Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Complete Palladas from the Palatine Anthology

 Translated By Harold Anthony Lloyd  © 2016

Translator’s Notes:
I have compiled a complete verse collection of Palladas in English for several reasons.  First, of course, the merits of the best lines speak for themselves and much of this is lost in prose translation.  Second, almost all that is known of Palladas comes from his verse.  Much like the historical search for the identities of Shakespeare’s young man and dark lady in his sonnets, Palladas’s epigrams provide most of the fodder for speculation about the poet himself.  This of course cannot be done as fully in the absence of every available epigram and therefore requires inclusion of his lesser lines.  Third, this sort of inquiry applies to characters in the epigrams themselves such as Hypatia and the wife of Palladas.  Fourth, the epigrams show the fascinating state of the world as the Greek gods gave way to the god of Christianity.  Finally, the epigrams show the fate of a grammarian who would have lived solely by his art but had to abandon that art in the face of starvation.  This perhaps gives some comfort to other poets who have chosen a trade as well as a poet’s life.

The surviving poems of Palladas are strewn through the various volumes of the Palatine Anthology.  The arrangement of Palatine Anthology that I have followed is that of the Paton parallel Loeb edition and the poems of Palladas begin in Book 5.  For this collection, I have numbered the poems of Palladas using the volume number of the Palatine Anthology Book in which they are contained followed by the poem number in such Book.  For example, Poem 7-607 is poem 607 in Book 7 of the Loeb edition of the Palatine Anthology.  The poems are therefore presented in the order in which they are interspersed among the poems by other poets in the Anthology in that edition.

To my ear, I found blank verse to be the most natural vehicle in English for the bulk of the poems and I have used it where it seemed right.  I have also used indentations to preserve the sight and feel of the originals where appropriate.  For that same reason, I also have striven to match the number of lines used in the originals.  Although Palladas did not use rhyme, sometimes rhyme or slant rhyme seemed appropriate in English and I followed my own instincts in that regard.

As a fair warning to the reader, I am not a scholar of Classical Greek.  I have relied heavily upon Paton’s parallel prose translation, my dictionaries, grammars, MacGregor’s almost complete but far from satisfactory “Greek Anthology,” and the wonderful online Perseus digital library at    

Finally, a brief caveat on the inherent perils of literary translation seems appropriate.  Foreign language literary translation consists of (i) retelling a literary piece (ii) by a person other than the author (iii) in another language.  Each level of this process has its own pitfalls.  In retelling the epigrams in English, I have tried to capture their meanings as I understood them rather than simply providing a literal word for word “translation.”  That process is of course subjective and the reader may or may not agree with my understanding in each case.  Even more removed from Palladas, is the second part of translation: my hand instead of his.  Everyone has his own unique style and translation is not immune.  Finally, English and Ancient Greek obviously differ in how they convey information and in what they can and cannot say.  Where I could not reasonably mimic Greek puns in English, for example, I have tried to footnote some of the more interesting ones.  To counterbalance the loss of untranslatable Greek wordplay, I have also used some English wordplay which is not in the Greek but which I think is in the spirit of Palladas.

The Poems

You will have war at home, Zeno.  You’ve wed
Protomachus’[1] and Nicomache’s girl.
Seek kind seducers like Lysimachus
            To rescue you from their Andromache.


We’ve life and nothing else.  Life is delight--
            But short.  Be off dull cares!  Today life shares
Its wine and dances, flowers and pretty girls.
            Live well.  One can’t know what tomorrow brings.


I would condemn Zeus as too tepid in
His love since he did not transform himself
For this proud beauty’s sake.  She’s no less fair
            Than Leda or Europa or Danae--
Yet, maybe he disdains a courtesan.
            The latter were all virgins he seduced.


In lieu of golden offerings and an ox,
Pamphile dedicated her bright locks
To Isis who was more pleased we are told
            Than Apollo was with Croesus’ Lydian gold.


O happy, heavenly razor Pamphile
            Employed to offer up her plaited locks!
No human smiths could make a blade so fine.
            Next to the very forge of Hephaestus,
The Grace with bright headbands (in Homer’s words)
Honed you herself with hammers made of gold.


Old Psyllo had a grudge against her kin
            And therefore made herself her only heir.
She meant to jump from this world to the next
            The very moment she was penniless.
She therefore freely spent.  At her last cent,
            She leapt to Hades instantly as planned.     


