Greek Anthology: Book 12


This selection from Book 12 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.

[12] FLACCUS   { Ph 10 }   G

Just as he is getting his beard, Ladon, the fair youth, cruel to lovers, is in love with a boy. Nemesis is swift.





[18] ALPHEIUS OF MYTILENE   { Ph 11 }   G

Unhappy are they whose life is loveless ; for without love it is not easy to do anything or to say anything. I, for example, am now all too slow, but were I to catch sight of Xenophilus I would fly swifter than lightning. Therefore I bid all men not to shun but to pursue sweet desire ; Love is the whetstone of the soul.

[20] JULIUS LEONIDAS   { F 39 }   G

Zeus is again rejoicing in the banquets of the Ethiopians, *   or, turned to gold, hath stolen to Danaē's chamber ; for it is a marvel that, seeing Periander, he did not carry off from Earth the lovely youth ; or is the god no longer a lover of boys ?

*   Homer, Il. i. 423.



[24] TULLIUS LAUREAS   { Ph 3 }   G

If my Polemon returns welcome and safe, as he was, Lord of Delos, when we sent him on his way, I do not refuse to sacrifice by your altar the bird, herald of the dawn, that I promised in my prayers to you. But if he comes possessing either more or less of anything than he had then, I am released from my promise. - But he came with a beard. If he himself prayed for this as a thing dear to him, exact the sacrifice from him who made the prayer.

[25] STATYLLIUS FLACCUS   { Ph 11 }   G

When I bade farewell to Polemon I prayed for him to return safe and sound to me, Apollo, promising a sacrifice of a fowl. But Polemon came to me with a hairy chin. No, Phoebus, I swear it by yourself, he came not to me, but fled from me with cruel fleetness. I no longer sacrifice the cock to you. Think not to cheat me, returning me for full ears empty chaff.

[26] STATYLLIUS FLACCUS   { Ph 12 }   G

If the Polemon I parted from came back to me in safety, I promised to sacrifice to you. But now Polemon is saved for himself. It is no longer he who has come back to me, Phoebus, and arriving with a beard, he is no longer saved for me. He perhaps prayed himself for his chin to be darkened. Let him then make the sacrifice himself, as he prayed for what was contrary to all my hopes.

[27] STATYLLIUS FLACCUS   { Ph 13 }   G

When I saw Polemon off, his cheeks like thine, Apollo, I promised to sacrifice a fowl if he came back. I do not accept him now his spiteful cheeks are bristly. Luckless wretch that I was to make a vow for the sake of such a man ! It is not fair for the innocent fowl to be plucked in vain, or let Polemon be plucked, too, Lord of Delos.





[31] PHANIAS   { H 1 }   G

By Themis and the bowl of wine that made me totter, your love, Pamphilus, has but a little time to last. Already your thigh has hair on it and your cheeks are downy, and Desire leads you henceforth to another kind of passion. But now that some little vestiges of the spark are still left thee, put away your parsimony. Opportunity is the friend of Love.

[32] THYMOCLES   { H 1 }   G

You remember, I trust, you remember the time when I spoke to you the holy verse, "Beauty is fairest and beauty is nimblest." Not the fleetest bird in the sky shall outstrip beauty. Look, now, how all your blossoms are shed on the earth.



[34] AUTOMEDON   { Ph 11 }   G

Yesterday I supped with the boys' trainer, Demetrius, the most blessed of all men. One lay on his lap, one stooped over his shoulder, one brought him the dishes, and another served him with drink - the admirable quartet. I said to him in fun, "Do you, my dear friend, train the boys at night too ? "

[35] DIOCLES   { Ph 4 }   G

One thus addressed a boy who did not say good-day : "And so Damon, who excels in beauty, does not even say good-day now ! A time will come that will take vengeance for this. Then, grown all rough and hairy, you will give good-day first to those who do not give it you back."





[38] RHIANUS   { H 1 }   G

The Hours and Graces shed sweet oil on you, and you let not even old men sleep. Tell me whose you are and which of the boys you adorn. And the answer was, "Menecrates."

[39] Anonymous   { H 32 }   G

Nicander's light is out. All the bloom has left his complexion, and not even the name of charm survives, Nicander whom we once counted among the immortals. But, O young men, let not your thoughts mount higher than beseems a mortal ; there are such things as hairs.

[40] Anonymous   { H 12 }   G

Take not off my cloak, Sir, but look on me even as if I were a draped statue with the extremities only of marble. If you wish to see the naked beauty of Antiphilus you will find the rose growing as if on thorns.






Callimachus (30)

[44] GLAUCUS   { H 1 }   G

There was a time long, long ago, when boys who like presents were won by a quail, or a sewn ball, or knuckle-bones, but now they want rich dishes or money, and those playthings have no power. Search for something else, you lovers of boys.


