4. Epode

Series Title
Archilochos Suite
Michael Ayrton (British, 1921 – 1975)
Plate : 11 3/4 x 10 in. (29.85 x 25.4 cm)
Sheet : 18 1/4 x 15 1/4 in. (46.36 x 38.74 cm)
Mat : 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection, Gift of Jacob E. and Leona M. Nyenhuis
Object Number

The poetic verses by Archilochos translated by Michael Ayrton and selected by him to accompany this image:

...simply restrain yourself...
Or if you can't, if you're set on it, wild for it
think nearer home. There, in your house, is a girl
who is blameless. She is a virgin. I think she's lovely,
tender and gentle. She you neglect and she yearns to be married.
Why then grieve her?
This was her plea so I formally answered:
"Daughter of her whom we mourn, Amphimedo,
excellent lady, laid now in dark earth,
there are sweet gift for young men from the goddess,
pleasures that stop at the brink of fulfillment.
One will suffice.
If the god wills, we'll consider the other.
When my beard darkens, let us discuss it.
But for the moment, whatever it costs me, I will obey:
pour my libation out at your gateway, out in the grass.
Do not deny me the threshold, beloved
I'll not break in.
As for Neoboule, she is for others.
Let who will have her, such as will take her.
She is full blown and her grace is gone from her,
Knowing no bounds to her love of excess.
Let no one wish such a woman on me.
She's for the crows.
I won't be mocked by the neighbors, or laughed at.
She'd spring a child on me, in her ambition,
blind and untimely, drop me an offspring.
She's like the bitch in the proverb, she's feckless,
having excess in her nature, she's mad.
I prefer you."
This said, I laid the girl down among the flowers;
in my soft cloak I enwrapped and embraced her
gently I touched all her flesh with my hands.
She like a fawn remained still but she trembled
as she revealed her fresh down I flowed onto it;
shot my white strength.

Object Type
Academic Themes
Literary Connections