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ARCHIAS : EPIGRAMS

Archias, who lived in the first half of the 1st century B.C., is one of the best-known poets included in the Greek Anthology, because he was defended by Cicero in a court case of 62 B.C, and Cicero's speech has survived. However, it is likely that many of the epigrams attributed to him were not actually written by him.

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".

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.




[5.58]   { G-P 1 }   G

Little Love, you lay me waste of a truth ; empty all your quiver on me, leave not an arrow. So shall you slay me alone with your shafts, and when you wouldst shoot at another, you shall not find wherewith.


[5.59]   { G-P 2 }   G

You say "one should fly from Love." It is labour lost ; how shall I on foot escape from a winged creature that pursues me close?


[5.98]   { G-P 3 }   G

Prepare your bow, Cypris, and find at your leisure another target ; for I have no room at all left for a wound.


[6.16]   { G-P 4 }   G

To you, Pan the scout, the three brothers from three kinds of netting gave these manifold gifts : Damis his net for beasts, Pigres his neck-fetters for birds, Cleitor his drift-nets. Make the first again successful in the air, the second in the sea, and the third in the thickets.


[6.39]   { G-P 8 }   G

The three Samian sisters Satyra, Heracleia, and Euphro, daughters of Xuthus and Melite, dedicate to you, Lady Athene, whose workwomen they were, the implements with which they long supported themselves in their poverty, the first her spindle, twirling servant of the spidery thread, together with its long distaff, the other her musical comb, *   busy maker of close-woven cloth, and the third the basket that loved to hold her wool.

*   See note to 6.160 (Antipater).


[6.179]   { G-P 5 }   G

179-181 are yet more variants on the theme of 6.16

To rustic Pan three brothers dedicate these gifts each from a different kind of netting that provides sustenance - Pigres the fowling noose that catches by the neck, Damis his nets for the beasts of the forest, and Cleitor his for those of the sea. Send success to their nets by air, sea and land.


[6.180]   { G-P 6 }   G

The three brothers dedicate to you, Pan, from mountain air and sea these tokens of their craft, Cleitor his net for fishes, Pigres his for birds, and Damis his for beasts. Help them as before, you hunter god, in the chase by land, air, and sea.


[6.181]   { G-P 7 }   G

Pan, who dwell in the mountains, the three brothers dedicated to you these three nets, each from a different craft. Pigres gave his fowling nets, Damis his nets for beasts, and Cleitor his for fishes. Let the nets of the one be always lucky in the wood, those of the second in the air, and those of the third in the sea.


[6.192]   { G-P 10 }   G

Phintylus suspended to Priapus these old remains of his seine, his fishing-baskets, the crooked hook attached to a horse-hair line, hidden trap for fishes, his very long cane-rod, his float that sinks not in the water, ever serving as the indicator of his hidden casts ; for no longer does he walk on the rocks or sleep on the beach, now he is worn by troublesome old age.


[6.195]   { G-P 11 }   G

To Athene of Troy Miccus of Pallene suspended the deep-toned trumpet of the War-God which formerly he sounded by the altars *   and on the field of battle, here a sign of civic order, and there of the death-cry.

*   The trumpet was used at sacrifices; see 6.46 (Antipater).


[6.207]   { G-P 9 }   G

Bitinna gives these sandals, Philaenis the purple net that confines her vagrant hair, fair-haired Anticleia her fan in which lurks bastard wind, her defence against the violent heat, Heracleia this fine veil for her face, wrought like unto a spider's web, and the daughter of Aristoteles, who bears her father's name, *   the snake, her beautiful anklet. Girls all of one age, dwelling in low-lying Naucratis, they offer these rich gifts to you, Aphrodite, who preside over weddings.

*   i.e. she was called Aristoteleia.


[7.68]   { G-P 14 }   G

On Diogenes the Cynic

O boatman of Hades, conveyor of the dead, delighting in the tears of all, who ply the ferry over this deep water of Acheron, though your boat be heavy beneath its load of shades, leave me not behind, Diogenes the Dog. I have with me but a flask, and a staff, and a cloak, and a wallet, and the obol your fare. These things that I carry with me now I am dead are all I had when alive, and I left nothing in the daylight.


