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.

What Became of Lais?

There are at least seven poems preserved in the Greek Anthology ‘celebrating’ a courtesan named Lais. The poem controversially attributed to Plato is elegant, compact, and clever. The poem attributed to Antipater is some combination of prosaic, creepy, and cruel.

Plato 6.1 (Greek Anthology)

That Lais who proudly laughed at Hellas
And had swarms of young lovers at her door,
Now gives to Aphrodite this mirror—
Since I won’t look at myself as I am,
And can’t look at myself as I used to be.

ἡ σοβαρὸν γελάσασα καθ᾽ Ἑλλάδος, ἥ ποτ᾽ ἐραστῶν
ἑσμὸν ἐπὶ προθύροις Λαῒς ἔχουσα νέων,
τῇ Παφίῃ τὸ κάτοπτρον: ἐπεὶ τοίη μὲν ὁρᾶσθαι
οὐκ ἐθέλω, οἵη δ᾽ ἦν πάρος οὐ δύναμαι.

Antipater 7.218 (Greek Anthology)

Debauched woman robed in purple and gold,
Love’s accomplice, softer than soft Kypris—
Corinthian Lais, it’s she I hold.
More dazzling than the tumbling waters
Of Peirene’s pellucid spring.
That mortal Cythereia: more pursued
By noble suitors than the unwed
Daughter of Sparta’s king, Tyndarius.
Men enjoyed her favors, her paid-for love.
Now, her saffron-scented tomb: the moist bones
Still redolent with incense unguents,
And her oiled hair exhales its fragrant breath.
For her, Aphrodite scratched her lovely face,
And in his mourning Eros groaned and cried.
If only she hadn’t made of her bed
A slave to money, and open to all—
Hellas would have endured ordeals for her,
Just as it had for Helen.

τὴν καὶ ἅμα χρυσῷ καὶ ἁλουργίδι καὶ σὺν Ἔρωτι
θρυπτομένην, ἁπαλῆς Κύπριδος ἁβροτέραν
Λαΐδ᾽ ἔχω, πολιῆτιν ἁλιζώνοιο Κορίνθου,
Πειρήνης λευκῶν φαιδροτέραν λιβάδων, [p. 124]
τὴν θνητὴν Κυθέρειαν, ἐφ᾽ ᾗ μνηστῆρες ἀγαυοὶ
πλείονες ἢ νύμφης εἵνεκα Τυνδαρίδος,
δρεπτόμενοι χάριτάς τε καὶ ὠνητὴν ἀφροδίτην:
ἧς καὶ ὑπ᾽ εὐώδει τύμβος ὄδωδε κρόκῳ,
ἧς ἔτι κηώεντι μύρῳ τὸ διάβροχον ὀστεῦν,
καὶ λιπαραὶ θυόεν ἄσθμα πνέουσι κόμαι
ᾗ ἔπι καλὸν ἄμυξε κάτα ῥέθος Ἀφρογένεια,
καὶ γοερὸν λύζων ἐστονάχησεν Ἔρως.
εἰ δ᾽ οὐ πάγκοινον δούλην θέτο κέρδεος εὐνήν,
Ἑλλὰς ἄν, ὡς Ἑλένης, τῆσδ᾽ ὕπερ ἔσχε πόνον.

Marble statue of an old woman. 1st Century AD Roman copy of a 2nd Century BC Greek original. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

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.

Against Mosquitoes, A Love Poem

Greek Anthology 5.151: Meleager to Zenophila, his lover

“Sharp-buzzing mosquitoes, shameless suckers
Of human blood, wing-borne predators of the night,
I beg you to leave Zenophila alone for a while to sleep
In peace. Come here, fill yourselves on my limbs.
Ah, but why do I uselessly cry out loud: Unfeeling beasts
Also delight to find warmth in her delicate skin.
But I am warning you, evil things, do not be bold
Or you will learn the power of my envious hands.”

5.151 ΜΕΛΕΑΓΡΟΥ
εἰς Ζηνοφίλαν τὴν αὐτοῦ ἐρωμένην
Ὀξυβόαι κώνωπες, ἀναιδέες αἵματος ἀνδρῶν
σίφωνες, νυκτὸς κνώδαλα διπτέρυγα,
βαιὸν Ζηνοφίλαν, λίτομαι, πάρεθ᾽ ἥσυχον ὕπνῳ
εὕδειν, τἀμὰ δ᾽, ἰδού, σαρκοφαγεῖτε μέλη.
καίτοι πρὸς τί μάτην αὐδῶ; καὶ θῆρες ἄτεγκτοι
τέρπονται τρυφερῷ χρωτὶ χλιαινόμενοι.
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι νῦν προλέγω, κακὰ θρέμματα, λήγετε τόλμης,
ἢ γνώσεσθε χερῶν ζηλοτύπων δύναμιν.

These are bees, but they are still terrifying. From bestiary.ca

Four More Funerary Epigrams

415

“You’re dragging your feet past the grave of Callimachus
He knew: how to sing well and the right time to laugh well over wine.”

