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This poem is taken from PN Review 215, Volume 40 Number 3, January - February 2014.

Archilochus, Mimnermus, and the Theognidea: Poems and Fragments Chris Childers
The poems translated here range in date from around the seventh to the fifth century BC. Archilochus of Paros is Greece's earliest 'lyric' poet, known as the Father of Iambus and famed for the fierce invective that drove the daughters of his foe Lycambes to hang themselves; his iambics furnished the chief model for Horace's epodes. The archaic elegist Mimnermus hailed from Smyrna and wrote two major works, the Nanno, presumably dedicated to a girl of that name, and the Smyrneis, in celebration of his native town; he was the most skilful of the archaic elegists, revered by later poets such as Callimachus and Propertius for his lovely concision and lapidary polish. Sadly, no complete text of either poet survives, and we are forced to rely on quotations in other authors and scraps of papyrus to enjoy their verse. The poems of the Theognidea, by contrast, survive in continuous manuscript, attached by name to Theognis of Megara (near Corinth), a rather grumpy and blinkered old oligarch who may have been driven into exile by a democratic revolution c. 600. The poems sampled here, however, are almost certainly not by Theognis, but are anonymous accretions to the elder poet's elegiac book; they are very much the sort of thing that would have been performed at drinking parties (symposia) in areas such as Megara in the sixth and fifth centuries BC. 


You won't see many bent bows, nor a throng
of slings, when Ares drives both sides headlong
over the plain; the groans will come from swords.
This is the fighting-style the spear-famed lords
have mastered in Euboea.

Some Saian now enjoys the faultless shield
I tossed in bushes, fleeing the battlefield
to save my skin. To hell with it! Why curse?
Who cares? I'll get another one no worse.

I don't want golden Gyges' anything - 
no envy here. I don't long for the might
of gods. I'm not in love with being king.
All of that's far beyond my line of sight.

This island, arching like an ass's backbone,

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