Ibykos’ Cranes and A Lyric Version of the Trojan War

Suda, I. 80

“Ibykos: The son of Phutios, althought some claim he was the son of Poluzelos the Messenian historiographer, while others say his father was Kerdas, from Rhegion in origin. He left there for Samos when the father of Polycrates the tyrant ruled it. This was at the time of Kroisus’ rule, in the 54th Olmypiad [564-560 BCE] . He was really mad-crazy in desire for young men. He was also the one who inventor of the sambyke which was a kind of triangle-shaped cithara. There are seven books attributed to him in the Doric dialect.

After he was captured by brigands in a deserted area, he claimed that the cranes that were flying above them would be his avengers. He was killed. But later, one of the avengers saw some cranes in the city and said, “Behold, the avengers of Ibykos.” When someone heard this, and pursued what he said. He admitted what had happened and the brigands were punished. This is were the proverb comes from “Ibykos’ cranes.”

Ἴβυκος, Φυτίου, οἱ δὲ Πολυζήλου τοῦ Μεσσηνίου ἱστοριογράφου, οἱ δὲ Κέρδαντος· γένει Ῥηγῖνος. ἐνθένδε εἰς Σάμον ἦλθεν, ὅτε αὐτῆς ἦρχεν ὁ Πολυκράτους τοῦ τυράννου πατήρ. χρόνος δὲ οὗτος ὁ ἐπὶ Κροίσου, ὀλυμπιὰς νδ΄. γέγονε δὲ ἐρωτομανέστατος περὶ μειράκια, καὶ πρῶτος εὗρε τὴν καλουμένην σαμβύκην· εἶδος δέ ἐστι κιθάρας τριγώνου. ἔστι δὲ αὐτοῦ τὰ βιβλία ζ΄ τῇ Δωρίδι διαλέκτῳ. συλληφθεὶς δὲ ὑπὸ λῃστῶν ἐπὶ ἐρημίας ἔφη κἂν τὰς γεράνους, ἃς ἔτυχεν ὑπερίπτασθαι, ἐκδίκους γενέσθαι. καὶ αὐτὸς μὲν ἀνῃρέθη. μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα τῶν λῃστῶν εἷς ἐν τῇ πόλει θεασάμενος γεράνους ἔφη· ἴδε, αἱ Ἰβύκου ἔκδικοι. ἀκούσαντος δέ τινος καὶ ἐπεξελθόντος τῷ εἰρημένῳ, τό τε γεγονὸς ὡμολογήθη καὶ δίκας ἔδωκαν οἱ λῃσταί· ὡς ἐκ τούτου καὶ παροιμίαν γενέσθαι, αἱ Ἰβύκου γέρανοι.

Ibykos, fr. 282 (=fr. 1a) Oxyrhynchus papyrus (c. 130 b.c.); lines 1-32

They also destroyed the famous,
blessed, large city of Priam
after leaving from Argos
thanks to the plans of Zeus,
taking on the much-sung strife
for the beauty of fair Helen
in that mournful war;
Destruction climbed the ruined city
because of golden-haired Aphrodite.

Now, I don’t long to sing
of host-deceiving Paris
or tender-ankled Kassandra,
or the rest of the children of Priam
and the nameless day
of the sacking of high-gated Troy,
Nor yet the overreaching virtue
of heroes whom the hollow,
many-banched ships brought
as the destruction of Troy.

Fine heroes and Agememnon was their leader,
a king from Pleisthenes,
a son of Atreus, a noble father.

The learned Muses of Helicon
might take up these tales well;
but no mortal man, unblessed,
could number each of the ships
Menelaos led across the Aegean sea from Aulos,
from Argos they came, the bronze-speared sons of the Achaeans…”


οἳ κ]αὶ Δαρδανίδα Πριάμοιο μέ-
γ’ ἄσ]τυ περικλεὲς ὄλβιον ἠνάρον
῎Αργ]οθεν ὀρνυμένοι
Ζη]νὸς μεγάλοιο βουλαῖς
ξα]νθᾶς ῾Ελένας περὶ εἴδει
δῆ]ριν πολύυμνον ἔχ[ο]ντες
πό]λεμον κατὰ δακρ[υό]εντα,
Πέρ]γαμον δ’ ἀνέ[β]α ταλαπείριο[ν ἄ]τα
χρυ]σοέθειραν δ[ι]ὰ Κύπριδα.
νῦ]ν δέ μοι οὔτε ξειναπάταν Π[άρι]ν
..] ἐπιθύμιον οὔτε τανί[σφ]υρ[ον
ὑμ]νῆν Κασσάνδραν
Πρι]άμοιό τε παίδας ἄλλου[ς
Τρο]ίας θ’ ὑψιπύλοιο ἁλώσι[μο]ν
ἆμ]αρ ἀνώνυμον· οὐδεπ̣[
ἡρ]ώων ἀρετὰν
ὑπ]εράφανον οὕς τε κοίλα[ι
νᾶες] πολυγόμφοι ἐλεύσα[ν
Τροί]αι κακόν, ἥρωας ἐσ̣θ̣[λούς·

τῶν] μὲν κρείων ᾿Αγαμέ[μνων
ἆ]ρχε Πλεισθ[ενί]δας βασιλ[εὺ]ς ἀγὸς ἀνδρῶν
᾿Ατρέος ἐσ[θλοῦ] πάις ἐκ π̣[ατρό]ς·
καὶ τὰ μὲ[ν ἂν] Μοίσαι σεσοφ[ισμ]έναι
εὖ ῾Ελικωνίδ[ες] ἐμβαίεν λογ̣[ ·
θνατὸς δ’ οὔ κ[ε]ν ἀνὴρ
διερὸ[ς] τὰ ἕκαστα εἴποι
ναῶν ὡ[ς Μεν]έλαος ἀπ’ Αὐλίδος
Αἰγαῖον δ[ιὰ πό]ντον ἀπ’ ῎Αργεος
ἠλύθο̣[ν …..]ν
ἱπποτρόφο[ν …]ε φώτες
χ]αλκάσπ[ιδες υἷ]ες ᾿Αχα[ι]ῶν

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