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Stesichorus

Stesichorus (; Greek:Στησίχορος, Stēsichoros; c. 630 – 555 BC) was a Greek lyric poet. He is best known for telling epic stories in lyric metres but he is also famous for some ancient traditions about his life, such as his opposition to the tyrant Phalaris, and the blindness he is said to have incurred and cured by composing verses first insulting and then flattering to Helen of Troy.

A scene from the Tabula Iliaca, bearing the inscription "Sack of Troy according to Stesichorus"

He was ranked among the nine lyric poets esteemed by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria and yet his work attracted relatively little interest among ancient commentators, so that remarkably few fragments of his poetry now survive. As one scholar observed in 1967: "Time has dealt more harshly with Stesichorus than with any other major lyric poet." Recent discoveries, recorded on Egyptian papyrus (notably and controversially, the Lille Stesichorus), have led to some improvements in our understanding of his work, confirming his role as a link between Homer's epic narrative and the lyric narrative of poets like Pindar.

The following description of the birthplace of the monster Geryon, preserved as a quote by the geographer Strabo, is characteristic of the "descriptive fulness" of his style:

σχεδὸν ἀντιπέρας κλεινᾶς Ἐρυθείας
<
>Ταρτησ-
σοῦ ποταμοῦ παρὰ παγὰσ ἀπείρονας ἀρ-
γυρορίζους
ἐν κευθμῶνι πέτρας.

A nineteenth century translation imaginatively fills in the gaps while communicating something of the richness of the language:

Where monster Geryon first beheld the light,
Famed Erytheia rises to the sight;
Born near th' unfathomed silver springs that gleam
'Mid caverned rocks, and feed Tartessus' stream.

Stesichorus exercised an important influence on the representation of myth in 6th century art and on the development of Athenian dramatic poetry.

Contents

Stesichorus was born in Metauros (modern Gioia Tauro) in Calabria, Southern Italy c. 630 BC and died in Katane (modern Catania) in Sicily in 555 BC. Some say that he came from Himera in Sicily, but that was due to him moving from Metauros to Himera later in life. When exiled from Pallantium in Arcadia he came to Katane (Catania) and when he died there was buried in front of the gate which is called Stesichorean after him. In date he was later than the lyric poet Alcman, since he was born in the 37th Olympiad (632/28 BC). He died in the 56th Olympiad (556/2 BC). He had a brother Mamertinus who was an expert in geometry and a second brother Helianax, a law-giver. He was a lyric poet. His poems are in the Doric dialect and in 26 books. They say that he was blinded for writing abuse of Helen and recovered his sight after writing an encomium of Helen, the Palinode, as the result of a dream. He was called Stesichorus because he was the first to establish (stesai) a chorus of singers to the cithara; his name was originally Tisias.

Chronology

The specific dates given by the Suda for Stesichorus have been dismissed by one modern scholar as "specious precision" — its dates for the floruit of Alcman (the 27th Olympiad), the life of Stesichorus (37th–56th Olympiads) and the birth of Simonides (the 56th Olympiad) virtually lay these three poets end-to-end, a coincidence that seems to underscore a convenient division between old and new styles of poetry. Nevertheless, the Suda's dates "fit reasonably well" with other indications of Stesichorus's life-span — for example, they are consistent with a claim elsewhere in Suda that the poet Sappho was his contemporary, along with Alcaeus and Pittacus, and also with the claim, attested by other sources, that Phalaris was his contemporary. Aristotle quoted a speech the poet is supposed to have made to the people of Himera warning them against the tyrannical ambitions of Phalaris. The Byzantine grammarian Tzetzes also listed him as a contemporary of the tyrant and yet made him a contemporary of the philosopher Pythagoras as well. According to Lucian, the poet lived to 85 years of age. Hieronymus declared that his poems became sweeter and more swan-like as he approached death, and Cicero knew of a bronzed statue representing him as a bent old man holding a book. Eusebius dated his floruit in Olympiad 42.2 (611/10 BC) and his death in Olympiad 55.1 (560/59 BC).

Family

The Suda's claim that Hesiod was the father of Stesichorus can be dismissed as "fantasy" yet it is also mentioned by Tzetzes and the Hesiodic scholiast Proclus (one of them however named the mother of Stesichorus via Hesiod as Ctimene and the other as Clymene). According to another tradition known to Cicero, Stesichorus was the grandson of Hesiod yet even this verges on anachronism since Hesiod was composing verses around 700 BC. Stesichorus might be regarded as Hesiod's literary "heir" (his treatment of Helen in the Palinode, for example, may have owed much to Hesiod's Catalogue of Women) and maybe this was the source of confusion about a family relationship. According to Stephanus of Byzantium and the philosopher Plato the poet's father was named Euphemus, but an inscription on a herm from Tivoli listed him as Euclides. The poet's mathematically inclined brother was named Mamertinus by the Suda but a scholiast in a commentary on Euclid named him Mamercus.

