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Greek Anthology: Book 11

THE CONVIVIAL AND SATIRICAL EPIGRAMS


This selection from Book 11 of the Greek Anthology contains all the epigrams written before the middle of the first century A.D., as listed in three editions:
(H)     A.S.F.Gow & D.L.Page, "The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams"
(Ph)   A.S.F.Gow & D.L.Page, "The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and Some Contemporary Epigrams"
(F)     D.L.Page, "Further Greek Epigrams"
The labels in green are the numbers assigned to the epigrams in one of these editions. The labels in red are their numbers within the Anthology.

Translations of most of the epigrams are already available elsewhere, as indicated by the links. The translations of the remaining epigrams are taken from the edition by W.R.Paton (1916-18), but have been modified to remove some of the archaic language.   Click on G to go to the Greek text of each epigram.


[1]

Nicarchus

[4] PARMENION   { Ph 12 }   G

A certain man, having married a woman who is complaisant to his neighbour only, snores and feeds. That was the way to get a living easily - not to go to sea, not to dig, but to snore off one's dinner with a comfortable stomach, fattened richly at the expense of another.

[7]

Nicarchus

[9] LEONIDAS OF ALEXANDRIA   { F 34 }   G

Set not before me after supper, when I can no longer persuade my belly, udders and slices of pork. For neither to labourers after harvest is rain out of season useful, nor the Zephyr to mariners in port.

[10]

Lucillius

[11]

Lucillius

[12]

Alcaeus

[17]

Philippus

[18]

Nicarchus

[20]

Antipater_of_Thessalonica

[23]

Antipater_of_Thessalonica

[24]

Antipater_of_Thessalonica

[25]

Apollonides

[26]

Marcus_Argentarius

[27] MACEDONIUS   { Ph 3 }   G

Rough, sweet-scented dust of Surrentum, hail, and hail, you earth of Pollentia most honeyed and Hasta's soil thrice desired from which the triple band of Graces knead for Bacchus the clay that is akin to wine ! Hail, common possession of wealth and poverty, to the poor a necessary vessel, to the rich a more superfluous instrument of luxury ! *  

*   He addresses the different soils from which the clay considered most suitable for wine-jars came.

[28]

Marcus_Argentarius

[29] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 2 }   G

Send and summon her ; you have everything ready. But if she comes, what will you do? Think over that, Automedon. For this thing, which before stayed unbending, but is now flabbier than a boiled carrot, has shrunk wholly into my thighs dead and gone. They will laugh at you much if you venture to put to sea without any tackle, an oarsman who no longer has his oar.

[30]

Philodemus

[31]

Antipater_of_Thessalonica

[32] HONESTUS   { Ph 8 }   G

Bacchus, leading the revels of the Graces, instituted in thee, Sicyon, the sermons of the jolly Muse. *   Indeed, very sweet are his rebukes and in laughter is his sting. A man in his cups teaches wisdom to a clever man of the town.

*   i.e. the Satyric drama. See epigram 7.707 (Dioscorides).

[33]

Philippus

[34]

Philodemus

[35]

Philodemus

[36]

Philippus

[37]

Antipater_of_Thessalonica

[38] KING POLEMON   { Ph 2 }   G

On a relief representing a jar, a loaf, a crown, and a skull

This is the poor man's welcome armour against hunger - a jar and a loaf, here is a crown of dewy leaves, and this is the holy bone, outwork of a dead brain, the highest citadel of the soul. "Drink," says the sculpture, " and eat, and surround you with flowers, for like to this we suddenly become." *  

*   The distich has been found engraved on a gem beneath a skull and table spread with food.

[39] MACEDONIUS OF THESSALONICA   { Ph 1 }   G

Yesterday a woman was drinking with me about whom an unpleasant story is current. Break the cups, slaves.

