.
if, as I hope, he does not depart in a rush,
I expect to celebrate your even sweeter ambition with the swift chariot,
finding the road an ally of words as I come to the sunny hill of Kronos.
although the Muse jealously guards a most potent dart for me,
and different people are great at different things,
it is with kings the peak caps itself!
look no further.
may you walk your time on high
and may I consort with victors just as long,
far-famed for wisdom among the Hellenes everywhere.

File:Vatican G 23 Group - Black-figure Pseudo-Panathenaic Amphora - Walters 482105 - Detail B.jpg
Black-figure Pseudo-Panathenaic Amphora https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vatican_G_23_Group_-_Black-figure_Pseudo-Panathenaic_Amphora_-_Walters_482105_-_Detail_B.jpg

Olympian 1 ΙΕΡΩΝΙ ΣΥΡΑΚΟΥΣΙΩι ΚΕΛΗΤΙ

ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ
ἅτε διαπρέπει νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου:
εἰ δ᾽ ἄεθλα γαρύεν
ἔλδεαι, φίλον ἦτορ,
5μηκέθ᾽ ἁλίου σκόπει
[10] ἄλλο θαλπνότερον ἐν ἁμέρᾳ φαεννὸν ἄστρον ἐρήμας δι᾽ αἰθέρος,
μηδ᾽ Ὀλυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν:
ὅθεν ὁ πολύφατος ὕμνος ἀμφιβάλλεται
σοφῶν μητίεσσι, κελαδεῖν
10Κρόνου παῖδ᾽ ἐς ἀφνεὰν ἱκομένους
μάκαιραν Ἱέρωνος ἑστίαν,
θεμιστεῖον ὃς ἀμφέπει σκᾶπτον ἐν πολυμάλῳ
[20] Σικελίᾳ, δρέπων μὲν κορυφὰς ἀρετᾶν ἄπο πασᾶν,
ἀγλαΐζεται δὲ καὶ
15μουσικᾶς ἐν ἀώτῳ,
οἷα παίζομεν φίλαν
ἄνδρες ἀμφὶ θαμὰ τράπεζαν. ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρμιγγα πασσάλου
λάμβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις
[30] νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν,
20ὅτε παρ᾽ Ἀλφεῷ σύτο, δέμας
ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόμοισι παρέχων,
κράτει δὲ προσέμιξε δεσπόταν,
Συρακόσιον ἱπποχάρμαν βασιλῆα. λάμπει δέ οἱ κλέος

ἐν εὐάνορι Λυδοῦ Πέλοπος ἀποικίᾳ:
25τοῦ μεγασθενὴς ἐράσσατο γαιάοχος
[40] Ποσειδᾶν, ἐπεί νιν καθαροῦ λέβητος ἔξελε Κλωθὼ
ἐλέφαντι φαίδιμον ὦμον κεκαδμένον.
ἦ θαυματὰ πολλά, καί πού τι καὶ βροτῶν φάτις ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀλαθῆ λόγον
δεδαιδαλμένοι ψεύδεσι ποικίλοις ἐξαπατῶντι μῦθοι
30Χάρις δ᾽, ἅπερ ἅπαντα τεύχει τὰ μείλιχα θνατοῖς,
[50] ἐπιφέροισα τιμὰν καὶ ἄπιστον ἐμήσατο πιστὸν
ἔμμεναι τὸ πολλάκις:
ἁμέραι δ᾽ ἐπίλοιποι
μάρτυρες σοφώτατοι.
ἔστι δ᾽ ἀνδρὶ φάμεν ἐοικὸς ἀμφὶ δαιμόνων καλά: μείων γὰρ αἰτία.
υἱὲ Ταντάλου, σὲ δ᾽, ἀντία προτέρων, φθέγξομαι,
[60] ὁπότ᾽ ἐκάλεσε πατὴρ τὸν εὐνομώτατον
ἐς ἔρανον φίλαν τε Σίπυλον,
ἀμοιβαῖα θεοῖσι δεῖπνα παρέχων,
40τότ᾽ Ἀγλαοτρίαιναν ἁρπάσαι
δαμέντα φρένας ἱμέρῳ χρυσέαισί τ᾽ ἀν᾽ ἵπποις
ὕπατον εὐρυτίμου ποτὶ δῶμα Διὸς μεταβᾶσαι,
ἔνθα δευτέρῳ χρόνῳ
[70] ἦλθε καὶ Γανυμήδης
45Ζηνὶ τωὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ χρέος.
ὡς δ᾽ ἄφαντος ἔπελες, οὐδὲ ματρὶ πολλὰ μαιόμενοι φῶτες ἄγαγον,
ἔννεπε κρυφᾶ τις αὐτίκα φθονερῶν γειτόνων,
ὕδατος ὅτι σε πυρὶ ζέοισαν εἰς ἀκμὰν
μαχαίρᾳ τάμον κάτα μέλη,
50[80] τραπέζαισί τ᾽, ἀμφὶ δεύτατα, κρεῶν
σέθεν διεδάσαντο καὶ φάγον.

ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ἄπορα γαστρίμαργον μακάρων τιν᾽ εἰπεῖν. ἀφίσταμαι.
ἀκέρδεια λέλογχεν θαμινὰ κακαγόρους.
εἰ δὲ δή τιν᾽ ἄνδρα θνατὸν Ὀλύμπου σκοποὶ
55ἐτίμασαν, ἦν Τάνταλος οὗτος: ἀλλὰ γὰρ καταπέψαι
μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη, κόρῳ δ᾽ ἕλεν
[90] ἄταν ὑπέροπλον, ἅν οἱ πατὴρ ὑπερκρέμασε καρτερὸν αὐτῷ λίθον,
τὸν αἰεὶ μενοινῶν κεφαλᾶς βαλεῖν εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται.

ἔχει δ᾽ ἀπάλαμον βίον τοῦτον ἐμπεδόμοχθον,
60μετὰ τριῶν τέταρτον πόνον, ἀθανάτων ὅτι κλέψαις
ἁλίκεσσι συμπόταις
[100] νέκταρ ἀμβροσίαν τε
δῶκεν, οἷσιν ἄφθιτον
θῆκαν. εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί τι λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει.

τοὔνεκα προῆκαν υἱὸν ἀθάνατοί οἱ πάλιν
μετὰ τὸ ταχύποτμον αὖτις ἀνέρων ἔθνος.
πρὸς εὐάνθεμον δ᾽ ὅτε φυὰν
[110] λάχναι νιν μέλαν γένειον ἔρεφον.
ἑτοῖμον ἀνεφρόντισεν γάμον
70Πισάτα παρὰ πατρὸς εὔδοξον Ἱπποδάμειαν
σχεθέμεν. ἐγγὺς ἐλθὼν πολιᾶς ἁλὸς οἶος ἐν ὄρφνᾳ
ἄπυεν βαρύκτυπον
Εὐτρίαιναν: ὁ δ᾽ αὐτῷ
πὰρ ποδὶ σχεδὸν φάνη.

[120] τῷ μὲν εἶπε: ‘φίλια δῶρα Κυπρίας ἄγ᾽ εἴ τι, Ποσείδαον, ἐς χάριν
τέλλεται, πέδασον ἔγχος Οἰνομάου χάλκεον,
ἐμὲ δ᾽ ἐπὶ ταχυτάτων πόρευσον ἁρμάτων
ἐς Ἆλιν, κράτει δὲ πέλασον.
ἐπεὶ τρεῖς τε καὶ δέκ᾽ ἄνδρας ὀλέσαις
80ἐρῶντας ἀναβάλλεται γάμον
[130] θυγατρός. ὁ μέγας δὲ κίνδυνος ἄναλκιν οὐ φῶτα λαμβάνει.
θανεῖν δ᾽ οἷσιν ἀνάγκα, τί κέ τις ἀνώνυμον
γῆρας ἐν σκότῳ καθήμενος ἕψοι μάταν,
ἁπάντων καλῶν ἄμμορος; ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοὶ μὲν οὗτος ἄεθλος
85ὑποκείσεται: τὺ δὲ πρᾶξιν φίλαν δίδοι.’

