Monday, October 20, 2014


A Poem by Leo the Philosopher

A poem by Leo the Philosopher (Greek Anthology 15.12; tr. W.R. Paton, with his note):
Thou art kind to me, Fortune, in adorning me with the most sweet restfulness of Epicurus and giving me calm to enjoy it. What need have I of men's activity with all its cares? I desire not wealth, a blind and inconstant friend, nor honours, for the honours of mortals are a feeble dream. Away with thee, murky den of Circe, for I am ashamed, being of heavenly origin, to eat acorns like a beast. I hate the sweet food of the Lotus-eaters that causes men to abandon their country. I reject as my enemy the seductive music of the Sirens, but I pray to gain from God the flower that saves the soul, moly1 that protects from evil doctrines, and stopping my ears securely with wax may I escape the ill inborn impulse. Thus speaking and thus writing may I reach the end of my days.

1 The magic herb of Hom. Od. 10, 305.

Εὖγε Τύχη με ποεῖς, ἀπραγμοσύνῃ μ᾽ Ἐπικούρου
ἡδίστῃ κομέουσα, καὶ ἡσυχίῃ τέρπουσα·
τίπτε δέ μοι χρέος ἀσχολίης πολυκηδέος ἀνδρῶν;
οὐκ ἐθέλω πλοῦτον, τυφλὸν φίλον, ἀλλοπρόσαλλον,
οὐ τιμάς· τιμαὶ δὲ βροτῶν ἀμενηνὸς ὄνειρος.        5
ἔρρε μοι, ὦ Κίρκης δνοφερὸν σπέος· αἰδέομαι γὰρ
οὐράνιος γεγαὼς βαλάνους ἅτε θηρίον ἔσθειν·
μισῶ Λωτοφάγων γλυκερὴν λιπόπατριν ἐδωδήν·
Σειρήνων τε μέλος καταγωγὸν ἀναίνομαι ἐχθρόν·
ἀλλὰ λαβεῖν θεόθεν ψυχοσσόον εὔχομαι ἄνθος,        10
μῶλυ, κακῶν δοξῶν ἀλκτήριον ὦτα δὲ κηρῷ
ἀσφαλέως κλείσας προφυγεῖν γενετήσιον ὁρμήν.
ταῦτα λέγων τε γράφων τε πέρας βιότοιο κιχείην.
The first word of the ninth line is missing an accent in the Loeb Classical library text—The Greek Anthology with an English Translation by W.R. Paton, Vol. V (London: William Heinemann, 1918), p. 118. I don't know if this was corrected in later printings.

There is a more recent edition in L.G. Westerink, "Leo the Philosopher: 'Job' and Other Poems," Illinois Classical Studies 11.1/2 (Spring/Fall 1986) 193-222 (this poem on pp. 199-200, numbered IX).

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