I am an old man, but I drink more than the youngsters; and if I have to dance, I shall imitate Silenus and dance in the middle of the ring, with my wine-flask as my support since my fennel-stick is useless. If anyone wants a fight, let him come over here and fight. Mix the sweet honied wine and bring me the cup, boy. I am an old man, but I drink more than the youngsters. (tr. David A. Campbell)
Sappho was a Lesbian by birth, of the city of Mytilene. Her father was Scamander or, according to some, Scamandronymus, and she had three brothers, Erigyius, Larichus and Charaxus, the eldest, who sailed to Egypt and associated with one Doricha, spending large sums on her; Sappho was more fond of the young Larichus. She had a daughter Cleis, named after her own mother. She has been accused by some of being irregular in her ways and a woman-lover. In appearance she seems to have been contemptible and quite ugly, being dark in complexion and of very small stature. The same is true of (Alcaeus ?) who was smallish . . . (tr. David A. Campbell)
Rusticus indocte si quid dixisse videbor,
da veniam: libros non lego, poma lego.
sed rudis hic dominum totiens audire legentem
cogor Homeriacas edidicique notas.
ille vocat, quod nos psolen, ψολόεντα κεραυνόν
et quod nos culum, κουλεόν ille vocat.
μερδαλέον certe quasi res non munda vocatur
et pediconum mentula merdalea est.
quid? nisi Taenario placuisset Troica cunno
mentula, quod caneret non habuisset opus.
mentula Tantalidae bene si non mota fuisset,
nil senior Chryses quod quereretur erat.
haec eadem socium tenera spoliavit amica,
quaeque erat Aeacidae maluit esse suam.
ille Pelethroniam cecinit miserabile carmen
ad citharam, cithara tensior ipse sua.
nobilis hinc mota nempe incipit Ilias ira:
principium sacri carminis illa fuit.
altera materia est error fallentis Ulixei:
si verum quaeras, hunc quoque movit amor.
hic legitur radix de qua flos aureus exit:
quem cum μῶλυ vocat, mentula μῶλυ fuit.
hic legimus Circen Atlantiademque Calypson
grandia Dulichii vasa petisse viri.
huius et Alcinoi mirata est filia membrum
frondenti ramo vix potuisse tegi.
ad vetulam tamen ille suam properabat, et omnis
mens erat in cunno, Penelopea, tuo:
quae sic casta manes, ut iam convivia visas
utque fututorum sit tua plena domus.
e quibus ut scires quicumque valentior esset,
haec es ad arrectos verba locuta procos:
“nemo meo melius nervum tendebat Ulixe,
sive illi laterum, sive erat artis opus.
qui, quoniam periit, vos nunc intendite, qualem
esse virum sciero, vir sit ut ille meus.”
hac ego, Penelope, potui tibi lege placere,
illo sed nondum tempore natus eram!
No scholar I, but country-bred, so pardon me
If I be crude: trees is my trade, not books, you see.
Yet I know this bloke Homer, for my master proud
Spends all his time out here a-reading him out loud.
I hear, for instance, what we rustics call a prick
Is ‘psolenta kheraunos’ in that chap’s Greek,
And arse is ‘khouleos’, and ‘merdaleos’—’foul’
It means—what you’d expect of prick that’s been in bowel.
If Trojan cock had not brought Grecian cunt such fun,
This Homer fellow’s book could not have been begun.
If bloody Agamemnon’s prick had been less stout,
He’d given old Chryses damn nowt to moan about;
Nor would he then have snatched the maiden from his friend,
And she’d have been Achilles’ own until the end:
Who now upon his Pelethronian lyre must sing
A woeful tune, himself stretched tenser than its string.
And so began the hero’s noble rage, the same
That’s the chief matter of the Iliad’s tale of fame.
The other book’s about Ulysses and his treks,
And, truth to tell, here too the cause of all was sex.
You read about a beauteous blossom, ‘molyhock’,
But when they speak of ‘moly’ they’re really meaning ‘cock.’
What else we read? How Circe—and Calypso too—
Dulichian Ulysses for his fine tool they woo.
Alcinous’ daughter wondered at it next; its size
Was such that leafy bough could not its bulk disguise.
Yet, all the same, to his old woman back he goes:
His mind is in your cunt, Penelope, who chose
To remain true, yet you’d invited many a guest,
So with a crowd of would-be fuckers you were blessed;
The idea being, I dare say, to find out who
Was best at doing it of all that eager crew.
“To firmer member”, says she, “no one could lay claim
Than Ulysses, in strength and skill a master at the game.
