Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything


Books Menu

Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog




First Published 1890 by Longmans, Green, and Co.

Etext prepared by John Bickers, and Dagny,




Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.


This book was published in 1890 by Longmans, Green, and Co., London; and New York: 15 East 16th Street.

The epigrams in the book are given both in Greek and in English. This text includes only the English. Where Greek is present in short citations, it has been given here in transliterated form and marked with brackets. A chapter of Notes on the translations has also been omitted.

{eti pou proima leuxoia} Meleager in /Anth. Pal./ iv. 1.

Dim now and soil'd, Like the soil'd tissue of white violets Left, freshly gather'd, on their native bank. M. Arnold, /Sohrab and Rustum/.


The purpose of this book is to present a complete collection, subject to certain definitions and exceptions which will be mentioned later, of all the best extant Greek Epigrams. Although many epigrams not given here have in different ways a special interest of their own, none, it is hoped, have been excluded which are of the first excellence in any style. But, while it would be easy to agree on three-fourths of the matter to be included in such a scope, perhaps hardly any two persons would be in exact accordance with regard to the rest; with many pieces which lie on the border line of excellence, the decision must be made on a balance of very slight considerations, and becomes in the end one rather of personal taste than of any fixed principle.

For the Greek Anthology proper, use has chiefly been made of the two great works of Jacobs, which have not yet been superseded by any more definitive edition: /Anthologia Graeca sive Poetarum Graecorum lusus ex recensione Brunckii; indices et commentarium adiecit Friedericus Iacobs/ (Leipzig, 1794-1814: four volumes of text and nine of indices, prolegomena, commentary, and appendices), and /Anthologia Graeca ad fidem codicis olim Palatini nunc Parisini ex apographo Gothano edita; curavit epigrammata in Codice Palatino desiderata et annotationem criticam adiecit Fridericus Jacobs/ (Leipzig, 1813-1817: two volumes of text and two of critical notes). An appendix to the latter contains Paulssen's fresh collation of the Palatine MS. The small Tauchnitz text is a very careless and inaccurate reprint of this edition. The most convenient edition of the Anthology for ordinary reference is that of F. Dübner in Didot's /Bibliothèque Grecque/ (Paris, 1864), in two volumes, with a revised text, a Latin translation, and additional notes by various hands. The epigrams recovered from inscriptions have been collected and edited by G. Kaibel in his /Epigrammata Graeca ex labidibus conlecta/ (Berlin, 1878). As this book was going through the press, a third volume of the Didot Anthology has appeared, edited by M. Ed. Cougny, under the title of /Appendix nova epigrammatum veterum ex libris at marmoribus ductorum/, containing what purports to be a complete collection, now made for the first time, of all extant epigrams not in the Anthology.

In the notes, I have not thought it necessary to acknowledge, except here once for all, my continual obligations to that superb monument of scholarship, the commentary of Jacobs; but where a note or a reading is borrowed from a later critic, his name is mentioned. All important deviations from the received text of the Anthology are noted, and referred to their author in each case; but, as this is not a critical edition, the received text, when retained, is as a rule printed without comment where it differs from that of the MSS. or other originals.

The references in the notes to Bergk's /Lyrici Graeci/ give the pages of the fourth edition. Epigrams from the Anthology are quoted by the sections of the Palatine collection (/Anth. Pal./) and the appendices to it (sections xiii-xv). After these appendices follows in modern editions a collection (/App. Plan./) of all the epigrams in the Planudean Anthology which are not found in the Palatine MS.

I have to thank Mr. P. E. Matheson, Fellow of New College, for his kindness in looking over the proofsheets of this book.



