Meleager : Epigrams

The Epigrams of Meleager of Gadara have been preserved in the Greek Anthology. Meleager made a major contribution to the Anthology, by compiling the first known collection of epigrams, his "Garland", in the early part of the 1st century B.C.; and he included many of his own love poems.

All of his surviving epigrams are shown here, in the order that they appear scattered throughout the 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: Hellenistic 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 - 132):  

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; an index of names is available separately.   Click on G to go to the Greek text of each epigram.

[4.1]   { G-P 1 }   G


The names of the poets, whose epigrams have not been preserved in the Anthology, are printed in italics.

1 To whom, dear Muse, do you bring these varied fruits of song, or who was it who wrought this garland of poets ? The work was Meleager's, and he laboured on it to give it as a keepsake to glorious Diocles. Many lilies of Anyte he inwove, and many of Moero, of Sappho few flowers, but they are roses ; narcissus, too, heavy with the clear song of Melanippides and a young branch of the vine of Simonides ; and therewith he wove in the sweet-scented lovely iris of Nossis, the wax for whose writing-tablets Love himself melted ; and with it marjoram from fragrant Rhianus, and Erinna's sweet crocus, maiden-hued, the hyacinth of Alcaeus, the vocal poets' flower, and a dark-leaved branch of Samius' laurel.

15 He wove in too the luxuriant ivy-clusters of Leonidas and the sharp needles of Mnasalcas' pine ; the deltoid *   plane-leaves of the song of Pamphilus he plucked intangled with Pancrates' walnut branches ; and the graceful poplar leaves of Tymnes, the green wild thyme of Nicias and the spurge of Euphemus that grows on the sands ; Damagetus, the dark violet, too, and the sweet myrtle of Callimachus, ever full of harsh honey : and Euphorion's lychnis and the Muses' cyclamen which takes its name from the twin sons of Zeus {Dioscuri}.

*   The word means bandy-legged, and I think refers to the shape of the leaves.

25 And with these he inwove Hegesippus' maenad clusters and Perseus' aromatic rush, the sweet apple also from the boughs of Diotimus and the first flowers of Menecrates' pomegranate, branches of Nicaenetus' myrrh, and Phaennus' terebinth, and the tapering wild pear of Simmias; and from the meadow where grows her perfect celery he plucked but a few blooms of Parthenis to inweave with the yellow-eared corn gleaned from Bacchylides, fair fruit on which the honey of the Muses drops.

35 He plaited in too Anacreon's sweet lyric song, and a bloom that may not be sown in verse *   ; and the flower of Archilochus' crisp-haired cardoon - a few drops from the ocean ; and therewith young shoots of Alexander's olive and the blue corn-flower of Polycleitus ; the amaracus of Polystratus, too, he inwove, the poet's flower, and a fresh scarlet gopher from Antipater, and the Syrian spikenard of Hermodorus ; he added the wild field-flowers of Poseidippus and Hedylus, and the anemones of Sicelides {Asclepiades} ; yes indeed, and the golden bough of Plato, ever divine, all shining with virtue ; and Aratus he set in there, wise in star-lore, cutting the first-born branches from a heaven-seeking palm ; and the fair-tressed lotus of Chaeremon mingled with Phaedimus' phlox, and Antagoras' sweetly-turning oxeye, and Theodoridas' newly flowered thyme that loves wine, and the blossom of Phanias' bean and the newly written buds of many others, and with all these the still early white violets of his own Muse.

*   The name would not go into elegiac metre. We are left to guess what it was.

57 To my friends I make the gift, but this sweet-voiced garland of the Muses is common to all the initiated.

[5.8]   { G-P 69 }   G

O holy Night, and Lamp, we both chose no confidants but you of our oaths : and he swore to love me and I never to leave him ; and you were joint witnesses. But now he says those oaths were written in running water, and you, O Lamp, see him in the bosom of others.

[5.24]   { G-P 41 }   G

-- Attributed to Philodemus, but probably by Meleager.

My soul warns me to fly from the love of Heliodora, for well it knows the tears and jealousies of the past. It commands, but I have no strength to fly, for the shameless girl herself warns me to leave her, and even while she warns she kisses me.

[5.57]   { G-P 14 }   G

Love, if you burn too often my scorched soul, she will fly away ; she too, cruel boy, has wings.

[5.96]   { G-P 59 }   G

Timariŏn, your kiss is bird-lime, your eyes are fire. If you look at me, you burn, if you touch me, you have caught me fast.

[5.136]   { G-P 42 }   G

To the Cup-bearer

Fill up the cup and say again, again, again, "Heliodora's." Speak the sweet name, temper the wine with but that alone. And give me, though it be last night's, the garland dripping with scent to wear in memory of her. Look how the rose that favours Love is weeping, because it sees her elsewhere and not in my bosom.

[5.137]   { G-P 43 }   G

To the Cup-bearer

One ladle for Heliodora Peitho and one for Heliodora Cypris and one for Heliodora, the Grace sweet of speech. For I describe her as one goddess, whose beloved name I mix in the wine to drink.

[5.139]   { G-P 29 }   G

Sweet is the melody, by Arcadian Pan, that you strike from your lyre, Zenophila ; yes, by Pan, passing sweet is your touch. Whither shall I fly from you ? The Loves encompass me around, and give me not even a little time to take breath ; for either Beauty throws desire at me, or the Muse, or the Grace or - what shall I say ? All of these ! I burn with fire.

[5.140]   { G-P 30 }   G

The melodious Muses, giving skill to your touch, and Peitho endowing your speech with wisdom, and Eros guiding your beauty aright, invested you, Zenophila, with the sovereignty of the Loves, since the Graces three gave you three graces.

[5.141]   { G-P 44 }   G

By Love I swear, I had rather hear Heliodora's whisper in my ear than the harp of the son of Leto.

[5.143]   { G-P 45 }   G

The flowers are fading that crown Heliodora's brow, but she glows brighter and crowns the wreath.

[5.144]   { G-P 31 }   G

Already the white violet is in flower and narcissus that loves the rain, and the lilies that haunt the hillside, and already she is in bloom, Zenophila, love's darling, the sweet rose of Persuasion, flower of the flowers of spring. Why do you laugh joyously, O meadows, full of pride in your bright tresses ? More to be preferred than all sweet-smelling posies is she.

[5.147]   { G-P 46 }   G

I will plait in white violets and tender narcissus mid myrtle berries, I will plait laughing lilies too and sweet crocus and purple hyacinths and the roses that take joy in love, so that the wreath set on Heliodora's brow, Heliodora with the scented curls, may scatter flowers on her lovely hair.

