Epigrams in the picture: World Breastfeeding Week

Posted on 05/08/2020

Every year, the week between 1 and 7 August is celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week, an initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO). Did you know DBBE features two epigrams referring to breastfeeding? 🤱 (and who knows, we might encounter more in the future!)
One of them is this variation on the famous and widespread “ὥσπερ ξένοι” colophon:



✒️ Ὡς ἡδὺ νηπίοισι μητρώας πέλει
θηλῆς γαλακτόβλυστον ἔλκειν εὖ ῥύσιν,
ξένοις βλέπειν τὲ ξὺν γονεῦσι πατρίδα,
οὕτω γε τοῖς γράφουσι ὕστατος στίχος.


📖 Comme il est doux pour les nourrissons de téter
au sein maternel duquel le lait coule bien,
et pour les étrangers de voir leur patrie et leurs parents,
ainsi la dernière ligne est douce pour les scripteurs.


🌐 https://www.dbbe.ugent.be/types/5991
📸 https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Barb.gr.166/0567





It is preserved in at least three manuscripts: Vat. Barb. gr. 166 (15th c.; see picture), Vat. Reg. gr. 99 (15th c.) and Escor. Σ.II.6 (16th c.). The poem in the picture was copied by Georgios Hermonymos in 1476 at the end of Quintus of Smyrna’s Posthomerica and is followed by two more epigrams. The more popular and conventional theme of strangers returning home is here combined with the unique and endearing image of an infant nursed by its mother; both are metaphors for the scribe reaching the end of his labours.