ὣς ἔννεπεν: οὐδ᾽ ἀκράντοις ἐφάψατ᾽ ὦν ἔπεσι. τὸν μὲν ἀγάλλων θεὸς
[140] ἔδωκεν δίφρον τε χρύσεον πτεροῖσίν τ᾽ ἀκάμαντας ἵππους.
ἕλεν δ᾽ Οἰνομάου βίαν παρθένον τε σύνευνον:
τέκε τε λαγέτας ἓξ ἀρεταῖσι μεμαότας υἱούς.
90νῦν δ᾽ ἐν αἱμακουρίαις
ἀγλααῖσι μέμικται,
Ἀλφεοῦ πόρῳ κλιθείς,
[150] τύμβον ἀμφίπολον ἔχων πολυξενωτάτῳ παρὰ βωμῷ. τὸ δὲ κλέος
τηλόθεν δέδορκε τᾶν Ὀλυμπιάδων ἐν δρόμοις
95Πέλοπος, ἵνα ταχυτὰς ποδῶν ἐρίζεται
ἀκμαί τ᾽ ἰσχύος θρασύπονοι:

ὁ νικῶν δὲ λοιπὸν ἀμφὶ βίοτον
ἔχει μελιτόεσσαν εὐδίαν
[160] ἀέθλων γ᾽ ἕνεκεν. τὸ δ᾽ αἰεὶ παράμερον ἐσλὸν
100ὕπατον ἔρχεται παντὶ βροτῶν. ἐμὲ δὲ στεφανῶσαι
κεῖνον ἱππίῳ νόμῳ
Αἰοληΐδι μολπᾷ
χρή: πέποιθα δὲ ξένον

μή τιν᾽, ἀμφότερα καλῶν τε ἴδριν ἁμᾷ καὶ δύναμιν κυριώτερον,
105τῶν γε νῦν κλυταῖσι δαιδαλωσέμεν ὕμνων πτυχαῖς.
[170] θεὸς ἐπίτροπος ἐὼν τεαῖσι μήδεται
ἔχων τοῦτο κᾶδος, Ἱέρων,
μερίμναισιν: εἰ δὲ μὴ ταχὺ λίποι,
ἔτι γλυκυτέραν κεν ἔλπομαι
110σὺν ἅρματι θοῷ κλεΐξειν, ἐπίκουρον εὑρὼν ὁδὸν λόγων
[180] παρ᾽ εὐδείελον ἐλθὼν Κρόνιον. ἐμοὶ μὲν ὦν
Μοῖσα καρτερώτατον βέλος ἀλκᾷ τρέφει:
ἐπ᾽ ἄλλοισι δ᾽ ἄλλοι μεγάλοι. τὸ δ᾽ ἔσχατον
κορυφοῦται βασιλεῦσι. μηκέτι πάπταινε πόρσιον.
115εἴη σέ τε τοῦτον ὑψοῦ χρόνον πατεῖν, ἐμέ τε τοσσάδε νικαφόροις
ὁμιλεῖν, πρόφαντον σοφίᾳ καθ᾽ Ἕλλανας ἐόντα παντᾷ.

Larry Benn as 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.

Somebody to Drink With: Anacreon’s Epitaph and Some Poems

Greek Anthology 7.26, Antipater of Sidon

“Stranger passing by the humble grave of Anakreon,
If my books were of any use to you,
Pour some wine on my ashes, pour it out in drops
So that my bones can smile, refreshed a bit by wine,
so I, who loved the shouting raves of Dionysus,
so I, who was a partner of music matched to drink,
may not lie dead apart from Bacchus in this place below,
the land which all the race of mortals one day must know.”

