Anyte of Tegea (fl. 3rd c. BCE)

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Anyte of Tegea (fl. 3rd c. bce)

Greek poet famous for her elegantly crafted dedications, whose emotional sensitivity looked back to the achievement of Sappho, while her romantic portrayal of animals and pastoral settings looked forward to the urbane sophistication of poets such as Theocritus. Born in Tegea, Peloponnesus, in the 3rd century.

A poet of the early 3rd century bce, Anyte came from Tegea in the Peloponnesus. Consensus recognizes as extant 19 genuine epigrams in the Doric dialect, but Anyte also wrote lyric poems and versified oracles rendered by the priests of the god Asclepius at Epidarus, the famous sanctuary and sanitarium not far from her native city. Her extant work underscores the profundity of the everyday and is set in an inscriptional form especially suited to funerary dedications. Anyte's muse was simple but eloquent, and she displayed an emotional sensitivity reminiscent of Sappho 's best work. As such, Anyte constituted a bridge between Archaic and Hellenistic poetry, for her Sapphic qualities merged with a fascination for the bucolic in a fashion anticipating the romantic glorification of the countryside that was to appear in many Alexandrian poets, especially Theocritus, a century later. The following translation by Sally Purcell is representative of Anyte's poetry:

Sit down in the shade of this fine spreading laurel
draw a welcome drink from the sweet flowing stream,
and rest your breathless limbs from the harvesting
here, where the West wind blows over you.

William S. Greenwalt , Santa Clara, California