Καὶ βίβασις δέ τι ἦν εἶδος Λακωνικῆς ὀρχήσεως, ἧς καὶ τὰ ἆθλα προυτίθετο οὐ τοῖς παισὶ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ταῖς κόραις· ἔδει δ’ ἅλλεσθαι καὶ ψαύειν τοῖς ποσὶ πρὸς τὰς πυγάς, καὶ ἠριθμεῖτο τὰ πηδήματα, ὅθεν ἐπὶ μιᾶς ἦν ἐπίγραμμα
χείλιά πόκα βίβαντι, πλεῖστα δὴ τῶν πήποκα.
(Pollux, Onomasticon 4.102)
‘Bibasis’ was a kind of Spartan dance, in which prizes were awarded not only to boys but also to girls; one had to leap and touch the buttocks with one’s feet, and the jumps were counted. Hence the inscription in honour of one of these girls,
‘Who once did a thousand at bibasis, the most ever done’.
(tr. Matthew Dillon & Lynda Garland, adapted by David Bauwens)
Δυσμοίρων θαλάμων ἐπὶ παστάσιν οὐχ Ὑμέναιος,
ἀλλ’ Ἀΐδης ἔστη πικρογάμου Πετάλης.
δείματι γὰρ μούνην πρωτόζυγα Κύπριν ἀν’ ὄρφνην
φεύγουσαν, ξυνὸν παρθενικαῖσι φόβον,
φρουροδόμοι νηλεῖς κύνες ἔκτανον· ἣν δὲ γυναῖκα
ἐλπὶς ἰδεῖν, ἄφνως ἔσχομεν οὐδὲ νέκυν.
(Antiphanes, Anth. Gr. 9.245)
By the unhappy marriage-bed of Petale at her bitter bridal stood Hades, not Hymen. For, as she fled alone through the darkness, dreading the first taste of the yoke of Cypris – a terror common to all maidens – the cruel watch-dogs killed her. We had hoped to see her a wife and suddenly we could hardly find her corpse. (tr. William Roger Paton)
Inter quae nulla palam causa delapsum Camuloduni simulacrum Victoriae ac retro conversum, quasi cederet hostibus. et feminae in furorem turbatae adesse exitium canebant, externosque fremitus in curia eorum auditos; consonuisse ululatibus theatrum visamque speciem in aestuario Tamesae subversae coloniae; iam Oceanus cruento adspectu, dilabente aestu humanorum corporum effigies relictae, ut Britannis ad spem, ita veteranis ad metum trahebantur.
(Tacitus, Ann. 14.32)
At this juncture, for no visible reason, the statue of Victory at Camulodunum fell down – with its back turned as though it were fleeing the enemy. Delirious women chanted of destruction at hand. They cried that in the local senate-house outlandish yells had been heard; the theatre had echoed with shrieks; at the mouth of the Thames a phantom settlement had been seen in ruins. A blood-red colour in the sea, too, and shapes like human corpses left by the ebb tide, were interpreted hopefully by the Britons – and with terror by the settlers. (tr. Michael Grant)
Οἱ δ’ ἕτεροι γλαφυρῆς ἀπὸ γαστέρος ἔρρεον ἵππου,
τευχησταὶ βασιλῆες, ἀπὸ δρυὸς οἷα μέλισσαι,
αἵτ’ ἐπεὶ οὖν ἔκαμον πολυχανδέος ἔνδοθι σίμβλου
κηρὸν ὑφαίνουσαι μελιηδέα ποικιλοτέχναι,
ἐς νομὸν εὐγυάλοιο κατ’ ἄγγεος ἀμφιχυθεῖσαι
νύγμασι πημαίνουσι παραστείχοντας ὁδίτας·
ὣς Δαναοὶ κρυφίοιο λόχου κληῖδας ἀνέντες
θρῷσκον ἐπὶ Τρώεσσι καὶ εἰσέτι κοῖτον ἔχοντας
χαλκείου θανάτοιο κακοῖς ἐκάλυψαν ὀνείροις.
