The First Hexameter Song and the Fragments of Boio

Boiô [Boeo] is a woman poet from, well, Boeotia

Pausanias 5.7-9

“They claim that after some time Themis was given by Gaia whatever he share was and then that Apollo received that as a gift from Themis. They say that Apollo gave to Poseidon the portion of land called Kalauria which is near Troizen as an exchange-gift for the oracle. I have also heard that men who were shepherding their flocks chanced upon the oracle and were inspired by the mist and then acted as prophets of Apollo. The account with the most adherents is the story of Phêmonoê, that she was the first prophet of the god and the first person who sang hexameters.

Boiô, a local woman who created a Hymn for the Delphians, used to say that people who visited from the Hyperboreans along with others and Olên created the oracle for the god and that he, Olên, was the first to give prophecies and to sing a hexameter.

Boiô composed these verses: “Here in fact, they built the oracle of good memory / the children of the Hyperboreans, Pagasos and shining Aguieus.”

Once she has named other Hyperboreans, near the end of the hymn she mentioned Olên: “And Olên who was the first prophet of Phoibos / and the first to make the song of ancient epic verses.” There is in common memory no mention of him at all; all that is left is the prophecy of women only.”

χρόνῳ δὲ ὕστερον, ὅσον τῇ Γῇ μετῆν, δοθῆναι Θέμιδι ὑπ᾿ αὐτῆς λέγουσιν, Ἀπόλλωνα δὲ παρὰ Θέμιδος λαβεῖν δωρεάν· Ποσειδῶνι δὲ ἀντὶ τοῦ μαντείου Καλαύρειαν ἀντιδοῦναί φασιν αὐτὸν τὴν πρὸ Τροιζῆνος. ἤκουσα δὲ καὶ ὡς ἄνδρες ποιμαίνοντες ἐπιτύχοιεν τῷ μαντείῳ, καὶ ἔνθεοί τε ἐγένοντο ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀτμοῦ καὶ ἐμαντεύσαντο ἐξ Ἀπόλλωνος. μεγίστη δὲ καὶ παρὰ πλείστων ἐς Φημονόην δόξα ἐστίν, ὡς πρόμαντις γένοιτο ἡ Φημονόη τοῦ θεοῦ πρώτη καὶ πρώτη τὸ ἑξάμετρον ᾖσεν. Βοιὼ δὲ ἐπιχωρία γυνὴ ποιήσασα ὕμνον Δελφοῖς ἔφη κατασκευάσασθαι τὸ μαντεῖον τῷ θεῷ τοὺς ἀφικομένους ἐξ Ὑπερβορέων τούς τε ἄλλους καὶ Ὠλῆνα· τοῦτον δὲ καὶ μαντεύσασθαι πρῶτον καὶ ᾄσαι πρῶτον τὸ ἑξάμετρον. πεποίηκε δὲ ἡ Βοιὼ τοιάδε·

ἔνθα τοι εὔμνηστον χρηστήριον ἐκτελέσαντο

παῖδες Ὑπερβορέων Παγασὸς καὶ δῖος Ἀγυιεύς.

ἐπαριθμοῦσα δὲ καὶ ἄλλους τῶν Ὑπερβορέων, ἐπὶ τελευτῇ τοῦ ὕμνου τὸν Ὠλῆνα ὠνόμασεν·

Ὠλήν θ᾿ ὃς γένετο πρῶτος Φοίβοιο προφάτας

πρῶτος δ᾿ ἀρχαίων ἐπέων τεκτάνατ᾿ ἀοιδάν.

οὐ μέντοι τά γε ἥκοντα ἐς μνήμην ἐς ἄλλον τινά, ἐς δὲ γυναικῶν μαντείαν ἀνήκει μόνων.

Image result for delphic oracle

Never Met an Adjective He Didn’t Like

Bacchylides, 2

“Rush, holy-giver, Fame,
To sacred Keos and
Take the graceful-named message
That Argeios seized
Victory in the bold-handed battle.