[7.140]   { G-P 15 }   G

On Hector

Tell, O column, the parentage of him beneath you and his name and country and by what death he died. "His father was Priam, his country Ilium, his name Hector, and he perished fighting for his native land."


[7.147]   { G-P 16 }   G

On Ajax

Alone in defence of the routed host, with extended shield did you, Ajax, await the Trojan host that threatened the ships. Neither the crashing stones moved you, nor the cloud of arrows, nor the clash of spears and swords ; but even so, like some crag, standing out and firmly planted you faced the hurricane of the foes. If Hellas did not give you the arms of Achilles to wear, a worthy reward of your valour, it was by the counsel of the Fates that she erred, in order that you should meet with doom from no foe, but at thine own hand.


[7.165]   { G-P 13 }   G

Another Variant of 7.163 (Leonidas)

A. "Tell me, lady, who you were?"   B. "Praxo." A. "Who was your father?"   B. "Calliteles." A. " And from what country are you ? "   B. "Samos." A. "Who made your tomb?"   B. "Theocritus who took me to wife." A. "How did you die?"   B. "In labour pangs." A. "At what age?"   B. "Twenty-two." A. "Have you left a child?"   B. "Calliteles, a baby of three." A. "May he grow to manhood."   B. "And may Fortune, O wayfarer, end your life happily."


[7.191]   { G-P 20 }   G

A magpie I, that oft of old screeched in answer to the speech of the shepherds and woodcutters and fishermen. Often like some many-voiced Echo, with responsive lips I struck up a mocking strain. Now I lie on the ground, tongueless and speechless, having renounced my passion for mimicry.


[7.213]   { G-P 21 }   G

Once, shrilling cicada, perched on the green branches of the luxuriant pine, or of the shady domed stone-pine, you did play with your delicately-winged back a tune dearer to shepherds than the music of the lyre. But now the unforeseen pit of Hades hides you vanquished by the wayside ants. If you were overcome it is pardonable ; for Maeonides, the lord of song, perished by the riddle of the fishermen. *  

*   The riddle which Homer, according to the story, could not guess was : "What we caught we left, what we did not catch we bring," i.e. lice.


[7.214]   { G-P 22 }   G

No longer, dolphin, darting through the bubbling brine, shall you startle the flocks of the deep, nor, dancing to the tune of the pierced reed, shall thou throw up the sea beside the ships. No longer, foamer, shall you take the Nereids on your back as before and carry them to the realms of Tethys ; for the waves when they rose high as the headland of Malea drove you on to the sandy beach.


[7.278]   { G-P 12 }   G

Not even now I am dead shall I, shipwrecked Theris, cast up on land by the waves, forget the sleepless surges. For here under the brine-beaten hill, near the sea my foe, a stranger made my grave ; and, ever wretched that I am, even among the dead the hateful roar of the billows sounds in my ears. Not even Hades gave me rest from trouble, since I alone even in death cannot lie in unbroken repose.


[7.696]   { G-P 17 }   G

Poor Satyr {Marsyas} who did dwell on the hills of Celaenae, you hang from a leafy pine, your beast-like body flogged by the winds, because you entered on fatal strife with Phoebus ; and no longer, as of old, shall we Nymphs hear on the Phrygian hills the honeyed notes of your flute.


[9.19]   { G-P 19 }   G

"Eagle" who once outshone all fleet-footed horses; about whose legs chaplets once hung ; he whom Pytho, the oracular seat of Phoebus, once crowned in the games, where he raced like a swiftly flying bird ; he whom Nemea, too, the nurse of the grim lion, crowned, and Pisa and Isthmus with its two beaches, is now fettered by a collar as if by a bit, and grinds corn by turning a rough stone. He suffers the same fate as Heracles, who also, after accomplishing so much, put on the yoke of slavery.


[9.27]   { G-P 25 }   G


Heed well your speech as you go past me, Echo who am a chatterbox and yet no chatterbox. If I hear anything I answer back the same, for I will return to you your own words ; but if you keep silent, so shall I. Whose tongue is more just than mine?


