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Moshus and Theocritus-About Naughty Eros

‘Eros being punished in the presence of Aphrodite’ fresco Roman Imperial Period BC AD Museo Archeologico Nazionale Naples Italy.


Another sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA, two poems; one from Moshus, ‘The Runaway Love’ and one from Theocritus, ‘The Honey Stealer’. Both from ‘The Greek Bucolic Poets’. Translated by J. M. Edmonds, J.M. Loeb Classical Library Volume 28. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. 1912. Eros, has many names: Love, Cupid…


I. Moshus

He was a Greek bucolic poet who flourished in Syracuse in the C2nd B.C. 


Cypris has lost her boy Love, and cries him in the streets.

Cypris one day made hue and cry after her son Love (Eros) and said: “Whosoever hath seen one Love loitering at the street-corners, know that he is my runaway, and any that shall bring me word of him shall have a reward; and the reward shall be the kiss of Cypris; and if he bring her runaway with him the kiss shall not be all. He is a notable lad; he shall be known among twenty: complexion not white but rather like to fire; eyes keen and beamy; of an ill disposition but fair spoken, for he means not what he says – ‘tis voice of honey, heart of gall; forward, cozening, a ne’er-say-troth; a wily brat; makes cruel play. His hair is plenty, his forehead bold; his baby hands tiny but can shoot a long way, aye, e’en across Acheron into the dominions of Death (Hades). All naked his body, but well covered his mind. He’s winged like a bird and flies from one to another, women as well as men, and alights upon their hearts. He hath a very little bow and upon it an arrow; ‘tis but a small arrow but carries even to the sky. And at his back is a little golden quiver, but in it lie the keen shafts with which he ofttimes woundeth e’en me. And cruel though all this equipage be, he hath something crueler far, his torch; ‘tis a little light, but can set the very Sun afire.

Let any that shall take him bind and bring him and never pity. If he see him weeping, let him have a care lest he be deceived; if laughing, let him still hale him along; but if making to kiss him, let him flee him, for his kiss is an ill kiss and his lips poison; and if he say ‘Here, take these things, you are welcome to all my armour,’ then let him not touch those mischievous gifts, for they are all dipped in fire.


II. Theocritus

He was a Greek bucolic poet who flourished in Syracuse, Cos and Alexandria in the C3rd B,C. His surviving work can mostly be found within an old compendium of 30 poems known as the “Idylls of Theocritus,”


This little poem probably belongs to a later date than the Bucolic writers, and was brought into the collection merely owing to its resemblance to the Runaway Love of Moschus.

[1] When the thievish Love one day was stealing honeycomb from the hive, a wicked bee stung him, and made all his finger-tips to smart. In pain and grief he blew on his hand and stamped and leapt upon the ground, and went and showed his hurt to Aphrodite, and made complaint that so a little a beast as a bee could make so great a wound. Whereat his mother laughing, ‘What?’ cries she, ‘art not a match for a bee, and thou so little and yet able to make wounds so great?

Cupid the Honey Thief (1514) by Dürer.

Bonus: Eros and Athena reconciling, Painting by Marcantonio Raimondi. A reconciliation between spirit and body, wisdom and desires!

Sources: 🌿
Moshus and Theocritus-About Naughty Eros

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