He reminds us of all the noble deeds
We have shown at the
Isthmus’ famous neck
After we left Euksantius,
The sacred island,
With seventy prizes

The native Muse
Calls out the pipes’ sweet echo
As she uses epinicians to praise
Pantheus’ beloved son.”

ἄ[ϊξον, ὦ] σεμνοδότειρα Φήμα,
ἐς Κ[έον ἱ]εράν, χαριτώνυμ[ον]
φέρουσ᾿ ἀγγελίαν,
ὅτι μ[ά]χας θρασύχειρ<ος> Ἀργεῖο[ς

ἄ]ρατο νίκαν,
καλῶν δ᾿ ἀνέμνασεν, ὅσ᾿ ἐν κλ[εν]νῶι
αὐχένι Ἰσθμοῦ ζαθέαν
λιπόντες Εὐξαντίδα νᾶσον
ἐπεδείξαμεν ἑβδομήκοντα
[σὺ]ν στεφάνοισιν.
καλεῖ δὲ Μοῦσ᾿ αὐθιγενής
γλυκεῖαν αὐλῶν καναχάν,
γεραίρουσ᾿ ἐπινικίοις
Πανθείδα φίλον υἱόν.

Painting in the style of a frieze. A musician plays a lyre on the left and two women lean together listening on the right

Albert Joseph Moore, “A Musician”

Wind in the Sails and the Ship of Songs

Pindar, Nemean 6. 27-34

“Muse, send a glorifying wind right at that home–
For songs and stories safeguard  noble deeds
When men have passed on.
And these things are not scarce for the Bassidae.
This ancient-famed family
Has a private store of victory songs to fill ships,
Capable of inspiring many a Pieriean plowman
With hymns thanks to their glorious deeds.”

θυν᾿ ἐπὶ τοῦτον, ἄγε, Μοῖσα,
οὖρον ἐπέων
εὐκλέα· παροιχομένων γὰρ ἀνέρων
ἀοιδαὶ καὶ λόγοι τὰ καλά σφιν ἔργ᾿ ἐκόμισαν,
Βασσίδαισιν ἅ τ᾿ οὐ σπανίζει· παλαίφατος γενεά,
ἴδια ναυστολέοντες ἐπι-
κώμια, Πιερίδων ἀρόταις
δυνατοὶ παρέχειν πολὺν ὕμνον ἀγερώχων ἐργμάτων

Nem. 6. 52-56

“Older poets found these things
To be an elevated roadway;
I follow it even though I have concern–
The wave that is always turning
Right into the front of the ship
Is said to cause everyone’s heart
The most trouble.”

καὶ ταῦτα μὲν παλαιότεροι
ὁδὸν ἀμαξιτὸν εὗρον· ἕπο-
μαι δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ἔχων μελέταν·
τὸ δὲ πὰρ ποδὶ ναὸς ἑλισσόμενον αἰεὶ κυμάτων
λέγεται παντὶ μάλιστα δονεῖν

Color image close up of a Grek vase showing a ship with sail opened, men at oar rowing, and a prominent figure steering
On the internal surface, around the rim, four ships. Cemetery of Ancient Thera. 3rd quarter of the 6th cent. BC Archaeological Museum of Thera. [Wikimedia Commons]

Death’s Decade: Two Poets on When to Die

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers: Solon 61

Look at this: People say that Mimnermus wrote: [fr. 20 Bergk]

“I wish that my allotted death would come at 60
Without sicknesses or painful worries.”

But [Solon] rebuked him in saying [fr. 42 Bergk]

“If you listened to me already, you’d cut that line.
But don’t get angry that I advise better than you.
Change your wish, Liguastades, and sing this tune
May my allotted death come at eighty.”

ἰδοῦ. φασὶ δ᾿ αὐτὸν καὶ Μιμνέρμου γράψαντος,

αἲ γὰρ ἄτερ νούσων τε καὶ ἀργαλέων μελεδωνέων
ἑξηκονταέτη μοῖρα κίχοι θανάτου,

ἐπιτιμῶντα αὐτῷ εἰπεῖν·

ἀλλ᾿ εἴ μοι κἂν νῦν ἔτι πείσεαι, ἔξελε τοῦτον·
μηδὲ μέγαιρ᾿ ὅτι σεῦ λῷον ἐπεφρασάμην·
καὶ μεταποίησον, Λιγυαστάδη, ὧδε δ᾿ ἄειδε·
ὀγδωκονταέτη μοῖρα κίχοι θανάτου.

