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CRINAGORAS : EPIGRAMS

Crinagoras of Mytilene was a Greek poet who wrote during the reign of the emperor Augustus. He seems to have been well regarded during his lifetime; he had patrons at Rome, and his poems contain several references to the family of the emperor.

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.



[5.108]   { G-P 14 }   G

Epitaph on a lady called Prōtē

Unhappy ! what first shall I say, what last ? Unhappy ! that is the essence of all woe. Thou art gone, O lovely lady, excelling in the beauty of your body, in the sweetness of your soul. Rightly they named you Prote {"First"} : for all was second to the peerless charm that was thine.


[5.119]   { G-P 1 }   G

Crinagoras, though you toss now to the left, now to the right on your empty bed, unless lovely Gemella lie by you, your rest will bring you no sleep, but only weariness.


[6.100]   { G-P 8 }   G

Antiphanes, whose father bore the same name, dedicated to Hermes, still burning in his hand, the torch, object of the young men's holy strife, the glorious meed of victory, having run swiftly with it, as if mindful of how Prometheus stole the fire.


[6.161]   { G-P 10 }   G

Marcellus, *   returning from the western war, laden with spoil, to the boundaries of rocky Italy, first shaved his yellow beard. Such was his country's wish, to send him forth a boy and receive him back a man.

*   The nephew of Augustus familiar to us from Vergil's lines (Aen. vi.863 seq.).


[6.227]   { G-P 3 }   G

This silver pen-nib, with its newly polished holder, nicely moulded with two easily dividing tips, running glib with even flow over the rapidly written page, Crinagoras sends you, Proclus, for your birthday, a little token of great affection, which will sympathize with your newly acquired readiness in learning.


[6.229]   { G-P 4 }   G

This quill of a crooked-beaked eagle, sharpened to a point by the steel and dyed with purple lacquer, which skilfully removes with its gentle pick any fragments that may be concealed in the teeth after dinner, Crinagoras, your devoted friend, sends you, Lucius, a little token of no small affection, just a mere convivial gift.


[6.232]   { G-P 42 }   G

Philoxenides offers a modest feast to Pan with the shepherd's crook, and Priapus with the beautiful horns. There are grapes ripe for wine-making, and fragments of the pomegranate easily split, and the yellow marrow of the pine cone, and almonds afraid of being cracked, and the bees' ambrosia, and shortcakes of sesame, and relishing heads of garlic and pears with shining pips, (?) abundant little diversions for the stomach of the wine-drinker.


[6.242]   { G-P 9 }   G

On the long-desired dawn we offer this sacrifice to Zeus Teleius {"the Perfecter"} and Artemis who soothes the pangs of child-bed. For to them did my brother while yet beardless vow to offer the first spring-bloom that clothes the cheeks of young men. Accept it, you gods, and from this season of his tender beard lead Eucleides straight on to the season of grey hairs.


[6.244]   { G-P 12 }   G

Addressed to Antonia, the wife of Drusus Germanicus.

Hera, mother of the Eleithyiae, and you, Hera Teleia {"Perfectress"}, and Zeus, the common father of all who are born, hear my prayer and grant that gentle pangs may come to Antonia in the tender hands of Hepione, *   so that her husband may rejoice and her mother and her mother-in-law. Her womb bears the blood of great houses.

*   The wife of Asclepius.


[6.253]   { G-P 43 }   G

Caves of the Nymphs with many springs, from which such abundance of water trickles down this winding slope ; and you, echoing shrine of Pan crowned with pine-leaves, the home that is his at the foot of the woodland rock ; you stumps of the ancient juniper, holy to hunters, and you, stone-heap raised in Hermes' honour, *   be gracious unto us and accept the spoil of fortunate Sosander's swift chase of the deer.

*   A heap of stones on which every traveller would cast one. Such are still common in the East, and they had nothing to do essentially with Hermes.


[6.261]   { G-P 5 }   G

Son of Simon, since this is your birthday, Crinagoras sends me with the rejoicings of his heart as a gift to the house of his sweetest friend. I am a bronze flask, just like silver, of Indian workmanship


[6.345]   { G-P 6 }   G

Roses used to flower in spring, but we now in midwinter burst scarlet from our buds, smiling gaily on this your natal morn that falls so nigh to your wedding. To be seen on the brow of the loveliest of women is better than to await the sun of spring.


[6.350]   { G-P 13 }   G

To a Trumpet

The Tyrrhenian trumpet that often over the plain of Pisa hath uttered shrilly its piercing note, past time did limit to two prizes. But because you have led Demosthenes of Miletus to three victories, no brazen bell shall ever peal with fuller tone than yours.


