Simonides: Poet, Mercenary, Entrepreneur?

Scholiast on Aristophanes’ Peace 695-700

“Simonides seems to have been the first to adapt money-making to songs and to compose his works for pay. This is what Pindar says deceptively in his second Isthmian: “For the Muse was not then greedy or out for hire.”

The story of Simonides’ boxes is also told, that he had two boxes next to him, one empty and one full—and he used to say that the former was full of favors and the latter full of money. [Someone] else also calls him greedy, which is why Xenophanes calls him a cheapskate.”

Schol. ad loc.

ὁ Σιμωνίδης δοκεῖ πρῶτος σμικρολογίαν εἰσενεγκεῖν εἰς τὰ ᾄσματα καὶ γράψαι ᾆσμα μισθοῦ. τοῦτο δὲ καὶ Πίνδαρος ἐν τοῖς Ἰσθμιονίκαις φησὶν αἰνιττόμενος·
. . . ἁ Μοῖσα γὰρ οὐ φιλοκερδής πω τότ᾿ ἦν οὐδ᾿ ἐργάτις . . . (2. 6).
τὸ μέντοι περὶ τῶν κιβωτῶν ἐπὶ Σιμωνίδου λεγόμενον, ὅτι παρακειμένας εἶχε δύο, τὴν μὲν κενήν, τὴν δὲ μεστήν, καὶ τὴν μὲν κενὴν χαρίτων ἔλεγεν εἶναι, τὴν δὲ μεστὴν <ἀργυρίου>, γνώριμον . . .· καὶ <. . .> μέμνηται, ὅτι σμικρολόγος ἦν· ὅθεν Ξενοφάνης (fr. 21 West) κίμβικα αὐτὸν προσαγορεύει.

Peace 695-699

Hermes: [Peace] asked what Sophokles is up to.

Trygaeus: He’s doing fine—he’s undergoing something miraculous.

H: What is that?

Tr: He is transforming from Sophokles to Simonides.

H: Simonides, how?

Tr: Because even though he is old and rotting
He’d sail on a plank to make a buck.

ΕΡ Πρῶτον δ’ ὅ τι πράττει Σοφοκλέης ἀνήρετο.
ΤΡ. Εὐδαιμονεῖ· πάσχει δὲ θαυμαστόν.
ΕΡ. Τὸ τί;
ΤΡ. ᾿Εκ τοῦ Σοφοκλέους γίγνεται Σιμωνίδης.
ΕΡ. Σιμωνίδης; πῶς;
ΤΡ. ῞Οτι γέρων ὢν καὶ σαπρὸς
κέρδους ἕκατι κἂν ἐπὶ ῥιπὸς πλέοι.

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