Red figure on black background. Old greek man with white hair holding staff and looking to right, the viewer's left.
Athens National Archaeological Museum 1301 – bibliography: Beazley Archive Pottery Database 19896; c. 450 BCE

A Good Shared by the State and the People

Tyrtaeus 12 [= Stob. 4.10.1 (vv. 1–14) + 6 (vv. 15–44)]

“I wouldn’t celebrate or even mention a man
For the strength of his feet or his wrestling,
Not even if he had a Cyclopean size and strength
And could conquer the gods’ Thracian Northwind

And not even if he were better looking than Tithonos
And wealthier than Midas and Kinyras,
Not even if he were more royal than the Tantalid Pelops
And had a tongue more persuasive than Adrastus
And possessed fame for everything except rushing courage.

No man proves good in a war
If he cannot endure seeing bloody murder,
And can strike out while standing near the enemy.
This is virtue, this is the best prize among human beings,
The noblest thing for a young man to win.

This is a shared good for the whole state and the people,
When a man stands firm among the front ranks,
Relentless, completely forgetful of shameful retreat,
Offering up his life and enduring heart,
Ready with an encouraging word for the man next to him.
This man proves to be good in war.

Then he quickly turns aside the threatening ranks
Of the enemy soldiers and the battle’s wave is fueled by his passion.
And should he fall among the first ranks, losing his life,
He brings fame to his city, people, and father,
Stabbed through many times around the chest
And embossed shield, straight through his armor.

The young and the old mourn for him alike
And the whole city feels harsh grief from longing,
Yet his grave and children are well known to all
Along with his children’s children and generations to come.

His noble fame will never die, nor his name
But he will be immortal even though under the earth,
Whoever the man is raging Ares slays in his moment of excellence
As he stands fast and struggles for his land and children.

But if he escapes the fate of a sorrowful death,
And claims victory to vouchsafe his boastful spear,
Everyone will honor him, the young and the old alike,
And he will go to Hades, after living life well.
He will be prominent among his people as he ages,
No one will dream of slighting his respect and due:
All the young men give their places at the bench to him,
And yield to him, along with his peers and elders.
May everyone now try to reach the peak
Of that virtue, never giving up in war.

οὔτ᾿ ἂν μνησαίμην οὔτ᾿ ἐν λόγῳ ἄνδρα τιθείμην
οὔτε ποδῶν ἀρετῆς οὔτε παλαιμοσύνης,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ Κυκλώπων μὲν ἔχοι μέγεθός τε βίην τε,
νικῴη δὲ θέων Θρηΐκιον Βορέην,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ Τιθωνοῖο φυὴν χαριέστερος εἴη,
πλουτοίη δὲ Μίδεω καὶ Κινύρεω μάλιον,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ Τανταλίδεω Πέλοπος βασιλεύτερος εἴη,
γλῶσσαν δ᾿ Ἀδρήστου μειλιχόγηρυν ἔχοι,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ πᾶσαν ἔχοι δόξαν πλὴν θούριδος ἀλκῆς·

οὐ γὰρ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γίνεται ἐν πολέμῳ
εἰ μὴ τετλαίη μὲν ὁρῶν φόνον αἱματόεντα,
καὶ δηίων ὀρέγοιτ᾿ ἐγγύθεν ἱστάμενος.
ἥδ᾿ ἀρετή, τόδ᾿ ἄεθλον ἐν ἀνθρώποισιν ἄριστον
κάλλιστόν τε φέρειν γίνεται ἀνδρὶ νέῳ.

ξυνὸν δ᾿ ἐσθλὸν τοῦτο πόληί τε παντί τε δήμῳ,
ὅστις ἀνὴρ διαβὰς ἐν προμάχοισι μένῃ
νωλεμέως, αἰσχρῆς δὲ φυγῆς ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθηται,
ψυχὴν καὶ θυμὸν τλήμονα παρθέμενος,
θαρσύνῃ δ᾿ ἔπεσιν τὸν πλησίον ἄνδρα παρεστώς·
οὗτος ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γίνεται ἐν πολέμῳ.

