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three pairs of lovers with space



Straton of Sardis put together the Mousa Paidike Μουσα Παιδικη, meaning The Boyish Muse, an anthology of Greek love poems, including ninety-four by himself, making him by far its most prolific author. Besides these, which were added to and organised in the tenth century as the twelfth book of The Greek Anthology, he wrote another four epigrams which were placed in its eleventh book even though they are also pederastic. He is most often thought to have been writing in the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-138), but could have been as early as AD 60 or as late as AD 250.[1]

Straton was unusual in not simply preferring boys, but being an exclusive boy-lover. Besides sharing the usual Greek distaste for sex between men (as see especially in epigrams XII 228 and 255, but also the many saying that the appearance of bodily hair ends a boy’s desirability), he had no taste for women (XII 7) and thought the love of them to be ill-considered (XII 245). Because of this exclusivity, it has been possible to include all of his love poems as pederastic, even when the love object is not specified as boy.

It should be pointed out at the outset what is only revealed in the very last epigram (XII 258) and is born out by the contradictory views presented, that not all “these pains of love” were Straton’s own, but that “I ever scribble this and that for this and that boy-lover, since some god gave me this gift”. This diversity of viewpoint and his frankness make these poems an extraordinarily rich resource for answering questions  about Greek pederasty for which clear answers are rare, such as the qualities of a boy that excited men, the preferred age of the boy, and what happened sexually between him and his lover. He is besides “an important source for expanding and deepening our understanding of the extent to which the Greeks could appreciate the ironies and limitations of their own sexuality.”[2]

The translations are by W. R. Paton in The Greek Anthology, Volume IV: Loeb Classical Library Vol. LXXXV (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1918). The only amendments are to undo his Latinisation of names in favour of more literal transliteration of the Greek.

Lest there be the slightest doubt about what Paton meant, it had better be clarified that the denominative verb πυγίζειν, which he always translates as “sodomy” (XII 240, 243, 245) derives from πυγή, meaning the buttocks or fundament, and means to “pedicate”: the obsolescent slang verb for this, to “bum” someone, may be the most literal translation.

All the illustrations are lithographs done by the French artist Gaston Goor for Roger Peyrefitte’s La Muse garconniere (Flammarion, Paris, 1973), his scholarly and uncensored translation of the Mousa Paidike, but some of them have been censored by an unknown editor, presumably for use in a more illiberal age.


XI.  The Convivial and Satirical Epigrams



Drink and love now, Damokrates, for we shall not drink for ever or be for ever with the lads. Let us bind our heads with garlands and scent ourselves before others bear flowers and scent to our tombs. Now may my bones inside me drink mostly wine, and when they are dead let Deukalion’s flood[3] cover them.  Καὶ πίε νῦν καὶ ἔρα, Δαμόκρατες· οὐ γὰρ ἐς αἰεὶ
     πιόμεθ᾿, οὐδ᾿ αἰεὶ παισὶ συνεσσόμεθα.
καὶ στεφάνοις κεφαλὰς πυκασώμεθα, καὶ μυρίσωμεν
     αὑτούς, πρὶν τύμβοις ταῦτα φέρειν ἑτέρους.
νῦν ἐν ἐμοὶ πιέτω μέθυ τὸ πλέον ὀστέα τἀμά·
     νεκρὰ δὲ Δευκαλίων αὐτὰ κατακλυσάτω.


Agathon’s lizard was rosy-fingered the other day; now it is already even rosy-armed.[4]   Πρῴην τὴν σαύραν Ἀγάθων ῥοδοδάκτυλον εἶχεν·
     νῦν δ᾿ αὐτὴν ἤδη καὶ ῥοδόπηχυν ἔχει.



There’s a certain young man, Master Serpent by name, very handsome indeed. But since he is a serpent, how does he take another serpent into his hole?[5]  Ἔστι Δράκων τις ἔφηβος, ἄγαν καλός· ἀλλά, δράκων ὤν,
     πῶς εἰς τὴν τρώγλην ἄλλον ὄφιν δέχεται;


The bed holds two submissive, and two in action—and you think they are four in all. But they’re three! If you ask “How so?” count the one in the middle twice—he’s jerked in a see-saw action shared by both the others.  Ἡ κλινη πάσχοντας ἔχει δύο, καὶ δύο δρῶντας,
     οὓς σὺ δοκεῖς πάντας τέσσαρας· εἰσὶ δὲ τρεῖς.
ἢν δὲ πύθῃ, πῶς τοῦτο; τὸν ἐν μέσσῳ δὶς ἀρίθμει,
     κοινὰ πρὸς ἀμφοτέρους ἔργα σαλευόμενον.

XII. The Boyish Muse



This is thought to have been written by the Byzantine scholar Konstantinos Kephalas, who organised The Greek Anthology into books early in the tenth century.

Strato’s Musa Puerilis

And what kind of man should I be, reader, if after setting forth all that precedes for thee to study, I were to conceal the Puerile Muse of Straton of Sardis, which he used to recite to those about him in sport, taking personal delight in the diction of the epigrams, not in their meaning. Apply thyself then to what follows, for “in dances,” as the tragic poet says, “a chaste woman will not be corrupted.”

Στράτωνος Μουσα Παιδικη

Καὶ τίς ἂν εἴην εἰ πάντων σοι τῶν εἰρημένων τὴν γνῶσιν ἐκθέμενος τὴν Στράτωνος τοῦ Σαρδιανοῦ Παιδικὴν Μοῦσαν ἀπεκρυψάμην, ἣν αὐτὸς παίζων πρὸς τοὺς πλησίον ἀπεδείκνυτο, τέρψιν οἰκείαν τὴν ἀπαγγελίαν τῶν ἐπιγραμμάτων, οὐ τὸν νοῦν, ποιούμενος. ἔχου τοίνυν τῶν ἑξῆς· ἐν χορείαις γὰρ ἥ γε σώφρων, κατὰ τὸν τραγικόν, οὐ διαφθαρήσεται.



“Let us begin from Zeus,” as Aratos said, and you, O Muses, I trouble not to-day. For if I love boys and associate with boys, what is that to the Muses of Helicon?  Ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα, καθὼς εἴρηκεν Ἄρατος·
     ὑμῖν δ᾿, ὦ Μοῦσαι, σήμερον οὐκ ἐνοχλῶ.
εἰ γὰρ ἐγὼ παῖδάς τε φιλῶ καὶ παισὶν ὁμιλῶ,
     τοῦτο τι πρὸς Μούσας τὰς Ἑλικωνιάδας;



Look not in my pages for Priam by the altar, nor for the woes of Medeia and Niobe, nor for Itys in his chamber and the nightingales amid the leaves; for earlier poets wrote of all these things in profusion. But look for sweet Love mingled with the jolly Graces, and for Bacchus, No grave face suits them.   Μὴ ζήτει δέλτοισιν ἐμαῖς Πρίαμον παρὰ βωμοῖς,
     μηδὲ τὰ Μηδείης πένθεα καὶ Νιόβης,
μηδ᾿ Ἴτυν ἐν θαλάμοις, καὶ ἀηδόνας ἐν πετάλοισιν·
     ταῦτα γὰρ οἱ πρότεροι πάντα χύδην ἔγραφον·
ἀλλ᾿ ἱλαραῖς Χαρίτεσσι μεμιγμένον ἡδὺν Ἔρωτα,
     καὶ Βρόμιον· τούτοις δ᾿ ὀφρύες οὐκ ἔπρεπον.



My dear Diodoros, the forepokers of boys fall into three shapes; learn their names. Well, name the one of still untouched maturity “lalu”; “coco” the one just beginning to swell out; but the one already heaving to your hand—speak of it as “lizard”. As for the more perfect specimen, you know what you ought to call it.[6]   Τῶν παίδων, Διόδωρε, τὰ προσθέματ᾿ εἰς τρία πίπτει
     σχήματα, καὶ τούτων μάνθαν᾿ ἐπωνυμίας.
τὴν ἔτι μὲν γὰρ ἄθικτον ἀκμὴν λάλου ὀνόμαζε,
     κωκὼ τὴν φυσᾷν ἄρτι καταρχομένην·
τὴν δ᾿ ἤδη πρὸς χεῖρα σαλευομένην, λέγε σαύραν·
     τὴν δὲ τελειοτέρην, οἶδας ἃ χρή σε καλεῖν.


I delight in the prime of a boy of twelve, but one of thirteen is much more desirable. He who is fourteen is a still sweeter flower of the Loves, and one who is just beginning his fifteenth year is yet more delightful. The sixteenth year is that of the gods, and as for the seventeenth it is not for me, but for Zeus, to seek it. But if one has a desire for those still older, he no longer plays, but now seeks “And answering him back.”[7]   Ἀκμῇ δωδεκέτους ἐπιτέρπομαι· ἔστι δὲ τούτου
     χὠ τρισκαιδεκέτης πουλὺ ποθεινότερος·
χὠ τὰ δὶς ἑπτὰ νέμων, γλυκερώτερον ἄνθος Ἐρώτων·
     τερπνότερος δ᾿ ὁ τρίτης πεντάδος ἀρχόμενος·
ἑξεπικαιδέκατον δὲ θεῶν ἔτος· ἑβδόματον δὲ
     καὶ δέκατον ζητεῖν οὐκ ἐμόν, ἀλλὰ Διός.
εἰ δ᾿ ἐπὶ πρεσβυτέρους τις ἔχει πόθον, οὐκέτι παίζει,
     ἀλλ᾿ ἤδη ζητεῖ “τὸν δ᾿ ἀπαμειβόμενος.”


I like them pale, and I also love those with a skin the colour of honey, and the fair too; and on the other hand I am taken by the black-haired. Nor do I dismiss brown eyes; but above all I love sparkling black eyes.   Τοὺς λευκοὺς ἀγαπῶ, φιλέω δ᾿ ἅμα τοὺς μελιχρώδεις
     καὶ ξανθούς, στέργω δ᾿ ἔμπαλι τοὺς μέλανας.
οὐδὲ κόρας ξανθὰς παραπέμπομαι· ἀλλὰ περισσῶς
     τοὺς μελανοφθάλμους αἰγλοφανεῖς τε φιλῶ.


The numerical value of the letters in πρωκτὸς (anus) and χρυσὸς (gold) is the same.[8] I once found this out reckoning up casually.   Πρωκτὸς καὶ χρυσὸς τὴν αὐτὴν ψῆφον ἔχουσιν·
     ψηφίζων δ᾿ ἀφελῶς τοῦτό ποθ᾿ εὗρον ἐγώ.



In a maid there is no question of a real sphincter nor a simple kiss, no natural nice smell of the skin, nor of that sweet sexy talk or limpid look. Besides, when she’s being taught she’s worse. And they’re all cold behind; but a greater nuisance is this—there’s no place where you can put your wandering hand.[9]  Σφιγκτὴρ οὐκ ἔστιν παρὰ παρθένῳ, οὐδὲ φίλημα
     ἁπλοῦν, οὐ φυσικὴ χρωτὸς ἐϋπνοΐη,
οὐ λόγος ἡδὺς ἐκεῖνος ὁ πορνικός, οὐδ᾿ ἀκέραιον
     βλέμμα, διδασκομένη δ᾿ ἐστὶ κακιοτέρα.
ψυχροῦνται δ᾿ ὄπιθεν πᾶσαι· τὸ δὲ μεῖζον ἐκεῖνο,
     οὐκ ἔστιν ποῦ θῇς τὴν χέρα πλαζομένην.



Just now, as I was passing the place where they make garlands, I saw a boy interweaving flowers with a bunch of berries. Nor did I pass by unwounded, but standing by him I said quietly, “For how much will you sell me your garland?” He grew redder than his roses, and turning down his head said, “Go right away in case my father sees you.” I bought some wreaths as a pretence, and when I reached home crowned the gods, beseeching them to grant me him.  Εἶδον ἐγώ τινα παῖδα †ἐπανθοπλοκοῦντα κόρυμβον,
     ἄρτι παρερχόμενος τὰ στεφανηπλόκια·
οὐδ᾿ ἄτρωτα παρῆλθον· ἐπιστὰς δ᾿ ἥσυχος αὐτῷ
     φημὶ “Πόσου πωλεῖς τὸν σὸν ἐμοὶ στέφανον;”
μᾶλλον τῶν καλύκων δ᾿ ἐρυθαίνετο, καὶ κατακύψας
     φησὶ “Μακρὰν χώρει, μή σε πατὴρ ἐσίδῃ.”
ὠνοῦμαι προφάσει στεφάνους, καὶ οἴκαδ᾿ ἀπελθὼν
     ἐστεφάνωσα θεούς, κεῖνον ἐπευξάμενος.