[40] ANTISTIUS   { Ph 3 }   G

Cleodemus, Eumenes' boy, is still small, but tiny as he is, he dances with the boys in a little company of worshippers. Look ! he has even put on the skin of a dappled fawn and he shakes the ivy on his yellow hair. Make him big, Theban King, *   so that your little servant may soon lead holy dances of young men.

*   i.e. Bacchus.

[41]

Philodemus

[42]

Crinagoras

[43] ZONAS   { Ph 9 }   G

Give me the sweet beaker wrought of earth, earth from which I was born, and under which I shall lie when dead.

[44]

Philodemus

[45] HONESTUS   { Ph 9 }   G

Drink which we wish ourselves is ever the sweetest ; what is forced on us does outrage to the wine as well as to the drinker. The drinker will spill the wine on the earth secretly, and, if he drink it, it will often take him under the earth to the bitter water of Lethe. Farewell, you topers ; just as much as I like to drink is to me the sufficient measure of all enjoyment.

[46] AUTOMEDON OF CYZICUS   { Ph 1 }   G

We are men in the evening when we drink together, but when day-break comes, we get up wild beasts preying on each other.

[49] EUENUS   { Ph 6 }   G

The best measure of wine is neither much nor very little ; for it is the cause of either grief or madness. It pleases the wine to be the fourth, mixed with three Nymphs. *   Then it is most suited for the bridal chamber too, but if it breathe too fiercely, it puts the Loves to flight and plunges us in a sleep which is neighbour to death.

*   i.e. to be mixed in the proportion of one quarter to three of water.

[50] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 4 }   G

Blest is he first who owes naught to anyone, next he who never married, and thirdly he who is childless. But if a man be mad enough to marry, it is a blessing for him if he buries his wife at once after getting a handsome dowry. Knowing this, be wise, and leave Epicurus to enquire in vain where is the void and what are the atoms.

[53] Anonymous   { F 15 }   G

The rose blooms for a little season, and when that goes by you shall find, if you seek, no rose, but a briar.

[65] PARMENION   { Ph 13 }   G

It is difficult to choose between famine and an old woman. To hunger is terrible, but her bed is still more painful. Phillis when starving prayed to have an elderly wife, but when he slept with her he prayed for famine. Behold the inconstancy of a portionless son !

[66]

Antiphilus

[67] MYRINUS   { Ph 4 }   G

The letter υ signifies four hundred, but your years are twice as much, my tender Lais, as old as a crow and Hecuba put together, grandmother of Sisyphus and sister of Deucalion. But dye your white hair and say "tata" *   to everyone.

*   A child's word, "papa." cp. Mart. i. 101.

[68]

Lucillius

[69]

Lucillius

[70] LEONIDAS OF ALEXANDRIA   { F 35 }   G

Philinus when he was young married an old woman, in his old age he married a girl of twelve, but he never knew Venus at the right season. Therefore sowing formerly in barren land he remained childless, and now has married a wife for others to enjoy and is deprived of both blessings.

[71]

Nicarchus

[72] BASSUS OF SMYRNA   { Ph 10 }   G

Cytotaris with her grey temples, the garrulous old woman, who makes Nestor no longer the oldest of men, she who has looked on the light longer than a stag and has begun to reckon her second old age on her left hand, *   is alive and sharp-sighted and firm on her legs like a bride, so that I wonder if something has not befallen Death.

*   The fingers of the right hand were used for counting hundreds and thousands, those of the left for decades and units. The meaning then, I suppose, is that she has reached a thousand and is now counting the years of the first century of her next thousand which he calls her second old age.

