The Ancient Library

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On this page: Aesymnetae – Aethra – Aetion – Aetius – Afranius – Agamedes – Agamemnon – Aganippe



embassy to Delphi, was murdered by the priests there, is pure tiction. Under his name were propagated in all parts of Greece, at first only by tradition in the mouth of the people, a multitude of prose tales teach­ing the lessons of life under the guise of fables about animals. We know how Socrates, during his last days in prison, was engaged in turning the fables of jEsop into verse. The first written collection ap­pears to have been set on foot by Demetrius of Phalerum, B.C. 300. The collections of jfjop's Fables that have come down to us are, in part, late prose renderings of the version in choliambics by Babrius (q.v.), which still retain here and there a scrap of verse; partly products of the rhetorical schools, and therefore of very different periods and degrees of merit.

JEsymnetae (" regulators," "judges"). A name given in some Greek cities to the ordinary magistrates and judicial function­aries. In earlier times the term was also applied to persons appointed for a definite term (or until the completion of their task) for putting an end, by legislation, to in­ternal quarrels. Sometimes an wsymnet&s was voluntarily chosen by the community for life, and entrusted with supreme and unlimited power. The office of cesymnetes may to a certain extent be compared with the Roman dictatorship, though the latter was never conferred without a strict limi­tation of time.

JEthra, daughter of Pittheus, king of Trcezen, mother of Theseus by ^Egeus or, according to another account, by Poseidon. While Homer merely mentions her as a servant of Helen at Troy, later legend adds that, when the Dioscuri took Aphidnse and set free their sister whom Theseus had carried off, they conveyed JSthra to Sparta as a slave, whence she accompanied Helen to Troy; and that on the fall of that city, they brought her grandsons Acamas and Demophoon back to Athens.

Action. A Greek painter in the latter half of the 4th century B.C., especially famed for his picture of Alexander the Great's wedding with the beautiful Roxana, b.c. 328.

Aetius (Gr. Aetifis). Of Amlda in Mesopo­tamia, a Greek physician of the 6th century a.d., who lived at Constantinople as im­perial physician in ordinary. He was the author of a great miscellany on pathology and diagnosis in sixteen books.

Afranius (Lucitis). The chief master of the Fabfda Togcita. (8re. comedy.) Flour-

ished B.C. 100. In his pictures of Roman life he took Menander for his model, and with great success. Cicero calls him witty and a master of language. To judge by the number of the titles of his comedies which have survived (more than forty, with

! scanty fragments), he was a prolific author;

I from them we gather that his subjects were mostly taken from family life. His plays kept possession of the stage longer than those of most comic poets, being still acted in Nero's time.

Agamedes. Son of Erginus of Orcho-menus, and a hero of the building art, like his brother Trophonius (q.v.).

Agamemnon. The Atrei'd, i.e. son of Atreus, and brother of Menelaus. Driven from Mycense after the murder of Atreus (q.v.) by Thyestes, the two young princes fly to Sparta, where king Tyndareos gives them his daughters in marriage, Clytaem-nestra to Agamemnon, and Helgna to Menelaus. While the latter inherits his father-in-law's kingdom, Agamemnon not only drives his uncle out of Mycenae, but so extends his dominions that in the war against Troy for the recovery of Helena the chief command is entrusted to him as the mightiest prince in Greece. He contributes one hundred ships manned with warriors, beside lending sixty to the Arcadians. (On the immolation of his daughter Iphigeneia at Aulis, see iphigeneia.) In Homer he is one of the braveat fighters before Troy ; yet, by arrogantly refusing to let Chryses, priest of Apollo, ransom his daughter Chryseis, who had fallen to Agamemnon as the prize of war, he brings a plague on the Grecian host, which he afterwards almost ruins by ruthlessly carrying off Brise'is the prize of

! Achilles, who henceforth sits sulking in his tents, and refuses to fight. After the fall of Troy, Agamemnon comes home with his captive, the princess Cassandra; but at supper he and his comrades are murdered by his wife's lover jEgisthus, while the queen herself kills Cassandra. Such is Homer's account; the tragic poets make Clytaem-nestra, in revenge of her daughter's immo­lation, throw a net over Agamemnon while bathing, and kill him with the help of jEgisthus. In Homer his children are Iphianassa, Chrysothgmis, Laodlce, and Orestes; the later legend puts Iphigeneia and Electra in the place of Iphianassa and Laodice. Agamemnon was worshipped as a hero.

Aganippe, a spring sacred to the Muses on Mount Helicon, near Thespiae in Bceotia,

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