Take Messenia or Die Trying

Suda, s.v. Tyrtaios

“Tyrtaeus, a son of Arkhembrotos, Laconian or Milesian. An elegiac poet and an aulos player. The story goes that he used his songs to encourage the Spartans while they were fighting the Messenians and he made them stronger. He is really ancient, contemporaneous with the so-called Seven Sages, or even older. He peaked around the time of the 35th Olympiad. He wrote a Constitution for the Spartans and precepts in elegiac poems as a well as martial songs, 5 books worth.

Tyrtaeus: The Spartans swore to either seize Messenia or die trying. When Apollo prophesied that they should take a general from the Athenians, they took the poet Tyrtaeus, a disabled man. He helped them take Messenia by encouraging them to excellence. They razed the city and converted the warriors into Helots.”

Τυρταῖος, Ἀρχεμβρότου, Λάκων ἢ Μιλήσιος, ἐλεγειοποιὸς καὶ αὐλητής· ὃν λόγος τοῖς μέλεσι χρησάμενον παροτρῦναι Λακεδαιμονίους πολεμοῦντας Μεσσηνίοις καὶ ταύτῃ ἐπικρατεστέρους ποιῆσαι. ἔστι δὲ παλαίτατος, σύγχρονος τοῖς ἑπτὰ κληθεῖσι σοφοῖς, ἢ καὶ παλαίτερος. ἤκμαζε γοῦν κατὰ τὴν λέ ὀλυμπιάδα. ἔγραψε πολιτείαν Λακεδαιμονίοις, καὶ ὑποθήκας δι᾿ ἐλεγείας, καὶ μέλη πολεμιστήρια, βιβλία ε΄.

Τυρταῖος· ὅτι οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ὤμοσαν ἢ Μεσσήνην αἱρήσειν ἢ αὐτοὶ τεθνήξεσθαι. χρήσαντος δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ στρατηγὸν παρὰ Ἀθηναίων λαβεῖν, λαμβάνουσι Τυρταῖον τὸν ποιητήν, χωλὸν ἄνδρα· ὃς ἐπ᾿ ἀρετὴν αὐτοὺς παρακαλῶν εἷλε τῷ κ΄ ἔτει τὴν Μεσσήνην. καὶ ταύτην κατέσκαψαν καὶ τοὺς αἰχμαλώτους ἐν τοῖς Εἵλωσι κατέταξαν.

Schol ad Plato Leges 1.629a-b

“That Tyrtaeus was Athenian, a humble person in his fortune. He was a teacher with a disability who was despised in Athens. Apollo prophesied to the Lakedaimonians to send for him–at that time when they were fighting the Messenians and were in great danger–because he would be just enough for them to figure out what would be advantageous. He ordered them to use him as an advisor.”

ὁ Τυρταῖος οὗτος Ἀθηναῖος ἐγένετο, εὐτελὴς τὴν τύχην· γραμματιστὴς γὰρ ἦν καὶ χωλὸς τὸ σῶμα, καταφρονούμενος ἐν Ἀθήναις. τοῦτον Λακεδαιμονίοις ἔχρησεν ὁ Ἀπόλλων μεταπέμψασθαι, ὅτε πρὸς Μεσσηνίους εἶχον τὴν μάχην καὶ ἐν ἀπορίᾳ κατέστησαν πολλῇ, ὡς δὴ ἱκανοῦ αὐτοῖς ἐσομένου πρὸς τὸ συνιδεῖν τὸ λυσιτελές· αὐτῷ γὰρ ἐπέτρεψε χρήσασθαι συμβούλῳ.

the biographical tradition that makes Tyrtaeus foreign to Laconia may be rooted in his poetic dialect. Tyrtaeus–unlike, say, Alcman–does not present a Doric dialect, but instead an Ionian dialect closer to the Panhellenic poetic forms favored by Homer and Hesiod. The stories attached to him can be seen, I think, as a individuated biographical allegory for Panhellenism.

East Greek [Ionian] perfume container shaped like a warrior's head with helmet. Clay/terracota head of warrior with helmet
East Greek [Ionian] perfume container shaped like a warrior’s head with helmet. 7th century BCE [?] Rhodes Archaeological Museum

Legislation, For Drunks

Aristophanes, Acharnians 532-534

“[Perikles] used to make laws written like drinking songs:
That the Megarians were not to stay in the market
Nor the sea nor the beach in between”

ἐτίθει νόμους ὥσπερ σκόλια γεγραμμένους,
ὡς χρὴ Μεγαρέας μήτε γῇ μήτ’ ἐν ἀγορᾷ
μήτ’ ἐν θαλάττῃ μήτ’ ἐν ἠπείρῳ μένειν.