[73]

Nicarchus

[74]

Nicarchus

[75]

Lucillius

[76]

Lucillius

[77]

Lucillius

[78]

Lucillius

[79]

Lucillius

[80]

Lucillius

[81]

Lucillius

[82]

Nicarchus

[83]

Lucillius

[84]

Lucillius

[85]

Lucillius

[87]

Lucillius

[88]

Lucillius

[89]

Lucillius

[90]

Lucillius

[91]

Lucillius

[92]

Lucillius

[93]

Lucillius

[94]

Lucillius

[95]

Lucillius

[96]

Nicarchus

[99]

Lucillius

[100]

Lucillius

[101]

Lucillius

[102]

Nicarchus

[103]

Lucillius

[104]

Lucillius

[105]

Lucillius

[106]

Lucillius

[107]

Lucillius

[108] JULIAN (?)   { F 2 }   G

Conon is two cubits tall, his wife four. In bed, then, with their feet on a level, reckon where Conon's face is.

[110]

Nicarchus

[111]

Lucillius

[112]

Lucillius

[113]

Lucillius

[114]

Lucillius

[115]

Lucillius

[116]

Lucillius

[123] HEDYLUS   { H 11 }   G

Agis neither purged Aristagoras, nor touched him, but no sooner had he come in than Aristagoras was gone. What aconite has such natural virtue ? you coffin-makers, throw chaplets and garlands on Agis.

[124]

Nicarchus

[131]

Lucillius

[132]

Lucillius

[133]

Lucillius

[134]

Lucillius

[135]

Lucillius

[136]

Lucillius

[137]

Lucillius

[138]

Lucillius

[139]

Lucillius

[140]

Lucillius

[141]

Lucillius

[142]

Lucillius

[143]

Lucillius

[148]

Lucillius

[153]

Lucillius

[154]

Lucillius

[155]

Lucillius

[158]

Antipater of Thessalonica

On Prophets (159-164)

[159]

Lucillius

[160]

Lucillius

[161]

Lucillius

[162]

Nicarchus

[163]

Lucillius

[164]

Lucillius

[165]

Lucillius

[168] ANTIPHANES   { Ph 8 }   G

You reckon up your money, poor wretch ; but Time, just as it breeds interest, so, as it overtakes you, gives birth to grey old age. And so having neither drunk wine, nor bound your temples with flowers, having never known sweet ointment or a delicate little love, you shall die, leaving a great and wealthy testament, and of all your riches carrying away with you but one obol. *

*   That which it was customary to put in the corpse's mouth.

[169]

Nicarchus

[170]

Nicarchus

[171]

Lucillius

[172]

Lucillius

[173]

Lucillius

[174]

Lucillius

[175]

Lucillius

[176]

Lucillius

[177]

Lucillius

[178]

Lucillius

[179]

Lucillius

[183]

Lucillius

[184]

Lucillius

[185]

Lucillius

[186]

Nicarchus

[187] LEONIDAS OF ALEXANDRIA   { F 36 }   G

Simylus the lyre-player killed all his neighbours by playing the whole night, except only Origenes, whom Nature had made deaf, and therefore gave him longer life in the place of hearing.

[189]

Lucillius

[190]

Lucillius

[191]

Lucillius

[192]

Lucillius

[194]

Lucillius

[195]

Dioscorides

On Ugly People (196-204)

[196]

Lucillius

[197]

Lucillius

[199] LEONIDAS OF ALEXANDRIA   { F 37 }   G

Hook-nosed Sosipolis does not buy fish, but gets plenty of good fare from the sea for nothing ; bringing no line and rod, but attaching a hook to his nose, he pulls out everything that swims.

[200] LEONIDAS OF ALEXANDRIA   { F 38 }   G

Zenogenes' house was on fire, and he was struggling in his efforts to let himself down from a window. By fixing planks together he could not reach far enough, but at length, when it struck him, he set Antimachus' nose as a ladder and escaped.

[205]

Lucillius

[206]

Lucillius

[207]

Lucillius

[208]

Lucillius

[210]

Lucillius

[211]

Lucillius

[212]

Lucillius

[214]

Lucillius

[215]

Lucillius

[216]

Lucillius

[217]

Lucillius

[218] CRATES   { H 1 }   G

{ Translated by F.Cairns }

Choerilus falls far short of Antimachus, but on all occasions Euphorion had Choerilus in his mouth, and he subjected his poems to glosses, and he truly knew the works of Philitas; for he was indeed a follower of Homer. *  

*   Such is the meaning the epigram bears on its face, but several somewhat improper puns give it a different meaning, reflecting not on the style but on the morals of Euphorion.

