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Greek Anthology

Book VII

Sepulchral Epigrams

The genuine epitaphs (those actually engraved on tomb. stones) in this collection are comparatively few in number. It would be easy to draw up a list of them, but I refrain from this, as there are too many doubtful cases. Those on celebrities are of course all poetical exercises in the form of epitaphs, but a considerable number of those on unknown persons are doubtless the same. In order to appreciate the Greek sepulchral epigram as it was, we should have a selection of those actually preserved on stones. Cephalas has introduced a few copied from stones (330–335, 340, 346), but Meleager, Philippus, and Agathias drew, of course, from literary and not epigraphical sources in forming their anthologies.

Nothing can be less certain than the attributions to the elder poets (Anacreon, Simonides, etc,) in this book: we may be sure that, while they published their lyrics, they did not publish collections of occasional epigrams; so that the latter are attributed to them merely by hearsay and guesswork. The authorship of the few epigrams (some very beautiful) attributed to Plato is now a matter of dispute, but I think we have no right to deny it, as they are very short and would have survived in memory. The attributions to later writers are doubtless in the main correct—the epigrams of Theocritus being included in MSS. of his works, and derived from such a MS. and not from Meleager, who does not, curiously enough, mention him in his Proem.

Here, as in Book VI, continuous portions of the three chief sources are the exception. Nos. 1–150, epigrams on famous men (chiefly poets and philosophers), could not of course comprise any such. Overlooking shorter fragments, Nos. 194–203,1 207–212, 246–273, 296–303, 314–318, 406–529, 535–641, 646–656, 707–740 are from Meleager’s Wreath, 183–188, 233–240, 364–405, 622–645, 699–703 are from that of Philippus, and 551–614 from the Cycle of Agathias. Nos. 681–688 are by Palladas.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.greek_anthology_7.1917