|‘Xenia’ (‘guest-gift’ - ‘still life’)|
from ‘Imagines’ (‘Eikones’) book I, #31
by Philostratus (the elder)
literal English translation from the original Greek (with variants)
by Christian Wolff, after Fairbanks
(It is) a fine (good, beautiful) thing both to gather-figs and not go by these (figs) as speechless (pictures). Figs black (dark) with juice dripping are heaped on vine leaves, and depicted (drawn, written) with breaks of the skin. Some have just cracked open (gaped) disgorging (spitting-dribbling) their honey, some just split on account of such ripeness. Near them a branch has dropped, by Zeus, not bare or empty of fruit, but shadowed are figs, some raw (unripe) and still ‘green’ (left under leaves to ripen, maybe), some wrinkled and over-ripe, and some about to turn (go rotten) revealing the flower of their liquid, and on the end of the branch a sparrow digs through to what seems the very sweetest of the figs. All the ground is strewn with chestnuts, some of which are rubbed free of the burr, others lie quite shut up, and others show the burr breaking at the lines of division. See, too, the pears on pears, apples on apples, both heaps of them and piles of tens, all fragrant and golden. You will say that their redness has not been put on from the outside, but has bloomed from within. Here are gifts of the cherry tree, here is fruit a very harvest-bounty in clusters in a basket, and the basket is woven, not from alien twigs, but from branches of the plant itself. If you were to look at the binding-together of the vine-branches and at the grape-clusters hanging from them and at how there are gaps (between the clusters) one by one, you’ll sing Dionysos, I know, and speak of the vine as ‘Lady Giver of the Grapes’. You’d say that the grapes too in the picture are for eating and ready-for-wine. And this is the sweetest thing: on a leafy branch is yellow honey already within the comb and ripe to stream forth if the comb is pressed and on another leaf is cheese new curdled and quivering and there are bowls of milk, not merely white but gleaming for the cream floating upon it makes it seem to gleam (‘cream’ strictly means ‘fat’).