Read 7 Greeks by Guy Davenport Online


Here is a colorful variety pf works by seven Greek poets and philosophers who lived from the eighth to the third centuries BC. Salvaged from shattered pottery vases and tattered scrolls of papyrus, everything decipherable from the remains of these ancient authors is assembled here. From early to later, the collection contains: Archilochos; Sappho; Alkman; Anakreon; the phiHere is a colorful variety pf works by seven Greek poets and philosophers who lived from the eighth to the third centuries BC. Salvaged from shattered pottery vases and tattered scrolls of papyrus, everything decipherable from the remains of these ancient authors is assembled here. From early to later, the collection contains: Archilochos; Sappho; Alkman; Anakreon; the philosophers Herakleitos and Diogenes; and Herondas. This composite of fragments translated by Guy Davenport is the most complete collection of its kind ever to appear in one volume....

Title : 7 Greeks
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780811212885
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 242 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

7 Greeks Reviews

  • Eddie Watkins
    2019-04-06 12:21

    99. Boil in the crotch.149. Seam of the scrotum.209. A hummock Of a bulge At the crotch, That diner On eyeless eels.Archilochos15. Desire has shaken my mindAs wind in the mountain forests Roars through trees.31. Bride with beautiful feet.72. And I yearn And I hunt.108. You make me hot.120. Dawn with small golden feet.Sappho13. Girls scattered helterskelter, Chickens and hawkshadow.46. I can whistleEvery bird's song.Alkman12. The talents that tantalized Talented Tantalos [tantalize me:].42. I come from the river With bright things in my arms.70. Garlands of celery around our brows, We're off to celebrate the Dyonysia.93. I become misty-eyed and ready When you want me.131. Sauce.Anakreon6. Knowledge is not intelligence.8. I have looked diligently at my own mind.40. The most beautiful order of the world is still a random gathering of things insignificant in themselves.52. If every man had exactly what he wanted, he would be no better than he is now.67. In death men will come upon things they do not expect, things utterly unknown to the living.124. Even sleeping men are doing the world's business andhelping it along.Herakleitos8. We are not as hardy, free, or accomplished as animals.20. The art of being a slave is to rule one's master.42. There is no stick hard enough to drive me away from a man from whom I can learn something.57. The luxurious have made frugality an affliction.106. We have complicated every simple gift of the gods.DiogenesYou sleep so hard it makes you tired. Get up!Herondas

  • Thomas
    2019-03-29 06:02

    I was familiar with Heraclitus and Diogenes, and had a passing familiarity with Sappho, but Archilochos, Anakreon, and Herondas were all new to me. And Alkman (who I liked the least.) I would expect that many translators of fragments have to resist the urge to extrapolate, but Davenport doesn't hesitate to fill his verses with brackets and ellipses with little explanation for the erosion of the texts. (Though I wonder how much of the stage direction is in the original.) More importantly, his translations are vibrant, saucy, and decisive.

  • David
    2019-04-01 09:18

    Excellent introduction, and the translations are powerful and have a lot of character. Though I enjoyed some of the fragments, I would have given five stars if the author had been able to expand on some of the more broken fragments, as there is little sense of poetry to random words that could have been taken from a newspaper account just as well as a piece of verse. I realize that this is not the translator's intention, as he states in the introduction, he wants to give the poets only insofar as we can read what they truly wrote, but so far as pleasurable reading experiences go, I think I would have preferred some fullness or at least footnotes to the individual fragments themselves, as is done with the Penguin edition of Sappho.

  • Architeacher
    2019-03-28 10:18

    Delivering a eulogy at the memorial service of an old friend, I built my words on a quote from the ancient Greek writer Archilochos, whose works I did not know except through the lens of Isaiah Berlin. So I just acquired Guy Davenport's compendium of seven Greek writers from the 7th through the 4th centuries BCE. Quite aside from having access to all the known fragments of these seven, Davenport's essay is worth the price of admission; what a creative and self-effacing point of view for a translator. I, for one, would like to have known this man.

  • Alexander
    2019-04-06 09:54

    "The only place to spit in a rich man's house is in his face."--Diogenes. I find I often memorize what I find in this book automatically---it goes right into me.

