“Come to me Now”, Sappho’s First Song

Fragment 1 (Preserved in Dionysus of Halicarnassus’ On Literary Composition 23)

“Immortal Aphrodite in your elaborate throne,
Wile-weaving daughter of Zeus, I beseech you:
Don’t curse my heart with grief and pains
My queen—

But come here, if ever at different time
You heeded me somewhere else because you heard
My pleadings, and once you left the golden home of your father,
You came,

After you yoked your chariot. Then the beautiful, swift
Sparrows ferried you over the dark earth
By churning their wings swiftly down through the middle
Of the sky.

And they arrived quickly. But you, blessed one,
Composed a grin on your immortal face
And were asking what it was I suffered that made me
Call you.

“The things which I most wish would happen for me
In my crazy heart”. “Whom, then, do I persuade to
Return you to their love? O Sappho, who is it who
Hurt you?

For if she flees now, she will soon chase you.
If she refuses gifts, then she will give them too.
If she does not love you now, she will love you soon, even if,
She doesn’t want to.”

Come to me now, too, and free me from
my terrible worries. Whatever things my heart longs
to accomplish, you, achieve them—
be my ally.

πο]ικιλόθρο[ν’ ἀθανάτ᾿Αφρόδιτα
παῖ] Δ[ί]ος δολ[όπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε,
μή μ’] ἄσαισι [μηδ’ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
[]πότν]ια, θῦ[μον,

ἀλλ]ὰ τυίδ’ ἔλ[θ’, αἴ ποτα κἀτέρωτα
τὰ]ς ἔμας αὔ[δας ἀίοισα πήλοι
ἔκ]λυες, πάτρο[ς δὲ δόμον λίποισα
χ]ρύσιον ἦλθ[ες

ἄρ]μ’ ὐπασδε[ύξαισα· κάλοι δέ σ’ ἆγον
ὤ]κεες στροῦ[θοι περὶ γᾶς μελαίνας
πύ]κνα δίν[νεντες πτέρ’ ἀπ’ ὠράνωἴθε-
ρο]ς διὰ μέσσω·

αἶ]ψα δ’ ἐξίκο[ντο· σὺ δ’, ὦ μάκαιρα,
μειδιαί[σαισ’ ἀθανάτωι προσώπωι
ἤ]ρε’ ὄττ[ι δηὖτε πέπονθα κὤττι
δη]ὖτε κ[άλ]η[μμι

κ]ὤττι [μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
μ]αινόλαι [θύμωι· τίνα δηὖτε πείθω
.].σάγην [ἐς σὰν φιλότατα; τίς σ’, ὦ
Ψά]πφ’, [ἀδικήει;

κα]ὶ γ[ὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει,
<αἰ δὲ δῶρα μὴ δέκετ’, ἀλλὰ δώσει,>
<αἰ δὲ μὴ φίλει, ταχέως φιλήσει>
[]<κωὐκ ἐθέλοισα.>

<ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον>
<ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι>
<θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον, σὺ δ’ αὔτα>
[]<σύμμαχος ἔσσο.>
.ρανοθεν κατιου[σ-

Image result for Aphrodite chariot ancient
Disappointingly, not a sparrow chariot.

Ah, the World is Wretched: At Least There’s Sappho…

Fragment 1 (Preserved in Dionysus of Halicarnassus’ On Literary Composition 23)

Immortal Aphrodite in your elaborate throne,
Wile-weaving daughter of Zeus, I beseech you:
Don’t curse my heart with grief and pains
My queen—

But come here, if ever at different time
You heeded me somewhere else because you heard
My pleadings, and once you left the golden home of your father
You came

After you yoked your chariot. Then the beautiful, swift
Sparrows ferried you over the dark earth
By churning their wings quickly down through the middle
Of the sky.

And they arrived quickly. But you, blessed one,
Composed a grin on your immortal face
And were asking what in fact it was I suffered that made me
Call you.

“The things which I most wish would happen for me
In my crazy heart”. “Whom, then, do I persuade to
Return you to their love? O Sappho, who is it who
Hurt you?

For if she flees now, she will soon chase you.
If she refuses gifts, then she will give them too.
If she does not love you now, she will love you soon, even if,
She doesn’t want to.”

Come to me now, too, and free me from
my terrible worries. Whatever things my heart longs
to accomplish, you, achieve them—
be my ally.

