Antipater of Thessalonica : Epigrams

Antipater of Thessalonica was a prolific writer of epigrams, who lived during the reign of the emperor Augustus in the late first century B.C.; his patron was L.Piso, the consul of 15 B.C.   It is sometimes difficult to distinguish his poems from those of the similarly name Antipater of Sidon; the poems shown here are those attributed to him by A.S.F.Gow & D.L.Page in "The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and Some Contemporary Epigrams".

The epigrams are shown in the order that they appear, scattered throughout the Greek Anthology. The labels in red at the start of each epigram are their numbers within the Anthology. The labels in green are the numbers assigned to the epigrams in the edition by Gow & Page. To go to a specific epigram in the Gow-Page edition, type the number in the box below, and hit [go].
  → (in range 1 - 114):  

The translations are taken from the edition by W.R.Paton (1916-18), but have been modified to remove some of the archaic language. The translator's notes are shown in green.   Click on G to go to the Greek text of each epigram.

[5.3]   { G-P 7 }   G

The day has broken, Chrysilla, and for long the early-rising cock is crowing to summon envious Dawn. A curse on you, most jealous of fowls, who drives me from home to the tireless chatter of the young men. You are growing old, Tithonus, or why do you chase your consort Aurora so early from your bed ?

[5.30]   { G-P 6 }   G

All Homer says is well said, but this most excellently that Aphrodite is golden. For if, my friend, you bring the coin, there is neither a porter in the way, nor a dog chained before the door. But if you come without it, there is Cerberus himself there. Oh ! grasping rules of wealth, how do you oppress poverty !

[5.31]   { G-P 112 }   G

Formerly there were three ages, a golden, a silver, and a bronze, but Cythereia is now all three. She honours the man of gold, and she kisses the bronze man {the soldier} and she never turns her back on the silver men {bankers etc.}. She is a very Nestor *   ; I even think that Zeus came to Danae, not turned to gold, but bringing a hundred gold coins.

*   She is to the three ages or sorts of men what Nestor was to the three generations in which he lived.

[5.109]   { G-P 53 }   G

You can have the Attic Europa for a drachma with none to fear and no opposition on her part, and she has perfectly clean sheets and a fire in winter. It was quite superfluous for you, dear Zeus, to turn into a bull.

[6.10]   { G-P 39 }   G

Trito-born, Saviour, daughter of Zeus, who hates wedlock, Pallas, queen of childless virginity, Seleucus built you this horned altar at the bidding of Apollo (?). *  

*   The last line is unintelligible as it stands, and it looks as if two lines were missing.

[6.93]   { G-P 32 }   G

Harpalion the huntsman, the old man nothing but wrinkles, offered me, this hunting spear, to Heracles ; for by reason of many years his hands would no longer support my weight and his head is now grey.

[6.109]   { G-P 54 }   G

Craugis the huntsman, son of Neolaidas, an Arcadian of Orchomenus, gives to you, Pan the Scout, this scrap of his old fowling-net, his triple-twisted snare for the feet, his spring-traps made of sinews, his latticed cages, his nooses for the throat which one draws up, his sharp stakes hardened in the fire, the sticky moisture of the oak, *   the cane wet with it that catches birds, the triple cord which is pulled to close the hidden spring-net, and the net for catching by the neck the clamorous cranes.

*   Bird-lime made from mistletoe.

[6.198]   { G-P 100 }   G

Lycon, having shaved the down that flowered in its season under his temples, the manly ornament of his cheeks, dedicated it to Phoebus, a first gift, and therewith prayed that so he might also shave the grey hairs from his temples. Grant him an old age such as his youth, and as you have made him now thus, may he remain thus when the snow of hoary age falls on his head.

[6.208]   { G-P 9 }   G

It would seem on a Picture.

She who brings the shoes is Menecratis, she with the cloak is Phemonoē, and Praxo she who holds the goblet. The temple and statue are Aphrodite's. The offering is their joint one and it is the work of Aristomachus of the Strymonian land. They were all free-born courtesans, but chancing on more temperate love are now each the wife of one.

[6.209]   { G-P 10 }   G

Bithynian Cythere dedicated me to you, Cypris, according to her vow, the marble image of your form. But do you, as is your wont, give her a great gift in return for this little one ; she asks no more than that her husband may be of one heart and soul with her.

[6.241]   { G-P 43 }   G

I, the helmet, am graced by two gifts. I am lovely to look on for friends and a terror to foes. Piso has me from Pylaemenes. *   No other helmet was fit to sit on his head, no other head fit to wear me.

*   Leader of the Paphlagonians in Homer.

[6.249]   { G-P 45 }   G

This wax-robed candle, the rush lamp of Cronus, *   formed of the pith held together by a strip of thin bark, Antipater brings as a present to Piso ; if he lights me and prays, I will give a light signifying that the god hears.

*   It was given as a present at the Saturnalia.

[6.256]   { G-P 110 }   G

The thick bull neck, the iron shoulders like Atlas, the hair and reverend beard like Heracles, and the lion-eyes of the Milesian giant not even Olympian Zeus saw without trembling, when Nicophon *   won the men's boxing contest in the Olympian games.

*   The Olympic victor Nicophon son of Tryphon is mentioned in an inscription at Miletus, dated AD 11/12.