Background

Stesichorus's lyrical treatment of epic themes was well-suited to a western Greek audience, owing to the popularity of hero-cults in southern Italy and Magna Graeca, as for example the cult of Philoctetes at Sybaris, Diomedes at Thurii and the Atreidae at Tarentum. It was also a sympathetic environment for his most famous poem, The Palinode, composed in praise of Helen, an important cult figure in the Doric diaspora. On the other hand, the western Greeks were not very different from their eastern counterparts and his poetry cannot be regarded exclusively as a product of the Greek West . His poetry reveals both Doric and Ionian influences and this is consistent with the Suda'a claim that his birthplace was either Metauria or Himera, both of which were founded by colonists of mixed Ionian/Doric descent. On the other hand, a Doric/Ionian flavour was fashionable among later poets — it is found in the 'choral' lyrics of the Ionian poets Simonides and Bacchylides — and it might have been fashionable even in Stesichorus's own day. His poetry included a description of the river Himera as well as praise for the town named after it, and his poem Geryoneis included a description of Pallantium in Arcadia. His possible exile from Arcadia is attributed by one modern scholar to rivalry between Tegea and Sparta. Traditional accounts indicate that he was politically active in Magna Graeca. Aristotle mentions two public speeches by Stesichorus: one to the people of Himera, warning them against Phalaris, and another to the people of Locri, warning them against presumption (possibly referring to their war against Rhegium). Philodemus believed that the poet once stood between two armies (which two, he doesn't say) and reconciled them with a song — but there is a similar story about Terpander. According to the 9th century scholar Photius, the term eight all (used by gamblers at dice) derives from an expensive burial the poet received outside Catana, including a monument with eight pillars, eight steps and eight corners, but the 3rd century grammarian Julius Pollux attributed the same term to an 'eight all ways' tomb given to the poet outside Himera.

Career

Many modern scholars don't accept the Suda's claim that Stesichorus was named for his innovations in choral poetry — there are good reasons to believe that his lyrical narratives were composed for solo performance (see Works below). Moreover the name wasn't unique — there seems to have been more than one poet of this name (see Spurious works below). The Suda in yet another entry refers to the fact, now verified by Papyrus fragments, that Stesichorus composed verses in units of three stanzas (strophe, antistrophe and epode), a format later followed by poets such as Bacchylides and Pindar. Suda claims this three-stanza format was popularly referred to as the three of Stesichorus in a proverbial saying rebuking cultural buffoons ("You don't even know the three of Stesichorus!"). According to one modern scholar, however, this saying could instead refer to the following three lines of his poem The Palinode, addressed to Helen of Troy:

There is no truth in that story,
You didn't ride in the well-rowed galleys,
You didn't reach the walls of Troy.

Helen of Troy's bad character was a common theme among poets such as Sappho and Alcaeus and, according to various ancient accounts, Stesichorus viewed her in the same light until she magically punished him with blindness for blaspheming her in one of his poems. According to a colourful account recorded by Pausanias, she later sent an explanation to Stesichorus via a man from Croton, who was on a pilgrimage to White Island in the Black Sea (near the mouth of the Blue Danube), and it was in response to this that Stesichorus composed the Palinode, absolving her of all blame for the Trojan War and thus restoring himself to full sight.

The ancients associated the lyrical qualities of Stesichorus with the voice of the nightingale, as in this quote from the Palatine Anthology: "...at his birth, when he had just reached the light of day, a nightingale, travelling through the air from somewhere or other, perched unnoticed on his lips and struck up her clear song." The account is repeated by Pliny the Elder but it was the epic qualities of his work that most impressed ancient commentators, though with some reservations on the part of Quintilian:

The greatness of Stesichorus' genius is shown among other things by his subject-matter: he sings of the most important wars and the most famous commanders and sustains on his lyre the weight of epic poetry. In both their actions and their speeches he gives due dignity to his characters, and if only he had shown restraint he could possibly have been regarded as a close rival of Homer; but he is redundant and diffuse, a fault to be sure but explained by the abundance of what he had to say. —Quintilian

In a similar vein, Dionysius of Halicarnassus commends Stesichorus for "...the magnificence of the settings of his subject matter; in them he has preserved the traits and reputations of his characters", and Longinus puts him in select company with Herodotus, Archilochus and Plato as the 'most Homeric' of authors.

Modern scholars tend to accept the general thrust of the ancient comments – even the 'fault' noted by Quintilian gets endorsement: 'longwindedness', as one modern scholar calls it, citing, as proof of it, the interval of 400 lines separating Geryon's death from his eloquent anticipation of it. Similarly, "the repetitiveness and slackness of the style" of the recently discovered Lille papyrus has even been interpreted by one modern scholar as proof of Stesichorean authorship – though others originally used it as an argument against. Possibly Stesichorus was even more Homeric than ancient commentators realized – they had assumed that he composed verses for performance by choirs (the triadic structure of the stanzas, comprising strophe, antistrophe and epode, is consistent with choreographed movement) but a poem such as the Geryoneis included some 1500 lines and it probably required about four hours to perform – longer than a chorus might reasonably be expected to dance. Moreover, the versatility of lyric meter is suited to solo performance with self-accompaniment on the lyre – which is how Homer himself delivered poetry. Whether or not it was a choral technique, the triadic structure of Stesichorean lyrics allowed for novel arrangements of dactylic meter – the dominant meter in his poems and also the defining meter of Homeric epic – thus allowing for Homeric phrasing to be adapted to new settings. However, Stesichorus did more than recast the form of epic poetry – works such as the Palinode were also a recasting of epic material: in that version of the Trojan War, the combatants fought over a phantom Helen while the real Helen either stayed home or went to Egypt (see a summary below). The 'Lyric Age' of Greece was in part self-discovery and self-expression – as in the works of Alcaeus and Sappho – but a concern for heroic values and epic themes still endured:

Stesichorus' citharodic narrative points to the simultaneous coexistence of different literary genres and currents in an age of great artistic energy and experimentation. It is one of the exciting qualities of early Greek culture that forms continue to evolve, but the old traditions still remain strong as points of stability and proud community, unifying but not suffocating. —Charles Segal.