Schol. Ar. Ach. 532 

“[Perikles] used to make laws written like drinking songs”:

Timokreon of Rhodes, the lyric poet, wrote a drinking song like this against Wealth, which begins:

“Blind Wealth, I wish you had shown yourself
Neither on land nor on sea
Nor the beach in between.

You should have stayed underneath
living in Hell—thanks to you
all these evils for humans never cease.”

ἐτίθει νόμους· μιμούμενος τὸν τῶν σκολίων ποιητήν. Τιμοκρέων δὲ ὁ Ῥόδιος μελοποιὸς τοιοῦτον ἔγραψε σκόλιον κατὰ τοῦ Πλούτου, οὗ ἡ ἀρχή·

ὤφελέν σ᾿ ὦ τυφλὲ Πλοῦτε
μήτε γῇ μήτ᾿ ἐν θαλάσσῃ
μήτ᾿ ἐν ἠπείρῳ φανῆμεν,
ἀλλὰ Τάρταρόν τε ναίειν
κ᾿ Αχέροντα· διὰ σὲ γὰρ πάντ᾿
αἰὲν ἀνθρώποις κακά.

Mihály Zichy, “Drinking Song” 1874

Style as Substance in Ancient Philosophy

Fronto, to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 162 AD?

“When it comes to poets, who is ignorant that Lucilius has some grace, Albucius to rather dry, Lucretius is sublime, and Pacuvius just average, while Accius’ work is uneven and Ennius is protean? Sallust has also written history in a structured way while Pictor is random, Claudius writes charmingly, and Antias is unpleasant; Sisenna writes too long, Cato has many words in tandem and Caelius leaves them unconnected. When it comes to polemic, Cato rages, Cicero chortles, Gracchus attacks, Calbus picks fights.

Perhaps you don’t think much of these examples. Why? Don’t philosophers use different manners of speaking? Zeno is the most expansive in illustration; Socrates is the most contrary in his arguments; Diogenes is super fast at criticizing; Heraclitus was obscure to the point of clouding up everything; Pythagoras was amazing at making everything sacred with mysterious symbols; Clitomachus so agnostic as to doubt everything.

What would these wisest of wise guys do if they were forced away from their individual style and method? What if Socrates couldn’t argue, if Zeno wouldn’t expatiate, if Diogenes couldn’t carp, if Pythagoras couldn’t make anything sacred, if Heraclitus was forbidden to obfuscate and Clitomachus had to make up his mind?”

In poetis autem quis ignorat ut gracilis sit Lucilius, Albucius aridus, sublimis Lucretius, mediocris Pacuvius, inaequalis Accius, Ennius multiformis? Historiam quoque scripsere Sallustius structe Pictor incondite, Claudius lepide Antias invenuste, Sisenna longinque, verbis Cato multiiugis Caelius singulis. Contionatur autem Cato infeste, Gracchus turbulente, Tullius copiose. Iam in iudiciis saevit idem Cato, triumphat Cicero, tumultuatur Gracchus, Calvus rixatur.

Sed haec exempla fortasse contemnas. Quid? philosophi ipsi nonne diverso genere orationis usi sunt? Zeno ad docendum plenissimus, Socrates ad coarguendum captiosissimus, Diogenes ad | exprobrandum promptissimus, Heraclitus obscurus involvere omnia, Pythagoras mirificus clandestinis signis sancire omnia, Clitomachus anceps in dubium vocare omnia. Quidnam igitur agerent isti ipsi sapientissimi viri, si de suo quisque more atque instituto deducerentur? Socrates ne coargueret, Zeno ne disceptaret, Diogenes ne increparet, ne quid Pythagoras sanciret, ne quid Heraclitus absconderet, ne quid Clitomachus ambigeret?

