lecture

Anonymous poems.

Identifications
— anonymity
— inscriptions

1. Anonymous no. 101* (Balmer). Athens, late 5th century BCE.
*inscribed into stone (Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften I: 1415)

Your love, Biote, was like honey, like truth,
and now I’m placing a slab above your grave.
Set it in stone: Euthylla took you for her
lover and these tears are your memorial
falling one by one
for the years we have lost.

2. Anonymous no. 102* (Balmer). Amorgos, mid 5th century BCE.
*inscribed into stone (SEG: XV.548)

marble, not flesh, a woman turned to stone;
O Bitte, it’s all I have left of you —
the memory of your face
a mother’s hardening grief.

3. Anonymous no. 104* (Balmer). Cape Zoster near Athens, 56/55 BCE.
*inscribed into stone (Kai 118)

My daughter I raised in Athens, sent her
to serve a foreign Queen; even at court
she still shone, was treasured like a jewel.
And now I have brought her back in a box,
showered her not with golden desert sand
but the warm soft soil of her own homeland.

4a. Anonymous no. 108* (Balmer). 5th c. BCE.
*inscribed into a drinking cup (kylix) currently in the Met Museum.

For Melosa the conqueror
women’s champion at carding wool.

4b. Terracotta kylix. 5th c. BCE. Above: Two warriors fight between the eyes. On the other side, a woman captive with a warrior (Helen and Menelaus?). Below: the inscription of 4a below the foot, from Milne 1944.

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5. Anonymous no. 109* (Balmer). Athens, after 350 BCE.
*inscribed into an arch (Kai 776).

With the skill of her hands and the courage in her soul,
Melinna raised her family, and this stone to you,
lady Athena, the workers’ friend (ἐργάνη) — a share of all
she has sacrificed: a monument to kindness, grace.

6. Anonymous no. 110* (Balmer).
*transmitted by Athenaeus (c. 200 CE), The Learned Banquet (697b).

What do you do to me? I’m on my knees
and begging, please, don’t give the game away:
before my man walks in the door, get out
of bed; he’ll wipe the floor with you and me.
Believe me, my love, it’s already day —
first light is at my window, can’t you see?

7. Anonymous no. 112* (Balmer).
*transmitted by Plutarch (1st/2nd c. CE), Greek Questions 6.26.1.

Come, Lord Dionysus, come,
to the temples of Elis,
bring your holy Graces
to the temple.

Rage like the bull
horned and hoofed,

worthy bull,
worthy bull.

8. Anonymous no. 114* (Balmer).
*transmitted by Plutarch (1st/2nd c. CE), Life of Titus Flamininus 16.

Having been thus saved by Titus, the Chalcidians dedicated to him the largest and most beautiful of the votive offerings in their city, and on them such inscriptions as these are still to be seen: “This gymnasium is dedicated by the people to Titus and Heracles,” and again in another place, “This Delphinium is dedicated by the people to Titus and Apollo.” Moreover, even down to our own day a priest of Titus is duly elected and appointed, and after sacrifice and libations in his honour, a set hymn of praise to him is sung: it is too long to be quoted entire, and so I will give only the closing words of the song:

So now let us honour the Trust of Rome
a faith to stand guard on far-shining oaths.

Sing, girls, Sing!
Lift up your voices
to great Zeus and
Roma  too

to Titus, the Trust
of Rome.
Praise Him!

Titus, our saviour.

9. Anonymous no. 116* (Balmer).
* quoted among drinking songs (skolia) by Athenaeus (c. 200 CE), The Learned Banquet (693f-694c).

A scorpion waits under every stone:
take care in case it should suddenly strike —
deceit creeps in with the dark
and the unknown.

 

 

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