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ANTIPHILUS : EPIGRAMS

Antiphilus of Byzantium was a Greek poet who wrote in the middle of the first century A.D.   Nothing else is known about him apart from what can be deduced from his poems; he seems to have lived in Rome for at least part of his life.

All of his surviving epigrams are shown here, 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 A.S.F.Gow & D.L.Page, "The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and Some Contemporary Epigrams". To go to a specific epigram in the Gow-Page edition, type the number in the box below, and hit [go].
  → (in range 1 - 51):  
 

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.



[5.111]   { G-P 12 }   G

I said even formerly, when Tereina's charms were yet infantile, "She will consume us all when she grows up." They laughed at my prophecy : but lo ! the time I once foretold is come, and for long I suffer myself from the wound. What am I to do ? To look on her is pure fire, and to look away is trouble of heart, and if I pay my suit to her, it is - "I am a maid." All is over with me.


[5.307]   { G-P 13 }   G

On a Picture of Zeus and Leda

This is the Laconian river Eurotas, and that is Leda with nothing on, and he who is hidden in the swan is Zeus. And you little Cupids, who are luring me so little disposed to love, what bird am I to become ? If Zeus is a swan, I suppose I must be a lark. *  

*   We should say "a goose".


[5.308]   { G-P 14 }   G

O you pretty creature, wait for me. What is your name ? Where can I see you ? I will give what you choose. You don't even speak. Where do you live ? I will send someone with you. Do you possibly belong to anyone ? Well, you stuck-up thing, goodbye. You won't even say "goodbye." But again and again I will accost you. I know how to soften even more hard-hearted beauties ; and for the present - "goodbye, madam !"


[6.95]   { G-P 15 }   G

Parmis the husbandman, resting from his sore toil, dedicates to Demeter his ox-turning iron-tipped, threatening goad, his bag, measure of the seed-corn, his curved sickle, husbandry's weapon, that cuts off the corn-ears, his winnowing fork, three-fingered hand of the harvest, that throws the corn up against the wind, and his laced boots.


[6.97]   { G-P 21 }   G

The spear of Alexander ; the inscription on you tells that after the war he dedicated you to Artemis as a token thereof, the weapon of his invincible arm. O good spear, before the shaking of which earth and sea yielded ! Hail, fearless spear ! and ever all who look on you will tremble, mindful of that mighty hand.


[6.199]   { G-P 16 }   G

Artemis, goddess of the road, Antiphilus dedicates to you this hat from his head, a token of his wayfaring ; for you have hearkened to his vows, you have blessed his paths. The gift is not great, but given in piety, and let no covetous traveller lay his hand on my offering ; it is not safe to despoil a shrine of even little gifts.


[6.250]   { G-P 1 }   G

My circumstances are slender, madam, but I maintain that he who is yours from his heart looks down on the wealth of many. But accept this garment like the bright purple of a deep-piled carpet soft as moss, and this pink wool, and spikenard for your dark hair contained in a gray glass bottle, so that the tunic may cover you, the woollen work may testify to the skill of your hands, and the sweet vapour may pervade your hair.


[6.252]   { G-P 2 }   G

I am a quince of last year kept fresh in my young skin, unspotted, unwrinkled, as downy as newly-born ones, still attached to my leafy stalk, a rare gift in the winter season ; but for such as you, my queen, even the cold and snow bear fruit.


[6.257]   { G-P 22 }   G

Who filled me with the gifts of Demeter, the amphora fashioned for Bacchus, the recipient of Adriatic wine sweet as nectar ? Why should he grudge me to Bacchus, or what scarcity was there of proper vessels for corn ? He insulted both divinities ; Bacchus has been robbed, and Demeter does not receive Methē {"drunkenness"} into her society.


[7.141]   { G-P 23 }   G

On Protesilaus

O Thessalian Protesilaus, long ages shall sing of you, how you did strike the first blow in Troy's predestined fall. The Nymphs tend and encircle with overshadowing elms your tomb opposite hated Ilium. Wrathful are the trees, and if they chance to see the walls of Troy, they shed their withered leaves. How bitter was the hatred of the heroes if a part of their enmity lives yet in soulless branches.