[5.148]   { G-P 47 }   G

I foretell that one day in story sweet-spoken Heliodora will surpass by her graces the Graces themselves.

[5.149]   { G-P 32 }   G

Who pointed Zenophila out to me, my talkative mistress ? Who brought to me one of the three Graces ? He really did a graceful deed, giving me a present and throwing in the Grace herself gratis.

[5.151]   { G-P 33 }   G

O shrill-voiced mosquitoes, you shameless pack, suckers of men's blood, Night's winged beasts of prey, let Zenophila, I beseech ye, sleep a little in peace, and come and devour these my limbs. But why do I supplicate in vain ? Even pitiless wild beasts rejoice in the warmth of her tender body. But I give ye early warning, cursed creatures : no more of this audacity, or ye shall feel the strength of jealous hands.

[5.152]   { G-P 34 }   G

Fly for me, mosquito, swiftly upon my message, and lighting on the rim of Zenophila's ear whisper thus into it : "He lies awake expecting you, and you sleep, you sluggard, who forget those who love you." Whrr ! away ! yes, sweet piper, away ! But speak lowly to her, lest you awake her companion of the night and arouse jealousy of me to pain her. But if you bring me the girl, I will hood your head, mosquito, with the lion's skin and give you a club to carry in your hand. *  

*   i.e. I will give you the attributes of Heracles.

[5.154]   { G-P 63 }   G

By Cypris, swimming through the blue waves, Tryphera is truly by right of her beauty tryphera {"delicate"}.

[5.155]   { G-P 48 }   G

Within my heart Love himself fashioned sweet-spoken Heliodora, soul of my soul.

[5.156]   { G-P 25 }   G

Love-loving Asclepias, with her clear blue eyes, like summer seas, persuades all to make the love-voyage.

[5.157]   { G-P 49 }   G

Love made it grow and sharpened it, Heliodora's finger-nail ; for her light scratching reaches to the heart.

[5.160]   { G-P 26 }   G

White-cheeked Demo, someone holds you naked next to him and is taking his delight, but my own heart groans within me. If your lover is some Sabbath-keeper *   no great wonder ! Love burns hot even on cold Sabbaths.

*   i.e. a Jew.

[5.163]   { G-P 50 }   G

O flower-nurtured bee, why do you desert the buds of spring and light on Heliodora's skin ? Are you indicating that she has both sweets and the sting of Love, hard to bear and ever bitter to the heart ? Yes, I think, this is what you are saying. "Off with you back to your flowers, you flirt ! It is stale news that you bring me."

[5.165]   { G-P 51 }   G

Mother of all the gods, dear Night, one thing I beg, yes I pray to you, holy Night, companion of my revels. If someone lies cosy beneath Heliodora's mantle, warmed by her body's touch that cheats sleep, let the lamp close its eyes and let him, cradled on her bosom, lie there a second Endymion. *  

*   i.e. sound asleep

[5.166]   { G-P 52 }   G

O night, O longing for Heliodora that keeps me awake, O tormenting visions of the dawn full of tears and joy, *   is there any relic left of her love for me ? Is the memory of my kiss still warm in the cold ashes of fancy ? Has she no bed-fellow but her tears and does she clasp to her bosom and kiss the cheating dream of me ? Or is there another new love, new dalliance ? May you never look on this, dear lamp ; but guard her well whom I committed to your care.

*   The text is corrupt here, and no satisfactory emendation has been proposed. The rendering is therefore quite conjectural.

[5.171]   { G-P 35 }   G

The wine-cup feels sweet joy and tells me how it touches the prattling mouth of Zenophila, the friend of love. Happy cup ! Would she would set her lips to mine and drink up my soul at one draught.

[5.172]   { G-P 27 }   G

Why do you, Morning Star, the foe of love, look down on my bed so early, just as I lie warm in dear Demo's arms ? Would that you could reverse your swift course and be the Star of Eve again, you whose sweet rays fall on me most bitter. Once of old, when he lay with Alcmene, you turned back in sight of Zeus ; you are not unpractised in going backwards in your track.

[5.173]   { G-P 28 }   G

O Morning-star, the foe of love, slowly do you revolve around the world, now that another lies warm beneath Demo's mantle. But when my slender love lay in my bosom, you came quickly to stand over us, as if shedding on me a light that rejoiced at my grief.

[5.174]   { G-P 36 }   G

You are asleep, Zenophila, tender flower. Would I were Sleep, though wingless, to creep under your lashes, so that not even he who lulls the eyes of Zeus might visit you, but I might have you all to myself.

[5.175]   { G-P 70 }   G

I know your oath is void, for they betray your wantonness, these locks still moist with scented essences. They betray you, your eyes all heavy for want of sleep, and the garland's track all round your head. Your ringlets are in unchaste disorder all freshly tousled, and all your limbs are tottering with the wine. Away from me, public woman ; they are calling you, the lyre that loves the revel and the clatter of the castanets rattled by the fingers.

[5.176]   { G-P 6 }   G

Dreadful is Love, dreadful ! But what avails it though I say it again and yet again and with many a sigh, "Love is dreadful" ? For verily the boy laughs at this, and delights in being ever reproached, and if I curse, he even grows apace. It is a wonder to me, Cypris, how you, who rose from the green sea, could bring forth fire from water.

[5.177]   { G-P 37 }   G

The town-crier is supposed to speak

Lost ! Love, wild Love ! Even now at dawn he went his way, taking wing from his bed. The boy is thus, - sweetly-tearful, ever chattering, quick and impudent, laughing with a sneer, with wings on his back, and a quiver slung on it. As for his father's name I can't give it you ; for neither Sky nor Earth nor Sea confess to the rascal's parentage. For everywhere and by all he is hated ; but look to it in case he is setting now new snares for hearts. But wait ! there he is near his nest ! Ah ! little archer, so you thought to hide from me there in Zenophila's eyes !

[5.178]   { G-P 38 }   G

Sell it ! though it is still sleeping on its mother's breast. Sell it ! why should I bring up such a little devil ? For it is snub-nosed, and has little wings, and scratches lightly with its nails, and while it is crying often begins to laugh. Besides, it is impossible to suckle it ; it is always chattering and has the keenest of eyes, and it is savage and even its dear mother can't tame it. It is a monster all round ; so it shall be sold. If any trader who is just leaving wants to buy a baby, let him come hither. But look ! it is supplicating, all in tears. Well ! I will not sell you then. Be not afraid ; you shall stay here to keep Zenophila company.

