A Lover Betrayed

“The truth of the matter is that–by an exorbitant paradox–I never stop believing that I am loved. I hallucinate what I desire. Each wound proceeds less from a doubt than from a betrayal: for only the one who loves can betray, only the one who believes himself loved can be jealous…”–Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse.

Dioscorides 5.52 (Greek Anthology)

We swore a mutual oath to Eros,
And based on that oath, Sosipater
Placed his loving trust in Arsinoe.
But she is false, and her oath is empty,
While his love, nonetheless, abides intact.
What the gods can do, hasn’t yet been done:
O Hymenaeus, chant sorrowful songs
At Arsinoe’s latched door, condemning
The betrayal that is her marriage bed.

ὅρκον κοινὸν Ἔρωτ᾽ ἀνεθήκαμεν ὅρκος ὁ πιστὴν
Ἀρσινόης θέμενος Σωσιπάτρῳ φιλίην.
ἀλλ᾽ ἡ μὲν ψευδὴς κενὰ δ᾽ ὅρκια, τῷ δ᾽ ἐφυλάχθη
ἵμερος: ἡ δὲ θεῶν οὐ φανερὴ δύναμις.
θρήνους, ὦ Ὑμέναιε, παρὰ κληῖσιν ἀΰσαις
Ἀρσινόης, παστῷ μεμψάμενος προδότῃ.

5th Century BC Greek loutrophoros, a bathing vessel, depicting a wedding procession.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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.

Words of Mourning: Some Poems of Anyte of Tegea

The following epigrams are attributed to the poet Anyte of Tegea, one of a handful of Hellenistic women preserved in the Greek Anthology.

Gr. Anth. 7.490

“I mourn for the virgin Antibia, to whose father’s home
Many suitors came longing to marry,
Thanks to the fame of her beauty and wisdom.
But ruinous fate made all their hopes turn in the dust.”

Παρθένον Ἀντιβίαν κατοδύρομαι, ἇς ἐπὶ πολλοὶ
νυμφίοι ἱέμενοι πατρὸς ἵκοντο δόμον,
κάλλευς καὶ πινυτᾶτος ἀνὰ κλέος· ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ πάντων
ἐλπίδας οὐλομένα Μοῖρ᾿ ἐκύλισε πρόσω.

7.208

“Dâmis built this grave for his battle-fierce but dead
Horse, after murderous Ares pierce his chest.
The blood spurted black from his thick-hided skin
And he dyed the earth with his painful life’s blood.”

Μνᾶμα τόδε φθιμένου μενεδαΐου εἵσατο Δᾶμις
ἵππου, ἐπεὶ στέρνον τοῦδε δαφοινὸς Ἄρης
τύψε· μέλαν δέ οἱ αἷμα ταλαυρίνου διὰ χρωτὸς
ζέσσ᾿, ἐπὶ δ᾿ ἀργαλέᾳ βῶλον ἔδευσε φονᾷ.

7.724

“Your courage, Proarkhos, killed you in the fight and dying
You put the home of your father Pheidias into dark grief.
Yet this rock above you sings out a noble song:
That you died in a struggle for your dear homeland.”

Ἦ ῥα μένος σε, Πρόαρχ᾿, ὄλεσ᾿ ἐν δαΐ, δῶμά τε πατρὸς
Φειδία ἐν δνοφερῷ πένθει ἔθου φθίμενος·
ἀλλὰ καλόν τοι ὕπερθεν ἔπος τόδε πέτρος ἀείδει,
ὡς ἔθανες πρὸ φίλας μαρνάμενος πατρίδος.

7.538

“When he was alive this man was once Manês.
But now that’s dead, he can be equal to great Dareios.”

Μάνης οὗτος ἀνὴρ ἦν ζῶν ποτέ· νῦν δὲ τεθνηκὼς
ἶσον Δαρείῳ τῷ μεγάλῳ δύναται.