[9.64]   { - }   G

The Muses themselves saw you, Hesiod, feeding your sheep at mid-day in the rugged hills, and all drawing round you proffered you a branch of holy laurel with lovely leaves. They gave you also the inspiring water of the Heliconian spring, that the hoof of the winged horse {Pegasus} once struck, and having drunk your fill of it you wrote in verse the Birth of the gods {Theogeny} and the Works, and the race of the ancient demigods.


[9.91]   { G-P 26 }   G

Hail ! Hermes, the Lord, who dwellest in the city of the Corycians, and look kindly on my simple offering.


[9.111]   { G-P 18 }   G

We should praise the Thracians because they mourn for their children when they issue from their mothers' wombs to the light, while on the other hand they bless those on whom Death, the unforeseen servant of the Fates, lays his hand. For the living ever pass through every kind of evil, but the dead have found the medicine of all.


[9.339]   { G-P 23 }   G

A raven plying his black wings in the pellucid sky, saw once a scorpion emerging from the ground, and swooped down to catch it ; but the scorpion, as the raven dashed down to the ground, was not slow to strike his foot with its powerful sting, and robbed him of life. See how the luckless bird met with the fate he was preparing for another by means of that other.


[9.343]   { G-P 24 }   G

{ cp. 9.76 (Antipater) }

A blackbird, driven over the hedge together with field-fares, entered the hollow of the suspended net. The cords from which there is no escape caught and held fast the whole flock of them, but let the blackbird alone go free from the meshes. Of a truth the race of singers is holy. Even deaf traps show fond care for winged songsters.


[9.750]   { G-P 30 }   G

On Cows carved on a Ring

Looking at the cows and the jasper on my hand, you will fancy that the cows breathe and the jasper puts forth grass.


[10.7]   { G-P 27 }   G

Stranger, I, Priapus, was set up on this sea-beaten rock to guard the Thracian strait, *   by the sailors, whom I had often rushed to help when they called upon me, bringing from astern the sweet Zephyr. Therefore, as is meet and right, you shall never see my altar lacking the fat of beasts or crowns in the spring, but ever smoking with incense and alight. Yet not ever a hecatomb is so pleasing to the gods as due honour.

*   The Bosporus.


[10.8]   { G-P 28 }   G

Little am I to look on, Priapus, who dwell on this spur by the beach, companion of the gulls, denizens of land and sea, with a peaked head and no feet, just such as the sons of toiling fishermen would carve on the desert shore. But if any netsman or rod-fisher call on me for help, I come to him quicker than the wind. I see, too, the creatures that move under the water, and indeed the character of us gods is known rather from our actions than from our shapes.


[10.10]   { G-P 29 }   G

The fishermen dedicated me. Pan, here on this holy cliff, Pan of the shore, the guardian of this secure haven. Sometimes I care for the fishing-baskets, and sometimes for the fishers who draw their seine on this beach. But, stranger, sail past, and in return for this kindness I will send a gentle south-west wind at your back.


[15.51]   { G-P 31 }   G

On the Calydonian Boar

It is of bronze, but see what strength he contrived to show, the sculptor of the boar, moulding a living beast with the bristles standing up on its neck, with sharpened tusks, grunting and darting terrible light from its eyes, all its lips wet with foam. No longer do we marvel that it destroyed a chosen host of demi-gods.


[16.94]   { G-P 32 }   G

O rustic ploughmen of Nemea, tremble no more at the deep roaring of the lion, slayer of bulls. It has fallen by the hands of Heracles, the supreme achiever of exploits, its throat strangled by his death-dealing hands. Drive out your flocks to pasture ; let Echo, the denizen of the lonely glen, again hear the sound of bleating. And do you, clothed in the lion-skin, *   again arm yourself with the pelt, appeasing the spite of Hera who hates her lord's bastards.

*   According to one story, Heracles, before killing the Nemean lion, wore the skin of a lion he killed on Cithaeron.


[16.154]   { G-P 33 }   G

On a Statue of Echo

It is Echo of the rocks you see, my friend, the companion of Pan, singing back to us a responsive note, the garrulous counterfeit of every kind of tongue, the shepherds' sweet toy. After hearing every word you utter, begone.


[16.179]   { G-P 34 }   G

On the Aphrodite Anadyomene of Apelles

Apelles saw Cypris herself brought forth by the sea, her nurse; and so he drew her, still wringing with her fresh hands her locks soaked with the foam of the waters.


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