Sunday, July 25, 2021



Alcaeus, fragment 140 Voigt, tr. C.M. Bowra, Greek Lyric Poetry from Alcman to Simonides, 2nd rev. ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 137-138:
The great house glitters with bronze, and the whole roof is well decked with gleaming helmets, from which white plumes of horse-hair hang waving, to deck the heads of men. Bright greaves of bronze lie round pegs and hide them—a protection against the strong arrow,—and corslets of new linen and hollow shields lie thrown upon the floor. With them are swords from Chalcis, and with them many belts and tunics. These we may not forget, ever since we first stood to this task.
The Greek, adapted from Eva-Maria Voigt, ed., Sappho et Alcaeus, Fragmenta (Amsterdam: Athenaeum, 1971), p. 242:
μαρμαίρει δὲ μέγας δόμος
   χάλκωι, παῖσα δ᾿ Ἄρηι κεκόσμηται στέγα
λάμπραισιν κυνίαισι, κὰτ
   τᾶν λεῦκοι κατέπερθεν ἴππιοι λόφοι        5
νεύοισιν, κεφάλαισιν ἄν-
   δρων ἀγάλματα· χάλκιαι δὲ πασσάλοις
κρύπτοισιν περικείμεναι
   λάμπραι κνάμιδες, ἔρκος ἰσχύρω βέλεος,
θόρρακές τε νέω λίνω        10
   κόϊλαί τε κὰτ ἄσπιδες βεβλήμεναι·
πὰρ δὲ Χαλκίδικαι σπάθαι,
   πὰρ δὲ ζώματα πόλλα καὶ κυπάσσιδες.
τῶν οὐκ ἔστι λάθεσθ᾿ ἐπεὶ
   δὴ πρώτιστ᾿ ὐπὰ τὦργον ἔσταμεν τόδε.        15

3 Ἄρηι codd.: ἄρ' εὖ Page
15 πρώτιστ᾿ ὐπὰ τὦργον Lobel: πρώτισθ᾿ ὑπὸ ἔργον codd.
Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Melic Poets (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1900), pp. 223-224 (with different line numbering):
David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry : A Selection of Early Greek Lyric, Elegiac and Iambic Poetry (1982; rpt. London: Bristol Classical Press, 1998), pp. 303-304 (with different line numbering):
Bowra, op. cit., p. 138 (footnotes omitted):
Alcaeus marks the arms and the armour with a keen eye and registers each item in turn. Though such an armoury is clearly intended for use, it has its own charm for him, and he delights in it as an aristocrat delights in the apparatus of his sport. The arms so described are contemporary and the best that money can buy. If the helmets, with their horse-hair plumes, are not so up to date as the plumeless Corinthian helmet, which was already in full use on the Greek mainland, but have a Homeric air, the 'hollow' shields came into existence with the introduction of hoplite tactics in the seventh century, and the adjective is much to the point. The linen corslets are not so much a means of protection as a military elegance; they recall those which Amasis of Egypt dedicated in the temple of Athene at Lindos and sent to Sparta. The ζώματα and the κυπάσσιδες complete the inventory of what a full uniform required. The whole passage suggests an officer who enjoys the inspection of kit and looks forward with confidence to the good use that will be made of it.
The same fragment, tr. Richmond Lattimore, Greek Lyrics, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 44-45:
The great hall is aglare with bronze armament and the whole inside made fit for war
with helms glittering and hung high, crested over with white horsemanes that nod and wave
and make splendid the heads of men who wear them. Here are shining greaves made out of bronze,
hung on hooks, and they cover all the house's side. They are strong to stop arrows and spears.
Here are war-jackets quilted close of new linen, with hollow shields stacked on the floor,
with broad swords of the Chalkis make, many tunics and many belts heaped close beside.
These shall not lie neglected, now we have stood to our task and have this work to do.
On this fragment see Denys Page, Sappho and Alcaeus: An Introduction to the Study of Ancient Lesbian Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955), pp. 209-223, and Henry Spelman, "Alcaeus 140," Classical Philology 110.4 (October 2015) 353-360.

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