Ξεῖνε, τάφον παρὰ λιτὸν ᾿Ανακρείοντος ἀμείβων,
εἴ τί τοι ἐκ βίβλων ἦλθεν ἐμῶν ὄφελος,
σπεῖσον ἐμῇ σποδιῇ, σπεῖσον γάνος, ὄφρα κεν οἴνῳ
ὀστέα γηθήσῃ τἀμὰ νοτιζόμενα,
ὡς ὁ Διωνύσου μεμελημένος εὐάσι κώμοις,
ὡς ὁ φιλακρήτου σύντροφος ἁρμονίης
μηδὲ καταφθίμενος Βάκχου δίχα τοῦτον ὑποίσω
τὸν γενεῇ μερόπων χῶρον ὀφειλόμενον.

Fr. 395

“Hades’ hall is horrifying
And the passage there is hard.
Worse: it is decided that
who ventures there does not return.”

Ἀίδεω γάρ ἐστι δεινὸς
μυχός, ἀργαλῆ δ᾿ ες αὐτὸν
κάτοδος. και γὰρ ἐτοῖμον
καταβάντι μὴ ἀναβῆναι

Anacreon. Marble. Roman copy of the 2nd century A.D. after a Greek original of the 5th century B.C. Inv. No. 491. Copenhagen, New Carlsberg Glyptotek.

Anacreon fr. 2

“I don’t love the man who while drinking next to a full cup
Talks about conflicts and lamentable war.
But whoever mixes the shining gifts of Aphrodite and the Muses
Let him keep in mind loving, good cheer.”

οὐ φιλέω, ὃς κρητῆρι παρὰ πλέωι οἰνοποτάζων
νείκεα καὶ πόλεμον δακρυόεντα λέγει,
ἀλλ’ ὅστις Μουσέων τε καὶ ἀγλαὰ δῶρ’ ᾿Αφροδίτης
συμμίσγων ἐρατῆς μνήσκεται εὐφροσύνης.

Fr. 428

“I love and again do not love
I am insane and yet sane too”

ἐρέω τε δηὖτε κοὐκ ἐρέω
καὶ μαίνομαι κοὐ μαίνομαι

This last fragment recalls (the much later) Carmen 85 of Catullus:

“I hate and I love: you might ask why I do this–
I don’t know, but I see it happen and it’s killing me.

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

A Brother or a Counterfeit: Theognis on Friendship

Theognis, 93-100

“If someone praises you for as long as you see him
But lashes you with an evil tongue when you are apart,
That kind of man is not a very good friend at all.
He’s the kind who speaks smoothly with his tongue, but harbors different thoughts.

Let me have that kind of friend who knows his companion
And puts up with him when he’s mean or in a rage,
Like a brother. But you, friend, keep these things your heart
And you will remember me in future days.”

ἄν τις ἐπαινήσῃ σε τόσον χρόνον ὅσσον ὁρῴης,
νοσφισθεὶς δ᾿ ἄλλῃ γλῶσσαν ἱῇσι κακήν,
τοιοῦτός τοι ἑταῖρος ἀνὴρ φίλος οὔ τι μάλ᾿ἐσθλός.
ὅς κ᾿ εἴπῃ γλώσσῃ λεῖα, φρονῇ δ᾿ ἕτερα.
ἀλλ᾿ εἴη τοιοῦτος ἐμοὶ φίλος, ὃς τὸν ἑταῖρον
γινώσκων ὀργὴν καὶ βαρὺν ὄντα φέρει
ἀντὶ κασιγνήτου. σὺ δέ μοι, φίλε, ταῦτ᾿ ἐνὶ θυμῷ
φράζεο, καί ποτέ μου μνήσεαι ἐξοπίσω.

117-118

“Nothing is harder than recognizing a counterfeit.
But, Kurnos, there is nothing more urgent than guarding against one.”

κιβδήλου δ᾿ ἀνδρὸς γνῶναι χαλεπώτερον οὐδέν,
Κύρν᾿, οὐδ᾿ εὐλαβίης ἐστὶ περὶ πλέονος.