[5.179]   { G-P 7 }   G

By Cypris, Love, I will throw them all in the fire, your bow and Scythian quiver charged with arrows. Yes, I will burn them, by - . Why laugh so foolishly and snicker, turning up your nose ? I will soon make you laugh to another tune. I will cut those rapid wings that show Desire the way, and chain your feet with brazen fetters. But a sorry victory shall I gain if I chain you next to my heart, like a wolf by a sheep-fold. *   No! be off! you are hard to conquer; take besides these light, winged shoes, and spreading your swift wings go visit others.

*   Literally, "a lynx by a sheep-fold."

[5.180]   { G-P 8 }   G

What wonder if murderous Love shoots those arrows that breathe fire, and laughs bitterly with cruel eyes ! Is not Ares his mother's lover, and Hephaestus her lord, the fire and the sword sharing her ? And his mother's mother Thalassa {the Sea}, does she not roar savagely flogged by the winds ? And his father has neither name nor pedigree. So hath he Hephaestus' fire, and yearns for anger like the waves, and loves Ares' shafts dipped in blood.

[5.182]   { G-P 71 }   G

Give her this message, Dorcas ; look ! tell her it twice and repeat the whole a third time. Off with you ! don't delay, fly ! - just wait a moment, Dorcas ! Dorcas, where are you off to before I've told you all? Just add to what I told you before - or rather (what a fool I am !) don't say anything at all - only that - Tell her everything, don't hesitate to say everything. But why am I sending you, Dorcas ? Don't you see I am going with you - in front of you ?

[5.184]   { G-P 72 }   G

I know it ; you did not take me in ; why call on the gods ? I have found you out ; I am certain ; don't go on swearing you didn't ; I know all about it. That was what it was then, you perjured girl ! Once more you sleep alone, do you, alone ? Oh her brazen impudence ! still she continues to say "Alone." Did not that fine gallant Cleon, eh ? - and if not he - but why threaten ? Away with you, get out double quick, you evil beast of my bed ! Nay but I shall do just what will please you best ; I know you long to see him ; so stay where you are my prisoner.

[5.187]   { G-P 58 }   G

Tell to Lycaenis, Dorcas, "See how your kisses are proved to be false coin. Time will always reveal a counterfeit love."

[5.190]   { G-P 64 }   G

O briny wave of Love, and sleepless gales of Jealousy, and wintry sea of song and wine, where am I being carried ? This way and that shifts the abandoned rudder of my judgement. Shall we ever set eyes again on tender Scylla ?

[5.191]   { G-P 73 }   G

O stars, and moon, that lightest well Love's friends on their way, and Night, and you, my little mandolin, companion of my serenades, shall I see her, the wanton one, yet lying awake and crying much to her lamp ; or has she some companion of the night ? Then will I hang at her door my suppliant garlands, all wilted with my tears, and inscribe thereon but these words, "Cypris, to you does Meleager, he to whom you have revealed the secrets of your revels, suspend these spoils of his love."

[5.192]   { G-P 57 }   G

Stranger, were you to see Callistiŏn naked, you would say that the double letter of the Syracusans { Χ } has been changed into T. *  

*   She should have been called Callischion, "with beautiful flanks."

[5.195]   { G-P 39 }   G

The Graces three wove a triple crown for Zenophila, a badge of her triple beauty. One laid desire on her skin and one gave love-longing to her shape, and one to her speech sweetness of words. Thrice blessed she, whose bed Cypris made, whose words were wrought by Peitho {"Persuasion"} and her sweet beauty by Love.

[5.196]   { G-P 40 }   G

Zenophila's beauty is Love's gift, Cypris charmed her bed, and the Graces gave her grace.

[5.197]   { G-P 23 }   G

Yes ! by Timo's fair-curling love-loving ringlets, by Demo's fragrant skin that cheats sleep, by the dear dalliance of Ilias, and my wakeful lamp, that looked often on the mysteries of my love-revels, I swear to you, Love, I have but a little breath left on my lips, and if you would have this too, speak but the word and I will spit it forth.

[5.198]   { G-P 24 }   G

No, by Timo's locks, by Heliodora's sandal, by Demo's door that drips with scent, by great-eyed Anticleia's gentle smile, by the fresh garlands on Dorothea's brow, I swear it, Love, your quiver has no winged arrows left hidden ; for all your shafts are fixed in me.

[5.204]   { G-P 60 }   G

No longer, Timo, do the timbers of your spruce corsair hold out against the strokes of Cypris' oarsmen, but your back is bent like a yard-arm lowered, and your grey forestays are slack, and your relaxed breasts are like flapping sails, and the belly of your ship is wrinkled by the tossing of the waves, and below she is all full of bilge-water and flooded with the sea, and her joints are shaky. Unhappy he who has to sail still alive across the lake of Acheron on this old coffin-galley. *  

*   Another pun on kelēs, but here with the meaning of a boat.

[5.208]   { G-P 9 }   G

I do not have a boy-mad heart. What pleasure is there, Loves, in mounting a man, if he wants to take something without giving anything? For one hand washes the other. *   Let a lovely wife remain for me; begone, all you men with your masculine pincers.

*   A saying attributed to Epicharmus: "The hand washes the hand; give something and you may get something".

[5.212]   { G-P 10 }   G

The noise of Love is ever in my ears, and my eyes in silence bring their tribute of sweet tears to Desire. Nor night nor daylight lays love to rest, and already the spell has set its well-known stamp on my heart. O winged Loves, how is it that you are able to fly to us, but have no strength at all to fly away ?

[5.214]   { G-P 53 }   G

This Love that dwells with me is fond of playing at ball, and to you, Heliodora, he throws the heart that quivers in me. But come, consent to play with him, for if you throw me away from you he will not permit this wanton transgression of the courtesies of sport.

[5.215]   { G-P 54 }   G

I pray you, Love, reverence the Muse who intercedes for me and lull to rest this my sleepless passion for Heliodora. I swear it by your bow that has learnt to shoot none else, but ever pours the winged shafts upon me, that even if you slay me I will leave letters speaking thus : "Look, O stranger, upon the murderous work of Love."

[6.162]   { G-P 11 }   G

Meleager dedicates to you, dear Cypris, the lamp his play-fellow, that is initiated into the secrets of your night festival.

[6.163]   { G-P 120 }   G

What mortal hung here on the wall these spoils in which it were disgraceful for Ares to take delight ? Here are set no jagged spears, no plumeless helmet, no shield stained with blood ; but all are so polished, so undinted by the steel, as if they were spoils of the dance and not of the battle. With these adorn a bridal chamber, but let the precinct of Ares contain arms dripping with the blood of men.

[7.13]   { G-P Leonidas_98 }   G


On Erinna

As Erinna, the maiden honey-bee, the new singer in the poets' choir, was gathering the flowers of the Muses, Hades carried her off to wed her. That was a true word, indeed, the girl spoke when she lived : "Hades, you are an envious god."

