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message 1: by Betty (last edited Aug 20, 2010 06:11AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments
When in April the sweet showers fall...
When Zephyr also has with his sweet breath,
Filled again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and leaves...
Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in distant lands.

-- The Canterbury Tales
Our journey will go southeastward from Canterbury Cathedral to the mainland and islands of the Aegean.
Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.

-- The Odyssey
Ancient Greece - Literature by Michael Lahanas
Ancient Greek Literature

message 2: by Betty (last edited Apr 24, 2010 06:16AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments Anacreon, an archaic Greek of 570-488 BCE, wrote in poetry in Ionic dialect and his influence on literature continued through western history. One form attributed to him was the Anacreontic, or anacreonteus, with seven syllables per line. The monodic lyrical poems, hymns, elegies, and dirges were intended for soloists rather than chorus, were sometimes metered, and were accompanied by a musical instrument. His themes told tales of wine, love, revelry, and the everyday. Anacreon is among the nine lyric poets the ancient Greeks said ought to be studied. Later poets up to the present adopted his style and themes and made him the subject of their poetry.

'Exercise', John Longenbach's poem published in "The New Yorker", describes the historical attention given to Anacreon. Poetry of the first century BCE to sixth century CE poetry imitating Anacreon comprises a set called the Anacreontea and is preserved in the tenth century "Anthologia Palatina". London gentlemen of the eighteenth century belonged to the Anacreontic Society whose anthem The Anacreontic Song became the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner". This modern poem guides the reader to others for whom Anacreon was the muse.

EXCERCISE. James Longenbach. November 23, 2009

message 3: by Betty (last edited Apr 13, 2010 09:02AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments Anacreon and Sappho lived around 6th century BCE. Until Sappho wrote, poets told epics about the past, (Homer preceded her by a century); she introduced poems, accompanied by a lyre or another musical instrument, about daily experience and feelings, emotions attendant on love, sex, marriage, death, the concerns of women and men. 'A Hymn to Venus' addresses that goddess to alleviate the pain of love and to fulfill its desire.
O Venus, beauty of the skies,
To whom a thousand temples rise,
Gaily false in gentle smiles,
Full of love-perplexing wiles;
O goddess, from my heart remove
The wasting cares and pains of love...
To Plato, Sappho was the Tenth Muse, Zeus's tenth daughter, and therefore herself a goddess.

The Muses inspired imagination, creativity, and myth, and Sappho has moved poets throughout history. Sappho divined
I have no complaint
prosperity that
the golden Muses
gave me was no
delusion: dead, I
won't be forgotten
Poemhunter lists examples by Robert Southey, Alexander Pope, Jon Corelis, Kelly Cherry, Uriah Hamilton, Christina Georgina Rossetti, Gaius Valerius Catullus, Rob Dyer, and Ric S. Bastasa, and Sara Teasdale. Josephine Balmer translated Sappho's Fragment 31, recommending readers to compare numerous translations for better understanding. Besides Sappho's poems, Sappho-inspired writing, and their translations, are the surviving fragments, combined into one whole poem. Such a reconstruction is 'Sappho to her Girlfriends'.
This is my song of maidens dear to me.
Eranna, a slight girl I counted thee,
When first I looked upon thy form and face,...

message 4: by Betty (last edited Apr 28, 2010 08:06AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments Anacreon and Sappho wrote monody, i.e. poems and songs for soloists, but Simonides, who is included among the 'nine lyric (or melic) poets' mentioned above, wrote for the chorus. In today's fiction, Simonides is the protagonist of "The Praise Singer" by Mary Renault, which is the book for April on THE WORLD'S LITERATURE. The novel's plot goes that Simonides of Keos (Ceos) apprenticed himself to a writer and singer called Kleobis. Although he learns the craft well, the court of Polycrates at Samos rejects him because of his lack of physical beauty; he instead wins the patronage of Pisistratos of Athens. The novel then turns to Hippias and Hipparchos, sons of Simonides, and to Lyra, his paramour-courtesan.

Wikipedia, by contrast, has a biography of Simonides to compare with the novel. Simonides was a philosopher of ethics, a poet of odes, elegies that commemorated battles, and dirges, and the inventor of mnemonics (memory assisted by loci, or associations and patterns). Frances Yates in "The Art of Memory" begins the book with Simonides.

"Epitaph at Thermopylae" and "Fragment 01", poems of Simonides, are found at

message 5: by Betty (last edited Apr 04, 2010 05:29PM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments Like Anacreon, Sappho, and Simonides, Pindar is among the nine whose poetry deserves study. Unlike Anacreon, he wrote in the Doric (western) dialect rather than the Ionic (eastern) dialect. Until Pindar reached seventy-two (he died at eighty), he wrote Victory Odes, or epinicia (singular, epinicion) to praise victorious athletes at the Panhellenic Games. The way to look at victory he believed was that
"Men are nothing by themselves: success is god-given; but men attain an almost divine happiness at the moment of success. The poet himself has a skill that is god-given and cannot be taught; he is ‘the mouthpiece of the Muses’..." (Classical Literature Companion)
Pindar was an epinician, a poet who wrote in the genre of Victory Odes, which originated perhaps from Hymnoi, or hymns for Herakles, a god with the strength of a lion. An epinicion praised the victory, making the athlete the representative of the city and the aristocrats, but cautioned him to act with humility.

The cities of the games in surviving odes are Athens, Delphi, Corinth, and Nemea; the odes he wrote for a city he collected into a book(s) to commemorate its victories in the games. The books of odes for each of these cities are the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean. In addition to the epinicia, he wrote odes for processionals.

The victory odes, however, are stanzas in groupings of threes; while the odes for processionals disregard groupings. The structure of a victory ode is a triad of stanzas: the first is the strophe; the second duplicates the length and meter of the first and is the antistrophe; but the third differs in length and meter and is the epode. A entire ode can combine a number of triads with a 'choral dance' that moves across the stage and an instrument that accompanies the performance. An example of a victory ode in Greek and English is at and the player recites the ode in Greek. Besides odes for victories and processionals, Pindar wrote verses for a variety of occasions: grateful paeans, Dionysian dithyrhambs, laments, and songs for dancing.

message 6: by Betty (last edited Aug 11, 2010 10:07AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments The Petronian Society Ancient Novel Page
* Chaireas and Callirhoe

* Ethiopian Story by Heliodorus of Emesa Aithiopika by Heliodorus commentary full e-text
* The Ephesian Romance

* Daphnis and Chloe by Longus (Longos) Daphnis and Chloe (Penguin Classics) by Longus (Longos) commentary full e-text
* Leukippe and Kleitophon

* Apollonius King of Tyre

message 7: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3623 comments Play after Play:

Aristophanes "Clouds"; Trans with Intro and Notes by Jeffrey Henderson.

Aristophanes "Four Plays: Lysistrata, The Frogs, A Parliament of Women, Plutus (Wealth)"; The new translations by Paul Roche.

Euripides "Ten Plays"; a new translation by Paul Roche.

Sophocles "The Complete Plays" includes the Oedipus Cycle; with a new afterword by Matthew S Santirocco.

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