By Aristaenetus, Peter Bing, Regina Höschele
Packed with erotic spice and grace, this late-antique number of fictitious letters via Aristaenetus (ca. 500 AD), who drew on a wealth of Classical and post-Classical types to compose his beguiling epistles, is the 1st whole English translation in approximately 3 centuries.
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Extra info for Aristaenetus, Erotic Letters
9 As I said, the spring was beautiful, and Zephyr’s breeze was blowing gently, assuaging summer’s suffocating heat; it made a soft and lulling sound, and, carrying with it a vast array of delightful scents from the trees, it competed with the perfume of my sweetheart. Mixed together the two fragrances enchanted the senses in almost equal measure—only the perfume was, I think, a little better, since it was Leimone’s. 10 Sweet too was the song of the nightingales fluttering around the water. But we also listened to the other sweet-voiced birds, which seemed to converse with us humans through their melodies.
61 In Hippocrates, both appear without elaboration. 62 Aristaenetus, by contrast, specifies that Melissarion’s activities as μουσουργός were not those of a demi-mondaine at symposia, as the term sometimes connotes;63 rather, she performed in a larger public setting on stage (σκηνή) and was “immersed in the theater” (θεάτρου μεστὴ γεγονυῖα). Further, she became a μουσουργὸς πολύτιμος, a highly prized artist (as opposed to Hippocrates, where the same words suggest only a high-priced entertainer), by making herself εὐμουσοτέρα, “more accomplished in her artistry” than her peers (πασῶν γέγονεν εὐμουσοτέρα τῶν ὁμοτέχνων).
While Hippocrates recounts “how I saw a seed that was six days old” (ὡς δὲ εἶδον τὴν γονὴν ἑκταίην ἐοῦσαν ἐγὼ διηγήσομαι), Iamblichus speaks of the seed’s appearance when it was seven days old (ἡμέραις δὲ ἑπτά). Indeed, he adds to the doctor’s tale that it was specifically upon hearing that it was “seven days old” (ἑβδομαίαν οὖσαν) that he ordered the slave girl to make her leaps. Hippocrates had already specified that it took seven leaps to expel the seed (καὶ ἑπτάκις ἤδη ἐπεπήδητο, καὶ ἡ γονὴ κατεῤῥύη ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).