Poseidippus (VIII)












Callimachus (31)







[55] ARTEMON (?)   { H 2 }   G

Child of Leto, son of Zeus the great, who utter oracles to all men, you are lord of the sea-girt height of Delos ; but the lord of the land of Cecrops is Echedemus, a second Attic Phoebus whom soft-haired Love lit with lovely bloom. And his city Athens, once mistress of the sea and land, now has made all Greece her slave by beauty.





[58] RHIANUS   { H 2 }   G

Troezen is a good nurse ; you shall not err if you praise even the last of her boys. But Empedocles excels all in brilliance as much as the lovely rose outshines the other flowers of spring.





[61] Anonymous   { H 17 }   G

Look ! consume not all Cnidus utterly, Aribazus ; the very stone is softened and is vanishing.

[62] Anonymous   { H 18 }   G

Ye Persian mothers, beautiful, yea beautiful are the children you bear, but Aribazus is to me a thing more beautiful than beauty.







[66] Anonymous   { H 26 }   G

Judge, you Loves, of whom the boy is worthy. If truly of the god, let him have him, for I do not contend with Zeus. But if there is something left for mortals too, say, Loves, whose was Dorotheus and to whom is he now given. Openly they call out that they are in my favour ; but he departs. I trust that you, too, may not be attracted to beauty in vain. *  

*   I take the last line to be addressed to the boy, Dorotheus, who would not abide by the verdict of the Loves, but this line is corrupt, and the whole is rather obscure. There was evidently a terrestrial rival in addition to Zeus.

[67] Anonymous   { H 25 }   G

I see not lovely Dionysius. Has he been taken up to heaven, Father Zeus, to be the second cup-bearer of the immortals ? Tell me, eagle, when your wings beat rapidly over him, how did you carry the pretty boy ? has he marks from your claws ?



[69] Anonymous   { H 21 }   G

Take your delight, Zeus, with your former Ganymedes, and look from afar, O King, on my Dexander. I grudge it not. But if you carry away the fair boy by force, no longer is your tyranny supportable. Let even life go if I must live under your rule.




Callimachus (32)




Callimachus (42)











[79] Anonymous   { H 11 }   G

Antipater kissed me when my love was on the wane, and set ablaze again the fire from the cold ash. So against my will I twice encountered one flame. Away, you who are like to be love-sick, lest touching those near me I burn them.















[87] Anonymous   { H 20 }   G

Persistent Love, you ever whirl at me no desire for woman, but the lightning of burning longing for males. Now burnt by Damon, now looking on Ismenus, I ever suffer long pain. And not only on these have I looked, but my eye, ever madly roving, is dragged into the nets of all alike.

[88] Anonymous   { H 19 }   G

Two loves, descending on me like the tempest, consume me, Eumachus, and I am caught in the toils of two furious passions. On this side I bend towards Asander, and on that again my eye, waxing keener, turns to Telephus. Cut me in two, I should love that, and dividing the halves in a just balance, carry off my limbs, each of you, as the lot decides.

[89] Anonymous   { H 2 }   G

Cypris, why at one target have you shot three arrows, why are three barbs buried in one soul ? On this side I am burning, on the other I am being dragged ; I am all at a loss which way to turn, and in the furious fire I burn away utterly.

[90] Anonymous   { H 1 }   G

No longer do I love. I have wrestled with three passions that burn : one for a courtesan, one for a maiden, and one for a lad. And in every way I suffer pain. For I have been sore exercised, seeking to persuade the courtesan's doors to open, the foes of him who has nothing, and again ever sleepless I make my bed on the girl's couch, giving the child but one thing and that most desirable, kisses. *   Alack ! how shall I tell of the third flame ? For from that I have gained nothing but glances and empty hopes.

*   This seems to be the meaning ; had he wished to say he had kissed her once only he must have used the aorist.

[91] POLYSTRATUS   { H 1 }   G

A double love burns one heart. O eyes that cast yourselves in every direction on everything that you need not, you looked on Antiochus, conspicuous by his golden charm, the flower of our brilliant youth. It should be enough. Why did you gaze on sweet and tender Stasicrates, the sapling of violet-crowned Aphrodite ? Take fire, consume, be burnt up once for all ; for the two of you could never win one heart. *  

*   This last line seems to me obscure, as the heart, to judge from line 1, must be his own, not that of the beloved.



[93] RHIANUS   { H 3 }   G

Boys are a labyrinth from which there is no way out ; for wherever you cast your eye it is fast entangled as if by bird-lime. Here Theodorus attracts you to the plump ripeness of his flesh and the unadulterated bloom of his limbs, and there it is the golden face of Philocles, who is not great in stature, but heavenly grace surrounds him. But if thou turn to look on Leptines you shall no more move your limbs, but shall remain, your steps glued as if by indissoluble adamant ; such a flame has the boy in his eyes to set you afire from your head to your toe and finger tips. All hail, beautiful boys ! May you come to the prime of youth and live till grey hair clothes your heads.