Zucchi, Antonio; A Greek Philosopher and His Disciples; National Trust, Nostell Priory; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/a-greek-philosopher-and-his-disciples-170663

Poets, Philosophers, and a Bad Reputation: Biographies of Sappho

Suda Σ 107 (iv 322s. Adler)

“Sappho: some claim she is the daughter of Simon, others, Eumenus, while others name  Eeriguios, Semos, Kamon, Etarkhos, or Skamandronumos. Her mother was Kleis. She was a Lesbian from Eressos and a lyric poet who peaked around the 42nd Olympiad [c. 612-608 BCE] at the same time that Alcaeus, Stesichorus, and Pittakos where still alive. She had three brothers: Larikhos, Kharaksos, and Eurugios. She was married to a super rich guy named Kerkulas. He was a merchant from Andros. She had a daughter with him who was named Kleis. She had three girlfriends: Atthis, Telesippa, and Margara. Her friendship with them earned her a bad reputation. Her students included Anagora the Milesian, Gongula of Colophon, and Eunika of Salamis. She composed nine books of lyric poems and was the first to use the pletctrum. She also wrote epigrams, elegies, iambs, and monodies.”

Σαπφώ, Σίμωνος, οἱ δὲ Εὐμήνου, οἱ δὲ Ἠεριγυίου, οἱ δὲ Ἐκρύτου, οἱ δὲ Σήμου, οἱ δὲ Κάμωνος, οἱ δὲ Ἐτάρχου, οἱ δὲ Σκαμανδρωνύμου· μητρὸς δὲ Κλειδός· Λεσβία ἐξ Ἐρεσσοῦ, λυρική, γεγονυῖα κατὰ τὴν μβ΄ Ὀλυμπιάδα, ὅτε καὶ Ἀλκαῖος ἦν καὶ Στησίχορος καὶ Πιττακός. ἦσαν δὲ αὐτῇ καὶ ἀδελφοὶ τρεῖς, Λάριχος, Χάραξος, Εὐρύγιος. ἐγαμήθη δὲ ἀνδρὶ Κερκύλᾳ πλουσιωτάτῳ, ὁρμωμένῳ ἀπὸ Ἄνδρου, καὶ θυγατέρα ἐποιήσατο ἐξ αὐτοῦ, ἣ Κλεῒς ὠνομάσθη· ἑταῖραι δὲ αὐτῆς καὶ φίλαι γεγόνασι τρεῖς, Ἀτθίς, Τελεσίππα, Μεγάρα· πρὸς ἃς καὶ διαβολὴν ἔσχεν αἰσχρᾶς φιλίας. μαθήτριαι δὲ αὐτῆς Ἀναγόρα Μιλησία, Γογγύλα Κολοφωνία, Εὐνείκα Σαλαμινία. ἔγραψε δὲ μελῶν λυρικῶν βιβλία θ΄. καὶ πρώτη πλῆκτρον εὗρεν. ἔγραψε δὲ καὶ ἐπιγράμματα καὶ ἐλεγεῖα καὶ ἰάμβους καὶ μονῳδίας.

Sappho reading, detail of the Vari vase. National Archaeological Museum in Athens 1260

P. Oxy. 1800 fr. 1 [περὶ Σαπφ]οῦς

“Sappho was a Lesbian by birth, fromt he city of Mytilene. Her father was Skamandros, or Skamandronumos, according to some. She had three brothers: Eriguios, Larikhos, and the oldest Kharaksos. He sailed to Egypt because of his obsession with Dorikha on whom he spared no expense. But Sappho took more joy in Larikohs. She had a daughter named Kleis after her own mother. She has been accused by some of being strange in her manner and a lover of women. It appears that her looks were worthy of contempt and that she was very ugly, dusky in appearance and extremely short.”

[Σαπφὼ τὸ μὲν γένος] ἦν Λε[σβία, πόλεως δὲ Μιτ]υλήνης, [πατρὸς δὲ Σκαμ]άνδρου, κα[τὰ δέ τινας Σκα]μανδρωνύ[μου· ἀδελφοὺς δ᾿] ἔσχε τρεῖς, [Ἐρ][γυιον καὶ Λά]ριχον, πρεσβύ[τατον δὲ Χάρ]αξον, ὃς πλεύσας ε[ἰς Αἴγυπτον] Δωρίχαι τινι προσ[νεχθε]ς κατεδαπάνησεν εἰς ταύτην πλεῖστα. τὸν δὲ Λάριχον <νέον> ὄντα μᾶλλον ἠγάπησεν. θυγατέρα δ᾿ ἔσχε Κλεῒν ὁμώνυμον τῆι ἑαυτῆς μί. κ[α]τηγόρηται δ᾿ ὑπ᾿ ἐν[ί]ω[ν] ὡς ἄτακτος οὖ[σα] τὸν τρόπον καὶ γυναικε[ράσ]τρια. τὴν δὲ μορφὴν [εὐ]καταφρόνητος δοκεῖ γε[γον]α[ι κα] δυσειδεστάτη[[ν]], [τ]ὴν μὲν γὰρ ὄψιν φαιώδης [ὑ]πῆρχεν, τὸ δὲ μέγεθος μικρὰ παντελῶς. 

