Sappho

Aristophanes

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

Translated by George Theodoridis © Copyright 2012, all rights reserved - Bacchicstage

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any NON-COMMERCIAL purpose.

1 Abandoned (Edm 83, 216, 96D)

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.

2 And as for me (Edm.118a)

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

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

3 But I sleep Alone (Edm. 62)

Midnight!

And like the hour,

The moon and the

Pleiades have gone

And I,

I sleep alone.

4 It Seems to me (Edm 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 the sighs

within me.

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.

5 Eros again! (204, 42B, 50D)

Eros again!

He shook my mind

Like the mountain winds shake

The Oaks!

6 Ode to Aphrodite (Edm. 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,

This affliction

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

On that day,

you heard my distant voice and, nodding,

you left your father’s golden chambers and yoked your

two swift companion birds to your glittering chariot.

They fluttered through the spreading sky and

brought you hurriedly down here,

next to me,

here, 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 to 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 my urgings,

she’ll be turning towards you;

and if she’s not close to you now,

soon,

by my urgings, 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,

Great Woman, be my ally.

7 To Her Lyre (Ed80)

Come to me, my Lyre,

Sing

Loudly!

Sing

Divinely!

8 On Eros (238, 40-41B, 137D)

a)

Again it is Eros! He, the

sweet and

bitter God who unfastens the limbs!

Again, omnipotent Eros,

shakes me like a snake,

b)

And you, Atthis, you’ve learnt to

hate me and run off

to Andromeda

 

9 The stars around the moon (Edm 3)

And again when

the moon

casts her brilliance all over earth

The stars

soften the blaze of their

beauty

10 Sweet Apple (B93,B94)

I

You’re

Just like the sweet apple reddening at the highest

branch, 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

11 A company of soldiers (27aD, 195P)

Some say that the most beautiful sight upon earth’s

Dark soil

Is a company of soldiers on horse.

Others think that this honour belongs to

A line of soldiers on foot.

And still others to a fleet of ships.

Ah, but for me

This honour belongs to whoever one loves.

It’s easy to see why.

Look!

The most gorgeous woman on earth,

Helen,

Abandoned her man,

Most excellent of all men!

And made sails for Troy!

Not a thought for her daughter

Nor her dear parents.

That was Cypris’ fault!

Aphrodite!

It was this goddess who had led her so far astray.

So suddenly.

So easily.

So gently.

Ah!

This reminds me of Anactoria who is very far away.

How I’d much rather look upon her charming step

And

Upon the dazzling beauty of her face

Than

Upon all the glittering chariots of the Lydia

And all of her foot soldiers

Clad in their weighty armour!

 

12 The Handsome and the Pure (49D, 207P)

The handsome man is handsome only

In looks.

The Pure man pure as well as

Handsome

13 You shall die! (58D, 211P)

You shall die

And you shall lie there!

You shall lie there

And no one will remember you

Nor

Long for you

Because you have none

Of the roses

Of the Muses

Of Pieria

And you shall wander

Among the shadows of the dead

In the Halls of Hades

Ignored.

14 Atthis (L 96, V 96, D 98)

Oh, Atthis!

Once she saw you as a famous goddess

And

Loved the sound of your voice!

But now!

Look at her, now!

Now she's matchless among the Lydian women!

She is the rosy-fingered moon after the sun has set!

Supreme among the stars!

A light that shines equally over the salty sea

And,

Over the flower-covered fields!

 

And so,

The gorgeous dew falls

And

The roses bloom

And so does

The tender chervil

And the flowering honey clover.

And

She takes these walks –

This way and that-

And

With longing in her heart,

She remembers our gentle Atthis.

And

Her soul!

Her soul is consumed by this longing!

15 Gongyla (217, L95, D 97)

"And so"

Gongyla asked me,

"How can you be so sure? Have you seen some sign of it?"

And I replied,

"Well, let me tell you, Gongyla.

I saw Hermes in my dream and I said to him,

'Lord,' I said, 'Lord, I am lost!

I am lost and, I swear to you, Lord!

In the name of the blessed goddess,

I swear, I no longer care for wealth and riches!

I just want to die! 

I want to die and I want to see the dew-covered lotus

On the banks of the Acheron'"

16 Hesperus (trans. "Evening") (223, 95B, 120D)

Hesperus!

You always bring back all those things which

The brilliant Dawn has scattered!

You bring back

The sheep,

The goats

And

The child, back to its mother!

17 To Dika (80D)

Come, Dika!

With your gentle fingers weave

For your lovely hair

A

Garland of anise.

The blessed Graces prefer-

By far-

To gaze upon a garlanded head

Than one bereft of flowers, from which

They turn away.

18 Sweet Mother (L102, D114, B90)

Sweet mother!

How can I weave my web now?

Dazzling Aphrodite tamed my desire

For a boy!

19 Leave Crete  (192, 4-5B, Suppl. p 30D)

Leave Crete

And

Come here!

Come to this pure temple,

To this charming apple grove

And

To these altars scented with

Burned frankincense.

 

Icy water sings through the branches of the

Apple trees

And

The shadows of roses cover the ground

And

Up from the trembling leaves flows down

Sweet sleep.

And

On this horse-nurturing valley

The flowers of Spring bloom

And

The gentle breezes  sigh sweetly

Come Kypris!

Gracefully pour nectar

Into these golden wine cups

And

Make it one with our festivities.

20 To Hera (196 28D)

To Hera

Come,

Blessed Hera, when I pray for your

Charming form to appear.

Come beside me!

Yours is the form to which

The sons of Atreus, kings both,

Also prayed.

They accomplished many great deeds

First at Troy

And then on the seas

But were lost and couldn't make their way here

Until they called on you, Hera

And on Zeus

And on Thyoni's charming boy,

Dionysus.

Come then goddess

And help me as you've done in the past.

 

21 Virginity! (230, 109B, 131 D)

Virginity you've abandoned me! Where have you gone?

I'll never return to you, no, I never shall!

22 Kleis, My Daughter (239, 85B, 152 D)

I have a daughter,

Gorgeous like a golden flower

And

I love her more than all of Lydia

More even than…

23 Honey or Bee (146)

I need neither

The

Honey nor

The

Bee

24 I was in love with you Atthis (206, 33-34B, 40-41D)

I was in love with you

Atthis,

Once, a long time ago!

I used to think you were a clumsy

Little child.

25 The sky (209, 37B, 47D)

I don't think I can touch the sky with my hands.

26 Wealth (249, 80B, 92D)

Wealth without virtue is not an innocent neighbour

But, mix them together and you have the very best of fortunes!