αἶψα δὲ δυσμενέων ἀνδρῶν ἔτρεψε φάλαγγας
τρηχείας, σπουδῇ δ᾿ ἔσχεθε κῦμα μάχης.
αὐτὸς δ᾿ ἐν προμάχοισι πεσὼν φίλον ὤλεσε θυμόν,
ἄστυ τε καὶ λαοὺς καὶ πατέρ᾿ εὐκλεΐσας,
πολλὰ διὰ στέρνοιο καὶ ἀσπίδος ὀμφαλοέσσης
καὶ διὰ θώρηκος πρόσθεν ἐληλαμένος.

τὸν δ᾿ ὀλοφύρονται μὲν ὁμῶς νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες,
ἀργαλέῳ δὲ πόθῳ πᾶσα κέκηδε πόλις,
καὶ τύμβος καὶ παῖδες ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἀρίσημοι
καὶ παίδων παῖδες καὶ γένος ἐξοπίσω·

οὐδέ ποτε κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἀπόλλυται οὐδ᾿ ὄνομ᾿αὐτοῦ,
ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὸ γῆς περ ἐὼν γίνεται ἀθάνατος,
ὅντιν᾿ ἀριστεύοντα μένοντά τε μαρνάμενόν τε
γῆς πέρι καὶ παίδων θοῦρος Ἄρης ὀλέσῃ.

εἰ δὲ φύγῃ μὲν κῆρα τανηλεγέος θανάτοιο,
νικήσας δ᾿ αἰχμῆς ἀγλαὸν εὖχος ἕλῃ,
πάντες μιν τιμῶσιν, ὁμῶς νέοι ἠδὲ παλαιοί,
πολλὰ δὲ τερπνὰ παθὼν ἔρχεται εἰς Ἀΐδην,
γηράσκων δ᾿ ἀστοῖσι μεταπρέπει, οὐδέ τις αὐτὸν
βλάπτειν οὔτ᾿ αἰδοῦς οὔτε δίκης ἐθέλει,
πάντες δ᾿ ἐν θώκοισιν ὁμῶς νέοι οἵ τε κατ᾿ αὐτὸν
εἴκουσ᾿ ἐκ χώρης οἵ τε παλαιότεροι.
ταύτης νῦν τις ἀνὴρ ἀρετῆς εἰς ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι
πειράσθω θυμῷ μὴ μεθιεὶς πολέμου.

Black vase with red warrior holding shield and spear. Right knee is raised.
ed figure lekythos, Tithonos Painter, aroud 470 BC. Archaeological Museum of Syracuse.

Shame on the Tip of the Tongue

Sappho Fr. 137 [Arist. Rhet. 1367a (p. 47 Römer)]

“I want to say something but shame
Stops me.

But if you had a taste for the noble or kind
And not some tongue ready to hiss evil,
Then shame wouldn’t cover your eyes
And you would be saying something right.”

θέλω τί τ᾿ εἴπην, ἀλλά με κωλύει
αἴδως . . .
. . .
αἰ δ᾿ ἦχες ἔσλων ἴμερον ἢ κάλων
καὶ μή τί τ᾿ εἴπην γλῶσσ᾿ ἐκύκα κάκον,
αἴδως † κέν σε οὐκ † ἦχεν ὄππατ᾿,
ἀλλ᾿ ἔλεγες † περὶ τῶ δικαίω †

Three gargoyle sculptures: one covering its eyes, one holding its mouth, and the third covering its ears
3 Gargoyles from Paisley Abbey

Like the Rose-Toed Moon

Sappho fr. 96  P. Berol. 9722 fol. 5

“She was looking at you as a goddess
And took special pleasure in your song.

Now she stands out among the Lydian women
The way the rose-toed moon outshines
All of the stars at the moment
When the sun goes down–
Her light falls over the briny sea
And the flowering fields equally.

