Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents
ed. by Thomas K. Hubbard
1.1: Archilochus, fragment 25.1-5 W
The following fragment comes from a tattered papyrus, first published in 1954.
. . . man's nature is not the same,
But each man delights his heart in something different.
. . . cock pleases Melesander,
. . . pleases the shepherd Phalangius.
No other prophet than I tells this to you. 1.2
Archilochus, fragment 117 W
Sing of Glaucus the horn-molder.
1.3: Archilochus, fragment 294 W
The following are not the actual words of Archilochus, but a quotation from the late oracle-critic Oenomaus, invoking Archilochus' familiar subject matter.
What do you bid us to do, if we are to appear worthy of your hospitality? Are we in the style of Archilochus, in metrical form, to revile women who don't wish to marry us and grab hold of perverts (kinaidoi), since they are by far the basest among all other base men?
1.4: Alcman, First Maidens' Song 34-101
This song was probably performed in Sparta by a female chorus (or two semichoruses) led by Hagesichora and Agido. Some commentators consider it to be a female initiation rite, perhaps even a betrothal of the two girls. The poem is preserved on a papyrus which breaks off abruptly after v. 101. The first 33 lines are very fragmentary: they seem to narrate a story from Spartan mythology, the killing of the ten sons of King Hippocoon by their cousins Castor and Polydeuces, who were rival suitors for the same pair of maidens. V.34 begins by justifying the act.
. . . they suffered unforgettably
After contriving evil deeds --
There is a vengeance of the gods --
But he is blessed, who with wisdom
Weaves his day to the end
Without tears. And I sing
Of Agido's radiance: I see
Her as the sun, which Agido
Calls as witness to shine
For us. Yet for me either to praise
Or blame her, the glorious chorus leader
In no way allows, but she herself
Stands out just as if someone
Should set among the herds a horse,
Sturdy, prize-winning, thunderhoofed,
From dreams beneath the rock.
Don't you see? The racer I
s Enetic, but the hair
Of my cousin Hagesichora blooms
Like pure gold,
And her silver face --
Why should I tell you clearly?
Here is Hagesichora,
But the second after Agido in beauty
Will run as a Kolaxian horse with an Ibenian:
For these Peleiades, rising through ambrosia
Night like the star Sirius,
While we bring the robe to Orthria,
Fight with us.
Neither could such an abundance
Of purple exist as to defend us,
Nor an intricate snake
All gold, nor Lydian
Headband, the delight
Of dark-eyed girls,
Not Nanno's hair,
Nor even divine Areta,
Not Sylacis and Clesisera;
Nor once at Aenesimbrota's will you say:
"Oh that Astaphis be mine,
May Philylla look over
And Damareta and desired Ianthemis" --
But Hagesichora overwhelms me.
For isn't lovely-ankled Hagesichora here?
She remains beside Agido
And praises our feasts.
O gods, receive their prayers:
From gods come success
And fulfillment. Chorus leader,
I would speak -- myself a girl
Screeching in vain, an owl
From a rafter -- still I want most
To please Aotis, since she has been
The healer of our toils;
But through Hagesichora young women
Enter into desired peace.
For . . . by the trace-horse . . .
And on a ship one must
Listen above all to the navigator.
Yet she is not more musical
Than the Sirens:
They are goddesses, but instead of eleven
These ten girls sing;
She sings like a swan on the streams
Of Xanthus. The one with alluring golden hair . . .
1.5: Sappho, fragment 1 V
This text is probably a complete poem, in the genre of a "cletic hymn," summoning a god's presence, in this case, the love goddess Aphrodite.
On the throne of many hues, immortal Aphrodite,
Child of Zeus, weaving wiles -- I beg you
Not to subdue my spirit, Queen,
With pain or sorrow,
But come -- if ever before
Having heard my voice from far away
You listened, and leaving your father's
Golden home you came
In your chariot yoked with swift, lovely
Sparrows bringing you over the dark earth,
Thick-feathered wings swirling down
From the sky through mid-air,
Arriving quickly -- you, Blessed One,
With a smile on your unaging face
Asking again what I have suffered
And why I am calling again
And in my wild heart what did I most wish
To happen to me: "Again whom must I persuade
Back into the harness of your love?
Sappho, who wrongs you?
For if she flees, soon she'll pursue;
She doesn't accept gifts, but she'll give;
If not now loving, soon she'll love
Even against her will."
