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Anacreontea (Anonymous c.100 BC-600 AD)
      Translated by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

          The wounded Cupid. Song.

    CUpid as he lay among
    Roses, by a Bee was stung.
    Whereupon in anger flying
    To his Mother, said thus crying;
    Help! O help! your Boy's a dying.
    And why, my pretty Lad, said she?
    Then blubbering, replyed he,
    A winged Snake has bitten me,
    Which Country people call a Bee.
    At which she smil'd; then with her hairs
    And kisses drying up his tears:
    Alas! said she, my Wag! if this
    Such a pernicious torment is:
    Come, tel me then, how great's the smart
    Of those, thou woundest with thy Dart!


Anacreon was a native of the Greek city of Teos in Asia Minor and one of the most popular poets of his time. A translation of his (supposed) works was so popular in the late 1700s that his name was used by the Anacreontic Society in London. It was this group that composed the Anacreontic Song whose tune would be reused for the national anthem of the United States. As that song makes clear, Anacreon was chiefly known for his poems on love and wine. Unfortunately, the translated poems in question were not actually written by Anacreon, instead they were the Anacreontea - anonymous poems written between AD 100 and 600 BC in imitation of Anacreon's work. Anacreon's actual works are claimed to have filled at least five volumes, but all that remain are fragments.

The above translation can be found in:

  • Herrick, Robert. Hesperides: Or, The Works Both Humane & Divine of Robert Herrick Esq. London: Printed for John Williams and Francis Eglesfield, 1648.
  • Poole, Adrian, and Jeremy Maul, eds. The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

    An overview of Anacreon's life and imitators and a translation of the Anacreontea (the above is number 35) can be found in:

  • Rosenmeyer, Patricia A. The Poetics of Imitation: Anacreon and the Anacreontic Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

    Quotations about Anacreon from the classical period and a translation of the remaining fragments of his poetry can be found in:

  • Edmonds, J. M., ed. Lyra Graeca, Volume II. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1924.