If A Poem Is Written in the Forest….

Martial, 3.8

“Quintus Loves Thais, Which one? The One-eyd Thais.
She’s missing one eye but he’s lost two.”

Thaida Quintus amat. ‘quam Thaida?’ Thaida luscam.
unum oculum Thais non habet, ille duos.

3. 9

“Someone says Cinna writes little poems against me.
No one really writes if nobody reads their poems.”

Versiculos in me narratur scribere Cinna.
Non scribit, cuius carmina nemo legit.

Bonus Epigram from the Greek Anthology

11.252 Lucilius

“If you kiss me, you hate me. And if you hate me, you kiss me.
But if you don’t hate me, dearest friend, don’t kiss me!”

Εἴ με φιλεῖς, μισεῖς με· καὶ εἰ μισεῖς, σὺ φιλεῖς με·
εἰ δέ με μὴ μισεῖς, φίλτατε, μή με φίλει.

File:Marble plaque with epigram of Sopatros MET DP132678.jpg
Marble epigram of Sopatros

“A Beacon of Love or Hate”: An Epigram

Greek Anthology, 12.156, Anyonymous

“Just like a spring storm, Diodoros,
My love is decided by an uncertain sea.
Sometimes you show pouring rain, but at others
You are clear, and you pour a soft smile from your eyes.

So I, like the shipwrecked on the swell,
Measure out the blind waves as I spin,
Drawn here and there by the great storm.

But you, shine me a beacon of love or even hate
So I can know by which wave we should swim.”

Εἰαρινῷ χειμῶνι πανείκελος, ὦ Διόδωρε,
οὑμὸς ἔρως, ἀσαφεῖ κρινόμενος πελάγει·
καὶ ποτὲ μὲν φαίνεις πολὺν ὑετόν, ἄλλοτε δ᾿ αὖτε
εὔδιος, ἁβρὰ γελῶν δ᾿ ὄμμασιν ἐκκέχυσαι.
τυφλὰ δ᾿, ὅπως ναυηγὸς ἐν οἴδματι, κύματα μετρῶν
δινεῦμαι, μεγάλῳ χείματι πλαζόμενος.
ἀλλά μοι ἢ φιλίης ἔκθες σκοπὸν ἢ πάλι μίσους,
ὡς εἰδῶ ποτέρῳ κύματι νηχόμεθα.

Related image
Tristan and Iseult at Longy

 

Gifts of Chicks and Shells: The Fragment of the Poet Hedyle

Antiquity has left us only one fragment of the iambic poet Hedyle. It is not iambic!

Athenaeus 7.297b

“Hêdulos, the Samian or Athenian, says that Glaukos threw himself in the sea after he fell in love with Melicertes. Hêdulê, his mother and the daughter of the Athenian Moskhinê, was a composer of iambic lines. In her poem called “Skylla”, she records that Glaukos went into his own cave after he fell in love with Skylla

“Either carrying shells as gifts
From the Erythaian cliff
Or halcyon chicks still unwinged
Presents for the girl from an anxious man.
His Siren girl neighbor felt pity
For he was swimming toward that beach
And the regions close to Aitna.”

Ἡδύλος δ᾿ ὁ Σάμιος ἢ Ἀθηναῖος Μελικέρτου φησὶν ἐρασθέντα τὸν Γλαῦκον ἑαυτὸν ῥῖψαι εἰς τὴν | θάλατταν. Ἡδύλη δ᾿ ἡ τοῦ ποιητοῦ τούτου μήτηρ, Μοσχίνης δὲ θυγάτηρ τῆς Ἀττικῆς ἰάμβων ποιητρίας, ἐν τῇ ἐπιγραφομένῃ Σκύλλῃ ἱστορεῖ τὸν Γλαῦκον ἐρασθέντα Σκύλλης ἐλθεῖν αὐτῆς εἰς τὸ ἄντρον

Σκύλλα
ἢ κόγχους δωρήματ’ ᾿Ερυθραίης ἀπὸ πέτρης
ἢ τοὺς ἀλκυόνων παῖδας ἔτ’ ἀπτερύγους
τῇ νύμφῃ δύσπιστος ἀθύρματα. δάκρυ δ’ ἐκείνου
καὶ Σειρὴν γείτων παρθένος ᾠκτίσατο·
ἀκτὴν γὰρ κείνην ἀπενήχετο καὶ τὰ σύνεγγυς
Αἴτνης.

File:Glaucus et Scylla.jpg
Scylla and Glaucus

Cold-Hearted Love

Propertius, Elegies 2.8.7–12

“Everything transforms; loves certainly change too—
You are overcome by those you’ve conquered, this is fortune’s wheel in love.
Great leaders, great tyrants often fall,
Thebes has fallen and high Troy now merely was.
How many gifts I gave; How many songs I made!
But that cold-hearted girl never even said “I love you”.

omnia vertuntur: certe vertuntur amores:
vinceris a victis, haec in amore rotast.
magni saepe duces, magni cecidere tyranni,
et Thebae steterunt altaque Troia fuit.
munera quanta dedi vel qualia carmina feci!
illa tamen numquam ferrea dixit ‘amo.’

