Anacreon (/əˈnækriən/; Greek: Ἀνακρέων ὁ Τήϊος; c. 582 – c. 485 BC) was a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns. Later Greeks included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. Anacreon wrote all of his poetry in the ancient Ionic dialect. Like all early lyric poetry, it was composed to be sung or recited to the accompaniment of music, usually the lyre. Anacreon’s poetry touched on universal themes of love, infatuation, disappointment, revelry, parties, festivals and the observations of everyday people and life.
On my knees I speak to you,
Artemis, hunter of deer,
blond child of Zeus and queen
of roaming beasts. From pools
of the river Lethaios you gaze
across a city of brave men.
Serenity. You are a shepherd
of no flock of savage citizens.
The dice of love are
shouting a madness.
The Vision of Love
On easy wings I glide to Olympos where
I seek my master Eros,
but he no longer lets me run down warm women
as in my doghood days:
he sees my graying beard and passes me by,
while I stand transfixed
in the wind made by his wings of quivering gold.
On an Old Lover
Eros, the blond god of lovers,
strikes me with a purple ball
and asks me to play with a girl
wearing colorful sandals;
but the girl is from beautiful
Lesbos, and scorns my white hair,
and turning her back runs gaping
behind another girl.
On a Virgin
My Thracian foal, why do you glare with disdain
and then shun me absolutely as if I knew
nothing of this art?
I tell you I could bridle you with tight straps,
seize the reins and gallop you around the posts
of the pleasant course.
But you prefer to graze on the calm meadow,
or frisk and gambol gayly- having no manly
rider to break you in.
Preparations for Love
Bring out water and wine and an armful
I want the proper setting
when I spar a few rounds with love.
Eros, the blacksmith of love,
smashed me with a giant hammer
and doused me in the cold river.
Lord! I clamber up the white cliff
and dive into the steaming wave,
O dead drunk with love.
On A Conservative Lover
I love and yet do not love.
I am mad yet not quite mad.
Definition of a Whore
celebrated by the masses,
and an apple orchard
of mad haunches.
Although we call these women loose,
they tighten their thighs around thighs.
On the Fortunes of Artemon
Once he went about in filthy clothes and waspy
with wooden rings on his ears, and wore around
an unwashed hairy oxhide from an old miserable
Our con-man pimped a living from bakery girls
and got his neck bound to a whipping block where
made raw meat of his back- and best, he rode the
so that hairs could be torm from his beard and scalp.
But now the good Artemon rides like a generous
in an excellent coach or litter; he wears gold
and carries a special ivory parasol like a grand
O sweet boy like a girl,
I see you though you will not look my way.
You are unaware that you handle the reins
of my soul.
On Drinking Parties *001
I do not like the man who sits by his bowl
and sobs about the sad wars,
but the rake who loves to rave about fine feats
in the arts and art of love.
A Way to the Heart
and rub aromatic myrrh on her breasts:
the hollow cave around her heart.
On the Origin of Mules or Half-Asses
The Mysians were first in perfecting the art
of coupling mare-hopping donkeys with horses.
In the morning they were joined in marriage,
though later in the same chamber
the groom could not join with his wife.
We go through Poseidon’s month.
Ponderous clouds sag with water
and furious storms break out
collapsing the rain earthward.
On A Hoplite
Here, the tomb of Timokritos, a hero in the wars.
It is the coward whom Ares spares- not the brave.
On a Guardian Angel
Now I hang in Athene’s gleaming temple.
It was I who brought Python safely home
from the dreadful wars:
I, his shield.
The bird flashes back and forth
between the black leaves of laurel trees
and the greenness of the olive grove.
On the Soldier Agathon
All members of this village have come to weep
at your funeral pyre, O courageous Agathon,
who died for Abdera:
for in the chaos of the horrible battlefield,
blood-loving Ares never before slaughtered
a more fearless youth.
On kleinorides, Lost as Sea *002
You too, Kleinorides, were lost loving your country
as you confronted the wintry blast of the south
In the spring season of your life you died unwed;
the seawaves washed away your graceful adoles-
I looked at her and took off
like a frightened cuckoo bird.
I hate those who are furtive and touchy, morose
in their ways. I have learned that you, Megistes,
are of the innocent; of the childlike ones.
My temples are white, my head largely bald.
Graceful youth has departed from my face,
and my teeth are loose teeth of an old man.
I have few years left of sweet life.
Therefore I tremble and fear the underworld,
for the lightless chasm of death is dreadful
and the descent appalling: once cast down
into Hell, there is no return.
Let us hang garlands of celery
across our foreheads,
and call a festival to Dionysos.
*001 Attributed to Semonides by Bergk.
*002 Also ascribed to Leonidas of Tarentum.