[7.79]   { G-P 121 }   G

On Heracleitus of Ephesus

A. " Sir, I am Heracleitus, and assert that I alone discovered wisdom, and my services to my country were better than wisdom. Yes Sir ; for I chastised even my own parents, evil-minded folks, with insults."   B. "A fine return for your bringing up ! "   A. " Be off! "   B. "Don't be rough."   A. "Because you may soon hear something rougher than my people heard from me."   B. "Farewell."   A. "And you get out of Ephesus." *  

*   The epigram is obscure and the arrangement of the dialogue doubtful. I follow Headlam (Class.Rev. xv. p. 401).

[7.182]   { G-P 123 }   G

No husband but Death did Clearista receive on her bridal night as she loosed her maiden girdle. Just now at eve the flutes were making music at the door of the bride, the portals of her chamber echoed to knocking hands. And at morn the death wail was loud, the bridal song was hushed and changed to a voice of wailing. The same torches that flamed round her marriage bed lighted her dead on her downward way to Hades.

[7.195]   { G-P 12 }   G

{This and 196 are not epitaphs but amatory poems}

Locust, beguiler of my loves, persuader of sleep , locust, shrill-winged Muse of the corn fields, Nature's mimic lyre, play for me some tune I love, beating with your dear feet your talking wings, that so, locust, you may deliver me from the pains of sleepless care, weaving a song that entices Love away. And in the morning I will give you a fresh green leek, and drops of dew sprayed from my mouth. *  

*   Literally "divided by my mouth." He means water blown out in a spray from the mouth, as I have often seen done to freshen tobacco that was dry.

[7.196]   { G-P 13 }   G

On a Cicada

Noisy cicada, drunk with dew drops, you sing your rustic ditty that fills the wilderness with voice, and seated on the edge of the leaves, striking with saw-like legs your sunburnt skin you shrill music like the lyre's. But sing, dear, some new tune to gladden the woodland nymphs, strike up some strain responsive to Pan's pipe, that I may escape from Love and snatch a little midday sleep, reclining here beneath the shady plane-tree.

[7.207]   { G-P 65 }   G

I was a swift-footed long-eared leveret, torn from ray mother's breast while yet a baby, and sweet Phaniŏn cherished and reared me in her bosom, feeding me on flowers of spring. No longer did I pine for my mother, but I died of surfeiting, fattened by too many banquets. Close to her couch she buried me so that ever in her dreams she might see my grave beside her bed.

[7.352]   { G-P 132 }   G

-- Anonymous, by some attributed to MELEAGER

We swear by the right hand of Hades and the dark couch of Persephone whom none may name, *   that we are truly virgins even here under ground ; but bitter Archilochus poured floods of abuse on our maidenhood, directing to no noble end but to war with women the noble language of his verse. O Muses, who show favour to an impious man, why did you turn upon girls those scandalous iambics ?

*   i.e. whose mystic name it was not allowed to utter.

[7.417]   { G-P 2 }   G

Island Tyre was my nurse, and Gadara, which is Attic {in culture}, but lies in Syria, gave birth to me. From Eucrates I sprung, Meleager, who first by the help of the Muses ran abreast of the Graces of Menippus. *   If I am a Syrian, what wonder? Stranger, we dwell in one country, the world ; one Chaos gave birth to all mortals. In my old age I wrote these lines in my tablets before my burial ; for age and death are near neighbours. Speak a word to wish me, the loquacious old man, well, and may you reach a loquacious old age yourself.

*   He wrote besides his epigrams satires in which he imitated Menippus.

[7.418]   { G-P 3 }   G

My first country was famous Gadara ; then Tyre received me and brought me up to manhood. When I reached old age, Cos, which nurtured Zeus, *   made me one of her Meropian citizens and cared for my declining years. But the Muses adorned me, Meleager son of Eucrates, more than most men with the Graces of Menippus.

*   Ptolemy Philadelphus, who was brought up in Cos ; cf. Theocr. 17. 68.

[7.419]   { G-P 4 }   G

Go noiselessly by, stranger; the old man sleeps among the pious dead, wrapped in the slumber that is the lot of all. This is Meleager, the son of Eucrates, who linked sweet tearful Love and the Muses with the merry Graces. Heavenborn Tyre and Gadara's holy soil reared him to manhood, and beloved Cos of the Meropes tended his old age. If you are a Syrian, salam ! if you are a Phoenician, naidios *   ! if you are a Greek, chaire {"hail"} ! and say the same yourself.

*   This Phoenician word for "Hail" is uncertain. Plautus gives it as "haudoni." { See Menahem Luz, "Salam, Meleager!" ( ). }

[7.421]   { G-P 5 }   G

An enigmatic epitaph on himself

You with the wings, what pleasure have you in the hunting spear and boar-skin? Who are you, and the emblem of whose tomb? For Love I cannot call you. What ! does Desire dwell next the dead ? No ! the bold boy never learnt to wail. Nor yet are you swift-footed Cronus; on the contrary, he is as old as old can be, and your limbs are in the bloom of youth. Then - yes, I think I am right - he beneath the earth was a sophist, and you are the winged word for which he was famed. You bear the double-edged attribute of Artemis *   in allusion to his laughter mixed with gravity and perhaps to the metre of his love verses. Yes, in truth, these symbols of boar-slaying point to his name-sake, Meleager, son of Oeneus. Hail, even among the dead, you who fitted together into one work of wisdom, Love, the Muses and the Graces.

*   The hunting spear.

[7.428]   { G-P 122 }   G

On Antipater of Sidon

Tell me, O stone, why does this bright-eyed cock stand on you as an emblem, bearing a sceptre in his lustrous wing and seizing in his claws the branch of victory, while cast at the very edge of the base lies a die? Do you cover some sceptred king victorious in battle? But why is the die your plaything? And besides, why is the tomb so simple ? It would suit a poor man woken up at night by the crowing of the cock. But I don't think that is right, for the sceptre tells against it. Then you cover an athlete, a winner in the foot-race ? No, I don't hit the mark with that either, for what resemblance does a swift-footed man bear to a die ? Now I have it : the palm does not mean victory, but prolific Tyre, the proud mother of palms, was the dead man's birthplace ; the cock signifies that he was a man who made himself heard, a champion too I suppose in love matters and a versatile songster. The sceptre he holds is emblematic of his speech and the die cast wide means that in his cups he fell and died. Well, these are symbols, but the stone tells us his name, Antipater, descended from most mighty ancestors.

[7.461]   { G-P 124 }   G

Hail earth, Mother of all ! Aesigenes was never a burden to you, and do you too hold him without weighing heavy on him.

[7.468]   { G-P 125 }   G

At eighteen, Charixenus, did your mother dress you in your chlamys *   to offer you, a woeful gift, to Hades. Even the very stones groaned aloud, when the young men your mates bore your corpse with wailing from the house. No wedding hymn, but a song of mourning did your parents chant. Alas for the breasts that suckled you cheated of their reward, alas for the travail endured in vain ! O Fate, you evil maiden, you are barren and you have spat to the winds a mother's love for her child. What remains but for your companions to regret you, for your parents to mourn you, and for those to whom you were unknown to pity when they are told of you.

*   The short cloak worn by ephebes.

[7.470]   { G-P 130 }   G

A. " Tell him who enquires, who and whose son you are."   B. " Philaulus son of Eucratides."   A. " And from whence do you say ? "   B. " . . ."   A. " What livelihood did you choose when alive ? "   B. " Not that from the plough nor that from ships, but that which is gained in the society of sages."   A. " Did you depart this life from old age or from sickness ? "   B. "Of my own will I came to Hades, having drunk of the Cean cup." *     A. "Were you old ? "   B. "Yes, very old."   A. "May the earth that rests on you be light, for the life you led was in accordance with wisdom and reason."

*   In Ceos old men, when incapable of work, are said to have been compelled to drink poison.

[7.476]   { G-P 56 }   G

Tears, the last gift of my love, even down through the earth I send to you in Hades, Heliodora - tears painful to shed, and on your much-wept tomb I pour them in memory of longing, in memory of affection. Piteously, piteously does Meleager lament for you, who are still dear to him in death, paying a vain tribute to Acheron. Alas ! Alas ! Where is my beautiful one, my heart's desire ? Death has taken her, has taken her, and the flower in full bloom is defiled by the dust. But Earth my mother, nurturer of all, I beseech you, clasp her gently to your bosom, her whom we all bewail.

[7.535]   { G-P 126 }   G

No longer do I, goat-footed Pan, desire to dwell among the goats or on the hill-tops. What pleasure, what delight have I in mountains ? Daphnis is dead, Daphnis who begot a fire in my heart. Here in the city will I dwell ; let some one else set forth to hunt the wild beasts ; Pan no longer loves his old life.

[9.16]   { G-P 74 }   G

The Graces are three, and three are the sweet virgin Hours, and three fierce girl Loves cast their arrows at me. Yes indeed, Love has prepared three bows prepared, as if he would wound in me not one heart, but three.

[9.331]   { G-P 127 }   G

On Wine and Water

The Nymphs washed Bacchus when he leapt from the fire above the ashes he had just been rolling in. *   Therefore Bacchus is your friend when united with the Nymphs, but if you prevent their union you will take to yourself a still burning fire.

*   He was born when his mother Semele was consumed by the lightning.

[9.363]   { - }   G

Windy winter has left the skies, and the purple season of flowery spring smiles. The dark earth garlands herself in green herbage, and the plants bursting into leaf wave their new-born tresses. The meadows, drinking the nourishing dew of dawn, laugh as the roses open. The shepherd on the hills delights to play shrilly on the pipes, and the goatherd joys in his white kids. Already the mariners sail over the broad billows, their sails bellied by the kindly Zephyr. Already, crowning their heads with the bloom of berried ivy, men cry euoi! to Dionysus the giver of the grape. The bees that the bull's carcase generates *   take thought of their artful labours, and seated on the hive they build the fresh white loveliness of their many-celled comb. The races of birds sing loud everywhere : the kingfishers by the waves, the swallows round the house, the swan by the river's brink, the nightingale in the grove. If the foliage of plants rejoices, and the earth flourishes, and the shepherd pipes, and the fleecy flocks disport themselves, and sailors sail, and Dionysus dances, and the birds sing, and the bees bring forth, how should a singer too not sing beautifully in the spring?

*   cp. Vergil, Georg. iv. 555.

[9.453]   { - }   G

Zeus who dwells in heaven, the ox itself, a suppliant at your altar, lows, begging to be saved from death. Release the plougher, son of Cronus ; for you yourself, O king, became a bull to bear Europa across the sea.

[12.23]   { G-P 99 }   G

I am caught, I who once laughed often at the serenades of young men crossed in love. And at your gate, Myiscus, winged Love has fixed me, inscribing on me "Spoils won from Chastity."

[12.33]   { G-P 90 }   G

Heracleitus was fair, when there was a Heracleitus, but now that his prime is past, a screen of hide *   declares war on those who would scale the fortress. But, son of Polyxenus, seeing this, be not insolently haughty. It is not only on the cheeks that Nemesis grows.

*   Such were used in war to defend walls.

[12.41]   { G-P 94 }   G

I do not count Theron fair any longer, nor Apollodotus, once gleaming like fire, but now already a burnt-out torch. I care for the love of women. Let it be for goat-mounting herds to press in their arms hairy minions.

[12.47]   { G-P 15 }   G

Love, the baby still in his mother's lap, playing at dice in the morning, played my soul away.

[12.48]   { G-P 16 }   G

I am down ; set your foot on my neck, fierce demon. I know you, yes by the gods, yes heavy you are to bear : I know, too, your fiery arrows. But if you set your torch to my heart, you will no longer burn it ; already it is all ash.

[12.49]   { G-P 113 }   G

Drink strong wine, O unhappy lover, and Bacchus, the giver of forgetfulness, shall send to sleep the flame of your love for the lad. Drink, and draining the cup full of the vine-juice drive out abhorred pain from your heart.

[12.52]   { G-P 81 }   G

The South Wind, blowing fair for sailors, O love-sick ones, has carried off Andragathus, my soul's half. Thrice happy the ships, thrice fortunate the waves of the sea, and four times blessed the wind that bears the boy. Would I were a dolphin that, carried on my shoulders, he could cross the seas to look on Rhodes, the home of sweet lads.

[12.53]   { G-P 66 }   G

Richly loaded ocean ships that sail down the Hellespont, taking to your bosoms the good North Wind, if by chance you see on the beach of Cos Phaniŏn gazing at the blue sea, give her this message, good ships, that Desire carries me there not on shipboard, but going by foot. *   For if you tell her this, O bearers of good tidings, then Zeus also will breathe the gale of his favour into your sails.

*   I think we must understand that he actually contemplated coming to Cos (or rather to the coast opposite) by land.

[12.54]   { G-P 82 }   G

Cypris denies that she gave birth to Love now that she sees Antiochus among the young men, a second Love. But, young men, love this new Love ; for of a truth this boy has proved to be a Love better than Love himself.

