Four More Funerary Epigrams


“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.


“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.


“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.


“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.

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Taken from

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

Before New Year’s Eve, Palaiophron tweeted the following from Simonides:

In desperation and joy, I scoured book seven of the Greek Anthology looking for more. I did not find any the equal of Simonides’ genius above, but here are some others.

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.


“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.

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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.




Somebody to Drink With: Anacreon’s Epitaph and Some Poems

Greek Anthology 7.26, Antipater of Sidon

“Stranger passing by the humble grave of Anakreon,
If my books were of any use to you,
Pour some wine on my ashes, pour it out in drops
So that my bones can smile, refreshed a bit by wine,
so I, who loved the shouting raves of Dionysus,
so I, who was a partner of music matched to drink,
may not lie dead apart from Bacchus in this place below,
the land which all the race of mortals one day must know.”

Ξεῖνε, τάφον παρὰ λιτὸν ᾿Ανακρείοντος ἀμείβων,
εἴ τί τοι ἐκ βίβλων ἦλθεν ἐμῶν ὄφελος,
σπεῖσον ἐμῇ σποδιῇ, σπεῖσον γάνος, ὄφρα κεν οἴνῳ
ὀστέα γηθήσῃ τἀμὰ νοτιζόμενα,
ὡς ὁ Διωνύσου μεμελημένος εὐάσι κώμοις,
ὡς ὁ φιλακρήτου σύντροφος ἁρμονίης
μηδὲ καταφθίμενος Βάκχου δίχα τοῦτον ὑποίσω
τὸν γενεῇ μερόπων χῶρον ὀφειλόμενον.

Fr. 395

“Hades’ hall is horrifying
And the passage there is hard.
Worse: it is decided that
who ventures there does not return.”

Ἀίδεω γάρ ἐστι δεινὸς
μυχός, ἀργαλῆ δ᾿ ες αὐτὸν
κάτοδος. και γὰρ ἐτοῖμον
καταβάντι μὴ ἀναβῆναι

Anacreon. Marble. Roman copy of the 2nd century A.D. after a Greek original of the 5th century B.C. Inv. No. 491. Copenhagen, New Carlsberg Glyptotek.

Anacreon fr. 2

“I don’t love the man who while drinking next to a full cup
Talks about conflicts and lamentable war.
But whoever mixes the shining gifts of Aphrodite and the Muses
Let him keep in mind loving, good cheer.”

οὐ φιλέω, ὃς κρητῆρι παρὰ πλέωι οἰνοποτάζων
νείκεα καὶ πόλεμον δακρυόεντα λέγει,
ἀλλ’ ὅστις Μουσέων τε καὶ ἀγλαὰ δῶρ’ ᾿Αφροδίτης
συμμίσγων ἐρατῆς μνήσκεται εὐφροσύνης.

Fr. 428

“I love and again do not love
I am insane and yet sane too”

ἐρέω τε δηὖτε κοὐκ ἐρέω
καὶ μαίνομαι κοὐ μαίνομαι

This last fragment recalls (the much later) Carmen 85 of Catullus:

“I hate and I love: you might ask why I do this–
I don’t know, but I see it happen and it’s killing me.

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

Fragmentary Friday: Have We All Forgotten that Life is Short?

We have a small group of fragments attributed to the Hellenistic poet Bion. Here are a few.

Bion, fr. 3 [- Stobaeus 1.9.3]

“Let love call the Muses; let the Muses carry love.
May the Muses always give me a song in my longing,
A sweet song—no treatment is more pleasing than this.”

Μοίσας Ἔρως καλέοι, Μοῖσαι τὸν Ἔρωτα φέροιεν.
μολπὰν ταὶ Μοῖσαί μοι ἀεὶ ποθέοντι διδοῖεν,
τὰν γλυκερὰν μολπάν, τᾶς φάρμακον ἅδιον οὐδέν.

Bion fr. 7 [=Stobaeus 4.16.14]

“I don’t know and it does not seem right to labor over things we haven’t learned”

Οὐκ οἶδ’, οὐδ’ ἐπέοικεν ἃ μὴ μάθομες πονέεσθαι.

