“This Filly Needs to Be Broken”: An Allegory from a Man for a Lady

The following poem is as thoroughly unsurprising as it is abominable

Anacreon, fr. 417

“Thracian filly, why do you
Flee me without pity
When you give me a side glance with your eyes?
Do you think I know no trick at all?

Know this, I could easily
Put a bridle in your mouth
And with its reins in my hand
Turn you around the race’s bends.

But now you graze through the meadows
and you leap, playing lightly
Because you do not have a skillful rider
To mount you.”

πῶλε Θρηικίη, τί δή με
λοξὸν ὄμμασι βλέπουσα
νηλέως φεύγεις, δοκεῖς δέ
μ’ οὐδὲν εἰδέναι σοφόν;

ἴσθι τοι, καλῶς μὲν ἄν τοι
τὸν χαλινὸν ἐμβάλοιμι,
ἡνίας δ’ ἔχων στρέφοιμί
σ’ ἀμφὶ τέρματα δρόμου·

νῦν δὲ λειμῶνάς τε βόσκεαι
κοῦφά τε σκιρτῶσα παίζεις,
δεξιὸν γὰρ ἱπποπείρην
οὐκ ἔχεις ἐπεμβάτην.

This charming horror is preserved in Heraclitus, who prefaces it with the following:

417 Heraclit. Alleg. Hom. 5 (p. 5s. Buffière)

“And Anakreon the Teian, in abusing the whorish thought and arrogance of an uppity woman applied as an allegory for her cavorting mind a horse, when he says the following”

καὶ μὴν ὁ Τήιος Ἀνακρέων ἑταιρικὸν φρόνημα καὶ σοβαρᾶς γυναικὸς ὑπερηφανίαν ὀνειδίζων τὸν ἐν αὐτῇ σκιρτῶντα νοῦν ὡς ἵππον ἠλληγόρησεν οὕτω λέγων·

Image result for ancient greek horse picture

Hunting, Leaping, and Drunk on Love: Some Anacreon for Your Weekend

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.

 

I Might Have Had Too Much Wine

Theognis, 503-510

“My head is weighed down by wine, Onomakritos, and wine wrestles
Me down, and I am no longer the master of my own decision,
The house is turning around. But, come on, let me try
To stand up and check that wine doesn’t also have my feet
Or the mind in my chest. I fear I will do something stupid
All armored like I am and earn serious shame.

Wine, when drunk in massive amounts, is evil. But if someone
Drinks it with understanding, it is no evil but a good.”

Οἰνοβαρέω κεφαλήν, ᾿Ονομάκριτε, καί με βιᾶται
οἶνος, ἀτὰρ γνώμης οὐκέτ’ ἐγὼ ταμίης
ἡμετέρης, τὸ δὲ δῶμα περιτρέχει. ἀλλ’ ἄγ’ ἀναστάς
πειρηθῶ, μή πως καὶ πόδας οἶνος ἔχει
καὶ νόον ἐν στήθεσσι· δέδοικα δὲ μή τι μάταιον
ἕρξω θωρηχθεὶς καὶ μέγ’ ὄνειδος ἔχω.
οἶνος πινόμενος πουλὺς κακόν· ἢν δέ τις αὐτόν
πίνηι ἐπισταμένως, οὐ κακόν, ἀλλ’ ἀγαθόν.

Image result for medieval manuscript drunk

“Monks in a Cellar”, Joseph Haier

How to Break Up With a Friend

Theognis, Elegies 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.

Get Me Drunk and Turn me Into a Lyre: Drinking Songs for New Year’s Eve

Carm. Conv. 17

“I wish I could turn into an ivory lyre
And that beautiful children would carry me to the Dionysian dance.”

εἴθε λύρα καλὴ γενοίμην ἐλεφαντίνη
καί με καλοὶ παῖδες φέροιεν Διονύσιον ἐς χορόν.

Carm. Conv. 6

“What kind of man each person is
I wish I could know by opening his chest and then
Looking at his mind and after closing it again
To recognize a dear friend by his guileless thought”

εἴθ’ ἐξῆν ὁποῖός τις ἦν ἕκαστος
τὸ στῆθος διελόντ’, ἔπειτα τὸν νοῦν
ἐσιδόντα, κλείσαντα πάλιν,
ἄνδρα φίλον νομίζειν ἀδόλωι φρενί.

 

Anonymous Lyrics (Plutarch, Table Talk 1)

“I hate the drinking buddy who doesn’t forget.”

μισέω μνάμονα συμπόταν

Carmen Conviviaia 890

“The best thing for a mortal man is to be healthy
And second, to be pretty.
Third, is to be wealthy without deceit.
And, fourth, is to be young with friends.”

ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.

This appears in the Scholia to Plato’s Gorgias where it is attributed to either Simonides or Epikharmos.

(1) τὸ σκολιὸν τοῦτο οἱ μὲν Σιμωνίδου (Scolia Anonyma 7 Diehl)
φασίν, οἱ δὲ ᾿Επιχάρμου (fr. 262 Kaibel). ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτον•
ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.
τοῦτο δὲ τὸ τελευταῖον παραλέλειπται ὡς μὴ πρὸς ὃ βούλεται Πλάτων
χρήσιμον ὄν.

Happy New Year to all of our friends!

Loving, Eating and Dirty Bath Water (Drinking Songs)

Drinking Songs (Carmen Convivialia, 913)

 

“Mortal man doesn’t need much: only to love and to eat.”

οὐ χρὴ πόλλ᾿ ἔχειν θνητὸν ἄνθρωπον / ἀλλ᾿ ἐρᾶν καὶ κατεσθίειν.

 

Carm. Conv.905

 

“The prostitute and the bath-attendant have the same bad habit
They wash the good man and the bad man in the very same tub.”

πόρνη καὶ βαλανεὺς τωὐτον ἔχουσ᾿ ἐμπεδέως ἔθος
ἐν ταῦτᾳ πυέλῳ τόν τ᾿ ἀγαθὸν τόν τε κακὸν λόει

Ion fr. 27: A Middling Drinking Song with a Good Punch Line

“Hail to our king, father and defender—
Have our servants mix the wine bowls
drawing from pitchers ringed with silver. And have the man
who holds the golden wine jar wash our hands to the floor.
With reverence, make libation to Herakles, Alkmene
To Procles and the descendants of Perseus.
But let us begin drinking and playing with Zeus.
Let the song fly through the night.
Let anyone dance. Begin with willing cheer.
And the man who has a fine–looking woman waiting in his bed.
will drink more decisively than the rest.”

 

 

χαιρέτω ἡμέτερος βασιλεὺς σωτήρ τε πατήρ τε·
ἡμῖν δὲ κρητῆρ’ οἰνοχόοι θέραπες
κιρνάντων προχύταισιν ἐν ἀργυρέοις· †ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς
οἶνον ἔχων χειρῶν νιζέτω εἰς ἔδαφος.†
σπένδοντες δ’ ἁγνῶς ῾Ηρακλεῖ τ’ ᾿Αλκμήνηι τε,
Προκλεῖ Περσείδαις τ’ ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχόμενοι
πίνωμεν, παίζωμεν· ἴτω διὰ νυκτὸς ἀοιδή,
ὀρχείσθω τις· ἑκὼν δ’ ἄρχε φιλοφροσύνης.
ὅντινα δ’ εὐειδὴς μίμνει θήλεια πάρευνος,
κεῖνος τῶν ἄλλων κυδρότερον πίεται.

 

Ion? A poet we’ve seen before

A Drinking Song For New Year’s Eve: Carmen Convivialia 890

 

“The best thing for a mortal man is to be healthy
And second, to be pretty.
Third, is to be wealthy without deceit.
And, fourth, is to be young with friends.”

 

ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.

This appears in the Scholia to Plato’s Gorgias where it is attributed to either Simonides or Epikharmos.

(1) τὸ σκολιὸν τοῦτο οἱ μὲν Σιμωνίδου (Scolia Anonyma 7 Diehl)
φασίν, οἱ δὲ ᾿Επιχάρμου (fr. 262 Kaibel). ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτον•
ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.
τοῦτο δὲ τὸ τελευταῖον παραλέλειπται ὡς μὴ πρὸς ὃ βούλεται Πλάτων
χρήσιμον ὄν.

Happy New Year to all of our friends!

Drinking Songs, 890 ( schol. Plato Gorg. 451e)

 

“The best thing for a mortal man is to be healthy

And second, to be pretty.

Third, is to be wealthy without deceit.

And fourth is to be young with friends.”

 

ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῶ̣

δεύτερον δὲ καλὸμ φυὰν γενέσθαι

τὸ τρίτον δὲ πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως

καὶ τέταρτον ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων

Drinking Songs, 905

 

“The prostitute and the bath-attendant have the same bad habit

They wash the good man and the bad man in the very same tub.”

 

πόρνη καὶ βαλανεὺς τωὐτον ἔχουσ᾿ ἐμπεδέως ἔθος

ἐν ταῦτᾳ πυέλῳ τόν τ᾿ ἀγαθὸν τόν τε κακὸν λόει

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