Ancient Greek Poets





Hellenistic Poetry

Poetry flourished in Alexandria in the third century BC. The chief Alexandrian poets were Theocritus, Callimachus, and Apollonius of Rhodes. Theocritus, who lived from about 310 to 250 BC, invented a new genre of poetry - bucolic, a genre that the Roman Virgil would later imitate in his Eclogues.

Callimachus, who lived at the same time as Theocritus, worked his entire adult life at Alexandria, compiling a catalogue of the library. Only fragments of his poetry survive. The most famous work was Aetia (Causes). It is a kind of poem called an elegy and in four books explains the legendary origin of obscure customs, festivals, and names. Its structure became a model for the work of the Roman poet Ovid. Of his elegies for special occasions, the best known is the Lock of Berenice, a piece of court poetry that was later adapted by the Roman Catullus. Callimachus also wrote short poems for special occasions and at least one short epic, the Ibis, which was directed against his former pupil Apollonius.

Apollonius of Rhodes was born about 295 BC. He is best remembered for his epic the Argonautica, about Jason and his shipmates in search of the golden fleece. Apollonius studied under Callimachus, with whom he later quarreled. He also served as librarian at Alexandria for about 13 years. Apart from the Argonautica, he wrote poems on the foundation of cities as well as a number of epigrams.

The Roman poet Virgil was strongly influenced by the Argonautica in writing his Aeneid. Lesser 3rd-century poets include Aratus of Soli and Herodas. Aratus wrote the Phaenomena, a poetic version of a treatise on the stars by Eudoxus of Cnidus, who had lived in the 4th century. Herodas wrote mimes reminiscent of those of Theocritus. His works give a hint of the popular entertainment of the times. Mime and pantomime were a major form of entertainment during the early Roman Empire




Achaeus of Eretria

Achaeus of Eretria was a Greek playwright author of tragedies and satyr plays, variously said to have written 24, 30, or 44 plays, of which 19 titles are known, some of which include Adrastus, Linus, Cycnus, Eumenides, Philoctetes, Pirithous, Theseus, and Oedipus. His first play was produced in 447 BC and won a victory. A quote in Aristophanes' The Frogs suggests he was dead by 405 BC. Some classicists suggest that his winning only one prize was due to him not an Athenian by birth, and the men of Athens were loath to honor any but their own fellow-citizens. Achaeus of Eretria belongs to the classic age, but was not himself a classic, though his satyric plays were much admired for their spirited style, albeit somewhat labored and lacking in clearness. The philosopher Menedemus thought his plays second only to Aeschylus, he was part of the Alexandrian Canon, and Didymus wrote a commentary on him. Athenaeus (10.451c) describes him as having a lucid style, but with tendencies to obscurity. Athenaeus also claimed that Euripides took a line from Achaeus, while Aristophanes quotes him twice, in The Frogs and The Wasps.




Agathon

Agathon (c. 448-400 BCE) was an Athenian tragic poet and friend of Euripides and Plato. He is best known from his mention by Aristophanes (Thesmophoriazusae) and in Plato's Symposium, which describes the banquet given to celebrate his obtaining a prize for his first tragedy (416). He was the long time (10-15 years) beloved of Pausanias, also mentioned in the Symposium and Protagoras. Pausanias followed Agathon to the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon, who was recruiting playwrights. This is where Agathon probably died. He introduced certain innovations, and Aristotle (Poetica, 9) tells us that the plot of his Antho was original, not, as usually, borrowed from mythological subjects.

He is introduced, by Plato, as a handsome young man, well dressed, of polished manners, courted by the fashion, wealth and wisdom of Athens, and dispensing hospitality with ease and refinement. The Epideixis, in praise of love, which he recites in the Symposium, is full of the artificial and rhetorical expressions which might be expected from a former pupil of Gorgias. Aristotle tells us that he was the first to introduce into the drama arbitrary choral songs, which had nothing to do with the subject, and that he wrote pieces with fictitious names, which appear to have been half way between the idyl and comedy. His intimacy with Aristophanes doubtless saved him from many well-deserved strictures, though in one of his comedies, the latter burlesques his flowery style, representing him as a delicate and effeminate youth, and it may be only for the sake of punning on his name that he makes Dionysus call him a noble poet.

Agathon was a friend of Euripides, accompanying him to the court of Archelaus of Macedon, where he died about 402 BCE. He had all the faults, without the genius, of his famous contemporary, and these he carried to excess, attempting to surprise the spectators with unexpected developments and strange, improbable denouments. Add to this his fondness for epigram, antitheses and other rhetorical embellishments, after the fashion of Gorgias, and no wonder that whatever he possessed of ability was smothered beneath his mannerisms. Yet, of the latter, he appears to have been proud, considering them essential to his verse; for when asked to purge himself of such blemishes, he replied: "You do not see that that would be to purge Agathon's play of Agathon." His poetry was full of trope, inflection and metaphor; glittering with sparkling ideas and flowing softly along, with harmonious words and nice construction, but lacking in the element of truly virile expression and deficient in manly thought and vigor. With him begins the decline of tragic art in its higher sense.




Alcman

Alcman (7th cent. BC) was an Ancient Greek choral lyric poet from Sparta. He is the earliest representative of the Alexandrinian canon of the nine lyric poets (the others being Sappho, Alcaeus, Anacreon, Stesichorus, Ibycus, Pindar and Bacchylides). There were six books of Alcman's choral lyric in antiquity (ca. 50-60 hymns), but they were lost at the threshold of the Medieval Age, and Alcman was known only through fragmentary quotations in other Greek authors until the discovery of a papyrus in 1855 in a tomb near the second pyramid at Saqq‰ra. The fragment, which is now kept at Louvre, contains ca. 100 verses of a so-called partheneion, i.e. a song performed by a chorus of young unmarried women. In the 1960's, many more fragments have been discovered and published in the collection of the Egyptian papyri from Oxyrhynchus. Most of these fragments contain partheneions, but there are also other kinds of hymns among them.

Most od the fragments come from partheneions, i.e. hymns, which were song by choruses of unmarried women 'maiden'. This genre has been described exhaustively by the French scholar Claude Calame (1977). The songs were performed during festivals in connection with the initiation rites of the girls. Alcman has probably composed choral songs for the boys as well, but the Hellenistic philologists seem to have been more interested in the partheneions.

In the fragments, the girls often express homoerotic feelings, and the ancient authors tell that the Spartan women were involved in same sex relationships, which may be compared to the well-known pederasty among Greek males. The slightly younger poetress Sappho from Lesbos (after whom Lesbian love was named) describes similar relationships in her monodic poetry. It remains open if the relationship also had a physical side and, if so, what sort. Yet, the very fact that the love was codified by a man, Alcman, and even proclaimed during the festivals of the city, is a clear indication that the romantic feelings of the girls were not tolerated silently, but promoted loudly.

The choral lyric of Alcman were meant for the cult. The Spartan historian Sosibius (ca. 200 BC) tells (according to Athenaeus):" The chorus-leaders carry the Thyreatic crowns in commemoration of the victory at Thyrea at the festival, when they are also celebrating the Gymnopaedia. There are three choruses, in the front a chorus of boys - to the right a chorus of old men and to the left a chorus of men; they dance naked and sing the lieders of Thaletas and Alcman and the paeans of Dionysodotus the Laconian." In other words, the songs of Alcman were performed by new girls and boys at certain occasions until the Hellenistic Age. Each choral song was a kind of drama with certain roles, e.g. the role of the choral leader or the role of the beautiful girl standing in a special relationship with the chorus leader.




Alcaeus

Alcaeus (Alkaios) of Mitylene (ca. 620 BC-6th century BC), Greek lyric poet, was an older contemporary and an alleged lover of Sappho, with whom he exchanged poems. He was of the aristocratic governing class of Mytilene, the main city of Lesbos, where his life was entangled with its political disputes and internal feuds. He sided with his class against the upstart "tyrants" who set themselves up in Mytilene as the voice of the people. He was in consequence obliged to spend a considerable time in exile. He is said to have become reconciled to Pittacus, the ruler set up by the populist party, and to have returned eventually to Lesbos. The date of his death is unknown.

When his poems were edited in Hellenistic Alexandria, they filled ten scrolls; the poetry of Alcaeus has survived only in quotations: "Fighting men are the city's fortress" and the like, so judging him, rather than his high reputation in antiquity, is like judging Ben Jonson through Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. The subjects of his poems, which were composed in the Aeolic Greek dialect, were of various kinds: hymns to the gods; martial or political comment, sometimes quite personal; and lastly love-songs and drinking-songs, the kind of poetry that would be read aloud at a symposium. Alexandrian scholars agreed that Alcaeus was the second greatest lyric poet among the canonic nine. The considerable number of fragments extant (see link), and the imitations of Alcaeus in Latin by Horace, who regarded Alcaeus as his great model, help us to form a fair idea of the character of his poems.




Alexander Aetolus

Alexander Aetolus, of Pleuron in Aetolia, Greek poet and man of letters, the only representative of Aetolian poetry, flourished about 280 BC.When living in Alexandria he was commissioned by Ptolemy Philadelphus to arrange the tragedies and satyric dramas in the library; some ten years later he took up his residence at the court of Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedonia. His reputation as a tragic poet was so high that he was allotted a place in the Alexandrian tragic Pleiad; we only know the title of one play (Astragalistae.) He also wrote short epics, epigrams and elegies, the considerable fragments of which show learning and eloquence.




Anacreon

Anacreon (born ca. 570 BC) was a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns. Later Greeks included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. He was born at Teos, an Ionian city on the coast of Asia Minor. Little more is known of his life, but it is likely that he shared the voluntary exile of the mass of his fellow-townsmen who sailed to Abdera in Thrace, where they founded a colony, rather than remaining behind to surrender their city to Harpagus, one of Cyrus the Great's generals. Cyrus was, at the time (545 BC), besieging the Greek cities of Asia Minor. Anacreon seems to have taken part in the fighting, in which, on his own admission, he did not distinguish himself.

From Thrace he removed to the court of Polycrates of Samos. He is said to have acted as tutor to Polycrates; that he enjoyed the tyrant's confidence we learn on the authority of Herodotus (iii.121), who represents the poet as sitting in the royal chamber when audience was given to the Persian herald. In return for his favour and protection, Anacreon wrote many complimentary odes upon his patron. Like his fellow-lyric poet, Horace, who was one of his great admirers, and in many respects a kindred spirit, Anacreon seems to have been made for the society of courts.

On the death of Polycrates, Hipparchus, who was then in power at Athens and inherited the literary tastes of his father Peisistratus, sent a special embassy to fetch the popular poet to Athens in a galley of fifty oars. Here he became acquainted with the poet Simonides, and other members of the brilliant circle which had gathered round Hipparchus. When this circle was broken up by the assassination of Hipparchus, Anacreon seems to have returned to his native town of Teos, where, according to a metrical epitaph ascribed to his friend Simonides, he died and was buried. According to others, before returning to Teos, he accompanied Simonides to the court of Echecrates, a Thessalian dynast of the house of the Aleuadae. Lucian mentions Anacreon amongst his instances of the longevity of eminent men, as having completed eighty-five years. If an anecdote given by Pliny the Elder (Nat. Hist. vii. 7) is to be trusted, he was choked at last by a grape-stone, but the story has an air of mythical adaptation to the poet's habits, which makes it somewhat apocryphal.

Anacreon was for a long time popular at Athens, where his statue was to be seen on the Acropolis, together with that of his friend Xanthippus, the father of Pericles. On several coins of Teos he is represented holding a lyre in his hand, sometimes sitting, sometimes standing. A marble statue found in 1835 in the Sabine district, and now in the Villa Borghese, is said to represent Anacreon.

Poetry

Anacreon had a reputation as a composer of hymns, as well as of those bacchanalian and amatory lyrics which are commonly associated with his name. Two short hymns to Artemis and Dionysus, consisting of eight and eleven lines respectively, stand first amongst his few undisputed remains, as printed by recent editors. But pagan hymns, especially when addressed to such deities as Aphrodite, Eros and Dionysus, are not so very unlike what we call "Anacreontic" poetry as to make the contrast of style as great as the word might seem to imply. The tone of Anacreon's lyric effusions has probably led to an unjust estimate, by both ancients and moderns, of the poet's personal character. The "triple worship" of the Muses, Wine and Love, ascribed to him as his religion in an old Greek epigram (Anthol. iii. 25, 51), may have been as purely professional in the two last cases as in the first, and his private character on such points was probably neither much better nor worse than that of his contemporaries. Athenaeus remarks acutely that he seems at least to have been sober when he wrote; and he himself strongly repudiates, as Horace does, the brutal characteristics of intoxication as fit only for barbarians and Scythians (Fr. 64).

Of the five books of lyrical pieces by Anacreon which the Suda and Athenaeus mention as extant in their time, we have now but the merest fragments, collected from the citations of later writers. Those graceful little poems (most of them first printed from the MSS. by Henry Estienne in 1554), which long passed among the learned for the songs of Anacreon, and which are well-known to many English readers in the translations of Abraham Cowley and Moore, are really of much later date, though possibly here and there genuine fragments of the poet are included.

Modern critics, however, regard the entire collection as imitations belonging to different periods--the oldest probably to Alexandrian times, the most recent to the last days of paganism. They will always retain a certain popularity from their lightness and elegance, and some of them are fair copies of Anacreon's style, which would lend itself readily enough to a clever imitator. A strong argument against their genuineness lies in the fact that the peculiar forms of the Ionic Greek, in which Anacreon wrote, are not to be found in these reputed odes, while the fragments of his poems quoted by ancient writers are full of Ionicisms. Again, only one of the quotations from Anacreon in ancient writers is to be found in these poems, which further contain no references to contemporaries, whereas Strabo (xiv. p. 638) expressly states that Anacreon's poems included numerous allusions to Polycrates. The character of Love as a mischievous little boy is quite different from that given by Anacreon, who describes him as "striking with a mighty axe, like a smith," and is more akin to the conceptions of later literature.




Antimachus

Antimachus, of Colophon or Claros, Greek poet and grammarian, flourished about 400 BC.Scarcely anything is known of his life. His poetical efforts were not generally appreciated, although he received encouragement from his younger contemporary Plato (Plutarch, Lysander, 18).

His chief works were: a long-winded epic Thebais, an account of the expedition of the Seven against Thebes and the war of the Epigoni; and an elegiac poem Lyde, so called from the poet's mistress, for whose death he endeavoured to find consolation by ransacking mythology for stories of unhappy love affairs (Plutarch, Consul, ad Apoll. 9; Athenaeus xiii. 597).

Antimachus was the founder of "learned" epic poetry, and the forerunner of the Alexandrian school, whose critics allotted him the next place to Homer. He also prepared a critical recension of the Homeric poems.




Anyte of Tegea

Anyte of Tegea (fl. early 3rd century BC) was an Arcadian poet, admired by her contemporaries and later generations for her charming epigrams and epitaphs. Antipater of Thessalonica listed her as one of the nine earthly muses. At least 18 of her epigrams, written in the Doric dialect, survive in the Greek Anthology; an additional six are doubtfully attributed to her. Even so, we have more complete poems by Anyte than by any other Greek woman, since the nine books of Sappho survive only in fragments.She was the first to write epitaphs for animals, and one of the first known to write vivid descriptions of untamed nature.