[219]

Antipater of Thessalonica

[224]

Antipater of Thessalonica

[233]

Lucillius

[234]

Lucillius

[235] DEMODOCUS   { F 2 }   G

This, too, is by Demodocus : "The Chians are bad, not one bad and another not, but all bad except Procles, and Procles is a Chian." *  

*   Demodocus of Leros lived previously to Aristotle who mentions him. There is another couplet identical with this except that the Lerians are substituted for the Chians and that the saying is attributed to Phocylides. Bentley's paraphrase, " The Germans in Greek are sadly to seek, Except only Hermann, and Hermann's a German," is well known.

[239]

Lucillius

[240]

Lucillius

[241]

Nicarchus

[242]

Nicarchus

[243]

Nicarchus

[245]

Lucillius

[246]

Lucillius

[247]

Lucillius

[248]

Bianor

[249]

Lucillius

[251]

Nicarchus

[252]

Nicarchus

[253]

Lucillius

[254]

Lucillius

[256]

Lucillius

[257]

Lucillius

[258]

Lucillius

[259]

Lucillius

[264]

Lucillius

[265]

Lucillius

[266]

Lucillius

[275] APOLLONIUS (RHODIUS)   { F 1 }   G

Callimachus the outcast, the butt, the wooden head ! The origin is Callimachus who wrote the Origins. *  

*   Callimachus' chief poem ("Aetia"), of which we now possess portions, was so called. I think this distich was very probably written by Apollonius in the margin of an alphabetical dictionary in which stood kallusma: to katharma. . . .: to paignion. kalopous: ho xulinos pous. This gives it more point.

[276]

Lucillius

[277]

Lucillius

[278]

Lucillius

[279]

Lucillius

[281]

Lucillius

[282]

Lucillius

[293]

Lucillius

[294]

Lucillius

[295]

Lucillius

[308]

Lucillius

[309]

Lucillius

[310]

Lucillius

[311]

Lucillius

[312]

Lucillius

[313]

Lucillius

[314]

Lucillius

[315]

Lucillius

[316]

Lucillius

[318]

Philodemus

[319] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 5 }   G

If you bring ten sacks of charcoal you, too, will be a citizen, and if you bring a pig, also, you will be Triptolemus himself, and to Heracleides your introducer must be given either some stalks of cabbage, or lentils, or snails. Have these with you and call yourself Erechtheus, Cecrops, Codrus, *   whoever you like ; no one minds at all about it.

*   Ancient Athenian heroes; he is satirizing the facility with which the Athenians granted citizenship.

[320]

Marcus_Argentarius

[321]

Philippus

[322] ANTIPHANES   { Ph 9 }   G

Idly curious race of grammarians, you who dig up by the roots the poetry of others ; unhappy book-worms that walk on thorns, defilers of the great, proud of your Erinna, *   bitter and dry dogs set on by Callimachus, bane of poets, darkness to little beginners, away with you, bugs that secretly bite the eloquent.

*   She was reckoned among the Alexandrian poets, and hence is mentioned here together with Callimachus.

[324] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 6 }   G

A. Accept, Phoebus, the supper I bring thee. B. I will accept it if someone lets me. A. Then, Son of Leto, is there something that you too do fear ?   B. No one else but only Arrius, for he, that ministrant of an altar that smells not of fat, *   has a more powerful claw than a robber-hawk, and once he has celebrated the procession he walks back carrying off everything. There is great virtue in Zeus' ambrosia, for I should be one of you {starving} if a god, too, could feel hunger.

*   Because he carries all the meat away and never lets the altar smell of fat.

