Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Poem and a Picture: Two Poems of Nossis

 Nossis is one of the best preserved women poets of ancient Greece. In these two poems, she captures the beauty of art in her poetry.

Thaumaretae formam tabula habet; bene utique elatum animum

effinxit et pulchritudinem placidis-conspicuae-oculus.

Blandiretur te conspecta etiam domus-custos catella,

dominam aedium se putans adspicere.

Θαυμαρέτας μορφὰν ὁ πίναξ ἔχει: εὖ γε τὸ γαῦρον

τεῦξε τὸ θ᾽ ὡραῖον τᾶς ἀγανοβλεφάρου.

σαίνοι κέν ς᾽ ἐσιδοῖσα καὶ οἰκοφύλαξ σκυλάκαινα,

δέσποιναν μελάθρων οἰομένα ποθορῆν.

This is a painting of Thaumetra:

Look at how well depicted are

her joyous spirit and gentle-eyed expression.

A guard dog puppy would wag her tail at the sight

Thinking her lady was still at home.

 --Nossis, Greek Anthology ix.604; Translated by Hugo Grotius

Tabulatam flavae Callo in domo Veneris

dedicavit, pingi-quae-iusserat imaginem omnino similem.

Ut placide adstat! Vide, gratia eius quandum floreat.

Valeat: non ullam enim reprehensionem habet vitae.

τὸν πίνακα ξανθᾶς Καλλὼ δόμον εἰς Ἀφροδίτας

εἰκόνα γραψαμένα πάντ᾽ ἀνέθηκεν ἴσαν.

ὡς ἀγανῶς ἕστακεν ἴδ᾽ ἁ χάρις ἁλίκον ἀνθεῖ.

χαιρέτω: οὔ τινα γὰρ μέμψιν ἔχει βιοτᾶς.

Callo dedicated a painting of herself

in the temple of golden-haired Aphrodite.

How serenely she appears! Look at how gracefully she shines.

Well done! For her life is blameless.

 --Nossis, Greek Anthology ix.605; Translated by Hugo Grotius



Name:  Nossis

Date:  3rd c. BCE

Works:  [fragments]



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Nossis was considered among the famous nine women poets of ancient Greek literature. She lived in Locris (southern Italy) during the 3rd century. Several of her poems are preserved in the Greek Anthology; like that of her literary predecessor Sappho, Nossis’ poetry provides great insight into the lives of women in the ancient world.


ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)

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