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Ancient Greek Lyrics

Translated by Willis Barnstone. William E. McCulloh

Publication Year: 2010

Ancient Greek Lyrics collects Willis Barnstone's elegant translations of Greek lyric poetry -- including the most complete Sappho in English, newly translated. This volume includes a representative sampling of all the significant poets, from Archilochos, in the 7th century BCE, through Pindar and the other great singers of the classical age, down to the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. William E. McCulloh's introduction illuminates the forms and development of the Greek lyric while Barnstone provides a brief biographical and literary sketch for each poet and adds a substantial introduction to Sappho -- revised for this edition -- complete with notes and sources. A glossary and updated bibliography are included.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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Preface on Vagabond Songsters

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pp. xi-xii

Ancient Greek Lyrics combines three earlier volumes: Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets (1988), Sappho (1965), and Greek Lyric Poetry (1962). Like three Spanish p

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Acknowledgments

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p. xiii-xiii

Certain of these poems first appeared in the Antioch Review, Arizona Quarterly, Chelsea Review, Chicago Review, Evergreen Review, ...

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Introduction by William E.McCulloh

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pp. xv-xxv

Suppose, in our time, the War actually comes. With no current refinements wasted, the elephantine blasts, fire storms, and fallout finish their appointed tasks. Several decades later the literary archaeologists from Tierra del Fuego and the Samoyedes rake loose from London’s heaps part of a volume of literary criticism in which stand, entire, Yeats’ lines “My fiftieth year had come and gone”...

A Note on Selections, Texts, and Translation by Willis Barnstone

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pp. xvii-xxxii

THE GREEK PERIOD

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p. 1-1

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Archilochos

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pp. 3-15

According to the most probable view, Archilochos lived during the latter half of the eighth century bce. (The event referred to in “An Eclipse of the Sun” may have occurred either in 711 bc e or 647 bce.) He was the son of Telesikles, a nobleman of the island of Paros, and a slave-woman: hence, a bastard. He took part in the Paran colonization of the island of Thasos and seems to have spent most of his life as a soldier in the pay of his country. The only striking event...

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Kallinos

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pp. 16-17

The content of the fragments indicates that Kallinos was active roughly in the middle of the seventh century bce. The Cimmerians were barbarians from the Crimea and Southern Russia who for a time threatened to overwhelm parts of Asia Minor, including the Greek cities of the coast. Kallinos lived in Ephesos, one of these cities. The surviving fragments...

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Tyrtaios

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pp. 18-19

Tyrtaios was active at Sparta during the Second Messenian War, that is, some time in the seventh century bce. The legend that he came originally from Athens seems to be false. His works included marching songs (row lost) and elegies. In the remains of the latter, martial exhortations predominate, as with Kallinos. And like Kallinos, Tyrtaios modifies...

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Semonides

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pp. 20-22

Born on Samos, Semonides may have become associated with the island of Amorgos as leader of a colony there. He probably was active in the second half of the seventh century bce. His works included iambic poems (a bather long satire on women is extant) and two books of elegies. In the iambics...

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Terpandros

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pp. 23-24

Traditionally regarded as the first to make the choral lyric a developed art form, Terpandros was a fellow countryman of Alkaios and Sappho. But he was earlier by about a generation (his period of activity was the middle of the seventh century bce) and seems to have worked chiefly at Sparta, where he...

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Alkman

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pp. 25-32

The first fully visible representative of the choral ode lived at Sparta, and was active probably during the middle of the seventh century bce. It is possible that he was (like several other poets of his time) brought in from the East—in Alkman’s case, from Sardis in Lydia (Asia Minor). His works were...

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Alkaios

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pp. 33-41

Alkaios’ poetry is deeply involved in his political vicissitudes. The greater part of his life was spent in fighting reform movements which shook the established aristocracy of his native island Lesbos. He was born around 630 bce. Some twenty years later the reigning tyrant, Melanchros, was overthrown by Pittakos and the brothers...