Now thou art fair, Diodoros, and ripe for lovers, but even if thou dost marry, we shall not abandon thee.   Ἄρτι καλός, Διόδωρε, σύ, καὶ φιλέουσι πέπειρος·
     ἀλλὰ καὶ ἢν γήμῃς, οὐκ ἀπολειψόμεθα.



Even though the invading down and the delicate auburn curls of thy temples have leapt upon thee, that does not make me shun my beloved, but his beauty is mine, even if there be a beard and hairs.   Εἰ καί σοι τριχόφοιτος ἐπεσκίρτησεν ἴουλος,
     καὶ τρυφεραὶ κροτάφων ξανθοφυεῖς ἕλικες,
οὐδ᾿ οὕτω φεύγω τὸν ἐρώμενον· ἀλλὰ τὸ κάλλος
     τούτου, κἂν πώγων, κἂν τρίχες, ἡμέτερον.



Yesterday I had Philostratos for the night, but was incapable, though he (how shall I say it?) made every possible offer. No longer, my friends, count me your friend, but throw me off a tower as I have become too much of an Astyanax.[10]   Ἐχθὲς ἔχων ἀνὰ νύκτα Φιλόστρατον, οὐκ ἐδυνήθην,
     κείνου, πῶς εἴπω; πάντα παρασχομένου.
ἀλλ᾿ ἐμὲ μηκέτ᾿ ἔχοιτε φίλοι φίλον, ἀλλ᾿ ἀπὸ πύργου
     ῥίψατ᾿, ἐπεὶ λίην Ἀστυάναξ γέγονα.



I once found some beardless doctors, not prone to love, grinding a natural antidote for it. They, being lovesick, besought me to keep it quiet, and I said, “I am mum, but you must cure me.”  Ἰητροὺς εὗρόν ποτ᾿ ἐγὼ λείους δυσέρωτας,
     τρίβοντας φυσικῆς φάρμακον ἀντιδότου.
οἱ δέ γε φωραθέντες, “Ἔχ᾿ ἡσυχίην” ἐδέοντο·
     κἀγὼ ἔφην “Σιγῶ, καὶ θεραπεύσετέ με.”



If a plank pinched Graphikos’ behind in the bath, what will become of me, a man? Even wood feels.   Εἰ Γραφικοῦ πυγαῖα σανὶς δέδαχ᾿ ἐν βαλανείῳ,
     ἄνθρωπος τί πάθω; καὶ ξύλον αἰσθάνεται.



Seek not to hide our love, Philokrates; the god himself without that hath sufficient power to trample on my heart. But give me a taste of a blithe kiss. The time shall come when thou shalt beg such favour from others.  Μὴ κρύπτῃς τὸν ἔρωτα, Φιλόκρατες· αὐτὸς ὁ δαίμων
     λακτίζειν κραδίην ἡμετέρην ἱκανός·
ἀλλ᾿ ἱλαροῦ μετάδος τι φιλήματος. ἔσθ᾿ ὅτε καὶ σὺ
     αἰτήσεις τοιάνδ᾿ ἐξ ἑτέρων χάριτα.



How long shall we steal kisses and covertly signal to each other with chary eyes? How long shall we talk without coming to a conclusion, linking again and again idle deferment to deferment? If we tarry we shall waste the good; but before the envious ones[11] come, Pheidon, let us add deeds to words.[12] Κλέψομεν ἄχρι τίνος τὰ φιλήματα, καὶ τὰ λαθραῖα
     νεύσομεν ἀλλήλοις ὄμμασι φειδομένοις;
μέχρι τίνος δ᾿ ἀτέλεστα λαλήσομεν, ἀμβολίαισι
     ζευγνύντες κενεὰς ἔμπαλιν ἀμβολίας;
μέλλοντες τὸ καλὸν δαπανήσομεν· ἀλλὰ πρὶν ἐλθεῖν
     τὰς φθονεράς, Φείδων, θῶμεν ἐπ᾿ ἔργα λόγοις.



Either be not jealous with your friends about your slave boys, or do not provide girlish-looking cup-bearers.[13] For who is of adamant against love, or who succumbs not to wine, and who does not look curiously at pretty boys? This is the way of living men, but if you like, Diophon, go away to some place where there is no love and no drunkenness, and there induce Tiresias or Tantalos to drink with you, the one to see nothing and the other only to see.[14]   Ἢ μὴ ζηλοτύπει δούλοις ἐπὶ παισὶν ἑταίρους,
     ἢ μὴ θηλυπρεπεῖς οἰνοχόους πάρεχε.
τίς γὰρ ἀνὴρ ἐς ἐρωτ᾿ ἀδαμάντινος; ἢ τίς ἀτειρὴς
     οἴνῳ; τίς δὲ καλοὺς οὐ περίεργα βλέπει;
ζώντων ἔργα τάδ᾿ ἐστίν· ὅπου δ᾿ οὐκ εἰσὶν ἔρωτες
     οὐδὲ μέθαι, Διοφῶν, ἢν ἐθέλῃς, ἄπιθι·
κἀκεῖ Τειρεσίην ἢ Τάνταλον ἐς πότον ἕλκε,
     τὸν μὲν ἐπ᾿ οὐδὲν ἰδεῖν, τὸν δ᾿ ἐπὶ μοῦνον ἰδεῖν.



Why are you draped down to your ankles in that melancholy fashion, Menippos, you who used to tuck up your dress to your thighs? Or why do you pass me by with downcast eyes and without a word? I know what you are hiding from me. They have come, those things I told you would come.[15]   Στυγνὸς δὴ τί, Μένιππε, κατεσκέπασαι μέχρι πέζης,
     ὁ πρὶν ἐπ᾿ ἰγνύης λῶπος ἀνελκόμενος;
ἢ τί κάτω κύψας με παρέδραμες, οὐδὲ προσειπών;
     οἶδα τί με κρύπτεις· ἤλυθον ἃς ἔλεγον.



Last evening Moiris, at the hour when we bid good night, embraced me, I know not whether in reality or in a dream. I remember now quite accurately everything else, what he said to me and the questions he asked, but whether he kissed me too or not I am at a loss to know; for if it be true, how is it that I, who then became a god, am walking about on earth?  Ἑσπερίην Μοῖρίς με, καθ᾿ ἣν ὑγιαίνομεν ὥρην,
     οὐκ οἶδ᾿ εἴτε σαφῶς, εἴτ᾿ ὄναρ, ἠσπάσατο.
ἤδη γὰρ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα μάλ᾿ ἀτρεκέως ἐνόησα,
     χὠκόσα μοι προσέφη, χὠκόσ᾿ ἐπυνθάνετο·
εἰ δέ με καὶ πεφίληκε τεκμαίρομαι· εἰ γὰρ ἀληθές,
     πῶς ἀποθειωθεὶς πλάζομ᾿ ἐπιχθόνιος;



I caught fire when Theudis shone among the other boys, like the sun that rises on the stars. Therefore I am still burning now, when the down of night overtakes him, for though he be setting, yet he is still the sun.   Ἐξεφλέγην, ὅτε Θεῦδις ἐλάμπετο παισὶν ἐν ἄλλοις,
     οἷος ἐπαντέλλων ἀστράσιν ἠέλιος.
τοὔνεκ᾿ ἔτι φλέγομαι καὶ νῦν, ὅτε νυκτὶ λαχνοῦται·
     δυόμενος γάρ, ὅμως ἥλιός ἐστιν ἔτι.


I swore to thee, son of Kronos, that never, not even to myself, would I utter what Theudis told me I might have. But my froward soul flies high in exultation and cannot contain the good. But I will out with it: pardon me, Zeus, “He yielded.” Father Zeus, what delight is there in good fortune that is known to none?  

Ὤμοσά σοι, Κρονίδη, μηπώποτε, μηδ᾿ ἐμοὶ αὐτῷ
     ἐξειπεῖν ὅ τι μοι Θεῦδις ἔειπε λαβεῖν.
ψυχὴ δ᾿ ἡ δυσάπιστος ἀγαλλομένη πεπότηται
     ἠέρι, καὶ στέξαι τἀγαθὸν οὐ δύναται·
ἀλλ᾿ ἐρέω, σύγγνωθι σύ μοι, κεῖνος δὲ πέπεισται.
     Ζεῦ πάτερ, ἀγνώστου τίς χάρις εὐτυχίης;




I feel some burning heat; but cease, boy, from waving in the air near me the napkin of fine linen. I have another fire within me lit by the wine thou didst serve, and aroused more with thy fanning.   Καῦμά μ᾿ ἔχει μέγα δή τι· σὺ δ᾿, ὦ παῖ, παύεολεπτὸν
     ἠέρι δινεύων ἐγγὺς ἐμεῖο λίνον.
ἄλλο τι πῦρ ἐμοῦ ἔνδον ἔχω κυάθοισιν ἀναφθέν,
     καὶ περὶ σῇ ῥιπῇ μᾶλλον ἐγειρόμενον.


It is a lying fable, Theokles, that the Graces are good and that there are three of them in Orchomenos; for five times ten dance round thy face, all archeresses, ravishers of other men’s souls.   Ψευδέα μυθίζουσι, Θεόκλεες, ὡς ἀγαθαὶ μὲν
     αἱ Χάριτες, τρισσαὶ δ᾿ εἰσὶ κατ᾿ Ὀρχομενόν·
πεντάκι γὰρ δέκα σεῖο περισκιρτῶσι πρόσωπα,
     τοξοβόλοι, ψυχέων ἅρπαγες ἀλλοτρίων.



Now thou givest me these futile kisses, when the fire of love is quenched, when not even apart from it do I regard thee as a sweet friend. For I remember those days of thy stubborn resistance. Yet even now, Daphnis, though it be late, let repentance find its place.  

Ταῦτά με νῦν τὰ περισσὰ φιλεῖς, ὅτ᾿ ἔρωτος ἀπέσβη
     πυρσός, ὅτ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἄλλως ἡδὺν ἔχω σε φίλον.
μέμνημαι γὰρ ἐκεῖνα τὰ δύσμαχα· πλὴν ἔτι, Δάφνι,
     ὀψὲ μέν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐχέτω καὶ μετάνοια τόπον.



What delight, Heliodoros, is there in kisses, if thou dost not kiss me, pressing against me with greedy lips, but on the tips of mine with thine closed and motionless, as a wax image at home kisses me even without thee? Τίς χάρις, Ἡλιόδωρε, φιλήμασιν, εἴ με λάβροισιν
     χείλεσι μὴ φιλέεις ἀντιβιαζόμενος,
ἀλλ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἄκροις ἀσάλευτα μεμυκόσιν, οἷα κατ᾿ οἴκους
     καὶ δίχα σοῦ με φιλεῖ πλάσμα τὸ κηρόχυτον;


Study not to capture Menedemos by craft, but sign to him with your eyebrows and he will say openly, “Go on, I follow.” For there is no delay, and he even “outrunneth him who guides him,”[16] and is more expeditious not than a water-channel but than a river.[17]   Μὴ σπεύσῃς Μενέδημον ἑλεῖν δόλῳ, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπίνευσον
     ὀφρύσι, καὶ φανερῶς αὐτὸς ἐρεῖ· “Πρόαγε.”
οὐ γὰρ ἀνάβλησις· φθάνει δέ τε καὶ τὸν ἄγοντα·
     οὐδ᾿ ἀμάρης, ποταμοῦ δ᾿ ἐστὶν ἑτοιμότερος.



These airified boys, with their purple-edged robes, whom we cannot get at, Diphilos, are like ripe figs on high crags, which the vultures and ravens eat.[18]   Τοὺς σοβαροὺς τούτους καὶ τοὺς περιπορφυροσήμους
     παῖδας, ὅσους ἡμεῖς οὐ προσεφιέμεθα,
ὥσπερ σῦκα πέτραισιν ἐπ᾿ ἀκρολόφοισι πέπειρα
     ἔσθουσιν γῦπες, Δίφιλε, καὶ κόρακες.



How long, Mentor, shalt thou maintain this arrogant brow, not even bidding “good day,” as if thou shouldst keep young for all time or tread for ever the pyrrhic dance? Look forward and consider thy end too. Thy beard will come, the last of evils but the greatest, and then thou shalt know what scarcity of friends is.  Ἄχρι τίνος ταύτην τὴν ὀφρύα τὴν ὑπεροπτον,
     Μέντορ, τηρήσεις, μηδὲ τὸ χαῖρε λέγων,
ὡς μέλλων αἰῶνα μένειν νέος, ἢ διὰ παντὸς
     ὀρχεῖσθαι πυρίχην; καὶ τὸ τέλος πρόβλεπε.
ἥξει σοι πώγων, κακὸν ἔσχατον, ἀλλὰ μέγιστον·
     καὶ τότ᾿ ἐπιγνώσῃ τί σπάνις ἐστὶ φίλων.


