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three pairs of lovers with space



Loukianos of Samosata was an Assyrian satirist and rhetorician who during a stay of ten years in Athens ca. AD 165-175 wrote in Greek a large number of popular books mostly deploying tongue-in-cheek sarcasm to ridicule religious practices and the increasingly-prevalent superstition of the day.

His Judgement of the Goddesses is a satirical dialogue mocking the story of how the handsome Trojan youth Paris was chosen by Zeus to judge which of three principal goddesses, Hera, Athene and Aphrodite, was the most beautiful, and how he did so.

In the following excerpt, the only passage of relevance to Greek love, the three goddesses, are being led to find Paris on Mount Ida, led by the messenger god Hermes.

This one of Lucian’s works has often been included in his Dialogue of the Gods as the twentieth dialogue in English translations of it, but wrongly so, for reasons the translator followed here, A. M. Harmon, gives in his introduction.[1] The translation is from the Loeb Classical Library volume CXXX (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1921) p. 393.

by Antoine Schaub


HERMES:  No matter: I will lead you, for I myself spent some time on Ida when Zeus was in love with his Phrygian lad, and I often came here when he sent me down to watch the boy. Indeed, when he was in the eagle, I flew beside him and helped him to lift the pretty fellow, and if my memory serves me, it was from this rock just here that Zeus caught him up. You see, he chanced to be piping to his flock then, and Zeus, flying down behind him, grasped him very delicately in his talons, held in his beak the pointed cap which was on the boy’s head, and bore him on high, terrified and staring at him with his head turned backwards. So then I took the syrinx, for he had let it fall in his fright […]
Ganymede by Johan Friedrich Kirchbach, 1892

ΕΡΜΗΣ:  Ἀλλ᾿ οὖν ἐγὼ ὑμῖν ἡγήσομαι· καὶ γὰρ αὐτὸς ἐνδιέτριψα τῇ Ἴδῃ, ὁπότε δὴ ὁ Ζεὺς ἤρα τοῦ μειρακίου τοῦ Φρυγός, καὶ πολλάκις δεῦρο ἦλθον ὑπ᾿ ἐκείνου καταπεμφθεὶς εἰς ἐπισκοπὴν τοῦ παιδός. καὶ ὁπότε γε ἤδη ἐν τῷ ἀετῷ ἦν, συμπαριπτάμην αὐτῷ καὶ συνεκούφιζον τὸν καλόν, καὶ εἴ γε μέμνημαι, ἀπὸ ταυτησὶ τῆς πέτρας αὐτὸν ἀνήρπασεν. ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἔτυχε τότε συρίζων πρὸς τὸ ποίμνιον, καταπτάμενος δὲ ὄπισθεν αὐτοῦ ὁ Ζεὺς κούφως μάλα τοῖς ὄνυξι περιβαλὼν καὶ τῷ στόματι τὴν ἐπὶ τῇ κεφαλῇ τιάραν ἔχων ἀνέφερε τὸν παῖδα τεταραγμένον καὶ τῷ τραχήλῳ ἀπεστραμμένῳ εἰς αὐτὸν ἀποβλέποντα. τότε οὖν ἐγὼ τὴν σύριγγα λαβών, ἀποβεβλήκει γὰρ αὐτὴν ὑπὸ τοῦ δέους […]


[1] “in all the MSS. it is a separate piece and has a separate caption of its own, whereas in the Dialogues of the Gods the individual dialogues are headed merely by the names of their interlocutors. Then too it is longer than any of these, and although substantially of the same cloth, more markedly satirical than most of them.” (Loeb Classical Library volume CXXX (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1921) p. 383).




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