Soma Samuel Orlay Petrich, Sappho, 1880 [Hungarian National gallery
Maximus of Tyre, Orations 18.9 

“What could the love of Sappho be other than that Socratic erotic art? For they seem to me to have loved in their own ways, she loved women and he loved men. For they both used to say that they loved many and were caught up by beautiful things. What Alkibiades, Kharmides, and Phaidros were to him is exactly what Gurrina, Atthis and Anaktoria were to her! What the rivals Prodikos, Gorgias, Thrasymakhos and Protagoras were to Socrates is exactly what Gorgo and Andromeda were to Sappho. Sometimes she refutes them, other times she is ironic just like Socrates.”

ὁ δὲ τῆς Λεσβίας (sc. ἔρως) . . . τί ἂν εἴη ἄλλο ἢ αὐτό, ἡ Σωκράτους τέχνη ἐρωτική; δοκοῦσι γάρ μοι τὴν καθ᾿ αὑτὸν ἑκάτερος φιλίαν, ἡ μὲν γυναικῶν ὁ δὲ ἀρρένων, ἐπιτηδεῦσαι. καὶ γὰρ πολλῶν ἐρᾶν ἔλεγον καὶ ὑπὸ πάντων ἁλίσκεσθαι τῶν καλῶν· ὅ τι γὰρ ἐκείνῳ Ἀλκιβιάδης καὶ Χαρμίδης καὶ Φαῖδρος, τοῦτο τῇ Λεσβίᾳ Γυρίννα καὶ Ἀτθὶς καὶ1 Ἀνακτορία· καὶ ὅ τι περ Σωκράτει οἱ ἀντίτεχνοι Πρόδικος καὶ Γοργίας καὶ Θρασύμαχος καὶ Πρωταγόρας, τοῦτο τῇ Σαπφοῖ Γοργὼ καὶ Ἀνδρομέδα· νῦν μὲν ἐπιτιμᾷ ταύταις, νῦν δὲ ἐλέγχει καὶ εἰρωνεύεται αὐτὰ ἐκεῖνα τὰ Σωκράτους.

Cleobulina’s Poetic Riddles

The following is not really a single poem but rather a collection of lines cited in Athenaeus, Plutarch and others and attributed to Cleobulina

Cleobulina fr. 3.1

“I have seen a man fashioning bronze on another man with fire
Fitting it so well that he joined them in the blood.
I saw a man stealing and deceiving violently—
To accomplish this with violence is the most just thing.
A donkey corpse struck me on the ear with its horny shin.”

ἄνδρ’ εἶδον πυρὶ χαλκὸν ἐπ’ ἀνέρι κολλήσαντα
οὕτω συγκόλλως ὥστε σύναιμα ποιεῖν.
ἄνδρ’ εἶδον κλέπτοντα καὶ ἐξαπατῶντα βιαίως,
καὶ τὸ βίαι ῥέξαι τοῦτο δικαιότατον.
κνήμηι νεκρὸς ὄνος με κερασφόρωι οὖας ἔκρουσεν·

These lines are poetic riddles: the first one, according to Athenaeus, is about using a cupping glass to draw blood to the surface of the skin) the last one is about a Phrygian flute (which was made from a donkey bone)

Cleobulina 4bpblogspotcomk3VU9hBtRk0T5b6PfaiZzIAAAAAAA

Sappho’s Equal? Some Epigrams Assigned to the Poet Nossis

Nossis is one of the best attested woman poets from the ancient world. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of her.

Greek Anthology, 6.353

“Melinna herself is here. Look how her pure face
Seems to glance gently at me.
How faithfully she looks like her mother in every way.
Whenever children equal their parents it is beautiful.”

