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three pairs of lovers with space



Leonidas, a native of Tarantum in Italy, wrote 108 of the epigrams in The Greek Anthology in the early and/or mid 3rd century BC. Compared with other epigrammists, very few of his were concerned with love, and only the three presented here were about pederasty.

The translations are by W. R. Paton in The Greek Anthology, Volumes II and V: Loeb Classical Library Vols. LXVIII and LXXXVI (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1917-8). The only amendments are to undo his Latinisation of names in favour of more literal transliteration of the Greek.


VII. Sepulchral Epigrams 449

Unlike the other two to follow, this epigram was stated to be anonymous in The Greek Anthology, but was probably by him since it immediately followed one (VII 448) which was attributed to him and was an epitaph to Protalidas, described similarly as “supreme in love, war, the chase and the dance”.[1]

Love gave to Protalidas success in the pursuit of his boy loves, Artemis in the chase, the Muse in the dance and Ares in war. Must we not call him blest, the Lykastian[2] supreme in love and song, with the spear and the hunting-net!  Πραταλίδᾳ παιδεῖον Ἔρως πόθον, Ἄρτεμις ἄγραν,
     Μοῦσα χορούς, Ἄρης ἐγγυάλιξε μάχαν.
πῶς οὐκ εὐαίων ὁ Λυκάστιος, ὃς καὶ ἔρωτι
     ἆρχε καὶ ἐν μολπᾷ, καὶ δορὶ καὶ στάλικι;
A warrior accompanied by a boy (Attic kylix, ca. 500 BC, Metropolitan Museum, New York)


XVI.  Epigrams of the Planudean Anthology Not in the Palatine Manuscript


                    On a Statue of Anakreon
Look at old Anakreon,[3] loaded profusely with wine, in a distorted attitude on the rounded basis. See how the greybeard, with a swimming leer in his amorous eyes, trails the robe that descends to his ankles. As one stricken by wine he has lost one of his two shoes, but in the other his wrinkled foot is fast. He is singing either of lovely Bathyllos[4] or of Megisteus[5], holding uplifted in his hand his lovelorn lyre. But, father Dionysos, guard him; it is not meet that the servant of Bacchos fall by the hand of Bacchos.
                                 Ες νακροντα
Πρέσβυν Ἀνακρείοντα χύδαν σεσαλαγμένον οἴνῳ

     θάεο δινωτοῦ στρεπτὸν ὕπερθε λίθου,
ὡς ὁ γερων λιχνοισιν ἐπ᾿ ὄμμασιν ὑγρὰ δεδορκὼς
     ἄχρι καὶ ἀστραγάλων ἕλκεται ἀμπεχόναν·
δισσῶν δ᾿ ἀρβυλίδων τὰν μὲν μίαν, οἷα μεθυπλήξ,
     ὤλεσεν· ἐν δ᾿ ἑτέρᾳ ῥικνὸν ἄραρε πόδα.
μελπει δ᾿ ἠὲ Βάθυλλον ἐφίμερον, ἠὲ Μεγιστέα,
     αἰωρῶν παλάμᾳ τὰν δυσερωτα χέλυν.
ἀλλὰ πάτερ Διόνυσε, φύλασσέ μιν· οὐ γὰρ ἔοικεν
     ἐκ Βάκχου πίπτειν Βακχιακὸν θέραπα.
Anakreon, Love and Wine by Girodet de Roussy


                         On a Statue of Anacreon
Look how old Anakreon stumbles from drunkenness and trails the mantle that falls down to his feet. In spite of all he keeps one of his slippers on, but has lost the other. Striking his lyre, he sings either of Bathyllos or beautiful Megisteus. Save the old man, Bacchos, from falling.
                            Εἰς Ἀνακρέοντα
Ἴδ᾿ ὡς ὁ πρέσβυς ἐκ μέθας Ἀνακρέων ὑπεσκέλισται, καὶ τὸ λῶπος ἕλκεται ἐσάχρι γυίων· τῶν δὲ βλαυτίων τὸ μὲν ὅμως φυλάσσει, θάτερον δ᾿ ἀπώλεσεν. μελίσδεται δὲ τὰν χέλυν διακρέκων ἤτοι Βάθυλλον, ἢ καλὸν Μεγιστέα. φύλασσε, Βάκχε, τὸν γέροντα, μὴ πέσῃ.

[1] Putting 448 and 449 together, note the way it emerges afterwards and as a matter of course that someone “supreme in love” has been a lover of boys.

[2] Lykastos was a small town in Crete, and VII 449 confirms Protalidas was Cretan.

[3] Anakreon (ca. 570-ca.485 BC), the subject of this, the next epigram, and seven others in The Greek Anthology (all of which mention his love of boys), was one of the nine lyric poets most highly esteemed by the ancients.

[4] Bathyllos  (in the next epigram too) was a beautiful boy loved by Anakreon in Samos and described in his 22nd ode.

[5] Megisteus (in the next epigram too) was another boy loved by Anakreon and described in surviving fragments 352 and 416 of his poems as kind, quiet and open-hearted.




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