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three pairs of lovers with space

MISCELLANEOUS EPIGRAMS IN THE GARLAND OF MELEAGROS

 

The Garland of Meleagros was an anthology of Greek epigrams compiled roughly around the time Seleukos VI was reigning (95-93 BC), and the earliest of the main sources for The Greek Anthology put together by Konstantinos Kephalas in the 10th century. It is so called because it was assembled by Meleagros of Gadara, using his own epigrams and those of other poets.

The selection presented here is miscellaneous in that it consists of epigrams by named poets who authored only one or two each on Greek love, and it therefore excludes those by Asklepiades, Dioskourides, Kallimachos, Meleagros himself, Rhianos and Simonides, as well as those by anonymous writers, all of which are presented separately.

The epigrams are presented according to the best estimate of chronological order.

The translations are by W. R. Paton in The Greek Anthology, Volumes II and IV-V: Loeb Classical Library Vols. LXVIII and LXXXV-LXXXVI (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1916-8). The only amendments are to undo his Latinisation of Greek names in favour of more literal transliteration of the Greek.

 

Aratos

Meleagros suggests Aratos ρατος was one of the earliest epigramists. He probably wrote in the first two decades of the 3rd century BC, possibly at the court of Antiochos I in Syria.  

XII (The Boyish Muse) 129

Philokles of Argos is “fair”[1] at Argos, and the columns of Corinth and tombstones of Megara announce the same. It is written that he is fair as far as Amphiaraos’ Baths.[2] But that is little; they are only letters that beat us.[3] For they are not stones that testify to this Philokles’ beauty, but Rhianos, who saw him with his own eyes, and he is superior to the other one. Ἀργεῖος Φιλοκλῆς Ἄργει “καλός·” αἳ δὲ Κορίνθου
     στῆλαι, καὶ Μεγαρέων ταὐτὸ βοῶσι τάφοι·
γέγραπται καὶ μέχρι λοετρῶν Ἀμφιαράου,
     ὡς καλός. ἀλλ᾿ ὀλίγον· γράμμασι λειπόμεθα·
τῷδ᾿ οὐ γὰρ πέτραι ἐπιμάρτυρες, ἀλλὰ Ῥιηνὸς
     αὐτὸς ἰδών· ἑτέρου δ᾿ ἐστὶ περισσότερος.
Attic kylix by the Brygos painter inscribed "The boy is beautiful" on the outside, ca. 480 BC (Boston Museum of Fine Arts)


Interpretation: It is odd that the second boy, superior to Philokles in beauty, is not named. It may be that this epigram is not erotic in intent, but rather complimenting Rhianos whose poem has promoted another boy over a widely popular one.

  

Anonymous, or some say by Artemon

Since these two epigrams both concern a boy called Echedemos, they are almost certainly by the same author, who probably was called Artemon ρτέμων. The rare name Echedemos belonged to five known members of an Athenian family, suggesting Artemon at least had contact there, in or possibly after the 3rd century BC.

XII (The Boyish Muse) 55

Child of Leto, son of Zeus the great, who utterest oracles to all men, thou art lord of the sea-girt height of Delos; but the lord of the land of Kekrops is Echedemos, a second Attic Phoibos whom soft-haired Love lit with lovely bloom. And his city Athens, once mistress of the sea and land, now has made all Greece her slave by beauty.  Λητοΐδη, σὺ μὲν ἔσχες ἁλίρρυτον αὐχένα Δήλου,
     κοῦρε Διὸς μεγάλου, θέσφατα πᾶσι λέγων·
Κεκροπίαν δ᾿ Ἐχέδημος, ὁ δεύτερος Ἀτθίδι Φοῖβος,
     ᾧ καλὸν ἁβροκόμης ἄνθος ἔλαμψεν Ἔρως.
ἡ δ᾿ ἀνὰ κῦμ᾿ ἄρξασα καὶ ἐν χθονὶ πατρὶς Ἀθήνη
     νῦν κάλλει δούλην Ἑλλάδ᾿ ὑπηγάγετο.
 
Athenian tetradrachm. One of a 2nd century BC series with the obverse inscription EXE, thought to be short for Echedemos (probably indicating he was mint-master), & a bust of Helios below perhaps alluding to his good looks & echoing Artemon's comparison of him as a boy to Apollo

 

XII (The Boyish Muse) 124

As Echedemos was peeping out of his door on the sly, I slyly kissed that charming boy who is just in his prime. Now I am in dread, for he came to me in a dream, bearing a quiver, and departed after giving me fighting cocks,[4] but at one time smiling, at another with no friendly look. But have I touched a swarm of bees, and a nettle, and fire?  Λάθρη παπταίνοντα παρὰ φλιὴν Ἐχέδημον
     λάθριος ἀκρήβην τὸν χαρίεντ᾿ ἔκυσα.
δειμαίνω·καὶ γάρ μοι ἐνύπνιος ἦλθε φαρέτρην
     αἰωρῶν, καὶ δοὺς ᾤχετ᾿ ἀλεκτρυόνας,
ἄλλοτε μειδιόων, ὁτὲ δ᾿ οὐ φίλος. ἀλλὰ μελισσέων
     ἐσμοῦ καὶ κνίδης καὶ πυρὸς ἡψάμεθα;
 



Mnasalkas

Mnasalkas, according to some ancient authorities, of Plataia in the territory of Sikyon, probably wrote in the middle or second half of the 3rd century BC.

