Antipater of Sidon, 2nd c. BCE

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—while painting a moving picture of the deserted city and its inhabitants who were either killed or sold into slavery.

Gutzwiller argues that through his use of variation and evocation of famous poets and others, Antipater should be seen as an interpreter of earlier Greek texts and culture. So it is not surprising that Antipater’s poetry exhibits features of various dialects to add poetic coloring to his poetry. Most prominently, these two poems exhibit Doric features, such as ᾱ where Attic would use η (e.g., μάτηρ for μήτηρ); and epic features, such as ου for ο (e.g., μοῦναι (7) for μόναι); and epic genitives (e.g., σέο (1) and σεῖο (5) for σοῦ).

Gow, A. S. F., and D. L. Page, eds. The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams. 2 vols. Cambrisge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.

Gutzwiller, Kathryn. Poetic Garlands: Hellenistic Epigrams in Context. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.