[6.291]   { G-P 101 }   G

Bacchylis, the sponge of the cups of Bacchus, once when she fell sick, addressed Demeter something in this way. "If I escape from the wave of this pernicious fever, for the space of a hundred suns I will drink but fresh spring water and avoid Bacchus and wine." But when she was quit of her illness, on the very first day she devised this dodge. She took a sieve, and looking through its close meshes, saw even more than a hundred suns.

[6.335]   { G-P 41 }   G

I, the causia, once a serviceable head-dress for the Macedonians, a covering in the snow-storm and a helmet in war, thirsting to drink your sweat, brave Piso, *   have come from my Macedonian land to your Italian brows. But receive me kindly ; maybe the felt that once routed the Persians will help you, too, to subdue the Thracians.

*   L. Calpurnius Piso. to whose sons Horace addressed the Ars Poetica.

[7.15]   { G-P 73 }   G

On the Same

My name is Sappho, and I excelled all women in song as much as Maeonides excelled men.

[7.18]   { G-P 12 }   G

On Alcman

Do not judge the man by the stone. Simple is the tomb to look on, but holds the bones of a great man. You shall know Alcman the supreme striker of the Laconian lyre, possessed by the nine Muses. Here rests he, a cause of dispute to two continents, if he be a Lydian or a Spartan. Minstrels have many mothers.

[7.39]   { G-P 13 }   G

On Aeschylus

Here, far from the Attic land, making Sicily glorious by his tomb, lies Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, who first built high with massive eloquence the diction of tragedy and its beetling song.

[7.65]   { G-P 77 }   G

On Diogenes

This is the tomb of Diogenes, the wise Dog who of old, with manly spirit, endured a life of self-denial. One wallet he carried with him, one cloak, one staff, the weapons of self-sufficient sobriety. But turn aside from this tomb, all you fools ; for he of Sinope, even in Hades, hates every mean man.

[7.75]   { G-P 74 }   G

On Stesichorus

Stesichorus, the vast immeasurable voice of the Muse, was buried in Catana's fiery land, he in whose breast, as tells the philosopher Pythagoras, Homer's soul lodged again.

[7.136]   { G-P 55 }   G

On Priam

Small am I, the barrow of Priam the hero, not that I am worthy of such a man, but because I was built by the hands of his foes.

[7.168]   { G-P 102 }   G

"Let women after this pray for children," cried Polyxo, her belly torn by three babes ; and in the midwife's hands she fell dead, while the boys slid from her hollow flanks to the ground, a live birth from a dead mother. So one god took life from her and gave it to them.

[7.185]   { G-P 16 }   G

The Italian earth holds me an African, and near to Rome I lie, a virgin yet, by these sands. Pompeia who reared me wept for me as for a daughter and laid me in a free woman's grave. Another light *   she hoped for, but this came earlier, and the torch was lit not as we prayed, but by Persephone.

*   i.e. that of the bridal chamber, not of my funeral pyre.

[7.216]   { G-P 17 }   G

The waves and rough surges drove me, the dolphin, on the land, a spectacle of misfortune for all strangers to look on. Yet on earth pity finds a place, for the men who saw me straightway in reverence decked me for my grave. But now the sea who bore me has destroyed me. What faith is there in the sea, that spared not even her own nursling ?

[7.236]   { G-P 115 }   G

I, this Magnesian tomb, am not that of Themistocles, but I was built as a record of the envious misjudgement of the Greeks. *  

*   The ashes of Themistocles were transferred from Magnesia to Athens. The lines are, however, somewhat obscure.

[7.252]   { G-P 56 }   G

These men who loved death in battle, got them no grave-stone like others, but valour for their valour. *  

*   Possibly a statue of Virtue.

[7.286]   { G-P 14 }   G

Unhappy Nicanor, wasted by the grey sea, you lie naked on a strange beach or perchance near the rocks; gone from you are your rich halls, and the hope of all Tyre has perished. None of your possessions saved you ; alas, poor man, you are dead and have laboured but for the fishes and the sea.

[7.287]   { G-P 58 }   G

Even in death shall the unappeased sea vex me, Lysis, buried as I am beneath this desert rock, sounding ever harshly in my ears close to my deaf tomb. Why, O men, did you lay me next to her who deprived me of breath, who wrecked me not trading on a merchantman, but embarked on a little rowing-boat ? From the sea I sought to gain my living, and from the sea I drew forth death.

[7.288]   { G-P 60 }   G

I belong entirely to neither now I am dead, but sea and land possess an equal portion of me. My flesh the fishes ate in the sea, but my bones have been washed up on this cold beach.

[7.289]   { G-P 26 }   G

When shipwrecked Antheus had swum ashore at night on a small plank to the mouth of the Peneus, a solitary wolf rushing from the thicket slew him off his guard. O waves less treacherous than the land!

[7.367]   { G-P 63 }   G

Say that I am the corpse of Italian Egerius whose eyes when he went to meet his bride were veiled by a dim cloud, which extinguished his life together with his eyesight, after he had but seen the girl. Alas, O Sun, that heaven allotted him such a fate ! Cursed be that envious wedding torch, whether unwilling Hymen lit or willing Hades.

