Jacques-Louis David, L'amour d'Hélène et Paris, 1788
Jacques-Louis David, L’amour d’Hélène et Paris (1788)

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!
(Priapea 68)

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)



Αἰετὸς ὁ Ζεὺς ἦλθεν ἐπ’ ἀντίθεον Γανυμήδην,
κύκνος ἐπὶ ξανθὴν μητέρα τὴν Ἑλένης.
οὕτως ἀμφότερ’ ἐστὶν ἀσύγκριτα· τῶν δύο δ’ αὐτῶν
ἄλλοις ἄλλο δοκεῖ κρεῖσσον, ἐμοὶ τὰ δύο.
(Anth. Gr. 5.65)

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)



Ἔδοξε τῇ βουλῇ καὶ τῷ δήμῳ τῶν Ἀθηναίων. ἐπειδὴ Ἱπποκράτης Κῷος, ἰατρὸς ὑπάρχων καὶ γεγονὼς ἀπὸ Ἀσκληπιοῦ, μεγάλην εὔνοιαν μετὰ σωτηρίας ἐνδέδεικται τοῖς Ἕλλησι, ὅτε καὶ λοιμοῦ ἰόντος ἀπὸ τῆς βαρβάρων ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλάδα, κατὰ τόπους ἀποστείλας τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ μαθητὰς, παρήγγειλε τίσι χρὴ θεραπείαις χρωμένους ἀσφαλῶς διαφεύξασθαι τὸν ἐπιόντα λοιμὸν, ὅπως τε ἰητρικὴ τέχνη Ἀπόλλωνος διαδοθεῖσα τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἀσφαλῶς σώζει τοὺς κάμνοντας αὐτῶν· ἐξέδωκε δὲ καὶ ξυγγράψας ἀφθόνως τὰ περὶ τῆς ἰητρικῆς τέχνης, πολλοὺς βουλόμενος τοὺς σώζοντας ὑπάρχειν ἰητρούς· τοῦ τε Περσῶν βασιλέως μεταπεμπομένου αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τιμαῖς ταῖς κατ’ αὐτὸν ἴσαις καὶ δώροις ἐφ’ οἷς ἂν αὐτὸς Ἱπποκράτης αἱρῆται, ὑπερεῖδε τὰς ὑποσχέσεις τοῦ βαρβάρου, ὅτι πολέμιος καὶ κοινὸς ἐχθρὸς ὑπῆρχε τοῖς Ἕλλησιν. ὅπως οὖν ὁ δῆμος Ἀθηναίων φαίνηται προαιρούμενος τὰ χρήσιμα διὰ παντὸς ὑπὲρ τῶν Ἑλλήνων καὶ ἵνα χάριν ἀποδῷ πρέπουσαν Ἱπποκράτει ὑπὲρ τῶν εὐεργετημάτων, δεδόκηται τῷ δήμῳ μυῆσαι αὐτὸν τὰ μυστήρια τὰ μεγάλα δημοσίᾳ καθάπερ Ἡρακλέα τὸν Διὸς, καὶ στεφανῶσαι αὐτὸν στεφάνῳ χρυσῷ ἀπὸ χρυσῶν χιλίων· ἀναγορεῦσαί τε τὸν στέφανον Παναθηναίοις τοῖς μεγάλοις ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι τῷ γυμνικῷ· καὶ ἐξεῖναι πᾶσι Κώων παισὶν ἐφηβεύειν ἐν Ἀθήναις καθάπερ παισὶν Ἀθηναίων, ἐπειδή περ ἡ πατρὶς αὐτῶν ἄνδρα τοιοῦτον ἐγέννησεν· εἶναι δὲ Ἱπποκράτει καὶ πολιτείαν καὶ σίτισιν ἐν Πρυτανείῳ διὰ βίου.
(Dogma Athēnaiōn peri Hippokratous)

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.

* Constantine.
** Autun.

(tr. Charles E.V. Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers)



Διατριβῆς δὲ αὐτῷ πλείονος γενομένης ἐν τοῖς Οἰνεῦσιν, ὑπονοήσαντες οἱ νεανίσκοι τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῶν μοιχεύειν τὸν Ἡσίοδον ἀποκτείναντες εἰς τὸ μεταξὺ τῆς Εὐβοίας καὶ τῆς Λοκρίδος πέλαγος κατεπόντισαν. τοῦ δὲ νεκροῦ τριταίου πρὸς τὴν γῆν ὑπὸ δελφίνων προσενεχθέντος, ἑορτῆς τινος ἐπιχωρίου παρ’ αὐτοῖς οὔσης Ῥίου ἁγνείας, πάντες ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν ἔδραμον, καὶ τὸ σῶμα γνωρίσαντες ἐκεῖνο μὲν πενθήσαντες ἔθαψαν, τοὺς δὲ φονεῖς ἀνεζήτουν. οἳ δέ, φοβηθέντες τὴν τῶν πολιτῶν ὀργήν, κατασπάσαντες ἁλιευτικὸν σκάφος διέπλευσαν εἰς Κρήτην· οὓς κατὰ μέσον τὸν πλοῦν ὁ Ζεὺς κεραυνώσας κατεπόντωσεν, ὥς φησιν Ἀλκιδάμας ἐν Μουσείῳ. Ἐρατοσθένης δέ φησιν ἐν Ἡσιόδῳ [fr. 17 Powell] Κτίμενον καὶ Ἄντιφον τοὺς Γανύκτορος, ἐπὶ τῇ προειρημένῃ αἰτίᾳ ἀνελόντας <τὸν ποιητήν>, σφαγιασθῆναι θεοῖς ξενίοις ὑπ’ Εὐρυκλέους τοῦ μάντεως· τὴν μέντοι παρθένον τὴν ἀδελφὴν τῶν προειρημένων μετὰ τὴν φθορὰν ἑαυτὴν ἀναρτῆσαι· φθαρῆναι δὲ ὑπό τινος ξένου συνόδου τοῦ Ἡσιόδου Δημώδους ὄνομα, ὃν καὶ αὐτὸν ἀναιρεθῆναι ὑπὸ τῶν αὐτῶν φησιν. ὕστερον δ’ Ὀρχομένιοι κατὰ χρησμὸν μετενέγκαντες αὐτὸν παρ’ αὑτοῖς ἔθαψαν, καὶ ἐπέγραψαν ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳ·
Ἄσκρη μὲν πατρὶς πολυλήϊος, ἀλλὰ θανόντος
ὀστέα πληξίππων γῆ Μινυῶν κατέχει
Ἡσιόδου, τοῦ πλεῖστον ἐν ἀνθρώποις κλέος ἐστίν
ἀνδρῶν κρινομένων ἐν βασάνῳ σοφίης.
(Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi 14)

