Lines of Love, Wine and Song:

The Muses at Work

Aristophanes

‘Amphora’ - "Pottery and porcelain" (p51, 1876): Internet Archive Book Images

Translated by George Theodoridis © Copyright 2001, all rights reserved - Bacchicstage

This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose, except for theatrical or cinematic use where permission must be sought.

Contents

Anacreon

(563-478BC)

Odd Sandals

(Ed 15)

Today, Eros, of the golden locks used a

purple ball to make me play

with a child.

A girl, wearing odd sandals.

But she, born in beautiful Lesbos,

looks at me, finds

fault with my

hair - it’s grey, you see!-

and

turns from me to gawk at some other child,

Another girl.

 

Prayer to Dionysius

(Ed 2)

Please, Dionysius!

Leader of all, whose friends are the omnipotent

Eros and the blue-eyed

Nymphs and the rosy

Aphrodite

and whose compass

is the high peaks of mountains.

Please, be kind enough to come to me and

hear my plea with a smile:

Go, God, and counsel Cleovoulos well and make him

accept my love!

 

Water and Wine

(Ed 75)

I

Boy! Bring water and bring wine

and bring garlands of flowers

that I may do a round or two with Eros

II

Boy! bring here a cup!

and

Boy! mix ten cups of water to five of wine

and

Boy! let me not shut my lips but let me drink

and drink and rage like

a frenzied Bacchus with

impunity.

III

Come, friends! let’s not shout and scream

like Scythian drunks

but

let us study our wine, friends

and

accompany its drinking with beautiful songs

Anonymous

(Ed 6a)

Thinking Mate

I hate a thinking, drinking mate!

 

Asclepiades

290BC

Nicorete and Cleophon

(Tr.166)

That sweet face of

Nicorete

much-touched by desire and

much-seen through the shutters of her window

high above us

was suddenly ravaged by

Those sweet lightning bolts of

Cleophon.

His glances, dear Cypris,

as he shot them standing by her gates

 

Tryphera

(Trypanis167)

Go to the market Dimitri,

to Amyntos’ stall

and

get us three sweet fish -the little, cheap ones-

and

ten clams

and

twenty four cringing shrimps -let him count them for

you himself-

and

come directly back.

Oh yeah,

And

on your way here get six garlands of roses from

Thauvorious

and

quickly dash in and invite tender-shaped

Tryphera

Bacchylides

(c450 bc)

(Ed 57)

  Happiness

No mortal is happy all the time

(Ed 2)

Ode to Hekate

Hekate!

Carrier of torches,

daughter of black-loined

Night!

 

(Ed 25)

The Test of Virtue

Whilst gold is tested by the

Lydian stone,

Man’s virtue

and

Wisdom

are tested by

Truth

Hedylus

c 280bc

Let Us Drink

(He 5)

Let us drink, then

And

perhaps we’ll find

something new

in our wine -

some eloquent, honey-coloured word.

So come!

Fill me up with jugs of Chian wine and say,

“Go ahead, Hedylus, play!”

I hate an empty life -

empty of wine.

 

Ibycus

(c 560bc)

No Rest for Love

(Ed 1)

The time

for the river-watered quinces

in the gardens of the chaste virgins

and

for the blossoms beneath the shady vine shoots

to burst is

Spring

But as for

Me,

Eros leaves me no time for resting

and,

Bursting with the fires of lightning

He rushes from Aphrodite’s isle

inside northern gales

Crazed,

Scorching,

Cavernous and

Bold

and keeps a guard’s firm hold of my

heart.

Ion of Chios

(c490 bc)

(Ed 1)

Untamable Child

Untamable child

with the look of a roaring bull.

A youth and yet not a youth.

Beautiful servant of noisy loves

of mind-spinning wine

 

Melanippides

(c500bc)

(Ed 4)

Wine after Water

So,

All those who had never before tasted wine

fell into hating water

So,

Pretty quickly one lot of them was begging to

Die

whereas the other was stricken by a mania

to shout out words of prophecy

Poseidippus

(280BC)

Archianax

(Tr 170)

Three-year old Archianax was

distracted from his playing by the

silent image of his own form

in the well. His mother

tore

the soaked child from the water

wondering if he was still alive or which

fate

had him.

But the baby had not sinned against the Nymphs

but fell asleep upon his mother’s knees

and there he still lies in deep

sleep.

 

Praxilla

(c450 bc)

 Beware

(d 4)

Beware, my friend of the

scorpion

beneath every stone

To Adonis

(Ed 1)

The most beautiful thing I miss

is the sun’s light

Second,

the bright stars

third,

the moon’s face

as well as the lovely gourds and apples’

and wild pears

NOTE: The last line (in Greek) is the famous “wrong

line.” Scholiasts and translators suggest that it is

a silly thing to include gourds (or cucumbers) and

pears in the same list of things “one misses most”

which includes sunlight, bright stars and the moon’s

face.

