John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 28 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 28 of 29)
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Of twenty-six epigrams, eight are generally accepted as
from Theocritus. He seems to have died at Alexandria.


Thyrsis. a Goatherd.

Thyrsis. Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that
Low music o'er the spring, and, Goatherd, sweet
Thy piping ; second thou to Pan alone.
Is his the horned ram ? then thine the goat.
Is his the goat ? to thee shall fall the kid ) 5

And toothsome is the flesh of unmilked kids.

Goatherd. Shepherd, thy lay is as the noise of
Falling and falling aye from yon tall crag.
If for their meed the muses claim the ewe,
Be thine the stall-fed lamb ; or if they choose 10

The lamb, take thou the scarce less-valued ewe.

Thyrsis. Pray, by the nymphs, pray, Goatherd,
seat thee here
Against this hill-slope in the tamarisk shade.
And pipe me somewhat, while I guard my goats.

Goatherd. I durst not, shepherd, O I durst not pipe
At noontide ; fearing Pan, who at that hour le

Rests from the toils of hunting. Harsh is he ;
Wrath at his nostrils aye sits sentinel.
But, Thyrsis, thou canst sing of Daphnis' woes ;
High is thy name for woodland minstrelsy : 20

Then rest we in the shadow of the elm
Fronting Priapus and the Fountain-nymphs.^
There, where the oaks are and the shepherd's seat.
Sing as thou sang'st erewhile, when matched with

^ That is the rude wooden statues of these garden and field


Of Libya, Chromis ; and I '11 give tliee, first, 25

To milk, ay thrice, a goat — she suckles twins,

Yet ne'ertheless can fill two milk pails full ; —

Next, a deep drinking-cup, with sweet wax scoured,

Two-handled, newly-carven, smacking yet

O' the chisel. Ivy reaches up and climbs 30

About its lip, gilt here and there with sprays

Of woodbine, that enwreathed about it flaunts

Her saffron fruitage. Framed therein appears

A damsel ('t is a miracle of art)

In robe and snood : and suitors at her side 35

With locks fair-flowing, on her right and left,

Battle with words, that fail to reach her heart.

She, laughing, glances now on this, flings now

Her chance regard on that ; they, all for love

Wearied and eye-swoln, find their labor lost. «

Carven elsewhere an ancient fisher stands

On the rough rocks : thereto the old man with pains

Drags his great casting-net, as one that toils

Full stoutly : every fibre of his frame

Seems fishing ; so about the gray-beard's neck 45

(In might a youngster yet) the sinews swell.

Hard by that wave-beat sire a vineyard bends

Beneath its graceful load of burnished grapes ;

A boy sits on the rude fence watching them.

Near him two foxes ; down the rows of grapes 50

One ranging steals its ripest ; one assails

With wiles the poor lad's scrip, to leave him soon

Stranded and supperless. He plaits meanwhile

With ears of corn a right fine cricket-trap,

And fits it on a rush : for vines, for scrip, 55

Little he cares, enamored of his toy.

The cup is hung all round with lissom briar,
Triumph of Aeolian art, a wondrous sight,


It was a ferryman's of Calydon :

A goat it cost me, and a great white cheese. 60

Yet ne'er my lips came near it, virgin still

It stands. And welcome to such boon art thou,

If for my sake thou 'It sing that lay of lays.

I jest not : up, lad, sing : no songs thou 'It own

In the dim land where all things are forgot. 65

Thyrsis (^sings). Begin, sweet Maids, begin the
woodland song.
The voice of Thyrsis, Aetna's Thyrsis I.
Where were ye, Nymphs, oh where, while Daphnis

pined ? ^
In fair Peneus' or in Pindus' glens ?
For great Anapus' ^ stream was not your haunt, 70
Nor Aetna's cliff, nor Acis' sacred rill.

(^Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.')
O'er him the wolves, the jackals howled o'er him ;
The lion in the oak-copse mourned his death.

(^Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.) 75
The kine and oxen stood around his feet.
The heifers and the calves wailed all for him.

(Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
First from the mountain Hermes came, and said,
*' Daphnis, who frets thee ? Lad, whom lov'st thou

so ? " 80

[Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
Came herdsmen, shepherds came, and goatherds came ;
All asked what ailed the lad. Priapus came
And said, " Why pine, poor Daphnis, while the maid
Foots it round every pool and every grove ? ss

QBegin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
" O lack-love and perverse, in quest of thee ;

1 Milton had this in mind in his Lycidas, and Shelley in his Adonais.

2 The Anapus is the small river near Syracuse.


Herdsman in name, but goatherd rightlier called.
With eyes that yearn the goatherd marks his kids
Run riot, for he fain would frisk as they : so

(^Begin^ sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.^
" With eyes that yearn dost thou too mark the laugh
Of maidens, for thou may'st not share their glee."
Still naught the herdsman said : he drained alone
His bitter potion, till the fatal end, 95

(^Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
Came Aphrodite, smiles on her sweet face,
False smiles, for heavy was her heart, and spake :
" So, Daphnis, thou must try a fall with Love !
But stalwart Love hath won the fall of thee." 100

(^Begin, sweet 3faids, begin the woodland song.) ^
Then " Ruthless Aphrodite," Daphne said,
" Accursed Aphrodite, foe to man,
Say'st thou my hour is come, my sun hath set ?
Dead as alive, shall Daphnis work Love woe." 105

(^Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
" Fly to Mount Ida, where the swain (men say)
And Aphrodite — to Anchises fly :
There are oak-forests ; here but galingale,
And bees that make a music round the hives. uo

QBegin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
" Adonis owed his bloom to tending flocks
And smiting hares, and bringing wild beasts down.

(^Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)
" Face once more Diomed : 2 tell him ' I have slain us
The herdsman Daphnis ; now I challenge thee.'

{Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.)

1 Anchises, the Trojan, won the love of Aphrodite (Venus), who bore
to him Aeneas, who was the founder of the Roman people.

2 In the Iliad, Diomed wounds Aphrodite on the field of battle,
and she flees in distress. The injunction here is ironical.


" Farewell, wolf, jackal, mountain-prisoned bear I
Ye '11 see no more by grove or glade or glen
Your herdsman Daphnis ! Aretbuse, farewell, m

And tbe bright streams that pour down Thymbris' side.

(^JBegin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song>^
"I am that Daphnis, who lead here my kine,
Bring here to drink my oxen and my calves,

QBegin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.) 125
" Pan, Pan, O whether great Lyceum's crags
Thou haunt'st to-day, or mightier Maenalus,
Come to the Sicel isle ! Abandon now ^
Rhium and Helice, and the mountain-cairn
(That e*en gods cherish) of Lycaon's son ! 130

(^Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song.)
" Come, king of song, o'er this my pipe, compact
With wax and honey-breathing, arch thy lip :
For surely I am torn from life by Love.

(^Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song.)
" From thicket now and thorn let violets spring, i36
Now let white lilies drape the juniper.
And pines grow figs, and nature all go wrong :
For Daphnis dies. Let deer pursue the hounds,
And mountain owls out-sing the nightingale." i4o

(^Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland so7ig.)
So spake he, and he never spake again.
Fair Aphrodite would have raised his head,
But all his thread was spun. So down the stream ^
Went Daphnis : closed the waters o'er a head 145

Dear to the Nine,^ of nymphs not unbeloved.

Now give me goat and cup, that I may milk
The one and pour the other to the Muse.
Fare ye well. Muses, o'er and o'er farewell I
I '11 sing strains lovelier yet in days to be. iso

^ Leave Arcadia. * The Styx. ^ Muses.


Goatherd. Tbyrsis, let honey and the honeycomb
Fill thy sweet mouth, and figs of Aegilus :
For ne'er cicala ^ trilled so sweet a song.
Here is the cup : mark, friend, how sweet it smells :
The Hours,2 thou 'It say, have washed it in their

well. 155

Hither, Cissaetha I ^ There, go milk her I Kids,
Be steady, or your pranks will rouse the ram.