An 'Homeric' simile

The Homeric qualities of Stesichorus' poetry are demonstrated in a fragment of his poem Geryoneis describing the death of the monster Geryon. A scholiast writing in a margin on Hesiod's Theogony noted that Stesichorus gave the monster wings, six hands and six feet, whereas Hesiod himself had only described it as 'three-headed'. yet Stesichorus adapted Homeric motifs to create a humanized portrait of the monster, whose death in battle mirrors the death of Gorgythion in Homer's Iliad, translated here by Richmond Lattimore:

He bent drooping his head to one side, as a garden poppy
bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime;" (Iliad 8.306-8)

Homer here transforms Gorgythion's death in battle into a thing of beauty—the poppy has not wilted or died. Stesichorus adapted the simile to restore Death's ugliness while still retaining the poignancy of the moment:

Then Geryon rested his neck to one side
As might a poppy when it mars
The tenderness of its body shedding
Suddenly all of its petals... (Geryoneis)

The mutual self-reflection of the two passages is part of the novel aesthetic experience that Stesichorus here puts into play. The enduring freshness of his art, in spite of its epic traditions, is borne out by Ammianus Marcellinus in an anecdote about Socrates: happening to overhear, on the eve of his own execution, the rendition of a song of Stesichorus, the old philosopher asked to be taught it: "So that I may know something more when I depart from life."

See The Queen's Speech in the Lille fragment for more on Stesichorus's style.

The 26 books

His works, according to the Suda, were collected in 26 books but each of these was probably a long, narrative poem. The titles of more than half of them are recorded by ancient sources:

  • Helen: This might have been the poem in which he portrayed Helen of Troy according to convention as a bad character. His interest in the Trojan epic cycle is evinced in a number of works.
  • Helen: Palinodes: An introduction to a poem of Theocritus refers to "the first book of Stesichorus's Helen", indicating that there were at least two books under this title. Similarly, a commentary recorded on a papyrus, indicates there were two Palinodes, one censuring Homer, the other Hesiod for the false story that Helen went to Troy. Dio Chrysostom summarises two accounts of the Palinode, one in which Helen never sailed for Troy, and a second in which she ended up in Egypt – only her image arrived at Troy. It is not known if either of the two Palinodes was separate from the Helen book(s).
  • Sack of Troy: Some scholars think the content of the poem can be deduced from a relief carved onto a monument near Rome, but this is contentious – see the section below Tabula Iliaca.
  • Wooden Horse: The title was recorded in a fragmentary form on a roll of papyrus: Στη...Ίππ.. ~ Ste(sichorus's Wooden) Hor(se). Possibly it was just an alternative title for Sack of Troy.
  • Nostoi (The Returns): This dealt with the return of the Greek warriors from Troy.
  • Geryoneis: This relates the theft by Heracles of Geryon's cattle. Many recently discovered fragments allow us a glimpse of the poet at work over the length of the entire poem. It includes:
    • romantic geography – descriptions of the Sun's voyage in a golden cup under Ocean, of Eurytion's homeland, the 'all-golden' Hesperides, and of Pallanteum in Arcadia, which possibly featured as the home of the Centaur, Pholus;
    • poignant speeches based on Homeric models – a proud speech by Geryon to Heracles that echoes Sarpedon's speech to Glaucus, and an exchange between Geryon and his mother Callirhoe that echoes exchanges between Achilles-Thetis and Hector-Hecuba;
    • heroic action, again with Homeric colouring – a description of the dying Geryon that echoes the death of Gorgythion.
  • Cerberus: The title is mentioned by Julius Pollux only because it included the Greek word for a purse but clearly it relates to Heracles's descent into Hades to fetch Cerberus.
  • Cycnus: A scholiast commenting on a poem by Pindar summarises the story: Heracles's final triumph over Cycnus after an initial defeat.
  • Skylla: The title is mentioned by a scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes in a passing reference to Skylla's parentage and possibly it involved Heracles.
  • Thebaid, Seven Against Thebes?: These two titles are conjectured by one modern scholar as appropriate for the longest fragment attributed to Stesichorus – discovered in 1974 among the wrappings of a mummy of the 2nd century BC stored at the university of Lille, generally known as The Lille Stesichorus. It presents a speech by a Theban queen, possibly Jocasta, and some scholars have denied attribution to Stesichorus on account of its "drab, repetitious flaccidity". But opinions are mixed and one scholar sees in it "...Stesichorus' full mastery of his technique, handling epic situations and characters with the flexibility and poignancy of lyric."
  • Eriphyle: The title is mentioned by Sextus Empiricus in relation to an imaginative account of Asclepius raising the dead at Thebes. Evidently it concerns Eriphyle's role in the Theban epic cycle but with an imaginative twist.
  • Europa: The title is mentioned by a scholiast on the Phoenissae of Euripides in relation to Stesichorus's imaginative variation on the traditional tale of Cadmus, the brother of Europa, sowing dragon's teeth – Stesichorus presented Athena in that role.
  • Oresteia: It came in two parts. The title is mentioned by a scholiast on Peace, a play by Aristophanes, attributing some of the lyrics to a borrowing from Stesichorus's poem. The 'second' Oresteia is mentioned in a scholiast's comment on Dionysius of Thrace, according to which Stesichorus attributed the discovery of the Greek alphabet to Palamedes.
  • Boar-hunters: Athenaeus mentions the title when quoting a description of a boar nosing the earth and the poem evidently concerned Meleager and the Calydonian Boar.
  • Funeral Games of Pelias: The title is recorded by Zenobius, Athenaeus and Etymologicum Magnum, the last two of which also include a handful of quotes.