Apollonius of Rhodes

Apollonius of Rhodes (Apollonius Rhodius), librarian at Alexandria, was a Greek grammarian and epic poet, who flourished under the Ptolemies Philopator and Epiphanes (222-181 BC). He was the author of Argonautica, a literary epic retelling of ancient material concerning Jason and the Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece in the mythic land of Colchis.

Born at Alexandria, perhaps about 270 BC, Apollonius was a pupil of Callimachus, with whom he subsequently quarrelled. Callimachus' "Hymn to Apollo", closes with some lines that allude to Apollonius, and dates about 248 or 247 BC, which would put Apollonius' birth about twenty years earlier.

In his youth Apollonius composed the work for which he is known-- Argonautica, an epic in four books on the legend of the Argonauts. The young poet departed from Callimachus's learned and artificial style and aimed instead to recreate a Homeric simplicity. He recited an early version while still scarcely more than a youth, but the poem got a poor reception in Callimachus' learned circle at the Library. The quarrel between the older and younger poet degenerated into a bitter personal feud, commemorated in surviving epigrams.

Disgusted with his failure, Apollonius withdrew to Rhodes. There his labors as a teacher of rhetoric and his newly revised poem won him hearty recognition and even admission to citizenship, whence his surname. Afterwards, returning to Alexandria, he recited his poem once more, this time with universal applause, and he was reconciled with Callimachus, next to whom he was eventually buried.

In 196, Ptolemy Epiphanes appointed Apollonius to succeed Eratosthenes as head of the Alexandrian Library, which office he probably held until his death.

As to the Argonautica, Longinus' (De Sublim. p. 54, 19) and Quintilian's (Instit, x. 1, 54) verdict of mediocrity seems hardly deserved; although it lacks the naturalness of Homer, it possesses a certain simplicity and contains some beautiful passages. There is a valuable collection of scholia. The work, highly esteemed by the Romans, was imitated by Virgil (Aeneid, iv.), Varro Atacinus, and Valerius Flaccus. Marianus (about A.D. 500) paraphrased it in iambic trimeters. Apollonius also wrote epigrams; grammatical and critical works; and the foundations of cities.

The scanty biographical information on Apollonius comes from two brief "lives" in the Scholia.The adventure of the Argonauts had been told often before in verse and prose. Only notes of the authors' names survive; their works have perished. The one well-known earlier surviving account is in Pindar's fourth Pythian ode, which provided Apollonius with some details. Epic unity escaped Apollonius, and his epic in four books resolves into a string of well-told episodes, the most memorable being the love story of Jason and Medea in Book III.




Archilochus

His father, Telesicles, who was of noble family, had conducted a colony to Thasos, in obedience to the command of the Delphic oracle. To this island Archilochus himself, hard pressed by poverty, afterwards removed. Another reason for leaving his native place was personal disappointment and indignation at the treatment he had received from Lycambes, a citizen of Paros, who had promised him his daughter Neobule in marriage, but had afterwards withdrawn his consent. Archilochus, taking advantage of the licence allowed at the feasts of Demeter, poured out his wounded feelings in unmerciful satire. He accused Lycambes of perjury, and recited such verses against his daughters, that Lycambes and his daughters are said to have hanged themselves.

Along with the epics of Homer and Hesiod, the satires of Archilochus were one of the mainstays of itinerant rhapsodes, who made a living declaiming poetry at both religious festivals and private homes.

In the historical and poetic imagination, Archilochus represents the romantic intersection of the fighting and the poetic spirits; this dual aspect of his personality is captured with brevity in the following poetic fragment, wherein he describes himself as both a warrior and a poet (something akin to what might modernly be described as a "lover and a fighter").

According to him, Thasos was the meeting-place of the calamities of all Hellas. The inhabitants were frequently involved in quarrels with their neighbours, and in a war against the Saians--a Thracian tribe--he threw away his shield and fled from the field of battle. He does not seem to have felt the disgrace very keenly, for, like Alcaeus, he commemorates the event in a fragment in which he congratulates himself on having saved his life, and says he can easily procure another shield.

After leaving Thasos, he is said to have visited Sparta, but to have been at once banished from that city on account of his cowardice and the licentious character of his works (Valerius Maximus vi. 3, externa 1). He next visited Magna Graecia, Hellenic southern Italy, of which he speaks very favourably. He then returned to his native place, and was slain in a battle against the Naxians by one Calondas or Corax, who was cursed by the oracle for having slain a servant of the Muses.

The writings of Archilochus consisted of elegies, hymns-- one of which used to be sung by the victors in the Olympic games-- and of poems in the iambic and trochaic measures. Greek rhetors credited him with the invention of iambic poetry and its application to satire. The only previous measures in Greek poetry had been the epic hexameter, and its offshoot the elegiac metre; but the slow measured structure of hexameter verse was utterly unsuited to express the quick, light motions of satire.

Archilochus made use of the iambus and the trochee, and organized them into the two forms of metre known as the iambic trimeter and the trochaic tetrameter. The trochaic metre he generally used for subjects of a vicarious nature; the iambic for satires. He was also the first to make use of the arrangement of verses called the epode. Horace in his metres to a great extent follows Archilochus. All ancient authorities unite in praising the poems of Archilochus, in terms which appear exaggerated. His verses seem certainly to have possessed strength, flexibility, nervous vigour, and, beyond everything else, impetuous vehemence and energy: Horace speaks of the "rage" of Archilochus, and Hadrian calls his verses "raging iambics." By his countrymen he was reverenced as the equal of Homer, and statues of these two poets were dedicated on the same day. His poems were written in the old Ionic dialect.




Arion

Arion was a legendary poet and citharode in ancient Greece (originally of Lesbos) who lived in the court of Periander, tyrant of Corinth, Greece. He attended a musical competition in Sicily, which he won. On his return trip from Sicily, the avaricious sailors plotted to kill Arion and steal the rich prizes he carried homewards. Arion was given the choice of "suicide" with a proper burial on land, or being thrown in the sea to perish. Neither prospect appealed to Arion and he asked for permission to sing a last song to win time.

Playing his chitara, Arion sung a praise to Apollo, the god of poetry, and his song attracted a number of dolphins around the ship. At the end of the song Arion threw himself in the sea rather than be killed, but one of the dolphins saved his life and carried him to safety at Cape Taenarum.

Arion then continued to Corinth by other means and arrived before the sailors that tried to kill him. On his return to Corinth, the king didn't quite believe Arion's fantastic story. The sailors believed Arion was dead in the sea, and on arrival in Corinth they told the king that Arion had decided to remain in Italy. The king then understood that Arion's story was true and punished the sailors with death. Herodotus I, 23-24Other variations of the story exist. In 1994 it was adapted by Vikram Seth and Alec Roth into an opera, "Arion and the Dolphin", commissioned by English National Opera for professional performers with community chorus and children's chorus.

Arion was credited with the invention of the dithyramb. The Arion fable inspired the central sculptural group in the main water basin of the formal gardens of Schloss Schwetzingen, Germany.




Aristeas

Aristeas was a semi-legendary Greek poet and miracle-worker, a native of Proconnesus in Asia Minor, active ca. 7th century BC. Herodotus reports that Aristeas appeared to drop down dead in a shop, but before his relatives could collect the body, he had left on a seven-year long trip.

Aristeas was supposed to have authored a poem called the Arimaspea, giving an account of travels in the far North. There he encountered a tribe called the Issedonians, who told him of still more fantastic and northerly peoples: the one-eyed Arimaspi who battle gold-guarding gryphons, and the Hyperboreans among whom Apollo lives during the winter.

Three hundred and forty years after his death, Aristeas appeared in Metapontum in Southern Italy to command that a statue of himself be set up and a new altar dedicated to Apollo, saying that since his death he had been travelling with Apollo in the form of a sacred raven. This story appears to be referred to in Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics: Aristaeus was a man who lived around 700 BC, and became by transformation, the first raven to act as advisor to Dream.




Bacchylides

Bacchylides, Ancient Greek lyric poet, was born at Iulis, in the island of Ceos. His fatherÕs name was probably Meidon; his mother was a sister of Simonides, himself a native of Iulis. Eusebius says that Bacchylides "flourished" in 467 BC. As the term used by him refers to the physical prime, and was commonly placed at about the fortieth year, we may suppose that Bacchylides was born circa 507 BC.

Among his Odes the earliest that can be approximately dated to 481 or 479 BC; the latest date is fixed by the recently found fragment of the Olympic register to 452 BC. He would thus have been some forty-nine years younger than his uncle Simonides, and some fifteen years younger than Pindar. Elsewhere Eusebius states that Bacchylides "was of repute" in 431 BC; and George Syncellus, using the same phrase, 428 to 425 BC. This phrase would mean that he was then in the fullness of years and of fame. There is nothing improbable in the supposition that he survived the beginning of the Peloponnesian War.

Bacchylides, like Simonides and Pindar, visited the court of Hiero I of Syracuse (478-467). In his fifth Ode (476 BC), the word Efeos (v. II) has been taken to mean that he had already been the guest of the prince; and, as Simonides went to Sicily in or about 477 BC, that is not unlikely. Ode iii. (468 BC) was possibly written at Syracuse, as verses 15 and 16 suggest. He there pays a high compliment to HieroÕs taste in poetry (ver. 3 ff.). A scholium on Pyth. ii. 90 (166) avers that Hiero preferred the Odes of Bacchylides to those of Pindar. The Alexandrian scholars interpreted a number of passages in Pindar as hostile allusions to Bacchylides or Simonides.

The scholiasts are right, it would appear that Pindar regarded the younger of the two Cean poets as a jealous rival, who disparaged him to their common patron, and as one whose poetical skill was due to study rather than to genius. It is tolerably certain that the three poets were visitors at heroÕs court at about the same time: Pindar and Bacchylides wrote odes of the same kind in his honour; and there was a tradition that he preferred the younger poet. There is thus no intrinsic improbability in the hypothesis that Pindar's haughty spirit had suffered, or imagined, some mortification. It is noteworthy that, whereas in 476 and 470 both he and Bacchylides celebrated Hiero's victories, in 468 (the most important occasion of all) Bacchylides alone was commissioned to do so; although in that year Pindar composed an ode (Olymp. vi.) for another Syracusan victor at the same festival. But, whatever may have been the true bearing of PindarÕs occasional innuendoes, it is at any rate pleasant to find that in the extant work of Bacchylides there is not the faintest semblance of hostile allusion to any rival.

Plutarch (de Exilio, p. 605 c) names Bacchylides in a list of writers, who after they had been banished from their native cities, were active and successful in literature. It was Peloponnesus that afforded a new home to the exiled poet. The passage gives no clue to date or circumstance; but it implies that Peloponnesus was the region where the poet's genius ripened and where he did the work which established his fame. This points to a residence of considerable length; and it may be noted that some of the poems illustrate their author's intimate knowledge of Peloponnesus.

The Alexandrian scholars, who drew up select lists of the best writers in each kind, included Bacchylides in their "canon" of the nine lyric poets, along with Alcman, Sappho, Alcaeus, Stesichorus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides and Pindar. The Alexandrian grammarian Didymus (circa 30 BC) wrote a commentary on the epinikian odes of Bacchylides. Horace, a poet in some respects of kindred genius, was a student of his works, and imitated him (according to Porphyrion) in Odes, i. 15, where Nereus predicts the destruction. of Troy. Quotations from Bacchylides, or references to him, occur in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Strabo, Plutarch, Stobaeus, Athenaeus, Aulus Gellius, Zenobius, Hephaestion, Clement of Alexandria, and various grammarians or scholiasts. Ammianus Marcellinus (xxv. 4) says that the emperor Julian enjoyed reading Bacchylides. It is clear that this poet continued to be popular during at least the first four centuries of our era. No inference adverse to his repute can fairly be drawn from the fact that no mention of him occurs in the extant work of any Attic writer.

The first and most general quality of style in Bacchylides is his perfect simplicity and clearness. Where the text is not corrupt, there are few sentences which are not lucid in meaning and simple in structure. This lucidity is partly due, no doubt, to the fact that he seldom attempts imagery of the bolder kind, and never has thoughts of a subtle or complex order. Yet it would be very unjust to regard such clearness as merely a compensatory merit of lyric mediocrity, or to ignore its intimate connection with the man's native grace of mind, with the artist's feeling for expression, with the poet's delicate skill. How many readers, who could enjoy and appreciate Pindar if he were less difficult, are stopped on the threshold by the aspect of his style, and are fain to save their self-esteem by concluding that he is at once turgid and shallow!

A pellucid style must always have been a source of wide, though modest, popularity for Bacchylides. If it be true that Hiero preferred him to Pindar, and that he was a favourite with Julian, those instances suggest the charm which he must always have had for cultivated readers to whom affairs did not leave much leisure for study, and who rejoiced in a poet with whom they could live on such easy terms.

Another prominent trait in the style of Bacchylides is his love of picturesque detail. This characteristic marks the fragment by which, before the discovery of 1896, he was best known - a passage, from one of his paeans, on the blessings of peace (fr. 13, Bergk, 3, Jebb); and it frequently appears in the Odes, especially in the mythical narratives. Greater poets can make an image flash upon the mind, as Pindar sometimes does, by a magic phrase, or by throwing one or two salient points into strong relief. The method of Bacchylides is usually quieter; he paints cabinet pictures. Observation and elegance do more for him than grasp or piercing insight; yet his work is often of very high excellence in its own kind.

His treatment of simile is only a special phase of this general tendency. It is exemplified by the touches with which he elaborates the simile of the eagle in Ode v., and that of the storm-tossed mariners in Ode xii. This full development of simile is Homeric in manner, but not Homeric in motive: HomerÕs aim is vividness; Bacchylides is rather intent on. the decorative value of the details themselves. There are occasional flashes of brilliancy in. his imagery, when it is lit up by his keen sense of beauty or splendour in external nature. A radiance, "as of fire," streams from the forms of the Nereids (xvi. 103 if.).

An athlete shines out among his fellows LikeÕ the bright moon of the mid-month night Ō among the stars (viii. 27 if.). The sudden gleam of hope which comes to the Trojans by the withdrawal of Achilles is like a ray of sunshine "from beneath the edge of a storm-cloud" (xii - 105 if.). The shades of the departed, as seen by Heracles on the banks of the Cocytus, are compared to the countless leaves fluttering in the wind on "the gleaming headlands of Ida" (v. 65 if )--an image not unworthy of Dante or of Milton.Among the minor features of this poet's style the most remarkable is his use of epithets.

A god or goddess nearly always receives some ornamental epithet; sometimes, indeed, two or even three. Such a trait is in unison with the epic manner, the straightforward narrative, which we find in some of the larger poems. On the other hand, the copious use of such ornament has the disadvantage that it fometimes gives a tinge of conventionality to his work. This impression is somewhat strengthened by the fact that many of the epithets are long compound words, not found elsewhere and (in some cases at least) probably invented by the poet; words which suggest a deliberate effort to vary the stock repertory.