Image result for Ancient tegea
Tegea from Wikipedia

Ashes and Nightingales

Callimachus and Heraclitus of Halicarnassus, poets of the 3rd Century BC, were friends, as Callimachus’ tribute makes clear in the following poem:

Callimachus 2 (Gow-Page 34)

Someone spoke of your death, Heraclitus,
Moving me to tears.
I remembered how often we, talking,
Made the sun go down.
But now, my Halicarnassian friend,
Somewhere, and for almost too long to count,
You’ve been a pile of ashes.
Yet, your nightingales live on.
Hades, the god who steals everything,
Will not lay his hand on 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.

Only one of Heraclitus’ “nightingales” survives, and it is the sepulchral poem below:

Heraclitus 7.465 (Greek Anthology)

Earth just recently dug up.
On the face of the tombstone
Half-green leafy garlands sway.
When the writing’s deciphered,
Traveler, we’ll know whose smooth bones
The stone claims to enclose:

“Stranger, I am Aretemias from Cnidus.
It was with Euphronus that I shared the marriage bed.
Rites of child birth were not denied me, and I bore twins:
One I left as a guide for his father in old age;
One I took with me—a reminder of my husband.”

ἁ κόνις ἀρτίσκαπτος, ἐπὶ στάλας δὲ μετώπων
σείονται φύλλων ἡμιθαλεῖς στέφανοι
γράμμα διακρίναντες, ὁδοιπόρε, πέτρον ἴδωμεν,
λευρὰ περιστέλλειν ὀστέα φατὶ τίνος. —
ξεῖν᾽, Ἀρετημιάς εἰμι: πάτρα Κνίδος: Εὔφρονος ἦλθον
εἰς λέχος: ὠδίνων οὐκ ἄμορος γενόμαν
δισσὰ δ᾽ ὁμοῦ τίκτουσα, τὸ μὲν λίπον ἀνδρὶ ποδηγὸν
γήρως: ὃν δ᾽ ἀπάγω μναμόσυνον πόσιος.

Attic terracotta grave marker. 750-735 BC.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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.

My Sirens, My Words: Two Poems by Erinna

Some accounts make Erinna a contemporary of Sappho

Greek Anthology 7.710

“Columns, and my Sirens, and you, sorrowful urn
Who holds Hades’ small portion of ash—
Say “hello” to those who walk by my grave,
Whether they happen to be citizens or from another town.

Tell them this too so they may know it:
this grave covered me when I was a bride,
My father used to call me Baukis and Tenos was my land
Tell them also that Erinna, my friend,
Etched this poem on my Tomb.”

Στᾶλαι, καὶ Σειρῆνες ἐμαί, καὶ πένθιμε κρωσσέ,
ὅστις ἔχεις Ἀΐδα τὰν ὀλίγαν σποδιάν,
τοῖς ἐμὸν ἐρχομένοισι παρ᾿ ἠρίον εἴπατε χαίρειν,
αἴτ᾿ ἀστοὶ τελέθωντ᾿, αἴθ᾿ ἑτέρας πόλιος·
χὤτι με νύμφαν εὖσαν ἔχει τάφος, εἴπατε καὶ τό·
χὤτι πατήρ μ᾿ ἐκάλει Βαυκίδα, χὤτι γένος
Τηνία, ὡς εἰδῶντι· καὶ ὅττι μοι ἁ συνεταιρὶς
Ἤρινν᾿ ἐν τύμβῳ γράμμ᾿ ἐχάραξε τόδε.

Greek Anthology 6.352

“These outlines come from tender hands: noble Prometheus
There are people whose talent is near to yours!
Whoever drew this girl so truly
If he added a voice, she would be Agatharkhis entirely.”