How, Dionysios, shall you teach a boy to read when you do not even know how to make the transition from one note to another? You have passed so quickly from the highest note to a deep one, from the slightest rise to the most voluminous. Yet I bear you no grudge; only study, and striking both notes say Lambda and Alpha[19] to the envious.   Πῶς ἀναγινώσκειν, Διονύσιε, παῖδα διδάξεις,
     μηδὲ μετεκβῆναι φθόγγον ἐπιστάμενος;
ἐκ νήτης μετέβης οὕτως ταχὺς εἰς βαρύχορδον
     φθόγγον, ἀπ᾿ ἰσχνοτάτης εἰς τάσιν ὀγκοτάτην.
πλὴν οὐ βασκαίνω· μελέτα μόνον· ἀμφοτέρους δὲ
     κρούων, τοῖς φθονεροῖς Λάμβδα καὶ Ἄλφα λέγε.



If I do you a wrong by kissing you, and you think this an injury, kiss me too, inflicting the same on me as a punishment.   Εἴ σε φιλῶν ἀδικῶ καὶ τοῦτο δοκεῖς ὕβριν εἶναι,
     τὴν αὐτὴν κόλασιν καὶ σὺ φίλει με λαβών.



Who crowned all thy head with roses? If it was a lover, blessed is he, but if it was thy father he too has eyes.   Τίς σε κατεστεφάνωσε ῥόδοις ὅλον; εἰ μὲν ἐραστής,
     ἆ μάκαρ· εἰ δ᾿ ὁ πατήρ, ὄμματα καὐτὸς ἔχει.



Blest is he who painted thee, and blest is this wax that knew how to be conquered by thy beauty. Would I could become a creeping wood-worm[20] that I might leap up and devour this wood.   Ὄλβιος ὁ γράψας σε, καὶ ὄλβιος οὗτος ὁ κάλλει
     τῷ σῷ νικᾶσθαι κηρὸς ἐπιστάμενος.
θριπὸς ἐγὼ καὶ σύρμα τερηδόνος εἴθε γενοίμην,
     ὡς ἀναπηδήσας τὰ ξύλα ταῦτα φάγω.



Wast thou not yesterday a boy, and we had never even dreamt of this beard coming? How did this accursed thing spring up, covering with hair all that was so pretty before? Heavens! what a marvel! Yesterday you were Troilos[21] and to-day how have you become Priam?   Οὐκ ἐχθὲς παῖς ἦσθα; καὶ οὐδ᾿ ὄναρ οὗτος ὁ πώγων
     ἤλυθε· πῶς ἀνέβη τοῦτο τὸ δαιμόνιον,
καὶ τριχὶ πάντ᾿ ἐκάλυψε τὰ πρὶν καλά; φεῦ, τίτὸ θαῦμα;
     ἐχθὲς Τρωΐλος ὤν, πῶς ἐγένου Πρίαμος;



I am not charmed by long hair and needless ringlets taught in the school of Art, not of Nature, but by the dusty grime of a boy fresh from the playground and the colour given to the limbs by the gloss of oil. My love is sweet when unadorned, but a fraudulent beauty has in it the work of female Kypris.   Οὐ τέρπουσι κόμαι με, περισσότεροί τε κίκιννοι,
     τέχνης, οὐ φύσεως ἔργα διδασκόμενοι·
ἀλλὰ παλαιστρίτου παιδὸς ῥύπος ὁ ψαφαρίτης,
     καὶ χροιὴ μελέων σαρκὶ λιπαινομένη.
ἡδὺς ἀκαλλώπιστος ἐμὸς πόθος· ἡ δὲ γοῆτις
     μορφὴ θηλυτέρης ἔργον ἔχει Παφίης.



Thou dost not even take to heart, Artemidoros, what the Avenging Goddesses of Smyrna[22] say to thee, “Nothing beyond due measure,” but thou art always acting, talking loud in a tone so arrogant and savage, not even becoming in an actor. Thou shalt remember all this, haughty boy; thou, too, shalt love and play the part of “The barred-out lady.”[23]

Οὐδὲ Σμυρναῖαι Νεμέσεις ὅ τι σοὶ ᾿πιλέγουσιν,
     Ἀρτεμίδωρε, νοεῖς· “Μηδὲν ὑπὲρ τὸ μέτρον.”
ἀλλ᾿ οὕτως ὑπέροπτα καὶ ἄγρια κοὐδὲ πρέποντα
     κωμῳδῷ φθέγγῃ, πάνθ᾿ ὑποκρινόμενος.
μνησθήσῃ τούτων, ὑπερήφανε· καὶ σὺ φιλήσεις,
     καὶ κωμῳδήσεις τὴν Ἀποκλειομένην.



If Zeus still carried off mortal boys from earth to the sky to be ministrants of the sweet nectar, an eagle would ere this have borne my lovely Agrippa on his wings to the service of the immortals. For yea, by thyself I swear it, Son of Kronos, Father of the world, if thou lookest on him thou wilt at once find fault with the Phrygian boy of the house of Dardanos.[24] Εἰ Ζεὺς ἐκ γαίης θνητοὺς ἔτι παῖδας ἐς αἴθρην
     ἥρπαζεν, γλυκεροῦ νέκταρος οἰνοχόους,
αἰετὸς ἂν πτερύγεσσιν Ἀγρίππαν τὸν καλὸν ἡμῶνἤ
     δη πρὸς μακάρων ἦγε διηκονίας.
ναὶ μὰ σὲ γάρ, Κρονίδη, κόσμου πάτερ, ἢν ἐσαθρήσῃς,
     τὸν Φρύγιον ψέξεις αὐτίκα Δαρδανίδην.


The meads that love the Zephyr are not abloom with so many flowers, the crowded splendour of the spring-tide, as are the high-born boys thou shalt see, Dionysios, all moulded by Kypris and the Graces. And chief among them, look, flowers Milesios, like a rose shining with its sweet-scented petals. But perchance he knows not, that as a lovely flower is killed by the heat, so is beauty by a hair. Ἄνθεσιν οὐ τόσσοισι φιλοζέφυροι χλοάουσι
     λειμῶνες, πυκιναῖς εἴαρος ἀγλαΐαις,
ὅσσους εὐγενέτας, Διονύσιε, παῖδας ἀθρήσεις,
     χειρῶν Κυπρογενοῦς πλάσματα και Χαρίτων.
ἔξοχα δ᾿ ἐν τούτοις Μιλήσιος ἠνίδε θάλλει,
     ὡς ῥόδον εὐόδμοις λαμπόμενον πετάλοις.
ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ οἶδεν ἴσως, ἐκ καύματος ὡς καλὸν ἄνθος,
     οὕτω τὴν ὥρην ἐκ τριχὸς ὀλλυμένην.



Thy eyes are sparks, Lykinos, divinely fair; or rather, master mine, they are rays that shoot forth flame. Even for a little season I cannot look at thee face to face, so bright is the lightning from both.   Ὀφθαλμοὺς σπινθῆρας ἔχεις, θεόμορφε Λυκῖνε,
     μᾶλλον δ᾿ ἀκτῖνας, δέσποτα, πυρσοβόλους.
ἀντωπὸς βλέψαι βαιὸν χρόνον οὐ δύναμαί σοι·
     οὕτως ἀστράπτεις ὄμμασιν ἀμφοτέροις.



“Know the time” said one of the seven sages; for all things, Philippos, are more loveable when in their prime. A cucumber, too, is a fruit we honour at first when we see it in its garden bed, but after, when it ripens, it is food for swine.[25]

“Καιρὸν γνῶθι” σοφῶν τῶν ἑπτά τις, εἶπε, Φίλιππε·
     πάντα γὰρ ἀκμάζοντ᾿ ἐστὶν ἐραστότερα·
καὶ σίκους πρῶτός που ἐπ᾿ ἀνδήροισιν ὁραθεὶς
     τίμιος, εἶτα συῶν βρῶμα πεπαινόμενος.




I am a friend of youth and prefer not one boy to another, judging them by their beauty; for one has one charm, another another.  Ἡλικίης φίλος εἰμὶ καὶ οὐδένα παῖδα προτάσσω,
     πρὸς τὸ καλὸν κρίνων· ἄλλο γὰρ ἄλλος ἔχει.



I have drunk already in sufficient measure, for both my mind’s and my tongue’s steadiness is relaxed. The flame of the lamp is torn into two, and I count the guests double, though I try over and over again. And now not only am I in a flutter for the wine-pourer, but I look, out of season, at the Water-pourer[26] too. Ἄρκιον ἤδη μοι πόσιος μέτρον· εὐσταθίη γὰρ
     λύεται ἥ τε φρενῶν ἥ τε διὰ στόματος.
χὠ λύχνος ἔσχισται διδύμην φλόγα, καὶ δὶς ἀριθμέω,
     πολλάκι πειράζων, τοὺς ἀνακεκλιμένους.
ἤδη δ᾿ οὐκέτι μοῦνον ἐπ᾿ οἰνοχόον σεσόβημαι,
     ἀλλὰ πάρωρα βλέπω κἠπὶ τὸν ὑδροχόον.



I hate resistance to my embrace when I kiss, and pugnacious cries, and violent opposition with the hands, but at the same time I have no great desire for him who, when he is in my arms, is at once ready and abandons himself effusively. I wish for one half-way between the two, such as is he who knows both how to give himself and how not to give himself. Μισῶ δυσπερίληπτα φιλήματα, καὶ μαχιμώδεις
     φωνάς, καὶ σθεναρὴν ἐκ χερὸς ἀντίθεσιν·
καὶ μὴν καὶ τόν, ὅτ᾿ ἐστὶν ἐν ἀγκάσιν, εὐθὺ θέλοντα
     καὶ παρέχοντα χύδην, οὐ πάνυ δή τι θέλω·
ἀλλὰ τὸν ἐκ τούτων ἀμφοῖν μέσον, οἷον ἐκεῖνον
     τὸν καὶ μὴ παρέχειν εἰδότα καὶ παρέχειν.



If Kleonikos does not come now I will never receive him in my house, by—. I will not swear; for if he did not come owing to a dream he had, and then does appear to-morrow, it is not all over with me because of the loss of this one day. Εἰ μὴ νῦν Κλεόνικος ἐλεύσεται, οὐκέτ᾿ ἐκεῖνον
     δέξομ᾿ ἐγὼ μελάθροις, οὐ μὰ τὸν—οὐκ ὀμόσω.
εἰ γὰρ ὄνειρον ἰδὼν οὐκ ἤλυθεν, εἶτα παρείη
     αὔριον, οὐ παρὰ τὴν σήμερον ὀλλύμεθα.



Winged Love bore me through the air, Damis, when I saw your letter which told me you had arrived here; and swiftly I flew from Smyrna to Sardis; if Zetes or Kalais[27] had been racing me they would have been left behind. Πτηνὸς Ἔρως ἄγαγέν με δι᾿ ἠέρος, ἡνίκα, Δᾶμι,
     γράμμα σὸν εἶδον, ὅ μοι δεῦρο μολεῖν σ᾿ ἔλεγεν·
ῥίμφα δ᾿ ἀπὸ Σμύρνης ἐπὶ Σάρδιας· ἔδραμεν ἄν μοι
     ὕστερον εἰ Ζήτης ἔτρεχεν, ἢ Κάλαϊς.



You kiss me when I don’t wish it, and you don’t wish it when I kiss you; when I fly you are facile, when I attack you are difficult.  

Οὐκ ἐθέλοντα φιλεῖς με, φιλῶ δ᾿ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἐθέλοντα
     εὔκολος ἢν φεύγω, δύσκολος ἢν ἐπάγω.




Now you may say, “Golden gifts for brazen.”[28] Sosiades the fair and Diokles the bushy are playing at “Give and take.” Who compares roses with brambles, or figs with toadstools? Who compares a lamb like curdled milk with an ox? What dost thou give, thoughtless boy, and what dost thou receive in return? Such gifts did Diomede give to Glaukos.[29] “Χρύσεα χαλκείων” νῦν εἴπατε· “δὸς λάβε” παίζει
     Σωσιάδας ὁ καλός, καὶ Διοκλῆς ὁ δασύς.
τίς κάλυκας συνέκρινε βάτῳ, τίς σῦκα μύκησιν;
     ἄρνα γαλακτοπαγῆ τίς συνέκρινε βοΐ;
οἷα δίδως, ἀλόγιστε, καὶ ἔμπαλιν οἷα κομίζῃ·
     οὕτω Τυδείδης Γλαῦκον ἐδωροδόκει.



