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HE meaning of Anthology is a collection of Epigrams, or flowers of speech, which have always been highly prized and imitated by scholars; and the space of time over which the writers of such effusions successively flourished may be said to extend to upwards of a thousand years.

Originally and literally the word epigram denoted simply an offering or inscription in a temple, in honour of the deity. to whom success in war, or at the public games, was attributed by the victors. Afterwards moral sentences were engraved on statues or memorial columns, as well as records of affection on tombs. The Greeks also imagined natural scenery and objects to be animated by some spiritual essence which could be reverenced and addressed, and these impulses are apparent in many of their votive poems, which embrace a very varied range of topics, and are found scattered among the works of old historians, biographers, and other authors, -the simpler and more natural the composition, if it has genius, the greater the probability that it is ancient and original.

The early Greek epigrams do not aim at wit, or seek to produce surprise, but merely to set forth some fact or feeling in the simplest language, with perfect purity and elegance of diction, beauty being regarded as the true ideal, whether in the statue which enchants the eye, or in the lines which have the power to please the fancy or touch the heart.

The following specimens have been arranged in classes of the same character, as more convenient for comparison and reference than if placed in order of date or authorship.

The first division consists of those which may be called 'Dedicatory or Votive,' either as consecrated to some divine power, or as monumental records of victories and public events; some being actual inscriptions, whilst others are only commemorative verses, as their different construction will indicate.

"Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie;'

'Of those at famed Thermopyle who lie,
Glorious the fortune, bright the destiny.
Their tomb an altar is; their noble name
A fond remembrance of ancestral fame.
Their death a song of triumph; neither rust
Nor time, that turns all mortal things to dust,
Shall dim the splendour of that holy shrine,

Where Greece for ever sees her native virtues shine.'


'Trace on my tomb the mountains and the sea,

And let the all-seeing sun a witness be;

Trace, too, the streams whose deep and copious course
Xerxes dried up with his unnumbered force.

Add Salamis; and make the shrine that stands

Reared to my memory by Magnesian hands,

Such as Themistocles' high fame demands.'

'Timareté, her wedding-day now near,

To Artemis has laid these offerings here,→
Her tambourine, her pleasant ball, the net
As a safe guardian o'er her tresses set;
Her maiden dolls, in mimic robes arrayed,
Gifts fitting for a maid to give a maid.
Goddess, thy hand upon her kindly lay,
And keep her holy in thy holy way.'

'When first Eudoxus cut the locks he wore,
That charm of boyhood he to Phoebus bore;
Instead of locks, Far-darter, hear his vow,
And let Acharnian ivy wreath his brow.'

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'Old Cyniras to the Nymphs this net; no more
His strength can stand the toils that once it bore;
Rejoice, ye fishes, sporting in the sea,

From danger at his hands you now are free.'


"Venus! take this votive glass,
Since I am not what I was;
What I shall hereafter be,
Venus! let me never see.'

TO THE WATer Deities, BY A THIRSTY Traveller :—
'Cool stream, where waters from the cleft rock start,
Forms, too, of Naiads, carved by rustic art,
Ye fountain-heads, and countless spots around,
Made lovely by your rills that here abound,

Farewell! and from a wayfarer receive,

The horn which here he dipped his hot thirst to relieve.'


'This Venus' favourite haunt; 'tis her delight

To look from land upon the ocean bright,

And speed the sailor's course. The ambient brine

Quails as it sees the image in her shrine.'

Sepulchral' inscriptions form the next division, and the following are selected as specimens of ancient Greek epitaphs :

'Prote, thou art not dead; but thou hast passed

To better lands, whose pleasures ever last

To bound in joy amidst the fairest flowers
Of the blest isles, Elysium's blooming bowers.
Thee not the summer heat nor winter's chill
Shall e'er annoy-exempt from every ill;
Nor sickness, hunger, thirst again distress;
Nor dost thou long for earthly happiness.
Contented thou, remote from human woes,
In the pure light which from Olympus flows.'

