Selections from The Greek Anthology

Selections from The Greek Anthology

Selections from The Greek Anthology

Selections from The Greek Anthology

Excerpt

The Greek Anthology is a collection of more than four thousand epigrams, the bulk of which were written between the sixth century BC and the sixth century AD. Thus the Anthology spans Greek history from the rise of the city-state in Greece itself, through the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, through the conquests of Alexander of Macedon, through the flourishing Hellenic civilization of Alexandria, through the Roman Empire when the Greeks were the teachers of their masters, and through the barbarian invasions and the rise of Christianity until the reign of Justinian allowed in Byzantium the last flowering of Greek art and letters.

The Anthology is a chronicle of these changes. The stern epigrams of Simonides praise the virtues of an honourable death in war, virtues necessary to a military state such as early Athens. But by the time of Plato, the city-state has declined in power. The epigrams now speak of love and drink and work and poverty. If death is the subject, it is a personal tragedy, the death of one man or woman rather than the death of the three hundred . . .

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