The poems contained in the works of Bacchylides found (see below) in 1896 are of two classes:

The Ode of Victory was properly a song in praise of a deity. Stesichorus (c. 610 BC) seems to have been the first who composed hymns in honour, not of gods, but of heroes; the next step was to write hymns in celebration of victories by living men. This custom arose in the second half of the 6th century BC, the age in which the games at the four great Greek festivals reached the fulness of their popularity. Simonides (c. 556 BC) was the earliest recorded writer of epinikia. His odes of this class are now represented only by a few very small fragments, some twenty lines in all. Two of these fragments, belonging to the description of a chariot-race, warrant the belief that Simonides, in his epinikia, differed from Pindar in dwelling more on the incidents 01 the particular victory. The same characteristic is found in the epinikia of Bacchylides. His fifth ode, and PindarÕs first Olympian, alike celebrate the victory of the horse Pherenicus; but, while Pindar's reference to the race itself is slight and general (vv. 20-22), Bacchylides describes the running of the winner much more vividly and fully (vv. 37-49).

The manuscript contains fourteen epinikia, or thirteen if Blass be right in supposing that Odes vi. and vii., as numbered by Kenyon in the editio princeps, are parts of a single ode (for Lachon of Ceos). Four (or on the view just stated, three) of the odes relate to the Olympian festival; two to the Pythian; three to the Isthmian; three to the Nemean; and one to a Thessalian festival. This comes last.

The order in which the manuscript arranges the other epinikia seems to be casual; at least it does not follow:

The first ode, celebrating a victory of the Cean Argeios at the Isthmus, may possibly have been placed there for a biographical reason, such as because the poet treated in it the early legends of his native island.

A mythical narrative, connected in some way with the victor or his city, usually occupies the central part of the Pindaric ode. It serves to lift the poem into an ideal region, and to invest it with more than a local or temporary significance. The method of Bacchylides in this department of the epinikion is best illustrated by the myth of Croesus in Ode iii., that of Heracles and Meleager in Ode v., and that of the Proetides in Ode x. Pindar's habit is to select certain moments or scenes of a legend, which he depicts with great force and vividness. Bacchylides, on the other hand, has a gentle flow of simple epic narrative; he relies on the interest of the story as a whole, rather than on his power of presenting situations. Another element, always present in the longer odes of victory, is that which may be called the "gnomic." Here, again, there is a contrast between the two poets. Pindar packs his maxims into terse and sometimes obscure epigrams; he utters them in a didactic tone, as of one who can speak with the commanding voice of Delphic wisdom. The moralizing of Bacchylides is rather an utterance of quiet meditation, sometimes recalling the strain of lonian gnomic elegy.

The epinikia of Bacchylides are followed in the manuscript by six compositions which the Alexandrians classed under the general name of Dithyrambs. The "dithyramb," first mentioned by Archilochus (c. 670 BC), received a finished and choral form from Anon of Lesbos (c. 600 BC). His dithyrambs, produced at Corinth, belonged to the cult of Dionysus, and the members of his chorus personated satyrs. Originally concerned with the birth of the god, the dithyramb came to deal with all his fortunes: then its scope became still larger; it might celebrate, not Dionysus alone, but any god or hero.

Several other classes of composition are represented by those fragments of Bacchylides, preserved in ancient literature. Among these we hear of are:

The papyrus containing the odes of Bacchylides was found in Egypt by locals, and reached the British Museum in the autumn of 1896. It was then in about 200 pieces. By the skill and industry of Mr F. G. Kenyon, the editor of the editio princeps (1897), it was reconstructed from these lacerated members. As now arranged, the manuscript consists of three sections.

It is impossible to say how much has been lost between the end of column 29 and the beginning of column 30. Probably, however, Ode xiv., if not the last, was nearly the last of the epinikia. It concerns a festival of a merely local character, the Thessalian Herpaia, and was therefore placed after the thirteen other epinikia, which are connected with the four great festivals. The same lacuna leaves it doubtful whether any collective title was prefixed. After the last column (39) of the MS., a good deal has probably been lost. Bacchylides seems to have written at least three other poems of this class (on Cassandra, Laocoon and Philoctetes); and these would have come, in alphabetical order, after the last of the extant six (Idas).




Bion

Bion, Greek bucolic poet, was born at Phlossa near Smyrna, and flourished about 100 BC. The account formerly given of him, that he was the contemporary and imitator of Theocritus, the friend and tutor of Moschus, and lived about 280 BC, is now generally regarded as incorrect. W Stein (De Moschi et Bionis aetate, TŸbingen, 1893) puts Bion, chiefly on metrical grounds, in the first half of the 1st century BC .Nothing is known of him except that he lived in Sicily. The story that he died of poison, administered to him by some jealous rivals, who afterwards suffered the penalty of their crime, is probably only an invention. Although his poems are included in the general class of bucolic poetry, the remains show little of the vigour and truthfulness to nature characteristic of Theocritus. They breathe an exaggerated sentimentality, and show traces of the overstrained reflection frequently observable in later developments of pastoral poetry. The longest and best of them is the Lament for Adonis. It refers to the first day of the festival of Adonis, on which the death of the favourite of Aphrodite was lamented, thus forming an introduction to the Adoniazusae of Theocritus, the subject of which is the second day, when the reunion of Adonis and Aphrodite was celebrated.




Callimachus

Callimachus (ca. 305 BC- ca. 240 BC) was a Greek poet and grammarian, a native of Cyrene and a descendant of the illustrious house of the Battiadae, whence he was sometimes called Battiades (e.g., in Catullus's 65th poem). He opened a school in the suburbs of Alexandria, and some of the most distinguished grammarians and poets were his pupils, among them Apollonius of Rhodes. He was subsequently appointed by Ptolemy Philadelphus as chief librarian of the Alexandrian library, which office he held till his death (about 240). His Pinakes (tablets), in 120 books, a critical and chronologically arranged catalogue of the library, laid the foundation of a history of Greek literature.

According to the Suda, he wrote about 800 works, in verse and prose; of these only six hymns, sixty-four epigrams and some fragments are extant; a considerable fragment of the Hecale, an idyllic epic, has also been discovered in the Rainer papyri.His Coma Berenices is only known from the celebrated imitation of Catullus (the latter's 66th poem). His Aitia ("Causes") was a collection of elegiac poems in four books, dealing with the foundation of cities, religious ceremonies and other customs. According to Quintilian (Inst it. x.1.58) he was the chief of the elegiac poets; his elegies were highly esteemed by the Romans (see Neoterics), and imitated by Ovid, Catullus and especially Propertius. The extant hymns are extremely learned, and written in a laboured and artificial style. The epigrams, some of the best specimens of their kind, have been incorporated in the Greek Anthology.




Chaeremon

Chaeremon was an Athenian dramatist of the first half of the fourth century BCE. He is generally considered a tragic poet. Aristotle (Rhetoric, iil. 12) says his works were intended for reading, not for representation. According to Suidas, he was also a comic poet, and the title of at least one of his plays (Achilles Slayer of Thersites) seems to indicate that it was a satyric drama. His Centaurus (or Centaur) is described by Aristotle (Poet. i. I2) as a rhapsody in all kinds of metres. The fragments of Chaeremon are distinguished by correctness of form and facility of rhythm, but marred by a florid and affected style reminiscent of Agathon. He especially excelled in descriptions (irrelevantly introduced) dealing with such subjects as flowers and female beauty. It is not agreed whether he is the author of three epigrams in the Greek Anthology (Palatine vii. 469, 720, 721) which bear his name. His maxim, "Luck, not wisdom, rules the affairs of men," was adopted by Plutarch as the text of one of his essays.




Choerilus of Iasus

Choerilus of Iasus was an epic poet of Iasus in Caria, who lived in the 4th century BC. He accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns as court-poet. He is well known from the passages in Horace (Epistles, ii. 1, 232; Ars Poetica, 357), according to which he received a piece of gold for every good verse he wrote in celebration of the glorious deeds of his master. The quality of his verses may be estimated from the remark attributed to Alexander, that he would rather be the Thersites of Homer than the Achilles of Choerilus. The epitaph on Sardanapalus, said to have been translated from the Chaldean (quoted in Athenaeus, viii. p. 336), is generally supposed to be by Choerilus.




Choerilus of Samos

Choerilus of Samos was an epic poet of Samos, who flourished at the end of the 5th century BC. After the fall of Athens he settled at the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon, where he was the associate of Agathon, Melanippides, and Plato the comic poet. The only work that can with certainty be attributed to him is the llepo~Ls or llspaucii, a history of the struggle of the Greeks against Persia, the central point of which was the Battle of Salamis. His importance consists in his having taken for his theme national and contemporary events in place of the deeds of old-time heroes. For this new departure he apologizes in the introductory verses (preserved in the scholiast on Aristotle, Rhetoric, iii.14), where he says that the subjects of epic poetry being all exhausted, it was necessary to strike out a new path. The story of his intimacy with Herodotus is probably due to the fact that he imitated him and had recourse to his history for the incidents of his poem. The Perseis was at first highly successful and was said to have been read, together with the Homeric poems, at the Panathenaea, but later critics reversed this favorable judgment. Aristotle (Topica, ~ 1) calls Choerilus' comparisons far-fetched and obscure, and the Alexandrians displaced him by Antimachus in the canon of epic poets. The fragments are artificial in tone.




Christodorus

Christodorus, of Coptos in Egypt, epic poet, flourished during the reign of Anastasius I (491-518). According to Suidas, he was the author of IIIvrpta, accounts of the foundation of various cities; Au&axa, the mythical history of Lydia; Icavpuda, the conquest of Isauria by Anastasius; three books of epigrams; and many other works. In addition to two epigrams (Anthol. Pal. vii. 697, 698) we possess a description of eighty statues of gods, heroes and famous men and women in the gymnasium of Zeuxippus at Constantinople. This Ee paver, consisting of 416 hexameters, forms the second book of the Palatine Anthology. The writer's chief models are Homer and Nonnus, whom he follows closely in the structure of his hexameters. Opinions are divided as to the merits of the work. Some critics regard it as of great importance for the history of art and a model of description; others consider it valueless, alike from the historical, mythological and archaeological points of view.




Diagoras

Diagoras the Atheist of Melos was a Greek poet and sophist of the 5th century B.C. He became an atheist after an incident that happened against him went unpunished by the gods. As a result of his blasphemous speeches, especially his criticism of the Eleusinian Mysteries, he was condemned to death at Athens and a price was put on his head. He fled to Corinth, where he was said to have died.




Erinna

Erinna, Greek poet, contemporary and friend of Sappho, a native of Rhodes or the adjacent island of Telos, flourished about 600 BC (according to Eusebius of Myndus, 350 BC). Of her best-known poem, the Distaff, written in a mixture of Aeolic and Doric, which contained 300 hexameter lines, only four lines are now extant. Three epigrams in the Palatine anthology, also ascribed to her, probably belong to a later date.




Hesiod

Hesiod, the early Greek poet and rhapsode, presumably lived around 700 BC. Historians have debated the priority of Hesiod or of Homer, and some authors even brought them together in an imagined poetic contest; most modern scholars agree that Homer lived before Hesiod.

Hesiod serves as a major source for knowledge of Greek mythology, of farming techniques, of archaic Greek astronomy and of ancient time-keeping.As with Homer, legendary traditions have accumulated round Hesiod. Unlike Homer, some biographical detail has survived: the few details of Hesiod's life come from three references in Works and Days; some further inferences derived from his Theogony.

Hesiod lived in Boeotia. His father came from Cumes in Aeolia, which lay between Ionia and the Troad in southwestern Anatolia, but crossed the sea to settle at Ascra, "a cursed place, cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant" (Works, 640). Hesiod's patrimony there, a small piece of ground at the foot of Mount Helicon, occasioned a lawsuit with his brother Perses, who won; some scholars have seen Perses as a literary creation, a foil for the moralizing of the Works and Days that Hesiod directed to him.

The Muses traditionally lived on Helicon, and they gave Hesiod the gift of poetic inspiration one day while he tended sheep. In another biographical detail, Hesiod mentions a poetry contest at Chalcis in Euboea where the sons of one Amiphidamas awarded him a tripod (ll.654-662).

Plutarch first identified this passage as an interpolation into Hesiod's original work, based on his identification of Amiphidamas with the hero of the Lelantine War between Chalcis and Eretria, which occurred around 705 BC. The account of this contest inspired the later tale of a competition between Hesiod and Homer.

Two different, yet early, traditions record the site of Hesiod's grave. One, as early as Thucydides, reported in Plutarch, the Suda and John Tzetzes, states that the Delphic oracle had warned Hesiod that he would die in Nemea, and so he fled to Locris, where he was killed at the local temple to Nemean Zeus, and buried there. This tradition follows a familiar ironic convention: the oracle that turns out to be true, after all.

The other tradition, first mentioned in an epigram of Chersios of Orchomenus written in the 7th century BC (within a century or so of Hesiod's death) claims that Hesiod lies buried at Orchomenus, a town in Boeotia. According to Aristotle's Constitution of Orchomenus, when the Thespians ravaged Ascra, the villagers sought refuge at Orchomenus, where, following the advice of an oracle, they collected the ashes of Hesiod and placed them in a place of honour in their agora, beside the tomb of Minyas, their eponymous founder, and in the end came to regard Hesiod too as their "hearth-founder".

Later writers attempted to harmonize these two accounts.Legends that accumulated about Hesiod came from several sources: a treatise "The poetic contest of Homer and Hesiod"; a vita of Hesiod by the Byzantine grammarian John Tzetzes; the entry for Hesiod in the Suda; two passages and some scattered remarks in Pausanias (IX, 31.3 6 and 38.3-4); a passage in Plutarch Moralia (162b).

Works

Hesiod wrote only one poem universally considered authentic: the Works and Days, which revolves around two general truths: labour is the universal lot of Man, but he who is willing to work will get by. Scholars have seen this work against a background of agrarian crisis in mainland Greece, which inspired a wave of documented colonizations in search of new land.

This work lays out the five Ages of Man, as well as containing advice and wisdom, prescribing a life of honest labour and attacking idleness and unjust judges (like those who decided in favor of Perses).Tradition also attributes the Theogony to Hesiod, although the authorship remains uncertain. The Theogony resembles Works and Days very closely in style and substance considering the purposely different subject-matter.

The Theogony concerns the origins of the world (cosmogony) and of the gods (theogony), beginning with Gaia, Nyx and Eros, and shows a special interest in genealogy. Embedded in Greek myth there remain fragments of quite variant tales, hinting at the rich variety of myth that once existed, city by city; but Hesiod's retelling of the old stories became the accepted version that linked all Hellenes.

A final poem traditionally attributed to Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles, apparently forms a late expansion of one of these genealogical poems, taking its cue from Homer's description of the Shield of Achilles.