[12.56]   { G-P 110 }   G

Praxiteles the sculptor wrought a statue of Love in Parian marble, fashioning the son of Cypris. But now Love, the fairest of the gods, making his own image, hath moulded Praxiteles, a living statue, so that the one amid mortals and the other in heaven may be the dispenser of love-charms, and a Love may wield the sceptre on earth as among the immortals. Most blessed the holy city of the Meropes, *   which nurtured a new Love, son of a god, to be the prince of the young men.

*   Cos.

[12.57]   { G-P 111 }   G

Praxiteles the sculptor of old time wrought a delicate image, but lifeless, the dumb counterfeit of beauty, endowing the stone with form ; but this Praxiteles of to-day, creator of living beings by his magic, has moulded in my heart Love, the rogue of rogues. Perhaps indeed, his name only is the same, but his works are better, since he has transformed no stone, but the spirit of the mind. Graciously may he mould my character, that when he has formed it he may have within me a temple of Love, even my soul.

[12.59]   { G-P 100 }   G

Delicate children does Tyre nurture, so help me Love, but Myiscus is the sun that, when his light bursts forth, quenches the stars.

[12.60]   { G-P 95 }   G

If I see Theron, I see everything, but if I see everything and no Theron, I again see nothing.

[12.63]   { G-P 91 }   G

Heracleitus in silence speaks thus from his eyes : "I shall set aflame even the fire of the bolts of Zeus." Yes indeed, and from the bosom of Diodorus comes this voice : "I melt even stone warmed by my body's touch." Unhappy he who has received a torch from the eyes of the one, and from the other a sweet fire smouldering with desire.

[12.65]   { G-P 101 }   G

If Zeus still be he who stole Ganymedes in his prime so that he might have a cup-bearer of the nectar, I, too, may hide lovely Myiscus in my heart, lest before I know it he swoop on the boy with his wings.

[12.68]   { G-P 112 }   G

I do not wish Charidemus to be mine ; for the fair boy looks to Zeus, as if already serving the god with nectar. I wish it not. What profits it me to have the king of heaven as a competitor for victory in love ? I am content if only the boy, as he mounts to Olympus, take from earth my tears to wash his feet in memory of my love ; and could he but give me one sweet, melting glance and let our lips just meet as I snatch one kiss ! Let Zeus have all the rest, as is right ; but yet, if he were willing, perhaps I, too, should taste ambrosia.

[12.70]   { G-P 102 }   G

I will stand up even against Zeus if he would snatch you from me, Myiscus, to pour out the nectar for him. And yet Zeus often told me himself, "What do you dread ? I will not smite you with jealousy ; I have learnt to pity, for myself I have suffered." That is what he says, but I, if even a fly *   buzz past, am in dread lest Zeus prove a liar in my case.

*   i.e. no eagle, but a fly.

[12.72]   { G-P 92 }   G

Sweet dawn has come, and lying sleepless in the porch Damis is breathing out the little breath he has left, poor wretch, all for having looked on Heracleitus; for he stood under the rays of his eyes like wax thrown on burning coals. But come, awake, all luckless Damis ! I myself bear Love's wound, and shed tears for your tears.

[12.74]   { G-P 97 }   G

If I perish, Cleobulus (for cast, near all of me, into the flame of lads' love, I lie, a burnt remnant, in the ashes), I pray you make the urn drunk with wine before you lay it in earth, writing on it, "Love's gift to Death."

[12.76]   { G-P 89 }   G

If Love had neither bow, nor wings, nor quiver, nor the barbed arrows of desire dipped in fire, never, I swear it by the winged boy himself, could you tell from their form which is Zoilus and which is Love.

[12.78]   { G-P 83 }   G

If Love had a chlamys and no wings, and wore no bow and quiver on his back, but a petasus, *   yes, I swear it by the splendid youth himself, Antiochus would be Love, and Love, on the other hand, Antiochus.

*   The chlamys and petasus (a broad-brimmed hat) were the costume of the ephebes (youths of seventeen to twenty).

[12.80]   { G-P 17 }   G

Sore weeping soul, why is Love's wound that was healed inflamed again in your vitals ? No, No ! for God's sake, No ! For God's sake, O you lover of unwisdom, stir not the fire that yet glows under the ashes ! For if Love catch you again, unmindful of past woe, straightway he will torment the truant he has found.

[12.81]   { G-P 86 }   G

Love-sick deceivers of your souls, you who know the flame of lads' love, having tasted the bitter honey, pour about my heart cold water, cold, and quickly, water from new-melted snow. For I have dared to look on Dionysius. But, fellow-slaves, before it reaches my vitals, put out the fire in me.

[12.82]   { G-P 67 }   G

I made haste to escape from Love; but he, lighting a little torch from the ashes, found me in hiding. He bent not his bow, but the tips of his thumb and finger, and breaking off a pinch of fire secretly threw it at me. And from thence the flames rose about me on all sides. O Phaniŏn, *   little light that set ablaze in my heart a great fire.

*   In this and the following epigram he plays on her name, which means a little torch.

[12.83]   { G-P 68 }   G

Eros wounded me not with his arrows, nor as previously lighting his torch did he hold it blazing under my heart ; but bringing the little torch of Cypris with scented flame, the companion of the Loves in their revels, he struck my eyes with the tip of its flame. The flame has utterly consumed me, and that little torch proved to be a fire of the soul burning in my heart.

[12.84]   { G-P 114 }   G

Save me, good sirs ! No sooner, saved from the sea, have I set foot on land, fresh from my first voyage, than Love drags me here by force, and as if bearing a torch in front of me, turns me to look on the loveliness of a boy. I tread in his footing, and seizing on his sweet image, formed in air, I kiss it sweetly with my lips. Have I then escaped the briny sea but to cross on land the flood of Cypris that is far more bitter ?

[12.85]   { G-P 115 }   G

Receive me, O you carousers - the newly landed, escaped from the sea and from robbers, but perishing on land. For now just as, on leaving the ship, I had but set my foot on the earth, violent Love caught me and drags me here, here where I saw the boy go through the gate ; and although I do not wish it, I am borne hither swiftly by my feet, moving of their own accord. I come thus as a reveller filled with fire in my spirit, not with wine. But, dear strangers, help me a little, help me, strangers, and for the sake of Love the Hospitable *   receive me who, near to death, supplicate for friendship.

*   The title Xenios (Protector of strangers) was proper to Zeus. Meleager transfers it to Love.

[12.86]   { G-P 18 }   G

It is Cypris, a woman, who casts at us the fire of passion for women, but Love himself rules over desire for males. Whither shall I incline, to the boy or to his mother ? I tell you for sure that even Cypris herself will say, "The bold brat wins."

