[Translations from the Greek Anthology]
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[Translations from the Greek Anthology]
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Title/Paratext] "[Prose translation by J. R. [...]" H.W. Starr/J.R. Hendrickson, 1966.
"[Prose translation by J. R. Hendrickson:]
"Translation of Ode"
From the Greek.
The story is told that a farmer went to the home of Aristophanes at planting time to ask what the fates had secretly decreed (whether the moon was in a lucky phase, whether the harvest would be plentiful or whether the parched field would disappoint the farmer).
Aristophanes, with wrinkled brow, solicitously arranged the lots with a great show of skill, and consulted the gods. Then he gave the following oracular response: If there shall have been just enough rain in the spring, and if weeds shall not have harmed the crops and if a numbing wind shall not have brought unexpected cold; if baleful blight and hail shall have spared the fields; if some nanny-goat and her kid shall not have chewed up the grain; if neither sky nor earth shall have been unfriendly to you—then I promise you bountiful crops and a full granary. However, you must be sure that no locusts arrive late in the summer.
On a Representation of Medea, the Noble Work of Timomachus.
See how the painful conflict seethes in the face of Medea, and her sons are still living, and her husband! She is enraged; she feels pity; furious anger blazes even in the midst of love, and a tear glistens in her threatening eye. You see her as yet irresolute: do you wonder why? Though the hand of the Colchian mother was wicked, that of Timomachus would not depict wickedness.
On a Statue of a Frenzied Bacchante.
Rest assured, the Maenad is not alive, the statue is not breathing. The hand of the artist mixed madness with the bronze.
On Alexander, Portrayed in Bronze.
How bold was your hand, Lysippus! The breath of life seems to surge in the bronze, and warlike fire glows in the eyes; behold these features, and forgive the unfortunate Persians. What wonder if a lion scattered peaceful sheep?
On a Statue of Niobe.
From a living woman, Jupiter turned me into stone; Praxiteles has turned me from stone into a living woman.
From the Greek of Lucian, Offering a Statue of Herself to Venus.
Lo, Cytherea, to thee I offer thyself; for I had nothing to offer thee, goddess, more lovely than thyself.
To Cupid, As He Sleeps.
Oh learned Boy—learned, that is, in the skill of imposing sleep-destroying cares on mortals—can it be that sleep has found a home in you? Your unstrung bow lies quietly near by, your unlighted torch has been hung up, and, locked in the quiver, your arrow sleeps: your mother is far away, far away too the throng of Cytherea's train. Others, no doubt, may have the courage to venture near you, but not I; for I am mightily afraid, treacherous boy, that even in your sleep you may be hatching some trick to play on me.
From a Fragment of Plato.
I went to the regions of Idalium, happy realms, where a forest of myrtle spreads its thick foliage in rich profusion: within, I saw Cupid breathing softly in sleep, pressing his rosy cheek into a couch of roses. A little way off, I saw his quiver hung aloft in the branches, and the barbed shafts that had slipped from his languid hand; a soft smile parted his lips, about which a bee kept flying with a neverending murmur.
On a Spring of Hot Water.
The Idalian boy was sleeping under the plane-trees near the water of a stream and had laid his torch on the bank. 'Now is the time, comrades!' said one of the nymphs, bolder than the rest. 'Now surely the time has come. Why do we hesitate any longer?' At the words, she rushed forward, intending to extinguish in the pool the torch that is the bane of gods and men. Surely she was bereft of reason; for the nymph could not extinguish the flame, but the water instead caught fire and to this day is still hot.
Argus saw that a mouse had crept into his house and said, 'Ho, there, friend! What do you want from me?' Then with a smile the mouse said, 'Have no fear; at your house, my good fellow, I am not seeking a banquet—just a place to sleep.'
A little while, I pray, restrain the wakeful torments and do not turn a deaf ear to the prayers of the suppliant Muse: I beg a brief reprieve from tears, a moment of rest from madness. Ah, I cannot endure wounds so great! An inner flame, you see, feeds upon my wretched limbs, and my soul is poised for flight at the very edge of my lips. But if your heart is set on cutting the thread of life that is already so thin, my complaint will remain engraved in stone, a monument to your eternal shame (I swear by that celebrated torch of yours, and the twanging bow, and the darts that have been taught to transfix my heart alone): Alas, passer-by, flee from the cruel boy and his savage arrows! Love caused the death of him who lies buried here.
Imitated from the Greek of Bassus.
As for me, when I burn with wicked love, I do not put on the trappings of Jove. I have no truck with feathers nor yet with the hides of bulls; I do not pour myself over the roof-tiles in golden rain. I just jingle a couple of coins: Danae comes running to me.
Imitated from the Greek of Rufinus.
Rufinus sends you this crown, Rhodoclea. With his own hands he has picked these flowers and woven them together. There are violets and anemones and sweet-blushing hyacinths and yellow marigold mingled with Narcissus, whom you are like. Accept it: but as you look upon it, cease to have confidence in your beauty! The colour is short-lived that paints the garland and you."
- The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and Greek. Edited by Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966.
Contractions, italics and initial capitalization have been largely eliminated, except where of real import. Initial letters of sentences have been capitalized, all accents have been removed. The editor would like to express his gratitude to library staff at Pembroke College, Cambridge, at the British Library, and at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, for their invaluable assistance.