Hipponax

Hipponax of Ephesus was an Ancient Greek iambic poet. Expelled from Ephesus in 540 BC by the tyrant Athenagoras, he took refuge in Clazomenae, where he spent the rest of his life in poverty. His deformed flgure and malicious disposition exposed him to the caricature of the Chian sculptors Bupalus and Athenis, upon whom he revenged himself by issuing against them a series of satires. They are said to have hanged themselves like Lycambes and his daughters when assailed by Archilochus, the model and predecessor of Hipponax. His coarseness of thought and feeling, his rude vocabulary, his want of grace and taste, and his numerous allusions to matters of merely local interest prevented his becoming a favourite in Attica. He was considered the inventor of parody and of a peculiar metre, the scazon or choliamb, which substitutes a spondee for the final iambus of an iambic senarius, and is an appropriate form for the burlesque character of his poems .Among his aphormisms is "There are two days when a woman is a pleasure: the day one marries her and the day one buries her."





Homer
Iliad & Odyssey




Ibycus

Ibycus, of Rhegium in Italy, Greek lyric poet, contemporary of Anacreon, flourished in the 6th century BC. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.

Notwithstanding his good position at home, he lived a wandering life, and spent a considerable time at the court of Polycrates, tyrant of Samos. The story of his death is thus related: While in the neighbourhood of Corinth, the poet was mortally wounded by robbers. As he lay dying he saw a flock of cranes flying overhead, and called upon them to avenge his death. The murderers betook themselves to Corinth, and soon after, while sitting in the theatre, saw the cranes hovering above. One of them, either in alarm or jest, exclaimed, "Behold the avengers of Ibycus," and thus gave the clue to the detection of the crime (Plutarch, De Garrulitate, xiv.).

The phrase, "the cranes of Ibycus," passed into a proverb among the Greeks for the discovery of crime through divine intervention. According to the Suda, Ibycus wrote seven books of lyrics, to some extent mythical and heroic, but mainly erotic (Cicero, Tusc. Disp. iv. 33), celebrating the charms of beautiful youths and girls. F.G. Welcker suggests that they were sung by choruses of boys at the "beauty competitions" held at Lesbos. Although the metre and dialect are Dorian, the poems breathe the spirit of Aeolian melic poetry.




Ion of Chios

Ion of Chios was a versatile writer, dramatist, lyric poet and philosopher in Ancient Greece. Of his forty or fifty plays only a few titles and fragments have come down to us, while of his elegies and dithyrambs nothing has been preserved. He also wrote a work which has been counted as 'philosophical', its title, Triagmos (or Triagmoi), and the few surviving fragments (no. 36 Diels-Kranz) suggesting it had pythagorean leanings. He was a friend of Socrates and contemporary with all the three great dramatists, winning the third prize in the contest where Euripides was first with his Hyppolytus. In commemoration of this not very glorious victory he presented each Athenian citizen with a flask of Chian wine.




Isyllus

Isyllus was a Greek poet, whose name was rediscovered in the course of excavations on the site of the temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus. An inscription was found engraved on stone, consisting of 72 lines of verse (trochaic tetrameters, hexameters, ionics), mainly in the Doric dialect. It is preceded by two lines of prose stating that the author was Isvllus, an Epidaurian, and that it was dedicated to Asclepius and Apollo of Malea. It contains a few political remarks, showing general sympathy with an aristocratic form of government; a self-congratulatory notice of the resolution, passed at the poets instigation, to arrange a solemn procession in honor of the two gods; a paean (no doubt for use in the procession), chiefly occupied with the genealogical relations of Apollo and Asclepius; a poem of thanks for the assistance rendered to Sparta by Asclepius against "Philip", when he led an army against Sparta to put down the monarchy.

The offer of assistance was made by the god himself to the youthful poet, who had entered the Asclepieum to pray for recovery from illness, and communicated the good news to the Spartans. The Philip referred to is identified with (a) Philip II of Macedon, who invaded Peloponnesus after the battle of Chaeronea in 338, or (b) with Philip III, who undertook a similar campaign in 218.Wilamowitz, who characterizes Isyllus as a poetaster without talent and a farcical politician, has written an elaborate treatise on him (Kiessling and Mollendorff, Philologische Untersuchungen, Heft 9, 1886), containing the text with notes, and essays on the political condition of Peloponnesus and the cult of Asclepius. The inscription was first edited by P. Kavvadias (1885), and by J. F. Baunack in Studien onf dem Gebiete der griechischen und der arischen Spraclien (1886).




Kercidas

Cercidas was a poet, philosopher, and legislator for his native city Megalopolis. He was a disciple of Diogenes, whose death he recorded in some Meliambic lines. He is mentioned and cited by Athenaeus and Stobaeus. At his death he ordered the first and second books of the Iliad to be buried with him. Aelian relates that Cercidas died expressing his hope of being with Pythagorus of the Philosophers, Hecataeus of the historians, Olympus of the musicians, and Homer of the poets, which clearly implies that he himself cultivated these four sciences. He appears to be the same person as Cercidas the Arcadian, who is mentioned by Demosthenes among those Greeks, who, by their cowardice and corruption, enslaved their states to Philip II of Macedon.




Korinna / Corinna

Corinna (or Korinna) was an Ancient Greek poet, probably of the 6th century BC. She came from Tanagra in Boeotia, and according to later legend was the teacher of the much better-known Theban poet Pindar. Most of her work survives only in fragments, but two poems survive in epitome.

Corinna's birthdate is unknown, but if Pindar was indeed her pupil, it may be assumed that she was born some years earlier than his birthdate of 522 BC. Some writers, however, place her in the 5th or 4th century BC. Pausanias says she won a poetry competition against Pindar in honour of which she had a monument erected to her. He says that her success was chiefly due to her beauty and her use of the local Boeotian dialect. Aelian says said she defeated Pindar five times, and in response to these defeats, Pindar called her a sow. Antipater of Thessaloniki lists her in his catalogue of nine mortal muses.

Corinna wrote choral poetry for celebrations in the Boeotian dialect of Greek. It is said that she criticised Pindar for introducing Atticisms into his poems. Unlike Pindar, she focused on local myths, and drew parallels between the world of mythology and ordinary human behaviour. The outlines of two of her poems survive. Minouaie (The Daughters of Minyas), tells of the three adult daughters of King Minyas of Orchomenos: Leukippe, Arsippe, and Alkathoe. Koronaie (The Shuttle Maidens), tells of Orion's two daughters Menippe and Metioche, who cut their throats with their shuttle, "accepting death for their neighbours' sake".




Lasus of Hermione

Lasus of Hermione was a Greek lyric poet of the 6th century BC. He is known to have been active at Athens under the reign of the Peisistratids. Pseudo-Plutarch's De Musica credits Lasus with innovations in the dithyramb. According to Herodotus, Lasus also exposed Onomacritus's forgeries of the oracles of Musaeus.




Lesches

Lesches (Lescheos in Pausanias x. 25. 5), the reputed author of the Little Iliad, one of the "cyclic poems." According to the usually accepted tradition, he was a native of Pyrrha in Lesbos, and flourished about 660 BC (others place him about 50 years earlier). The Little Iliad took up the story of the Homeric Iliad, and, beginning with the contest between Ajax and Odysseus for the arms of Achilles, carried it down to the fall of Troy (Aristotle, Poetics, 23). According to the epitome in the Chrestomathy of Proclus, it ended with the admission of the wooden horse within the walls of the city. Some ancient authorities ascribe the work to a Lacedaemonian named Cinaethon, and even to Homer.




Machon

Machon (fl. 3rd century BC) was a playwright of the New Comedy.He was born in Corinth or Sicyon, and lived in Alexandria. Two fragments of his work survive, along with 462 verses of a book of anecdotes of the words and deeds of notorious Athenians, preserved in the Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus. Dioscorides wrote an epitaph for Machon that has also survived.




Meleager of Gadara

Meleager of Gadara was a collector of epigrams active in the 1st century BCE. His work was the basis for the Greek Anthology. The city of Gadara is now Umm Qais in Jordan.




Menedemus

Menedemus, (c. 350 - 278 to 275 BC), a Greek philosopher and founder of the Eretrian School of Philosophy, was born at Eretria. Though of noble birth, he worked as builder and tentmaker until he was sent with a military expedition to Megara, where, according to Diogenes Laertius, he heard Plato and resolved to devote himself to philosophy. It is more likely that he heard one of Plato's followers, inasmuch as Plato died when he was only four years old, if the above dates are correct. At Megara he formed a life-long friendship with Asclepiades, with whom he toiled in the night that he might study philosophy by day. He was subsequently a pupil first of Stilpo and then of Phaedo of Elis, whose school he transferred to Eretria, by which name it was afterwards known.

In addition to his philosophical work, he took a leading part iii the political affairs of his city from the time of the Diadochi until his death, and obtained a remission of the tribute to Demetrius. His friendship with Antigonus Gonatas seems to have roused suspicion as to his loyalty, and he sought safety first in the temple of Amphiaraus at Oropus, and later with Antigonus, at whose court he is said to have died of grief. Other accounts say that he starved himself to death on failing to induce Antigonus to free his native city.

His philosophical views are known only in part. Athenaeus quotes Epicrates as stating that he was a Platonist, but other accounts credit him with having preferred Stilpo to Plato. Diogenes La‘rtius (ii. 134 and 135) says that he declined to identify the Good with the Useful, and that he denied the value of the negative proposition on the ground that affirmation alone can express truth. He probably meant to imply that qualities have no existence apart from the subject to which they belong. In ethics we learn from Plutarch (De virt. mor. 2) and from Cicero (Acad. ii. 42) that he regarded Virtue as one, by whatever name it be called, and maintained that it is intellectual. Cicero's evidence is the less valuable in that he always assumed that Menedemus was a follower of the Megarians. Diogenes says that he left no writings, and the Eretrian school disappeared after a short and unobtrusive existence.




Mimnermus

Mimnermus of Colophon, Greek elegiac poet, flourished about 630-600 BC. His life fell in the troubled time when the Ionic cities of Asia Minor were struggling to maintain themselves against the rising power of the Lydian kings. One of the extant fragments of his poems refers to this struggle, and contrasts the present effeminacy of his countrymen with the bravery of those who had once defeated the Lydian king Gyges. But his most important poems were a set of elegies addressed to a flute player named Nanno, collected in two books called after her name. Mimnermus was the first to make the elegiac verse the vehicle for love-poetry. He set his own poems to the music of the flute, and the poet Hipponax says that he used the melancholy "the fig-branch strain," said to be a peculiar melody, to the accompaniment of which two human purificatory victims were led out of Athens to be sacrificed during the festival of Thargelia (Hesychius, s.v.).




Moschus

Moschus, Ancient Greek bucolic poet and friend of the Alexandrian grammarian Aristarchus, was born at Syracuse and flourished about 150 BC. He was the author of a short epic poem, Europa, and a pretty little epigram, Love, the Runaway, imitated by Torquato Tasso and Ben Jonson. The epitaph on Bion of Smyrna, wrongly supposed to have been his tutor, was in all probability written about the time of Sulla (see F BŸcheler in Rheinisches Museum, xxx., 1875). The poem on Megara (the wife of Heracles) is probably not his, but a few other pieces, undoubtedly genuine, have been preserved. His poems are nearly all in hexameters. They are usually printed in editions of Bion and Theocritus, and have been translated into many European languages.




Musaeus

Musaeus or Musaios was the name of three Greek poets.

The first Musaeus was a mythical seer and priest, the pupil or son of Orpheus, and is said to have been the founder of priestly poetry in Attica. According to Pausanias, he was buried on the Museum hill, south-west of the Acropolis. He composed dedicatory and purificatory hymns and prose treatises, and oracular responses. These were collected and arranged in the time of Peisistratus by Onomacritus, who added interpolations. The mystic and oracular verses and customs of Attica, especially of Eleusis, are connected with his name (Herodotus vii. 6; viii. 96; ix. 43). A Titanomachia and Theogonia are also attributed to him by Gottfried Kinkel (Epicorum graecorum fragmenta, 1878).

Herodotus reports that, during the reign of Pisistratus at Athens, the scholar Onomacritus was charged with compiling the oracles of Musaeus, but that he inserted forgeries of his own devising, which were detected by Lasus of Hermione.

The second Musaeus was an Ephesian attached to the court of the kings of Pergamon, who wrote a Perseis, and poems on Eumenes and Attalus I (Suidas s.v.).

The third Musaeus (called Grammaticus in all the manuscripts) is of uncertain date, but probably belongs to the beginning of the 6th century, as his style and metre are evidently modelled on those of Nonnus. He must have lived before Agathias (530-582) and has been identified with the friend of Procopius whose poem (340 hexameter lines) on the story of Hero and Leander is by far the most beautiful of the age (editions by Franz Passow, 1810; GH Schafer, 1825; C Dilthey, 1874). The little love-poem Alpheus and Arethusa (Anthol. pal. ix. 362) is also ascribed to Musaeus.




Myrtilus

In Greek mythology, Myrtilus was a divine hero, a son of Hermes on Theobula, and charioteer of King Oenomaus of Pisa in Elis, on the northwest coast of the Peloponnesus.

On the eve of the fateful horse race that would decide the marriage between Pelops and Hippodameia, Myrtilus was approached by Pelops (or alternatively, by Hippodameia) who wanted him to hinder the efforts of his master, Oenamaus, to win the race. Myrtilus was offered as bribe the privilege of the first night with Hippodameia.

Myrtilus, who loved Hippodamia himself but was too afraid to ask her hand of her father, agreed and sabotaged the king's chariot by replacing the bronze lynchpins with fake ones made of bees' wax. In the ensuing accident Oenomaus lost his life, cursing Myrtilus as he died. Shortly thereafter Myrtilus made a pass at Hippodameia who ran crying to Pelops. Enraged, Pelops murdered Myrtilus by casting him into the sea off the east coast of the Peloponnesus, which was later named the Myrtoan Sea in honor of the hero. His body was later recovered and brought in the temple of Hermes where it was honored with annual sacrifices.

As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops. This was the source of the curse that haunted future generation of Pelops' children, including Atreus, Thyestes, Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Menelaus, Orestes and Chrysippus.




Nicarchus

Nicarchus was a Greek writer of the first century AD, best known for his epigrams, of which 42 survive, and his satirical poetry. He was a contemporary of, and influence on, the better-known Latin writer Martial. A large proportion of his epigrams are directed against doctors. Some of his writings have been found at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.




Palladas

Palladas (flourished 4th century AD) was a Greek poet, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. All that is known about this poet has been deduced from his 151 epigrams preserved in the Greek Anthology. (Another twenty-three appear in that collection under his name, but his authorship is suspect). His poems describe the persona of a pagan schoolteacher resigned to life in a Christian city, and bitter about his wife to the point of misogyny.

One of the epigrams attributed to him on the authority of Maximus Planudes is a eulogy on the celebrated Hypatia, daughter of Theon of Alexandria, whose tragic death took place in 415. Another was, according to a scholium in the Palatine Manuscript (an edition of the Greek Anthology), written in the reign of the joint emperors Valentinian and Valens (364-375). A third epigram on the destruction of Beirut (9.27), offers no certain date.