Αὐτομέλιννα τέτυκται· ἴδ᾿ ὡς ἀγανὸν τὸ πρόσωπον
ἁμὲ ποτοπτάζειν μειλιχίως δοκέει·
ὡς ἐτύμως θυγάτηρ τᾷ ματέρι πάντα ποτῴκει.
ἦ καλὸν ὅκκα πέλῃ τέκνα γονεῦσιν ἴσα.

7.718

“Stranger, if you sail to the city of beautiful dances, Mytilene,
The city which fed Sappho, the the Graces’ flower,
Tell them that the land of Lokris bore for the Muses
A woman her equal, by the name of Nossis. Go!”

Ὦ ξεῖν᾿, εἰ τύ γε πλεῖς ποτὶ καλλίχορον Μυτιλάναν,
τὰν Σαπφὼ χαρίτων ἄνθος ἐναυσαμέναν,
εἰπεῖν, ὡς Μούσαισι φίλαν τήνᾳ τε Λοκρὶς γᾶ
τίκτεν ἴσαν ὅτι θ᾿ οἱ τοὔνομα Νοσσίς· ἴθι.

6.275

“I expect that Aphrodite will be pleased to receive
As an offering from Samutha, the band that held her hair.
For it is well made and smells sweetly of nektar,
That very nektar she uses to anoint beautiful Adonis.”

Χαίροισάν τοι ἔοικε κομᾶν ἄπο τὰν Ἀφροδίταν
ἄνθεμα κεκρύφαλον τόνδε λαβεῖν Σαμύθας·
δαιδαλέος τε γάρ ἐστι, καὶ ἁδύ τι νέκταρος ὄσδει,
τοῦ, τῷ καὶ τήνα καλὸν Ἄδωνα χρίει.

9.332

“Let’s leave for the temple and go to see Aphrodite’s
Sculpture—how it is made so finely in gold.
Polyarkhis dedicated it after she earned great
wealth from the native glory of her body.”

Ἐλθοῖσαι ποτὶ ναὸν ἰδώμεθα τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας
τὸ βρέτας, ὡς χρυσῷ διαδαλόεν τελέθει.
εἵσατό μιν Πολυαρχίς, ἐπαυρομένα μάλα πολλὰν
κτῆσιν ἀπ᾿ οἰκείου σώματος ἀγλαΐας.

Nossis.jpg
Bust by Francesco Jerace

Plutocrats, Listen Up: Equal is Better Than More

Diodorus Siculus, History 9.12

“There is also the story that when the people of Mitylene allowed Pittacus to have half the land over which he fought in single combat, he would not take it. Instead, he assigned an equal portion to each man, saying that an “equal amount is greater than more”. For, since he took the measure of what was greater by fairness not by profit, he judged wisely. He believed that fame and safety would follow equality while gossip and fear followed greed, and they would have quickly reclaimed his gift.”

12. Ὅτι τῶν Μιτυληναίων διδόντων τῷ Πιττακῷ τῆς χώρας ὑπὲρ ἧς ἐμονομάχησε τὴν ἡμίσειαν οὐκ ἐδέξατο, συνέταξε δὲ ἑκάστῳ κληρῶσαι τὸ ἴσον, ἐπιφθεγξάμενος ὡς τὸ ἴσον ἐστὶ τοῦ πλείονος πλεῖον. μετρῶν γὰρ ἐπιεικείᾳ τὸ πλεῖον, οὐ κέρδει, σοφῶς ἐγίνωσκεν· τῇ μὲν γὰρ ἰσότητι δόξαν καὶ ἀσφάλειαν ἀκολουθήσειν, τῇ δὲ πλεονεξίᾳ βλασφημίαν καὶ φόβον, δι᾿ ὧν ταχέως ἂν αὐτοῦ τὴν δωρεὰν ἀφείλαντο.

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 1.75

“Then, the Mityleneans honored Pittakos powerfully and gave the rule of the state to him alone. During the ten years he held power, he also corrected the constitution and then surrendered power even though he lived ten years more. The Mityleneans gave him some land, but he donated it as sacred. The plot is called after his name even today. Sôsicrates says that he cut off a little bit for himself, saying that “half is greater than the whole.”