[96] Anonymous   { H 33 }   G

Not in vain is this saying bruited among mortals, "The gods have not granted everything to everyone." Faultless is your form, in your eyes is illustrious modesty, and the bloom of grace is on your bosom. And with all these gifts you vanquish the young men ; but the gods did not grant to you to have the same grace in your feet. But, good Pyrrhus, this boot shall hide your foot and give joy to you, proud of its beauty. *  

*   The verses seem to have been sent with a present of a pair of ornamental boots.




Poseidippus (IX)

[99] Anonymous   { H 9 }   G

I am caught by Love, I who had never dreamt it, and never had I learnt to feed a male flame hot beneath my heart. I am caught. Yet it was no longing for evil, but a pure glance, foster-brother of modesty, that burnt me to ashes. Let it consume away, the long labour of the Muses ; for my mind is cast in the fire, bearing the burden of a sweet pain.

[100] Anonymous   { H 5 }   G

To what strange haven of desire have you brought me, Cypris, and pity me not, although you yourself have experience of the pain ? Is it your will that I should suffer the unbearable and speak this word, "Cypris alone has wounded the man wise in the Muses' lore" ?




Callimachus (33)

[103] Anonymous   { H 56 }   G

I know well to love them who love me, and I know to hate him who wrongs me, for I am not unversed in both.

[104] Anonymous   { H 4 }   G

Let my love abide with me alone ; but if it visits others, I hate, Cypris, a love that is shared.





[107] Anonymous   { H 24 }   G

Ye Graces, if lovely Dionysius' choice be for me, lead him on as now from season to season in ever-renewed beauty, but if, passing me over, he love another, let him be cast out like a stale myrtle-berry mixed with the dry sweepings.

[108] DIONYSIUS   { H 3 }   G

If you love me, Acratus, *   may you be ranked with Chian wine, yes and even more honey-sweet ; but if you prefer another to me, let the gnats buzz about you as in the fume of a jar of vinegar.

*   The name means "unwatered wine."





[111] Anonymous   { H 28 }   G

Winged is Love and you are swift of foot, and the beauty of both is equal. We are only second to him, Eubius, because we have no bow and arrows.

[112] Anonymous   { H 15 }   G

Silence, O young men ; Arcesilaus is leading Love hither, having bound him with the purple cord of Cypris.





[115] Anonymous   { H 6 }   G

I have quaffed untempered madness, and all drunk with words I have armed myself with much frenzy for the way. I will march with music to her door, and what care I for God's thunder and what for his bolts, I who, if he cast them, carry love as an impenetrable shield ?

[116] Anonymous   { H 34 }   G

I will go to serenade him, for I am, all of me, mighty drunk. Boy, take this wreath that my tears bathe. The way is long, but I shall not go in vain ; it is the dead of night and dark, but for me Themison is a great torch.




Callimachus (43)




Poseidippus (XX)

[121] RHIANUS   { H 4 }   G

Tell me, Cleonicus, did the bright Graces meet you walking in a narrow lane and take you in their rosy arms, dear boy, that you have become such a Grace as you are ? From afar I bid you all hail, but ah ! dear, it is not safe for a dry corn-stalk to draw nearer to the fire.



[123] Anonymous   { H 30 }   G

When Menecharmus, Anticles' son, won the boxing match, I crowned him with ten soft fillets, and thrice I kissed him all dabbled with blood as he was, but the blood was sweeter to me than myrrh.

[124] ARTEMON (?)   { H 1 }   G

As Echedemus was peeping out of his door on the sly, I slyly kissed that charming boy who is just in his prime. Now I am in dread, for he came to me in a dream, bearing a quiver, and departed after giving me fighting cocks, *   but at one time smiling, at another with no friendly look. But have I touched a swarm of bees, and a nettle, and fire ?

*   Of doubtful import. These birds were common presents of lovers, but to see them in a dream betided quarrels.









[129] ARATUS   { H 1 }   G

Philocles of Argos is "fair" *   at Argos, and the columns of Corinth and tombstones of Megara announce the same. It is written that he is fair as far as Amphiaraus' Baths. But that is little ; they are only letters that beat us. For they are not stones that testify to this Philocles' beauty, but Rhianus, who saw him with his own eyes, and he is superior to the other one.

*   It was the habit to write or cut the name of the beloved, adding the word kalos (fair), on stones or trees. But the poet says that it is only the evidence of these inscriptions that is in favour of Philocles of Argos. The evidence of our eyes is in favour of the other.

