Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments
Modern Library, 2004 - Poetry - 81 pages
“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.
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ALKAIOS alphabet ancient Greek Antagorus Anthology Antigone ANTIPATER ANTIPATER OF THESSALONIKA ANYTE Aphrodite APOLLO Archilochus Aristophanes Aristotle Athens athletes B.C. From Samos B.C. Known B.C. Resident Bacchus beautiful belt boys Burton Raffel Callimachus Charidas Crete Critas DAPHNIS darkness dead death Diodorus Dionysos Drink drowned man's tomb drunk earth eating elegiac epigrams EPITAPH erotic Euripides Everything famous Flourished fourth century B.C. Games in Honor garland girls GLUTTONOUS ALKMAN goat goddess Greece Greek poems Greek poetry Guy Davenport Hebrew Honor of Olympian Latin LEONIDAS LERIANS lies lived Look at tombs lover Meleager MENANDER miserable modern naked Oedipus Olympic papyrus Parthenon PEAKS ARE ASLEEP PHOCYLIDES Pisistratus Plato Plutarch poet POSIDIPPUS pray PURE PAGAN Roman sails Sappho SET SEVEN COUCHES shining Simonides songs Sparta stone stranger sung survived TEGEA theater THEODORIDAS THESSALONIKA third century B.C. translated Translator's Preface Venus vine waves wear wine wrote Zeus Zeus at Elis