Ἐξ ἁπαλᾶν χειρῶν τάδε γράμματα· λῷστε Προμαθεῦ,
ἔντι καὶ ἄνθρωποι τὶν ὁμαλοὶ σοφίαν.
ταύταν γοῦν ἐτύμως τὰν παρθένον ὅστις ἔγραψεν,
αἰ καὐδὰν ποτέθηκ᾿, ἦς κ᾿ Ἀγαθαρχὶς ὅλα.

Image result for erinna greek poet
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene by Simeon Solomon

Just a Hole in the Ground

Callimachus 13 (Gow-Page 31)

Does Charidas really lie dead beneath you?
“You mean Arimma’s son from Cyrenaica?
Then yes, he’s underneath me.”
O Charidas, what’s down there?
“Much darkness.”
But what about the ways up?
“Lies.”
And Pluto?
“Myth.”
Ah, nothing remains of us.
“What I’ve given you is my truthful account.
But if you want the pleasing version, here goes:
even small sums buy a big bull in Hades!”

Note: the final line of the Greek is likely corrupt, and therefore while I’ve followed Markovitch in assuming the questionable word is a reference to money (an “obol,” which I’ve freely rendered as “small sums”)–and amending the Greek to reflect that–others assume a reference to the bull’s place of origin (“Pella”).

‘Η ῥ᾽ ὑπὸ σοὶ Χαρίδας ἀναπαύεται; ‘εἰ τὸν Ἀρίμμα
τοῦ Κυρηναίου παῖδα λέγεις, ὑπ᾽ ἐμοί.’
ὦ Χαρίδα, τί τὰ νέρθε; ‘πολὺ σκότοσ᾽. αἱ δ᾽ ἄνοδοι τί;
‘ψεῦδοσ᾽. ὁ δὲ Πλούτων; ‘μῦθοσ᾽. ἀπωλόμεθα.
‘οὗτος ἐμὸς λόγος ὔμμιν ἀληθινός: εἰ δὲ τὸν ἡδύν
βούλει, <χαν> +πελανου βοῦς μέγας εἰν Ἀίδηι.

 

A still from Bergman’s the Seventh Seal in which our Everyman plays chess with Death. To the despair of chess fans, Bergman never reveals whether Death played a cautious opening, like the Ruy Lopez, or something daring, like the Danish Gambit.

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.

To the Nymphs of the River: Two Poems from Moero

Moero (Moirô) of Byzantium is from the Hellenistic period.

Greek Anthology, 6.119

“You lie there beneath Aphrodite’s golden ceiling,
Grapes, full with Dionysus’ drink.
Your mother, the vine, will no longer wrap her love branch around you
And protect your head beneath her sweet leaf.”

Κεῖσαι δὴ χρυσέαν ὑπὸ παστάδα τὰν Ἀφροδίτας,
βότρυ, Διωνύσου πληθόμενος σταγόνι·
οὐδ᾿ ἔτι τοι μάτηρ ἐρατὸν περὶ κλῆμα βαλοῦσα
φύσει ὑπὲρ κρατὸς νεκτάρεον πέταλον.

6.189

“Anigrian Nymphs, daughters of the river, you ambrosial
Creatures who always step on the depths with rosy feet.
Say hello to and preserve Kleonymos who set out for you goddesses
These wooden images beneath the pines.”

Νύμφαι Ἀνιγριάδες, ποταμοῦ κόραι, αἳ τάδε βένθη
ἀμβρόσιαι ῥοδέοις στείβετε ποσσὶν ἀεί,
χαίρετε καὶ σώζοιτε Κλεώνυμον, ὃς τάδε καλὰ
εἵσαθ᾿ ὑπαὶ πιτύων ὔμμι, θεαί, ξόανα.

Image result for ancient greek grapes on vase

The Sun Also Rises

Variations on a theme–two epigrams by Meleager preserved in the Greek Anthology:

5.172

Morning star, enemy of lovers,
Why so quick to rest above my bed
Just as dear Demo’s body warms mine?
If only you’d turn back your fast course,
Be the evening star, Hesperus, again,
O sweet light shining on me most relentlessly.
That time, when Zeus was with Alcmena,
You went the other way—
You’re no stranger to reversing course.

5.173

Morning star, why now, enemy of lovers,
Are you slow to rotate the world
When another man warms himself
Under Demo’s woolen cloak?
Yet, when the slim girl is in my arms
You’re quick to stop and fix yourself in place,
Thus shining on me your gleefully wicked light.

5.172

ὄρθρε, τί μοι, δυσέραστε, ταχὺς περὶ κοῖτονἐπέστης
ἄρτι φίλας Δημοῦς χρωτὶ χλιαινομένῳ;
εἴθε πάλιν στρέψας ταχινὸν δρόμον Ἕσπεροςεἴης,
ὦ γλυκὺ φῶς βάλλων εἰς ἐμὲ πικρότατον.
ἤδη γὰρ καὶ πρόσθεν ἐπ᾽ Ἀλκμήνῃ Διὸς ἦλθες
ἀντίος: οὐκ ἀδαής ἐσσι παλινδρομίης.

5.173

ὄρθρε, τί νῦν, δυσέραστε, βραδὺς περὶ κόσμον ἑλίσσῃ,
ἄλλος ἐπεὶ Δημοῦς θάλπεθ᾽ ὑπὸ χλανίδι;
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε τὰν ῥαδινὰν κόλποις ἔχον, ὠκὺς ἐπέστης,
ὡς βάλλων ἐπ᾽ ἐμοὶ φῶς ἐπιχαιρέκακον.

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.

“What Kinds of Things Are Roses”: More Poems from Nossis

Yesterday I posted some fragments from Nossis. Here are some more.

Greek Anthology, 6. 265

“Reverent Hera, who often comes down
From the sky to gaze upon your fragrant Lakinian home.
Take the linen robe which Theophilos, the daughter of Kleokha
Wove for you with the help of her noble daughter Nossis.”

Ἥρα τιμήεσσα, Λακίνιον ἃ τὸ θυῶδες
πολλάκις οὐρανόθεν νεισομένα καθορῇς,
δέξαι βύσσινον εἷμα, τό τοι μετὰ παιδὸς ἀγαυᾶς
Νοσσίδος ὕφανεν Θευφιλὶς ἁ Κλεόχας.

6.138

“These weapons the Brettian men hurled down from their unlucky shoulders
As they were overcome by the hands of the fast-battling Lokrians.
They are dedicated here singing the Lokrians glory in the temple of the gods.
They don’t long at all for the hands of the cowards they abandoned.”

Ἔντεα Βρέττιοι ἄνδρες ἀπ᾿ αἰνομόρων βάλον ὤμων,
θεινόμενοι Λοκρῶν χερσὶν ὕπ᾿ ὠκυμάχων,
ὧν ἀρετὰν ὑμνεῦντα θεῶν ὑπ᾿ ἀνάκτορα κεῖνται,
οὐδὲ ποθεῦντι κακῶν πάχεας, οὓς ἔλιπον.

7.414

“Pass by me, give an honest laugh, and speak over me
A loving word. I am Rhintho from Syracuse,
A minor nightingale of the Muses. But from my tragic
Nonsense poems, I made my own ivy crown.”

Καὶ καπυρὸν γελάσας παραμείβεο, καὶ φίλον εἰπὼν
ῥῆμ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἐμοί. Ῥίνθων εἴμ᾿ ὁ Συρακόσιος,
Μουσάων ὀλίγη τις ἀηδονίς· ἀλλὰ φλυάκων
ἐκ τραγικῶν ἴδιον κισσὸν ἐδρεψάμεθα.

Greek Anthology, 5.170

“There is nothing sweeter than love: all other blessings
Take second place. I even spit honey from my mouth.
This is what Nossis says. Whomever Kypris has not kissed,
Does not understand her flowers, what kinds of things roses are.”

