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Greek Lyric Poetry

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  157 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The Greek lyric, elegiac, and iambic poets of the two centuries from 650 to 450 B.C.--greats such as Sappho, Anacreon, and Simonides--produced some of the finest poetry of antiquity. Their poetry was perfect in form, spontaneous in expression, and reflected all the joys and anxieties of their personal lives and of the societies in which they lived. This new poetic translat ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published December 15th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published September 16th 1993)
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[Nota bene: I have combined the reviews of three books into one and used the same review for each. So if you have read one, you have read all three.]

Meleager brings you his lamp, O Venus,
For it knows how he celebrates you in the dark.

The Greek Anthology is an unusual text with roots in an anthology of epigrams first compiled by Meleager of Gadara in the 1st century BCE and supplemented over the centuries by various editors/compilers until it contained over 4,000 poems of various length and type
Nov 13, 2016 Markus rated it really liked it
A collection of poems and fragments of Greek Lyric Poetry from
700 BC down to 450 BC, from Archilochus to Praxilla, via Sappho, Alcaeus, Solon, Homer,
Stesichorus, Anacreon, Hipponax, and many others.
Lyric Poetry is very divers and can mean, for song and or accompanied by a lyre, but also by other instruments like oboes (aulos), or a harp. I wish I could hear the sound of their songs and melodies.
It was all social poetry, meant for the present and intended for oral reproduction.
The range of rec
P.H.G. Haslam
Mar 04, 2016 P.H.G. Haslam rated it really liked it
A very profound book. The honour of reading these ancient fragments is truly awesome to me. Even when a large proportion of the works here are difficult to understand in their references and assumptions, I found it exhilarating to try and crack the code of the lyrics that jumped out at me. The bizarre and extremely strong sexuality in parts of the book appealed to me; it's books like this that makes one really question the foundations of cultural structures, but via exposure to a different cultu ...more
Aug 29, 2012 R.a. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great and potent little book.

Greek Lyric Poetry is here presented from the Seventh to the Fifth Century BCE.

From mundane domestics to raptures of passion and spurn, the reader progresses.

I am particularly happy that the anthology includes fragments. Even though we only get a line or two at times, it still sheds even more light on the remarkable culture / confederation that was Ancient Greece.

As I am not a classical scholar, I have no idea if there were even more works and / or fragments that m
Monty Milne
Apr 19, 2016 Monty Milne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To read this is to be transported to a far more congenial time and place (at least to me). After finishing this I went out for lunch at my favourite restaurant and as the handsome young waiter approached I almost quoted these words of Alcaeus:

"Slave-boy, trickle the scent over my long suffering head....mix the sweet wine unstintingly, and put a nice soft cushion by my head..."

But I didn't. Who wouldn't want to be able to say those words for real, though? Oh to be Greek, rich, free, and living 2,
Matthew Lloyd
This translation of Greek lyric poetry down to ca. 450 BCE by the esteemed Martin West is a strange concoction. Published in the "World's Classics" line by Oxford University Press it is a (relatively) cheap paperback edition which allows early lyric poetry to be widely available, translated by a prestigious and talented scholar, if not by a poet. The volume includes Sappho, Alcaeus, and Solon, as well as a number of poets who are perhaps less well-known to the general public,* but who are certai ...more
Jon Corelis
Jan 21, 2013 Jon Corelis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good for academic purposes

Poetry, as Robert Frost said, is what gets lost in translation. Of no poetry is this truer than ancient Greek poetry, and Greek lyric poetry is especially difficult to bring across. But most people nowadays who read ancient Greek poetry in translation do so in connection with college classes in such fields as Classics in Translation, Western Culture, or Women's or Gay studies.

This book is clearly aimed at this student market. As such, it's about as good as such as book
Nov 28, 2014 Lukerik rated it it was amazing
A few years ago I thought I would quickly read Republic. This tactical error has lead to an obsession with Greek literature and I am now scraping the barrel with this anthology in a desperate attempt to find new material. It basically contains every extant Greek lyric from before 450BC with the exception of Pindar and Bacchylides. Some authors are suurvived by only a single line of verse which is sad, but also frustrating as it's impossible to get any clear idea of who they were. Others do come ...more
Nov 23, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Sappho, my lesbian goddess. Also I love Catullus because of how much of a fuckboy he is; he's either a fuckboy who loves to write poetry or is clever enough to make himself sound as much like a fuckboy as possible (or both). Either way it very entertaining to read. I mean, he's in love with a girl named LESBIA from the island of LESBOS, where Sappho is from and where all the Greek LESBIANS live. And he's very well read with Sappho's poetry so he's gotta be really clueless or really clever ...more
Useful as a reference, but it must be admitted that there is a reason Greek lyric poetry is not a standard area of study. Nearly all the poetry can be grouped into the content areas of the erotic and the political, and while some of the latter is thought-provoking, most of the former is just plain lewd.
Read for my History 501.01 Archaic Greek History class. Decently interesting. The translations seemed to read pretty well, although I don't really have anything to compare them to. Did seem to have British influence.
liked the concise, non-scholarly intro by West and the footnotes, which weren't excessive. This book does a good job in making these fragments accessible to the average reader (me).
Lyana Rodriguez
Mar 09, 2016 Lyana Rodriguez rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This makes me want to read even more Greek poetry, even if it's not my absolute favorite. I especially enjoyed poets like Sappho and Hipponax.
Elizabeth Greenfield
Oct 27, 2015 Elizabeth Greenfield rated it it was ok
Shelves: whitman
Read excerpts for Classical Foundations of the Nature Writing Tradition class. Interesting enough, but poetry isn't really my thing.
Mark Noce
Oct 22, 2009 Mark Noce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Archilocus in particular is terse but amazing.
Dec 11, 2009 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sappho is the shit.
Matthew Dambro
Matthew Dambro rated it it was amazing
Nov 08, 2014
Greg Heynen
Greg Heynen rated it liked it
Nov 06, 2007
Jack Coopey
Jack Coopey rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2016
The Grickle Grass
The Grickle Grass rated it really liked it
Dec 24, 2012
Jenn rated it liked it
Aug 09, 2011
Mikael Therén
Mikael Therén rated it it was amazing
Apr 23, 2012
Jesse Hebert
Jesse Hebert rated it liked it
Apr 09, 2009
Malik rated it it was ok
Jun 09, 2010
Nathan Carl
Nathan Carl rated it really liked it
Aug 14, 2013
John Stachelski
John Stachelski rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2011
Kafkasfriend rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2010
Jess Grayson
Jess Grayson rated it really liked it
Feb 03, 2016
Adrienne rated it it was amazing
Mar 16, 2014
Rebecca Wang
Rebecca Wang rated it really liked it
May 30, 2016
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  • Idylls
  • Ion
  • 7 Greeks
  • The Odes
  • Ancient Greece: A Political, Social and Cultural History
  • The Odyssey, Book 1-12
  • The Athenian Constitution
  • The Golden Verses of Pythagoras and Other Pythagorean Fragments
  • Menander: The Plays and Fragments
  • The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World
  • The Tower
  • Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight Lives
  • The Tale of Sinuhe: And Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940-1640 B.C.
  • The History of Alexander
  • A History of My Times
  • Aeschylus II: The Suppliant Maidens, The Persians, Seven against Thebes, and Prometheus Bound (The Complete Greek Tragedies)
  • The Poems
  • Collected Poems
M.L. West is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. His many publications include Ancient Greek Music (OUP, 1992), The East Face of Helicon (OUP, 1997), and Indo-European Poetry and Myth (OUP, 2007).
More about M.L. West...

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