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Sappho

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pp. 42-82

Sappho was the compatriot and approximate contemporary of Alkaios. Her home on Lesbos was at Mytilene. She came of a noble family. The names of some of her family have been preserved: Skamandronymos was her father, Kle

Elegiac Poems from the Greek Anthology Wrongly Attributed to Sappho

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p. 83-83

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Solon

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pp. 84-88

A member of the Athenian aristocracy, Solon had begun his poetic activity earlier than ca. 600 bce. For it was at this time that he wrote an elegy to his fellow citizens urging them to the reconquest of Salamis. But the most notable part of his life, and the subject of a good deal of his surviving poetry, was his involvement...

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Mimnermos

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pp. 89-92

Mimnermos was active around 600 bce or some ten years later. He was a citizen of either Kolophon or Smyrna. The milieu of his poetry is that of the Anatolian Greek city, fighting against Oriental domination, but already under various sorts of Oriental influence, including that of intermarriage. Mimnermos’ name...

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Phokylides

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pp. 93-94

Perhaps a contemporary of Solon and Mimnermos (ca. 600 bce), Phokylides was a citizen of Miletos. He wrote a series of maxims, each with the “seal” of the author (i.e., each beginning with a formula which included the author’s name). Some have seen in this pride of authorship a sign of the new consciousness...

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Asios

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p. 95-95

Of Samos. Sixth century bc e. Wrote genealogies, satirical hexameters, elegiacs, etc. ...

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Stesichoros

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pp. 96-98

A poet who was ranked with Homer by some of the ancients, Stesichoros was born in Sicily around 630 bce and died around 555 bce. He was active both at Akragas (where he seems to have come into conflict with the tyrant Phalaris) and Himera. He may have made a visit to mainland Greece, and Sparta...

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Ibykos

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pp. 99-102

Born of a noble family at Rhegium in the toe of Italy in the first half of the sixth century bce, Ibykos went to the island of Samos after he had begun his poetic career. It is said that he went to Samos as an alternative to assuming the tyranny which was offered him in his native town. In any case, he went probably...

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Hipponax

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pp. 103-106

Hipponax was banished from Ephesos ca. 545 bce. He spent much time as a wandering beggar in the neighboring city of Klazomenai. He seems to have had quarrels with two sculptors named Boupalos and Athenis. There are indications of a liaison with the former’s girlfriend Arete. In style and subject matter...

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Anakreo

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pp. 107-113

The only great Ionian monodist was born in Teos in Asia Minor around 572 bce. Soon after the capture of Sardis by the Persians in 541 bce Anakreon fled with his fellow townsmen to Abdera in Thrace, and established a colony there. “On a Virgin” may date from this period. The Tyrant of Samos, Polykrates, invited him to come and teach his son...

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Xenophanes

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pp. 114-117

Born in 565 bce in Kolophon (near Ephesos in Asia Minor), Xenophanes fled from the Persian invaders and settled in Elea, in Italy. He died sometime after 473 bce. He seems to have been partly a philosopher and partly a rhapsode (professional reciter of poems), but the integration of the two roles is not a matter of common agreement. On the philosophical side...

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Simonides

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pp. 118-125

Pindar’s stylistic antipode and sometime rival was born of good family on the island of Keos in 556 bce. Like Anakreon he was one of the poets invited to Athens by Hipparchos as part of the program of cultural enrichment inaugurated under the Peisistratid tyranny. It was probably at Athens that he wrote the dithyrambs to which only one brief reference...

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Lasos

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p. 126-126

Born about 545 bc e at Hermione in the Argolid of the Peloponnesos, Lasos lived at Athens under the patronage of Hipparchos, where he introduced competitions in dithyrambic composition and was rivaled by Simonides in this genre...

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Theognis

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pp. 127-131

Born in Megara in 544 bce, Theognis was a member of the embattled aristocracy. He was in exile for part of his life, but returned home at some time. He lived until at least 480 bce. The subjects of his poetry seem to have been chiefly two: the vicissitudes of an aristocrat fallen on evil populist times and the moral reflections appropriate to such experience...