When he had stayed for some time among the people of Oinoe, the young men came to suspect that Hesiod was fornicating with their sister, and they killed him by drowning him in the sea between Locris and Euboea. His corpse was brought to land by dolphins two days later while a certain local festival was in progress, the Purification of Rhion. Everone ran to the shore and, recognizing the body, mourned him and gave him burial, and began to seek his murderers. They, fearing their fellow citizens’ wrath, pulled a fishing boat down and sailed off towards Crete. In mid voyage Zeus cast a thunderbolt and drowned them, as Alcidamas says in his Museum. Eratosthenes in his Hesiod, however, says that Ganyctor’s sons Ktimenos and Antiphos killed <the poet> for the reason aforesaid, and were slaughtered in sacrifice to the Gods of Hospitality by the seer Eurycles; and that the girl, their sister, hanged herself following her defloration, which had been done by a foreigner travelling with Hesiod, Demodes by name; and he says that this man too was killed by the same pair. Subsequently the Orchomenians transported Hesiod’s body on the basis of an oracle and buried it in their territory, inscribing on the tombstone:
Ascra, the rich cornland, was my home, but my dead bones
the horse-goading Minyans’ country holds:
mine, Hesiod’s, whose fame is greatest in the world
when men are tested by the touchstone of art.
(tr. Martin Litchfield West)


Berengar I
Berengar I of Italy (ca. 845-924)

“Non hederam sperare vales laurumve, libelle,
quae largita suis tempora prisca viris.
contulit haec magno labyrinthea fabula Homero
Aeneisque tibi, docte poeta Maro.
atria tunc divum resonabant carmine vatum:
respuet en musam quaeque proseucha tuam;
Pierio flagrabat eis sed munere sanguis:
prosequitur gressum nulla Thalia tuum.
hinc metuo rapidas ex te nigrescere flammas,
auribus ut nitidis vilia verba dabis.”
“quid vanis totiens agitas haec tempora dictis,
carmina quae profers si igne voranda times?
desine; nunc etenim nullus tua carmina curat:
haec faciunt urbi, haec quoque rure viri.
quid tibi praeterea duros tolerasse labores
profuit ac longas accelerasse vias?
endromidos te cura magis victusque fatigat:
hinc fugito nugas, quas memorare paras.”
“irrita saepe mihi cumulas quae murmura, codex,
non poterunt votis addere claustra meis.
seria cuncta cadant, opto, et labor omnis abesto,
dum capiti summo xenia parva dabo.
nonne vides, tacitis abeant ut saecla triumphis,
quos agitat toto orbe colendus homo?
tu licet exustus vacuas solvaris in auras,
pars melior summi scribet amore viri.
supplice sed voto Christum rogitemus ovantes,
quo faveat coeptis patris ab arce meis.
haud moveor plausu populi vel munere circi:
sat mihi pauca viri ponere facta pii.
Christe, poli convexa pio qui numine torques,
da, queat ut famulus farier apta tuus!”
(Gesta Berengarii, prologus)

“Little book of mine, you shouldn’t hope for the ivy and laurels which times of old bestowed upon great men. The labyrinthine Odyssey conferred these gifts on the great Homer, and the Aeneid on you, learned poet Vergil. In those days the emperors’ halls resounded with the songs of poets, but nowadays every shack rejects your verse. The poets’ blood back then was on fire with the inspiration of the muses; today no Thalia follows in your footsteps. I fear therefore that you will soon feed the ravenous flames if you offer your shoddy verse to sophisticated ears.”
“Why do you continue to assail these times with pointless words if you worry that the poems you offer will be devoured by the fire? Stop it; the fact is that nobody now cares for your verse. These days poems are written in the city and in the country. Besides, what good has it done you to suffer those hardships and to hurry down those long roads? Worrying about warm clothing and food exhausts you more, so begone with this rubbish you prepare to relate.”
“This idle prattle you often heap upon me, book of mine, will not be able put my desires in chains. May all serious matters fall aside, that is my wish, and away with all hard work: I shall give small gifts to the supreme chief. Don’t you see how with time all the victories of this illustrious sovereign, who should be praised all over the world, are forgotten? Even if you are burned and dissolved into thin air, more gifted writers will set to work because of their love for this sublime man. But let us address Christ in suppliant prayer and beseech him to favour my undertaking from his father’s castle on high. I am not moved by the people’s applause or the circus’s prize; just to recount a few deeds of this devout leader is enough for me. Christ, you who move the celestial spheres with a pious gesture, grant that your servant may speak worthily of these matters! (tr. David Bauwens)