Βαττιάδεω παρὰ σῆμα φέρεις πόδας, εὖ μὲν ἀοιδὴν
εἰδότος, εὖ δ᾿ οἴνῳ καίρια συγγελάσαι.

447

“The stranger was short, his poem is too: so I will not speak long.
Thêris the son of Aristaios was from Crete, for me, a long enough song.”

Σύντομος ἦν ὁ ξεῖνος· ὃ καὶ στίχος· οὐ μακρὰ λέξω·
“Θῆρις Ἀρισταίου, Κρὴς” ἐπ᾿ ἐμοὶ δόλιχος.

451.—ΚΑΛΛΙΜΑΧΟΥ

“Here Akanthios Dikôn’s son sleeps his sacred sleep.
Don’t say that good men die.”

Τᾷδε Σάων ὁ Δίκωνος Ἀκάνθιος ἱερὸν ὕπνον
κοιμᾶται. θνάσκειν μὴ λέγε τοὺς ἀγαθούς.

452.—ΛΕΩΝΙΔΑ

“Ye who pass me by, remember Euboulos the wise.
Let’s drink. For Hades is our common harbor.”

Μεμνησθ᾿ Εὐβούλοιο σαόφρονος, ὦ παριόντες.
πίνωμεν· κοινὸς πᾶσι λιμὴν Ἀΐδης.

Image result for funerary epigrams greek
Taken from archaeology.wiki

A Dedication to a Healer

Cometas Scholasticus, Greek Anthology 9.597

“I was struck immobile from my hips to the bottom of my feet
Completely denied my life’s work for so long,
Halfway between life and death, Hades’ neighbor,
Merely breathing, but a corpse in every other way.

But wise Philippos, whom you view in the picture,
Brought me back to life by healing the dread disease.
And Antoninus walks on the earth again as before!
I tread on it with my feet and I feel whole.”

Νωθρὸς ἐγὼ τελέθεσκον ἀπ᾿ ἰξύος ἐς πόδας ἄκρους
τῆς πρὶν ἐνεργείης δηρὸν ἀτεμβόμενος,
ζωῆς καὶ θανάτοιο μεταίχμιον, Ἄϊδι γείτων,
μοῦνον ἀναπνείων, τἄλλα δὲ πάντα νέκυς.
ἀλλὰ σοφός με Φίλιππος, ὃν ἐν γραφίδεσσι δοκεύεις,
ζώγρησεν, κρυερὴν νοῦσον ἀκεσσάμενος·
αὖθις δ᾿ Ἀντωνῖνος, ἅπερ πάρος, ἐν χθονὶ βαίνω:
καὶ ποσὶ πεζεύω, καὶ ὅλος αἰσθάνομαι.

Asklepios at Epidauros

Against Mosquitoes, A Love Poem

Greek Anthology 5.151: Meleager to Zenophila, his lover

“Sharp-buzzing mosquitoes, shameless suckers
Of human blood, wing-borne predators of the night,
I beg you to leave Zenophila alone for a while to sleep
In peace. Come here, fill yourselves on my limbs.
Ah, but why do I uselessly cry out loud: Unfeeling beasts
Also delight to find warmth in her delicate skin.
But I am warning you, evil things, do not be bold
Or you will learn the power of my envious hands.”

5.151 ΜΕΛΕΑΓΡΟΥ
εἰς Ζηνοφίλαν τὴν αὐτοῦ ἐρωμένην
Ὀξυβόαι κώνωπες, ἀναιδέες αἵματος ἀνδρῶν
σίφωνες, νυκτὸς κνώδαλα διπτέρυγα,
βαιὸν Ζηνοφίλαν, λίτομαι, πάρεθ᾽ ἥσυχον ὕπνῳ
εὕδειν, τἀμὰ δ᾽, ἰδού, σαρκοφαγεῖτε μέλη.
καίτοι πρὸς τί μάτην αὐδῶ; καὶ θῆρες ἄτεγκτοι
τέρπονται τρυφερῷ χρωτὶ χλιαινόμενοι.
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι νῦν προλέγω, κακὰ θρέμματα, λήγετε τόλμης,
ἢ γνώσεσθε χερῶν ζηλοτύπων δύναμιν.

These are bees, but they are still terrifying. From bestiary.ca

Against Mosquitoes, A Love Poem

Greek Anthology 5.151: Meleager to Zenophila, his lover

“Sharp-buzzing mosquitoes, shameless suckers
Of human blood, wing-borne predators of the night,
I beg you to leave Zenophila alone for a while to sleep
In peace. Come here, fill yourselves on my limbs.
Ah, but why do I uselessly cry out loud: Unfeeling beasts
Also delight to find warmth in her delicate skin.
But I am warning you, evil things, do not be bold
Or you will learn the power of my envious hands.”

5.151 ΜΕΛΕΑΓΡΟΥ
εἰς Ζηνοφίλαν τὴν αὐτοῦ ἐρωμένην
Ὀξυβόαι κώνωπες, ἀναιδέες αἵματος ἀνδρῶν
σίφωνες, νυκτὸς κνώδαλα διπτέρυγα,
βαιὸν Ζηνοφίλαν, λίτομαι, πάρεθ᾽ ἥσυχον ὕπνῳ
εὕδειν, τἀμὰ δ᾽, ἰδού, σαρκοφαγεῖτε μέλη.
καίτοι πρὸς τί μάτην αὐδῶ; καὶ θῆρες ἄτεγκτοι
τέρπονται τρυφερῷ χρωτὶ χλιαινόμενοι.
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι νῦν προλέγω, κακὰ θρέμματα, λήγετε τόλμης,
ἢ γνώσεσθε χερῶν ζηλοτύπων δύναμιν.

These are bees, but they are still terrifying. From bestiary.ca

Love it When They Hate Me

Martial, 6.60

“My Rome praises, loves, and sings my little books—
Every pocket, every hand holds me.
Look: someone turns red, yellow, is dumbstruck, looks again, and hates!
This is what I long for: now my songs have pleased even me.”

Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos,
meque sinus omnes, me manus omnis habet.
Ecce rubet quidam, pallet, stupet, oscitat, odit.
Hoc uolo: nunc nobis carmina nostra placent.

Perhaps shit-talking is a trope in Roman poetry

Catullus, Carmen 83

“Lesbia talks a lot of shit about me when her husband is around
This brings the greatest pleasure to that fool.
Ass, do you know nothing? She would be sound
If she forgot us in silence—but she rants and she squawks.
She not only remembers me but—a thing sharper to touch,
She’s enraged: it’s like this, she’s burning and talks.”

Lesbia mi praesente viro mala plurima dicit:
haec illi fatuo maxima laetitia est.
mule, nihil sentis? si nostri oblita taceret,
sana esset: nunc quod gannit et obloquitur,
non solum meminit, sed, quae multo acrior est res,
irata est. hoc est, uritur et loquitur.

Book of Hours, MS S.7 fol. 5v - Images from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts - The Morgan Library & Museum
Book of Hours, MS S.7 fol. 5v

Tawdry Tuesday Rides Again with A Poem Against, Um, “Self Care”

Martial 9. 41

“Ponticus, do you think that it’s no big deal
That you never fuck but just use your left hand
As a whore, a friendly crew to serve your desire?
Believe me: it’s a crime and one large enough
That you can barely understand it with your mind.

Horatius, I guess, fucked once to make a trio
Mars did it once with blushing Ilia to make two.
The whole world would have collapsed if either jerked off
And entrusted foul delights to their own hands.

Just think, the nature of the universe says to you:
Ponticus, what you spend on your fingers is a person too.”

Pontice, quod numquam futuis, sed paelice laeva
uteris et Veneri servit amica manus,
hoc nihil esse putas? scelus est, mihi crede, sed ingens,
quantum vix animo concipis ipse tuo.
nempe semel futuit, generaret Horatius ut tres;
Mars semel, ut geminos Ilia casta daret.
omnia perdiderat, si masturbatus uterque
mandasset manibus gaudia foeda suis.
ipsam crede tibi naturam dicere rerum:
istud quod digitis, Pontice, perdis, homo est.

Want to know more about masturbating in Latin? We’ve got that covered.

 

 

Head of Priapus, refined Augustan version of archaic models dating back to the late 6th century BC, from the Horti Lamiani, Centrale Montemartini, Rome (22149963362).jpg
Priapus’ head.

This poem made me think of this:

Against Mosquitoes, A Love Poem

Greek Anthology 5.151: Meleager to Zenophila, his lover

“Sharp-buzzing mosquitoes, shameless suckers
Of human blood, wing-borne predators of the night,
I beg you to leave Zenophila alone for a while to sleep
In peace. Come here, fill yourselves on my limbs.
Ah, but why do I uselessly cry out loud: Unfeeling beasts
Also delight to find warmth in her delicate skin.
But I am warning you, evil things, do not be bold
Or you will learn the power of my envious hands.”

5.151 ΜΕΛΕΑΓΡΟΥ
εἰς Ζηνοφίλαν τὴν αὐτοῦ ἐρωμένην
Ὀξυβόαι κώνωπες, ἀναιδέες αἵματος ἀνδρῶν
σίφωνες, νυκτὸς κνώδαλα διπτέρυγα,
βαιὸν Ζηνοφίλαν, λίτομαι, πάρεθ᾽ ἥσυχον ὕπνῳ
εὕδειν, τἀμὰ δ᾽, ἰδού, σαρκοφαγεῖτε μέλη.
καίτοι πρὸς τί μάτην αὐδῶ; καὶ θῆρες ἄτεγκτοι
τέρπονται τρυφερῷ χρωτὶ χλιαινόμενοι.
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι νῦν προλέγω, κακὰ θρέμματα, λήγετε τόλμης,
ἢ γνώσεσθε χερῶν ζηλοτύπων δύναμιν.

These are bees, but they are still terrifying. From bestiary.ca
%d bloggers like this: