Primitias egomet lacrimarum et caedis acerbae,
ante tubas ferrumque, tuli, dum deside cura
credo sinus fidos altricis et ubera mando.
quidni ego? narrabat servatum fraude parentem
insontesque manus. en quam ferale putemus
abiurasse sacrum et Lemni gentilibus unam
immunem furiis! haec illa (et creditis) ausa,
haec pietate potens solis abiecit in arvis,
non regem dominumque, alienos impia partus,
hoc tantum, silvaeque infamis tramite liquit,
quem non anguis atrox (quid enim hac opus, ei mihi, leti
mole fuit?), tantum caeli violentior aura
impulsaeque noto frondes cassusque valeret
exanimare timor.
(Statius, Theb. 6.146-159)

I bore the first fruit of tears and untimely death before trumpet and sword, as caring but lazily I believed in a nurse’s trusty bosom and handed over my suckling. But why not? She told me how she had saved her father by cunning and kept her hands innocent. Look at her, this woman who we are to think abjured the deadly covenant, alone immune from the madness of her fellow Lemnians; this woman who thus dared (and you believe her), this woman, so strong in her devotion, undutifully cast off in a lonely field – I say not king or master but another’s child, just that, and left him on a track in an ill-famed wood. No frightful snake – what need, alas, for such a mass of death? – but merely a breeze blowing strong or leaves shaken by the wind or idle terror might have been enough to cause his end. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)



Ἔλαφος δ’ ἦν λευκὴ χειροήθης τῷ Σερτωρίῳ καὶ ἄνετος· ἧς ἀφανοῦς γενομένης ὁ Σερτώριος οὐκ αἴσιον ἑαυτῷ τιθέμενος ἐβαρυθύμει τε καὶ ἐπ’ ἀργίας ἦν, καὶ ταῦτ’ ἐπιτωθαζόμενος ἐς τὴν ἔλαφον ὑπὸ τῶν πολεμίων. ὡς δ’ ὤφθη διὰ δρυμῶν δρόμῳ φερομένη, ἀνά τε ἔδραμεν ὁ Σερτώριος καὶ εὐθύς, ὥσπερ αὐτῇ προκαταρχόμενος, ἠκροβολίσατο ἐς τοὺς πολεμίους.
(Appian, Rhōmaïka 13.110)

Sertorius had a white fawn that was tame and allowed to move about freely. When this fawn was not in sight Sertorius considered it a bad omen. He became low-spirited and abstained from fighting; nor did he mind the enemy’s scoffing at him about the fawn. When she made her appearance running through the woods Sertorius would run to meet her, and, as though he were consecrating the first-fruits of a sacrifice to her, he would at once direct a hail of javelins at the enemy. (tr. Horace White)


Ἥφαιστος δ’ ὡς οὖν θυμαλγέα μῦθον ἄκουσε,
βῆ ῥ’ ἴμεν ἐς χαλκεῶνα κακὰ φρεσὶ βυσσοδομεύων,
ἐν δ’ ἔθετ’ ἀκμοθέτῳ μέγαν ἄκμονα, κόπτε δὲ δεσμοὺς
ἀρρήκτους ἀλύτους, ὄφρ’ ἔμπεδον αὖθι μένοιεν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ τεῦξε δόλον κεχολωμένος Ἄρει,
βῆ ῥ’ ἴμεν ἐς θάλαμον, ὅθι οἱ φίλα δέμνι’ ἔκειτο,
ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ ἑρμῖσιν χέε δέσματα κύκλῳ ἁπάντῃ·
πολλὰ δὲ καὶ καθύπερθε μελαθρόφιν ἐξεκέχυντο,
ἠύτ’ ἀράχνια λεπτά, τά γ’ οὔ κέ τις οὐδὲ ἴδοιτο,
οὐδὲ θεῶν μακάρων; πέρι γὰρ δολόεντα τέτυκτο.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα δόλον περὶ δέμνια χεῦεν,
εἴσατ’ ἴμεν ἐς Λῆμνον, ἐυκτίμενου πτολίεθρον,
ἥ οἱ γαιάων πολὺ φιλτάτη ἐστιν ἁπασέων.
(Homer, Od. 8.272-284)

And when Hephaestus heard the grievous tale*, he went his way to his smithy, pondering evil in the deep of his heart, and set on the anvil block the great anvil and forged bonds which might not be broken or loosed, that the lovers might bide fast where they were. But when he had fashioned the snare in his wrath against Ares, he went to his chamber where lay his bed, and everywhere round about the bed-posts he spread the bonds, and many too were hung from above, from the roof-beams, fine as spiders’ webs, so that no one even of the blessed gods could see them, so exceeding craftily were they fashioned. But when he had spread all his snare about the couch, he made as though he would go to Lemnos, that well-built citadel, which is in his eyes far the dearest of all lands.

* of the minstrel Demodocus, who sang how Aphrodite cheated on Hephaestus with Ares.