νήχετο δ’ αἵματι γαῖα, βοὴ δ’ ἄλληκτος ὀρώρει
Τρώων φευγόντων, ἐστείνετο δ’ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ
πιπτόντων νεκύων, οἱ δ’ ἀνδροφόνῳ κολοσυρτῷ
ἔζεον ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα μεμηνότες οἷα λέοντες
σώμασιν ἀρτιφάτοισι γεφυρώσαντες ἀγυιάς.
(Tryphiodorus, Halōsis Iliou 533-546)
And those others poured from the carven belly of the horse, armed princes, even as bees from an oak: which when they have laboured within the capacious hive, weaving the sweet honeycomb with cunning art, pour from their vaulted nest to the pasture and vex the passing wayfarers with their stings: even so the Danaans undid the bolts of their secret ambush and leapt upon the Trojans and, while they still slept, shrouded them in evil dreams of brazen death. The earth swam with blood, and a cry unceasing arose from the fleeing Trojans, and sacred Ilios was straitened with falling corpses, while those others with murderous tumult raged this way and that, like mad lions, bridging the streets with new-slain bodies. (tr. Alexander William Mair)
Desiderantem quod satis est neque
tumultuosum sollicitat mare
nec saevus Arcturi cadentis
impetus aut orientis Haedi,
non verberatae grandine vineae
fundusque mendax, arbore nunc aquas
culpante, nunc torrentia agros
sidera, nunc hiemes iniquas.
(Horace, Carm. 3.1.25-32)
The one who desires what is enough is not worried by a stormy sea or by the fierce onslaught of Arcturus as he sets, or the Kid as he rises; not by hail lashing his vineyards or by a farm that has broken its promise. (The orchard blames now the torrential rain, now the dog star for scorching the fields, now the winter’s harshness.) (tr. Niall Rudd)
Quid potius faciam? non sum, qui segnia ducam
otia: mors nobis tempus habetur iners.
nec iuvat in lucem nimio marcescere vino
nec tenet incertas alea blanda manus.
cum dedimus somno quas corpus postulat horas,
quo ponam vigilans tempora longa modo?
moris an oblitus patrii contendere discam
Sarmaticos arcus, et trahar arte loci?
hoc quoque me studium prohibent adsumere vires
mensque magis gracili corpore nostra valet.
cum bene quaesieris quid agam, magis utile nil est
artibus his, quae nil utilitatis habent.
(Ovid, Ep. ex Ponto 1.5.43-54)
What else should I do? I’m not one to lead a life
of idleness: wasted time’s like death to me.
I don’t enjoy lying drugged with excess drink, till dawn,
and the lure of the dice doesn’t grip my luckless hands.
When I’ve granted the time my body needs for sleep
how should I spend the long hours of wakefulness?
Shall I forget the ways of my country and, drawn
to the skills here, learn to bend the Sarmatian bow?
My powers prevent me taking up that pastime, too,
since my mind is stronger than my slight body.
When you’ve thought deeply about what I should do,
you’ll find nothing more useful than this useless art.
(tr. A.S. Kline)
Πῶλε Θρῃκίη, τί δή με
λοξὸν ὄμμασι βλέπουσα
νηλέως φεύγεις, δοκεῖς δέ
μ’ οὐδὲν εἰδέναι σοφόν;
ἴσθι τοι, καλῶς μὲν ἄν τοι
τὸν χαλινὸν ἐμβάλοιμι
ἡνίας δ’ ἔχων στρέφοιμί
σ’ ἀμφὶ τέρματα δρόμου·
νῦν δὲ λειμῶνάς τε βόσκεαι
κοῦφά τε σκιρτῶσα παίζεις,
δεξιὸν γὰρ ἱπποπείρην
οὐκ ἔχεις ἐπεμβάτην.
(Anacreon, fr. 417)
Thracian filly, why glance at me askance and
flee so stubbornly? Do you think I don’t know a trick or two?
I tell you, I’d slip the bridle on you nicely
and, reins in hand, I’d take you round the course.
But as it is you graze the meadows, lightly skipping in your play.
You have no skillful rider experienced in horses’ ways.
(tr. John Porter)