[7.369]   { G-P 49 }   G

I am the tomb of the orator Antipater. Ask all Greece to testify to his inspiration. He lies here, and men dispute whether his birth was from Athens or from Egypt ; but he was worthy of both continents. For the matter of that, the lands are of one blood, as Greek legend says, but the one is ever allotted to Pallas and the other to Zeus.

[7.390]   { G-P 62 }   G

You have heard of Cyllene the Arcadian mountain. That is the monument that covers Apollodorus. As he journeyed from Pisa by night the thunderbolt from Zeus killed him ; and far from Aeanē and Beroea *   the racer sleeps, conquered by Zeus.

*   Towns in Macedonia.

[7.398]   { G-P 65 }   G

I know not whether to blame Bacchus or the rain ; both are treacherous for the feet. For this tomb holds Polyxenus who once, returning from the country after a banquet, fell from the slippery hill-side. Far from Aeolian Smyrna he lies. Let everyone at night when drunk dread the rain-soaked path.

[7.402]   { G-P 66 }   G

On the winter snow melting at the top of her house it fell in and killed old Lysidice. Her neighbours of the village did not make her a tomb of earth dug up for the purpose, but put her house itself over her as a tomb.

[7.493]   { - }   G

I, Rhodope, and my mother Boïsca neither died of sickness, nor fell by the sword of the foes, but ourselves, when dreadful Ares burnt the city of Corinth our country, chose a brave death. My mother slew me with the slaughtering knife, nor did she, unhappy woman, spare her own life, but tied the noose round her neck ; for it was better than slavery to die in freedom.

[7.530]   { G-P 22 }   G

On Niobe and her children

O ferry-man of the dead, receive me, who could not hold my tongue, alone with my children ; a boat-load from the house of Tantalus is sufficient for you. One womb shall fill your boat ; look on my boys and girls, the spoils of Phoebus and Artemis.

[7.531]   { G-P 23 }   G

The very mother who bore you, Demetrius, gave you death when forgetful of your duty you did fly, driving the sword into your flanks. Holding the steel that reeked with her son's blood, gnashing her teeth, foaming at the mouth, and looking askance like a Spartan woman as she was, she exclaimed "Leave the Eurotas ; go to Tartarus. Since you could fly like a coward, you are neither mine nor Sparta's."

[7.625]   { G-P 33 }   G

Know that Diodorus, the son of Calligenes of Olynthus, who could make his way even as far as Atlas, and knew the Cretan waters and the navigation of the Black Sea, *   died in port, falling off the prow at night, while he was spewing out the excess of the feast. Ah, how small a bit of water was fatal to him who had been proved in so vast an expanse of ocean!

*   Not the Euxine, but a part of the Thracian Sea.

[7.629]   { G-P 76 }   G

Do you who are so great rest in so shallow a soil ? He who looks at you, Socrates, must blame the unwisdom of the Greeks. Merciless judges! who slew the best of men, nor shamed them one jot. Such often are the Athenians.

[7.637]   { G-P 61 }   G

Pyrrhus the solitary oarsman, fishing with his hair-line for small hakes and sprats from his little boat, fell, struck by a thunderbolt, far away from the shore. The boat came ashore of itself, bearing the message by sulphur and smoke, and had no need of a speaking keel like that of Argo.

[7.639]   { G-P 59 }   G

Every sea is sea. Why do we foolishly blame the Cyclades, or the Hellespont, and the Oxeiae {"Sharp Isles"} ? They merit not their evil fame ; for why, when I had escaped them, did the harbour of Scarpheia drown me? Let who will pray for fair weather to bring him home; Aristagoras, who is buried here, knows that the sea is the sea.

[7.640]   { G-P 57 }   G

Fearsome for sailors is the setting of the Kids, but for Pyron calm was far more adverse than storm. For his ship, stayed by calm, was overtaken by a swift double-oared pirate galley. He was slain by them, having escaped the storm but to perish in the calm. Alas, in what an evil harbour ended his voyage!

[7.666]   { G-P 11 }   G

This is the place where Leander crossed, these are the straits, unkind not only to one lover. This is where Hero once dwelt, here are the ruins of the tower, the treacherous lamp rested here. In this tomb they both repose, still reproaching that envious wind.

[7.692]   { G-P 107 }   G


Glycon of Pergamon, the glory of Asia, the thunderbolt of the pancration, the broad-footed, the new Atlas, has perished; they have perished, those unvanquished hands, and Hades, who conquers all, has thrown him who never before met with a fall in Italy, Greece, or Asia.

[7.705]   { G-P 50 }   G

{Not Sepulchral}

Amphipolis, tomb of Edonian Phyllis, washed by the Strymon and great Hellespont, all that is left of you is the ruin of the temple of Brauronian Artemis and the disputed *   water of your river. We see her for whom the Athenians strove so long now lying like a torn rag of precious purple on either bank.

*   The Athenian possession of Amphipolis was disputed by the Spartans and later by the Macedonians.

[7.743]   { G-P 67 }   G

I, Hermocrateia, bore twenty-nine children and have not seen the death of one, either boy or girl. For far from Apollo having shot down my sons and Artemis my daughters for me to lament, Artemis came to relieve me in childbed and Phoebus brought my sons to man's estate unhurt by sickness. See how I justly surpass Niobe both in my children and in restraint of speech.

[9.3]   { G-P 106 }   G

- by ANTIPATER, but attributed by some to PLATO

They planted me, a walnut-tree, by the road-side to amuse passing boys, as a mark for their well-aimed stones. And all my twigs and flourishing shoots are broken, hit as I am by showers of pebbles. It is no advantage for trees to be fruitful. I indeed, poor tree, bore fruit only for my own undoing.

[9.10]   { G-P 18 }   G

An octopus once, stretched out on a rock that projected into the sea, extended his many feet to let them bask in the sun. He had not yet changed to the colour of the rock, and therefore a sharp-eyed eagle saw him from the clouds and seized him, but fell, unhappy bird, entangled by his tentacles, into the sea, losing both its prey and its life.

[9.23]   { G-P 71 }   G

The husbandman Archippus,when, smitten by grave sickness, he was just breathing his last and gliding to Hades, spoke thus to his sons : "I charge you, dear children, that you love the mattock and the life of a farmer. Look not with favour on the weary labour of them who sail the treacherous waves and the heavy toil of perilous sea-faring. Even as a mother is sweeter than a stepmother, so is the land more to be desired than the grey sea."

[9.26]   { G-P 19 }   G

These are the divine-voiced women that Helicon fed with song, Helicon and Macedonian Pieria's rock : Praxilla ; Moero ; Anyte, the female Homer ; Sappho, glory of the Lesbian women with lovely tresses ; Erinna ; renowned Telesilla ; and you, Corinna, who sang the martial shield of Athena; Nossis, the tender-voiced, and dulcet-toned Myrtis - all craftswomen of eternal pages. Great Heaven gave birth to nine Muses, and Earth to these nine, the deathless delight of men. *  

*   Of these lyric poetesses known as the nine Lyric Muses Praxilla of Sicyon nourished in the fifth century B.C., Moero of Byzantium in the fourth century, Telesilla of Argos in the sixth century, Corinna of Tanagra (some of whose work has recently been recovered) in the fifth century, and Myrtis of Anthedon a little before Pindar whom she is said to have instructed. Anyte and Nossis are represented in the Anthology.

[9.46]   { G-P 104 }   G

A blind and childless woman, who prayed that she might either recover her sight or bear a child, gained both blessings. For not long after she was brought to bed, as she never had expected, and on the same day saw the sweet light of day for which she had longed with all her heart. Both her prayers were heard by Artemis, the deliverer in child-bed and the bearer of the white-rayed torch. *  

*   Artemis in her quality of Moon-goddess restored the light to the woman's eyes. Artemis, of course, presided over child-birth too because she was Moon-goddess ; but that is beside the point here.

[9.58]   { G-P 91 }   G

On the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheius, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus ; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels *   lost their brilliancy, and I said, " Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on anything so grand."

*   The seven wonders of the world.

[9.59]   { G-P 46 }   G

Four Victories, winged, hold aloft on their backs as many of the immortals. One uplifts Athena in her warlike guise, one Aphrodite, one Heracles, and another dauntless Ares. They are painted on the fair dome of your house, and mount to heaven. O Caius, *   bulwark of your country, Rome, may Heracles, the devourer of oxen, make you invincible ; may Cypris bless you with a good wife, Pallas endue you with wisdom, and Ares with fearlessness.

*   Caius Caesar, the nephew and adopted son of Augustus.

[9.72]   { G-P 95 }   G

Hermes, O shepherds, is easily contented, rejoicing in libations of milk and honey from the oak-tree, but not so Heracles. He demands a ram or fat lamb, or in any case a whole victim. "But he keeps off the wolves." What profits that, when the sheep he protects, if not slain by the wolf, is slain by its protector ?

[9.76]   { G-P 80 }   G

Of two snares one caught a fat thrush, and the other, in its horsehair fetters, a blackbird. Now while the thrush did not free its plump body from the twisted noose round its neck, to enjoy again the light of day, the other snare let free the holy blackbird. Even deaf bird-snares, then, feel compassion for singers.

[9.77]   { G-P 111 }   G

Hera, tortured by the beauty of Ganymedes, and with the soul-consuming sting of jealousy in her heart, once spoke thus : "Troy gave birth to a male flame for Zeus ; therefore I will send a flame to fall on Troy, Paris the bringer of woe. No eagle shall come again to the Trojans, but vultures to the feast, the day that the Danaans gather the spoils of their labour."

[9.82]   { G-P 15 }   G

Trust not, mariner, to the fatal sea, even when you are at anchor, even when your hawsers are fast on land. For Ion fell overboard in the harbour, and his active hands, fettered by the wine, were useless for swimming. Shun dances and carousal on board ship. The sea is the enemy of Bacchus. Such is the law established by the Tyrrhenian pirates. *

*   Who captured Dionysus and were turned into dolphins by him as a punishment. See Homeric Hymn vii.

[9.92]   { G-P 2 }   G

A little dew is enough to make the cicadas tipsy, but when they have drunk they sing louder than swans. So can the singer who has received hospitality repay his benefactors with song for their little gifts. Therefore first I send you these lines of thanks, and if the Fates consent you shall be often written in my pages.

[9.93]   { G-P 31 }   G

Antipater sends to Piso for his birthday a little volume, the work of one night. Let Piso receive it favourably and praise the poet, like great Zeus, whose favour is often won by a little frankincense.