A groom and fate both carried off their prize:
            A wife, a wedding group respectively.
One marriage buried twenty-four within
            A common chamber made a common grave.
Sad Penthesilea and Pentheus[2],
            How rich in death your ceremony proved!


For honor’s sake you did not go abroad-
            You did for death’s.  Though lame, still, Gessius,
You ran to Hades faster than the Fates
            Because you weren’t promoted as you’d dreamed.


Fate did not hurry Gessius to death.
            He got to Hades earlier than Fate.


The wisest sage of all the Seven said,
            “None to excess.”  Though educated well,
You, Gessius, ignored this and desired
            No less to reach the heavens.  Thus, you would
Like Bellerophon  saddle Pegasus
            In hopes of learning more about the stars.
But that boy had a horse and youth’s resolve
            While you lacked even courage to be calm.


Let mortals neither seek to be a god
            Nor hold high office.  Such pride ruins man.
Old Gessius is proof--he reached high then
            Collapsed unsatisfied by mortal good.


By seeking office of the highest kind,
            You sought the end of life and happiness.
Yet, Gessius, you got such honor with
            Insignia of office after death.


When Baucalus saw Gessius in death
            He found him there still lamer and inquired:
“What brought you naked down to Hades and 
            Denied you both a funeral and a shroud?”
In anger, Gessius responded fast:
            “The pride of wealth can cause a man to die.”


When just before his death in foreign lands
            He learned the fraud of Ammon’s oracle,
An angry Gessius blamed his belief,
            Astrology itself, and those who trust
In anything astrologers have said.


The two soothsayers killed Gessius with
            False forecasts he’d receive a consular’s chair.
Oh what self-hating and vain race of men
             Who lack all knowledge even to the end!


My hand’s sweet work in summer changed the fruit
            Of this pear tree by grafting to its bark
A shoot that gave it fragrant limbs above
            Though it remained a wild pear tree below.


I was a wild pear tree until your graft
            Gave fragrance.  I reward you for your deed.


A ruler tolerating flatterers
            Condemns a multitude to their foul mouths.
The best men therefore righteously detest
            The flattered no less than the flatterer.


The wrath of Zeus is woman!   To burn man,
Zeus has inflicted him with woman who
Will wither, singe and take his youth too soon.
Why, even Hera troubles Zeus himself
 Who on his golden throne will often throw
Her in the clouds away from other gods
(As Homer tells us when he sings of Zeus.)
Therefore, no fiery woman ever is
In harmony with man, not even when
They lie together on a golden floor.


As Homer shows, each woman’s threatening, vile.
            She’s no less deadly whether she’s a whore
Or virgin.  Helen with adultery
            Killed men. The Iliad recounts the woes
She bred.  Penelope with chastity
            Killed men as well.  She caused the Odyssey.     


In lieu of fire, Zeus gave us woman’s blaze.
            Oh, had he kept that conflagration back!
Fire’s soon put out but woman can’t be doused.
            Her flares and flames are always burning hot.


Pernicious wrath!   I wed it as my wife
            And my profession starts with it as well.[4]
As a grammarian, I must live with wrath
            Both in my craft and in my warring wife.


Achilles’ wrath caused me pernicious wrath
            Because I chose to do grammarians’ work.[5]
If only wrath had killed me with the Greeks
            Before grammarians’ bitter hunger had!
Alas, for letting Agamemnon have
            Briseis, Paris Helen, I am poor.


With reasoning severe, I warned my gut,
            With temperance chastised its wantonness.
But if the mind is truly higher, how
            Explain its failure to reign in my gut?

I’m selling off the Muses’ implements,
            Those books that caused me so much groaning, pain.
I’m turning to another kind of work
            That needs no schools or Muses.  Syntax kills.[6]


No longer do I care for Fortune, Hope
            Or their deceits.  I’ve found my haven now.
Though poor, I share my house with freedom and
            Now turn from wealth that slanders poverty.


The first five lines of grammar[7] are a curse.
            At first there’s “wrath.”  Then next “pernicious” plus
“Innumerable woes” of the Achaeans.”  Then
            As third there’s “souls to Hades” and then fourth
There’s “prey for dogs.”  Then fifth there’s “birds of prey”
            As well as “will of Zeus.”  That said, how could
Grammarians not suffer mightily
            Because of those five curses and five falls?


