Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 53. On Homer

LCL 376: 356-357

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Dio Chrysostom


1Ὁ μὲν Δημόκριτος περὶ Ὁμήρου φησὶν οὕτως· Ὅμηρος φύσεως λαχὼν θεαζούσης ἐπέων κόσμον ἐτεκτήνατο παντοίων· ὡς οὐκ ἐνὸν ἄνευ θείας καὶ δαιμονίας φύσεως οὕτως καλὰ καὶ σοφὰ ἔπη ἐργάσασθαι. πολλοὶ δὲ καὶ ἄλλοι γεγράφασιν οἱ μὲν ἄντικρυς ἐγκωμιάζοντες τὸν ποιητὴν ἅμα καὶ δηλοῦντες ἔνια τῶν ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ λεγομένων, οἱ δὲ αὐτὸ τοῦτο τὴν διάνοιαν ἐξηγούμενοι, οὐ μόνον Ἀρισταρχος καὶ Κράτης καὶ ἕτεροι πλείους τῶν ὕστερον γραμματικῶν κληθέντων, πρότερον δὲ κριτικῶν. καὶ δὴ καὶ αὐτὸς Ἀριστοτέλης, ἀφ᾿ οὗ φασι τὴν κριτικήν τε καὶ γραμματικὴν ἀρχὴν λαβεῖν, ἐν πολλοῖς διαλόγοις περὶ τοῦ ποιητοῦ διέξεισι, θαυμάζων αὐτὸν ὡς τὸ πολὺ καὶ τιμῶν, ἔτι δὲ Ἡρακλείδης ὁ Ποντικός.

2Τούτων δὲ πρότερος Πλάτων πανταχοῦ μέμνηνται, τὴν μὲν ἡδονὴν καὶ χάριν τὴν τῶν ἐπῶν ἐκπληττόμενος, πολλάκις γε μὴν ἐπιμεμφόμενος ἐν τοῖς περὶ θεῶν μύθοις τε καὶ λόγοις, ὡς οὐ συμφέροντα


The Fifty-Third Discourse

The Fifty-Third Discourse: on Homer

Democritus1 expresses his opinion of Homer in these words: “Homer, having been blessed with a divinely inspired genius, fashioned an ‘ornament of verses’2 of every kind,” thus indicating his belief that without a divine and superhuman nature it is impossible to produce verses of such beauty and wisdom. Many others too have written on this subject, some expressly lauding the poet and at the same time pointing out some of his wise sayings, while others have busied themselves with interpreting the thought itself, this group including not merely Aristarchus3 and Crates4 and several others of those who later were called grammarians but formerly critics. In fact Aristotle himself, with whom they say that literary interpretation and criticism began, treats of the poet m many dialogues, admiring him in general and paying him honour, as does also Heracleides of Pontus.5

Prior to these, however, Plato mentions Homer at every opportunity, marvelling at the charm and grace of his poesy,6 though often censuring him in respect of his myths and tales about the gods, holding that he

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dio_chrysostom-discourses_53_homer.1946