Translated by Charles Stuart Calverley.


Once on a time did Eucritus and I ^

(With us Amyntas) to the riverside

Steal from the city. For Lycopeus' sons

Were that day busy with the harvest-home, —

Antigenes and Phrasidemus, sprung s

(If aught thou boldest by the good old names)

By Clytia from great Chalcon — him who erst

Planted one stalwart knee against the rock,

And lo, beneath his foot Purine's rill

Brake forth, and at its side poplar and elm lo

Showed aisles of pleasant shadow, greenly roofed

By tufted leaves. Scarce midway were we now,

Nor yet descried the tomb of Brasilas :

When, thanks be to the Muses, there drew near

A wayfarer from Crete, young Lycidas.^ 15

The horn'd herd was his care ; a glance might tell

So much : for every inch a herdsman he.

1 The shrill chirping- noise made by the wings of the male cicala
(or cicada) was much admired by the Greeks.

2 The goddesses, daughters of Zeus and Themis, who ushered in
the four seasons. ^ His goat.

* With the Introduction compare Tennyson's Gardener'' s Daughter.
^ Milton took the name for his Lycidas from this.


Slung o'er Ills shoulder was a ruddy hide

Torn from a he-goat, shaggy, tangle-haired,

That reeked of rennet yet : a broad belt clasped 20

A patched cloak round his breast, and for a staff

A gnarled wild-olive bough his right hand bore.

Soon with a quiet smile he spake — his eye

Twinkled, and laughter sat upon his lip :

" And whither ploddest thou thy weary way 25

Beneath the noontide sun, Simichidas?

For now the lizard sleeps upon the wall,

The crested lark folds now his wandering wing.

Dost speed, a bidden guest, to some reveller's board ?

Or town ward to the treading of the grape ? 30

For lo ! recoiling from thy hurrying feet

The pavement-stones ring out right merrily."

Then I : " Friend Lycid, all men say that none

Of haymakers or herdsmen is thy match

At piping : and my soul is glad thereat. 35

Yet, to speak sooth, I think to rival thee.

Now look, this road holds holiday to-day :

For banded brethren solemnize a feast

To richly-dight Demeter, thanking her

For her good gifts : since with no grudging hand 40

Hath the boon goddess filled the wheaten floors.

So come. The way, the day, is thine as mine :

Try we our woodcraft — each may learn from each.

I am, as thou, a clarion-voice of song ;

All hail me chief of minstrels. But I am not, 45

Heaven knows, o'ercredulous : no, I scarce can yet

(I think) outvie Philetas,^ nor the bard

Of Samos, champion of Sicilian song.

They are as cicadas ^ challenged by a frog."

1 Poet of Cos, and teacher of Theocritu8.
^ See page 435, note 1.


I spake to gain mine ends ; and laughing light so

He said : " Accept this club, as thou 'rt indeed

A born truth-teller, shaped by heaven's own hand!

I hate your builders who would rear a house

High as Oromedon's mountain-pinnacle :

I hate your song-birds too, whose cuckoo-cry 55

Struggles (in vain) to match the Chian bard.^

But come, we '11 sing forthwith, Simichidas,

Our woodland music : and for my part I —

List, comrade, if you like the simple air

I forged among the uplands yesterday." eo

(His Song,')

He spake and paused ; and thereupon spake I.

" I too, friend Lycid, as I range the fells.

Have learned much lore and pleasant from the Nymphs,

Whose fame mayhap hath reached the throne of Zeus.

But this wherewith I '11 grace thee ranks the first : es

Thou listen, since the Muses like thee well."

{The Song.)

I ceased. He smiling sweetly as before,

Gave me the staff, " the Muses' parting gift,"

And leftward sloped tow'rd Pyxa. We the while,

Bent us to Phrasydeme's, Eucritus and I, 79

And baby-faced Amyntas : there we lay

Half -buried in a couch of fragrant reed

And fresh-cut vine-leaves, who so glad as we ?

