If you would recall, o man,
just how your father sowed you,
you’d bridle your vain pride.
Yet the dreamer Plato’s deception
has taken root in you,
calling you immortal,
a heavenly plant.
“You come from dirt;
how are you proud?”
So one might ask,
arranging the figure more pompously.
But if you seek the truth,
you were begotten
of unbridled lust
and an unclean drop. (tr. Daniel Dockery)
You do everything, Melissa, that your namesake the flower-loving honeybee does; I know this, woman, and take it to heart. You drip honey from your lips when you sweetly kiss, but when you ask for money, you sting me most unkindly. (tr. William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller)
The secretly creeping flames, on a winter night, when all were heavy with wine, consumed the great house of Antagoras. Free men and slaves together, eighty in all, perished on this fatal pyre. Their kinsmen could not separate their bones, but one common urn, one common funeral was theirs, and one tomb was erected over them. Yet readily can Hades distinguish each of them in the ashes. (tr. William Roger Paton)
‘Art thou the grave of Charidas?’ ‘If for Arimmas’ son,
The Cyrenaean, you inquire, I am the very one.’
‘How goes it, Charidas, below?’ ‘Much gloom.’ ‘And the way back?’
‘A lie, there is none.’ ‘Pluto, then?’ ‘Pluto’s a myth.’ ‘Alack!’
‘I’m telling you the truth. If you want fairy tales instead,
The market price of oxen here is half a crown a head.’ (tr. G.M. Young)
Young men do not have as much suffering as is inflicted upon us tender-hearted women. They have friends of their own age to whom they can confidently tell their cares and sorrows, the games they pursue can cheer them, and they stroll the streets and let their eyes wander from one colorful picture to another. We on the contrary are not even allowed to look on the light, but are kept hidden in dark chambers, the prey of our thoughts. (tr. William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller)
Mice, if you have come for bread, go to some other corner (my hut is ill-supplied), where ye shall nibble fat cheese and dried figs, and get a plentiful dinner from the scraps. But if ye sharpen your teeth again on my books ye shall suffer for it and find that ye come to no pleasant banquet. (tr. William Roger Paton)
I hate these cyclic poets* who say “natheless eftsoon,” filchers of the verses of others, and so I pay more attention to elegies, for there is nothing I want to steal from Callimachus or Parthenius. Let me become like an “eared beast”** if ever I write “from the rivers sallow celandine.”*** But these epic poets strip Homer so shamelessly that they already write “Sing, O Goddess, the wrath.”****
* Contemporary writers of epic poems.
** So Callimachus calls a donkey.
*** Probably a quotation from Parthenius. He like Callimachus, wrote elegies.
**** i.e. the very first words of his poem.