[325] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 7 }   G

Having supped yesterday on a leg of an old goat and the yellow stalk, ten days old, of a cabbage like hemp, I am shy of mentioning the man who invited me ; for he is short-tempered, and I am not a little afraid of his asking me again.

[326] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 10 }   G

Beard and rough hair on the thighs, how quickly time changes all ! Connichus, is this what you have become ? Did I not say, "Be not in all things harsh and discourteous; Beauty has its own Avenging Deities" ? So you have come into the pen, *   proud youth ; we know that you wish for it now ; but then, too, you might have had sense.

*   i.e. as I think, "You have become tame." Commentators interpret, "You have become like a goat."

[327]

Antipater of Thessalonica

[328]

Nicarchus

[329]

Nicarchus

[330]

Nicarchus

[331]

Nicarchus

[332]

Nicarchus

[346] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 8 }   G

How long, Polycarpus, sitting to feast at an empty table, *   shall you live undetected on the savings of others ? I no longer see you much in the market-place, but you now turn up side streets and try to think where your feet shall carry you. You promise all, "Come, take yours to-morrow. Come and get it": but not even if you take your oath do you continue to keep faith. "The wind bearing you from Cyzicus brought you to Samothrace" : this is the goal that awaits you for the rest of your life.

*   i.e. his bank. The allusion in line 7, which is partly a parody of Homer, is quite obscure.

[347]

Philippus

[348] ANTIPHANES   { Ph 10 }   G

O parricide, man more savage than the beasts, all things hate you, everywhere your fate awaits you. If you flee on the land, the wolf is near ; and if you climb high on trees, the asp on the branches is a terror. You make trial of the Nile, too, but he nourishes in his eddies the crocodile, a brute most just to the impious.

[361] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 9 }   G

Two mules, equally advanced in years, adorn my carriage, in all things resembling Homer's Prayers ** : lame, wrinkled, with squinting eyes, the escort of Hephaestus, leathery demons who never tasted, I swear it by the Sun, even in a dream, either barley in summer or grass in spring. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, may you live as long as a crow or stag, feeding on empty air.

*   Hom. Il. i.502.

[362]

Callimachus (60)

[363]

Dioscorides

[364]

Bianor

[388]

Lucillius

[389]

Lucillius

[390]

Lucillius

[391]

Lucillius

[392]

Lucillius

[393]

Lucillius

[394]

Lucillius

[395]

Nicarchus

[398]

Nicarchus

[405]

Nicarchus

[406]

Nicarchus

[407]

Nicarchus

[408]

Lucillius

[409] GAETULICUS   { F 8 }   G

Four times putting her lips to the lips of the jar Silenis drank up the last dregs. Fair-haired Dionysus, she defiled you not with water, but even as you first came from the vineyard she used to quaff you generously, holding a cup even until she went to the sands of the dead.

[414] HEDYLUS   { H 12 }   G

The daughter of limb-relaxing Bacchus and limb-relaxing Aphrodite is limb-relaxing Gout.

[415]

Antipater of Thessalonica

[418] THE EMPEROR TRAJAN   { F 1 }   G

If you put your nose pointing to the sun and open your mouth wide, you will show all passers-by the time of day. *  

*   Your nose would act as the index of a sun-dial. In rhina the emperor has been guilty of a false quantity.

[433]

Lucillius

[437] ARATUS   { H 2 }   G

I lament for Diotimus, *   who sits on stones repeating Alpha and Beta to the children of Gargarus.

*   The epigram is not meant to be satirical. Diotimus was a poet obliged to gain his living by teaching in an obscure town.

[442] Anonymous   { F 34 }   G

Thrice I reigned as tyrant, and as many times did the people of Erechtheus expel me and thrice recall me, Peisistratus, great in council, who collected the works of Homer formerly sung in fragments. For that man of gold was our fellow-citizen, if we Athenians colonized Smyrna.


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