Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anacreon Fragment

The love god with his golden curls
puts a bright ball in my hand,
shows a girl in her fancy shoes,
and suggests that I take her.

Not that girl -- she's the other kind,
one from Lesbos. Disdainfully,
nose turned up at my silver hair,
she makes eyes at the ladies.

-translated by Richmond Lattimore
Anacreon was a mid-sixth century Greek poet from the island of Teos. He is noted for writing almost exclusively about the pleasures of life, love, wine, and banquets.

I am flummoxed that even when faced with poetry fragments like the one above some people continue to doubt that lesbianism was known and practiced among the ancient Greeks. Even if you choose to read Sappho's heady verses inspired by young women as romantic friendship rather than frankly sexually charge poetry, you cannot deny that Anacreon understood lesbianism and even associated it with the isle of Lesbos.


  1. People believe the silliest things. There's no basis for that view whatsoever. I mean, not only were there other female poets who extolled the love of women, but we find mention of woman-love in the law-codes, historians, playwrights, authors of mimes, etc. There is also first-hand evidence in the form of personal letters and homoerotic love-spells. Makes you wonder if the folks arguing this have even cracked open a book. I could probably come up with a good dozen or so quotes without even trying.

  2. They jam their fingers in their ears and sing, "La la la, I can't hear you" when you speak reason and sense to them. Ah, well.

  3. Agreeing with Laurelei. People want to be willfully ignorant of these sorts of things. Which boggles my mind, to be honest.