An anonymous epigram (Gk. Anth. 9.380) speaks of him as of high poetical reputation. However, Isaac Casaubon dismisses him in two contemptuous words as versificator insulsissimus ("a most coarse poet"); this is true of a great part of his work, and would perhaps be true of it all but for the savage indignation which kindles his verse, not into the flame of poetry, but to a dull red heat.

There is little direct allusion in his epigrams to the struggle against the onslaught of Christianity. One epigram speaks obscurely of the destruction of the idols of Alexandria popular in the archiepiscopate of Theophilus in 389; another in even more enigmatic language (Gk. Anth. 10.90) seems to be a bitter attack on the doctrine of the Resurrection; and a scornful couplet against the swarms of Egyptian monks might have been written by a Reformer of the 16th century.

For the most part his sympathy with the losing side is only betrayed in his despondency over all things. But it is in his criticism of life that the power of Palladas lies; with a remorselessness like that of Jonathan Swift he tears the coverings from human frailty and holds it up in its meanness and misery. The lines on the Descent of Man (Gk. Anth. 10.45), fall as heavily on the Neo-Platonic martyr as on the Christian persecutor, and remain even now among the most mordant and crushing sarcasms ever passed upon mankind.

To the same period in thought -- beyond this there is no clue to their date -- belong Aesopus and Glycon, each the author of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. They belong to the age of the Byzantine metaphrasts, when infinite pains were taken to rewrite well-known poems or passages in different metres, by turning Homer into elegiacs or iambics, and recasting pieces of Euripides or Menander as epigrams.




Philetas of Cos

Philetas of Cos, Alexandrian poet and critic, flourished in the second half of the 4th century BC. He was tutor to the son of Ptolemy I of Egypt, and also taught Theocritus and the grammarian Zenodotus. His thinness made him an object of ridicule; according to the comic poets, he carried lead in his shoes to keep himself from being blown away. Over-study of Megarian dialectic subtleties is said to have shortened his life. His elegies, chiefly of an amatory nature and singing the praises of his mistress Battis (or Bittis), were much admired by the Romans. He is frequently mentioned by Ovid and Propertius, the latter of whom imitated him and preferred him to his rival Callimachus, whose superior mythological lore was more to the taste of the Alexandrian critics. Philetas was also the author of a vocabulary called "Aro/cra, explaining the meanings of rare and obscure words, including words peculiar to certain dialects; and of notes on Homer, severely criticized by Aristarchus.




Philoxenus of Cythera

Philoxenus of Cythera (435 BC-380 BC) was a Greek dithyrambic poet.On the conquest of the island by the Athenians he was taken as a prisoner of war to Athens, where he came into the possession of the dithyrambic poet Melanippides, who educated him and set him free. Philoxenus afterwards resided in Sicily, at the court of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, whose bad verses he declined to praise, and was in consequence sent to work in the quarries. After leaving Sicily he travelled in Greece, Italy and Asia, reciting his poems, and died at Ephesus.

According to the Suidas, Philoxenus composed twenty-four dithyrambs and a lyric poem on the genealogy of the Aeacidae. In his hands the dithyramb seems to have been a sort of comic opera, and the music, composed by himself, of a debased character. His masterpiece was the Cyclops, a pastoral burlesque on the love of the Cyclops for the fair Galatea, written to avenge himself upon Dionysius, who was wholly or partially blind of one eye. It was parodied by Aristophanes in the Plutus (290 BC).

Another work of Philoxenus (sometimes attributed to Philoxenus of Leucas, a notorious parasite and glutton) is the Aeiirnon ("Dinner"), of which considerable fragments have been preserved by Athenaeus. This is an elaborate bill of fare in verse, probably intended as a satire on the luxury of the Sicilian court.

The great popularity of Philoxenus is attested by a complimentary resolution passed by the Athenian Senate in 393 BC. The comic poet Antiphanes spoke of him as a god among men; Alexander the Great had his poems sent to him in Asia; the Alexandrian grammarians received him into the canon; and down to the time of Polybius his works were regularly learned and annually acted by the Arcadian youth.




Phocylides

Phocylides, Greek gnomic poet of Miletus, contemporary of Theognis of Megara, was born about 560 BC.A few fragments of his "maxims" have survived (chiefly in the Florilegium of Stobaeus), in which he expresses his contempt for the pomps and vanities of rank and wealth, and sets forth in simple language his ideas of honor, justice and wisdom.

A complete didactic poem (230 hexameters) called llotnua vovO~rtK6v or 7v&~/2cu, bearing the name of Phocylides, is now considered to be the work of an Alexandrian Christian of Jewish origin who lived between 170 BC and AD 50. The Jewish element is shown in verbal agreement with passages of the Old Testament (especially the Book of Sirach); the Christian by the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. Some Jewish authorities, however, maintain that there are in reality no traces of Christian doctrine to be found in the poem, and that the author was a Jew. The poem was first printed at Venice in 1495, and was a favourite school textbook during the Reformation period.




Pigres of Halicarnassus

Pigres, a native of Halicarnassus, either the brother or the son of the celebrated Artemisia, satrap of Caria. He is spoken of by the Suda (s.v. where, however, he makes the mistake of conflating Artemisia the wife of Mausolus with Artemisia the advisor of Xerxes in the Histories Herodotus) as the author of the Margites, and the Batrachomyomachia. The latter poem is also attributed to him by Plutarch (de Herod. malign. 43. p. 873), and was probably his work.




Pindar

Pindar (522 BC - 443 BC), considered the greatest of the nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, was born at Cynoscephalae, a village in Thebes. He was the son of Daiphantus and Cleodice. The traditions of his family have left their impression on his poetry, and are not without importance for a correct estimate of his relation to his contemporaries.

While his father belonged to the 'aristocracy', his mother is said to have been a member of the 'rightless' class or maybe even a slave. Together with the fact that his relation with a woman from the aristocracy ended abruptly, this would remain a source of inspiration for Pindar. He felt looked down upon. He got his 'revenge' through his poetry. It is even said that the same girl and his father committed suicide after reading his work.

But nevertheless, through his father, he truly belonged to the aristocracy, and from a very early age on, he became familiar with all the intimacies of the aristocratic ranks and titles. This is something to keep in mind when studying Pindar's work.

Employing himself by writing choral works in praise of notable personages, events and princes, his house in Thebes was spared by Alexander the Great in recognition of the complimentary works composed for king Alexander I of Macedon.

Pindar composed choral songs of several types. According to a Late Antique biographer, these works were grouped into seventeen books by scholars at the Library of Alexandria. They were, by genre:

Of this vast and varied corpus, only the victory odes survive in complete form. The rest are known to us only by quotations in other ancient authors or papyrus scraps unearthed in Egypt.

Pindar's victory odes were composed for aristocratic victors in the four most prominent athletic festivals in early Classical Greece: the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean Games. Rich and allusive in style, they are packed with dense parallels between the athletic victor, his illustrious ancestors, and the myths of gods and heroes underlying the athletic festival.

Pindar is to be conceived, then, as standing within the circle of those families for whom the heroic myths were domestic records. He had a personal link with the memories which everywhere were most cherished by Dorians, no less than with those which appealed to men of "Cadmean" or of Achaean stock. And the wide ramifications of the Aegidae throughout Hellas rendered it peculiarly fitting that a member of that illustrious clan should celebrate the glories of many cities in verse which was truly Panhellenic.

Pindar is said to have received lessons in aulos-playing from one Scopelinus at Thebes, and afterwards to have studied at Athens under the musicians Apollodorus (or Agathocles) and Lasus of Hermione. Several passages in Pindar's extant odes glance at the long technical development of Greek lyric poetry before his time, and at the various elements of art which the lyricist was required to temper into a harmonious whole. The facts that stand out from these meagre traditions are that Pindar was precocious and laborious. Preparatory labour of a somewhat severe and complex kind was, indeed, indispensable for the Greek lyric poet of that age.

Pindar's wife's name was Megacleia, and he had a son named Daiphantus and two daughters, Eumetis and Protomache. He is said to have died at Argos, at the age of seventy-nine, in 443 BC.




Posidippus

Posidippus (also transliterated Poseidippos) was a Hellenistic Greek epigrammatic poet (c.280 - 240 BC). Born in the Macedonian city of Pella, he lived for some time in Samos before moving permanently to Egypt. An inscription from Thermon in Aetolia records that he was granted the liberties of that city in 264/3 BC. He was friends with the poets Asclepiades and Hedylus. Twenty of his poems were included in the Greek Anthology, and several more were quoted in either part or whole by Athenaeus of Naucratis in his Deipnosophistairum.

Until 2001, it was assumed that Posidippus wrote only about drinking and love. In that year the Milan Papyrus was recovered from the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy, which contained 112 poems, two of which were previously known to have been written by Posidippus, which address subjects that include events of the court of the Ptolemaic dynasty, gemstones, and bird divination. Because of Posidippus' authorship of these two poems, scholars have concluded that the other poems of the Milan Papyrus were also written by him.




Praxilla

Praxilla, of Sicyon, was a Greek lyric poet of the 5th century BC. She was one of the nine lyric Muses.According to Athenaeus (xv. 694), she was famous as a composer of scolia (short lyrical poems sung after dinner), which were considered equal to those of Alcaeus and Anacreon. She also wrote dithyrambs and hymns, chiefly on mystic and mythological subjects, genealogies, and the love-stories of the gods and heroes. A dactylic metre was also called by her name.




Rhianus

Rhianus was a Greek poet and grammarian, a native of Crete, friend and contemporary of Eratosthenes (275 BC-195 BC). Suidas says he was at first a slave and overseer of a palaestra, but obtained a good education later in life and devoted himself to grammatical studies, probably in Alexandria. He prepared a new recension of the Iliad and Odyssey, characterized by sound judgment and poetical taste. His bold atheteses are frequently mentioned in the scholia. He also wrote epigrams, eleven of which, preserved in the Greek anthology and Athenaeus, show elegance and vivacity. But he was chiefly known as a writer of epics (mythological and ethnographical), the most celebrated of which was the Messeniaca in six books, dealing with the second Messenian war and the exploits of its central figure Aristomenes, and used by Pausanias in his fourth book as a trustworthy authority. Other similar poems were the Achaica, Eliaca, and Thessalica. The Heracleia was a long mythological epic, probably an imitation of the poem of the same name by Panyasis, and containing the same number of books (fourteen).




Sappho

Sappho was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from the city of Eressos on the island of Lesbos, which was a cultural centre in the 7th century BC. She was born sometime between 630 BC and 612 BC. The bulk of her poetry is now lost, but her reputation in her time was immense, and she was reputedly considered by Plato as the tenth Muse.

No contemporary historical sources exist for Sappho's life - only her poetry. Scholars have rejected a biographical reading of her poetry and have cast doubt on the reliability of the later biographical traditions from which all more detailed accounts derive.

Sappho is believed to have been the daughter of Scamander and Cle•s and to have had three brothers. She was married (Attic comedy says to a wealthy merchant, but that is apocryphal), the name of her husband being in dispute. Some translators have interpreted a poem about a girl named Cle•s as being evidence that she had a daughter by that name. It was a common practice of the time to name daughters after grandmothers, so there is some basis for this interpretation. But the actual Aeolic word pais was more often used to indicate a slave or any young girl, rather than a daughter. In order to avoid misrepresenting the unknowable status of young Cle•s, translator Diane Rayor and others, such as David Campbell, chose to use the more neutral word "child" in their versions of the poem.

Sappho was born into an aristocratic family, which is reflected in the sophistication of her language and the sometimes rarefied environments which her verses record. References to dances, festivals, religious rites, military fleets, parading armies, generals, and ladies of the ancient courts abound in her writings. She speaks of time spent in Lydia, one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries of that time. More specifically, Sappho speaks of her friends and happy times among the ladies of Sardis, capital of Lydia, once the home of Croesus and near the gold-rich lands of King Midas.

A violent coup on Lesbos, following a rebellion led by Pittacus, toppled the ruling families from power. For many years, Sappho and other members of the aristocracy, including fellow poet Alcaeus, were exiled. Her poetry speaks bitterly of the mistreatment she suffered during those years. Much of her exile was spent in Syracuse on the island of Sicily. Upon hearing that the famous Sappho would be coming to their city, the people of Syracuse built a statue of her as a form of welcome. Much later, in 581 BC, when Pittacus was no longer in power, she was able to return to her homeland. A tradition going back at least to Menander (fr. 258 K) suggested that Sappho killed herself by jumping off the Leucadian cliffs for love of Phaon, a ferryman. Some 20th-century scholars have suggested that this legend of Sappho's leap from the cliff over the love for a man may have resulted in part from a desire to assert herself as heterosexual.

Because she wrote love poems addressed to both women and men, Sappho has long been considered bisexual. The word "lesbian" derives from the name of the island of her birth, Lesbos; her name is also the origin of its less common synonym sapphic, despite Sappho herself having been bisexual. The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love (sometimes requited, sometimes not) for various women, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate. Whether these poems are meant to be autobiographical is not known, although elements of other parts of Sappho's life do make appearances in her work, and it would be compatible with her style to have these intimate encounters expressed poetically, as well. Her homoerotica should be placed in the seventh century (BC) context. The poems of Alcaeus and later Pindar record similar romantic bonds between the members of a given circle.

The 3rd Century philosopher Maximus of Tyre wrote that Sappho was "small and dark" and that her relationships to her female friends were similar to those of Socrates:

During the Victorian era, it became the fashion to describe Sappho as the headmistress of a girls' finishing school. As Page DuBois (among many other experts) points out, this attempt at making Sappho understandable and palatable to the genteel classes of Great Britain was based more on conservative sensibilities than evidence. In fact, many argue there are no references to teaching, students, academies, or tutors in any of Sappho's admittedly scant collection of surviving works. Burnett follows others, like C.M. Bowra, in suggesting that Sappho's circle was somewhat akin to the Spartan agelai or the religious sacred band, the thiasos, but Burnett nuances her argument by noting that Sappho's circle was distinct from these contemporary examples because "membership in the circle seems to have been voluntary, irregular and to some degree international." The notion that Sappho was in charge of some sort of academy persists nonetheless.

Works

Ancient sources state that Sappho produced nine volumes of poetry, but only a small proportion of her work survives. Papyrus fragments, such as those found in the ancient rubbish heaps of Oxyrhynchus, are an important source. One substantial fragment is preserved on a potsherd. The rest of what we know of Sappho comes through citations in other ancient writers, often made to illustrate grammar, vocabulary, or meter. There is a single complete poem, Fragment 1, Hymn to Aphrodite. There is another modern translation of that ode, and translations of two more virtually-complete poems (16 and 31 in the standard numeration) and three shorter fragments, including one whose authorship is uncertain (168b).

