Ancient Greek Epigrams
Major Poets in Verse Translation
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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The epigrams of the ancient Greeks had an enormous influence on Latin and later European poetry and are familiar to scholars, but they are not very well known to the general reader. Part of the reason is that editions of Greek epigrams in translation often include too many poems of too many poets. Anyone who peruses the more than four thousand epigrams ...
Chapter 1 Introduction to Ancient Greek Epigrams
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When we think of an epigram, we think of a short, witty poem with a clever ending. The ancient Greeks had a very different conception. Epigrams to them were verses written on something, as the word implies. At least initially, they were poems engraved on tombstones or monuments, or on statues or other offerings to the gods. Many of these inscriptions ...
Chapter 2 Anyte
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The most famous woman poet of ancient Greece was of course Sappho, whose work has come down to us mostly as fragments cited by other authors or in papyri rescued from the sands of Egypt. We have only two, perhaps three of her poems in their entirety. From Anyte, on the other hand, we have at least twenty, which may never reach the summit of the ...
Chapter 3 Leonidas of Tarentum
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Meleager preserved more epigrams of Leonidas of Tarentum in his Garland than of any poet apart from Meleager himself. Leonidas may have been a special favorite of the anthologist or particularly prolific, but the large number of his poems must surely also reflect his immense repu-tation in antiquity. Leonidas’s epigrams were the most frequently imi-...
Chapter 4 Asclepiades
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Asclepiades is one of the most interesting and appealing figures of the third century. Among the first of the Hellenistic poets to write love epi-grams, he helped turn a genre consisting mostly of epitaphs and dedica-tions into a personal form of expression with many of the hallmarks of lyric poetry. The invention of the love epigram had an enormous effect ...
Chapter 5 Posidippus
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Posidippus was born perhaps twenty years after Asclepiades in the city of Pella, the capital of Macedonia and the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Some of Posidippus’s poems can be dated from their subject mat-ter and show that he was active at least from 284 bce to 250 bce, the period of the greatest flowering of Hellenistic literature. During much of ...
Chapter 6 Callimachus
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Callimachus was the most famous and influential of all the Greek poets of the third century. His epigrams were read by schoolchildren, his poetry quoted and translated into Latin, and his name mentioned (usu-ally with approval) in the verse of many of the most important Latin poets, including Catullus, Horace, Propertius, and Ovid. Since Calli-...
Chapter 7 Theocritus
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Theocritus was born about 300 bce in the important Greek city of Syracuse in Sicily, but he spent much of his life further east in Alexandria. One of his poems describes the streets and palace of the Egyptian capital in some detail, and another is addressed to Ptolemy. Theocritus may also have spent some time on the island of Kos near Rhodes, where he seems ...
Chapter 8 Meleager
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Meleager tells us (in epigram I) that he was born in Coele-Syria or Pales-tine in a city called Gadara, now Umm Qais in present-day Lebanon. Gadara was one of ten cities collectively known as the Decapolis, founded by Greek settlers in land conquered by Alexander the Great and occu-pied mostly by people of Semitic descent (including Jews), in much the ...
Chapter 9 Philodemos
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Nearly 150 years after the appearance of Meleager’s Garland, a second anthology of epigrams was assembled by the poet Philip of Thessalonica, just before or during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. Of all the poets Philip included I have selected only one, who is not only the best of the poets of this second Garland but also one of the very finest of all the ...
Chapter 10 Lucillius
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If an epigram in English is a short, amusing poem with a clever ending, then the credit (and blame) goes first to Lucillius. Like Leonidas, Calli-machus, and the other poets of Meleager’s Garland, Lucillius grounded his poems in the form of actual inscriptions — epitaphs and dedications, as well as monument inscriptions on the bases of statues of famous ath-...
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Young Man Playing Flute for Woman Dancing. After Epiktetos. Red-figure cup tondo, ca. 520 – 490 bce, London, British Museum. 1Boy in Chariot Pulled by Goats. After “Boy in Goat-Drawn Chariot.” Attic red-figure chous with added color, ca. 400 bce, New York, Two Reclining Boys. After “A Juvenile Is Lying on the Lap of His ...
Index of First Lines
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010