  • Kyle
    2019-04-18 10:56

    Obviously the writers collected in this text are significant: two thousand, in some cases almost three thousand years after their deaths they are still being read.But to speak about this collection. I cannot read ancient Greek (hence why I picked this up) so I cannot speak to the quality of Davenport's translation. But it seems to be well regarded by readers on the Internet. A blurb on the back of the book, written by none other than D.S. Carne-Ross, reads, "If you don't read Greek, read Davenport; if you do, read Davenport and learn to read Greek better." Some heavy praise.I bought this mainly for the Heraclitus selections. Every other translation of Heraclitus I found in a popular press seemed to be littered with reviews about its inconsistency with the actual Greek text. Davenport is, supposedly (via: reviewers on those reputable critical websites like and Goodreads), more faithful to the H-man's original text. The selections of Heraclitus are strong. So are the ones of Diogenes — (not written by him, since no copies of his writings still exist, but things others say he said). My favorite lines in the book comes from him:27. "When Plato said that if I'd gone to the Sicilian court as I was invited, I wouldn't have to wash lettuce for a living, I replied that if he washed lettuce for a living he wouldn't have had to go to the Sicilian court."or73. "I pissed on the man who called me a dog. Why was he so surprised?"The problem with the majority of the other selections — Sappho, Archilochos, Alkman, and Anakreon — are that they are often too fragmented to be useful. I appreciate Davenport's scholastic integrity: when a fragment of a poem is missing, he just puts empty brackets to signify it; he doesn't try to complete the line.The problem is that for a huge number of these poems — maybe even the majority — they are so fragmented that they are virtually meaningless. Look at these examples from Sappho:13. "The gods [...............] tears [.......][..............]"60. "Rose[.....]Speak[.....]Yearning[.....]Sweat."122. "]him[[......]]becomes["These fragments are certainly interesting from a scholarly point of view; but I wonder what the point of translating them into English is? If someone is going to do a scholarly study of Sappho, why would they be reading translations of broken lines found on fragments of parchment and pottery? Wouldn't it make more sense to study the parchment, the pottery itself? These English translations are, in essence, meaningless. Look at it this way: the original Greek fragments are already broken to the point of incomprehensibility: the poem is incomplete, open-ended: it is always and forever going to remain a mystery what the "actual" text of poem is. The fragmented Greek poem, then, is already a shadow of its former, original self. And this shadow, this thing whose meaning is already mutated from and essentially different and distinct from the "original," complete poem, is further mutated into something else, something completely different, when Davenport (or anyone for that matter) translates it into English. We are not reading Sappho: we are reading Davenport. And I don't understand the significance of reading incomprehensible fragments of Davenport. But occasionally through all of the broken, senseless fragments, a complete, solid, beautiful thought is produced. And these moments really shine. Davenport can make these poets write wonderful English when he is given a complete thought to work with — I just wonder why he spent so much time translating gibberish.

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    2019-04-25 08:56

    Spanning from the eighth to the third century B.C., included here are four poets (Archilochos, Sappho, Alkman and Anakreon), two philosophers (Herakleitos and Diogenes, the Cynic philospher), and Herondas, who wrote comic skits. Almost all of the above survive only in fragments found in pot shards, scraps of papyrus used to wrap mummies and quotations by grammarians and others. Davenport puts brackets in the gaps where missing and illegible words were found. Some fragments consist of only one word: rhinoceros, nightingale, imposter, grape, plums, naked. It lends a poignancy to many of these ruins of once magnificent structures. Among the poets represented I regret most those gaps with Archilochos and Sappho. Both of them despite the fragmentary nature of what survived come through as personalities and amazing poets--in what couldn't be a wider contrast. Archilochos was a mercenary with what Davenport calls a "nettle tongue;" there was a legend wasps hovered over his grave. I definitely can see the soldier here--often biting, crude, lewd, blunt. The most striking (and possibly complete) poem, Number 43 is comic and frankly erotic at once. Sappho is the great lyric poet of antiquity. Plato called her the "tenth muse." She's Archilochos opposite pole, vernal, refined--but like him at times frank in speaking of desire. Both philosophers were standouts, despite that all that Davenport can provide are a couple of lines or short passages. Herakeitos, according to Karl Popper a forerunner of Plato, wrote on the theme of change. His sayings remind me of Ecclesiastes, or a Buddhist sage: One cannot step twice into the same river, for the water into which you first stepped has flowed on. And I loved, loved, loved Diogenes, who often made me smile madly with delight. What he said about, and to, such people as Plato and Alexander the Great! ("I've seen Plato's cups and table, but not his cupness and tableness.")I wasn't impressed with the 7 complete and fragments of skits by Herondas, and the verse of Alkman and Anakreon didn't speak to me the way those of Archilochos and Sappho did. But this is definitely a book I consider a keeper.

