Posts tagged ‘3rd century bce’

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Idyl XI, 7-64: The Cyclops in Love by Theocritus

And so an easier life our Cyclops drew,
The ancient Polyphemus, who in youth,
Loved Galatea, while the manhood grew
Adown his cheeks and darkened round his mouth.
No jot he cared for apples, olives, roses;
Love made him mad : the whole world was neglected ;
The very sheep went backward to their closes
From out the fair green pastures, self-directed.
And singing Galatea, thus, he wore
The sunrise down along the weedy shore,
And pined alone, and felt the cruel wound
Beneath his heart, whicli Cypris’ arrow bore,
With a deep pang ; but so the cure was found;
And sitting on a lofty rock he cast
His eyes ujion the sea, and sang at last;
“O whitest Galatea, can it be
That thou shouldst spurn me off who love thee so?
More white than curds, my girl, thou art to see,
More meek than lambs, more full of leaping glee
Than kids, and brighter than the early glow
On grapes that swell to ripen, sour like thee!
Thou comest to me with the fragrant sleep,
And with the fragrant sleep thou goest from me;
Thou fliest — fliest, as a frightened sheep
Flies the gray wolf! yet Love did overcome me,
So long; — I loved thee, maiden, first of all
When down the hills (my mother fast beside thee)
I saw thee stray to pluck the summer-fall
Of hyacinth bells, and went myself to guide thee:
And since my eyes have seen thee, they can leave thee
No more, from that day’s light ! But thou — by Zeus,
Thou wilt not care for that to let it grieve thee!
I know thee, fair one, why thou springest loose
From my arm round thee. Why? I tell thee, Dear!
One shaggy eyebrow draws its smudging road
Straight through my ample front, from ear to ear;
One eye rolls underneath ; and yawning, broad,
Flat nostrils feel the bulging lips too near.
Yet — ho, ho! — I, — whatever I appear.
Do feed a thousand oxen! When I have done,
I milk the cows, and drink the milk that ‘s best!
I lack no cheese, while summer keeps the sun;
And after, in the cold, it ‘s ready pressed!
And then I know to sing, as there is none
Of all the Cyclops can, — a song of thee,
Sweet apple of my soul, on love’s fair tree,
And of myself who love thee — till the West
Forgets the light, and all but I have rest.
I feed for thee, besides, eleven fair does,
And all in fawn ; and four tame whelps of bears.
Come to me. Sweet! thou shalt have all of those
In change for love! I will not halve the shares.
Leave the blue sea, with pure white arms extended
To the dry shore; and in my cave’s recess,
Thou shalt be gladder for the moonlight ended;
For here be laurels, spiral cypresses,
Dark ivy, and a vine whose leaves enfold
Most luscious grapes; and here is water cold,
The wooded Ætna pours down through the trees
From the white snows, — which gods were scarce too bold
To drink in turn with nectar. Who with these
Would choose the salt wave of the lukewarm seas?
Nay, look on me! If I am hairy and rough,
I have an oak’s heart in me; there ‘s a fire
In these gray ashes which burns hot enough;
And when I burn for thee, I grudge the pyre
No fuel — not my soul, nor this one eye, —
Most precious thing I have, because thereby
I see thee. Fairest! Out, alas! I wish
My mother had borne me finned like a fish.
That I might plunge down in the ocean near thee,
And kiss thy glittering hand between the weeds,
If still thy face were turned; and I would bear thee
Each lily white, and poppy fair that bleeds
Its red heart down its leaves! one gift for hours
Of summer; — one, for winter; since to cheer thee,
I could not bring at once all kinds of flowers.
Even now, girl, now, I fain would learn to swim,
If stranger in a ship sailed nigh, I wis,
That I may know how sweet a thing it is
To live down with you in the Deep and Dim!
Come up, O Galatea, from the ocean,
And having come, forget again to go!
As I, who sing out here my heart’s emotion,
Could sit forever. Come up from below!

From: Appleton, William Hyde (ed.), Greek Poets in English Verse by Various Translators, 1893, The Riverside Press: Boston and New York, pp. 274-277.

Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 1833 (translation in English)

By: Theocritus (c300 BCE-after 260 BCE)

Translated by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Epigram IV (7.261) by Diotimus

What use to suffer in labor, give birth to children, if she
who gives them birth is to see her child dead?
For his mother heaped this grave mound for young Bianor,
but the mother ought to have had this from her child.

From: Fowler, Barbara Hughes (ed.), Hellenistic Poetry: An Anthology, 1990, University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, Wisconsin, p. 291.

Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 1990 (translation in English)

By: Diotimus (3rd century BCE)

Translated by: Barbara Hughes Fowler (1926-2000)

Friday, 29 June 2018

Epigram: A Ship-Wreck’d Sailor by Theodoridas of Syracus

A ship-wreck’d sailor, buried on this coast,
Bids you set sail.
Full many a gallant ship, when we were lost,
Weathered the gale.

From: Wellesley, Henry, Anthologia Polyglotta. A selection of versions in various languages, chiefly from the Greek Anthology, 1849, John Murray: London, p. 300.

Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 1849 (translation in English)

By: Theodoridas of Syracuse (3rd century BCE)

Translated by: Henry Wellesley (1791-1866)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

If Sober, and Inclin’d to Sport by Callimachus

If sober, and inclin’d to sport,
To you, my fair one, I resort;
The still-forbidden bliss to prove,
Accuse me then, and blame my love.
But if to rashness I incline,
Accuse me not, but blame the wine:
When Love and Wine at once inspire,
What mortal can control his fire.
Of late I came, I know not how,
Embrac’d my fair, and kiss’d her too;
It might be wrong; I feel no shame,
And, for the bliss, will bear the blame.

From: Callimachus and Tytler, H. W., The Works of Callimachus, translated into English verse. The Hymns and Epigrams from the Greek; with the Coma Berenices from the Latin of Catallus; with the original text , and notes carefully selected from former commentators, and additional observations, 1793, T. Davison: London, p. 248.

Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 1793 (translation in English)

By: Callimachus (310/305 BCE-240 BCE)

Translated by: Henry William Tytler (1752-1808)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Epitaph of Gnaeus Naevius by Gnaeus Naevius

If that immortals might for mortals weep,
Then would divine Camenae weep for Naevius.
For after he to Orcus as treasure was consigned,
The Romans straight forgot to speak the Latin tongue.


Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Latin); 1927 (translation in English)

By: Gnaeus Naevius (c270-c201 BCE)

Translated by: John Carew Rolfe (1859-1943)

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Epigram V by Leonidas of Tarentum

Often she shook off evening and morning sleep,
The old woman Platthís, so she could keep
Poverty far distant; grizzled and grayed,
To distaff and to spindle, spinner’s aide,
She sang until the dawn around the place
Of the long course of Athena, moving with grace,
Twirling in wrinkled hand on wrinkled knee
Enough thread for the loom; lovely was she,
At eighty years the Acheron perceiving,
Who, beautiful, was beautifully weaving.

From: Fain, Gordon L., Ancient Greek Epigrams: Major Poets in Verse Translation, 2010, University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, p. 52.

Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 2010 (translation in English)

By: Leonidas of Tarentum (3rd century BCE)

Translated by: Gordon L. Fain (19??- )

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Life a Bane by Posidippus of Pella

What course of life should wretched mortals take?
In courts hard questions large contention make:
Care dwells in houses, labor in the field,
Tumultuous seas affrighting dangers yield.
In foreign lands thou never canst be blessed;
If rich, thou art in fear; if poor, distressed.
In wedlock frequent discontentments swell;
Unmarried persons as in deserts dwell.
How many troubles are with children born;
Yet he that wants them counts himself forlorn.
Young men are wanton, and of wisdom void;
Gray hairs are cold, unfit to be employed.
Who would not one of these two offers choose,
Not to be born, or breath with speed to lose?


Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 17th century (translation in English)

By: Posidippus of Pella (c310-c240 BCE)

Translated by: John Beaumont (1583-1627)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Epigram 1 by Nossis

Nothing is sweeter than desire. All other delights are second.
From my mouth I spit even honey.
Nossis says this. Whom Aphrodite does not love,
knows not her flowers, what roses they are.


Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 2000 (translation in English)

By: Nossis (3rd century BCE)

Translated by: Marilyn B. Skinner (19??- )

Monday, 29 August 2016

Jiu Bian (Nine Changes): VI by Song Yu

Dew falls and the bitter frost follows to afflict me,
And my heart is distraught and will not be comforted.
Sleet and snow, thickly commingling, harder and harder come down,
And I know that the time is near when I must meet my end.
I wish that by some lucky chance I might be forgiven;
But I shall soon die, along with the moorland grasses.
I wish I could set off unbidden and fly straight to him,
But the road to him is blocked and impassable.
I wish I could follow the others’ route and ride the easy way,
But that, too, is no good: I do not known how to do it.
And so I stop midway in perplexity,
Grieving and hesitant; unable to turn back.
And though dull and stupid by nature and poor in talents,
I restrain myself and learn to mourn in verses.
Orchid and iris are mixed with worthless mugwort:
Truly I am not skilled to imitate their fashion.

From: Hawkes, David (translator and editor), The Songs of the South. An Anthology of Poems by Qu Yuan and Other Poets, 2011, Penguin: London, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 3rd century BCE (original); 1985 (translation)

By: Song Yu (c319-298 BCE)

Translated by: David Hawkes (1923-2009)

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Crossing the River by Qu Yuan

Since I was young I have worn gorgeous dress
And still love raiment rare,
A long gem-studded sword hangs at my side,
And a tall hat I wear.
Bedecked with pearls that glimmer like the moon,
With pendent of fine jade,
Though there are fools who cannot understand,
I ride by undismayed.

Then give me green-horned serpents for my steed,
Or dragons white to ride,
In paradise with ancient kings I’d roam,
Or the world’s roof bestride.
My life should thus outlast the universe,
With sun and moon supreme.
By southern savages misunderstood,
At dawn I ford the stream.

I gaze my last upon the river bank,
The autumn breeze blows chill.
I halt my carriage here within the wood
My steeds beside the hill.
In covered vessel travelling upstream,
The men bend to their oars;
The boat moves slowly, strong the current sweeps,
Nearby a whirlpool roars.

I set out from the bay at early dawn,
And reach the town at eve.
Since I am upright, and my conscience clear,
Why should I grieve to leave?
I linger by the tributary stream,
And know not where to go.
The forest stretches deep and dark around,
Where apes swing to and fro.

The beetling cliffs loom high to shade the sun,
Mist shrouding every rift,
With sleet and rain as far as eye can see,
Where low the dense clouds drift.
Alas! all joy has vanished from my life,
Alone beside the hill.
Never to follow fashion will I stoop,
Then must live lonely still.

One sage of old had head shaved like a slave,
Good ministers were killed,
In nakedness one saint was forced to roam,
Another’s blood was spilled.
This has been so from ancient times till now,
Then why should I complain?
Unflinchingly I still shall follow truth,
Nor care if I am slain.

Now, the phoenix dispossessed,
In the shrine crows make their nest.
Withered is the jasmine rare,
Fair is foul, and foul is fair,
Light is darkness, darkness day,
Sad at heart I haste away.


Date: 3rd century BCE (original); 1953 (translation)

By: Qu Yuan (c340-268 BCE)

Translated by: Gladys Yang (1919-1999) and Yang Xianyi (1915-2009)