[9.96]   { G-P 21 }   G

Antigenes of Gela, when he was already on his road to Hades, spoke thus to his daughter: "Maiden with lovely cheeks, daughter mine, let your spindle ever be your fellow-worker, a possession sufficient for a life of poverty. But if you enter into wedlock, keep with you the virtues of your Achaean mother, the safest dowry your husband can have."

[9.107]   { G-P 114 }   G

- apparently attributed to LEONIDAS

They call me the little skiff, and say that I do not sail so well and fearlessly as the ocean ships. I do not deny it ; I am a little boat, but small and great are all the same to the sea ; it is not a matter of size, but of luck. Let another ship have more rudders ** ; one puts his trust in this and another in that, but may I be saved by the grace of God.

[9.112]   { G-P 5 }   G

The astrologers foretold that I would live thrice ten and twice three years, but I am satisfied with the three decades. For this is the right limit of men's life. Longer life is for Nestor, and even Nestor went to Hades.

[9.143]   { G-P 93 }   G

Simple is this my dwelling (beside the big waves am I enthroned, the queen of the sea-bathed beach), but dear to me ; for I delight in the sea, vast and terrible, and in the sailors who come to me for safety. Pay honour to Cypris, and either in your love or on the grey sea I shall be a propitious gale to bear you on.

[9.149]   { G-P 68 }   G

Aristeides the . . . had not much from many sources, but his fortune was one ewe and one cow. Yet, notwithstanding his poverty, he escaped not Envy, and in one and the same day wild beasts killed the sheep and a difficult birth the cow. Hating the sight of his yard, in which the sound of bleating was silent, he hanged himself by the strap of his wallet from this wild pear-tree.

[9.150]   { G-P 68a }   G

All the wealth of Aristeides was one heifer and one fleecy sheep. By their means he kept famine from the door. But he lost both ; a wolf killed the sheep and the cow perished in labour. His poor stock was gone, and noosing his neck in the strap of his wallet, the wretched man died close to his cabin, which no longer echoed to the sound of lowing.

[9.186]   { G-P 103 }   G

These are the volumes of Aristophanes, a divine work, over which the ivy of Acharnae shook in profusion its green locks. Look how the pages are steeped in Dionysus, how deep-voiced are the dramas full of terrible grace. O comic poet, high of heart, and worthy interpreter of the spirit of Hellas, hating what deserved hate, and mocking where mockery was due !

[9.215]   { G-P 25 }   G

Ever, stranger, is the water of Hellespont cruel to women. Ask Cleonice of Dyrrachium. For she was sailing to Sestus to meet her bridegroom, and in the black ship she met with the same fate as Helle. Poor Hero, you did lose a husband, and Deimachus a bride, in the space of a few stades.

[9.231]   { G-P 35 }   G

I am a dry plane-tree covered by the vine that climbs over me ; and I, who once fed clusters from my own branches, and was no less leafy than this vine, now am clothed in the glory of foliage not my own. Such a mistress let a man cherish who, unlike her kind, knows how to requite him even when he is dead.

[9.238]   { G-P 83 }   G

Apollo is a big boy here in this bronze work of Onatas which testifies to the beauty of Leto and Zeus, and proclaims that not idly did Zeus love her, and that, even as the saying is, the eyes and head of the son of Cronos are glorious { Homer, Il. ii. 478 }. Not even Hera will be displeased with this bronze which Onatas moulded to such beauty by the help of Eleithyia. *  

*   The statue is regarded as the child of the artist. This statue of Apollo was at Pergamon (Paus. viii. 42, 7).

[9.241]   { G-P 52 }   G

You were a neat-herd, Phoebus, and Poseidon was a nag, Zeus was a swan, and famous Ammon a snake *   (they did it for the sake of girls, but you, Apollo, were after a boy), all to conceal your identity ; for you all enjoy by force and not by persuasion. Euagoras, however, being made of brass, need practise no deceit, but in his own form, and without any transformation, possesses all and every of either sex.

*   Apollo became a herd for the sake of Admetus, Poseidon a horse for that of Demeter, Zeus a swan for Leda, Ammon a snake to lie with Olympias and beget Alexander.

[9.266]   { G-P 108 }   G

Phoebus spoke thus of the sweet musician Glaphyrus when he breathed the spirit of love from his pierced flute : "Marsyas, you did lie concerning your invention, for this man has stolen Athena's flute from Phrygia. If you had then breathed into such as this, Hyagnis had never wept for the contest by the Maeander in which the flute was fatal." *  

*   Hyagnis (according to one version at least) was the father of Marsyas. Marsyas having found the flute which Athena, after inventing it, threw away in disgust, claimed to be its inventor.

[9.268]   { G-P 24 }   G

Gorgo, the Cretan bitch, being in pup, was on the track of a hind, and had paid her vows to both Artemises. As she killed the deer she littered, and quickly did Eleutho grant both prayers, that for success in the chase and that for an easy labour. Now Gorgo gives milk to nine children. Fly, you Cretan deer, learning from the force of mothers in travail what their young are like to be.

[9.269]   { G-P 109 }   G

When the ship was dashed to pieces two men strove with each other in the water, quarrelling for one plank. Antagoras struck Peisistratus. It was not inexcusable, for his life was at stake, but Justice was concerned. The one swam on, but the other was seized by a shark. She, the all-avenger, does not cease from vengeance even in the watery deep.

