Poets, Hanging out with Kings

Sud.  Σ 439 “Simonides”

“Simonides, the son of Leoprepes, a citizen of Ioulos on the Island Keos. A lyric poet from the same time period as Stesichoris. He was called Melikertes because of his sweetness. He is also the one who founded the art of mnemonics. In addition to this, he invented long vowels, double consonants, and the third note on the lure. He was born during the 56th Olympiad (c. 556 BCE_ and lived into the 78th (468 BCE). 89 nine years altogether. He wrote in the Doric dialect, “The Kingdom of Kambyses and Darius” as well as “The Sea Battle Against Xerxes” and “The Battle at Artemisium” in elegiac verse. He added in lyric form, “The Sea Battle at Salamis” as well as dirges, eulogies, epigrams, paeans, tragedy and other things. This Simonides had a good memory…”

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, πιγράμματα, παιᾶνες καὶ τραγῳδίαι καὶ ἄλλα. οὗτος ὁ Σιμωνίδης μνημονικός τις ἦν, εἴπερ τις ἄλλος . . .

Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, Ath. Pol. 18. 1

“Because of their reputations and their ages, Hipparchus and Hippias were in power, yet because Hippias was older and more political by nature as well as sensible, he oversaw the government. Hipparchus was more childish, lustful, and a devotee of the arts. He is the one who summoned Anakreon, Simonides, and the other poets to Athens.”

ἦσαν δὲ κύριοι μὲν τῶν πραγμάτων διὰ τὰ ἀξιώματα καὶ διὰ τὰς ἡλικίας Ἵππαρχος καὶ Ἱππίας, πρεσβύτερος δὲ ὢν ὁ Ἱππίας καὶ τῇ φύσει πολιτικὸς καὶ ἔμφρων ἐπεστάται τῆς ἀρχῆς. ὁ δὲ Ἵππαρχος παιδιώδης καὶ ἐρωτικὸς καὶ φιλόμουσος ἦν (καὶ τοὺς περὶ Ἀνακρέοντα καὶ Σιμωνίδην καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ποιητὰς οὗτος ἦν ὁ μεταπεμπόμενος) . . .

Pausanias. 1. 2. 3

“At that time, poets took up residence in the halls of kings as earlier Anacreon stated with Polycrates the tyrant of Samos and Aeschylus and Simonides ended up going to Hiero of Syracuse.”

συνῆσαν δὲ ἄρα καὶ τότε τοῖς βασιλεῦσι ποιηταὶ καὶ πρότερον ἔτι καὶ Πολυκράτει Σάμου τυραννοῦντι Ἀνακρέων παρῆν καὶ ἐς Συρακούσας πρὸς Ἱέρωνα Αἰσχύλος καὶ Σιμωνίδης ἐστάλησαν.

Athenaeus, Deipnoshopists 14.646de

“Simonides was truly cheap and eager for profit, as Khamaileon notes. When he went to Syracuse and Hiero would send him daily gifts, Simonides would sell of most of it and put aside a little bit for himself. When he was asked the reason for this, he said “So that Hiero’s excess and my constraint are clear to all.”

ὄντως δ᾿ ἦν ὡς ἀληθῶς κίμβιξ ὁ Σιμωνίδης καὶ αἰσχροκερδής, ὡς Χαμαιλέων φησιν ἐν Συρακούσαις γοῦν τοῦ Ἱέρωνος ἀποστέλλοντος αὐτῷ τὰ καθ᾿ ἡμέραν λαμπρῶς πωλῶν τὰ πλείω ὁ Σιμωνίδης τῶν παρ᾿ ἐκείνου πεμπομένων ἑαυτῷ μικρὸν μέρος ἀπετίθετο. ἐρομένου δέ τινος τὴν αἰτίαν· ὅπως, εἶπεν, ἥ τε Ἱέρωνος μεγαλοπρέπεια καταφανὴς ᾖ καὶ ἡ ἐμὴ κοσμιότης.

A painting of a group of people in a vicrtory procession at Olympia. There is a chariot with a singer carrying a lyre
James Barry, Crowning the Victors at Olympia – Hiero of Syracuse and victors, c. 1780


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