Dew drips down in beauty
And roses open their blooms
Along with soft chervil and
Blossoming melilot.

As she moves back and forth
She often recalls Atthis with longing,
And she burdens her sensitive thoughts
Because of you…”

σε θέαι σ᾿ ἰκέλαν ἀριγνώται,
σᾶι δὲ μάλιστ᾿ ἔχαιρε μόλπα.
νῦν δὲ Λύδαισιν ἐμπρέπεται γυναί-
κεσσιν ὤς ποτ᾿ ἀελίω
δύντος ἀ βροδοδάκτυλος σελάννα
πάντα περρέχοισ᾿ ἄστρα· φάος δ᾿ ἐπί-
σχει θάλασσαν ἐπ᾿ ἀλμύραν
ἴσως καὶ πολυανθέμοις ἀρούραις·
ἀ δ᾿ ἐέρσα κάλα κέχυται, τεθά-
λαισι δὲ βρόδα κἄπαλ᾿ ἄνθρυσκα
καὶ μελίλωτος ἀνθεμώδης·
πόλλα δὲ ζαφοίταισ᾿, ἀγάνας ἐπι-
μνάσθεισ᾿ Ἄτθιδος ἰμέρῳ
λέπταν ποι φρένα κ[ᾶ][ι σᾶι] βόρηται·
κῆθι δ᾿ ἔλθην ἀμμ . [ . . ] . . ισα τδ᾿ οὐ

a red moon rising. Photograph.

Leave, But Remember Me

Saphho, fr. 94 [=P. Berol. 9722 fol. 2]

“I just want to die.
She left me, weeping,
And said this:

“We have suffered so terribly,
Sappho. It is not my choice
To leave you”. And I responded,

“Leave and be well, but remember me
Since you know how I cherished you.
If you can’t, I want to remind you
And of all the beautiful things we shared.

You came with many garlands
Of roses and violets with me
And then you sat by my side,
And placed many garlands
Woven from flowers around your
Soft neck–

Then you graced yourself
With perfume for a queen
And on a soft bed
You would encounter,
Gentle desire…”

τεθνάκην δ᾿ ἀδόλως θέλω·
ἄ με ψισδομένα κατελίμπανεν
πόλλα καὶ τόδ᾿ ἔειπ [μοι·
῾ὤιμ᾿ ὠς δεῖνα πεπ[όνθ]αμεν,
Ψάπφ᾿, ἦ μάν σ᾿ ἀέκοισ᾿ ἀπυλιμπάνω.᾿
τὰν δ᾿ ἔγω τάδ᾿ ἀμειβόμαν·
῾χαίροισ᾿ ἔρχεο κἄμεθεν
μέμναισ᾿, οἶσθα γὰρ ὤς σε πεδήπομεν·
αἰ δὲ μή, ἀλλά σ᾿ ἔγω θέλω
ὄμναισαι [ . . . . ] . [ . . . ] . . αι
. . [ ]καὶ κάλ᾿ ἐπάσχομεν.
π[λλοις γὰρ στεφάν]οις ἴων
καὶ βρ[όδων κρο]ίων τ᾿ ὔμοι
κα . . [ ] πὰρ ἔμοι περεθήκαο,
καὶ π[λλαις ὐπα]θύμιδας
πλέκ[ταις ἀμφ᾿ ἀ]πάλαι δέραι
ἀνθέων [βαλες] πεποημμέναις,
καὶ π[ ]. μύρωι
βρενθείωι. [ ]υ[ . . ]ν
ἐξαλείψαο κ[ὶ βασ]ληίωι,
καὶ στρώμν[αν ἐ]πὶ μολθάκαν
ἀπάλαν πα . [ ] . . . ων
ἐξίης πόθ[ν ] . νίδων

red figure vase. A woman stands holding alyre looking to the right where we can see part of a man holding one too
Alcaeus and Sappho. Side A of an Attic red-figure kalathos, ca. 470 BC. From Akragas (Sicily). Beazley, ARV2, 385, 228

Anakreon Says, Hit it And Quit

Anacreonta 60b

“Come, my heart, why are you crazed
By that best kind of madness?
Come on, take your shot
So you can hit what you want and leave.