Cupid and Psyche, Pompeii

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

One Perpetual Sleep for A Week of Love

Catullus, Carm. 5

“My Lesbia, let’s live and let’s love,
Let all the rumors of harsh old men
count for only a penny.
Suns can set and rise again:
but when our brief light sets
we must sleep a lonely endless night.
Give me a thousand kisses and then a hundred,
then another thousand and a second hundred,
And even then another thousand, a hundred more.
When we’ve had so many thousands,
we will mix them together so we don’t know,
so that no wicked man can feel envy
when he knows what a number of kisses there’ve been.”

Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

Image result for medieval manuscript love
From here

Continue reading “One Perpetual Sleep for A Week of Love”

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.

Gifts of Chicks and Shells: The Fragment of the Poet Hedyle

Antiquity has left us only one fragment of the iambic poet Hedyle. It is not iambic!

Athenaeus 7.297b

“Hêdulos, the Samian or Athenian, says that Glaukos threw himself in the sea after he fell in love with Melicertes. Hêdulê, his mother and the daughter of the Athenian Moskhinê, was a composer of iambic lines. In her poem called “Skylla”, she records that Glaukos went into his own cave after he fell in love with Skylla

“Either carrying shells as gifts
From the Erythaian cliff
Or halcyon chicks still unwinged
Presents for the girl from an anxious man.
His Siren girl neighbor felt pity
For he was swimming toward that beach
And the regions close to Aitna.”

Ἡδύλος δ᾿ ὁ Σάμιος ἢ Ἀθηναῖος Μελικέρτου φησὶν ἐρασθέντα τὸν Γλαῦκον ἑαυτὸν ῥῖψαι εἰς τὴν | θάλατταν. Ἡδύλη δ᾿ ἡ τοῦ ποιητοῦ τούτου μήτηρ, Μοσχίνης δὲ θυγάτηρ τῆς Ἀττικῆς ἰάμβων ποιητρίας, ἐν τῇ ἐπιγραφομένῃ Σκύλλῃ ἱστορεῖ τὸν Γλαῦκον ἐρασθέντα Σκύλλης ἐλθεῖν αὐτῆς εἰς τὸ ἄντρον

Σκύλλα
ἢ κόγχους δωρήματ’ ᾿Ερυθραίης ἀπὸ πέτρης
ἢ τοὺς ἀλκυόνων παῖδας ἔτ’ ἀπτερύγους
τῇ νύμφῃ δύσπιστος ἀθύρματα. δάκρυ δ’ ἐκείνου
καὶ Σειρὴν γείτων παρθένος ᾠκτίσατο·
ἀκτὴν γὰρ κείνην ἀπενήχετο καὶ τὰ σύνεγγυς
Αἴτνης.

File:Glaucus et Scylla.jpg
Scylla and Glaucus

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

Gifts of Chicks and Shells: The Fragment of the Poet Hedyle

Antiquity has left us only one fragment of the iambic poet Hedyle. It is not iambic!

Athenaeus 7.297b

“Hêdulos, the Samian or Athenian, says that Glaukos threw himself in the sea after he fell in love with Melicertes. Hêdulê, his mother and the daughter of the Athenian Moskhinê, was a composer of iambic lines. In her poem called “Skylla”, she records that Glaukos went into his own cave after he fell in love with Skylla

“Either carrying shells as gifts
From the Erythaian cliff
Or halcyon chicks still unwinged
Presents for the girl from an anxious man.
His Siren girl neighbor felt pity
For he was swimming toward that beach
And the regions close to Aitna.”

Ἡδύλος δ᾿ ὁ Σάμιος ἢ Ἀθηναῖος Μελικέρτου φησὶν ἐρασθέντα τὸν Γλαῦκον ἑαυτὸν ῥῖψαι εἰς τὴν | θάλατταν. Ἡδύλη δ᾿ ἡ τοῦ ποιητοῦ τούτου μήτηρ, Μοσχίνης δὲ θυγάτηρ τῆς Ἀττικῆς ἰάμβων ποιητρίας, ἐν τῇ ἐπιγραφομένῃ Σκύλλῃ ἱστορεῖ τὸν Γλαῦκον ἐρασθέντα Σκύλλης ἐλθεῖν αὐτῆς εἰς τὸ ἄντρον

Σκύλλα
ἢ κόγχους δωρήματ’ ᾿Ερυθραίης ἀπὸ πέτρης
ἢ τοὺς ἀλκυόνων παῖδας ἔτ’ ἀπτερύγους
τῇ νύμφῃ δύσπιστος ἀθύρματα. δάκρυ δ’ ἐκείνου
καὶ Σειρὴν γείτων παρθένος ᾠκτίσατο·
ἀκτὴν γὰρ κείνην ἀπενήχετο καὶ τὰ σύνεγγυς
Αἴτνης.

File:Glaucus et Scylla.jpg
Scylla and Glaucus