My neighbour’s quite tender young boy provokes me not a little, and laughs in no novice manner to show me that he is willing. But he is not more than twelve years old. Now the unripe grapes are unguarded; when he ripens there will be watchmen and stakes.[30] Παῖς τις ὅλως ἁπαλὸς τοῦ γείτονος οὐκ ὀλίγως με
     κνίζει· πρὸς τὸ θέλειν δ᾿ οὐκ ἀμύητα γελᾷ·
οὐ πλεῦν δ᾿ ἐστὶν ἐτῶν δύο καὶ δέκα. νῦν ἀφύλακτοι
     ὄμφακες· ἢν δ᾿ ἀκμάσῃ, φρούρια καὶ σκόλοπες.



A. "If you are minded to do thus, take your adversary by the middle, and laying him down get astride of him, and shoving forward, fall on him and hold him tight.” B. “You are not in your right senses, Diophantos. I am only just capable of doing this, but boys’ wrestling is different. Fix yourself fast and stand firm, Kyris, and support it when I close with you. He should learn to practise with a fellow before learning to practise himself.”[31] α. Ἢν τούτῳ †φωνῇς, τὸ μέσον λάβε, καὶ κατακλίνας
     ζεύγνυε, καὶ πρώσας πρόσπεσε, καὶ κάτεχε.
β. Οὐ φρονέεις, Διόφαντε· μόλις δύναμαι γὰρ ἔγωγε
     ταῦτα ποιεῖν· παίδων δ᾿ ἡ πάλη ἔσθ᾿ ἑτέρα.
μοχλοῦ καὶ μένε, Κῦρι, καὶ ἐμβάλλοντος ἀνάσχου·
     πρῶτον συμμελετᾷν ἢ μελετᾷν μαθέτω.



Yesterday Diokles in the bath brought up a lizard[32] from the tub, “Aphrodite rising from the waves.”[33] If someone had shown it to Paris then in Ida, he would have pronounced the three goddesses to be less fair than it. Ἐχθὲς λουόμενος Διοκλῆς ἀνενήνοχε σαύραν
     ἐκ τῆς ἐμβάσεως τὴν Ἀναδυομένην.
ταύτην εἴ τις ἔδειξεν Ἀλεξάνδρῳ τότ᾿ ἐν Ἴδῃ,
     τὰς τρεῖς ἂν ταύτης προκατέκρινε θεάς.



Happy little book,[34] I grudge it thee not; some boy reading thee will rub thee, holding thee under his chin, or press thee against his delicate lips, or will roll thee up resting on his tender thighs, O most blessed of books. Often shalt thou betake thee into his bosom, or, tossed down on his chair, shalt dare to touch those parts without fear, and thou shalt talk much before him all alone with him; but I pray thee, little book, speak something not unoften on my behalf.[35] Εὐτυχές, οὐ φθονέω, βιβλίδιον· ἦ ῥά δ᾿ ἀναγνοὺς
     παῖς τις ἀναθλίψει, πρὸς τὰ γένεια τιθείς·
ἢ τρυφεροῖς σφίγξει περὶ χείλεσιν, ἢ κατὰ μηρῶν
     εἰλήσει δροσερῶν, ὦ μακαριστότατον·
πολλάκι φοιτήσεις ὑποκόλπιον, ἢ παρὰ δίφρους
     βληθὲν τολμήσεις κεῖνα θιγεῖν ἀφόβως.
πολλὰ δ᾿ ἐν ἠρεμίῃ προλαλήσεις· ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν,
     χαρτάριον, δέομαι, πυκνότερόν τι λάλει.


Lie not by me with so sour a face and so dejected, Diphilos, and be not a boy of the common herd. Put a little wantonness into your kisses and the preliminaries to the works, toying, touching, scratching, your look and your words.

Μήτε λίην στυγνὸς παρακέκλισο, μήτε κατηφής,
     Δίφιλε, μηδ᾿ εἴης παιδίον ἐξ ἀγέλης.
ἔστω που προύνικα φιλήματα, καὶ τὰ πρὸ ἔργων
     παίγνια, πληκτισμοί, κνίσμα, φίλημα, λόγος.




Count all who are on a bed as three, of whom two are in action, two submissive. It looks as if I’m telling some miracle. Still, it’s no lie. For one in the middle serves two, giving joy behind, getting joy in front.   Τρεῖς ἀρίθμει τοὺς πάντας ὑπὲρ λέχος, ὧν δύο δρῶσιν,
     καὶ δύο πάσχουσιν. θαῦμα δοκῶ τι λέγειν.
καὶ μὴν οὐ ψεῦδος· δυσὶν εἷς μέσσος γὰρ ὑπουργεῖ
     τέρπων ἐξόπιθεν, πρόσθε δὲ τερπόμενος.



If you were still uninitiated in the matter about which I go on trying to persuade you, you would be right in being afraid, thinking it is perhaps something formidable. But if your master’s bed has made you proficient in it, why do you grudge granting the favour to another, receiving the same? For he, after summoning you to the business, dismisses you, and being your lord and master, goes to sleep without even addressing a word to you. But here you will have other enjoyments, playing on equal terms, talking together, and all else by invitation and not by order. Εἰ μὲν ἔφυς ἀμύητος ἀκμὴν ὑπὲρ οὗ σ᾿ ἔτι πείθω,
     ὀρθῶς ἂν δείσαις, δεινὸν ἴσως δοκέων.
εἰ δέ σε δεσποτικὴ κοιτη πεποίηκε τεχνίτην,
     τί φθονέεις δοῦναι, ταὐτὸ λαβών, ἑτέρῳ;
ὃς μὲν γὰρ καλέσας ἐπὶ τὸ χρέος, εἶτ᾿ ἀπολύσας,
     εὕδει κύριος ὤν, μηδὲ λόγου μεταδούς·
ἄλλη δ᾿ ἔνθα τρυφή· παίξεις ἴσα, κοινὰ λαλήσεις,
     τἄλλα δ᾿ ἐρωτηθεὶς κοὐκ ἐπιτασσόμενος.



Woe is me! Why in tears again and so woebegone, my lad? Tell me plainly; don’t give me pain; what do you want? You hold out the hollow of your hand to me. I am done for! You are begging perhaps for payment; and where did you learn that? You no longer love slices of seed-cake and sweet sesame, and nuts to play at shots with, but already your mind is set on gain. May he who taught you perish! What a boy of mine he has spoilt! Αἰαῖ μοι· τι πάλιν δεδακρυμενον, ἢ τι κατηφές,
     παιδίον; εἶπον ἁπλῶς· μηδ᾿ ὀδύνα· τί θέλεις;
τὴν χέρα μοι κοίλην προσενήνοχας· ὡς ἀπόλωλα᾿
     μισθὸν ἴσως αἰτεῖς· τοῦτ᾿ ἔμαθες δὲ πόθεν;
οὐκέτι σοι κοπτῆς φίλιαι πλάκες οὐδὲ μελιχρὰ
     σήσαμα, καὶ καρύων παίγνιος εὐστοχίη·
ἀλλ᾿ ἤδη πρὸς κέρδος ἔχεις φρένας. ὡς ὁ διδάξας
     τεθνάτω· οἷόν μου παιδίον ἠφάνικεν.



You rest your splendid loins against the wall, Kyris. Why do you tempt the stone? It is incapable.   Τῷ τοίχῳ κέκλικας τὴν ὀσφύα τὴν περιβλεπτον
     Κῦρι· τί πειράζεις τὸν λίθον; οὐ δύναται.


Grant it me and take the coin. You will say “I am rich.” Then, like a king, make me a present of the favour.   Δός μοι, καὶ λάβε χαλκόν. ἐρεῖς ὅτι “Πλούσιός εἰμι·”
     δώρησαι τοίνυν τὴν χάριν, ὡς βασιλεύς.



Now thou art spring, and afterward summer, and next what shalt thou be, Kyris? Consider, for thou shalt be dry stubble too.

Νῦν ἔαρ εἶ, μετέπειτα θέρος· κἄπειτα τί μέλλεις
     Κῦρις; βούλευσαι, καὶ καλάμη γὰρ ἔσῃ.




Now you’re upright, damn you, and stiff, when nothing is there. But when there was something yesterday, you heaved no breath at all. Νῦν ὀρθή, κατάρατε, καὶ εὔτονος, ἡνίκα μηδέν·
     ἡνίκα δ᾿ ἦν ἐχθές, οὐδὲν ὅλως ἀνέπνεις.



So soon thou rushest to the wars, still an ignorant boy and delicate. What art thou doing? Ho! look to it, change thy resolve. Alas! who persuaded thee to grasp the spear? Who bad thee take the shield in thy hand or hide that head in a helmet? Most blessed he, whoe’er he be, who, some new Achilles, shall take his pleasure in the tent with such a Patroklos![36]   Ἤδη ἐπὶ στρατιῆς ὁρμᾷς, ἔτι παῖς ἀδαὴς ὢν
     καὶ τρυφερός. τί ποιεῖς, οὗτος, ὅρα· μετάθου.
οἴμοι· τίς σ᾿ ἀνέπεισε λαβεῖν δόρυ· τίς χερὶ πέλτην;
     τίς κρύψαι ταύτην τὴν κεφαλὴν κόρυθι;
ὦ μακαριστὸς ἐκεῖνος, ὅτις ποτέ, καινὸς Ἀχιλλεὺς
     τοίῳ ἐνὶ κλισίῃ τερπόμενος Πατρόκλῳ.



How long shall I bear with thee, thus laughing only and never uttering a word?[37] Tell me this plainly, Pasiphilos. I entreat and thou laughest; I entreat again and no answer; I weep and thou laughest. Cruel boy, is this a laughing matter? Μέχρι τίνος σε γελῶντα μόνον, μηδὲν δὲ λαλοῦντα
     οἴσομεν; εἶπον ἁπλῶς ταῦτα σύ, Πασίφιλε.
αἰτῶ, καὶ σὺ γελᾷς· πάλιν αἰτῶ, κοὐκ ἀποκρίνῃ·
     δακρύω, σὺ γελᾷς. βάρβαρε, τοῦτο γέλως;


You want payment too, you schoolmasters! How ungrateful you are! For why? Is it a small thing to look on boys and speak to them, and kiss them when you greet them? Is not this alone worth a hundred pounds? If anyone has good-looking boys, let him send them to me and let them kiss me, and receive whatever payment they wish from me.  Καὶ μισθοὺς αἰτεῖτε, διδάσκαλοι; ὡς ἀχάριστοι
     ἐστέ· τί γάρ; τὸ βλέπειν παιδία μικρὸν ἴσως;
καὶ τούτοισι λαλεῖν, ἀσπαζομένους τε φιλῆσαι;
     τοῦτο μόνον χρυσῶν ἄξιον οὐχ ἑκατόν;
πεμπέτω, εἴ τις ἔχει καλὰ παιδία· κἀμὲ φιλείτω,
     μισθὸν καὶ παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ λαμβανέτω τί θέλει.



Thou art not in fetters for stealing the fire, ill-advised Prometheus, but because thou didst spoil the clay of Zeus. In moulding men thou didst add hairs, and hence comes the horrible beard, and hence boys’ legs grow rough. For this thou art devoured by Zeus’ eagle, which carried off Ganymede; for the beard is a torment to Zeus, too. Οὐχὶ τὸ πῦρ κλέψας δέδεσαι, κακόβουλε Προμηθεῦ,
     ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι τὸν πηλὸν τοῦ Διὸς ἠφάνισας.
πλάττων ἀνθρώπους, ἔβαλες τρίχας· ἔνθεν ὁ δεινὸς
     πώγων, καὶ κνήμη παισὶ δασυνομένη.
εἶτά σε δαρδάπτει Διὸς αἰετός, ὃς Γανυμήδην
     ἥρπασ᾿· ὁ γὰρ πώγων καὶ Διός ἐστ᾿ ὀδύνη.



Hie thee to holy Heaven, eagle; away, bearing the boy, thy twin wings outspread. Go, holding tender Ganymede, and let him not drop, the ministrant of Zeus’ sweetest cups. And take heed not to make the boy bleed with the crooked claws of thy feet, lest Zeus, sore aggrieved thereby, suffer pain. Στεῖχε πρὸς αἰθέρα δῖον, ἀπέρχεο παῖδα κομίζων,
     αἰετέ, τὰς διφυεῖς ἐκπετάσας πτέρυγας,
στεῖχε τὸν ἁβρὸν ἔχων Γανυμήδεα, μηδὲ μεθείης
     τὸν Διὸς ἡδίστων οἰνοχόον κυλίκων·
φείδεο δ᾿ αἱμάξαι κοῦρον γαμψώνυχι ταρσῷ,
     μὴ Ζεὺς ἀλγήσῃ, τοῦτο βαρυνόμενος.



