Nine Voices

theseusIn ancient Greece, nine poets were esteemed as the greatest above all other lyrical poets.  These were (in no particular order): Bacchylides, Alcman, Sappho, Alcalus, Anacreon, Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and Pindar.  The following poem takes a line from a poem authored by one of these, cycling through the list for three stanzas.  If you’re more of an expert than I am, try to spot the tell-tale signs of which poet is being quoted.  For the curious and bored, the poem’s lines have been numbered, with references to which poet contributed which line given after the poem itself.

Stanza I

1 There is such a thing as the vengeance of the gods,
2 Some an army of horsemen, some an army on foot
3 Over the wide earth, over all the earth
4 If thou dost the number know
5 Where monster Geryon first beheld the light,
6 Growing under the shadowy branches,
7 O stranger, send the news home to the people of Sparta
8 Grown fat on the harsh words of hate
9 that generous host, victory with its fresh applause.

Stanza II

10 Theseus had seen, beneath his frowning brow
11 A gleam of splendor given to heaven
12 That here we are laid to rest
13 Streams there were the maidens
14 Born near the unfathomed silver springs that gleam
15 Drink we then, and drain all sorrows;
16 Come hither, ye mighty sons of Zeus
17 On the throne of many hues, Immortal Aphrodite
18 blooms like untarnished gold.

Stanza III

19 No countryman was he, not clumsy, not one of the uncultured
20 and in my wild heart did I most wish
21 to help them forget their troubles. Mix one part of wine and two parts of water
22 And thy verdant cup does fill;
23 Famed Erytheia rises to the sight;
24 but like the Thracian north wind
25 Send the news home
26 Creatures for a day! What is a man!
27 All dancing in a maze.

Alcman – Lines 1, 18, 19
Sappho – Lines 2, 17, 20
Alcaeus – Lines 3, 16, 21
Anacreon – Lines 4, 15, 22
Stesichorus – Lines 5, 14, 23
Ibycus – Lines 6, 13, 24
Simonides – Lines 7, 12, 25
Pindar – Lines 8, 11, 26
Bacchylides – Lines 9, 10, 27

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