Apollodoros

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p. 132-132

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Hipparchos

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pp. 133-134

Hipparchos was the younger brother of Hippias, Tyrant of Athens (who succeeded his father Peisistratos in 527 bce). He was as it were the commissar of culture during his brother’s reign, and was responsible for much of Athens’ rapid advance in the arts. The frivolous decadence of his private life ended when he was assassinated...

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Korinna

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pp. 135-136

This Boiotian poet was probably a contemporary of Pindar, but it is also possible that she lived in the late third century bc e. Until the papyrus finds of this century, she was known only in the scantiest of fragments. Her works included narrative choral lyrics intended for an audience of women, on such subjects as the Seven Against Thebes. Her diction...

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Telesilla

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p. 137-137

Fifth-century bce poet of Argos. She wrote hymns to the gods, mainly for women.

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Timokreon

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p. 138-138

Born on Rhodes, active during first half of fifth century bce. He sided with the Persian; in the wars and visited their king. Timokreon, who crossed poetic swords with Simonides, was reputed to be a glutton. He composed lyrics and elegies...

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Lamprokles

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p. 139-139

Active at Athens in early fifth century bc e, he composed dithyrambs and hymns, and was an influential teacher of music...

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Pindaros (Pindar)

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pp. 140-146

The prince of choral poets was born in 518 bce at Kynoskephalai in Boiotia, of an aristocratic family. He was educated in his craft chiefly at Athens. In the course of his career he established connections with leading families in many parts of the Greek world. (The relationship between poet and patron during this period, remarks...

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Bakchylides

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pp. 147-153

A contemporary, possibly younger, of Pindar, Bakchylides was born, like his uncle Simonides, on the island Keos in the Kyklades. He too took part in the dithyrambic competitions at Athens and accompanied his uncle to Sicily around 476 bce. He was reportedly exiled to the Peloponnesos at some time in his life. Like Simonides...

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Praxilla

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p. 154-154

Poet active about 450 bce at Sikyon in the Argolid. She wrote dithyrambs, drinking songs and hymns...

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Parrhasios

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p. 155-155

A noted painter active at Athens probably in the second half of the fifth century bce. His reported skill in details of facial expression and in outline drawing perhaps justified in part the hybris of the epigram given below. Parrhasios was represented as discussing painting with Sokrates...

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Hippon

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p. 156-156

Natural philosopher, probably from Samos, was active in the latter half of the fifth century bce. He revived and modified the view that water was the source of all things...

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Melanippides

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p. 157-157

A famous dithyrambic poet of his time Born on Melos (and hence a Dorian) he was active during the middle of the fifth century bce and died at the court of Perdikkas in Macedonia. A comic poet attributed to Melanippides the first innovations which led to the decadence of choral lyric. One innovation...

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Timotheos

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p. 158-158

Timotheos was born at Miletos around 450 bce and died around 360 bce, possibly in Macedon, whither he (like his friend Euripides) had been invited by King Archelaos. The most famous lyric poet of his time, Timotheos was also (according to some tastes ancient and modern) one of the most pernicious. His musical innovations were striking, and carried such weight (with Euripides, for example) that they contributed...

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Platon (Plato)

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pp. 159-163

Born about 429 bce in Athens and died in 347. He was a disciple of Sokrates, later the founder of the Academy, and in effect the father of Western philosophy. If he was in fact the author of the epigrams attributed to him, his Phaidros and Symposion may provide the spiritual link between his amatory epigrams and his philosophical...

THE HELLENISTIC PERIOD

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p. 165-165

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Diphilos

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p. 167-167

A comic poet of Athens, born before 340 bce, died after 289 bce. He wrote some one hundred plays. The passage below is in iambics, and was probably taken from one of his plays for inclusion in the Greek Anthology...

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Anyte

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p. 168-168

Active about 290 bce. Poet of Arkadiain the Peloportnesos, she wrote epigrams, mock-epitaphs and nature poems in the Doric dialect...

