Greek lyrics by Various, Richmond Lattimore

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By Various, Richmond Lattimore

"Professor Lattimore, maintaining heavily to the unique metres, has produced renderings of significant strength and wonder. His feeling for the telling noun and verb, the easy but poignant epithet, and the dramatic flip of syntax is marked. He has thoroughly freed the poems from sentimentality, and the exciting historical names—Anacreon, Alcaeus, Simonides, Sappho—acquire clean brilliance and power less than his hand."—Louise Bogan, The New Yorker

"The major caliber of Mr. Lattimore's types is they are natural. The lenses he offers are as transparent as our language is able to making them."—Moses Hadas, N.Y. bring in Tribune

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The Simónides addressed in 667 may or may not be the famous poet from Ceos. Theógnis himself came from Mégara and lived in the middle or later sixth century and probably into the fifth. The poems in this collection had a demonstrably strong influence on Athenian writers, particularly Euripides and Plato. • 19–26 • Kyrnos, this is my work; let a seal be stamped on the writing of these words, so that none who steals them shall ever deceive, so that none in the presence of good work can substitute forgery.

It is hard to see how Archílochus could have earned any profitable patronage by the poems he wrote; and he thus stands as one of the earliest known examples, for Western tradition, of the amateur poet, driven by love and compulsion to record his hates, loves, friendships, and amusements. He also wrote beast-fables, apparently of the sort later assembled under the name of Aesop. The first ten items here given may well be very short complete poems rather than fragments. EPIGRAMS • 1 • I am two things: a fighter who follows the Master of Battles, and one who understands the gift of the Muses’ love.

She alone takes no delight in sitting with the rest when the conversation’s about sex. It’s wives like this who are God’s gift of happiness to mortal men. These are the thoughtful wives, in every way the best. But all those other breeds come to us too from God and by his will. And they stay with us. They won’t go. For women are the biggest single bad thing Zeus has made for us. Even when a wife appears to help, her husband finds out in the end that after all she didn’t. No one day goes by from end to end enjoyable, when you have spent it with your wife.

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