“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.

 

Ah, It Was All Helen’s Fault

This may be one of the strangest poems about Helen. Note that Thetis goes unnamed.

Alcaeus,  fr. 42 (P. Oxy. 1233 fr. 2 ii 1–16)

“The story is that bitter grief from evil deeds
Came to Priam and his children, thanks to you
Helen, and so Zeus destroyed
Holy Troy.

Not like this was the tender virgin
Peleus acquired when he called all the blessed
Gods to his marriage, once he took her from
Nereus’ halls

To the home of Kheiron. He loosened
The girdle of the holy maiden. And the ‘love’
Of Peleus and the best of the Nereids grew
For a year.

And produced a child, the best of the demigods,
A blessed driver of fiery horses.
But they died for Helen, the Phrygians
And their city too.”

ὠς λόγος, κάκων ἄ[χος ἔννεκ᾿ ἔργων
Περράμῳ καὶ παῖσ[ί ποτ᾿, Ὦλεν᾿, ἦλθεν
ἐκ σέθεν πίκρον, π[ύρι δ᾿ ὤλεσε Ζεῦς
Ἴλιον ἴραν.

οὐ τεαύταν Αἰακίδα̣ι̣ [ς ἄγαυος
πάντας ἐς γάμον μάκ̣ [αρας καλέσαις
ἄγετ᾿ ἐκ Νή[ρ]ηος ἔλων [μελάθρων
πάρθενον ἄβραν

ἐς δόμον Χέρρωνος· ἔλ[υσε δ᾿ ἄγνας
ζῶμα παρθένω· φιλό[τας δ᾿ ἔθαλε
Πήλεος καὶ Νηρεΐδων ἀρίστ[ας,
ἐς δ᾿ ἐνίαυτον

παῖδα γέννατ᾿ αἰμιθέων [φέριστον
ὄλβιον ξάνθαν ἐλάτη[ρα πώλων·
οἰ δ᾿ ἀπώλοντ᾿ ἀμφ᾿ Ἐ[λένᾳ Φρύγες τε
καὶ πόλις αὔτων.

Image result for ancient greek helen vase

Whoa, Wednesday–We Still Have Sappho

Sappho, Fr. 5 (P. Oxy. 7 + 2289. 6) 1-8

Kypris and Nereids—let my brother
come here unharmed and grant
Everything he wishes to have happen
In his heart

May he make up for all the things he did wrong before
And become a source of joy for his friends
And grief for his enemies, and may he no longer
Be a pain for us.

Κύπρι καὶ] Νηρήιδες ἀβλάβη[ν μοι
τὸν κασί]γνητον δ[ό]τε τυίδ’ ἴκεσθα[ι
κὤσσα v]ο̣ι̣ θύμωι κε θέληι γένεσθαι
πάντα τε]λέσθην,

ὄσσα δὲ πρ]όσθ’ ἄμβροτε πάντα λῦσα[ι
καὶ φίλοισ]ι vοῖσι χάραν γένεσθαι
<κὠνίαν> ἔ]χθροισι, γένοιτο δ’ ἄμμι
<πῆμ᾿ ἔτι >μ]ηδ’ εἴς·

On Falling in Love in Old Age

87 Plato Parmen. 137a and Ibykos fr. 287

“And I certainly seem to be experiencing the fate of Ibykos’ horse, a prize-winner who, even though old, was about to compete in the chariot race and was trembling because of experience at what was about to happen. Ibykos compared himself to him when he said that he too was old and was being compelled to move towards lust”

καίτοι δοκῶ μοι τὸ τοῦ Ἰβυκείου ἵππου πεπονθέναι ᾧ ἐκεῖνος ἀθλητῇ ὄντι καὶ πρεσβυτέρῳ ὑφ᾿ ἅρματι μέλλοντι ἀγωνιεῖσθαι καὶ δι᾿ ἐμπειρίαν τρέμοντι τὸ μέλλον ἑαυτὸν ἀπεικάζων ἄκων ἔφη καὶ αὐτὸς οὕτω πρεσβευτὴς ὢν εἰς τὸν ἔρωτα ἀναγκάζεσθαι ἰέναι.

schol. ad loc. 

[Scholiast] Here is the saying of Ibykos the lyric poet:

τὸ τοῦ μελοποιοῦ Ἰβύκου ῥητόν·

“Love again, gazing up from under dark lashes,
Throws me down with every kind of spell
Into the Cyprian’s endless nets.
In truth, I tremble at this arrival,
Just as a prize-winning horse on the yoke in old age
Goes into the contest with his swift wheels, but not willingly.”

