The Ancient Library

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residence at the court of Polycrates as one of the greatest favors that for­tune bestowed upon this prince, It is attested by the best authorities that Anacreon, although courted by the powerful and the rich, did not use his' influence for purposes of base gain. He even rejected the munificent presents of Polycrates, declaring that they were not worth the trouble of keeping. Enjoying his talent of song, he lived a simple and happy life. In his enthusiasm for love and song, he never transgressed the boundaries of a pure poetical feeling. There have always been persons unable to understand how a poet can sing of drunken revelry, and yet be a sober man, and how the mere sight of the beautiful can raise enthusiasm. All the writers of the best times of Greece speak of Anacreon, as a man, in the same high terms in which they record his merit as a poet; and a poet whom Plato calls the wise, was assuredly not a lover of licentious-


We still possess numerous fragments of the genuine poems of Anac­reon, which enable us to form a notion of the character of his poetry, and which justify the universal admiration of antiquity. The praise of beau­ty, love, and wine was the substance of his poems from his earliest to his latest age; and the cheerful and joyous old man, as Anacreon de­scribes himself in some of his latest productions, has made so strong an impression, that we can scarcely picture him to ourselves in any other form than that of an aged person, although the greater part of his frag­ments belong to the period which he spent at Samos and Athens. Simoni-des, his contemporary, in a fragment still extant, gives a most lively picture of Anacreon's character, and says that his whole life breathed the Graces^ Bacchus, and Love. It was part of the poet's Ionic nature that his po­ems on these subjects were more light and playful than the deep and impassioned songs of Sappho and Alcaeus. The collection of these songs, which was probably made long after his time, consisted of at least five books: they were extremely popular, and we have evidence that in the time of Plutarch and Athenseus they were sung on every joyous and fes­tive occasion, to tunes composed by the poet himself. Besides these lighter poems, he also wrote elegies, iambic poems or satires, epigrams (of which several are still extant in the Greek Anthology), and hymns. All his poems were composed in the Ionic dialect.2

Besides the numerous fragments of the genuine poems of Anacreon preserved in ancient writers, there is a collection of fifty-five odes which have been generally considered as poems of Anacreon^ most of which, however, are productions of a much later age. This collection was first published by Henry Stephens, Paris,, 1554, 4to, from two manuscripts which he describes very vaguely, and which no one else has seen. The same poems, however, were subsequently found in the Codex Palatinus (now at Heidelberg) of the Greek Anthology, though arranged in a differ­ent order from that in the edition of Stephens. These poems have been subsequently published in numerous editions, but the best are those of Brunck, Strasb., 1786; Fischer, Lips., 1793; Mehlhorn, Glogau, 1825; and Bergk, Lips., 1834. The genuine fragments are given along with them.

1 Biograph. Diet, of Soc, for Diff. of Useful Knowledge, vol. ii., pt. iiM p. 529. 2 I&.


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