[7.175]   { G-P 24 }   G

So there is no more turf, husbandman, left for you to break up, and your oxen tread on the backs of tombs, and the share is among the dead ! What doth it profit you ? How much is this wheat you shall snatch from ashes, not from earth ? You shall not live for ever, and another shall plough you up, you who set to all the example of this evil husbandry. *  

*   The verses are supposed to be spoken by the dead man whose grave the ploughman has disturbed.


[7.176]   { G-P 25 }   G

Not because I lacked funeral when I died, do I lie here, a naked corpse on wheat-bearing land. Duly was I buried once on a time, but now by the ploughman's hand the iron share hath rolled me out of my tomb. Who said that death was deliverance from evil, when not even the tomb, stranger, is the end of my sufferings ?


[7.375]   { G-P 26 }   G

{Not Sepulchral}

My house collapsed with the earthquake ; yet my chamber remained erect, as its walls stood the shock. There while I lay, as if hiding in a cave, the unhappy labour-pains overtook me, and another dread was mingled with that of the earthquake. Nature herself was the midwife, and the child and I both together saw the sun above the earth.


[7.379]   { G-P 3 }   G

{Not Sepulchral}

A. "Tell me, Dicaearchia, *   why you have built you so vast a mole in the sea, reaching out to the middle of the deep? They were Cyclopes' hands that planted such walls in the sea. How long, O Land, will you do violence to us?"   B. "I can receive the navies of the world. Look at Rome hard by ; is not my harbour as great as she ? "

*   Puteoli. The sea is supposed to be addressing the town.


[7.399]   { G-P 27 }   G

Far from each other should the tombs of Oedipus' sons have been built, for even Hades ends not their strife. They refused even to travel in one boat to the house of Acheron, and hateful Ares lives in them even now they are dead. Look at the uneven flame of their pyre, how it separates from one into two quarrelling tongues.


[7.622]   { G-P 18 }   G

When Borchus the herdsman went to get the sweet honey-comb, climbing the steep rock by a rope, one of his dogs who used to follow the herd followed him, and, as he was pulling himself up, bit through the thin rope which was trickling with honey. He fell into Hades, grasping, at the cost of his life, that honey which no other man could harvest.


[7.630]   { G-P 4 }   G

Now nearing my country I said, "Tomorrow shall this wind that blew so long against me abate." Scarce had I closed my lips when the sea became like hell, and that light word I spoke was my destruction. Beware ever of that word "tomorrow" ; not even little things are unnoticed by the Nemesis that is the foe of our tongues.


[7.634]   { G-P 19 }   G

Old Philon, stooping to lift the bier to gain his daily wage, stumbled slightly, but fell and was killed ; for he was ripe for Hades, and old age was on the look out for an opportunity; and so all unawares he lifted for himself that bier on which he used to carry the corpses of others.


[7.635]   { G-P 28 }   G

Hibrocles' boat grew old with him, always travelled with him, and accompanied him in life and in death. It was his faithful fishing partner, and no juster boat ever sailed the waves. It laboured to keep him until his old age, and then it buried him when he was dead, and travelled with him to Hades. *  

*   cp. Nos. 305, 381, 585, above.


[7.641]   { G-P 17 }   G

{Not Sepulchral, but on a Water-clock}

This recorder of the invisible sun, divided into twelve parts, and as often speaking with tongueless mouth - each time when, the water being compressed in the narrow pipe, the air sends forth a sonorous blast - was erected by Athenaeus for the public, so that the sun might be visible even when covered by envious clouds.


[9.13b]   { G-P 29 }   G

Both are maimed and strolling beggars ; but the one has lost the use of his eyes, the other the support of his legs. Each serves the other ; for the blind man, taking the lame one on his back, walks gingerly by the aid of eyes not his own. One nature supplied the needs of both ; for each contributed to the other his deficiency to form a whole.


