Greek Anthology: Book 16


This selection from Book 16 of the Greek Anthology contains all the epigrams written before the middle of the first century A.D., as listed in three editions:
(H)     A.S.F.Gow & D.L.Page, "The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams"
(Ph)   A.S.F.Gow & D.L.Page, "The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and Some Contemporary Epigrams"
(F)     D.L.Page, "Further Greek Epigrams"
The labels in green are the numbers assigned to the epigrams in one of these editions. The labels in red are their numbers within the Anthology.

Translations of most of the epigrams are already available elsewhere, as indicated by the links. The translations of the remaining epigrams are taken from the edition by W.R.Paton (1916-18), but have been modified to remove some of the archaic language.   Click on G to go to the Greek text of each epigram.

[1] DAMAGETUS   { H 11 }   G

I am no wrestler from Messene or from Argos ; Sparta, Sparta famous for her men, is my country. Those others are skilled in the art, but I, as becomes the boys of Lacedaemon, prevail by strength.







[6] Anonymous   { H 59 }   G

The sovereign lord of Europe, who by sea and land is as much the King of mortals as Zeus of immortals, the son of Demetrius, wielder of the strong spear, dedicated to Hecate of the roadside this booty won from bold Ciroadas, his children, and all the land of the Odrysians. *   Once more has the glory of Philip mounted near to the thrones of the gods.

*   This probably refers to the expedition of Philip against the Odrysians in 183 B.C.





[11] HERMOCREON   { H 1 }   G

Seat yourself, stranger, as you pass by, under this shady plane-tree, whose leaves the west wind shakes with its gentle blast ; here where Nicagoras set me up, Hermes, the famous son of Maia, to be the guardian of his fruitful field and his cattle.

[12] Anonymous   { F 78 }   G

On a Statue of Pan

Come and sit under my pine that murmurs thus sweetly, bending to the soft west wind. And see, too, this fountain that drops honey, beside which, playing on my reeds in the solitude, I bring sweet sleep.

[13] PLATO   { F 17 }   G

Sit down by this high-foliaged vocal pine that quivers in the constant western breeze, and beside my plashing stream Pan's pipe shall bring slumber to your charmed eyelids.

[14] ZENODOTUS   { H 2 }   G

Who carved Love and placed him by the fountain, thinking to still this fire with water ?

[17] Anonymous   { F 76 }   G

O Pan, sound a holy air to the feeding flocks, running your curved lips over the golden reeds, that they may often bring home to Clymenus teeming gifts of white milk in their udders, and that the lord of the she-goats, standing in comely wise at your altar, may belch the red blood from his shaggy breast.











[26a] Anonymous   { - }   G

On Philopoemen

His valour and his glory are known throughout Greece, this man who achieved many things by his might and many by his counsels, the Arcadian warrior Philopoemen, the captain of the spearmen, whom great fame followed in the war. The two trophies from the tyrants of Sparta speak to this ; he did away with the growing servitude. Therefore did Tegea set up the statue of the great-souled son of Craugis, the establisher of perfect freedom.

[26b] PHILIP, KING OF MACEDON   { F 1 }   G

Barkless and leafless, traveller, on this ridge a lofty cross is planted by Alcaeus. *

*   A parody on, and bitter retort to, Alcaeus' epigram, 7.247. It shows that this highly talented king could write very good verse. To bring out the parody it is necessary to render in verse :
  7.247, first couplet:
Tombless, unwept we lie, O you who pass by,
Full thirty thousand men on this mound in Thessaly.
 The King's retort.
Leafless, unbarked it stands, O you who pass by,
The cross upon the hill, where Alcaeus shall hang high.

[28] Anonymous   { F 23 }   G

Hellas judged Thebes to be first in flute-playing, and Thebes Pronomus the son of Oeniades. *

*   Pronomus lived at the time of the Peloponnesian War. This epigram was perhaps inscribed on the base of his statue at Thebes, which stood next to that of Epaminondas.

[30] GEMINUS   { Ph 6 }   G

The hand of Thasian Polygnotus made me, and I am that Salmoneus who madly imitated the thunder of Zeus, Zeus who in Hades again destroys me and strikes me with his bolts, hating even my mute likeness. Hold back your fiery blast, Zeus, and abate your wrath, for I, your mark, am lifeless. Do not make war on soulless images.

[31] SPEUSIPPUS   { F 1.b }   G

The earth holds in its bosom this, the body of Plato, but his soul is equal in rank to the blessed gods. *

*   cp. epigram 7.61.























