Floating among the waves

Save me, good sirs! No sooner, saved from the sea,
have I set foot on land, fresh from my first voyage,
than Love drags me here by force, and as if bearing a torch in front of me,
turns me to look on the loveliness of a boy.
I tread in his footing, and seizing on his sweet image, formed in air,
I kiss it sweetly with my lips.
Have I then escaped the briny sea but to cross on land
the flood of Cypris that is far more bitter?

Meleager’s epigram (translated by W. R. Paton)

Glass cameo set into a gold cuff-link, early first century AD. British Museum, 2009,5018.96 © The Trustees of the British Museum / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

This white and reddish coloured gem, only a few millimetres in diameter, is carved with the figure of a sailing Eros. The god, depicted in his usual manner as a winged child, sits on the hull of an amphora shaped ship (the two handles of the vase can be seen on the left). The sail catches the wind and propels the ship through the water with Eros at the helm.

In the featured image above you can see a fragment of a black-figured vase (krater or dinos), made in Klazomenai in the 6th century BC. It shows five rowers seated in a ship, sailing to the right. Below them, thin white lines depict the waves of the sea. Can you see the outline of the dolphin at the bottom of the fragment? Take a closer look at the piece on the website of the British Museum!

The translation for the poem is taken from The Greek Anthology, with a translation by W. R. Paton (1916–1918), but has been modified to remove some of the archaic language. The original was composed in the early part of the 1st century BC and can be found here: Anth. Gr. 12. 84.

For those recovering from an emotional ship-wreck, this danceable song by the Hungarian band Carson Coma could come to the rescue:

Leave a comment