Oh the care you held my dear
You always sailed
-And with love!-
Ὦ τὸ φίλον στέρξας, φίλε, βάρβιτον, ὦ σὺν ἀοιδᾷ
πάντα διαπλώσας καὶ σὺν ἔρωτι βίον.
( You will find the Greek text in the Loeb Greek Anthology, book 7, no. 23; translation is mine.)
This poem is difficult to translate because it uses three separate words for “love”. A brutally literal translation would read:
O the love [accusative noun, philos; direct object of the principle verb, love (stergein)] you loved [stergein], love, a/the barbiton (a stringed instrument)
O together with song
Always sailing through
And together with love [eros, noun, dative]
Philos is probably the more all-purpose word. It is the word which is closest to the English word “love” in meaning a great deal, depending upon context.
Stergein: to love, refers to one’s natural connections, such as the relationships within a family. It marks one as being in society. It is what matters to a person.
Eros: would be best used for romantic and/or erotic love (although it is not solely used for passions).
Philos thus refers to the object addressed, someone dear to the speaker.
Stergein refers to the relational attachment and desire one has to music generally.
Eros refers to one’s romance: song & romance.
Life is emphatically placed at the end of the poem.
Rather than translate “barbiton” as some other musical instrument (like a lute or guitar — although guitar would probably the closest in terms of connotation), I chose “music” generally.
Ὦ τὸ φίλον: the one love/dear one (accusative, object of sterpzas)
στέρξας: aorist: stergo (love of family)
φίλε: Dear, beloved one, vocative
βάρβιτον: stringed instrument, barbiton
ὦ σὺν ἀοιδᾷ: O together with song
πάντα διαπλώσας: always you sailed through
καὶ σὺν ἔρωτι and together with love (eros)
βίον: Life, what was sailed through