[89] GALLUS   { F 2 }   G

On Tantalus carved on a Cup

He who once sat at the table of the gods, he who often filled his belly with nectar, now lusts for a mortal liquor, but the envious brew is ever lower than his lips. *   " Drink," says the carving, " and learn the secret of silence ; thus are we punished who are loose of tongue."

*   The figure of Tantalus was probably carved on the handle of the cup. He was punished for betraying the secrets of the gods.





[95] DAMAGETUS   { H 12 }   G

The lion is from Nemea, but the stranger is of Argive blood ; the one far the most valiant of beasts, the other of demi-gods. They come to the conflict glaring askance at each other, each about to fight for his life. Father Zeus, may the victory be the Argive man's, that Nemea be again accessible.

[103] GEMINUS   { Ph 7 }   G

On a Statue of Heracles

Heracles, where is your great club, where your Nemean cloak and your quiver full of arrows, where is your stern glower ? Why did Lysippus mould you thus with dejected visage and alloy the bronze with pain ? You are in distress, stripped of your arms. *   Who was it that laid you low ? Winged Love, of a truth one of your heavy labours.

*   By Omphale.



[111] GLAUCUS   { Ph 3 }   G

On a Picture of Philoctetes

Parrhasius painted this, Philoctetes' likeness, after verily seeing the long-suffering hero from Trachis. For in his dry eyes there lurks a mute tear, and the wearing pain dwells inside. O best of painters, great is your skill, but it was time to give rest from his pains to the much tried man.

[117] CORNELIUS LONGINUS   { F 2 }   G

On a Painting of Cynegeirus

Phasis did not paint you, blest Cynegeirus, *   as Cynegeirus, since you have sturdy hands in this his offering. Yet the painter was a skilful one, and did not deprive of your hands you who are immortal because of your hands.

*   The brother of Aeschylus. He lost a hand (according to later writers, both hands) at the battle of Marathon.


Poseidippus (XI)



[121] Anonymous   { F 72 }   G

On a Statue of Alexander of Macedon

Imagine that you see Alexander himself; so flash his very eyes in the bronze, so lives his dauntless demeanour. He alone subjected to the throne of Pella all the earth which the rays of Zeus look on from heaven.









[135] Anonymous   { F 86 }   G

On the Picture of Medea in Rome

The art of Timomachus mingled the love and jealousy of Medea as she drags her children to death. She half consents as she looks at the sword, and half refuses, wishing both to save and to slay her children.











[152] GAURADAS   { F 1 }   G

Dear Echo, grant me somewhat - What?   I love a girl, but do not think she loves - She loves.   But to do it Time gives me not good chance - Good chance.   Do you then tell her that I love her, if so be your will - I will.   And here is a pledge in the shape of cash I beg you to hand over - Hand over.   Echo, what remains but to succeed ? - Succeed.

[153] SATYRUS   { F 4 }   G

On a Statue of Echo

Tongueless Echo sings in the shepherd's meadow, her voice taking up and responding to the notes of the birds.



[158] DIOTIMUS   { H 9 }   G

I am Artemis fashioned in the form that befits me, and well does the brass itself tell that I am the daughter of Zeus and of no other. Consider the maiden's audacity. Verily you would say that the whole earth is a hunting-ground too small for her.

[160] PLATO   { F 23 }   G

On the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles

Paphian Cythereia came through the waves to Cnidus, wishing to see her own image, and having viewed it from all sides in its open shrine, she cried, "Where did Praxiteles see me naked ?"

Praxiteles did not look on forbidden things, but the steel carved the Paphian as Ares would have her. *

*   No doubt the last couplet is a later addition. We know from Pliny that the shrine in which the statue stood was open on all sides.

[161] PLATO (JUNIOR)   { F 5 }   G

On the Same

Neither did Praxiteles nor the chisel work you, but you stand just as of old when you came to the judgment.

[162] Anonymous   { F 82 }   G

On the Same

Cypris, seeing Cypris in Cnidus, said, "Alas ! alas ! where did Praxiteles see me naked ?"

[165] EUENUS   { Ph 10 }   G

On the Cnidian Aphrodite

Pallas and the consort of Zeus said, when they saw the Cnidian, "We are wrong in finding fault with Paris."

[166] EUENUS   { Ph 11 }   G

On the Same

The herdsman alone saw of old on the mountains of Ida her who gained the prize of beauty, but Praxiteles has set her in full view of the Cnidians, having the vote of Paris to attest his skill.



[170] HERMODORUS   { H 1 }   G

On the Same and on the Athena in Athens

When you see, stranger, the Cnidian Cythereia, you would say this, "Rule alone over mortals and immortals;" but when you look at Pallas in the city of Cecrops boldly brandishing her spear you will exclaim, "Paris was really a bumpkin."