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Kallimachos

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pp. 169-170

Born about 305 bce in Kyrene in North Africa. He became a schoolmaster in Alexandria, and then cataloguer of the royal library (the most famous library of ancient times). He produced a systematic catalog of the library which has been called “the first scientific literary history.” Kallimachos was the center of a controversy...

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Theokritos

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pp. 171-173

The latest of the major Greek poets. An approximate contemporary of Kallimachos, he was born at Syracuse perhaps ca. 310 bce. Active there, at Kos (an island in the Dodekanese), and at the court of Ptolemy II in Alexandria. He died perhaps ca. 250 bce. As his best-known genre, the pastoral mime...

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Leonidas of Tarentum

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pp. 174-175

Early third century bce. “One of the greatest Greek epigrammatists,” says Gilbert Highet of him. Author of about one hundred epigrams in an elaborate and artificial style, mostly about the life of the poor, to which class he belonged. Much admired by the Romans, and imitated by Vergil and Propertius...

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Asklepiades

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pp. 176-177

Active about 270 bce in Alexandria, Asklepiades was the originator of much of the traditional imagery of love poetry, including Cupid’s arrows..

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Mnasalkas

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p. 178-178

Of Sikyon, flourished about 250 bce. ...

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Theodoridas

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p. 179-179

Syracusan epigrammatist of the second half of the third century bce. ...

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Moschos

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p. 180-180

Of Syracuse, active around 150 bce. Pastoral poet, to whom some half-dozen short pieces may be assigned. The Rape of Europa (a short narrative) and the Lament for Bion have also been attributed to Moschos, but chronology definitely excludes the latter...

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Ariston

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p. 181-181

Ariston 181 Ariston Lived in time to be included in Meleagros’ anthology...

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Meleagros

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pp. 182-185

Lived about 140–70 bce, at Tyros and on Kos. As a philosopher, he wrote Cynic satirical sermons, now lost. He collected the first serious anthology of epigrams, and more than 130 of his own epigrams survive; these are mainly erotic, and written in the florid and complex “Asian” style...

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Bion

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p. 186-186

Born in Asia Minor. Active around 100 bce, mostly in Sicily, where, according to tradition, he was poisoned by jealous rivals. Classed as a pastoral poet, though the pastoral element is not prominent in his surviving seventeen fragments...

THE ROMAN PERIOD

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p. 189-189

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Philodemos the Epicurean

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p. 191-191

Born in Asia Minor. Active around 100 bce, mostly in Sicily, where, according to tradition, he was poisoned by jealous rivals. Classed as a pastoral poet, though the pastoral element is not prominent in his surviving seventeen fragments...

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Diodoros

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p. 192-192

The poems under this name in the Anthology, according to highest authority (Wilhelm Schmid), can be attributed to any of three different men. At any rate they probably belong to the period 100 bce–100 ce...

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Antipatros of Thessaloniki

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p. 193-193

Flourished at the beginning of the Christian era. Seine eighty of his epigrams are in the Anthology...

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Marcus Argentarius

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p. 194-194

Lived at the beginning of the Christian era. He was probably a penniless speech teacher. “The liveliest of the Graeco-Roman epigrammatists,’’ Gilbert Highet has said of him...

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Rufinus

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p. 195-195

Lived sometime between 50 bce and 50 ce...

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Apollonides

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p. 196-196

Lived sometime between 50 bce and 50 ce...

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Parmenion

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p. 197-197

Lived sometime between 50 bce and 50 ce...

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Nikarchos

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pp. 198-199

Alexandrian epigrammatist, probably of the first century ce. About forty of his epigrams are in the Anthology; they are humorous, and often vile...

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Lucillius

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pp. 200-203

Epigrammatist of the middle of the first century ce. He was expert at the sharply pointed joke and lampoon; Nero was his patron...

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Leonidas of Alexandria

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p. 204-204

Wrote between 55 and 85 ce. Nero and later emperors were his patrons. More than forty of his epigrams are in the Anthology. Thirty are composed in such a way that the letters of each couplet in a poem, if given a numerical value, produce the same total...

