ancient poets

Sappho is a famous ancient Greek poet from the island of Lesbos around 615 BCE. She is one of few known women poets from such old times. She wrote passionate poems about the bittersweet struggles of being in love - most famously, with both sexes. She ran an academy for young, unmarried women, who were her circle of friends. The word lesbian comes from the island of her birth, and her name is the origin of the word sapphic. Neither word was used for homosexuality until the 19th century. Since then, Sappho has been attacked and ridiculed for her sexual preferences, and her reception is a huge part of her historical significance.

did u guys kno that back in ancient rome the poet Catullus was in a relationship with this lady named Clodia but she was married so he had to refer to her as Lesbia in all his poetry, but the reason he called her Lesbia is because Sappho and all her students lived on the island Lesbos and they were so great at poetry that calling her Lesbia was the highest complement he could give. so basically he called his gf a lesbian because he decided it’s the best compliment you could possibly give someone

Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC – AD 17/18)

Known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, he was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature. The Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists. He enjoyed enormous popularity, but, in one of the mysteries of literary history, was sent by Augustus into exile in a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. Ovid himself attributes his exile to carmen et error, “a poem and a mistake”, but his discretion in discussing the causes has resulted in much speculation among scholars.

The first major Roman poet to begin his career during the reign of Augustus, Ovid is today best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, and for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria (“The Art of Love”) and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and greatly influenced Western art and literature. The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: Cover detail from Publii Ovidii Nasonis Fastorum Libri Sex. The Fasti of Ovid. Edited with a translation and commentary by Sir James George Frazer. In Five Volumes. London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1929.

I’m a couple of books into Civil War (Lucan, not Julius Caesar), and what strikes me is how it’s this savage howl of grief and desperation; how the point he keeps coming back to is we did this to ourselves.  There are so many people out there who hate us and could have conquered us!! so many people we could have conquered if we weren’t satisfied!!  but no, no, we made ourselves into slaves.  The rapacious, bloodthirsty wolfpack destroyed itself in its own unbearable hunger.

While the introduction to my copy really has it in for the Aeneid (it’s an amazing poem, and far more than just the Augustan propaganda this likes to claim), I do agree that Lucan is reacting against both Virgil and Ovid, and specifically the ways in which they try to process the change from Republic to Empire.  Virgil tries to comfort by insisting this is right, this is the will of the gods; but for Lucan that’s only possible if you think of the gods as punishing the Romans for their hubris, for becoming greater than they should be, and that’s why Civil War has such a tragic emphasis on Fate and Fortune. (because it is a tragedy–two thousand years and I’m still not over it, will never be over it; that a people for whom liberty ran blood and bone-deep wound up as imperial subjects.)  There’s also something Herodotean about it - its sense of enquiry, the way in which it cuts out portrayals of e.g. Jupiter and Apollo etc, and its fascination with the reasons behind the growth and decline of civilisations.

Of course, the Romans, like so many ancients, worried that luxury was the reason for decline, that it had made them soft.  That, I think, is part of why the portrayal of religion here, the invocation of the gods for protection, is all about going back to their oldest roots, to the hardy people who threw out the kings; and why Cato is the hero of this poem.  (though personally I love the Romans for their sophisticated, sensuous, warmhearted, pleasure-loving side, and the dour Early Republic has no appeal for me.  There’s a bit in this poem where Marcia remarries Cato, having been given by him to the late Hortensius as a wife because they knew she could bear children, and I can’t imagine such stern, selfless virtue that you could give away your own wife?! that’s not even getting into what Marcia’s feelings must have been on the matter.)

While this isn’t a pleasure to read in the way that the Aeneid or Metamorphoses is, it hits you like a Fury’s torch.  I love how gothic it is, with its Thessalian witches and its necromancy (it does the epic katabasis in REVERSE I am SCREAMING) and would really like to know what about Neronian Rome specifically seems to have produced literature like that. (cf. Seneca’s revenge tragedies - though of course he was Lucan’s uncle!)