[75] Τότε δ᾽ οὖν τὸν Πιττακὸν ἰσχυρῶς ἐτίμησαν οἱ Μυτιληναῖοι, καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐνεχείρισαν αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ δέκα ἔτη κατασχὼν καὶ εἰς τάξιν ἀγαγὼν τὸ πολίτευμα, κατέθετο τὴν ἀρχήν, καὶ δέκα ἐπεβίω ἄλλα. καὶ χώραν αὐτῷ ἀπένειμαν οἱ Μυτιληναῖοι: ὁ δὲ ἱερὰν ἀνῆκεν, ἥτις νῦν Πιττάκειος καλεῖται. Σωσικράτης δέ φησιν ὅτι ὀλίγον ἀποτεμόμενος ἔφη τὸ ἥμισυ τοῦ παντὸς πλεῖον εἶναι.

The idea of “half being greater than the whole” is likely proverbial, showing up as well in Hesiod’s Works and Days where the narrator uses it when he complains about how the judges act unfairly in their evaluation of cases (by taking bribes): “the fools don’t know how much greater the half is than the whole” νήπιοι, οὐδὲ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντὸς.

Diodorus Siculus’ statement that “an equal part is greater than more” is probably a clever departure from the Hesiodic statement. Hesiod’s statement seems to be about greed (wanting more than your due), as glossed by Michael Apostolius:

13.77

“They don’t know how much greater the half is than the whole”: [this is a proverb used] for those who desire more and lose what they have.

Οὐδ’ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντός: ὅτι οἱ τῶν πλειόνων ἐπιθυμοῦντες καὶ ἃ ἔχουσιν ἀποβάλλουσιν.

A unifying theme between the two versions is that in early Greek culture that which is isos is not fair in terms of being equal but it possesses equity in terms of being proper to the recipient’s social status. So, Diodorus’ isos share can map out onto Hesiod’s “half” share.

Image result for pittacus

Another proverbial moment for Pittakos:

Diodorus Siculus, History 9.12.3

“When Pittacus finally caught up with the poet Alcaeus, a man especially hateful to him who had mocked him savagely in his poems, he released him, remarking that forgiveness is a better choice than vengeance.”

ὅτι καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν Ἀλκαῖον, ἐχθρότατον αὐτοῦ γεγενημένον καὶ διὰ τῶν ποιημάτων πικρότατα λελοιδορηκότα, λαβὼν ὑποχείριον ἀφῆκεν, ἐπιφθεγξάμενος ὡς συγγνώμη τιμωρίας αἱρετωτέρα.

Sparta Banned Archilochus. Enough Said.

Sparta has some problems (and a wildly unjustifiable popularity). Here’s another one.

Valerius Maximas, 6.3 Ext 1

“Although it is possible to use the whole planet to offer examples of Roman cruelty, it is not useless to learn of foreign instances in summary. The Spartans ordered that the books of Archilochus were to be expelled from their state because they believed that they were insufficiently modest and were also shameful reading.

They did not want their children’s minds to be filled with these ideas in case they might harm their characters more than it sharpened their wits. For this reason they exiled the greatest or nearly greatest poet because he wounded a household he hated with vulgar curses.”

Ceterum etsi Romanae severitatis exemplis totus terrarum orbis instrui potest, tamen externa summatim cognosse fastidio non sit. Lacedaemonii libros Archilochi e civitate sua exportari iusserunt, quod eorum parum verecundam ac pudicam lectionem arbitrabantur: noluerunt enim ea liberorum suorum animos imbui, ne plus moribus noceret quam ingeniis prodesset. itaque maximum poetam aut certe summo proximum, quia domum sibi invisam obscenis maledictis laceraverat, carminum exsilio multarunt.

The Chiggi Vase

Valerius Maximus’ account is somewhat different from the story most people know. Where he seems to take issue with Archilochus’ invective and his salacious content, others claim the issue was his cowardice. Plutarch claims that Archilochus was expelled from Sparta for this poem:

Fr. 5

“Some Saian takes joy the the shield, that blameless weapon
I left next to a bush unwillingly.
But I rescued myself. What does that shield matter to me?
Fuck it. I’ll buy no worse a shield next time.”

ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἣν παρὰ
θάμνῳ, ἔντος ἀμώμητον, κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων·
αὐτὸν δ᾿ ἐξεσάωσα. τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκείνη;
ἐρρέτω· ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίω.