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Traianus (The EmperorTrajan)

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p. 205-205

Lived from 53 to 117 ce. He was one of the best of Rome’s emperors. For the ruling classes at Rome, Greek was, like French in modern times, a mark of one’s sophistication...

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Ammianus

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p. 206-206

Lived at the beginning of the second century ce...

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Loukianos (Lucian)

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p. 207-207

Born about 120 ce in Samosata in Syria; died sometime after 180. An itinerant teacher of rhetoric and Cynic philosophy, he was also the author of numerous satirical dialogues and other writings, including the fabulous True History, which influenced...

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Dionysius Sophistes

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p. 208-208

One of many poets, sophists, philosophers and miscellaneous writers of the same name who lived in the Roman period...

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Julianus (Julian the Apostate)

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p. 209-209

332–363 ce. The Roman emperor who, among his other reforms, tried belatedly to stem the tide of Christianity and revitalize paganism. He wrote numerous prose works in Greek...

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Aisopos

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p. 210-210

Ca. fourth century ce. (Not the semilegendary fabulist of a thousand years earlier.)...

THE BYZANTINE PERIOD

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p. 213-213

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Palladas

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pp. 215-216

Active about 400 ce. An impoverished schoolmaster at Alexandria, a pagan among Christians, he wrote more than 150 epigrams, most of them hopeless and bitter...

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Julianus (Julian the Prefect of Egypt)

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p. 217-217

Active during the sixth century ce...

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Paulus Silentiarius

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pp. 218-219

An official at the court of Justinian ca. 560 ce. He wrote about eighty epigrams in the Anthology, including some of the liveliest love poems...

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Agathias Scholastikos

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p. 220-220

Lived from 536 to 582 ce. He was a lawyer of Byzantium, and compiler of the epigram-anthology which was the basis for the existing Greek Anthology. Agathias was a friend of Paulus Silentiarius but not his poetic equal...

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Damaskios

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p. 221-221

Ca. fifth–sixth centuries ce...

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Julianus (Julian Antecessor)

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p. 222-222

Sixth century ce?...

AUTHORS AND ANONYMOUS WORKS OF INDEFINITE PERIOD

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p. 225-225

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Glykon

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p. 227-227

Little is known of Glykon. He is credited by Hephaistion with the invention of the Glykonic meter, but the Glykon of the Greek Anthology, where this single poem appears under that name, may be a later poet of the same name...

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Kallikteros

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p. 228-228

A poet known only through his poems in the Palatine Anthology...

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Ammonides

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p. 229-229

Known only through the Palatine Anthology...

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Diophanes of Myrina

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p. 230-230

Known only through the Palatine Anthology...

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The Anakreonteia

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pp. 231-239

These imitations, long attributed to Anakreon, were written between the first century bc e and the sixth century ce...

Miscellaneous

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pp. 240-243

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Folksongs

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p. 244-244

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SAPPHO

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p. 247-247

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Sappho: An Introduction

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pp. 249-271

In Sappho we hear for the first time in the Western world the direct words of an individual woman. It cannot be said that her song has ever been surpassed. In a Greek dialect of the Eastern Mediterranean, she became our first Tang dynasty poet, akin to one of those Chinese of the seventh century ce, whose songs were overheard thought and conversation, in strict form, and who...

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Testimonia

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pp. 272-290

Sappho was born on Lesbos and lived in the city of Mitylini. Her father was Skamandros, or, according to some, Skamandronymos. She had three brothers, Ierigyos, Larihos and Haraxos, the oldest, who sailed to Egypt and was tied up with Doriha on whom he spent much money. Larihos was the youngest...

Sources and Notes

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pp. 291-317

Glossary and Onomastic Index

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pp. 319-334

Bibliography

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pp. 335-338


E-ISBN-13: 9780253003898
E-ISBN-10: 025300389X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253221216

Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 6 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010