119-128

“One can survive the ruin from counterfeit silver and gold
Kurnos—and a wise person can easily discover it.
But if a dear friend’s mind is hidden in his chest
When he is false and he has a deceptive heart,
Well this the most counterfeit thing god has made for mortals
And it is the most painful thing of all to recognize.
For you cannot know the mind of a man or a woman
Before you investigate them, like an animal under a yoke—
And you cannot imagine what they are like at the right time
Since the outer image often misleads your judgment.”

Χρυσοῦ κιβδήλοιο καὶ ἀργύρου ἀνσχετὸς ἄτη,
Κύρνε, καὶ ἐξευρεῖν ῥάιδιον ἀνδρὶ σοφῶι.
εἰ δὲ φίλου νόος ἀνδρὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι λελήθηι
ψυδρὸς ἐών, δόλιον δ’ ἐν φρεσὶν ἦτορ ἔχηι,
τοῦτο θεὸς κιβδηλότατον ποίησε βροτοῖσιν,
καὶ γνῶναι πάντων τοῦτ’ ἀνιηρότατον.
οὐδὲ γὰρ εἰδείης ἀνδρὸς νόον οὐδὲ γυναικός,
πρὶν πειρηθείης ὥσπερ ὑποζυγίου,
οὐδέ κεν εἰκάσσαις ὥσπερ ποτ’ ἐς ὥριον ἐλθών·
πολλάκι γὰρ γνώμην ἐξαπατῶσ’ ἰδέαι.

1318a-b

“Alas, I am a wretch: because of the terrors I have suffered
I bring pleasure to my enemies and toil to my friends”

῎Ωιμοι ἐγὼ δειλός· καὶ δὴ κατάχαρμα μὲν ἐχθροῖς,
τοῖσι φίλοις δὲ πόνος δεινὰ παθὼν γενόμην.

1079-80

“I’ll fault no enemy when he is noble,
nor will I praise a friend when he is wrong”

Οὐδένα τῶν ἐχθρῶν μωμήσομαι ἐσθλὸν ἐόντα,
οὐδὲ μὲν αἰνήσω δειλὸν ἐόντα φίλον.

1151–52

“Never dismiss a present friend and seek another
Because you are persuaded by the words of cowardly people.”

μήποτε τὸν παρεόντα μεθεὶς φίλον ἄλλον ἐρεύνα
δειλῶν ἀνθρώπων ῥήμασι πειθόμενος.

 595-598

“Dude, let’s be friends with each other at a distance.
With the exception of wealth, there’s too much of any good thing.
But we can be friends for a long time, just spend time with different men
Who have a better grasp of your mind.”

ἄνθρωπ᾿, ἀλλήλοισιν ἀπόπροθεν ὦμεν ἑταῖροι·
πλὴν πλούτου παντὸς χρήματός ἐστι κόρος.
δὴν δὴ καὶ φίλοι ὦμεν· ἀτάρ τ᾿ ἄλλοισιν ὁμίλει
ἀνδράσιν, οἳ τὸν σὸν μᾶλλον ἴσασι νόον.

1219-1220

“It is difficult for an enemy to deceive
But it is easy for a friend to fool a friend.”

᾿Εχθρὸν μὲν χαλεπὸν καὶ δυσμενεῖ ἐξαπατῆσαι,
Κύρνε· φίλον δὲ φίλωι ῥάιδιον ἐξαπατᾶν.

Friendship
Royal 19 C II  f. 59v

“The Leaders have Changed”: Theognis, Just Like Us

Theognis, Elegies 39–52

“Kyrnos, this city is pregnant and I am afraid she will bear a man
Meant to correct our evil arrogance.
The citizens are still sane, but the leaders have changed
And have fallen into great evil.

Good people, Kyrnos, have never yet destroyed a city,
But whenever it pleases wicked men to commit outrage,
They corrupt the people and issue legal judgment in favor of the unjust,
For the sake of their own private profit and power.

