Sunday, July 24, 2022


Memento Mori

Greek Anthology 11.38 (by King Polemo; tr. Charles Neaves, rev. Frederick Parkes Weber):
The poor man's armour see! this flask and bread,
This wreath of dewy leaves to deck the head;
This bone, too, of a dead man's brain the shell,
The soul's supreme and holy citadel.
The gem proclaims: 'Drink, eat, and twine your flowers;
This dead man's state will presently be ours.'

ἡ πτωχῶν χαρίεσσα πανοπλίη, ἀρτολάγυνος
   αὕτη, καὶ δροσερῶν ἐκ πετάλων στέφανος,
καὶ τοῦτο φθιμένοιο προάστιον ἱερὸν ὀστεῦν
   ἐγκεφάλου, ψυχῆς φρούριον ἀκρότατον.
πῖνε, λέγει τὸ γλύμμα, καὶ ἔσθιε καὶ περίκεισο        5
   ἄνθεα· τοιοῦτοι γινόμεθ' ἐξαπίνης.
Greek dictionaries cite only this poem for ἀρτολάγυνος, so one might assume that it's a hapax legomenon, but cf. Thesaurus Linguae Latinae 2:710: D.R. Shackleton Bailey, ed., Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, vol. II: 47-43 B.C. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977; rpt. 2004), pp. 345 and 573:
On the poem, see Évelyne Prioux, "Poetic Depictions of Ancient Dactyliothecae," in Maia Wellington Gahtan and Donatella Pegazzano, edd., Museum Archetypes and Collecting in the Ancient World (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 54-71 (at 69-70), with the following illustration on p. 70:

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