Anyte (fl. 300 B.C.) and the Muses
"...inweaving many lilies of Anyte, and many martagons of Moero and of Sappho little, but all roses, and the narcissus of
Melanippides budding into clear hymns, and the fresh shoot of the
vine-blossom of Simonides; twining to mingle therewith the spice-
scented flowering iris of Nossis, on whose tablets love melted
the wax, and with her, margerain from sweet-breathed Rhianus, and
the delicious maiden-fleshed crocus of Erinna, and the
hyacinth of Alcaeus, vocal among the poets...."
From The Garland of Meleager of Gadara
The Greco-Roman poets regularly asked the immortal Muses for help in their tasks:
Happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his lips. [From Homeric Hymn to the Muses and Apollo]
and credited the Muses with their poetic successes. Thus it was as high tribute to their poetry that a poet from the first century B.C., Antipater of Thessalonica, wrote a catalogue of the most respected women poets, in which he called them the nine earthly muses. They were:
- Nossis and
Antipater compared one of the nine mortal muses, Anyte of Tegea (fl. 300 B.C.), to Homer. She was also the first poet mentioned in Meleager of Gadara's "Garland" of the best Greek poets.
Anyte was one of the first Greek poets to make use of the epigram. She wrote memorial epitaphs about grieving men and women, evincing pity and paying attention to the specifics of the death -- sometimes described as a feminine perspective. Anyte may have been the first to write animal memorials. In these she commemorated such beloved animals as a war horse and a child's pet grasshopper.
Anyte may also have created the poetic landscape for pastoral poems. In The Women and the Lyre, Jane McIntosh Snyder describes the pastoral world of Anyte of Tegea as:
"a peaceful world of hot, blazing sun and cool refreshing fountains; a world inhabited by goatherds, travelers, children, and pasturing flocks, graced by the presence of Pan, Hermes, and other rustic deities. It is a place of delightful refreshment and of escape from the mundane realities of work, war or death...."We have more of the complete poems of Anyte than of any other ancient Greek woman writer. Between twenty and twenty-four of the epigrams of Anyte are included in the Greek Anthology. Even so, and even though her approach to poetry was personal, we know next to nothing about Anyte's life.
Snyder, Jane McIntosh. The Women and the Lyre. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991.