The Golden Age of Greek Poetry

map-of-ancient-greece[Click on the map to get the whole picture]

[A pentathlon is, as you all know, a contest featuring five events. With the Rio Olympics in full swing, you will sometimes find that word used to conjure up one of the more complicated tests of will and endurance that exemplify the Ancient Greek original, which combines its words pente (five) and –athlon (competition) (Greek: πένταθλον).]

Starting seven years ago in mid-summer, August 5,  2009, I embarked on a different quest that took me until October 21 of that year to complete the daunting task of finding five Greek poets who used five different forms of poetry that when combined under one umbrella exemplified the golden age of Greek poetry. In summary, I came up with the following “gold medalists” – the Pentathlon Poets – in alphabetical order:

Alcaeus of Mytilene, Lesbos
Alcman of Sparta
Archilochus of Paros
Palladas of Alexandria, Egypt
Pindar of Thebes

Each poet is represented in the hotlink to my collection of pentathlon poets, that I would urge you to click on now, so as to enjoy the various genres of poetry that are embedded there for your delectation.

They range from the comic verse of Alcaeus and the lyric verse of Alcman, on through the iambics of Archilochus and the epigrams of Palladas, to the immortal odes – three are included here – of Pindar. They are presented in the original Greek (rendered in Roman script) and alongside each is my English translation.

You won’t be disappointed as I guarantee that their ancient take on  the human condition doesn’t seem to differ very much from our own centuries later. I might add that all the translations are mine and bear little or no resemblance to the extant versions found elsewhere since I use my own, new and significant concept that I term “metapoeia.” For my readers, who are unfamiliar with that neologism, it is best defined by me as:

“A creative turning of verse from one language to another, where the style and/or
form may be rendered afresh to conform to the dictates of
voice and movement.”


References: The Greek Language by B. F. C. Atkinson; My Language Texts and Manuscripts; Wikipedia; The Miscellany, December 1974, Calcutta, India.

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Copyright © 2016 Azim Lewis Mayadas


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