Greek Anthology: Book 3


Translated by W.R.Paton. The Greek text of the epigrams can be found on Perseus.

In the temple at Cyzicus of Apollonis, the mother of Attalus and Eumenes, inscribed on the tablets of the columns, which contained scenes in relief, as follows :-

[1] On Dionysus conducting his mother Semele to heaven, preceded by Hermes, Satyrs, and Sileni escorting them with Torches.

The fair-haired daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, slain in childbirth by the bolt of Zeus, is being led up from Acheron by her son Dionysus, the thyrsus-lover, who avenges the godless insolence of Pentheus.

[2] Telephus recognised by his Mother.

Leaving the valleys of Arcadia because of my mother Auge, I Telephus, myself the dear son of Heracles, set foot on this Teuthranian land, that I might bring her back to Arcadia.

[3] Phoenix blinded by his father Amyntor, whom his own wife Alcimede attempts to restrain.

Alcimede is holding back her husband Amyntor from their son Phoenix, wishing to appease his father's wrath. He quarrelled with his father for his virtuous mother's sake, because he desired to lie with a slave concubine. His father, listening to crafty whispered slander, was wrath with the young man, and approached him with a torch to burn out his eyes.

[4] Polymedes and Clytius, the sons of Phineus the Thracian, who slew their father's Phrygian wife, because he took her to wife while still married to their mother Cleopatra.

Clytius and Polymedes, renowned for wisdom, are slaying their Phrygian stepmother for their own mother's sake. Cleopatra therefore is glad of heart, having seen the wife of Phineus justly slain.

[5] Cresphontes is killing Polyphontes, the slayer of his father ; Merope is there holding a staff and helping her son to slay him.

Thou didst formerly slay, O Polyphontes, the father of Cresphontes, desiring to defile the bed of his wedded wife. And long after came his son to avenge his father's murder, and slew thee for the sake of his mother Merope. Therefore hath he planted his spear in thy back, and she is helping, striking thee on the forehead with a heavy staff.

[6] The Pytho slain by Apollo and Artemis, because it appeared and prevented Leto from approaching the oracle at Delphi which she went to occupy.

Leto in utter loathing is turning away from the earthborn Pytho, a creeping thing, all confusedly coiled ; for it wishes to annoy the wise goddess : but Phoebus, shooting from the height, lays it low in its blood. He shall make the Delphian tripod inspired, but the Pytho shall yield up its life with groans and bitter hisses.


[7] The story of Zethus and Amphion. They are tying Dirce to the bull, because instigated by jealousy she treated with excessive harshness their mother Antiope, whom her father, Nycteus, owing to her seduction, abandoned to Lycus, Dirce's husband.

Amphion and Zethus, scions of Zeus, slay this woman Dirce, the injurer of your mother Antiope, whom formerly she kept in prison owing to her jealous spite, but whom she now beseeches with tears. Attach her to the bull with a double rope, that it may drag her body through this thicket.

[8] Odysseus in Hades questioning his mother Anticleia concerning affairs at home.

Anticleia, mother of wise Odysseus, you did not live to receive your son in Ithaca ; but now he marvels, seeing you, his sweet mother, on the shore of Acheron.

[9] Pelias and Neleus, the sons of Poseidon, delivering from bonds their mother Tyro, whom her father Salmoneus imprisoned owing to her seduction, and whom her step-mother Sidero tortured.

Let not the bonds of Sidero torment thee any longer, Tyro, crouching before this thy father, Salmoneus ; for he shall not keep thee in bondage longer, now he sees Neleus and Pelias approach to restrain him.


[10] The recognition of Eunous and Thoas, the children of Hypsipyle, by their mother. They are showing her the golden vine, the token of their birth, and saving her from her punishment at the hands of Eurydice for the death of Archemorus.

Show, Thoas, this plant of Bacchus, for so shall you save from death thy mother, the slave Hypsipyle, who suffered from the wrath of Eurydice, since the earth-born snake slew Archemorus. And go thou too, Eunous, leaving the borders of the Asopian land, to take thy mother to pleasant Lemnos.

[11] Polydectes the King of Seriphus being turned into stone by Perseus with the Gorgon's head. He had sent Perseus to seek this in order to marry his mother, and the death he had designed for another he suffered himself by the providence of Justice.

Thou didst dare, Polydectes, to defile the bed of Danaē, succeeding Zeus in unholy wedlock. Therefore, Perseus here uncovered the Gorgon's eyes and made thy limbs stone, to do pleasure to his mother.

[12] Ixion killing Phorbas and Polymelus, for their murder of his mother Megara. They slew her out of anger, because she would not consent to marry either of them.

Ixion, whom you see, laid low Phorbas and Polymelus, taking vengeance on them for their vengeance on his mother.

[13] Heracles leading his mother Alcmene to the Elysian Plains to wed her to Rhadamanthys, and his own reception into the number of the gods.

Bold Heracles gave this his mother Alcmene in holy wedlock to Rhadamanthys.

[14] Tityus shot down by Apollo and Artemis for daring to assault their mother Leto.

Lustful and drunk with folly, why did you try to force the bride of Zeus, who now, as you deserved, bathed you in blood and left you righteously on the ground, food for beasts and birds.

[15] Bellerophon saved by his son Glaucus, when having fallen from the back of Pegasus into the Aleian plain he was about to be killed by Megapenthes, the son of Proetus.

No longer could Bellerophon stay the murderous hand of this son of Proetus, nor the death designed for him by his father. Glaucus, in vain you fear for him (?) ; he shall escape the plot of Iobates, for thus the Fates decreed. Yourself, too, then did shield your father from death, standing near him, and were an observant witness to the truth of the glorious story.

[16] At the door of the temple as we approach it are Aeolus and Boeotus, the sons of Poseidon, delivering their mother Melanippe from the fetters in which she was placed by her father owing to her seduction.

Aeolus and Boeotus, a clever and pious task ye performed in saving your mother from death. Therefore ye were proved to be brave men, one of you from Aeolis, the other from Boeotia.

[17] Anapis and Amphinomus, who on the occasion of the eruption in Sicily carried through the flames to safety their parents and nought else.

[ The epigram has perished. ]

[18] Cleobis and Biton, who enabled their mother Cydippe, the priestess of Hera at Argos, to sacrifice, by putting their own necks under the yoke, when the oxen delayed. They say she was so pleased that she prayed to Hera that the highest human happiness possible for man should befall her sons; thus she prayed, and that night they died.

This story of Cydippe and her sons' piety is not false, but has the beauty of truth. A delightful labour and a seasonable for men was theirs ; they undertook a glorious task out of piety to their mother. Rejoice even among the dead ye men famous for your piety and may you alone have age-long story.

[19] Romulus and Remus deliver their mother Servilia from the cruelty of Amulius. Mars had seduced her, and they were his children. They were exposed, and suckled by a wolf. When they came to man's estate, they delivered their mother from bondage. After founding Rome they re-established Numitor in the kingdom.

Thou didst bear secretly this offspring to Ares, Romulus and Remus, at one birth. A she-wolf brought them up in a cave, and they delivered thee by force from woe ill to cure.

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