A wealth of elm and poplar shook o'erhead ;

Hard by, a sacred spring flowed gurgling on 75

From the Nymph's grot, and in the sombre boughs

The sweet cicada chirped laboriously.

Hid in the thick thorn -bushes far away

1 Homer.


The tree-frog's note was heard ; the crested lark
Sang with the gold-finch ; turtles made their moan, so
And o'er the fountain hung the gilded bee.
All of rich summer smacked, of autumn all :
Pears at our feet, and apples at our side
Rolled in luxuriance ; branches on the ground
Sprawled, overweighed with damsons ; while we

brushed 85

From the cask's head the crust of four long years.
Say, ye who dwell upon Parnassian peaks,
Nymphs of Castalia,^ did old Chiron e'er
Set before Heracles a cup so brave
In Pholus' cavern ^ — did as nectarous draughts 9o
Cause that Anapian shepherd, in whose hand
Pocks were as pebbles, Polypheme the strong,^
Featly to foot it o'er the cottage lawns, —
As, ladies, ye bid flow that day for us
All by Demeter's shrine at harvest-home ? 95

Beside whose cornstacks may I oft again
Plant my broad fan : while she stands by and smiles,
Poppies and corn-sheaves on each laden arm.

Translated by Charles Stuart Calverley.


"Somewhere about two hundred and eighty years be-
fore the Christian era, a couple of Syracusan women staying
at Alexandria, agreed, on the occasion of a great religious
solemnity, — the feast of Adonis, — to go together to the

1 I. e. the Muses, who alone could tell of mythical events.

2 Chiron was the " schoolmaster " of the mythical period, the only
centaur that was not wild and untamed. He opened for Heracles a
cask of wine kept in the cave of Pholus, and presented to him by
Dionysus, the god of wine, himself. Attracted by the scent of the
wine, the centaurs rushed upon the cave and were killed by Heracles.

^ The Cyclops Polyphemus. See page 36.


palace of King Ptolemy Philadelphus, to see the Image of
Adonis, which the Queen Arsinoe, Ptolemy's wife, had had
decorated with pecuhar magnificence. A hymn, by a cele-
brated performer, was to be recited over the image. The
names of the two women are Gorgo and Praxinoe ; their
maids, who are mentioned in the poem, are called Eunoe
and Eutychis. Gorgo comes by appointment to Praxinoe's
house to fetch her, and there the dialogue begins."

(Matthew Arnold.)

Gorgo. Is Praxinoe at home ?

Praxinoe. My dear Gorgo, at last ! Yes, here I
am. Eunoe, find a chair, — get a cushion for it.

Gorgo. It will do beautifully as it is.

Praxinoe. Do sit down.

Gorgo. O, this gad-about spirit! I could hardly
get to you, Praxinoe, through all the crowd and all
the carriages. Nothing but heavy boots, nothing but
men in uniform. And what a journey it is ! My dear
child, you really live too far off.

Praxinoe. It is all that insane husband of mine.
He has chosen to come out here to the end of the
world, and take a hole of a place, - — for a house it is
not, — on purpose that you and I might not be neigh-
bors. He is always just the same ; — anything to
quarrel with one ! anything for spite !

Gorgo. My dear, don't talk so of your husband
before the little fellow. Just see how astonished he
looks at you. Never mind, Zopyrio, my pet, she is not
talking about papa.

Praxinoe. Good heavens ! the child does really

Gorgo. Pretty papa !

Praxinoe. That pretty papa of his the other day
(though I told him beforehand to mind what he was


about), when I sent him to a shop to buy soap and
rouge, brought me home salt instead ; — stupid, great,
big, interminable animal!

Gorgo, Mine is just the fellow to him. . . . But
never mind now, get on your things and let us be off
to the palace to see the Adonis. I hear the queen's
decorations are something splendid.