Ἅδιον οὐδὲν ἔρωτος· ἃ δ᾽ ὄλβια, δεύτερα πάντα
ἐστίν· ἀπὸ στόματος δ᾽ ἔπτυσα καὶ τὸ μέλι.
τοῦτο λέγει Νοσσίς· τίνα δ᾽ ἁ Κύπρις οὐκ ἐφίλασεν,
οὐκ οἶδεν τήνας τἄνθεα, ποῖα ῥόδα.

Greek Anthology, 9.604

“This frame has the picture of Thaumareta. The painter
Caught the form and the age of the soft-glancing woman well.
Your house dog, the little puppy, would paw at you if she saw this,
Believing that she was looking down at the lady of her home.”

Θαυμαρέτας μορφὰν ὁ πίναξ ἔχει· εὖ γε τὸ γαῦρον
τεῦξε τό θ᾿ ὡραῖον τᾶς ἀγανοβλεφάρου.
σαίνοι κέν σ᾿ ἐσιδοῖσα καὶ οἰκοφύλαξ σκυλάκαινα,
δέσποιναν μελάθρων οἰομένα ποθορῆν.

Sappho’s Equal? Some Epigrams Assigned to the Poet Nossis

Nossis is one of the best attested woman poets from the ancient world. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of her.

Greek Anthology, 6.353

“Melinna herself is here. Look how her pure face
Seems to glance gently at me.
How faithfully she looks like her mother in every way.
Whenever children equal their parents it is beautiful.”

Αὐτομέλιννα τέτυκται· ἴδ᾿ ὡς ἀγανὸν τὸ πρόσωπον
ἁμὲ ποτοπτάζειν μειλιχίως δοκέει·
ὡς ἐτύμως θυγάτηρ τᾷ ματέρι πάντα ποτῴκει.
ἦ καλὸν ὅκκα πέλῃ τέκνα γονεῦσιν ἴσα.

7.718

“Stranger, if you sail to the city of beautiful dances, Mytilene,
The city which fed Sappho, the the Graces’ flower,
Tell them that the land of Lokris bore for the Muses
A woman her equal, by the name of Nossis. Go!”

Ὦ ξεῖν᾿, εἰ τύ γε πλεῖς ποτὶ καλλίχορον Μυτιλάναν,
τὰν Σαπφὼ χαρίτων ἄνθος ἐναυσαμέναν,
εἰπεῖν, ὡς Μούσαισι φίλαν τήνᾳ τε Λοκρὶς γᾶ
τίκτεν ἴσαν ὅτι θ᾿ οἱ τοὔνομα Νοσσίς· ἴθι.

6.275

“I expect that Aphrodite will be pleased to receive
As an offering from Samutha, the band that held her hair.
For it is well made and smells sweetly of nektar,
That very nektar she uses to anoint beautiful Adonis.”

Χαίροισάν τοι ἔοικε κομᾶν ἄπο τὰν Ἀφροδίταν
ἄνθεμα κεκρύφαλον τόνδε λαβεῖν Σαμύθας·
δαιδαλέος τε γάρ ἐστι, καὶ ἁδύ τι νέκταρος ὄσδει,
τοῦ, τῷ καὶ τήνα καλὸν Ἄδωνα χρίει.

9.332

“Let’s leave for the temple and go to see Aphrodite’s
Sculpture—how it is made so finely in gold.
Polyarkhis dedicated it after she earned great
wealth from the native glory of her body.”

Ἐλθοῖσαι ποτὶ ναὸν ἰδώμεθα τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας
τὸ βρέτας, ὡς χρυσῷ διαδαλόεν τελέθει.
εἵσατό μιν Πολυαρχίς, ἐπαυρομένα μάλα πολλὰν
κτῆσιν ἀπ᾿ οἰκείου σώματος ἀγλαΐας.