The teachers here have raised Sarapis’[8] ire.
            “Pernicious wrath” is where they have commenced.
A nurse brings monthly fees, a pittance wrapped
            In small papyrus like a bit of myrrh
Placed by the teacher’s seat as by a tomb.
            In placing it, she’ll steal from that small fee
By substituting lead coins and therefore
            Receive her own commission for the deed.
Boys pledge a gold coin for a year of work
            Then change their teacher in eleven months
Before they pay and mock ungratefully
            The master that they’ve robbed of one year’s pay.


Callimachus and Pindar I now sell
            Plus all my grammar books, too.  I am poor
Since Dorotheus stopped my contract,[9] since
            He made his foul complaints against me.  Please,
Dear Theo,[10] give me your protection.  Don’t
            Let my last days end up in poverty.      


Although invited, if I did not eat
            With you, O Rhetor, I no less received
The honor paid and have remained your friend--
            I’d rather feast on honor than on meat.


You ply your trade, O Fortune, through our life.
With nature like strong wine, you ever mix
And pour from one jug to the next since you’ve
Become a tavern-keeper rather than
A goddess as quite suits your character.


I see that all is turned upon its head
Including Fortune in misfortune, too.


O Fortune, you are now unfortunate
            Despite good fortune you have power to give.
Now that your fortune’s turned, you, too, must learn
            To bear reversals you bring to the world.


They mock you, Fortune, now that you have changed
            And have not spared yourself misfortune here.
You had a temple here, but now you keep
            A tavern in your old age where one sees
You serving men hot drinks instead of fate
             And suffer now ill fortune like the rest.


Since all the fruit on limbs above his head
            Eluded Tantalus, he never ate.
Unfed, he was therefore less thirsty.  Yet,
            If he had had some apples, plums or figs,
Could eating fresh fruit give a dead man thirst?
            In contrast, living men eat salted food.
They dine on cheeses, quail and goose’s fat,
            Eat veal and chicken and on top of that
Drink but one glass.  It follows from such fare
            That they fare worse by far than Tantalus.


They say Sarapis spoke within a dream
            To a killer one night sleeping underneath
A failing wall:  “Poor wretch, get up and seek
            Another place to sleep.”  The man complied.
The wall collapsed right after he had moved.
            His life so spared, the villain then rejoiced
Believing that Sarapis must approve
            Of murderers.  The man gave sacrifice
Of thanks for his escape when morning came. 
            Sarapis spoke again to him at night:
“You think I guard the evil?  You escaped
            A painless death to die upon a cross.”


A quip goes: “Even pigs will bite bad men.”
            I do not think that right.  I’d say instead:
“Yes, even pigs would bite good, peaceful men
            But even snakes would fear to bite bad men.”


We never had one magistrate who was
            Both mild and clean of hand—such traits conflict.
The proud are pure while thieves are mannered mild.
            States need both traits and hire both kinds of men.


Gold, sire of flatterers and son of pain and care,
            We fear to have you, suffer when we don’t.


Odysseus said, “There’s nothing sweeter than
            One’s fatherland.”  But he did not partake
Of sweets on Circe’s Isle whose mere fumes would
            Have made him cast off ten Penelopes.


A Spartan fleeing battle faced the sword
            His mother lifted to his breast.  She raged,
“If you should live, I’ll be disgraced in breach
            Of Sparta’s ancient laws unless you’re slain.
That done, they’ll say I’m a poor mother who
            Has spared herself and Sparta from disgrace.”


O wise and stainless star of scholarship,
When I look up at Virgo I see you
There in the sky my dear Hypatia[12]
And worship you whenever I observe
Your brilliant discourse in the spheres above.


Because she values friendship, Nature has
            Created means for absent friends to speak:
Handwriting, paper, pens and ink all serve
            As tokens for sad hearts that mourn apart.


I marveled in the crossroads--Zeus’s son[13]
We’d often sought in prayer lay toppled there.
Much vexed I said, “Our guard from evil, child
            Of three nights, one beyond defeat, you fell.”
But then at night he came and smiling said,
            “Although a god, I, too, can learn the times.”


When sailing on the seas, Odysseus
            Was given once a precious bag of winds
That proved quite useful billowing his sails.
But windy-hearted Aeolus[14] sends me
Birds stuffed with wind.  I can’t feast on pressed air
            And yet you send me, friend, just winds with wings.


My boy untied the gut you’d tied and sent.
            He found it but a bellows full of air.