You Look Great

(Ed 5)

You look great through the fenestrations:

The head of a virgin

The waste of a well married woman.

 

Sappho

Ode to Aphrodite

(Ed 1)

Immortal Aphrodite of the splendid throne

Daughter of Zeus, weaver of snares,

Great Woman, grant me this:

Let not my spirit be harnessed by this anguish

and affliction

But come here, by me as you did once before.

On that day,

you’ve heard my distant voice and, nodding,

you left your father’s golden chambers to yoke your

two swift companion birds at your glittering chariot.

They fluttered through the spreading sky and

brought you hurriedly down here,

by me,

upon the black soil

Great woman!

With a smile on your immortal face you had asked me

then

about my sighs, what was it that made me call you

yet again?

What was it that my despairing heart wanted you to do

this time?

You asked,

“Who is it this time, Sappho? Whom do you want me

to bring you? Who, Sappho is hurting you now?”

 

And,

at that time, you offered, “Tell me

Sappho who she is and if she turns from you now,

soon,

by me,

she’ll be turning towards you;

and if she’s not close to you now,

soon,

by me,

she will be -

willingly or not!”

Come to me again now,

Great Woman

and

release me from this great woe;

grant me this, my heart’s greatest desire.

Against all these pains, be my ally.

 

Abandoned  

(Ed 83)

I want to die

honestly

rather than be abandoned

tearfully

Well, I was told all sorts of things

such as,

“Oh, dear, dear Sappho, what awful things we must

endure!

Truly,

I’m leaving you against my will.”

To which I replied,

“All right, then, go ahead, abandon me

be happy!

But

remember me because I cared for no one else.

Because if you forget,

I’ll remind you

of the good things we lived through

together.

 

Remember the many garlands of violets

and roses I placed next to you

and

the many flower necklaces I weaved around

your soft

skin

and spread bountiful myrrh

[......]* fit for a queen

and upon the gentle mattress,

[......]* the passion you exuded

and neither the [......]*

nor the singly sacred [......]*

did we weave [......]*

from which we stayed away.

Note: [..]* Gap in the manuscript source (Lacuna)

 

And as for Me

(Ed 118a)

And as for me, listen to this, I love luxury: the

bright love, the sun and beauty are of one lot.

But I Sleep Alone

(Tr 62)

Midnight!

And like the hour,

The moon and the

Pleiades have gone

And I,

I sleep alone.

 

It Seems to Me

(Ed 2)

It seems to me he’s equal to the gods, the

man

who sits within the scope of your sweet voice

and

of your laughter which stirs the heart within my

breast

Seeing you like this,

even for a second,

stops my sighs

within.

Yet my tongue

freezes

and

beneath my skin a fire rages

and...

my eyes are empty but

my ears are full.

A torrent of sweat

and

a wild tremor

overwhelm me

and,

I’ve turned the colour of drying grass

just before death.

 

Mountain wind

(Ed 42b)

Just as the wind

in the mountains

blows the oaks

assunder, so did

Eros

blow my mind.

To Her Lyre

(Ed 80)

Come to me my Lyre,

Sing loudly

Divinely!

On Eros

(Ed 40-41B)

a)

Again Eros, the

sweet and

bitter God who unfastens the limbs

Again he

shakes me like a snake,

omnipotent.

b)

And you, Atthi, you’ve learnt to

hate me and ran off

to Andromeda

The Stars around The Moon

(Ed 3)

And again when

the moon

casts her brilliance all over earth

The stars

soften the blaze of their

beauty

 

Sweet Apple

(B93 &B94)

I

You’re

Just like the sweet apple reddening at the highest

branch

and missed by the apple pickers -

No,

They did not miss you!

They just couldn’t reach so

high.

II

And,

You’re just like the mountain

Hyacinth,

trodden by the shepherds

next to the purple

blossoms

Stesichorus

(c480bc)

(Ed 15)

Quinces and chariots

So they overflowed the king’s chariot

with quinces

and with leaves of myrtle

and with garlands of roses

and with well-wound wreaths of

violets -

more of them than ever!

Timotheus

(c400bc)

(Ed 12)

Ambrosia

Then, he topped a cup made of

ivy wood

with the dark drops of ambrosia

-froth raising-

which he then poured into twenty measures of

Bacchus’ Blood.

A brew of tears

freshly drawn from the eyes of

Nymphs

 

(Ed 22)

I’m coming!

I’m coming!

Why are you shouting at

me?

(Ed 24)

Old Songs

I won’t sing the old songs any more

because

my new ones are far better.

The new king is

Zeus

and the old one is

Kronos.

His rule is over long ago

and so,

Let me abandon the old

Muse

Leader of men