What is Love? Philodemus and Mimnermus Get old and Throw Down

Philodemus, Greek Anthology. 5.112; Mimnermus. fr 1

 

“I was in love—who wasn’t? I partied. Who didn’t?
But what made me crazy? Was it a god?
Let him go. For now in place of my dark hair
I am growing gray, announcing the age of ‘knowing better’.
When it was the time to play, we played. Now the time is done,
We will reach for more elevated thought.”

᾿Ηράσθην• τίς δ’ οὐχί; κεκώμακα• τίς δ’ ἀμύητος
κώμων; ἀλλ’ ἐμάνην• ἐκ τίνος; οὐχὶ θεοῦ;
ἐρρίφθω• πολιὴ γὰρ ἐπείγεται ἀντὶ μελαίνης
θρὶξ ἤδη, συνετῆς ἄγγελος ἡλικίης.
καὶ παίζειν ὅτε καιρός, ἐπαίξαμεν• ἡνίκα καιρὸς
οὐκέτι, λωιτέρης φροντίδος ἁψόμεθα.

Perhaps Philodemos is trying to argue against the wisdom of Mimnermus (fr. 1):

“What is life? What enjoyment is there without golden Aphrodite?
May I die when these things no longer interest me…”

τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσῆς ᾿Αφροδίτης;
τεθναίην, ὅτε μοι μηκέτι ταῦτα μέλοι,

Tawdry Tuesday: Two From the Greek Anthology

The fifth book of the Greek Anthology is filled with ‘Erotic’ poems. Most are tame; some are funny; and a few are just dreadful.  Today, a few using  a fine Greek verb βινεῖν (binein).

5.29 Killaktoros
“Screwing is sweet: who claims otherwise? But when it costs
Money, it is bitterer than hellebore.”

῾Αδὺ τὸ βινεῖν ἐστι. τίς οὐ λέγει; ἀλλ’ ὅταν αἰτῇ
χαλκόν, πικρότερον γίνεται ἐλλεβόρου.

5.126 Philodemus

“He gives her five talents for one turn
and fucks her while shaking—and, dear god, she isn’t pretty.
I give Lysianassa five drachmas for twelve turns—
I fuck a better woman and do it openly.
Either I am completely insane, or all that remains
is to lop off his twin balls with an axe.”

Πέντε δίδωσιν ἑνὸς τῇ δεῖνα ὁ δεῖνα τάλαντα,
καὶ βινεῖ φρίσσων καί, μὰ τόν, οὐδὲ καλήν·
πέντε δ’ ἐγὼ δραχμὰς τῶν δώδεκα Λυσιανάσσῃ,
καὶ βινῶ πρὸς τῷ κρείσσονα καὶ φανερῶς.
πάντως ἤτοι ἐγὼ φρένας οὐκ ἔχω, ἢ τό γε λοιπὸν
τοὺς κείνου πελέκει δεῖ διδύμους ἀφελεῖν.

Our gentle readers will probably note the variation in the translation of βινεῖν.  It is a rather ancient verb, it appears in a fragment of Archilochus ( fr. 152.2L γυναῖ]κα βινέων[) and, of course, Aristophanes drops some b-bombs from time to time as in the Frogs (740):

“For how isn’t he noble, when he knows only how to drink and screw?”

ΞΑ. Πῶς γὰρ οὐχὶ γεννάδας,
ὅστις γε πίνειν οἶδε καὶ βινεῖν μόνον;

But if no one told you that βινεῖν is the equivalent of “fucking”, you’d have to look at the LSJ (which uses Latin “inire, coire of illicit intercourse.”), or an ancient Lexicographer who cites Solon (Hesychius):

βινεῖν:”In Solon, to have sex by force—to conjugate against custom”

βινεῖν· παρὰ Σόλωνι τὸ βίᾳ μίγνυσθαι. τὸ δὲ κατὰ νόμον ὀπύειν

 

But my favorite entry comes from the Byzantine Encyclopedia, the Suda.

 

Suda: “Binein: to have intercourse; or to chirp like a bird. It occurs in epigrams.”

Βινεῖν: τὸ συνουσιάζειν· ἢ τὸ πιπίζειν. ἐν ᾿Επιγράμμασι·

 

Does anyone want to take a stab at some broader etymologies for the verb?

Valentine’s Day Vines: Greeks and Romans Say (Mostly) Nice Things about Love

What a Girl Wants: Mimnermus vs. Homer (Propertius 1.9.9-14)

What good to you is threnody, or crying over the walls built by Amphion’s lyre? In matters of love, a verse of Mimnermus is worth a lot more than Homer. Gentle Cupid would like to hear a softer strain. So please, put down those sad little books, and sing something that a girl would like to hear!

quid tibi nunc misero prodest grave dicere carmen
aut Amphioniae moenia flere lyrae? 10
plus in amore valet Mimnermi versus Homero:
carmina mansuetus lenia quaerit Amor.
i quaeso et tristis istos sepone libellos,
et cane quod quaevis nosse puella velit!

Greek Anthology, 5.88 (Rufinus): The Fire of Unrequited Love

“Fire-bearing love, if you haven’t the strength to light two equally afire
Either extinguish it or share the flame burning in only one.”

Εἰ δυσὶν οὐκ ἴσχυσας ἴσην φλόγα, πυρφόρε, καῦσαι,
τὴν ἑνὶ καιομένην ἢ σβέσον ἢ μετάθες.

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Philodemus and Mimnermus Get old and Throw Down (Anth. 5.112; Mimn. fr 1)

“I was in love—who wasn’t? I partied. Who didn’t?
But what made me crazy? Was it a god?
Let him go. For now in place of my dark hair
I am growing gray, announcing the age of ‘knowing better’.
When it was the time to play, we played. Now the time is done,
We will reach for more elevated thought.”

᾿Ηράσθην• τίς δ’ οὐχί; κεκώμακα• τίς δ’ ἀμύητος
κώμων; ἀλλ’ ἐμάνην• ἐκ τίνος; οὐχὶ θεοῦ;
ἐρρίφθω• πολιὴ γὰρ ἐπείγεται ἀντὶ μελαίνης
θρὶξ ἤδη, συνετῆς ἄγγελος ἡλικίης.
καὶ παίζειν ὅτε καιρός, ἐπαίξαμεν• ἡνίκα καιρὸς
οὐκέτι, λωιτέρης φροντίδος ἁψόμεθα.

Perhaps Philodemos is trying to argue against the wisdom of Mimnermus (fr. 1):

“What is life? What enjoyment is there without golden Aphrodite?
May I die when these things no longer interest me…”

τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσῆς ᾿Αφροδίτης;
τεθναίην, ὅτε μοι μηκέτι ταῦτα μέλοι,