The most recent addition to the corpus is a virtually-complete poem on old age. The line-ends were first published in 1922 from an Oxyrhynchus papyrus, no. 1787 (fragment 1: see the third pair of images on this page), but little could be made of them, since the indications of poem-end (placed at the beginnings of the lines) were lost, and scholars could only guess where one poem ended and another began. Most of the rest of the poem has recently (2004) been published from a 3rd century BC papyrus in the Cologne University collection (image available here). The latest reconstruction, by M. L. West, appeared in the Zeitschrift fŸr Papyrologie und Epigraphik 151 (2005), 1-9, and in the Times Literary Supplement on 21 June 2005 (English translation and discussion). Another full literary translation is available. The Greek text has been reproduced with helpful notes for students of the language, together with other examples of Greek lyric poetry.

A major new literary discovery, the Milan Papyrus, recovered from a dismantled mummy casing and published in 2001, has revealed the high esteem in which the poet Posidippus of Pella, an important composer of epigrams (3rd century BC), held Sappho's 'divine songs'. An English translation of the new epigrams, with notes, is available, as is the original Greek text.

Loss of Sappho's Works

Although Sappho's work endured well into Roman times, with changing interests, styles, and aesthetics her work was copied less and less, especially after the academies stopped requiring her study. Part of the reason for her disappearance from the standard canon was the predominance of Attic and Homeric Greek as the languages required to be studied. Sappho's Aeolic dialect, a difficult one, and by Roman times, arcane and ancient as well, posed considerable obstacles to her continued popularity. Once the major academies of the Byzantine Empire dropped her works from their standard curricula, very few copies of her works were made by scribes. Still, the greatest poets and thinkers of ancient Rome continued to emulate her or compare other writers to her, and it is through these comparisons and descriptions that we have received much of her extant poetry. Modern legends, with origins that are difficult to trace, have made Sappho's literary legacy the victim of purposeful obliteration by scandalized church leaders, often by means of book-burning. There is no known historical evidence for these accounts. Indeed, Gregory of Nazianzus, who along with Pope Gregory VII features as the villain in many of these stories, was a reader and admirer of Sappho's poetry. For example, modern scholars have noted the echoes of Sappho fr. 2 in his poem On Human Nature, which copies from Sappho the quasi-sacred grove (alsos), the wind-shaken branches, and the striking word for "deep sleep" (koma).

It appears likely that Sappho's poetry was decimated by the same forces of cultural change that obliterated, without prejudice, the remains of all the canonical archaic Greek poets. Indeed, as one would expect from ancient critical estimations, which regard Sappho and Pindar as the greatest practitioners of monodic lyric and choral poetry (respectively), more of Sappho's work has survived through quotation than any of the others, with the exception of Pindar (whose works alone survive in a manuscript tradition).

Although the manuscript tradition broke off, some copies of her work have been discovered in Egyptian papyri from an earlier period. A major find at Oxyrhynchus brought many new but tattered verses to light. From the time of the European Renaissance, the interest in Sappho's writing has grown, seeing waves of fairly widespread popularity as new generations rediscover her work. Since few people are able to understand ancient languages, each age has translated Sappho in its own idiomatic way. Poetry, such as Sappho's, that relies on meter is difficult to reproduce in English which uses stress-based metres and rhyme compared to Ancient Greek's solely length-based metres. As a result, many early translators used rhyme and worked Sappho's ideas into English poetic forms.

In the 1960s, Mary Barnard reintroduced Sappho to the reading public with a new approach to translation that eschewed the use of rhyming stanzas or forms of poetry, such as the sonnet. Subsequent translators have tended to work in a similar manner, seeking to allow the essence of Sappho's spirit to be visible through the translated verses.




Simonides of Amorgos

Simonides (or Semontoes) of Amorgos, Greek iambic poet, flourished in the middle of the 7th century BC. He was a native of Samos, and derived his surname from having founded a colony in the neighboring island of Amorgos.According to Suidas, besides two books of iambics, he wrote elegies, one of them a poem on the early history of the Samians. The elegy included in the fragments (85) of Simonides of Ceos is more probably by Simonides of Amorgos. We possess about thirty fragments of his iambic poems, written in clear and vigorous Ionic, with much force and no little harmony of versification.

With Simonides, as with Archilochus of Paros, the iambic is still the vehicle of bitter satire, interchanging with melancholy, but in Simonides the satire is rather general than individual. His "Pedigree of Women" may have been suggested by the beast fable, as we find it in Hesiod and Archilochus, and as it recurs a century later in Phocylides; it is clear at least that Simonides knew the works of the former. Simonides derives the dirty woman from a hog, the cunning from a fox, the fussy from a dog, the apathetic from earth, the capricious from sea-water, the stubborn from an ass, the incontinent from a weasel, the proud from a high-bred mare, the worst and ugliest from an ape, and the good woman from a bee. The remainder of the poem (96-118) is undoubtedly spurious. There is much beauty and feeling in Simonides's description of the good woman.




Simonides of Ceos

Simonides of Ceos (ca. 556 BC-469 BC), Greek lyric poet, was born at Ioulis on Kea. During his youth he taught poetry and music, and composed paeans for the festivals of Apollo. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.

Finding little scope for his abilities at home, he went to live at Athens, at the court of Hipparchus, the patron of literature. After the murder of Hipparchus (514 BC), Simonides withdrew to Thessaly, where he enjoyed the protection and patronage of the Scopadae and Aleuadae (two celebrated Thessalian families). An interesting story is told of the termination of his relations with the Scopadae. On a certain occasion he was reproached by Scopas for having allotted too much space to the Dioscuri in an ode celebrating the victory of his patron in a chariot-race. Scopas refused to pay all the fee and told Simonides to apply to the Dioscuri for the remainder. The incident took place at a banquet. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was told that two young men wished to speak to him; after he had left the banqueting room, the roof fell in and crushed Scopas and his guests (Cicero, De oratore, ii. 86). There seems no doubt that some disaster overtook the Scopadae, which resulted in the extinction of the family. After the Battle of Marathon Simonides returned to Athens, but soon left for Sicily at the invitation of Hiero, at whose court he spent the rest of his life.

His reputation as a man of learning is shown by the tradition that he introduced the distinction between the long and short vowels, afterwards adopted in the Ionic alphabet which came into general use during the archonship of Eucleides (403 BC). He was also the inventor of a system of mnemonics (Quintilian xi.2,n). So unbounded was his popularity that he was a power even in the political world; we are told that he reconciled Thero and Hiero on the eve of a battle between their opposing armies. He was the intimate friend of Themistocles and Pausanias the Spartan, and his poems on the war of liberation against Persia no doubt gave a powerful impulse to the national patriotism. For his poems he could command almost any price: later writers, from Aristophanes onwards, accuse him of avarice, probably not without some reason. To Hiero's queen, who asked him whether it was better to be born rich or a genius, he replied "Rich, for genius is ever found at the gates of the rich." Again, when someone asked him to write a laudatory poem for which he offered profuse thanks, but no money, Simonides replied that he kept two coffers, one for thanks, the other for money; that, when he opened them, he found the former empty and useless, and the latter full.

Of his poetry we possess two or three short elegies (Fr. 85 seems from its style and versification to belong to Simonides of Amorgos, or at least not to be the work of our poet), several epigrams and about ninety fragments of lyric poetry. The epigrams written in the usual dialect of elegy, Ionic with an epic coloring, were intended partly for public and partly for private monuments. There is strength and sublimity in the former, with a simplicity that is almost statuesque, and a complete mastery over the rhythm and forms of elegiac expression.

Those on the heroes of Marathon and the Battle of Thermopylae are the most celebrated. In the private epigrams there is more warmth of colour and feeling, but few of them rest on any better authority than that of the Greek Anthology. One interesting and undoubtedly genuine epigram of this class is upon Archedice, the daughter of Hippias the Peisistratid, who, "albeit her father and husband and brother and children were all princes, was not lifted up in soul to pride."

The lyric fragments vary much in character and length: one is from a poem on Artemisium, celebrating those who fell at Thermopylae, with which he gained the victory over Aeschylus; another is an ode in honour of Scopas (commented on in Plato, Protagoras, 339 b); the rest are from odes on victors in the games, hyporchemes, dirges, hymns to the gods and other varieties. The poem on Thermopylae is reverent and sublime, breathing an exalted patriotism and a lofty national pride; the others are full of tender pathos and deep feeling, combined with a genial worldliness.

For Simonides requires no standard of lofty unswerving rectitude. "It is hard," he says (Fr. 5), "to become a truly good man, perfect as a square in hands and feet and mind, fashioned without blame. Whosoever is bad, and not too wicked, knowing justice, the benefactor of cities, is a sound man. I for one will find no fault with him, for the race of fools is infinite. ... I praise and love all men who do no sin willingly; but with necessity even the gods do not contend." Virtue, he tells us elsewhere in language that recalls Hesiod, is set on a high and difficult hill (Fr. 58); let us seek after pleasure, for "all things come to one dread Charybdis, both great virtues and wealth" (Fr. 38).

Yet Simonides is far from being a hedonist; his morality, no less than his art, is pervaded by that virtue for which Ceos was renowned--self-restraint. His most celebrated fragment is a dirge, in which Danae, adrift with the infant Perseus on the sea in a dark and stormy night, takes comfort from the peaceful slumber of her babe. Simonides here illustrates his own saying that "poetry is vocal painting, as painting is silent poetry," a formula that (through Plutarch's De Gloria Atheniesium) became Horace's famous "ut pictura poesis." Of the many English translations of this poem, one of the best is that by J.A. Symonds in Studies on the Greek Poets.




Stesichorus

Stesichorus was a Greek lyric poet from Sicily who flourished from 640 BC to 555 BC. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.




Straton of Sardis

Straton of Sardis (aka Strato) was a Greek poet and anthologist from the Lydian city of Sardis. He is thought to have lived during the time of Hadrian, based on Straton authorship of a poem about the doctor Artemidorus Capito, a contemporary of Hadrian. Straton is mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, at the beginning of the 3rd century AD.

Straton assembled the anthology of erotic and amourous epigrams called the Mousa Paidike ("The Boyish Muse").

Around 900, a Byzantine scholar named Constantine Cephalas compiled pieces of several Greek anthologies, including The Boyish Muse, to make a comprehensive collection of Greek epigrams. We do not know if The Boyish Muse was taken whole, or if a selection was made from it, or if Cephalas maintained the order of the original anthology.

Cephalas's collection was revised, divided into specialized anthologies, adapted for school use, and generally much copied. In 1301, a scholar named Maximus Planudes put together a bowdlerized version of the Cephalan book which became very popular in Greece. When the Ottomans conquered the remains of the Byzantine empire, many Greek scholars brought versions of Planudes' version with them into exile in Italy. The Greeks became teachers to Italian scholars and eventually printed an edition of the Planudean book, the Florilegium Diversorum Epigrammatum, in Florence in 1494.

Most of what we know of Straton's work comes instead from a manuscript copied around 980, which preserved many of the poems from the earlier Cephalan anthology. This manuscript was discovered in the library of the Counts Palatine in Heidelberg in 1606 or 1607, by a young visiting scholar named Claudius Salmasius.

There is no clear record of how it got there, but a visiting Italian scholar probably left it; around the middle of the 1500s the Roman scholar and antiquarian Fulvio Orsini (1529-1600) had seen and mentioned such a manuscript, then in the possession of one Angelo Colloti. The newly discovered poems in the Palatine version were copied out by Salmasius, and he began to circulate clandestine manuscript copies of them as the Anthologia Inedita.

His copy was later published: first in 1776 when Richard Franois Philippe Brunck included it in his Analecta; and then the full Palatine Anthology was published by F. Jacobs as the Anthologia Graeca (13 vols. 1794 - 1803; revised 1813 - 1817). The remains of Straton's The Boyish Muse became Book 12 in Jacob's critical Anthologia Graeca edition.

Because of its taboo subject-matter, until the mid 20th century Straton's work was generally left untranslated, translated only into Latin, published in censored forms, or translated only in very private editions. These translations helped form the Greek core of influential homosexual poetry anthologies such as Elisar von Kupffer's Lieblingsminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur (1899) and Edward Carpenter's Iolaus (1908).

New translations of Straton's 'Book 12' were later published by poets such as Roger Peyrefitte and Salvatore Quasimodo.The first-ever complete verse translation of Straton's surviving poems directly from Greek into English was published by Princeton University in 2001 as Puerilities. This collection contains 258 surviving poems (omitting one, an obvious later forgery), translated by Daryl Hine and Peter Whigham with Greek originals facing. The title is a pun on the one-time title of the work, the Musa Puerilis. Straton's anthology was a strong influence on the work of poet C.P. Cavafy.




Terpander

Terpander, of Antissa in Lesbos, was a Greek poet and citharode who lived about the first half of the 7th century BC. About the time of the Second Messenian War, he settled in Sparta, whither, according to some accounts, he had been summoned by command of the Delphian oracle, to compose the differences which had arisen between different classes in the state. Here he gained the prize in the musical contests at the festival of Carnea (676-2 BC; Athenaeus, 635 a.). He is regarded as the real founder of Greek classical music, and of lyric poetry; but as to his innovations in music our information is imperfect. According to Strabo (xiii. p. 618) he increased the number of strings in the lyre from four to seven; others take the fragment of Terpander on which Strabo bases his statement to mean that he developed the citharoedic nomos (sung to the accompaniment of the cithara or lyre) by making the divisions of the ode seven instead of four. The seven-stringed lyre was probably already in existence. Terpander is also said to have introduced several new rhythms in addition to the dactylic, and to have been famous as a composer of drinking-songs.




Theocritus

Theocritus, the creator of Ancient Greek bucolic poetry, flourished in the 3rd century BC. Little is known of him beyond what can be inferred from his writings. We must, however, handle these with some caution, since some of the poems ("Idylls") commonly attributed to him have little claim to authenticity. It is clear that at a very early date two collections were made, one of which included a number of doubtful poems and formed a corpus of bucolic poetry, while the other was confined to those works which were considered to be by Theocritus himself. He was probably from Sicily, as he refers to Polyphemus, the cyclops in the Odyssey, as his 'countryman.' He also probably lived in Alexandria for a while. It is also speculated that Theocritus was born in Syracuse, lived on the island Kos and lived in Egypt during the time of Ptolemy II.

The record of these recensions is preserved by two epigrams, one of which proceeds from Artemidorus, a grammarian, who lived in the time of Sulla and is said to have been the first editor of these poems. He says, "Bucolic muses, once were ye scattered, but now one byre, one herd is yours."

The second epigram is anonymous, and runs as follows: "The Chian is another. I, Theocritus, who wrote these songs, am of Syracuse, a man of the people, the son of Praxagoras and famed Philina. I never sought after a strange muse." The last line may mean that he wrote nothing but bucolic poems, or that he only wrote in Doric.

The statement that he was a Syracusan is confirmed by allusions in the "Idylls" (xi. 7, xxviii. 16Ü18).The information concerning his parentage bears the stamp of genuineness, and disposes of a rival theory based upon a misinterpretation of Idyll vii--which made him the son of one Simichus.