Ἔρος αὖτέ με κυανέοισιν ὑπὸ
βλεφάροις τακέρ᾿ ὄμμασι δερκόμενος
κηλήμασι παντοδαποῖς ἐς ἀπειρα
δίκτυα Κύπριδος ἐσβάλλει·
ἦ μὰν τρομέω νιν ἐπερχόμενον,
ὥστε φερέζυγος ἵππος ἀεθλοφόρος ποτὶ γήρᾳ
ἀέκων σὺν ὄχεσφι θοοῖς ἐς ἅμιλλαν ἔβα

Image result for ancient greek chariot horse

A force of nature

Tawdry Tuesday Bonus: An Epigram About Sharing

This poem is erotic, in that it is about love and sex. It is tawdry, only if you read ito it.

5.158 Asclepiades

Once I was messing around with compelling Hermione
Who had a girdle decorated with flowers, Paphian goddess,
And inscribed with golden letters. This was written:

‘Love me to completion
And don’t be annoyed if another has me.’

Ἑρμιόνῃ πιθανῇ ποτ᾽ ἐγὼ συνέπαιζον, ἐχούσῃ
ζωνίον ἐξ ἀνθέων ποικίλον, ὦ Παφίη,
χρύσεα γράμματ᾽ ἔχον· “διόλου” δ᾽ ἐγέγραπτο “φίλει με,
καὶ μὴ λυπηθῇς ἤν τις ἔχῃ μ᾽ ἕτερος.”

AN APHRODITE WITH PRIAPOS H. 5.9 cm. Bone Greek, Hellenistic, 3rd-1st cent. B.C. The goddess stands in a relaxed pose, a mantle draped around her waist on a rectangular base. She leans with the left arm on her son Priapos, who is characteristically depicted with an erect phallus and fruit. The precise and detailed rendition show that this is a high-quality piece. Head and right arm of Aphrodite lost.

Statue of Aphrodite with Priapos

“My Soul Tried to Cross Our Lips”: More Platonic Love

Two more love poems attributed to Plato

Diogenes Laertius Vita Phil 1.3 [Plato 31] and Athenaeus 589e

“I have a lover from Kolophôn named Arkheanassa—
Potent lust rests even on her wrinkles
Poor wretches who met her during the first sailing
Of her youth—what a conflagration you passed through!”

Ἀρχεάνασσαν ἔχω τὴν ἐκ Κολοφῶνος ἑταίραν,
ἧς καὶ ἐπὶ ῥυτίδων ἕζετο δριμὺς ἔρως.
ἆ δειλοὶ νεότητος ἀπαντήσαντες ἐκείνης
πρωτοπλόου, δι᾿ ὅσης ἤλθετε πυρκαϊῆς.

The Greek Anth. 7.217 attributes a slightly different version to Asclepiades

“I have Arkheanassa, a lover from Kolophôn—
Sweet lust rests even on her wrinkles
Oh lovers who harvested the fruit of her youth
At first bloom—what a conflagration you passed through!”

Ἀρχεάνασσαν ἔχω, τὰν ἐκ Κολοφῶνος ἑταίραν,
ἇς καὶ ἐπὶ ῥυτίδων ὁ γλυκὺς ἕζετ᾿ Ἔρως.
ἆ νέον ἥβης ἄνθος ἀποδρέψαντες ἐρασταὶ
πρωτοβόλου, δι᾿ ὅσης ἤλθετε πυρκαϊῆς.

D. L = Gr. Anth. 7.78

“When kissing Agathon I felt my soul at my lips.
The wretch—for she was trying to cross between us.”

τὴν ψυχὴν Ἀγάθωνα φιλῶν ἐπὶ χείλεσιν εἶχον·
ἦλθε γὰρ ἡ τλήμων ὡς διαβησομένη.

According to Aelian, Plato’s career as a poet was cut short (Varia Historia 2.30); but note, though there is mention of epic and tragedy, the anecdote makes no claims for lyric and elegy:

“Plato, the son of Ariston, at first pursued poetry and used to write heroic verse. But he soon burned it all because he despised it, since he reckoned that his poetry was far inferior when compared to Homer’s. He then tried tragedy and even completed a tetralogy, and he was about to enter the competition, even to the point of giving the verses to actors. But right before the Dionysia, he went and heard Socrates; and once he was seized by that Siren, he not only withdrew from the competition, but he also gave up the writing of tragedy for good to immerse himself in philosophy.”

