Leonidas of Tarentum Says Lyric Poets are Cicadas

Leonidas of Tarentum Epigram (6.120) G-P 91 on Lyric Poets

Translated by Steven J. Willett

ἐξ ἡρέων ἡ γὰρ παρθένος αὐλοθέτει.

Not only do I know, perching on a lofty tree, how

To sing, as I am scorched by midsummer heat,

Without payment making a song for the wayfarers,

And feasting on the light, fresh juice of dew:

But even on the spear of fair-helmeted Athena

You’ll see me, the cicada, where I’m seated.

For as much as the Muses love me, far greater Athena

I love: for she, the maiden, is creator of the lute.

οὐ μόνον ὑψηλοῖς ἐπὶ δένδρεσιν οἶδα καθίζων

ἀείδειν, ζαθερεῖ καύματι θαλπόμενος,

προίκιος ἀνθρώποισι κελευθίτηισιν ἀοιδός,

θηλείης ἔρσης ἰκμάδα γευόμενος,

ἀλλὰ καὶ εὐπήληκος Ἀθηναίης ἐπὶ δουρὶ

τὸν τέττιγ’ ὄψει μ’ , ὤνερ, ἐφεζόμενον.

ὅσσον γὰρ Μούσαις ἐστέργμεθα, τόσσον Ἀθήνη

ἐξ ἡρέων ἡ γὰρ παρθένος αὐλοθέτει.

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3 Responses to Leonidas of Tarentum Says Lyric Poets are Cicadas

  1. akaPatience says:

    Beautiful print, beautiful poem. I’ll try my best to keep them in mind when those buzzing bugs finally arrive.

  2. walrus says:

    Professor Willett, I like your posts and imagery much better than my own. Do you know the artist who did the Cicada painting?

    • Steven J. Willett says:

      Based on comparing the seals with those on other sumi-e, it is by the Chinese painter Zhao Shao’ang of Guangzhou in the Linguan School. I stumbled across the work for my post by accident and haven’t been able to find it again, but seal comparison with other Zhao Shao’ang painting–helped by a magnifying glass–gives the painter.

      Thanks for your comment on my work. I always enjoy your posts and comments.

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