Praxinoe. In grand people's houses everything is
grand. What things you have seen in Alexandria !
What a deal you will have to tell to anybody who has
never been here I

Gorgo. Come, we ought to be going.

Praxino'L Every day is holiday to people who
have nothing to do. Eunoe, pick up your work ; and
take care, lazy girl, how you leave it lying about again ;
the cats find it just the bed they like. Come, stir
yourself, fetch me some water, quick ! I wanted the
water first, and the girl brings me the soap. Never
mind ; give it me. Not all that, extravagant ! Now
pour out the water ; — stupid ! why don't you take
care of my dress? That will do. I have got my
hands washed as it pleased God. Where is the key of
the large wardrobe ? Bring it here — quick !

Gorgo. Praxinoe, you can't think how well that
dress, made full, as you 've got it, suits you. Tell
me, how much did it cost ? — the dress by itself, I

Praxinoe. Don't talk of it, Gorgo : more than
eight guineas of good hard money. And about the
work on it I have almost worn my life out.

Gorgo. Well, you could n't have done better.

Praxinoe. Thank you. Bring me my shawl (to Eu-
woe), and put my hat properly on my head, — properly.
No, child (Jto her little boy}, I am not going to take


you ; there 's a bogy on horseback, who bites. Cry as
much as you like ; I 'm not going to have you lamed for
life. Now we '11 start. Nurse, take the little one and
amuse him ; call the dog in, and shut the street-door.
(^They go oiit.^ Good heavens I what a crowd of
people ! How on earth are we ever to get through
all this ? They are like ants : you can't count them. —
My dearest Gorgo, what will become of us ? here are
the royal Horse Guards. My good man, don't ride
over me ! Look at that bay horse rearing bolt up-
right ; what a vicious one ! Eunoe, you mad girl, do
take care I — - That horse will certainly be the death of
the man on his back. How glad I am now that I left
the child safe at home !

Gorgo, All right, Praxinoe, we are safe behind
them ; and they have gone on to where they are

Praxinoe. Well, yes, I begin to revive again.
From the time I was a little girl I have had more
horror of horses and snakes than of anything in the
world. Let us get on ; here 's a great crowd coming
this way upon us.

Gorgo (to an old woman^. Mother, are you from
the palace ?

Old Woman. Yes, my dears.

Gorgo. Has one a tolerable chance of getting there ?

Old Woman. My pretty young lady, the Greeks
got to Troy by dint of trying hard; trying will do
anything in this world.

Gorgo. The old creature has delivered herself of
an oracle and departed.

Praxinoe. Women can tell you about everything,
Jupiter's marriage with Juno not excepted.

Gorgo. Look, Praxinoe, what a squeeze at the
palace-gates !


Praxinde. Tremendous ! Take hold of me, Gorgo ;
and you, Eunoe, take hold of Eutychis ! — tight hold,
or you '11 be lost. Here we go in all together. Hold
tight to us, Eunoe ! O dear ! O dear ! Gorgo,
there 's my scarf torn right in two. For heaven's
sake, my good man, as you hope to be saved, take
care of my dress !

Stranger, I '11 do what I can, but it does n't depend
upon me.

Praxinoe. What heaps of people ! They push like
a drove of pigs.

Stranger, Don't be frightened, ma'am, we are all

Praxinde. May you be all right, my dear sir, to
the last day you live, for the care you have taken of
us ! What a kind, considerate man ! There is Eunoe
jammed in a squeeze. Push, you goose, push ! Cap-
ital ! We are all of us on the right side of the door,
as the bridegroom said when he had locked himself in
with the bride.

Gorgo. Praxinoe, come this way. Do but look at
that work, how delicate it is ! — how exquisite ! Why,
they might wear it in heaven.

Praxinde. Heavenly patroness of needlewomen,
what hands were hired to do that work? Who de-
signed those beautiful patterns ? They seem to stand
up and move about, as if they were real ; — as if they
were living things, and not needlework. Well, man
is a wonderful creature ! And look, look, how charm-
ing he lies there on his silver couch, with just a soft
down on his cheeks, that beloved Adonis, — Adonis,
whom one loves, even though he is dead !