Πλάτων ὁ ᾿Αρίστωνος τὰ πρῶτα ἐπὶ ποιητικὴν ὥρμησε, καὶ ἡρωϊκὰ ἔγραφε μέτρα• εἶτα αὐτὰ κατέπρησεν ὑπεριδὼν αὐτῶν, ἐπεὶ τοῖς ῾Ομήρου αὐτὰ ἀντικρίνων ἑώρα κατὰ πολὺ ἡττώμενα. ἐπέθετο οὖν τραγῳδίᾳ, καὶ δὴ καὶ τετραλογίαν εἰργάσατο, καὶ ἔμελλεν ἀγωνιεῖσθαι, δοὺς ἤδη τοῖς ὑποκριταῖς τὰ ποιήματα. πρὸ τῶν Διονυσίων δὲ παρελθὼν ἤκουσε Σωκράτους, καὶ ἅπαξ αἱρεθεὶς ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκείνου σειρῆνος, τοῦ ἀγωνίσματος οὐ μόνον ἀπέστη τότε, ἀλλὰ καὶ τελέως τὸ γράφειν τραγῳδίαν ἀπέρριψε, καὶ ἀπεδύσατο ἐπὶ φιλοσοφίαν.

Tawdry Tuesday Classic: Archilochus in the Meadow (NSFW)

These are the final lines of the so-called Cologne Epode attributed to Archilochus (fr. 196a West=s478a). Here is a full version of the text with some commentary. Here is another short article about it.  And here is another great article about male sexuality and iconography. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a seminal discussion of Greek vocabulary for ejaculation.

Archilochus Fr. 196a 27-35

“That was all I said. Then I lifted the girl
And laid her down in the blossoming flowers.
I covered her with a soft cloak
And placed my arms around her neck.
As she froze in fear like a fawn,
I lightly held her breasts in my hands
Where her skin exposed the newness of her youth.
And once I felt her fine body all around,
I shot off my white force, messing up her fair hair.

τοσ]αῦτ᾽ ἐφώνεον· παρθένον δ᾽ ἐν ἄνθε[σιν
τηλ]εθάεσσι λαβὼν ἔκλινα
….µαλθακῇ δ[έ µιν
χλαί]νῃ καλύψας, αὐχέν᾽ ἀγκάλῃς ἔχων
δεί]µ̣ατι παυ[σ]αµέ̣ν̣ην τὼς ὥστε νέβρ̣[ον εἱλόµην
µαζ]ῶν τε χ̣ερσὶν ἠπίως ἐφηψάµη̣ν
ᾗπε]ρ̣ ἔφην̣ε νέον ἥβης ἐπήλυ̣σις χρόα̣·
ἅπαν τ]ε̣ σῶµ̣α καλὸν ἀµφαφώµενος
λευκ]ὸν ἀφῆκα µένος, ξανθῆς ἐπιψαύ[ων τριχός.

Image result for ancient greek ejaculation vase

There is some debate about what exactly is going on in the sexual act at the end: is this extra-vaginal ejaculation (with the ξανθῆς…τριχός denoting pubic hair) or is this actually describing the poem’s narrator ejaculating on her hair? See the article mentioned above for a brief discussion.

Here’s another lyric fragment that discusses ejaculation. Note the different verbal vocabulary (ἐσβ[ά]λην instead of ἀφῆκα–both verbs can be used with weapons…):

Alcaeus, fr. 117. 27-8 

“Whatever someone gives to a prostitute he might as well spill  into the waves of the dark sea”

[     ]ται· πόρναι δ’ ὄ κέ τις δίδ[ωι
ἴ]σα κἀ[ς] πολίας κῦμ’ ἄλ[ο]ς ἐσβ[ά]λην.

The language of that poem makes me wonder if Sophocles is playing with language in the following lines from Antigone (648-649):

“Son, never lose your mind for the pleasure of a woman.”

μή νύν ποτ᾽, ὦ παῖ, τὰς φρένας ὑφ᾽ ἡδονῆς
γυναικὸς οὕνεκ᾽ ἐκβάλῃς

[More literally: “never shoot off your thoughts….”]

The descriptive language for ejaculation seems to be deficient in our evidence of Greek. Despite the two examples from Lyric I cite above, Henderson (Maculate Muse, 50) writes:

Henderson

Both of the roots discussed above show up elsewhere in Greek usage. Hippocrates of Cos uses ἵημι compounds for female ejaculation (Generation 4: μεθίει δὲ καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος and again πρόσθεν τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἀφίει) whereas there is a reflex of ball- in Lucian’s phrase “ejaculations of semen” (καταβολὰς σπερμάτων, Ps.-Luc. Amores 19). In Aristotle Generation of Animals 1 (718a) we find:

“Fish and serpents are in this group and they also ejaculate quickly. For, just as it is with people and all creatures of this kind, which have to hold their breath to release their seed, so too fish need to refrain from the sea-water.”