Once a wrestling-master, taking advantage of the occasion, when he was giving a lesson to a smooth boy, forced him to kneel down, and set about working on his middle stroking the berries with one hand. But by chance the master of the house came, wanting the boy. The teacher threw him quickly on his back, getting astride of him and grasping him by the throat. But the master of the house, who was not unversed in wrestling, said to him, “Stop, you are smuggering[38] the boy.”   Εὐκαίρως ποτὲ παιδοτρίβης, λεῖον προδιδάσκων,
     εἰς τὸ γόνυ γνάμψας, μέσσον ἐπαιδοτρίβει,
τῇ χερὶ τοὺς κόκκους ἐπαφώμενος. ἀλλὰ τυχαίως
     τοῦ παιδὸς χρῄζων, ἦλθεν ὁ δεσπόσυνος·
ὃς δὲ τάχος τοῖς ποσσὶν ὑποζώσας ἀνέκλινεν
     ὕπτιον, ἐμπλέξας τῇ χερὶ τὴν φάρυγα.
ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ὢν ἀπάλαιστος ὁ δεσπόσυνος προσέειπεν·
     “Παῦσαι· πνιγίζεις,” φησί, “τὸ παιδάριον.”



His face as he approaches seems altogether delightful to me, and that suffices, and I turn not my head to look at him again as he passes. For thus do we look at the statue of a god and a temple, in front, but need not look at the back chamber too. Τερπνὸν ὅλως τὸ πρόσωπον ἐμοὶ προσιόντος ἀπαρκεῖ·
     οὐκέτι δ᾿ ἐξόπιθεν καὶ παριόντα βλέπω.
οὕτω γὰρ καὶ ἄγαλμα θεοῦ καὶ νηὸν ὁρῶμεν
     ἀντίον, οὐ πάντως καὶ τὸν ὀπισθόδομον.



We walk together in a good path, Diphilos, and take thou thought how it shall continue to be even as it was from the beginning. To the lot of each has fallen a winged thing; for in thee is beauty and in me love; but both are fugitive. Now they remain in unison for a season, but if they do not guard one another they take wing and are gone. Εἰς ἀγαθὴν συνέβημεν ἀταρπιτόν, ἣν ἀπὸ πρώτης
     φράζευ ὅπως ἔσται, Δίφιλε, καὶ μονίμη.
ἄμφω γὰρ πτηνόν τι λελόγχαμεν· ἔστι μὲν ἐν σοὶ
     κάλλος, ἔρως δ᾿ ἐν ἐμοί· καίρια δ᾿ ἀμφότερα.
ἄρτι μὲν ἁρμοσθέντα μένει χρόνον· εἰ δ᾿ ἀφύλακτα
     μίμνετον ἀλλήλων, ᾤχετ᾿ ἀποπτάμενα.

When the sunlight is rising at dawn, never should you join the blazing Dog with the Bull lest one day, when Demeter, Mother of Grain, has been given a soaking, you wet Heracles’ hairy wife.[39] Οὐδέποτ᾿ ἠελίου φάος ὄρθριον ἀντέλλοντος
     μίσγεσθαι ταύρῳ χρὴ φλογόεντα κύνα,
μή ποτε καρπολόχου Δημήτερος ὑγρανθείσης,
     βρέξῃς τὴν λασίην Ἡρακλέους ἄλοχον.



All night long, my dripping eyes tear-stained, I strive to rest my spirit that grief keeps awake—grief for this separation from my friend since yesterday, when Theodoros, leaving me here alone, went to his own Ephesus. If he come not back soon I shall be no longer able to bear the solitude of my bed. Πάννυχα μυδαλόεντα πεφυρμένος ὄμματα κλαυθμῷ
     ἄγρυπνον ἀμπαύω θυμὸν ἀδημονίῃ,
ἥ με κατ᾿ οὖν ἐδάμασσεν ἀποζευχθέντος ἑταίρου,
     μοῦνον ἐπεί με λιπὼν εἰς ἰδίην Ἔφεσον
χθιζὸς ἔβη Θεόδωρος· ὃς εἰ πάλι μὴ ταχὺς ἔλθοι,
     οὐκέτι μουνολεχεῖς κοῖτας ἀνεξόμεθα.



Even if I desire to avoid looking at a pretty boy when I meet him, I have scarcely passed him when I at once turn round. Ἤν τινα καὶ παριδεῖν ἐθέλω καλὸν ἀντισυναντῶν,
     βαιὸν ὅσον παραβὰς εὐθὺ μεταστρέφομαι.



That an immature boy should do despite to his insensible age carries more disgrace to the friend who tempts him than to himself, and for a grown-up youth to submit to sodomy, his season for which is past, is twice as disgraceful to him who consents as it is to his tempter. But there is a time, Moiris, when it is no longer unseemly in the one, and not yet so in the other, as is the case with you and me at present. Παῖδα μὲν ἠλιτόμηνον ἐς ἄφρονα καιρὸν ἁμαρτεῖν,
     τῷ πείθοντι φέρει πλεῖον ὕβρισμα φίλῳ.
ἤδη δ᾿ ἐν νεότητι παρήλικα παιδικὰ πάσχειν,
     τῷ παρέχοντι πάλιν τοῦτο δὶς αἰσχρότερον.
ἔστι δ᾿ ὅτ᾿ ἀμφοτέροις τὸ μὲν οὐκέτι, Μοῖρι, τὸ δ᾿οὔπω
     ἀπρεπές, οἷον ἐγὼ καὶ σὺ τὸ νῦν ἔχομεν.



What a good goddess is that Nemesis, to avert whom, dreading her as she treadeth behind us, we spit in our bosom! Thou didst not see her at thy heels, but didst think that for ever thou shouldst possess thy grudging beauty. Now it has perished utterly; the very wrathful[40] goddess has come, and we, thy servants, now pass thee by. Ὡς ἀγαθὴ θεός ἐστι, δι᾿ ἣν ὑπὸ κόλπον, Ἄλεξι,
     πτύομεν, ὑστερόπουν ἁζόμενοι Νέμεσιν.
ἣν σὺ μετερχομένην οὐκ ἔβλεπες, ἀλλ᾿ ἐνόμιζες
     ἕξειν τὸ φθονερὸν κάλλος ἀειχρόνιον.
νῦν δὲ τὸ μὲν διόλωλεν· ἐλήλυθε δ᾿ ἡ τριχάλεπτος
     δαίμων· χοἰ θέραπες νῦν σε παρερχόμεθα.



Euklides, who is in love, has lost his father. Ah, the ever lucky fellow! His father used ever to be good-natured to him about anything he wished, and now is a benevolent corpse. But I must still play in secret. Alas for my evil fate and my father’s immortality!

Εὐκλείδῃ φιλέοντι πατὴρ θάνεν· ἆ μάκαρ αἰεί,
     καὶ πρὶν ἐς ὅττι θέλοι χρηστὸν ἔχων πατέρα
καὶ νῦν εὔφρονα νεκρόν. ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἔτι λάθρια παίζω·
     φεῦ μοίρης τε κακῆς καὶ πατρὸς ἀθανάτου.



If thou gloriest in thy beauty, know that the rose too blooms, but withers of a sudden and is cast away on the dunghill. To blossom and to beauty the same time is allotted, and envious time withers both together. Εἰ κάλλει καυχᾷ, γίνωσχ᾿ ὅτι καὶ ῥόδον ἀνθεῖ·
    ἀλλὰ μαρανθὲν ἄφνω σὺν κοπρίοις ἐρίφη.
ἄνθος γὰρ καὶ κάλλος ἴσον χρόνον ἐστὶ λαχόντα·
     ταῦτα δ᾿ ὁμῆ φθονέων ἐξεμάρανε χρόνος.


If beauty grows old, give me of it ere it depart; but if it remains with thee, why fear to give what shall remain thine?[41]   Εἰ μὲν γηράσκει τὸ καλόν, μετάδος, πρὶν ἀπέλθῃ·
     εἰ δὲ μένει, τί φοβῇ τοῦθ᾿ ὃ μενεῖ διδόναι;



A certain eunuch has good-looking servant-boys—for what use?—and he does them abominable injury. Truly, like the dog in the manger with the roses, and stupidly barking, he neither gives the good thing to himself nor to anyone else.   Εὐνοῦχός τις ἔχει καλὰ παιδία· πρὸς τίνα χρῆσιν;
     καὶ τούτοισι βλάβην οὐχ ὁσίην παρέχει.
ὄντως ὡς ὁ κύων φάτνῃ ῥόδα, μωρὰ δ᾿ ὑλακτῶν
     οὔθ᾿ αὑτῷ παρέχει τἀγαθόν, οὔθ᾿ ἑτέρῳ.



Off with thee, pretended hater of evil; off with thee, low-minded boy, who didst swear so lately that never again wouldst thou grant me it. Swear no longer now; for I know, and thou canst not conceal it from me, where it was, and how, and with whom, and for how much. Χαῖρε σύ, μισοπόνηρε πεπλασμένε, χαῖρε, βάναυσε
     ὁ πρῴην ὀμόσας μηκέτι μὴ διδόναι.
μηκέτι νῦν ὀμόσῃς. ἔγνωκα γάρ, οὐδέ με λήθεις·
     οἶδα τὸ ποῦ, καὶ πῶς, καὶ τίνι, καὶ τὸ πόσου.


Puppy-dogs in youthful zest provide for each others pleasure in mutual exchange, and by turns switch round and are also mounted behind, completing action and submission in succession. But neither of two gains over the other; for the one which gave earlier now stands in the rear instead. This is simply the prelude. For by fair exchange, as the saying goes, donkey knows how to tickle donkey.   Ἀλλήλοις παρέχουσιν ἀμοιβαδίην ἀπόλαυσιν
     οἱ κύνεοι πῶλοι μειρακιευόμενοι·
ἀμφαλλὰξ δὲ οἱ αὐτοὶ ἀπόστροφα νωτοβατοῦνται,
     τὸ δρᾷν καὶ τὸ παθεῖν ἀντιπεραινόμενοι.
οὐ πλεονεκτεῖται δ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἅτερος· ἄλλοτε μὲν γὰρ
     ἵσταται ὁ προδιδοὺς ἄλλοτ᾿ ὄπισθε πάλιν.
τοῦτ᾿ ἐστὶν πάντως τὸ προοίμιον· εἰς γὰρ ἀμοιβήν,
     ὡς λέγεται, κνήθειν οἶδεν ὄνος τὸν ὄνον.


You ask for five drachmas: I will give ten and you will . . . have twenty. Is a gold sovereign enough for you? Sovereign gold was enough for Danae.[42] Πέντ᾿ αἰτεῖς, δέκα δώσω· ἐείκοσι δ᾿ †ἀντία ἕξεις.
     ἀρκεῖ σοι χρυσοῦς; ἤρκεσε καὶ Δανάῃ.



By now the hairs on my temples are hoary and my poker hangs slack between my thighs. My testicles are inactive and old age hard to bear comes on me. Oh dear! I know how to commit sodomy, but can’t do it.   Ἤδη μοι πολιαὶ μὲν ἐπὶ κροτάφοισιν ἔθειραι,
     καὶ πέος ἐν μηροῖς ἀργὸν ἀποκρέμαται·
ὄρχεις δ᾿ ἄπρηκτοι, χαλεπὸν δέ με γῆρας ἱκάνει.
     οἴμοι· πυγίζειν οἶδα, καὶ οὐ δύναμαι.



You have made a hook, my child, and I am the fish you have caught. Pull me where you will, but don’t run or you might lose me. Ἄγκιστρον πεπόηκας, ἔχεις ἰχθὺν ἐμέ, τέκνον·
     ἕλκε μ᾿ ὅπου βούλει· μὴ τρέχε, μή σε φύγω.



Of this epigram alone, W. R. Paton did not offer a translation, because of its similarity to XI 21, to which he referred the reader. The following translation is this website’s.

Your lizard was rosy-fingered the other day, Alkimos; you flaunted it; now you have already a rosy arm.[43] Πρώην τὴν σαύραν ῥοδοδάκτυλον, Ἄλκιμ᾿, ἔδειξας·
     νῦν αὐτὴν ἤδη καὶ ῥοδόπηχυν ἔχεις.


If sodomy has left me a ruin, and because of it I am footsnared by gout, make me, O Zeus, into a fleshhook.[44] Εἴ με τὸ πυγίζειν ἀπολώλεκε, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο
     †ἐκτρέφομαι ποδαγρῶν, Ζεῦ, κρεάγραν με πόει.



