June 7, 2014, by Richard Rawles

Simaetha’s letter

Strange things happen during the marking period… In between thinking about the first year literature course and whether I should have included more Hellenistic poetry, and looking at m’learned colleague Esther Eidinow’s ancient solutions to modern problems on this blog, I somehow came up with this: an appeal for a modern solution to an ancient problem. Esther and I will return to Theocritus’ wonderful poem in later posts.


Dear Doctor Esther,

I am totally out of my mind because my bf Delphis hasn’t come to see me for a fortnight.

I met him when I was coming back from Artemis-day. It was really great – I was wearing my new dress, and Anaxo was a basket-bearer (I didn’t qualify – LOL), and there was a procession with animals (OMG! LIONESS!). Walking home I saw Delphis coming back from the gym and I was totally smitten, like in a song, and in the end I sent Thestylis to say, ‘My friend thinks you’re really cute!’ and tell him my address.

Well, he must have fancied me as well, because he came immediately, and even though he was a bit of a show-off (actually, I really fancy show-offs!), it was just really, really lovely. The way he said ‘get your kit off, then’ reminded me of all the poetry I ever read… it was wonderful.

I thought this must be what true love is like, but now he never comes to visit me any more, even though my friend said she saw him buying a bottle of Jacob’s Creek, a bunch of flowers and a packet of three in the petrol station last week.

Do you think he might be gay?

I really want to get him back – or to make him suffer. What should I do?





Image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/DublinVermeer.jpg (public domain).

Online translations of Theocritus are not very satisfactory; above I have linked to the google books copy of the translation by Trevelyan. An alternative (Edmonds, from the not-very-good Loeb) can be found here. The translation by Antony Verity from Oxford World’s Classics is much better.

Posted in Classical receptionClassicsGreek poetryGreek religion