The poet Meleager (not to be confused with the mythological character Meleager) was born in ca. 140 BCE in what is now Umm Qays, Jordan, but what was then Syrian Gadara. While he spent much of his life in Tyre, and died (ca. 70 BCE) on the Aegean island of Cos, he always identified himself as a Greek-speaking Syrian. He was a true cosmopolitan, whose poetry reflected the cultural diversity of his time and place. Thus one epigram begins, “If you are a Syrian, ‘salaam‘! If you are a Phoenician, ‘naidius‘! And if you are a Greek, ‘chaire’!” But he is most famous for two things: his own erotic poems, and his published collection of epigrams by himself and approximately 50 other writers, entitled The Garland (Stephanos), which was later incorporated into the larger anthology known as the Greek Anthology.
Meleager’s own poems (approximately 130) are short verses written in elegiac meter (dactylic hexameter alternating with pentameter), mostly on erotic topics, and addressed to named and unnamed recipients. They can be silly or serious, concrete or metaphorical, but are always technically brilliant. They fit well into the ancient Greek tradition of celebrating affairs with long-term girlfriends (hetairai) or teenage boys (eromenoi), written but also performed aloud in contexts such as the drinking party (symposion). Meleager also composed cycles of poems to his beloveds, and the three poems translated below belong to this tradition: both Zenophila (5.139; 5.140), and Heliodora (5.143) appear multiple times in the anthology. Meleager’s poetry had a strong influence on later Roman love elegy.
face to face
Allais Maurice Félix Charles
quaint haunt of the café in the woods
Félix Allais Maurice Charles
not too much going through yes but
I was Italian
I’m looking forward to posthumous Valentine’s Day
Charles Félix Allais Maurice
will you take me to eat eel if there’s a next time?
oh wait we’re already
chiffon in your garden of blueberries
Allais Charles Maurice Félix
once it fell into Cameroon condition
military diet of ice and water hooks for sifting sand
a big round of applause for the café
no that’s not what I mean: I mean the dissatisfaction with the waterfalls
and—how to walk the earth so that it remains geomagnetic?
fully healed come up for air get dressed
no that’s not what I mean: I mean your dubious long legs
are two legs
approaching midnight when you doze twice, you, your twenty nails
in your pointy home
not even one park
. . . have me over?
Barbara operating the lever
on the left side of the tower
trapped in the barn in the basement
speaking to women from the mansion in the south
closed to traffic in your six-dam certificate
permits and permits
and more permits
a park avec six mercenary dams
one whole park
six dams a fixed number of days
. . . upright guess calculated by the guild
those in trouble
would be why
?specialty of the hands of the
Wow. I love those people, the common point of the two-fold
Look! The fact is
decorated so that their small young elder sister
And, mouth came out to open
who plays the wife of the bakery
stairs will hug, but also my best lady
I guess that kind of thing
character a small country adjacent
spoiled. And, someone set fire
people in cylinder omission Shut one eye
P.A. Rosenmeyer is the George L. Paddison Professor of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Fortunato Salazar lives in Los Angeles and teaches New Testament Greek to adult converts for a living.