[9.282]   { G-P 27 }   G

Strangers, I, whom you take for a tree, am a maiden. *   Bid the slaves' hands that are prepared to cut me spare the laurel. Instead of me, let travellers cut to strew as a couch boughs of arbutus or terebinth, for they are not far away. The brook is about three hundred feet away from me, and from its springs a wood containing every kind of tree is distant about two hundred feet.

*   Daphne, pursued by Apollo and changed into a laurel to save her chastity.

[9.297]   { G-P 47 }   G

{Probably addressed to Gaius Caesar when sent by Augustus to the East in the year 1 B.C.}

Go forth to the Euphrates, son of Zeus ; already in the East the feet of the Parthians hasten to desert to you. Go forth on your way, O prince, and you shall find, Caesar, their bow-strings relaxed by fear. But base all you do on your father's instructions. The Ocean is Rome's boundary on every side ; be you the first to seal her domination with the rising Sun.

[9.302]   { G-P 69 }   G

Bees, you savage pack, you killed baby Hermonax as he was creeping to your hive in quest of honey. Often had he been fed by you, and now, alas ! you have stung him to death. If we speak evil of serpents' nests, learn from Lysidice and Amyntor not to praise hives either. They, too, have in them bitter honey.

[9.305]   { G-P 36 }   G

I had drunk my fill of untempered water, when Bacchus yesterday, standing by my bed, spoke thus : "You sleep a sleep worthy of them whom Aphrodite hates. Tell me, O temperate man, have you heard of Hippolytus ? Fear lest you suffer some fate such as his." Having so spoken he departed, and ever since then water is not agreeable to me.

[9.309]   { G-P 64 }   G

As Gorgo was lighting the coals on her hearth in winter, the fearful noise of the thunder terrified the old woman. Chill seized her lungs and she dropped dead. So then she had been spared with Old age on the one side and Death on the other, either ready to take her on any pretext.

[9.407]   { G-P 34 }   G

The slave-child of Hippocrates, having crept from the neighbouring cottage to the broad edge of the sea, died of drinking more than it had drunk at the breast. Out on you, Sea, who didst receive the baby as a mother, and didst deceive it !

[9.408]   { G-P 113 }   G

Would I had continued to stray at the will of all the winds that blow, rather than be fixed firm to help wandering Leto in her labour : I should never have had to lament such solitude. Alas, poor me, how many Greek ships now sail past deserted Delos, once so revered ! Hera has taken this late but terrible vengeance on Leto. *  

*   Delos remained deserted after its destruction by Mithridates' admiral in 88 B.C.

[9.417]   { G-P 70 }   G

Lampo, Midas' hound, died of thirst, though he toiled hard for his life. For with his paws he dug into the damp earth, but the lazy water would not hasten to gush from the hidden source. He fell exhausted, and then the spring burst forth. Is it, Nymphs, that you were wrath with Lampo for all the deer he had killed ?

[9.418]   { G-P 82 }   G

On a Water-mill

Cease from grinding, you women who toil at the mill ; sleep late, even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn. For Demeter has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of your hands, and they, leaping down on the top of the wheel, turn its axle which, with its revolving spokes, turns the heavy concave Nisyrian mill-stones. We taste again the joys of the primitive life, learning to feast on the products of Demeter without labour.

[9.420]   { G-P 51 }   G

Think not, Telembrotus, to persuade love by tears, or with a little water to put out so stubborn a fire. Gold is ever the medicine of love, and not even then when he was born on the deep sea *   was he quenched.

*   Love is assumed to have been born from the sea like his mother.

[9.421]   { G-P 28 }   G

On the Cyclades

Ye desert islands, crumbs of land, which the sounding belt of the Aegean wave confines, you have followed the example of Siphnos and squalid Pholegandros, poor islands, and lost your ancient splendour. Delos, of a truth, once so brilliant, has taught you her ways, Delos who first of you all was condemned to solitude. *  

*   cp. No. 408.

[9.428]   { G-P 1 }   G

{Addressed to L. Calpurnius Piso}

Thessalonica, the mother of all Macedonia, sends me to you, despoiler of Thrace. I sing your conquest of the martial Bessi, collecting all that I learnt about the war. *   But be you, like a god, attentive to me, and listen to my prayers. What occupation is there which can deny an ear to the Muses ?

*   Piso conducted operations against the Thracians from B.C. 11 to B.C. 8. Antipater sends him a poem on the war, begging him to read it.

[9.517]   { G-P 4 }   G

Orpheus charmed beasts and you charm Orpheus. Phoebus vanquished the Phrygian {Marsyas}, but he yields to you when you play, Glaphyrus - the name {"refined"} suits both your art and your person. Athena would never have thrown the flute away *   had she made such music as you, master of varied delight. Hypnos {"Sleep"} himself, lying in Pasithea's arms, would awake if he heard you.

*   Athena invented the flute, but threw it away in disgust as playing it disfigured her.

[9.541]   { G-P 44 }   G

Theogenes sends to Piso *   the skilfully wrought bowls, and both of us together contain the heavens. We are both carved out of a sphere, and one of us contains the southern constellations, the other the northern. No longer consult Aratus, for if you empty us both you see all the Phaenomena.

*   See No. 428.