[172] ALEXANDER OF AETOLIA   { H 2 }   G

On a Statue of Aphrodite

Pallas herself, I think, wrought Aphrodite to perfection, forgetting the judgment of Paris.









[180] DEMOCRITUS   { F 1 }   G

On the Aphrodite Anadyomene of Apelles

When Cypris, her hair dripping with the salt foam, rose naked from the purple waves, even in this wise holding her tresses with both hands close to her white cheeks, she wrung out the brine of the Aegean, showing only her bosom, that indeed it is lawful to look on ; but if she be like this, let the wrath of Ares *   be confounded.

*   His wrath with her for her infidelity.





[186] XENOCRITUS (or XENOCRATES)   { F 2 }   G

On a Statue of Hermes

Swift Hermes is my name, but in the wrestling-school do not set me up without arms and feet ; or how shall I be swift, and how shall I spar correctly, if I stand on a base deprived of both ? *

*   The epigram is facetious. The ordinary Hermae were columns without legs and arms.

[188] NICIAS   { H 7 }   G

On Another

I, Hermes, whose domain is Cyllene's steep, forest-clad hill, stand here guarding the pleasant playground; and on me the boys often set marjoram and hyacinths and fresh wreaths of violets.

[189] NICIAS   { H 8 }   G

On a Statue of Pan

Having left the slopes of Maenalus I abide here, for Peristratus' sake, to guard the hives, on the watch for him who would rob the bees. But keep clear of my hand and the nimble stride of my country-bred feet.



[191] NICAENETUS   { H 3 }   G

On a Statue of Hermes

I, a Hermes of our native clay and with earthen feet, was moulded on the revolving circle of the wheel ; of mud was 1 kneaded, I will tell no lie ; but, stranger, I loved the luckless labour of the potters.



[195] SATYRUS   { F 5 }   G

On a Statue of Love Bound

Who fettered you, the winged boy, who bound swift fire with chains? Who laid his hand on Love's burning quiver and made fast behind his back those hands swift to shoot, tying them to a sturdy pillar? Such things are but chill consolation for men. Did not, perchance, this prisoner himself enchain once the mind of the artist ?





[198] MAECIUS   { Ph 11 }   G

On the Same

Weep, you wrong-headed god, with your hands made fast beyond escape; weep bitterly, letting fall soul-consuming tears, scorner of chastity, thief of the mind, robber of the reason, Love, you winged fire, you unseen wound in the soul. Your hands, O wrong-headed boy, are to mortals a release from complaint ; remain fast bound, sending your prayers to the deaf winds, and watch that torch that you, eluding all vigilance, lit in men's hearts, being quenched now by your tears.



[200] MOSCHUS   { H 1 }   G

On Love Ploughing

Curly-haired Love, laying aside his torch and bow, took an ox-driver's rod and wore a bag on his shoulders ; coupling the patient necks of the oxen under the yoke, he began to sow the wheat-bearing furrow of Demeter. Looking up he said to Zeus himself, "Fill the cornfield, lest I put you, Europa's bull, to the plough."



[205] TULLIUS GEMINUS   { Ph 9 }   G

On the Eros of Praxiteles *

Praxiteles, in return for love, gave me, Love, a god to mortal Phryne, creating at once a reward and a god. But she repulsed not the artist, for in her mind she feared lest the god should take up his bow to fight for the sculptor's art. She dreads no longer the son of Cypris, but your offspring, Praxiteles, knowing that Art is his mother.

*   cp. epigram 6.260.



[209] Anonymous   { F 5 }   G

A Love Couplet

You who blow on your torch to light the lamp, come and light it from my soul. I am all aflame.

[211] STATYLLIUS FLACCUS   { Ph 14 }   G

On Love Asleep

You are sleeping, you who bring sleepless care on mortals; you are sleeping, O child of the baneful daughter of the foam, not armed with your fiery torch, nor sending from your backward-bent, twanging bow the dart that none may escape. Let others pluck up courage, but I fear, you overweening boy, lest even in your sleep you see a dream bitter to me. *

*   i.e. in this and the next (its original), "lest some cruelty to me be suggested to you by your dreams."

[212] ALPHEIUS   { Ph 12 }   G

On the Same

I shall snatch the fiery pine-brand from your hand, O Love, and strip you of the quiver that hangs across your shoulders, if in truth you are sleeping, you child of fire, and we mortals have peace for a little season from your arrows. But even so I fear you, you weaver of wiles, lest you have one hidden for me and see a cruel dream in your sleep.