[9.14]   { G-P 30 }   G

Phaedon saw an octopus in the shallows by the beach oaring itself along in secret, and seizing it, he threw it rapidly on land before it could twine its eight spirals tightly round his hand. Whirled into a bush it fell on the home of a luckless hare, and twirling round the fleet-footed skulker's feet held them bound. The captured was capturer, and you, old man, got the unexpected gift of a booty both from sea and land.


[9.29]   { G-P 31 }   G

Adventure, you inventor of ships (for you discovered the paths of the sea, and excited men's minds by hope of gain), what treacherous timbers did you fashion ; what lust for gain, oft brought home to them by death, have you instilled into men ! Of a truth the race of mortals had been a golden one, if the sea, like hell, were viewed from the land in dim distance.


[9.34]   { G-P 32 }   G

After I had traversed innumerable waves of the limitless sea, and stood firm for a season on the land, I was destroyed not by the sea, the terror of ships, but on shore by fire. Who will say that the sea is the more treacherous of the two? It was the earth on which I came into being that destroyed me, and I lie on the beach, reproaching the land for the fate I expected from the sea.


[9.35]   { G-P 50 }   G

I am the newly-fashioned keel of a ship, and the sea beside which I lay carried me off, raging against me even on land.


[9.71]   { G-P 33 }   G

Overhanging branches of the spreading oak, that from on high shade well men seeking shelter from the untempered heat, leafy boughs roofing closer than tiles, the home of wood-pigeons, the home of cicadas, O noontide branches, guard me, too, who lie beneath your foliage, taking refuge from the rays of the sun.


[9.73]   { G-P 5 }   G

O alternating flood of the Euboean gulf, vagabond water, running contrary to your own current, how strong but inconstant a stream you lend to the ships, changing its direction regularly thrice by day and thrice by night ! You are one of the marvels of life, and I am filled with infinite wonder at you, but do not seek the reason of your conflicting course. It is the business and the secret of Nature.


[9.86]   { G-P 34 }   G

An omnivorous, crawling, lickerish mouse, seeing in the house an oyster with its lips open, had a bite at its flesh-like wet beard. Immediately the house of shell closed tightly with a clap owing to the pain, and the mouse, locked in the prison from which there was no escape, compassed for himself death and the tomb.


[9.156]   { G-P 35 }   G

Look on the ambush that took Troy after ten years ; look on the horse whose belly was big with the armed and silent Greeks. Epeius is building it and Athena is ordering the work, and all Hellas is emerging from beneath its back. Of a truth in vain did so great a host perish, if stratagem was more helpful to the Atreidae in the war than open battle.


[9.178]   { G-P 6 }   G

I, Rhodes, who once was the Sun's island, am now Caesar's, and I boast of equal light from each. Then when I was near extinguished, O Sun, a new ray illuminated me, and Nero's *   light shone beside you. How shall I say to which I owe most ? The one brought me to the light from the depths, and the other saved me as I was sinking.

*   The epigram probably refers to the stay of Tiberius at Rhodes, like No. 287 below.


[9.192]   { G-P 36 }   G

A. " O books, who are you, what do you contain ? "   B. " Daughters of Maeonides, *   and we tell the tales of Troy ; one, the wrath of Achilles and the deeds of Hector's hands, and all the struggles of the ten years' war ; the other, the labours of Odysseus and the tears of good Penelope by her widowed couch."   A. "I worship you and the Muses ; for after your song the world could say it possessed eleven Pierian sisters."

*   Homer


[9.222]   { G-P 37 }   G

{ A Dolphin speaks }

I took him on my back the dripping corpse and bore it to the beach ; the beast saved the man, the sea creature that of the land, the living the dead. But what did it avail me ? I swam from sea to land, and receive death as payment for my porterage. We interchanged destinies. His land slew me, *   and my water slew him who belonged to the land.

*   The dolphin seems to have been carried on to the beach and left high and dry.


