"tell that I was loved by the Muses and that the Locrian land bore me"
April 7, 2015 4:25 PM   Subscribe

12 short poems is all that remains of the work of Nossis, one of the most beloved of the Ancient Greek poets. Exactly when she lived is uncertain, but it's certain that she was from Locri, which was on the "toe" of Italy. You can read about what archaeologists have found out about the ancient city on the website Locri Epizephyrii, Welcome To Magna Graecia. Scholars have tried to use Nossis' poetry to explain the particulars of life in Locri, looking for support for claims that noble status descended matrilineally. Marilyn B. Skinner looks at the status of women and explores the "unusual aspects of religious practice at Locri" in her essay Nossis and Women's Cult at Locri. You can read different translations of some of Nossis' poems, three by Skinner and two by Diane Rayor.
posted by Kattullus (5 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

No, seriously, these poems are great. Thanks for sharing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I didn't quite know how to fit it into the post, but there's a current Brooklyn rapper who calls herself Nossis, taking her name from the ancient poet. Anyway, her music is pretty nice.
posted by Kattullus at 4:41 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

How have I never heard of Nossis? Fantastic post, and I'm enjoying her epigrams (with their piquant Doric dialect). The Wikipedia article has an amazingly comprehensive bibliography, which I'll have to explore when I've finished this book I'm editing... which, believe it or not, talks quite a bit about Epizephyrian Locris!
posted by languagehat at 5:56 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

In school, unless you study Classics or Ancient History, you get this really Athenian (and a little Spartan) dominated picture of Ancient Greece. But there were Greek settlements throughout the region, and some of the very notable achievements of Greek culture come from them. Thales, for example, was from Miletus, and he's usually presented as the first Greek philosopher.
posted by thelonius at 4:06 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

The original text of this poem is fantastic:

῞Αδιον οὐδὲν ἔρωτος· ἃ δ' ὄλβια, δεύτερα πάντα
ἐστίν· ὰπὸ στόματος δ' ἔπτυσα καὶ τὸ μέλι.
Τοῦτο λέγει Νοσσίς· τίνα δ' ἁ Κύπρις οὐκ ἐφίλασεν,
οὐκ οἶδεν κήνα γ' ἅνθεα ποῖα ῥόδα.

ὰπὸ στόματος δ' ἔπτυσα καὶ τὸ μέλι, especially, strikes me as a lovely turn of phrase that seems novel despite being so old.

I think the Palatine anthology is due for a reread.
posted by ersatz at 9:17 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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