[7.371]   { G-P 15 }   G

Earth was my mother's name, *   and earth too covers me now I am dead. No worse is this earth than the other : in this I shall lie for long, but from my mother the violent heat of the sun snatched me away and in a strange earth I lie under a stone, Inachus, the much bewailed and the obedient servant of Crinagoras.

*   I take this literally. The name of the slave's mother was Gē (Earth).


[7.376]   { G-P 16 }   G

Unhappy men ! why do we wander confiding in empty hopes, oblivious of painful death ? Here was this Seleucus so perfect in speech and character; but after enjoying his prime but for a season, in Spain, at the end of the world, so far from Lesbos, he lies a stranger on that uncharted coast.


[7.380]   { G-P 40 }   G

Though the monument be of Parian marble, and polished by the mason's straight rule, it is not a good man's. Do not, good sir, estimate the dead by the stone. The stone is senseless and can cover a foul black corpse as well as any other. Here lies that weak rag the body of Eunicides and rots under the ashes.


[7.401]   { G-P 41 }   G

The tomb above his odious head crushes the bones of the scoundrel who lies in this unhappy earth ; it crushes the protruding breast and the unsavoury sawlike teeth and the servilely fettered legs and hairless head, the half consumed remains of Eunicides still full of green putrescence. O earth, who has espoused an evil bridegroom, rest not light or thinly-sprinkled on the ashes of the deformed being. *  

*   cp. No. 380, an imitation of this.


[7.628]   { G-P 17 }   G

Other islands ere this have rejected their inglorious names and named themselves after men. Be called Erotides {Love islands}, you Oxeiai {Sharp islands}; it is no shame for you to change ; for Eros himself gave both his name and his beauty to the boy whom Diēs laid here beneath a heap of clods. O earth, crowded with tombs, and sea that washes on the shore, do you lie light on the boy, and you lie hushed for his sake.


[7.633]   { G-P 18 }   G

The moon herself, rising at early eve, dimmed her light, veiling her mourning in night, because she saw her namesake, pretty Selene, going down dead to murky Hades. On her she had bestowed the beauty of her light, and with her death she mingled her own darkness.


[7.636]   { G-P 44 }   G

O happy shepherd, would that I, too, had led my sheep down this grassy white knoll, answering the bleatings of the rams that lead the flock, rather than dipped in the bitter brine the rudder to guide my ship. Therefore I sunk to the depths, and the whistling east wind brought me to rest on this beach.


[7.638]   { G-P 45 }   G

The poor mother, when the expected fate of her two sons was reversed, spoke thus, clasping both of them : " Neither did I hope, my child, to weep for you to-day, nor, my child, to see you yet among the living. Now your fates have been interchanged, but sorrow undeniable has come to me."


[7.643]   { G-P 19 }   G

O Hades the inexorable, you have carried off Hymnis, Euander's daughter, ever the loveable pet of his house, the coaxing nine-year-old girl. Why did you send such early death to her who must one day in any case be yours?


[7.645]   { G-P 20 }   G

On Philostratus, an Academic philosopher and a favourite of Antony and Cleopatra.

O Philostratus, unhappy for all your wealth, where are those sceptres and constant intercourse with princes on which your fortune ever depended ? Shall your tomb be (?) by the Nile conspicuous in the region of . . . ? Foreigners have shared among them the fruit of your toil, and your corpse shall lie in sandy Ostracine. *  

*   Between Egypt and Palestine. By "foreigners" he means probably Roman soldiers.


[7.741]   { G-P 21 }   G

Cite Othryadas, the great glory of Sparta, or Cynegeirus, *   the sea-fighter, or all great deeds of arms. The Italian warrior who lay by the streams of the Rhine, half dead from many wounds, when he saw the eagle of his dear legion seized by the enemy, again arose from amid the corpses of the slain and killing him who carried it, recovered it for his leaders, alone winning for himself a death that knew not defeat.

*   The brother of Aeschylus. He fought at Marathon and Salamis.   Othryadas was one of the 300 Spartans who fought against the Argives at Thyreae.


[9.81]   { G-P 22 }   G

Tell me not that death is the end of life. The dead, like the living, have their own causes of suffering. Look at the fate of Nicias of Cos. *   He had gone to rest in Hades, and now his dead body has come again into the light of day. For his fellow-citizens, forcing the bolts of his tomb, dragged out the poor hard-dying wretch to punishment.

*   Tyrant of Cos late in the first century B.C.


[9.224]   { G-P 23 }   G

I am the good milch-goat with udders yielding more than any the milk-pan ever drained, and Caesar, when he had tasted the richness of my milk, sweet as honey, took me with him even on the ship to be his fellow-voyager. Some day I think I shall even reach the stars, for he to whom I gave suck from my breast is by no means inferior to the Aegis-bearer.


[9.234]   { G-P 48 }   G

How long, wretched soul, borne up by empty hopes nigh to the cold clouds, shall you build you dream upon dream of wealth ? Naught falls of its own accord into the possession of man. Pursue the gifts of the Muses, and leave these dim phantoms of the mind to fools.


[9.235]   { G-P 25 }   G

On the marriage of Cleopatra (daughter of Antonius and Cleopatra) with Juba, King of Numidia

Great bordering regions of the world which the full stream of Nile separates from the black Aethiopians, you have by marriage made your sovereigns common to both, turning Egypt and Libya into one country. May the children of these princes ever again rule with unshaken dominion over both lands.


[9.239]   { G-P 7 }   G

The sweet company of the five lyric poets united in this volume offer the work of the inimitable Graces. We come on her festal morning to Antonia, supreme in beauty and mind.


[9.276]   { G-P 46 }   G

The serving-woman washing clothes on the sea-beach, a little above the wet rocks, was swept off, poor wretch, by a breaker which flooded the shore, and she drank the bitter wave of death. She was in one moment released from life and from poverty. Who in a ship shall brave that sea from which even those on land are not protected ?


[9.283]   { G-P 26 }   G

O Pyrenees and you deep-valleyed Alps that look down on the nearby sources of the Rhine, you are witnesses of the lightning that Germanicus flashes forth as he smites the Celts with the thunderbolts of war. In masses the foe fell, and Enyo said to Ares, "It is to such hands as these that our help is due."


[9.284]   { G-P 37 }   G

What inhabitants, O luckless city, have you received, and in place of whom ? Alas for the great calamity to Greece ! Would, Corinth, you did lie lower than the ground and more desert than the Libyan sands, rather than that wholly abandoned to such a crowd of good-for-nothing slaves, you should vex the bones of the ancient Bacchiadae ! *  

*   This refers to the re-colonisation of Corinth by Julius Caesar, a measure usually praised. The colonists were freedmen ; Crinagoras speaks of them as if they were slaves (palimprētoi = often sold).


[9.291]   { G-P 27 }   G

Written after a reverse of the Roman arms in Germany

Not though Ocean arouses all his floods, not though Germany drinks up the whole Rhine, *   shall the might of Rome be shaken as long as she remains confident in Caesar's auspicious guidance. So the holy oaks of Zeus stand firm on their roots, but the wind strips them of the withered leaves.

*   i.e. not though the Germans become so numerous that they drink up the Rhine, as Xerxes' army drunk up whole rivers.


[9.419]   { G-P 29 }   G

With most august Caesar, even if he go to the depths of the Hercynian forest or to extreme Soloeis and the western edge of Libya, glory goes everywhere. The waters of the Pyrenees *   testify it. They in which not even the neighbouring wood-cutters washed, shall now be baths for two continents.

*   Probably Dax (Aquae Augustae).   Cape Soloeis was on the west coast of Morocco.


[9.429]   { G-P 2 }   G

Aristo suag of Nauplius, the watchman of sea-beaten Euboea, and the song set me on fire, valiant as I am. The flame of that false beacon shown in the night from the rock of Caphereus caught my ill-fated heart. *  

*   An imitation of Dioscorides ().


[9.430]   { G-P 38 }   G

This sheep is a native of Agarra, where the felt-capped Armenians drink the water of Araxes. Its fleece is not, like a sheep's, composed of soft wool, but thin-haired and rougher than a wild goat's. Every year it bears triplets, and the teats of its udders are always full of milk. Its bleating resembles most the lowing of a tender calf, for diverse lands bear all things different.


[9.439]   { G-P 47 }   G

On a Skull

Once hairy crown, deserted shell of the eye, fabric of the tongueless mouth, feeble fence of the brain, relic of the unburied dead, set by the wayside to draw a tear from passers-by, you lie there by the path near the tree-trunk, that looking on you we may learn what profit there is in being thrifty of life.


[9.513]   { G-P 49 }   G

On an Actor

Thou didst excel in the many dramas that Menander, with one of the Muses or one of the Graces, wrote.


[9.516]   { G-P 30 }   G

"Let every man ply his own trade," indeed. Under the high Alps the shock-headed robbers, when they have a job in hand, thus avoid the watch-dogs. They grease themselves thickly with kidney-fat to deceive the dogs' keen scent. It is more ready in devising evil than good, the Ligurian mind. *  

*   In the year 27 B.C. Crinagoras accompanied Augustus on his journey to Spain, passing through Liguria.