Spurious works

Some poems were wrongly attributed to Stesichorus by ancient sources, including bucolic poems and some love songs such as Calyce and Rhadine. It is possible that these are the works of another Stesichorus belonging to the fourth century, mentioned in the Marmor Parium.

Bovillae, about twelve miles outside Rome, was the original site of a monument dating from the Augustan period and now located in the Capitoline Museum. The stone monument features scenes from the fall of Troy, depicted in low relief, and an inscription:Ιλίου Πέρσις κατα Στησίχορον ('Sack of Troy according to Stesichorus'). Scholars are divided as to whether or not it accurately depicts incidents described by Stesichorus in his poem Sack of Troy. There is, for example, a scene showing Aeneas and his father Anchises departing 'for Hesperia' with 'sacred objects', which might have more to do with the poetry of Virgil than with that of Stesichorus.

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  97. Athenaeus 4.172de, cited by David Campbell, Loeb, page 63
  98. Et.Mag. 544.54, cited by David Campbell, Loeb, page 61
  99. Marm.Par. Ep.50, cited by Charles Segal in 'Archaic Choral Lyric' page 192
  100. I.G.14.1284
  101. Zahra Newby, Art and Inscription in the Ancient World', Cambridge University Press (2006), Introduction
  102. David A.Campbell, Greek Lyric III, Loeb Classical Library (1991), page 107
  103. Charles Seagal, Archaic Choral Lyric, 'The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I: Greek Literature', Cambridge University Press (1985), page 196, note 1
  • Barrett, W. S., Greek Lyric, Tragedy, and Textual Criticism: Collected Papers, edited for publication by M. L. West (Oxford & New York, 2007)
  • Carson, Anne, Autobiography of Red. Modern retelling of Stesichoros' fragments.
  • Plato, Phaedrus.
  • M. Davies, Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (PMGF) vol. 1, Oxford 1991: testimonies of his life and works pp. 134–151, fragments pp. 152–234 (previously D. L. Page, Poetae Melici Graeci (PMG), Oxford 1962, and Supplementum Lyricis Graecis (SLG), Oxford 1974).
  • D. A. Campbell, Greek Lyric III: Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides and Others (Loeb Classical Library).
  • G. O. Hutchinson, Greek Lyric Poetry: A Commentary on Selected Larger Pieces (Alcman, Stesichorus, Sappho, Alcaeus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides), Oxford, 2001.
  • J. M. Edmonds, Lyra Graeca II, pp. 23 (Loeb Classical Library) Harvard University Press, 1958

