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Bill Thayer

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Colluthus: The Rape of Helen

The Text on LacusCurtius

The Greek text and English translation by A. W. Mair, as well as the Introduction, are those found in the Loeb Classical Library's Oppian, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus, pp. 533‑571.

Prof. Mair does not address the literary value of the work. Others do. The near-unanimous consensus is that Colluthus wrote very bad poetry: and even with my mediocre Greek I couldn't fail to notice its wooden and artificial character, sticking to the language of Homer and other predecessors many centuries dead; although I did spot one felicitous idea, and here and there I liked the rhythm. Prof. Mair has rendered the atrocious style of the poem very nicely — and quite intentionally, since his English reads very differently from his translations of Oppian, or even of Tryphiodorus.

As almost always, I retyped the Greek text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors before proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents below, the links are shown on blue backgrounds, meaning that I believe my pages to be completely errorfree; items on red backgrounds would mean that I hadn't finished proofreading. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

Greek text English translation

Text and translation were first published in 1928, and are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1956 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

Every line in the Greek text is marked by a local link, according to a consistent scheme; you can therefore link directly to any passage. In the English translation, the beginning of each (Greek) paragraph is marked.

You can toggle back and forth from text to translation at any specific section by clicking on the nearest flag; the [Greek flag]Greek text and the [American flag]English translation will display in separate windows.

Similarly, for citation purposes, the Loeb edition pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode.


The Loeb edition attaches to the Greek text two bits of apparatus criticus, surely not comprehensive; I've reproduced them.

[image ALT: A schematic photograph of the carved head of an old man. On this site, it serves as the icon for the works of Colluthus.]

We have no idea what Colluthus looked like. The icon I use to indicate this author is therefore one which might have pleased the poet: I borrowed a photograph of a known bust of Homer — in the Glyptothek in Munich as photographed by Marco Prins and reproduced on LiviusOrg, and stylized it with a PhotoShop filter; enough to make it schematic and unrecognizable, in much the same way as Colluthus's poetry is a schematic and unrecognizable construct on Homer. . . .

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Site updated: 11 May 19