Fragments and Epigrams

Various, translated by Matthew Stokdyk


Sappho 47

...Ἔρος δ' ἐτίναξέ μοι
φρένας, ὠς ἄνεμος κὰτ᾽ ὄρος δρύσιν ἐμπέτων.


Eros shook my heart
a wind
on a mountain
rushing down upon the trees.


Greek Anthology 5.57 (of Meleager)

τὴν περιφρυγομένην ψυχὴν ἂν πολλάκι καίῃς,
φεύξετ᾽, Ἔρως: καὐτή, σχέτλι᾽, ἔχει πτέρυγας.


My scorched soul will fly off, Eros,
if you should burn her too often,
for she, cruel boy, has wings too.


Greek Anthology 5.78 (of Plato)

τὴν ψυχήν, Ἀγάθωνα φιλῶν, ἐπὶ χείλεσιν ἔσχον
ἦλθε γὰρ ἡ τλήμων ὡς διαβησομένη.


My soul, when I was kissing Agathon, I bore upon my lips;
it came—the wretched, steadfast thing—as if to take itself across.


Greek Anthology 5.295 (of Leontius)

ψαῦε μελισταγέων στομάτων, δέπας: εὗρες, ἄμελγε:
οὐ φθονέω, τὴν σὴν δ᾽ ἤθελον αἶσαν ἔχειν.


Touch their honey-dripping lips, cup; you found them, now suckle;
I do not begrudge you, but I wish I could have your fate.


Greek Anthology 5.90 (Anonymous)

πέμπω σοι μύρον ἡδύ, μύρῳ τὸ μύρον θεραπεύων,
ὡς Βρομίῳ σπένδων νᾶμα τὸ τοῦ Βρομίου.


I am sending you sweet perfume, attending to perfume with perfume,
just like one offering to Bromius the flowing libation of Bromius.


Greek Anthology 5.98 (of Archias or Anonymous)

ὁπλίζευ, Κύπρι, τόξα, καὶ εἰς σκοπὸν ἥσυχος ἐλθὲ
ἄλλον ἐγὼ γὰρ ἔχω τραύματος οὐδὲ τόπον.


Ready your bow, Cypress, and quietly find a new target,
for I have no room for another wound.


Sappho 2

Come here from Crete to this holy temple,
where there is a beautiful grove
of apple trees, and altars smoking
with frankincense—

In this place, cold water resounds through the apple branches,
and roses overshadow the whole place,
and deep sleep streams down
from the quivering leaves—

In this place is a meadow where horses graze,
that blooms with spring flowers, sweet-smelling,
and blown by gentle breezes [...]—

Here you, Cypress, pray take up the wreathes
and delicately pour the nectar
into golden wine-cups, mixing it
in our celebration.


Sappho 36

καὶ ποθήω καὶ μάομαι...

and I long for and desire—
[you?]

Originally posted to this website on June 26th, 2018 for Pride Month.

The Sapphic fragments are given their standard Lobel-Page numbers. The Greek itself is taken from Lobel-Page, via Inamidst. The Greek from the Anthology is taken from Perseus.

The translations were largely done for practice or for fun. Not all of them are necessarily homoerotic (though, at least from the Anthology, those not explictly homoerotic are gender-ambiguous). Some of the translational forms are more "free" (e.g. Sappho 47) while others are metrical (e.g. Anthology 5.78, rendered in iambic octameter).

I have not included the Greek for Sappho 2, as throughout I picked and chose between several versions of the text, including Lobel-Page, Fairfield, and Norsa in the Loeb. I fear, too, that my translation draws more heavily than I would like on other translations of the text: it is rather more like a poem from Cathay than a proper translation. Nonetheless, it remains my favorite poem in the Sapphic corpus, and I hope that my rendition does it at least some justice.

The emendation to the final Sapphic fragment should be taken as a poetic choice and not a philogolical one (though, if I'm scanning correctly, σέ would fit in the Sapphic line there).

Matthew Stokdyk © 2018. All rights reserved.