[9.242]   { G-P 20 }   G

Glaucus, brought up on the shores of Thasos, he who conducted those crossing by ferry to the island, skilled ploughman of the sea, who even when he was dozing guided the rudder with no uncertain hand, the old man of countless years, the battered remnant of a seafarer, not even when he was on the point of death quitted his old tub. They burnt his shell on the top of him, that the old man might sail to Hades in his own boat.


[9.263]   { G-P 47 }   G

Old Eubulē, whenever she had set her heart on anything, used to pick up the nearest stone at her feet, as being Apollo's prophet, and try it in her hand. Whenever she did not want a thing, it was heavy ; but if she wanted it, it was lighter than a feather. But she acted as it pleased her best, and if she came to grief she set down the unfairness of her hand's judgment to Phoebus. *  

*   This mode of seeking the counsel of the gods as to contemplated actions is mentioned also by Dio Chrysostom {Or. xiii. p. 419).


[9.277]   { G-P 7 }   G

Why, torrent, in your furious march do you lift yourself up so high and shut off the progress of travellers on foot ? Are you drunk with the rain, and no more content with a stream the Nymphs make transparent ? Have you borrowed water from the turbid clouds ? One day I shall see you burnt up by the sun, who knows how to test the water of rivers, distinguishing the true from the bastard.


[9.294]   { G-P 38 }   G

A. "Xerxes gave you this purple cloak, Leonidas, reverencing your valorous deeds."   B. " I do not accept it ; that is the reward of traitors. Let me be clothed in my shield in death too ; no wealthy funeral for me ! "   A. " But you are dead. Why do you hate the Persians so bitterly even in death?"   B. "The passion for freedom does not die."


[9.298]   { G-P 39 }   G

My staff guided me to the temple uninitiated not only in the mysteries, but in the sunlight. The goddesses initiated me into both, and on that night I knew that my eyes as well as my soul had been purged of night. I went back to Athens without a staff, proclaiming the holiness of the mysteries of Demeter more clearly with my eyes than with my tongue.


[9.306]   { G-P 40 }   G

Cease working, O woodcutters, at least as far as concerns ships. It is no longer pine-trees that glide over the waves but hides. Ships are no longer built with bolts of bronze or iron, but their hulls are held together with flaxen cords, and the same ship now floats on the sea and now travels on land, folded to be mounted on a carriage. Argo was formerly the theme of song, but Pallas has granted to Sabinus to build a still more novel keel. *  

*   Boats made of hides, used from primitive times by the natives of Portugal, are stated to have been introduced among the Romans at a somewhat earlier date than this epigram (Cass. Dio, 48, 18).


[9.310]   { G-P 41 }   G

A little mouse devoured some unfired gold-dust, the scrapings of the file's iron teeth, lighter than the sands of Libya. It proved a heavy meal for him ; for his belly, trailing with the weight, made the swift creature slow-footed, and so he was caught and cut open, and the stolen treasure extracted from his inside. Even to brutes, gold, you are the cause of evil.


[9.404]   { G-P 42 }   G

Ah ! lovely is the liquor of the bees, self-wrought in the air, and the cells self-moulded and not with hands ; a gift unrequited to the life of men, needing no mattock, or oxen, or crooked sickle, but only a little vessel into which the bee pours forth the sweet stream in abundance from its tiny body. Hail ! O pure creatures ; pasture on the flowers, you winged makers of ethereal nectar.


[9.413]   { G-P 8 }   G

The terebinth island *   has few vineyards, being small, but is all flat and not rugged. The islands near it are large and broad, but for the most part rough, and superior in this only, their size. We compete for crops, not for stades, just as the corn-fields of Egypt take no count of the sands of Libya.

*   One of the small islands of the Prinkipo group in the Sea of Marmara.


[9.415]   { G-P 43 }   G

On a Ship built from the Profits of a Brothel

I was formerly, too, my master's partner in his lucrative trade, when the crew he collected consisted of public votaries of Cypris. From those profits he built my keel that Cypris might see me, a product of the land, tossing on the sea. My rig befits a lady of pleasure ; I wear dainty white linen, and on my timbers lies a delicate dye. Come, sailors, confidently mount on my stern. I can take any number of oarsmen. *  

*   In this and the next epigram some of the phrases are equivocal, with an obscene double meaning.


[9.546]   { G-P 9 }   G

Once in a way let my couch be on the ship's poop, the leather sheets above sounding with the blows of the spray, the fire breaking out from the stones, *   and the pot upon them bubbling with empty noise. Let my eyes be on the unwashed cabin boy, and let my table be the first plank of the deck that offers ; and a game of "Give and take" and the gossip of the sailors. The other day this happened to me, who love to share the common lot.

*   Within which it is built.


[9.549]   { G-P 44 }   G

A. O streams of the fountain, why have you fled ? Where is all that water gone ? What fiery sun has extinguished the ever-running spring?   B. We are exhausted by tears for Agricola ; his thirsty dust has absorbed all the drink we had to give.


[9.551]   { G-P 10 }   G

Calchedon hates and punishes the ill-omened heron. Phoebus will tell for what reason it is always called the traitor-bird. When in the shallow sea standing on its thin shanks it was picking up its food from the sand, then the foe-men crossed to the city from opposite, learning at length to pass over the sea on foot. Stone the wicked bird, for it got from the enemy a heavy reward - conchs and seaweed, the traitor. *  

*   The incident alluded to in this epigram is quite unknown, and the whole looks like a legend made up to account for the bad name this bird had at Chalcedon. Such popular explanations of local superstitions are legion. The last couplet is, of course, playful and ironical.


[10.17]   { G-P 11 }   G

Blest god of the harbour, accompany with gentle breeze the departing sails of Archelaus through the undisturbed waters as far as the open sea, and you *   who rule over the extreme part of the beach, save him on his voyage as far as the Pythian shrine. From there, if all we singers are dear to Phoebus, I will sail trusting in the fair western gale.

*   Another god.


[11.66]   { G-P 51 }   G

Even if you smoothen the wrinkled skin of your many-trenched cheeks, and blacken with coal your lidless eyes, and dye your white hair black, and hang round your temples curly ringlets crisped by fire, this is useless and even ridiculous, and even if you go further . . .


[16.136]   { G-P 48 }   G

On the Picture of Medea in Rome

When the hand of Timomachus painted baleful Medea, pulled in diverse directions by jealousy and love of her children, he undertook vast labour in trying to draw her two characters, the one inclined to wrath, the other to pity. But he showed both to the full ; look at the picture : in her threat dwell tears, and wrath dwells in her pity. The intention is enough, *   as the sage said. The blood of the children befitted Medea, not the hand of Timomachus.

*   i.e. Timomachus depicted the intention, but not the action murder.


[16.147]   { G-P 49 }   G

On a Painting of Andromeda

The land is Ethiopian ; he with the winged sandals is Perseus ; she who is chained to the rock is Andromeda ; the face is the Gorgon's, whose glance turns men to stone ; the sea-monster is the task set by Love ; she who boasted of her child's beauty is Cassiopea. *   Andromeda releases from the rock her feet inured to numbness and dead, and her suitor carries off the bride his prize.

*   There were two versions of the story : in one Cassiopea boasted of her own beauty, in another of Andromeda's. Antiphilus follows the latter.


[16.333]   { G-P 45 }   G

On Diogenes

The wallet and cloak and the barley-dough thickened with water, the staff planted before his feet, and the earthenware cup, are estimated by the wise Dog as sufficient for the needs of life, and even in these there was something superfluous ; for, seeing the countryman drinking from the hollow of his hand, he said, "Why, O earthen cup, did I burden myself with you to no purpose ? "


[16.334]   { G-P 46 }   G

On the Same

Even brass is aged by time, but not all the ages, Diogenes, shall destroy your fame, since you alone did show to mortals the rule of self-sufficiency and the easiest path of life.


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