[12.92]   { G-P 116 }   G

O eyes, betrayers of the soul, boy-hunting hounds, your glances ever smeared with Cypris' bird-lime, you have seized on another Love, like sheep catching a wolf, or a crow a scorpion, or the ash the fire that smoulders beneath it. Do whatever you will. Why do you shed showers of tears and then run off again to Hicetas ? Roast yourselves in beauty, consume away now over the fire, for Love is an admirable cook of the soul.

[12.94]   { G-P 76 }   G

Delightful is Diodorus and the eyes of all are on Heracleitus, Dion is sweet-spoken, and Uliades has lovely loins. But, Philocles, touch the delicate-skinned one, and look on the next and speak to the third, and for the fourth - etcetera ; so that you may see how free from envy my mind is. But if you cast greedy eyes on Myiscus, may you never see beauty again. *

*   Many of the boys' names that appear in this and the following poem can be found also in 12.256 .

[12.95]   { G-P 77 }   G

Philocles, if you are beloved by the Loves and sweet-breathed Peitho, and the Graces that gather a nosegay of beauty, may you have your arm round Diodorus, may sweet Dorotheus stand before you and sing, may Callicrates lie on your knee, may Dion warm that well-aimed horn of yours by holding it in his hand, may Uliades peel it back, may Philon give you a sweet kiss, may Theron chatter, and may you squeeze the breast of Eudemus under his chlamys. For if God were to grant you all these delights, blessed man, what a Roman salad *   of boys you would dress.

*   I gather that a "Roman platter" was a large dish containing various hors-d'oeuvres, and not an elaborate made dish, but I find no information in dictionaries. { The meaning of this phrase is discussed by Kathryn Gutzwiller in "Belonging and Isolation in the Hellenistic World", chapter 3 ( Google Books ). }

[12.101]   { G-P 103 }   G

Myiscus, shooting me, whom the Loves could not wound, under the breast with his eyes, shouted out thus : "It is I who have struck him down, the over-bold, and see how I tread underfoot the arrogance of sceptred wisdom that sat on his brow." But I, just gathering breath enough, said to him, "Dear boy, why are you astonished ? Love brought down Zeus himself from Olympus."

[12.106]   { G-P 104 }   G

I know but one beauty in the world ; my greedy eye knows but one thing, to look on Myiscus, and for all else I am blind. He represents everything to me. Is it just on what will please the soul that the eyes look, the flatterers ?

[12.109]   { G-P 61 }   G

Delicate Diodorus, casting fire at the young men, has been caught by Timariŏn's wanton eyes, and bears, fixed in him, the bitter-sweet dart of Love, Verily this is a new miracle I see ; fire is ablaze, burnt by fire.

[12.110]   { G-P 105 }   G

There was lightning of sweet beauty ; see how he flashes flame from his eyes. Has Love produced a boy armed with the bolt of heaven ? Hail ! Myiscus, who brings to mortals the fire of the Loves, and may you shine on earth, a torch befriending me.

[12.113]   { G-P 62 }   G

Even Love himself, the winged, hath been made captive in the air, taken by your eyes, Timariŏn.

[12.114]   { G-P 75 }   G

Star of the Morning, hail, O herald of dawn ! and may you quickly come again, as the Star of Eve, bringing again in secret her whom you take away.

[12.117]   { G-P 19 }   G

"Let the die be cast ; light the torch ; I will go."   "Just look ! What daring, heavy with wine as you are !"   "What care besets you ? I will go revelling to her, I will go."   "Whither do you stray, my mind?"   "Does love take thought? Light up at once."   "And where is all your old study of logic ?"   "Away with the long labour of wisdom ; this one thing alone I know, that Love brought to naught the high mind of Zeus himself." *  

*   The poem is in the form of a dialogue with himself.

[12.119]   { G-P 20 }   G

I shall bear, Bacchus, your boldness, I swear it by yourself ; lead on, begin the revel ; you are a god ; govern a mortal heart. Born in the flame, you love the flame that love has, and again you lead me, your suppliant, in bonds. Truly you are a traitor and faithless, and while you bid us hide your mysteries, you would now bring mine to light.

[12.122]   { G-P 85 }   G

O Graces, looking straight on lovely Aristagoras, you took him in the embrace of your soft arms ; and therefore he shoots forth flame by his beauty, and talks sweetly when it is needed, and if he keep silent, his eyes prattle delightfully. Let him stray far away, I pray ; but what does that help ? For the boy, like Zeus from Olympus, has learnt of late to throw the lightning far.

[12.125]   { G-P 117 }   G

Love in the night brought me under my mantle the sweet dream of a softly-laughing boy of eighteen, still wearing the chlamys ; and I, pressing his tender flesh to my breast, culled empty hopes. Still does the desire of the memory heat me, and in my eyes still dwells the sleep that caught for me in the chase that winged phantom. O soul, ill-starred in love, cease at last even in dreams to be warmed all in vain by beauty's images.

[12.126]   { G-P 87 }   G

Pain has begun to touch my heart, for hot Love, as he strayed, scratched it with the tip of his nails, and, smiling, said, "Again, O unhappy lover, you shall have the sweet wound, burnt by biting honey." Since when, seeing among the youths the fresh sapling Diophantus, I can neither fly nor abide.

[12.127]   { G-P 79 }   G

I saw Alexis walking in the road at noon-tide, at the season when the summer was just being shorn of the tresses of her fruits ; and double rays burnt me, the rays of love from the boy's eyes and then others from the sun. The sun's rays were laid to rest again by night, but love's rays were kindled yet more in my dreams by the phantom of beauty. So night, who releases others from toil, brought pain to me, picturing in my soul a loveliness which is living fire.

[12.128]   { G-P 88 }   G

O pastoral pipes, no longer call on Daphnis in the mountains to please Pan the goat-mounter ; and you, lyre, spokesman of Phoebus, sing no longer of Hyacinthus crowned with maiden laurel. For Daphnis, when there was a Daphnis, was the delight of the Mountain Nymphs, and Hyacinthus was yours ; but now let Dion wield the sceptre of the Loves.

[12.132]   { G-P 21 }   G

Did I not cry it to you, my soul, "By Cypris, you will be taken, O lovelorn, you who fly again and again to the limed bough " ? Did I not cry it? And the snare has caught you. Why do you struggle vainly in your bonds ? Love himself has bound your wings and set you on the fire, and sprays you with scents when you grow faint, and gives you when you are thirsty hot tears to drink.

[12.132a]   { G-P 22 }   G

O sore-afflicted soul, now you burn in the fire and now you revive, recovering your breath. Why do you weep ? When you nursed merciless Love in your bosom, did you not know that he was being nursed for your ruin ? Did you not know it ? Now discover the recompense for your good nursing, receiving from him fire and cold snow therewith. You have chosen this yourself ; bear the pain. You suffer the due reward of what you have done, burnt by his boiling honey.

