ancient poets

Ancient Roman joint statue of Ennius and Vergil, likely dated to between the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. The double portrait is meant to show the passage of knowledge from Ennius, sometimes called the “father of Latin poetry,” to Vergil, author of the Aeneid, who was born a century after Ennius died. Currently located in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. Photo taken by Emma-Jane Browne.

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.

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!)

My body
may be young
but my soul
is ancient.

Born with the sun,
and birthed from patience.

Save for
some decades
obscured from
it’s past,

My soul has learned
to love and live fast.

Passing through
bodies
until it
found mind,

I now experience
all of its time.

So if I
seem weary
or too tired
to speak,

Please, keep in mind that
the age of my soul
may sometimes make me
weak.

—  TÅW // The Age of My Soul

It’s like a woman has to be either gay or straight no matter what. She might be engaged to a woman but have an affair with a man so people will automatically be like “so is she a lesbian or straight??” Even in the LGBTQ community, the B in there is like it doesn’t exist at all.
You know how the famous Ancient Greek poet and lyre musician Sappho is seen as having a romantic relationship with her female pupils but in her poems she expresses her love for a man and people do not know whether she’s a complete lesbian or not and it’s like everyone has heard of the word bisexual but no one gives enough of a shit to even consider it to be real.
Even fucking Piper Chapman from orange is the new black, the only labels she receives is being either a lesbian or a heterosexual character. She is in love with both a woman and a man but she’s not bisexual?? She just HAS to be either a lesbian or straight as though the spectrum is as simple as that, oh good lord stop with this bullshit

ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον
ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον, σὺ δ᾽ αὔτα 
σύμμαχος ἔσσο.
— 

Ψάπφω (Sappho), fragment 1 (“Hymn to Aphrodite”), lines 25-28

“Come to me even now, and release me from difficult cares, and as many things as I desire in my heart for you to accomplish, accomplish, and be yourself my ally.” 

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

  • Butters: Wtf is Sephora it sounds scary.
  • Kevin: isn’t that the guy with the long white hair from final fantasy?
  • Gary: no your thinking of sephiroth, a sephora is an angel belonging to the highest order of angels
  • Damien: No you’re thinking of a Seraph. A sephora is a second year college or high school student
  • Token: No, you’re thinking of sophomore. A sephora is when you use your phone to take a picture of yourself.
  • Tweek: no, you’re thinking of a selfie. a sephora is a calm breeze.
  • Craig: No, you’re thinking of a zephyr. A sephora is one of those Greek vases with the two handles and the pictures.
  • Clyde: You’re thinking of an amphora. Sephora is the web browser you have to use on iOS devices.
  • Kyle: You’re thinking of Safari. Sephora is an informal term for the seven-week period of counting the days between Pesach and Shavuot in the Jewish calendar.
  • Ike: You’re thinking of Sefiras. Sephora is a bright blue gemstone best known for combining with Ruby to create Garnet and lead the Crystal Gems, training Pokemon, and/or assisting Steel to fight against time’s intrusions into our realm.
  • Stan: No, you’re thinking of sapphire. Sephora is actually a part of a flower; it protects the flower in bud and supports the petals in bloom.
  • Cartman: No, you’re thinking of sepal. Sephora is the wife of Moses, who lead the stupid Jews out of Egypt fucking bitch.
  • Kenny: No, you’re thinking of Tzipporah. Sephora was an ancient Greek poet who inspired a lot of lady-lovin’.
  • Jimmy: No, you’re thinking of Sappho. Sephora is the youngest of the five Marx brothers.
  • Pete: No, you’re thinking of Zeppo. Sephora is the Heimdall’s sister.
  • Michael: No no no guys, you’re thinking of Sif. Sephora is a venereal disease that turns your brain to swiss cheese, going so far as to destroy external features like the nose. Famous gangster Al Capone suffered from sephora.
  • Bradley: No, you’re thinking of syphilis. Sephora is that radiant feeling you get when you have found perfect peace and happiness.
  • Wendy: No, you’re thinking of euphoria. Sephora’s a fucking makeup store you dipshits.
  • All boys: .....oh!!!!!!
Mellitos oculos tuos, Iuventi,
siquis me sinat usque basiare,
usque ad milia baisem trecenta,
nec mi umquam videar satur futurus,
non si densior aridis aristis
sit nostrae seges osculationis.
— 

Catullus

Your honey-sweet eyes, Iuventus,

if anyone would let me keep kissing forever,

I would kiss them all the way to three hundred kisses,

and I would never be satisfied,

not even if the fruit of our kisses

was more plentiful than a harvest of ripe corn

The twins stand before me,
Radiant, too bright for the same sky,
One with a mahogany bow and
A wild look in her eyes, one with
A golden lyre and a seductive grin.

Choose me
Apollo whispers in my ear.
Choose gold and daylight and love,
Art and bliss. Choose knowledge
Of all that has been and will be.
You know you want to.

Choose me
Artemis boldly declares.
Choose silver and moonlight and freedom,
Wildness and the hunt. Choose sisterhood
And be a legend for all time.
I already found you your bow.

I choose myself
I say, holding my breath.
Your offers of love are illusions.
You would cast me aside the instant
I swerved from your ideal.
I will find my own path.

— 

The Twins

- Grace Babcock © 2017

xxii.

i trusted you.

i took a run and jumped, as i
believed you were down there,
waiting for me with your arms
wide open and your heart even more.

you weren’t.

instead of feather-like floating,
i were marble ancient statue,
forgotten and being released
in the middle of vast ocean.

i slowly started to sink, watching
how you became just a blurr.

remember.

you said you loved me
from the bottom of your heart;
when i reached it myself,
there was only mud and complete
absence of the light of your eyes.

don’t worry, i got used to
that darkness after a while.

when century passes i may become
the most precious treasure under the sun.

but for now,
i’m just an embryo,

spilled out
of your body
too soon.

Φριξοκόμᾳ τόδε Πανὶ καὶ αὐλιάσιν θέτο Νύμφαις
δῶρον ὑπὸ σκοπιᾶς Θεύδοτος οἰονόμος:
οὕνεχ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἀζαλέου θέρεος μέγα κεκμηῶτα
παῦσαν, ὀρέξασαι χερσὶ μελιχρὸν ὕδωρ.
-
For bristle-haired Pan and the rustic Nymphs
lone-grazing Theudotos set this gift under the hill-top:
because, when he was worn out by scorching summer, 
they made him rest, holding honey-sweet water in their hands.
—  Anyte (Greek Anthology 16.291)