(tr. Augustus Taber Murray)



Χειροτονεῖν δὲ τὸ αἰδοῖον εἴ τις ὑπολάβοι, δοῦλον ἢ δούλην περανεῖ διὰ τὸ τὰς χεῖρας τὰς προσαγομένας τῶι αἰδοίωι ὑπηρετικὰς εἶναι· εἰ δὲ μὴ ἔχοι θεράποντας, ζημίαν ὑπομενεῖ διὰ τὴν εἰς ἄχρηστον τοῦ σπέρματος ἀπόκρισιν. οἶδα δέ τινα δοῦλον, ὃς ἔδοξε τὸν δεσπότην αὐτοῦ δέφειν, καὶ ἐγένετο τῶν παίδων αὐτοῦ παιδαγωγὸς καὶ τροφός· ἔσχε γὰρ ἐν ταῖς χερσὶ τὸ τοῦ δεσπότου αἰδοῖον ὂν τῶν ἐκείνου τέκνων σημαντικόν. καὶ πάλιν αὖ οἶδά <τινα> ὃς ἔδοξεν ὑπὸ τοῦ δεσπότου δέφεσθαι, καὶ προσδεθεὶς κίονι πολλὰς ἔλαβε πληγάς, καὶ οὕτως ὑπὸ τοῦ δεσπότου ἐνετάθη.
(Artemidorus, Oneirocritica 1.78)

And if one should suppose that he masturbates, he will penetrate a male or female slave because the hands, brought to the genitals, are its servants. But if he should not have servants, he will suffer a loss due to the release of his sperm to no purpose. And I know of a certain slave who imagined he gave a hand job to his master, and he became the tutor and nurse of his children. For he held in his hands the genitals of his master, which are significant of the children of that man. And, moreover, I know of <a certain man> who imagined that he was given a hand job by his master and, being bound to a pillar, he received many lashes, and in this way was he ‘pulled tight’ by his master. (tr. Daniel E. Harris-McCoy)


Ut mihi tu claudis, mater stomachosa, fenestram,
sic tibi claudatur cunnus, iniqua parens!
id tibi erit gravius, caelebs videare licebit,
quam tibi si caeli ianua clausa foret.
(Antonio Beccadelli, Hermaphroditus 2.4)

Just as you close the window against me, ill-tempered mother,
so may your cunt be closed up, cruel parent.
Though you seem to be single, that will be worse for you
than if the gates of heaven were closed against you.
(tr. Holt Parker)


François-Xavier Fabre, Ulysse et Néoptolème enlèvent à Philoctète l’arc et les flèches d’Héraclès

ὦ ξένε Κεφαλλήν, εἴθε σοῦ διαμπερὲς
στέρνων ἵκοιτ’ ἄλγησις ἥδε. φεῦ, παπαῖ.
παπαῖ μάλ’ αὖθις. ὦ διπλοῖ στρατηλάται,
[Ἀγάμεμνον, ὦ Μενέλαε, πῶς ἂν ἀντ’ ἐμοῦ]
τὸν ἴσον χρόνον τρέφοιτε τήνδε τὴν νόσον.
ὤμοι μοι.
ὦ θάνατε θάνατε, πῶς ἀεὶ καλούμενος
οὕτω κατ’ ἦμαρ οὐ δύνῃ μολεῖν ποτε;
ὦ τέκνον, ὦ γενναῖον, ἀλλὰ συλλαβὼν
τῷ Λημνίῳ τῷδ’ ἀνακαλουμένῳ πυρὶ
ἔμπρησον, ὦ γενναῖε; κἀγώ τοί ποτε
τὸν τοῦ Διὸς παῖδ’ ἀντὶ τῶνδε τῶν ὅπλων,
ἃ νῦν σὺ σῴζεις, τοῦτ’ ἐπηξίωσα δρᾶν.
τί φής, παῖ;
τί φής; τί σιγᾷς; ποῦ ποτ’ ὤν, τέκνον, κυρεῖς;
(Sophocles, Philoctetes 790-805)

A-a-a-a-h! Cephallenian stranger, I wish this pain would go right through your chest! Ah, ah, alas! Alas once more! O you two generals, [Agamemnon, O Menelaus, if only instead of me] may you feed this sickness for an equal time! Ah me! O death, death, why can you never come, though I do not cease to call you thus each day? O my son, O my noble son, take me and burn me with this fire that is invoked as Lemnian, noble one! I also once consented to do this to the son of Zeus in return for those weapons which you now are guarding! What do you say, boy? What do you say? Why are you silent? Where are you, my son? (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)



Caduca nimirum et fragilia puerilibusque consentanea crepundiis sunt ista quae vires atque opes humanae vocantur. adfluunt subito, repente dilabuntur, nullo in loco, nulla in persona stabilibus nixa radicibus consistunt, sed incertissimo flatu Fortunae huc atque illuc acta quos sublime extulerunt improviso recursu destitutos profundo cladium miserabiliter immergunt. itaque neque existimari neque dici debent bona quae, ut inflictorum malorum amaritudine desiderium sui duplicent, <…>
(Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia 6.9 ext. 7)

Frail and fragile surely and like children’s toys are the so-called power and wealth of humankind. Suddenly they stream in, abruptly they fall apart, in no place or person do they stand on fixed or stable roots, but driven hither and thither by Fortune’s fickle breeze they forsake those they have raised aloft in unexpected withdrawal and lamentably plunge them into an abyss of disaster. Therefore they should neither be thought nor called good things that in order to double the bitterness of inflicted evils by craving for their return * * * (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)