A larger collection, possibly more extensive than that of Artemidorus, and including poems of doubtful authenticity, was known to the author of the Suda, who says: "Theocritus wrote the so-called bucolic poems in the Dorian dialect. Some persons also attribute to him the following: Daughters of Proetus, Hopes, Hymns, Heroines, Dirges, Lyrics, Elegies, Iambics, Epigrams."

The first of these may have been known to Virgil, who refers to the Proeides in the Eclogues. The spurious poem xxi. may have been one of the Hopes, and poem xxvi. may have been one of the Heroines; elegiacs are found in viii. 33Ü60, and the spurious epitaph on Bion may have been one of the Dirges.

The other classes are all represented in the larger collection which has come down to us.

The poems which are generally held to be authentic may be classified thus:

Bucolics and Mimes

The distinction between these is that the scenes of the former are laid in the country and those of the latter in a town. The most famous of the Bucolics are i. vii., xi. and vi. In i. Thyrsis sings to a goatherd how Daphnis, the mythical herdsman, having defied the power of Aphrodite, dies rather than yield to a passion with which the goddess had inspired him.

In xi. Polyphemus is depicted as in love with the sea-nymph Galatea and finding solace in song: in vi. he is cured of his passion and naively relates how he repulses the overtures now made to him by Galatea. The monster of the Odyssey has been "written up to date" after the Alexandrian manner and has become a gentle simpleton.

Idyll vii, the Harvest Feast, is the most important of the bucolic poems. The scene is laid in the isle of Cos. The poet speaks in the first person and is styled Simichidas by his friends.

Other poets are introduced under feigned names. Thus ancient critics identified Sicelidas of Samos (1. 40) with Asclepiades the Samian, and Lycidas, "the goatherd of Cydonia," may well be the poet Astacides, whom Callimachus calls "the Cretan, the goatherd."

Theocritus speaks of himself as having already gained fame, and says that his lays have been brought by report even unto the throne of Zeus. He praises Philetas, the veteran poet of Cos, and criticizes "the fledgelings of the Muse, who cackle against the Chian bard and find their labour lost." Other persons mentioned are Nicias, a physician of Miletus, whose name occurs in other poems, and Aratus, whom the Scholiast identifies with the author of the Phenomena.

The other bucolic poems need not be further discussed. Several of them consist of a singing-match, conducted according to the rules of amoebean poetry, in which the second singer takes the subject chosen by the first and contributes a variation in the same air. It may be noted that the peasants of Theocritus differ greatly in refinement. Those in v. are low fellows who indulge in coarse abuse.

This Idyll and iv. are laid in the neighbourhood of Croton, and we may infer that Theocritus was personally acquainted with Magna Graecia.Suspicion has been cast upon poems viii and ix on various grounds.

An extreme view holds that in ix. we have two genuine Theocritean fragments, Il. 7-13 and 15-20, describing the joys of summer and winter respectively, which have been provided with a clumsy preface, II. 1-6, while an early editor of a bucolic collection has appended an epilogue in which he takes leave of the Bucolic Muses.

On the other hand, it is clear that both poems were in Virgil's Theocritus, and that they passed the scrutiny of the editor who formed the short collection of Theocritean Bucolics.The mimes are three in number: ii, xiv, and xv. In ii Simaetha, deserted by Delphis, tells the story of her love to the moon; in xiv Aeschines narrates his quarrel with his sweetheart, and is advised to go to Egypt and enlist in the army of Ptolemy Philadelphus; in xv Gorgo and Praxino‘ go to the festival of Adonis. It may be noticed that in the best manuscript ii. comes immediately before xiv, an arrangement which is obviously right, since it places the three mimes together. The second place in the manuscripts is occupied by Idyll vii., the "Harvest Feast." These three mimes are wonderfully natural and lifelike.

Epics

Three of these are Hymns: xvi, xvii, and xxii. In xvi, the poet praises Hiero II of Syracuse, in xvii Ptolemy Philadelphus, and in xxii the Dioscuri. The other poems are xiii, the story of Hylas and the Nymphs, and xxiv the youthful Heracles. It cannot be said that Theocritus exhibits signal merit in his Epics. In xiii. he shows some skill in word-painting, in xvi. there is some delicate fancy in the description of his poems as Graces, and a passage at the end, where he foretells the joys of peace after the enemy have been driven out of Sicily, has the true bucolic ring. The most that can be said of xxii and xxiv is that they are very dramatic. Otherwise they differ little from work done by other poets, such as Callimachus and Apollonius Rhodius. The flattery heaped upon Ptolemy is somewhat nauseous.

From another point of view, however, these two poems xvi and xvii are supremely interesting, since they are the only ones which can be dated. In xvii - Theocritus celebrates the incestuous marriage of Ptolemy Philadelphus with his sister Arsinoe. This marriage is held to have taken place in 277 BC, and a recently discovered inscription shows that Arsinoe died in 270, in the fifteenth year of her brother's reign. This poem, therefore, together with xv, which Theocritus wrote to please Arsino‘ must fall within this period. The encomium upon Hiero II would seem prior to that upon Ptolemy, since in it Theocritus is a hungry poet seeking for a patron, while in the other he is well satisfied with the world. Now Hiero first came to the front in 275 BC when he was made General: Theocritus speaks of his achievements as still to come, and the silence of the poet would show that Hiero's marriage to Phulistis, his victory over the Mamertines at the Longanus and his election as "King", events which are ascribed to 270 BC, had not yet taken place. If so, xvii and xv can only have been written within 275 and 270.

Lyrics

Two of these are certainly by Theocritus, xxviii and xxix. The first is a very graceful poem presented together with a distaff to Theugenis, wife of Nicias, a doctor of Miletus, on the occasion of a voyage thither undertaken by the poet. The theme of xxix is similar to that of xii. A very corrupt poem, only found in one very late manuscript, was discovered by Ziegler in 1864. As the subject and style very closely resemble that of xxix, it is assigned to Theocritus by recent editors.

The Epigrams

These do not call for detailed notice. They do not possess any special merit, and their authenticity is often doubtful. It remains to notice the poems which are now generally considered to be spurious.

They are as follows:

xix. "Love stealing Honey". The poem is anonymous in the manuscripts and the conception of Love is not Theocritean.

xx. "Herdsman", xxi. "Fishermen", xxiii. "Passionate Lover". These three poems are remarkable for the corrupt state of their text, whiqh makes it likely that they have come from the same source and possibly are by the same author. The "Fishermen" has been much admired. It is addressed to Diophantus and conveys a moral, that one should work and not dream, illustrated by the story of an old fisherman who dreams that he has caught a fish of gold and narrates his vision to his mate. As Leonidas of Tarentum wrote epigrams on fishermen, and one of them is a dedication of his tackle to Poseidon by Diophantus, the fisher, it is likely that the author of this poem was an imitator of Leonidas. It can hardly be by Leonidas himself, who was a contemporary of Theocritus, as it bears marks of lateness.




Simonides of Ceos

Simonides of Ceos (ca. 556 BC-469 BC), Greek lyric poet, was born at Ioulis on Kea. During his youth he taught poetry and music, and composed paeans for the festivals of Apollo. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.

Finding little scope for his abilities at home, he went to live at Athens, at the court of Hipparchus, the patron of literature. After the murder of Hipparchus (514 BC), Simonides withdrew to Thessaly, where he enjoyed the protection and patronage of the Scopadae and Aleuadae (two celebrated Thessalian families). An interesting story is told of the termination of his relations with the Scopadae.

On a certain occasion he was reproached by Scopas for having allotted too much space to the Dioscuri in an ode celebrating the victory of his patron in a chariot-race. Scopas refused to pay all the fee and told Simonides to apply to the Dioscuri for the remainder. The incident took place at a banquet. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was told that two young men wished to speak to him; after he had left the banqueting room, the roof fell in and crushed Scopas and his guests (Cicero, De oratore, ii. 86). There seems no doubt that some disaster overtook the Scopadae, which resulted in the extinction of the family. After the Battle of Marathon Simonides returned to Athens, but soon left for Sicily at the invitation of Hiero, at whose court he spent the rest of his life.

His reputation as a man of learning is shown by the tradition that he introduced the distinction between the long and short vowels, afterwards adopted in the Ionic alphabet which came into general use during the archonship of Eucleides (403 BC). He was also the inventor of a system of mnemonics (Quintilian xi.2,n). So unbounded was his popularity that he was a power even in the political world; we are told that he reconciled Thero and Hiero on the eve of a battle between their opposing armies.

He was the intimate friend of Themistocles and Pausanias the Spartan, and his poems on the war of liberation against Persia no doubt gave a powerful impulse to the national patriotism. For his poems he could command almost any price: later writers, from Aristophanes onwards, accuse him of avarice, probably not without some reason. To Hiero's queen, who asked him whether it was better to be born rich or a genius, he replied "Rich, for genius is ever found at the gates of the rich." Again, when someone asked him to write a laudatory poem for which he offered profuse thanks, but no money, Simonides replied that he kept two coffers, one for thanks, the other for money; that, when he opened them, he found the former empty and useless, and the latter full.

Of his poetry we possess two or three short elegies (Fr. 85 seems from its style and versification to belong to Simonides of Amorgos, or at least not to be the work of our poet), several epigrams and about ninety fragments of lyric poetry. The epigrams written in the usual dialect of elegy, Ionic with an epic colouring, were intended partly for public and partly for private monuments. There is strength and sublimity in the former, with a simplicity that is almost statuesque, and a complete mastery over the rhythm and forms of elegiac expression.

Those on the heroes of Marathon and the Battle of Thermopylae are the most celebrated. In the private epigrams there is more warmth of colour and feeling, but few of them rest on any better authority than that of the Greek Anthology. One interesting and undoubtedly genuine epigram of this class is upon Archedice, the daughter of Hippias the Peisistratid, who, "albeit her father and husband and brother and children were all princes, was not lifted up in soul to pride."

The lyric fragments vary much in character and length: one is from a poem on Artemisium, celebrating those who fell at Thermopylae, with which he gained the victory over Aeschylus; another is an ode in honour of Scopas (commented on in Plato, Protagoras, 339 b); the rest are from odes on victors in the games, hyporchemes, dirges, hymns to the gods and other varieties. The poem on Thermopylae is reverent and sublime, breathing an exalted patriotism and a lofty national pride; the others are full of tender pathos and deep feeling, combined with a genial worldliness.

For Simonides requires no standard of lofty unswerving rectitude. "It is hard," he says (Fr. 5), "to become a truly good man, perfect as a square in hands and feet and mind, fashioned without blame. Whosoever is bad, and not too wicked, knowing justice, the benefactor of cities, is a sound man. I for one will find no fault with him, for the race of fools is infinite. ... I praise and love all men who do no sin willingly; but with necessity even the gods do not contend." Virtue, he tells us elsewhere in language that recalls Hesiod, is set on a high and difficult hill (Fr. 58); let us seek after pleasure, for "all things come to one dread Charybdis, both great virtues and wealth" (Fr. 38).

Yet Simonides is far from being a hedonist; his morality, no less than his art, is pervaded by that virtue for which Ceos was renowned--self-restraint. His most celebrated fragment is a dirge, in which Danae, adrift with the infant Perseus on the sea in a dark and stormy night, takes comfort from the peaceful slumber of her babe. Simonides here illustrates his own saying that "poetry is vocal painting, as painting is silent poetry," a formula that (through Plutarch's De Gloria Atheniesium) became Horace's famous "ut pictura poesis." Of the many English translations of this poem, one of the best is that by J.A. Symonds in Studies on the Greek Poets.




Stesichorus

Stesichorus was a Greek lyric poet from Sicily who flourished from 640 BC to 555 BC. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.




Straton of Sardis

Straton of Sardis (aka Strato) was a Greek poet and anthologist from the Lydian city of Sardis. He is thought to have lived during the time of Hadrian, based on Straton authorship of a poem about the doctor Artemidorus Capito, a contemporary of Hadrian. Straton is mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, at the beginning of the 3rd century AD.

Straton assembled the anthology of erotic and amourous epigrams called the Mousa Paidike ("The Boyish Muse").

Around 900, a Byzantine scholar named Constantine Cephalas compiled pieces of several Greek anthologies, including The Boyish Muse, to make a comprehensive collection of Greek epigrams. We do not know if The Boyish Muse was taken whole, or if a selection was made from it, or if Cephalas maintained the order of the original anthology.

Cephalas's collection was revised, divided into specialized anthologies, adapted for school use, and generally much copied. In 1301, a scholar named Maximus Planudes put together a bowdlerized version of the Cephalan book which became very popular in Greece. When the Ottomans conquered the remains of the Byzantine empire, many Greek scholars brought versions of Planudes' version with them into exile in Italy. The Greeks became teachers to Italian scholars and eventually printed an edition of the Planudean book, the Florilegium Diversorum Epigrammatum, in Florence in 1494.

Most of what we know of Straton's work comes instead from a manuscript copied around 980, which preserved many of the poems from the earlier Cephalan anthology. This manuscript was discovered in the library of the Counts Palatine in Heidelberg in 1606 or 1607, by a young visiting scholar named Claudius Salmasius.

There is no clear record of how it got there, but a visiting Italian scholar probably left it; around the middle of the 1500s the Roman scholar and antiquarian Fulvio Orsini (1529-1600) had seen and mentioned such a manuscript, then in the possession of one Angelo Colloti. The newly discovered poems in the Palatine version were copied out by Salmasius, and he began to circulate clandestine manuscript copies of them as the Anthologia Inedita.

His copy was later published: first in 1776 when Richard Franois Philippe Brunck included it in his Analecta; and then the full Palatine Anthology was published by F. Jacobs as the Anthologia Graeca (13 vols. 1794 - 1803; revised 1813 - 1817). The remains of Straton's The Boyish Muse became Book 12 in Jacob's critical Anthologia Graeca edition.

Because of its taboo subject-matter, until the mid 20th century Straton's work was generally left untranslated, translated only into Latin, published in censored forms, or translated only in very private editions. These translations helped form the Greek core of influential homosexual poetry anthologies such as Elisar von Kupffer's Lieblingsminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur (1899) and Edward Carpenter's Iolaus (1908).

New translations of Straton's 'Book 12' were later published by poets such as Roger Peyrefitte and Salvatore Quasimodo.The first-ever complete verse translation of Straton's surviving poems directly from Greek into English was published by Princeton University in 2001 as Puerilities. This collection contains 258 surviving poems (omitting one, an obvious later forgery), translated by Daryl Hine and Peter Whigham with Greek originals facing. The title is a pun on the one-time title of the work, the Musa Puerilis. Straton's anthology was a strong influence on the work of poet C.P. Cavafy.




Terpander

Terpander, of Antissa in Lesbos, was a Greek poet and citharode who lived about the first half of the 7th century BC. About the time of the Second Messenian War, he settled in Sparta, whither, according to some accounts, he had been summoned by command of the Delphian oracle, to compose the differences which had arisen between different classes in the state. Here he gained the prize in the musical contests at the festival of Carnea (676-2 BC; Athenaeus, 635 a.). He is regarded as the real founder of Greek classical music, and of lyric poetry; but as to his innovations in music our information is imperfect. According to Strabo (xiii. p. 618) he increased the number of strings in the lyre from four to seven; others take the fragment of Terpander on which Strabo bases his statement to mean that he developed the citharoedic nomos (sung to the accompaniment of the cithara or lyre) by making the divisions of the ode seven instead of four. The seven-stringed lyre was probably already in existence. Terpander is also said to have introduced several new rhythms in addition to the dactylic, and to have been famous as a composer of drinking-songs.