οἱ μὲν γὰρ ἰχθύες ὀχεύουσι παραπίπτοντες καὶ ἀπολύονται ταχέως. ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ πάντων τῶν τοιούτων ἀνάγκη κατασχόντας τὸ πνεῦμα προΐεσθαι τοῦτο δ᾿ἐκείνοις συμβαίνει μὴ δεχομένοις τὴν θάλατταν.

For more ἵημι compounds see Athenaeus 389f (οἱ ὄρτυγες προΐενται… προΐενται τὸ σπέρμα). In Aelian we also find ἐκβάλλειν τὴν γονήν (On Animals 15).

Tawdry Tuesday (NSFW): Hipponax Teaches Us Some new Words

Hipponax, fr. 12 [Tzetz. ad Posthom. 687, “θήπεον”]

“The mother-fucker Boupalos
Was taunting the children of the Eruthraians with these words
While he was about to pull back his accursed foreskin.”

τούτοισι θηπέων τοὺς Ἐρυθραίων παῖδας
ὁ μητροκοίτης Βούπαλος σὺν Ἀρήτῃ
†καὶ ὑφέλξων τὸν δυσώνυμον ἄρτον.†

Most people who know ancient Greek will probably associate ἄρτον with its more typical definition (“bread”) than with foreskin. I think that the explanation for this homonym may have to do with the latter definition developing from τὸ αἴρειν:

Etym. Sym.

ἄρτος: παρὰ τὸ αἴρειν, ὅ ἐστι καθ’ ἑκάστην προσφέρειν

But this etymology is certainly problematic. “Bread” in Greek has an unclear history (Beekes):

bread

More family-safe fun from Hipponax

Fragments. 135, 135a, 135b

“Cock-shaker”

“Exhibitionist”

“Opening of filth”

ἀνασεισίφαλλος

     ἀνασυρτόλις

     βορβορόπη

 

Hipponax fr. 144

“Sister of bullshit”

βολβίτου κασιγνήτην.

Image result for Ancient Greek Phallus vase

Terracotta Vase, Metropolitan Museum of Art (c. 5th Century BCE; 1999.78)

Youth, Brief as a Dream–Two Fragments from Mimnermus

Mimnermus fr. 1

“What life and what pleasure is there without golden Aphrodite?
May I die when I no longer care about these things—
Secrets sex, persuasive gifts, and bed—
The kinds of youthful flowers that bewitch
Men and women. When grievous old age press on
It makes a man equal ugly and foul
And dark worries always wear on his thoughts—
He can’t even take pleasure in seeing the rays of the sun.
But he is hateful to young men, and dishonored by women.
So hard did the god make old age.”

τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσῆς ᾿Αφροδίτης;
τεθναίην, ὅτε μοι μηκέτι ταῦτα μέλοι,
κρυπταδίη φιλότης καὶ μείλιχα δῶρα καὶ εὐνή,
οἷ’ ἥβης ἄνθεα γίνεται ἁρπαλέα
ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ γυναιξίν· ἐπεὶ δ’ ὀδυνηρὸν ἐπέλθηι
γῆρας, ὅ τ’ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ,
αἰεί μιν φρένας ἀμφὶ κακαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι,
οὐδ’ αὐγὰς προσορῶν τέρπεται ἠελίου,
ἀλλ’ ἐχθρὸς μὲν παισίν, ἀτίμαστος δὲ γυναιξίν·
οὕτως ἀργαλέον γῆρας ἔθηκε θεός.

Mimnermus, fr. 5

“Honored youth is brief as a dream
Old age is hard and ugly old age
Drapes over your head,
As hateful as it is dishonored—and it makes a man
Unrecognizable—it harms your eyes and shadows your mind”

ἀλλ᾿ ὀλιγοχρόνιον γίνεται ὥσπερ ὄναρ
ἥβη τιμήεσσα· τὸ δ᾿ ἀργαλέον καί ἄμορφον
γῆρας ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς αὐτίχ᾿ ὑπερκρέμεται,
ἐχθρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ ἄτιμον, ὅ τ᾿ ἄγνωστον τιθεῖ ἄνδρα,
βλάπτει δ᾿ ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ νόον ἀμφιχυθέν

 

Image result for Ancient Greek old man

%d bloggers like this: