Ποῦ τὸ περίβλεπτον κάλλος σέο, Δωρὶ Κόρινθε;
ποῦ στεφάναι πύργων, ποῦ τὰ πάλαι κτέανα,
ποῦ νηοὶ μακάρων, ποῦ δώματα, ποῦ δὲ δάμαρτες
Σισύφιαι, λαῶν θ’ αἱ ποτὲ μυριάδες;
οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδ’ ἴχνος, πολυκάμμορε, σεῖο λέλειπται, 5
πάντα δὲ συμμάρψας ἐξέφαγεν πόλεμος.
μοῦναι ἀπόρθητοι Νηρηΐδες, Ωκεανοῖο
κοῦραι, σῶν ἀχέων μίμνομεν ἁλκυόνες.
- Pre Reading
- Post Reading
- Culture Essay
Antipater of Sidon is one of several poets named Antipater in the Greek Anthology. Alive during much of the second century BCE, Antipater lived at the intersection of three worlds: Phoenician Sidon, the Hellenistic east, and the invading Romans. Indeed, his epigrams express a desire to cultivate the Greek culture of the past while responding to the reality of the now dominant Romans who are both conquerors and patrons. Of the 177 epigrams in the Greek Anthology authored by someone named Antipater, forty-six are specifically ascribed to Antipater of Sidon. The Sidonian’s writing style favored long sentences with many adjectives and compounds, and he exercised his creativity by composing sophisticated variations on previous poets’ short epigrams. In this poem, Antipater laments the sack of Corinth in 146 BCE without ever mentioning the Romans or their general Mummius. Yet he does paint a moving picture of the deserted city and its inhabitants who were either killed or sold into slavery.
Key terms: addressee, alliteration, anaphora, epigram, epitaph, imagery, metaphor, pathos, personification, speaker, theme, tone. You can find many of these defined in the Glossary of Literary Terms at the University of Kentucky.
What is the effect of the increasing repetition of the word ποῦ? Are there other examples of anaphora in the poem?
What sound effects underscore the pathos of the poem? What words evoke sympathy for Corinth?
What words call to mind the past achievements of Corinth? When does the poem shift from past glories to present misery? What tense are λέλειπται and ἐξέφαγεν? How does ἐξέφαγεν punctuate this section of the poem?
What words conjure up Corinth as an older woman? Is there another example of personification in the poem? How do the two personifications vie with each other?
Who is the speaker of the poem? Who is likened to ἁλκυόνες? Does the final image of ἁλκυόνες offer comfort or not?
Imagine where the speakers or the listeners might be located as they deliver or hear this poem.
What would you most miss about Corinth after its sack by Mummius? What would you most wish to see if you could go back pre-146 BCE?