Angry Poet and Killer Songs

CW: Suicide 

Greek Anthology, 7.351, Dioscorides

“By this holy tomb of the dead we daughters of Lykambes
Who received a hateful reputation, make this oath:
We didn’t shame our virginity or our parents
Nor Paros, the highest of the sacred islands.

No: Archilochus spat hateful rumor
And frightening insult against our family.
By the gods and the spirits: we never saw Archilochus
On the streets or in Hera’s great sanctuary.

If we were truly so lustful and reckless, that guy
Never would have wanted to have children with us.”

Οὐ μὰ τόδε φθιμένων σέβας ὅρκιον αἵδε Λυκάμβεω,
αἳ λάχομεν στυγερὴν κληδόνα, θυγατέρες
οὔτε τι παρθενίην ᾐσχύναμεν οὔτε τοκῆας
οὔτε Πάρον, νήσων αἰπυτάτην ἱερῶν,

ἀλλὰ καθ᾿ ἡμετέρης γενεῆς ῥιγηλὸν ὄνειδος
φήμην τε στυγερὴν ἔφλυσεν Ἀρχίλοχος.
Ἀρχίλοχον, μὰ θεοὺς καὶ δαίμονας, οὔτ᾿ ἐνἀγυιαῖς
εἴδομεν οὔθ᾿ Ἥρης ἐν μεγάλῳ τεμένει.
εἰ δ᾿ ἦμεν μάχλοι καὶ ἀτάσθαλοι οὐκ ἂν ἐκεῖνος
ἤθελεν ἐξ ἡμέων γνήσια τέκνα τεκεῖν.

Schol. C ad Ovid, Ibis 53-54

“Lycambes offered his daughter Neobule to Archilochus and promised a dowry which he refused to give later. So Archilochus composed invective in iambic meter about him and talked so savagely about him and his wife and his daughter that he compelled them to hanging. For they preferred dying over living with such foul abuses.”

Lycambes Neobulen, filiam suam, Archilocho desponsavit et dotem promisit; quam quia postea negavit, Archilochus in iambico metro invectivam in ipsum fecit et tam turpia de eo dixit quod ipsum et uxorem et filiam ad laqueos coegit: maluerunt enim mori quam sub turpibus obprobriis vivere.

Eustathius, Commentary in Hom. Od. 11.277 (1684.45)

“You should know that many have hanged themselves over grief. This is why the ancient account has the daughters of Lykambes doing so thanks to Archilochus’ poems because they could not endure the rumors from his insults. The man was skilled at offending. For this reason we have the proverb “you’ve tread on Archilochus” which is for people who are good at insults, as if someone claims you stepped on snake or a sharp thorn.”

ἰστέον δὲ ὅτι πολλῶν προσώπων ἁψαμένων βρόχους ἐπὶ λύπαις ἔπαθον οὕτω κατὰ τὴν παλαιὰν ἱστορίαν καὶ αἱ Λυκαμβίδαι ἐπὶ τοῖς Ἀρχιλόχου ποιήμασι, μὴ φέρουσαι τὴν ἐπιφορὰν τῶν ἐκείνου σκωμμάτων· ἦν γὰρ ὁ ἀνὴρ δεινὸς ὑβρίζειν· ὅθεν καὶ παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν οὕτω σκώπτειν εὐφυῶν τό, Ἀρχίλοχον πεπάτηκας, ὡς εἴ τις εἴπῃ, σκορπίον ἢ ὄφιν ἢ κακὴν ἄκανθαν.

Cave of Archilochos on the Paros island, near Sacred cape in front of the entrance to the harbor of Parikia.

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