aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Simias, The Wings of Eros (AP 15.24)

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The Greek Anthology contains several whimsical poems whose lines vary in length so that they resemble (or can be arranged to resemble) the objects which they describe. They presumably have their origins in epigrams written on objects dedicated in temples, when the objects’ contours would determine where text could and could not be written. Whether these poems were genuinely written on such objects, or whether they are merely the product of inventive Hellenistic poets, is not entirely clear. They have been much imitated by later poets.

The statue of Eros described on this pair of ‘wings’ seems, rather oddly, to have presented the boy-god with a beard.

λεῦσσέ με τὸν Γᾶς τε βαθυστέρνου ἄνακτ’, Ἀκμονίδαν τ’ ἄλλυδις ἑδράσαντα,
μηδὲ τρέσῃς εἰ τόσος ὢν δάσκια βέβριθα λάχνᾳ γένεια.
τᾶμος ἐγὼ γὰρ γενόμαν, ἁνίκ’ ἔκραιν’ Ἀνάγκα
πάντα δὲ Γᾶς εἶκε φραδαῖσι λυγραῖς
ἑρπετά, πανθ’ ὅσ’ ἕρπει
δι’ αἴθρας.
Χάους δέ,
οὔτι γε Κύπριδος παῖς
ὠκυπέτας ἠδ’ Ἄρεος καλεῦμαι·
οὔτι γὰρ ἔκρανα βίᾳ, πραϋνόῳ δὲ πειθοῖ,
εἶκε δέ μοι Γαῖα Θαλάσσας τε μυχοὶ χάλκεος Οὐρανός τε·
τῶν δ’ ἐγὼ ἐκνοσφισάμαν ὠγύγιον σκᾶπτρον ἔκρινον δὲ θεοῖς θέμιστας.

Behold me, the lord of deep-bosomed Earth, me who set the son of Acmon* topsy-turvy,
and do not be afraid that, although I am small, my cheeks are weighed down
with bushy hair. For I was born when Necessity ruled
and everything yielded to her baneful decrees,
both Earth’s creeping things and those
that move through the air.
And swift-footed son
of Chaos am I called, not
of Cypris nor of Ares. For not by force
did I rule, but by gentle-minded persuasion.
And Earth and the depths of Sea and bronze Heaven yielded to me.
I took for myself their ancient sceptre, and determined justice for the gods.

*i.e. Heaven/Uranus

There’s a conference coming up on these technopaegnia or ‘pattern poems’; there’s still time to send your abstracts in! They are discussed by Luis Arturo Guichard in A. Harder, R.F. Regtuit & G.C. Wakker (edd.), Beyond the Canon, Leuven 2006.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Simias

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