The Ancient Library

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On this page: Lycus – Lygdamus – Lynceus – Lyra – Lyric Poetry



thenes apd Hypgrides ha was a principal representative of the patriotic party, and directed his exertions especially to the improvement of the internal affairs of Athens. During his administration of the finances, a period of twelve years (338-326), he won great credit by increasing the revenues of the state and the military strength of Athens, by beautifying the city with magnificent buildings, such as the completion of the theatre of Dionysus, and the building of the Panathenaic Stadium, and by causing copies of the plays of .lEschylus, SophScles, and Euripides to be preserved in the public archives. He died in 329, and was interred at the public expense. The Athenians did honour to his memory by raising a statue of bronze in his honour on the market-place and by a decree which is still extant [Hicks, Greek Histo­rical Inscriptions, No. 145]. His speeches, of which the ancients possessed fifteen, elaborated with the greatest care, were remarkable for their serious moral tone and noble manner, though they were want­ing in grace of form, and apt to become tedious owing to frequent digressions. These merits and defects are exemplified in the only speech of his now extant, that against Leocrates.

Lycus. (1) Son of Poseidon and the Pleiad Celseno, married to Dirce. He took over the government of Thebes after his brother Nycteus, for Labdacus, who was a minor; and, after the death of Labdacus, for his son Lams. He was either killed by Amphion (g.v,} and Zethus, or (according to another account) handed the govern­ment of Thebes over to them at the behest of Hermes.

(2) Son of PSseidon, tyrant of Thebes, killed by Heracles for murdering his father-in-law Creon during his absence, and for plotting against his wife Megara and his children.

Lydus (loannes Laurentius). A Greek writer, born at Philadelphia in Lydia 490 a.d. At the age of twenty-one he went to Constantinople in order to study philosophy, entered the service of the State, and rose to high office. About 552 he was dismissed by Justinian and took a post as teacher in the imperial school. Here he devoted him­self to literature, and died at a great age in 5C5. We still possess some of his writings, which are derived from ancient sources lost to us: (1) on the State offices of Rome (De Magistratlbus); (2) on portents in the sky, etc., and the doctrine of auguries (De

Ostentis); (3) extracts from a work on the Roman months and the festivals held in them (De Menslbus).

Lygdamus. A Roman poet. See tibullcs.

Lynceus. (1) Son of ./Egyptus, husband of Hypermnestra, the daughter of Danaus (}.«.).

(2) Brother of Idas. (See idas and lynceus.)

Lyra. A stringed musical instrument, said to have been invented by Hermes, who stretched four strings across the shell of a tortoise. In historical times a whole tortoise-shell was used for the sounding-bottom, the curved horns of a goat or pieces of wood of a similar shape were inserted in the openings for the front legs, and joined near the upper ends by a transverse piece of wood called the yoke. On the breast-plate of the shell was a low bridge, across which


1. Tischbein, Peintures (tee Vases antiques.

2. De Laborde, Collect, d. Vases gr.t I, pi. 11.

3. Museo Borbonico, X, tav. liv.

4. Ibid. XI, tav. xxxi.

the strings (usually seven) ran all at the same height to the yoke, and were either simply wound round it or fastened to pegs , at the other end they were tied in knots, and fastened to the sounding board. It was ordinarily played with the left hand, while to produce louder and longer notes the strings were struck by the right hand with the plectrum, the point of which was usually like the leaf of a tree, and some­times in the shape of a heart or like a little hammer (see fig. 3 of the cuts, which re­present various forms of the lyre). Cp. cithaha and sambuca.

Lyric Poetry. While among the Greeks elegiac and iambic poetry (q.v.), which forms the transition from epic to lyric composition, was practised by the lonians, lyric poetry proper, or, as it was more commonly called, melic poetry (mUlos, a song), viz. the song accompanied by music, was cultivated by the .Eolians and Dorians. This is due to the talent for music peculiar to these races. That playing on stringed instruments and singing were cultivated

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