Stesichorus
Stesichorus Language Watch Edit Stesichorus s t e ˈ s ɪ k e r e s Greek Sthsixoros Stesichoros c 630 555 BC was a Greek lyric poet He is best known for telling epic stories in lyric metres 1 but he is also famous for some ancient traditions about his life such as his opposition to the tyrant Phalaris and the blindness he is said to have incurred and cured by composing verses first insulting and then flattering to Helen of Troy A scene from the Tabula Iliaca bearing the inscription Sack of Troy according to Stesichorus He was ranked among the nine lyric poets esteemed by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria and yet his work attracted relatively little interest among ancient commentators 2 so that remarkably few fragments of his poetry now survive As one scholar observed in 1967 Time has dealt more harshly with Stesichorus than with any other major lyric poet 3 Recent discoveries recorded on Egyptian papyrus notably and controversially the Lille Stesichorus 4 have led to some improvements in our understanding of his work confirming his role as a link between Homer s epic narrative and the lyric narrative of poets like Pindar 5 The following description of the birthplace of the monster Geryon preserved as a quote by the geographer Strabo 6 is characteristic of the descriptive fulness of his style 7 sxedὸn ἀntiperas kleinᾶs Ἐry8eias lt gt Tarths soῦ potamoῦ parὰ pagὰs ἀpeironas ἀr gyrorizoys ἐn key8mῶni petras 8 dd dd dd dd A nineteenth century translation imaginatively fills in the gaps while communicating something of the richness of the language Where monster Geryon first beheld the light Famed Erytheia rises to the sight Born near th unfathomed silver springs that gleam Mid caverned rocks and feed Tartessus stream 9 dd dd dd dd Stesichorus exercised an important influence on the representation of myth in 6th century art 10 and on the development of Athenian dramatic poetry 11 Contents 1 Biography 1 1 Chronology 1 2 Family 1 3 Background 1 4 Career 2 Works 2 1 An Homeric simile 2 2 The 26 books 2 3 Spurious works 3 Tabula Iliaca 4 References 5 Further reading 6 External linksBiography EditStesichorus was born in Metauros modern Gioia Tauro in Calabria Southern Italy 12 13 14 15 16 c 630 BC and died in Katane modern Catania in Sicily in 555 BC Some say that he came from Himera in Sicily but that was due to him moving from Metauros to Himera later in life When exiled from Pallantium in Arcadia he came to Katane Catania and when he died there was buried in front of the gate which is called Stesichorean after him In date he was later than the lyric poet Alcman since he was born in the 37th Olympiad 632 28 BC He died in the 56th Olympiad 556 2 BC He had a brother Mamertinus who was an expert in geometry and a second brother Helianax a law giver He was a lyric poet His poems are in the Doric dialect and in 26 books They say that he was blinded for writing abuse of Helen and recovered his sight after writing an encomium of Helen the Palinode as the result of a dream He was called Stesichorus because he was the first to establish stesai a chorus of singers to the cithara his name was originally Tisias Chronology Edit The specific dates given by the Suda for Stesichorus have been dismissed by one modern scholar as specious precision 17 its dates for the floruit of Alcman the 27th Olympiad the life of Stesichorus 37th 56th Olympiads and the birth of Simonides the 56th Olympiad virtually lay these three poets end to end a coincidence that seems to underscore a convenient division between old and new styles of poetry 18 Nevertheless the Suda s dates fit reasonably well with other indications of Stesichorus s life span for example they are consistent with a claim elsewhere in Suda that the poet Sappho was his contemporary along with Alcaeus and Pittacus and also with the claim attested by other sources that Phalaris was his contemporary 19 Aristotle quoted a speech the poet is supposed to have made to the people of Himera warning them against the tyrannical ambitions of Phalaris 20 The Byzantine grammarian Tzetzes also listed him as a contemporary of the tyrant and yet made him a contemporary of the philosopher Pythagoras as well 21 According to Lucian the poet lived to 85 years of age 22 Hieronymus declared that his poems became sweeter and more swan like as he approached death 23 and Cicero knew of a bronzed statue representing him as a bent old man holding a book 24 Eusebius dated his floruit in Olympiad 42 2 611 10 BC and his death in Olympiad 55 1 560 59 BC 25 Family Edit The Suda s claim that Hesiod was the father of Stesichorus can be dismissed as fantasy 26 yet it is also mentioned by Tzetzes 27 and the Hesiodic scholiast Proclus 28 one of them however named the mother of Stesichorus via Hesiod as Ctimene and the other as Clymene According to another tradition known to Cicero Stesichorus was the grandson of Hesiod 29 yet even this verges on anachronism since Hesiod was composing verses around 700 BC 30 Stesichorus might be regarded as Hesiod s literary heir his treatment of Helen in the Palinode for example may have owed much to Hesiod s Catalogue of Women 31 and maybe this was the source of confusion about a family relationship 32 According to Stephanus of Byzantium 33 and the philosopher Plato 34 the poet s father was named Euphemus but an inscription on a herm from Tivoli listed him as Euclides 35 The poet s mathematically inclined brother was named Mamertinus by the Suda but a scholiast in a commentary on Euclid named him Mamercus 36 Background Edit Stesichorus s lyrical treatment of epic themes was well suited to a western Greek audience owing to the popularity of hero cults in southern Italy and Magna Graeca as for example the cult of Philoctetes at Sybaris Diomedes at Thurii and the Atreidae at Tarentum 37 It was also a sympathetic environment for his most famous poem The Palinode composed in praise of Helen an important cult figure in the Doric diaspora 38 On the other hand the western Greeks were not very different from their eastern counterparts and his poetry cannot be regarded exclusively as a product of the Greek West 39 His poetry reveals both Doric and Ionian influences and this is consistent with the Suda a claim that his birthplace was either Metauria or Himera both of which were founded by colonists of mixed Ionian Doric descent 40 On the other hand a Doric Ionian flavour was fashionable among later poets it is found in the choral lyrics of the Ionian poets Simonides and Bacchylides and it might have been fashionable even in Stesichorus s own day 41 His poetry included a description of the river Himera 42 as well as praise for the town named after it 43 and his poem Geryoneis included a description of Pallantium in Arcadia 44 His possible exile from Arcadia is attributed by one modern scholar to rivalry between Tegea and Sparta 45 Traditional accounts indicate that he was politically active in Magna Graeca Aristotle mentions two public speeches by Stesichorus one to the people of Himera warning them against Phalaris and another to the people of Locri warning them against presumption possibly referring to their war against Rhegium 46 Philodemus believed that the poet once stood between two armies which two he doesn t say and reconciled them with a song but there is a similar