Posts Tagged ‘Greek literature’

The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe by Nigel Humphreys

July 3, 2016


A review by R J Dent

The Love Song of Daphnis and Chloe

by Nigel Humphreys

Edited by Catherine Edmunds

Published by Circaidy Gregory Press

ISBN: 9781906451882



Daphnis and Chloe (Greek: Δάφνις καὶ Χλόη, Daphnis kai Chloē) is the only known work of the 2nd century AD Greek novelist, Longus.


The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe began when Nigel Humphreys read George Thornley’s 1670 English translation of Longus’ Greek novel, Daphnis and Chloe, written on Lesbos.


Nigel Humphreys became obsessed with the task of re-interpreting Longus’ pastoral romantic novel into an epic modern poem that would appeal to twenty-first century readers and retain the beauty, charm, romance and humour of the original.


First and foremost, The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe is the story of a boy (Daphnis) and a girl (Chloe), each of whom is exposed at birth along with some identifying tokens. A goatherd named Lamon discovers Daphnis, and a shepherd called Dryas finds Chloe.



Each decides to raise the child he finds as his own. Daphnis and Chloe grow up together, herding the flocks for their foster parents.

And so it was preordained –

decreed by divine intercession –

that they raise them as their own.

And having shared their dreams…

they introduced their children

to their work as herdsmen…


Inevitably, Daphnis and Chloe fall in love, but being naïve, do not understand what is happening to them.

Yet among them Daphnis

was unable to settle since

he had seen Chloe naked,

honeyed, tender, scented

and more lovely than Venus

in all her sensuousness.

Philetas, a wise old cowherd, explains to them what love is and tells them that the only cure is kissing. They do this.

All they saw was that kisses

had endangered Daphnis

and day-dreaming Chloe

in that mazy month of May.

Eventually, Lycaenion, a woman from the city, educates Daphnis in the skills of love-making.


And so Lycenia…

finding him primed and greedy,

slipped slickly beneath him

and shepherded his limbs

to where they longed to be.

What followed came naturally…

Throughout the book, Chloe is courted by suitors, two of whom (Dorcon and Lampis) attempt with varying degrees of success to abduct her. She is also carried off by raiders from a nearby city:


Yet Chloe was with her herd

and fled from the invaders

to the Nymphs’ Cave begging

them to spare her and her kin

in the name of the Goddesses.

And she is only saved by the intervention of the god Pan.

Oh, you most cruel dissolute

of mortals! … restore

Chloe to the Nymphs with all

her flocks. Awake therefore

and send the maiden ashore

with her sheep and goats,

and I will steer her home,

and guide her to her lands.

The story concludes with both Daphnis and Chloe being recognized by their birth parents, after which, the couple get married and happily live out their lives in the country. On their wedding night:

… the stars,

moon and planets hurrahed.

The married pair were squired

to their room in rush light

by pipes and flutes, and Daphnis

lay with Chloe skin against skin.

Cuddling tightly and kissing,

entwining and twisting…



Nigel Humphreys’ The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe is a beautifully written modern epic version of an Ancient Greek classic. Humphreys has taken Longus’ prose and given us a delightful poem of incredible warmth, wit and wisdom.

 From the back cover:

Bucolic shenanigans on the Island of Lesbos


Poet Nigel Humphreys has done something unique and surprising with the ancient text of Daphnis & Chloe, taking a rambling 2nd century prose narrative and transforming it into an epic poem in the oral tradition of Ancient Greece.

Daphnis & Chloe is complemented in this edition by five new Daffyd ap Gwylim translations, which Humphreys has returned to the original cywydd form in order to recapture the colour and humour of the 14th century Welsh troubadour poet.




by Nigel Humphreys

Edited by Catherine Edmunds

Published by Circaidy Gregory Press.

ISBN: 9781906451882


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Circaidy Gregory Press:




Atlantis Books – Santorini

January 15, 2010

Atlantis Books is a truly amazing bookstore. It is located in the basement of a white house in Oia, Santorini.

Atlantis Books was started by Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise, two 25-year-old Americans, who were vacationing on Santorini in 2002. These two young bibliophiles decided they wanted to create a haven for readers and writers in one of the most beautiful (and remotest) places in the Mediterranean; a place in which book-lovers could spend long afternoons in the bookstore’s cool quarters, with jazz guitar music playing gently on the sound system as they perused the eclectically comprehensive book collection.

The idea of Atlantis Books began when Craig and Oliver became intoxicated by Santorini’s savage beauty, and decided to open a shop modelled on Shakespeare & Company, the English-language bookstore in Paris.

Although it was not initially a moneymaking enterprise – the staff is on rotation throughout the year, and lives in the bookstore – after eight years as a going concern, Atlantis Books is starting to achieve international praise. Jeremy Mercer, a writer for The Guardian, listed Atlantis Books as one of his ten favourite bookshops in the world:

Atlantis Books’ bookshelves, which the staff built themselves, are filled with novels, poetry, short-story collections, biographies and philosophical works.

Staff-members are always happy to advise on their favourites – one staff member is a serious fan of Robertson Davies, the Canadian writer, while another young staff member loves Panos Karnezis, the Greek-born Londoner, who gave a reading in the store a couple of years ago.

“Sometimes people buy books, and sometimes they just want to take a picture of the place,” a staff-member said. “I guess it’s becoming a landmark.”



Atlantis Books is in Oia, Santorini, opposite the town hall on the main square. It’s easy to find and worth visiting. It is truly unique. There is no other bookstore like it on Earth.


Oia Santorini




T.K. 84702






Τ.Κ. 84702



Alcaeus: Pour Perfume Over My Head

May 2, 2009



Alcaeus: Poems & Fragments - translated by R J Dent




Pour perfume over my head

which has suffered a great deal,

and over my grey-haired chest.


As for my guests, let them drink 

the evils of the day away, 

and revel in all the gods have given.


And with other men, I toast Dionysus,  

but the man who does not raise his cup,  

you say has lost his reason.





Poem: Pour Perfume Over My Head
by Alcaeus
Translation © R J Dent (2009)

This translation first appeared in Acumen 56 (2006)

Cover painting: A detail from Sappho & Alcaeus (1881) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema


Poems & Fragments

Translated by R J Dent