Alcaeus: The Storm

JOVE descends in sleet and snow,
Howls the vexed and angry deep;
Every storm forgets to flow,
Bound in winter’s icy sleep,
Ocean wave and forest hoar
To the blast responsive roar.

Drive the tempest from your door,
Blaze on blaze your hearthstone piling,
And unmeasured goblets pour
Brimful, high with nectar smiling.
Then, beneath your poet’s head
Be a downy pillow spread.

Translated by John Herman Merivale (1779–1844).

John William Godward: Faraway Thoughts (1892)

John William Godward: Faraway Thoughts, 1892.

Henrietta Batthyány: World Wisdom

THE FOLLOWING TEXT was written in 1875 by Henrietta Batthyány under the title World Wisdom, or— Experiences of a Matron; or, The Female Chesterfield’s Advice to her Friends. It is not a translation, she originally wrote it in English.

Batthyány is the name of an old distinguished Hungarian Magnate family. Henrietta was probably born around 1830 in Vienna, her oldest poems are from 1847, I could not find out her maiden name. She wrote in German and English, sometimes French, never Hungarian. Her last dated poem is from March 1892. In a letter to the Times, published August 12, 1896, she is mentioned as “now deceased.”

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Gavin Hamilton: Venus giving Helen to Paris as his wife, 1782-84

Gavin Hamilton had already studied in Rome in the 1740s. After a short stay in London, he returned there for good in 1756. In the 1770s, he undertook many excavations as an art dealer and archaeologist. When he painted this life-size Venus giving Helen to Paris as his wife, now held by the Palazzo Braschi, in 1782-84, he had already spent about thirty years in Rome.

Alcaeus: Spring

I FEEL the coming of the flowery Spring,
Wakening tree and vine;
A bowl capacious quickly bring
And mix the honeyed wine.

Weave for my throat a garland of fresh dill,
And crown my head with flowers,
And o’er my breast sweet perfumes spill
In aromatic showers.

Translation by James S. Easby-Smith, published 1901.

Baccio Bandinelli: Self-Portrait c. 1530

Baccio Bandinelli: Self-Portrait, c. 1530

Theocritus: For a Statue of Æsculapius

FAR as Miletus travelled Pæan’s son;
There to be guest of Nicias, guest of one
Who heals all sickness; and who still reveres
Him, for his sake this cedarn image rears.
The sculptor’s hand right well did Nicias fill;
And here the sculptor lavished all his skill.

Translation by C. S. Calverley, 1869.

Portrait of the Doge Andrea Gritti by Titian, c. 1546

Portrait of the Doge Andrea Gritti by Titian, 1546–48.

Andrea Gritti was the Doge of Venice from 1523 till his death 1538, following a distinguished diplomatic and military career. He concluded a treaty with Charles V, ending Venice’s active involvement in the Italian Wars. He attempted to maintain the neutrality of the Republic in the face of the continued struggle between Charles and Francis, urging both to turn their attention to the advances of the Ottoman Empire in Hungary. However, he could not prevent Suleiman I from attacking Corfu in 1537, drawing Venice into a war with the Ottomans.

Titian painted Gritti twice during his reign. He completed this posthumous portrait, which might have been commissioned as a memorial by the doge’s family, around 1546–1548.

Anacreon: The Accompt

IF thou dost the number know
Of the leaves on every bough,
If thou can’st the reckoning keep
Of the sands within the deep;
Thee of all men will I take,
And my Love’s accomptant make.
Of Athenians first a score
Set me down; then fifteen more;
Add a regiment to these
Of Corinthian mistresses,
For the most renown’d for fair
In Achæa sojourn there;
Next our Lesbian Beauties tell;
Those that in Ionia dwell;
Those of Rhodes and Caria count;
To two thousand they amount.
Wonder’st thou I love so many?
’Las of Syria we not any,
Egypt yet, nor Crete have told,
Where his orgies Love doth hold.
What to those then wilt thou say
Which in eastern Bactria,
Or the western Gades remain?
But give o’er, thou toil’st in vain;
For the sum which thou dost seek
Puzzles all arithmetic.

Translated by Thomas Stanley, 1651.

Portrait of the Doge Leonardo Loredan by Vittore Carpaccio, 1501

Portrait of the Doge Leonardo Loredan by Vittore Carpaccio, 1501.

Leonardo Loredan was the doge of the Republic of Venice from 1501 until his death 1521, in the course of the War of the League of Cambrai. Upon the death of Pope Alexander VI in 1503, Venice occupied several territories in the northern Papal States. When Julius II was elected as Alexander’s eventual successor, the Venetians expected their seizure of papal territory to be tacitly accepted, as Julius had been nicknamed Il Veneziano for his pro-Venetian sympathies. But instead the new Pope excommunicated the Republic and united the Papal States in an alliance with France, the Holy Roman Empire and several other Christian states.

The Doge’s problems did not end in Europe. In 1509, the Battle of Diu took place, in India, where the Portuguese fleet defeated an Ottoman and Mameluk fleet, which had been transferred from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea with Venetian help. The defeat marked the end of the profitable Spice trade, which was bought by Venetians from the Mameluks in Egypt and in turn monopolised its sale in Europe, reaping great revenues from it.

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