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BIANOR : EPIGRAMS

Bianor of Bithynia was a Greek poet who lived in the early part of the 1st century A.D.

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.




[7.49]   { G-P 1 }   G

On Euripides

The Macedonian dust of the tomb covers you, Euripides, but before you put on this cloak of earth you were scorched by the bolts of Zeus. For thrice the heaven lightened at his word and purified your mortal frame.


[7.387]   { G-P 2 }   G

I wept the death of my Theionoē, but the hopes I had of our child lightened my grief. But now envious fate has bereft me of the boy too. Alas my child, all that was left to me, I am cheated of you! Persephone, give ear to the prayer of a mourning father, and lay the child in the bosom of its dead mother.


[7.388]   { G-P 3 }   G

The hostile crowd threw Cleitonymus to the fish and the river when he came to the castle to kill the tyrant. But Justice buried him, for the bank falling in honoured with funeral his whole body from head to foot, and he lies unwetted by the water, the earth in reverence covering him, her haven *   of freedom.

*   i.e. the protector of her freedom.


[7.396]   { G-P 6 }   G

Thebes is the tomb of the sons of Oedipus, but the all-destroying tomb feels their still living quarrel. Not even Hades subdued them, and by Acheron they still fight ; even their tombs are foes and they dispute still on their funeral pyres. *   O children much to be pitied, who grasped spears never to be laid to rest.

*   See 7.399 (Antiphilus) for the meaning of this.


[7.644]   { G-P 4 }   G

Cleariste mourned her last for the early death of her son, and on the tomb ended her embittered life. For, wailing with all the force a mother's sorrow could give her, she could not recover force to draw her breath. Women, why do you give such ample measure to your grief as to wail even till it brings you to Hades ?


[7.671]   { G-P 5 }   G

Ever insatiable Charon, why did you wantonly take young Attalus ? Was he not yours even if he died old ?


[9.223]   { G-P 7 }   G

{ cp. 9.265 (Apollonides) }

As the eagle who circles on high, who alone among the birds is an inmate of Heaven, was bearing a message from Zeus, he eluded not the Cretan, but the archer drew his swift-shooting bow, and the winged arrow made the bird its victim. But he did not, alone among men, escape the justice of Zeus. The bird fell on the man, and he paid dear for the sureness of his arrow's aim. The eagle pierced his neck with the arrow which had found a resting-place in its own heart, and one missile drank the life-blood of two.


[9.227]   { G-P 8 }   G

{ cp. 9.14 (Antiphilus) }

A fisherman spied an octopus in the transparent water by the sea-beach, and rushing upon it as it swam, snatched it and threw it on the land to avoid being caught by his prey. Round and round it whirled, and by a happy chance lighted on a timorous hare that was lying half asleep among the rushes. It spread all over her and fettered her, and the man by means of his booty from the sea gained fresh booty from the land.


[9.252]   { G-P 9 }   G

Quickly the traveller, when he saw the pack of greedy wolves, leapt from the bank into the deep Nile. But they continued the chase through the water, each holding on by its teeth to another's tail. A long bridge of wolves was formed over the stream, and the self-taught stratagem of the swimming beasts caught the man.


[9.259]   { G-P 10 }   G

The house fell in from top to bottom, but much more lightly on the infant son of Zephyrus. Even a ruin spared childhood. O you boastful mothers, see how even stone feels maternal affection.


[9.272]   { G-P 11 }   G

When a crow, the minister of Phoebus, parched with thirst, saw on a woman's tomb a pitcher containing rain-water, it croaked over the mouth but could not reach the bottom with its beak. But, you, Phoebus, did inspire the bird with opportune artfulness, and, by dropping pebbles in, it reached in its eagerness with its greedy lips the water set in motion by the stones. *  

*   Though line 5 is hopelessly corrupt there is no doubt of the sense. The anecdote is told by Pliny and Plutarch.


[9.273]   { G-P 12 }   G

{ cp. 9.264 (Apollonides) }

While the never silent cicada was singing on the bushes in the heat with its double-tongued mouth, Criton contrived with his limed reeds to catch the songster of the air, no proper victim of his craft. But he got his deserts for his impious capture, and was no longer successful as before in the snares he set for other birds.


[9.278]   { G-P 13 }   G

A boy saw carried away by the torrent a coffin in which rested still the remains of his parents. Sorrow filled him with daring and he rushed into the ruthless stream, but his help cost him sore. For he saved the bones indeed from the water, but in their place was himself overtaken by the fierce current.


[9.295]   { G-P 14 }   G

The horse, accustomed to gallop over the plain and not over the waves, refuses to sail across the sea on the ship. Do not wonder at his neighing and kicking the sides of the vessel, and angrily trying to free himself from his bonds. He is indignant at being part of the cargo ; for the swiftest of all creatures should not depend on others for his passage.


[9.308]   { G-P 15 }   G

On Arion

When the sea-robbers near the Tyrrhenian surges cast the lyre-player into the sea from the ship, a dolphin straightway received him, together with the sweet-voiced lyre to whose strains he sang, and swam, saving him from the deep, till it landed on the Isthmus of Corinth. Had the sea, then, fish which were juster than men ?


[9.423]   { G-P 16 }   G

Sardis, once the city of Gyges and Alyattes ; Sardis, who was for the great king a second Persia in Anatolia ; you who built yourself in ancient times a hall of golden bricks, winning wealth from the stream of Pactolus ; now, ill-fated city, enveloped all of you in one disaster, you have fallen headlong into the depths, swallowed by the fathomless cavern. *   Bura and Helice too were engulfed by the sea, but you, Sardis, the inland city, have met with the same end as these which rest in the deep.

*   For this earthquake see Tac. Ann. ii. 47.


[9.548]   { G-P 17 }   G

O children of the ox, how wrong of you to kill Hermonax, the straying baby boy ! The poor child, in the innocence of his heart, went to you thinking you were bees, and you proved worse than vipers. Instead of giving him a dainty feast you drove your murderous stings into him, bitter bees, contrary in nature to your sweet gifts.


[10.22]   { G-P 18 }   G

Fowler in search of reeds, move not with naked feet in the forest paths of Egypt, but fly far from the grey-eyed snakes ; and hastening on your way to shoot the birds of the air, beware of being poisoned by the earth.


[10.101]   { G-P 19 }   G

Look, the heifer draws the instrument that cuts the earth, and is followed by the calf she is suckling ! She dreads the husbandman at her heels, and waits for her little one, sagaciously careful of both. You who follow the plough up and down the field, who turn up the soil, hold your hand, nor drive her who bears the double burden of two labours.


[11.248]   { G-P 20 }   G

It was not the depths that took the ship (how the depths, when she had never sailed ?) nor the south wind, but she perished before encountering south wind and sea. Already completely built, even as far as the benches, they were anointing her with the fat juice of the pine ; and the pitch, over-boiling with the flame of the fire, showed that she, who was being built to serve the sea faithfully, was less faithful to the land. *  

*   i.e. deceived the expectations of those on the land who were building her.


[11.364]   { G-P 21 }   G

This man, a mere nothing, paltry, yes a slave, this man look you, is lord of some other's soul.


[16.276]   { G-P 22 }   G

On a Statue of Arion

Periander set up here this statue of Arion and the dolphin of the sea that swam together with him when he was perishing. The story says of Arion, "We are killed by men and saved by fish."


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