Never let two Classic Studies enthusiastics anywhere near a computer with Photoshop on…

Tag yourself Roman Poets version, I’m Virgilio

To my awesome partner in crime @butwewereanempire

Halfway Out of the Dark

As a Christian, I get really ticked off when other Christians try to say that Christmas is a “christian holiday”.

Keep reading

in ancient egypt, queens wore lipstick
in ancient greece, it was the prostitutes
the first lipstick law came from greece
where prostitutes could be prosecuted
for appearing in public without lipstick
and pretending to be ladies
but enough of that. those are the facts
simple, blunt, laid bare.

on my dressing table, i have more than 10 shades of red
i can name them all
russian red, classic cream in devil, red dragon, hexagram
and then of course, there are the shades of doll, candy, heat, kisses
i know when to use each and every one.

too dark
too light
far, far too loud
(what do you think people will see
if you parade around with that shade on your lips?)
(a red lipstick
is the only thing you need to complete
your best outfit)

tell me
which one am i?
sacred queen or common prostitute
(they still describe my clothes
as trash and whore)
when i pick up a brush
and dip it in a tube
run a stick across my lips enough times
that sometimes it feels that the colour will never fade
what do i stain myself with
blood or rubies?
am i meant to belong to the gods or men?

or am i instead
lioness given form
colouring my lips with ruby red blood
sekhmet draining the world dry
aphrodite ruining with love.

i have more than 10 shades of red lipstick on my dressing table
apart from countless other colours
i can name them all
know when each must stain my lips
i still don’t know what that says about me

(apart from the fact
that i am neither queen nor prostitute
or i should say
not only

i am

-Rishika Aggarwal (you never thought my blood would run thick like the makeup i wear) © 2015

I saw sorrows obscuring sorrows just as one line is written over another on a paper.
—  Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri  (973 -1058) - was a blind Syrian philosopher, poet, and writer. He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion. He was equally sarcastic towards the religions of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He was also a vegan who argued for animal rights.
Dheere dheere, re mana, dheere sab kuch hoe. Maali seenche sau ghada ritu aay phal hoe


Slowly slowly, o mind, everything happens in it’s own time. The gardener may nurture to a hundred plants, but they shall bear fruits only once their season arrives. 

I find this quote to be extremely comforting in times of distress. No action or reaction in this world can be played out in haste. Everything happens in it’s own time and hurrying things along is a fruitless endeavour.
Your time to shine will come. You will bear the sweetest fruits, now whether that happens in spring summer or winter is not up to us.  Relax. You shall become you in your time and I shall become I in mine. 

The earth itself is moving, transforming, breathing, and alive with qi. Modern scientists speak the same language as ancient poets when they call the Earth Gaia, a living being. When we appreciate the beauty of animals, fish, birds, flowers, trees, mountains, the deep ocean, and floating clouds, we are sensing their qi and feeling an intuitive unity with them. Human beings are part of nature and share qi with the rest of the earth.
—  Kenneth S. Cohen, The Way of Qigong 

one of my favourite true stories from ancient rome is a poet who didn’t want to live under ceaser’s rule so he tried to kill himself by slitting open his own belly; except he didn’t quite do it right and was gonna survive and be patched up by a physician who came upon him, so he pulled out his own entrails. i remember reading that story and thinking, “woah, man, chill out a little. that’s a bit of an extreme reaction to one guy becoming emperor dont you think?”

and then 2016 happened and now i know where that dude was coming from

A Poet Bemoans Political Corruption

Catullus 52

What’s the matter, Catullus?  Why do you put off dying?
    Nonius, that tumor, sits in a curule chair;
    Vatinius, by his consulship, makes himself a perjurer;
What’s the matter, Catullus?  Why do you put off dying?

Quid est, Catulle? quid moraris emori?
sella in curuli struma Nonius sedet,
per consulatum peierat Vatinius:
quid est, Catulle? quid moraris emori?

Theatrical Rehearsal in the House of an Ancient Roman Poet, Gustave Boulanger, 1855

The thoughts of Moses

When you look good
You feel good
And when you feel good
You do good

Growing up I thought
Those were wise words
From a wise man

Constantly staring into mirrors
To make sure the image
Everybody saw looked good
While feeling good as a result

But was I doing good ?