Another Stranger. You wretched woman, do stop
your incessant chatter ! Like turtles, you go on for-


ever. They are enough to kill one with their broad
lingo, — nothing but a, a, a.

Gorgo. Lord, where does the man come from ?
What is it to you if we are chatterboxes ? Order
about your own servants ! Do you give orders to
Syracusan women ? If you want to know, we came
originally from Corinth, as Bellerophon did; we
speak Peloponnesian. I suppose Dorian women may
be allowed to have a Dorian accent.

Praxinoe. O honey-sweet Proserpine, let us have
no more masters than the one we Ve got ! ^ We don't
the least care for you ; pray don't trouble yourself
for nothing.

Gorgo. Be quiet, Praxinoe ! That first-rate singer,
the Argive woman's daughter, is going to sing the
Adonis hymn. She is the same who was chosen to
sing the dirge last year. We are going to have some-
thing first-rate from her. She is going through her
airs and graces ready to begin.

(The Hymn to Adonis.')

Gorgo. Praxinoe, certainly women are wonderful
things. That lucky woman to know all that ! ^ and
luckier still to have such a splendid voice ! And now
we must see about getting home. My husband has
not had his dinner. That man is all vinegar, and
nothing else ; and if you keep him waiting for his
dinner he 's dangerous to go near. Adieu, precious
Adonis, and may you find us all well when you come
next year !

Translated by Matthew Arnold,

^ Ptolemy Philadelphus, the king.

'^ I. e., to be able to compose such a poem.


LuciAN, *^tlie .first of the moderns," was born more
than three hundred years after Theocritus, about 125 A. D.
He was not a Greek by birth, but a Syrian of Samosata,
near Antioch. He prepared himself to be a sculptor, but
in a dream, he tells us, Culture appeared to him and per-
suaded him to take up the profession of Sophist. After
studying and practising eloquence at home for some time,
he travelled from city to city through Asia Minor, Greece,
Italy, and Gaul, delivering lectures with great success. At
the age of forty he established himself for a time in Athens,
and devoted himself to literature. When he was already
old, he was compelled by poverty to take a minor office in a
court of law, and died in Egypt at an advanced age.

The writings of Lucian are sermons on the vanities of
human life. He belongs to no school of philosophy, but
mocks at all schools. He derides alike the ancient gods
of the Pantheon and the new doctrine of Christianity ; he
scoffs at the ignorance in the past and the rising science of
this present time. But he uses his weapons of ridicule and
satire, not for the mere joy of using them, no matter against
what, but with the definite purpose of wounding all that he
believes rotten or false in the men and doctrines of the
time. In one of his Dialogues, the sequel to the Sale of
the Philosophers^ when he is arraigned for judgment before
Philosophy itself, he says in his own defence : —

" I make it my business to hate quacks, hate jugglery,
hate lies, and hate conceit, and I hate every such class of
wicked men. . , . Yet, in spite of this, I have a very pre-
cise knowledge of the ojiposite sentiment also. . . . For I 'm


a lover of truth, a lover of beauty, and a lover of simplicity,
and whatever else has to do with loving. Albeit, very few
are worthy of this profession, while those ranged under
the opposite head and better suited to be objects of one's
hate, are legion. I am, therefore, in danger of soon for-
getting the former art for want of practice, but am likely
to attain a thorough understanding of this latter. . . . My
practice, however, is of this sort — namely, to hate the bad,
and praise and love the good." -* - -» - ««» - -.

This impartiality and ability to see all sides of a ques-
tion made his work of real value in his own time and of
real interest in ours. His works have been copied and imi-
tated by satirists from Rabelais down to the present day,
but he still stands unapproached in his own field, at the side
of his great predecessor Aristophanes.

The following passages are quoted by the kind permission
of their translator, Winthrop Dudley Sheldon, Vice-Presi-

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 28 of 29)