You served me dry and thirst-provoking pork
            From Cyprian pigs all fattened up with figs.
When you have fattened me enough with figs,
            Kill me or kill my thirst with Cyprian wine.


A grammarian’s daughter made love and then bore
            A masculine and feminine and neuter child.[15]


I need that spicy wine--though wonder where
            It got its foreign name.[16]  It’s not from Greek.
You know the Latin tongue.  Is it from it?
            In any case, prepare a glass for me.
I understand that very wine’s required
            To treat my stomach’s present malady.


I was correct.  Dizyphos[17] works quite well.
            I shared its godly virtues with a man
In throws of chronic four-day fevers and
            It cured him of his illness right away.


One wishing to enjoy a happy day
Will have that wish come true in meeting you.
But if one wishes otherwise, the day
Becomes unhappy by not meeting you.[18]


      About the House of Marina

Because they’re Christian now, Olympians[19]
May live here unmolested where they won’t
Be melted in the fire to make small coins.


The clever smith forged Love[20] into a cooking pan
            Since both such things can badly burn a man.


There are many slips between the cup and lips.[21]


Have worries if they are of help to you.
            But how are they of help if God keeps you?
Without God there is neither thought nor care.
            Therefore, your sole concern should be of God.


If friends receive a gift, they write at once
            To their “Lord Brother.”  If they get no gift,
They write but “Brother”--words are bought and sold.
            With nothing much to give, I get no “Lord.”[22]


O man, if you recall your father’s act,
            His means of sowing you, you’d not be proud.
But you’ve read Plato and his claims that you’re
            Immortal and some kind of godly plant.
You’re made of dust!  How can you be so proud?
            You can of course speak grand, fictitious words.
But if you seek the truth, you must concede
            You simply sprang from filthy drops of lust.


Of all man’s learning, silence is the best.
            Pythagoras himself is proof of this.
Well spoken, he taught others to be quiet
            Once he discovered that most tranquil drug. 


Eat, drink and mourn in silence--it is wrong
            To mourn with stomachs .  Homer tells us so.
He writes that when Niobe buried twelve
            Of her own brood she still had thoughts of food.


“Don’t ever make a mistress of a slave,”
            The proverb says.  In that vein, I would add,
“No advocate should ever be a judge,
            Not even if he beats Isocrates.”
For how can one once hired out like a whore
            Avoid a dirty judgment in a case?
We’re told that even ants and gnats have bile.[23]
            Yet, though the least of living things have wrath,
You’d have me suffer all the world’s attacks
            Without a bit of anger, not return
Ill deeds at least with words?  Am I to sew
            My mouth up tight so I can’t even breathe?


Circe did not, as Homer says, transform
            Guests into pigs or wolves. Instead, she used
Her charms to rob them of their reasoning.
            That done, they were just like dull animals
That could no longer manage their affairs.
She thus could rear them safely as she chose.
And yet Odysseus himself maintained
            His reason and avoided youth’s mistakes
Including Circe’s many wiles and charms.
            His virtue won.  It wasn’t Hermes’ gift.[24]


Pindar says envy outranks pity so
            That envied men lead much more splendid lives
Than pitied men do in ill-fated days.
            Yet, I’d not be too fortunate or pained.
The golden  mean is always best because
            Luck lures great dangers, pity mockery.

Like a true Muses’ and true Graces’ child,
            Meander said that Opportunity[25]
Must be a god; for often lucky thought
            Produces more than pondering at length.


I’m not surprised to see good fortune bless
            The murderer.  That is the gift of Zeus
Who would have killed his father had he been
            A mortal.  Lacking such an option, he
Sent Cronus like a robber to the pit
            With Titans where he’s bound in punishment.


Consumption’s[26] not the only cause of death.
            Obesity kills, too, as proven by
The fate of Heraclea Pontica’s
Gargantuan tyrant Dionysius.[27]


You’re talking nonsense if you claim you don’t
            Obey the orders of your wife.  You’re not,
As sayings go,[28] composed of trees or stone.
            You suffer woman’s rule like mankind must.
However, if you say that she does not
            Assault you with her shoes or cheat on you,
You’ve milder servitude than others and
            Have sold out to a chaste and temperate wife.