Bion fr. 8 [=Stobaeus 4.16.15]

“If my songs are good, then these few
Fate has granted as a safeguard for what I have done.
If they are not pleasing, why should I toil any longer?
If Kronos’ son or devious Fate had granted to us
Two lifetimes, so that we could dedicate
The first to happiness and pleasure and the second to work,
Then it would be right to work first and sample happiness later.
But since the gods have decreed that one time come
For human life and that this is brief and minor too,
How long, wretches, should we toil tirelessly at work.
How long will we throw our soul and hearts into
Profit and skill, longing always for more and greater wealth?
Truly, have we all forgotten that we are mortal?
Have we all forgotten our lifetime is brief?”

Εἴ μευ καλὰ πέλει τὰ μελύδρια, καὶ τάδε μῶνα
κῦδος ἐμοὶ θήσοντι τά μοι πάρος ὤπασε Μοῖσα·
εἰ δ’ οὐχ ἁδέα ταῦτα, τί μοι πολὺ πλείονα μοχθεῖν;
εἰ μὲν γὰρ βιότω διπλόον χρόνον ἄμμιν ἔδωκεν
ἢ Κρονίδας ἢ Μοῖρα πολύτροπος, ὥστ’ ἀνύεσθαι
τὸν μὲν ἐς εὐφροσύναν καὶ χάρματα τὸν δ’ ἐπὶ μόχθῳ,
ἦν τάχα μοχθήσαντι ποθ’ ὕστερον ἐσθλὰ δέχεσθαι.
εἰ δὲ θεοὶ κατένευσαν ἕνα χρόνον ἐς βίον ἐλθεῖν
ἀνθρώποις, καὶ τόνδε βραχὺν καὶ μείονα πάντων,
ἐς πόσον, ἆ δειλοί, καμάτως κεἰς ἔργα πονεῦμες,
ψυχὰν δ’ ἄχρι τίνος ποτὶ κέρδεα καὶ ποτὶ τέχνας
βάλλομες ἱμείροντες ἀεὶ πολὺ πλείονος ὄλβω;
λαθόμεθ’ ἦ ἄρα πάντες ὅτι θνατοὶ γενόμεσθα,
χὠς βραχὺν ἐκ Μοίρας λάχομες χρόνον;

Bion, fr. 16 [=4.46.17]

“But I will take my own path down the hill
Toward the sandy shore, murmuring my song to
plead with harsh Galatea. I will not give up sweet hope
Even at the last steps of old age.”

Αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν βασεῦμαι ἐμὰν ὁδὸν ἐς τὸ κάταντες
τῆνο ποτὶ ψάμαθόν τε καὶ ἀιόνα ψιθυρίσδων,
λισσόμενος Γαλάτειαν ἀπηνέα· τὰς δὲ γλυκείας
ἐλπίδας ὑστατίω μέχρι γήραος οὐκ ἀπολειψῶ.


Image result for Ancient Greek Eros vase

On Rivers and Poets: Quintilian And Callimachus

Quintilian, An Orator’s Education 10.1.47

“Hence, as Aratus believes that we must begin with Zeus, we think that it is right to begin with Homer. For, truly, just as what he says about the ocean, which he says is the source and the force of every river and stream, so too does Homer furnish the model and origin for every type of eloquence. No one has exceeded him for sublimity in the large themes or quiet sense in the personal ones. At the same time he is ebullient and terse, joyful and severe, a source of wonder for his expansions and his brevity—preeminent by far for both his poetic and rhetorical mastery.”

Igitur, ut Aratus ab Iove incipiendum putat, ita nos rite coepturi ab Homero videmur. Hic enim, quem ad modum ex Oceano dicit ipse 〈omnium〉 amnium fontiumque cursus initium capere, omnibus eloquentiae partibus exemplum et ortum dedit. Hunc nemo in magnis rebus sublimitate, in parvis proprietate superaverit. Idem laetus ac pressus, iucundus et gravis, tum copia tum brevitate mirabilis, nec poetica modo sed oratoria virtute eminentissimus.

Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo 2.108-112

“Envy spoke surreptitiously into Apollo’s ears:
“I don’t love the singer who doesn’t sing as wide as the sea”
Apollo then kicked Envy with his foot and said this:
“The flowing of the Assyrian river is huge, but it carries a great deal
Of trash from the earth and hauls garbage with its water.
The bees do not carry water from just anywhere to Demeter
But only that which is clean and unmixed and flows down
From a sacred fountain, a little stream from a high peak.”

ὁ Φθόνος ᾿Απόλλωνος ἐπ’ οὔατα λάθριος εἶπεν·
‘οὐκ ἄγαμαι τὸν ἀοιδὸν ὃς οὐδ’ ὅσα πόντος ἀείδει.’
τὸν Φθόνον ὡπόλλων ποδί τ’ ἤλασεν ὧδέ τ’ ἔειπεν·
‘᾿Ασσυρίου ποταμοῖο μέγας ῥόος, ἀλλὰ τὰ πολλά
λύματα γῆς καὶ πολλὸν ἐφ’ ὕδατι συρφετὸν ἕλκει.
Δηοῖ δ’ οὐκ ἀπὸ παντὸς ὕδωρ φορέουσι μέλισσαι,
ἀλλ’ ἥτις καθαρή τε καὶ ἀχράαντος ἀνέρπει
πίδακος ἐξ ἱερῆς ὀλίγη λιβὰς ἄκρον ἄωτον.’

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Back To School Week: An Epitaph for Orpheus

From the Greek Anthology 7.8

“Orpheus, you will no longer lead away oaks or stones
Bewitched by your song, or the leaderless herds of beasts.
You will no longer sing the howl of the wind or the hail to sleep
Or calm blizzards of snow or the roaring of the sea.
For you have died. The daughters of memory mourn you
Much, and especially your mother Kalliope.
Why do we weep over our dead sons when not even the gods
Can ward Hades from their children?”

Οὐκέτι θελγομένας, ᾿Ορφεῦ, δρύας, οὐκέτι πέτρας
ἄξεις, οὐ θηρῶν αὐτονόμους ἀγέλας·
οὐκέτι κοιμάσεις ἀνέμων βρόμον, οὐχὶ χάλαζαν,
οὐ νιφετῶν συρμούς, οὐ παταγεῦσαν ἅλα.
ὤλεο γάρ· σὲ δὲ πολλὰ κατωδύραντο θύγατρες
Μναμοσύνας, μάτηρ δ’ ἔξοχα Καλλιόπα.
τί φθιμένοις στοναχεῦμεν ἐφ’ υἱάσιν, ἁνίκ’ ἀλαλκεῖν
τῶν παίδων ᾿Αίδαν οὐδὲ θεοῖς δύναμις.

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Moon-People; And People Before the Moon

I am not quite sure what to make of this fragment. So, here it is.

Theodoros of Samothrace, fr. 2 (BNJ 62 f2) = Schol. ad Ap. Rhodes 4.264


“The Arcadians who are supposed to have lived before even the moon…”

᾽Αρκάδες οἳ καὶ πρόσθε σεληναίης ὑδέονται ζώειν]

“The Arcadians seem to have been born before the moon was, as Eudoxos also claims in his Global Tour. Theodôros reports in his 22nd book that the moon came into view before Herakles’ war with the giants. Aristias the Khian in his Foundations and Dionysian the Khalkidean in the first book of his Foundations report that the Selêntians [moon-people] are Arkadian ethnically.”

οἱ ᾽Αρκάδες δοκοῦσι πρὸ τῆς σελήνης γεγονέναι, ὡς καὶ Εὐδοξος ἐν Γῆς Περιόδωι. Θεόδωρος δὲ ἐν κ̄β̄ ὀλίγωι πρότερόν φησι τοῦ πρὸς τοὺς Γίγαντας πολέμου Ηρακλέους τὴν σελήνην φανῆναι. καὶ ᾽Αριστίας ὁ Χῖος ἐν ταῖς Κτίσεσι καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Χαλκιδεὺς ἐν ᾱ Κτίσεων καὶ ἔθνος φασὶν ᾽Αρκαδίας Σεληνίτας εἶναι.


Image | Attic red figure vase painting

Selene, the Moon

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