story about Terpander 47 According to the 9th century scholar Photius the term eight all used by gamblers at dice derives from an expensive burial the poet received outside Catana including a monument with eight pillars eight steps and eight corners 48 but the 3rd century grammarian Julius Pollux attributed the same term to an eight all ways tomb given to the poet outside Himera 49 Career Edit Many modern scholars don t accept the Suda s claim that Stesichorus was named for his innovations in choral poetry there are good reasons to believe that his lyrical narratives were composed for solo performance see Works below Moreover the name wasn t unique there seems to have been more than one poet of this name 50 see Spurious works below The Suda in yet another entry refers to the fact now verified by Papyrus fragments that Stesichorus composed verses in units of three stanzas strophe antistrophe and epode a format later followed by poets such as Bacchylides and Pindar Suda claims this three stanza format was popularly referred to as the three of Stesichorus in a proverbial saying rebuking cultural buffoons You don t even know the three of Stesichorus According to one modern scholar however this saying could instead refer to the following three lines of his poem The Palinode addressed to Helen of Troy 51 There is no truth in that story You didn t ride in the well rowed galleys You didn t reach the walls of Troy 52 dd dd dd Helen of Troy s bad character was a common theme among poets such as Sappho and Alcaeus 53 and according to various ancient accounts Stesichorus viewed her in the same light until she magically punished him with blindness for blaspheming her in one of his poems 54 According to a colourful account recorded by Pausanias she later sent an explanation to Stesichorus via a man from Croton who was on a pilgrimage to White Island in the Black Sea near the mouth of the Blue Danube and it was in response to this that Stesichorus composed the Palinode 55 absolving her of all blame for the Trojan War and thus restoring himself to full sight Works EditThe ancients associated the lyrical qualities of Stesichorus with the voice of the nightingale as in this quote from the Palatine Anthology at his birth when he had just reached the light of day a nightingale travelling through the air from somewhere or other perched unnoticed on his lips and struck up her clear song 56 The account is repeated by Pliny the Elder 57 but it was the epic qualities of his work that most impressed ancient commentators 50 though with some reservations on the part of Quintilian The greatness of Stesichorus genius is shown among other things by his subject matter he sings of the most important wars and the most famous commanders and sustains on his lyre the weight of epic poetry In both their actions and their speeches he gives due dignity to his characters and if only he had shown restraint he could possibly have been regarded as a close rival of Homer but he is redundant and diffuse a fault to be sure but explained by the abundance of what he had to say Quintilian 58 In a similar vein Dionysius of Halicarnassus commends Stesichorus for the magnificence of the settings of his subject matter in them he has preserved the traits and reputations of his characters 59 and Longinus puts him in select company with Herodotus Archilochus and Plato as the most Homeric of authors 60 Modern scholars tend to accept the general thrust of the ancient comments even the fault noted by Quintilian gets endorsement longwindedness as one modern scholar calls it citing as proof of it the interval of 400 lines separating Geryon s death from his eloquent anticipation of it 61 Similarly the repetitiveness and slackness of the style of the recently discovered Lille papyrus has even been interpreted by one modern scholar as proof of Stesichorean authorship 62 though others originally used it as an argument against 4 Possibly Stesichorus was even more Homeric than ancient commentators realized they had assumed that he composed verses for performance by choirs the triadic structure of the stanzas comprising strophe antistrophe and epode is consistent with choreographed movement but a poem such as the Geryoneis included some 1500 lines and it probably required about four hours to perform longer than a chorus might reasonably be expected to dance 63 Moreover the versatility of lyric meter is suited to solo performance with self accompaniment on the lyre 64 which is how Homer himself delivered poetry Whether or not it was a choral technique the triadic structure of Stesichorean lyrics allowed for novel arrangements of dactylic meter the dominant meter in his poems and also the defining meter of Homeric epic thus allowing for Homeric phrasing to be adapted to new settings However Stesichorus did more than recast the form of epic poetry works such as the Palinode were also a recasting of epic material in that version of the Trojan War the combatants fought over a phantom Helen while the real Helen either stayed home or went to Egypt see a summary below The Lyric Age of Greece was in part self discovery and self expression as in the works of Alcaeus and Sappho but a concern for heroic values and epic themes still endured Stesichorus citharodic narrative points to the simultaneous coexistence of different literary genres and currents in an age of great artistic energy and experimentation It is one of the exciting qualities of early Greek culture that forms continue to evolve but the old traditions still remain strong as points of stability and proud community unifying but not suffocating Charles Segal 65 An Homeric simile Edit The Homeric qualities of Stesichorus poetry are demonstrated in a fragment of his poem Geryoneis describing the death of the monster Geryon A scholiast writing in a margin on Hesiod s Theogony noted that Stesichorus gave the monster wings six hands and six feet whereas Hesiod himself had only described it as three headed 66 yet Stesichorus adapted Homeric motifs to create a humanized portrait of the monster 67 whose death in battle mirrors the death of Gorgythion in Homer s Iliad translated here by Richmond Lattimore He bent drooping his head to one side as a garden poppy bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime Iliad 8 306 8 68 dd dd Homer here transforms Gorgythion s death in battle into a thing of beauty the poppy has not wilted or died 69 Stesichorus adapted the simile to restore Death s ugliness while still retaining the poignancy of the moment 70 Then Geryon rested his neck to one sideAs might a poppy when it mars dd The tenderness of its body sheddingSuddenly all of its petals Geryoneis 71 dd dd dd The mutual self reflection of the two passages is part of the novel aesthetic experience that Stesichorus here puts into play 72 The enduring freshness of his art in spite of its epic traditions is borne out by Ammianus Marcellinus in an anecdote about Socrates happening to overhear on the eve of his own execution the rendition of a song of Stesichorus the old philosopher asked to be taught it So that I may know something more when I depart from life 73 See The Queen s Speech in the Lille fragment for more on Stesichorus s style The 26 books Edit His works according to the Suda were collected in 26 books but each of these was probably a long narrative poem The titles of more than half of them are recorded by ancient sources 74 Helen This might have been the poem in which he portrayed Helen of Troy according to convention as a bad character 38 His interest in the Trojan epic cycle is evinced in a number of works 75 Helen Palinodes An introduction to a poem of Theocritus refers to the first book of Stesichorus s Helen 76 indicating that there were at least two books under this title Similarly a commentary recorded on a papyrus indicates there were two Palinodes one censuring Homer the other Hesiod for the false story that Helen went to Troy 77 Dio Chrysostom summarises two accounts of the Palinode one in which Helen never sailed for Troy and a second in which she ended up in Egypt 78 only her image arrived at Troy It is not known if either of the two Palinodes was separate from the Helen book s 79 Sack of Troy Some scholars think the content of the poem can be deduced from a relief carved onto a monument near Rome but this is contentious see the section below Tabula Iliaca Wooden Horse The title was recorded in a fragmentary form on a roll of papyrus Sth Ipp Ste sichorus s Wooden Hor se Possibly it was just an alternative title for Sack of Troy 80 Nostoi The Returns This dealt with the return of the Greek warriors from Troy Geryoneis This relates the theft by Heracles of Geryon s cattle Many recently discovered fragments allow us a glimpse of the poet at work over the length of the entire poem 81 It includes romantic geography descriptions of the Sun s voyage in a golden cup under Ocean of Eurytion s homeland the all golden Hesperides and of Pallanteum in Arcadia which possibly featured as the home of the Centaur Pholus poignant speeches based on Homeric models a proud speech by Geryon to Heracles that echoes Sarpedon s speech to Glaucus 82 and an exchange between Geryon and his mother Callirhoe that echoes exchanges between Achilles Thetis 83 and Hector Hecuba 84 heroic action again with Homeric colouring a description of the dying Geryon that echoes the death of Gorgythion 85 Cerberus The title is mentioned by Julius Pollux only because it included the Greek word for a purse but clearly it relates to Heracles s descent into Hades to fetch Cerberus 86 Cycnus A scholiast commenting on a poem by Pindar summarises the story Heracles s final triumph over Cycnus after an initial defeat 87 Skylla The title is mentioned by a scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes in a passing reference to Skylla s parentage 88 and possibly it involved Heracles 81 Thebaid Seven Against Thebes These two titles are conjectured by one modern scholar 89 as appropriate for the longest fragment attributed to Stesichorus discovered in 1974 among the wrappings of a mummy of the 2nd century BC stored at the university of Lille generally known as The Lille Stesichorus It presents a speech by a Theban queen possibly Jocasta and some scholars have denied attribution to Stesichorus on account of its drab repetitious flaccidity 90 But opinions are mixed and one scholar sees in it Stesichorus full mastery of his technique handling epic situations and characters with the flexibility and poignancy of lyric 65 Eriphyle The title is mentioned by Sextus Empiricus in relation to an imaginative account of Asclepius raising the dead at Thebes 91 Evidently it concerns Eriphyle s role in the Theban epic cycle but with an imaginative twist Europa The title is mentioned by a scholiast on the Phoenissae of Euripides in relation to Stesichorus s imaginative variation on the traditional tale of Cadmus the brother of Europa sowing dragon s teeth Stesichorus presented Athena in that role 92 Oresteia It came in two parts The title is mentioned by a scholiast on Peace a play by Aristophanes attributing some of the lyrics to a borrowing from Stesichorus s poem 93 The second Oresteia is mentioned in a scholiast s comment on Dionysius of Thrace according to which Stesichorus attributed the discovery of the Greek alphabet to Palamedes 94 Boar hunters Athenaeus mentions the title when quoting a description of a boar nosing the earth and the poem evidently concerned Meleager and the Calydonian Boar 95 Funeral Games of Pelias The title is recorded by Zenobius 96 Athenaeus 97 and Etymologicum Magnum 98 the last two of which also include a handful of quotes Spurious works Edit Some poems were wrongly attributed to Stesichorus by ancient sources including bucolic poems and some love songs such as Calyce and Rhadine It is possible that these are the works of another Stesichorus belonging to the fourth century mentioned in the Marmor Parium 99 Tabula Iliaca EditBovillae about twelve miles outside Rome was the original site of a monument dating from the Augustan period and now located in the Capitoline Museum The stone monument features scenes from the fall of Troy depicted in low relief and an inscription Ilioy Persis kata Sthsixoron Sack of Troy according to Stesichorus 100 Scholars are divided as to whether or not it accurately depicts incidents described by Stesichorus in his poem Sack of Troy There is for example a scene showing Aeneas and his father Anchises departing for Hesperia with sacred objects which might have more to do with the poetry of Virgil than with that of Stesichorus 101 102 103 References Edit Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature Greek Literature P Easterling and B Knox eds Cambridge University Press 1985 page 186 D A Campbell ed Greek Lyric Vol 3 Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 5 David Campbell Greek Lyric Poetry Bristol Classical Press 1982 page 253 reprinted from 1967 Macmillan edition a b P J Parsons The Lille Stesichorus Zeitschreift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik Vol 26 1977 pages 7 36 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature Greek Literature P Easterling and B Knox eds Cambridge University Press 1985 page 187 Steve Reece Homeric Influence in Stesichorus Nostoi Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 25 1988 1 8 Strabo 3 2 11 Stesichorus S7 PMG 184 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature Greek Literature P Easterling and B Knox eds Cambridge University Press 1985 page 188 Stesichorus S7 Loeb D A Campbell ed Greek Lyric Vol 3 Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 64 Sir Edward Bromhead The Remains of Stesichorus in an English Version 1849 page 11 Google digitalized version C M Bowra Greek Lyric Poetry Oxford University Press 1961 pages 119 26 Richard Jebb Bacchylides The poems and fragments Cambridge University Press 1905 page 32 Google digitalized version Stesichorus Encyclopaedia Britannica Writers History Stesichorus writershistory com Archived from the original on 2014 07 14 Ooops I can t find the page you re looking for calabria nu Archived from the original on 2011 08 10 Retrieved 2012 09 13 Grimaldi William M A 1988 Aristotle Rhetoric II ISBN 9780823210497 p 114 5 A History of Ancient Greek Literature forgottenbooks com Archived from the original on 2014 07 14 M L West Stesichorus The Classical Quarterly New Series Vol 21 No 2 Nov 1971 page 302 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 186 7 Campbell in Loeb page 3 Aristotle Rhet 2 20 1393b cited by David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 39 Tzetzes Vit Hes 18 cited by David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 33 Lucian Macr cited by David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 33 Hieronymus Epistles 52 3 David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 33 Cicero Verr 2 2 86 cited by David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 45 Eusebius Chron cited by David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 31 Cambell Loeb page 35 Tzetzes Vit Hes 18 cited by Campbell Loeb page 35 Proclus Hes Op 271a cited by Campbell in Loeb page 35 Cicero De Rep 2 20 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 37 Jasper Griffin Greek Myth and Hesiod J Boardman J Griffin and O Murray eds The Oxford History of the Classical World Oxford University Press 1986 page 88 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 191 Richard Lattimore translation Hesiod Intro pp 5 The University of Michigan Press 1959 Stephanus of Byzantium s v Matayros cited by Campbell in Loeb page 35 Plato Phaedrus 244a cited by Campbell in Loeb page 37 Inscriptiones Graecae xiv 1213 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 37 Proclus in Euclid Prolog 2 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 37 Richard Jebb Bacchylides The poems and fragments Cambridge Uni Press 1905 page 32 a b Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 191 G O Hutchinson Greek Lyric Poetry a commentary on selected larger pieces Oxford University Press 2001 page 113 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 186 G O Hutchinson Greek Lyric Poetry a commentary on selected larger pieces Oxford University press 2001 page 115 Vibius Sequester de fluminibus fontibus etc cited by Campbell in Loeb page 181 Himerius Orationes 27 27 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 181 Pausanias 8 3 2 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 89 W G Forrest A History of Sparta 950 192 BC page 76 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 28 note 4 Aristotle Rhet 2 21 1394b 95a cited by Campbell in Loeb page 39 Phildemus Mus 1 30 31ss cited by Campbell in Loeb page 41 Photius Lexicon cited by Campbell in Loeb page 45 Pollux 9 100 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 43 a b Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 187 note 2 to Suda T 943 Campbell in Loeb page 49 Plato Phaedr 243a cited by Campbell inLoebpage 93 Sappho 16 6 10 and Alcaeus B 10 PLF cited by Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 191 Isocrates Hel 64 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 93 Pausanias 3 19 11 13 cited by Campbell in Loeb page 41 Campbell s translation In the Black Sea off the mouths of the Danube there is an island called White Island note Actually off the estuary of the Dnieper Anth Pal 2 125ss cited by David Campbell Loeb pages 59 Plin N H 10 82 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 55 Quintilian Inst 10 1 62 cited by David Cambell Loeb pages 59 Dion Hal Imit 2 421 cited by David Campbell Loeb pages 55 Longinus de subl 13 3 cited by David Campbell Loeb pages 55 David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 4 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 186 note 2 C O Pavese Tradizione e generi poetici della Graecia arcaica Rome 1972 cited by C Segal The Cambridge History of Greek Literature page 187 M L West Stesichorus Classical Quarterly 21 1971 pages 302 14 cited by D Campbell in Greek Lyric III page 5 a b Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 200 Schol Hes Theog 287 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 89 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 190 194 95 Iliad 8 306 8 translated by Richmond Lattimore The Iliad of Homer University of Chicago Press 1951 Susanne Lindgren Wofford The Choice of Achilles The Ideology of Figure in the Epic Stanford Stanford University Press 1992 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 190 Geryoneis P Oxy 2617 fr 5 cited by D Campbell Greek Lyric III page 76 Richard Garner From Homer to Tragedy the art of allusion in Greek poetry Routledge 1990 page 17 Amm Marc 28 4 15 cited by D Campbell Greek Lyric III page 56 David A Campbell Greek Lyric Poetry Bristol Classical Press 1982 page 254 See M Noussia Fantuzzi in M Fantuzzi and C Tsagalis eds The Epic Cycle and Its Ancient Reception 2015 also P J Finglass and A Kelly eds Stesichorus in Context 2015 Argum Theocr 18 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 91 P Oxy 2506 fr 26col i cited by David Cambell Loeb page 97 Dio Chrysostom Or 11 40s cited by David Campbell Loeb page 95 Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 192 David Campbell Loeb pages 109 119 a b Charles Segal Archaic Choral Lyric P Easterling and E Kenney eds The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 193 Iliad 12 310 280 Iliad 18 Iliad 22 Iliad 8 306 8 Pollux 10 152 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 121 Schol A Pind 10 19 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 123 Schol Ap Rhod 4 825 31 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 133 David Campbell Loeb page 137 Anne Burnett Jocasta in the West The Lille Stesichorus Classical AntiquityVol 7 No 2 Oct 1988 page 107 Sextus Empiricus adv mathem 1 261 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 97 Schol Eur Phoen 670 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 101 Ar Pax 797ss cited by David Campbell Loeb page 127 Schola Vat in Dion Thrac Art 6 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 129 Athen 3 95d cited by David Campbell Loeb page 133 Zenobius vi 44 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 63 Athenaeus 4 172de cited by David Campbell Loeb page 63 Et Mag 544 54 cited by David Campbell Loeb page 61 Marm Par Ep 50 cited by Charles Segal in Archaic Choral Lyric page 192 I G 14 1284 Zahra Newby Art and Inscription in the Ancient World Cambridge University Press 2006 Introduction David A Campbell Greek Lyric III Loeb Classical Library 1991 page 107 Charles Seagal Archaic Choral Lyric The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I Greek Literature Cambridge University Press 1985 page 196 note 1Further reading EditBarrett W S Greek Lyric Tragedy and Textual Criticism Collected Papers edited for publication by M L West Oxford amp New York 2007 Carson Anne Autobiography of Red Modern retelling of Stesichoros fragments Plato Phaedrus M Davies Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta PMGF vol 1 Oxford 1991 testimonies of his life and works pp 134 151 fragments pp 152 234 previously D L Page Poetae Melici Graeci PMG Oxford 1962 and Supplementum Lyricis Graecis SLG Oxford 1974 D A Campbell Greek Lyric III Stesichorus Ibycus Simonides and Others Loeb Classical Library G O Hutchinson Greek Lyric Poetry A Commentary on Selected Larger Pieces Alcman Stesichorus Sappho Alcaeus Ibycus Anacreon Simonides Bacchylides Pindar Sophocles Euripides Oxford 2001 J M Edmonds Lyra Graeca II pp 23 Loeb Classical Library Harvard University Press 1958External links Edit Media related to Stesichorus at Wikimedia Commons Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article Sthsixoros Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Stesichorus amp oldid 1050342825, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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