I try to tell the foolish cuckold that
            There is no obvious mark of chastity.
Not every pretty woman’s vicious nor
            Is every ugly woman past the reach
Of some suspicion.  There are gorgeous girls
            Who will not yield for any price; and there
Are hags who’re never satisfied, who’ll pay
            Tremendous sums to satiate themselves.
Nor does long frowning, lack of laughter or
            Seclusion prove a pledge of chastity.
The gravest woman may whore secretly
            And yet a girl who’s kind to everyone
May still have virtue (if a woman can).
            Could age serve as a mark?  No, even old
Age can’t avoid our Aphrodite’s reach.
            Thus, we can only trust a woman’s oath
And her religious fear--though after oaths,
            She can go out and find twelve other gods.


May god despise the belly and its meals
            For they’re the reasons that our temperance[29] fails.


Unclothed I came to earth and naked I’ll
            Go under it.  For that, why work at all?


Anticipating death is painful but
            Death frees up mortals from such misery.
Thus, do not grieve for those who pass away
            Since there can be no suffering after death.


So you have wealth.  What is the point of that?
            Upon your death, can you drag loot along
As they transport your corpse into its tomb? 
            One can trade time for wealth, not more of life.


Shun rich folk.  Brash domestic tyrants, they
            Despise the mother of temperance, poverty.


In Fortune there’s no reason, there’s no law.
            That despot drags man by her currents that
Aren’t logical, that lean toward evil and
            Against the just to show their random force.


The poor man never lives—what seems alive
            Is like a corpse.  He therefore never dies.
The rich man on the other hand will die
             And face in death the ruining of life.


Life is a stormy, dangerous passage that
            Risks shipwreck with wild Fortune at the helm.
Some have a pleasant passage.  Some do not.
But all end up at that same port in hell.


Life is no more than theaters and games.
            Drop seriousness in play or bear life’s pains.


Just bear life’s currents, brook where they have gone.
            Why fight or worry?  They’ll still bear you on.


All those who live the kind of life we do,
            Who gaze upon the sun and breathe but wind,
Are creatures who derive their health from air.
            If anyone should squeeze us with his hand
So tightly that it presses out our breath,
            He steals our life and sends us down to Hell.
As nothing, we eat vanity and graze
            On breaths of wind in pastures of the air.

Why do you vainly work so hard, O man, 
            When Fortune made a slave of you at birth?
Don’t fight what Fortune never lets you change.
            Instead, content yourself with your own fate
And tranquilly attempt to find delight
            In that which Fortune has assigned to you.


Your days upon the earth are very brief. 
            Therefore, cast off your worries and complaints. 
Don’t live like you’re already damned and dead
            Before you’re thrown into the ground for worms.  


As night gives way, we’re daily born again
            And keep no portion of our prior life.
We start each day estranged both from the past
            And our remaining life.  Old man, don’t say
Your life has been too long because today
            You have no part of any prior years.


Plaything of Fortune, that’s the life of man
            Who wanders wretchedly, who’s tossed between
Great wealth and want.  Like balls, Luck throws men high
            She dropped before, bats men from clouds to hell.


Alas, the pleasures of our lives are brief!
Grieve over time’s haste.  While we sit, or sleep,
Or work, or revel in delights, swift time
Continues its relentless forward march
Advancing always on us wretched men
To bring to all of us the end of life.


Are not we Greeks[30] in truth already dead?
            Do we but seem alive in our hard times?
Do we somehow imagine dreams are life? 
            Or do we live though life itself is dead?

The wealthy even find that wisdom[31] is
            Hard, troubling, necessary . . . .


I wept at birth and after weeping more
            I find at death my life was filled with tears.
O sad and sobbing, fragile race of men,
            You’re barely born before you’re rendered dust.


Just kept and fed for death, we’re held the way
            Swine’s kept for slaughter on some pointless day.


Though not in luxury, I rear as well
A wife and slave, fowl, children and a dog.
No flatterers, therefore, come in my house.


Unless we laugh at life that runs off and
At that whore, Fortune, shifting with the sand,
We’ll cause ourselves unnecessary fuss
When those less worthy prosper over us.


The soul’s affliction is the body which
            Weighs down, chains, grates, and punishes the soul.
But when death comes to take away that skin,
            The unchained soul flies up to timeless God.


If Rumor[32] is a goddess, she hates Greeks
            (As all gods do) and tricks them with her words.
If things fail fast as they will often do,
            That gives quick “proof” of Rumor’s trickery.