Join me on my trip down
Memory Lane to see if
We somehow find out.

My phone’s contact book was
Jam packed with mummiez
And adding to it seemed to be
The daily mission

One I was proud to brag about
Due to my stellar success rate

“Hey stranger”

Was a message I got
More frequently than
The numbers of soon to be
Strangers getting added
To the contact list

I guess it was only fitting
I called those women Israelites
And myself ?

You know where I’m going with this

Oh you got a man ?

Follow me babes

Join the Exodus
As I lead every other
Israelite that’s used the line
To a land flowing with
Goals and Poetic Flattery

Only I never had as much
Patience as my biblical

Don’t complain about
The distance of the

You’re more than welcome
To leave

Being bad and boujee
Doesn’t cement your
Place on my contact list
And neither do those

There’s plenty more
Fish in the sea

And I score so much
That I make Messi’s
Records look cute

I just wonder how long
It’ll take before you
Slide back into my DMs
With that

“Hey stranger”

Just be sure to
Send nudes

But that’s “Thee Old Me”

Needless to say that
My definition of

Was hopelessly blurred

Grab a shovel
And I’ll show you
Where to dig
If you’re hoping to
Find his remains

Feel good
Look good
And do good
My ass..

Maturity is a decision

And one that needs to
Constantly be made
On the daily

Simply because
Perfection isn’t
So easily attainable

Looking juicy don’t
Mean you got
The sauce

So the way I see it
I’ve got some
Decisions to make.

Throw down my stalf
And let the snakes
Devour each other

Or train a Joshua
And make sure
He’s well equipped
To carry on
Where I left off

See I’m a former
Egyptian prince of sorts

So the wilderness
Isn’t where I
Truly belong

But to re-cross
The Red Sea means
That I’ll have to be strong

I close my eyes
And picture the pyramids
While knowing that I belong
At the very top of them

The Pharaoh’s gone

I made sure of that
Last time I crossed
The sea

No need to grab a shovel
He’s to busy swimming
With the fishes

So everybody better see
A new successor in me
Now all I need to do
Is find my Queen

Someone with a mind
As nourishment filled
And fertile as the banks
Of the River Nile

Skin as smooth, evenly toned
And melanin enriched as
Those very same sands
That belong to the river

Which brings life to the people
Of my land

And smile as mesmerising,
Brightly colour filled,
Image enhancing
And breath taking
As the sun setting
Behind the pyramids

I belong at the
Very top of

Buts what’s a Queen
Without a King ?

Am I truly ready to carry
Such a heavy mantle ?

There were words I once l
Considered to be wise

Thinking back

The only reason
Why I shunned them
Was because I went
About them the wrong way

It was a three part equation
That I couldn’t really balance
Because I got so caught up
Living life

Instead of focusing on
What matters most

Seems like my life thus far
Has simply been about
Solving for y

Why don’t things go
Right for me whenever
I try to have something real
With somebody special

Why does everyone else
Get to happy ?

Why am I constantly
Second guessing myself
When people that know who
I truly am behind my vesade

Always look up to me ?
And come to me for advice ??

Why ? Why ? Why ?

I need solve this equation
And quick

My subjects are going to need
A King they won’t constantly
Feel the need to second guess

And my Nubian Queen
Will need a King that’s
Gonna be her shelter in
The midst of ragging

I think I’ve got it

I’ve been here swimming
In my thoughts

While trying to
Make hast and find
A solution to y

And in doing so
I’ve come to the
Realisation that the
Thing I’ve been lacking
Is the answer

y equals patience

I was never ready
For anything serious
And those who are
Happy were

Simply because They
Had the formula sheet I never

Patience is what I needed
When planning out
My next move

I’ve turn myself into
A master at slowing
Down time whenever
I chose to help my
Inner circle solve a
Problem they kept
Getting stuck on

From time to time
I’d stop it

Little did I know
That in doing so
All I was essentially

Was substituting
In patience

- Lwethu Domingos Poswa