Nossis.jpg
Bust by Francesco Jerace

“The Rest Can Go to Hell”: Some Funerary Epigrams for a Friday

Julian 33

“You died from drinking too much, Anacreon.”
“Yes, it was fun! You’ll die too, even though you didn’t drink”

Πολλὰ πιὼν τέθνηκας, Ἀνάκρεον. β. Ἀλλὰ
τρυφήσας· καὶ σὺ δὲ μὴ πίνων ἵξεαι εἰς Ἀΐδην.

Julian

“I have sung this much and I will sing it from eternal rest:
Drink before you don this dusty dress!”

Πολλάκι μὲν τόδ᾿ ἄεισα, καὶ ἐκ τύμβου δὲ βοήσω·
“Πίνετε, πρὶν ταύτην ἀμφιβάλησθε κόνιν

Antipater 15

“My name is Sappho—and I surpassed women in song
As much as Homer did the men.”

Οὔνομά μευ Σαπφώ. τόσσον δ᾿ ὑπερέσχον ἀοιδὰν
θηλειᾶν, ἀνδρῶν ὅσσον ὁ Μαιονίδας.

Anonymous, 28

‘Stranger going by this tomb of Anakreon,
Pour me some wine as you pass by. For I am a drinker.”

Ὦ ξένε, τόνδε τάφον τὸν Ἀνακρείοντος ἀμείβων,
σπεῖσόν μοι παριών· εἰμὶ γὰρ οἰνοπότης.

Anonymous 63 

“Ferryman of the corpses, take me, the dog Diogenes
Who exposed all of life’s affectations.”

Τὸν κύνα Διογένη, νεκυοστόλε, δέξο με, πορθμεῦ,
γυμνώσαντα βίου παντὸς ἐπισκύνιον.

Anonymous  84

“This grave is small, but its fame is equal to heaven
For this is the memorial of the brilliant Thales”

Ἦ ὀλίγον τόδε σᾶμα, τὸ δὲ κλέος οὐρανόμηκες
τοῦ πολυφροντίστου τοῦτο Θάλητος ὅρη.

Anonymous  134

“Here lies the head of the Cynic Gorgias,
No longer coughing or blowing my nose”

Ἐνθάδε Γοργίου ἡ κεφαλὴ κυνικοῦ κατάκειμαι,
οὐκέτι χρεμπτομένη, οὔτ᾿ ἀπομυσσομένη.

Anonymous 348

“After eating little, drinking little, and being sick a lot
Eventually I died. Go to hell the rest of you too!”

Βαιὰ φαγὼν καὶ βαιὰ πιὼν καὶ πολλὰ νοσήσας,
ὀψὲ μέν, ἀλλ᾿ ἔθανον. ἔρρετε πάντες ὁμοῦ.

Image result for Ancient Greek epitaph

Erycius 377

“Even though he lies in the ground, pour out pitch
In the filthy mouth of Parthenius
Because he puked meaningless myriad floods on the muses
And his refuse of his repugnant poems.
”He was so absolutely crazy that he called
The Odyssey mud and the Iliad a mess.
That’s why he is chained by the dusky Furies
In the middle of hell with a dog collar on his neck”

Εἰ καὶ ὑπὸ χθονὶ κεῖται, ὅμως ἔτι καὶ κατὰ πίσσαν
τοῦ μιαρογλώσσου χεύατε Παρθενίου,
οὕνεκα Πιερίδεσσιν ἐνήμεσε μυρία κεῖνα
φλέγματα καὶ μυσαρῶν ἀπλυσίην ἐλέγων.
ἤλασε καὶ μανίης ἐπὶ δὴ τόσον, ὥστ᾿ ἀγορεῦσαι
πηλὸν Ὀδυσσείην καὶ βάτον Ἰλιάδα.
τοιγὰρ ὑπὸ ζοφίαισιν Ἐρινύσιν ἀμμέσον ἧπται
Κωκυτοῦ κλοιῷ λαιμὸν ἀπαγχόμενος.