[9.542]   { G-P 39 }   G

Never fear, Philonides ; write a piece composed for four parts or even more ; for neither your singing nor the motions of Bathyllus' hands shall be lacking in grace. *  

*   Bathyllus was a celebrated pantomime-dancer. Philonides, it would seem, sung his pieces himself. In these pieces one singer and one dancer took all the different parts, which, of course, were played one after the other.


[9.545]   { G-P 11 }   G

With a copy of Callimachus' Hecale

This chiselled poem is Callimachus', for in it he let out every reef of his Muse. He sings the hut of hospitable Hecale, *   and all the labours that Marathon imposed on Theseus. May the young strength of Theseus' hands be thine, Marcellus, and a life of equal renown.

*   Hecale was an old woman who entertained Theseus at Marathon when he went to combat the Marathonian bull.


[9.555]   { G-P 31 }   G

On the Island of Sybota *  

I am an island, small, seven stades long, though the geographers neglected (?) to measure me ; but still you will see that when I am ploughed I give birth to fat crops, and that I am rich in every kind of fruit, and have plenty of fish to catch, and cool breezes in the dog-days, and the gentleness of unruffled harbours. I am near Phaeacian Corcyra. So that I might be made fun of, I took this name of which I am highly proud.

*   "Pig-pasture".


[9.559]   { G-P 32 }   G

I am getting ready to sail to Italy, for I am on my way to my friends from whom I have been absent for so long. I am in search of a navigator to conduct me and bring me to the Cyclades and ancient Corcyra. But I beg for your help too, my friend Menippus, author of the learned circular tour *   and versed in all geography.

*   A periplus of the Mediterranean in three books.


[9.560]   { G-P 33 }   G

Earthquake, most dread of all shocks, whether you are aroused by the upshaken currents of the sea or of the winds, spare my new-built house, for I know not yet any terror to equal the quivering of the earth.


[9.562]   { G-P 24 }   G

The parrot that talks with human voice, taking leave of his wicker cage, flew to the woods on his many-coloured wings, and ever assiduous in greeting famous Caesar, did not forget that name even in the mountains. All the birds, sharpening their wits to learn, strove among each other which should be the first to say Chaire *   to the god. Orpheus made the beasts obey him in the hills, and now every bird tunes its voice for you, Caesar, unbidden.

*   "Hail".


[10.24]   { G-P 34 }   G

Holy spirit of the mighty Earth-shaker {Poseidon}, be gracious to others, too, who cross the Aegean sea. For to me, driven swiftly by the Thracian breeze, *   you have gently granted the harbour I wished to reach.

*   The north wind, the most favourable in summer.


[11.42]   { G-P 35 }   G

Though your life be always sedentary, and you have never sailed on the sea or traversed the high roads of the land, yet set your foot on the Attic soil, that you may see those long nights of Demeter's holy rites, whereby while you are among the living your mind shall be free from care, and when you go to join the greater number it shall be lighter.


[16.40]   { G-P 36 }   G

Not only three Fortunes *   should be your neighbours, Crispus, because of the great riches of your heart, but all the fortunes of all the world ; for to so great a man what honour shall suffice for his infinite benevolence to his friends ? But now may Caesar, who is even more powerful than these Fortunes, raise you to higher dignities. What fortune stands firm without him ?

*   Statues of Fortune erected near the house of Crispus. This Crispus is probably the nephew of Sallust, to whom Horace's Ode ii.2 is addresaed.


[16.61]   { G-P 28 }   G

East and West are the limits of the world, and through both ends of the earth passed the exploits of Nero. *   The Sun as he rose saw Armenia subdued by his hands and Germany as he went down the sky. Let us sing his double victory in war ; Araxes knows it and Rhine, drunk now by enslaved peoples.

*   the future emperor Tiberius.


[16.199]   { G-P 50 }   G

On a Statue of Love Bound

Weep and moan, you artful schemer, the sinews of your hands made fast : you have your just deserts. None will untie you ; make not those piteous faces ; for you yourself, Love, didst wring the tears from other eyes, and piercing the heart with your bitter darts, didst instil the venom of desire that takes fast hold. The woes of mortals are your sport. You have suffered what you have done. An excellent thing is justice.


[16.273]   { G-P 51 }   G

On a Picture of the Physician Praxagoras

The son of Phoebus *   himself, anointing his hand with juice of the all-healing herb, rubbed into your breast, Praxagoras, the pain-stilling science of medicine. Therefore you know from gentle Hepione herself all woes that spring from long fevers, and what drugs it is fitting to lay on flesh cut by the knife. If mortals had sufficient of such healers, the ferry boat heavy with the dead would never have crossed the river.

*   Asclepius; Hepione is his wife.


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