I need to know, now he has gone and left no trace,
Which one of you is man enough to take his place.”
I should have been the one, Penelope to fuck
In your mate’s stead. But I was not yet made, worse luck. (tr. William Henry Parker)
As an eagle Zeus came to godlike Ganymede, and as a swan to the blond mother of Helen*. So there is no comparison between the two passions**: some prefer one of the two and others the other. I like both.
* I.e., Leda.
** I.e., for boys or for women.
(tr. William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller; with their notes)
It has been decreed by the Council and by the people of Athens: Whereas Hippocrates of Cos, a doctor and descendant of Asclepius, has shown a great and salutary goodwill towards the Greeks by sending his disciples to various places when a plague came upon Greece from the land of the barbarians and has prescribed the treatments to be applied to escape safely from the plague that was coming upon them, thus demonstrating how the healing art of Apollo transmitted to the Greeks saves those among them who are sick: Whereas he has bountifully produced books composed on the art of medicine in his desire that there should be many doctors to save lives: Whereas, when the king of Persia summoned him and offered him honours equal to his own and all the gifts that he, Hippocrates, might ask for, he disdained the promises of the barbarian, because he was an enemy and common foe of the Greeks. Therefore, so that the People of Athens might be manifest in their choosing continued benefits for the Greeks and in order to give a fitting reward to Hippocrates for his services, it has been decreed: To initiate him at state expense into the Great Mysteries, like Herakles, son of Zeus: To crown him with a wreath of gold to the value of one thousand gold coins: To proclaim publicly the crowning at the time of the great Panathenaia, during the gymnastic contest: To allow all the children of the Coans to have ephebes’ training in Athens with the same rights as Athenian children, since their homeland produced such a man: Finally, to give Hippocrates Athenian citizenship and grant him sustenance for life in the Prytaneum. (tr. James Longrigg)
Nam quid ego de ceteris civitatis illius regionibus loquar, quibus illacrimasse te ipse confessus es? vidisti enim non, ut per agros aliarum urbium, omnia fere culta aperta florentia, vias faciles, navigera flumina ipsas oppidorum portas adluentia, sed statim ab eo flexu, e quo retrorsum via ducit in Belgicam, vasta omnia, inculta squalentia muta tenebrosa, etiam militares vias ita confragosas et alternis montibus arduas atque praecipites, ut vix semiplena carpenta, interdum vacua transmittant. ex quo saepe accidit ut obsequia nostra tarda sint, cum paucarum frugum nobis difficilior sit evectio quam ceteris plurimarum. quo magis, imperator, pietati tuae gratias agimus, qui cum scires internum regionum nostrarum habitum atque adspectum tam foedum tamque asperum, tamen illo deflectere et urbem illam sola opis tuae exspectatione viventem inlustrare dignatus es. boni principis est libenter suos videre felices, sed melioris invisere etiam laborantes. di immortales! quisnam ille tum nobis illuxit dies (iam enim ad praedicanda remedia numinis tui ordine suo pervenit oratio), cum tu, quod primum nobis signum salutis fuit, portas istius urbis intrasti!—quae te habitu illo in sinum reducto et procurrentibus utrimque turribus amplexu quodam videbantur accipere.
(Panegyrici Latini 5.7)
For why should I speak about the other districts belonging to that community, over which you yourself confessed to have shed tears? For you did not see, as throughout the territory of other cities, almost everything cultivated, cleared and flowering, with easy roads and navigable rivers washing the very gates of the towns, but right from that turnoff from which the road leads back to Belgica you saw everything devastated, uncultivated, neglected, silent and gloomy, and even the military roads so rough and steep and precipitous, with such a succession of mountains, that half-full wagons, and sometimes even empty ones, may scarcely travel along them. As a result, it often happens that our obligations are discharged late, since the transport of a small harvest is more difficult for us than that of a bountiful one is for others. For this reason, we are the more disposed to give thanks to your piety, O Emperor*, who, although you knew that the internal condition and appearance of our region was so vile and so rough, nonetheless were good enough to turn aside to it, and bring light to that city which lived solely in anticipation of your help. It is the mark of a good ruler that he is happy to see his subjects prosperous, but of a better one that he visits them even when they are suffering. Immortal gods! What a day then shone upon us (for now my speech has reached in its course the celebration of your divinity’s assistance), when you entered the gates of this city**, which was the first sign of salvation for us. And the gates, drawn back in the likeness of a curve, with towers projecting on either side, seemed to receive you in a kind of embrace.
(tr. Charles E.V. Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers)