Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Doth Charidas rest under thee?

If thou meanest the son of Arinmas of Cyrene, under me.

O Charidas, what of the world below?

Much darkness.

And what of the upward way?

A lie.

And Pluto?

A fable.

We are undone.

*               *               *

This dialogue-poem was written by Callimachus, active in Alexandria at the court of the Ptolemies during the 3rd century BC (along with his contemporary, Lycophron  who served as last month's Greek poet on this unstable screen). Translation by A.W. Mair from the Loeb Classical Library, 1921.

Swiss painter Arnold Bรถcklin (1827-1901) made five versions of The Island of the Dead in the 1880s. It was extremely popular with the public of the day. Looking back from the middle of the 20th century, Clement Greenberg described this painting as "one of the most consummate expressions of all that was now disliked about the the latter half of the nineteenth century."