If I see a white boy it is the death of me, and if it be a honey-complexioned one I am on fire; but if it be a flaxen-haired one I am utterly melted. Ἤν ἐσίδω τινὰ λευκόν, ἀπόλλυμαι· ἢν δὲ μελίχρουν,
     καίομαι· ἢν ξανθὸν δ᾿, εὐθὺς ὅλος λέλυμαι.



Every unreasoning animal pokes the female only, but we creatures of reason have the advantage over animals in this—we invented sodomy.[45] But all who are in the power of women have no advantage over unreasoning animals.   Πᾶν ἄλογον ζῶον βινεῖ μόνον· οἱ λογικοὶ δὲ
     τῶν ἄλλων ζώων τοῦτ᾿ ἔχομεν τὸ πλέον,
πυγίζειν εὑρόντες. ὅσοι δὲ γυναιξὶ κρατοῦνται,
     τῶν ἀλόγων ζώων οὐδὲν ἔχουσι πλέον.



A pair of brothers love me. I know not which of them I should decide to take for my master, for I love them both. One goes away from me and the other approaches. The best of the one is his presence, the best of the other my desire for him in his absence. Ζεῦγος ἀδελφειῶν με φιλεῖ. οὐκ οἶδα τίν᾿ αὐτῶν
     δεσπόσυνον κρίνω· τοὺς δύο γὰρ φιλέω.
χὠ μὲν ἀποστείχει, ὁ δ᾿ ἐπέρχεται· ἔστι δὲ τοῦ μὲν
     κάλλιστον τὸ παρόν, τοῦ δὲ τὸ λειπόμενον.



Theodoros, as once Idomeneus brought from Crete to Troy Meriones to be his squire, such a dexterous friend have I in thee; for Meriones was in some things his servant, in others his minion. And do thou, too, all day go about the business of my life, but at night, by Heaven, let us essay Meriones.[46]   Οἷον ἐπὶ Τροίῃ ποτ᾿ ἀπὸ Κρήτης, Θεόδωρε,
     Ἰδομενεὺς θεράποντ᾿ ἤγαγε Μηριόνην,
τοῖον ἔχω σε φίλον περιδέξιον. ἦ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος
     ἄλλα μὲν ἦν θεράπων, ἄλλα δ᾿ ἑταιρόσυνος·
καὶ σὺ τὰ μὲν βιότοιο πανήμερος ἔργα τέλει μοι·
     νύκτα δὲ πειρῶμεν, ναὶ Δία, Μηριόνην.



Who can tell if his beloved begins to pass his prime, if he is ever with him and never separated? Who that pleased yesterday can fail to please to-day, and if he please now, what can befall him to make him displease to-morrow?  Τίς δύναται γνῶναι τὸν ἐρώμενον εἰ παρακμάζει,
     πάντα συνὼν αὐτῷ μηδ᾿ ἀπολειπόμενος;
τίς δύνατ᾿ οὐκ ἀρέσαι τὴν σήμερον, ἐχθὲς ἀρέσκων;
     εἰ δ᾿ ἀρέσει, τί παθὼν αὔριον οὐκ ἀρέσει;



Ox-born bee, why, catching sight of my honey, dost thou fly across to the boy’s face, smooth as glass? Wilt thou not cease thy humming and thy effort to touch his most pure skin with thy flower-gathering feet? Off to thy honey-bearing hive, where’er it be, thou truant, lest I bite thee! I, too, have a sting, even love’s. Βουποίητε μέλισσα, πόθεν μέλι τοὐμὸν ἰδοῦσα
     παιδὸς ἐφ᾿ ὑαλέην ὄψιν ὑπερπέτασαι;
οὐ παύσῃ βομβεῦσα, καὶ ἀνθολόγοισι θέλουσα
     ποσσὶν ἐφάψασθαι χρωτὸς ἀκηροτάτου;
ἔρρ᾿ ἐπὶ σοὺς μελίπαιδας ὅποι ποτέ, δραπέτι, σίμβλους,
     μή σε δάκω· κἠγὼ κέντρον ἔρωτος ἔχω.


Going out in revel at night after supper, I, the wolf, found a lamb standing at the door, the son of my neighbour Aristodikos, and throwing my arms round him I kissed him to my heart’s content, promising on my oath many gifts. And now what present shall I bring to him? He does not deserve cheating or Italian perfidy. Νυκτερινὴν ἐπίκωμος ἰὼν μεταδόρπιον ὥρην
     ἄρνα λύκος θυρέτροις εὗρον ἐφεσταότα,
υἱὸν Ἀριστοδίκου τοῦ γείτονος· ὃν περιπλεχθεὶς
     ἐξεφίλουν ὅρκοις πολλὰ χαριζόμενος.
νῦν δ᾿ αὐτῷ τί φέρων δωρήσομαι; οὔτ᾿ ἀπάτης γὰρ
     ἄξιος, Ἑσπερίης οὔτ᾿ ἐπιορκοσύνης.



Hitherto we had kisses face to face, and all that precedes the trial; for you were still a little boy, Diphilos. “But now I supplicate for them behind, that will be no longer with thee” afterwards; for let all things be as befits our age. [47] Πρόσθε μὲν ἀντιπρόσωπα φιλήματα καὶ τὰ πρὸπείρας
     εἴχομεν· ἦς γὰρ ἀκμήν, Δίφιλε, παιδάριον.
νῦν δέ σε τῶν ὄπιθεν γουνάζομαι, οὐ παρεόντων
     ὕστερον· ἔστω γὰρ πάντα καθ᾿ ἡλικίην.



I will burn thee, door, with the torch; and burning him who is within, too, in my drunken fury, I will straight depart a fugitive, and sailing over the purple Adriatic, shall, in my wanderings, at least lie in ambush at doors that open at night.[48]   Ἐμπρήσω σε, θύρη, τῇ λαμπάδι, καὶ τὸν ἔνοικον
     συμφλέξας μεθύων, εὐθὺς ἄπειμι φυγάς,
καὶ πλώσας Ἀδριανὸν ἐπ᾿ οἴνοπα πόντον, ἀλήτης
     φωλήσω γε θύραις νυκτὸς ἀνοιγομέναις.



Give me thy right hand for a time, not to stop me from the dance, even though the fair boy made mockery of me. But if he had not been lying at the wrong time next his father, he would not, I swear, have seen me drunk to no purpose.   Δεξιτερὴν ὀλίγον δὸς ἐπὶ χρόνον, οὐχ ἵνα παύσῃς
     (κεἴ μ᾿ ὁ καλὸς χλεύην ἔσχε) χοροιτυπίης.
ἀλλ᾿, εἰ μὴ πλευρῇ παρεκέκλιτο πατρὸς ἀκαίρως,
     οὐκ ἂν δή με μάτην εἶδε μεθυσκόμενον.



From what temple, whence comes this band of Loves shedding radiance on all? Sirs, my eyes are dazed. Which of them are slaves, which freemen? I cannot tell. Is their master a man? It is impossible; or if he be, he is much greater than Zeus, who only had Ganymede, though such a mighty god. While how many has this man!   Ἐκ ποίου ναοῦ, πόθεν ὁ στόλος οὗτος Ἐρώτων,
     πάντα καταστίλβων; ἄνδρες, ἀμαυρὰ βλέπω.
τίς τούτων δοῦλος, τίς ἐλεύθερος; οὐ δύναμ᾿ εἰπεῖν.
     ἄνθρωπος τούτων κύριος; οὐ δύναται.
εἰ δ᾿ ἐστίν, μείζων πολλῷ Διός, ὃς Γανυμήδην
     ἔσχε μόνως, θεὸς ὢν πηλίκος· ὃς δὲ πόσους;



Unsociable man! does not the word itself teach you by the words from which it is truly derived? Everyone is called a lover of boys, not a lover of big boys. Have you any retort to that? I preside over the Pythian games, you over the Olympian,[49] and those whom I reject and remove from the list you receive as competitors. Οὐδ᾿ αὐτη σ᾿ ἡ λέξις, ἀκοινώνητε, διδάσκει,
     ἐξ ἐτύμου φωνῆς ῥήμασιν ἑλκομένη;
πᾶς φιλόπαις λέγεται, Διονύσιε, κοὐ φιλοβούπαις.
     πρὸς τοῦτ᾿ ἀντειπεῖν μή τι πάλιν δύνασαι;
Πύθι᾿ ἀγωνοθετῶ, σὺ δ᾿ Ὀλύμπια· χοὒς ἀποβάλλων
     ἐκκρίνω, τούτους εἰς τὸν ἀγῶνα δέχῃ.



Perchance someone in future years, listening to these trifles of mine, will think these pains of love were all my own. No! I ever scribble this and that for this and that boy-lover, since some god gave me this gift. Ἦ τάχα τις μετόπισθε κλύων ἐμὰ παίγνια ταῦτα.
     πάντας ἐμοὺς δόξει τοὺς ἐν ἔρωτι πόνους·
ἄλλα δ᾿ ἐγὼν ἄλλοισιν ἀεὶ φιλόπαισι χαράσσω
     γράμματ᾿, ἐπεί τις ἐμοὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἐνέδωκε θεός.

[1] See Alan Cameron, “Strato and Rufinus” in The Classical Quarterly , 1982, Vol. 32, No. 1 (1982), pp. 162-173, for the most thorough argument in favour of Hadrian’s reign.

[2] James Jope, “Translating Strato: The Role of Translations in the Study of Ancient Sexuality and the Understanding of Classical Erotica” in Mouseion: Journal of the Classical Association of Canada, Volume 5, Number 1, 2005, XLIX — Series III, p. 47.

[3] We should say “Noah’s flood.” [Translator’s note]

[4] The pretty Homeric adjectives are made to minister to a vile joke, the reference being to the relative length of the finger’s breadth and cubit (length of the fore-arm), both well-known measures [Translator’s note]. See Straton’s epigram XII 3, where he says “lizard” was the slang term for a boy’s poker “when already heaving to your hand.”

[5] This is a pun on the name Drakon, here the name of a beautiful ephebos (a still-unbearded youth in his late teens), which usually meant serpent, but was also slang for penis (as in the second line).

[6] “Strato gives three slang terms for the penis during stages of masturbation, the second is κωκκὼ. Presumably this is derived (i) from κόκκων, a pomegranate seed or (ii) κόκκος, the gall of kermes oak used to give scarlet dye. This is perhaps the more appropriate, considering the second stage of tumescence, but the word also refers to pomegranate seed and to the female pudendum.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 232).

[7] This is probably the most widely quoted of all Straton’s poems for the good reason that it gives extremely rare clear evidence of the age of the loved-boy in the ancient Greek world. In view of the apparent contradiction inherent in switching mid-way between cardinals and ordinals, it is worth stressing that Paton has strictly followed the Greek in his translation and has not resorted to literary licence. The literal meanings of the Greek numbers used here are “twelve”, “thirteen”, “twice seven”, “third pentad”, “sixteenth” and “seventeenth”. Theoretically, the age fifteen is therefore repeated, but to regard this as a strange degree of literary licence by Straton would be to take the question of exact age far more seriously than the Greeks did.
     Twelve as the lower age of the loved-boy is corroborated by Straton's poem XII 205 and coincides with the only other precise bit of surviving evidence, Plutarch’s statement that the Spartan law-giver Lykourgos had a thousand years earlier ordained that when boys reached twelve, “they were favoured with the society of lovers from among the reputable young men” (Plutarch, Life of Lykourgos XVII 1). There is, however, an important distinction to be drawn between this poem, which says how Straton (or whoever he was speaking for) felt about boys of different ages, and the other poem and Plutarch, which answer the different question of when in practice boys began to be wooed by men.
     The statement that youths in their 16th year (irrespective of whether they were still desirable) are for the gods suggests that they are at a stage of maturity where it is over-the-top, perhaps even hubristic, for men to chase them. This is more emphatically so for youths in their 17th year, whom only the king of the gods should venture to woo, while those interesting themselves in still older youths have definitely crossed the line into being passives (kinaidoi).
     In his poem XII 228, Straton says there were age limits below and above which man/boy sex was “unseemly”, adding that the greater disgrace for transgressing these was the lover’s with the boy too young and the beloved with the youth too old. It is not clear whether the ages between which he considered it seemly were exactly those that attracted him, though it may well be that he would not have allowed himself to “delight” in boys of an unseemly age.