πο]ικιλόθρο[ν’ ἀθανάτ᾿Αφρόδιτα
παῖ] Δ[ί]ος δολ[όπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε,
μή μ’] ἄσαισι [μηδ’ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
[]πότν]ια, θῦ[μον,

ἀλλ]ὰ τυίδ’ ἔλ[θ’, αἴ ποτα κἀτέρωτα
τὰ]ς ἔμας αὔ[δας ἀίοισα πήλοι
ἔκ]λυες, πάτρο[ς δὲ δόμον λίποισα
χ]ρύσιον ἦλθ[ες

ἄρ]μ’ ὐπασδε[ύξαισα· κάλοι δέ σ’ ἆγον
ὤ]κεες στροῦ[θοι περὶ γᾶς μελαίνας
πύ]κνα δίν[νεντες πτέρ’ ἀπ’ ὠράνωἴθε-
ρο]ς διὰ μέσσω·

αἶ]ψα δ’ ἐξίκο[ντο· σὺ δ’, ὦ μάκαιρα,
μειδιαί[σαισ’ ἀθανάτωι προσώπωι
ἤ]ρε’ ὄττ[ι δηὖτε πέπονθα κὤττι
δη]ὖτε κ[άλ]η[μμι

κ]ὤττι [μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
μ]αινόλαι [θύμωι· τίνα δηὖτε πείθω
.].σάγην [ἐς σὰν φιλότατα; τίς σ’, ὦ
Ψά]πφ’, [ἀδικήει;

κα]ὶ γ[ὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει,

Image result for Aphrodite chariot ancient
Disappointingly, not a sparrow chariot.

Not Exactly the Serenity Prayer…

Solon, Fr. 13. 1–8

“Glorious children of Olympian Zeus and Memory
Pierian Muses, hear me as I pray.
Grant me happiness from the blessed gods and possession
Of a good reputation among all people forever.
In this may I be sweet to my friends and bitter to my enemies,
Revered by the former and terrible for the latter to see.
I long to have money, but I do not want to obtain it
Unjustly—punishment inevitably comes later.

Μνημοσύνης καὶ Ζηνὸς ᾿Ολυμπίου ἀγλαὰ τέκνα,
Μοῦσαι Πιερίδες, κλῦτέ μοι εὐχομένωι·
ὄλβον μοι πρὸς θεῶν μακάρων δότε, καὶ πρὸς ἁπάντων
ἀνθρώπων αἰεὶ δόξαν ἔχειν ἀγαθήν·
εἶναι δὲ γλυκὺν ὧδε φίλοις, ἐχθροῖσι δὲ πικρόν,
τοῖσι μὲν αἰδοῖον, τοῖσι δὲ δεινὸν ἰδεῖν.
χρήματα δ’ ἱμείρω μὲν ἔχειν, ἀδίκως δὲ πεπᾶσθαι
οὐκ ἐθέλω· πάντως ὕστερον ἦλθε δίκη.

Image result for medieval manuscript justice
Image from here

The Protector of Cities: Some Prayers and Hymns to Athena

5-east-pediment-birth-of-athena
Reconstruction of East Pediment of the Parthenon, Showing the Birth of Athena

Solon, fr. 4.4-5 (6th Century BCE)
Solon emphasizes Athena’s power as a protector and connection with Zeus

“This sort of a great-hearted overseer, a daughter of a strong-father
Holds her hands above our city, Pallas Athena”

τοίη γὰρ μεγάθυμος ἐπίσκοπος ὀβριμοπάτρη
Παλλὰς ᾿Αθηναίη χεῖρας ὕπερθεν ἔχει•

Euripides, Heracleidae 770-72 (5th Century BCE)
Euripides echoes Solon but also refers to Athena as a maternal figure

“Queen, the foundation of the land
and the city is yours, you are its mother,
mistress and guardian..”

ἀλλ’, ὦ πότνια, σὸν γὰρ οὖ-
δας γᾶς καὶ πόλις, ἆς σὺ μά-
τηρ δέσποινά τε καὶ φύλαξ…

Aristophanes, Knights 581-585 (5th Century BCE)
Aristophanes echoes the defender motif and connects it with the glory of Athens as a martial and creative center (perhaps under influence of a more robust Panathenaia)

“O Pallas, protector of the city,
The most sacred city-
and defender of a land
that surpasses all others
in war and poetry.”