[214] SECUNDUS   { Ph 4 }   G

On Statues of Loves

Look how the Loves delight in their spoils; look how, in childish triumph, they wear the weapons of the gods on their sturdy shoulders : the tambourine and thyrsus of Bacchus, the thunderbolt of Zeus, the shield of Ares and his plumed helmet, the quiver of Phoebus well stocked with arrows, the trident of the sea-god, and the club from the strong hands of Heracles. What shall men's strength avail when Love has stormed heaven and Cypris has despoiled the immortals of their arms !



[216] PARMENION   { Ph 14 }   G

On a Statue of Hera

Polycleitus of Argos, who alone saw Hera with his eyes, and moulded what he saw of her, revealed her beauty to mortals as far as was lawful ; but we, the unknown forms beneath her dress's folds, are reserved for Zeus.



[222] PARMENION   { Ph 15 }   G

On the Nemesis of the Athenians *

I, the stone of whom the Medes hoped to make a trophy, was changed opportunely to the form of Nemesis, the goddess justly planted on the shore of Rhamnus to be a witness to the Attic land of victory and the skill of her artist.

* The Nemesis of Rhamnūs was said to have been carved by Pheidias from a block of marble brought by the Persians to use for a trophy.



[227] Anonymous   { F 74 }   G

On a Statue of Hermes

Throw yourself down here, wayfarer, on the green meadow, and rest your languid limbs from painful toil ; here where the pine also, tossed by the western breeze, shall soothe you as you listen to the song of the cicadas, and the shepherd likewise on the hills, piping at mid-day by the fountain under the leafy plane-tree. Thus, having escaped the burning heat of the autumnal dog-star, you shall in good time cross the hill. Take this counsel that Hermes gives you.















[237] TYMNES   { H 7 }   G

On a Statue of Priapus *

I behave like Priapus to everyone, even if he be Cronus, so little distinction do I make between thieves here beside this kitchen-garden. Someone will tell me it is not meet for me to say this for the sake of greens and pumpkins. It is not meet, but I say it.

* This and other epigrams (we have a large Latin collection of them) refer to statues of the garden god Priapus, who was represented with an erect penis to avert the evil eye. The joke that he threatens thieves with it is always the same. There is no use glossing over it in translation.






Marcus Argentarius

[242] ERYCIUS   { Ph 14 }   G

On the Same

How heavy and well-hardened, Priapus, is this weapon, which springs all of it from your loins, not unready for marriage ! You are athirst for women, my friend, and all your heart is swollen with desire. But appease this swollen organ and hide it under a flowered robe, for you do not dwell on a lonely mountain, but guard holy Lampsacus by the shore of the Hellespont.

[243] ANTISTIUS   { Ph 4 }   G

On the Same

I stand here the guardian of the farm in the rich field, watching over Phricon's hut and his plants, and to everyone I say this, "When you have done laughing at the sight of me with this appendage, go your way. But if you transgress and do what is unlawful, your hairy face will not help you ; I know how to pierce all."

[248] PLATO (THE YOUNGER)   { F 6 }   G

On a Satyr engraved on a Cup

Diodorus did not engrave this Satyr, but sent him to sleep. Prod him and you will wake him up : the silver is asleep.

[249] Anonymous   { F 16 }   G

O you who look on this lovely statue, seat yourself near it and worship Aphrodite ; and praise Glycera, the daughter of Dionysius, who set me up as an offering by the soft waves of the purple *   shore.

* The epithet seems to be transferred from the sea to the sea-shore.

[250] Anonymous   { F 84 }   G

See how winged Love is breaking the winged thunderbolt, showing that there is a fire stronger than fire.

[256] Anonymous   { F 75 }   G

On another Hermes

The place where I dwell is steep and desert, traveller; it is no fault of mine, but of Archelochus who set me up. For Hermes, Sir, is no lover of the mountains, no dweller on the hill-tops, but rather takes delight in roads ; but Archelochus, being himself a lover of solitude and without neighbours, settled me, O passer by, beside him, making me even as he is.

[263] Anonymous   { F 71 }   G

On the Nemesis of Pheidias *

The Persians first brought me here, a stone to use for setting up the trophy of their victory, but now I am Nemesis. I stand here for both, a trophy of their victory for the Greeks, and for the Persians the Nemesis of war.

* cp. epigram 222.




Poseidippus (XIV)















[308] EUGENES   { F 1 }   G

On a Statue of Anacreon

Bacchus, you have betrayed by your liquid nectar, his delight, Anacreon, the companion of the honeyed Loves, the swan of Teos. For his leering glance, and the edge of his mantle hanging about his ankles, and his single sandal, tell that he is drunk with wine ; but yet his lyre plays continually the hymn to the Loves. Keep the old man from falling, O Bacchus.





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