Body Bags / Simonides

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Body Bags / Simonides

Simonides was the Greek poet who wrote one of the classical world's most famous epitaphs, for the Spartan dead at Thermopylae. Here some of his epitaphs appear in translations by poet Robert Crawford alongside evocative, square format, black and white photographs by Norman McBeath.

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Robert Crawford's Scots versions of the ancient Greek poet Simonides sit arrestingly beside Norman McBeath's photographs.

The greatest poems of the ancient Greek poet Simonides are body bags. Zipped inside are the remains of human lives. Most of Simonides’s work survives as fragments. Often no longer than captions, these fragments’ very brevity gives them an eerie contemporaneity in our era saturated with its own shortened text messages. Here are tiny ‘texts’ that are eroded yet seem set to last forever. Remembering those lost in combat zones, the epitaphs of Simonides go with the apparent timeless­ness of black-and-white photography; yet, like photographs, they are occa­sioned by particular instants. Photographs, body bags, curt memorials, they are tagged with the names of the dead.

Ootlin, tell oor maisters this: e lie here deid. We did as we were telt.

Robert Crawford and Norman McBeath would like to express their sincere gratitude for financial support from: Creative Scotland; The University of St Andrews; The Scottish Government through an Arts and Humanities Award administered by The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Part of StAnza.

Text supplied by third party.

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Norman McBeath & Robert Crawford: Body Bags / Simonides

11 Aug 20113 stars

Mournful collaboration between photographer and poet

Scots translations of epitaphs by the ancient Greek poet Simonides, coupled with black and white photographs, adorn the high-rising walls of two lofty Edinburgh College of Art studios. Joined by tall vases of white lilies, classical casts from the…

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