Come to me now again, release me from
This pain, everything my spirit longs
To have fulfilled, fulfill, and you
Be my ally.
1.6: Sappho, fragment 2 V
Come to me from Crete to this holy
Temple, to the apple grove,
The altars smoking With frankincense,
Cold water ripples through apple
Branches, the whole place shadowed
In roses, from the murmuring leaves
Deep sleep descends,
Where horses graze, the meadow blooms
Spring flowers, the winds
Breathe softly . . . . . .
Here, Cypris, after gathering . . .
Pour into golden cups
Mingled with joys.
1.7: Sappho, fragment 16 V
Some say an army of horsemen, others
Say foot-soldiers, still others, a fleet,
Is the fairest thing on the dark earth.
I say it is whatever one loves.
Everyone can understand this --
Consider that Helen, far surpassing
The beauty of mortals, leaving behind
The best man of all,
Sailed away to Troy. She had no
Memory of her child or dear parents,
Since she was led astray
(two missing verses)
. . . lightly
. . . reminding me now of Anactoria being gone,
I would rather see her lovely step
And the radiant sparkle of her face
Than all the war-chariots in Lydia
And soldiers battling in shining bronze.
1.8: Sappho, fragment 30 V
The following fragment comes from a wedding hymn.
Night . . .
Virgins . . .
Celebrate all night . . .
May sing of your love and
The violet-robed bride.
But once roused, go call
The unwed men your age
So we may see less sleep
Than the clear-voiced bird.
1.9: Sappho, fragment 31 V
To me it seems
That man has the fortune of the gods,
Whoever sits beside you, and close,
Who listens to you sweetly speaking
And laughing temptingly;
My heart flutters in my breast,
Whenever I look quickly, for a moment --
I say nothing, my tongue broken,
A delicate fire runs under my skin,
My eyes see nothing, my ears roar,
Cold sweat rushes down me,
Trembling seizes me, I am greener than grass,
To myself I seem
Needing but little to die.
But all must be endured, since . . .
1.10: Sappho, fragment 34 V
The stars around the fair moon
Hide away their radiant form
Whenever in fullness she lights
The earth . . .
1.11: Sappho, fragment 36 V
I both desire and pursue . . .
1.12: Sappho, fragment 47 V
Love shook my senses,
Like wind crashing on mountain oaks.
1.13: Sappho, fragment 48 V
You came and did well; I felt for you
And you cooled my spirit burning with desire.
1.14: Sappho, fragment 49 V
I loved you, Atthis, once long ago . . .
You seemed to me a small child and without charm.
1.15: Sappho, fragment 55 V
Sappho addresses a female rival. It is unclear whether their dispute was poetic or amatory. When you die you'll lie dead; no memory of you,
No desire will survive, since you've no part
Of the Pierian roses. But once gone,
You'll flutter among the obscure,
Invisible still in the house of Hades.
1.16: Sappho, fragment 94 V
"I simply wish to die."
Weeping she left me
And said this too:
"We've suffered terribly.
Sappho, I leave you against my will."
I answered, "Go happily
And remember me,
You know how we cared for you;
If not, let me remind you
. . . the lovely times we shared.
Many crowns of violets,
Roses and crocuses
. . . together you set before me,
And many scented wreaths
Made from blossoms
Around your soft throat . . .
. . . with pure, sweet oil
. . . you anointed me,
And on a soft, gentle bed . . .
You quenched your desire . . .
. . . no holy site . . .
We left uncovered,
No grove . . . dance
. . . sound
1.17: Sappho, fragment 96 V
In this poem, Sappho consoles her friend Atthis for the loss of a girl who has gone to Sardis, presumably to be married.
. . . Sardis . . .
Often holding her thoughts here
. . .
You, like a goddess undisguised,
But she rejoiced especially in your song.
Now she stands out among
Lydian women as after sunset
The rose-fingered moon
Exceeds all stars; light
Reaches equally over the brine sea
And thick-flowering fields,
A beautiful dew has poured down,
Roses bloom, tender parsley
And blossoming honey clover.
Pacing far away, she remembers
Gentle Atthis with desire,
Perhaps . . . consumes her delicate soul;
To go there . . . this not
Knowing . . . much
She sings . . . in the middle.
It is not easy for us to rival
The beautiful form of goddesses,
. . . you might have . . .
(two lines are missing) A
nd . . . Aphrodite . . . poured nectar from
golden . . .
