The Glory and Story of the Rose

Anacreonta 55

“Along with garland bearing spring
I plan to sing clearly
Of her gentle companion, the rose.

This is the immortals’ breath,
This is delight for mortals,
And the Graces’ pride in all seasons,
The lovely plaything
Of blossoming Loves.

This is a theme for myths,
This charming shoot of the Muses,
Sweet to find when one is making
Their way along prickly paths;
Sweet to take in turn, to warm
In gentle hands, pressing
This light flower of Love.

Could we ever be without
The rose at the tables
And feasts of Dionysus?

Dawn is called rosy-toed,
The Nymphs are rosy-armed,
Aphrodite is tinted-rose
When named by people who know.

This pleasure is the same for the ignorant;
This is helpful to the sick too;
This helps protect the dead and
This even fights against time:
For the old age of roses
Retains the charming scent of something new

Come, let’s talk of its creation:
When from the murky sea
The water was giving birth to
Aphrodite dampened with foam,
And Zeus was displaying on his brow
War-loving Athena
A terror for Olympus to see,
The earth let flower
A new surprising growth of roses,
An intricate creation.

She made the rose to be
Like the blessed gods themselves–
Then Luaios watered it with nektar,
Joining it to the haughty thorn,
a life to last forever.

στεφανηφόρου μετ᾿ ἦρος
μέλομαι ῥόδον τέρεινον
συνέταιρον ὀξὺ μέλπειν.
τόδε γὰρ θεῶν ἄημα,
τόδε καὶ βροτοῖσι χάρμα,
Χάρισίν τ᾿ ἄγαλμ᾿ ἐν ὥραις,
πολυανθέων Ἐρώτων
ἀφροδίσιόν τ᾿ ἄθυρμα·

τόδε καὶ μέλημα μύθοις
χαρίεν φυτόν τε Μουσῶν·
γλυκὺ καὶ ποιοῦντι πεῖραν
ἐν ἀκανθίναις ἀταρποῖς,
γλυκὺ δ᾿ αὖ λαβόντι, θάλπειν
μαλακαῖσι χερσί, κοῦφον
προσάγοντ᾿ Ἔρωτος ἄνθος.

θαλίαις τί κἀν τραπέζαις
Διονυσίαις τ᾿ ἑορταῖς
δίχα τοῦ ῥόδου γένοιτ᾿ ἄν;

ῥοδοδάκτυλος μὲν Ἠώς,
ῥοδοπήχεες δὲ Νύμφαι,
ῥοδόχρους δὲ κἀφροδίτα
παρὰ τῶν σοφῶν καλεῖται.

ἀσόφῳ τόδ᾿ αὐτὸ τερπνόν·
τόδε καὶ νοσοῦσιν ἀρκεῖ,
τόδε καὶ νεκροῖς ἀμύνει,
τόδε καὶ χρόνον βιᾶται·
χαρίεν ῥόδων δὲ γῆρας
νεότητος ἔσχεν ὀδμήν.

φέρε δὴ φύσιν λέγωμεν·
χαροπῆς ὅτ᾿ ἐκ θαλάττης
δεδροσωμένην Κυθήρην
ἐλόχευε πόντος ἀφρῷ
πολεμόκλονόν τ᾿ Ἀθήνην
κορυφῆς ἔδειξεν ὁ Ζεύς,
φοβερὰν θέαν Ὀλύμπῳ,
τότε καὶ ῥόδων ἀγητὸν
νέον ἔρνος ἤνθισε χθών,
πολυδαίδαλον λόχευμα·

μακάρων θεῶν δ᾿ ὅμοιον
ῥόδον ὡς γένοιτο, νέκταρ
ἐπιτέγξας ἀνέθηλεν
ἀγέρωχον ἐξ ἀκάνθης
φυτὸν ἄμβροτον Λυαῖος.

Impressionistic oil painting of pink roses
Pierre August Renoir, “Roses” 1910

Roses, Wine, and Pretty Curls

Anacreonta 44

“Let’s mix the Loves’ rose
In with Dionysus.
Once we fit that fine-leaved
Rose to our temples,
Let’s drink and giggle.