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'Here Dicon's son, Acanthian Saon lies
In sacred sleep; say not a good man dies.'

'Cruel is death-nay, kind; he that is ta'en
Was old in wisdom, though his years were few.
Life's pleasures hath he lost; escaped life's pain;
Nor wedded joys, nor wedded sorrows, knew.'

'Oh, why, my brother-mariners, so near the boistrous wave
Of ocean have ye hollowed out my solitary grave?

'Twere better much that farther off a sailor's tomb should be,
For I dread my rude destroyer-I dread the roaring sea;
But may the smiles of fortune, and may love and peace await
All you who shed a pitying tear for poor Nicetas' fate.'

'Of one who high in Greece precedence held,
Hippias, who all men of his day excelled,
Archedice the daughter here doth rest;
Her father, brothers, husband, sons, possessed
A princely rank; but in her gentle mind
None could a trace of arrogance e'er find.'

'Manes when living was a slave; dead now,
Great King Darius, he's as great as thou.'

'Aster, in life our morning star, a lovely light you shed;
And now you shine as Hesperus, a star among the dead.'

'View not my tomb with pity, passer by ;

No cause for tears o'er me, though doomed to die.
I've seen my children's children; a dear wife,
With me grown old, has cheered my lengthened life.
Three of my offspring, honourably wed,

Have given me grandsons from their fruitful bed,
Who in my lap have oft been lulled to sleep;
For no disease or death e'er called to weep.
These with due honours, blameless to my rest
Have sent me, in the region of the blest.'

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From their Amatory' effusions, which constitute the third division, we learn how keenly alive the Greeks were to personal beauty and graceful accomplishments:

'We reached the grove's deep shadow, and there found
Cythera's son in sleep's sweet fetters bound,

Looking like ruddy apples on their tree :

No quiver and no bended bow had he,
These were suspended on a leafy spray

Himself in cups of roses cradled lay,

Smiling in sleep; while from their flight in air,

The brown bees to his soft lips made repair,

To ply their waxen task, and leave their honey there.'

'I'll frame, my Heliodora, a garland for thy hair,

Which thou, in all thy beauty's pride, mayst not disdain to wear;

For I with tender myrtles, white violets will twine,—

White violets, but not so pure as that pure breast of thine;

With laughing lilies I will twine narcissus, and the sweet
Crocus shall in its yellow hue with purple hyacinth meet;
And I will twine with all the rest, and all the rest above,
Queen of them all, the red red rose, the flower which lovers love.'

"The eyes of Juno, Meleté, are thine,

Minerva's hands, and Venus' breasts divine;
While thy fair feet like Thetis' ankles shine.
Happy is he who sees thee; he who hears
Thy voice melodious, trebly blest appears;
Who woos thee has a demi-god's delight,
And he who wins thee is immortal quite.'

'Oh that I were some gentle air,
That when the heats of summer glow,
And lay thy panting bosom bare,
I might upon that bosom blow!
Oh that I were yon blushing rose,
Which even now thy hands have pressed,
That I might love in sweet repose,
Reclining on thy snowy breast!
Oh that I were a lily fair,

That, culled by fingers fairer still,
I might thy every movement share,
And on thy beauty gaze my fill !'

'Beauty on which no graces wait,
May please, but not retain ;
Just as, without the barb, the bait
Floats useless on the main.'

The fourth division includes Didactic' epigrams, which consist chiefly of moral precepts :—

'Still raise for good the supplicating voice,

But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.'

'Wise is the man, prepared for either end,
Who in due measure can both spare and spend.'

'Toss'd on a sea of troubles, soul, my soul,
Thyself do thou control;

And to the weapons of advancing foes
A stubborn breast oppose,

Undaunted 'mid the hostile might

Of squadrons burning for the fight.

Thine be no boasting when the victor's crown
Wins the deserved renown;

Thine no dejected sorrow, when defeat

Would urge a base retreat ;

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