[12.133]   { G-P 84 }   G

In summer, when I was thirsty, I kissed the tender-fleshed boy and said, when I was free of my parching thirst, "Father Zeus, do you drink the nectar-like kiss of Ganymedes, and is this the wine he tenders to your lips ?" For now that I have kissed Antiochus, fairest of our youth, I have drunk the sweet honey of the soul.

[12.137]   { G-P 118 }   G

Crier of the dawn, caller of evil tidings to a love-sick soul, now, thrice accursed, just when love has only this brief portion of the night left to live, you crow in the dark, beating your sides with your wings all exultant above your bed, and make sweet mockery over my pains. Is this the loving thanks you have for the one who reared you ? I swear it by this dim dawn, it is the last time you will chant this bitter song.

[12.141]   { G-P 96 }   G

By Cypris, you have spoken what not even a god might, O spirit, who have learnt to be too daring. Theron did not seem fair to you. He seemed not fair to you, Theron. But you have brought it on yourself, not dreading even the fiery bolts of Zeus. Therefore, lo ! indignant Nemesis has exposed you, once so voluble, to be gazed at, as an example of an unguarded tongue.

[12.144]   { G-P 106 }   G

To Love

Why do you weep, O stealer of the wits ? Why have you cast away your savage bow and arrows, folding your pair of outstretched wings ? Does Myiscus, hard to combat, burn you, too, with his eyes ? How hard it has been for you to learn by suffering what evil you used to do of old !

[12.147]   { G-P 55 }   G

They have carried her off! Who so savage as to do such armed violence ? Who so strong as to raise war against Love himself? Quick, light the torches ! But a footfall ; Heliodora's ! Get you back into my bosom, O my heart. *  

*   Not finding her he fears she has been carried off, but is reassured by hearing her step.

[12.154]   { G-P 107 }   G

Sweet is the boy, and even the name of Myiscus is sweet to me and full of charm. What excuse have I for not loving ? For he is beautiful, by Cypris, entirely beautiful ; and if he gives me pain, why, it is the way of Love to mix bitterness with honey.

[12.157]   { G-P 119 }   G

Cypris is my skipper and Love keeps the tiller, holding in his hand the end of my soul's rudder, and the heavy gale of Desire drives me storm-tossed ; for now I swim verily in a Pamphylian *   sea of boys.

*   Or "a sea of boys of every tribe," this being the original meaning of pamphylos.

[12.158]   { G-P 93 }   G

The goddess, queen of the Desires, gave me to you, Theocles ; Love, the soft-sandalled, laid me low for you to tread on, all unarmed, a stranger in a strange land, having tamed me by his bit that grips fast. But now I long to win a friendship in which I need not stoop. *   But you refuse him who loves you, and neither time softens you nor the tokens we have of our mutual continence. Have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy ! for Destiny ordained you a god ; with you rest for me the issues of life and death.

*   i.e. as I did when my passion made me abject.

[12.159]   { G-P 108 }   G

My life's cable, Myiscus, is made fast to you ; in you is all the breath that is left to my soul. For by your eyes, dear boy, that speak even to the deaf, and by your bright brow I swear it, if ever you look at me with a clouded eye I see the winter, but if your glance be blithe, the sweet spring bursts into bloom.

[12.164]   { G-P 80 }   G

Sweet it is to mix with wine the bees' sugary liquor, and sweet to love a boy when oneself is lovely too, even as Alexis now loves soft-haired Cleobulus. These two are the immortal mead of Cypris.

[12.165]   { G-P 98 }   G

Cleobulus is a white blossom, and Sopolis, who stands opposite him, is of honey tint - the two flower-bearers of Cypris . . . Therefrom comes my longing for the lads ; for the Loves say they wove me of black and white. *  

*   He puns on his name {melas = black, argos = white). There certainly would seem to be a couplet missing in the middle, for "therefrom" can only mean "in consequence of my name."

[12.167]   { G-P 109 }   G

Wintry is the wind, but Love the sweet-teared bears me, swept away by the revel, towards you, Myiscus. And Desire's heavy gale tosses me. But receive me, who sail on the sea of Cypris, into your harbour.

[12.256]   { G-P 78 }   G

Love hath wrought for you, Cypris, gathering with his own hands the boy-flowers, a wreath of every blossom to cozen the heart. Into it he wove Diodorus the sweet lily and Asclepiades the scented white violet. Yea, and thereupon he pleated Heracleitus when, like a rose, he grew from the thorns, and Dion when he bloomed like the blossom of the vine. He tied on Theron, too, the golden-tressed saffron, and put in Uliades, a sprig of thyme, and soft-haired Myiscus the ever-green olive shoot, and despoiled for it the lovely boughs of Aretas. Most blessed of islands are you, holy Tyre, having the perfumed grove where the boy-blossoms of Cypris grow. *

*   This, being a list of the boys Meleager himself knew at Tyre, cannot, as has been supposed, be the proem to a section of his "Garland". The following epigram, on the other hand (if by Meleager), certainly stood at the end of the whole "Garland".

[12.257]   { G-P 129 }   G

I, the flourish that announce the last lap's finish, most trusty keeper of the bounds of written pages, say that he who hath completed his task, including in this roll the work of all poets gathered into one, is Meleager, and that it was for Diocles he wove from flowers this wreath of verse, whose memory shall be evergreen. Curled in coils like the back of a snake, I am set here enthroned beside the last lines of his learned work.

[16.134]   { G-P 128 }   G

{ This and the following epigram have been preserved in the Anthology of Planudes. }

On Niobe *

Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, hearken to my word, the announcement of woe ; receive the most mournful tale of your sorrows. Loose the band in your hair ; your male children, alas ! you bore but for them to fall by the woe-working arrows of Phoebus. Your boys are no more. But what is this other thing ? What do I see ? Alas ! alas ! the flood of blood has overtaken the girls. One clasps her mother's knees, one rests on her lap, one on the ground, and the head of one has fallen on her breast. Another is smitten with terror at the shaft flying straight to her, and one stoops before the arrows, while the rest still live and see the light. And the mother, who once took pleasure in her tongue's chatter, now for horror stands like a rock built of flesh.

*   Supposed to be spoken by a messenger who brings to Niobe the news of the death of her sons, slain by Apollo while hunting.

[16.213]   { G-P 131 }   G


Though on your back you have swift outstretched wings, though you have your sharp-pointed Scythian arrows, I shall escape from you, Love, under the earth. Yet what will that avail me ? For even Hades himself, who overcomes all things, did not escape your might.

index of names

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