[8] Making in Greek 1570. [Translator’s note]

[9] This incidental revelation that men held boys’ sexual organs (and so very likely masturbated them) while pedicating them, makes this poem critically important for its frankness. Almost nothing is otherwise known about how Greek boys achieved sexual fulfilment in sex with men. Many Greek vases show men fondling boys’ genitals before copulation, but for reasons explained in the article Did the Greeks Pedicate their Loved-Boys? man/boy pedication is not shown, though the poems of Straton and others take it for granted as the means of consummation.

[10] The son of Hektor, thrown from a tower by the Greeks. The pun is on Asty, a privative and στύειν (make erect) [Translator’s note]. P. G. Maxwell-Stuart adds: “The bad pun (α-privative, στύειν, to make erect), warns us not to take him too seriously.” (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 225).

[11] Hairs. [Translator’s note]

[12] “Strato goes on, meaning, I think, not only fruitless chat but also the stage of relationship where the two partners have recognised mutual desire but have not yet put out a hand to begin the loveplay which will result in sexual intercourse. λαλήσομεν, then, contrasts with λαλήσομεν of the following line […]; Deferment is yoked with deferment, just as Strato and Pheidon are linked but not joined. λαλεῖν holds them apart: it is talk without action; it is also the mo-ment just before the first positive sexual touch.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 223).

[13] Note how Straton’s implication here that girlish-looking boys are particularly appealing contrasts with his preference for unadorned boyish charms in XII 192. But then one must always bear in mind his admonition in XII 258 that he was sometimes writing for other boy-lovers.

[14] Tiresias and Tantalos were both famous mythological figures, the former a blind prophet and the latter an evil king punished in Hades by being permanently tempted and never satiated (hence the verb to “tantalise”) [Present editor]. “Tiresias could not see and therefore, even if drunk, could not do anything. Tantalus could never reach what he wanted and so, even if drunk, would be unable to attain his desire. Both, therefore, are types of impotence. What Strato is saying, then, is that drink stimulates desire and that if Diophon objects he can go away and get drunk with impotents and leave the rest of the company, who react in the normal way, to get on with it.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 225).

[15] “They” are obviously bodily hairs, referred to as destroyers of a boy’s desirability in Straton’s poems XII 10, 13, 21, 178, 186, 191, 195, 204, 220, 229 and 249,

[16] Homer Iliad xxi. 262. [Translator’s note]

[17] Homer Iliad xxi. 259 [Translator’s note]. “The scene one must bear in mind is Achilles plunging fully armed into the River Xanthus. ἀμάρα means 'trench, conduit, or little channel', and here refers to the anal passage. ‘Never mind about ordinary people who have only a small anus’, says Strato. ‘Menedemus is big enough to take anybody, and he will!’ “(P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 233).

[18] Purple-edged robes were worn by boys until they were adult according to P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, who offered two alternate explanations for the poem (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), pp. 236-7), of which he preferred the one which, in a later amendment ((“Further Notes on Strato’s Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 103. Bd., H. 3 (1975), p. 381), he summarised as “ ‘These airy-fairy, bird-scaring adolescents whom one cannot approach are like full-blown arses on top of death-columns, fit only to give satisfaction to natural predators who will rip them apart  - are you listening, Diphilus? - or people like me who are tantalised by anything and generally have to pay for it into the bargain’.”

[19] “Probably, as the commentators explain, having some sort of sexual meaning. There is double meaning in all the rest of the epigram, but it is somewhat obscure and had best remain so”, according to the translator. Thankfully, P. G. Maxwell-Stuart thought otherwise and explained:

The meaning is, I think, fairly clear until the last phrase. Strato pictures the teacher and the boy together. He reproaches Dionysius for haste, maintaining unequivocal musical terms until ἀπ᾿ ἰσχνοτάτης εἰς τάσιν ὀγκοτάτην. He has had in mind the tension and the slack of lyre strings and this leads to 'very withered' and 'very swollen tension', whereby we realise suddenly that he is talking of Dionysius' penis. The reproach he makes, then, is “You can't keep your mind on the job; you are far too quickly aroused”.
     So far so good. The transition has been prepared by the double meaning of ἀναγινώσκειν, 'to read' but also 'to have carnal knowledge of'. The boy will never be initiated unless Dionysius can slow down his own reactions. Now, however, Strato becomes very tortuous. “I don't begrudge you (or, I'm not envious), only, μελέτα” - that is to say, “extemporise, practise, study, declaim, exercise, become accustomed to”. It is a little difficult to decide which of these he intends. Obviously, he has remembered the original situation, a 'reading' lesson, and so returns to the language of oratory. But the change is too sudden, and confuses us for what follows. “Strike both and say LA to those who envy you”. (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), pp. 231-2).

Maxwell-Stuart went on to “guess” at the obscure meaning of “Alpha and Lambda” and thus interpret the last line, but in a later article (“Further Notes on Strato’s Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 103. Bd., H. 3 (1975), pp. 379-80), he rejected this guess in favour of its standing for λαικάζειν, which he interpreted as an expletive equivalent to “fuck off”.
     According to W. M. Clarke’s interpretation of line 4, “what began as two notes, and then as two strings on which the notes were struck, turns out by innuendo to be two male members, one detumescent and the other erect. Logically, they belong to the boy and Dionysius, respectively. Dionysius is not, in fact, teaching the boy how to read, but to masturbate. He began by handling the as yet unaroused boy-the usual initial overture of the pederast (Cf. ANTH. PAL. 10.20; and a 6th cent. B.C. amphora which depicts just such a scene: G. Langlotz, Griechische Vasen (Wurzburg 1932) No. 241, pls. 64f. 6); but he won't teach the boy to masturbate, since, in his own excitement, he has too quickly left off the boy, and begun to handle himself.” His interpretation of “Alpha and Lambda” in line 6 is also “simpler and much likelier”, he says: “as we have seen […] Dionysius hardly takes time to arouse the boy before he begins to stimulate himself. ‘Keep practicing,’ the poet advises: ‘Strike them both,’ i.e., not only your own, but the boy's member as well. V. 6 simply repeats this advice, maintaining the musical facade for the obscenity. ‘Let your critics hear (the low and  high musical notes) lambda and alpha;’ strike both notes/ members.” (“Problems in Straton's Paidikh Mousa” in The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 99, No. 4 (Winter, 1978), pp. 434-6).

[20] “He mentions two kinds, but we cannot distinguish them”, says the translator. Fortunately, P. G. Maxwell-Stuart can: “He uses two words for the worm, θριπὸς and σύρμα. The latter is actually a trail, anything dragged along the ground, and gives the idea of a slow extension of θριπὸς. One's suspicion that this is a metaphor for the penis is strengthened by ἀναπηδήσας, which means to rise or to swell up” (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 216).

[21] Priam’s youngest son. [Translator’s note]

[22] Two Nemeses were worshipped at Smyrna and are often represented on the coins of that city. [Translator’s note]

[23] The title of a play by Posidippus the comic poet. [Translator’s note]

[24] Ganymede, a beautiful boy of Troy in Phrygia and a descendant of Dardanos, was carried off by Zeus disguised as an eagle.

[25] “The cucumber, lying between raised mounds of earth, is obviously the penis, and the meaning of the last line is, I think, dependent on understanding σῦς to mean the same as χοῖρος, that is, a slang term for the female pudendal. In other words, when a boy is young he is fine, but when he grows up he is fit only for women.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 216).

[26] He means the constellation Aquarius, into which Ganymede was said to have been transformed. [Translator’s note]

[27] The winged sons of Boreas, the north wind.

[28] Hom. Il. vi. 236. [Translator’s note]

[29] In Homer’s Iliad (II 876), Diomedes gave Glaukos his bronze armour worth nine oxen as a sign of friendship, and in return Gluakos gave him his golden armour worth a hundred.
     According to P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Here, the δὸς - λάβε of sexual intercourse and of financial transaction form a single idea, along with a third, that of a contrast between beautiful Sosiades and hairy (therefore ugly) Diocles. Diocles makes by far the better bargain. The whole poem is a neat working out of antitheses, with the moves constructed almost as though it were a dance.”
     Maxwell-Stuart goes on to describe eight such moves, explaining the sexual imagery along the way, then concludes: “The subtlety of the play on the theme of money lies in the idea that the 'golden' gift of Sosiades is his beauty and his youth, whereas the bronze of Diocles is almost certainly coinage. It is an example of Strato's wit at its best, tortuous perhaps when explained in English, but clear enough in Greek.” (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), pp. 228-9).    

[30] The clear implication that a boy of twelve was just about to reach the stage when it was to be expected that men would try to seduce him coincides remarkably with the only other precise bit of evidence that survives for what this age was, Plutarch’s statement that the Spartan law-giver Lykourgos had a thousand years earlier ordained that when boys reached twelve, “they were favoured with the society of lovers from among the reputable young men” (Plutarch, Life of Lykourgos XVII 1). There could of course have been variations according to time and place, but with no other clear evidence to go on, the coincidence is at least satisfying. In his poem XII 4, Straton gives twelve as the lowest of the ages of boys he delights in, which, though not quite the same thing, may be thought to offer some further corroboration. Not answered is the question of whether boys under twelve were not wooed because they were not yet found attractive, or because it would have been “unseemly”, as Straton puts it in XII 228, or whether the unseemliness of wooing them made them ipso facto unappealing.

[31] “[Strato] uses the language of the wrestling school to create a scene in which advice is given on the technique of buggery. There are three people present of whom two are speakers. Diophantus says the first two lines; B (let us call him Strato for the sake of convenience), the next two which are addressed to Diophantus. The next line he says to Cyris and the final line to Diophantus again.   
     There is nothing ambiguous about the first couplet. It describes, step by step, the mode of entry a tergo. Strato says that this is all very well but not suitable for play between boys. Then he turns to Cyris and directs him. What he says is not as clear as it could be, but I think the gist of it is this. ‘μοχλοῦ καὶ μένε’, that is, ‘heave or wrench up and stay put;’ in other words, get an erection and keep it. ‘καὶ ἐμβάλλοντος’, ‘and as I am coming down on top of you;’ ‘ἀνάσχου’, ‘support me, prop me up’. So, instead of the boy's lying prone and being sodomised from on top, he is to lie supine and insert his penis into the anus descending from above - to be the active partner, in fact.
     Finally, Strato turns back to Diophantus and says, ‘he must learn to do it with somebody before he goes out and does it for himself.’ Exactly why this form of buggery should be more suitable for boys, I am not sure, unless the position facilitates entry of the penis into the anus.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 239).

[32] cf. XII 3, where Straton said “lizard” was the term for a boy’s poker “when already heaving to your hand.”

[33] Apelles’ celebrated picture [Translator’s note]. Aphrodite, the goddess of love was born out of the sea from the foam created by Ouranos’s severed genitals. The Trojan prince Paris pronounced her the most beautiful when the three principal goddesses came to him for judgement.

[34] In the form of a roll, of course; this explains several of the phrases. [Translator’s note]

[35] P. G. Maxwell-Stuart explains the double-entendre in his “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), pp. 222-4:
     One of Strato's happier conceits is poem 228 in which he addresses a book. It will be recalled that the book was a papyrus roll, often wrapped round a wooden stick whose ends protruded and were sometimes carefully shaped. Throughout the poem there is the underlying image of the book-roll as penis, which gives Strato a vicarious thrill.
     He begins with a touch of violence. The boy is young; he has not been buggered before; ‘ἀναθλίψει’, literally, “he will force up” is echoed by 'σφίγξει,' which reminds one of sphincter. Here, by transference of the opening idea to the verb, we see the boy's lips as the opening to his anus, and σφίγξει suggests that it is tight and indeed tightens up as the book-roll/penis presses against it. The next phrase, “κατὰ μηρῶν/εἰλήσει δροσερῶν” alters the metaphor but not the general idea. Μηροί may be 'thighs' or ‘vagina’ and or δροσερῶν may be ‘tender’ or ‘dewy’. In the three phrases, therefore, there is the suggestion of gradual relaxation after a forced entry of the penis. ἀναθλίψει gives the idea of force; σφίγξει, of contraction, owing to the initial pain and shock of entry; μηρῶν δροσερῶν of sexual excitement after entry is effected. Since the boy is being used, as it were after the female manner, it is appropriate that the metaphor change as it does.
     With πολλάκι, the mood changes. A regular affair has now been established. No longer is the boy a fearful virgin undergoing his first anal experience. Now sexual relations happen often, and the violence of a first assault gives way to the gentler, more idle love-play of touching and stroking. 'κεῖνα θιγεῖν', referring to the anus, is in direct contrast to what has gone before, because ἀφόβως describes, once again by transference, the boy's emotions rather than Strato's. πολλὰ echoes πολλάκι, and in προλαλήσεις we have another double entendre, for λάλεῖν means not only 'to chat' but also something like 'about to touch up' or 'about to begin to stroke'. […]
     προλαλήσεις is preliminary chat in a period of tranquillity (ἐν ἠρεμίῃ) while the boy's mind is at ease, and ' πυκνότερόν τι λάλει' is both ‘say something rather often’, and also a plea for something more solid to enter into the moment - in other words, make a plea that tumescence begin. Thus we have seen three stages of thought in the poem. The first is a violent anticipation of the final act; the second, a looking forward to frequent, more tranquil love-play after Strato has been accepted as a lover; the third - ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κτά- brings us at last to the present. Strato has not yet gained admission to the boy - indeed, the boy is an unknown object of lust (παῖς τις) - and so he must supplicate a sexual reaction in the unknown (πυκνότερόν τι) which will indicate the magical moment of transition (λάλει) between play and act, between acceptance and submission.

