Anyte (c. 300 BCE)

     Based on the surviving poems Raynor translates, Anyte appears to have specialized in inscriptions for objects ceremonially dedicated at temples, for sacred places in the landscape, and for tomb stele. Like Erinna’s inscriptions, Anyte’s may take on personae other than the poet’s own voice (e.g., #4 which speaks for a statue of Pan guarding a shepherd’s pasture, and #6, which speaks for a "Herm" or crossroads statue of Hermes, god of messages, travel and trade). All of them are expressions of sacred interest in the objects or places described, and all strive to adjust the attitudes of passing readers to what they see about them. Think of literature, in general, as an attempt to draw readers’ attention into a sacred kind of meditation upon and appreciation for its subject, to allow its subject to inspire the reader with its peculiar character.

1) #1 and 2 are inscriptions describing trophies dedicated to Athena Nike, the goddess in her most warlike aspect, usually described as descending from the heavens to the field of battle bearing the panic-inducing shield of Zeus with its Gorgon’s head at the decisive moment in the fight. The "agon" of battle between two phalanxes of hoplite warriors (armed with long spears, shields, and body armor) would involved each line of warriors pressing against the other trying to break a gap in the enemies’ shield wall or forcing them backward into disorder. The moment either of those events happened, the battle tended to turn into a rout, with one side fleeing as quickly as possible and the other side pursuing. The place and moment of that decisive event was called the "trope" or "turning point," and on such sites the victors, to balance their good fortune with sacrifice, would dedicate the best of the enemy’s captured weapons in a shrine called the "trophe" (in English, "trophy"). How does this practice differ from the modern practice of "awarding trophies" to victorious competitors, and how might the art of poetry contribute to the Greek practice?

2)  The lyrics adapted to sacred places (#3-8) all operate by drawing the reader's attention to some specific attributes of the place and connecting them to the divine (except, perhaps, #8, but the portion identifying the place's deity might have been lost).  How does this shape the poet's role beyond the function of the lyric performance in city-based rituals like weddings, funerals, and temple-based divine ceremonies?

3)  #9 and 10 both connect the control of the goat to the worship of Bacchos or Dionysus, god of wine and ecstatic "mania" or inebriation.  The symbolic connotations of the goat-intoxication connection are fairly obvious--wine appeals to our animal side, opens us to the influence of non-rational forces.  Notice, though, that the goat "controlled" by the children is not acting particularly docile, especially in 10--what does this imply about the forces the poet celebrates in the worship of Bacchos/Dionysus?

4)  #11-15 are written following the same pattern of stele inscriptions for human beings, but the deceased are animals.  Can you determine whether the poems are intended as humorous parodies or as serious laments for the animals?   If the latter, what does Anyte intend us to think about the relationship between humans and animals?

5)  #16-23 return to the stele inscription format which we saw in Erinna's work.  The epitaphs for Antiba, Erato, and Thersis (19-21) especially resemble Erinna's for Baukis, in particular #19's association of Antiba's death with her anticipated wedding and 21's substitution of the tomb for Thersis' bridal bed.  How does this establish a woman's view of women's lives?

6)  #22 appears to describe the suicide of three unmarried women who thereby escape rape and captivity at the hands of Gauls who have beseiged Miletos.  Raynor notes that it probably was not written by Anyte but has traditionally been ascribed to her.  Why would ancient readers expect such a poem to be by her and not by Erinna or Praxilla, for instance?

7)  #23 also may be misattributed to Anyte, but there are reasons for believing a woman might have written such an appreciation for the irony of a slave's power equalling the Persian emperor's in death.  What kinds of social experiences might slaves and women share?