Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Epigram attributed to Erinna

Epigram attributed to Erinna

[Text of the poem in the original Greek]

[Prose translation by W.R. Paton]

I am the tomb of Baucis the bride, and as thou passest the much bewept pillar, say to Hades who dwells below “Hades, thou art envious.”  To thee the fair letters thou seest on the stone will tell the most cruel fate of Bauco, how her bridegroom’s father lighted her pyre with those very torches that had burnt while they sang the marriage hymn.  And thou, Hymenaeus, didst change the tuneful song of wedding to the dismal voice of lamentation.

[Verse Translation by Sherod Santos]


I am the tomb of the white bride Baucis,
and those who pass through my shadow
should pause to remind the underworld god
such envies are unworthy of a king.
The chiseled letters you see on this stone
are the telltale sign of his tampering
how the bride's own father lighted her pyre
with the pine torch he had earlier struck
to illuminate the singing of the hymeneals.
But who could believe the marriage god
conspired to turn their celebrant song
into the ash tones of a funeral dirge?

Source of the text in Greek  – The Greek Anthology: with an English translation by W.R. Paton, Volume II.  London: William Heinemann, 1919, page 378.

Source of the English verse translation  – Greek Lyric Poetry: A New Translation, edited and translated by Sherod Santos.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005, page 104.

TJB: Headstone song; Distaff-inspired epitaph. The talking tomb chats / chants about its occupant, who died soon after her wedding, & her dodgy in-law.




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