Rose, the best blossom,
Rose, the spring’s crush,
Rose, a pleasure even to gods,
Rose, the flower Aphrodite’s child
Uses to tie up his pretty curls,
When he dances along with the Graces.

Crown me! And while I play
The lyre in your sacred places, Dionysus,
I will dance, my head covered
With garlands of rose
Alongside a deep-chested girl.”

τὸ ῥόδον τὸ τῶν Ἐρώτων
μίξωμεν Διονύσῳ·
τὸ ῥόδον τὸ καλλίφυλλον
κροτάφοισιν ἁρμόσαντες
πίνωμεν ἁβρὰ γελῶντες.

ῥόδον, ὦ φέριστον ἄνθος,
ῥόδον εἴαρος μέλημα,
ῥόδα καὶ θεοῖσι τερπνά,
ῥόδον, ᾧ παῖς ὁ Κυθήρης
στέφεται καλοὺς ἰούλους
Χαρίτεσσι συγχορεύων·

στεφάνου με, καὶ λυρίζων
παρὰ σοῖς, Διόνυσε, σηκοῖς
μετὰ κούρης βαθυκόλπου
ῥοδίνοισι στεφανίσκοις
πεπυκασμένος χορεύσω.

abstract  Oil painting with soldiers drinking, palying games, playing the accordion
Mikhail Larionov, “Dancing Soldiers” 1910

Sappho Springs to Mind

Sappho, fr. 96

Often she turns her mind there
…[where she brought you ]….
Like a goddess best known
She was delighting especially in your song.

Now she stands out among the Lydian
Women like the rosy-fingered moon
when the sun is setting
and it outshines all the stars—
Its light pours over the salted sea
And equally over the much-flowered plains.

Dew drips with beauty
While the roses bloom alongside
The soft chervil and blossoming clover.

But while she wanders back and forth
She thinks so much of gentle Atthis with longing
And it weighs down her fragile thoughts.

She wants to go there….
…[a great sound of thoughts]…
How unwise it is to rival deities in lovely form…

…you have…
….Aphrodite…was pouring nektar
From gold….with her hands….

[ ]σαρδ.[..]
[ πόλ]λακι τυίδε̣ [ν]ῶν ἔχοισα
ὠσπ.[…].ώομεν, .[…]..χ[..]
σε †θεασικελαν ἀρι-
γνωτασε† δὲ μάλιστ’ ἔχαιρε μόλπαι̣·
νῦν δὲ Λύδαισιν ἐμπρέπεται γυναί-
κεσσιν ὤς ποτ’ ἀελίω
δύντος ἀ βροδοδάκτυλος †μήνα
πάντα περ<ρ>έχοισ’ ἄστρα· φάος δ’ ἐπί-
σχει θάλασσαν ἐπ’ ἀλμύραν
ἴσως καὶ πολυανθέμοις ἀρούραις·
ἀ δ’ <ἐ>έρσα κάλα κέχυται τεθά-
λαισι δὲ βρόδα κἄπαλ’ ἄν-
θρυσκα καὶ μελίλωτος ἀνθεμώδης·
πόλλα δὲ ζαφοίταισ’ ἀγάνας ἐπι-
μνάσθεισ’ ῎Ατθιδος ἰμέρωι
<>λέπταν ποι φρένα κ[.]ρ̣… βόρηται·
κῆθι δ’ ἔλθην ἀμμ.[..]..ισα τό̣δ’ οὐ
νῶντ’ ἀ[..]υστονυμ̣[…] πόλυς
γαρύει̣ […]αλον̣[……].ο̣ μέσσον·
ε]ὔ̣μαρ[ες μ]ὲ̣ν οὐκ̣ α.μι θέαισι μόρ-
φαν ἐπή[ρατ]ον ἐξίσω-
σθ̣αι συ[..]ρ̣ο̣ς ἔχηισθ’ ἀ[…].νίδηον
[ ]το̣[….]ρατι-
μαλ[ ].ερος
καὶ δ[.]μ̣[ ]ος ᾿Αφροδίτα
καμ̣[ ] νέκταρ ἔχευ’ ἀπὺ
χρυσίας [ ]ν̣αν
<>….]απουρ̣[ ] χέρσι Πείθω

by Sarathkumaran Ranganathan