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Theocritus Bion and Moschus Rendered into English Prose

Andrew Lang

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Egyptian plague of Loves.  Loves flutter through the Pompeian pictures as they do through the poems of Moschus and Bion.  They are carried about in cages, for sale, like birds.  They are caught in bird-traps.  They don the lion-skin of Heracles.  They flutter about baskets laden with roses; round rosy Loves, like the cupids of Boucher.  They are not akin to ‘the grievous Love,’ the mighty wrestler who threw Daphnis a fall, in the first idyl of Theocritus.  They are ‘the children that flit overhead, the little Loves, like the young nightingales upon the budding trees,’ which flit round the dead Adonis in the fifteenth idyl.  They are the birds that shun the boy fowler, in Bion’s poem, and perch uncalled (as in a bronze in the Uffizi) on the grown man.  In one or other of the sixteen Pompeian pictures of Venus and Adonis, the Loves are breaking their bows and arrows for grief, as in the hymn of Bion.

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Community Reviews

I haven't been impressed so far by the numerous Fairy Books that made Andrew Lang so famous in his day.

On the other hand these renderings of pastoral Idylls, from the 3rd c. BCE, are good stuff. In fact, this is the first time that ancient lyric poetry has really captivated me.

I'v had may great teachers in the classics, but Andrew Lang is far and away my favorite translator of all things Greek.