XII (The Boyish Muse) 138

Vine, dost thou fear the setting of the Pleiads in the west,[5] that thou hastenest to shed thy leaves on the ground? Tarry till sweet sleep fall on Antileon beneath thee; tarry till then, bestower of all favours on the fair.   Ἄμπελε, μήποτε φύλλα χαμαὶ σπεύδουσα βαλέσθαι
     δείδιας ἑσπέριον Πλειάδα δυομέναν;
μεῖνον ἐπ᾿ Ἀντιλέοντι πεσεῖν ὑπὸ τὶν γλυκὺν ὕπνον,
     ἐς τότε, τοῖς καλοῖς πάντα χαριζομένα.
 
Greek Youth by Marcel René von Herrfeldt (1889–1965)

 

Polystratos

All that can be inferred about Polystratos Πολύστρατος is that one of his epigrams was written after the sack of Corinth in 146 BC.

XII (The Boyish Muse) 91

A double love burns one heart. O eyes that cast yourselves in every direction on everything that ye need not, ye looked on Antiochos, conspicuous by his golden charm, the flower of our brilliant youth. It should be enough. Why did ye gaze on sweet and tender Stasikrates, the sapling of violet-crowned Aphrodite? Take fire, consume, be burnt up once for all; for the two of you could never win one heart.[6] Δισσὸς Ἔρως αἴθει ψυχὴν μίαν. ὦ τὰ περισσὰ
     ὀφθαλμοὶ πάντη πάντα κατοσσόμενοι,
εἴδετε τὸν χρυσέαισι περίσκεπτον χαρίτεσσιν
     Ἀντίοχον, λιπαρῶν ἄνθεμον ἠϊθέων.
ἀρκείτω· τί τὸν ἡδὺν ἐπηυγάσσασθε καὶ ἁβρὸν
     Στασικράτη, Παφίης ἔρνος ἰοστεφάνου;
καίεσθε, τρύχεσθε, καταφλέχθητέ ποτ᾿ ἤδη·
     οἱ δύο γὰρ ψυχὴν οὐκ ἂν ἕλοιτε μίαν.
 

  

Dionysios

Dionysios Διονύσιος was a common name and nothing is known about this particular one.

XII (The Boyish Muse) 108

If thou lovest me, Akratos,[7] mayest thou be ranked with Chian wine,[8] yea and even more honey-sweet; but if thou preferest another to me, let the gnats buzz about thee as in the fume of a jar of vinegar.  Εἰ μὲν ἐμὲ στέρξεις, εἴης ἰσόμοιρος, Ἄκρατε,
     Χίῳ, καὶ Χίου πουλὺ μελιχρότερος·
εἰ δ᾿ ἕτερον κρίναις ἐμέθεν πλέον, ἀμφὶ σὲ βαίη
     κώνωψ ὀξηρῷ τυφόμενος κεράμῳ.
 


Glaukos

If this Glaukos Γλακος was identical to another poet in The Greek Anthology with the same name, he was of Nikopolis, possibly the suburb of Alexandria.

XII (The Boyish Muse) 44

There was a time long, long ago, when boys who like presents were won by a quail, or a sewn ball, or knuckle-bones, but now they want rich dishes or money, and those playthings have no power. Search for something else, ye lovers of boys.   Ἦν ὅτε παῖδας ἔπειθε πάλαι ποτὲ δῶρα φιλεῦντας
     ὄρτυξ, καὶ ῥαπτὴ σφαῖρα, καὶ ἀστράγαλοι·
νῦν δὲ λοπὰς καὶ κέρμα· τὰ παίγνια δ᾿ οὐδὲν ἐκεῖνα
     ἰσχύει. ζητεῖτ᾿ ἄλλο τι, παιδοφίλαι.
A man solicits a boy, offering a purse full of coins: Attic kylix by Douris inscribed "The boy is beautiful", ca. 475 BC. (Metropolitan Museum of New York, 52.11.4)

 

Phanias

Slight evidence from his epigrams and Meleagros suggests that Phanias Φαινίας was one of latest poets in The Garland Of Meleagros, so perhaps late 2nd century BC, and that he lived in Italy.

XII (The Boyish Muse) 31

By Themis and the bowl of wine that made me totter, thy love, Pamphilos, has but a little time to last. Already thy thigh has hair on it and thy cheeks are downy, and Desire leads thee henceforth to another kind of passion. But now that some little vestiges of the spark are still left thee, put away thy parsimony. Opportunity is the friend of Love.  Ναὶ Θέμιν, ἀκρήτου καὶ τὸ σκύφος ᾧ σεσάλευμαι,
     Πάμφιλε, βαιὸς ἔχει τὸν σὸν ἔρωτα χρόνος·
ἤδη γὰρ καὶ μηρὸς ὑπὸ τρίχα, καὶ γένυς ἡβᾷ,
     καὶ Πόθος εἰς ἑτέρην λοιπὸν ἄγει μανίην.
ἀλλ᾿ ὅτε σοι σπινθῆρος ἔτ᾿ ἴχνια βαιὰ λέλειπται,
     φειδωλὴν ἀπόθου· Καιρὸς Ἔρωτι φίλος.


[1] It was the habit to write or cut the name of the beloved, adding the word καλὸς (fair), on stones or trees. See the following epigram. [Translator’s note]

[2] Near Oropus on the confines of Attica and Boeotia. [Translator’s note]

[3]  i.e. it is only the evidence of these inscriptions that is in favour of Philocles of Argos. The evidence of our eyes is in favour of the other. [Translator’s note]

[4] Of doubtful import. These birds were common presents of lovers, but to see them in a dream betided quarrels. [Translator’s note]

[5] The season in Autumn at which the vines begin to lose their leaves. [Translator’s note]

[6] This last line seems to me obscure, as the heart, to judge from line 1, must be his own, not that of the beloved. [Translator’s note]

[7] The name means “unwatered wine.” [Translator’s note]. The epigram is thus a play on the boy’s name.

[8] Many ancient sources attest to the superiority of Chian wine, for example Strabo’s Geography XIV 465.