  • sarah louise
    2019-03-29 06:55

    Didn't finish reading it, since excerpted for class - but would go procure it if I had the money and go start to finish. Complicated human wisdom from way back.

  • Sara
    2019-03-31 09:13

    This might be the longest review I’ve written to date. There’s the quintessential “summary” at the very end if you want to make this short.I bought this book after finding some of Guy Davenport’s translations of Sappho’s fragments in World Poetry. It was specifically because of this translation of his, actually: Percussion, salt and honey A quivering in the thighs; He shakes me all over again, Eros who cannot be thrown, Who stalks on all fours Like a beast.(fragment 65, 1)Guy Davenport opens this book with a well-written twenty-three page introduction; devoting sections of varying lengths to each poet, the context in which they were writing, a little on the kind of poetry written, relevant anecdotes by contemporaries and the consequent responses throughout the ages. All prose serves as bookends to the poetry: all-encompassing introduction at the start and supplementary notes to each fragment at the end. The poetry is presented by Davenport as poetry uninterrupted, each poet continuing on from the other without any informational breaks. All broken fragments are presented as such, no real reconstruction, for example:Rose[ ]Speak[ ]Yearning[ ]Sweat.(Sappho, 60)--- I can see that formatting will be an issue here, the lacunas look a lot more poetic if Goodreads would allow me to tab/enter the space as it is in the book (also the tab space between fragment number & fragment itself). Just imagine it for now...There’s not a lot I can say regarding the quality of his translations, as this is the first encounter I’ve had reading all poets bar Sappho. Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments provides a selection of fragments, sometimes elaborated, all grouped together by theme, each fragment broken from the other with a page of notes. Very different to how Guy Davenport’s layout, but it’s nice to have such differences in how translators and editors approach these texts. Classic works by nature lend themselves very well to such flexibility, and it’s lovely to build a collection of translations as it adds another layer to the original work. The original work is the big bang, and as there are still echoes to the big bang trawling through the universe now, it’s quite obviously the same with translations. Nothing is ever lost, in my opinion, just a different angle explored each time. Anyway, before I run on and on, the poets themselves:Archilochos’Hasten on, Wayfarer’ Archilochos’s tomb bore for inscription, ‘lest you stir up the hornets.’ I’d like to think Archilochos would hold his own if he was a character in The Thick of It; he’s very gnarly in places:5 - Listen to me cuss.9 - With ankles that fat It must be a girl.34 - You are too old For perfume.61 - Butt kisser!99 - Boil in the crotch275 - She’s fat, public And a whore.As much as he is a gnarly satirist, a military sounding man, there are other touches to the fragments. He’s very important historically: ‘iambic verse was his invention’, one of the fragments ‘the oldest surviving fragment of a love lyric in Greek.’One of my favourites:70 - What breaks me, Young friend, Is tasteless desire, Dead iambics, Boring dinners.SapphoAs said before, I’ve only read Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments in terms of cross-reference, but I do prefer the majority of Davenport’s translated fragments. He does very well to vivaciously colour and deepen the eroticism and pastoral imagery found in the originals. The female voice still stands, all the softness and blossoms. Percussion, salt and honey is my favourite, but there are other gorgeous renderings like:72 - And I yearn And I hunt165 - All colours tangled together13 - The gods [ ] tears [ ] [ ] The bulk of Davenport’s introduction is devoted to Sappho, and he’s modest and encouraging as a translator to say honestly ‘there is so little of Sappho that the reader with beginner’s Greek can read the substantial fragments in the afternoon. Many of the fragments are mere words and phrases, but they were once a poem, and, like broken statuary, are strangely articulate in their ruin.’ As Eugene Onegin also emphasises, sometimes the poetry is in the lacuna as seen above, which I’m sure a number of scholars have discussed already. I know Anne Carson did a translation with the original Greek included there as well, so that is definitely on the wishlist. AlkmanI didn’t find his work all that interesting personally. Davenport has included two versions of his Hymn to Artemis for Spartan girls to sing along with a selection of fragments. 43 - Short the way, but pitiless The need to walk it.AnakreonThe fragments I took notice of were very charged, erotic. I kind of see him as a male counterpart to Sappho, there’s a lot of personal enjoyment in reading his lines because of jokes/encounters. 22 - And Deunysos shouting So much, so loud89 - I am perhaps in love Again, perhaps not, And crazy to boot. No, not crazy105 - [ ] Glowing with desire, Gleaming with spiced oil [ ] Davenport has written two paragraphs on the man, which is kind of a sin to be honest.Then comes a little shift to philosophical poets:HerakleitosWe’ve all heard him quoted, but few know he’s the author of the famous line:110 - The river we stepped into is not the river in which we stand.Along with many other famous philosophical lines. The Logos fragment is presented as poetry in this translation, everything else as prose. Every fragment (not just Greek, either) lends itself to being interpreted as an instruction to life as well as declaration or expression of event and feeling, so I think the shift from Sappho and Alkman to Herakleitos is done quite well here.DiogenesOut of the two philosophers presented here, this one takes the prize home for Snark quality. Remember 2 pages back I said Archilchos could hold his own if he appeared in the Thick of It? Diogenes is basically the ancient Greek Malcolm Tucker. Some of the lines are extraordinarily cynic, insulting; holding bite and power. Am I wrong in thinking he’s a bit of inspiration for Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens? At any rate, he openly snarked Alexander the Great for Christ’s sake. The guy is a complete badass and apparently invented the word ‘cosmopolitan’, so there you go, useless fact #2982 (it isn’t a long-winded review without one thrown in).5 High Fidelity-esque highlights:30 - A. I am Alexander the Great B. I am Diogenes, the dog. A. The dog? B. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy, and bite louts. A. What can I do for you? B. Stand out of my light.37 - We can only explain you, young man, by assuming that your father was drunk the night he begot you.56 - In a rich man’s house there is no place to spit but in his face.109 - I’ve seen Plato’s cups and tables, but not his cupness and tableness.115 - I was once young and silly as you are now, but I doubt if you will become as old and wise as I am now.And finally, poet/playwright:HerondasDavenport provides a lengthy section on Herondas and includes 3 dramatic scenes (if memory recalls right), and says that all characters are fools and they only come alive in performance. Maybe they do, but I see nothing in them, to be quite frank.--So all in all, Davenport is an excellent and engaging translator. He presents the text as it is, leaving any theories, notes and thoughts outside of the text, bookending it as the only overt signing to show it is his work and the echoes of these poets are through his voice. I loved Sappho, Anakreon and Diogenes most of all. Sappho and Anakreon for their mingling of bodily pleasure, pastural beauty and declarations from the soul; Diogenes for his bite and snarl, the amusement and admiration you have for such snark.

  • Χρύσα Ράπτου
    2019-04-06 08:00

    A careful selection of seven ancient Greek philosophers who shaped and influenced the history of poetry until today!

  • David
    2019-04-13 11:06

    This collection of translated poems and fragments gathers together seven beloved Greek writers of the 7th to the 3rd century BCE. In some cases more is known about the poet than by them, but since they are all key figures in the ancient Grecco-Roman world it's nice to have even the small amounts to look over. Some of the surviving texts are too fragmented to make sense of, but there is still plenty to develop a decent appreciation for each author. All these writings are in poetry form except for Herodas whose surviving short comic skits come at the end of the book. The mix of writers is truly varied and with a couple exceptions each stands out with a unique style and subject matter than the next, thanks to the work of the translator.The book starts off with one of the oldest poets, Archilocus, who is famous for his ruffian, melancholy humor and biting satire. He was scorned by some of the more famous writers and praised by others and quoted by Plato/Socrates for the part about "dropping my shield and running away from the battlefield". I picked this book solely out of interest in him and I feel the author did a great job of helping to paint a vividly unique picture of this early writer. Sappho was an admired love poet who greatly impacted later writers and a considerably large amount of her work is preserved here. I had a little trouble appreciating her writings in the manner you typically approach love poetry, but perhaps that's something that will change if I ever learn Greek and read it in its original linguistic rhythm. The sections on the next two poets are considerably shorter and much more fragmented and the section on Anacreon isn't even the work most familiar by that name. This isn't a flaw on the part of the book, just that the more well known works were later discovered to by imitative "hoaxes" of the Alexandrian era, so only the true (and fragmented) works of Anacreon are included in this volume.The first of the philosophical poets follows next, and reading Heraclitus turned out to be the high point of this book for me. The section is not as long as those of the first two love poets in this book, but it is extremely well-preserved and lucid. When reading his writings you get the feeling you're peering at one of the earliest roots on the tree of western philosophy and spirituality. I personally see a heavy similarity to portions of the writings of the gospel according to St. John, with references to the logos (word) preceding and being responsible for all things and the need to abide in it, etc. But this is far from a collection of religious aphorisms, it is of a personally and socially pragmatic nature and has hints of early stoicism as well.Diogenes is the last of the poetic writers and his philosophical aphorisms are quite unique. He has the personality of a man who has resigned himself to homelessness and poverty, lightheartedly scorning everyone else for their attachment to the world. He pokes fun at ritual, responsibility, social convention, and manners, seeks wholeness through detachment from material life. The writings are interesting, fairly entertaining, but he seems to have more to say about what others are doing wrong than what is right, so it's hard to develop a picture of the philosophy he's embodying.The book finishes up with the short comic mimes of Herodas whose writings are interesting to compare against those of someone like Aristophanes. Unlike the latter, they lake any real social or political message and are simple comic interactions that revolve heavily around the mundane domestic situations. He pokes fun most at slaves, but there is a good variety of material in these 10+ plus skits (though the last couple are extremely fragmented).The only complaints I have on this book are just technical details on the translation. The poems themselves have no markings to indicate there are translated notes to accompany them, so you need to constantly check back to the notes section and then remember the poem number for the next translator note, and then remember to jump back to the notes when you encounter that numbered poem. Also, these types of books typically preface the reader with an explanation on how they translated the work, why and when they opted for a more literal vs embellished translation, what certain symbols like brackets may mean in the text, and other similar technical notes. This book has little to none of that and though the introduction is interesting at times, it often reads as if one point doesn't quite link to the next point smoothly.Although I felt this book lacked a few technical enhancements typical to works of ancient translated poetry it makes up for it in the quality of the translation. It's uncommon to feel the profile of each author is so distinct from the next and a true personality of each can emerge, yet this is just such a work.

  • Douglas Dalrymple
    2019-04-08 11:08

    With original texts lifted from still-legible mummy-wrappings and scraps of ancient scrolls, this book includes all existing known fragments and poems by Heraclitus, Diogenes, Archilochus, and Sappho, among others. The translations by Guy Davenport (author of Geography of the Imagination, etc.) are superb, as far as I can tell. Heraclitus and Diogenes are the best part of the volume. Some of the scraps are unintelligible for lack of context, but there’s enough to promise almost infinite fascination. If only some patient archaeologist would dig up a complete and fully-preserved collection of Heraclitus. Alas.I had been hunting for a copy of this book for ages. Davenport is a minor hero of mine so it was a real treat to discover that this yellowing, dog-eared copy included an old signature slip from a New York bookshop with Davenport’s signature on it.

  • Erik
    2019-04-22 11:23

    Translations of ancient Greek poetry. Much of it is from fragments that are sometimes not much more than a single line (Or even a single word!) but Davenport gives a straight-forward translation - - especially interesting is his unexpurgated translation of Archelochus, which is primarily military-related poetry. You can see why Archilochus is credited as being the originator of "satire" in verse.

  • Kyle Muntz
    2019-04-03 08:20

    These translations from Guy Davenport are easily the most beautiful poetry I've read in years. The most interesting thing is that all of them feel utterly contemporary, despite being more than 2000 years old--it has to be read to be believed.

  • Jacob
    2019-04-18 07:05

    Herakleitos: "Lightning is the lord of everything."

  • Jeff
    2019-04-02 11:09

    Best translation of Heraclitus and Diogenes available. Very important book.

  • John A
    2019-04-18 11:09

    Fragmentary writings from Ancient Greek poets and philosophers that actually prove to be quite entertaining.

  • Howard Mansfield
    2019-03-25 12:13

    Guy Davenport's translations are fresh. This is a book you'll keep returning to.

  • E7boehm
    2019-04-22 10:05

    Very good, Diogenes is excellent, and I liked Heroklites much more than expected. I also see the roots of Platos failing there. other poets are good and a good translations. Focuses a bit much on lesser playwright. Intro a bit long.