The Greek word "epigram" in its original meaning is precisely equivalent to the Latin word "inscription"; and it probably came into use in this sense at a very early period of Greek history, anterior even to the invention of prose. Inscriptions at that time, if they went beyond a mere name or set of names, or perhaps the bare statement of a single fact, were necessarily in verse, then the single vehicle of organised expression. Even after prose was in use, an obvious propriety remained in the metrical form as being at once more striking and more easily retained in the memory; while in the case of epitaphs and dedications--for the earlier epigram falls almost entirely under these two heads--religious feeling and a sense of what was due to ancient custom aided the continuance of the old tradition. Herodotus in the course of his History quotes epigrams of both kinds; and with him the word {epigramma} is just on the point of acquiring its literary sense, though this is not yet fixed definitely. In his account of the three ancient tripods dedicated in the temple of Apollo at Thebes,[1] he says of one of them, {o men de eis ton tripodon epigramma ekhei}, and then quotes the single hexameter line engraved upon it. Of the other two he says simply, "they say in hexameter," {legei en exametro tono}. Again, where he describes the funeral monuments at Thermopylae,[2] he uses the words {gramma} and {epigramma} almost in the sense of sepulchural epigrams; {epigegrammai grammata legonta tade}, and a little further on, {epixosmesantes epigrammasi xai stelesi}, "epitaphs and monuments". Among these epitaphs is the celebrated couplet of Simonides[3] which has found a place in all subsequent Anthologies.

In the Anthology itself the word does not however in fact occur till a late period. The proem of Meleager to his collection uses the words {soide}, {umnos}, {melisma}, {elegos}, all vaguely, but has no term which corresponds in any degree to our epigram. That of Philippus has one word which describes the epigram by a single quality; he calls his work an {oligostikhia} or collection of poems not exceeding a few lines in length. In an epitaph by Diodorus, a poet of the Augustan age, occurs the phrase {gramma legei},[4] in imitation of the phrase of Herodotus just quoted. This is, no doubt, an intentional archaism; but the word {epigramma} itself does not occur in the collection until the Roman period. Two epigrams on the epigram,[5] one Roman, the other Roman or Byzantine, are preserved, both dealing with the question of the proper length. The former, by Parmenio, merely says that an epigram of many lines is bad--{phemi polustikhien epigrammatos ou xata Mousas einai}. The other is more definite, but unfortunately ambiguous in expression. It runs thus:

{Pagxalon eot epigramma to distikhon en de parelthes tous treis rapsodeis xoux epigramma legeis}

The meaning of the first part is plain; an epigram may be complete within the limits of a single couplet. But do "the three" mean three lines or three couplets? "Exceeding three" would, in the one case, mean an epigram of four lines, in the other of eight. As there cannot properly be an epigram of three lines, it would seem rather to mean the latter. Even so the statement is an exaggeration; many of the best epigrams are in six and eight lines. But it is true that the epigram may "have its nature", in the phrase of Aristotle,[6] in a single couplet; and we shall generally find that in those of eight lines, as always without exception in those of more than eight, there is either some repetition of idea not necessary to the full expression of the thought, or some redundance of epithet or detail too florid for the best taste, or, as in most of the Byzantine epigrams, a natural verbosity which affects the style throughout and weakens the force and directness of the epigram.

The notorious difficulty of giving any satisfactory definition of poetry is almost equalled by the difficulty of defining with precision any one of its kinds; and the epigram in Greek, while it always remained conditioned by being in its essence and origin an inscriptional poem, took in the later periods so wide a range of subject and treatment that it can perhaps only be limited by certain abstract conventions of length and metre. Sometimes it becomes in all but metrical form a lyric; sometimes it hardly rises beyond the versified statement of a fact or an idea; sometimes it is barely distinguishable from a snatch of pastoral. The shorter pieces of the elegiac poets might very often well be classed as epigrams but for the uncertainty, due to the form in which their text has come down to us, whether they are not in all cases, as they undoubtedly are in some, portions of longer poems. Many couplets and quatrains of Theognis fall under this head; and an excellent instance on a larger scale is the fragment of fourteen lines by Simonides of Amorgos,[7] which is the exact type on which many of the later epigrams of life are moulded. In such cases /respice auctoris animum/ is a safe rule; what was not written as an epigram is not an epigram. Yet it has seemed worth while to illustrate this rule by its exceptions; and there will be found in this collection fragments of Mimnermus and Theognis[8] which in everything but the actual circumstance of their origin satisfy any requirement which can be made. In the Palatine Anthology itself, indeed, there are a few instances[9] where this very thing is done. As a rule, however, these short passages belong to the class of {gromai} or moral sentences, which, even when expressed in elegiac verse, is sufficiently distinct from the true epigram. One instance will


    Next Page

  1    2    3    4    5    6   10   20   30   40   50   51 

Schulers Books Home

 Games Menu

Dice Poker
Tic Tac Toe


Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything