The Greek Anthology (Anthologia Palatina)

The Greek Heritages

THE VALUE of this selection of minor poetry—if one can speak of a value in poetry beyond itself—is that, however imperfectly, it draws for us in little a picture of the Greek ideal with all its virtues and its failings: it may be taken as an epitome, slightly sketched with a facile hand, of the book of Greek life. How slight the material is in which this picture is drawn becomes plain the moment we turn from these epigrams, however delicate and graceful, to the great writers. Yet the very study of the lesser and the appreciation that comes of study may quicken our understanding of the greater; Antinoosand there is something more moving and pathetic in their survival, as of flowers from a strange land: white violets gathered in the morning, to recur to Meleager's exquisite metaphor, yielding still a faint and fugitive fragrance here in the never-ending afternoon...



Edited and translated by J. W. Mackail
Introduction titles, Greek excerpts and further editing by Greece Travel Blog

Greek fonts

Preface / Introduction I: The Epigram / II: The Metre / III: The Sources / IV: The Formation / V: The Principle of Arrangement / VI: Love / VII: Beauty / VIII: Family / IX: Religion / X: Art / XI: Nature / XII: The Human Comedy / XIII: Fate / XIV: Death / XV: Criticism on Life / XVI: The Rise of Christianity

The Epigrams (divided in themes)


Prayers & Dedications 


Literature & Art



The Family


Fate & Change

The Human Comedy




Index of Epigrammatists

           The outstanding figure in the cultural movement of the tenth century was Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, who did much for the intellectual progress of Byzantium, not only by protecting education, but also by contributing many original writings. ... To the early tenth century belongs the Anthologia Palatina, compiled by Constantine Kephalas. It derives its name from the only manuscript, the Codex Palatinus, which is now at Heidelberg, Germany. The claim of some scholars that Constantine Kephalas was no other than Constantine the Rhodian should be considered improbable. The Anthologia Palatina is a large collection of short poems of both Christian and pagan times, and stands out as an example of the fine literary taste of the tenth century.  - Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

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