Puerilities: Erotic Epigrams of "The Greek Anthology"
Elegiac lyrics celebrating the love of boys, which the
translator terms Puerilities, comprise most of the twelfth
book of The Greek Anthology. That book, the so-called
Musa Puerilis, is brilliantly translated in this, the
first complete verse version in English. It is a delightful
eroticopia of short poems by great and lesser-known Greek poets,
spanning hundreds of years, from ancient times to the late
The epigrams--wry, wistful, lighthearted, libidinous, and
sometimes bawdy--revel in the beauty and fickle affection of boys
and young men and in the fleeting joys of older men in loving them.
Some, doubtless bandied about in the lax and refined setting of
banquets, are translated as limericks. Also included are a few fine
and often funny poems about girls and women.
Fashion changes in morality as well as in poetry. The sort of
attachment that inspired these verses was considered perfectly
normal and respectable for over a thousand years. Some of the very
best Greek poets--including Strato of Sardis, Theocritus, and
Meleager of Gadara--are to be found in these pages. The more than
two hundred fifty poems range from the lovely to the playful to the
ribald, but all are, as an epigram should be, polished and elegant.
The Greek originals face the translations, enhancing the volume's
A friend of Youth, I have no youth in mind,
For each has beauties, of a different kind.
I've had enough to drink; my heart and soul
As well as tongue are losing self-control.
The lamp flame bifurcates; I multiply
The dinner guests by two each time I try.
Not only shaken up by the wine-waiter,
I ogle too the boy who pours the water.
Venus, denying Cupid is her son,
Finds in Antiochus a better one.
This is the boy to be enamored of,
Boys, a new love superior to Love.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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