[9.550]   { G-P 94 }   G

I say not, Tenos, that you are not famous, for of old the winged sons of Boreas *   got you renown. But Ortygia was celebrated too, and her name reached to the Rhipaean Hyperboreans. But now you live and she is dead. Who would have expected to see Delos more desert than Tenos ? *  

*   Zetes and Calais, the sons of Boreas, were slain in Tenos by Heracles. For the desert condition of Delos, see No. 408. Ortygia was an old name of the island. For the story of the annual first-fruits brought to Delos by the Hyperboreans see Herodotus iv. 33.

[9.552]   { G-P 42 }   G

A sword made of Macedonian steel and taught valour by the hand of Alexander, I come, Piso, *   longing for your hand, and thus I greet you : " I rejoice to find the right hand for which fate reserved me."

*   cp. No. 428.

[9.557]   { G-P 79 }   G

Tarsus, Cilician city, the runner Aries, son of Menecles, does not disgrace even Perseus, your founder. Such are the boy's winged feet that not even Perseus would have shown him his back in the race. The youth is seen only at the start and the finish, never in the middle of the course.

[9.706]   { G-P 81 }   G

I am a holy tree. Beware of injuring me as you pass by, stranger, for I suffer pain if I am mutilated. Remember that my bark is still virginal, not like that of savage wild pear-trees. Who does not know what the race of poplars is like ? If you peel the bark off me, as I stand here by the road, you shalt weep for it. Though I am but wood, the Sun cares for me. *  

*   The daughters of the Sun continued to weep for their brother Phaethon until turned into poplars.

[9.728]   { G-P 84 }   G

On Myron's Statue of a Heifer

The heifer, I think, will low, and if it delays it is the fault of the senseless bronze, not Myron's.

[9.752]   { - }   G


I am Drunkenness, the work of a skilled hand, but I am carved on the sober stone amethyst. The stone is foreign to the work. But I am the sacred possession of Cleopatra : on the queen's hand even the drunken goddess should be sober.

[9.790]   { G-P 92 }   G

On the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Who was it that transported the maiden's chamber, that once stood in the celestial palace, from Olympus to Ephesus the city of Androclus, the queen of the Ionians, swift in battle, most excellent in war and letters ? Was it yourself, slayer of Tityus, who, loving your nurse *   more than Olympus, didst set your chamber in her ?

*   According to one story Artemis was born, not at Delos, but at a place called Ortygia near Ephesus.

[9.792]   { G-P 85 }   G

On the Picture of Odysseus' descent to the Underworld

This is the work of Nicias. I am painted here an ever-living City of the dead, the tomb of every age. It was Homer who explored the house of Hades, and I am copied from him as my first original.

[10.25]   { G-P 40 }   G

Phoebus, guardian of the Cephallenians' harbour, dwelling on the beach of Panormus that faces rough Ithaca, grant that I may sail to the Asian land through favouring waves in the wake of Piso's long ship. And attune my doughty emperor to be kind to him and kind to my verses. *

*   The date is probably A.D.11, in which year Piso went to govern Pamphylia.

[11.20]   { G-P 20 }   G

Away with you who sing of "loccae" (cloaks) or "lophnides" (torches) or "camasenes" (fish) **, race of thorn-gathering poets; and you who practising effeminately decorative verse drink only simple water from the holy fount. To-day we pour the wine in honour of the birthday of Archilochus and virile Homer. Our bowl receives no water-drinkers.

*   All obsolete words, such as those used by Lycophron and other affected poets.

[11.23]   { G-P 38 }   G

Men learned in the stars say I am short-lived. I am, Seleucus, but I care not. There is one road down to Hades for all, and if mine is quicker, I shall see Minos all the sooner. Let us drink, for this is very truth, that wine is a horse for the road, while foot-travellers take a by-path to Hades. **

*   He will go by the royal road and mounted (on wine) ; the pedestrians are those who do not drink.

[11.24]   { G-P 3 }   G

On a cup-bearer named Helicon

O Boeotian Helicon, once didst thou often shed from thy springs the water of sweet speech for Hesiod. But still for us does the boy who bears thy name pour out Italian wine from a fountain that causes less care. Rather would I drink one cup only from his hand than a thousand of Castalia from thine.

[11.31]   { G-P 37 }   G

I dread not the setting of the Pleiads, ** nor the waves of the sea that roar round the stubborn rock, nor the lightning of great heaven so much as I dread a wicked man and water-drinkers who remember all our words.

*   A season unfavourable for navigation.

[11.37]   { G-P 96 }   G

It is already autumn, Epicles, and from the girdle of Boötes springs the bright flame of Arcturus. Already the vines bethink them of the pruning-hook and men build winter huts to shelter them. But you have no warm woollen cloak nor tunic indoors, and you will grow stiff, blaming the star.

[11.158]   { G-P 97 }   G

The wallet laments, and the fine sturdy Heracles club of Sinopian Diogenes and the double coat, foe of the cold clouds, befouled all over with encrusted dirt, lament likewise because they are polluted by thy shoulders. Verily I take Diogenes himself to be the dog of heaven, but thou art the dog that lies in the ashes. Put off, put off the arms that are not thine The work of lions is one thing, and that of bearded goats another.

[11.219]   { G-P 98 }   G

I don't pay any attention, although some people are to be trusted ; but in the meantime, for God's sake, if you love me, Pamphilus, don't kiss me.

