The Ancient Library

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On this page: Lions, Gate of – Litai – Literature, Greek



had happened, was put to death by her father. Apollo in wrath sent against the land a monster in female form, named Poine. By this monster mothers were robbed of their children, nor were the Argives freed from the curse until, by the bidding of the oracle, they appeased Apollo by building a temple, and establishing an expiatory fes­tival in honour of the boy and his mother. This was celebrated in the dog-days, in what was hence called the " Month of Lambs," as the "Feast of Lambs" (ArnSis) or the " Slaying of Dogs " (Cyn6ph5ntis), whereat lambs were sacrificed, and the dogs which ran about free were slain, while women and children lamented Linus and Psamathe in mournful songs. In other places, e.g. in Thebes, on Helicon, and on Olympus, Linus, as son of Amphimarus and the Muse Urania, was known as a minstrel, the inventor of the Linus-song, who met with an early death, and whose grave was pointed out in different places. He was said to have challenged Apollo to a contest, and for that reason to have been slain by the god. On Helicon, the mountain of the Muses, his statue was placed in a grotto, where year by year, before the sacrifice to the Muses, a sacrifice for the dead was offered up to him. In later times he was described as the teacher of Heracles, who, when reprimanded, slew him with the lyre.

Lions, Gate of,-at Mj'cense. See archi­tecture, fig. 2.

LItai. See ate.

Literature (general view).

greek literature.

Period I. From Homer to the time of the Persian Wars. (900-500 B.C.)

The first efforts of Greek poetry, which ! were made in the mother-country in Europe, and of which we have only legendary tra­dition, received their earliest artistic form in the Ionian colonies in Asia Minor. Here was developed first of all the Heroic Epos. In the great poems which bear the name of homer, and are the oldest monuments of Greek literature (about 900 b.c.), we find epic poetry already in a stage of perfection never subsequently attained. As an Ionic school of poets (the Cyclic poets) attached itself to Homer, so in Greece itself, the Bceotian hesiod (about 800 B.C.), with his didactic and genealogical epics, became the founder of the Boaotian School. The last epic writer of note in this period is pisander of Camlrus (about 640 b.c.). Elegiac and

iambic poetry, like epic, owe their origin to the lonians, the former represented by callinus (about 700 b.c.), tyrt^eus (about 680), mimnermus (about 600), solon (died 559), theognis (died about 500), and SlMO-NlDEs of ceos (died 468); the latter by ARCHlLfiCHUS (about 700), simonides of amorgds (about 650), and hippokax (about 540 b.c.). The true lyric or melic poetry was developed after the JEoliau terpander (about 675 b.c.) had originated the classical Greek music. Among the ^Eolians in Lesbos it assumed the form of a strophic poem, and among the Peloponnesian Dorians of a choric song, composed of strophe, antistrophe, and epodos. The great masters of the ..Eolian school of lyric poetry are the Lesbians alc^us and sappho (about 600 b.c.), and the Ionian anacreon (about 530 b.c.) ; an echo of the jEolian lyric poetry remained, when it was already silent in its native home, in what were called Scolla. The de­velopment of the choral form of lyric poetry, which soon spread over the whole of Greece, is marked by alcman (about 660), stes!-chorus (about 600), and ibycus (about 540). Its perfection was reached in the time of the Persian War by Simonides of Ceos, mentioned above, and pindar (died 442). From the dithyramb (a perversion of the choral lyric, which was given artistic form by ar!on, about 600 b.c.) was developed in Attica, from the second half of the 6th cen­tury onwards, the drama with its three divi­sions, tragedy, comedy, and satyric play.

As poetry developed itself first among the lonians, so also did prose, which had its beginning about the middle of the 6th cen­tury, in the era of the Seven Sages. At this time .lEsop created in prose the fables about animals known by his name, and phere-cydes of syros composed the earliest prose work. The subject of this was philosophical. Philosophy was actually founded, on the one hand, by thales of Miletus (died about 550), anaximander (died 547), and anax!-menes (died 502), the founders of the Ionic school; on the other hand, by pythagoras of Samos (died 504 b.c.), who established his philosophy in Magna Graecia. At the same time the first attempts at historical composition were made in Ionia by writers we know as the Logogrdphl.

Period II. The Attic Era.

(500-300 B.C.)

The wonderful impulse which the whole life of the Greek nation received from the Persian Wars showed itself in no place with

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