People - Ancient Greece: Meleager of Gadara
Ancient Greek poet and collector of epigrams, who
lived in 1st century BCE.
Meleāger in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
A Greek epigrammatist of Gadara in Palestine, who flourished about B.C. 60. His collection of epigrams, by himself and others, entitled Stephanos (wreath), formed the nucleus of the Greek anthology. Of his own poems there remain 131, in which amatory themes are cleverly and wittily treated. See Anthology.
Meleager of Gadara in Wikipedia
Meleager of Gadara (Greek: Μελέαγρος; 1st century BCE) was a poet and collector of epigrams. He wrote some satirical prose, now lost, and he wrote some sensual poetry, of which, 134 epigrams survive. He also compiled numerous epigrams from diverse poets in an anthology known as the Garland, and although this does not survive, it is the original basis for the Greek Anthology.
He was the son of Eucrates, born in the city of Gadara, now Umm Qais in Jordan, which was then a partially Hellenized community in northern Palestine and is identified Ramoth-Gilead of the Old Testament. He was educated in Tyre and spent his later life in Cos where he died at an advanced age. The scholiast to the Palatine manuscript of the Greek Anthology says he flourished in the reign of Seleucus VI Epiphanes (95 – 93 BCE). The uppermost date of his compilation of the Anthology is 60 BCE, as it did not include Philodemus of Gadara, though later editors added thirty-four epigrams.
Some writers classed him among the Cynics, and like his compatriot Menippus, Meleager wrote what were known as spoudogeloia (Greek singular: σπουδογέλοιος), satirical prose essays putting philosophy in popular form with humorous illustrations. These are completely lost. Meleager's fame is securely founded on the one hundred and thirty-four epigrams of his own which he included in his Anthology. The manuscripts of the Greek Anthology are the sole source of these epigrams.
The Garland of Meleager
Meleager is famous for his anthology of poetry known as The Garland. Collections of monumental inscriptions, or of poems on particular subjects, had previously been created by Polemon of Ilium and others; but Meleager first did this comprehensively. His collection contained epigrams by forty-six poets, of all ages of Greek poetry, up to the most ancient lyric period. He entitled it The Garland (Greek: Στέφανος), with reference to the common comparison of small beautiful poems to flowers; and in the introduction to his work, he attaches the names of various flowers, shrubs, and herbs, as emblems, to the names of the several poets. The Garland of Meleager was arranged in alphabetical order, according to the initial letters of the first line of each epigram. The Garland has not survived, but it forms the basis of the Greek Anthology.
Meleager's poetry is concerned with personal experience and emotions, frequently with love and its discontents. He typically describes himself not as an active and engaged lover, but as one struck by the beauty of a woman or boy. The following is an example:
At 12 o'clock in the afternoon
In the middle of the street -
Summer had all but brought the fruit
To its perilous end:
And the summer sun and that boy's look
Did their work on me!
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