῏Ω πολιοῦχε Παλλάς, ὦ
τῆς ἱερωτάτης ἁπα-
σῶν πολέμῳ τε καὶ ποη-
ταῖς δυνάμει θ’ ὑπερφερού-
σης μεδέουσα χώρας,

Homeric Hymn to Athena 1 (Allen 11)
The shorter of the extant Homeric hymns focuses on Athena’s connection with war and heroes

“I begin to sing of Pallas Athena the dread
defender of cities, to whom the acts of war are a concern with Ares:
the cities sacked, the shrill sound, and the battles,
She rescues the host when it leaves and when it returns”

Παλλάδ’ ᾿Αθηναίην ἐρυσίπτολιν ἄρχομ’ ἀείδειν
δεινήν, ᾗ σὺν ῎Αρηϊ μέλει πολεμήϊα ἔργα
περθόμεναί τε πόληες ἀϋτή τε πτόλεμοί τε,
καί τ’ ἐρρύσατο λαὸν ἰόντα τε νισόμενόν τε.
Χαῖρε θεά, δὸς δ’ ἄμμι τύχην εὐδαιμονίην τε.

Homeric Hymn to Athena, 2 (Allen, 28)
The longer of the extant Homeric Hymns to Athena tells the story of her birth (but not her conception, perhaps reflecting the war-dances done in her honor

“I begin to sing the honored goddess, Pallas Athena,
The grey-eyed, very-clever one with a relentless heart,
A city-defending, revered and courageous maiden
Tritogeneia, whom counselor Zeus himself gave birth to
from his sacred head, already holding her weapons,
all gold and shining. Then awe took all the immortals
who looked on. And she rose from the immortal head
of aegis-bearing Zeus immediately in front of them
shaking her sharp spear. And great Olympos shook
terribly beneath the fury of the grey-eyed goddess
as the ground echoed frightfully around. Even the sea
was churned up with its dark waves and the brine seized
suddenly. The glorious son of Hyperion brought his
swift-footed steeds to rest for a long time until
the maiden Pallas Athena took the divine weapons
from her immortal shoulders. And counselor Zeus laughed.
Hail to you, then, child of aegis-bearing Zeus.
And I will also praise you with yet another song still.”

Παλλάδ’ ᾿Αθηναίην κυδρὴν θεὸν ἄρχομ’ ἀείδειν
γλαυκῶπιν πολύμητιν ἀμείλιχον ἦτορ ἔχουσαν
παρθένον αἰδοίην ἐρυσίπτολιν ἀλκήεσσαν
Τριτογενῆ, τὴν αὐτὸς ἐγείνατο μητίετα Ζεὺς
σεμνῆς ἐκ κεφαλῆς, πολεμήϊα τεύχε’ ἔχουσαν
χρύσεα παμφανόωντα• σέβας δ’ ἔχε πάντας ὁρῶντας
ἀθανάτους• ἡ δὲ πρόσθεν Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
ἐσσυμένως ὤρουσεν ἀπ’ ἀθανάτοιο καρήνου
σείσασ’ ὀξὺν ἄκοντα• μέγας δ’ ἐλελίζετ’ ῎Ολυμπος
δεινὸν ὑπὸ βρίμης γλαυκώπιδος, ἀμφὶ δὲ γαῖα
σμερδαλέον ἰάχησεν, ἐκινήθη δ’ ἄρα πόντος
κύμασι πορφυρέοισι κυκώμενος, ἔσχετο δ’ ἅλμη
ἐξαπίνης• στῆσεν δ’ ῾Υπερίονος ἀγλαὸς υἱὸς
ἵππους ὠκύποδας δηρὸν χρόνον εἰσότε κούρη
εἵλετ’ ἀπ’ ἀθανάτων ὤμων θεοείκελα τεύχη
Παλλὰς ᾿Αθηναίη• γήθησε δὲ μητίετα Ζεύς.
Καὶ σὺ μὲν οὕτω χαῖρε Διὸς τέκος αἰγιόχοιο•
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ καὶ σεῖο καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ’ ἀοιδῆς.

Birth of Athena, Full-Armed, from Zeus' Head (Ouch!)
Birth of Athena, Full-Armed, from Zeus’ Head (Ouch!)

Sources:

OCD3

Walter Burkert. Greek Religion. Cambridge, 1985.

L. R. Farnell. The Cults of the Greek City States. 1895.

Timothy Gantz. Early Greek Myth. Baltimore, 1993.

Simon Price. Religions of the Ancient Greeks. Cambridge, 1999.

Homer, Odyssey 8.408-9: A Phaiakian Apology

 

“If something terrible is said, may the winds seize it and carry it away.”

 

… ἔπος δ’ εἴ περ τι βέβακται

δεινόν, ἄφαρ τὸ φέροιεν ἀναρπάξασαι ἄελλαι.

 

I am sure that many of us, like prince Euryalus, have often wished much the same.