Cross-post notice

A week ago, I asked the exact same question on Literature. It was met with an uproar of upvotes (alliteration casual, 7 upvotes), but not answers. I discussed the matter with Literature meta and on this site's CONLOQVIVM chatroom, and I was recommended to cross-post, so I am copy-pasting the question here to see if it gets an answer here.

The question

Background and research

As I am planning to post this poem on my blog relatively soon, I was doing some research on the first line. From what I had written previously, I seem to have found two different versions:

Παῖδες, ἄφωνος ἔοισα τόδ' ἐννέπω, αἴ τις ἔραται


Καίπερ ἄφωνος ἔοισα ποτεννέπω, αἴ τις ἔραται

I opted for the first one for my translations, because καίπερ only stresses the concessive (is that the word?) nature of the participle, and I preferred to have a vocative there like παῖδες, and also because instead of a seemingly useless prefix I preferred an object for the verb ἐννέπω. Tonight I was trying to get more info on the sources.

  • I looked into bibliotheca Augustana, and the ἐπιγράμματα link does not exist.
  • I looked at Edmonds (who proposes another version, παῖς ἔτ', which I prefer to the one I opted for back in the days, and has τόρ' instead of the object, an adjective referred to the speaker meaning "clear, distinct", perhaps I will adopt this reading), and he says Anth. Pal. 6 269.
  • Sadly, I found no scans of that.
  • I looked at Campbell hoping for a more detailed critical note, and didn't see the poem at first, which made me think there was an authorship dispute on this.
  • I found confirmation of this here (possibly Sappho (but probably not), says the post).
  • I also found out I'd missed the epigrams in Campbell because they were in smaller type. Here they are.
  • Wharton agrees with me.
  • The Complete Poems of Sappho follows Cox (or so he says), and ends up agreeing with my choice -- almost, he has τότ' instead of τόδ', perhaps a typo, as "then" doesn't seem to fit in there.
  • I'm starting to wonder where I got the other choices. Well, the καίπερ might have been off the weird safopoemas.doc (pdf version here), for which cfr. my post on the completion of Sappho 94.
  • But the other thing? Even the Greek Wikisource completely agrees with me on this!
  • Googling Σαϋναϊάδα yields this with ποτεννέπω. I don't remember this source, but perhaps that was it.
  • Bergk p. 636 has all epigrams, his line 1 reads:

    Παῖδες, ἄφωνος ἐοῖσα τότ' ἐννέπω, αἴ τις ἔρηται

    and he has this critical note.


Anyways, I was wondering what the experts think about this line and its most likely "correct" reading, what the sources for this poem have to say, and why Campbell doesn't include it. Is it perhaps of disputed authorship, along with the other two epigrams in elegiac couplets?

Reference to Greek Wikisource with texts of epigrams

Two of these (the present one is Απόσπασμα 118, the other one 119) can be found here. The third one, to the fisher Pelagon (τῷ γρίπει Πελάγωνι πάτηρ ἐπέθηκε Μένισκος / Κύρτον καὶ κώπαν, μνᾶμα κακοζοΐας), has strangely been removed even from there. Somebody here probably doesn't have a clear idea what an epigram is :). Anyway here is someone following Edmonds on the poem of the question and including all 3 epigrams.

1 Answer 1


Your post deserves a response from a scholar. In the meantime here's an opinion from an amateur. Your choice will be influenced by the three ideas being played with here:

A: infans /infant, baby ::ἄφωνος:: unable to form words
B: voiceless ἄφωνος :: the infant's persistent phonan (cries?)
C: oblation at the feet of the goddess :: crawling infant on the floor.

Kaiper is clearer;
pais eti is neater.

I think there is also the idea of the poet being speechless in the presence of a tiny child.
Is the 'dedication' the bestowal of the name Aethopia?

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