How fast we are enslaved in foolishness!
The wickedness of envy is extreme.
We often hate the lucky ones god loves
And envy leads us foolishly astray.
We Greeks[33] have been reduced to ashes--we
Have buried aspirations of the dead
In times when all is turned upon its head.


The person who would hate the man god loves
Commits of course the greatest foolishness
Since he thereby would fight the god himself.
One should instead embrace the man god loves
And not fall prey to envy’s senseless spite.


      To A Magistrate

Since you adjudicate and speak well, too,
I bring my solemn epigram to you--
You’re worthy of my muse, my nightingale
And praising you lauds Justice just as well.


It’s better suffering blows of Fortune than
            The arrogance of men possessing wealth.


I think God’s, too, a true philosopher--
When faced with blasphemy, he does not mete
Out punishment at once but lets it grow
With time to punish worse the wicked man.


I hate the two-faced man whose words are kind
And yet whose deeds are evilly inclined.


When I observe the tragedies of life,
When I see Fortune’s unfair whimsies, when
I see her make the wealthy poor and break
The rich, I am quite blinded by my own
Disgust, by my revulsion toward such things,
Toward such a universe whose harshness and
Unfairness I can never comprehend--
How can I ever outwit Fortune who
Continues to appear from who knows where
To play the prostitute and do her tricks?


I toiled in grammar for a pound[34] of years
            For a Senate seat in Hell to serve the dead.


Uneducated men should seal their lips
            And keep their speech concealed like shameful sores.


Your kindness and your insolence I’ve put
            Quite frequently upon my scales and found,
O Sextus, that your insults weigh way more--
            Way more in fact than I want in a “friend.”


These days the women mock me telling me
            To look into the mirror and behold
My time-wrecked self.  But as I near life’s end,
            It doesn’t bother me my hair is white
Instead of black.  I cover up such cares
            With flowers, scented oils and sips of wine. 

I’ve turned to drink since wine dilutes the pain
            And Bacchus warms a freezing heart again.


Death is a debt that’s due from every man
            Who therefore never knows when life will end.
O man, while there is time, heed this fact well
            And have your merriment (including love)
Before too late.  Use wine to wash death from
            Your thoughts and leave the rest to Fortune’s whim.


         On Maurus a Master of Rhetoric

He was a shocking site--a pound of lips,
            An elephant’s trunk that spewed out deadly sound.


Performing Daphne,[35] snub-nosed Memphis seemed
Quite wooden; as Niobe he looked stoned.


       Remarks to the Comedian Paulus

Meander standing over sleeping Paulus said,
            “I never did you harm.  Why slander me?”


It’s better to fall in Hegemon’s hands
            Than in Gennadius the surgeon’s grasp--
The first kills murderers with justice while
The second’s paid for sending men to Hell.

      On Magnus the Learned Physician

At the descent of Magnus into Hell,
            Scared Pluto said, “He’ll raise the dead as well.”


      On Demonicus the Prefect

Though people can say many complex things,
             Words can’t convey your evil’s scope and breadth.
Yet, I can speak of one thing that I find
            Incredible in you: your thieving tears.
From Chalcis you’ve come here to sob in theft,
            To weep in profit as you’re robbing us.


     On the Same

Great Lucaon[36] with his aggressive ass[37]
Left Chalcis and the lotus lands[38] for us.


     On the Same

He startled us as strangely quite effete
            In how he stole with tears and pitied those
He robbed, in how he played the pure man though
            Unclean in all his deeds and body, too.          


“However good, a woman still is vile.”
The same applies to any slave as well.
They both are necessary evils.  Since
Slaves hate us, best ones have two broken legs.[39]


Men having ugly wives are cursed each night
To see the dark when they turn up the light.


A barber and a tailor had a brawl
            And needles beat the razors after all.[40]


How rapidly we’re robbed of our short life!
A usurer with interest in one hand
Dropped dead just as his other hand began
To log the interest that his corpse still held.


Death voted down the counter[41] that he held
            Within his hands and cast him quick to Hell.
That counter now lives on without the man
            Whose soul Death voted rapidly below.


How do you benefit the city with
Your verses and your slanders that you trade
For gold like merchants peddling their oil?


About a Philosopher Turned Prefect of Constantinople
        During the Reign of Valens and Valentinian

Though charioted in Heaven, you desired
            A Prefect’s silver carriage down below
And have therefore debased yourself in shame--
            You rose to depths, descended down to heights.


Olympius who’d promised me a horse
            Instead brought me one’s tail cut from its corpse.


Your insults cause me no distress at all--
            The insolent are punished by their gall.


O man soon in the grave, you chatter on.
Be quiet!  Practice death until you’re gone.


Men praise the Sun as god of light--though should
It slight them, even light’s no longer good.


Your insults strike my indigence, not me--
            Though they’d strike Zeus were he as beggarly.[42]


How can I suffer taint from poverty?
            How can one hate what’s caused by fate, not me?


Whatever other faults of men may be,
            They all are boastful, all are cowardly.
Yet, men of reason hide such faults. They’re wise
            Not flaunting flaws before their neighbors’ eyes.
But you have flung your soul’s doors open wide--
            All see when you’re too bold or terrified.


O child of shamelessness and folly, too,
            How can you hold that empty head so high?
You are a Platonist when grammar calls
            Yet cling to grammar when near Platonists.
You hide from each field in the other since
            You know no grammar nor what Plato wrote.


From Alexandria to Antioch,
            From Syria to Italy you move.
You wander dreaming that you’ll snag a prize
            Though none in fact will ever marry you.


With a wife named Aphrodite and a son with Eros’ name,
            No wonder, Blacksmith, that your leg is lame.[43]


I got a donkey as a gift that sped
            Or lagged as backward as it moved ahead.
It was a haven, dream, work that was sired
            By slowness, that proved first for those retired.


There’s “crow” in “crawler” (change but “a” and “er”[44])
            Which means a flatter’s much like the bird.
Beware therefore of such a human beast
            That scavenges upon the living, too.


Ten thousand times I’d sworn I’d write no more
            Since epigrams brought fools’ wrath down on me.
But I slipped up on seeing that face of
            Pantagathus the Paphlagonian.


Though speaking ill is Attic honey, praise
            Is better.  Blame can bring one more malaise.


How can you size the Earth and Universe
            When you’re no more than some small bit of clay?
No, measure first yourself and know yourself
            Before you try to fathom endless earth,
And if you cannot grasp your little self,
            How can you calibrate infinity?


I leased space to a brewer yesterday
            And found a boxer living there today.          
When I asked who he was and how he came,
            He raised his hands to start a boxing match.
I fled that savage fast amazed at how
            A brewer had become a vicious brute.
O Pollux and O Castor and O Zeus,
            Who hear the prayers of men, I beg of you
To keep this awful creature off of me.
            I cannot box him monthly for his rent!   


Hermolycus’s daughter screwed an ape
            And then gave birth to baby Hermo-apes.
And Zeus in swan’s disguise had Leda who
            Bore Castor, Pollux and bore Helen, too,
And Hermione mated with a crow
            And bore a brood of foulest Hermi-fowl.


You claim you know all things but you do not--
            You merely taste.  What have you fully known?


A son and father had a contest once
            To find the bigger spender of the two.
They ran through all their property until
            They only had each other to expend.


Don’t serve me merely pumpkin as pretense
            To flaunt your flashy dinnerware at me.
Though solid silver, one can’t eat the stuff
            And you thereby defraud poor souls like me
Who’re starving for a meal.  Invite instead
            The fasting who’ll admire such light-filled plates.


            On a Poet Playing Dice

A poet’s goddess?  Calliope--though
            Your Calliope’s “Tabliope”[45] now.


We guests were served some awful fowl to eat
            Then found ourselves served up to other birds--
Below, two vultures tore at Tityus
            While four disgusting birds tore into us.[46]


I can’t bear both a wife and grammar that
            Have injured me and left me penniless.
I can’t escape the claws of Death and Fate--
            Though I’ve with difficulty now escaped
From grammar, I can never flee that shrew.
            I’m bound by contract and by statutes, too.


All women are a pain (though they have two
        Good seasons: wedding nights and when they’re dead.)


The asses, too, have good and evil times,
            And Kronos governs births of beasts as well.
Thus, this poor ass that was a magistrate’s
            Now lives with a grammarian instead.
But, donkey, bear your new fate patiently.
            A grammarian’s half loaf beats no loaf at all.


How can a monk withdraw in groups  from life?
            A crowd of “solitaries” is a lie.


Your love is false and comes from fear and force.
            There is no greater danger than such “love.”


A man saw grim-faced Victory in town
            Just yesterday and asked her what was wrong.
Objecting to her fate, she sadly said,
            “You haven’t heard?  They treat me like some breeze
Patricius caught while sailing.  Though he seized
            Me wrongly, they all say I now am his.”      


         On Salaminus

We take one meal unless he is the host--
In that case, we go home and eat again.


[1] To understand these puns, “mache” means “fight.  Thus, the father Protomachus is “First In Fight,” the mother Nichomache is “Victory in Fight,” Lysimachus is “Divorcer From Fight,” and Andromache is “Husband Fighter.”
[2] The root of both names is “penthos” which means grief, sorrow or misfortune.  He may have also had in mind the words “pentheros” and “penthera” meaning father-in-law and mother-in-law respectively.
[3] These eight poems allude to his failure to obtain a consulate astrologers had promise he would obtain.
[4] The first line of the Iliad also uses the word “menis” which means wrath.
[5] See note to 9-168.
[6] Palladas plays on “syntassomai” (I bid farewell) and “syntaxis” (syntax).
[7] A reference to the first five lines of the Iliad.
[8] An Hellenic-Egyptian god created to bridge the gap between the two cultures.
[9] The Greek word for contract and for contribution is also “syntaxis” allowing for obvious wordplay for a grammarian teaching syntax.
[10] Theo was another famous grammarian.
[11] The first of four poems on the conversion of a Fortune temple to a tavern.  Again, Palladas lived while the old gods fell.
[12] The Neoplatonist Hypatia was a virgin pagan mathematician and astronomer brutally murdered by Christians.
[13] The poem refers to a bronze statue of Heracles.  This powerful poem obviously had an impact on Cavafy as can be seen in his “Song of Ionia,” “Remembrance,” and perhaps as well in his “One of Their Gods” and “The Gods Abandon Antony.”
[14] Master of the winds who gave Odysseus the bag of winds to help him sail home.
[15] What seems at first a light-hearted epigram is more likely quite dark:  she gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl) and at least one of them died thus giving the three declensions.
[16] The word is “Konditos” in Greek or “Conditum” in Latin.
[17] Term of uncertain meaning.
[18] This was surely not directed to his wife.  Some have suggested it was directed to Hypatia.
[19] I.e., bronze pagan statues which will not be melted into change.
[20] Again, referring to the melting of a pagan statue in the new Christian order.
[21] Also attributed to Homer.
[22] In the original there is a pun on “domenai” (“to give” in Greek) and “Domine” (“Lord” in Latin).
[23] The word is “kole” which literally means bile or gall; metaphorically anger or wrath.
[24] I.e., Palladas also rejects this portion of Homer’s tale.
[25] The word is “kairos.”
[26] The word is “phthisis” meaning waning, perishing, declining, or consumption in that sense.
[27] He supposedly grew so obese that he choked to death on his own fat.
[28] Homer, Odyssey xix. 162.
[29] The word is “sophrosune.”
[30] I.e., pagan Greeks.
[31] “Phronis” means practical wisdom.
[32] The word is “pheme” which can mean, among other things, rumor, legend, omen, report, talk.
[33] “Greek” here most likely means pagan persecuted by the new Christian order.
[34]A  “litra” or pound contains 72 solidi; Paton believes that the speaker may therefore mean that he vainly sought a senate seat for 72 years in life.
[35] In Greek myth Daphne was turned into a laurel tree and Niobe was turned into stone.
[36] Paton believes Palladas gives him this other name to suggest “lukos” meaning “wolf.”
[37] The word “antiocheuomenos” appears to be a hapax legomenon in this case and therefore presents translation problems.  Literally the word suggests driving or pushing back against. However, “oxeuo” can also refer to passive animal intercourse and I agree with Paton that this was meant to have a sexual meaning.  The word may also play on Antioch and MacGregor in fact incorrectly translates the passage to say he is from Antioch. 
[38] I.e., the land of the Lotus Eaters.
[39] I.e., with the slave’s legs broken he can do less mischief to his master.
[40] I.e., the barber’s blades were dull.
[41] There is a pun on two senses of “psephos” which can mean both vote and counter.
[42] Presumably the point is Zeus should be able to escape poverty while Palladas cannot.
[43] The allusion is to the crippled god Hephaestus who was a smith and  in some accounts married to Aphrodite.
[44] The Greek word for “crows” is “corakes” while the Greek word for “flatterers” is “colakes” and thus  the terms differ only by a consonant.
[45] “Tabla” means game board.
[46] The sense of this strange poem is not clear to me.

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