340 K.(1) Ἀφροδίτην ἐλεφαντίνην ἐν1 ἁπαλοῖς μυρρινῶσιν ᾄδουσιν ἁπαλαὶ κόραι. διδάσκαλος αὐτὰς ἄγει σοφὴ καὶ οὐδὲ ἔξωρος· ἐφιζάνει γάρ τις ὥρα καὶ ῥυτίδι πρώτῃ, γήρως μὲν τὸ ὑπόσεμνον 5ἕλκουσα, τούτῳ δ᾿ αὖ κεραννῦσα τὸ σῳζόμενον τῆς ἀκμῆς. καὶ τὸ μὲν σχῆμα τῆς Ἀφροδίτης Αἰδοῦς, γυμνὴ καὶ εὐσχήμων, ἡ δὲ ὕλη συνθήκη μεμυκότος ἐλέφαντος. ἀλλ᾿ οὐ βούλεται γεγράφθαι δοκεῖν ἡ θεός, ἔκκειται δὲ 10οἵα λαβέσθαι.
(2) Βούλει λόγου τι ἐπιλείβωμεν τῷ βωμῷ; λιβανωτοῦ γὰρ ἱκανῶς ἔχει καὶ κασίας καὶ σμύρνης, δοκεῖ δέ μοι καὶ Σαπφοῦς τι ἀναπνεῖν. ἐπαινετέα τοίνυν ἡ σοφία τῆς γραφῆς, πρῶτον 15μὲν ὅτι2 τὰς ἀγαπωμένας λίθους περιβαλοῦσα οὐκ ἐκ τῶν χρωμάτων αὐτὰς ἐμιμήσατο, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ τοῦ φωτός, οἷον ὀφθαλμῷ κέντρον τὴν διαύγειαν αὐταῖς ἐνθεῖσα, εἶτα ὅτι καὶ τοῦ ὕμνου παρέχει ἀκούειν. (3) Ἄδουσι γὰρ αἱ 20παῖδες, ᾄδουσι, καὶ ἡ διδάσκαλος ὑποβλέπει τὴν ἀπᾴδουσαν κροτοῦσα τὰς χεῖρας καὶ ἐς τὸ
An Aphrodite, made of ivory, delicate maidens are hymning in delicate myrtle groves. The chorister who leads them is skilled in her art, and not yet past her youth; for a certain beauty rests even on her first wrinkle, which, though it brings with it the gravity of age, yet tempers this with what remains of her prime. The type of the goddess is that of Aphrodite goddess of Modesty, unclothed and decorous, and the material is ivory, closely joined. However, the goddess is unwilling to seem painted, but she stands out as though one could take hold of her.
Do you wish us to pour a libation of discourse on the altar? For of frankincense and cinnamon and myrrh it has enough already, and it seems to me to give out also a fragrance as of Sappho. Accordingly the artistry of the painting must be praised, first, because the artist, in making the border1 of precious stones, has used not colours but light to depict them, putting a radiance in them like the pupil in an eye, and, secondly, because he even makes us hear the hymn. For the maidens are singing, are singing, and the chorister frowns at one who is off the key, clapping