Theocritus

Theocritus, the creator of Ancient Greek bucolic poetry, flourished in the 3rd century BC. Little is known of him beyond what can be inferred from his writings. We must, however, handle these with some caution, since some of the poems ("Idylls") commonly attributed to him have little claim to authenticity. It is clear that at a very early date two collections were made, one of which included a number of doubtful poems and formed a corpus of bucolic poetry, while the other was confined to those works which were considered to be by Theocritus himself. He was probably from Sicily, as he refers to Polyphemus, the cyclops in the Odyssey, as his 'countryman.' He also probably lived in Alexandria for a while. It is also speculated that Theocritus was born in Syracuse, lived on the island Kos and lived in Egypt during the time of Ptolemy II.

The record of these recensions is preserved by two epigrams, one of which proceeds from Artemidorus, a grammarian, who lived in the time of Sulla and is said to have been the first editor of these poems. He says, "Bucolic muses, once were ye scattered, but now one byre, one herd is yours."

The second epigram is anonymous, and runs as follows: "The Chian is another. I, Theocritus, who wrote these songs, am of Syracuse, a man of the people, the son of Praxagoras and famed Philina. I never sought after a strange muse." The last line may mean that he wrote nothing but bucolic poems, or that he only wrote in Doric.

The statement that he was a Syracusan is confirmed by allusions in the "Idylls" (xi. 7, xxviii. 16Ü18).The information concerning his parentage bears the stamp of genuineness, and disposes of a rival theory based upon a misinterpretation of Idyll vii--which made him the son of one Simichus.

A larger collection, possibly more extensive than that of Artemidorus, and including poems of doubtful authenticity, was known to the author of the Suda, who says: "Theocritus wrote the so-called bucolic poems in the Dorian dialect. Some persons also attribute to him the following: Daughters of Proetus, Hopes, Hymns, Heroines, Dirges, Lyrics, Elegies, Iambics, Epigrams."

The first of these may have been known to Virgil, who refers to the Proeides in the Eclogues. The spurious poem xxi. may have been one of the Hopes, and poem xxvi. may have been one of the Heroines; elegiacs are found in viii. 33Ü60, and the spurious epitaph on Bion may have been one of the Dirges.

The other classes are all represented in the larger collection which has come down to us. The poems which are generally held to be authentic may be classified thus:

Bucolics and Mimes

The distinction between these is that the scenes of the former are laid in the country and those of the latter in a town. The most famous of the Bucolics are i. vii., xi. and vi. In i. Thyrsis sings to a goatherd how Daphnis, the mythical herdsman, having defied the power of Aphrodite, dies rather than yield to a passion with which the goddess had inspired him.

In xi. Polyphemus is depicted as in love with the sea-nymph Galatea and finding solace in song: in vi. he is cured of his passion and naively relates how he repulses the overtures now made to him by Galatea. The monster of the Odyssey has been "written up to date" after the Alexandrian manner and has become a gentle simpleton.

Idyll vii, the Harvest Feast, is the most important of the bucolic poems. The scene is laid in the isle of Cos. The poet speaks in the first person and is styled Simichidas by his friends.

Other poets are introduced under feigned names. Thus ancient critics identified Sicelidas of Samos (1. 40) with Asclepiades the Samian, and Lycidas, "the goatherd of Cydonia," may well be the poet Astacides, whom Callimachus calls "the Cretan, the goatherd."

Theocritus speaks of himself as having already gained fame, and says that his lays have been brought by report even unto the throne of Zeus. He praises Philetas, the veteran poet of Cos, and criticizes "the fledgelings of the Muse, who cackle against the Chian bard and find their labour lost." Other persons mentioned are Nicias, a physician of Miletus, whose name occurs in other poems, and Aratus, whom the Scholiast identifies with the author of the Phenomena.

The other bucolic poems need not be further discussed. Several of them consist of a singing-match, conducted according to the rules of amoebean poetry, in which the second singer takes the subject chosen by the first and contributes a variation in the same air. It may be noted that the peasants of Theocritus differ greatly in refinement. Those in v. are low fellows who indulge in coarse abuse.

This Idyll and iv. are laid in the neighborhood of Croton, and we may infer that Theocritus was personally acquainted with Magna Graecia.Suspicion has been cast upon poems viii and ix on various grounds.

An extreme view holds that in ix. we have two genuine Theocritean fragments, Il. 7-13 and 15-20, describing the joys of summer and winter respectively, which have been provided with a clumsy preface, II. 1-6, while an early editor of a bucolic collection has appended an epilogue in which he takes leave of the Bucolic Muses.

On the other hand, it is clear that both poems were in Virgil's Theocritus, and that they passed the scrutiny of the editor who formed the short collection of Theocritean Bucolics.The mimes are three in number: ii, xiv, and xv. In ii Simaetha, deserted by Delphis, tells the story of her love to the moon; in xiv Aeschines narrates his quarrel with his sweetheart, and is advised to go to Egypt and enlist in the army of Ptolemy Philadelphus; in xv Gorgo and Praxino‘ go to the festival of Adonis. It may be noticed that in the best manuscript ii. comes immediately before xiv, an arrangement which is obviously right, since it places the three mimes together. The second place in the manuscripts is occupied by Idyll vii., the "Harvest Feast." These three mimes are wonderfully natural and lifelike.

Epics

Three of these are Hymns: xvi, xvii, and xxii. In xvi, the poet praises Hiero II of Syracuse, in xvii Ptolemy Philadelphus, and in xxii the Dioscuri. The other poems are xiii, the story of Hylas and the Nymphs, and xxiv the youthful Heracles. It cannot be said that Theocritus exhibits signal merit in his Epics. In xiii. he shows some skill in word-painting, in xvi. there is some delicate fancy in the description of his poems as Graces, and a passage at the end, where he foretells the joys of peace after the enemy have been driven out of Sicily, has the true bucolic ring. The most that can be said of xxii and xxiv is that they are very dramatic. Otherwise they differ little from work done by other poets, such as Callimachus and Apollonius Rhodius. The flattery heaped upon Ptolemy is somewhat nauseous.

From another point of view, however, these two poems xvi and xvii are supremely interesting, since they are the only ones which can be dated. In xvii - Theocritus celebrates the incestuous marriage of Ptolemy Philadelphus with his sister Arsinoe. This marriage is held to have taken place in 277 BC, and a recently discovered inscription shows that Arsinoe died in 270, in the fifteenth year of her brother's reign. This poem, therefore, together with xv, which Theocritus wrote to please Arsino‘ must fall within this period. The encomium upon Hiero II would seem prior to that upon Ptolemy, since in it Theocritus is a hungry poet seeking for a patron, while in the other he is well satisfied with the world. Now Hiero first came to the front in 275 BC when he was made General: Theocritus speaks of his achievements as still to come, and the silence of the poet would show that Hiero's marriage to Phulistis, his victory over the Mamertines at the Longanus and his election as "King", events which are ascribed to 270 BC, had not yet taken place. If so, xvii and xv can only have been written within 275 and 270.

Lyrics

Two of these are certainly by Theocritus, xxviii and xxix. The first is a very graceful poem presented together with a distaff to Theugenis, wife of Nicias, a doctor of Miletus, on the occasion of a voyage thither undertaken by the poet. The theme of xxix is similar to that of xii. A very corrupt poem, only found in one very late manuscript, was discovered by Ziegler in 1864. As the subject and style very closely resemble that of xxix, it is assigned to Theocritus by recent editors.

The Epigrams

These do not call for detailed notice. They do not possess any special merit, and their authenticity is often doubtful. It remains to notice the poems which are now generally considered to be spurious.

They are as follows:

xix. "Love stealing Honey". The poem is anonymous in the manuscripts and the conception of Love is not Theocritean.

xx. "Herdsman", xxi. "Fishermen", xxiii. "Passionate Lover". These three poems are remarkable for the corrupt state of their text, whiqh makes it likely that they have come from the same source and possibly are by the same author. The "Fishermen" has been much admired. It is addressed to Diophantus and conveys a moral, that one should work and not dream, illustrated by the story of an old fisherman who dreams that he has caught a fish of gold and narrates his vision to his mate. As Leonidas of Tarentum wrote epigrams on fishermen, and one of them is a dedication of his tackle to Poseidon by Diophantus, the fisher, it is likely that the author of this poem was an imitator of Leonidas. It can hardly be by Leonidas himself, who was a contemporary of Theocritus, as it bears marks of lateness.




Theognis of Megara

Theognis of Megara (fl. 6th century BC) was an ancient Greek poet. More than half of the elegiac poetry of Greece before the Alexandrian period is included in the 1,400 lines ascribed to Theognis.

This collection contains several poems acknowledged to have been composed by Tyrtaeus, Mimnermus and Solon; with two exceptions (T.W. Allen in Classical Review, Nov. 1905, and E. Harrison); modern critics unanimously regard these elegies as intruders, that is, not admitted into his works by Theognis himself; for this and other reasons they assume the existence of further interpolations which we can no longer safely detect.

Generations of students have exhausted their ingenuity in vain efforts to sift the true from the false and to account for the origin and date of the Theognidea as we possess them; the question is fully discussed in the works of Harrison and Hudson-Williams.The best-attested elegies are those addressed to Cyrnus, the young friend to whom Theognis imparts instruction in the ways of life, bidding him be true to the "good" cause, eschew the company of "evil" men (democrats), be loyal to his comrades, and wreak cruel vengeance on his foes.

Theognis lived at Megara on the Isthmus of Corinth during the democratic revolution in the 6th century BC; some critics hold that he witnessed the "Persian terror" of 590 BC and 580 BC; others place his floruit in 545 BC. We know little about his life; few of the details usually given in textbooks are capable of proof; we are not certain, for instance, that the poem (783-88) which mentions a visit to Sicily, Sparta and Euboea comes from the hand of Theognis himself; but that is of little concern, for we know the man.

Whether, with Harrison, we hold that Theognis wrote "all or nearly all the poems which are extant under his name" or follow the most ruthless of the higher critics (Sitzler) in rejecting all but 330 lines, there is abundant and unmistakable evidence to show what Theognis himself existed. However much extraneous matter may have wormed its way into the collection, he still remains the one main personality, and stands clearly before us, a living soul, quivering with passion and burning with political hate, the very embodiment of the faction-spirit (stasis) and all it implied in the tense city-state life of the ancient Greek.

There is neither profound thought nor sublime poetry in the work of Theognis; but it is full of sound common sense embodied in exquisitely simple, concise and well-balanced verse. As York Powell said, "Theognis was a great and wise man. He was an able exponent of that intensely practical wisdom which we associate with the 'Seven Sages of Greece.'" Had he lived a century later, he would probably have published his thoughts in prose; in his day verse was the recognized vehicle for political and ethical discussion, and the gnomic poets were in many ways the precursors of the philosophers and the sophists, who indeed often made their discourse turn on points raised by Theognis and his fellow-moralists. No treatment of the much-debated question "Can virtue be taught?" was regarded as complete without a reference to Theognis 35-36, which appears in Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Musonius Rufus and Clement of Alexandria, who aptly compares it with Psalm 18.

Besides the elegies to Cyrnus, the Theognidea comprise many maxims, laments on the degeneracy of the age and the woes of poverty, personal admonitions and challenges, invocations of the gods, songs for convivial gatherings and much else that may well have come from Theognis himself. The second section ("Musa Paedica") deals with the love of boys, and, with the exceptions already noted, scholars are at one in rejecting its claim to authenticity. Although some critics assign many elegies to a very late date, a careful examination of the language, vocabulary, versification and general trend of thought has convinced the author of the 1911 article that practically the whole collection was composed before the Hellenistic period.




Timocreon

Timocreon, of Ialysus in Rhodes, Greek lyric poet, flourished about 480 BC.During the Persian wars he had been banished on suspicion of "medism." Themistocles had promised to procure his recall, but was unable to resist the bribes of Timocreon's adversaries and allowed him to remain in exile. Timocreon thereupon attacked him most bitterly (see Plutarch, Themistocles, 21); and Simonides, the friend of Themistocles, retorted in an epigram (Anth. Pal. vii. 348).Timocreon was also known as a composer of scolia (drinking-songs) and, according to Suidas, wrote plays in the style of the old comedy. His gluttony and drunkenness were notorious, and he was an athlete of great prowess.




Timocreon

Tryphiodorus (correctly but less commonly Triphiodorus), fl. 3rd or 4th century, was an epic poet native to Egypt. His only surviving work is The Capture of Troy, in 691 verses. Other recorded titles include Marathoniaca and The Story of Hippodamea.His style is partway between that of Nonnus and Quintus Smyrnaeus.




Tyrtaeus

Tyrtaeus was a Greek elegiac poet who lived at Sparta about the middle of the 7th century BC.

According to the older tradition he was a native of the Attic deme of Aphidnae, and was invited to Sparta at the suggestion of the Delphic oracle to assist the Spartans in the second Messenian war. According to a later version, he was a lame schoolmaster, sent by the Athenians as likely to be of the least assistance to the Spartans (Justin iii. 5; Themistius, Oral. xv. 242; Diod. Sic. xv. 67).

A fanciful explanation of his lameness is that it alludes to the elegiac couplet, one verse of which is shorter than the other. According to Plato (Laws, p. 629 A), the citizenship of Sparta was conferred upon Tyrtaeus, although Herodotus (ix. 35) makes no mention of him among the foreigners so honoured. Basing his inference on the ground that Tyrtaeus speaks of himself as a citizen of Sparta (Fr. 2), Strabo (viii. 362) is inclined to reject the story of his Athenian origin. Suidas speaks of him as "Laconian or Milesian"; possibly he visited Miletus in his youth, where he became familiar with the Ionic elegy. Busolt, who suggests that Tyrtaeus was a native of Aphidnae in Laconia, conjectures that the entire legend may have been concocted in connection with the expedition sent to the assistance of Sparta in her struggle with the revolted Helots at Ithome (464).

However this may be, it is generally admitted that Tyrtaeus flourished during the second Messenian war (c. 650 BC)--a period of remarkable musical and poetical activity at Sparta, when poets like Terpander and Thaletas were welcomed--that he not only wrote poetry but served in the field, and that he endeavoured to compose the internal dissensions of Sparta (Aristotle, Politics, v. 6) by inspiring the citizens with a patriotic love for their fatherland.

About twelve fragments (three of them complete poems) are preserved in Strabo, Lycurgus, Stobaeus and others. They are mainly elegiac and in the Ionic dialect, written partly in praise of the Spartan constitution and King Theopompus, partly to stimulate this Spartan soldiers to deeds of heroism in the field. The interest of the fragments preserved from the Ewoyuia is mainly historical, and connected with the first Messenian war.


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