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Greek Lyric

Simonides

Testimonia Vitae Atque Artis

1 Sud. Σ 439 (iv 361 Adler)

Σιμωνίδης, Λεωπρεποῦς, Ἰουλιήτης τῆς ἐν Κέῳ τῇ νήσῳ πόλεως, λυρικός, μετὰ Στησίχορον τοῖς χρόνοις· ὃς ἐπεκλήθη Μελικέρτης διὰ τὸ ἡδύ. καὶ τὴν μνημονικὴν δὲ τέχνην εὗρεν οὗτος· προσεξεῦρε δὲ καὶ τὰ μακρὰ τῶν στοιχείων καὶ διπλᾶ καὶ τῇ λύρᾳ τὸν τρίτον φθόγγον. γέγονε δ᾿ ἐπὶ τῆς πεντηκοστῆς ἕκτης ὀλυμπιάδος, οἱ δὲ ξβ΄ γεγράφασι. καὶ παρέτεινε μέχρι τῆς οη΄, βιοὺς ἔτη πθ΄. καὶ γέγραπται αὐτῷ Δωρίδι διαλέκτῳ †ἡ Καμβύσου καὶ Δαρείου βασιλεία καὶ Ξέρξου ναυμαχία καὶ† ἡ ἐπ᾿ Ἀρτεμισίῳ ναυμαχία, δι᾿ ἐλεγείας· ἡ δ᾿ ἐν Σαλαμῖνι μελικῶς· θρῆνοι, ἐγκώμια,

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Simonides

Simonides

Biography

1 Suda, Simonides (1st notice)1

Son of Leoprepes2; from Iulis, a city on the island of Ceos; lyric poet, later than Stesichorus.3 He was given the name Melicertes because of the sweetness of his poetry.4 He invented the art of mnemonics5; he also invented the long vowels and double consonants6 and the third note on the lyre.7 He was born in the 56th Olympiad (556/552 b.c.) or according to some writers in the 62nd (532 /528),8 and he survived until the 78th (468/464), having lived 89 years. He composed in the Doric dialect ‘The Reign of Cambyses and Darius’, ‘Sea-battle against Xerxes’9 and ‘The Sea-battle at Artemisium’ in elegiacs; ‘The Sea-battle at Salamis’ in lyric metre,10 and dirges,11 eulogies,12 epigrams, paeans13 and

  • 1Some of this material is in the brief biography of P.Oxy. 1800 fr. i col. ii 36 ff. (c. 200 a.d.).
  • 2See Aelian, V.H. 2. 24 for an apophthegm of L.
  • 3Stes. was said to have died in the 56th Olympiad (Stes. test. 2); see also fr. 564.
  • 4Meli- means ‘honey’.
  • 5See testt. 24–26.
  • 6I.e. the letters eta and omega, xi and psi; cf. Plut. Qu. Conv. 738 f., ix 3. 2, comment. Melamp. or Diom. on Dion. Thr. (i 3. 35 Hilgard), schol. Dion. Thr. (i 3. 185 Hilgard), Anecd. Gr. (de Villoison) ii 187.
  • 7A mistake: the lyre had seven strings from the 7th c.
  • 8The later dating was championed by L.A. Stella, ‘Studi Simonidei’, R.F.C. 1946,1–24, but is not generally accepted.
  • 9Text corrupt: the source of the Suda may have said that S. composed during the reigns of Cambyses (530–522) and Darius (521–486) and that he wrote poems on the battles fought at Artemisium and Salamis (480) during the invasion of Xerxes.
  • 10Since the Artemi-sium poem was in lyric metre (fr. 533), Bergk suggested that the Salamis poem was in elegiacs (fr. eleg. 1 and perhaps 2–3 West).
  • 11See frr. 520–531.
  • 12I.e. the epinicians, frr. 506–519; also 531.
  • 13See fr. 519.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.simonides-testimonia.1991