Let go of Aphrodite’s bow–
She used it to conquer the gods.
Imitate Anakreon,
The sweetest singer.
Tip a cup to the boys,
Your gorgeous cup of words.

Once we take some comfort
From the downing nektar,
We can run from the burning dogstar.”

ἄγε, θυμέ, πῇ μέμηνας
μανίην μανεὶς ἀρίστην;
τὸ βέλος, φέρε, κράτυνον,
σκοπὸν ὡς βαλὼν ἀπέλθῃς.

τὸ δὲ τόξον Ἀφροδίτης
ἄφες, ᾧ θεοὺς ἐνίκα.
τὸν Ἀνακρέοντα μιμοῦ,
τὸν ἀοίδιμον μελιστήν.
φιάλην πρόπινε παισίν,

φιάλην λόγων ἐραννήν·
ἀπὸ νέκταρος ποτοῖο
παραμύθιον λαβόντες
φλογερὸν φύγωμεν ἄστρον.

Close up of a red figure vase. Black background with an a nude archer in the foreground, aiming his bow to the left and drawing an arrow.
Archer, side B of an Attic red-figure eye-cup. Signed by Epiktetos as painter and by Pamphaios as potter.

Lust, Longing, and Laughter

Anacreonta 57

“Who shaped the sea?
What maddened craft
Poured waves on its platter?
Who was it over the water’s back
That sketched the shape of soft,
shining Kypris, after turning thoughts
To the gods, the beginning of divine creation?

He made her naked,
Cloaking only as much as it is improper
To see, with the waves.

And she wanders over them,
Like seaweed, pressing
Her soft-skinned body in a voyage
Over the calm white waves,
And shapes a wake in her passing.

A huge wave marks the place
Where her neck meets
Rosy breasts and there
Kypris shines bright amid the calm
In the water’s furrow, like
A lily twisted in the violets.

On the silver surface
Upon dancing dolphins,
Lust, Longing, and Laughter
Ride, sorrowful thoughts for mortals at times,
Along with a curved chorus of fish
Diving into the waves
At play in the very place
Where the Paphian swims while laughing.”

ἄρα τίς τόρευσε πόντον;
ἄρα τίς μανεῖσα τέχνα
ἀνέχευε κῦμα δίσκῳ;
ἐπὶ νῶτα τῆς θαλάττης
ἄρα τίς ὕπερθε λευκὰν
ἁπαλὰν χάραξε Κύπριν
νόον ἐς θεοὺς ἀερθείς,
μακάρων φύσιος ἀρχάν;
ὁ δέ νιν ἔδειξε γυμνάν,
ὅσα μὴ θέμις δ᾿ ὁρᾶσθαι
μόνα κύμασιν καλύπτει.

ἀλαλημένη δ᾿ ἐπ᾿ αὐτὰ
βρύον ὥς, ὕπερθε λευκᾶς
ἁπαλόχροον γαλήνας
δέμας εἰς πλόον φέρουσα,
ῥόθιον παρ᾿ οἶμον ἕλκει.

ῥοδέων δ᾿ ὕπερθε μαζῶν
ἁπαλῆς ἔνερθε δειρῆς
μέγα κῦμα χρῶτα τέμνει.
μέσον αὔλακος δὲ Κύπρις
κρίνον ὣς ἴοις ἑλιχθὲν
διαφαίνεται γαλήνας.

ὑπὲρ ἀργύρου δ᾿ ὀχοῦνται
ἐπὶ δελφῖσι χορευταῖς
† δολερὸν νόον μερόπων †
Ἔρος Ἵμερος γελῶν τε,
χορὸς ἰχθύων τε κυρτὸς
ἐπὶ κυμάτων κυβιστῶν
† Παφίης τε σῶμα † παίζει,
ἵνα νήχεται γελῶσα.

Wall painting. A naked Venus lies in repose on a giant oyster shell over a blue background. Little naked cherubs are on either side
Fresco from Pompei, Casa di Venus, 1st century CE