. . . with her hands Persuasion . . .
1.18: Sappho, fragment 105(a) V
The sweet apple reddens on a high branch,
High upon highest, missed by the applepickers:
No, they didn't miss, so much as couldn't touch.
1.19: Sappho, fragment 105(b) V
Herdsmen crush under their feet
A hyacinth in the mountains;
on the ground Purple blooms . . .
1.20: Sappho, fragment 107 V
Do I still desire virginity?
1.21: Sappho, fragment 111 V
Raise high the roof
-- Hymen! --
You carpenter men.
-- Hymen! --
The bridegroom approaches like Ares,
-- Hymen! --
Much bigger than a big man.
1.22: Sappho, fragment 112 V
Happy bridegroom, the marriage that you prayed for
Has been fulfilled -- you have the girl you prayed for.
Your form is graceful, eyes . . .
Gentle, and love flows over your alluring face . . .
Aphrodite has honored you above all.
1.23: Sappho, fragment 114 V
BRIDE: Virginity, virginity, where have you gone, leaving me behind?
VIRGINITY: Never again will I come to you, never again.
1.24: Sappho, fragment 115 V
With what, dear bridegroom, can I fairly compare you?
With a slender sapling I shall best compare you.
1.25: Sappho, fragment 130(b) V
Atthis, for you the thought of me has become hateful,
And you fly off to Andromeda.
1.26: Sappho, fragment 147 V
I say someone in another time will remember us.
1.27: Sappho, fragment 168(b) V The moon and Pleiades have set. Half the night is gone. Time passes. I sleep alone...
1.28: Solon, fragment 25 W
Solon was a prominent Athenian statesman and law-giver active in the first quarter of the sixth century BCE. He transmitted many of his moral and political precepts in verse, but the authenticity of short aphorisms like this one is uncertain; many are also found in the Theognid corpus.
. . . While one loves boys among the lovely flowers of youth,
Desiring their thighs and sweet mouth.
1.29: Anacreon, fragment 347 PMG
Athenaeus (12.540e) and Aelian (VH 9.4) record that Anacreon's praise of the boy Smerdis provoked the jealousy of the tyrant Polycrates, who ordered the boy's long hair cut off. The beginning of the fragment is missing.
. . . (you lack) the hair, which once shaded
Your neck in abundance.
But now you are smooth-browed,
And your hair, falling into rough hands,
Has tumbled down in a heap
Into the black dust.
Bravely did it meet the slash of steel.
But I am wasted away with sorrow.
For what can one do,
When one fails even for Thrace?
1.30: Anacreon, fragment 357 PMG
This text is probably a complete poem in the form of a cletic hymn (see 1:5 and 1:6) to Dionysus, the god of wine. But the poem functions as a riddle, since the god's identity and relevance are not revealed until the end. Drunkenness will make the boy more receptive.
Lord, with whom Eros the subduer
And the dark-eyed Nymphs
And rosy-skinned Aphrodite
Play, you roam about
The lofty mountain peaks.
I beseech you, please come to us
Well-disposed, and hear
Our prayer with favor.
Become a good advisor to Cleobulus,
That he accept my love, O Dionysus.
1.31: Anacreon, fragment 358 PMG
Once again golden-haired Eros,
Hitting me with a purple ball,
Calls me out to play
With a fancy-sandaled maid.
But she, haling from
Well-endowed Lesbos, finds fault
With my hair, for it's white.
She gapes open-mouthed at another girl.
1.32: Anacreon, fragment 359 PMG
I am mad for Cleobulus,
I gaze at Cleobulus.
1.33: Anacreon, fragment 360 PMG
Boy with a maiden's glance,
I seek you out, but you hear not,
Unknowing that you are the charioteer
Of my soul.
1.34: Anacreon, fragment 402(c) PMG
Boys would love me for my words,
For I sing graceful things,
and I know how to say graceful things.
1.35: Ibycus, fragment 287 PMG
Eros, melting me once more with his gaze
From under dark lids,
With all manner of charms throws me again
Into the boundless nets of the Love Goddess.
I tremble at him as he comes,
Like an old prize horse who knows the yoke
And unwilling goes into the swift chariot race
One more time.
1.36: Ibycus, fragment 288 PMG
Euryalus, offspring of the blue-eyed Graces
And care of the fair-haired Seasons,
The Love Goddess and tender-eyed Seduction
Nurtured you among rosebuds.
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