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  A MAIDEN'S LAMENT


This piece of 'lyric mime' was written down by Dryton, a cavalryman in Egypt, between 174 and 150 B.C. It is probable that he had heard the mime performed - it is unusual to find a written copy of this sort of poem. See the comments of R. Greene, "Post-Classical Greek Elegy and Lyric Poetry," pp.64-65 ( Google Books ).

The translation is by P. Bing ( P.Dryton 50 ). The Greek text, and a commentary by R. Höschele, can be found in "Hellenistic Poetry: A Selection", pp.24-32 ( Google Books ).



Our feelings were mutual,
bound ourselves together. And Kypris is love's
security. It's torture
to recall
how he kissed me, when he meant     5
to desert me,
that inventor of confusion,
begetter of my love.
Desire gripped me.
I don't deny that he's on my mind.   10
O beloved stars and lady Night, companions in my desire,
take me even now to him, whom Kypris
drives me to as a captive, while
potent Eros holds me in his grip.
My guide is the potent torch   15
that's ablaze in my soul.
But this is what hurts me, this is what aches:
that this cheater of hearts,
so proud before, denied my love had sprung
from Kypris,   20
and now can't bear
a chance offence.
I'm going to go mad; I'm jealous,
I'm burning up at being deserted.
So throw me the garlands,   25
which, in my loneliness, I'll press to my skin.
Master, don't lock me out and send me off.
Take me. I'm content to be your eager slave.
Loving to distraction is a heavy task:
you have to be jealous, endure, keep waiting.   30
And if you devote yourself to just one, you will just go crazy,
For lonely desire makes you go mad.
You should know I have a stubborn temper
when I get in a fight. I go mad when I recall
that I will sleep alone,   35
while you run off to press your flesh to another's.
If we're angry at each other, we'll have to
make up right now.
Isn't this why we have friends,
to decide who's in the wrong?   40



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