[11.224]   { G-P 99 }   G

When he saw the erect penis of Cimon, Priapus said, "Alas! although I'm immortal, I am surpassed by a mortal."

[11.327]   { G-P 8 }   G

Lycaenis with the dry back, the disgrace of Aphrodite, with less haunches than any deer, with whom, as the saying is, a drunken goatherd would not live. G-r-r, g-r-r ! such are the wives of the Sidonians.

[11.415]   { G-P 105 }   G


Who, Mentorides, so obviously transferred your breech to the place where your mouth formerly was ? For you break wind and do not breathe, and you speak from the lower storey. I wonder how your lower parts became your upper !

[16.75]   { G-P 48 }   G

Son of Kings, like to Zeus, Apollo, and Ares, lovely offspring granted to a mother's prayers, from the Fates all kingly, all perfect things have come to you, and you are become the theme of Poets. Zeus has his royal sceptre, Ares his spear, and Phoebus his beauty, but thine, Cotys, *   are all three together. v

*   This is probably the Thracian King to whom Ovid's Epistle Ex Ponto, ii. 9, is addressed.

[16.131]   { G-P 86 }   G

On Niobe *  

This is the daughter of Tantalus, who of old bore from a single womb twice seven children, victims of Phoebus and Artemis : for the Maiden sent untimely death to the maidens, the male god to the boys, the two slaying two companies of seven. She, once the mother of such a flock, the mother of lovely children, was not left with one to tend her age. The mother was not, as was meet, buried by her children, but the children all were carried by their mother to the sorrowful tomb. Tantalus, your tongue was fatal to you and to your daughter ; she became a rock, and over you hangs a stone to terrify you.

*   This and the following epigrams refer to a depiction of Niobe and her children, such as we possess.

[16.133]   { G-P 87 }   G

On the Same

Why, woman, do you lift up to Olympus your shameless hand, and let your divine hair fall loose from your godless head ? Looking now on the heavy wrath of Leto, mother of many children, bemoan your bitter and senseless strife. One of your daughters is gasping beside you, one lies lifeless, and heavy death is nigh descending on another. Yea, and this is not yet the end of your woe, but the swarm of your male children lies low likewise in death. O Niobe, weeping for the heavy day that gave you birth, you shall be a lifeless rock consumed by sorrow.

[16.143]   { G-P 29 }   G

On the Picture of the Medea

This is the picture of Medea. See how one eye is raised in wrath, but the other is softened by affection for her children.

[16.175]   { - }   G

On the Armed Aphrodite in Sparta

Either the stone statue, as being Aphrodite, armed itself, or perhaps rather Aphrodite saw the statue and swore, "Would I were it."

[16.176]   { G-P 88 }   G

On the Same

Cypris belongs to Sparta too, but her statue is not, as in other cities, draped in soft folds. No, on her head she wears a helmet instead of a veil, and bears a spear instead of golden branches. For it is not right that she should be without arms, who is the spouse of Thracian Ares and a Lacedaemonian.

[16.184]   { G-P 30 }   G

On a Statue of Dionysus

I, Dionysus, the fellow-soldier of Italian Piso, I am set here to guard his house and bring him good fortune. A worthy house have you entered, Dionysus. Fitting is the house for Bacchus, and Bacchus for the house.

[16.197]   { G-P 89 }   G

On the Same

Who bound your hands to the pillar in a fast knot ? Who took captive fire by fire and guile by guile ? My boy, do not bedew your sweet face with tears, for you take delight in the tears of young men.

[16.220]   { G-P 90 }   G

On Statues of the Muses

Three are we, the Muses who stand here ; one bears in her hands a flute, another a harp, and the third a lyre. She who is the work of Aristocles holds the lyre, Ageladas' Muse the harp, and Canachas' the musical reeds. The first is she who rules tone, the second makes melody of colour, and the third invented skilled harmony. *  

[16.290]   { G-P 78 }   G

On the Dancer Pylades

Pylades put on the divinity of the frenzied god himself, when from Thebes he led the Bacchants to the Italian stage, a delight and a terror to men, so full by his dancing did he fill all the city with the untempered fury of the divine power. Thebes knows but the god who was born of the fire ; the heavenly one is this whom we see brought into the world by these hands that can utter everything. *  

*   i.e. the real Bacchus was born from the fire, this stage Bacchus is created by the expressive gestures of the dancer's hands. In this kind of dancing, more importance was attached to the movements of the hands than to those of the feet.

[16.296]   { G-P 72 }   G

On the Same

Some say, Homer, that your nurse was Colophon, some lovely Smyrna, some Chios, some Ios; while some proclaim fortunate Salamis, and some Thessaly, mother of the Lapiths, some this place, some that, to be the land that brought you to the birth. But if I may utter openly the wise prophecies of Phoebus, great Heaven is your country, and your mother was no mortal woman, but Calliope.

[16.305]   { G-P 75 }   G

On a Portrait of Pindar

As much as the trumpet out-peals the fawn-bone flute, so much does your lyre out-ring all others. It was not idly, Pindar, that that swarm of bees fashioned the honeycomb about your tender lips. I call to witness the horned god {Pan} of Arcadia, who chanted one of your hymns and forgot his reed-pipe. *  

*   Pindar is said to have actually heard Pan singing one of his hymns (Plutarch, Mor. 1103'B).

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