“For there is indeed something we can call the spirit of ancient Greece–a carefully tuned voice that speaks out of the grave with astonishing clarity and grace , a distinctive voice that, taken as a whole, is like no other voice that has ever sung on this earth.”
– BURTON RAFFEL, from his Preface
For centuries, the poetry of Homer, Aristophanes, Sophocles, Sappho, and Archilochus has served as one of our primary means of connecting with the wholly vanished world of ancient Greece. But the works of numerous other great and prolific poets–Alkaios, Meleager, and Simonides, to name a few–are rarely translated into English , and are largely unknown to modern readers. In Pure Pagan , award-winning translator Burton Raffel brings these and many other wise and witty ancient Greek writers to an English-speaking audience for the first time, in full poetic flower. Their humorous and philosophical ruminations create a vivid portrait of everyday life in ancient Greece –and they are phenomenally lovely as well.
In short, sharp bursts of song, these two-thousand-year-old poems speak about the timeless matters of everyday life:
Wine ( Wine is the medicine / To call for, the best medicine / To drink deep, deep )
History ( Not us: no . / It began with our fathers, / I’ve heard ).
Movers and shakers ( If a man shakes loose stones / To make a wall with / Stones may fall on his head / Instead )
Old age ( Old age is a debt we like to be owed / Not one we like to collect )
Frankness ( Speak / As you please / And hear what can never / Please ).
There are also wonderful epigrams ( Take what you have while you have it: you’ll lose it soon enough . / A single summer turns a kid into a shaggy goat ) and epitaphs ( Here I lie, beneath this stone, the famous woman who untied her belt for only one man ).
The entrancing beauty, humor, and piercing clarity of these poems will draw readers into the Greeks’ journeys to foreign lands, their bacchanalian parties and ferocious battles, as well as into the more intimate settings of their kitchens and bedrooms. The poetry of Pure Pagan reveals the ancient Greeks’ dreams, their sense of humor, sorrows, triumphs, and their most deeply held values, fleshing out our understanding of and appreciation for this fascinating civilization and its artistic legacy.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Pure Pagan|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Give up? How stupid,
Just for bad luck!
Nothing will work.
But Bacchus, Bacchus, if we forget your name
In our weariness, wine is the medicine
To call for, the best medicine
To drink deep, deep.
When courage is what he needs
He finds it in himself.
Drink, and Get Drunk with Me
Melanippus: drink, and get drunk with me.
Once you’ve crossed the swirling Acheron
And landed in darkness, what makes you think
You’ll ever see sunlight again?
Don’t be a fool–don’t try too hard.
King Sisyphus, son of Aeolus, was the smartest man alive
And thought he could run from death,
But Fate drove him across the Acheron, then drove him over again, And the king of darkness, Cronos’ son, Set him a miserable task down under the black earth. Don’t even hope for such things.
Drink. Why wait for the lamps?
There’s only a finger of daylight left.
Get the big cups, the ones with pictures.
Bacchus gave us wine to drown our sorrows.
Mix one of water to two of wine,
Fill them to the brim,
And let one cup quickly follow the other.
As you please
What can never
Friends? My friends are nothing,
And I weep for them,
And for me.
Not us: no.
It began with our fathers,
I loathe Love, wasting his arrows on me
Instead of aiming at huge wild beasts.
Do gods win glory by burning up men?
Is my head a noble trophy to ...