Simonides’ Danae Fragment in a new version by Don Harmon

In our first meeting of the Lyric Spaces reading group (now suspended due to COVID-19) we read Simonides’ Danae Fragment (543 Page). See this handout from Aoidoi for the Greek text with lots of helpful notes.

Don Harmon has since produced the following translation–hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


Simonides 543
                                   in the coffin
        dazzling trap
Wind hisses. The sea rocks her. Bolts of fear.
Her face not free of tears, she clutches Perseus,
throws her arms around him, says, “My child,
troubles have me. Yet, you sleep so soundly,
oh, baby on my breast, in this bleak box,
moonlit, bronze-bolted, blue-black dusk and gloom
you lie. The salty brine drowns your drenched locks,
but you give no attention to the surge
of waves or howling racket of the wind.
You lie. Your sweet face peeks through the purple robe.
But if you took our terror for a terror,
your little ear would hear my sad lament.
Sleep, baby. Sleep, ocean. Sleep, boundless evil.
I command you. Change will come. Zeus! Father!
May some change come! Forgive presumptuous prayers!
Whatever words I say are far from just.



*Inaugural Meeting*

Classics 21, Thurs 27 February 3.30-5ish

This informal seminar seeks to provoke writers and scholars from across the University by asking them to respond to a lyric poem from antiquity. We hope such responses may take the form of collaborative projects—on any scale—creating vigorous dialogues between disciplines, and between individuals who might not otherwise find an opportunity to work together over their (undisclosed) shared interests. Such disclosures may lead to creative translation, transformation, appropriation, and the derailment of standard academic practices—and ultimately to a reflection on the pervasive and sometimes corrosive position of classical literature in the Humanities.

Our fuel for the first meeting will be Simonides’ “Danae Fragment.” A Greek text and an English translation are provided, but the seminar is specifically designed with readers and writers of English in mind. Scholars of Greek are invited, on the condition that they begin to forget their Greek. Maximal and minimal pairings appreciated. Bring enthusiasm and rhythm. Learned lectures will not be provided, but refreshments will abound.

Please circulate to anyone of interest—particularly to creative writers, translators, and performers. Due to funding constraints, participants are asked to provide their own pen and pencil(s). The organizers are happy to make accommodations for anyone interested in attending—feel free to contact Claudio at

For the documents: [password is “space”].