[130] Anonymous   { H 27 }   G

I said and said it again, "He is fair, he is fair," but I will still say it, that Dositheus is fair and has lovely eyes. These words we engraved on no oak or pine, no, nor on a wall, but Love burnt them into my heart. But if any man deny it, believe him not. By yourself, O God, I swear that he lies, and I who say it alone know the truth.


Poseidippus (XIII)








Callimachus (44)



[136] Anonymous   { H 10 }   G

Ye chattering birds, why do you clamour ? Vex me not, as I lie warmed by the lad's delicate flesh, you nightingales that sit among the leaves. Sleep, I implore you, you talkative women-folk ; *   hold your peace.

*   The nightingale was Philomela.






Callimachus (45)

[140] Anonymous   { H 16 }   G

When I saw Archestratus the fair I said, so help me Hermes I did, that he was not fair ; for he seemed not passing fair to me. I had but spoken the word and Nemesis seized me, and at once I lay in the flames and Zeus, in the guise of a boy, rained his lightning on me. Shall I beseech the boy or the goddess for mercy ? But to me the boy is greater than the goddess. Let Nemesis go her way.



[142] RHIANUS   { H 10 }   G

Dexionicus, having caught a blackbird with lime under a green plane-tree, held it by the wings, and it, the holy bird, *   screamed complaining. But I, dear Love, and you blooming Graces, would wish to be even a thrush or a blackbird, so that in his hand I might pour forth my voice and sweet tears.

*   Holy because it is a singing bird.

[143] Anonymous   { H 14 }   G

"O Hermes, when shot he extracted the bitter arrow , . . ."   "And I, O stranger, met with the same fate."   "But desire for Apollophanes wears me away."   "O lover of sports, you have outstripped me ; we both have leapt into the same fire." *  

*   The verses seem to have been a dialogue between a statue of Hermes in the gymnasium and a stranger, but owing to their mutilation it is difficult to make sense of them. It is evident from the context of No. 144 (the poems here being arranged under motives) that the god was represented as being in love.



[145] Anonymous   { H 8 }   G

Rest, O lovers of lads, from your empty labour ; cease from your troubles, you perverse men ; we are maddened by never fulfilled hopes. It is like to baling the sea on to the dry land and reckoning the number of grains in the Libyan sand to court the love of boys, whose vainglorious beauty is sweet to men and gods alike. Look on me, all of you ; for all my futile toil of the past is as water shed on the dry beach.

[146] RHIANUS   { H 5 }   G

I caught the fawn and lost him ; I, who had taken countless pains and set up the nets and stakes, go away empty-handed, but they who toiled not carry off my quarry, O Love. May your wrath be heavy upon them.




Callimachus (34)


Callimachus (46)


Callimachus (47)

[151] Anonymous   { H 13 }   G

Stranger, if you saw somewhere among the boys one whose bloom was most lovely, undoubtedly you saw Apollodotus. And if, having seen him, you were not overcome by burning fiery desire, of a surety you are either a god or a stone.

[152] Anonymous   { H 29 }   G

Heracleitus, my beloved, is a Magnet, *   not attracting iron by stone, but my spirit by his beauty.

*   Meaning either a native of Magnesia (as the boy was) or the Magnesian stone, the magnet.





[155] Anonymous   { H 7 }   G

A. Don't speak to me again like that.   B. How am I to blame ? He sent me himself.   A. What ! will you say it a second time ?   B. A second time. He said "Go." But come, don't delay, they are waiting for you.   A. First of all I will find them and then I will come. I know from experience what the third story will be. *  

*   A dialogue between a slave and a boy he is sent to invite. I take the point of it to be that the man pretends that there will be other guests to "chaperon" the boy. The boy refuses to believe this, and declines a rendezvous. The point of the last words, however, is obscure.

[156] Anonymous   { H 22 }   G

Even like unto a storm in springtime, Diodorus, is my love, determined by the moods of an uncertain sea. At one time you display heavy rain-clouds, at another again the sky is clear and your eyes melt in a soft smile. And I, like a shipwrecked man in the surge, count the blind waves as I am whirled hither and thither at the mercy of the mighty storm. But show me a landmark either of love or of hate, that I may know in which sea I swim.







[160] Anonymous   { H 31 }   G

Bravely shall I bear the sharp pain in my vitals and the bond of the cruel fetters. For it is not now only, Nicander, that I learn to know the wounds of love, but often have I tasted desire. Do both you, Adrasteia, and you, Nemesis, bitterest of the immortals, exact due vengeance for his evil resolve.
















Poseidippus (XXI)







[172] EUENUS   { Ph 7 }   G

If to hate is pain and to love is pain, of the two evils I choose the smart of kind pain.




Callimachus (53)





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