Don’t expect this city to stay peaceful for very long
Even if it is not at a moment of great peace now,
When these deeds are dear to evil men,
As their profit accrues with public harm.

Civil conflicts and murder of kin comes from this,
And tyrants do too: may this never bring our city pleasure.”

Κύρνε, κύει πόλις ἥδε, δέδοικα δὲ μὴ τέκηι ἄνδρα
εὐθυντῆρα κακῆς ὕβριος ἡμετέρης.
ἀστοὶ μὲν γὰρ ἔθ’ οἵδε σαόφρονες, ἡγεμόνες δέ
τετράφαται πολλὴν εἰς κακότητα πεσεῖν.
οὐδεμίαν πω, Κύρν’, ἀγαθοὶ πόλιν ὤλεσαν ἄνδρες,
ἀλλ’ ὅταν ὑβρίζειν τοῖσι κακοῖσιν ἅδηι
δῆμόν τε φθείρουσι δίκας τ’ ἀδίκοισι διδοῦσιν
οἰκείων κερδέων εἵνεκα καὶ κράτεος·
ἔλπεο μὴ δηρὸν κείνην πόλιν ἀτρεμέ’ ἧσθαι,
μηδ’ εἰ νῦν κεῖται πολλῆι ἐν ἡσυχίηι,
εὖτ’ ἂν τοῖσι κακοῖσι φίλ’ ἀνδράσι ταῦτα γένηται,
κέρδεα δημοσίωι σὺν κακῶι ἐρχόμενα.
ἐκ τῶν γὰρ στάσιές τε καὶ ἔμφυλοι φόνοι ἀνδρῶν·
μούναρχοι δὲ πόλει μήποτε τῆιδε ἅδοι.

Image result for ancient greece megara ruins

The Nature of a Kind

Pindar, Olympian 11: For Hagêsidamos, Winner of Boy’s Boxing, 476BCE

“There is a season when people have the greatest need
For winds and there is a season for water from the sky,
The pouring offspring of clouds.
But if someone should ever find success through toil,
Then honey-sweet hymns form the foundation
For future tales and offer certain promise for great accomplishments.

The praise for Olympic victors is not limited
By envy. My tongue is ready to shepherd
These words. A man similarly prospers through wise thoughts
thanks to divine assistance.
Know this now, son of Arkhestratos,
Hagêsidamos: thanks to your boxing
I will sing a sweet-songed adornment
For your crown of golden olive,
Without neglecting the race of Western Lokrians.

Join us in the revel there—Muses, I pledge
That you will visit no country who rejects a guest
a people who are ignorant of noble things,
But you will find wise spearmen there.
For not even the fire-red fox nor the roaring lions
Could change the nature of their kind.”

Ἔστιν ἀνθρώποις ἀνέμων ὅτε πλείστα
χρῆσις· ἔστιν δ᾿ οὐρανίων ὑδάτων,
ὀμβρίων παίδων νεφέλας·
εἰ δὲ σὺν πόνῳ τις εὖ πράσσοι,
μελιγάρυες ὕμνοι
ὑστέρων ἀρχὰ λόγων
τέλλεται καὶ πιστὸν ὅρκιον μεγάλαις ἀρεταῖς.

ἀφθόνητος δ᾿ αἶνος Ὀλυμπιονίκαις
οὗτος ἄγκειται. τὰ μὲν ἁμετέρα
γλῶσσα ποιμαίνειν ἐθέλει,
ἐκ θεοῦ δ᾿ ἀνὴρ σοφαῖς ἀνθεῖ
πραπίδεσσιν ὁμοίως.
ἵσθι νῦν, Ἀρχεστράτου
παῖ, τεᾶς, Ἁγησίδαμε, πυγμαχίας ἕνεκεν
κόσμον ἐπὶ στεφάνῳ χρυσέας ἐλαίας
ἁδυμελῆ κελαδήσω,
Ζεφυρίων Λοκρῶν γενεὰν ἀλέγων.
ἔνθα συγκωμάξατ᾿· ἐγγυάσομαι
μή μιν, ὦ Μοῖσαι, φυγόξεινον στρατόν
μηδ᾿ ἀπείρατον καλῶν
ἀκρόσοφόν τε καὶ αἰχματὰν ἀφίξε-
σθαι. τὸ γὰρ ἐμφυὲς οὔτ᾿ αἴθων ἀλώπηξ
οὔτ᾿ ἐρίβρομοι λέοντες διαλλάξαιντο ἦθος.

Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1462, Folio 50v

Hunting, Leaping, and Drunk on Love

Anacreon, fr. 357

“Lord with whom Lust the subduer
And the dark-eyed nymphs
And royal Aphrodite play
As you roam the high mountain peaks.

I beg you:
come to me kindly
Hear my prayer made pleasing to you:

Be a good advisor to Kleoboulos,
Dionysus, that he accept
My desire.

ὦναξ, ὧι δαμάλης ῎Ερως
καὶ Νύμφαι κυανώπιδες
πορφυρῆ τ’ ᾿Αφροδίτη
συμπαίζουσιν, ἐπιστρέφεαι
δ’ ὑψηλὰς ὀρέων κορυφάς·

γουνοῦμαί σε, σὺ δ’ εὐμενὴς
ἔλθ’ ἡμίν, κεχαρισμένης
δ’ εὐχωλῆς ἐπακούειν·
Κλεοβούλωι δ’ ἀγαθὸς γένεο
σύμβουλος, τὸν ἐμόν γ’ ἔρω-
τ’, ὦ Δεόνυσε, δέχεσθαι.

fr. 358

“Again! Golden-haired Desire
Strikes me with a purple ball
Calling me out to play
With a fine-sandaled youth

But she is from well-settled
Lesbos and she carps at my hair,
Because it is white. So she stares at
Some other [hair] instead.”*

σφαίρηι δηὖτέ με πορφυρῆι
βάλλων χρυσοκόμης ῎Ερως
νήνι ποικιλοσαμβάλωι
συμπαίζειν προκαλεῖται·

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

*The Greek ἄλλην τινὰ may mean “some other girl” as the Loeb translation has it. But the structure of the sentence makes me think the girl is staring at different hair (not the narrator’s white hair).

fr. 359

“I long for Kleoboulos.
I am crazy for Kleoboulos.
I am staring at Kleoboulos.”

Κλεοβούλου μὲν ἔγωγ’ ἐρέω,
Κλεοβούλωι δ’ ἐπιμαίνομαι,
Κλεόβουλον δὲ διοσκέω.

 

fr. 360

“Boy with a maiden’s looks—
I am hunting you, but you don’t hear me
Because you do not know
That you are the charioteer of my soul”

ὦ παῖ παρθένιον βλέπων
δίζημαί σε, σὺ δ’ οὐ κλύεις,
οὐκ εἰδὼς ὅτι τῆς ἐμῆς
ψυχῆς ἡνιοχεύεις.

 

fr. 377

“Ah, I climbed up again and leapt
From the Leucadian Cliff into the grey wave,
Drunk with longing.”

ἀρθεὶς δηὖτ’ ἀπὸ Λευκάδος
πέτρης ἐς πολιὸν κῦμα κολυμβῶ μεθύων ἔρωτι.

 

fr. 378

“I am springing up to Olympos on light wings
Because of Desire—for [no one] wants to enjoy youth with me”

ἀναπέτομαι δὴ πρὸς ῎Ολυμπον πτερύγεσσι κούφηις
διὰ τὸν ῎Ερωτ’· οὐ γὰρ ἐμοὶ <> θέλει συνηβᾶν.

 

fr. 389

“Since you’re a friendly girl to strangers, allow me to drink because I’m thirsty”

φίλη γάρ εἰς ξείνοισιν· ἔασον δέ με διψέοντα πιεῖν.

 

Image result for ancient greek anacreon
Anacreon, Verso.