Windflowers of Asklepiades

Translated from the Greek by EDWARD STORER.

[Asklepiades lived and made his epigrams about the end of the fourth century B. C. He was a Samian, a contemporary of Theokritos, and in the Crown of Meleager his emblem is the windflower, the wild anemone which first sprang up in the island of Cyprus from the tears shed by Aphrodite over the grave of Adonis. Thus is this poet of love delicately associated with Kypris.]


The Crown of Spring.

Sweet for the thirsty in summer is snow to drink; sweet for sailors after winter’s storms to see the crown of spring; but sweeter still when beneath one coverlet two lovers lie, and Kypris is praised by both.

The Rose Garland.

Stay here, my flowers, hanging by this porch, and do not shed too soon those petals I have wetted with my tears, for the eyes of lovers are always ready with tears.

But when the door opens and you see her, drip down your rain over her head, so that at least that golden hair may drink my tears.

The Revel

Run over to the Agora, Demetrios, and ask Amyntos for three bluefish, two crabs and two dozen prawns, which he will count himself, and come back here with them.

Bring, too, six crowns of roses from Thauborios — and on the way stop and tell Tryphera not to be late.

Aiskhra, the Perfume-Seller.

Bring us twenty prawns — do you hear? — and five coronals of roses. What! you’ve no money, you say. This is just robbery. Won’t some one torture this Lapith on the wheel for me? It’s a pirate we’ve got, not a slave.

You have done nothing wrong, you say? Nothing? Bring the account; and, Phryne, come here with the reckoning stones. O sly fox!

Wine, five drakhmas; sausage, two — eggs, hares, tunny, sesame, honeycombs. To-morrow we will go into that.

Run, now, to Aiskhra, the perfume-seller, and tell her we know she gave herself five times to Bakkho, for the bed is witness to it.

On the Tomb of an Hetaira.

I hold Arkheanassa, the hetaira of Kolophon, in whose very wrinkles love lived.

O you, her lovers, who plucked the early flowers of her first youth, through what flames you have passed.

The Dread of the Sea.

Keep eight cubits away from me, stormy sea, and swell and roar with all your might.

If you wash away my mound, what will that profit you? You will find only bones and dust.

To the Hetaira Philanion.

The wanton Philanion has hurt me, and though my grief is not to be seen, it flows through me to my finger tips.

It is over with me, Loves, I am ruined; I perish. Lightheartedly enough I went to our first meeting, and now I am in Hades.

Kleopatra’s Ring.

“Drunkenness”1) am I — a gem worked by a subtle hand. I am graven in amethyst, and the subject and the stone are ill-assorted. But I am the precious property of Kleopatra, and on the finger of a queen even “drunkenness” should be sober.

The Signs of Love.

Wine is a test of love. Although Nikagoras denied his passion to us, his many cups of wine accused him.

Moreover, he wept and hung his head, and seemed sad, and his coronal was all awry.



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A play on words: Methe, drunkenness, and a-methe, not drunkenness and amethyst. To wear the stone was supposed to keep people sober.


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