[36] Evidently Straton adhered not only to the general view of classical Greeks that Achilles and Patroklos had been lovers, unstated by Homer, but to the less well-supported view, most famously depicted by Aischylos in his lost play The Myrmidons, that it was Patroklos, not Achilles, who was the loved-boy. See Plato, The Symposium 180a.

[37] “Pasiphilus keeps Strato in suspense, never allowing him to do anything; μηδὲν δὲ λαλοῦντα, therefore, means not only that the boy never says a word, but also that he never allows Strato to reach that moment when consent to sexual intercourse has been given but the act itself not yet begun.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 224).

[38] There is word-play on πνίγω and πυγίζω [Translator’s note]. P. G. Maxwell-Stuart elaborates: “The point of the poem is the pun  πνιγίζεις - πυγίζεις which has just sufficient element of surprise, despite what has gone before. Strato has taken advantage of the double meaning of τρίβειν to signal indecency from the beginning of the poem. παιδοτρίβης followed by λεῖον is the first hint. The boy is smooth- cheeked but also well-massaged and this is undoubtedly how one is supposed to understand ἐπαιδοτρίβει of the second verse. τοὺς κόκκους ἐπαφώμενος brings it out into the open. The verb is the equivalent of the English 'touching up' and if one wanted a slang expression for κόκκοι, perhaps one could use 'pills', since that too is a metaphor'. Having extracted the available humour from τρίβων, Strato then attempts no more jeux de mots so that one's attention is not distracted from the final pun. (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 231).

[39] Hebe, the word ἥβη meaning also the pubes [Translator’s note]. “Here, amid a wealth of euphemism, Strato argues that when a boy is very young (which is how I understand the reference to dawn: one may compare 178 and 215), one should not attempt buggery because entry will be too difficult to effect and the result will be a premature spilling of one's seed. The terms, as I understand them, are as follows: κύνα - penis, which is φλογόεντα because it is excited; - ταύρῳ - anus; τὴν λασίην Ἡρακλέους ἄλοχον – Hebe - the penis. Each of these usages is well-attested. In context, therefore, καρπολόχου Δημήτερος must refer to the hair round the anus.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 240).

[40] There is a pun on τρίχα, hair [Translator’s note]. P. G. Maxwell-Stuart elaborates: Nemesis “is either τρι-χάλεπτος 'thrice-jealous' or τριχάλεπτος, ‘delicate-haired’ ” (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 226). Hence this is one of the many poems in the Anthology in which a boy is punished (or threatened with coming punishment) for having spurning his suitors by the coming of bodily hair to ruin his beauty and end their interest in him.

[41] “Beauty will depart, but Strato asks for it to be given, that is, he asks for a departure of a different kind; a free departure, not an enforced one. But this latter departure involves its staying, for if beauty actually left the beloved, Strato would no longer be interested. Therefore it is the real departure brought about by ageing which he fears and not the apparent, caused by 'giving'. This idea he expresses overtly in the second line. ‘If it remain, why fear? It will remain.’ Fear, however, is lodged between the two modes of remaining and holds them, as it were, in balance. The first remaining is conditional; therefore it involves fear: it is an uncertain state. Yet it is followed by a positive statement- 'it shall remain', and that second firmly-based remaining is in turn linked with an action which involves its removal - διδόναι. But, as we have seen, the action of giving is conditional upon beauty's remaining fixed. It is an apparent, not a real movement. The poem is held tense in a balance of uncertainties, each pull - μετάδος, ἀπέλθῃ, μένει, φοβῇ reacting upon the others until the strain is resolved in the final μενεῖ. But then comes διδόναι, and the precarious equilibrium is upset again. It is a brilliant little epigram.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 229).

[42] “We have the same pun in Bk. V. 31. The point of the epigram is obscure,” according to the translator.
     P. G. Maxwell-Stuart agrees, but adds: “Strato seems to be saying that he is willing to pay double the price asked by the boy who will soon learn the lesson and put up his fees. Danae is mentioned because this gives Strato an opportunity to suggest that the shower of gold which she received was not Zeus himself but money brought by the god (cf. the epigram by Antipater of Thessalonica which says exactly this: Anth. Graec. 5, 31, 5-6. The gold stater was worth twenty drachmas). I suspect, however, that Strato is hinting at an identification between himself and Zeus. Zeus corrupted Danae with money and performed prodigies of satisfaction. She must have been gratified both financially and sexually. Strato may be hinting the same thing. The boy will receive more money than he expected and a better lover than he bargained for. This still leaves obscure the phrase about 'twenty', and, as the text is uncertain at this point, I fear there is not much more one can attempt by way of elucidation. (“Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 227).”
     W. M. Clarke finds no obscurity in the epigram’s point and considers it sarcastic: “Straton himself has already said that gold and intercourse are synonymous (12.6). But in this epigram Danae does not simply supply the poet with an opportunity to play, sarcastically, on their equivalence. I think we are entitled, especially because of the repetition ἀρκεῖ/ἤρκεσε to read the additional implication, ‘If it was good enough Danae, the choice of a god, it should be good enough for a whore like you.’ “ (“Problems in Straton's Paidikh Mousa” in The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 99, No. 4 (Winter, 1978), pp. 437-8).

[43] As Straton said in XII 3, “lizard” was the slang for a boy’s erect penis. Large penises were distasteful to Greeks, besides suggesting Alkimos had grown too old for a man’s love.

[44] “The reading and the joke are obscure” [Translator’s note].
     “Perhaps I can now throw light on this well-known mystery. The first phrase means that Strato has become impotent, and both Seneca and Celsus imply that too much lust induced gout or similar infirmities (Seneca, Epistulae 24, 16. Celsus, De Medicina I, 9, 2. Cf. Hippocrates, Aphorisms 6, 90 (IV 570 L.). Petronius, Satyricon 140). Now, if we amend ἐκτρέφομαι to ἐκτρέπομαι, not a startling change, we can understand the next phrase too: ‘if I am no longer able to sodomise and, because of that, I am suffering from gout and my limb is put out of joint ... ‘ […] Next comes the problem of the hook. We have already discussed its meaning in 12, 42: bait/money and greedy fingers. […] ‘You have made a hook’. Medium unguem ostendere was a vulgar sign intended to indicate the pathic, or passive homosexual. The boy has made the sign and ‘caught his fish’; perhaps he has indicated that he is willing to accept money for his favours, as was implied in 12, 42. Strato, however, prays to Zeus, ‘make me’ or ‘turn me into a flesh-hook’, which seems to be a prayer for restoration of potency – ‘let me be able to make the sign of sexual bargaining’. But because Strato is a humourist he asks to be turned into that sign, as it were by magic. Moreover, no little fish-hook (ἄγκιστρον) will do; he wants to be a big one (κρεάγρα). ‘Zeus, make me potent again and really attractive‘.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Further Notes on Strato’s Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 103. Bd., H. 3 (1975), pp. 381-2).

[45] Hence πυγίζειν, meaning “pedication”, or “sodomy” as the translator calls it, was not simply the normal means of consummating a pederastic liaison or Sraton’s personal preference, it was indispensable since its invention was a prerequisite to men having an alternative to females.

[46] For the pun on this name, the translator, Paton, refers to XX 97, where he explains that meros means thighs. See, however, P. G. Maxwell-Stuart. “Eupalamus: A Comment on Anth. Graec. 12.97” in The American Journal of Philology , Spring, 1975, Vol. 96, No. 1 (Spring, 1975), pp. 13-15 for its meaning as “anus”, which he suggests Paton was too embarrassed to admit.

[47] “Strato resorts to his favourite trick, quoting Homer out of context (Odyssey xi. 66), to urge that Diphilus turn over and allow himself to be buggered. At least, so I understand the misquotation νῦν δέ σε τῶν ὄπιθεν γουνάζομαι, οὐ παρεόντων ὕστερον. He has used ὄπιθεν before in the sense of buttocks (e.g. 7) and γουνάζομαι should here be understood in the literal sense of clasping the knees or waist; οὐ παρεόντων may carry with it a sense of non-cooperation, a sense of the verb one can illustrate from Iliad 18, 472 and Odyssey 13, 393. His final phrase, ἔστω γὰρ πάντα καθ᾿ ἡλικίην, harks back to something he said to Moiris (228), to the effect that there is a time and place for everything in sexual affairs and that two parties may reach the right moment whereat their intercourse is seemly in both. Diphilus has now grown up and it is time for him to submit to the full act of anal eroticism.” (P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, “Strato and the Musa Puerilis” in Hermes, 100. Bd., H. 2 (1972), p. 235).

[48] “Although a purely literal interpretation of A.P. 12,252 does provide sense, it leaves the epigram a not particularly pointed exercise in a pointed form and something of a disappointment from the normally ingenious Strato. However, very frequently the poet's words possess (hitherto unnoticed) connotations, most of which are well-established in erotic puns, and their presence here seems deliberate since they all go together well, forming a quite ambitious combination and making for a clever and witty poem in line with Strato's penchant for risqué verbal play” (P. Murgatroyd, “Strato A.P. 12, 252”,  in Hermes, 113. Band, Heft 2 (2nd Quarter, 1985), pp. 253-254). Murgatroyd’s article is not long (though too long for a footnote) and should be read in full by anyone interested in understanding what Straton’s real, sexual meaning is in this poem, or wanting to appreciate his wit here.

[49] Which were held later in the year. [Translator’s note]




If you would like to leave a comment on this webpage, please e-mail it to greek.love.tta@gmail.com, mentioning either the title or the url of the page so that the editor can add it. You could also indicate the name by which you wish to be known.

Mario,  24 November 2022

Thank you very much for your very interesting and well-built website.   And well done for getting "greek-love.com" as your web address!

I was reading The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs by Marc David Baer which mentions the beloved boys quite a bit.   I wanted to find out more and found your site, thank you again.

Could you please direct me to another translation or other translations of Straton's poem below as I find the last words, “And answering him back” rather confusing?   

I delight in the prime of a boy of twelve, but one of thirteen is much more desirable. He who is fourteen is a still sweeter flower of the Loves, and one who is just beginning his fifteenth year is yet more delightful. The sixteenth year is that of the gods, and as for the seventeenth it is not for me, but for Zeus, to seek it. But if one has a desire for those still older, he no longer plays, but now seeks “And answering him back.”


Editor,  24 November 2022

Thank you.

Here is the translation of Greek Anthology XII 4 by Peter Jay (1973):

I delight in the prime of a boy of twelve,
but a thirteen-year-old's better yet.
At fourteen he's Love's even sweeter flower,
& one going on fifteen's even more delightful.
Sixteen belongs to the gods, & seventeen ...
it's not for me, but Zeus to seek.
If you want the older ones, you don't play
any more, but seek & answer back.

I don’t think that’s nearly as accurate as Paton’s translation. As I wrote in footnote 7, my interpretation of the last words is that “those interesting themselves in still older youths have definitely crossed the line into being passives (kinaidoi),” but I may be wrong. Can you think of another explanation?

Mario,  24 November 2022

I agree with your interpretation and Jay's translation seems to back it up.

Straton appears to be condemning in the most censorious terms what he considers to be, in any event, an unnatural relationship by characterizing the older male as passive because of his interest in older youths; whether or not the older male is passive, he might as well be!

The censure illustrates the view of the many who disapproved of the relationship between Suleiman (later Suleiman I) and Pargalı Ibrahim; the two appear to have been almost exactly the same age and to have prolonged their relationship well past both having grown beards.

On the other hand, judging by Greek Anthology XII 4, the relationship between Mehmet II (born 1432) and Radu the Fair (born c 1438) would have been correct, provided it hadn't started too early or lasted too long.

Here you have an interesting discussion of chronological age: https://greek-love.com/index.php/near-east-north-africa/arab-islamic-loved-boy-age-pederasty?highlight=WyJwcmllc3QiXQ==