Plutarch also reports:

Spartan Sayings, 241f6

“Another spartan woman as she was passing her son his shield advised him, “child, [come home] either with this or on it.”

῎Αλλη προσαναδιδοῦσα τῷ παιδὶ τὴν ἀσπίδα καὶ παρακελευομένη ‘τέκνον’ ἔφη, ‘ἢ ταύταν ἢ ἐπὶ ταύτας.’

Cleobulina’s Poetic Riddles

The following is not really a single poem but rather a collection of lines cited in Athenaeus, Plutarch and others and attributed to Cleobulina

Cleobulina fr. 3.1

“I have seen a man fashioning bronze on another man with fire
Fitting it so well that he joined them in the blood.
I saw a man stealing and deceiving violently—
To accomplish this with violence is the most just thing.
A donkey corpse struck me on the ear with its horny shin.”

ἄνδρ’ εἶδον πυρὶ χαλκὸν ἐπ’ ἀνέρι κολλήσαντα
οὕτω συγκόλλως ὥστε σύναιμα ποιεῖν.
ἄνδρ’ εἶδον κλέπτοντα καὶ ἐξαπατῶντα βιαίως,
καὶ τὸ βίαι ῥέξαι τοῦτο δικαιότατον.
κνήμηι νεκρὸς ὄνος με κερασφόρωι οὖας ἔκρουσεν·

These lines are poetic riddles: the first one, according to Athenaeus, is about using a cupping glass to draw blood to the surface of the skin) the last one is about a Phrygian flute (which was made from a donkey bone)

Cleobulina 4bpblogspotcomk3VU9hBtRk0T5b6PfaiZzIAAAAAAA

Sappho’s Equal? Some Epigrams Assigned to the Poet Nossis

Nossis is one of the best attested woman poets from the ancient world. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of her.

Greek Anthology, 6.353

“Melinna herself is here. Look how her pure face
Seems to glance gently at me.
How faithfully she looks like her mother in every way.
Whenever children equal their parents it is beautiful.”

Αὐτομέλιννα τέτυκται· ἴδ᾿ ὡς ἀγανὸν τὸ πρόσωπον
ἁμὲ ποτοπτάζειν μειλιχίως δοκέει·
ὡς ἐτύμως θυγάτηρ τᾷ ματέρι πάντα ποτῴκει.
ἦ καλὸν ὅκκα πέλῃ τέκνα γονεῦσιν ἴσα.

7.718

“Stranger, if you sail to the city of beautiful dances, Mytilene,
The city which fed Sappho, the the Graces’ flower,
Tell them that the land of Lokris bore for the Muses
A woman her equal, by the name of Nossis. Go!”

Ὦ ξεῖν᾿, εἰ τύ γε πλεῖς ποτὶ καλλίχορον Μυτιλάναν,
τὰν Σαπφὼ χαρίτων ἄνθος ἐναυσαμέναν,
εἰπεῖν, ὡς Μούσαισι φίλαν τήνᾳ τε Λοκρὶς γᾶ
τίκτεν ἴσαν ὅτι θ᾿ οἱ τοὔνομα Νοσσίς· ἴθι.

6.275

“I expect that Aphrodite will be pleased to receive
As an offering from Samutha, the band that held her hair.
For it is well made and smells sweetly of nektar,
That very nektar she uses to anoint beautiful Adonis.”

Χαίροισάν τοι ἔοικε κομᾶν ἄπο τὰν Ἀφροδίταν
ἄνθεμα κεκρύφαλον τόνδε λαβεῖν Σαμύθας·
δαιδαλέος τε γάρ ἐστι, καὶ ἁδύ τι νέκταρος ὄσδει,
τοῦ, τῷ καὶ τήνα καλὸν Ἄδωνα χρίει.

9.332

“Let’s leave for the temple and go to see Aphrodite’s
Sculpture—how it is made so finely in gold.
Polyarkhis dedicated it after she earned great
wealth from the native glory of her body.”

Ἐλθοῖσαι ποτὶ ναὸν ἰδώμεθα τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας
τὸ βρέτας, ὡς χρυσῷ διαδαλόεν τελέθει.
εἵσατό μιν Πολυαρχίς, ἐπαυρομένα μάλα πολλὰν
κτῆσιν ἀπ᾿ οἰκείου σώματος ἀγλαΐας.

Nossis.jpg
Bust by Francesco Jerace